Category Archives: Outdoor Adventures

The Perks of Camp Coffee

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

For heavens sake! Nobody wants to hear your generator at zero seven thirty!

You say you don’t like percolated coffee? That is because you are not doing it right.

I never thought I’d using that internet cliche in a bog, but it’s true. I didn’t like it either until I got it right.

We bought an RV upgraded from tent camping to glamping in 2015, my first pot for the rig was one of those enamel ones without a see through thingy-bob on the top and I used the RV sink water. Tent camping and making a large pot of percolated/boiled coffee never bothered me, it was strong and hot, exactly I want after sleeping in a tent. But my first several pots of RV coffee were awful, since then I got it figured out. So now that my delicious cup of percolated coffee is ready I thought I’d jot down the way to make a good cup of camp coffee.

Get the right pot

You spent good money on that electric coffee maker, don’t go cheep with your camp coffee pot. Get one that will double for a camp fire and RV cooktop coffee pot. Mine was a Christmas gift from my husband, he found it at Cabela’s. I found the same one on Amazon, and linked it here.

Material: Mine is a stainless steel pot with high-temp stainless steel handles, I’m not sure if stainless steel over enamel makes a big difference in taste, but the stainless steel ones seem to have a better construction. I wound NOT get an aluminum one, I think it gives a really bad aftertaste. I used one in the 80’s and can still taste it as I type this.

PercView knob: Get one with a glass knob, you want to see when it starts percolating so you can time it, and you don’t want it melting if you put it on an open campfire.

Basket: Find one with a basket assembly with a custom fit and evenly distributes the water while percolating.

Stainless and Glass

Fitted Basket Cover

Fitted basket assembly

Get the right grind and grind it right.

Don’t go cheep and easy just because you are camping, buy what you like when you go out for breakfast. Whether relaxing by the river or vacationing, you deserve the best.

Beans: I start with good whole beans, Starbucks is my favorite for camp coffee. I usually get Italian roast but have used their specialty dark roast coffees as well.

Grind [Important!]: Get it ground for a percolator, not a drip maker. Whenever I ask for this at Starbucks the staff usually looks at me like I have a chicken on my head. These young people have never seen a percolator. Rodger Dudley at the Smiths in Jackson, however, knows exactly what I am asking for and gets it perfect every time. If you don’t have a Rodger, and you get that look ask for the french press grind setting.

Storage:

Keep your ground coffee in a tight fitting container and in a cupboard out of the light. I use a Tupperware container. The small green container contains the filters.

 

Good water:

For a weekend camp I fill a one gallon Tupperware container with filtered water from my house tap. I am fortunate to have good tap water. For longer camps I use bottled water, I buy enough gallon jugs to make coffee every morning.

Filters:

They do make filters for percolators, get some. Put a filter in the empty basket before adding the grounds, then another on top the grounds, before putting the lid on the basket. this contains most the loose grounds and makes cleanup much easier.

Round Filter

Filter on top and bottom

Measure [Important!]:

Tastes vary, I like strong coffee and camp at high altitude. Start with one rounded scoop (tablespoon) per 8 ounces of water. If your coffee has good flavor but is to week or too strong adjust your ratio of grounds to water accordingly.

Lightly tap the grounds so they are even in the basket but you do not want to compress the grounds.

Please reply below with your beans, ratio of water and grounds, percolating time, an altitude.

Time the percs [Important!]:

Use a high flame but not one coming up the sides of the pot. Once it starts percolating, perc for 3 to 5 minutes. No more than 5. I need 5 minutes at high altitude, however if you are camping at sea level 3 minutes should be sufficient.

  • If your coffee tastes watered down it needs another minute or two of percolating time.
  • If your coffee tastes bitter or burnt it needs less percolating time.

Your coffee pot will be hot! Have a hot pad ready when pouring your cup of joe.


Keeping it hot:

You can either put the coffee in a thermos or reheat on stove as needed. If reheating on stove DO NOT boil and especially do not re-percolate.

Cleaning:

Be sure to wash your pot after every use, getting any old coffee grounds and film out of the pot. The filters help contain most of the grounds, I use a paper towel to wipe away the rest of the grounds into the trash, then wash all the parts in hot soapy water.

  • A straw cleaning brush works great to clean the tubes if they get icky.
  • Avoid getting grounds into your gray tank.

