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Camping Tips

picture of a tent

This past weekend my son Mark and I went camping with my best friend Phil and his three sons - an event that has been happily repeated through many years. Now that our sons are all in their twenties, we don't know how many more of these we'll be able to do with all six of us there. It was a fabulous weekend - so enjoyable and relaxing! We enjoyed having Sliding Rock almost to ourselves. (Who else was crazy enough to plunge into 55 degree water?) The fall colors up in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina were not quite at their peak, but they were further along than they are here in Greenville. I had taken my digital camera along to capture some Kodak moments, but we were so busy enjoying ourselves all weekend that I forgot to pull the camera out. Some blogger I am, huh?!

We've done this so much that we have most of the details down pat. However because my 35-year-old Coleman stove, which I had been able to light just fine in our driveway last week, decided that it would not light Saturday morning. We had to take a quick trip to the store to get a replacement for my stove and for Phil's air mattress that lost its air Friday night. (Mine didn't lose its air until Saturday night.) There were a couple of other items we wished we had brought along, but none that we felt like we had to buy to get through the weekend.

Below are some camping tips for you. I'll start off with a story.

Setting Up Camp

The loaded mini-van pulled into the only remaining campsite. Four children leaped from the vehicle and began feverishly unloading gear and setting up the tent. The boys rushed to gather firewood, while the girls and their mother set up the camp stove and cooking utensils.

A nearby camper marveled to the youngsters' father, "That, sir, is some display of teamwork."

The father replied, "I have a system - no one is allowed to go to the bathroom until the campsite is set up."

Camping Tips

Get even with a bear who raids your food bag by kicking his favorite stump apart and eating all the ants.

Old socks can be made into high fiber beef jerky by smoking them over an open fire.

When smoking a fish, never inhale.

A hot rock placed in your sleeping bag will keep your feet warm. A hot enchilada works almost as well, but the cheese sticks between your toes.

The best backpacks are named for national parks or mountain ranges. Steer clear of those named for landfills.

Acupuncture was invented by a camper who found a porcupine in his sleeping bag.

While the Swiss Army Knife has been popular for years, the Swiss Navy Knife has remained largely unheard of. Its single blade functions as a tiny canoe paddle.

Effective January 1, 1997, you will actually have to enlist in the Swiss Army to get a Swiss Army Knife.

Lint from your navel makes a handy fire starter. Warning: Remove lint from navel before applying the match.

When using a public campground, a tuba placed on your picnic table will keep the campsites on either side vacant.

You'll never be lost if you remember that moss always grows on the north side of your compass.

You can duplicate the warmth of a down-filled bedroll by climbing into a plastic garbage bag with several geese.

When camping, always wear a long-sleeved shirt. It gives you something to wipe your nose on.

You can compress the diameter of your rolled up sleeping bag by running over it with your car.

A two-man pup tent does not have enough room for two men and does not include a pup.

A potato baked in the coals for one hour makes an excellent side dish. A potato baked in the coals for three hours makes an excellent hockey puck.

You can start a fire without matches by eating Mexican food, then breathing on a pile of dry sticks.

In emergency situations, you can survive in the wilderness by shooting small game with a slingshot made from the elastic waistband of your underwear.

The guitar of the noisy teenager at the next campsite makes excellent kindling.

Check the washing instructions before purchasing any apparel to be worn camping. Buy only those that read "Beat on a rock in stream."

The sight of a bald eagle has thrilled campers for generations. The sight of a bald man, however, does absolutely nothing for the eagle.

It's entirely possible to spend your whole vacation on a winding mountain road behind a large motor home.

In an emergency, a drawstring from a parka hood can be used to strangle a snoring tent mate.


Those camping tips, of course, were in jest. I hope my readers who enjoy camping will post some of their real favorite camping tips. Do you have any great tips to share?


"You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients." - Julia Child

=^..^= =^..^=

A great deal of hostility can be released when camping in the fall by using campaign literature of politicians for toilet paper. (I'm ivman, and I so approve this message!)

