Tag Archives: outdoors

Play Hooky

Ditchin, Absent, Gone

break free, break loose, break off, break out
bolt, elude, evade, flee, fly, relief, vent

work slave zombie

Finding ways to ditch work or school has always been a challenge for dedicated students or work-o-holics. Generally (rat race) Americans work more hours, longer hours and take less vacation days than any other population on the planet, the studies have found.

Californians have a true recreation paradise at their back door… and very few get to enjoy it. Too busy in the city. There are so many neat places to go & cool people to see on the back roads of California, that a whopping 5 paid holidays we get per year just isn’t enough.

Plus there is always so much work to do. Well, guess what? The work will just keep on coming, and coming, until you decide YOU really need a break. Taking that break doesn’t have to cost a fortune either.

hookie, hooky?

The slang word conjures up 10 year old kids, neighborhood pals, riding bikes, running around old abandon shacks & exploring deserted mines. Swimming holes, rope swings and sunshine. A whole day of rest & relaxation, the fun kind. Yep. When you were a youngster, you knew the real meaning of enjoying a day. Free time was almost ALL the time and you lived each day with a fresh outlook.

NOTE to self: TAKE THE BACK ROADS, as much as possible.

Springtime, waterfalls, wildflowers. When it has been a long hard, snowy winter, a sunny day is a huge welcome in February. Come March and April, people want to be outside more, before the summer heat begins.

April 20 is a popular day to enjoy nature, annually. The month of April is prime time for traveling, with Easter weekend and Earth Day celebrations. 420 Camp Outs, Earth Day, River Festivals, Wildflower Blooms. Usually the first camping of the season for true die-hards.

A to Z California

see all California small towns & vacation destinations

5 good reasons
to take that extra day off of work/school

As you may have noticed by now, adult-hood is not all it’s cracked up to be. Work, chores, errands, sleep, drive & more work. Time to re-evaluate what is or isn’t happening in your life. If it’s travel you desire you don’t hafta wait until your are retired. Total Escape is here to help with thousands of pages & ideas. Explore close to home. Travel local regions in California, more often, for less money.

1. Cuz You Deserve It

Yes, dang it, you do. And you know it.
Your year is becoming a series of uneventful weekends all strung together. You need a fresh dose of reality & a weekend away does wonders. Clears the head of daily worries, opens up a fresh perspective, makes you think a little better. Whether it’s fly fishing, antique shopping or laying in a hammock near a creek, it all helps you. Subtly, but it does.

At the desk

bodie ghost town

2. Mental Health Day

We are a nation of work-o-holics. It’s that simple. We are becoming an impatient, unpleasant, selfish society that is always in a rush. What kinda life of daily grind is that? As we all have heard, Europeans get x-number of weeks for holiday time. Twice or three times more than us Americans. Do they know something we don’t? Is it time to slow down & use our sick days for our mental health? When your body is healthy, you might not get sick so often, so go for a hike to celebrate. Stop the chatter about it & do it. Enjoy life, every weekend. Recognize every holiday, 3 day weekends & plan something special for yourself and/or your loved ones.

3. Nature’s Well of Wellness

Fresh mountain air, glowing orange sunsets, the scent of cedar pines, the crashing of ocean waves & the warmth of a fireplace or campfire. A full day of hiking the high Sierra or just lazily fishing from your boat. Nature has magical ways of healing even the most weary souls. Come back from your weekend, exhausted & amazed OR refreshed & fully rested … it’s all up to you. We live in a beautiful place. California has a thousand destinations for you to enjoy. Why not start a health habit of traveling?

HelpMeEscape

4. Less Crowds

Summer is slowing down & autumn will soon set in. The hordes of tourists are thinning out, now that all the kids are back in school. This is the time to plan that weekend in the mountains, rent a cabin, a historic hotel or camp out along the river. Ask for an extra day, a Friday off & make that weekend a 3 day mini vacation. Traffic heading outta town is way better on a Thursday night or Friday morning, than the usual ‘mass exit’ weekend jam. Sitting on the freeway not moving is no fun at all. It’s a horrible way to start a vacation & the weekend escape rush hours can be grueling, so try to plan around it.