Straw cleaning brush

Ready for next brew

 

More tips:

  • Coffee comes out better if I get it ready to put on the fire before I go to bed.
  • Coffee always tastes better when made to drink with a friend.
  • If all else fails, add some Baily’s

Enjoy!

 

Please reply with your beans, ratio of water and grounds, percolating time, an altitude.

 



Confessions of a Band Geek

Monday, July 16th, 2018

To make money blogging, one must blog… at least once a week. Bloggers make money by placing adds on their sites and getting page views (about a penny every 100 views), clicks, and in some cases sales. I have 3 main blogs, I’m developing an on line music library program, manage three business websites and one for a non profit, I’m a musician, I’m on the board of a non profit, and have 2 paid jobs outside my home. Then there is the weekend actives and summer visitors common to life in a resort town. So, as you can imagine, three blogs a week is nearly impossible.

My husband and I like to “glamp” on the weekends. We have this rolling piece of home we take to the river and get away from the rat race. I bring my iPad Pro and do a little typing for my blogs over coffee in the mornings. I don’t have internet access by the river so while home I set up blog drafts while on my big computer, copy them to a document on iCloud, and then download them on my device. The subject for this weekend was “I’ve gone to the Dark Side”, it was supposed to be about using my iPad to read music.

I started with a little background about my musical path to get where I am today. I try to keep my blogs under 1000 words, around 600 is best. I don’t want to lose my readers. Holy cow! I got off on all these tangents and before I knew it I was over 1700 words, and still had not gotten to my point. I sat back and gave it a re-look. I had several sub stores, so instead of calling it a fail, I decided to break it apart.

When I got home and a fresh brain I made a list, and set up my drafts dividing it up into separate blogs. I have 6 drafts! Most of which is already written, I just need to edit to read like a individual blog, not part of another. SIX! DANG! I’m a band geek! Who knew? So coming up with a name for my series was not all that hard. I quickly came up with it to 3 choices, Memoirs of a Band Geek, The Band Geek Chronicles, and Confessions of a Band Geek.

I hope you enjoy my series “Confessions of a Band Geek”. Subscribe to my blog for notices when I post a new blog.

411 words… 412 …




Confessions of a Band Geek


The ATM Cave & Concurring Fear

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

   My son at Jewel Cave, South Dakota

When ever chatting with friends and family about outdoor activities, and the subject of spelunking and exploring caves came up, I always said that’s not for me. I’m not all that claustrophobic but the idea of squeezing my body through a tight space in a dark cave gives me the eebie-jeebies. What if I get stuck? And panic? And no one is there to get me out? Flash flood? Cave in? Aliens? Nope, not for me… Forget it!

In 2015 we took a family vacation to South Dakota. While there we visited the Jewel Cave. The cave had an elevator, walkways, railings, and LIGHTS. I was a little nervous but there were not any tight spaces and as long as we kept moving and the guide kept talking I was good. On the outside of the Visitors Center was a block to crawl through demonstrating how tight some of the “off trail”  paths were. Nope, not for me.

This January my husband and I visited Belize for the first time. We were told that a “Must-See” was the Actun Tunichil Muknal “ATM” Cave. The ATM Cave is a Mayan archaeological site near San Ignacio, Cayo District, that includes skeletons, ceramics, and stoneware. It sounded cool, my husband did the research and we booked the tour when we arrived at the hotel.

On the morning of the ATM Cave tour I woke to this notice that it was a POW day back home.
We were instructed to wear cloths we can hike, climb, and swim in. Including water shoes and a pair of socks. I wore a one piece swim suit and a pair of light weight cotton shorts, (next time I will pack some river shorts). For my shoes I wore my Keens and a pare of smart wool toe sock booties. I wear prescription glasses, and so did most of the others in our group, we needed to wear retainers on them so we would not loose them or drop them on an artifact. We were allowed to bring a day pack with dry cloths, snacks, and a camera but we had to leave it in the van at the trail head. Cameras were not allowed in the cave, damage to the artifacts had happened when someone dropped a camera on a 2000 year old skull and broke it. After 3 separate incidents the government passed a rule forbidding cameras. I wasn’t even allowed to carry my eppi pen, I had to the guide to carry in his dry bag. At the trail head we were given a life jacket, climbing helmet, a head lamp, and a liter of water. It was a mile hike to the cave entrance and we were told to drink half the water before we get to the cave, the other half on the way back..


