Thursday, March 4, 2010

Camping, Habits and Health

Perhaps you may recall the 'time and health' discussion from my last blog post. I pretty much beat the 'time' horse to death. ( This has gotten to be a New Years tradition. ;-) Now let's take a little closer look at the 'health' side of that coin. As mentioned last month, what is life without good health? Answer: Miserable.

As it turns out camping is a potentially great mechanism to positively impact your health and the health of those in your care! Here is why.

If there is one thing you can say about us human beings, and probably most other animals, it is that we truly are creatures of habit. For example, if you want to know what you will be doing this Monday just look at what you did last Monday and I am going to guess there will not be a whole lot that is different.

Perhaps a typical 'workday' might look something like this: Turn off alarm - take shower - dress - eat breakfast - "goodbye honey" kiss - drive to work (curse traffic ) - get to work (curse boss) - do the same old stuff (curse stuff) - drive home ( curse traffic ) - (pick up bread and milk on the way home - "Hi honey" kiss - have the "how was you day?" conversation - pop a beer - eat dinner - turn on TV - hit the couch ....so much for that day.

Perhaps your routine is somewhat different, I certainly hope so anyway. Surely you have a routine of one kind or another, though. Incidentally, a routine is simply a collection of habits. This is an important thing to note because we love, if not worship, our routines. We are married to, and devote our lives to our routines. Therefore a paramount reality is that our routines can make us or break us in many ways including time management, health and therefore happiness in general.

Now let's look at a typical weekend routine which should start on Friday night. Check planner for this weekend's camping trip - make menu/meal plan - load camping checklist - head for store - get food/ice/gas - head for hills - setup camp - start fire, laugh, frolic, play music, tell stories, poems and lies - sleep - up early -watch sunrise (best part of the day) - go fishing - catch breakfast - cook breakfast - eat breakfast - take nap - go biking - eat lunch - take nap - go hiking - take pictures - have fun - cook dinner - eat dinner - take nap , -go back to start fire and repeat through Sunday---- - break camp - head home - unload and stash gear.

What both of these routines have in common is that they have evolved into what they are. They came to be by virtue of both circumstances and our own volition. Also notice that routines drive behaviors but behaviors create routines.

Let me suggest that any and all portions of these routines, right down to the most intimate detail, can be changed. This relationship between our behaviors and our routines is the key to many doors. Good behaviors create good routines and bad behaviors create bad routines. And the routine perpetuates the behaviors that created it. Yikes! That is both scary and hopeful. Additionally, the longer the routine is allowed to persist the harder it will be to change. Again, that is both scary and hopeful.

Kind of makes one feel a little like a dog chasing it's own tail, doesn't it?

Here is the point. Camping might very well be the best vehicle for altering bad behaviors and reinforcing good ones because it offers three wonderful features:
  1. camping necessitates a vastly different routine than normal.

  2. camping is done in a remote and potentially isolated setting.

  3. many camping activities encourage physical exercise, an imperative to good health.

So, he who wishes to quit smoking, for example, might find camping trips will break his normal smoking routines while supplying an isolated, smoke-free environment. ( Where I camp there are no convenience stores so, no cigarettes = no smoking. ) Additionally, camping might encourage and after dinner walk or other alternate behavior in place of the after dinner smoke.

I have a friend that refers to this notion as 'detox camping'. (I like that name.)

So this year "camping for health" is going to be my battle cry. In case you are wondering, the thing that precipitated this 'healthy camping goal' was the most salient feature of my latest camp kitchen product demonstration video. That would be my pot belly! I looked at it and thought "you really need to fix that". It's been there for years so I have the feeling that is not going to be an easy task. Something tells me that this year's camping trips are going to be without potato chips and soda pop, among other things.

So join me in my quest for a healthier existence as this year we camp ourselves out of bad habits and into good ones.

Next month I am going to beat the 'health' horse to death. Till then, let's get in a few practice 'detox camping' trips.

Go camping!

Ken

Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Annual "camp more this year" lecture ;-) - Time, Life and Money

There is a very special camping spot with a lot of petroglyphs nearby. Sometimes I set there among them just trying to imagine what might have been swirling around in the heads of those who created them. I must confess to some degree of envy toward the seemingly simpler lifestyle our ancestors must have enjoyed. No mortgage, no credit card payments due, no rising gas price straining the budget.....etc.

Looking at petroglyphs is the daytime version of gazing at the stars. ( That would make them earthly constellations, so to speak. )

There is a good book called "How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life" by Alan Lakin. Perhaps the most important point within it is that time and life are effectively the same thing. With time we do all other things including making money. While it might be true that time and money are the same thing in a business sense, may I suggest that it is not true in a personal sense because once all your time is gone, all the money in the world doesn't do you any good.

We really spend our lives on a money vs time 'titer tauter' so to speak. In effect we work more, in an effort to make more money. Ironically, we think the more money we make, the more time we will have to do the things we really want to do. In other words, spend more time making more money so we can have more time??? What's wrong with this picture???