5. Cheaper Off Season Rates

Many small independent lodges, like the ones we feature here on Total Escape, usually drop their rates in their off-season. Call ahead to find out when the rates are best. Often the same thing goes for recreational adventures, tour companies & air fares. Each season has it’s own unique characteristics, so plan your stay according to preference. There is always a nice balance with winter, as the Golden State has plenty deserts to explore, as well as snowy slopes. Summer always looks great for the high Sierra but the coastlines are best in Fall. So as you can see there is no use waiting for the perfect time to travel, cuz in California the weather is almost always gorgeous.

Marc at Sunset“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you…while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
– John Muir

The California National Forests, State Parks & National Parks have a million & one things for you to do to enjoy your surrounding, or choose to do nothing at all in some pretty spectacular scenery.

your choice

California Weekends, Unexpected Day Off, Back to Nature

BLM / State Parks / National Forests / National Parks

BLM California

State Park California

National Parks California

US NFS

Camp Hygiene

Traveling & Camping: Personal Hygiene

You’ll often hear city folks or gay guys exclaim ” Geesh. I look like hell” – which is usually followed by, “but I am having such a good time this weekend”.

Yep, I hear ya sister. Who cares what you look like! As long as you are enjoying nature, staying safe & breathing fresh air, that’s all that matters. Bonding with the Earth is something most of us all crave, at one level or another. We’re here to help make that experience better. Soul searching solo camp-out, group camping at a campground w/ reservations or just a weekend fishing in a remote wilderness, via backpack.

looklikehell

aquarius_trio

  • bathroom breaks
  • be bear aware
  • body odor
  • blisters – feet (see below)
  • breath & teeth
  • chapped lips/nose
  • constipation
  • dry eyes & irritation
  • dry skin & bug bitescheck
  • food storage
  • outdoor hair-do
  • sex outdoors

The vision of a typical “Mountain Man” has changed drastically in the last several decades. Lumbersexual, anyone? Pioneer homesteaders, Trappers, Hunters, Fishermen are rare, mostly found in mountain regions, like Sierra Nevada or Northern California. Chainsaws and all.

Grizzly Adams – big, rugged guy with long hair, un-shaven, dry skin & maybe even white cracked lips. Now-a-days it’s all about the comfort, convenience and healthy choices. The city-life and polished look will not be practical, nor last very long outside in the elements.

cyamacapeak_i

Media can glorify outdoor recreation, and feature extreme examples of super fit people, or once-in-a-lifetme adventures.  It misleads the general public into a ‘Barbie style vision’ of what back country, wilderness & camping will be like.

Mainstream news about camping and hiking is often BAD news of river drownings, lost hikers, bad accidents and avalanches. Rarely will they focus on the positives of enjoying the outdoors. Remember, THEY want you indoors, glued to the tube and sucking up all that advertising!

campUNLESS YOUR FAMILY CAMPED while growing up, most of us get “into the outdoors” with little to no education on the wild. The Wilderness: areas without electricity, spotty cell phone coverage, and no medical facilities. There is a lot to learn, if you want to actually enjoy yourself outdoors, be well fed, comfortable, get good sleep – and not get lost.

Orienteering (using a real compass) and topographic map reading are skills worth exploring. Campfires and cooking over the fire may interest you, if you plan to spend large amounts of time outdoors.

BATHING outdoors? When a cold creek is not readily available, then search for piped water and a spigot. Or pack your own solar shower, designed for campers in mind. Only certain campgrounds have showers available and many will require coins (quarters) to operate.

campfire

The topic of ‘outdoor hygiene’ rarely, if ever, comes up in camping conversations. This is what we’re here for. To answer all them embarrassing questions you never had the nerve to ask.

We’ve got the remedies for some physical discomforts many experience while enjoying life outdoors. In the last several years, with new products surfacing daily, there is no excuse not to be comfortable out in the wild. Much of this technique is simply being informed or packing well. Anyone can take advantage of enjoying the mother nature… comfortably & prepared.

