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 Cartentcamping.com 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.)


Monday, March 28, 2022

Cabin Fever

You could swear the walls are closing in on you. Every sound cuts through you like the squeal of chalk on the blackboard in your eight-grade math class. You’re so bored that you can’t kill the spider climbing the bedroom wall because watching him gives you something to do. Everything you eat tastes the same. There are no smells at all. Solitaire and free cell are the only outlets you can manage to pass the time. You have even taken to actually reading Facebook posts. I mean, not just looking at the pictures and videos but actually reading the words.

No doubt about it - you are suffering from Cabin Fever. It’s that dreaded disease that pulls your conscious into a god-awful haze of stagnant inertia that makes you feel like you are being chased in slow motion as in a dream where you just can’t wake yourself up.

The good news is there is a cure. The bad news is you have to get out of your house to find it. And not just out, but way out beyond the skyscrapers past the shopping malls off the interstates and on to that washboardy dirt road that leads to a little mountain stream where the bull frogs croak and the fish jump and there is no cell phone coverage. The place where you once again become one with what really matters in your universe.  

So, say goodbye to cabin fever and hello to that magnificent infinitely variable place we call the ‘outdoors’. It’s the place to recharge, renew and reset your mental state.

However, like everything in life your cure for cabin fever will require your action. You need to pry yourself out of the recliner go out to the garage, survey and service that camping gear so you are ready. Also, be sure to download our free stuff to help you plan and manage all of your outings.

By the way, that PDF free-pack has a planner, cookbook, checklist, meal plan, various camping procedure and even a camping gear woodworking project for you. Also be sure to watch the how to camp more often video which is really more about how too organize your gear so you won’t forget things.

So that is what you need to do to set yourself free and thus cure that case of cabin fever. Just be sure to capture that spider on your wall and release him to the great outdoors too. Who knows he may eat a mosquito that had ever intention of biting you! 

Go Camping!



Sunday, February 27, 2022

DIY

It’s a pathetic sickness. Many a man and now even women suffer from this tragic time consuming, knuckle busting, money sucking, pastime. In plumbing circles it’s accounted for an untold number of flooded bathrooms and water-soaked carpet in adjoining rooms. In automotive efforts complete overhauls have been required simply because the shade-tree mechanic forgot to tighten the drain plug following a simple oil change. And woodworkers have lost fingers trying to get that special cut on a small piece of wood with way too big of a power tool.  

Still, there are good reasons to want to do things yourself. We have all heard, “if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself”. These days, if you want it done at all, you have to do it yourself as skilled tradesman are retiring in droves. Thus, it’s hard to find somebody who can do it, even if you are willing to pay. 

I could tell you a long, ugly story that started with a leaky gas tank and ended close to $1200 later with me having to redo what I had already paid a ‘trained mechanic’ to do. I won’t, it depresses me. Suffice it to say, he put in used parts that ended up failing after the warranty period, of course. Not only did I have to do it again but I also decided to cut an access panel hole in the bed of my truck so I can change the fuel pump 'next time' without having to pull the gas tank.

Incidentally, this ability to ‘customize’ is a big advantage in doing something yourself. My experience with car parts tells me I’ll need to change this fuel pump again probably much sooner than later as ‘after-market’ parts tend to fail a lot quicker.

Most of us do-it-yourself types are really in it for the pure pleasure of craftsmanship, though. To me there isn’t a whole lot that’s more fun than pulling something from your mind into your own world. In other words, taking an idea from thought to reality. 

Also, while it’s true you can save some money doing things yourself, life really is more about time than money. Therefore, spend your time doing things you like to do. But if you like to build things and you like to camp, here is an idea for you.

This is definitely the time of year to get your camping gear in order and the chuck box is your most important piece of organizational equipment. Maybe this is the year you build your own? Boy, can we help you out there. Don’t even think about building a chuck box until you have read our camp kitchen design book especially if you are trying to come up with your own design. If you like any of our existing designs, then go for the Blue Sky Kitchen Plans book as all our plans are in this one. Most people get both chuck box books together.

Additionally, there are two hours' worth of instructional video on our customer service website to aid you in your building efforts. If you dive into the DIY pool and find 

  • it’s just too big of a task 
  • you don’t have the time 
  • or tools 
  • or know how 

then you can cut you losses by investing in a kit, unfinished or even finished product. We’ll give you a plans rebate of up to $24.95 toward that product which will basically cover your original plans investment. And, you still have the plans so you can build the piggyback shelves, three-foot extension, extra drawers or even a complimentary product at some point down the road.

By the way, this rebate offer is good for three months from your original plans book purchase date.

