Archive for May, 2010

Mystery Mondays: Video Production Update

I just wanted to give you all a quick update on the state of the first video produced by The Outdoor Princess Productions. ESP Boss & I spent all day on Saturday setting up, filming, and then editing our first video. A friend of ours, Thatcher Bohrman, has been helping us. He is a video WIZARD and we couldn’t learn all of this without him!

ESP Boss setting up the studio.

It has taken us nearly two weeks just to get to this point. There was setting up the studio, pulling together props, figuring out wardrobe and makeup, and of course the storyboard. I think so far, my favorite part was actually getting to be on camera.

I’ll admit, I was a little apprehensive about being filmed. I’ve never really spent much time in front of a camera — video or otherwise. Now, give me a microphone and an audience and I’m happy. But being permanently captured in digital media…

But as soon as we started filming I felt really relaxed. It’s exactly like giving a speech. Except if I mess it up, I can have an instant do-over and my “audience” will never know!

(Yeah, I am one of THOSE people who aren’t scared of public speaking. Just don’t ask me to sing!)

Our first video is going to be pretty simple from the filming standpoint. It’s in post-production right now, which is a fancy way of saying that we’re editing it. One of the things that ESP Boss is really interested in is using a green screen. That means we’ll film it in our studio and then take out the background and replace it with a picture.

Doing a lighting check.

We are planning on filming in the field but for some of our “how-to” video segments it just makes sense to film in a completely controlled environment. I am so excited about being able to bring you video I’ve hardly been sleeping.

But, I really want to know what YOU want to see. Drop me an email or leave a comment and let me know what types of how-to videos you’d like to see us produce. And, we are on the lookout for products we can review. If you have a product you’d like me to review, please let me know!

Fun Food Fridays: Navajo Fry Bread

If you’ve never had fry bread, you’re in for a treat! This is a fair-food staple here in Arizona. Navajo fry bread can be a main course or a dessert, depending on the toppings. But, it’s ALWAYS too big to be a snack!

Navajo Fry Bread with all the fixings!


  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs powdered milk
  • 1 1/2 cups water (approx)

In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add the egg. Mixing with your hands, slowly add the water until it is a sticky dough. And it will be sticky!

Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before you do this!

Let the dough rest, in the bowl, covered with a damp paper towel. I typically let it sit for about 7-8 minutes or until my cooking oil is hot.

In a skillet, heat cooking oil until a pinch of dough dropped in the oil will sizzle.

Preparing the fry breads:
On a clean cutting board, put down a little bit of flour. Take a palm-sized amount of dough and roll thin, about 1/8 of an inch.

About the size of a baseball or a little less.

The dough will not roll into a perfect circle but that’s okay.

The flour keeps it from sticking to the cutting board.

It is MUCH easier to prepare all the fry breads first rather than trying to fry and roll at the same time!

Gently place the fry bread into the hot oil. The bread will puff up!

This is what you want to see!

When it is golden brown on one side, turn it over and fry until golden brown on both sides.

It should be golden brown. If you cook it too long, the bread will be tough.

5 Tips from The Queen Mother:

  1. My first fry bread I typically throw away. I’m just too impatient to wait until the oil is really hot.
  2. Don’t try to double the dough or cut it down. It just doesn’t work! If I am making this for a lot of people, I make two batches of dough.
  3. You might need to add more oil if you’re frying a lot of breads. Don’t add oil to the skillet while it’s on the stove. And be sure to wait until it is hot before dropping in the dough!
  4. Drain the fry breads on a couple of paper towels.
  5. The dough will keep 24 hours in the fridge. But, I prefer to toss any left over dough and make a fresh batch.

Remember: I melted my plastic tipped tongs making Cheating Fry Bread. I recommend metal tongs like in this photo:

The Outdoor Princess’ Favorite Toppings

  • Browned hamburger with salsa
  • Pinto beans (NOT refried beans!)
  • Shredded cheese (If you put the hamburger and beans down first, it helps the cheese melt. Then put on the “cold” toppings”
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Black olives
  • Avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa

All my favoire toppings!

And, for dessert, top with a bit of honey and powdered sugar!

Here’s a tip:
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large zippered bag while you’re at home. Then, in camp, you just add the egg and water and you’re done! But, be sure to LABEL the bag so you know what it is!

