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Light Fire with Fire

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I was peacefully camped in my Prowler near the St. Croix River in a Minnesota state park, when a group of young Chinese students approached my campfire.
“We are camping near you, and can’t get our campfire to stay lit. Can you help us?”
They had piled a stack of damp wood on top of some crumpled newspaper, which burnt away without starting the wood.
I had a sack of easy-start instant-light briquets (which come saturated with starter fluid) in the storage locker in my trailer, so gave them a few with instructions to pile them together under their logs. The briquets soon resulted in a merry blaze for the youngsters to roast their marshmallows, hot dogs, etc.
So if you’re RVing and need a way to get your fire going, invest in a bag of these things. They seem to last for years, and since you aren’t using them to cook over, the fumes shouldn’t be a problem.i

Written by rvgolfer

June 15, 2013 at 3:57 am

Posted in camping, Minnesota, rving

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Free campgrounds in Minnesota
Or, if they aren’t free, they are low cost.

View Larger Map
This is just the first version I’ve put together, so I’ll be adding to it as I continue.
Some are for RVs only; others offer tent camping.
Hidden Greens Golf Course
Just south of Hastings, Minn., on Hwy 61, is a challenging yet inexpensive course named for the way so many of its greens are tucked away in a heavily-wooded area.
I played the back nine yesterday, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The narrowness of the fairways through the surrounding woods is the major obstacle on this nine, as there wasn’t much sand or water. Errant shots, however, are accompanied by the sounds of “swish” as they burrow through leaves, or a sharp “crack” when a ball slams into an elm or maple. (I saw at least two shots bounce back past the golfer when they hit a tree too squarely.)
At $18 for 9 plus a cart at twilight rates, it’s very affordable. Part of the reason for the low cost is its distance from Minneapolis/St. Paul, and its close proximity to another course, Bellwood Oaks, which I’m told is longer and tougher.
At this time of year, leaves begin to be troublesome, but they are certainly beautiful as long as they know their place. The little chill in the air hints of things to come, but for now the wise Minnesota golfer enjoys the moment.

Written by rvgolfer

September 28, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Posted in camping, golf, Minnesota

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Camping tips

Wear dark socks: flies seem to be attracted to white ones, and bite through them. I switched, and wasn’t bothered again.
Carry a little bottle of hand washing liquid in your pocket: The personal bottle of Curelle was wonderful when exiting a pit toilet.
Use Castile liquid soap (we got ours from Trader Joe’s): I b’lieve it’s biodegradable, works well on hands (when you have water), and also on pots and silverware. Smear a little on the outside of pots, to keep soot from getting on them.
Get that little led magnifying glass I mentioned earlier: It was a Godsend during our tenting trip to Gallatin National Forest near Bozeman, MT, both to read maps by and to use as a flashlight when heading for the biffy in the middle of the night.
KOAs will allow you to take a shower, for a slight fee. My long, hot one in Bozeman cost $5, but the hosts, bless their hearts, also ran a steamer over our clothes when the dry cleaners weren’t working on a Saturday.
A multi-tool is handy: I used a Leatherman tool I inherited from my brother to take a tiny light out of a Maglite, and to carve a new tentpole section out of a fallen pine branch.
Having a good hatchet helps: Mine has a nail-pounding back that drives tent stakes in easily, while the sharp edge made clipping that tentpole down to size a lot easier.
Put that bar of soap into an onion bag: You know the type of mesh bag that holds onions, or potatoes. I put soap into one and tie it shut. The plastic mesh doesn’t soak up water or get dirty, and it’s rough enough to use to scrub yourself down. Plus, when you hang it up to dry there’s nothing to get smelly or sour.
If your digital camera memory gets full of great camping photos, you can make a photo CD at a Wal-Mart or Walgreens rather inexpensively ($2.50 at the Bozeman Wal-Mart), then delete all the photos in your memory to make room for more.
All in all, we had a great time, and I’m hooked on camping once again.

Written by rvgolfer

August 27, 2007 at 8:36 pm

Posted in camping, koa, multitool

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Fulfilling a 50-year-old dream

I’ve got a grainy black-and-white photo of myself, eight years old, standing in Cub Scout uniform, hosting an enormous smile. It was taken just before I ran away from home the first time.
I had gotten bitten by the scouting bug, and was an avid reader of the Boy Scout Manual, devouring the tips on camping, cooking, woodcraft…everything. I also read a lot about fishing, and dreamed of going. My parents, however, were too busy for such foofaraw. They worked, and worked hard, raising three children in rural Hanford, Calif., in the central valley.
One of the first tips I learned was how to make a pack out of a pillowcase. (This was the ’50s; pink backpacks and Spiderman backpacks were a long time in the future. I might have gotten a WWII rucksack from an Army surplus store…if I’d known about such things, and had had the money.)
To make a pack out of a pillowcase: lay the case flat. Take a pebble and place it inside, in one corner. Tie one end of a long piece of string around it. Take a second pebble and place it inside, in a second corner. Tie another end of another long piece of string around that. This will keep the pillowcase from slipping free once it’s loaded. Then tie the strings to the top two open ends, so you can wear it with the open part up. This was my pack.
Now you can fill it. Maybe some clothes. Some comic books for sure. A couple cans of food, a can opener, some matches, and a spoon. Some string and a hook to go fishing with, I suppose. Naturally once it was filled it would sag down to the lowest part of your back, but who knew?
And I took my little outfit down to my mom’s office to ask her for some money so I could run away from home. When I talked to her the other night, she remembered. She told me, “You go home, go to your room, and stay there.” As a good little wilderness scout, I obeyed, and spent the rest of the day reading my camping books from the shelter of my brother and I’s room.
Now, 50-odd years later, I recalled the thrill of camping, and I still enjoy it. More soon.

Written by rvgolfer

August 15, 2007 at 2:48 am

Posted in 1950s, camping, vacation