Thursday, September 29, 2011

Code of the campfire #10

The code of the campfire says put the fire dead out when you break camp. The U.S. Forest Service campfire permit requires that you use the "drown, stir and feel" technique to extinguish the campfire. Any method that leaves burning embers -- even those buried under a layer of dirt -- can spark a wildland fire.

To drown the campfire, pour several pails of water over the campfire. I find that it takes five or more gallons of water to drown the fire. With a shovel, thoroughly mix the ash and water until it resembles a soupy mess. Feel the ashes to make sure the fire is dead out. Walk the ground within a fifty-foot radius to make sure no embers have escaped.

The second part of the code says consider your neighbor. Watch the prevailing wind as you pour water onto the hot fire. This way you'll avoid showering your neighbor (or wife for that matter!) with an ash cloud.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Code of the campfire #9

The code of the campfire says be responsible. Don't wander from camp while the campfire is hot. A momentary wind gust could carry embers far from the campfire. Be ready to extinguish any that escape.

The responsible camper always considers the ramifications of a misstep or two. As I said earlier this week, you could be held legally and financially responsible should embers from your campfire spark a wildland fire.

The second part of the code points back to a prior code -- tool up. Should campfire embers escape, stomp it out with your shovel (or boot if that's quicker!). Once the flame is dead, extinguish the ember with water.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chef Bob's story

I enjoyed viewing this video. In it Chef Bob Vanigan of tells his personal weight loss story. He encourages others as the camera walks through his Birmingham, Alabama, catering establishment. It's a peak into the action behind the scenes of Chef Bob's Fit2Eat meal program.

Enjoy ...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Code of the campfire #8

The code of the campfire says obey all laws. This is especially critical when forestry officials restrict or prohibit campfires when conditions warrant. These conditions often occur in late summer and early fall.

The last thing I desire is to be responsible for a wildland fire. The Angora Fire, which destroyed 254 homes and burned 3,100 acres in South Lake Tahoe in June 2007, started when an illegal campfire escaped on a windy day. You can be held criminally and financially libel for such a fire.

Be a good citizen. That's the second part of the code. Secure an annual campfire permit where required by law. Please pay attention to instructions from the issuing official. And make sure you know current fire restrictions before lighting a campfire.

Fajitas for the crew

Unlike a restaurant where fajitas can be prepared in small batches, the ship's cooks cook large quantities to satisfy demand. With around 400 Sailors and as many as 500 Marines aboard the Comstock to feed, CS2 McCants fill the griddle with marinated beef strips and vegetables. McCants and the other culinary specialists work quickly as the meat sears. He will soon place the fajitas into the waiting 6-inch hotel pans.

SOUTH CHINA SEA (Sept. 6, 2011) -- Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Sanford McCants prepares beef fajitas for the lunch meal aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45). Comstock is deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility during a Western Pacific Deployment.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Buliavac.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Code of the campfire #7

The code of the campfire says clear all debris on the forest floor away from the campfire. The U.S. Forest Service says the camper should rake a "minimum of five feet in all directions" from the fire. Like a fire break, the clearing creates a buffer zone between the fire and surrounding forest. The break will give the cook the chance to extinguish hot embers should any escape.

I rake all leaves, needles and kindling away from the campfire ring with a small bamboo rake. It's small size conveniently fits inside the storage compartment of the tent trailer. The rake is a key component in my collection of campfire tools.

Yes, there's a follow up to this rule as well. Be curious. Leave the circle around the campfire cleaner than you found it. This rule has been a key component of my personal lifelong code. Always leave a clean campsite.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Time honored pot rack

Two words come to mind when I see a pot rack in camp: tradition and practicality. While these words appear unrelated, many implements from our past served a very practical purpose. The pot rack eased the burden of cooking over a campfire and gave the cook an efficient way to control the amount of heat under his pots.

In time camp stoves replaced the pot rack and it passed into the history books and museum collections. Except for s'mores and the occasional grilled steak, the campfire was only used for warmth and comfort. Campers no longer cooked over a campfire.

Yet the traditional pot rack works quite well. In this era of modern technology, it gives the camp cook a practical way to suspend Dutch ovens and coffee boilers over a burning campfire. The pot rack lets the cook organize his cooking pots. It even gives him a place to store utensils.