Set Your Hook

5 Homemade Fishing Baits

Have you ever thought about making your own fishing bait? Personally, I’ve never tried it, but my friend Bob swears by it. He has a super-secret recipe that he’s forbidden me to share! (But he gave a bit to The Queen Mother for Christmas so she’ll try it out in June when she and ESP Boss go on vacation!)

This week, I’ll be sharing with you five “recipes” for making your own fishing bait. In a few weeks, when the “Royal” Family heads to Ashurst Lake to do some fishing, we’ll test all 5 baits head-to-head against a store-bought bait and I’ll bring you the results.

Before using these, or any homemade baits, be sure to check with your local fishing regulations to make sure that homemade baits are permitted. You also need to make sure there are no ingredients on a do-not-use list.

An important thing to consider when making your own bait is to keep track of your “recipe”. You don’t want to catch your limit of fish and then realize you’re not exactly sure what was in your bait!

I recommend that you store your baits in the refrigerator until ready to take to the lake. All baits seem to work better when they are warm (and smelly) but I don’t recommend storing the baits in the garage. The neighbors might complain!

In the photo below, my grandma (ESP Boss’ mother) caught this ENORMOUS catfish using store-bought bait. I can’t wait to see what I can catch using these recipes!

Catching fish runs in the family!

Fancy Catfish Bait


  • 1 can Fancy Feast Cat food
  • Flour

In a large bowl, pour the entire contents of the cat food can, including juice. Start adding flour slowly, kneading it by hand until it is dry enough to not stick to your hand, but damp enough to hold its shape. Form into balls just big enough to cover a treble hook. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Any-Fish Doughballs


  • White bread
  • Juice from a can of tuna fish (packed in water, not oil)
  • Shredded cheese
  • Garlic powder

Mix the juice, garlic powder, and shredded cheese into bread and form into balls.

(Across the board, all the people that swear by doughballs say that the stinkier they are the better!)

Gourmet Bait


  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Brown sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

Run the raisins and parmesan cheese through a food processor to make a paste. Heat apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, brown sugar and corn syrup over a low flame until hot but not boiling. Cool the mixture and then add it to the raisin paste. With your fingers, form into balls. This can then be thickened using either flour or corn meal till the desired thickness is achieved.

There are many recipes for catfish bait. You can make catfish bait; by following this recipe for catfish bait. You need some white flour, 3 ounces of water, 2 ounces of b.b.q. sauce and 2 ounces of garlic. All this has to be mixed to which required amounts of flour is added to get the desired thickness. Try this bait and you will find that it makes one of the best bait for catfish!

Another type of homemade catfish bait can be made using tuna, cheddar or limburger cheese, garlic powder, flour and vegetable oil. First you have to mush half of the tuna and cheese in a large bowl and then add oil till the required consistency arrives. Add a tablespoon of flour to every one-fourth cup of tuna and cheese and six shakes of garlic powder to a cup of tuna and cheese. You then freeze this catfish bait to be used when going fishing.

Cheesy Trout Bait


  • Velveeta cheese (full block)
  • 1 Tbs. anise oil
  • 1 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup corn meal
  • Red food coloring (optional)

Place the cheese in a microwave safe bowl and heat it until it is melted. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients and the anise oil. Slowly stir dry ingredients into melted cheese, adding water as needed, until the mixture becomes a heavy dough.

Add red food coloring (optional) a drop at a time until the desired shade is achieved.

Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a rapid boil. While waiting for the water to boil, pinch off enough of the dough to form a small ball and roll it until it forms a ball. Form all of the dough into balls. Drop in a few dough balls into the water at a time. Cook the balls in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes and then place on paper towels to dry off the excess water.

Crunchy Bait


  • Sweetened corn flake cereal (like Frosted Flakes)
  • 1 can dog food
  • 1 can cream of corn
  • Garlic salt

In a large zippered bag, lightly crush the sweetened corn flakes. In a separate bowl mix the dog food, cream of corn and garlic salt. Add the crushed cereal until the mixture forms a heavy dough. Form into balls.

Readers weigh in:

What are your favorite homemade baits? Do you have any sure-fire ingredients? What is the best bait you’ve ever used and what did you catch with it?

