Travels with Charley

The cool camping blog. Trying to find gear, supplies, adventure and activities for the 21st century camper.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Fun - Wine Tasting

Every state in the US has at least one winery, except Alaska, and I'm probably wrong about that too. Where there are wineries, there's wine tasting. Wine tasting, as day long activity is no longer confined to California. Michigan, Texas, Virginia, New Mexico, even Indiana, have winery tours and tastings. In fact, I bet nearly all states have at least one wine trail - just type wine tour in to Google and you're sure to find several. We've had some fun the last couple of years riding around, hitting the tasting rooms.

Wine touring is a fine way to learn about new wines and to really get to try before you buy. And usually wineries and their tasting rooms are in very nice areas to visit, typically nestled in among rolling hills or mountains. If you don't know that one of the wineries sells food, I recommend packing a lunch. Most wineries will let you buy and drink on the premises, so prepare to have a picnic in a winery. Just make sure that if you are driving, either don't taste, or don't swallow!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Countdown to Camping!

Growing up my family went on a camping trip every summer. We loaded up the station wagon, drove thousands of miles across the US and pitched the tent wherever we stopped. Mt. Rushmore, Toronto, Washington, DC and Carlsbad Caverns were among our destinations over the years. I always looked forward to the summer vacation camping trip. Once I moved away from home I camped little, hardly at all. The purchase of our camper last year has changed that.

However, no longer do we save up our vacation for a weeks long trip, we have so far just taken long weekends to Michigan campgrounds. Our first trip of 2005 is coming in 11 days and we have work to do! We just bought a new tow vehicle and the hitch needs readjusted. I discovered that I hadn't gotten all of the water out of the pipes and I have a burst pipe to repair. I also want to find the chunk charcoal like Alton Brown used on his Good Eats show last week. There's food to buy, batteries to check and general cleaning. Doesn't feel like enough time.

The first trip this year is to a Michigan state park and for good reason: Our first trip last year, and the inaugral trip with the '66 Airstream, was also to a Michigan statepark. This one is at the tip of the thumb of Michigan. If you 're unfamiliar with this region, it's very rural, and has a couple hundred miles of lake shore. There are canoe liveries, the lake and a lot of small towns to snoop around for antiques and local diners. Not exactly jet setting, but a fun time to relax away from home. And of course, the best part of camping, campfires!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Fun - Geocaching

The camping board at has a nice summary of Geocaching, which is a combination of a scavenger hunt and mapreading. Here's it in a nutshell: Nice folks go out to some place interesting/hard to get to/scenic or otherwise and leave a watertight container with a log book and some trinkets. You look them up on the internet by location, get the coordinates and take off with your GPS in search of the spot (if you are good with maps you really don't need a GPS receiver). I just found over 5 caches within 5 miles of my house. Pretty cool and something different to do while camping.

I especially like how the Geocaching folks just had a "Cache In, Trash Out" day, where people got together to do some litter cleanup.

The GeoCaching Website

Gear - Binoculars Review

I have always wanted a really excellent pair of binoculars. Binos are a great thing to have along on trips, especially if you like to hike or are a nature watcher. Good ones are expensive, but in my limited experience, if you really want magnified vision over a longish distance (at least 1 km) they are well worth it. And if you rough it, they could be vital to your safety. The Tong Family blog has compiled a set of reviews:

Binocular Reviews

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Tips - More Grilling Goodies

As I hope you are starting to gather from my posts, I don't believe that camp cooking has to always involve tinfoil pouches and bisquick. Since a lot of camp cooking is either on a grille, or is grilling type cooking, here's some links to help you out:

Everything thing you thought you knew about grilling...

Meat Grilling Times

Wines for Hamburgers

Let me throw in my favorite wine for hamburgers - Syrah. Smaller wineries like Castle Rock and Faun, from Monterey make really good ones that are great with grilled red meat around a campfire.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Shelter - Airstreaming

Yes, we own an Airstream. We are one of the vintage Airstream people you occasionally see at the campgroud. We got it because it looked cool, and had a neat look and feel on the inside. Also, being nearly 40 years old it was a bargain. Buying and selling of these old classics has become very popular lately, due in part to recent media coverage, from the Simple Life, to Martha Stewart, but also because the older models in the shorter lengths can be towed by today's lighter SUVs. Ours is a 22' model and tows like a dream. The one consequence of owning such a vintage camper that I didn't expect was all of the people that would stop by and chat about it. It's an interesting way to meet people at the campground

Airstream Forums is one of the best enthusiast forums I've seen. Coaches from the 40's on up to the new models are discussed. How-to fixit threads help out the vintage owners and owners of the modern models chat about the flat screen tv's and Ipods they have installed. The forums also have their own forum rallies, which is another great way to meet people with your same interests. Even if you don't own one, or intend to, it's an interesting look into people who are passionate about their campers.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Tip - How to Care for a Topographic Map

Nifty website Ehow has great little tutorials on everything, from how to buy a kimono to how to win a Quake Deathmatch. If you like maps as much as I do, the you'll want to read how to fold and care for a topo map . Somewhat simplistic, but it can help you from wearing out your map too soon.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Gear - The great grille debate

The folks over at the Airstream forums don't just talk about how to wash and wax their silver twinkies, they also debate grilles. Consensus seems to be the Weber Q. But here's some other ones:


and the


Hey, and nice Airstream shots in the Weber ads on TV.