Posted by: theurban6 | September 27, 2010

What is Geocaching?

Geo-caching is a very fun sport/hobby, that can really test your ability to navigate as well as notice things. Generally to get started you will need a GPS unit of some type. One that can give you direction, as well, as record the route you took so that you can just reverse it is about all you will need. Also a compass along with a good topo map of the area are a must in case your GPS fails. The Topo map is also great to give you an idea of the terrain before you leave, because the new maps have GPS co-ordinates on them. Books by state of the state you are in are generally available at your local sporting goods store. Word to the wise do not ever go cheap when selecting maps. Then you can become a member of a Geo-caching forum, to hook up with Geo-cachers in your area, as well as get your first set of co-ordinates.

The main part of Geo-caching is to find the cache, you will do this by using the GPS co-ordinates to get to the specific area, but it is not that easy. You will then need to look around and find things that either look out of place, or areas that you could hide things. If you find it you can either take a picture of the item and leave it, or take it but add a different item.

You never know where things may be hidden. As an example, I was turned on to Geo-caching when I lived in Colorado. I was hiking by myself one day when I got to the top of a ridge, and noticed a bunch of burned trees scattered around a clearing. The grass was green, and the left over trunks were rotting, so I knew that the fire had happened at least a few years before. I sat on one of the logs and started thinking about the things that cause forest fires, when I realized I was looking at an group of boulders that was jutting out of the ground. Some of the boulders had splintered into big sheets, kind of like it was made out of shell. One of these splinters was not quite bleached, or weathered the same as the others, so I got up and walked over to it. It was only a foot wide by a couple of feet long, and something was nudging me in my mind to move it. So I did, and I found an old can of charcoal starter fluid. I never did find out when the fire was, but I did call the local fire dept to let them know, but they just shrugged it off. Anyway, the point is I went home and started thinking about hiding stuff to find, and I found all the info I needed, on the internet.

It really can be an adventure, akin to finding a pirates treasure as I tell my kids. So Google Geo-caching and get started, because it goes hand in hand with the expeditious adventurer.

Posted by: theurban6 | September 13, 2010

Homemade cook stove (small)

When you are in the back country camping you may find that the area you are in does not allow camp fires. Hopefully you have come prepared for this with the appropriate food and equipment. Not sure what to do in this situation? Well if you are like me and don’t want to eat cold cans of food, or just jerky the whole time, then here is an idea for you.

Get a nice thick piece of 12″x12″ tile, a 5 gallon paint can, a drill, a couple of metal coat hangers, and follow the directions listed below.

-clean paint can well. Using a paint can that recently held latex is the best, as the paint will peel out, after soaking in water for 24hrs. Also remove any paper label on the outside.
-measure one inch up from the bottom of the can, and make a mark. Do this in at least 4 places. The wrap a sheet of paper around the can lining the bottom edge up with the marks you just made, and tape into place. This should give you a perfect circle around the can on the bottom edge of the paper.
-Using the bottom edge of the paper, take a marker and draw a circle around the bottom of the can. After this remove the paper, but save it as you will use it again in a minute.
-Make marks just like you did before but this time from the top of the can down one inch.
-again wrap the paper around the can and draw your circle just as you did before.
– know drill six holes on the line on bottom, one hole every couple of inches. This will give you holes all the way around the can. These holes will provide you fire with O2.
– Do the same drilling on the top line, but this time make eight holes.
-Next change your drill bit to another one that is SLIGHTLY bigger than the diameter of the wire of the coat hanger. Just under the lip of the can drill four holes (finish reading first), in such a way as to form a cross when looking down into the can. This will be a small pot holder. Now drill the holes.
– Using wire cutters, cut the coat hanger hook and twisty part off. Then insert the wire into on of the holes you just drilled, and the hole directly across from it. Once you have done this push enough of the wire through that the tip sticks out of the can by an 1 1/2″, then cut of the wire (on the hanger side, not the tip side) flush with the can. put your finger on the tip that is sticking out of the can by 1 1/2″, and push a 1/2″ of the wire back through so that now you half 1/2″ of the wire sticking out of one side, and 1″ out of the other. Bend the 1″ side down.
– Repeat the last two instructions for the other set of holes that are under the lip of the can. Now you look down into the can from the top, and you will see a cross in the top of the can. (if you do not you did it wrong).
-Take your drill , and redrill, or wallow out one of the holes on the bottom till it is big enough to insert the tip of a fireplace lighter into. If you cannot push the lighter in until half of it is inserted then the hole is not big enough.

Ok, now for the test. Lay your piece of tile on the ground. Sit the paint can stove in the middle of the tile. Remover your hanger wires by sliding out. Insert your tender in the middle of the bottom of the can (I like to use dryer lint for this purpose), then make a teepee on the inside of the can with small twigs (be generous), around the lint, leaving one side open (make sure this open side is situated in front of your lighter hole). Next insert your fireplace lighter in and light the lint. Once the teepee part is burning you can add more twigs if needed. Do not build the fire to hot, it will destroy the can, or weaken it. Next if you want to cook with it, slide the hanger wire back in, and sit the pot or pan directly on the top of the can. The top holes you drilled will allow the smoke out. (if the fire starts to die, you need more, or bigger holes on the top line, I suggest bigger, as more holes will weaken the can). Your pot or pan will get hot quick, it only takes a couple of minutes to boil a small pot of water. Now you have your small camp stove, just remember to use common sense around it. Do not use it inside the tent.

