Archive for the ‘camping’ Category
This quote is credited to a William Morris. Honestly, I have no idea who he is or why he would make such a statement but, if you change “houses” to “RV”, these are words every Rver should live by.
“If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it. Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Imagine the storage space such a philosophy would free up!
One of the first things a cook learns when camping, when camp is a mile or more high, is it takes longer for things to cook. Fred is a meat-and-potato kind-ah guy and for a long time I just could not get the two done at the same time until I learned these tricks:
1. Peel your potato,
Cut in half,
Than cut the potato in quarters the long way,
than across in thin (about 1/4-inch) slices.
Toss in your pot and bring to a boil on campfire or campstove. The potato cooks in less than half the time. Leftover potatoes are ready for a breakfast.
2. Use pre-cooked or frozen potatoes.
3. Instant mash potatoes must have been invented by a camper. Lightweight and quick, requiring less water and minimal cooking time, they are my favorite and most trusted go-to potato product.
What would be ugly in a garden constitutes beauty on a mountain.
Avoid the “Are we there yet?” from the backseat by providing each child with their own map each morning at breakfast. (I would provide a map of our “before lunch” route to one child and an “after lunch” map to the other one.) You can print such a map from Google maps on the internet or from a mapping software you might have on your computer or use a road atlas map.
Briefly talk about the route, giving the child some idea of what might be waiting up ahead, such as a town with a funny name or a river with a history. You might want to highlight the planned route, may be not. Give the child a pencil and have them make notes on their map about what they see along the way. Maybe there is a 10-ft cowboy that waves at passing traffic, a herd of black cows with a white cream center (we called them Oreo cows) beside the road, or a really fun rest area they will want to remember.
Remind the child, they are the co-navigator and should let the driver know the name of any upcoming river or town and if there is some turn or change in the route coming up.
Some things to talk with the child about so they might be more aware of what they are going to see are:
Do the number signs look different for State, County, and US routes?
How does the map tells us if a route is State, County or US?
What are mile-marker?
Does every route have mile-marker? Why would mile-markers be important?
Are the mile-marker numbers going up or down? What do you think that tells us?
Whether heading to the grocery store or a favorite camping stop, the ride there can be really boring for little passengers. There are just so many times “She’ll be around the mountain” can be sung. A possible alternative is “The State License Plate Game.” Basically, you print out the Game “board”, hand a copy to the little passenger along with a crayon, pencil, whatever, and have them find and scratch out as many of the state licenses as possible. The one with the most states is the winner. The prize could be anything from picking a lunch stop to an extra 30 minutes by the campfire. You can also challenge the passenger to find the license plate for the state where Uncle Tom lives, or where Grandma and Grandpa live, or where they live, or where a special place is located.
It is suggested the “State License Plate Game” be attached to a hard surface, like a clipboard or clipped to a bookcover.
Thanks to www.thedatingdavis.com.
“We want to camp in June. We are a small family with two pre-school children and a big dog. What campground would you suggest?”
Okay, I am paraphrasing but you get the idea. We get this question, or some variation, almost every week. I know finding the “prefect” campground is a challenge but a key is to narrow down your selection criteria.
From the above I have a bunch of holes that need to be filled in such: Where, like state, do you want to camp?; What mode of camping will be used?; Are they tent campers, car campers, or maybe they have some recreational vehicle (RV); Is that RV a Class A, pop-up travel trailer or something in between? and, What are your “must-have” amenities?
I suggest making a list of what your “perfect” campground “must have” as a starting point. For Fred and I the requirements are different but we agree our top “must have” is a lack of crowds. So with this in mind I look for a campground without a lots of whiz-bang fancy attractions. In a private campground that means no playgrounds, swimming pool, restaurant or such. In a state or federal campground we stay away from places with big lakes, whitewater rivers, and super outstanding fishing and head for campgrounds off a paved road and less than 50 campsites.
For me (and this is my list only), a private campground must have full hook-ups, a laundry, clean bathrooms, hot showers and not be priced beyond reason. Fred would add wifi and enough separation between sites to put out the awning. In a state or federal campground, I want trees, at least one trail, potable water, a bathroom, and quiet. Fred wants a level parking apron, a good amount of sunshine, and a water spigot really close by. (Notice Fred’s wants are difficult to determine until we get to the campground.)
So what would be on your “must have” list? Okay, now you know what you want, which would you prefer — public or private campgrounds? Do I need to say we tend to opt for campgrounds in national forests and grasslands? But a lot of folks go for private campgrounds while others are happy with a Walmart parking lot campsite.
Okay that’s a good start but where does one go to locate information about campgrounds? The problem with answering this question is there are so many places to go for campground information. You can use one of the telephone book size directories like the one published by Trailer Life and Woodall. And then there are numerous websites, like ours, ForestCamping.com, that list hundreds of campgrounds. Toss in “word-of-mouth” suggestions and you can be completely overwhelmed even before you take a look at what’s available via today’s technology and apps.
We are getting away from those phonebook directories and going more with an app Fred has on his smart phone. One reason is it includes reviews and another reason is the app will actually guide us to the campground. However, on problem with Fred’s campground app is huge. I would like it better if I could use some filters so my choices would be limited to campgrounds with, say, a laundry and are dog friendly.
Ask anyone who knows me and they will confirm it – I’m a messy baker and not thrilled with cleaning up the mess. May be that’s why I have a whole series of one pan cake recipes. My Lemon Squares recipe is almost mess free, so easy and yummy. Perfect for summer picnics, school lunchboxes, or for company. An added bonus to this recipe is it is a great introduction to baking for children. The only trick is to make sure all the flour in the corners is mixed into the wet ingredients. I don’t think you can overmix the batter and it is a yummy sponge for soaking up ice cream.
