It was a massacre

Last fall, a few of us were at a mountain bike festival  called Grinduro in the small  logging town of Quincy California.  The town of less than 2,000 welcomes the event which benefits the Sierra Butte Trail Stewardship.  The SBTS is a 501c3 non-profit that builds trails in  in the Sierra Butte portion of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These guys build trails for  just about every form of trail fun including, motorized OHV trails, hike, bike, horse, and  multi-use trails.   But we aren’t here to talk about Grinduro, Qunicy, or the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  We are here to show you how important it is to properly set up your tent.

At PahaQue Wilderness, our tents are made to hold strong in adverse conditions.   I’m sure you’ve noticed the guys lines coming out from each corner, and that the tent will actually stand on it’s own without them.  It can be tempting to get lazy, and simply not bother with the guy lines, but the fact is that those lines are what really keep your tent up through the rough stuff.  We saw a great illustration of this that weekend in Quincy.

The whole Grinduro festival revolves around one long, 65 mile mountain bike ride.   Needles to say, this ride takes a long time and riders are gone for over half the day.   Now when everyone left camp for the ride 8 AM, it was chilly but sunny, and the winds were calm.   As the riders rode away, the temperature rose by over 10 degrees in the next hour.   What also picked up was the wind, and by 10am there were winds gusts well over 30 MPH.   We knew that our Pamo Valley 6 person tent and our PahaQue Rendevouz 4 man tent would hold up just fine.  The tents are made for this sort of thing, and we had properly set up and staked our tents. But we weren’t prepared  for the mess that waited for us when we arrived back at camp.

There were tents every where.  Some of them had blown completely down, some had tipped over but  were held in place by heavy items inside.  Several had blown 100+ feet away to be stopped at a fence, and many tents had bent or broken poles.   ut of course our tents were in perfect condition, standing tall.  Any unlike many others, we were able sit and relax after a hard ride, rather than pack up a broken tent and wonder where  could sleep that night.


There are a couple of important lessons here.  The first one is to chose a good, high quality tent to start with.   The second lesson is to make sure you properly set up  your tent, including stakes and guy lines.  A PahaQue tent is made to withstand the strong wind and other elements, and each part of the tent is engineered to do a job, to help keep you and your stuff protected from the elements.

Do you you have a camping story  or photos you would like to share with us?  Email:

Tear Drops in Desert Sand

Teardrop Rendezvous in Quartzsite


Remote Camp Site

Little Guy Trailers and Paha Que Wilderness have just completed an epic backcountry tour of the Gold Mining areas in the old Fort Tyson area.

Participants traveled from San Diego (main group), Poway, Torrance, Fresno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Utah and Michigan via Miami (some people use these Teardrops for long term). The tow vehicles varied from radical Off-Road Jeeps to simple family cars… all easily accessing the main camp site in the Plomosa foothills.

It’s amazing how a couple hundred yards off the pavement places you in the same terrain where Wyatt Earp lived!

Teardrop Round-up


Both novice and experts were mixed together in comfort as our guide and counselor Jeff Basford of Paha Que Wilderness organized and led a treat in the ultra-dry wilderness. We were surrounded by lava rock formations, gas vents, dozens of cacti, gravel like surfaces of dark volcanic pebbles and rugged volcanic flows.

The history of this area is rich and steeped in the Old West. From the mid 1800’s, hundreds of mines were claimed and worked by individuals and consortiums with rudimentary methods being employed next door to highly-engineered systems. Of the more fascinating accounts was the influx of the French prospectors. The cabins they built can still be seen and visited (rock structures with double wall base). These miners utilized the placer mining techniques and their tailings can be easily identified. Typically, there was a dump area within several feet consisting of old meat cans, soup and food tins intertwined with wagon and equipment skeletons.

Blooming Desert

The desert is lovely this time of year. Many cactus are blooming and the bees are busy. Although in my mind I expected absolute dryness, it was off set by the numerous Palo Verde trees with it’s vivid light-green bark. The Ocotillo cactus featured wonderful red blossoms plus the royal color of Barrel and Prickly Pear cactus flowers. Apparently, this year with the increased rains, we caught the bloom even at the end of March.

