June 19, 2013

Spoiler: It Always Rains the Day You Pack Up

About twenty-five of my friends and acquaintances went on a trip to Allegheny State Park last weekend. Most of them stayed in some amazingly cushy cabins, but three of us decided to show them how it's done and went tent camping.

We're kind of hyper-competitive, too. So the goal was to be visibly and obviously better off. Now, we couldn't beat them on sleeping comfort, what with the cabins having electric heaters and mattresses on beds. So we went with cuisine as our plan, and brought about triple the food necessary, then proceeded to cook it over an amazing twenty-first century camping stove, the Biolite CampStove. It's an eight-inch tall bundle of wizardry- it's a stove that burns twigs. The heat generates electricity, which it uses to power a fan to give you amazing heat from said twigs, plus spare electricity to power up electronic devices via a USB port. I'm sure the original intent was hiking GPSes, but they're not dumb, and all the advertising materials show it charging smartphones.

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June 12, 2013

Odd Couple

I suspect that they bonded over a shared love of hunting rodents.

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June 11, 2013

Whisperlite

Prepping for my upcoming camping trip, I pulled out the family Whisperlite and gave it a try. The Whisperlite is a backpacking stove made by the good folks at MSR; it's ultra-light and built to last. It can be completely disassembled in the field if need be.

However, the particular Whisperlite I was using is old enough to drive. And to vote. And to drink. It won't be long until it can serve in the US House of Representatives. Which is to say, it needs a few replacement parts— the pressurization pump's leather gasket is not doing well, and there are a few other bits that look iffy. I serviced it according to the manual, and managed to get it to start, but it wouldn't maintain a burn.

This isn't a huge deal, because the trip this weekend is car camping, and I'll just take a Coleman propane burner stove. But it'd be nice if I could get the Whisperlite working for an upcoming backpacking trip that we've been contemplating.

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June 10, 2013

I Should Teach Her How to Use a Hammer Properly

I try hard not to anthropomorphize our cat too much, but just now I was in the basement, building some wooden shelves that I'm going to give to a friend. As I was working, Aria sat on a piece of carpet and watched with intense concentration. I can only imagine that was how I looked when I was six years old and watching my father in his workshop.

Also, on a barely related note, when I picked up the wood from Lowes I had neglected to bring my measuring tape, but I took their word for it that a 60" trim piece was, in fact, 60" long. Alas, I am too trusting. Also, alas, the opening sentence to this paragraph reminds me that I have a tendency to write overly long sentences with an excessive number of clauses, with this terminal sentence being another example, although undoubtedly an unnecessary one for a reader of your evident perspicacity.

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A Matter of Scale

I'm going camping this upcoming weekend, so I stopped by my father's house to collect some of my camping gear from out of the basement. (I borrowed some of his stuff too.) I wondered aloud what had happened to the old "camp kitchen" that my father had made many years ago; I figured it had been discarded during some change of vehicles, as we'd owned a station wagon when it was made, and perhaps it didn't fit into a minvan.

Backing up a little, a "camp kitchen" is a box. The front folds down flat to provide a working surface, the top folds up to provide access, and the inside of the box is filled with shelves for plates, silverware, drinkware, cookware, utensils, paper towels, etc. The bigger the box, the more stuff can be put inside.

My father was surprised that I thought the old camp kitchen was gone, as it was right in front of me on the shelf as we were talking. Perhaps I'd overlooked it?

No, that wasn't it. I'd seen that box perfectly well, but it was obviously too small to be the old camp kitchen. The one I remembered was so big I couldn't get my arms around it! The box my father was pointing out was only a few cubic feet, I could carry it under one arm.

Reading this, perhaps you are chuckling in the same way my father was. I guess my memories of the box's size were formed when I was six years old or so, and never updated.

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