Pitch Your Tent: Campfires

5 Campfire Starting Tools

I know I said that this week’s article would be where I’d reveal the results of testing camp stoves with different BTU outputs. BUT, ESP Boss & I decided that it would be better for you to watch the video of our test! It is in production as we speak so look for it soon.

Kind of sticking with the theme, however, I wanted to share with you my tips and suggestions for campfires! To make life easy for you, I’m also including links after every product so you can buy one before your next camping trip!

Campfires are one of the best parts of a camping trip. However, I’ve found over the course of numerous camping trips and day trips that building and maintaining a safe campfire is not as easy as it seems. Even the most experienced camper can still pick up new ideas and tricks about fire making.

There are a variety of fire igniters and fire aids on the market. Which are the best for in-camp use, and what should you keep in your backpack for a potential emergency situation? Here are your answers!

Utility Fire Lighter

These are the adjustable lighters with a long reach. They have a trigger feature. The advantage is their long reach — you don’t have to have your fingers as close to the tinder as with the other methods. This is your best in-camp bet, because they’re safe, easy to use, and can be used in breezy conditions. They are not a good choice for your backpack for emergency situations.

  • Water resistance: High. We’ve left these out in the rain and they still work. Just don’t submerge in water.
  • Ease of use: High. Once you get the hang of turning these lighters on, they’re very easy to use.
  • Practicality: High. This isn’t something you want to carry in a backpack as an emergency fire starter since it isn’t compact and might leak. It’s a great fire starter in camp.
  • Over-all rating: High
  • Price: $6

Buy a utility fire lighter.

Strike-Anywhere Matches

Be sure to keep the matches in a water-proof container so that they’re dry when you need them. Ideally, you want to keep the box they come in for the striker strip, but you can light strike-anywhere matches on any rough surface. (That’s why they’re called strike-anywhere.) Matches can be hard to use because they burn so quickly, meaning you’d better have a good place to get your fire started (tinder) and the possibility of getting your fingers burned can be high.

Why not other use matches? Safety matches require the on-box striker strip to ignite, book matches are difficult to use in not-prefect conditions, and other types of matches can be brittle and easily broken.

Of course, matches aren’t really the best bet for either in-camp or emergency fire making. They won’t work if they get wet, require you to get up-close-and-personal with the tinder (increasing the probability of getting burnt) and they are nearly useless in breezy conditions.

  • Water resistance: Low. If you get the matches wet, they won’t work anymore. They can be made water resistant by a light coating of wax, but that will need to be done at home.
  • Ease of use: High. It’s easy to light a match, but it’s easy to go through them quickly.
  • Practicality: Medium. Cheap, easy, quick, light weight. Just make sure you have plenty. Because of low-water resistance, matches are not a great choice for a backpack.
  • Over-all rating: Medium
  • Price: $2.50 for 3 boxes of 250

Buy strike-anywhere matches.


This is a wood fire starter made of premium wax and kiln-dried hardwood sawdust and is completely non-toxic. The StarterLogg® will start your fire faster and easier than using newspaper and kindling, and it eliminates fire starting hassles, so you can start your fire safely and quickly. It’s a bit heavy to carry the full log in your backpack, but it can be broken into smaller pieces and a few pieces carried with you.

A StarterLogg® will burn cleanly, ignite quickly and burn hot enough to dry out damp wood. This is a fantastic aid for in-camp fire starting (especially with damp wood) and is great to chunk up and put in your backpack.

  • Water resistance: High. This is wax coated so water shouldn’t hurt it.
  • Ease of use: High. Just light it using your favorite fire igniter above
  • Practicality: High. Cheap, easy, quick, light weight. This is a great tool for in-camp and in the backpack.
  • Over-all rating: Medium
  • Price: $7.50 for 4

Buy a StarterLogg®

Butane Lighter

We just purchased a butane lighter made by DAC. It’s described as a refillable butane lighter for all outdoor activities. Windproof and water-resistant. Features a fuel level window, flame adjustment, and refill valve. It may look like a Zippo lighter, but for emergency fire starting, it’s a cut above, since it’s made of heavy-duty plastic body with a cap that is secured with a clamp.