This particular trip was unseasonably warm …. around 105 degrees during the day and 90’s at night. We were very glad for the powered roof vent in our Little Guy Rough Rider model… when an inversion occurred in the middle of the night rendering our exhaust mode useless, I simply reversed the fan direction and wah-lah, we enjoyed a comfortable desert night on our queen-size bed.

Desert Shade

What a great way to camp with these Teardrop Trailers. They have just enough storage capacity to make the campsite perfect for a fresh-air outing with amenities. We noticed the various methods employed by our neighbors and it really boils down to personal needs and choices. We saw barbeques next to Dutch Ovens and discussions of utilizing Sun Ovens with the unlimited power supply of the sun. We witnessed solar power panels recharging battery systems and practical Teardrop designed side rooms attached to off-set the heat and provide a lee-side breezeway (built by Paha Que our organizer). A couple Teardrops even employed Air Conditioners with a small generator purring nearby and solar shower cabanas (no need for towels in the super dry air).

Evening Meals

This event will hopefully launch into an annual outing with the possibility of a second event into the backcountry with 4×4 vehicles only (and high clearance campers). I anticipate quite a number of participants joining us as there was plenty of area for many more campers.

If you have a Teardrop or Aliner and want to join in, please send your email address to us and we’ll include you in subsequent notices of our campouts. So far, we still want to catch Death Valley in the late fall or early spring, a mountain region lake in Arizona waiting for us on an Indian Reservation and a winery near Julian which would be perfect on a moonless night.

Our sincere thanks go to Jeff Basford and Mike Greaves of Paha Que Wilderness Camping Systems, our organizer, for designing a worthy trip with great historical and geographical account of the area. We also want to thank our participants for becoming good friends in a matter of a few days! There’s nothing like camping buddies.

French miner cabin site

Most of all we want to thank Camping Life Magazine for joining us with the trip. We should see a great article by fall with the possibility of a cover theme on Teardropping in the remote desert. We highly recommend subscribing to this publication as they endeavor to cover the type of camping near and dear to us all.

See you next trip!

Eric Krag, Regional Sales For Little Guy Trailers

Quotes About Camping

Camping is many things to many people.  Trying to define the meaning of camping is something like trying to describe all the trees in the forest with a single definition.  Not hardly possible. Nonetheless, we’ve compiled a list of camping quotes, some famous and others not so much, but all capturing one persons definition of camping.

“I have always loved camping, ever since I was eight, and was forcibly stuffed in a trunk and dropped off in the middle of the forest. My dad was a complex man, but I believe he was trying to show me the value of camping.”

“Camping is nature’s way of promoting the motel business. ”

“It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent.”

“What on earth would I do if four bears came into my camp? Why, I would die of course. Literally shit myself lifeless.”

“…my dreams are tangled in images of stars and clouds and firelight – we go camping at night – it’s my lucid dream of being with you…”

“Mom, camping is not a date; it’s an endurance test. If you can survive camping with someone, you should marry them on the way home.”

“In a well-ordered universe…camping would take place indoors.”

“A crude meal, no doubt, but the best of all sauces is hunger.”

“I walked slowly to enjoy this freedom, and when I came out of the mountains, I saw the sky over the prairie, and I thought that if heaven was real, I hoped it was a place I never had to go, for this earth was greater than any paradise.”

“My fear of camping: I’m convinced bugs will crawl up my vagina and lay eggs. Isn’t everyone?”  Kathy Griffin

“Deep silence fell about the little camp, planted there so audaciously in the jaws of the wilderness. The lake gleamed like a sheet of black glass beneath the stars. The cold air pricked. In the draughts of night that poured their silent tide from the depths of the forest, with messages from distant ridges and from lakes just beginning to freeze, there lay already the faint, bleak odors of coming winter.

“Of course, not everybody likes camping trips. I do not myself enjoy them much, because I’m not outdoorsy, or at any rate, I’m not outdoorsy overnight-without-a-mattress-wise. There’s a limit to the outdoorsiness to which some academics can be expected to submit.”

“Whatever form it takes, camping is earthy, soul enriching and character building, and there can be few such satisfying moments as having your tent pitched and the smoke rising from your campfire as the golden sun sets on the horizon–even if it’s just for a fleeting moment before the rain spoils everything.”

