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!


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!


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!


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.


Sunday, August 2, 2009


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.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Think Camping

"Thoughts are creations," a friend once told me. I am not sure that is exactly true but surely thoughts lead to creations (or 'destructions', as it be).

The aging process has afforded me a reverence toward thoughts in general. There is something mystical about them. Once I was swinging my granddaughter, Emily, at the park. She was sitting in the swing and I was behind her so she was looking exactly the opposite direction from me as I was pushing the swing from behind. I looked at the water bottles, we had brought with us, and was thinking to myself a drink of water would be good. She turned her head back toward me so I could hear her shout "if you are thirsty papa you should just go get a drink". I know she either pulled that thought right out of my head or I sent it to hers!

Perhaps, the best example of this 'thought telepathy' is when two people are intently trying to remember the same thing, like maybe the name of an actor. They might be pondering, who was that other guy that starred with Mel Gibson in " We Were Soldiers"? Seconds pass....nothing, nothing, nothing more seconds pass.... more nothing, nothing, nothing then in unison both shout "Sam Elliot!". Coincidence, you say....maybe...but it sure seems to happen a lot.

I have learned if one treats a thought as if it were it's own little entity with it's own personality separate from one's own mind, at the very least it seems to create an independence from existing perceptions and prejudice thus allowing for the possibility of new ideas. Many of the innovations associated with my chuck box products were achieved this way. You learn to let the thought guide you instead of you guiding the thought. (It's harder to do than you might think. )

"Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it," is another one we have all heard. I can guarantee you, that one is true. I asked you for your opinions on the newsletter last month and boy did I get an earful. But it was a good earful. While, by and large, folks seem to be contented with the general direction of our efforts, there were also some wonderful new insights and ideas presented too.

I am still compiling and incubating that information. Therefore, we are going to hold off on the website survey till next month and by then, with any luck, I will have digested all your thoughts on what the newsletter should be.

In regard to those who offered their opinions in our survey, I have one word for you:

Thank You!

OK, I guess that's two words but it is one thought and a good one at that. ;-)

Think Camping then go!


Friday, May 29, 2009

Take the medicine and we will all feel better.

You may find this hard to believe, but there actually was a time when I was a kid. Even harder to believe is that I can still remember some of the things that happened back then. For example, all internal ailments were cured with Castor oil. The theory was if you drink that slimy elixir you would pretty much puke out whatever was wrong inside. Oddly, it actually seemed to work. External problems like cuts, abrasions and lacerations required Methiolade. As kids we actually thought this was the blood of the devil himself because it would burn like hell and leave a sinister red stain on everything it touched. As it turns out, the active ingredient was iodine. Just imagine dumping iodine into an open wound. There is a word for that - torture!

No wonder, when the doctoring was over, you felt a lot better!

Not to change the subject but, metaphorically speaking, our newsletter and web sites need a little medicinal treatment. This month we'll do the Castor oil (newsletter) and next month the Methiolade (websites). Five months have gone by in 2009 and this makes the fifth newsletters to go out, I am proud to say. Now I know you are not going to want to do this but I really need to know what you think about our camping community content. Then we can use your opinions to improve newsletters, videos and websites.

There aren't any essay questions and I don't even grade them so you can't fail '. :-) So pleeeease take our little camping survey ( It's less than 20, mostly multiple choice, questions.)

You'll feel better and so will I but mostly I'll bet you will find our content gets better over time with your input.

Thanks - Ken

Go Camping ( After you do the survey ;-)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Forget the Swine - Go Camping!

I take a week off to go turkey hunting and come back from the woods to find the swine have all but overtaken us. I'm not talking about the flu, I'm talking about the press. There is a pandemic happening all right, but it's not a disease it's a press feeding frenzy. It is so bad my president felt compelled to say "Cover your mouth when you cough." Don't they teach that in kindergarten anymore?

Our vice president says don't fly because you have to breath that recirculated air? A plane is diverted to a landing because someone has flu like symptoms? Our press has taken compulsion to new hipes, I mean heights. I have four words for them - GIVE ME A BREAK ! And find some real story to report or take a vacation if things are that slow. But please, don't go turkey hunting, you might get shot.

After all, a lot of bad things 'could' happen. Let's see, we have the possibility of an E.L.E. meteor, a nuclear holocaust, global warming and, my grandmother's favorite, you could poke someones eye out if you don't put that stick down!

All I can say is I am sure glad it isn't a turkey flu. It took me six years to get drawn for spring turkey which is my favorite hunt because it follows those long hard winters we have here in Camp Verde Arizona. It got all the way down to freezing several times this winter and it even threaten to snow once! Think of the havoc that could have wreaked - cars sliding into ditches, potential power outages and your ears could get cold too.

I have actually had the flu, several times in my lifetime and while it certainly wasn't any fun, I never felt like it was on the same level as small pox or leprosy. I guess that shows you what little I know about such things. Ignorance truly is bliss.....I guess.

I'm going back to the woods. I have never seen a turkey sneeze.

Go Camping!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's spring!