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Several weeks ago my wife Becka and I celebrated our anniversary by spending an afternoon at the Western North Carolina Nature Center that features animals native to the Appalachians. We really enjoyed it and recommend it to others. Here are a few pictures from our visit....

They had two black bears - here's one of them...

They had white-tailed deer...

... and turkeys...

One of the bobcats was way up in a tree. I was able to zoom in on him....

We were glad that there was thick glass between us and the wolves!

chickadee update...

Here's what the wildlife in our back yard looks like as of this afternoon....

It's absolutely amazing how much they have grown in just three days! You can look at the picture in the blog post before this one to see the difference.

In keeping with today's wildlife theme, here are several humorous reports.

According to the Knight-Ridder News Service, the inscription on the metal bands used by the U.S. Department of the Interior to tag migratory birds has been changed. The bands used to bear the address of the Washington Biological Survey, abbreviated "Wash. Biol. Surv." until the agency received the following letter from an Arkansas camper:

"Dear Sirs:
While camping last week I shot one of your birds. I think it was a crow. I followed the cooking instructions on the leg tag and I want to tell you it was horrible."

The bands are now marked Fish and Wildlife Service.


From note found posted on a trail in Colorado:


The Colorado State Department of Fish and Wildlife is advising hikers, hunters, and golfers to take extra precautions and keep alert of bears while in the area. We advise that people wear noise producing devices such as little bells on their clothing to alert but not startle the bears unexpectedly. We also advise you to carry pepper spray in case of an encounter with a bear.

It is also a good idea to watch for fresh signs of bear activity. People should recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear droppings. Black bear droppings are smaller and contain berries and possibly squirrel fur. Grizzly bear droppings have little bells in them and smell like pepper.


"Telling people the truth is more important than getting along with them. But be sure to tell the truth in love." - Mike Knight

=^..^= =^..^=

Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all"?

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Murphy’s Laws of Camping and Hiking

Several things in life lately have gotten me to thinking about camping. This past weekend our son mentioned that he and his young bride hope to go camping for a few days before their school year begins. Our daughter Nora is currently housesitting for family friends who are camping in Colorado. And finally a colleague from school sent me a link to the picture below. I would call this "extreme camping" - another, not me, man! Rather than 1,000 words, this picture says just one - YIKES!!!

I'd call this extreme camping!

All this stuff about camping made me think of something in my files - Murphy's Laws of Camping and Hiking. For those unfamiliar with Murphy's Laws, you can read up about them by going here. Those of you thinking about getting in a camping trip before the school year begins might want to be reminded of the following....

Murphy's Laws of Camping and Hiking

Any stone in a hiking boot migrates to the point of maximum pressure.

The number of stones in your boot is directly proportional to the number of hours you have been on the trail.

The size of each of the stones in your boot is also directly proportional to the number of hours you have been on the trail.

Feet expand when removed from hiking boots. The same law applies to tents and tent bags, clothing and backpacks, and sleeping bags and stuff sacks.

If you take your boots off, you'll never get them back on again.

When hiking, you take half as many downhill steps as uphill.

The weight of your pack increases in direct proportion to the amount of food you consume from it. If you run out of food, the pack weight goes on increasing anyway.

The width of backpack straps decreases with the distance hiked. To compensate, the weight of the backpack increases.

The weight in a backpack can never remain uniformly distributed.

The local density of mosquitos is inversely proportional to your remaining repellent.

The distance to a given camp site remains constant as twilight approaches.

The area of level ground in the vicinity tends to vanish as the need to make camp becomes finite.

When you arrive at your chosen campsite, it will already be occupied.

Average temperature increases or decreases with the amount of clothing brought.

The sun sets three-and-a-half times faster than normal when you're trying to set up camp.

Tent stakes come only in the quantity "N - 1" where N is the number of stakes necessary to stake down a tent.

Propane/butane tanks that are full when they are packed will unexplainably empty themselves before you can reach the campsite.

All available humidity and moisture will congregate on match heads.