So what can you cook? Well the dehydrated meals can be rehydrated. You can also make any number of rice dishes like dirty rice, fried rice, etc. with instant rice. Your can pan fry meats, or just roast meat hunks over it if you want. The point is that for no money you can make a camp stove that works everytime you need it, is easy to store, and safe. If you like this idea but want a more complicated stove check out Youtube. There are some great videos when you search for homemade camp stove.

Posted by: theurban6 | September 12, 2010

Cookware

One thing I think everyone needs for a weekend adventure, or longer, (and you don’t want to waste money eating out) is some good cookware. To me there are generally two kinds of cookware for the adventurer.

The first is aluminum. Aluminum of course can be bought with or with out nonstick, and can be bought new, or at yard sales. I would personally go to yard sales as you can buy them for next to nothing. If you are buying nonstick at a yard sale, make sure that the non stick is not peeling off. Bare aluminum is harder to find these days unless you go to a goodwill, or some place you can find really cheap cookware. I personally feel that since it is not for backpacking you don’t need the expensive collapsible stuff. Mismatched sets are easier to carry in a chuck box. A chuck box is a simple wooden box big enough to fit all the pots and pans in as well as plates and silverware, spices, etc. I will save the chuck box for another write up.

My personal choice is cast iron cookware. Yes it is much heavier, but it lasts forever. Again you can buy these at a sporting goods store, or at yard sales. If you buy at yard sales buy the blackest looking stuff that looks well used. It looks like that from years of use, and will cook better. Look at the bottom of the pot, or pan, and look for the names Wagner, or Lodge. Those are the best. There are also online websites that tell you the best to buy. If buying new I would try to buy Lodge as it is still american made which is important to me. Stay away from imported knock offs, as they may contain lead. With a well seasoned iron you can practically wipe it out after using and it is done (be careful though because they hold heat for a while after being removed from the heat source).

Here is a general cookware list:
– one 14-16″ pan (optional)
-one 12″ pan
-two medium size pots
-one small pot (optional)- great for boiling drinking water, or making tea.
-Dutch oven (cast Iron users only)
– Lids to fit all the above
– Dutch oven lid lifter
– Cooking tripod (for hanging cast iron pots, cast iron only optional)
– A griddle or flat metal (for searing and grilling meat over camp fire, optional)
– Enough enamel plates, and enamel coffee cups for everyone in family (easily cleaned, can still be bought at sporting and camping stores) (coffee cups double as bowls)
-Silver ware (buy a full decent set at a yard sale, take only what you need so if a fork gets lost you have one to replace it with later) Note: do not buy or use the really cheap steak knifes, the blade or handle can break during use and hurt you or a loved one.
-Serving spoons, and spatulas
-A couple of good knifes to cut veggies and the like.
– can opener
– two mixing bowls (optional)
-purkilator – experiment at home with it first on the stove, learn how it works, and what tastes best. Nothing worse than a bad cup of coffee with grounds in it on a cold morning.

Tips-
-get a small tub to keep silverware in and another tub that it fits in to put the dirty silverware while washing. Nothing worse than cutting yourself in the woods while reaching into a dish tub to get a plate. Outdoors means infections, that not only hurt but can mean a trip to the doctors office.
– Wrap all knives together in a dish towel. Fold it like a burrito, with the knives in the middles, and wrap both ends with shoe lace to keep them in. Again this is safety, for you or the four year old reaching to get a fork.
-A camp box is great to put all of it into, not only keeps it all together, but it also makes for great storage in your off season.
-Real plates mean less garbage, hate to get green on you here but if you use yard sale items, then you are recycling. It also means less waste to pack out. P.S. pack out all garbage.
-Use old film canisters for spices, I know they are getting harder to find these days but they work great. Do not ever use old pill bottles I have seen this before, and you don’t know what you are getting into yours or your kids bodies.
-Dryer lint is great fire tender, burns long and hot. I keep an old sock on top of the dryer that my wife fills with lint for me, when its full she throws the rest away.
-Also keep two or three lighters in your camp box. Use the kind for starting grills, etc. Cigarette lighters are useless for starting a camp fire as far as I am concerned.

Posted by: theurban6 | September 12, 2010

Hello world!

Welcome to Expeditious Adventures, where you will learn to spend time with your family, seeing things you never dreamed still existed. Join me to find out why it is not the destination that is important, but the journey to get there.

Posted by: theurban6 | September 12, 2010

Your expedition vehicle (use what you have)

If you google expedition vehicle you will get many results, one of which is the Expedition portal. This is a great forum to learn from, but leans towards specialized equipment. I personally visit this site quite often, and has some great ideas even for those just getting started in adventuring.

To get started use what you have, don’t go and spend a ton of money until you have decided it is something you like. Even then you can gear up on the cheap.

