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They're Baaaack
news : by Tommy - July 14th 2008, 11:16AM
news
Wow. Quite the trip. We didn't experience almost any bad weather the entire trip. It never really rained on us while we were camping. No real vehicular problems. No sickness. All was well.

Almost every night we were camping in the mountains so the air was nice and cool at night. We stayed a week in Flagstaff with Corey and his fiance, Misty, taking countless day trips to the surrounding National Parks and attractions. After we parted ways Jennifer and I continued tent camping all the way back home with the exception of a few nights in hotels when the weather wasn't going to cooperate (too hot, potential storms) or we just plain needed a break and some running water. (Most national parks don't offer showers of any kind.) Our biggest accomplishment, aside from actually surviving the trip without problems, was climbing Guadalupe Peak, it was probably one of the tougher things either of us had done, but it was a great feeling of accomplishment when we finished.
We camped at over 8000ft after climbing 3mi and 3000ft with our 25-30lb packs to the campsite. We climbed the final mile to the summit the next morning before packing up and climbing down.

We also visited Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, the McDonald Observatory, Big Bend, family in Austin and Baytown, and managed to meet up with my brother before he leaves for Ranger School next week.

We just got back last night, so I'll have some pictures to post this afternoon sometime.

For now, here's our route. We kept a journal of things we did each day, kept a list of wildlife seen along the way, and logged gas mileage. My car did excellent - averaging around 35 mpg. I was pleased, but it's time for another oil change!

Continue reading...

tags: camping road_trip

( Comments : 2 | Full article )

 
Desert Voyage 2008
neodux : by Tommy - June 18th 2008, 08:03AM
neodux
Well, the time has arrived. Jennifer and I are loaded up and will start heading toward Flagstaff, Arizona today. We'll be stopping at Palo Duro Canyon along the way, then we'll stop by Bluewater Lake State Park near Continental Divide, NM. The next day we'll push on to the cabin we've reserved with Corey (Mackieman). We'll kick it old skool for a week and visit the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, one of the nation's largest observatories, Petrified Forrest and other notoable locations.

After Flagstaff and seeing all the sites within sane driving distance, Jennifer and I will drive south to Summerhaven, AZ atop Mt. Lemmon where we'll meet up with the Tucson Amateur Radio Club for the annual ARRL Field Day.

After Mt. Lemmon, we'll head west into New Mexico to stay at Aguirre Springs near Las Cruces, NM. The next day we'll head to Alamogordo to see the dunes at White Sands and visit Cloudcroft before driving on to Carlsbad to see the giant caverns and bazillions of bats. whew! still not done...

We'll attempt to climb Guadalupe Peak (highest point in Texas) after we've crossed back into Texas, then drive down to Fort Davis to see UT's big observatory there and swim at nearby Balmorhea Springs swimming pool. At that point we'll be at a crossroads as to whether or not we want to try to go south to Big Bend for one last grand view or head back to Longview by way of Enchanted Rock.

I'd hotlink all of these locations, but that'd take forever and you know how to use Google.
I'll check in periodically whenever I get wifi, now that the world has our literary you'll know where to see search parties...

Grendel sez: See you soon Mackieman, good day!

tags: camping road_trip

( Comments : 3 | Full article )

 
The Right Camping Gear
outdoors : by Tommy - March 30th 2008, 09:37PM
outdoors
I've been on a camping kick recently and realized last week that having the right gear makes a huge difference in comfort. About 2 weeks ago for a pre-Spring Break camping trip, we went with some friends up to Beaver's Bend, Oklahoma. While we were there the zipper on my sleeping bag broke. I didn't have a sleep-mat so, needless to say, I had a very lousy night. After we got back I ordered a nice Slumberjack mummy bag that actually fits my tall frame.

Last weekend we went to Caddo Lake State Park here in Texas. I picked up a cheap $5 foam mat at Walmart, which wasn't the softest but it was better than nothing. The new Slumberjack bag was downright awesome - I've never slept so comfy in a tent before. It was while laying in my new bag that I realized it's all about having the right gear.

That was it, for my birthday I wanted the right gear. My birthday came early this year in the form of an additional paycheck from some extra hours I picked up. We went to Whole Earth Provision Company and REI in Dallas this past weekend in search of a few essentials. I first picked up a nice, new Kelty Coyote backpack for containing all my new loot. The sales rep at REI loaded me down with about 30lbs. After getting the pack adjusted I walked around the store, it was wonderful. Again, it was all about the right gear. I also picked up a Thermarest sleeping pad to cushion me from the ground. I can't express how awesome these mats are - You just have to feel them, otherwise you won't understand. Never again will my back sleep on terra firma.

Another problem I ran into while at Caddo Lake was poor cookware.

Continue reading...

tags: camping gear

( Comments : 4 | Full article )

 
Ultra-Light Alcohol Stove
outdoors : by Tommy - March 8th 2008, 01:55PM
outdoors
While looking at various camping stoves, like the MSR WhisperLite and Pocket Rocket, I came across the old alcohol stove design. I was curious how they worked and found several howto videos on making your own alcohol stove.

Of all the videos I found this one was probably my favorite. I was able to track down some Bud Light in aluminum bottles. It's not Shiner, but it's not the beer I want - it's the containers.

I followed Russell's howto video and was able to hack apart a bottle and assemble it into a modest imitation. It wasn't the most sound design, so I made another. The second stove turned out better than the first and I was actually able to boil a standard sized pot of water!

Pics are forthcoming.

update: From the moment I lit the stove, it took 10 minutes to boil 2-1/2 cups of water (what my dehydrated meal calls for). Not too shabby.

tags: camping stove efficient

( Comments : 4 | Full article )

 

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