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 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!