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The Camper of Oz

This is the post excerpt.

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This is my first blog post, but I’m updating it from time to time. This blog started out as an avenue for me to write about my love of Colorado, and to write a little bit about the Coleman lanterns I collect. Since that original concept, I’ve started adding a lot of camping gear “reviews” and occasional random deep-thought posts.

Right now I’m starting to explore the state of Kansas through camping — something I’ve never done. I still miss and love Colorado, but I’ve found out that Kansas has a lot of state parks worth exploring, and it gives me an excuse to go bass fishing. Camping then, is a must. So in short, this blog is remaining the same, but expanding. If that makes sense. I look forward to continuing my lame conversations-with-self about camping gear, writing about outdoor adventures in tents, and now more posts about bass fishing.

Change = Uncomfortable Yet Beautiful

In a few weeks, I’m going to stop drinking. I’ve done this before, sobriety. In the last 20 years the longest I’ve abstained is 5 months. This past year I did a 2 month spell. I will attempt the same in 2019. I have a 20 mile trail race in late February and that is the dangling carrot. Why can’t I stop drinking permanently? If you know, you know.

Addiction is weird for me. I cannot comprehend the concept of “forever” therefore being sober for the rest of my life is impossible in my mind. However, I find it rather easy to stop drinking for a few months with proper motivation. So on one hand, yes I’m an addicted beer drinker, on the other hand I’m easily able to abstain. I’m a weekend binge drinker, so Monday through Thursday I am sober, and easily so. But yet come Friday night I cannot think of doing anything else other than soothing my soul with several nice beers. Saturday is all day drinking, Sunday I stop to recover for Monday.

It feels good to write about it but it solves nothing. You either are an addict or you are not and if you are you understand and if you aren’t you never will. It’s funny though because there is always a time when addicts are not addicted. Then they are and it’s over. I doubt I will dedicate too much time on this subject, it provides lots of writing material but I don’t want my blog to be about that. It is something to be aware of though. If you are like me, keep fighting the good fight. It took me 20 years to even confront it. This is a start, and that is very valuable.

Angry Book Review: Solitude

I do not like being a critic. (Here we go…) People who judge the works of others piss me off (like I’m about to do). However, I understand constructive criticism. I give zero fucks about the rotten tomatoes website or any other collection of informed opinions. I do not give one fuck. I do not pay attention to you because I have a brain and I like to use it. I can form my own opinion. I am ironically writing the same hateful shit right now that I protest against (or the glowing fan-boy gaz firework plethora, etc. whatever) ….

Amazon works the same way. Before I purchase a book I look at the reviews. Majestically every book I’ve ever wanted to buy has had 100% rave reviews. What fucking bullshit.

Case in point.

I’m reading Solitude buy Bob Kull. A man from British Columbia who is studying living in “solitude” for a doctorate or whatever. He decides to live in southern Chile for a year and write about his experience. No humans within 100 miles. Sounds cool.

I like to read everything except the meat of the book before I read the — meat of the book. So I read the appendix and noted that this man spent $22,000 on this trip. It is actually pretty cool how he lists every item he purchased.

Let me get to the point: this book is an organized mess. For a man who is doing an in-depth study on Solitude, he spends the first 3 months getting settled and admits being “too busy to notice the solitude.” (not a direct quote). I get it, but it also doesn’t provide great reading. Actually, the entire year goes this way. I’m not expecting to read something that changes my life but needless to say his doctoral studies prove nothing.

He brings a cat with him. Yes. And Mr. Kull hates cats apparently. Awesome. He constantly complains about this cat. What the fuck???? There are many (always) times when he berates or hits the cat to prove his point. He feels guilty at times but it never stops him from his behavior. Well done, Bob. He is fucking hateful to a cat in the middle of nowhere— that should end his career as a human.

He’s on an island which requires boat transport. In 90% of the passages he writes about the fucking outboard motor not working. Fucking idiot. If you are going to spend a year in isolation maybe you shouldn’t take a cat with you by the sea which requires a great boat.

Complaining. He bitches about his bad shoulder every page. Bitches about the wind. Rain. Cold. Anxiety.

Fuck this guy.

He moves to a horribly shitty location with a pet he hates and waxes poetic about solitude? He is a mess and I hate every word out of his mouth. He doesn’t even know who he is. He prays to Jesus, Buddha, and whatever. Pretentious philosophical drivel — when he’s not annoyed at the cat.

Man this shit pisses me off. This guy spent $22,000 in a cold, windy, bleak locale to write about daily drivel and make no point. The first few pages he even says this is no beginning or end, just blah blah blah —

This fucking guy doesn’t even know what Solitude is. Hope he uses the $17 I gave him well.

I have a grand total of 17 followers, so I’m not making a point. I’m not in a book club. All I’m saying is I could do better if I were given $22,000 to go off and live in solitude for a year and write about it. At the very least I wouldn’t be abusive to a cat.

Princeton Tec Helix: Rechargeable Backpacking Light

I buy a lot of Coleman camping gear, I mean a LOT. However, I am not married to the brand, and I actually get a lot of satisfaction when I buy non-Coleman camping gear just because it makes me feel liberated from being Mr. One Brand Guy. So with that being said, I present to you the Princeton Tec Helix. It’s a rechargeable camping light that’s probably geared toward backpacking, which I don’t really do (I Camp, I hike, but I’m not a minimalist backpacker). It will serve the same purpose for me though, and that’s to have a nice light source that saves space in my tent. The retail price is $49.99. I bought it in hopes that it will light up the tent as much as my much bulkier Coleman LED lanterns do.

