Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

With all the lights and glitter, let us not forget.. HE is the reason for the season.

God Bless you and keep you safe, this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Red River Gorge

Got down to Red River Gorge in KY.
Used the Hennesy Hammock as usual


Got a bit cold, so I threw an extra sleeping bag over the top quilt, not too bad into the 30s.

We did some hike and repelling, more pictures on the slide show.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Camp !

Our Boy Scout Troop and Venture Crew had a great time at camp.
First year that I can remember that we had zero rain.

I used my Hennessy Hammock with the zipper mod and JRB Nest under-quilt. I had a Speer (Mountain Crossings) Frog Sac lightweight sleeping bag, but most nights just covered up with a surplus poncho liner.
Five nights in a hammock is pure heaven compared to tent. The camp provides canvas tents and cots. Most of the Scouts just dragged the cots out and slept under the stars.

I did bring two extra hammocks to demonstrate. A Claytor NoNet and a Speer Hammock. Both are simple comfortable hammocks and several Scouts and adults snoozed in them during the day and a couple boys spent nights in them.CLR08_27
I should have the troop converted to hanging by next year.

During the day, the Scouts worked on merit badge activities, swam, canoed, shooting sports, archery etc. The camp provided most meals, we elected to have a couple of troop nights and cooked dutch oven meals at our campsite.

One of the features at this camp is a frontiersman program that focuses on primitive skills including flint/steel and bow drill fire making, lashing project, wild edibles, tomahawk throwing etc. Scouts that complete several challenges are permitted to attend a "Rendezvous".
The "vous" are held away from camp in primitive setting. The applicants camp in self made shelters (a tarp for first timers a debris hut or lean to for more experienced)
First time attendees become 'Pioneers', Second Level is 'Trapper'. A few Trappers that have demonstrated exceptional skills etc are nominated to a 'Mountain Man' honor.
Really a fun program, many alumni and especially Mountain Men come back and spend a night on the vous. Many dress appropriatley in The breechclout, buckskins, powder backs etc. Good outlet for Scouts that may have completed many of the merit badges offered.
I got my pioneer claw last year, stayed in camp with my troop and allowed others to go this year. Hope to get Trapper next year Grrrrr.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summer Camp

Well, this weekend, the Scout troop is off to summer camp. I have to work Sunday and Monday, but will head down after work on Monday. My son has been working on staff there for the last 3.5 weeks.

I usually stay in the Scoutmaster tent, but as I was not sure if I was going to make it at all, I passed the duties to one of the other leaders. I will be taking one of my hammocks to use and maybe the other two to demo. I may get some hammock converts. This is 'camp' camping so meals are provided, but I will still bring a stove or two for coffee if nothing else.

Stay tuned for pictures and a report of hammock hanging for 5 nights straight.

God Bless

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Compact Wood Burning Stove

I really like alcohol stoves, I was first introduced to them at a Boy Scout training Pow Wow several years ago. I now have quite a few, I have made a few and purchased several online (probably a future post to cover them all).

Lately there has been some discussion on the forums about wood burning stoves for backpack cooking. I looked at some of the designs, one of the the more popular - Bush Buddy was out of my budget, but looks great.

I took a wait and see approach as there are some wood gas designs in works. Recent discussions on Hammock Forums about the Compact Wood Burning Stove (CWS) and a Utube review by Jason Klass reignited interest and the gearaholic decided had to check it out and make one.

J. Falk provides instructions for the original one piece stove on his site and instructions for the CWS for a small donation (part to American Diabetes Association.) here.
As this is for a good cause, I won't discuss the construction steps.

Materials are readily available and the construction is very straight forward. Mine is not perfect or beautiful, but works just fine.

Here it is prior to fire up...

I grabbed a couple handfuls of twigs from the yard

I put the can base on the bbq grill for deck test and added a Vaseline impregnated cotton ball

Added some of the sticks and sparked the cotton with a blastmatch

I was playing around with taking pictures and (don't tell anyone) let the thing go out. Another cotton starter and use of a stoking tube [I had some surgical tubing from HDepot for a future tarp guy project, so just added a brass fitting for the hot end] and quickly had the little stove in blast furnace mode. Quite efficient method. Falk discusses using a fish bait air pump for this purpose, may have to play with that later.



