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7 Reasons to Get Away From it All

November 10, 2017
solitude

solitudeSometimes you just have to get away from it all: be it the woods, the beach or the mountains. Getting away may mean different things to different people but the main idea is to flee your everyday life.

We’re too Connected
With the advent of wireless technology, it seems we are connected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There once was a time, believe it or not, when we were on our own once we left the job. In today’s connected world the job follows us everywhere we go. There was also a time when everyone rejoiced that we may someday work from home. Little did we realize then that we would learn to regret that possibility.

We Don’t Have Much Time
Americans get less vacation than a lot of other workers. While many European companies offer up to 6 weeks of vacation a year, most Americans not only get less, they take less than entitled. In a recent study by Oxford Economics they found that U.S workers are using only 77 percent of their paid time off; what is wrong with these people? Estimates range from 8 to 10 days of paid leave for the average American which doesn’t leave a lot of time for getting away. Amazingly, a whopping 23 percent of Americans have no paid leave at all. That helps explain why all our favorite camping spots are full on weekends

We Work too Much
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” is a proverb that first popped up in James Howell’s Proverbs in English, Italian, French and Spanish in the year 1659. Now I have no idea who Jack was, or why he was working so much but I imagine he stands for all of us.  I don’t know how tough things were in 1659 but in this day and age, according to a recent Gallup poll, American adults work an average of 47 hours per week. I think most of us would agree, after 47 hours of work, we’re ready for a camp-fire, some solitude, or at least a little peace and quiet.

It’s Noisy Out There
Urban life is loud enough what with: sirens, car horns and other traffic related nuisances. Now we have car stereos that rival stadium sound systems driving right past you, while you probably have earbuds on with your playlist cranking away. TVs have sound bars and surround sound stereos so we can crank the news full blast while, if you’re like me, you have a neighbor whose leaf blower has the same decibel level and frequency of a jet engine. We are surrounded by noise now more than ever, making that quick getaway more necessary than ever.

It’s Getting a Bit Crowded Around Here
I live in Colorado and they say approximately 8-10 thousand people a month move to our state. I’m not sure who “They” are, and by that I mean the ones moving in and the ones counting them, but it explains my need to get away. Unfortunately, these new residents are not moving into the parts of the state I would like them to move into. We have plenty of open space in the western deserts and eastern plains but no, they want to live right next to me. That means that now, though I have to go farther away to get away, it is imperative that I do.

It’s Crazy Out There
This is not a news flash but people are nuts out there. You can blame it on politics, TV, movies, video games or as I do, Rap music but the fact is, things are getting worse. People are on edge more than ever which makes me want to run away. There is the problem of some of these crazy people following us out of town but if you get far enough away, they can’t find you.

For Your Own Good
Getting away from it all is good for the soul and body. Not only do our bodies require rest but our minds do too as well. The quiet of the woods, the gentle crashing of the waves or the cool breezes of the mountains are therapeutic.  In the hustle and bustle of today’s world  where every facet of our lives needs charging, we sometimes tend to forget to recharge ourselves.

Camp Games and Activities

Best Camp Toys for Outdoor Fun and Camping

August 4, 2017

©istockphoto/FatCamera

Camp Toys for Outdoor Fun
Just having trees, mountains, rivers and wildlife around isn’t always enough, especially for our kids. Especially when family camping, it’s not a bad idea to provide additional stimulation. And by that we mean non-electronic stimulation.

Toys for Tots?
Camp toys can be fun for everyone and can run the gamut from outdoor play to things to do in the tent during that inevitable afternoon squall. There may be plenty of fishing and hiking to do, but what about when you’re sitting around the campsite? Attention spans are much shorter these days, and if you’re one of those parents who uses the term “these days,” then you know what that means! Our kids are easily bored and toys are essential to ensuring a good time and enthusiasm for future outings.

Old School
We’ve carried a Frisbee in the car for years and though this is an old school toy, it seems to be hip again. Disc golf, which is golf with a Frisbee, is still sweeping the nation with disc golf courses popping up right and left. The great thing about Frisbees is you can play with them anytime and anywhere, as long as you have a little space. There are no batteries required and you actually get exercise, some more than others, depending on your ability to throw.