< start here >

  • Choose a Gender (if this is impossible task, then maybe camping isn’t a good fit for ya)

potty

 

Cooling Feet
Cooling Feet in Baja’s Guadalupe Canyon

Feet First

Blisters on feet is usually due to friction, heat and moisture. Sweat makes the pore of your skin open up and expand. That along with hot temperatures, tight shoes or hiking boots and mileage, means you must stop and take more breaks.

Shoe/boot laces should be snug, but not too tight.

Take breaks and remove your shoes/boots – once per hour if needed. Pace yourself; know your limits on hiking distances. Plan to be setting a camp, or back at the car before dark.

Dipping your feet into a cold mountain stream is quite refreshing and can add pleasure to your day. Refilling water jugs while you’re at it. Dry feet thoroughly before putting socks back on. Remember the wilderness goal is not always to reach the destination, but to have a great time outdoors. A rewarding experience, but worn out. When feet hurt or become blistered, the fun becomes physical pain.

NO SANDALS

Do not hike miles in sport sandals or flips flops. You can ruin your arches and injure your feet, especially on granite mountain trails. Sandals are great around water, lounging at camp or walking to the outhouse, but consider wearing good shoes if you plan to walk or hike any significant distance.

hiker

NEW BOOTS

New footwear is notorious for creating blisters. Best to ‘break in’ your new shoes or boots on local trails, close to home. Wear them to work, wear them around town – so your foot can fit the boot, well before you try to “hike” in them.bootslandsend

Buying cheap hiking boots may have you swearing out on the trail, so bring backup shoes, just in case. While we’ve found top brand name (expensive) leather hiking boots failing faster than anticipated, we like the abundant shoe options now – trail runners, trekking boots and snow boots.

MOLE SKIN

Backpackers and avid day hikers like to carry this thin, soft fabric. A sticker side w/ mole skin  on one side. You might carry it for years, before needing it. Nice to have, cheap, thin and lightweight.

  • Clean and dry area around the blister.
  • With scissors, cut a piece of moleskin larger than your blister. *
  • Fold moleskin in half, adhesive side down.
  • Using blister as a reference; cut a semi-circle out of the center of the folded end of the moleskin. Result should be a square piece of moleskin with a hole in the center.
  • Remove adhesive backing and place over your blister, aligning your blister with the hole you made. The circle should completely surround blister without touching its edges.
  • You may need to double up if the blister is big. Mole foam is also available.

* Pre-cut sizes to avoid hiking w/ scissors.

TWO PAIR O SOCKS

Thinner nylon pair of sock worn against your skin can help with friction. Wear a thick or thin pair of cotton or wool socks, as the outside layer. Most of the friction will now be in between these sock layers.

OINTMENTS

Athlete’s foot, blisters, sun burn, foot powders, bee sting or injury; there are numerous cautions to consider. Feet are the wheels for your body. They get you to and from; feet are very important for your survival. Taking care of them is key, especially when outdoors.

see products for healthy feet



mountains

footed
Footed Rock at Bald Rock, Berry Creek, CA


Wilderness Reality Check

Zion hikes
Zion National Park – Angels Landing Hike

selfie culture turns deadly

  • Instagram deaths in Yosemite NP
  • Bison attacks in Yellowstone NP
  • Fatal falls at the Grand Canyon

hiker

National Park deaths across the US have skyrocketed in the last couple of decades, due to people falling from extreme heights.

There are numerous, recent stories in the news related to clueless people – falling to their deaths, just for a selfie-photo in front of a great viewpoint, that I am simply stunned by the numbers. Tumbling into waterfalls, getting lost in the woods, or just vanishing without a trace. Naive people trying to “pet” wildlife and getting hurt in the process.

Drowning is the most common cause of death inside National Parks, followed by auto accidents and falling from extreme heights.

Social media is the number one driver in a destination’s popularity, and the amount of accidental deaths in parklands. Recently there has been a 90% increase in vehicle accidents, a 60% rise in calls for ambulance and a 130% rise in searches and rescues.

