How to Store Your Camping Gear

Properly storing your outdoor sporting equipment helps you keep it in tip-top condition so that it’s always ready for your next adventure. Sporting gear can represent a substantial financial investment, so it’s essential to protect it and support its longevity with appropriate care. Moreover, carefully maintaining your outdoor sports gear will ensure that it functions the way it’s supposed to, which leads to a safer sporting experience. Here, we’ll explore how to store your outdoor sporting gear so it will last for years to come.

Many types of camping equipment are designed to stand up to the outdoor elements, so they’re fairly tough, but that doesn’t mean they don’t require proper maintenance and storage once you return from the wilderness. One of the difficulties of storing camping gear is that it tends to be so diverse—sleeping bags, tents, camp kitchen items, clothing, etc. Plus, if your camping gear includes items belonging to an entire household, it may require quite a bit of storage space.

Ideally, it’s helpful to keep your camping gear together in one spot, but that’s not always possible. Here, we’ll outline some of the best ways to store various types of camping equipment to keep it in the best possible condition.

Pre-storage preparation

Before stowing your camping gear, be sure to make sure all items are clean and thoroughly dried before placing them in storage. Any organic material or damp can foster mold growth if it’s allowed to sit on your equipment for some time. A sleeping bag coated with mildew is not something you want to deal with just before heading out on your next camping trip. 

Also, you may want to invest in some type of storage system for your diverse range of camping supplies. You can purchase ready-made storage units, or you can build your own from wood shelving and rubber bins with tight-fitting lids. If you do opt to store your camping gear in your garage, you’ll definitely want to use hard plastic or rubber bins to protect it from dirt and pests. 

How & where to store camping gear

Many people do store their camping equipment in their garage, which is an option, but you may also choose to keep it in your basement or even in a spare closet. Here, we’ll consider some specific ways to store various types of camping equipment:

Clear plastic bins

Transparent bins give you a view of what’s inside. If you use colored containers, just tape a list to its side to know what items it contains. Clean storage bins are ideal for storing a wide range of camping items, including:• Canteens• Tent stakes• Camp kitchen items• Clothing• Tarps• Camping implements (i.e. compass, knife, rope, candles, whistle, flashlight, etc.)

Shelves

Wide shelving is ideal for storing more oversized items such as your tent and cooler. Be sure that you store your tent loosely; many experienced campers often roll up their tent and store it in a pillowcase, if not the tent’s own nylon bag.

Sleeping bags

Sleeping bags can also be stored in rubber totes or even safely stored in closets in pillowcases or rolled up into their nylon bags. 

By organizing and storing your camping equipment with care, you should enhance its longevity, which allows you to get as much value from your gear as possible. As you likely noticed, a common theme with these types of equipment is cleanliness. With all gear, you should strive to clean items thoroughly before you store them. Investing in strong rubber bins that lockout dust, moisture, and pests is also a good idea for keeping all types of equipment stowed safely.

Originally posted on Porch.com

Written by: Rocio Espinoza

Sequoia forest & National park

Starting at the southern entrance into the Sequoia we settled to quick camp along the Kern river for the weekend. Camp sites and portable bathrooms were made available all along the river. Some sites were closed but a lot were open. That was a surprise in comparison to what California had open the last time when we went through the northern part in December.

Finding this spot made us hopeful about future camping spot opportunities along the Sequoia forest but unfortunately we were being naive. From what we gathered, because of Covid, all of California’s forests workers were “short staffed” and therefore only certain “paid” campgrounds were open. The ones that were open were reservation only and some you had to reserve six months in advance! Most of the forest roads were still closed. Even parts of the National parks were still closed.

We were hoping to see Yosemite and Kings canyon but after driving all the way up past the Sequoia national park, seeing several miles of burnt forest and logging, I had decided that I’d seen enough and would rather come back at another time when I could have the full experience without any restrictions or road closures. No point in seeing half of a forest that offers so much!

Miles of burnt Sequoia forest along 190 hwy in Springville, CA Northeast of three rivers

It was incredible walking among the giants of the sequoia. These trees can live for up to or over 3,000 years. Their bark is 3 feet in diameter. The bark is the softest bark I’ve ever felt. The trees can only reproduce from tiny seeds that need just the right conditions for a sapling to thrive. Forest fires actually facilitate by providing nutrient rich ash in which the seeds need to grow. The trees are protected from fires because their thick bark is flame resistant. They are also extremely hardy, resisting fungal rot and wood boring beetles.

European-Americans first stumbled upon giant sequoias in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in 1853, according to The Guardian. It took three weeks to cut down. The stump was used as a dance floor. Although sequoias were logged in the 1870s, their wood does not make for good lumber because it is fibrous and brittle.

Thankfully now, most of the giant sequoia groves are protected.