First step, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Now, put all the dry ingredients in an ungreased square pan. With a dinner fork, mix the dry ingredients to combine. All the wet ingredients are in the measuring cup on the right of this photo, waiting to be added in just a minute or so.
The recipe calls for grated lemon peel but I like to use a bartenders tool that makes lemon peel threads and add them now so they get coated with the flour. When you serve a square it looks like happy yellow threads of sunshine are in the cake.
Add the wet ingredients (plus a tablespoon of water if you are above 5,500 feet elevation) and mix thoroughly. Note: I’m using a glass square pan so there is no need to increase temperature to compensate for the elevation but if the pan is metal, the oven’s temperature would be increased by 25 degrees). If you are baking this recipe below 5,500 feet elevation, no adjustments are necessary.
Slip pan into preheated oven and clean up. See the yellow threads of sunshine?
Here are all the dirty dishes I had – got to love it!
The lemon syrup give the top a crunch while the cake is so moist and tender. The strawberries are so good this year and compliment the Lemon Squares nicely.
Lemon Squares- one pan
1-1/2 C. flour
1 C. sugar
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 C milk
1/3 C. oil
2 t. grated lemon peel
In 8 or 9″ square pan with fork mix well flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil and peel; mix well. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven: pour syrup over top. Return to oven and bake 5 minutes. If necessary, baste top with any syrup that collects around the edges.
Lemon Syrup - Mix 2/3 C. sugar and 3 T. lemon juice and set aside until needed.
Three observations concerning Forest Service web sites:
1. There isn’t a lot of information on some sites;
2. Many sites just sit on the same information for months and even years;
3. And, the Forest Service really doesn’t blow its horn often or loud enough.
When we started our US National Forest Campground Guide efforts, the Forest Service was still in a cyberspace “Dark-Age.” Their computers were some “off-brand” unknown system that barely talked with any other computers. Some Forest Service employees had been exposed to cyberspace via “gopher” aided college research but most had no experience with cyberspace. The Internet was in its infancy.
Needless to say, “back-in-the-day”, the Forest Service seemed to think web sites were the corners of rooms were spiders hung out. A few years later, if a Forest’s web site was developed, designed, and maintained it was by whoever had the time and interest. Work on a web site was done when everything else was done. Since than web sites have evolved and today the Forest Service web sites have a standard appearance with specific guidelines. But getting the information we, the users of National Forests, need continues to be challenge.
My interests are focused on camping opportunities and hiking trails. Over and over again I have found the campground information provided by the Forest Service is one, two, or more years old and so sketchy I am not sure what I might be getting myself into. (A call to the Forest’s Front Desk person usually corrects this problem but not always and there is a rumor that this position may be “consolidated,” whatever that means.) And trying to discover trails at or near the campground – just forget about it.
After all these years of working with the Forest Service in the forests across the country there are three things I have learned:
- people who work for the Forest Service are dedicated, committed, wonderful group of people and, generally, introverts;
- National Forests are the bestest places; and,
- the Forest Service is “hiding their light under a basket.”
Our weekend of camping in the shadow of the San Francisco mountain on the east side of Flagstaff is almost done. Tomorrow we’ll go to Williams, AZ and re-visit Dogtown, Kaibab Lake, and White Horse Lake campgrounds before heading to Prescott to do some of the campgrounds area there. But more about those adventures later.
It was 351 miles from home to Flagstaff. Hand down, the worst part was the hour or so driving through Phoenix. I wish I could find another way to go from southern Arizona to its northern reach. It doesn’t seem to matter when we leave home, the traffic in Phoenix is miserable and the temperature only adds to the misery. However, when Phoenix is in our rear-view mirror things are good. The traffic melts away, as does the heat, and landscape goes from one housing developed, mega-shopping mall and apartment complex to various vista that stretch beyond imagination, open prairies dotted juniper and finally towering sweet scented Ponderosa pine.
It is still too early, and cold, for wildflowers to be in blooming north of Phoenix but up to there blossoms lined the I-10. Yellow Brittlebush seemed to be the most plentiful with occasional patches of rosy pink penstemon and golden Mexico poppies are everywhere. May it’s the surrounding dull dead brown landscape that makes the roadway lining wildflower displays so pleasing. What ever the reason, it might be the best part of the two-plus-hour drive.
This is a photograph of one of the my favorite weeds. I call it a “Chocolate Weed” because it smells like a chocolate cocoa.
Once in Flagstaff, we settled into a private campground. What can I say,? It’s a private campground were one parks their rig between young pines on parking aprons of the cindery soil so common to the area close enough to the neighboring rig that you can identify what they are having for dinner. The dogs are completely unimpressed by the many Abert’s squirrels (with tuffed ears and related to the Kaibab squirrel which live on the north rim of the Grand Canyon National Park) gathering around the plate of food left by our neighbor. Besides the entertaining squirrels, the adjacent Coconino National Forest offers miles and miles of trails to explore. The dogs and I think that is the best feature of this private campground.
Fred loves spam. If given a choice between Spam and breakfast sausage, I think Spam wins 9 out of 10 times. There is always a can of Spam in the pantry. The preferred preparation is fried crispy.
One problem I have always had with Spam is slicing it. Getting it evenly thin enough to fry up nice a crisp was a challenge until I discovered my wire cheese slicer. I hate taking anything in the motorhome that serves only one function. While my wire cheese slicer has long done double duty producing even slices of butter, refrigerated cookie dough, and a variety of cheese, applying it to a brick of Spam never entered my mind until recently. Brilliant! No fuss. No mess. Each slice is the same thickness for its entire length. Why didn’t I think of this sooner.
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