The Deadliest Parks in the West:

With so many stories surfacing and avoidable tragedies happening, that I feel compelled to write a post about the inherent dangers of the outdoors. Not just the bears, but all of it.

Sometimes you have a fraction of a second to make a life-or-death decision. Unfortunately many things in life are not 100% safe. We cannot simply close nature down.

mountains

The advice here is only some of the basics.

Wear proper footwear, understand where danger lies, obey warning signs and know the limits of your own physical ability.

Running shoes are suitable for most trails, but hiking boots are usually better. Never hike in flip-flops and if you must hike in sandals, make sure to get ‘sport sandals’ with traction soles, arch support, plus secure, sturdy straps.

califrepublic

Seems like good reasoning to those middle-aged, who can remember time without the digital age of distractions. For the rest, who have been staring at a smartphone or video game for most of life, this here is life preserving advice. So listen up.

It used to be called ‘common sense’ – and we learned it at a very young age, with overbearing parents, rules, restrictions and reckless playing outdoors (most everyday). Many hours away from home, off on your own and exploring. Falling, scraping knees, taking a tumble off the bike. Living and learning through experience.

Since many children now grow up totally sheltered, in an indoor environment, looking at screens all day, and existing primarily in cyber space – I guess social media isn’t teaching us the basics on how to survive outdoors and in real life.

Unless of course, you gravitate to those specific channels/videos on wilderness survival (bushcraft), outdoor safety, map reading skills, terrain, protection, wildlife, etc.

The hip, cute camping couple with the custom van build (and unlimited funds) may seem entertaining and cool, but are they offering something of substance? Are you learning anything valuable, or just watching someone else travel?

camptruck

books on death outdoors

WISDOM:
Sound Judgement

DEATH and injury are always a factor when enjoying wild and natural places. Lightning can strike you, a wild animal can attack, you could fall off a cliff, you could injure yourself, slip into the river or you can get lost – and die. Happens all the time, especially in the mountainous, extra large land of California.

WILD, naturally means uncontrollable.
(animal, weather, water or location)

This nature experience you crave is not a video game, nor movie on a screen; This experience is real, raw and often dangerous. Being outdoors near wild animals, next to raging rivers, on dirt roads, on hiking trails, way away from society, has some risks involved.

09slipsliding
Granite Slides

HEED the WARNINGS

WATER is DEADLY overall in California: Waterfalls, rivers, creeks and lakes are dangerous due to numerous factors. While granite rock slides may be appealing in the Sierra Nevada mountains; Loosing your balance and cracking your skull on hard rock may change your life forever, if you can even get to the nearest hospital 100+ miles away.

Always know where & how far the nearest hospital is located. Not just the city name, but the physical location. This simple bit of knowledge is often overlooked by eager travelers, campers and hurried city folks looking to make the most of their time away.

The mighty Pacific Ocean is notorious for shark attacks, surfing accidents and drownings. Beach goers often forget the dangers of the ocean water, when kids, food and family are involved. Ocean swimming/surfing can be dangerous to your health (during big storms) with sewage river run-off.

cliffedge
Moab, Utah is surrounded by red rock cliffs

Lakes and large recreational reservoirs  are places where people love to relax and more often than not, drink alcoholic beverages. Deaths related to boating, jet skiing and tubing usually involve intoxication. When boating – wear a life vest.

Toxic algae can be found floating on water and can be deadly to humans and dogs. Know what toxic algae looks like, smells like and keep pets on leash and out of the water.

White water river rafting is also a sport which has annual fatalities, but just wading near a raging rivers edge can be dangerous – if you loose your footing. Once gravity pulls you down, even if you are a “strong swimmer”, it is hard to manage the swiftness of the river. Waterways can be dangerous, so always wear a life vest.

check

COMFORTABLE CITY vs LIFE OUTDOORS:

Stay sheltered in your own, comfortable, safe space, with electricity, wifi, cell phone reception, air conditioning, plenty to eat and the hospital nearby.