We hit the trail, the first thing we did was swim across a river that is several feet deep. There was a rope to hold onto to guide us to the trail on the other side. IOn the trail we crossed water 2 more times, and the trail itself had several muddy spots that squished around (and into) the shoes. When we got to the last several yards before the cave entrance we were told to find a place to set our water bottle. There were no facilities, the men were told to use the jungle on the left, women the jungle on the right.

entrance-to-atm-cave-belize-actun-tunchil-muknal-600

Entrance to the ATM cave from the Belize.com website
Click photo to read more about the cave.

It was a privilege to be able to visit the site, they only allow 200 people a day in the cave. All have to be with a guide. The guide instructed us on footing, how to step, and what to touch & not touch. Then back in the water we went and swam into the cave. What was I thinking when I said yes to this? I have NO IDEA what I was thinking! Maybe because the Jewel Cave was so commercialized I didn’t give much of a thought to what I was getting myself into. My darling husband, being the smart man that he is, didn’t tell me it was a non commercialized cave, we would be doing real caving. So, on I trekked, thinking “no prob, I can do this”.

Squeezing through the cave openings

The “Guillotine” – We could not have cameras, this is not
my photo, it’s from a stranger’s blog blog. But, I did that!

The water in the cave was over our head at the entrance, throughout the cave the water was anywhere from ankle deep to several feet deep. A little way into the cave we met our first obstacle, a tight spot nick-named the “guillotine“.  I was the second to last to go through, my husband was behind me. We had to position ourselves so that our head was above a rock sticking out, and the rest of our body below, so that our neck goes by the rock. Remember, up until this very moment doing exactly this was a “I will never do” activity, and definitely NOT on my bucket list! What was I thinking? HOLY CRAP! I was not going to turn around now, everyone would have to leave too, so OMG I’m going to do this! As the woman in front of me worked her way threw the opening I was having this quiet conversation with myself in my brain that started out “Oh sh–! Oh F—! Oh sh–! Oh F—! Oh sh–! Oh F—!….” Then I rationalized with myself that my husband is bigger than me and if he would not fit they would not let him go, therefor I will fit into that tiny little space and not get stuck. Once it was my turn, I made a couple tries then decided to take off my life jacket (not dangerous), I slipped right through, no freaking out, no panic, no alien abductions. YAY!! I could not believe I did it! I was so pleased with myself. The woman in from of me said she was having the same feeling about it too. After that anything else in our path would be a piece of cake.

A video of people passing through the guillotine.
 

On the hike to the artifact room the guide made many stops to tell us about the cave, the Mayans, the culture, stalactites, stalagmites, the sink hole, and answer questions. When we got about a mile into the cave we had to climb a bolder and up on a (wide) ledge to get to the artifact room. The guide instructed us on climbing the boulder. It had divots where to put your feet, I would compare it to hoisting myself into a saddle on an 18 hand horse without standing on a log, the first step was a doozie! I had my husband push my bum up that rock. Once we climbed onto the ledge we took off our life jackets and shoes. This is where the socks come in, no shoes were allowed into the artifact room, minimizing damage to the cave. The wool toe booties worked great! They were not saturated with water, the grip was good, and my feet were protected. As I was walking into the artifact room in my socks I thought to myself “this is sooo worth missing a pow day for!’. 

In the artifact room was pottery and human sacrificial remains 1500 – 2000 years old, some just inches from the marked trail. For example, an artifact named the “Monkey Pot” was right there, next to our feet, easy to get a good look at in detail. It was SO COOL! In the very back of the cave was a calcified full skeleton nicknamed ‘The Crystal Maiden’, our guide said that was just a name dubbed by a reporter and there is not enough evidence to determine if it is a male for a female. The archaeologists believe she (or he) was sacrificed during a period of drought, to appease the god of rain. The Mayans believing the cave was where all water originated.

Did you read this and say ‘Hell no! Not me!”? I want to stress… don’t let your fear get in the way of this awesome opportunity. If I can overcome my fear and do this, so can you.
On the way out we stopped and the guide had us all turn off our headlamps. Then he had us close our eyes. When we opened our eyes they did not adjust, it was completely black. Up until this moment I had not even given the darkness a second thought. Imagine the Mayans trekking to the back of this cave with only torches.

The next day it started raining and all the caves closed, and it didn’t stop the rest of the week. We chose our day well. Would I do it again? YES! However there are so many other cool things we didn’t get to see in Belize I probably would not do it on our next trip unless we were with someone who had not done it before.