“Wilderness areas are first of all a series of sanctuaries for the primitive arts of wilderness travel, especially canoeing and packing. I suppose some will wish to debate whether it is important to keep these primitive arts alive. I shall not debate it. Either you know it in your bones, or you are very, very old.”

“A great many people, and more all the time, live their entire lives without ever once sleeping out under the stars.”

“To wake up on a gloriously bright morning, in a tent pitched beneath spruce trees, and to look out lazily and sleepily for a moment from the open side of the tent, across the dead camp-fire of the night before, to the river, where the light of morning rests and perhaps some early-rising native is gliding in his birch canoe; to go to the river and freshen one’s self with the cold water, and yell exultingly to the gulls and hell-divers, in the very joy of living; or to wake at night, when you have rolled in your blankets in the frost-stricken dying grass without a tent, and to look up through the leaves above to the dark sky and the flashing stars, and hear far off the call of a night bird or the howl of a wolf: this is the poetry, the joy of a wild and roving existence, which cannot come too often”

“If you have not touched the rocky wall of a canyon. If you have not heard a rushing river pound over cobblestones. If you have not seen a native trout rise in a crystalline pool beneath a shattering riffle, or a golden eagle spread its wings and cover you in shadow. If you have not seen the tree line recede to the top of a bare crested mountain. If you have not looked into a pair of wild eyes and seen your own reflection. Please, for the good of your soul, travel west.”

“I’m not a firefighter—I’m a firefly fighter. My bravery may come in small flashes, but I am sure it doesn’t go unnoticed by lustful women and campers everywhere.”

“When I returned to camp, they walked behind me on the trail, and we spoke not a word about getting skunked today, but rather talked about the days we returned with a stringer full of fish, and how we filleted them and the left the guts out for bears and eagles, and how those fish tasted fresh when we fried them over a fire.”

“My daughter had read books about people in the cities going camping. They would leave their comfortable homes and beds and deliberately sleep in tents, on the ground, then cook their food outside over an open fire instead of in a well-stocked kitchen. She couldn’t imagine something so ridiculous.”

“My tent doesn’t look like much but, as an estate agent might say, “It is air-conditioned and has exceptional location.”

“Mountains inspire awe in any human person who has a soul. They remind us of our frailty, our unimportance, of the briefness of our span upon this earth. They touch the heavens, and sail serenely at an altitude beyond even the imaginings of a mere mortal.”

“Kneeling over a trickling mountain stream and pumping every ounce of water you use though a filter can really change your perception of turning on a faucet.”

“There is a solitude, or perhaps a solemnity, in the few hours that precede the dawn of day which is unlike that of any others in the twenty-four, and which I cannot explain or account for. Thoughts come to me at this time that I never have at any other.” George Bird Grinnell

“Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong.” George Carlin

“It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.”  Hunter S. Thompson

“What nature delivers to us is never stale. Because what nature creates has eternity in it.”

“Those little nimble musicians of the air, that warble forth their curious ditties, with which nature hath furnished them to the shame of art.” Izaak Walton

“People say to me so often, ‘Jane how can you be so peaceful when everywhere around you people want books signed, people are asking these questions and yet you seem peaceful,’ and I always answer that it is the peace of the forest that I carry inside.”  Jane Goodall

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”  John Muir

“When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.  When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe. “  John Muir

“I got into an argument with a girlfriend inside of a tent. That’s a bad place for an argument, because then I tried to walk out and slammed the flap. How are you supposed to express your anger in this situation? Zipper it up really quick?”

How would you describe what Camping means to you, in just a sentence or two?  We would love to hear your thoughts and quotes on being a camper!  Add your comments below!


Camping Ideas to Fit Your Schedule and Budget

With warmer weather now upon us, it is time to make some awesome camping memories! What are your plans to get outdoors this month?  If you can’t decide, here are three ideas that just might help get you camping!

It really comes down to time and money.  Too much of one or too little of the other throws everything off balance.  In an ideal world, we would have enough of both to work when we want and play when we want.  Even with constraints however, here are three ways to get outdoors on any schedule or budget.