Older School
Another camp toy we always bring along is a kite. All you need is a little room away from the trees and a slight breeze and you’re in business. Kites are cheap and you can grab one, along with some string, for just a few bucks. Of course you can get fancy with them, but why? Remember too that you are camping, so if that tree eats your kite, get it down Charlie Brown and don’t leave it hanging there.

Go Panning
If camping in the mountains and near a stream, why not go old timer and try to make a few bucks panning for gold. Panning used to be a way of life up in the hills, but now has become a fun hobby for many folks. If you want to get panning supplies and also get instructions on how to get started, go to stansport.com/gold-panning for everything you need to launch that new career. Okay, maybe you’re not ready to give up the old nine to five but panning for gold is fun to do just for well, the fun of it. If you really want to go for it, Stansport has sifter pans, axes and even a youth panning kit with everything junior needs to go native.

Keep it Simple
A deck of cards, a chess/checkerboard set or a backgammon board all come in handy during the inevitable rainstorm. When you pack into the tent, games are the best way to kill time, besides that always appreciated afternoon nap. Unless you’re the type of family that naps together though, we advise you bring any of these games to keep everyone occupied until the rain stops. A deck of cards fits into anything but backgammon, chess and checkers boards are small and easily packed in too.

Get Wet
If you are camping near a lake or reservoir, make sure you bring the toys. There is nothing worse than being next to a lake and not being able to get on the water. You don’t have to invest in a boat and trailer when a raft or inner-tube will do. The problem is: where do you get an inner-tube these days? Well as luck would have it, Stansport.com offers swim float tubes along with 2, 3, or 4 person rafts.

Camp Games and Activities

Rafting While Camping: A Quick Guide

June 28, 2017

©istockphoto/StrahilDimitrov

Rafting While Camping
Sure you can go hiking or climbing or even go fishing on that upcoming campout—but have you ever thought of rafting? If you camp in the right spot, there may be a rafting outfit nearby and chances are, after a few days in the woods you could use a bath anyway.

You Aren’t Alone
If you’re planning on a rafting trip, you’re not the only one. The Colorado River Outfitters Association recently reported rafting companies in Colorado hosted 550,861 guests on 29 stretches of rivers last year. That’s just in Colorado, where there are 229 rivers, and rafting season mainly runs from May through August with June usually having peak runoff. In other parts of the country, rafting season may run the course of summer but if you want rapids, especially Class III or above, you need nearby mountains with runoff.

Don’t Be Like Mike
Be careful who you take with you on your rafting trip, because that is the crew that will make or break you, literally. Rafters are expected to pull their weight, also literally, as you are the horsepower on your raft. You don’t want to end up with the whiney, lazy rafter who slacks off and then screams like a baby in the rapids. After that incident I did apologize to my fellow rafters—but in my defense I did get wet and cold, and those rapids were scary.

Happy Campers
Although some of the most popular stretches of Colorado’s rivers are near quaint mountain towns like Glenwood Springs, Buena Vista and Durango, most rooms are booked way in advance. The camping around each of these cities is as world class as the rafting, so why not pitch a tent and stay awhile? Popular spots like the Arkansas River through Brown’s Canyon in Colorado, which is the most rafted section of river in the States, bring a lot of people to the nearby towns of Buena Vista and Salida. Not only are hotel rooms in the area booked way in advance but so are many campgrounds. You’ll want to consider reservations from a site such as Reserveamerica.com. If you choose the right area you can find dispersed camping on National Forest land. This is real camping without restrooms or showers so that’s why you are going to need that bath.

Really Happy Campers
If you want to go for it and have someone else set up that tent, there are plenty of outfitters to choose from. If you really want to go all out and spend anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks, you can raft and camp rivers from the Chattooga River in Georgia to the Snake River through Hells Canyon Wilderness in Idaho. You can do a 3 day trip down the Arkansas in Colorado or do the grand-daddy of them all and spend 10 days on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Using an outfitter means you don’t have to bring all the gear, or even set it up for that matter. You get your meals cooked for you and you don’t even have to pack the cooler in the car, much less the tent, the sleeping bags, the…well, you get the idea.

Camp Tricks

5 Things to Do to Make Him Want to Camp Again

June 20, 2017

©istockphoto/Pekic

I had given up on camping. I know that’s sacrilegious to some, but it’s true. After too many trips with the guys, sleeping on the ground, freezing my tail off, and eating crappy food, I was over it.

I had not camped in years until I met her. She knew what to do to get me back in the swing of things (yes I married her), and now I’ll share those tips with you.