There are “instructions” on the bottom, as well as the USB port for charging. The light comes with paper instructions as well as a USB cable that is sneakily hidden in the bottom of the packaging. The USB charging is mostly why I bought it. If I use it enough it will pay for itself since I’ll never have to purchase batteries for it. Charge time is 3-4 hours with a 5V power source.

The four legs on the bottom can be laid flat. It has bright, dim, and flashing options for the light. Also red, which I find  a bit more atmospheric, especially in the confines of a tent. Also, the half-moon clip on the top is excellent for hanging at the top of the tent.

The top of the light easily detaches which is how you will see the charge indicator. The instructions also show how you can compress the light and secure it but I have not figured out how to do that yet. Even in full form, this light is very compact for my needs but I can see how a backpacker would relish even more space.

Overall, I think this little light will be valuable and be worth the price. The lithium-ion battery should be charged as frequently as possible, no need for draining it completely before charging, so say the instructions. I can’t wait to use this for the first time during my next camping trip.

Carrot on a Stick

I’m a bit of a mess. I’m moody. I’ve had severe depression in my life. Binge drinking problem that I can barely manage. My diet consists of everything other than fruits and vegetables. You get the point.

Each November/December I sign up for this 20 mile trail race that is in late February far away from my home. I’ve found that it helps me stop drinking for a few months and if that’s the best I can do, then so be it. It really isn’t life changing but it’s a 2-month pause in my life that I refuse to give up. And running — it helps me not quit that, because in the last few years I have been struggling to run. I do it but I do not get that feeling. When I first started running I felt like I found a new drug that I cannot describe. Age does amazingly bad things to the brain and body.

Not sure what I mean by this writing other than it is important to hold on to motivation, or something that will center you. Running does not fix my problems but without it I’d be worse off.

 

One Man’s Wilderness

 

I want to call reading a hobby, but that’s a bit of a cheap description. It’s more like a soul-enriching necessity to me. There have been long periods in my life where I did not read, years and years of bookless periods in fact. In the last couple of years I have managed to figure out how to work reading into my life. It’s actually not difficult — it’s like anything else — if you want to do it you will.

I’m writing about this because it’s now mid-November and the days are shorter, colder, and perfect for getting cozy with a book. It’s no coincidence that I probably read more in winter than any other time of year.

This is not a book review by any means, but currently I am reading One Man’s Wilderness by Sam Keith — it’s authored by Keith but it’s really the real life writings of Richard Proenneke. I’m only 34 pages into it and I’m thinking it might be one of the best books I’ve ever read.

The book is about a man (Proenneke) who’s fed up with 50-hour work weeks so he journeys out into the wilderness of Alaska and builds his own cabin and lives the good life in the solitude of Nature. It has two small sections of color photographs of the cabin building process, the inside of the finished cabin, and various other aspects of Proenneke’s lifestyle. It is some of the most beautiful scenes I have seen. Proenneke not only built his cabin with his own hands, he made his own tools and kitchen utensils. This guy is the true definition of what a Mountain Man is.

I’m already asking for the PBS documentary DVDs for Christmas. There is also a second book that sort of acts as a sequel to this one, I’ve read that it’s a lot of the same kind of material but that’s fine since I can’t get enough.

Camping Utensils: Philosophy and Coleman Review

 

For years, in fact every year until this one, my philosophy for camp eating was to simply purchase disposable plates, cups, and utensils and throw them away when done. How wasteful. I don’t know why it took so long, but I finally saw the light (or the reflection of the sun off of the shiny silverware!) and purchased camping utensils — no more waste. The $15 that this Coleman utensil set cost me will pay for itself in no time at all. I also will no longer be throwing away plastic garbage at campsite trash dumpsters. Does it take up space? Not any more space than a box of plastic utensils, really.

As you can see, the Coleman utensil set comes in a carry case that folds up, fastened by Velcro. Four spoons, forks, and knives. It cost me $15. I never in my life thought I’d be reviewing silverware but here I am. I can sum it up in one sentence: The silverware is made well and comfortable to use. Oh, and dishwasher safe. Two sentences. I know this sounds weird, but some utensils are shaped worse than others. I mean, if it weren’t a thing to think about then why are there so many different sets out there? Some forks are flat, some are curved, the sizes differ. My point is, as snobby or picky as I could be about something so ubiquitous, this Coleman utensil set is good.

So utensil philosophy. I also have transitioned into permanent plates and bowls — the classic blue and white speckled enamel type — but I’ve been using those for years.

It is a nice feeling to know I won’t be throwing away plastic trash after eating at the campsite. There are obviously smaller versions of permanent camping utensils, spoons and forks combined, all taking up even less space. I actually own some, but for a family this Coleman utensil set should get the job done for the foreseeable future.

Coleman Twin Tube Fluorescent Light

I’m a sucker for LED or Fluorescent Coleman lanterns — they are relatively cheap and they work well in tents. I found this new-in-the-box Coleman Fluorescent twin tube lantern at an Estate Sale. I probably overpaid but on the first day of the Estate Sale you either overpay or risk  not getting it if you wait.

I put two 6 Volt batteries in and it works. It has the option of using one tube or both. Battery power should last 25 hours on one tube, 16 hours with both lit. It also can work using 8 D cell batteries, I have not done a price comparison so I’ll have to check into that to see what is cheapest.

The “neat” feature is the sliding reflector. With the reflector up, it actually decreases the light from 360 degrees to 180 so it’s brighter with the reflector down, ironically.

Overall, pretty cool. I have had bad luck buying Fluorescent lanterns in the past. I have a really cool pack-away lantern that I bought at an Estate Sale but it doesn’t work. No idea why. So it’s always a sketchy situation. I can fix a gas powered lantern 95% of the time but Fluorescent or LED problems — not my area.