Travels with Charley

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

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Food - Grilled Salmon

If you are scouting around for something different to cook at the camp this year, try salmon. Salmon is incredibly easy to cook over the grille and takes a lot of different flavorings well. Several years ago I was looking for some shell fish to grill and instead ran across pre seasoned salmon filets. They were, at the time, the best fish I had prepared myself, and I cooked them over a Weber charcoal grille.

With the way things are these days, you could be in Topeka and get fresh salmon at your grocery store. So grab some lemon, some pepper, some brown sugar and mayo and start grillin.

Here's a couple of simple recipes with menu ideas.
Healthy Grilled Salmon Menu

Smoked Grilled Salmon
--Grilled Corn on the Cob, with Red Pepper butter
--Grilled Pineapple with Rum

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Activities - Transportation Museums

Many camping trips are built around historic locales. Mount Vernon, Washington DC, Mt Rushmore, the Alamo, and so on are popular vacation destinations every year. You could fill a whole website with all of the historical destinations possible in the United States, and I don’t intend to cover them all. Instead, I’d like to focus on a slice of history in America: Transportation.

Perhaps it’s America’s obsession with moving around this country, or the need for speed or whatever, but no other industry is as well represented by historical museums than transportation. And not just transportation, but individual modes for transport. Just do a google search on car museums.

Here’s a couple of cool ones in no particular order:

The granddaddy of them all, the Smithsonian Air & Space. They have the Wright flyer and Apollo 11, V2 rockets and they even had a Star Trek Enterprise model they used on the show. This place has the best of the pick of museum pieces in America. If you can only go to one, make it this one. Best part, this place is free.

Wright Patterson Air Force Museum. They have old bombers and a SR-71 Blackbird. While you’re in Ohio, be sure to check out the Neil Armstrong Museum, too.

For you West Coasters, there’s the San Diego Air Museum.

The National Parks System has a pretty cool historic site called Steamtown. This place is filled with a lot of old locomotives and rolling stock, many in working order. They even run the steam locomotives occasionally.

Out west, if trains are your thing, then you have to go to the California Railway Museum, where they have acres of old trains, many that were used in movies, like Back to the Future 3, and even Petticoat Junction!

Well, the must see when it comes to cars, and trains for that matter, is the Henry Ford in Dearborn, MI. Hundreds of old cars, including the limo that Kennedy was in when he was shot, and a Challenger locomotive, bigger than my house. Tons of really old Model T's, and even some of Henry Ford's original engines. This is the place to go for gear heads.

In Tacoma, WA, there's the LeMay Museum, that I have not been too, but looks to be fabulously filled with cars.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Shelter - Foldable Furniture

Sitting outside, around the campfire, or just lounging is a lot more comfortable than it used to be. No longer do you have to sit in those weird webbing lawn chairs. Technology and ingenuity have come to the camper's rescue.

First off is the market chair or camp chair, seen at the right. These chairs instantly fold up into a tube shape that fits right in the bag and can be easily carried over the shoulder or packed in the trunk. They are extemely comfortable, and come in several sizes and shapes, including one with a built in foot rest. I recommend the heavy duty model, like this one. Added bonus: almost every model comes with a cup holder.

If you have chairs, I guess you have to have tables. I didn't even know these existed until I went to a barbecue and they had them sitting out. The table top is a set of slats, usually wood or aluminum, connected with shock cords. A frame, very similar in shape and operation as the camp chair opens up and the table hooks to this. Very handy and very convenient. This aluminum model looks nice.

When it's time to cook, and you're doing it outside, Coleman has a neat looking kitchen cooking station. I'm attracted to this kind of table because I like to cook with a hibachi type grille and I'm always worried about damaging the finish of the camp's picnic table. With a steel metal top, you should be able to set stove and grilles on it without danger. There are several other metal top folding tables that could work fo this too.

With all of this, and some foot stools and a portable refrigerator, you could literally make your camp pretty luxurious, with just a trunkload of gear. Sure some people won't think you're roughing it, but it beats sitting on a hard rock to read a book or enjoy the view.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Gear - Fix Anything

I usually carry my entire toolbox, rivets and electrical connectors when we go camping. I at first said "that's what you have to do with a vintage trailer". Then a neighbor at the campground said "heck, mine's two years old and I need all of my tools." Well, you may not want to bring everything but if you camp, something's going to break. Here's my suggestion for the fixit tool kit.

1)Duck tape. Yep, I said Duck. Turns out, that's what it was originally called. It was designed to be waterproof. You can get it in 60 ft rolls, 60 yard rolls, or even flat pack strips. The flat packs are hard to find, but I'm getting some from the manufacturer and I'll post a review. My favorite duck tape manufacturer website is Duck Tape, lots of tips and neat activities and projects.

2)Gel Superglue. Not just your your old super glue, this gel version stays where you put it and doesn't bond as quickly, so you can get your materials positioned just right. This stuff is what I swear by now. Especially good for cloth and wood, it should bond about anything to anything. People like the new LocTite frustration free dispenser, I use it and like it too. If anyone has used the rubberized superglue, I'd like to hear your experience.

3)Shoe Goo. I have used this to repair hiking boots and shoes, but there's tons of other uses as well. It's water proof and extremely tough. It's stronger than superglue and thick and gooey, so it can be used more for hole filling, and boat repair. Shoe Goo has a great list of things to use it for. One important use: repairing seams in tents.

4)Clamptite wire binding. Cooltools found this awesome device. Have a broken canoe paddle, backpack frame or need to bind rope or line together? Well then, take a look at the Clamptite. This sweet little device (they actually have about four models) will take wire and build a wire binding around a pole, series of poles or anything you can get the wire around. This little thing will then wrap and tighten up the ring of wire, making a really darn tight wrap. I can't do this one justice, but when I get a boat, I'm getting the stainless version.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Tips - Getting Ready for the Start of Camping Season

Here in Michigan it appears that with the first weekend in May most of the campgrounds are now open. We already have four separate camping trips planned and reserved and I have already gotten and am working on this summer's batch of Airstream fixes and upgrades. You may have the itch to get out there and camp too, but before we go there's some things to keep in mind when getting ready to go camping for the first time this season.

1)Check your first aid kit of any expired medicines. If the kit is more than two years old you should take a moment to check all of the expiration dates in it. At the same time, visually inspect all of the packages for any damage.

2)If you use gasoline, either in generators or your cookstove, you should know that gas held over 60 days tends to get gummy. Get that gas out of your motor or use it fast. The residue can gum up the works.

3)Air it out. If you have a tent or a pop-up, now is the perfect time to set it up. This will give you a chance to inspect for any damage you may have missed last year and to find and clean any mold or mildew that accumulated over the winter. Set it up on a nice, warm, breezey day, or better yet, a weekend. REI has some good tips on removing mildew.

4)Review your checklists for any gear that you wanted to replace, buy or repair. Get started on it right away. There's nothing worse than a trip breathing down your neck while your getting something repaired. has a nice set of checklists