Once the flames got going,

I added a pot.

I used an old Peak 1 pot that ends up doing a lot of the dirty work around here. Falk recommends covering the bottom of the pot with foil for smut protection. This is well founded, but I ignored it just to see.

Amazingly, the handles of the pot stayed cool, as long as they are away from the from fuel port, the heat is focused on the pot.

Boil time for 16 ounces of tap water was about 10 minutes. This was pretty respectable for first test with sticks and twigs of various size and moisture content, but hey this was from my backyard not the woods. Also I was playing around taking pictures etc. I would expect with a breeze as in Jason's video and more experience that 6-7 minutes with dry wood would be average.
All that remained once the stove cooled down was a small pile of ash.

It is a relatively compact package with the top half fitted into the bottom. Weight is about 6.5 ounces on my scale for the base unit, if you add binder clips standoffs lids, and the stakes about 8oz - 9 to 10 if you add an alcohol stove.

Do expect smut, either foil on the bottom or a dedicated pot. Either way, I need to sew up a stuff sack and maybe a plastic bag inside to keep the soot contained and away from stuff in the pack

The smut did easily wash off, but that means more water needed and soap... the foil can be reused but I think just a dedicated pot for this stove, let it get sooted up. Definitely need a lid to keep the ash out of your food or water.

The top half of the stove can also be uses as a stand and windscreen for an alcohol stove. Two stakes and one of the can lids makes this transformation. Also some screws and binder clips provide stand-offs for more airflot. A very stable setup. I used it with my MBD atomic.

Overall - this was a fun project, minimal cost to construct. The stove provides an alternate means of cooking either as primary or backup to an alcohol or (shudders) canister stove. You do need to keep your fire going with additional twigs etc and stoke if needed, but that is fun and as some others have said on the forums "feeds you inner pyro"

So the Scouts will love it.....

More photos

Sunday, May 4, 2008



Last night was the big night> My son's Junior Prom

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Scout Campout

Well it was a good campout.
Rain on Saturday turned our campsite into a mud bog. I did not take as many pictures as I wanted to.
But it was still a great time.
I can not get a slide show into a post the way I want to, so here is the flickr link

God Bless

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Getting ready for a Scout campout this weekend.
The mail showed up with a new stove, the mini bull design dot com COOL Fly.
Cool Fly Stove

Well, I had to test this little guy, so loaded up some alcohol, I used heet, I dye the clear fuel green to make it easier to see and to dissuade me from drinking it thinking it is water etc.

Cool Fly Stove

As tinny instructs, I backed the wicks to minimum, I think they creeped back out a bit when I closed the lid. The stove comes with the pot stand shown, designed to be uses with my pot of choice 24oz heine can.

Cool Fly Stove

Anyway, the little guy got 16oz of H2O to HOT in 7 minutes and a rolling boil at about the 10.5 minute mark. At about 12.5, a wick started to glow, so I blew it out. I will play some more with it and probably assign it to ultra lite (pack weight) duty

Also an upgrade for my main stove which is already packed, so I will test this in camp.
I am bringing some extra fuel and alcohol stoves for demonstrating to the Scouts. A 20 oz soda bottle fits nicely into a heine pot. I use the soda bottle for spare fuel, usually four oz is enough for one solo user on a weekend trip, but this is base camping with lots of time to drink coffee, what better way to show off stoves and technique!!

Spare fuel, heine pot, wind screen and lid
I use the bottom of a York Peppermint candy tin or the top of a round Altoids Sours tin for my pot lids.

Packed, ready to go, hammock and tarp are in the green bag. Imitation crocks ($8) camp shoes clipped on. It will rain (I dont know how to camp otherwise), so the golite umbrella is coming along. The hiking poles can be used with tarp as out riggers etc.

I am bringing a tarptent double rainbow in the truck, in case they put us in a treeless area (horrors)

Got to go,

God Bless.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


PS, asked about the pizza in a bag. The couscous was good and I will use it in other recipes. As for as it being Pizza, well um er...I make a pretty mean pizza in a dutch oven, but thats another story.,,,

Was out chasing treasure today!
Geocaching is one of my favorite ways to get out and get moving. I happened upon an article in USA today about this pass time several years ago and immediately got hooked. This satisfies the geek gear and outdoor all at the same time. Picture this:
folks take a container - ammo can, tupperware, peanut butter jar (micros as small as 35mm film can), maybe wrap some camo duct tape around it ( you do have camo duct tape right??) and hide it somewhere - usually in a park, along a bike path, on top of a mountain.