  • Water resistance: High. It’s not water-proof, but water-resistant should be good enough for most outdoor adventures.
  • Ease of use: High. It works just like a regular lighter.
  • Practicality: High. Lightweight, easy to use, and refillable. It is good for camp or in your backpack.
  • Over-all rating: High
  • Price: $10

Buy a DAC butane lighter.

Magnesium starter

Just in case you’re ever on the TV show “Survivor.” No, really, this is a handy tool to have to start fires in emergency situations. One fire starter should provide hundreds of fires. It’s simple to use; just shave pieces of magnesium using a sharp knife. Place the shavings next to dry twigs, paper, etc. and scrape the sparking edge with a knife to ignite the magnesium. Be careful with this; magnesium can burn so hot it will burn under water.

  • Water resistance: High
  • Ease of use: Medium. (To get good at this, you’ll need practice. I recommend practicing with this during non-critical fire making time.)
  • Practicality: Medium. It’s light and can get wet, but you’ll need to practice to get proficient. Plus, you need another tool (a knife) to start the fire. With practice and a knife its good for the backpack, but a lot of work for an in-camp fire starter.
  • Over-all rating: Medium
  • Price: $7

Buy a magnesium starter.

What ISN’T recommended: gas, lighter fluid or other liquid fire starters. In all of these cases, it isn’t the liquid that’s burned, it’s the fumes. It is never a good idea to use gas or lighter fluid to start a fire since these items will ignite too quickly, burn very hot, and are extremely difficult to control.

Last October, I was camping with the “Royal” Family at Pine Grove Campground near Flagstaff Arizona. ESP Boss (he’s an experienced camper!) had a major brain fart and poured a bit of leftover gasoline from the generator onto the wood in the fire ring and then started the fire. WHOOSH! Let’s just say that he jumped back very quickly and wasn’t hurt, The Queen Mother yelled at him and then started to cry, and I made a mental note to remember to tell everybody I know to never, Never, NEVER use gas on a fire.

So, enjoy your campfire but stay safe and stay smart. If you’re not sure that a tip or tool is safe, don’t chance it — use something that you know will work and is safe.

Readers Weigh In:

What fire starters do you use? Have you ever tried to make your own fire starter out of newspaper, dryer lint, etc? How did it go?

Find Your Geocache

3 Must-Know Pages on

Don’t you just hate it when you KNOW that does FILL IN THE BLANK but you can’t remember where you saw the link? That happened to me the first time I was hiding a geocache; I wanted to print out that cool sheet that appears in the caches. You know the one I’m talking about, right? The printout that says “Congratulations, You’ve Found It!” and then goes on to explain what geocaching is.

I knew that printout had to exist. Somewhere. After all, I’d seen it in caches around Northern Arizona. I just didn’t know how to navigate the website in order to find what I was looking for!

This article is actually a reader’s request and addresses just that issue: What ARE the parts of

Since this website is HUGE and offers a ton of information, I’m giving my top three pages you need to know the anatomy of! If you have a section of that you feel everybody should know about, then let me know!

The Home Page

We all know the homepage of — that’s where you can log into your account!

Well, have you ever scrolled DOWN the page a bit? There’s a ton of really neat links hidden towards the bottom of the page.

Home page of

So, starting on the top left and heading down the page:

  1. You can search for a geocache from this page using a zip code or a GC code
  2. A section for interesting products and services
  3. Upcoming geocaching events around the world

From the right side and heading down the page:

  1. A link to follow on Twitter
  2. Information about CITO
  3. Geocaching in the news

Hide & Seek a Geocache Page

To me, this page has a wealth of information that is hidden! Even though the title clearly says HIDE a cache, I never remember that this page has all the links I need to do that!

Left Side of Page – Seeking a Cache

This is where you can search for a cache. It starts with an area where you can enter different parts of an address to find a cache. It includes address, postal code (zip code) and state.

Seek a geocache

Below the first section, you can enter in lat and long in either a WGS84 Datum or a decimal format, depending on how your GPS is configured. The standard for the USA on new GPS units is the WGS84 Datum.

And, then a really exciting section! This is where you can search by keyword (I want to find a cache with “yellow” in the name. You can also search by a telephone area code. If you know the exact GC code of the cache, you can enter that as well.

(I use the GC code search function when I am returning after a day of caching and need to log my finds.)

