Posted by: theurban6 | July 27, 2011

Mendocino or bust Pt 2

Mendocino National Forest has an interesting rule to take note of. No firewood from outside the forest. This is an important rule to abide by, if you bring in wood that is contaminated with bugs, or diseases that do not naturally live in the forest then you could kill an entire forest.

So first on our list was gathering wood. We unhooked the camper and got it leveled. Before we left we grabbed the Fiskars hatchet (look for review on this site), bow saw, and gloves out of the camper. Off we went in the Jeep to look for a dead dry tree. It didn’t take long to find one right beside the trail. The tree in question had been about 12′ tall, before it was cut down by the forest service for reasons unknown. The first thing you always do is grab your hatchet, and walk around the tree looking for snakes of the rattling variety. Also be on the look out for any critters that could ruin the rest of the trip. This would include, but is not limited too snakes, scorpions, spiders, and ants.

I found none of these so using the hatchet I cut all of the limbs off first and laid them in a pile beside the Jeep. Using the bow saw I cut the tree into logs. The bow saw is a lot of work, but is much easier than an axe for this work. I then loaded it all in the jeep on a wood tarp, and back to camp we went.

Back at camp I unloaded the wood and set limbs in a pile, and stacked the wood. I grabbed by small pruning shears out of the camper, and sat down near the pile of limbs. First I sniped all of the bunches of straw off the limbs and made a pile of those. Then I cut off every thing up to finger sized into 6″ sticks and twigs. The rest of the limbs I broke with my hands into 8″ pieces. Using the hatchet I chopped up the rest into 12″ sticks.

In the fire pit I made a nice doughnut of the straw, and put a small layer of straw in the center of the doughnut hole. On this layer I sat my tinder (I carry a tender kit in the camper. It consists of a screw top peanut butter jar packed with dryer lint, that I save for camping). Using my flint and steel I lit the tinder and covered it with more straw, then I started with my smallest wood, making a pyramid around the straw. As the fire gets hotter and burns off the smaller stuff you can add larger until it is hot enough to add logs.

For dinner that night we made hotdogs, and chips. This is not normally my first choice as I love to cook over a fire, and usually make some dishes people will not attempt at home but it was the little boys first real camping trip. Of course after dinner we made smores for desert.

You will find at times the young ones will get bored as they are used to being at home, and have no interest in whittling and the such. Be smart before leaving the house through some toys they like in the camper, and toss in some books to read them as well. In our case it was Tonka tractors, that the boys didn’t know we brought. When boredom set in the tractors came out, and the boys commenced to making roads in the dirt. This continued until bed time, where we all loaded into the camper and read books. It was a good night and everyone slept well. Upon waking up Benjamin Discovered he needed to use the bathroom.

If you have never used a vault toilet, you will find the experience intimidating. It is literally a hole in the floor with a fiberglass toilet on top. Lifting the lid you see nothing but a large pit of waste below. If it is intimidating for you imagine a 5 year olds thoughts. GO WITH YOUR KIDS AND HELP THEM. Children can fall into a vault toilet so hold them while they are using the bathroom. It helps them be more comforted. Funny thing was when I was helping Ben on the toilet I heard a mind piercing scream as Cameron screeched at me not to do that to Ben. I guess he thought I was gonna throw Ben in LOL. My ears rang for and hour afterwards.

The next morning was full of off road trail exploring, before going back to the camp ground and packing up for the trip home. Make sure after everything is secure to clean up not only your garbage, but other peoples at that site as well. It not only helps the park but it helps the environment. Don’t be that guy! I made a game of it with the boys, singing a song as we policed the site for bottle caps etc. Sleeping in the teardrop


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