Wednesday, June 28, 2023


For the younger among us ‘uncle’, means ‘I give up’. 

In January I decided to pull the plug on the manufacturing side of my business. Joe Biden’s ‘gas inflation tax’ has driven the cost of materials and shipping so high that there is no profit margin left in making a product. Honestly, for the last several years I would have made better money flipping hamburgers at McDonalds or stuffing tacos at Taco Bell. Thus, just increasing the price of the products is not an option either. For a number of years, it's felt like I have just been working for the benefit of Lowes, UPS and other vendors. They all make good money from my efforts. Yeeeesh....

However, when you stop spending your time doing things, you have more time to do ‘other’ things. So, the good news is I haven’t actually given up on everything, just chuck box manufacturing. I do still sell plans and spend considerable time and energy teaching people how to make chuck boxes with free customer service ‘how to’ videos for those who purchase plans.

BlueSkyKitchen Plans page 

Additionally, my website is getting a lot of attention. Here is a playlist of a great family type ‘pallet project’ woodworking gift as an example: (When I say raised bed - I really mean elevated bed.)

Elevated Garden 

This inflation has forced me to rethink how I do everything from business expenditures to personal expenses. This has led me to another big business chopping block item, buck email including newsletters. 

However, you can still stay in touch through various social media platforms: 

Camping tips FaceBookPage - Here is where I’ll post links to new content and related videos. 

BSK FaceBookPage - Information related to building chuck boxes.

Videocamper YouTube - Video channel for camping and outdoor ideas. This continues to be the video presence for and ( I am toying with the idea of doing a video newsletter using a Power Point format. Keep an eye on this one.)

Woodworking YouTube - Here is where you’ll find the new stuff for 

KenRalston YouTube - This is a channel I have had for a while but only used for personal things. What should start happening here though, are personal, mostly kid stories, general experiences and maybe an entertaining poem, song or skit. I plan on having fun with this channel. Please subscribe and join me.  Here is an example:

And these websites are still intact:

In summary, the newsletter is no more but all the information that use to be in the bulk email newsletter is still available through other channels. 

Things change, don’t we know it...... 

Subscribe to one or more of my social channels then Go Camping!

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

2023 Go Camping! Calendar/Planner is ready!

So here we are just a month away from those special 'end of the year' happenings! December brings you Christmas, January brings you a New Year and I bring you a fresh 2023 Go Camping! Calendar/Planner. Hey life is good, don't we know it?

Somewhat surprisingly, I actually have the calendar done now!    And I even have the motivational video done too.  Have a look:

And this year, we have added 'screen server images' for your computer to the mix of goodies. Wow! (I am patting myself on the back.) I just water marked the calendars into the upper corner of the images. Thus, now you get a great image for your computer background and a little monthly calendar for reference purposes too.

So, let's get to planning out our 2023 camping and vacation efforts by downloading your copy of the calendar/planner:

2023_Go Camping!_Calendar.indd (

And here is a link to the screen server images should you be interested:

Camping tips free download page. ( 

As my longtime subscribers know, these calendar/planners become diaries for future reference. Therefore, get one, print it out and put it in a folder so you have a hardcopy for, not just your planning efforts but, also your camping notes and stories. 

If you haven't already signed up for my newsletter have a look at this example where you can also sign up at the bottom: and newsletter example  

Thanks for reading and be sure to check the links in the planner that are of interest to you (That really helps me out with my search engine efforts and such.)  Go Camping!

Sunday, October 16, 2022

A picture is worth thousand memories!

I have a framed picture collection on my wall that was from a Havasupai back-packing campout in the mid ‘80’s. I did this trip with some friends and my two sons when they were still in school. It is always on a highly visibility wall no matter wherever I am living. Why? It brings back great memories of not just that trip, which was spectacular, but also my sons when they were young.

There was a time when this kind of photography was a big pain in the posterior. It required not just semi-fancy cameras but film and developing. Thus, you had to wait for typically a week or so before you got to see whether the image was even any good. Or, whether the picture “turned out” as we use to say.

