Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Feng Shui, Something Like That

I think I may have said this once or twice before, organization and simplicity are keys to any successful person’s life. When I say successful you can insert whatever definition you please in there as there are many. To some people not being in jail or on drugs makes you successful…to each their own. There is no denying the fact that clutter and disarray stack the odds against whatever your definition of success may be.

Organization will certainly save you shit loads of money that I can say with utter certainty. I don’t know most of you from Adam but I hazard a guess most of you could probably do better in the organization department. Don’t think I have suddenly gone all high and mighty on you I am including myself when I say “most of you”.

Don’t get me wrong I am sure there are many of you that have garages that make the Container Store displays look like Wal-Mart on Black Friday. You have everything meticulously labeled and each box is lovingly stacked in alphabetical order. I know your bookshelves are organized by the Dewey Decimal System because that's how you roll.

I figured I would write this post for the 1 or 2 percent of you out there who don’t have their shit together. Maybe a few of you want to become uber-organized, fine with me; if you are married I am sure your Friday nights are as exciting as mine…grab the one you love and some contractor grade garbage bags because the “Zen Master” of organization has come to town.

Let’s not put the cart before the horse; why, oh why, should we organize. The reasons are many but here are a few of the big boys. Money, time and happiness…hmmm they sound important…you better write this down:

Money – if you know what you have and where it is, you don’t need to buy another one. Sounds GREAT! Not only that, if you know what you have and where it is you will most likely take better care of it. SOUNDS GREAT! Hell, you may be able to take something and use it for something else that you don’t have to spend money on. SOUNDS GREAT!

Time – if you know what you have and where it is, you will spend a whole lot less time looking for that bugger when you need it.

Happiness – if you know what you have and where it is, you spend less time worrying. When everything has its place and there is a place for everything there is a certain order in the universe. That order, it is well known affects the human condition. The Chinese called it Feng Shui, I call it you are happier when you are not surrounded by piles of shit.

Glad we got that out of the way and you are totally convinced you need to start organizing your mess today.

One concept that many people fall down on when organizing stuff is rotation. This is especially important when you are organizing your food stores. YOU MUST, I repeat (damn must be important – write this down) rotate your food stores. When you bring in new, it goes BEHIND the old…the old get eaten before the new and the universe will remain on track. Stray from this rotation exercise and your food storage will be useless eventually. The time with which your preparations become useless will vary depending on the method the food was preserved using.

If you store water, you must follow the same exercise of rotation so that your freshest supplies are being put back and you are consuming the older stuff.

Please for the love of God get rid of crap that you have no chance of ever using. I am sure you thought that shopping cart carcass you found on the side of the road 12 years ago would come in handy, just let it go. Get rid of dated material, that PC magazine from 1987 is probably fun to look at but really, beside tinder what good is it.

The next thing to do is to go room by room and start to shit can things that “could” be, keep the things that “are”. Organize your office area so you remember that bill in the unpaid stack that is late because it is underneath an issue of TIME you got from the Dr. office (that is from last year).

Organize your tools and you can thank me later. This will be the biggest help to you in the near term, being able to find that Torx-head screwdriver when you need it will keep your blood pressure at a normal level and may even lead to you doing something productive.

Organize all of your important documents like passports, birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc and keep them in a firebox locked up somewhere so YOU KNOW WHERE they are. Organize all of you recipes and canning information in a nice loose leaf binder, you have everything you need, when you need it…NICE!

Organize and store all of your owner’s manuals in a file folder system so you can find them when you need to refer to them. Having this stuff in one place goes back to that Feng Shui crap of being one with the universe, you will be happier…I don’t know why…but you will trust me.

The point I am trying to make is that it is important to be organized, it makes sense and you should start somewhere…no excuses…just start. It will make your survival preparations easier to make and keep track of and it will make you one with the universe ;)

...that is all.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

The Survivor Mentality

People seemed to have enjoyed my “Thinking Outside the Box” post so I wanted to do a bit more on the survivor mentality or as it is more commonly known, psychology of survival.

Simply put there are two types of people:
The Survivor: The smart, mentally strong individual who takes the bull by the horns. This person may not be strong physically; physicality seems to have less to do with survival than people think. It is the person who can keep his emotions in check, assess the situation, think outside the box, and take a lead in making their current state better than it was just a few minutes ago. This person’s forte is solutions.

The Victim: This person blames everyone but themselves for their situation in life, they have either had a bad upbringing, been a victim of the system, and they are always looking to “others” as a solution to their current state. This person could conceivable bench press 400lbs, but it makes no difference because their state of mind will lead to their downfall. This person’s forte is making excuses.

What separates these two groups is not training, strength, ability, intelligence or any of those obvious things we look for…it is initiative and common sense.

The guy picked last when choosing sides for the football game when you were a kid…that guy with initiative, common sense and the survivor mentality will outlive the captain of your high school football team all day long.

There have been books written on the subject but if I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be:

“If you have the will and the mentality to survive, you shall.”