First lets look at your vehicle, does it fit you and your family comfortably? If so does it have room for your gear? In my case I own a Jeep Wrangler, and a Chrysler mini-van. Even though my van has enough room to fit us all comfortably we can not take a lot of extra gear. Of course we generally only take the van on family trips, which usually mean that we are staying in hotels. For a beginner, and for a lot of families this would be fine. While my trips that involve going into the back country are usually just me the jeep, and a couple of kids. With the Jeep there is no room for gear, period.

In my case a utility trailer fits the bill. If I am taking the family in the van, and we plan on camping, there is a lot of gear that needs to go with us. For instance for one trip that is three days long we need the following:
1. 6 pairs of Jeans, 6 shirts, 6 pairs of underwear, 6 pairs of socks.
2. one huge tent
3. 2 coolers
4. 10 gallons of water
5. A cast iron cooking set
6. 6 sleeping bags
7. 1 air mattress (I am getting old and need a soft bed 😉 )
8. 2 boxes of food
9. 1 large tarp, 3 ropes, 4 stakes (will explain later)
10. 2 lanterns
11. and a few other misc. things.

As you can see it is quite a list, that takes up a lot of room. My utility trailer is a 4×8′ harbor freight trailer. It can be purchased new from harbor freight for $299. It takes a little time to put together (it is a bolt together trailer), but it is pretty well made with a payload capacity of 1200 lbs. I am a little suspect of the axle, but if it ever goes bad I can buy a better one for $200. This trailer has served me well so far. This same type of trailer is also available from Northern tools, Tractor Supply, and red trailers (on the internet).

If you decide that you really enjoy this type of travel, you can always make the trailer into a specialized camper trailer, or even build a teardrop trailer. An example of the camp trailer (referred to as adventure trailer) on expedition portal . The teardrop trailer information can be found on teardrop forums. Both of these sites have great, free, information, as well as people whom have done the builds. So check them out.

If you want to stay at roadside motels, hotels, (which is an adventure all its own). You will need much less stuff, so you may not need a trailer as big as 4×8, so you are in luck. All the above companies also make smaller 4’x4′ trailer if you need it.

You can always check out craigslist for deals on trailers, and roof racks. In fact if you are resourceful you can make your own to save even more money. Either way this is (unless you have a camper, or truck) a basis for your vacation vehicle.

In order to have fun with your family they and you all have to be comfortable.

Posted by: theurban6 | September 12, 2010

Selma Alabama

On a Saturday in 2006, I packed up the family in our Ford Focus, and we headed to Selma. My wife asked, why are we going to Selma? My response “because I have never been there”. I in fact had never been there, nor had I even checked for hotels, or anything of the like before we left. I knew that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had led a march across a bridge there, and that was why most people even know that there is a city in Alabama named Selma, but I felt there had t be something more. I found it.

We had a relatively uneventful trip, and arrived in Selma by noon on that Saturday. We found a beautiful hotel in downtown, called the St. James hotel. It was built in 1837, and is a wonderful place. It’s like stepping back in time. During its hay day it was a hot spot for plantation owners. They even say that Frank and Jesse James stayed there once. Our room was equally wonderful with a view of the main courtyard, which had a banana tree that actually had bananas in it. (If you know anything about banana trees in the south you will know this is rare).

For the rest of that Saturday we explored the downtown area of Selma, where we found a very rich history. During the Civil war, Selma was one of the south’s biggest assets. This was due to its positioning far up the Alabama river, which allowed for materials to be brought in and out on an easy and regular basis. This allowed for a huge manufacturing plant to be built called the Selma Ironworks and Foundry. Besides making munitions for the rebel cause, they also manufactured ironclad warships like the C.S.S. Tenessee, which was never sank but instead was recomissioned in the United States Navy after her capture. The city was important enough to warrant four attempts to capture it, the fourth was the successful attempt, by General James Wilson who defeated conf. General Nathan Forrest (also known for founding the KKK, which makes Dr. Kings march even more signifigant).

In our exploring we also found an abandoned building at the corner of Young st, and Riverview ave. It looks like it is an old abandoned hospital, or school. It is quite large and looks to be in usable condition. We never found out what it was, but if any of you readers do please let us know.

That night we ate at the historic Tally ho resturant. The food was awesome, as well as the people and service. They have a neat history of the resturant printed on the menu. One of it’s more interesting facts was that they cook on an old bulldozer blade, but don’t let that fool you, it is five star all the way in my book.

When ever you take these kinds of trips you need to be sure and talk to the people, because often they will give you fascinating information about things that are not well advertised or may be local secrets. In our case a nice waitress told us of a ghost town outside of Selma. No, really they do have ghost towns in Alabama. So we knew what we would do before heading home the next day.

After a great nights rest at the hotel we hopped in the car, and headed out of town to the ghost town of Cahawba. Most of us know that the capital of Alabama is Montgomery, but this has not always been so. The ghost town of Cahawba was once the capital.  There are still some standing buildings, and remenants of old antebellum mansions. Cahawba is now a park, and an amazing place to visit as it is full of history. In fact you can look at some of the history on this web site

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