After exploring these amazing trees, we headed through wine valley up and down what seemed like hours of the most winding roads you’ve ever seen. We saw many valleys with great views only occupied by livestock.

The air smelled sweet from the hundreds of orchards which included everything thing from oranges, lemons, to grapefruit and more.

It had been an exhausting three days in the car. We had seen a lot and were all ready to find a spot where we could settle down for a while. With so much of California being closed, we knew where we needed to go for this. So we headed further up north towards Oregon.

Arizona & Las Vegas

After finishing up our time in southern Utah, we traveled through Arizona to check out the Grand Canyon. It wasn’t nearly as impressive as I thought it would be especially after already visiting Bryce Canyon and Zion national park!

The place wasn’t as crowded as I assume it typically would be during the busy season so we had that going for us, but we did run into the same problem we’ve been having with road closures so we only got to see a few parts of the canyon.

We stumbled across a beautiful little waterfall in the Kaibob national forest. It was truly a gem. The water was too cold but I would have loved to take a swim in this gorgeous water hole.

Lake Powell was an interesting sight. The winding lake stretches all the way from the southeast part of Utah down into the border of Page, AZ. The deep blue waters were fascinating to look at from above.

The kids stretched their legs with a walk in the forest and then we headed west towards Las Vegas to celebrate our daughters tenth birthday.

She is really into mermaids. We once had a tail for her but she lost it when we hiked to the Arizona hot springs. I promised her we would replace it. She had been asking me for a “real one” this time but I was hesitant to get her one unless I knew she was able to swim properly with it on. Vegas was the perfect place to sign her up for a surprise private mermaid swim lesson. It was incredible how fast she caught on!

I was able to get my windshield replaced for a great price and I loved how great the customer service was in Vegas. The cuisine was awesome! Something for everyone that’s for sure. Everything was within a short distance and this city definitely does not get much sleep! I’m not surprised why the city comes alive at night. The desert gets super hot during the day and very comfortable at night.

We were tired of being cooped up in hotel rooms and needed to get back out into the great outdoors so we headed back to a spot that I discovered earlier in the year. Lake mead in the Nevada desert.

My daughter found a live trap there that was broken and with a little instruction on how the thing worked, she was able to put it together on her own in less than three hours!

We couldn’t really take much more of the desert heat, even thought it hadn’t reached peak summer temps yet! The sand got in everything and I mean EVERYTHING. We were ready to leave and venture back towards somewhere with trees.

So we headed to the Sequoia national forests in Southern California.

Moqui Cavern

I had originally confused the Moqui cavern with the Moqui cave which is just right up the road. While looking online I had seen pictures of the cavern on the Moqui cave page so we ended up going to the cave which requires a fee to get in and look around. The cave was not nearly impressive as the free cavern which is not managed by anyone and open to the public.

I do enjoy places that are not managed because there are no rules or “off limit” or gated areas. But, because of this you will always have those people who do whatever they want and damage an otherwise beautiful natural creation.

The cavern is made of sand and the wind has sculpted its curves and openings over time. The entire place had peoples names carved into it. People had used one part as a toilet and it reeked of urine in that one area.

Even so, it was a very awesome place to be. To get up there, you must navigate up steep slopes because there is no trail. I found that going up barefoot was the best technique because you could get a better grip on the rock.

Watch out for the winds because it blows the sand around at high speeds which can hurt if your not wearing much. Keep children away from the openings which drop down pretty far.

While I was up there all I could think about was how cool it would be if this was a place to live. I was imaging where the bedroom would be, living area, etc. and if it wasn’t up so high and water was available it would be a totally awesome spot to live. That is, if you could deal with all the sand.

I fully recommend checking it out if your near the area. Located in Kanab, UT.

Yucca plant soap

Yucca plant

You may have seen the Yucca plant somewhere at some point in your life. People confuse the two. Yucca, (not to be confused with the Yuca plant) which has only one “C”, is an ornamental plant. It’s pronounced (ya•kah). You can not eat this except for the flowers. The Yuca plant with one “C” is commonly found in grocery stores as a root. It’s pronounced (yoo-kuh)You can eat this.

Although your can’t eat the Yucca plants roots, you can eat the flowers that grow on them. Or you can make soap!

Start out by digging up the whole plant and you will see a nice sized root that you can make into soap.

Next, cut the skin off to remove all dirt leaving only the flesh of the root. Clean it throughly.

Chop the root into small pieces, no bigger than an inch thick.

Next, find a clean surface and take a hammer or rock and smash the pieces up the best you can until it has the consistency of pulp.

Place in a cheesecloth or something of the sort that is breathable so that you can squeeze the juice from the pulp.

Add to a container or use straight on your hands or whatever else you want to wash.

