TSA#42 – Live Like You’re Camping

Sep 5, 2012 by

I love camping and I realized something on this last trip.

We should live every day like we are camping.

When you are camping, life is simple.   You get up when the sun is up and you go to bed when its dark, or when you run out of firewood.

You have only what you need and nothing more.  If you don’t have something you need, someone will always share theirs.

You’re meals are all prepared together with others helping out where they are needed.  You get to sit together around a picnic table or campfire and enjoy each others company and some amazing home made food.

Everyone you encounter is friendly and says hello when you stroll through camp.  A campfire is always a welcoming place for new friends.

Kids and adults alike can make a new friend with a new neighbor within a matter of minutes and it is perfectly OK to sit around half the day and just be.  Nowhere to rush off to, and no pressing to-do list waiting for you; you are allowed to sit and be still with friends and family.  That is a wonderful thing.

I hope you got to go camping over Labor Day weekend.  If not I hope you have a trip planned soon so you can experience the simple joy of camping.

Your TSA this week is to bring a little bit of that simple life of camping home and live it each day.

Ben…

TSA = Truly Simple Actions The goal of the TSA project is to improve your life and help make this world a better place, one simple action at a time.  Take time this week to do this one simple thing.

Previous TSA’s:

 
 
 

 

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With a little help from my friends

Aug 6, 2011 by

We went camping last weekend with our friends up to Pismo Beach.  We love camping there,  playing on the beach and eating the worlds best clam chowder in a bread bowl at Splash’s Cafe.

This year the main campground was full so we decided to camp at Oceano Dunes which is just a few miles south of Pismo and you actually get to camp on the beach.  Right on the sand.  Its the only park in California where you can actually drive on the beach.  So since we just got a jeep, we packed it up and drove through some wonderful Friday LA traffic (note to self, don’t ever do that again) and went camping.

We of course got there very late and it was dark and we’d never been there before and had no idea what we were doing.  But it was awesome.

Now having our bad ass jeep (really just a regular jeep) we thought we would of course be able to drive over anything that came before us.  I think it took me all of about 3 minutes to get myself stuck in the sand.  I eventually got myself out and got myself stuck many more times.

Quite a few people got stuck in the sand.  We camped up on a sand dune and near an access trail where we were able to see EVERYONE that tried to drive up this hill get stuck.  It was quite entertaining.

One particular truck was pulling a large trailer as many out there did.  It was stuck getting up the hill so another large truck showed up to help pull him up.  Then they both got stuck.  So a third truck came to help the second truck who was helping the first truck.  Then they go stuck.  Then a fourth truck came to help the third truck who was helping the second truck, who was pulling the first truck with the trailer.

This was just so much fun to watch.

Then they decided to unload the trailer and pulled out all the 4-wheelers and ATVS etc.  We were hoping they would hook all of those up in a sleigh-like fashion to help pull all the trucks out, but they did not.

Slowly but surely all of the trucks made it up the hill except for the trailer.  They finally decided to just unhook that and leave it at the bottom of the hill.

But it was fun seeing people get stuck and it was nice to see all of the people helping others get unstuck.  There was a HUGE tow truck that would drive around and just park near the action and watch the stuck vehicles and then watch them get pulled out ready to help (and get paid) whenever they needed it.  But I never saw the tow truck in use.

Everyone helped everyone else get unstuck.  Two of us in the group had Jeeps and one had a Lexus which did have 4 wheel drive.  The Lexus struggled at first, but  we were able, with some pushing and cajoling, to get it up the hill as well.

Everyone helped.  And that’s the point.

Helping your friend when they are stuck is what we should be doing.  One of my best friends just moved down to California and we helped him unpack his moving truck.  He’s a math teacher so you know that truck was packed with no square inch left unfilled.  A few friends came over and we unloaded the entire truck in a couple hours and it was great.

Go help a friend today.  Or if you need some help, call a friend up.  That’s what they are there for.

Ben…

I’d also like to help.  What are you struggling with that you could use some help with right now.  Leave a comment or shoot me and email and let me know.

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1-A-Week: Week 30: cleaning out the camping gear

Aug 6, 2011 by

I love camping.  And I might have a slight addiction to camping gear.  Backpacks, tents, I love all of it.

I also love that much of the gear I use is from our parents and grandparents.  I still use an old lantern that was my wifes fathers, and I the camping stove we cook on was my grandparents camping stove that they used to cook on.

I did however go through some of the camping gear recently to get rid of some things I just don’t need.  I ended up keeping all the old stuff and giving away some of the new stuff I never use.  I gave away an electric lantern so I could keep using the old Coleman gas one.  The old stuff just works so much better.

That was my 1AW for this week and I was able to give the gear to some friends who needed it.  Because its all about helping your friends.

Ben…

1AW is a project by which I’m getting rid of at least 1 thing each week that I do not need, want, or use anymore. Doing at least one thing per week helps me reduce the clutter in my life and make room for what is truly important.

