Archive for July, 2012
Ah! Camping. Jessica and I had a great trip with Skippy. We ended up in a developed campground near Flagstaff, Arizona.
I FINALLY got to stop at Flagstaff Brewing Company for the world’s best French onion soup. I think I’m going to be on a quest to duplicate this stuff. And when I do, I’ll post the recipe to Fun Food Fridays. Because I always want it when I’m camping. So that makes it outdoor food, right?
I also got to test a really nifty roasting stick. The whole product review will be up in a couple of weeks.
And yes, before you ask, I did make some notes and jotted down some thoughts for the upcoming eBook on camping. I also checked on two of my five geocaches (too hot and then too rainy to check the rest!) and started work on a new scary story for the next anthology. Hopefully it’ll be out sometime in September!
But mostly, I ate. A lot.
- 2 TBS cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup quick oats
- 1/4 cup plus 3 TBS oat flour (Make your own by blending oats in a food processor or blender until they become powder. Measure after blending.)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips (mini chocolate chips would work better but don’t run out and buy them if you don’t already have them in your pantry!)
- Slightly less than 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 TBS water
- 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 drops pure peppermint extract (don’t use more!)
In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir well. I only had full-sized chocolate chips so I chopped them up a bit; otherwise they are a bit too large for the texture of the cookie.
When adding peppermint extract, put the three drops into a measuring spoon and then add to the liquid ingredients. Three drops is VERY concentrated and you don’t want to end up with too much peppermint!
Combine liquid ingredients separately, then pour wet into dry and stir until incorporated fully. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit more water. If too wet, add more oat flour. After the mixture is incorporated fully, mash it together HARD with the back of a spoon. Or put into a zippered bag and smash.
Roll into small balls and place in the refrigerator until firm. Makes about 9 cookies.
If you’ll be taking these camping, store in an air-tight container in the ice chest. I recommend placing wax paper between layers or they’ll merge into a big sticky mess!
They’re super yummy but just remember that as tempting as it is to eat the whole batch: DON’T! Or you’ll be paying the price of all that roughage!
These cookies aren’t sticky sweet. I think the cookie balls could be lightly dusted with powdered sugar to add a bit of sweetness and keep the cookies from sticking together. The original recipe called for 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon but it was way to sweet for me!
Recipe based on No-Bake Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies
The great folks over at http://www.lnt.org say it perfectly. And why mess with perfection:
The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org
The Seven Principles
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
Repackage food to minimize waste.
Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
In popular areas:
Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
In pristine areas:
Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
Dispose of Waste Properly
Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
Leave What You Find
Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
So what does this amount to if you’re camping in a developed campground?
Clean up after yourself. Follow any posted campground rules and the requests of the camp hosts. Don’t damage what’s there. Remember that you want to leave the campground as-is for generations of campers to follow!
I have had interest from geocachers who wanted to purchase the last of my Arizona Centennial Trackable Geocoins. These were made specifically for the Centennial and only 48 trackable coins were minted.
(Okay, FIFTY were minted but two are going onto a plaque for the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors. Someday.)
Of the 48, I have eight left.
I’m selling them at $25.00 each which includes priority mail shipping anywhere in the USA. (Out of country folks, sorry, I just can’t handle it!)
I made a button at PayPal that “should” keep track of the inventory. Each PayPal account can buy one coin. When the 8 are sold, they’re sold! And I’m only taking PayPal to make my life easier.
Now, all this being said, if the inventory button doesn’t work, then the first 8 buyers get the coin. Anybody else will get a refund.
The PayPal account will like to TheOutdoorPrincess.com. Make sure I get your correct shipping address and email address!
I’m going camping this weekend with my best friend Jessica. Yay! I haven’t been out since May, mostly because I’ve been super busy and the Arizona monsoons hadn’t started yet. Who wants to go camping when it’s hot, dry and windy? Bleck.
The funny thing about writing this eBook is that while I’ve been writing about camping basics since May 2006, I’ve never really stopped to think about all the things I take for granted that are completely new to a beginner. I’ve been working on the book since April, I had hoped for a release just before Memorial Day. Alas, I keep discovering more things that need to be added, clarified, and expanded. (Up to 157 pages and counting!)