You now have soap! It will keep for about 5 days. After that, you need to throw it out. If it develops a pickle like smell, then you know it’s gone bad.

Enjoy your natural soap : )

Naps, oven & homeschool

My youngest daughter is now two and a half now and she has made up her mind that she is no longer taking naps anymore. Not so good for mamma because now I have to revise my schedule to set aside “Me” time. Before, I enjoyed about 2 hours of solid gold and rejuvenation at around 1-2pm. Maybe I’ll designate that slot now for recess and independent personal time.

It’s nearing the end of our stay here at our secondary camping location here near Hurricane, Utah. This spot didn’t have water accessible so we have been hauling in five 5-gallon buckets once (sometimes twice) a week. We have been taking showers at the pilot gas station which cost $12 per shower except for when you have three kids! They gave me an additional shower for my boy and only charged me $12 for the two showers. Me and the girls complete our showers together. We have also been going to the laundry mat at least once a week. I sure do miss hand washing my clothes 😔.

With the extra time I saved on laundry and showers I was able to work on a project with my oldest daughter building an oven out of the materials we had around us. That is the most exciting part of camping for me. You are forced to be creative and use the materials that are provided in whatever area you happen to be in at the time. Available materials vary so much from place to place. That’s what makes it so much fun. It pushes you to use your imagination. Something that I love teaching my kids.

We did not build this as a permanent structure. We used the sediment and soil from the area to hold together the fragile rocks. We cooked roast beef and homemade pizza in the oven. We weren’t sure if it was going to work or not as this was our first attempt at anything like this. To our surprise it did the job and we were extremely excited and satisfied, even proud, about the results.

The view at this spot is one of the things I love about it. The sun hits the very front of our tent as it comes up every morning. Waking up and seeing the whole front of the tent light up was pretty cool. We have the snowy mountains behind us and a view of the city just ahead. I love watching the silhouette of the plateau and mountains early in the day and watching as it reveals the details once the sun is in just the right spot. Check out these comparison photos below.

Another very cool thing that we did here was we finally got the telescope out and checked out the full moon. I was able to capture this amazing photo with my camera.

Another thing to mention; After nine months, I am finally proud to say that I have gotten the hang of homeschooling and let me tell you…it is no where near anything to be intimated about. The hardest part really is just getting familiar with the online material and website and remembering that you are in total control of what your kids learn. Remember… A child’s first and best teacher is their parent!

Happy camping!

Crater Lake

We traveled to an unbelievable sight in Crescent, Oregon a few months ago. The Crater lake was formed from a 12,000 foot tall volcano called Mt. Mazama 7,700 years ago. When this volcano erupted, it eventually collapsed creating a 2,000 foot deep crater. As the snow melted over a course of seven millenia, it filled up the crater along with rain producing what we know now as one of the clearest bodies of water in the world.

Crater lake is one of the snowiest places in the United States receiving an average of 43ft of snow per year! We saw stunning views of this beautiful natural creation that had seemed more untouched by man than any other place we had visited.

We used caution when approaching the ledge. The snow was packed in and it would be so easy to slip over the edge. There were no guard rails here and I was glad of that. I feel like it would of taken away from the natural beauty. But still, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people had fallen over.

This was by far my favorite place to visit to date. It was cold but I wanted to stay and stare into the deep blue waters forever. We went back to this spot twice. Once during the day and again in the evening. It was a sight to behold. Something that I will never forget. If your ever in the area you absolutely must check it out!

Leeds, Utah

Last month we settled into a nice little spot in the Dixie national forest in Leeds, Utah. We had visited the same spot before about 2 weeks prior but decided not to setup camp there because it seemed crowded and too close to the main road. At second glance about, we changed our minds and honestly it may have seemed perfect this time around because we had no where else to go. lol.

After getting settled in we realized that it wasn’t so bad after all. The Mountain View from the front of our tent was crazy cool. I loved waking up just to open the door and see what they looked like that day. They were always changing. We could see it snow on the mountain frequently but it never reached us. Then we’d watch it melt off throughout the day. The kids had these huge rocks to climb on and enjoyed playing on them every day.

They also found this cool kiln that was used to make charcoal. There were lots of places to explore. Even the drive out and into town was a scenic one. There were remnants of old stone houses everywhere throughout the mountains. Wood was a little difficult to come by here but we had a great water source and found some wood pallets that someone had dumped. Those lasted us a while. Our solar panel was able to fully charge by noon which was very nice, but cell reception was not all that great. I had to drive the kids down the road every day so that they could do their school work.

I used part of my time here to make some sort of stand for the Dutch oven so that I could attempt to make bread again. Last time the bottom burnt so I was trying different techniques to keep the bottom away from direct heat as much as possible.

We went and explored some lava tubes. They were like little caves that you could go down into. Pieces of lava rock covered the ground everywhere above and it was difficult to walk through. I thought for sure I’d step on a sharp piece and it would pierce through my shoe!