And, my favorite part: Found by Username and Placed by Username. This lets me see what my favorite geocaching buddies have found lately AND I can also search for my favorite cache hiders.

Right Side of Page – Hiding a Cache

The right side of the page is always the part that gives me the most trouble. Since I am usually looking for a cache, I forget that all the links I need to place a cache are on this page as well!

Hide a cache

From the top down:
The cache placement requirements. I review these every time I place a cache just to remind myself of all the little particulars of the game.

Right below the requirements is actually the form you use to tell that there is a new cache. It took me placing about 5 caches before I remembered where this link was!

And the cache note is next. Not only is this the “Congratulations You’ve Found It!” note, but it also has a log sheet that you can print out and include with your cache. Below this section, the cache note has been translated into a myriad of different languages to help cachers around the world.

Trackable Items Page

This page has all the links to Frequently Asked Questions regarding all things trackable. But, below that section is where you can enter a tracking number of an item you have (or discovered), you can activate your trackable, or search for a trackable item by name.

The first time I activated an geocoin, I had no idea what I needed to do. I didn’t even realize that below the three boxes on this page were the forms that I needed!

If you’re confused about trackables, I’ve got two articles that might help you out: The Truth About Trackables and 5 Tips About Trackables

To all you experienced cachers out there:

What are the most useful pages/sections on for a new cacher?

What have you discovered about the website that would have made life easier for you if you had known it when you had just gotten started caching?

Mystery Mondays: Guest Author

At the Overland Expo 2010, it was my pleasure to meet Phil Golden from  Phil will be undertaking a cross-country, back roads driving event to raise money for Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). I asked him to write an article about his upcoming adventure: what he’ll be doing and WHY he’ll be doing it.Read on!

Guest Author Phil Golden

Phil Golden from Expedition Awareness

When faced with the ultimate adversary, what do you do? Unfortunately, we are not comic book heroes wielding powers from another world. But in way, maybe we are. Maybe our super power is our ability to keep hope alive. To share with others our demons and them share with us in supporting the great fight.

Maybe we are super heroes.

When my wife and I learned that she could be a carrier for Adrenoleukodystrophy, a good friend and I began work immediately on Expedition Awareness. That was nine months ago. In those months that were to pass, we learned my wife was indeed a carrier of ALD and this past January, we learned my son does have the disease.

Phil's son: Brooks

Adrenoleukodystrophy is a terrible disease that affects little boys. It attacks the insulating sheath around the nervous tissue. In doing so, all bodily systems are affected. Most boys don’t live past the tender age of twelve, or two years after symptoms begin to manifest. There is no cure and no viable treatment. Bone Marrow Transplant and Gene Therapy have success in some cases.

In our darkest hour, we often find our greatest strength. Some individuals never see this strength that resides inside of them; the hour is never that dark. I suppose this is a good thing. But it is this strength that allows me to share this story with you today. For me, this takes moving well outside my comfort zone. And each time I tell my story, it is a small milestone. However, it is important for me to add that I know quite well, I am not a special person. I know this because I did not choose to do what it is I am doing. A special person would have done what I am doing BEFORE their child contract a deadly disease. I was forced. If I could have it another way, a way that spared my family from this monster lurking behind father time, I would. My decision was made for me to try and make a difference — somehow — in someway.

My solo North American expedition is to raise awareness for ALD and funding for the ALD Foundation. I am currently trying to raise money for the expedition project itself as well. Every dollar raised is going to support this project and any left over will go the ALD Foundation. Thus far, this has been a self-funded project.

Through hard work and in meeting some great people, my project snowballed into a place I could not have foreseen. Doors were presented and some opened, that leant themselves to new opportunities to reach further and give more. So I have adapted my goals to aim for new heights and altered my plan of action to reach those goals. But my family can only do so much without the support others. This is just the way it is.

We are average people.

As for the expedition, it will officially begin in Antelope Wells, NM and follow the Continental Divide — 95% off road — to Bannf, Canada. From there I will cross four Canadian provinces before turning south and heading for New Orleans and the ALD Foundation’s headquarters. I will be taking a modified Jeep and Overland Trailer and will be camping the entire way.

On the road in the hail!

I am filming an HD Documentary of the entire expedition project for distribution. I also want to give it to families affected by the disease at no cost.

