Spending time in a national forest is my preferred way to expose my grandchildren to the wonders of Mother Nature. But here are some ideas to start the wondering.
Plant some seeds – I’ve been collecting empty toilet paper tubes for a while for this activity. There are about six weeks until the “Last Frost” day so now is a good time to fold one end of each tube close, fill with some potting soil or dirt from the back yard (if you can find any that isn’t still frozen like mine is), poke a seed (I’m using green peas because they can deal with any surprise cold snaps better than many other vegetables) into that dirt, set upright in an old pan, and give each tube a nice drink of water. The whole thing will spend some time in a window that gets morning sun until a little green sprouts from the seed (anywhere from a one to two weeks) than I’ll move it to a window that gets a little more sun and keep an eye on it so it doesn’t dry out. Once the sprouts have four or more leaves I’ll take my pea plant outside and plant the tube and all. Than I have to wait at least a month to six weeks to have fresh peas to eat. (Lettuce can be harvest sooner and tomatoes can take a lot longer but there are a lot of choices in between those two.)
Plants need water – I’m not sure which is most important to growing a seed: dirt, water, or sun but here’s a method I found works to keep a young children interested in plants and keeps a plant from being over-water – a plastic squeeze bottle. You know the kind often found in cafes or sporting events containing ketchup or mustard. Our local Dollar Store, as well as the big box stores, have them. Just put some clear water in one, screw the top on, hand to the child, and let them squeeze. One squeeze per plant worked well for me.
Take a cutting – Don’t overlook the possibilities of growing something from a cutting or rescued seed. If you can find whole carrots with their leafy green tops still attach, make the investment. Cut about a half to one-inch off the top, clip the green back a little (something like giving your carrot a haircut), and poke three or four toothpicks into the carrot. Fill a small glass with cool water and set the carrot into the water. The toothpicks should keep the carrot from drowning in the water. Or you can use an avocado seed, again using toothpicks to set the seed in the water without submerging the whole seed. Set your plant in the making in a sunny window and watch it grow. Be sure to keep the water level high enough so the plant is in the water but not drowning. You can also use a piece of some houseplants for this water world garden.
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.
The Fort Pierre National Grassland will once again have viewing blinds available for people who want to want to watch the spring courtship rituals of prairie chickens.
The viewing blinds can be reserved at no charge on the National Grasslands south of Fort Pierre. The viewing blinds are available through May.
Wildlife Biologist Ruben Mares says the three blinds are placed at the edge of the birds’ dancing and booming grounds, which are called leks (LEHKS). He says visitors who use the blinds are overwhelmed by being able to view prairie chickens at such close range.
Can’t make to Fort Pierre NF? Click this link to see what you’ll be missing.
Here are 25 survival uses for duct tape (DT) from Outdoor Survival, in no order whatsoever. One tip they omitted was DT is great for repairing holes made by tree branch in the outside skin of a motorhome or travel trailer.
1. Repairing a cracked water bottle or a pierced hydration bladder. A little strip of DT is the next best thing to a bandage for an ailing water vessel. Just dry the surface before you try to tape your patch in place, most forms of duct tape don’t stick to wet surfaces.
2. Survival arrow fletching. Tear off a few 5-inch pieces, and a long edge of one piece to the arrow shaft, fold the tape lengthwise, and stick the other long edge of that piece to the arrow. Repeat this process one or two more times; trim the vanes to shape with your knife; and you will have a serviceable arrow fletching.
3. Butterfly bandage strips. Cut two small strips of DT, and add a smaller strip across their centers (sticky side to sticky side) to create a makeshift butterfly suture.
4. Make cordage. Twist one or several lengths of duct tape into a cord or rope.
5. Patch a hole in canoe. I wouldn’t trust my life to this one, but it’s been done more than once.
6. Fashion a belt. When you are starving in the wild, and your pants start falling down, run a piece of DT through your belt loops and stick it to itself in the front. Overlap it about 4 or 5 inches and you’ll still be able to peel the belt apart when nature calls.
7. First aid sling. Fold a length of DT down the middle, so that it is half the original width and no longer exposing a sticky side. Use the strap to make a sling for a busted arm.
8. Leave a note. Write on it with a Sharpie, or use strips to form letters.
9. Handcuff alternative. If someone is acting up during a survival emergency, you can duct tape their hands together around a tree to prevent them from becoming a danger to themselves or others.
10. Mend shoes and clothing. You can skip the sewing class, if you have enough duct tape.
11. Repair your glasses. The tape on your glasses my look a little nerdy, but at least you’ll still be able to see.
12. Attach shelter elements. Just a few trash bags and some duct tape, and you have a survival shelter roof, or a sleeping bag cover, or a wind break, or…
13. Attach survival gear. Tape a spark rod to the side of your knife sheath, and you’ll always have a back-up fire source.
14. Make a hat. If you believe what you see on TV, the “Mythbusters” guys made a pretty nice looking hat out of duct tape on a recent episode.
