Tuesday, February 6, 2018

I'M NOT CHEAP, I'M TRIFTY.

This post...some might call it a rant, is focused on the high prices most RV stores charge on their inventory. C’mon people (that means store/dealership owners), haven’t you heard that campers are a damn savvy group of people, with many of us borderline obsessed with frugal living (both on and off their campsite).  So, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but gone are the days that we are willing to pay the high prices listed on the inventory on your shelves, within your showrooms, and in your catalogs. Most campers and full time RVers have heard of, and are now utilizing something called the "internet". SSSHHH....not too loud, it might catch on! With free shipping and competitive pricing, it's doubtful I will be stopping in for a $50 camp chair any time soon.  And, kudos to Walmart, for stepping up to the plate and filling a local void by stocking reasonably priced camping/RV supplies.


We now have greater options on more than just parts and supplies too.  Facebook Marketplace, and outlets such as Craigslist have become a haven for seasoned hobbyist to find terrific deals. Additionally, social media outlets like YouTube has made it easy to view a potential purchase without leaving your house. Watching thousands of actual camper's review videos and how-to maintenance videos are just a click away.

I’m not discounting that  RV dealerships have trained sales staff on their showroom floors or at local shows. It seems their job is to perform a robotic walk thru, convince you they can secure financing, and then provide you with all the shiny documentation you can haul home.... but when it comes to buying a gently used (or new) RV, I gotta doubt that any salesperson you deal with, has spent no more than 1/2 hour total (and no actual camp time) in the vehicle they are trying to sell you on. Honestly, if part of my money is going towards paying for anyone's knowledge of the vehicle, I’d rather deal directly with the previous owner who's been there, done that ( and is willing to tell you all about it).

I am also not saying that any dealership's mechanics don’t know how to do their job. I suspect 90+ percent of them do. However, for the price you get charged, it’s probably cheaper to pay the tuition to send yourself (or an offspring) to a two-year tech school and learn how to do it.  It seemed that the time frame for my rig to be ready (and fixed correctly) was about the same.

RVers, and campers in general, are crafty folk. Whether miles from nowhere, or just too stubborn (and thrifty) to pay RV superstore prices, we are the kings and queens of DIYs. Spend five minutes browsing camping boards on Pinterest (hint, hint : Bound4Burlingame's boards can be found here) and your eyes will be opened to a whole new world of tips and ideas on frugal camping.



Of course, these are just my views, and it is your choice to agree or disagree with some, or all of it.  Due to your own experiences, chances are you see enough truth in the words to nod your head once or twice. I’m all about campers helping campers....and I’m happy to save a dime, whether it be yours or mine. Sharing knowledge is just as important as sharing in the adventure.  At Bound4Burlingame, we are always looking for quality content to share on our social media pages and website. If you have created something, or know of a product that is worth it’s weight in gold, feel free to reach out...but by all means, save the stamp money, and just email us at bound4burlingame@gmail.com.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

WHITTLE A LITTLE

I'm not sure if my mom and dad actually knew that us girls had our own jackknifes. I can't even remember where we got them. I can only assume that we inherited these "dangerous" weapons from a male cousin, and suspect it was the same cousin that once whittled an arrow so sleek and fast that like lightening, it shot across the town sand pit and struck me smack in the corner of my eye. I inexplicably survived, but his homemade bow did not. He smashed it over his knee mere minutes after the misguided missile hit it's unintended target. Inevitably, the same would have resulted after we six scared cousins (one with a sharpened stick extending off their face) trekked their way back to the house and had a close encounter with my father's anger.

What's funny though... I never ever remember any of us whittling anything else besides arrows. No whistles, no animal shapes, not even one small carving fit to be displayed on a shelf. The satisfaction and gratification of taking a hand picked rough stick and transforming it into a smooth piece of natures art was good enough for us. I imagine we could have outfitted every student at Hogwarts with a mystical wand. The true skill mastered however, was the art of conversation. Brilliant insights, teasing banter, and boastful achievements flowed effortlessly between us...and we laughed. Its as if the sticks were performing magic of their own.

Image result for whittle around the campfire
When you whittle, your guard is let down. At first, your concentration is on that which is in front of you, but your hands quickly master the repetitive dance across the stick...and then your mind relaxes... and then the words of wisdom start to spill forth from your mouth. OK, often not wisdom. And more often than not, you'll talk about stuff that you won't want to remember past the next day (especially if there's adult beverages around). Another great thing about whittling...when you have a knife in one hand, and a stick in the other, there's no room for a cell phone. Unless your whittling yourself a selfie stick. We can definitely make an exception for that. So, let's cover a few basic tips for beginners:

1. Get a pocket knife.  You aren't aiming to create a masterpiece yet, so a basic multi-blade pocket knife is all you need.  Keep the blades sharp and you'll be just fine. You can find a "How to sharpen a knife" video here. There's no need to spend a lot of money on this...Keep an eye out at local tag sales.

2. Find a branch/twig.  You want soft wood, like pine. Later, you can try Balsa or Basswood. Start simple, make an arrow or a drumstick. Once you've mastered that, select thicker branches and carve a utensil set, or at least a knife to impress your friends.

3. Whittle.  Start with the basic sweeping straight rough cut to give your piece a general shape. Keep with the grain. Then progress to the pull and push strokes to detail the piece.  These cuts give you the best control over the knife.  Other types of cuts may come into play and you can learn how to master four basic cuts in this video.