Or you could choose to venture out beyond the unknown, if you have a good head on your shoulders. This is where education comes in, and we are not talking about typical higher learning.

Read all about the place you want to visit. The more remote a locale, the more you need to know about that area and it dangers.

dangerousSQ

Wilderness Areas in California

rangerKnow your plan, tell someone and go out over prepared. Do the research online and off – for the destination you seek. Collect topo maps, talk to rangers on the phone, discuss trails and routes with other hikers or online; gather info well ahead of time, so you can get the gear to make such a trip into the wild a success.

  • always check the weather, as often as possible
  • carry a cell phone – with fully charged battery; , maybe even a backup recharger
  • automotive: top off coolant, oil, windshield washing fluid, check tire pressure. Tune up, especially for road trips. Carry jumper cables, abundant water and a tire patch kit.
  • know how to read a topographic map, outdoors (without cell phone signal and/or GPS)
  • get a first aid kit (review/restock it)
  • study and practice outdoor survival skills, even at home
  • know current fire conditions, campfire safety
  • learn about (current or recent) wildfires burning and what areas have been affected. Roads, trails and camps could be closed.
  • always carry drinking water; extra water in multiple containers
  • get a reliable water filter (for collecting drinking water en route)
  • pack basic camp tools: shovel, bucket, knife, saw, lighter
  • traveling solo, always err on the side of caution.

califrepublic

Wild Animals

Snakes are the least of your concern. Yes, rattlesnakes can be found on hiking trails and at campgrounds. Know how recognize a rattlers sound, where they may be hiding and what to do if you encounter one.

The small critters are often cute and very photogenic, but they are usually after the food you have. Do not feed the wildlife. Do not try to touch the animals. Heed all warning signs about raccoons stealing food. Aggressive squirrels can chew a hole your backpack and bite you, with the possibility of rabies. Desert burros take leather shoes,  or marmots eat radiator hoses in your vehicle.

Mice or rodent droppings can carry the deadly hantavirus, so this means no sleeping on cave floors, picnicking under boulders or sweeping out old cabins or motorhomes (without a proper mask).

And always use the steel bear boxes for storing food when available.

Camping & Hiking with Bears!

cougarsMountain Lions – generally avoid human contact if possible. There have been a few incidence over the decades where females or children mountain bikers have been attacked by wild cats, often known as cougars.

Know that mountain lions prefer to chase and catch their prey, which means speeding by them can trigger this reaction. And no, you cannot pedal faster than the wild animal.

Best tactic to avoid this situation is to make noise when enjoying the trails. Be noisy with vocals, talking, singing, bells on hiking boots and most animals will avoid the confrontation all together.

If however, you are camping alone at a remote location – and a big cat shows up, then you have to make your presence known, pretty loudly, possibly for hours. You may hear growls, hissing noises or high pitched squeals (mating calls) off in the near distance, which means you might be camping next to a favorite meadow where this big cat hunts for food.

Stay awake and aware of what area the mountain lion is patrolling. Make loud noises, yell, sing, fire your gun off and/or bang on metal objects. Cranking loud music works to drive away wildlife, but don’t totally forget that there is a large predator nearby. Keep alert throughout the night for any new activity in camp and be prepared to defend yourself with a weapon.

snow

Winter Weather in California
Road Conditions in California
Snow Chains / Tire Tools

snow conditions

And lastly, the human factor – 

Strangers

Solo and single – don’t talk to everyone.

Parents used to tell their children “don’t talk to strangers” as that single act could lead to predators taking advantage of a situation. Whether it is a ride they need, directions, a cigarette or perhaps an invite extended to join them, keep it short and polite, but firm. Don’t go off traveling with them, if you just met. Don’t get inside their vehicle. Offer to make a phone call for them, if they need the sheriff or rangers.

Any lengthy conversation with an unknown person can lead to a new friendship, perhaps, or a serial killer. California has always been a haven for crime, due to the massive population. During the 1970-1980’s the Golden State had a news story of abductions, missing girls or murder sprees almost every week. These days mass shootings have taken over the spotlight.