Our time at this particular site was short lived. After about 3 weeks the park ranger showed up and asked us to move on. According to him, it was a popular site for tourist and we were hogging it! Lol. ALL of the campers we had seen in the area had pop up tents or RV’s. I’m sure it’a a lot easier for them to pack up and leave than it is for us. Moving our tent is like a mini moving day for someone with a small house. With 5 people living in a 168 square foot space, it takes us a full 8 hour day to pack up and get setup somewhere else. Nevertheless we began scoping out some of the areas around us and found a spot about 20 minutes up the road.

We said goodbye on our last day there and watched an amazing sunset light up the night sky with brilliant colors of red, pink and orange across a dark blue canvas.

Looks like it’s on to the next spot…

How I became fully self-sufficient

There was a time when I didn’t know a lot about anything. When I was growing up, me and my siblings were removed from my mothers care at an early age. I was about 12 and was the oldest of three siblings. We were split up and eventually dispersed into different cities into foster homes or group homes. We moved around so much growing up both in my mothers care as well as in the system, that school was a challenge. Not only in making new friends but the curriculum was different in each place so there was a lot skipped over for me. Math was especially difficult.

I don’t remember getting to see my siblings very often and I did not end up returning to my mother until I was 17-18. Shortly after I found my way back to her she ended up in prison. My biological father was also in prison but he had been in and out since I was three and I never got a chance to develop a relationship with him.

After aging out of the system and becoming an adult I realized that I had no clue whatsoever what I was doing. I did not know how to clean properly, how to look for housing, did not know how to cook at all, did not know anything about financials or politics, how to vote, how to open a bank account, how to find a job, how to do laundry, how to set boundaries, what a healthy relationship was, or even how to love myself. By that time, I had suffered so much trauma and experienced such a “lack in direction” that I began hanging out with the wrong group of people who I though were all my friends. This led to an even more difficult life path which I struggled with for quite some time. This went on for about 5-6 years.

By 2008 I gave birth to my son which set me on the path to a new life. I broke ties with everything and anyone who was not enhancing my life in some way (which was everyone). I got my first apartment and had someone help me to apply to college. I was lucky enough to not have to pay a single penny for my degree because I qualified for a Pell-grant for being the first one in my family to ever attend college. I ended up graduating with honors and my last foster home parents Paul & Sharon were there for my ceremony.

It was just what I needed to boost my confidence and realize that I did not have to be a statistic. That I did not have to be a product of my environment and that the only way I would be, is if I chose to do so. The choice was mine and although I had heard many times from so many people throughout my life that the “odds” were stacked against me, I decided to not let that detour me and I made up my mind that I would prove them all wrong.

So that is what I set out to do. I found a way somehow to harness all that resentment and anger about how I had to grow up and re-directed it towards becoming the best version of me. I have to say, the internet was a blessing for me during this time. I utilized it to learn, learn, and learn some more. I began to develop a heavy thirst for learning about anything and everything. I remember a time when I thought a good meal was pouring a box of hamburger helper into a pot and making some powdered mashed potatoes on the side by adding water and heating them up. lol. Woah, I’ve come so far!

At times, I wished I had a family member or a friend to call and ask about stuff but I know now that I was supposed to learn all these things on my own and that it just made me a stronger more independent woman. Hard times put a sort of “drive” in you that motivate you like nothing else. I had little ones that were counting on me and I made a promise to myself that they would never be raised the way I was. Yes, I would make it my priority to prepare them for everything I could in the big bad world while keeping their quality of life in tact. The best and easiest way for me to do this was to raise them the “opposite” from the way I was raised.

Fast forward to 2015 about 7 years later and I had finally become established. I began operating my own business, worked on getting my credit up, bought a brand new car, was able to move into a nice area of town, learned how to garden and grow my own food, saved up money, and had finally figured out how to balance my life. There were so many opportunities for me to take the “easy way” out throughout my journey. But, I actually found myself up for the challenges! I wanted to do the things that were hard because that’s where most of my growth happened. “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Greene

The skill of learning to see the good in a not so good situation is what has kept me afloat this whole time. You can look at the cloudy gloomy sky and wet soggy ground on a cold day and think, I’ll just stay inside today. Or you can plan a last minute trip and get out in it anyway! You always have a choice.

What has helped me navigate through life is remembering this one thing…

“There is more than one solution to every problem” –Megan Crisp

Simple but so true

Today, I have gone back to the most basic and sort of primitive lifestyle which is not an easy way of living at all but most certainly a rewarding one! I am homeschooling my three kids, working remotely, living in a tent and traveling to the most beautiful places with my best friend and love. I hand wash my own clothes, heat up water for baths, use wood for heat, a solar panel for free electricity, I do my own taxes, clean effectively, and cook healthy meals (not out of the box) which consist of meat, fresh veggies, and fruit.