Now in this container they put treasure (often toys or geo coins etc,). Now other folks (you and me) take a handheld gps unit and drive as close as we can and then hike to the location and start searching (gps is good, but there are limitations) usually the geocache is within 30 feet (average) of where my unit says zero. You open the cache and take out something and you bring along something to replace it with. (you trade treasure trinkets etc.)

Inside the cache there is usually a log, where you write when you were there what you took and left. Sometimes there is a disposable camera to shoot who you are and leave that too. Its fun to see how long it has been since someone visited the cache, once in a while you realize that you passed the last cacher on the way in.

Then you log your find back at the website keeps track of your finds and show nearby caches by zipcode, you can map them and plan a hunt on your next business trip or family vacation. It is a free service
Anyway the hunts range from super easy drive bys to bushwhacking and bolder scrambling,


Now playing: R. Carlos Nakai - Song for the Morning Star
via FoxyTunes

Thrift Store

My Mother devours books and my wife loves to find bargains, so they often hit the local Salvation Army and Goodwill stores. Yesterday, I got a chance to go along.
Being a gearaholic, I tend to internet shop too much, the thrift store provides a good alternative.
The thrift store is a great place to go to outfit a new camper or Scout or to find materials for DIY projects.
Cooking Gear - maybe not lightweight backpack stuff, but lots of pots, some the handles could be removed etc.
Water bottles.
Sleeping Bags and Blankets
Clothing - cargo shorts, tee shirts, all sorts of fleece sweaters, rain jackets, jeans, caps.
Duffle bags.
Great way to recycle and support a good cause.
NgmugI scored a nalgene bottle ($0.50)and a 24 oz enameled mug ($0.90) I also got a like new pair of adidas nylon wind pants for $6 - great for pulling over shorts on the trail.
We also picked up 3 or 4 brand new colored tees shirts for my son at $2.99 ea.

Tried a couscous recipe from freezer bag cooking last night - pizza in a bag
I had the ingredients on hand - turned out fine, couscous hydrates well with boiling water.

My favorite FB dinner and real popular with the Scouts is Thanksgiving on the Trail
I just use regular stovetop stuffing, chicken in a pouch, chicken gravy packet if I can't find turkey and cran raisins.

Friday, March 28, 2008



Breakfast in camp or on the trail is often the relegated to the oatmeal/creme of wheat/grits category of breakfast foods.
The instant varieties of oatmeal are OK but to me lack a lot of substance texture and in some cases taste. Breakfast is an important meal as they say, so I want something a with a little more substance.
With a little preparation we can have our own "instant"size breakfast ready to go with some hot water. The benefit: you control the content quantity and quality. If you do not like eating out of the bag, you can dump the bag into you bowl, sierra cup etc.. Eating out of the bags as I demonstrate eases clean up in camp or on the trail
PS recommends Quaker Simple Harvest, I will have to check this out, probably more viable for quick resupply in town when away from home.
I start out with regular either quick or old-fashioned oats, seems like either one hydrate fine with the boiling water using freezer bag techniques.
I usually don't - so it was different to actually measure the ingredients for the pictures. And I figured out why I don't measure-as I got the nuts in the measuring spoon, then dropped it and them all over the floor :)
Anyway, here's my version of oatmeal or is Tinny at mini bull design calls it “goatmeal.”
Start with a half-cup to 1 cup of the oats.
I had a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder
I also usually add some wheat germ at this point - I have a jar in the pantry that I have been trying to use up for who knows how long.
And I add 1/4 cup (small handful) of dried fruit of some kind raisins, Cran raisins, apricots. Whatever's on hand in this case it's cranberries and spiced apples, really good.
Then I add a 1/4 cup (small handful) of what ever nut's are on hand in this case was almonds. I like these and walnuts, but peanuts cashews or whatever you have on hand his great.
Okay that's it. The bags gets sealed up and put in to your food bag and pulled out when you're ready to use it on the trail.
As far as heating it up, just bring the 1 cup of water to a boil and add as much of it to bring the oatmeal to your desired consistency. you can have the bag in a cozy or container to do this.
Then just kneed the bag to mix it up completely.
And if you want, you can put it in a cozy to let it hydrate or cool off a little bit. Most the time I'm ready by the time it's thoroughly mixed up.
You can either eat it straight out of the bag or you can put the bag into the medium twist lock container. (see the coffee system post) As I've shown below.
Then as you consumed the meal out of the bag, you can roll the edge over the sides. Kind of like rolling your socks over- to bring the food up from the bottom. This allows you to use a regular size spoon or spork.
Well that's just one example of eating out of a bag, again the benefit is that you control content and preferably have less processed more whole foods. Also cost, if you have priced the prepackaged "backpack" meals they can really add up. They can also be high sodium etc.
Take a look the freezer bag cooking dot com link on the left for more great ideas or to buy Sarah’s book or check out the gear she has -Great site.. Don't be afraid to substitute ingredients and use whole foods versus dried while testing around a home. See the harmony house link for source of dried ingredients.
Today, I used the hefty zipper bags usually don't use the kind with the plastic zipper. At home, I just washed out the bags for reuse, on the trail rinse and pack out with other garbage.
PS suggested using the new steamer bags that are out in the store now, they should stand up as you add the water. I will have to try those.
Clicking on pictures here will take you to larger copies posted on flickr if needed (the originals are huge)
Next pizza in a bag.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Marvelous Light