In summary, let me say we are trying to take the pain of that DIY sickness with not only our rebate offer but also our customer service support. And keep in mind building a chuck box with your kids makes a great family project! (Also be advised, we have some additional woodworker projects here.) 

It's time. Let's do-it-yourself, then, Go Camping! 


Monday, January 17, 2022

The Motherload of Camping Tips

Life is all about knowing the tricks and camping is no exception. Here is an example tip from each of the pages on our camping-tips.com website. 

Calendar/Planner - Things that get written down are much more likely to actually happen.

Basic Tips - bugs and critter control - keep food spills cleaned up and leave no  water in wash tubs and such.

Gear and Equipment - When buying tents, bags and clothing the zipper will give you the quickest indication of quality.

Camping Vacations - When camping near or in major parks or sites, get there early to find a good camping spot. Right at checkout time (usually noon or 1:00) is best.

Easy Camping Recipes - Green Chile Burros make the best ‘feed a lot of people quick‘ meal.

Camping Hazards - Watch out for those bungie cords!

Pit BBQ - Use chopped onions in the bottom of your Dutch Oven with lots of water. 

Daytime Entertainment - Building and using a sundial at every camp will help you and your team develop a good sense of direction.

Nighttime entertainment - Story telling makes the best nighttime entertainment. (If you know how to tell them.)

Group Campouts - make notes of what should be different next time. (Our calendar /planner will really help you with those effort.)  

Camping Tarp - When a tree has no limbs to hold the ridge rope use a branch to make an artificial one. 

camping tarp tips
First Aid Kit - make sure you have burn medication.

Scout Fundraising - put smiles on your volunteers by taking impromptu pictures during your events. This makes for a fun happening and provides great material for next year’s fundraising calendar/planner.

Camping Survival - carefully plan and build an in-home food stash.

Camping with Google Earth - markers help you communicate your exact campsite location to others.

Camping Checklist - Most forgotten item - cooking oil.

Newsletter - sign up for our newsletter if you haven’t already. No commercial crap! It’s really just a friendly reminder of what you should be doing - Camping! 

Camping downloads - calendar/planner - cookbook - camping checklist - meal plan - pit BBQ procedure - tarp procedure and build the Water Table.

Our newsletter subscribers will already have this download although, it now has the 2022 calendar and there are a couple of new recipes this year. Sign-up to get the download and Go Camping! 



Monday, December 13, 2021

The End Is Near!

I’m referring to the end of the year, of course. And those subscribers that have been with me for a while know what that means - it’s time for a new calendar/planner! More importantly, that means it’s time to start thinking about and planning out those camping trips we have always wanted to do. Remember writing things down will increase the odds of it actually happening. Obviously, that’s the whole idea of any planner. 

On the camping vacation front, considering the price of gas, this might be a good year to look for things to do a little closer to home. Here in Arizona the state parks could be one of the low hanging fruits of camping and outings. I’ll bet that is true in most other states as well, certainly out west anyway.

I always like to get all my regular events written down right away. Music festivals and hunting seasons tend to get top priority booking in my circles. In a non-covid year that is between ten - twelve campouts just by themselves. And, of course, I will usually do another ten - twelve in somewhat spontaneous way or usually at the beckoning of others. 

I have also been known to plan entire campouts around meteor showers. The best meteor viewing will be totally out away from city lights during the period of a new moon. Showers and moon phases are both shown in our calendar. Incidentally, all the information on our calendar including holidays, moon phases, meteor showers etc. comes from the website Timeanddate.com. It's a great one-stop-shop if you happen to need to make your own calendar.  

It’s always a good year to figure out another great bike-hike too. This can be a little bit tricky but once you get one worked out it’s there for you for many years to come.

This years’ calendar/planner video has a real special place in my heart because my grandson, Blake, did the music score for it! Have a look and listen and see if you don’t agree that he is really a pretty talented kid.


Then be sure to download the PDF version of the calendar so you can print it out and start planning out your 2022 happenings especially the camping variety. BTW - It’s completely free! I don’t even make you sign up for anything to get it:

The 2022 Go Camping! Calendar/Planner 

It takes a while to down load. Be sure to save it to your desktop or camping folder. That way it makes for a real quick way to access our great camping information. All the links are hot. Click any logo to get to that website's home page. 

It's also in our PDF free download package along with Ken's cookbook, camping checklist, handy camping procedures and all the rest of the usual camping tips, tricks and such. ( There are a couple of new recipes this year in the cookbook. ) I do make you sign-up for this one but, hey, it's easy to unsubscribe if you want.

Again this year I will  send a printed calendar with any kit, unfinished and finished BlueSkyKitchen.com chuck box order.  This is something I’ll do up through February.