This past May, I went camping with my “BS Club” to a private campground. I took Skippy the Tent Trailer. A couple of my girls stayed in tents and two “roughed it” in a cabin. Since I’m the only one with a pickup truck, I ended up taking a lot of the supplies with me. And it surprised me that some of the girls packed in real, honest-to-goodness suitcases. Not duffels which are stuffable around other bits of gear. Nope, suitcases that you can’t mash into another shape. And if they’re not full, well that’s too bad ’cause they don’t get any littler!
Bang! The concept of telling beginner campers to pack in duffle bags went into the section on packing.
My friend James proofread the first 50 pages or so for me. And in his notes, after I mentioned that primitive campgrounds regularly lack potable water he put in a little [?potable?] note. And I realized that not everybody knows that potable means drinking water.
I reached out to my Facebook friends for their suggestions. I had no fewer that THREE people tell me: “Put your tent together before you go; make sure nothing’s broken and you have all the parts!”
And I thought that was common sense!
As I am getting ready for this trip, running through real and mental checklists, I’m also going back to my own manuscript. Making sure I’m clear, that I haven’t left anything out that might be obvious to me but would take a newbie by surprise.
So, what’s your advice to the knows-nothing camper? What is a camping myth that you may have held that you now know is false?
And, please, give me feedback on the cover ideas! Courtesy of Jessica.
I love s’mores. But, I always find that while my MOUTH may want a second one, the sugar hits me like a truck and I just can’t handle it. And I find that while I have the perfect way to make s’mores, it’s a lot of work.
Enter: The S’more Sundae
- Waffle cones (it HAS to be waffle, the bigger the better)
- Mini marshmallows
- Mini chocolate chips
Cut the fruit up into tiny pieces. And when I say tiny, I mean the smaller the better! I recommend putting each ingredient into its own bowl so if somebody doesn’t like something, they don’t have to eat it!
Layer the ingredients into a waffle cone. I recommend starting with two or three chocolate chips since nothing else fits into the tip of the waffle cone.
Continue layering until the cone is as full as you can get it! Then, wrap it loosely in foil. It will probably look something like a taco.
Toast for three to five minutes over low heat. You want to heat the marshmallows and fruit and lightly melt the chocolate. But the chocolate can scorch and burn so keep an eye on it! I’ve tried this over mostly-cool charcoal briquettes and on a regular propane barbeque. Both work well. Carefully open the foil packet.
You can mix it all together with a spoon and eat or eat it in layer. I prefer it in layers. And I don’t scoop it out of the cone with a spoon but just carefully nibble the cone and sundae together.
Other suggested ingredient combinations:
- Carmel chips
- Granny smith apples
- Chocolate chips
- Canned mandarin oranges
You can buy chips in caramel, carob, white chocolate, and peanut butter so the possibilities are endless!
Are you looking to get started with trout fishing? Are you new to fishing or coming back to it after years? Then ‘Must-Know Trout Fishing Tricks, Tips, & Techniques’ will help you get started catching trout quickly and inexpensively.
This book is a compilation of the tried and tested tips, tricks, and techniques that will have you go from staring-at-the-angling-aisle-in-horror to trout-catcher faster than any other book. It has been compiled from years of hands-on fishing experience and numerous articles written for TheOutdoorPrincess.com outdoor recreation blog.
What you won’t find in ‘Must-Know Trout Fishing Tricks, Tips, & Techniques’ book is a laundry list of expensive supplies and tackle. Fishing should be a family-friendly and a budget-friendly experience.
‘Must-Know Trout Fishing Tricks, Tips, & Techniques’ covers:
- Basics of hooks, reels, and rods
- Fish anatomy 101
- Three common fishing knots and how to tie them
- Guaranteed lure set-ups that trout can’t resist
- Fishing in rocky lakes, streams, and trolling
- How to clean trout once you’ve caught them
- What to do when the trout just aren’t biting
- And more!
This book is not intended to be the be-all, end-all guide to trout fishing but has been compiled from the best of the best tips to get you started.
Please note: ‘Must-Know Trout Fishing Tricks, Tips, & Techniques’ does not cover fly fishing.
This article will appear in my soon-to-be-released eBook about Camping For Beginners. Please leave me your comments on it and I will potentially include them in the final draft of the book. You can also use the links for Kindle and Nook to view my current titles.