Talk the Talk
You can challenge his manhood, infer he’s a mama’s boy, come right out and humiliate him in public, or you can do what she did and use all three. Okay, she didn’t do that, but she did give me that incredulous look usually reserved for when you hear “the dumbest thing ever” when I said I had no desire to camp. Then she just said, “Well, you’ve obviously never camped with me.” She was right, and I was intrigued.

Get the Gear, See the Light
Show him all the cool flashlights we now have with the advent of LEDs and let the gearhead in him do the rest. For some reason we men are fascinated by flashlights and like everything else, yes it’s a competition—and the brighter the better. The best flashlight I had in the past was one of those L-shaped olive-green ones from the army surplus store; yes, I am that old. Now, one look at the new lights such as the Heavy—Duty XL Tactical Flashlight from Stansport and he’ll be drooling for nighttime. These babies crank out 580 lumens when in the old days we didn’t even know what a lumen was. Add in the convenience of head lamps that were only for miners, and making dinner at night in the woods is a whole new experience.

Get the Gear, Get Some Sleep
The number one, the biggie, the top of my list item that got me back to sleeping in the woods, was an air mattress. Not just any air mattress but a queen size puppy with accompanying auto air pump. I’ve always said the only thing better than a good night’s sleep on a campout is an even better nap the next afternoon. Well maybe I didn’t always say that, but I sure do now. She really showed she loves me, understands me, and just plain gets it when she added this piece of gear.

The Spice of Life
You know what’s better than a hot dog for dinner? A ribeye steak, seasoned to perfection, cooked over an open fire and served with a baked potato garnished with green onions and bacon bits smothered with butter and sour cream. Now we’re camping. I used to show up with a pack of hotdogs, a case of beer, and me. Now we bring two coolers full of food and drinks and life is good. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. They would be right.

Let Him Play
I know it’s against your better judgement, but let him play with sharp objects. Give a man an axe and he’ll throw it, run with it, and keep it by his side all night. Men who have never even owned a knife will carry one all weekend when camping. The good part is he’ll chop all your wood—just keep the first aid kit handy because he’s probably never held an axe in his life. Yes it’s dangerous to throw an axe around, so of course we’re going to do it. Do not let him throw an axe at a living tree, or any living thing for that matter. Find an old stump or dead tree for him to throw his axe and knife at and he’ll stay out of your way all day.

It Pays Off
So there you have it: food, sleep, toys, and you; that’s really all he’s going to need. Just do it right and you’ll have not only a new camping companion but a pack mule, wood chopper, and bed warmer all in one.

Camp Tricks

6 Things to Do to Make Her Want to Camp Again

June 20, 2017

©istockphoto/valentinrussanov

Believe it or not there are some adults who have never gone camping. I found this out when I was single and constantly trying to get my girlfriends to camp. I didn’t have a lot of luck on return campouts and for a while there I thought it must be me. What I found out was, yeah, it probably was me, but if I had done a few things differently, well who knows?

Location, Location, Location
If she doesn’t fish, don’t opt for a reservoir in the middle of nowhere with high winds and no trees. You may want to teach her, but if you don’t catch anything, you’re just drowning worms in an ugly location. Find out what she wants to do. Does she hike? Then camp near some excellent trailheads. Does she want to go canoeing, kayaking, or waterskiing? Then head to that lake that may or may not have fish and wow her with scenery. If she’s nervous about being in the middle of nowhere, then go to a campground, preferably one in a National Park. Hopefully she’ll opt for the wilderness next time.

Bigger is Better
Not everyone cares to crawl into a pup tent at night. For a first timer, a bigger tent makes more sense than trying to cram into a tiny tent to sleep. Having enough room to stand in a tent is a luxury well worth the trouble and price of a bigger tent. Having a place to change clothes and relax is important to a lot of folks, so make it important to you. As a matter of fact, just changing clothes will help. Maybe that’s another reason I never got return camping dates. Anyway, if a tent says it sleeps 3, it should be big enough for 2 and their clothes at least, but you can always go a bit bigger. I once had friends bring a tent for 12 to sleep just the two of them. It was a bit ridiculous until it poured rain for about 20 hours the first day and we all had a great time hanging together in the circus tent.