Need help, try asking officials if they are around. Park rangers, camp host, store clerks, road crews, utility workers. Keep it short when asking for directions with total strangers. Never tell anyone you meet – your plans, destination or itinerary. If they seem trustworthy and you are not traveling alone, you have more flexibility and can use better judgement.

Police departments patrol cities, whereas in rural areas, law enforcement is served by the county Sheriff. Always know what county you are located in. In National Parks, National Forests, BLM, State Parks and Wildlife Refuges personnel patrolling are called rangers.

Bring local phone numbers written down and in your wallet. Cell phone service (to look these things up online) is spotty and often non-existent when traveling the backcountry roads. Prepare and plan like you don’t own a smartphone.

mist trail
Yosemite’s Mist Trail

sample news articles:

Falling off of Angels Landing @ Zion NP

Yosemite NP (100+ deaths occur annually)

Loving Nature to Death – The Guardian 2018

Camp Cooking

cookingonfire
Lassen Camping – Photo by Mike Rother

Cooking Meals while Camping

Eating while away from home often means expensive dinners out. But eating well, usually means cooking it yourself. If budget travel is key, then you will need at bare minimum – a cooler, otherwise known as an “ice chest” for perishable food.

hikerA heat source for cooking food is another item to consider; unless  you plan to eat sandwiches, wraps, bars and snacks all weekend. Juice fast anyone?

If you want to do any amount of physical activity outside, then you may want a decent meal or two to nourish your tired body afterwards. This is where the ‘free heat source’ (campfire) comes in handy.

metal campfire ring
Metal campfire rings are commonplace inside developed campgrounds.

This page covers an overview of eating and cooking outdoors, more suited to tent campers or car campers traveling. No camp cooking recipes; sorry, the web is full of them.

campfireCampfires require only free firewood (for heat) and the groceries (to cook), so they are the cheapest choice for meals; Free campfire permits are needed, along with water buckets and a shovel, and of course, campfire restrictions should always be followed.

Coleman camp stoves or smaller units are ideal for car campers, tent campers and van-lifers. Butane or propane fuel can get expensive if this is your only cooking method, so take that into consideration.

RVMotorhome campers have it easy – with full kitchens and appliances, but propane fuel could be costly depending on how many meals you prepare. Propane fridges are most common. RV refrigerators are often one of the first things to fail, so keep that in mind when purchasing an older camper on wheels.

Everything – and the kitchen sink. RVs, camper trailers and some camper vans have it made for cooking. They literally have a mini kitchen to do most of their food prep and cooking (indoors, away from wind, dust, bugs). Or they can easily bounce back and forth between the campfire grilling and the indoor kitchen.

woodstove2000

Cabin rentals w/ wood burning stoves, some specially designed for cooking are a rare find on vacation. These beauties are unique, antique and some still fully functional as a cooking appliance. It’s a slower longer process to cook, but it is entertaining and rewarding. Wood-burning stoves use small hardwood pieces, known as ‘stove wood’. Bring some, or ask about it when reserving the cabin.

tailgatekitchen
Tailgate can be Kitchen counter spot

Otherwise, car campers and picnickers must rely on make-shift kitchen setups:

  • first, flat ground helps immensely.
  • second, a heat source may be needed, so plan ahead.
  • developed parks and campgrounds usually provide picnic tables. pavement, cement flat areas for people to congregate and dine.
  • boulder coves near rock outcroppings usually make good picnic spots and camp kitchens
  • at bare minimum, a ground cloth or tarp for meal prep is best
  • tarps can also come in handy, when raining. bring rope.

camp stoves, BBQ grill or campfire
ground tarp, table or tailgate

camp

cement_table
indestructible – the USFS cement picnic table

@ camp – Step 1

define kitchen area, light up work area & clean prep surfaces; wash basin areas get sloppy, so keep it off the table top

crowded table

@ camp – Step 2

cover table top and seating surfaces; carry extra blankets for bench seats, and bedding. Camp stove needs FLAT surfaces to be most effective – the end of the picnic table, a flat boulder, a truck tailgate, a stove stand, or a portable camp table.