These days our high-tech devices (phones and such) have made it ultra-easy to get pictures and you can see immediately whether they “turn out”. Also, there are great digital device ways (specialized mini-TV’s and computers, if you will) to display those pictures prominently on tabletops and walls. 

Use to be you would take tons of pictures and end up with only a couple that would make it out of the ‘print envelope’ into a frame. These modern devices allow you to cycle through all or just selected ones continually, like screen savers on your computer.

To that end, it occurs to me that some might enjoy having my Go Camping! Calendar images as screen savers. These images are from camping trips I have done mostly in the stunningly beautiful Arizona outdoors. I do this calendar and thus the images in the hopes of motivating my camping clientele to get out there and Go Camping! Why not use them as screen savers on your computer? 

I have done motivational calendars/planners for over a decade. These images have mostly been extracted from videos taken on my camping trips. As some of you may know, I often additionally make a video that shows you the exact frame in context used for the calendar specific still images. I don’t always do calendar videos but here is a playlist of ones I have done over the years: (Please skip the #*@!& Youtube adds between each video! They benefit me in no way. This is just Youtube exploiting it’s clientele....Gerrrrr..)

Believe it or not you can still actually get the old calendars from my website by visiting this blog post:

Past Calendars

I am sure you noticed I do insert my own promotional content into these calendars. Actually, this is my motivation for doing them. Hopefully, you get some really helpful information and camping tips as well.

For what it is worth, calendars were historically used extensively as promotional instruments for various businesses both big and small. Anecdotally, in a great book called “Blue Highways” by Henry Least Moon he refers to the number of calendars displayed in a restaurant as the best gage of how good the food is. ( i.e. a five calendar restaurant will have great food!)

This age of digital photography has really curtailed promotional calendar practices although some of us still do them. I do them more as a planner so people can plan out their camping and vacation trips for a given year. (I should have the 2023 version ready next month.)

Here is the best example of calendar promotion I know - Arizona Highways.  

This year, I think I am going to do a toned-down ‘screen saver’ version of my calendar you can use on your computer.  

Here are the November and December examples of that - Go Camping! Screen Savers  

Taking pictures will help you shake those great memories loose even many years from now. And the best pictures are taken when you Go Camping!


Friday, September 30, 2022

Take in a Few Sights on Your Next Camping Trip

 Among the very best reasons to go camping is to quite simply take in the various sights and attractions of a given area. I have made a little video to exemplify how one might go about doing that sort of thing. Most areas, at least out here in the West, will have some pretty cool things to see and do, close by.

Also, it seems to me, half the problem of doing anything is getting in range. Thus, with just a little extra research and planning, you might find your camping efforts are taking you right by something that you really should see or do.

It might be a little unfair to use Flagstaff as an example considering it has the Grand Canyon, San Fransico Peaks, Sunset Crater, Wapatki, Walnut Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon and other fairly well known, if not famous, places in close proximity. However, in this video I use some mostly lesser-known attractions that are within range. (There are many more possibilities as well though.) 

This is also sort of a cool approach when out on camping vacations. Keep in mind the kids might need a hike just to unwind and stretch their legs.

Of course, Google and especially Google Earth are quite useful for your planning efforts. Also look into state parks and local museums when searching out the possibilities. 

This time of year, you might have some wonderful leaf peeping opportunities as well.

Don’t waste your fall, Go Camping! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Mealtime - Eat Good. (And by ‘good’ I mean healthy.)

One of the many revelations of aging is the little things in one’s life tend to become much more amplified. What use to be ordinary and downright ubiquitous can become more meaningful and even quite significant. The importance of eating good (healthy) really exemplifies this notion.

My nephew and wonderful hunting buddy, Dusty, kind of taught me this in an inverse way. When you camp with him you find there are two and only two dinners he will even do. One of them is cheeseburgers and the other one is green chili burros. Now don’t get me wrong, I love both those meals. However, if you are on a weeklong elk hunt way back in Booneysville, at some point, you notice you are eating the same meals over and over.