It’s in the Bag
Bring good sleeping bags and make sure they zip up as well. These days you can easily get oversized bags that are way more comfortable than those old bags we used to squeeze into from the Army Surplus store. Stansport has a 2 person bag that you can cuddle in, or get two and you both can stretch out. The latter is probably a better idea, especially if you’re on day three of that underwear.

What’s Your Sleep Number?
Don’t ask her to sleep on the ground. Heck, don’t even ask me. The advent of the air mattress has opened a new world of camping to all of us so splurge and get a big one. Not only will you both get a good night’s sleep but when that afternoon nap comes calling, and we all know it will, she won’t complain. She might even join you.

Food for Thought
She may not take to hydrated food. As a matter of fact, I don’t take to it either, so don’t even go that route. Also, there’s more to campout cooking than burgers and hotdogs. Bring good food, but bring food that’s easy to prepare. Pre-made breakfast burritos are great in the morning and also mean no messy cleanup. If your guest is a coffee addict, make sure it’s easy to whip some up. A camp-stove, while not near as fun as a fire to cook on, is great for that first cup of Joe in the morning. It helps to have a stove handy, even if you don’t plan on using it, for that rainy day when a fire is impractical.

Company is Coming
Camping is not only way more fun in a group, it is safer as well. If it’s your first time in the wild, or even in a KOA campground, you both may be more comfortable with friends around. Not only is there safety in numbers, but the more people there, the better the chance someone else will gather and chop some wood. You may be a great conversationalist, we all think we are, but even the best might struggle when there are just two of you, especially if camping for multiple nights.

Camp Tricks

Planning Next Season’s First Camping Trip

May 26, 2017

Stansport Tent

There’s nothing like your first time…of camping season. Hopefully there will be plenty of camping trips this summer, but the first kicks off the season, so let’s make sure it leaves a good impression.

Planning Ahead
Hopefully you’re not too far from the forest, the mountains, the beach, or wherever you may camp and can do some scouting. As the weather warms up, and the trails dry out, you can always take a day and scope out other areas. Any excuse to get out in the wild is a good one but this one is not just goofing off, that’s what work is for; this is important. While some folks have their regular spots, others prefer to explore different areas every year. Some advance scouting can help you determine exactly where you’re going —very handy info if you have others you’re meeting.

Planning Ahead
If you stay in established campgrounds, whether in State Parks, on National Forest land or at a commercial site, you must often make reservations. One of the biggest sites to do this is www.ReserveAmerica.com, which covers thousands of sites all across the U.S. including state parks and more. For National Parks you can also use the site at www.recreation.gov . If you aren’t nearby to check it out yourself and don’t have a recommended site, you can always use GoogleEarth.com or any other satellite sites after you pick your campground and research further to pick just the right spot.

Supply Check
What do batteries, propane, matches and garlic salt all have in common? Chances are you are low on one or all of these. Now you may not use propane, or maybe even batteries or matches, but nobody goes camping without garlic salt do they? Now is a good time to check all your supplies. At Stansport.com you’ll find a free, printable checklist detailing everything you could possibly need.

Equipment Check
What shape was that tent in when you packed it up at the end of last season? Was it wet? Did the zippers all work? Chances are you may not remember so now is a good time to set that tent up in case there are problems. While you’re at it, unroll those sleeping bags. Not only are you checking for rips, tears or faulty zippers, but you can never air those things out enough.

Dress for Success
I don’t know about your camping trips, but on mine, no one looks like they just stepped out of an L.L Bean catalog. Camp clothes get trashed and filthy and sometimes I don’t think of that far enough in advance. My camp style leans more towards thrift store chic so a quick trip to Goodwill or the Salvation Army will do just fine, especially for the outer layer like jackets or sweatshirts that get dirty the most. If you don’t plan for this, you may end up having to take your nice stuff and end up with a funky smoke smelling, charcoal-covered, ripped up, muddy $400 REI jacket.

Hang With the Right Crowd
We all have busy schedules these days, making it hard to get groups together. That’s why picking a spot and a date early, along with considering a reservation in a park or a campground, is so important. Not many people will go camping at the drop of hat, as I’ve discovered when I’ve tried to get big groups together. Either that or it’s all the garlic salt I use.

Other Outdoorsy Stuff

Campground Etiquette 101

May 5, 2017
©istockphoto/a_Taiga

©istockphoto/a_Taiga

Campground Etiquette
Campgrounds are like little temporary villages with tents instead of houses. Because we are so close together, and in this together, always follow a few simple ground rules so everyone can enjoy their camping vacation.