Could not sleep last night, probably got the caffeine balance out of wack at work yesterday, looking back it was coffee and ice tea and zero water for the day not good. Too easy to grab a coffee or ice tea (not sweet tea (PS) this is the North) from the breakroom - worse still in a Styrofoam cup I am going to designate a nalgene widemouth for work, more apt to dump some ice and water and sip that all day..
Anyway tried to read for a while (Clive Cussler's Treasure) I grabbed my Palm TX which I use for audio - books and music as well as text documents (couple versions of the Bible on Bible+) decided music and played one of my favorite inspirational songs Charlie Halls Marvelous Light
Maybe the beat is not soothing, but the message truly is.

Into marvelous light I'm running,
Out of darkness, out of shame.
By the cross you are the truth,
You are the life, you are the way

My dead heart now is beating,
My deepest stains now clean.
Your breath fills up my lungs.
Now I'm free. now I'm free!

Just wanted to share that

It is easy to ramble on blogs.
I use to be a purist and say leave the technology at home when heading to the wilderness, but that Palm PDA is lighter than a paperback, I can jot down thoughts, compose emails, read books, listen to books and music.
The popular Christian music out today is great, my teenagers and I listen to the same radio station and share mp3s

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Coffee system

This is the coffee system that I use, it is my version of skidsteer's (over at whiteblaze) coffee system.
Here is the video I copied from C8B3E000423CF3686
The system consists of a stove with built in pot stand, windscreen, pot (20 oz Heineken beer can), fuel bottle, which all fits into the container pictured.
What I used was a medium (32oz) twistlock ziplock container for the base


and an 8oz snap lid ziplock "bowl" container for the top/coffee basket, I used a soldering iron to make the holes. the number of holes determines how fast the water will travel through the grounds and thus how strong your coffee is, start with fewer and test, it is easy to think you want a bunch, but stronger is better in my cup.


the twist lid from the 4 cup container cut out for bowl to fit. razor knife or scissors works fine

once the twist lid is cut out, the bowl can just rest on top of it or under


I use the #2 Melita filters

coffee in the filter sitting in the 80z ziplock bowl

Stove is blackfly2 from minibull design
the pour from the heine pot

coffee going in
you cant see it be these containers are graduated in 1 cup increments, you could add 1/4 and 1/2 with sharpie etc,

Because I often make coffee for two or three, I can run another heine pot of water and add through the same grounds.I also hold my freezer bag meals in the container so I made a cozy to fit over the whole system. this can be used with just the hot heine pot or keep coffee warm in the container.

the 'cozy is made of reflextix insulation material available at Lowes etc.
The body of this stove fits under the heine pot and then there is room for a small fuel bottle (not pictured) inside.

Mac Hanging Out

Hammock Deck Hang
Hammock Deck Hang

this is me, so when you read my posts, you can imagine me relaxing in one of my hammocks typing on the laptop.....