We have all seen it; the guy you swore would be a rock under pressure collapses faster than Orson Wells running the New York City Marathon. He may have the physical toughness, but inside he has the mental toughness of a 3 year old screaming for mommy.

Nothing irritates me more than people who make excuses. Dennis Miller said it best, “I will help the helpless, but I am not going to help the clueless.” Everyone at some point in their life had a bad time of it, it is what we have made of that bad situation that separates the winners from the losers; the survivors from the victims. If you lay down and die and from that day forward, blame everyone else for your short comings, then I have no use for you and Darwin will rectify the situation eventually. I will help people who for some reason or another have had a bad time of it and need that helping hand to get them back on track. I damn well expect you to work for it though; there will be NO free rides.

One way to start this transformation from victim to survivor is to eliminate the word “BUT” from your vocabulary. There are no “BUT’s” just take control of what you can and make the best of what you can’t! Stop making excuses and blaming everyone back to your great-great-great uncle who was the alcoholic that beat his kids. You being a putz has NOTHING to do with him and if your parents were incompetent, well you have my sympathy but you are an adult now and it is time you take control and responsibility for your actions or lack thereof.

After eliminating “BUT” from your vocabulary you need to do if establish your belief system. What do you believe in? And why? With those beliefs in place you now need to make a decision on what you want to do with your life; do you want to be a survivor? If you do then you need to toughen up mentally. Do the self assessment like I said in the “Think Outside the Box” post. Take control over your life and your situation. Decide what you want to be ready for and put a plan of action into place.

Learn all you can by reading and then get your butt in gear and have at least 72 hours worth of provisions ready for your family in the event of a problem. Get a “go-bag” put together for each family member in case you need to bail out quickly.

Get your financial house in order. Get out of debt and start saving your money. This will help release you from the bonds on consumerism and allow you to focus on more important things like preparations.

Dogs can be taught new habits after a lifetime of bad ones, so can human beings. Reward yourself when you do well and punish yourself when you fall off the wagon. I cannot stress enough; if you rely on others you will be profoundly let down when you need it most. The Fedgov is not going to come rescue you, they will be focused on the population at large (when they get around to it), individuals will be on their own when the SHTF.

For those of you who thinks I am nuts, it is not a matter of IF there is the next national disaster it is WHEN. You can pick your poison but the shit will hit the fan somewhere, just make sure if it is in your neighborhood, you are ready.

...that is all.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Weekend Roundup Volume 25

First I would like to again welcome our new sponsors PreparedPlanet.com and BerkeySales.com. Support our sponsors by giving them your business because they have a proven history of supporting the bloggers in this niche market.

Secondly, I would like to thank Patrick M. for the donation and seeds, I recieved both and you have my gratitude. My wife already has plans for the seeds! Thanks again for your support.

I really have been feeling good about my work here lately and I think my writing reflects it. I think I have turned a corner with my writing style and I have really started to enjoy this more and more.

If we have any potential Shakespeare's out there and you would like to guest post here, drop me a line!

Spread the word, tell your friends and family about us.

If you have a website or a blog throw up a link to me, I will be eternally grateful, I will also so the same for you.

If you know anyone who might interested in advertising here let me know. I can give you a very reasonable monthly rate for a banner.

The ringsurf traffic is starting to pick up...I have been getting about 20 hits a day from the webring. If you haven't already join us!

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Be my friend in Facebook!

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...that is all.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Survival Kits (Personal) Part 6

We have covered some of the major components in our personal survival kit series: the container, the knife/tool, fire, light and some miscellaneous items as well.

In this next installment of our personal survival kit series I am going to cover something pretty important, first aid. When I say first aid I am referring to the skills as well as the kit. Going into the bush without some basic first aid skills is like jumping into a lake full of alligators after rubbing yourself down with chicken blood…not good.

The Red Cross offers classes that can be taken in basic first aid as well as CPR and rescue breathing. I would advise everyone to take a course at least once, even if you don’t keep up with the certifications.

Knowing how to do things like properly dress a wound, recognize and treat shock, perform CPR and perform rescue breathing are all skills everyone should at least be familiar with. The importance of these skills cannot underestimated, even something as simple as recognizing the signs of heat stroke or hypothermia could save your life or the life of a companion.

With regard to the first aid kit in your survival kit, simple is the way to go. We are not talking a squad level kit, trauma bag, or even family sized first aid kit here. There are several must have components when added to what we have already discussed (remember from the last post? Bug spray, sun block and lip balm) will enable you to perform basic first aid in most circumstances. Bear in mind this will not treat multiple compound fractures of both legs in the middle of the woods but in reality if that happens to you when you are alone…the outlook is pretty grim regardless.

The first thing in any first aid kit should be an assortment of bandages, all different sizes and types to try and hedge against wounds on various parts of the body. I like the fabric kind myself but everyone probably has their preference. Related to this would be a nice big roll of gauze and medical tape to go with it. This will help cover and protect wounds where bandages just won’t cover.

In my survival kit I also have some ibuprofen and aspirin to help with things like pain. You would be amazed of the amount of pain you can dull with plain old ibuprofen. I have taken in one dose up three 200mg pills (600mgs total) when in pretty good pain and it does help.