Turn it Down
When I was a teenager and on my first campout without adult supervision, the first thing we did when pulling into our site was mount the speakers on the car and blast some rock ‘n roll. It took an understanding park ranger to come explain that not everyone wanted to hear Smoke on the Water at full volume. His kind explanation kept us pretty quiet for the rest of our stay; that and he said if he returned we would be thrown out.

Keep it Down
Late night partying is best done downtown or in your own home. A lot of your fellow campground residents are families with kids. Others are planning to get up at the crack of dawn to hike, climb or fish. If you are the type to stay up late, and I am as guilty as anyone, just keep in down. Staring at a fire for hours on end is part of the lure of camping, and I have seen a fire mesmerize the best of us. There is nothing wrong with staying up late as long as you don’t force other unwilling campers to do the same.

Help a Brother Out
If you have firewood left at the end of your stay, or more than you need while you’re there, share it. Not only is this a nice thing to do, but you shouldn’t transport wood from one area to another. With all the invasive species like pine beetles for example, it is best to leave wood where it came from.

A New Leash on Life
While many campgrounds allow dogs, most also have leash laws. I know your dog is the most well-trained and well—behaved dog on the planet, but you should keep him leashed. Not only are kids running around but hopefully there is wildlife to protect. The only thing worse than having your dog run off chasing a deer is having him run back to you being chased by a bear.

Clean it Up
It would seem a no-brainer, but please clean up your campsite. I have arrived at spots littered with broken glass, beer-cans, and the worst was dirty diapers. Sure, you can burn some of your trash like napkins and paper plates, but I am tired of having to clean half-burned cans and bottles out of the fire ring. If it won’t burn all the way, throw it away. A little consideration goes a long way. If we can get along living in the urban jungle, I’m sure a few days in the woods shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Camp Tricks

4 Really Strange Places to Camp

January 13, 2017

I thought I had camped in some pretty strange spots until I did a little research. The great thing about camping though is, no matter where you go, there’s always somewhere even more interesting waiting for you.

skyThe Skylodge | Sacred Valley, Peru
This is one strange spot offered by adventure/travel company Natura Vive. While it’s not really camping in a tent, it’s not in a hotel either. First you climb about 400 meters, then there are just three rooms up there. They are actually pods made of aerospace aluminum and weather resistant polycarbonate. Hopefully they are fall resistant as well, as they are anchored right into the side of a cliff which rises practically straight up from Peru’s Sacred Valley.

The views are spectacular both up and down, and they sometimes refer to it as a million star hotel. The transparent pods measure 24 feet long and 8 feet high and wide. They come with 4 beds, a dining area and a semi-private bathroom all for around $390 per person a night. The bathroom is called semi-private because, although you are 400 meters up a cliff, the pod is, you know, transparent. There are 7 zip-lines you can use to get down which makes it a whole lot easier to check out than in.

raftCamping Rafts | Belgium and the Netherlands
Bring your own sleeping bag and cookware but leave the tent at home if you’re camping on a camping raft. You can choose any one of the four locations in the Netherlands or Belgium through CampingRaft.com. Campfires and barbeques are not allowed as one of the worst things that can happen on a boat or raft is a fire. Their site mentions that getting to and from the raft is by Canadian canoes. While I honestly have no idea why a Canadian canoe is any different from an American one, it still gets you there. The rafts are 25 square meters with a wooden hut of 12.5 meters. A two person package in the high season for three nights runs about 211,50 Euros. I know that looks funny but that’s how they wrote it so I’m going with it.

oasisOasis Camping | Egypt
You can bring out your inner Lawrence of Arabia by camping in the hot, arid climate of the Egyptian desert with Desert in Style. They offer luxury camps in tents at three different oases called Farafra, Kharga and Dakhla. All three are in an area called the New Valley and are all anywhere from 550-650 km from Cairo. You will sleep in a 30 sq. meter tent with electricity, two beds, a private bath, and a shower with hot and cold running water. The cold water will be especially appreciated here. Rates are available on request and they offer camping trips along with cultural and adventure tours for those of you who prefer a hotel (probably with AC) at night.

arcticArctic Camping | Antarctica
Now that you’ve burned up in the desert you might want to head south, way south as a matter of fact. Quark Expeditions can set you up to spend a night in what is definitely the coldest and driest spot on Earth. You first get there on the Sea Spirit, a 112-passenger ship that you will miss dearly during that night on land. Instead of tents, you sleep in bivouac sacks that zip up above your head because, well, it’s cold out there. You can’t really bring any food or drink since nothing can be left behind.