We’ve been in the most extreme weather from super dry to constant rain, snow, dust, high winds, freezing temperatures and everything in between. I know my story is not over yet, not by far.

What I want you to take away from this is that, you can be and become whatever or whoever it is that you want to be no matter your circumstances. All you have to have is the “want to” the willingness to put in the work. Take it hour by hour, then day by day, then week by week. Watch your life unfold the way you want it to. Because you are the one that is in control and you have all the power to manifest yourself a whole new life all on your own at any given time. So start today!

Foraging for edible mushrooms

Morrell- Edible

History

Mushrooms come in all shapes, colors and sizes and can be found everywhere in all parts of the world. Mushrooms are considered a vegetable but some are actually classified as fungi. People have been consuming mushrooms for ages. The first evidence that mushrooms were used as human food in prehistoric Europe is the recent find of a bowl of field mushrooms in a Bronze Age house near Nola in Italy. The Bible, although full of references to food of many kinds, never mentions mushrooms, either in praise or otherwise. Egyptian pharaohs and Roman emperors went so far as to forbid commoners from eating mushrooms, strictly reserving them for nobility only.

“Old man of the woods“ Edible

Today people from all over the world enjoy an array of mushrooms. The most popular and well mentioned varieties are Morrell, Shitake, Chanterelle, Portobello, White button and Truffle.

Identification

If you plan on foraging for wild shrooms, it is very important to become familiarized with mushrooms in general. You should invest in more than one book or guide to get as much information on them as possible. Certain varieties grow in specific regions so be sure and get something that pertains to your area or the area that you will be searching in.

With that being said, I will give you a few basic tips on identification.

Most of the very bright colorful mushrooms are poisonous. These are often red or spotted but poisonous mushrooms can come in other colors such as white as well so don’t assume anything is safe before you do your research! Color is a mushrooms only defense to tell you and other prey to keep away.

Amanita muscaria- Although classified as poisonous, reports of human deaths resulting from A. muscaria ingestion are extremely rare.

There are several ways to identify a mushroom. First some basic definitions.

Cap- The top visible part of the mushroom

Gills- Located under the cap of the mushroom

Stem/stalk- The elongated part that branches down from the cap

Ring/skirt- The thin part found on the stem right below the cap

Mycelium- The vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a network of fine white filament

So say you come across a patch of mushrooms, you want to know what it is. Just take one for now and leave the rest. You can go back later. First we need to identify. One way in identification is to see what kind of spore print it leaves. You should cut the stem off as close to the base of the cap as possible and set the cap on a piece of paper. Mushrooms drop their seeds (spore print) after Now cover with a jar for 2-4 hours (sometimes longer) and you will be able to lift the cap up and see what color of print was left.

Look for mushrooms that have been nibbled on by bugs or other animals

The best way to learn about nature are from those who live in it. If an animal or bug is eating the mushroom then odds are it is safe for you to consume, but NOT ALWAYS! Please do not go by this statement only. You still need to complete the others steps in identification.

Another way is to flip the mushroom upside down and look at the gills. Are they attached? You can also smell the mushroom. Does it have an earthy smell? Does it have a fruity smell? Also pay attention to the size and where it was growing. Was it in grass? By trees? On wood? Was it in a group or was it solo? Does it have a ring or skirt? These are all important things to know if you want a proper identification.

Taste test

You can take a very small amount of the mushroom less than the size of a pea, and chew with the top and bottom portion of your teeth allowing just the tip of your tongue to touch the mushroom flesh for just 20 seconds and then spit the flesh out. Now wait and take note of what you experience. Is there any kind of burning sensation? Numbing? Does it taste spicy? Peppery? If you answer yes to any of these then toss it out, wash your hands and do not attempt to consume any more. This is more than likely a non-edible mushroom.

If you’ve done all the steps in identification and feel confident that you have an edible mushroom, it’s still best practice to only consume one and then wait 24-hours before cooking up the rest.

I found these Russula brevipes in the South-western Coast of Oregon in the rainforest. I recognized them right away because a similar variety grows at my boyfriend Ryan’s house by Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. We cooked them up with some fish fry and they were amazing!

Below are just a few examples of both edible and non-edible mushrooms that we have found. I hope you enjoyed this blog and learned a thing or two about foraging for wild mushrooms!

Building a Dakota fire hole

This fire building method was taught to me by Ryan. He’s always willing and eager to try out different fire builds and this is one we were both wanting to try.

The Dakota Fire Hole gets its name from the Native American tribe of the Dakota, who populated the area that is now North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It is believed that they used this style of fire to combat the local windy conditions and avoid starting grass fires.