Its that simple.  And, something I wish I would've remembered when my kids stopped being happy to see me volunteering at their school each day, and became secretive and moody prepubescent teens.  Instead of primordial groans with a fair mix of "none of your business" comments mixed in, I could have saved myself a whole lot of time and effort...and more then a few gray hairs and sleepless nights contemplating the meaning of motherhood.  My now adult kids (and I use that term lightly because I absolutely believe being legal voting and legal drinking age means nothing) are lucky I didn't have the thought of whittling up a big ol' paddle stick!  Hindsight is 20/20...and for some inexplicable reason, I can chuckle at those memories.  Or is it that I suspect some day soon enough, they will have offspring of their own?  I'm torn between stockpiling jackknives/twigs or letting them learn parenting on their own... "cue evil laugh".



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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

THE NOT-SO-IMPRACTICAL CAMP COOK


Call it a crime... 

This lifelong camper doesn't think a burnt hot dog (retrieved from the campfire embers) can compare to a decent meal.  Or even a half decent meal.  As a child, I developed a true distaste for hot dogs.  As an adult, I refuse to subject myself to this traditional "gourmet" camp meal.  Don't get me wrong, when a charred demon dog was presented to me by the angelic face of a three year old after finishing an hour long weenie roasting marathon; I wouldn't stammer before exclaiming "Its the best I've ever tasted." Truth is, with years of practice, I could fake a bite better than the rest of 'em.

At some point in my camping career (I call it that because I consider myself a pro now), I vowed never to be subjected to even an inch of a fiery foot long. Flash forward twenty years, and in my own mind, I've perfected the artistry of camp cooking.  Of course, it helps that I no longer have little ones to tend.  It also helps that my other half is smart enough to not complain about camp cuisine;  For he who sits back chilling and relaxing while others bust their hump...well, that would just earn him a "stupid" label, wouldn't it.

After the heydays of my park model existence gave way to tenting it once again, I had no choice but to simplify, reduce, and reinvent the extravagances of camp meals gone by.  So, it became almost a quest to come up with new meal plans for camping out.  Like many campers, our days are filled with activities away from the actual campsite. Unfortunately, wanting to be on the fast track of activities often equals repetitive dining out to save time and effort.  This is simply not an option for large families or budget minded travelers. So start off small and expand your menus. The key to successful meals at camp is off-site preparation, reducing actual cooking time, and eliminating cleanup.  Less packing means less repacking.  Its usually when you are breaking down camp that you realize just how much went unused.  Not that a camp stove isn't convenient, its just that over time we have developed techniques that eliminate the need for it. We try to use the campfire whenever possible (sometimes we use a wire grill over it).

Breakfasts need to be decent, and lunches light. Dinners need to be quick, but filling. Normally, this is hard to accomplish before 9:00pm (when the last of the summer's rays set upon our campsite and everyone hasn't already settled fireside with a beer in hand and no ambition). Try this meal plan the next time you camp!

Its breakfast time!  Wake up and put some water on to boil.  If you don't have a wire grill, place some rocks in the fire pit and balance your pot over the coals. 1-1 1/2 gallons should do. Use to make your coffee with and reserve the rest for "Omelets-in-a-bag".  Our morning coffee consists of a pre-made mixture of instant coffee granules, sugar and powdered creamer.  We keep this in an airtight container with a scoop inside.  2 scoops go in a paper/foam cup.  Add hot water second so no need to stir.  If you prefer cappuccino, try this recipe .  

Drop your pre-made sealed omelet bags into the pot of hot water for about 10-15 minutes.  We use 2 eggs, ham, cheese, onions, peppers and mushrooms. Each person can create their own mixture at home and write their name in the space with permanent marker. Store in cooler until you need. It cooks very quickly once the egg starts to set. You can slide out on paper plate or eat directly out of bag.  Use the leftover hot water for washing up before starting your day.

Lunches usually consists of sandwiches/subs. Make these ahead and wrap in foil.  Add some pretzel sticks and fresh fruit together in a ziploc(w/name).  Store in cooler. Everyone can grab as they get hungry.  Or stock the cooler with pre-made chopped salad and fruit cups.  Need a heartier lunch; add chicken, or a layer of tuna salad.

Supper will be a cinch, if you just take a few minutes before your trip to create foil packet meals.  Spread a generous piece of tin foil out and then layer precooked meat, potatoes or rice, and then a vegetable.  Add a dollop of gravy or creamed soup and seal into a packet.  Try one of these combos:
  • Sliced ham, rice and green beans
  • Chopped chicken breast, mashed potatoes and corn
  • sliced meatloaf, mashed & peas
Freeze ahead and store in cooler.  When ready for dinner, place on grill or towards the outside of fire pit (about 15 minutes).  Open and eat.  Scrunch and dispose. There is no limit to what you can cook in foil pouches.  Use your imagination.  More ideas for foil meals here.

Italian Chicken with marinara, onions and zuchini
Cubed ham, sweet potatoes, pineapple and peppers
Rosemary cubed steak, potatoes and peas



Why spend your supposed "down time" running around the campsite trying to get organized to cook?  Then scrubbing pots and dishes after dark! Do your prep before you go!  Nothing is worse then being on edge, and under pressure, trying to get a decent meal out to your troops. Just try this plan once....you'll never look back.  Who's really happy eating cold Pop Tarts, Lunchables and burnt hot dogs every camping trip?  Not me! ...and probably not you.  So do something about it.