Speaking of behinds, you’re not even supposed to go to the bathroom except in emergencies which doesn’t make much sense to me, because anytime I have to go, it’s an emergency. They will bring a portable potty from the ship in an extreme case; how embarrassing must that be? I tell you, camping at the bottom of the world sure has a lot of rules. The folks at Quark offer all sorts of packages to the Antarctic and the prices start at steep and end at “If you have to ask…”

Other Outdoorsy Stuff

The People on Your List Who Need Camping Gear

December 15, 2016

camping-gearWe all know somebody who needs more camping gear. Heck, with all the gadgets available, we can never have enough, right? There are also those among us though who can’t even outfit their own camping trip. I know, amazing isn’t it? Here’s a short list of those you can help this holiday season.

The Kids
You know them, you love them, heck you should; you raised them. We know you raised them right, so why the heck do they keep borrowing your camping gear? It’s because they haven’t bought any and they’re not going to as long as they have your stuff to borrow. Well you know you’re going to get them presents each Christmas anyway, right? Why not kill the proverbial two birds with one stone and buy them their own camping gear. Now they can not only be proud owners of their own stuff, you can laugh later on when they complain about their own kids using all their gear.

The Relations
Why is it always the brother-in-law and not your own brother who gets on everyone’s nerves? I’m not sure why, but I don’t argue with nature. It seems though that it’s always the deadbeat brother-in-law who needs to borrow everything from your car and/or your money to your sleeping bags. Well, why not buy him his own sleeping bag so he can soil that one up next time he crashes at your place? Heck, buy him a tent and put him in the backyard instead of the basement next time he comes over for Christmas. Then the next time he loses his job, and you know there will be a next time; he has his own place to crash.

The Cheapo
There are some friends and family who will just never buy their own gear, no matter what. Short of never answering your phone or door, the only solution is to buy them their own gear. Just like with the kids, if you were going to buy presents anyway, why not help yourself too. Going this route gives you years of ideas as they will probably need everything and one look at Stansport.com will show you there is a lot to give.

The Slob
We all have the one friend who not only borrows stuff but never cleans it when or if he returns it. That’s a slight problem when he borrows my tools, and a major problem when it’s a sleeping bag, tent, or camp stove. The only thing worse than a musty, stinky sleeping bag is waiting until you’re at your camp spot to find the camp stove is caked with old, dried grease. There are some things I put a limit on lending, such as a camp toilets, but that list has grown to include sleeping bags, stoves and, come to think of it, everything else too.

The Novice
Now this is the only guy who has an excuse for not having any gear. He may be young and just starting out on his own, had folks who never camped, or maybe he’s one of those people we’ve all heard about who are from New York City. Whatever the reason, if he’s never been, he has no idea what he needs. Now would be a great time to be an outdoor gear salesman. As a friend you can guide him along, show him the ropes and talk him into all the gear you wish you had.

Camp Tricks

Camping for Christmas: 6 Reasons why it’s a Good Idea

December 12, 2016
christmas camping
christmas camping

©istockphoto/kapulya

I bet you never thought about going camping for Christmas before. Neither had I until I came up with these 6 great reasons to go. It’s not that I’m too cheap to buy presents nor am I trying to avoid the family or anything. Okay, that’s a big yes on both accounts.

No In-Laws
Now I love all my in-laws and I’m sure you do, too. I have heard of some people though who don’t quite care for that idiot brother-in-law or that incessantly nagging mother-law who never did get over the fact that I married her daughter. Well, that’s not me of course—but if you do have a hard time dealing with a sister-in-law who will never, ever, ever shut her trap about how bad life is to her, and I’m not naming names, then camping might be a great idea. The holiday season is stressful enough so why not give me, I mean yourself, a break and head to the nearest wilderness area?

Nobody Else Thought of it Either
There is nobody there and that is always a good thing. The whole idea of camping is to get away from it all and away from everybody too right? Well, you’ll certainly get your wish on this camping trip. There will be no noise, no people staying up too late singing Kumbaya around their campfire and nobody hooting and hollering at all hours of the night. That is, unless you’re the one staying up late, hooting and hollering and singing Kumbaya at all hours of the night. If that’s the case, then I want to camp with you.