@ camp – Step 3

clean out the campfire pit; only idiots dispose of their trash in the fire ring. always leave the camp site, cleaner than you found it. bring extra black trash bags; respect the land and teach others. do not to litter.

Wild Winds of California 

When nights are chilly and dining by the campfire is preferred, line a folding camp chair with a thick blanket. This will keep the cold wind off your back.

If the wind is harsh (20+ mph), you can park your vehicle to block most of the wind toward the campfire and/or camp kitchen.

contained fire
a contained fire, a good fire

Do not burn ANY FLAMES or FIRE when weather conditions are severe. HOT, DRY, WINDY = red flag warnings; all fire permits and burn permits are suspended.

Know current fire restrictions before you light up!

tablestv

NON-FOOD ITEMS vs. FOOD

When packing your kitchen box in advance, do not load food items that have a scent – NO SPICES, no tea bags, nor hot chocolate mix. No coffee, no snacks and small smelly items. Bears, raccoons and  wildlife would love to find your food (even if you only stepped away from the camp for 2 minutes). Crafty types will even attempt opening the cooler or getting inside the hatchback.

Store all food related / scented products inside the ice chest or the easy to manage, grocery bag – aka the FOOD BAG.

This Food Bag concept and style of storage is best for packing up at night after meals. The EASY and fastest way to get to bed early and avoid sorting food items in the dark. When the dishes are done, laying out drying, all grocery bags and food related items go in the car or in the steel bear box (provided at camp ground).

Remember these scented items also includes – toothpaste, cough drops, deodorant, creams, candy, medications. We’ve seen a tube of Ben-Gay chewed open by critters. Yuk. Save the animals from eating your foot cream. Store your creams and meds in a zip pouch with the food bag. Problem solved.

cloth bag
SOLO TRAVELERS TIP: Cloth bags are handy for camp dishes.

Prep @ home before the trip:

Freeze large juice bottles for cooler ice. BLOCK ice last much longer than small ice cubes. Freeze smaller water bottles for smaller coolers. Prevent bottle bursting, (water expands when ice swells) by pouring an inch off the top and screwing cap down loosely.

food

If you absolutely must have ice cubes for your drinks, take a smaller zip-lock bag. If it melts fast, buy another one in route.

Pre-chop vegetables; package fruit chunks. Think of hike-able meals, proteins, fast snacks and fruit. Fresh veggies w/ the meat grilling @ the deluxe campfire dinner.

Select a sturdy reusable bag with wide bottom. This can be your designated FOOD bag. Groceries, spices, coffee and teas, anything with a scent. Garlic, apples, raisins, oatmeal pouches.

The FOOD BAG (see orange notes above) is also a great place to store small items when traveling and camping. Items like lighters, matches, pocket knives, candles, pen and paper, headlamps, batteries, bandana, napkins, half roll o TP.

Solo travelers may even want to pack a ‘place setting’ (plate, bowl, utensils) inside the food bag for on the go meals and easy access.

Pack &  pre-cook:

precooking certain foods
(that would normally take lots of time and fuel, or mess)
rice, pasta noodles, steel cut oatmeal, homemade chili, cakes, bread, sausages, bacon

XtremeCooler58qt

ICE CHEST

2 coolers may be needed. depending on the situation, eating habits and amount of travelerssunshine

One large ice chest for storage, located in the back w/ a blanket on top to block it from the direct sunlight.

Smaller, portable ice chest up front, near the driving compartment for easy access to snacks, trail mix, sandwiches, beverages. Picnics will be easy with a small cooler. Freezing plastic water bottles days ahead, for block ice without the soggy mess.

sandwich

JUST HEAT UP

If you want to do more exploring and less cooking, then plan your meals dining out (at home, online), well in advance. Fast food drive-thrus should always be avoided. Budget at least $10 per meal and expect to pay more in smaller towns. Pack lots of snack bars, beverages and easy to fix meals. Sandwiches are great for day time, cuz you’ll be out sightseeing. Night time you can have a camp fire to cook on, or break out the camp stove or grill.