The advantages of Dakota fire hole is that it burns at a very hot temperature due to the air intake system. A higher temperature fire is more efficient at converting fuel into heat so you will not need as much wood as other fire builds. Another advantage is that it’s hard to spot from a distance because the flames are underground and hot clean burning fire emits little smoke. So if your trying to be in stealth mode, this is the perfect fire to keep from being detected. You can also easily bury it if your being tracked and on the move. It’s also perfect for those windy days and is super easy to cook on.

Begin by preparing various sized dry wood. Include lots of kindling (we used wood shavings).

Now dig your two holes side by side. The size of the hole will depend on how big you want your fire to be. A deeper hole will hide the flames better. The second hole should be about a foot away from the other hole. The connection hole in the middle should be about as big as your fist. Set a few pieces of wood at the bottom of the hole that you will be building your fire in.

Using a flint and magnesium fire starting device, shave a good amount of magnesium in between a couple pieces of wood.

Lay your kindling on top of the magnesium shavings. Scrape some more magnesium shavings over the kindling.

Strike your flint over the kindling close to the magnesium shavings until it ignites. Allow the small flame to take off. Do not blow on the flame at this stage.

Add a little more slightly bigger twigs or pieces of wood as the flame gets larger.

Very softly blow allowing the flame to get bigger and catch some of the larger pieces of wood.

Keep trying if the flame starts to go out. This takes practice!

Carefully slide the flame down onto the bottom layer of wood in your fire hole.

Allow the flame to grow and begin adding the rest of your small pieces of wood a little at a time and then the larger pieces of wood once the fire is stable and has maintained.

You can blow at the other end of the hole to feed the fire oxygen which will help the fire get hotter and take off faster.

You can set a grate on top of the hole or use any pan, cast iron, or Dutch oven as we used in the photo above. Once done, simply cover the hole with the dirt you dug out to make it! That’s it! That’s all there is to it.

These are super fun to build and even funner to cook on. Hope this helps you out in some way. Be sure and let me know in the comments how your Dakota fire hole turned out.

Southwest Oregon

The Rouge River

I read somewhere that December was the the worst time to visit southern Oregon. Seems typical over the last few months, that we’ve been visiting places during the “off season”. For some reason I feel that’s a good thing. If you can see the beauty where other people don’t then your way ahead. Plus, it makes visiting these places during the “on season” even better! And aside from being able to enjoy places without a crowd, we get to see what to expect during the “worst” parts of the year.

So far from what I’ve seen, Oregon has a ton of waterfalls and a lot of rain! It’s very soggy here and the humidity is high which is doing wonders to my hair and skin. I see that the mushrooms also thrive very well in this humid environment.

I prepared for snow. I prepared for heat. But what I didn’t prepare for is constant rain! Yes, all cotton clothing and no rain gear besides a cheap poncho. To say I wasn’t prepared is actually an understatement. Okay yes, I did want warmer weather and I knew we were going to a rainforest but I had expected to see the sun peak out every now and then in between showers. Now I’m wishing I had stocked up on some vitamin D!

Me soaking up the sun after not seeing any for a while!

That sun is no where to be found most days. When it does come out, I see it hit the tent and run outside only for a big streak of clouds to come in and cover it up!

I’ve always allowed my mood to be determined by the weather. Rainy days always make me sad and depressed. I need my sun! Usually I’ll do the typical thing…cook a pot of chili and snuggle up in bed for the night as I listen to the thunderstorms and lightning crackle. I have not heard a single thunderstorm among all this rain nor any rainbows! The closest thing to a noise caused by the rain was in the middle of the night when a large branch broke off from the tree above us and hit our tent. I can’t tell you why the thing didn’t pierce our canvas but bits of it were all on the side of the ground when we woke up that morning.

There’s no cleaning the tent here. Something I have always looked forward to but I save myself the disappointment. Keeping muddy puddles of water from being inside of the tent is my primary concern. We’ve dug a trench and put some tree branches with leaves under the lip of the floating floor in the front entrance to relieve and redirect most of the water but with heavy rainfall, it does little.

You would think that having a big area rug would help not track in mud and keep the floor from being too dirty but moisture traps in smells and pet odor. It hasn’t smelled pretty in here for a while. I would love to be hand washing the clothes and carpets right now but although we have the clothes line up, we haven’t hung anything on it and I haven’t washed laundry because it’s always raining!

We are right by a river and a waterfall. Also, the hills collect the rainfall and its filtered as it comes down so I’m able to collect it for drinking water, coffee and bucket showers! I have been wanting to try and setup a rainwater collection system but it’s hard to get motivated when it’s so dreary.

I will go on a little adventure soon and explore the realms around me and all they have to offer. Can’t wait to share what I found with you.

Stay dry.