Perhaps the big mistake is orienting our lives around our work. After all time is our most valuable possession as it is life itself. Additionally, good health is the thing that gives you the ability to enjoy your time. ( People in pain and the sickly can't enjoy their time. ) Thus he who has both time and health is truly among the 'richest' of people.

Let me suggest, that this year you try making your life's schedule around your recreation instead of your work. How does one do this you ask? Planning.

Our camping planner/calendar will aid a great deal toward that end. Be sure to download our 2010 version if you haven't already done so. ( I hope you find the included cookbook useful too.)


Alternately, you can make your own calendar using your own pictures at this Calendar Projects wiki web site. They have many different options for making your own. Then after you have a calendar, the drill becomes planning out those camping trips you have always wanted to do.

Plan your recreation time carefully for it is the true gold of your life. You might what to do a little research at this point. You know, Goggle a few camping spot possibilities and such. One great way to research an area is to subscribe to local or state publications from the given area. For example, anyone planning a trip through Arizona might find a $21.00 subscription to Arizona Highways Magazine to be the best camping investment they ever made. After all that magazine uses professional photographers and writers to illustrate and describe the choices locations in the state.

Once you have your camping trips worked out, now comes the hard part - you have to stick to your guns and make them happen. Now if all this has a 'deja vu' feel to it, it's because we really have been here before. Remember how we started last year?

This year try planning your life around the things you want to do not the things you have to do. Guard your recreation time as though it is your most valuable possession - it is!

Time is life and money is only the middle man. Have you been paying him a little too much?
Let's make this a great camping year.

Go Camping!
Ken

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Another World





"Being out here is like being in another world." That's when I knew she had been bitten by the outdoor bug.


It was about sunrise of the third morning on my son's unit 8 elk hunt. One of my grand daughters had made it out to go with us. The birds were chirping, the coyotes were yelping and my toes felt the tingle of a 15 degree morning. It was perfect!


My youngest son, in real life, is an electronic engineer over in San Jose and I get the pleasure of his company on maybe two to three occasions each year. It's almost always a big game hunting season that precipitates those happenings. Arizona has a big game lottery system and sometimes I'm drawn, sometimes he's drawn, sometimes both of us get drawn and once in a while neither of us are drawn so we just go with somebody else.


There are some that would portray us hunters as ruthless blood thirsty savages but, of course, that is not true. Our main motivation for doing it is largely the pleasure of each others company but it also satisfies some primal survival need within us. There is something about hunting that returns the soul to a more natural existence. Acquiring food by driving down to the store, loading up a shopping cart with highly processed, rigorously packaged, food and paying for it with paper or plastic just doesn't get it by comparison.




Of course, that 'in the wild' feeling gets renewed almost any time we can find an excuse to get out camping. And there is that great side benefit of "being in another world" as my grand daughter Emily has discovered.


We go because we like being in that every changing 'other world'. Welcome to it Emily, may you find a lifetime of wonder out there as we have.


Go Camping!


Ken









Monday, October 26, 2009

Let's go fishing!

For many years I went to the Wickenburg Bluegrass Festival in November. Some years I would buy a ticket just to support their efforts even though I knew I wouldn't be able to make it. Then last year they decided to outlaw tent camping. ( That's down right un-American if you ask me! ) I suspect this was done to make room for all the high dollar Canadian snowbird RVs, although there are any number of other lame excuses floating around as well.

So I have been thinking we should do something over here in Camp Verde on that weekend. ( Maybe next year we'll do a folk festival?) Then it hit me. Let's go camping! I mean together. I'm thinking Nov. 13-15 at the Bull Pen campground near Camp Verde AZ. It's going to be a no host, bring your own everything, kind of deal but I'll bet you have some fun if you can find a way to make it.



I'll call a couple of my musician buddies ( the ones that are tent campers ) and see if we can at least round up a little entertainment for the event. Plus the fishing should be pretty good now as trout seem to be a lot happier in cold water. Hey, maybe we can cook up some trout foil wrap style? Also the hiking is pretty spectacular out of this camp ground. There are some easy and wonderful day hikes including Blodget Basin and West Clear Creek trails. It will likely be a lot chilly at night so dress warm. This will make a nice little warm up camping trip for our Arizona winter camping efforts! Tent campers are more than welcome. It's a tough place to get an RV or camper trailer but if you have one, you are welcome, although we will probably sneer at you a little. (Just kidding.)











The trail going from the Bull Pen up West Clear Creek






No need to RSVP or anything, as you need to bring your own food and such.



Shoot me and email or give me a call if you have any questions. I'll send you a Google Earth place mark if you need it.



Let's Go Camping!



Ken

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's Fall!

The sky is a little bluer, the air is a little cooler and leaves are taking on the look of an artists palette. In many parts of our country, fall offers the best in the way of camping opportunities for two reasons. First the biting bugs are all but gone as the colder nights force their retreat. Second, the other campers thin out considerably so the best camping spots are often available.








Kendrick Mountain as seen from the Humphrey's Peak trailhead at the Arizona Snowbowl - Oct 2007.