1.  BACKCOUNTRY   There’s lots of it around, even if you live in a big city.  Here in San Diego for example, it is only a 2 hour drive to total isolation in the mountains or deserts. As a kid growing up in Ohio near Cleveland, we always found plenty of State Park land that allowed us to get lost for a day or two.  On a budget, tired of crowded campgrounds or long lines?  Grab a map and find your nearest State Park, National Forest, or if you live in the west – BLM lands. All offer the opportunity to explore, escape, and get away from crowds. However, if you plan to backcountry camp, you may need extra time for travel and exploring, therefore proper planning is key.  Without resources nearby, if you forget something, you will most likely have to do without.

2.  LOCAL CAMPGROUNDS   Local areas to camp make sneaking in a quick trip easy on any schedule.  With most campgrounds hosting  a store, you never need to do without. With restroom facilities and other amenities, most campgrounds make camping easy and enjoyable.  And many offer activities such as fishing, bike riding, and hiking trails.  Check before going to make sure they have vacancy, and to scout out the most preferable sites. Whether it is a County, State, or privately owned campground, YELP is a great place to start checking reviews of the campgrounds nearest you.

3.  BACKYARD  When backcountry is not an option, and campgrounds are booked, there is always the backyard.  This is ideal, especially when there are kids involved.  Who says you have to be in the middle of nowhere to enjoy the night sky, or to spend a night sleeping in your tent or camping trailer?  As an old boat owner, I always liked to say that the best sailing I ever did was in the dock.  Same with camping – sometimes the best place to go is nowhere.  Have a longer trip planned for later in the year?  This is also a great way to check and test your gear beforehand.  Turn off the TV, leave the phone on the kitchen counter, and head out.  To your backyard.  No reservation required!

Why PahaQue Tents Are Better

Thank you for your intere20140315_114212st in our products. We began producing tents designed for car and family campers in 1997, with the express goal of taking all the best features, fabrics, pole materials, and design technologies available and translating them into a large roomy tent design, that can withstand the worst kind of weather. Our premise is that car/family/base campers are not as concerned about weight as a backpacker, and that we carry our tents to our sites in vehicles, not on our backs, generally speaking. So we traded extra weight for roominess and performance.

NL1 RichardMcFaddenBuffaloRiverWhy our tents are better: Most tents on the market do not have waterproof tent bodies – no sealed seams for example. To make the tent waterproof, a full-coverage rainfly is required. Full coverage rainflies create a ‘bubble’ over your tent that creates humidity, restricts ventilation, eliminates visibility from inside the tent, and makes entry and exit more difficult. So we took a different route – we made our tent bodies – sidewalls, floor, doors and windows – 100% waterproof by using quality fabrics with heavy waterproof coatings, and by tape-sealing 100% of the seams. No painting seams with sealer required – seams are permanently waterproofed. Therefore our rainflies are only partial coverage, which allows excellent ventilation and reduce humidity/condensation, keeps the tent interior cooler on hot days, allows you to open windows/doors on the downwind side even during rainstorms. The doors and the rainflies have awnings that can be used to create extra shade/dry area in nasty weather. Our floors are bathtub style, so even water running under your tent cannot get it. Bottom line, even in heavy rain your will stay completely dry inside our tents, while still having the ability to open a window or easily enter or exit the tent.

Our designs are near-vertical walled – so you have plenty of headroom even in the cornNL2Promontoryers. In nice weather, our tents open up – with mesh windows, doors, and roof – to provide a very open airy feeling. On dry nights, our mesh roof provides excellent star-gazing. But when the weather gets nasty you can button up and stay completely dry.

Our fabrics are heavier than our competition – for example Eureka uses a 4oz floor material, and a 1.6 oz 150T tent fabric on most of their better tents. We use a 6.5oz 210D floor material, and a 1.9oz. 185T tent fabric. All our fabrics have 1500mil waterproof coatings, along with UV inhibitor and fire-retardant coatings.

Lastly, we stand behind every product we make with a Lifetime Warranty which covers any and all defects in material and workmanship for the life of the tent.

We dont claim to be perfect, but we will do our very best to make sure every PahaQue product performs like brand new, no matter how long you have owned it.

Camping Resolutions for 2015

Camping Resolutions for the New Year

How many of you have made your annual resolutions for the new year?  Things such as losing weight, saving more money, and being less stressed, for example.  All good things, but not ones that should necessarily require a resolution to achieve.