To compound the problem, there isn’t much in the way of vegetable content in either of those meals, at least the way he cooks them. And the healthiest ingredients tend to be the meat, as it is usually game from some previous hunt. Furthermore, the other ingredients like the buns for the burgers are always the cheapest white bread and the cheese is that sliced imitation stuff and thus not particularly healthy either.

My point is that when I was young, I could easily eat that way and hardly notice anything. These days I just feel sluggish if I eat like that. And the other strange thing I noticed about bad diet is that I always seem to be hungry. I theorize my body is trying to tell me to eat something good like salad. In fact, I even crave fruits and vegetables after a few days of camping if I don’t eat ‘good’ food.    

Here is another ‘old guy’ dietary story for you

While helping somebody move, the back corner of one end of a desk hit me just behind the big toe on my right foot. It kind of hurt but I didn’t think too much of it, so I just worked through it and finished up the move. This was in Flagstaff, but I actually lived in Nutrioso at the time, so I needed to drive home (3-hour trip).  My foot just kept hurting so I put ice on it. Fortunately, the drive from Flag to Nutrioso is almost all ‘cruise control’ so I could get away with not needing my ‘gas pedal’ foot. When I got home, I felt no better, in fact, even worse.

That night was totally miserable. To avert the throbbing, I put a foot stool up on the bed so I could elevate my foot. By now the toe had a big, almost beet-red, spot behind the toe right where I had hit with desk. 

I am thinking I must have broken something. Next day it took me fifteen minutes to just ease my foot down to the floor and walking on it was very painful.  I drove all the way back to Flagstaff where I got into and emergency treatment center. The doctor took one look at it and said, “That’s Gout!”. I said no it’s an injury of some kind because I hit it with something. He told me that was just the catalyst for a condition I had lurking within me for a long time. 

To make a long story short, he did a few test that verified his suspicion and gave me some medicine that did fix it after a few days.

By the way Gout is a form of arthritis. I have heard it described as like having ground glass between the bones of the effected joint. (And I concur with that assessment.) Oddly, it usually only effects one joint. (BTW- Do not ‘ice’ a gout problem. It just makes it worse.)

The big take away is that it’s really caused by a ‘too much beer and too much meat problem’. Technically, I suppose, it’s better described as too much alcohol (especially beer and wine) and too much protein. 

I did manage to get my body pretty much purged of gout by not drinking beer for two years and being much more mindful of my diet. (It can and will come back if you allow your habits to slip.) The long term treatment might be as you would expect - less meat, more veggies and really just a balance diet of a variety of non-processed, fresh foods.  You have heard that caution before, I'm sure. Well, let me tell you the older you get the truer it is. 

Now the big bonus of making this huge dietary adjustment was that I felt a lot better. That is no small thing my friend. Honestly, I think the best thing you could teach anybody would be how to achieve good health. The second-best thing is how to maintain it. Start by eating right!   

Life is all about how you feel, young or old.

Eat healthy, especially when you Go Camping!

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Go Camping! (You know I always say it.)

I end my chuck box design book with the statement, “Go Camping!  “It’s good for the soul!”.  And I mean it too.

But what does it really take to go camping more often? You need to become a skilled camper. That means you know how to do things in the most efficient way. Your loading and setup task need to be smooth quick processes as do your tear down and unloading chores. And, obviously, all the standard routine camping needs like starting and tending a fire or cooking tasty, nutritious meals, need to be polished as well.

You start with our camping checklist to enhance your gear and supply gathering duties and make sure you don’t forget important items. Putting up and tearing down the tent is a big concern that could be delegated to perhaps your camping partner.

The real challenge though is the camp kitchen. Here is a new video I did that sort of demonstrates how to make the tent and the kitchen work together as a team and demonstrates different setups:

Then there are all those other camping skills. You know, things like entertainment, basic meals, Dutch oven cooking and host of other things. Here is the website for those camping tips and tricks.       