Media and presentation stops are lined up along my route to help educate people about the disease.

To learn more, visit — Look for our Facebook and Twitter pages to keep up-to-date with the latest developments.

I believe that my son has this disease for a reason. Maybe it was to push me to do something potentially great with my life. Maybe this is why I am here. My Mother has always said that God never puts on us more than we can handle. I sometimes question this logic. Especially those nights where the reality of it is all too close and that each second forward in time, we are one second closer to a ticking time bomb.

It is in those moments, I truly hope I am doing everything I can for my boy. He does not know what road lies ahead, and it is my goal to keep it that way.


Thanks, Phil, for sharing your story with the whole family. We wish you all the best of luck!

If you would like to be a guest author for The Outdoor Princess blog, please send me an email at

Fun Food Fridays: Cheating Fry Bread

Fry bread with cinnamon and sugar is a camping food-food favorite in my family. The Queen Mother has a knockout recipe for fry bread that is even better than what you can get at the fair.

But, it can be a lot of work for preparation, cooking, and cleanup. So Cheating Fry Bread is perfect for when you just need a sweet snack!

All the fixings for Cheating Fry Bread


  • 1 can packaged biscuits
  • Cooking oil
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon


Pour oil to cover 1″ deep in a skillet and heat to about 350 degrees. Take each biscuit and flatten between your palms, then slip gently into the hot oil.  It’s a big help if all the biscuits are flattened a head of time OR if you have a helper flattening them while you cook!

I only cook 2 at a time.

Cook biscuits for about 2 minutes or until each side is golden brown. Don’t put more than 3 or 4 biscuits in the oil; you don’t want to crowd them. When the underside is brown, flip over and cook until the other side is brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. You also might want to pat them with the towels to remove excess oil.

Golden brown!

I recommend using all-metal tongs since plastic ones melt if you are pushing the biscuits around in the hot oil. I had to throw mine away!

While the biscuits are still warm, shake in a bag with cinnamon and sugar.

Makes 8 fry breads.

Very Yummy!

By the way: I’ve received permission from The Queen Mother to share her super-secret, super-yummy fry bread recipe with you next week!

Readers Weigh In:

How do you like to eat your fry bread? What are your favorite toppings?

Don’t forget to check out the Outdoor Cooking Forum.

Set Your Hook

Sure-Fire Trout-Catching Setup

ESP Boss discovered this set up for our trout tackle about nine years ago and since then we’ve had excellent trout catching success.

  • Size 12 or 14 treble snelled hooks (the ones with line attached are easier to use and faster to change out when the fishing is hot)
  • 1/8 oz egg weights
  • 4 lbs test fishing line
  • Swivel
  • Berkley® Power Bait

On your fishing line, thread one or two egg weights. These will slip up and down the line. Then attach the swivel. Attach a treble hook line to the swivel. Cover the hook with the Power Bait, only using enough to completely cover the hook, about the size of an olive.

(The “fishing line” in the photo is actually sewing thread so you can see how the line is set up.)

I personally use two egg weights with my Eagle Claw fishing pole. I have a very flexible action and with just one weight, my casts barely clear the weeds on shore.

Under water, the weights go to the bottom, and the Power Bait floats above the rocks and weeds, making sure the trout can find it. I prefer the slip sinker method rather than pinching on split shot because I think the slip sinkers are more adaptable to the underwater conditions. If you pinch a split shot at 15 inches above the swivel, that’s where it is, with no flexibility.

I’m addicted to using Yellow Power Bait, not having much success on other colors. It’s a good idea to have at least a few jars of different colors in your tackle box, just in case. The other colors I use are: white, chartreuse, pink, and anything with sparkles.

If you prefer worms, salmon eggs, corn or other bait, they’ll all work with this set up, but floating bait works the best.

Readers Weigh In:

What tips do you have for catching trout? Is there a way to set up your tackle that just seems to work no matter what?

Pitch Your Tent: Camp Stoves

The Language of Camp Stoves

It’s been my experience that families that are just getting started in camping sometimes have romantic ideas about cooking outdoors. Meals and eating are some of the most important parts of any camping trip and there’s nothing worse than a meal that flops. You go to bed tired and hungry and that can be enough to ruin a trip.