Pick a Spot, Any Spot
Okay, not just any spot as a lot of campgrounds are closed in the winter months, but depending on where you are, you may be okay. While campgrounds down south may be open, up here in the hills you’ll have to find a spot in the National Forests. This is called dispersed camping and it is really the way to go as long as you don’t mind pooping in the woods. This might be a good time to ask Santa for that portable toilet that you’ve had your eye on all this time. What, you haven’t had your eye on a portable toilet? After pooping in the snow, you will.

Think of the Money You’ll Save
Just think: if you don’t buy any presents, you’ll save a ton of dough. I don’t mean to sound like a Scrooge or anything, but if you do get to feeling guilty, everybody gets a pinecone. That’s right: we’re going green this year. You can spend all the money you saved on food, firewood, batteries, and socks. Yes, you’ll need lots and lots of socks because it will be colder than…well it will be cold. You’ll want beer of course, too—but think of the money you’ll save on ice.

No TV
Depending on how early you go, one of the great things about Christmas camping is not having to watch The Miracle on 34th Street for the 14th time, White Christmas for the 37th time, or struggling to make it through the 3 ½ hours (seven with commercials) of It’s a Wonderful Life for the 457th time. That is, unless you enjoy all of those flicks or you are my wife reading this, in which case, I love them all too, dear.

You Got the Gear
If you ask the Fat Man—and I’m talking Santa Claus, not me—to come a little early, maybe you’ll get some new gear to use on your trip. You could whip out all your new Stansport gear like sleeping bags, shelters, tents, and stoves to impress everybody. If you really want to be the big man on campus, or just camp as it may be, whip out that new Stansport Heater and watch everybody warm up to you. And remember don’t let anybody say you’re just being cheap or nobody gets any pinecones either.

Other Outdoorsy Stuff

Using Your Camping Gear at Home

October 28, 2016

tailgateYou’ve bought all that gear to make your campout as comfortable as possible, so why only use it a couple times a year? Some of that stuff can come in pretty handy right at home; so next time you return from camping, you may not want to stash that camping gear too far away.

Power Down
If your neighborhood is like mine, you can pretty much guarantee a power outage or two a year. Whether it’s the weather or a contractor hitting a power line when digging, it’s sure to happen at least once in a while. That’s when those LED lanterns come in handy. Even propane lanterns can be used indoors and if you have headlamps and/or flashlights, you’ll want to keep those handy too. They are sure more convenient, safe and useful than candles and as long as you keep them nearby and keep batteries in them, they’re ready to go.

Unexpected Guests
Not all of us have extra guest bedrooms, especially for multiple visitors. Instead of throwing your guests on the couch, break out that air mattress and sleeping bags to make them comfortable. Even if you don’t use that mattress, there are always uses for those sleeping bags. Kids are happy to sleep on the floor if they get to use a sleeping bag. Even that piece of foam some diehards settle for using as a bed comes in handy on that basement floor.

Wet Your Whistle
Any smart camper has plenty of storage for fresh water. I have several containers ranging from 5 gallons to 1 gallon to use for everything from washing up to drinking water. It’s a good idea to keep at least some of these filled between campouts just in case of emergency. You ever know when that contractor who clipped the power lines before is back at it and hits the water main. Believe me: it happens more often than you may realize. These shutoffs are usually just for a few hours but sometimes last for days. Sure you can buy drinking water, but you need water to flush your toilets and I don’t think you want to waste bottled water on that. Besides, just like camping you need water for many other things besides drinking such as hygiene and dish washing. Just don’t leave that water stored in unheated areas during cold months or it will freeze and bust open that container. I learned that one the hard way.

Cook Outs Galore
Have you ever volunteered to cook Thanksgiving dinner and run out of burners? Or, if you host a big time barbecue, unless you have a big time grill, you could always use a little more cooking space. That’s when it’s a good time to break out that camping stove. It may sound nuts or even seem tacky but hey, it works. Just having that extra flame or two can help you get everything done at the same time. Plus, if that idiot contractor is at it again and hits the neighborhood gas line, well, look who’s cooking now.