The car is packed, the kids are excited and the campground is calling your name! But what are you going to do once you get to the campground?
First off, remember that kids can and should be enlisted to help with setting up camp. Not only does it make them feel important, it teaches them that while this may be a family vacation, they’re not at a 5-star resort where everything is done for them. Or, as my mother is fond of saying, “This isn’t a Howard Johnson, you know!”
By including your child in helping you also can keep an eye on them without making it obvious! Unless your child is in diapers, they have something to contribute. Little kids can help move sticks and pinecones off the tent pad. Older kids can help unload the car, put tent poles together, gather firewood, keep track of smaller kids, etc. When I was too young to be of much real help, my job was holding the dog’s leash while my folks did most of the important setting up or tearing down.
And when it is time to pack up and go home, just reverse the process! Kids are especially good to recruit to clean the campsite and pick up any wayward trash you or any prior camper left behind. I know one family that has every family member pick up one piece of trash for every year they’ve accumulated. The seven-year-old has to keep her thirty-three year old father from “stealing” her trash!
As you set up, make sure that you’re clear that everyone needs to take care of their own stuff. Adults are on the trip to have a good time too, not to baby sit toys, hats, and drinks. I recommend labeling any item that might be fought over: balls, hats, marshmallow sticks, etc.
I also recommend assigning each family member their own water bottle or canteen. Write their name on a PBA-free washable water bottle with a permanent marker. Other drinks can be served from plastic cups but that way each child knows which water bottle is theirs.
Hanging out in camp
Hanging out at the campsite is not at all like hanging out at home. There is no refrigerator to peer into looking for a snack so make sure that you have plenty of kid-friendly foods on hand. I never wanted to take time from camping to eat so my mom was always sure to keep my favorite balanced snacks on hand so she could stuff one in my hand and off I’d go. Remember that whatever you normally eat at home, you can eat at camp!
I recommend taking both large air-tight containers of snack foods for sharing and individual portions so your child can grab it and take it with him. Just remember that any large container that goes to camp full has to come home empty! I recommend packing snacks into plastic bags to save on space.
Make sure your child stays hydrated. So drink lots. And I don’t mean soda! Take extra measures to keep kids (and adults) hydrated. That means plenty of water or clear liquids. Juices and sports drinks are okay, but in moderation. While camping is an excuse to break from routine, make sure that your kids are drinking plenty of appropriate liquids to keep them hydrated.
Plan for First Aid. It’s likely to get bug bites. And scraped knees. And a splinter. And, you get the point. Make sure that a full bottle of quality sunscreen is packed with your first aid supplies and that you apply it liberally and often. Sunburn is especially common at higher, cooler elevations where the sun doesn’t feel as intense and it feels so good to sit in the sun to stay warm. Trust me, sunburns happen even in the mountains! And they’re not fun anytime but especially miserable when you’re not at home!
It’s been suggested to me to pack spray-on sunscreen. It goes on evenly even when your kid is filthy dirty from playing in the dirt all day. A rub-on sunscreen applied over dirt and sweat can streak and leave your kids sunburned in streaks. Not fun!
Remember that while you’re on vacation and everything is flexible, kids may still need their nap. Take a few books or stuffed animals to help them quiet down. Even if your daughter doesn’t actually sleep, a half-hour resting will do wonders for her attitude. And yours too!
Along that vein, its okay to try for some semblance of routine while you’re camping, like enforcing bedtimes. Know your kid: what routine do you really need to follow to keep everybody happy and sane? Does he have to have a bedtime story? His favorite stuffed animal? The best part of camping is that you get to set the schedule so you can schedule what works for your child.
Eating outside is GOOD. But it may take some getting used to! You will eat dirt. Get over it.
In the tent
It’s every parent’s nightmare that their child will get out of the tent in the middle of the night and wander off. The littlest are unafraid of anything and will happily wander off after dark. Older children might want to sneak off on purpose. (Unless they’re like me: afraid of the dark!)
Put an adult in front of each door to the tent. That way, any child making a break for it would have to crawl over a sleeping adult to get out. And if you’re child is afraid of the dark, then he can sleep better knowing that there’s somebody between him and the great outdoors!