So we’ve put together a tangible, achievable list of resolutions that are sure to bring joy and a sense of fulfillment.  No, we are not talking about your weight or pocketbook – we’re talking about camping.  So here you go:

1.  Camp More Often – sure that sounds easy, but we know that it is not always easy to just grab your gear and escape. In order to achieve this resolution, you may consider searching for local campgrounds and backcountry that is ideal for quick one-night trips and that require less gear and preparation time.  Many of us tend to overlook local camping sites when we plan our trips far from home.  Hey, one night of camping beats not camping at all!

2.  Plan One Big Trip per Year – Camping is arguably the most cost-effective vacation you can take, and also the most relaxing.  But it usually takes a day or two to get into the groove, shed the cares of everyday life, and feel the rhythm of being outdoors.  Go to sleep when you’re tired, wake when you’re rested, eat when you’re hungry.

3.  Plan, Inspect, Prepare – taking time now during the winter months to prepare your gear, and to make necessary repairs ensures that you are ready to go, for one night or for longer, when camping opportunities arise.  This is also a good time of year to replace or upgrade  your gear as many manufacturers are clearing out last years inventory in preparation for the 2015 camping season.

4.  Take the Back Roads – your camping adventure doesn’t have to wait until you arrive at camp.  It can begin the moment you leave your driveway.  Do some homework before you leave – find the old roads and you’ll find lots of great history and things to see along the way.  Drive the interstates, and you’re bound to arrive at camp stressed and worn from the journey.  (We once drove from Salt Lake City to San Diego on old roads – the things we saw and learned on that trip could fill a book).

5.  Try New Recipes – many of us like to stick to our old ‘tried and true’ recipes, usually for the sake of simplicity, but you don’t have to be stuck with hot dogs and baked beans for dinner every night.  By doing some easy planning, and pre-trip food prep at home, you can eat like a king besides the fire.  And everyone is happier when they eat well.

6.  Buy an Inexpensive Telescope – or at the very least bring binoculars.  Since a fair amount of our waking time in camp is spent at night, don’t miss the free star show overhead every night.  Some telescopes are programmed to point automatically to night sky objects, and can provide an entire ‘tour’ of the night sky.  At the very least, there are free smart phone apps that instantly turn any novice into a celestial expert.  Binoculars can provide a great view of closer objects such as the moon.

So there you have it – 6 easy resolutions that are sure to make your year better, and your camping trips more enjoyable.

Happy Trails in 2015!


PahaQue is not just a name, and although rooted in lore, it is something even more than just the meaning of the words.  It is a way of life, or at the very least, a way of looking at life. It is about experiencing and enjoying the great outdoors with family and friends.  It is about understanding the history of the land, and it is about the peace and solitude that can only be found in the places less affected by modern humankind.

No matter where you live and where you camp, history can be found everywhere.  From the Native Americans who once roamed every square foot of this land, to pre-historic animals, and even further back in time, the natural history of our land is all around.  But nowhere is it more visible than in nature.  To find it however, you must know where to look, and what you are looking for.

One easy way to begin to understand the history of the land is to learn about the plant and animals that inhabit the areas in which you camp.  Learn how the previous inhabitants found usefulness in everything, and you will learn how a certain type of tree was once critical to a certain tribe’s existence, perhaps for medicinal or spiritual purposes, or how that tree may have aided in the existence of certain bird or other plant species.

Aside from living examples of history, another way to understand the history of the land is to find more tangible relics.  Arrowheads usually come to mind first.  Almost anyone who has ever camped has found an arrowhead or knows someone who has.  Learning more about arrowhead types specific to your favorite camping area can provide much information about what types of game were hunted, how they were hunted, and even the time period of their use.  Cave drawings or other forms of pictographs are another exciting example of tangible evidence left by pre-historic inhabitants, thus providing yet another excellent learning opportunity.  Historic structures from our forefathers, particularly when preserved as a museum, provide still another source of information about the land, from yet another group of previous inhabitants who struggled to carve out an existence in a once harsh land.

Whether you camp in campgrounds or backcountry wilderness, the opportunities to learn more, and therefore further your appreciation of the land and its history, are all around you.  It may be just a short hike, or a day trip away from camp, but seeking out  opportunities to learn more about the natural history of the area you camp in is not only a great experience for kids and adults alike, but it also makes for great after dinner conversation around the camp fire.