So yes, the end is near, well at least for 2021, so let's put it to rest and get 2022 started off with a good plan.

Go Camping!


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

It's all Magic

Tricks are a combination of ‘slight of hand’ skill and knowledge others don’t have ( secrets ).

Real magicians won’t show you how they do their tricks. One reason is if they did you would no longer be in awe of their seemingly mystical abilities.

Knowledge really is power. Imagine a cave man who figures out how to ‘make fire’. Would he rush off to show his clan how to do it? Maybe not. He might keep it a secret and just reveal that he ‘can’ create fire not ‘how’. Wouldn’t everybody be amazed and even imagine that he has some divine power bestowed upon him by the powers of the universe.

Some of us are teachers and we gladly show others how to do things ( and often end up being very under appreciated, I might add ;-). Others of us are more secretive and keep our knowledge to ourselves. 

The secret to creating fire may have been past down through the generations from father to son. I can imagine that family wielding great power in a given community. Then one day one of the decedents reveals the ‘secret’ to maybe a friend and all the power of the secret is lost. His friend tells others and before you know it everybody knows how to make a fire. And in fact, at some point, anyone who does not know how is considered stupid. 

Very quickly, knowledge and secrets can go from being power to, take it for grant it, common sense. I’ve always been somewhat amazed at how quickly people forget who taught them one notion or another. We often just incorporate knowledge into our gray matter without so much as a thank you to those who teach us.

Well in the age of the Internet you have all sorts of knowledge available to you. However there is a different problem. Finding just one secret is like looking for a marigold in a field of sunflowers. It’s the ‘too much’ knowledge problem. And if you think Google is good at sorting it out for you, well you are sadly mistaken. They will give you 'popular' results not necessarily ‘good’ results.  

Over many years I have collected an array of camping tricks and secrets and organized them into a nice tidy website: 

camping tips button

and a Youtube videocamper channel. If you camp, you are just completely silly to not take a little time snooping around these gems filling up your 'mental' camping ‘bag of tricks’, with free knowledge.

And far and away the best camping trick I can tell you is get a good chuck box! That not only makes it so much easier to go but also gives you that all important table space once out in the boonies. You don’t forget key items and you go more often which are tremendous benefits. 

So the moral of this story is "it's all magic" - get our secrets and Go Camping!

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

How to do a Bike - Hike

She came to Arizona from Oregon via covered wagon. I once asked her what it was like to ride in a covered wagon. She responded by telling me you didn’t actually get to ride ‘in’ the wagon, as that was for the family belongings, but instead you walked beside it. Thus, basically she walked from Oregon to Arizona when she was between the ages of six to eight. I’m referring to my grandmother whom I lived with when I was younger for different periods of time but mostly in summers.

Their trip took two years because they had to stop ever now and then to earn some bucks for the continued trip and I guess her dad was kind of sickly so he had to rest. Still, can you imagine basically ‘camping’ your way to Arizona? Well I can because I backpack and it’s pretty amazing how much ground you can cover in a given day. However, you don’t have a wagon full of belongs  to worry about when really just hiking your way along a trail.

I have a friend who recently hiked the Arizona trail which is 500 plus mile across the state north/south. The elevation changes is pretty incredible though. She did have the benefit of various stores and stashes along the way. 

I mention this because one of the things most of us enjoy when camping is hiking. And these days some of us even like biking. And others of us have even been known to plan trips around both of those activities. 

With me, it started out when my two sons were younger. I would find a place where we could haul them and their bikes up in the truck to a high point and they could ride their bikes back down on a pretty decent dirt road. ( As I remember, Mount Elden in Flagstaff was one of our first adventures. ) 

Then as they grew up and became entangled in their own lives, I started doing such things alone. It was a big realization when it dawned on me that with a little research you could figure out places where the bike could be stashed up high and the vehicle down low. This gives one the ability to hike from the truck to the bike, then ride the bike back to the truck. Down is good for biking. ;-)

Google Earth turns out to be a great tool for helping you research and plan out you bike-hiking efforts. Be sure to use the 3D view so you don’t end up overlooking the fact that there could be a monster canyon between you and whatever you're trying to go. This new video will give you a better idea about that sort of thing:



Another potential big advantage is you can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time with the opportunity to hike country that is normally not viewable from a road or even a trail. Us hunter types tend to like this ability. We don’t generally hike on trails anyway preferring to venture out across hill and del, so to speak. And using the Bike-Hike concept one can cover twice the amount of unfamiliar ground. Here’s an older Bike-Hike video example:




So basically what we have here is just another excuse to get out and have some fun. You might even find the kids will pull their heads out of the phones long enough to feel the wind in their hair on that fun ride down.

Go Camping!