Take a Seat
We all gave up on sitting on logs a long time ago. Nowadays we all have those fold up camp chairs so keep them handy and use them year-round. You can use them in the yard or on the deck next time you have more guests than patio chairs and let’s face it, you never have enough patio chairs. The main and most important use I have for camp chairs in the fall is of course: tailgating. Whether it’s for your favorite college or pro football team, or just to watch the kids playing soccer on Saturday morning, everybody needs a fold up, portable chair year round.

Who’s Hungry?
If you are the type that plans for anything and I do mean anything, then maybe you should stash some special food away. Dehydrated foods for backpacking are not only much better than they used to be but are a handy way to survive that zombie apocalypse. Even if worse comes to worse and that idiot contractor wipes out the power and the gas at the same time, and you forgot to stock propane for your stove, you won’t starve. Not only will you not starve, you can still dine on a quality meal like Beef Stroganoff with pasta and beef as long as you are prepared.

Other Outdoorsy Stuff

Best Weekends to Camp

October 17, 2016
weekend camping
weekend camping

©istockphoto/monkeybusinessimages

Several official reports claim over 10,000 people a month are moving into my home state of Colorado. My own un-official research shows about 9,000 of them are going camping next weekend. The other thousand are grabbing up the tee times at my local golf course, but that’s fodder for another column. Even though the camper numbers are up, the number of new campgrounds and dispersed campsites created for this rush hovers somewhere around zero.

Everybody’s Working for the Weekend
Okay, whether you agree with my numbers or not, you have to agree, camping on a weekend is like skiing, hiking, or playing golf on a weekend: everybody is out doing it. Some weekends are guaranteed to be more crowded than others such as holiday weekends, but if you time it right, you may even find a little bit of the peace and quiet you are searching for.

Right Before a Holiday
While everyone else is gearing up to go on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, or on Labor Day weekend, you are already up there and enjoying the solitude. Though the weekend before Memorial Day is usually as cold and/or wet as the Memorial Day Weekend sometimes is, you will be on your own. The season hasn’t started yet—but you have. The weekends before the 4th of July and Labor Day are great in both weather and solitude. You can enjoy a relaxing weekend and still be back in town next weekend for the holiday.

Right After a Holiday
I camped this year on the weekend following the 4th of July and managed to find a great dispersed camping spot, some peace and quiet, and even found some unused firewood in our spot left over from the holiday. Though the mountains seem to be crowded at all times these days, and we did have to search a while before settling into our spot. Only the die-hards will camp two weeks in a row and I believe three quarters of the entire population of Colorado was camping over the 4th. Camping after Labor Day works even better as folks with kids are too busy with the new school year to even consider trying a campout.

Before the Bans
We’ve had a lot of dry years lately and fire bans are becoming more and more prominent. Early season camping is a good idea, especially if you enjoy dispersed camping and having a camp fire. Once the weather turns hot and dry, the first wave of fire bans are soon to follow. I used to get annoyed and think they were too quick to ban campfires until I realized that a large number of those 10,000 new visitors have no idea how to properly use fire. As the bans progress, you can only have a fire in an established camp ground with a concrete base and metal ring. After that, if things get worse, you can’t have open flames at all. If you feel, like a lot of us, that a campfire is an integral part to the experience, then going camping early in the season is a must.

Late Season
If the fire bans don’t happen, and let’s hope they don’t, then August is one of the better months for weekend camping in the summer. The school years seem to start earlier and earlier and in Colorado the kiddies are back in class by mid-August. This provides for a lot of grumbling from parents but a welcome respite for the childless of us. Way fewer families camping equates to many more open spaces for the rest of us. It also seems the majority of concerts and special events that draw crowds to the hills taper off as summer’s end nears. June and July are packed full of concerts, festivals and rallies while, for some reason, August seems to mellow out a bit. This means not only fewer campers, but less traffic to deal with on your way to and from your weekend spot.

Out of Season
I learned a long time ago I am not nearly hardy enough for winter camping, but going in May or September and October is sometimes worth the chilly nights and mornings. Once the fall hits though, you do have hunting season firing up (pun intended), so you should make sure you are not up there on the wrong week. If you do go these weeks, I’d advise you that a new orange wardrobe would be appropriate and be careful with the noises you make when pooping in the woods. If you really want to avoid all crowds, get some warm clothes and a good sleeping bag and go out when it’s threatening to snow. Not only will you be alone out there, but you’ll get some great views if you pick the right spot.