Left overs are super quick to heat and serve. Pancakes, bacon, quiche, casseroles, enchiladas, stir fried rice, pre-chop salads. Save the salad dressing and top salad just before eating. Other easy prep meals include: scrambled eggs, hamburgers, hot dogs, chili, soups, tacos, or if all else fails, the dreaded MRE. Pre-packaged backpackers meals in foil pouches have come a long way, but are often expensive and always look so unappealing, like mush.

We’ve seen the city-boy bachelors show up to camp (after midnight)  w/ a cooler packed full of beer and Subway sandwiches. Chips and nuts were their only side dishes. Needless to say, but the second day they we’re done w/ their food and wanting ours. BBQ ribs?

condiments
Condiment packets take up less space than full size containers and they don’t need to be stored in the ice chest

EASY COOK MEALS
one burner stove
one steel pot / one pan
cutting board
ziplock bags
utensils

Baja Kitchen

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CAMP COOK
2 burner camp stove w/ fuel
skillet & lid
medium size pots and pans
spices
utensils
camp lantern
BBQ grill?

skillet
CAMPFIRE CHEF
cast iron
dutch oven cooking
campfire grill
tripod
foil  &  ziplock bags
fireproof oven mit / gloves
extra long tongs
sturdy table

castirondutchoven
Cast Iron is the preferred cookware for campfire cooking.

shop for campfire cooking

campsite

wood saws and camp tools

Campfire Cooking Advice: 

Start the campfire before sunset, so it has time to burn down the wood to make adequate coals.

Cook over glowing hot coals rather than the flames of burning wood. Use flat rocks and/or metal grills for positioning cast iron cookware.

campfireWait until the campfire becomes hot coals to do the cooking. Rearrange the glowing coals and rocks for optimal cooking spots.

You’ll need plenty of small wood – to keep feeding the fire and pushing the coals in place. Direct flames on cookware means black soot and often burnt chicken. Flames are okay for some food – like roasting wieners or shisk kabobs, but generally it is the coals that offer the most even heat source.

dutchoven

Dutch oven (pictured above) is often the first cast iron campers purchase. Positioned over the campfire, it becomes a mini oven for heating up left over food dishes. You can heat them w/ a camp stove as well. Start with a smaller size and buy larger ones as needed.

Cast iron skillets are very handy for cooking up meat or fish dishes. Re-heating left overs, cooking eggs, pancakes and bacon. Books abound on dutch oven cooking show baking breads, desserts, making chili, and lots of recipes.

Aluminum foil and a roll of paper towels will come in handy. Ziplock bags help with leftovers. Metal spatula and tongs are ideal when cooking over campfires. Choose a can opener w/ a bottle opener built into it. Bring a corkscrew if you are packing a bottle of wine.

Washing up all dishes and pots immediately after a meal is best practice; Before bedtime is mandatory. No food or beverage smells should be found overnight around camp. Tie and pack garbage away (inside a vehicle), or dispose of in trash cans – before retiring for the night.

Remember: No toothpaste or snacks allowed inside the tent. Keep a clean camp to prevent unwanted visitors (wild animals).

fish

Do not Wash Dishes
in the Creek or Lake

A bucket is a required item for tending a campfire, so use that to fetch water – and wash dishes way away from all waterways, restrooms and sleeping areas. Use bio-degradable soap!

camp

Use the steel bear boxes, whenever provided. These may be required for proper food storage in bear country. Camp community sharing these boxes, so a crate, cardboard box or sturdy bag will be needed to keep your items separate. Often small ice chest will fit inside these metal bear-boxes.

bearboxes
Steel bear boxes help to protect your food from wild animals. It is best to use them when provided. Sharing boxes with neighboring campers is common.

Bears are after your food (not you).

tentNfire

see also –
Camping w/ Bears
Bear Bells & Canisters