Northern California

From snow to desert. Dry to wet. From no humidity to 100% humidity. From brown to green and everywhere in between. These last few months it seems as though we have experienced every type of weather there is to be seen!

Our next stop brings us to Northern California by the Redwood forest. We left our last spot because snow was moving in. Not that we don’t like snow. It’s just that we didn’t want to be stuck in it for good for the next few months. I’m told when it snows in the mountains you could easily get a few feet and it doesn’t just melt over the next few days. Also, it was so cold that everything…I mean everything was freezing. My olive oil, electronics, big jugs of water, the coolers, even the tent had turned condensation from our body heat into sheets of ice on the inside of the tent!

So we headed up towards Eureka where my sister lives. We ended up camping at a local campsite because all of the forest roads were blocked for winter. The weather was damp but a lot warmer than what we had just left.

It was so nice to be able to visit my sister and her partner. We had engaging conversations and cooked a meal over the fire to eat together. The second day she came back and we went on a lovely hike that lead to a beautiful view of the North Pacific Ocean. It was so amazing! I could of stayed there for hours watching the waves crash into the huge rocks that were tucked under the water. I could taste the salty air and smell all of the lush green vegetation around us.

There were so many mushrooms. It seemed that everything grew giant compared to the Midwest. I saw clovers that were three times the normal size and wild mint was everywhere. So much of a variety of plant life. Green grass, huge redwood trees that stretched as far as the eye could see.

The forest is dark and quiet here. This was the quietest campsite I had been to. Although there were plenty of people there, you couldn’t really hear anything. I assume it’s because the huge trees do such a great job at muffling sound. When we left the coverage of the trees it was a cloudy day, no sun. Even so, the kids complained about how it was so bright that it hurt their eyes! Mine too.

Redwood National Forest

I was a bit disappointed about the lack of access to public lands here. My sister told me that it’s because of the homeless epidemic. I can’t vouch for that explanation because I don’t have enough info to confirm that is the reason. I suspect there’s more to it but we will just leave it at that for now.

At $10 a meager bundle, and coin operated showers, I was more than ready to find a place with free camping, free wood, and free shower water!!! That means it’s on to the next spot!

Plumas national forest

It’s been a while since my last post, I know and I’m sorry. We’ve been traveling a lot trying to find a spot to land and I haven’t quite had a chance to catch my breath.

Our cat Jackson is quite the traveler. He sits calmly in his kennel until we get to a campsite where we can let him out. He always returns before it’s time to leave and loves to explore the different areas.

Seeing trees again after being in the Nevada desert was such a treat. These trees stretch up as far as the eye can see and are straight as an arrow. The smell in the air of damp mulch and sweet pine is an aroma that I’ll never forget.

Huge pine cone

The first forest that we visited was the Plumas national forest. It was beautiful on the outside but showed lack of care on the inside. We came across some perfect campsites that were littered with trash. I’m not talking about just a few beer bottles and leftover trash laying around. I mean, these were dump sites that looked like mini landfills. You can see my video below.

The most exciting thing we did while we were here was build a fire pit and cook a pizza over the campfire. My favorite part –We didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for bundles of wood because we found plenty of dead stuff in the forest and there were no signs saying you couldn’t gather wood! Yay! My daughter wanted to clean up the place a bit so she did that. I can’t say it made a difference because she moved everything to one side but it did actually look a whole lot better by the time we left.

My fortune cookie said now is a good time to explore, and who am I to get in the way of the old wise fortune cookie teller so I guess I will continue to do just that! 🙂

Be sure and check out Feedspot for more camping related blogs in which I am featured on. Click here to visit site

Sunsets & cold water

The other day I was kind of bummed out and went to admire the beautiful turquoise cove by us. It looked too pretty not to jump in and it was also a lovely sunny day. I knew if I didn’t do it right at that moment then it would pass me by and I’d probably regret not doing it. I’m tired of having regrets so I decided to go for it!

The water was very cold 🥶 But I didn’t care. It was worth it. I bet this place is packed in the summer months. That’s usually how it goes.

My kids just thought it was so funny that I was freezing my but off! Fine, go ahead and laugh too!

1..2… “No, don’t count!”

That same day, a gorgeous sunset rested in the sky and I saw a flock of birds take off from the water as I moved in with my camera to capture the shot.

Sunsets like this are magical. I love the way the bright colors reflect off the water. Now all that’s missing from this scene is some trees!

I don’t know if it was the ice cold water hitting me like a thousand needles or the way the sun set that night but by the end of the day I felt all my worries melt away as I gazed out at the sky.

Sunsets are proof that no matter what happens, every day can end beautifully.

Arizona hot springs

Me and the kids went on a 5.9 mile hike to get to these amazing hot springs. The terrain was considered strenuous according to the website and it was! I can’t believe my just turned 3 year old held up with NO nap and walked there and back without being carried!