A few years back, I went camping at Diamond Rock on Arizona's Black river two weeks before Labor Day and could hardly find an available campsite. Two weeks after Labor day I went back to the same place and could have camped almost anywhere. It's just astounding how a little chill in the air scares off the masses. But not us hard core campers - this is when we get serious.



The other important camping recreation issues are the fishing gets better as it gets colder, the hunting seasons are starting and hiking & biking are way better when it cools down in autumn.



The fall colors visually signal the start of the best camping season. So turn on those football game recording devices ( so you can watch the games when you get back ) and get out there and bring this fall in with a few memorable camping outings. You might even want to try a big campout.



Go camping!



Ken

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hope for the best - plan for the worst.

Survival - I really don't even like thinking about it. It is such a primal need it can turn perfectly reasonable human beings back into ravaging animals. And just thinking about what one must do to prepare for possible catastrophes makes me tired. I think back to a time when I was in the eighth grade.

My brother and I dug the hole for it with shovels. We would come home from school and dig for an hour or two every night and as I remember it took us a couple months to get the hole to the necessary twelve foot depth. It had to be that deep because you needed a lot of dirt between the ceiling in the bomb shelter and the surface of the ground in order to protect against the fallout from a possible nuclear blast. Well, that was the theory anyway.


The cold war was in full swing and people were just plain scared. The civil defense sirens would test every Saturday at noon. I have later come to believe this was done mostly for purposes of promoting and proliferating fear. Scared people are much more likely to huddle up like a covey of quail and follow the leader. ( That is not necessarily a smart thing to do. Hitler taught us that.)

Still, having a bomb shelter offered a measure of security others didn't have. This gave us some solace during the nail biting Cuban missile crisis and even when John Kennedy was shot. Such events pale the circumstances of ordinary life and strongly suggest even greater horrific happenings are indeed possible.

The Bomb was the big threat back in those days. Now other additional possibilities seem more feasible.

"What does this have to do with camping," you ask. It is your camping equipment that is important to this discussion because we are talking about survival and your camping gear should be at the heart of your survival plan.

There are many possibilities when it comes to disasters. I dare say there is no place in the country where one of more of the following is not only a possibility but even likely at some point - hurricane, tornado, earthquake, tsunami and wild fires. Additionally, consider what happens when we throw the possibility of man made events into the mix like - terrorism, riots, economic collapse, even war.

Thus one should develop a variety of outdoor skills and stash some acorns but you also need a good survival plan even if only for temporary refuge from a localized disaster. Be sure to look at our new survival plan web page to help you develop a survival mentality and give you some thoughts on integrating your camping equipment into that survival plan.


As the old saying goes, let's hope for the best but plan for the worst.

Go Camping! It's not just for fun it is survival training.

Ken


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lost

I must have been about 12 years old at that time. It was the time I got lost, really lost, not just a little turned around. Wouldn't you know, my direction of movement was exactly wrong. Completely backwards, instead of going south I was moving north.



"How does this happen," one might ask?


  • It was a new, thus unfamiliar area

  • It was a cloudy day so the sun was not available to aid in navigational efforts

  • I was young and stupid. ( now I'm just stupid :o()

  • I didn't pay attention and did not mentally note the salient features of the land before leaving the vehicle.

Now in my later years, when things are not working out the way they should, I tend to ask myself "am I really doing what I think I am doing?". Not surprisingly the answer is often no! Which is why it is advisable to check our points of reference occasionally.


That, of course, is why we did the little camping survey a couple months ago. Checking our reference points. I am happy to say that, by and large, we are not lost. In fact most readers seem to be pretty happy with the general direction of the newsletter. Folks seem to like the cooking, dutch oven and family camping content but would like to see more localized information on specific areas to camp and such.


If you have a look at the writers page on our camping terms website you'll get an idea of other things people were interested in knowing about. If you have some expertise in any area of camping and would like to share it with us, please sign up to be a writer.


And if you are wondering how I managed to get out of my lost situation, well while wondering aimlessly, I came across my cousin, same age as me, walking the same direction as me ( exactly wrong ). His stupidity reassured and added to mine and visa verse. So we just kept walking the same direction !

This experience has lead me to the mathematical equation:


1S + 1S = 2S where s=stupid


so one stupid plus another stupid = two stupids (stupids will not cancel each other out!) And if you think about it, we have seen this many times especially in political arenas. Additionally, adding more stupids to the equation only adds to the reassurance of all the stupids in the equation and does nothing to offset the stupidity of the situation or the equation. In other words, just because a lot of stupids all think the same thing, that does not make it true - it's still stupid.


I hope I am not acting "stupidly" here. ( Now there is a word that says a lot!) My gout does not allow me to drink beer anymore so I can't just ask you over for a beer and make it all better.


As for my cousin and I, we ran across another hunter way back about where the last dirt road turns into a cow path and he very kindly gave us a ride back to where we should be. There is no substitute for blind luck.


Don't get lost and Go Camping! Or visa verse.


Ken