Kids especially seem fascinated with the tales of frontier life and struggles, of Indian fights, of the trappers, hunters and other pioneer frontier folk that settled the land.  The stories come to life even more when they happened in the vicinity of your camp.  At night it is easy to imagine yourself in another time, and history makes great material for fire-side stories.  And perhaps with this understanding of natural history comes a deeper appreciation of the outdoors.

This is just one aspect of the meaning of PahaQue – the camping lifestyle.  Whatever you choose to call it, it all adds up to one thing – WE LOVE CAMPING!  It’s our way of life.

Oh, and for the ‘official’ definition of our name click here

Hope to see you ’round the campfire soon!

Happy Trails,


The Art of Getting Kids Outdoors

My generation had an extensive range from home base.  We’d disappear for a day.  No helicopter parents, no cell phones.  If we crashed our bikes, we fixed them as best we could and limped home.  I took a nice header five miles from home (I still have the scar on my knee), used a t-shirt as a bandage, made it home, and from there to the emergency room. I got 8 stitches and a great story to tell my friends.

As the owner of a company which produces family camping tents, I am often asked, “When is the best time to start taking kids on outdoor excursions?”

My answer is always the same: on the way home from the hospital. We owe it to our kids to get them outside.  We owe them scratches and scrapes, summits and snakes, sunburns and sunsets.  We owe them an authentic life.

Practical Matters

Kids are not little adults.  Their needs are very different, and if you want to enjoy your time with kids, pay attention.  There are five things I tell people when they ask about taking kids camping:

o   They get cold faster.

o   They get hot faster.

o   They get hungry faster.

o   They get bored faster.

o   They want to be helpful.
They get cold faster.  It’s simple thermodynamics. Little bodies lose heat faster than big ones.  They get cold before you do, so don’t assume because you’re not cold that your little ones aren’t either.  The solution is easy.  Take more clothing than you think necessary.  Because their clothes are smaller, it’s no big deal, and after a certain age (around six for our kids) they started carrying a lot of their own clothes and gear.

The first line of defense is good outerwear.  Make sure it fits: boots, raingear, hats, gloves, etc.  The difference between a good raincoat and a poncho is not worth it, especially when you have a wet and tired and hungry five-year-old.

They get hot faster.  Keeping kids comfortable in the heat is just as important as keeping them warm. Again, you may not notice because you’re not hot. A red flushed complexion is a good sign things are toasty.  Make use of evaporative cooling.  A baseball cap dipped in water can cool them off quickly, and a wet bandana around the neck is helpful too.

It goes without saying that many adults forget to apply (or reapply) sunscreen.  If you forget, chances are it’s not even on your kid’s radar.  Make it a point to reapply every hour, even if it’s just a touch-up.

They get hungry faster.  That’s probably not exactly true, but it is a fact that kids will not tolerate hunger as well as an adult.  Count on feeding them snacks throughout the day as well as good sized portions at breakfast and dinner.  Keeping high-energy snacks handy is critical and can help avoid meltdowns.

They get bored faster.  This is especially true with passive activities when they’re younger, like sitting in a canoe while Mom and Dad do all the work.   While in camp, have lots of quick, easy and fun activities to keep kids engaged and to prevent boredom.  Finding cool bugs, or looking for different colored rocks are examples of simple, but engaging  activities for kids.  Coloring books, plain white notebooks and crayons and colored pencils are great.  Anything to stimulate their minds.

They want to be helpful.  Kids want to be part of the action, and there are lots of fun duties that will make them feel like they are little campers.  At four, a kid can collect twigs for tinder; at six, pump a water filter.  At eight, they can help start the fire, and at ten they can start the fire themselves.  At twelve they help with dinner; by fourteen they’re cooking dinner. Kids want to be useful.  Resist the temptation to do everything because it’s faster.

About Safety and Risk

Taking these axioms and applying them without an eye toward safety is foolhardy.  Clearly, you want to pay attention to safety, but realize that there is inherent risk in outdoor activities.  The key is to minimize risk through education.

If you are going more than a 9-1-1 call from help, you’ll want some training.  Wilderness First Aid (WFA) is a weekend course designed to give you a basic understanding of dealing with injuries and other mishaps that happen outside.  If you’re hard core, the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) is an eight-day comprehensive course that teaches you how to provide some pretty serious aid while waiting for the professionals.  If you’re an EMT, there is specialized training for you to fill in the gaps when it comes to wilderness.