15. Afix bandages. Place a sterile dressing over your wound, and strap it in place with DT. Hopefully you’re not too hairy where you got injured.
16. Fix your rain gear. Keep the dry stuff dry, and keep the water out, by mending your ripped rain gear with a few strips.
17. Make a drinking cup. Some creative folding and sticking can result in a cup you can drink from.
18. Make a spear. Strap your knife to a pole and you have a trusty spear to fend off beasts, or make one into your dinner.
19. Blister care. Cover the blistered area with a bit of cotton gauze, and tape over the cotton. Make sure that the duct tape fully covers the cotton and doesn’t touch the blister at all.
20. Mark a Trail. Use it to blaze a trail or signal for rescue, especially if your DT is brightly colored or reflective.
21. Make emergency repairs on your Bug Out Vehicle. Leaking hoses and windows that won’t stay up don’t stand a chance against the mending powers of duct tape.
22. Keep the feathers in your sleeping bag. If you have a hole in your down sleeping bag, the feathers will pour out faster than excuses from a politician. Patch the hole with DT.
23. Keep your tent closed. A damaged zipper could leave your tent door flapping in the wind. Stick the door shut, and keep the bugs and critters out.
24. Splint a leg. A broken ankle or leg can be stabilized with ample splint material, padding and duct tape. Pad the crotch of a forked branch with some cloth and duct tape to fashion a quick crutch to go with your splint.
25. Splint a broken tent pole or fishing pole. By taping a stick to the broken area of your tent pole or fishing rod, you might just get one last adventure out of it.
Been a super busy week. Came across this blog of 52 Amazing Creative Food Art and had to share. It made me smile which is just what I needed. Hope it brightens your day, too.
Actually, this is good for skin that has suffered abuse from winter or summer.
February was a long stretch of freezing temperatures, high wind, and super low humidity as my skin’s condition can verify. After all the abuse, I made the decision to try my old standby skin conditioning treatment – yogurt with a little ground oatmeal. The results were fabulous.
Here’s what I did: First, I scooped out a generous 1/4 cup of plain yogurt;
Using about a tablespoon of yogurt from the 1/4 cup, I mixed in a scant tablespoon of finely ground old fashion oatmeal;
Next I draw a delicious hot bath, mixing in the remaining yogurt;
Once in the bath, I applied the yogurt and oatmeal mixture to my face, shoulders, and elbows and just soaked.
After the water cooled, I rinsed all the yogurt and oatmeal off. Although it probably isn’t necessary, I do rinse again using fresh, warm water. A brisk toweling to dry and my skin is radiant, soft, and flake-free. Now, I am ready for Spring and my short-sleeved outfits.
PS-This is great for skin that has had too much sun and wind from summer time fun.
Whether a tent, car, and rv (recreational vehicle) camper, a tool box is an important. I’m not talking about an assortment of tools you might need to rebuild engine but some basic stuff to correct small problems like a tear in a tent, hanging a line to dry wet swimsuit, or change out a blown fuse.
Here are tools all campers should have in their toolbox. Make sure all tools fit your hand comfortably.
Hammer – 16-ounce curved-claw model. It’s lightweight and effective.
Screwdriver – a multi-bit ratchet screwdriver is best. It will save you weight (won’t need more than the one), money (no need to buy any others), and time (no need to reset the tool after each turn).
Pliers – slip-joint for tightening or loosening nuts and bolts and needle-nose pliers for twisting wire and reaching into tight places.
Hardware – a variety of nails, screws, eye hooks, and cup hooks along with wire and lightweight durable string. S-hooks and clothespin can be useful, too.
Adhesives – Carpenter’s glue for wood and paper, Super glue for almost everything else, but tape such as masking, duct, and electric, is probably more useful.
An rv camper will find a socket and ratchet set useful.
Need something quick and easy, not too sweet, but not bland, good with dinner or as a dessert, this is what you are looking for. It’s called 5-cup but I rarely limit myself and nor should you. Got some fresh strawberries, crushed canned pineapple, or a handful of raisins? Toss them in. It only makes the final dish better.
5-cup Fruit Salad
- 1 cup minnie marshmallows
- 1 cup shredded or flaked coconut
- 1 cup yogurt or sour cream
- 1 cup fresh orange section or drained canned mandarin oranges
- 1 cup fresh grapes
Toss everything in a large bowl and mix together. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 5 to 10.
Saw the turkey vultures circling high above the town’ s massive cottonwoods more than 10 days ago. It was much too early for them to be back but there they were and the weatherman was calling for a period of cold, yucky weather. But I guess those ugly birds know better ’cause, now less than two weeks later, everything is popping. My crocus bloomed while we were giving that presentation at REI! But you can almost see the apple and pear tree’s blossoms while standing there. Just a few days ago, there were no buds on the oak trees.
And the manzanita were even stirring and now they are covered with pretty pale pink flowers.
Got to love this time of year and I’m going camping in 21 days!!!