What are you getting rid of this week? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Almost got eaten by a wolf last night

Jun 27, 2011 by

I love a good adventure.  I love when things happen unexpectedly and you have to improvise your way out of a situation.  Keeps you on your toes and you never know whats going to happen.

Here is the story of our latest adventure.

Late Saturday afternoon my wife says, “we should go camping tomorrow”.  That was all I needed.

I grew up in the woods in Washington and love the outdoors.  I could go camping for months and would love every minute of.  My wife grew up in southern California and despite the awesome natural resources out here, she did not grow up camping as I did.

So when she mentioned camping, I already had the plans and was putting them into action.  I got up early on Sunday and went out shopping for our food.  We were only going to go out for one night, so we didn’t need much, but I got some trail mix, beef jerky, cup-0-noodle type of  dish for dinner and then I got really fancy and grabbed some brie, summer sausage and some good crackers.  I also grabbed a small pack of Famous Amos cookies as they are her favorite and they will be a nice desert up at the top.

Side note: Camping makes everything taste better.  Backpacking and camping makes it taste 10 times better.  So if you bring crappy food it will taste great.  If you bring great food, it will taste amazing!

I get our packs all ready to go.  Her’s only has her sleeping bag, her clothes, water and some food.  Its pretty light, but that’s good because the hike we are going to do is a fairly difficult one.  Its not super long, but threequarters of it is all uphill switchbacks.  We are backpacking up at Taquitz near Suicide rock and we are going to hike up the Devils Slide if those names help you get any description of our hike.  My pack is a bit heavier as I’m carrying the tent, water purifier etc, but that’s OK.

We drive out there and start the the hike around 2 or 3 in the afternoon.   It was hot out, but hopefully it would only get cooler as the sun was setting.  We had a great hike up and stopped as needed on the steep switchbacks.  We actually made really good time and reached the saddle junction area where the trail then splits off in many directions.  We continued on to skunk cabbage meadow area where we were to camp.  We passed a stream were we were going to get some water, but we decided to setup camp first and then come back and get water.

We hiked for a bit more and passed another trail junction and we kept going on our trail.  Then things weren’t looking like I had remembered them.  We missed a turn somewhere and we had gone too far.  Luckily I caught this fairly soon, so we headed back and saw the cutoff which is not well marked.  We decided to get water now and then setup camp so we hiked back up to the stream, got our water and then found the not well marked cutoff again and found our way to a nice spot to camp.  It was flat, but had some nice trees and a big log to lean against.

We got unpacked and first things first, put on our flip flops.  Our feet were happy, and we started to setup camp.  I setup the tent and got the sleeping bags out and setup in the tent while my wife started to put on her layers of clothes as she said she was cold.   It was not cold out.  I continue making up the camp and break out the camping stove to start boiling water for our dinners.  I get the water started and then break out the brie, meat and crackers.  I only brought a Gerber camping knife and its VERY sharp, so I proceed to cut myself oh so slightly on my finger as I’m cutting the meat and cheese.  I didn’t think it was bleeding, but apparently it was so I then proceed to get blood all over one side of the cheese.  Very classy.

But we are camping so I bandage up my finger with some climbing tape and cut the bloody part off the cheese and its all good.   Actually it tastes AMAZING and I am a genius for thinking to bring it.  So we are now resting and snacking and all is well.

 

We also brought “juice boxes” from Target which are an amazing invention and are great to take everywhere for those that love wine.

So my wife is happy drinking her “juice boxes” while sitting in her camping chair and eating her crackers and cheese.  She pauses occasionally to put on more clothes as the sun sets. It is still not cold at this point either.

The sun sets and we break out our only source of light which are our headlamps.  They are perfect for camping as they let you use your hands for doing things vs holding a flashlight.

I finish boiling water for my dinner and sit down to eat my noodles.  As I begin to eat, my wife starts the “Did you hear that noise?” game.  This is not a fun game for anyone to play so I ignore this and keep eating as I’m very hungry from our hike.  We continue eating and snacking and are having an all around great time.  My wife even says to me “Why don’t we do this more often?”  Those are words of joy to my ears.  I could do this all the time, and we should.

Then it all goes bad. Really really bad.

Its dark at this point and we have our lights on as I’m finishing my dinner and are probably going to get ready to go to bed early.   And then she sees it.

Well she doesn’t see it per se, but she see’s its eyes reflecting from her headlamp.  “Somethings out there!” she yells.  “Its watching us” she proclaims as she jumps to her feet.  I desperately want to ignore this too and keep eating my soup, but I stand up to look around and see this beast.  I see the eyes, and thats about it.  Its VERY dark.  It walks around and back out of site.

My wife is convinced that the creature knows that we can see its eyes with our lights so now its just looking away to better sneak up on us.  The wife is on full patrol lookout now and we see its eyes again pop upon the other side of our campsite and its pretty close.  This time I can see its eyes and make out the general shape of a dog.