Some folks still question my sanity for taking my kids into wilderness areas.  My response is that I minimize risk through planning, education and keeping my wits about me.  I also tell them that the risks of not taking my kids to the rivers and woods are far higher than if I take them.  Risk cannot be eliminated, but it can be managed.  Only a foolish person faces the wilderness with a

pocket knife, a piece of twine, and a can-do attitude.  A wise person educates themself, teaches others, and shares their knowledge and love of the outdoors generously and graciously.  After all, we all had a mentor who taught us our skills.  It is only right that we pass them on to the next generation.


The Dirt Road to Paradise

dirt road UT

Have you ever wandered off the beaten path and driven down a lonely dirt road just to see where it ends?

Taking time to explore is always a top priority on our trips, and it is never time wasted. Sometimes what we find is an explorers pot of gold, and other times it’s a gate with a No Trespassing sign.  But it’s always an adventure.

In 1996, while exploring the backcountry of the Chiricahua Mountains we came across to markers that said simply Unknown Arizona Pioneers.  Later research on this site revealed quite a story about the Apache War legends surrounding these gravesites.


On another trip in 2003, we drove the old transcontinental railroad grade, abandoned in the 1940’s, across the western half of northern Utah, only to breakdown on the same spot as the historic 1869 photo of the last eastbound wagon train meeting the first westbound train. We had punctured our tire with a 134 year old rusty railroad spike. Three ghost towns and miles of history later, we came out in the town of Wendover, NV.

water trough

One that sticks in my mind was this old water trough, built of hand-hewn lumber, with the spring still bubbling at the far end. Lots of antelope that day, but the rancher and his cattle had left this lonely place long ago.


One place that we consider very special is a remote mesa at the end of a rough road in central Arizona.  The density of rock art and petroglyphs on this mesa are quite impressive, and only in recent years have archeologists begun to study this area.  This must be one of the least disturbed ancient-man sites in Arizona, and it was only our curious minds that led us there.  No signs or maps exist for this historic and remote area.


On a recent trip through Nevada, we drove a dirt road that led through the old Osceola Mining District, where mining headframes seemed to reach for the sky, and the buildings appeared as if the the miners just up and left one day, and never came back.

Each of these adventures, and others too numerous to list here, were all the result of driving down an un-mapped dirt road, just to see where it led and what we might find. Oftentimes the drive was fruitless, but on others we found memories to last a lifetime. And we have camped in some remote and incredible locations.  And there are many more dirt roads yet to follow.

Leaving time for the unexpected is important, and is the part of the journey I often anticipate most. Whether is it fixing a flat tire in the middle of no-where, or finding amazing displays of ancient rock art, the adventure never disappoints.  Take the next dirt road you pass, drive along for awhile and see what’s around the next corner.

Hoping everyone has a great summer of camping adventures!

Happy Trails,


Cooky Jason’s Camping Recipes

Cooky Jason’s World Famous Steak Fries

These are a constant favorite, winter or summer. Indoors or out. They’re perfect for the campsite and simple to make. There are, of course, countless variations. This is how I like to do them. Enjoy!

Major players:

  • 5 t0 6 large russet potatoes
  • 4 good-size rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp garlic/onion powder (I like to use a combination)
  • ½ tsp ground cayenne powder
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cut the potatoes in half length-wise then cut each half into 3 wedges. You should get 6 wedges per potato. Toss wedges in olive oil until well coated, set aside.

Next, combine flourcorn mealsaltrosemarygarlic/onion powder, and cayenne powder in a large bowl. Add potato wedges and toss until well covered. Bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. If you are doing these on the grill, leave out the flour and cornmeal. On the grill, these will take about 20 minutes as well, turning 2 or 3 times to make sure each side of each wedge sees it’s fair share of the heat.

Remove to a large bowl and toss with the butterparsleycumin, and pepper (fresh ground is always preferred) We add the butter, parsley, cumin, and pepper at the end because those particular items don’t stand up well to dry heat, and adding them at the end when the wedges are still steaming releases the wonderful aromatic properties (the essential oils) of the parsley and cumin. Can’t beat ’em…

Questions/comments/requests? Feel free to drop me a line at