The lizards are back! The return of the reptiles is the sure sign that spring is here. In Arizona, early spring makes for some great camping although one does have to be mindful of the wind and the potential rising waters in those normally tame creeks.

It's also the time to get your camping equipment checked out . Of course, a backyard campout is a great way to do that. ( The smaller kids like these as much or more than the real thing. ) This is the way to work out all those wrinkles in your camping routine and get your crew trained. There are few things in life that provide more of a sense of accomplishment and teamwork than setting up a campsite (if you are good at it ;-).

I am really wanting to do a Clear Creek (shown above) backpack hike this spring. That is the best kept secret in Arizona hiking. It's a nice easy hike with all sorts of interesting topography and critters. Only problem is the trail crosses the creek four times which means you can get yourself in real trouble if it rains on the snow at the higher elevations.

The other spring trip I need to do is to gather some video for my upcoming nighttime entertainment page on the website. I am hoping to round up a few storytelling and musician friends for that one. Hopefully, there will be a new storytelling video after that trip.
Here is a little video I did a while back to help inspire you to get your camping equipment organized for another wonderful camping season.

In the meantime, may you get out this spring and catch enough giant lizards to pull your camping cart into a great year of camping.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Running Away

Have you ever felt like just running away from it all? Of course you have, that's what us tent campers do, hopefully with great regularity. We do, however, take our families, dogs and friends with us so we are actually running away 'with it all' not 'from it all'. And, my friends, this is the year we are really going to do that! Heck most of us are either out of work or headed that way anyway, so we might as well configure our lives for living in the woods. ;-)

As you may have heard me say before, tent camping has just got to be one of the cheapest forms of family entertainment you can find. Once you are outfitted, the only real additional expenses to your normal life style are vehicle and stove fuels plus a few minimal supplies like lantern mantels, batteries and such. If you stay close to home that shouldn't be a lot.

So to that 'go camping' end, have I got some cool stuff for you! I have finally got around to organizing my camping tips free pack page on our web site. Essentially, what you get is some of the standard web site content, supplemented with additional information and put in a PDF format so it's easy to print it out and thus take with you. And once you have it on paper, you can write on it. You know, cross off things you don't like in those camping recipes, for example, write in things you do, add your own, and make little side notes to augment those ever capricious memory cells in the brain.

And the big news is, the brand new, never seen before, just off the press, answer to all your prayers, "Go Camping!" organizer/calendar!!! ( It's in that camping tips free pack.) Well ok, I guess it's not that big of a deal but it's kinda cool and I'm telling you it's going to help motivate you and yours to get off that proverbial posterior and do it. This Year!

So get your 'go camping' plan together and escape to that sacred hideaway you love so much! Take pictures, tell us about your trip like Steve and his family did. ( I tried to talk him into taking me with them next time - so far he's ignoring me, though.)

Go Camping!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Goodbye 2008 - Hello 2009

Happy New Year everyone!

Seems like I just blinked my eyes and yet another year slipped into the archives of my memory banks. And what a year it was ( Yikes! :-0 ) filled with meltdowns, collapses and bailouts. The word that most describes 2008 to me, though, is "unprecedented". At least that’s the word the political and media arenas have latched on to. I heard a CNN anchor say "unprecedented unemployment numbers" followed by "not since the seventies". It would be nice if reporters would have to know the meaning of the words they choose to use. Allow me to suggest to you that there is nothing unprecedented here. It has all happened before in one form or another, to one degree or another, at one time or another, by one people or another.

Notwithstanding all those dire ‘unprecedented’ predictions, we have before us a nice, bright, shinny, pristine new year. And January is the time to reflect on what has been and plan for what will be. May you find a way to let the hope of what could happen overpower the fear of what might happen and inspire your will to drive what does happen in 2009! ( Have you ever noticed how hope and fear tend to go together? )

Here is my sophisticated two part 2009 plan for addressing the possibility of these impending dire times.

1- Keep plugging away.
2- Go camping!

Part one of this plan is perhaps more involved than might seem at first glance. It will involve new videos, new products, regular newsletters ( this is where hope over powers fear ), free ideas, revitalized and new blogs, the introduction of "some assembly required" products, a new book and the return of kits. I am telling you, with any luck at all, we are going to get our camp kitchens organized beyond our wildest dreams. Why? So we can implement part 2 of the plan.

Go camping! No matter how much of our money the politicians give away or how ‘gloom and doomy’ the predictions of the experts and reporters become, this part of the plan will work perfectly. This is where we welcome meltdowns because it means the cheese has adorn the green chili on our lunch time burger. And the consequences of our collapses means we just didn’t stake the tent well enough to handle the wind gusts. And bailouts are a blessing because that means somebody just caught a monster trout and our boat took on some water in all the excitement.

No matter how good or bad a given year might be, you don’t get a second chance to live it over. Your kids will never be the age they are right now again and neither will you. Let’s get out there and archive those 2009 camping memories. The real beauty of part two of our plan is it doesn’t require the completion of part one. You can do it anytime.

Go camping!