Cooking over an open fire is romantic, but not practical!

We all have those images in our head when we think about cooking over an open campfire. But, in reality, campfires are full of ash, can smell bad, be difficult to get started, and are not a reliable heat source for cooking since the temperature is very difficult to regulate. They’re great if you just want to heat up a hot dog or toast a marshmallow but cooking a whole meal over it? Probably not suitable for the novice camper.

Or even experienced campers!

You’ll want to invest in a good camp stove is that on many public lands fire restrictions will be in effect depending on drought conditions. That means that open fires might be prohibited! Imagine trying to cook dinner if you can’t light a fire! In Arizona, in the worst drought months, that restriction has been extended to include fires burning wood or charcoal.

These restrictions usually do not include any type of stove.

When ESP Boss and The Queen Mother took their first camping trip in 1969, they borrowed a Coleman white gas camping stove. Basically, they didn’t test it out (the thought never even occurred to them!) before they went. When they first tried to use the stove, they realized that the pressurizing gaskets had shrunk and the fuel tank couldn’t maintain pressure. So, they spent two days, and every time they wanted to cook a meal, ESP Boss was continuously pumping the fuel tank while The Queen Mother cooked.

This was very unsafe!

But, as The Queen Mother pointed out: they didn’t starve and are still married to this day!

If you’re going to purchase a camp stove here are some things you need to consider:

Fuel sources

Before you purchase a stove, you should review the various fuel sources. However, when you’re actually ready to buy that stove, make sure that it will work with the fuel you want to use! I’ll be covering the “Big Three” fuel sources: propane, white gas, and butane.

Propane is the stand-by for modern camping stoves. It’s easy to use and readily available. You can get the one-pound bottles that screw directly into the stove or larger bottles (like for a home barbeque) and connect it to the stove with a hose.

Lots of campers prefer propane since you just need to attach it to the stove and it’s ready to use. There are no additional steps that need to be completed before you can light the stove and make dinner!

White Gas
White gas or naphtha can also be called Coleman fuel. True Colman fuel is made and sold through Coleman as a specially refined process. White gas is a good fuel option when camping at high elevations or in very cold temperatures since it will burn steady and at an even temperature.

White gas can only be used in stoves that will take liquid fuel.

What campers term “butane” is actually a butane/propane mixture. It is usually a favorite fuel of backpackers since it is light weight, resealable, and connects to stoves easily. Butane/propane is affected by cold temperatures and might not work effectively. The canisters cannot be recycled.

Another consideration with fuel sources is how much fuel you’re planning on carrying with you on your trip. Some fuels are more expensive than others and some canisters are bigger than others. Remember that any liquid fuel stove will require pumping to maintain pressure in the fuel tank.

If you’ll be taking any other camping appliances with you besides a stove (lanterns, barbeque grills, etc) you probably want to make sure all your appliances run off the same fuel source.

Here’ a way to think about it: The Power Of Batteries but instead of batteries, it’ll be your stove fuel source!

Amount of Heat

BTU stands for “British thermal unit.” It is approximately the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.

Now, if you’re like me, that definition means very little in the practical sense. Stoves have a wide range of BTU outputs. In next week’s Pitch Your Tent article we will be running tests on stoves with different BTUs to help you decide how many BTUs YOU need for your next adventure.

Choosing A Stove

Camping stoves come in a range of sizes from tiny backpacking stoves little enough to be packed in a sock to three burner stoves with their own carrying cases. The biggest piece of advice I have for you it to think how you’ll be USING the stove.

When the “Royal” Family goes camping, we rely on our two burner Coleman stove.

Our stove of choice!

We’ve recently acquired another stove that we’ll be running a head to head comparison with next week.

I went camping with a friend who brought along a single-burner backpacking stove that ran off of a butane/propane mixture. The problem was trying to cook for two people on an itty bitty stove. There was no way to cook our main dish AND boil water for hot chocolate.

Pick a stove that you know you’ll be comfortable using. You might want to consider things like:

  • Does it have a self-starting ignition (think about a gas stove in a home where you get the clicking noise and then the burner lights) or do you need to turn on the gas and ignite it with a match?
  • Does it have a wind screen? This is critical if you’re EVER camping in breezy conditions!
  • Will you be able to get fuel for it easily? How expensive is the fuel?
  • Can you find replacement parts?
  • Is it big enough (enough burners and enough BTU output) to cook a meal for your entire family?