“Looks cute” I think.  The wife disagrees.

It watches us for a few seconds and then disappears off into the darkness again and I continue to finish my soup.  My wife has other plans.

“Thats it, we’re leaving!” she exclaims and like a good husband I simply say OK.  I quickly new that she was not going to get any sleep that night, which would translate into me not getting any sleep that night.  I could tell she was freaked out and and that we would both be miserable, so we packed up.

Well first I was going to finish my soup as I was pretty sure it was just a coyote and it was smelling our food but had little interest in bothering us.  My wife remained on full patrol scanning the entire campsite with her headlamp and yelling at me to stop eating and start packing.  This went on for several more bites as I tried to finish my dinner.  We then began to pack up to hike home…in the dark.

I packed up the sleeping bags and tent as she continued her vigilant lookout all the while her reminding me that I should be moving faster.  With the bags and tent backed up I’ve never seen my wife get ready so fast.  She had her stuff in her backpack and it up on her shoulders in less than a minute as I continued to get the rest of the campsite packed up.  I packed everything up and was still snacking on trail mix and such as I went along.  This did not please my wife.  “Why are you still eating!?” she would ask as she would remind me to hurry up before we were eaten by the “wolf”  I really just wanted to eat the Famous Amos cookies I brought up, but she politely told me, ” you can eat them in the car, lets go!”

Sidenote: We also just watched the very stupid new Red Riding Hood moving on Netflix the night before.  Avoid this film.  Its very bad.

So all my wife could think about was that stupid wolf from that stupid movie coming to devour us, and all I could think about was that it wasn’t a wolf and that we were fine.   But then I thought, It would be really stupid to get attacked by a wolf while the last thought in my head was, “its probably not a wolf”.  So we got everything packed up and headed out on the trail.

Now the main trail was very well marked right up until the point where we get off the trail to camp.  That cutoff has some rocks and pine cones to mark the turnoff, but from then through the meadow, its not the best marked trail.  So my wife drunk and freaked out and me drunk and leading the way head out into the darkness with only our headlamps which are sufficient, but you can only see 2 feet in front of you and not exactly where the trail is leading.  I think we’ll be OK if we can make it back to the main trail so we march forward.  Its very hard to tell at this point if we are on a trail or just walking through the woods in some random direction.  I of course don’t say any of this, but with great confidence keep saying, “yeah its just right up here”.

With my great tracking skills we make it to the cutoff point and I feel much better.  This trail is better marked and we continue on.  I’m very impressed with my outdoors-man skills at this point, while my wife is convinced we are being followed and hunted by the wolf.  We keep up a VERY brisk pace as we head down the trail.  There are a couple points at which we have to cross a stream or the trail looks like it goes off in either direction, but I quickly find the right route and keep us going.  There are still two more trail junctions we have to get through to get on our main trail down the mountain.

We quickly pass the first without too many problems.  The second one seems a bit further away than I remembered it being, but we found it nonetheless.  I’m continually trying to calm my wife down reassuring her that nothing is following us and that we are on the right trail heading in the right direction.  I’m doing a lot of guessing on the latter part.

We find the main trail downhill and the switchbacks.  Its at this point that I want to stop and rest and grab some ibuprofen from my bag as my legs were looking forward to a night off sleeping vs hiking this whole thing again.   My wife then espouses such nuggets of wisdom such as “you can stop all you want when we reach the bottom”.  I love her.

We then proceed down the switchbacks and head back to our car. We still have A LONG way to go at this point, but we are heading downhill and I can see the lights of Hemet off in the distant.  Hemet is a beautiful town, from far away and in the dark.   Close up and in the day, its a horrible ugly town, but at night and from far away, beautiful.

There are a couple more points at which the trail looks unfamiliar, but we keep moving and I’m just happy looking at the stars and keep walking.  My wife is convinced we will never see the car again, but she figures either way we are either camping in the woods but she will just walk all night.  After one final missed turn we re-found the trail and then found our car.

We had quite the adventure and the “wolf” did not eat us.  We drove home and slept in our own beds and woke up today very tired and sore and I’m ready to do again tomorrow.  Not sure if I can talk the wife into it.

Ben…

p.s. I never did get those Famous Amos cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dutch Oven Jamabalaya

Aug 30, 2010 by

IMG_1302 I grew up in Washington state but now live in sunny southern California.   A few of my WA friends also live down here now as well.  So each year, those that live south drive north, and all my friends up north drive south and we meet somewhere in the middle and do some great family camping.

This year we met up in the redwoods of northern California in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park.   I love camping of all kinds, but car camping affords you do some awesome cooking.  We did big family style meals this year and we ate very well.   One thing I’ve wanted for a while now is a dutch oven.  Those are the big cast iron pots that you cook right over the fire with.

I bought a big 8 quart dutch oven at REI and cooked up some awesome meals.  One of the meals I made was a Jambalaya and it was so delicious and easy to make.

Here’s how I did it…

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