Tag Archives: making camp

To Rebuild a Fire—When the Flame Has Gone Out

IMG_2776
Bonfire burning bright!

As fascinated as I was reading from Jack London as a child, I’m not going to retell To Build a Fire. I am, however, going to address the art of bringing back the flame when it has almost died out.

Let’s pretend that you built a fire in a fire ring and that you have cleared all flammable items for 10’ in every direction so you can leave it unattended and get your tent ready for bed. You’re crawling around in your tent blowing up the sleeping pad, rolling out your sleeping bag, hanging an led lantern and finding your night time reading. You crawl out and zip the netting. You’re eager to sit with your honey by the fire and oh no! your fire is almost out.

  1. Move evenly and with moderate speed so you don’t blow out what you have left with the wind generated by your hasty movements. Hurry is your enemy here but modulated quickness is your friend.

2. Position your body between any wind and the fire.

3. Carefully lift each piece of wood and lay the warm end in the center of the fire ring where the ashes are the warmest. Watch carefully to only pick up a stick that is cool on one end. Lay the sticks so the warm ends touch and get as many as you can together so their combined warmth begins to rise.

4. Lower your head to the surface and blow gently and steady under the wood. This will blow away some of the ash and allow any remaining embers to be exposed to more oxygen in the air.

5. When your air is gone from that breath, hold your breath and gently back away from the fire to get another good breath of air. This will keep you from drawing smoke and ash back into your lungs.

6. Lower your head and repeat the gentle steady blowing under the wood. Repeat till you get a flame. It will often burst into a small flame just at the end of a long breath.

7. Gently add tiny pieces of dry twigs and leaves until the small flame begins to grow slowly. Once again the key is gently and slowly—no sudden movements.

8. Patiently increase the size of the wood pieces until you have the desired size flame.

9. Lay larger pieces around the fire to help them dry out and to protect the fire from the wind.

If you banked your fire over night with a sizable log, this may work in the morning too. Add a step to the beginning of this list—use a stick to gently brush away the surface ash that has accumulated over any warm spot till you find 5 or 6 bits of glowing ember. Push them carefully together and start with step one above using this little pile of embers as the center.

Practice—practice—practice and this method will save you a lot of grief and provide many happy returns. Your Honey will probably be impressed. My Honey still gasps with delight when that first flame returns with a burst. See my Honey’s guest blog to see what fire was rebuilt on this day two years ago…Happy Engagement Anniversary Honey!

*************************************************************************

Is there something in your life where the fire has gone out? Maybe with your Honey? What steps could you take to bring back the flame?

9 Ways to Decorate Your Camp Site

IMG_2353
Decorating Diva 🙂

What? Decorate? Who knew? Come on guys – tell me the truth. How many of you knew that pitching a tent was considered decorating? Or maybe I’m just the only guy that didn’t get this. My Honey and I used to fight or at least be at odds over setting up camp almost every time.  The tension was thick and when we camped with friends they would notice it too. We loved the whole of the outdoor adventure so much that we would smooth it over each time and move on to happier things.

One particularly awful fight over the campsite arrangements resulted in nearly ruining a perfect full moon night. We managed to still enjoy some parts of the evening but the next day, we packed up and hiked back to the car. We were almost ready to give up on the whole camping component of hiking. It was bad.

IMG_20160522_210650483
Happy moment preserved! Warming by a fire built deep in the sand.

We drove to the nearest town, found a place to cool off from the heat and sort out our angry feelings. How can two people who love each other so much and love these adventures fight so heatedly over setting up camp?  What was wrong with us?

An idea occurred to my Honey about how to explain to me what she was feeling. It must have been a Divine whisper in her ear because it was so good. And I’m happy to give her big kudos for how she laid out this concept.  In a nut shell – she explained that she needs to nest – she needs to decorate. She went on to explain that she believes that since she is the artsy creative woman that it is her responsibility to make it pretty for me.  I tried not to let my mouth fall open as I listened to her as she carefully and respectfully fleshed out her point of view.

I am very practical when it comes to basic shelter and I value speed only second to staying dry. However, I wanted peace and fun in setting up camp more than I wanted to set new speed records for making camp. I want things done fast so we can move on to more fun but all fun was at risk with my current method…so I was very interested in her discourse.

She on the other hand is like a cat trying to get settled in a small card board box. You’ve seen it I’m sure. You can read about ours in Clivethecat.com my Honey’s blog. The cat circles and circles passing up many perfectly good comfortable positions until the magic one is reached. No one watching the cat can tell why or when the cat will settle down (I’ll tell you in a little bit just how very good her criteria actually is).

This difference between our views gets the infamous credit for why we are so often at odds when it’s time to set up camp! It was a moment of great relief as I began to understand what is going on in her magnificent mind.

As I asked questions and we talked more and more we fleshed out many criteria for nesting – decorating the campsite, if you will. There are more but here are 9 of them:

1. Is the location for the tent level? Sliding down into a crumpled fetal position over and over will really ruin a good nights sleep.

2. If it is just a very slight incline, which way should the foot box point so that our feet are just slightly down hill and not our heads.

3. Is the site free of roots, rocks and sticks?

4. Is the site free of poison ivy and holes that might be homes in the ground?

5. What is the view out of the tent door? Can we see the moon? the campfire?

6. Which way will the wind blow better through the tent in the heat and blow around us in the cold.

7. How does the site look and feel over all as one approaches it from a distance (this one is the one that sound most like decorating and almost completely escapes my comprehension). How does it feel when we are in it? Does it feel like home to her?

8. Will the heat and smoke from the fire cause any damage to our equipment?

9. Which way will the shade travel? How will that effect the temperature inside the tent and should we put up a shade tarp to protect from the afternoon sun?

This is all part of decorating to my Honey.  I suggest that you ask Your Honey what she is thinking because she might know more about this than you think. My camp site architect sure has ideas that make it better!

So happy together!
So happy together!

We used to fight and now we plan.  The fight method: I’d start to set up and she would ask a question. The answer could possibly lead to a slightly different angle or location of the tent or cooking area. It might really be a good idea or she might just be asking for a concession. We would try to process this conversation while tired most of the time and sometimes in the dark.  This would go from frustrating to maddening inside me until we would just fight over every detail. The plan method: Now we spend 10-20 minutes discussing all the influencing elements and then we build the camp. If we are exceptionally tired and/or it is dark, we have concluded that I whip up a camp quickly and we make adjustment in the morning.

So, there you have it…making camp IS decorating?

*******************************************************************

What are some more things that you can share that are good decorating tips?