There were not any signs with arrows pointing us in the right direction. Just a beaten path not even visible in some areas and a green dot every now and then on a rock if you were paying attention.

We got to see this very cool tarantula. I even touched it’s leg, Woah! This little guy is definitely a lot spookier in person. My littlest one was freaking out but at the same time wanted to stay and watch it. We had to move on but got to see another in the parking lot on our way out.

We only passed just a couple of people on our way there. They looked very winded which was kind of scary. The last half mile was a bit tricky. I had to hand my youngest down to her siblings at some parts. Rocks and gravel were sliding around during steep parts of terrain.

I saw a couple tents and heard running water and I knew we were almost there. We stepped inside the cave like opening positioned between two enormous rocks. Below our feet hot water emerged and shot out of a small hole in the side of the rock.

The first pool of water was too hot! Hotter than a hot tub. But you had to wade through it to get to the second pool which was moderate. We settled on the third pool which was just right. The kids had a blast! It was such an amazing thing to experience and I think everyone should do it at least once in their life.

We stayed for a while longer and then headed out. On our way back I caught a glimpse of a young topless woman walking towards us to the springs. Once she saw that I had children she covered herself with her hands and turned towards the rock. I had my son look the other direction. I told her it was awesome she could be free that way and that if I didn’t have kids I’d be doing the same thing!

How to find wood to burn

Boxcar cove, NV

I just love the crystal clear turquoise colored waters here and the huge rocks encompassing the shoreline makes for a gorgeous scenery.

Mice had discovered our wood pile and was preparing to build some kind of… I don’t know what.. and they left this behind. I realized that this is the best kindling you could ever hope for. I mean this stuff burns easily and stays lit for a long time. I figured I’d save the rest for a rainy day.

Lets say your camping in an area with no trees but you need wood. Nothing to chop down and no dead wood laying around but you don’t want to pay a fortune for those bundles you get at campsites or gas stations. You have more options than you think. The trick is to be resourceful!

You can look on https://we.letgo.com/ or a similar website or app in which people are selling items. There are lots of people who sell large quantities of wood for much cheaper then you’d find other places.

You could also drive around and look for pallets that have been placed in dumpsters. Walmart, Home Depot, apartment complexes, car dealerships, construction sites, grocery stores and warehouses all have an abundance of these.

Tree cutting companies- usually they have wood for sale and also wood that is free for the taking. The piles that are free will usually be a lot smaller branches and such but still FREE!

After splitting most of the wood we brought in, I’ve calculated that what we have now should last us at least 3 weeks if not longer.

Now that the wood is cut I have extra time to make yummy meals like this!

Stuffed peppers

Where do you go to get your free wood?

Thank goodness for wood

Wood burns faster when you have to cut and chop it yourself.

Harrison Ford

December is the coldest month in Nevada. With an average low of around 39 it still feels chilly when you have the sun so close to you during the day that the 60’s feel like the 70’s.

What wood you do?

All I can say is thank Goodness for wood!

Lake mead

We setup here a few nights ago. Found some great wood in the city. A local was clearing out land and had an abundance of it! It burns hot and slow which is just what I needed. Me and my son spent the afternoon splitting and stacking the wood we collected.

All I can say is thank Goodness for wood!

We use this wood to cook on, boil water as well as for food and dishes and heat the tent during the late night and early morning. I’m wondering about just how long this wood will last us.

It got pretty windy here the other night. The smoke was coming into the tent through the wood stove. I got an elbow attachment that turns in several directions so that I can adjust it accordingly to block the wind from coming in.

Seems like it’s working well.

My daughter comes and snuggles with me first thing in the morning. I love this time of day. Who could resist. My children fill my life with so much sunshine. Where would I be without them?

But also, where would I be without wood?

A warm December

We recently found a nice little spot in Southern Nevada right off Mead lake. I got here a little before dark but had trouble setting up the tent as it became dark so we blew up the air mattress and slept under the stars.

I didn’t get much sleep. The full moon illuminated the camp but we decided to wait it out and get a fresh start the next morning.

I could hear coyotes in the distance, birds or bats just behind us. Not sure which. It smells like the ocean here although it’s just a man made lake.

My feet were freezing the whole night but I didn’t have the energy to find my wool socks at the time so I just laid there and watched the stars. The next morning I woke up at 5am and got to work.

Feeling determined, I was able to quickly get the tent up and had everything out and in its place by noon. Though it only gets down to about 40 here at night, it feels colder because of the hotter days at a high of around 60. December is the coldest month here. Which I’m completely fine with! It’s nothing compared to the colder December days I’ve experienced in the Midwest.

I love having the heated days with the cold nights. Gives me the best of both worlds.

Looks like it’s going to be a warm December.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started