If you have more doors than parents, you can safety pin the zipper shut. If you have two zippers, just pin them together. If the door only has a single zipper, you can pin it shut by putting the pin through the hole in the zipper and fastening it to a duffle bag just inside the tent. I don’t recommend pinning the zipper to the tent itself because you’ll be putting a hole in the tent fabric!
Realize that no matter how many times you make them use the restroom before you go to bed, somebody will have to go potty in the middle of night. Take a flashlight and remember that camping is an adventure! If an adult has to go, you need to decide if you need to wake your child at the same time. It might be better to wake your kid when you’re up already rather than have her wake you just as you are falling back to sleep! And, you also don’t want to frighten your child if they wake and find you gone.
If you’re not staying in a campground with bathrooms, be sure to teach your little girl how to go potty outside. And do it in the daylight! My cousin Kris, the mother of three girls, just says, “Camp someplace with a potty. Little girls don’t go in the wilderness!” I remember when I was a little girl and hated peeing outside. Again, this comes back to knowing your child: if it’s an adventure, go for it. If it will stress them out and they’ll try to “hold it” all weekend, then you’re better off camping someplace with a restroom.
It’s also a given, your kid will likely get cold in the night. Plan ahead and know they’ll be snuggling into your sleeping bag sometime in the night. You can also pack two kids into a roomy sleeping bag so everybody stays toasty.
Kids can get uncomfortable in adult-sized furniture. You can get collapsible kid-sized picnic tables and camping chairs. It can be especially difficult for children to eat at a picnic table when they can’t sit on the bench and reach the table!
When you’re leaving camp for a walk around the campground or to go on a hike, make a hiking train. This is where you sandwich the kids between the adults. It allows an adult to lead the way and the second adult to be able to see all the kids at all times. If you’re camping in an area with snakes, it also has a responsible party scanning the trail for slithering friends.
If you don’t have the advantage of a second adult on your camping trip, you can accomplish the same result by having everyone hold hands.
Two final thoughts from every camping mom I’ve ever met:
1. Baby wipes are your friend
2. Extra washcloths and a dab of water can clean anything
This is a guest article about how a GPS works. It was written by RJ Stapell, of High Trail Expeditions, who I met at the Overland Expo 2012.
The GPS System
The GPS navigation system currently maintained by the U.S. Department of Defense consists of:
- 24 satellites (together with spares)
- The satellites maintain six orbital planes approximately 12 miles above the earth
- Each satellite orbits the earth twice every 24 hours
- The system is designed so that at least 4 satellite are visible at any time of the day – anywhere in the world
The GPS system is based on line of site transmission from the satellite to the GPS receiver. A GPS handheld or vehicle-mounted receiver requires a strong signal from a minimum of 4 satellites in order to accurately report the receiver’s position, speed and direction of travel. The GPS signal from the satellite can be adversely affected by:
- Canyon walls, tall buildings or other large objects or structures
- Dense foliage or tree canopies
- Antenna blockage by metal from cars or trucks
- Low batteries
The exact position of each satellite is known at all times, which is continuously transmitted. Knowing the exact position of each satellite and the actual distance from the GPS receiver, the current position of the GPS receiver can be determined. The distance from the satellite to the GPS receiver is “measured” by determining the time it takes for the GPS signal to reach the GPS receiver from the satellite.
GPS Unit Operation
Most typical handheld GPS units operate in a similar manner. Each manufacturer has its own design regarding menus and button-functions. Reading and understanding the specific manual for your particular unit is very important to get the most from your handheld receiver.
The first step is the initial setup of your unit, which covers display options, units of measurement, map datum and time format. The following categories are critical in order to effectively use the GPS receiver in conjunction with a map and/or compass:
- Coordinate Display Format: latitude-longitude/UTM/MGRS (for military users)
- Map Datum: the GPS receiver must be set to map’s datum
- NAD27/NAD27 CONUS for most USGS Topographical Maps
- WGS84 for newer and non-governmental map sources
- Headings: true north or magnetic north
- Time Format: 12 hour or 24 hour format/local time, specific time zone or GMT (ZULU) time (especially important in aviation applications)
- Units of Measure: feet or meters/miles or kilometers/mph or kph
Each GPS receiver will have a number of different types of displays to give your current position information. Most units will also allow you to customize the type of data displayed with the terrain map, 3-D map or digital compass. This allows the user to choose the type of information that will be most helpful based on the mode of travel and type of terrain.