I enjoy the sense of tradition that comes from a sturdy pot rack. It gives me a connection to thousands of camp cooks, most of whom have gone to their reward. Yes, I use modern camp stoves when nessesary. Cooking over the campfire for a week-long trip to the forest gives me a feel for the history of old cooking methonds and for those who practiced ghe craft.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Code of the campfire #6

The code of the campfire says tool up. The U.S. Forest Service campfire permit says that you "must have a shovel available at the campfire site for preparing and extinguishing campfires." In addition to a shovel, I find that a grill or campfire grate, 18-inch utility tongs and small leaf rake all contribute to successful campfire.

The grill holds pots and skillets over the fire, especially where the Forest Service doesn't provide one. (It seems when I leave the fire grate at home the campground doesn't supply one!) The tongs efficiently arrange burning coals around in the fire. And with the rake, you don't have to use your boot to clear a five-foot area around the campfire.

The second part of the code says leave the campfire site cleaner than you found it. Pick up trash, rake debris from around the fire pit and see that the fire is dead out.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Code of the campfire series

As you've seen, I'm posting a series titled, "Code of the campfire." It started Monday morning when campers started leaving Fallen Leaf Lake Campground near South Lake Tahoe. After writing a note or two in my notebook, I realized a series on campfire etiquette and tradition loomed.

The first five in the series were posted over the past three days. Since we are moving today to Upper Blue Lake in Eldorado National Forest, I will post the last five articles next week as cell and Internet service doesn't exist there.

Enjoy the series ...

Code of the campfire #5

The code of the campfire says always keep a pot of hot water on the fire. Hot water stands ready to wash dishes, bath your body or tend bumps and bruises.

In the Seabees, the cooks dedicated one 15-gallon stockpot to hot water in the field. The water was used for sanitation, cooking and coffee. (Seabees can get a hot cup of coffee from the field galley any time of the day.)

The second part of the code says share a cup of tea, coffee or chocolate with camp neighbors before retiring for the night.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Code of the campfire #4

The code of the campfire says you need a source of firewood. While you can haul seasoned firewood to the campsite, the time honored way to gather wood is to drive the forest roads.

Only pick up "down and dead" fuel for the campfire, per the U.S. Forest Service. Cutting standing trees, living or dead, is forbidden. Check local regulations before cutting or gathering wood.

As I said yesterday, the second part of the code says share. Help the novice camper light a campfire. And share firewood with a late arriving party.

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Code of the campfire #3

The code of the campfire says put it to work. Fire has been used through the ages to warm the body, give comfort through long nights and cook flavorful meals. Put fire to work in camp.

Meat and potatoes are king on the grill. Add cast iron Dutch oven or skillet and you have the fixin's for a great outdoor meal. When you're ready to move beyond meat and potatoes, a world of culinary creations opens up.

And the second part? Be ready to share vittles with campers who inadvertently wander into your camp.

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Monday, September 05, 2011

Code of the campfire #2

The code of the campfire says never wash the coffee pot. Dump the grounds into the fire and rinse it with fresh water. You never know when boiling a pot of water in the cafiene crusted pot will be enough to ward off a cafeine withdrawal headache.

And it adds character. Dried grounds on the spout tells visitors that you're a real camper, one who prides himself in a well-built campfire, not a clean coffee pot.

As before, this code has a second part. Always be ready to share mug of fresh coffee with your neighbor.

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Code of the campfire #1

The code of the campfire says wait until the neighbor party pulls out of the camp to snag firewood remnents. Pace about or talk about your next campfire dinner, but don't enter the camp until their trailer clears the driveway.

With many campers leaving for home after the Labor Day holiday, I scoured over a dozen campsites for wood. I now have enough firewood to burn two fires each day for three days.

The camp to my north provided enough wood to boil water for our morning coffee and breakfast. Four large 18-inch wedges came from our New Hampshire neighbors to the south. The retired couple purchased the wood in Minnasota! Another site yielded an odd collection of cast off lumber.

Part two of the code says don't be greedy. Share your wood with a party that that needs wood. It's a blessing to help other campers.

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