The best part of becoming really good at something is that it makes you feel really good about yourself. Like I said, “It’s good for the soul!” 

As always, Go Camping!

Friday, May 27, 2022

You’re for me or you’re against me!

You’re for me or you’re against me,” is what she said. I can take you to the place where we were driving when she first said that to me. Yet, I can’t remember what it was that precipitated the comment. I must have been ten or twelve years old and the ‘she’ I’m talking about was my grandmother. 

This notion just didn’t make any sense to my young mind at all. My thought was, why can’t I be ‘for you’ on some things and ‘against you’ on others? My mind must have never grown up because I still feel that way. Now, I truly see the power of what she said and the intent of what it does. It really focuses a person on ‘who’ is making the argument rather than the ‘content’ of the argument.

War, of course, best typifies this ‘for or against’ concept and a place where it does make sense. In that situation there is no time to discuss the problem, you just do what you are told. You follow the leaders’ orders without question. And you are on one side or the other, there is no middle ground.  

I suspect you have noticed how our current political environment has come to embrace this way of thinking. 

In fact, voting is also a place where this mentality is somewhat necessitated. We must make a choice although often our political choices seem to be as Shakespeare said, “There is little choice in a barrel of rotten apples.”  

I have noticed there are two kinds of people. There are the ‘black and white’ thinkers where everything is boiled down to either right or wrong - there is no middle ground. (My grandmother, for example.) Then there are the gray thinkers where the ‘I Ching’ notion of nothing is ALL wrong and nothing is ALL right and everything else must lie somewhere in between in a continuum of shades of gray. (The way I think.)   

The ‘right or wrong’, black or white, thought process can be very useful for guiding, if not totally manipulating, behaviors. Religions are particularly good at using, even exploiting, this concept. (If not your religion, consider others.)  Also, you get pretty clear ‘do and don’t’ behaviors from black and white thought which tend to become rules in schools and laws in society. More importantly it lets people know who they are, which side they are on and where they stand. It’s right or wrong after all. I’m a republican, I’m a democrat, I’m a socialist, I’m a Catholic, I’m a Baptist. I’m a vegan. I’m a ______ (you fill in the blank). 

It’s good to know who you are. 

Here is a little anecdotal story that might show you why I have trouble with this black and white way of thinking, though:

My grandnephew, Cody, must have been about twelve at the time. Our hunting crew had been out pursuing elk that morning hiking up and down some serious terrain. We all met back at the truck about snack time and started munching’ on and sharing our various trail mix, granola bars, fruit and the like. I pulled out this bag of carob covered raisins I had in my pack. Cody was putting these things down like M&M’s when several minutes later somebody else said, “Hey, these things are pretty good, what are they?”  Of course, I answered, ”carob covered raisins” at which time Cody immediately  stopped chewing and spit them out proclaiming “I HATE RAISINS!”.  

This was a huge lesson in human nature for me. After all, if you are a raisin hater, then you can’t eat them, no matter how good they taste!  Be careful what you choose to hate. It will define you. 

Have you ever heard anybody say, “I hate camping!”? When people say that they tend to really mean it. A while back I did a I Hate Camping webpage on my website.  Have a look at it and let me know if there are other reasons you have heard. 

Maybe the biggest favor we could do the universe right now would be to help cut down on this ‘Hate’ problem we have permeating our society. Let’s all kidnap someone we know, who ‘thinks’ they hate camping, and take them with us on a weekend trip. Teach them there is more than one way to do things. If for no other reason, they can figure out how wrong and iron clad mind set can be. 

My Grandmother exemplified the rugged individualism we tend to have out here in the west. She taught me  a lot and she was right about a lot but not everything. I fear our society has morphed her saying from “You’re for me or you’re against me.”  to “You are for me, or I am against you.” 

Cut down on the hate. Go Camping! (And take somebody who needs it with you.)


For the younger among us ‘uncle’, means ‘I give up’.  In January I decided to pull the plug on the manufacturing side of my business. Joe Bi...