An important display (that is often overlooked) is the Satellite Display Map. As noted above, it is critical for your GPS unit to receive a strong signal from 4 satellites in order to accurately report your position.
The Satellite Display map presents a map of the satellites that are “visible” to your GPS unit from your current position. In addition, most Satellite Display Maps also show the signal strength from these “visible” satellites and the location accuracy of the position fix. The accuracy of your position fix is also known as your “Estimated Position Error”. Most GPS units will give you this information on one of its displays. The EPE should be checked on a regular basis.
By using and understanding the information from the Satellite Display Map, you will be able to determine the accuracy of your unit in a given location and whether the unit can be used for navigation.
Your GPS receiver is an electronic “gizmo”. No matter how hard it tries to stay on, it will eventually run out of juice and unless you are prepared, you will become “lost”.
Consequently, the following is highly recommended:
- Become skilled in using the “forgotten” map and compass as a primary navigation tool with your GPS as a secondary navigation device
- Bring lots of spare batteries
- Mark your GPS unit with bright tape (most units are black and are easily missed or left behind
- GPS units do not do well when they are cold, wet, run over, dropped and, of course, forgotten
- Before you really need your GPS unit to get you back home, read your manual, set your unit up so that it will give you the information you need, and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
Suggested Route/Trip Planning Checklist:
Prior to Departure
Mark your trailhead and end of trail locations together with interim waypoints on the map. Mark landmarks and other easily identified features on the map even if not located on your trail or route.
Pull the waypoints from the map (latitude-longitude or UTM) and load the data into the GPS receiver.
CRITICAL—verify that your GPS receiver is loaded with same map datum as the map you are using and that your compass (by declination) and GP unit (at initial setup) are working on TRUE NORTH .
In The Field.
At trailhead obtain a position fix and verify coordinates to the stored trailhead waypoint.
Orient your map to the existing surroundings and compass.
CRITICAL—verify that your GPS receiver is operating in 3D Mode and NOT in 2D Mode.
Proceed on trail with either compass/map or with GPS using the “GOTO” feature to navigate to the next waypoint.
Do not use GPS receiver continuously, but only for occasional position fixes and to cross check on your map and compass work.
Use “Back Track” function on your GPS to return to your start for an “out and back” trip.
General Rule is to be aware of one’s approximate location relative to key reference points at all times.
Use a notebook to make notes starting from the trailhead, especially at trail junctions, landmarks and changes in direction.
Molly Turner’s Dead
An old man was walking home by the light of the moon when he was a bunch of black cats in the road. He looked to see what they were doing and saw that there were nine black cats carrying a little dead cat on a stretcher. A bit unnerved, he continued on.
Just then, one of the cats called out to the old man: “Old man! Please tell Aunt Dee that Molly Turner’s dead!”
The old man didn’t answer, he just walked a bit faster. He wanted to get far away from the nine cats and back to his own little house.
Just then, another of the cats cried out, “Old man! Please tell Aunt Dee that Molly Turner’s dead!”
He started walking even faster, wanting to leave the cats behind, when he heard all the cats yell, “Old man! Please tell Aunt Dee that Molly Turner’s dead!”
The old man broke into a run, and ran and ran until he was safe inside his own house. He didn’t want to tell his wife what had him all worried and why he kept looking out the windows, expecting to see nine black cats carrying a little dead cat on a stretcher.
Finally, his wife demanded that he tell her what was bothering him. “Well, wife,” he said, “I guess I’ll tell you something I didn’t plan on saying.”
When he said that, his old grey cat got up from the run by the fire and sat down right at his feet, looking up at him.
“Well, what is it?” His wife asked. “I know there’s something bothering you!”
He said, “When I was walking home tonight, I saw the most unusual sight. There were a bunch of black cats in the road. When I went over and looked, there were nine black cats carrying a little dead cat on a stretcher. And then the cats told me three times to tell Aunt Dee that Molly Turner’s dead.”
When he said that, the old grey cat jumped up and said, “Is she? By God, I must go to the burying,” and out the door she flew.