Can you imagine trying to cook a meal for two on this tiny stove?

I don’t recommend purchasing a used camp stove since you don’t know if the prior owners took good care of it. If it was dropped, not maintained or been used with the wrong type of fuel it could be dangerous to operate.

ESP Boss had a Coleman stove that lasted for 20 years! He only had to replace it when he couldn’t get parts for it any longer.

Readers Weigh In:

This is the section where you can tell me about what type of stove YOU use when you go camping!

What type of fuel do you use in your stove? What tips do you have when purchasing a stove? Do you have any good stories about a camp cooking meal that flopped?

You can leave comments here and also post on the Forum

And, if you’re looking for a stove, here’s a link to Cabela’s so you can take a look at what they offer!

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Find Your Geocache

5 Tips About Trackables

Last post, I gave a basic run down on what a trackable is. I covered travel bugs, trackable geocoins, and “dog tags”. This post, I wanted to go into what you actually are supposed to DO with a trackable item.

My father, ESP Boss, has a routine that he goes through every time he starts something new: buy a book and learn all about it! Taking up geocaching was no different. We’d heard about geocaching in a very simple sense but really didn’t know much about it. Before we headed out that first day in June 2008, ESP Boss had learned (and shared with me and The Queen Mother) all about log books and trackables.

ESP Boss read this book cover to cover in one weekend!

Of course, it would be another 4 months before we actually FOUND our first trackable!

What I didn’t realize at the time was that, like geocaching, trackable items have their own “rules” and etiquette. explains it as: “Most owners would rather see their travel bugs do a lot of travelling, so try not to hold on to a travel bug for too long. If you plan on holding onto the bug for more than 2 weeks, make sure to send a courtesy email to the owner letting them know.”

But, I think there are a few other things that should also be considered “best practices” when it comes to travel bugs:

1. Log that you’ve picked up the trackable right away.

There’s nothing worse than visiting a cache thinking there’s a travel bug there only to not find it. Often times, people will mention that in the log: “TFTC. Didn’t see the TB.”

If you’re going to be responsible for a travel bug, be sure to log on right away that you have it. That keeps other cachers from being frustrated that it isn’t there AND lets the owner know that the travel bug hasn’t been lost, stolen or muggled!

2. Try to place the trackable as soon as possible.

The whole point of traveling items is to TRAVEL! Of course, I understand hanging on to one for a while until you find the perfect cache. Personally, I like to let them hang out on my desk, under my computer monitor for a while before I move them on.

Hangin' out at my desk.

3. Let the owner know if you’re hanging on to the item for a while.

Like says, it’s just a nice gesture. Most people invest anywhere from $4 – $12 in a trackable item so while they know it might go missing, it’s nice to know it hasn’t yet!

4. Be patient when somebody has your trackable item.

I know how frustrating it is waiting for my Geocoin to move from one cache to the next. But, I keep reminding myself that everybody has a life outside of geocaching. If the person has had it 5 weeks or more, I MIGHT drop them a friendly note asking if they still have the item, but I don’t get too antsy. And stay polite!

A friend of mine picked up a travel bug that had a tractor attached to it. Her 3-year-old son fell in LOVE with the tractor! Carried it everywhere and even slept with it. The owner of the travel bug actually started sending emails asking when the item would be moved on, after about two weeks. Needless to say, my friend had to take the tractor away during her son’s naptime. Now, she thinks twice about picking up any trackable items that are attached to tractors, cars, or any other type of toy her son might become too attached to!

5. When you place the trackable, log it right away.

My last tip is rather like Tip 1: lot it on! Trackable items are less likely to go missing if everybody logs them into and out of as quickly as possible.

Like I said in The Truth About Trackables, I actually had a trackable geocoin picked up and moved on before I could even log that it was IN the cache! I try to always log trackables the same day I pick up, discover, or place them. That time, it was just that the other geocacher was able to get to their computer faster than I could!

For all you experienced geocachers:

What other “best practices” do you have with trackables? Is there anything that just drives you nuts about how people handle them? (Keeping them too long, not posting them, etc.)

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