If no match heads are in the vicinity, all moisture will congregate inside waterproof clothing.

Waterproof clothing isn't. (However, it is 100% effective at containing sweat).

Waterproof matches aren't.

Non-stick pans aren't.

One size fits all doesn't.

Anything bug-proof isn't.

Your side of the tent will always be the side that leaks.

Rocks and sticks rise above dirt when irritated by tent flooring fabric.

All foods assume a uniform taste, texture, and color when freeze-dried.

Divide the number of servings by two when reading the directions for reconstituting anything freeze-dried.

When reading the instructions of a pump-activated water filter, you should substitute "hour" for "minute" when reading the average quarts filtered per minute.

All tree branches in a forest grow outward from their respective trunks at exactly the height of any of your sensitive body parts.

You will lose the little toothpick in your Swiss Army knife as soon as you open the box.

Rain. ('nuff said)

Enough dirt will get tracked into the tent on the first day out, that you can grow the food you need for the rest of the trip in rows between sleeping bags.

When you are camping in late fall or winter, your underwear will stay at approximately 35.702 degrees Kelvin (-395.136 degrees Fahrenheit) no matter how long you keep it in your sleeping bag with you.

Bears. (see Rain)

The probability of diarrhea increases by the square of the thistle or poison ivy content of the local vegetation.

When one is in a mummy bag, the urgency of the need to relieve oneself is inversely proportional to the amount of clothing worn. It is also inversely proportional to the temperature and the degree to which the mummy bag is completely zipped up.

95% of a backpack's contents could have been left at home.

The 5% left at home will be needed.

Tents never come apart as easily when you're leaving a site as when you're trying to get them set up in the first place.

The memory of misery approaches zero as the memory of joy approaches infinity.

When planning to take time off of work/school for your camping trip, always add an extra week, because when you get home from your "vacation" you'll be too tired to go to back for a week after.


We're amazed at how soon "summer vacation" will be over! Three weeks from today we begin our faculty in-service meetings at the university. I am *so* ready for all the construction projects on campus to be completed, and I am very eager to see my students again.


"Do you obey God when it's costly?" - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=

If you tell a joke in the forest, but nobody laughs, was it a joke?

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To Build a Fire

Probably one of the best preparations for our teams to France and our teaching in China was all our experience from camping. We learned to improvise and make do with whatever we had to work with in our living situation and to plan ahead by taking small, useful tools, etc.

My son and I are hoping to be able to go camping one weekend this fall with a friend and his sons. Some of our best memories and stories are about getting a campfire going and keeping it going. Oh, the stories we could tell, and wouldn't tell! Today's iv is almost too true-to-life to be funny....

Sixteeen steps to building a campfire

1. Split dead limb into fragments and shave one fragment into slivers.

2. Bandage left thumb.

3. Chop other fragments into smaller fragments

4. Bandage left foot.

5. Make pyramid structure of slivers (include those embedded in hand)

6. Light Match

7. Light Match

8. Repeat "a Scout is cheerful" and light match.

9. Apply match to slivers, add wood fragments, and blow gently into base of fire.

10. Apply burn ointment to nose.

11. When fire is burning, collect more wood.

12. Upon discovering that fire has gone out while out searching for more wood, soak wood from can labeled 'kerosene'.

13. Treat face and arms for second-degree burns.

14. Re-label can to read 'gasoline'.

15. When fire is burning well, add all remaining firewood.

16. When thunderstorm has passed, repeat steps.


We were happy to learn from her son that Jean, one of the teachers who went to Hainan with us this summer, arrived safely at GSP this evening an hour early! Her flight to Cambodia left 15 minutes before our flight back to the USA two weeks ago today. Since she was already on the other side of the world to teach with us, she made the most of it by going to visit her daughter Kim, son-in-law J.D. We'll look forward to seeing her and hearing all her stories from there!


"One of the things God does in our lives is to pry our fingers off the controls." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^= =^..^=

When camping at a public campground, place a tuba on your picnic table to keep the campsites on either side of yours vacant.

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