You should have some items like antiseptic wipes to clean wounds and antibiotic creams to treat those minor wounds. I also keep a small bottle of iodine in my kit for the dual purpose of treating wounds and sterilizing questionable water. Iodine and chlorine both work well in that regard but you can't put chlorine on a wound which is why I choose iodine.
One more thing I do keep in my survival kit first aid bag is a needle and thread and some safety pins. They are good for repairing equipment and clothing along with flesh if needed…you have all seen First Bloodright?

I will most likely get grief from someone out there but that is all I really recommend for a survival first aid kit. Mayberry says it best, keep it simple stupid. If you learn the skills I suggest and carry what I have told you, many other things like splints can be improvised using nature.

Please don’t confuse this with a regular IFAK(Individual First Aid Kit) or home first aid kit, those need to be MUCH more comprehensive than what I listed here. The purpose of this post is to give you the basics to survive a short term situation and nothing more. This kit should be with you whenever you head into unfamiliar territory and it will perform its function admirably, getting you held over until the emergency passes.

...that is all.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Thinking Outside The Box

One thing that needs to be avoided like the plague is the “herd” mentality. The herd mentality will get you into trouble every time. People become comfortable and lazy with the status quo and the next thing you know you are caught completely off guard. Breaking free from the bonds of the herd mentality is difficult, heck we are all creatures of habit in some form or another and that, in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing.

People become oblivious to what is going on around them and that is when it will burn you; a spouse asks for a divorce, a child is on drugs, the government chisels away at your freedoms, a natural disaster catches you unprepared. These are things that don’t “just happen”; they are like a heart attack, the result is sudden and violent but the cause was years of neglect and bad habits. What everyone who reads this needs to do and needs to do right away is a self evaluation and assessment of their current state. Think of this as a life audit if you will, a simple open the hood and check the dip stick to make sure there is actually oil in the damn thing type deal. Ask yourself the hard questions like:
"Am I happy with my life?"
"Do I get taken advantage of by friends, family and strangers?"
"I am I doing all I can for my family and myself to protect us in the event of the collapse of western civilization?"

Besides being oblivious to what is going on around you, thinking outside of the box is something that should be strived for. God I know that sounds cliché, but think for a moment about what it means to be a survivalist; if everyone did it, it would be the norm and not the exception! Most likely you have the fire burning inside your belly or you would not be here on my blog reading this post. If you don’t have the survivor mentality yet, you are certainly better off than most of the people who will be grease stains on the pavement when the SHTF.

You are trying to make a difference in your life and I commend you for that. That being said, just because you have a head start doesn’t mean you should get all comfy and thinking you are the man (or woman)! You need to look at the world differently, kind of like Roddy Piper in that movie,put on the magical sunglasses and see who and what are your real foes in this nonsense called life. It takes a bit of a change, you don’t have to suddenly become a glass is half empty kind of person but a healthy dose of skepticism and working on your internal bullshit detector will certainly get you off to a good start.

The first thing you need to do is ask questions. NO, not of other people, ask yourself questions. When someone tells you something, ask yourself:
“Why is this person telling me this?”
“Does this person have something to gain by telling me this?”
“Do I even give a shit about what this person has to say?”

Once you learn to ask yourself questions, question the intentions of people and processes and become adept at weeding out the obvious bullshit, THEN you can start asking other people questions. Don’t take anything at face value either and for God’s sake don’t ever start with the:
“Oh, it can wait till tomorrow…” NONSENSE

That attitude will get you and your loved ones killed if you aren’t careful…tornados, burglars and jackbooted thugs never wait until tomorrow…trust me.

If you are serious about surviving anything you need to change your entire attitude and become a leader and more importantly a DOER. If you want and sit on the couch and wait until tomorrow, fine, I will most like be using your dust as compost in my post apocalyptic garden. Now unless you want to be part of a salad I eat in the future, I would suggest you get started on this little exercise sometime in the NEAR FUTURE.

So boys and girls lets summarize the lesson:
-SELF EVALUATION – write it down and BE HONEST!
-Think outside the box
-Healthy skepticism
-Question yourself
-Question others
-Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

If you start with these few simple steps you may be around when the dust settles. It has been proven time and time again the difference between those who survive and those that don’t is what is occupying the space between their ears. Those that have the mentality make it, those that don’t are forgotten (Darwin was good for something).

...that is all.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Guest Post: Crazy Joe - Locking Gas Caps

Crazy Joe is back with a tip to save you some grief...

Four years ago when gas went overnight from about $1.20 a gallon to about $2.00 a gallon there was a rash of gas crooks siphoning gas from cars and diesel trucks in and around the Philly area. My friend is a store manager for CARQUEST, an auto parts store like PEP BOYS or AUTOZONE. His store is in South Jersey (attached to the regional warehouse) just across the river from Philly. The regional warehouse there is full of employees who live in Philly. They had a run on LOCKING GAS CAPS over a 5 day period.

He told me about 30 warehouse employees came into the store to buy them. It boggled my mind that all these city people did not own them to begin with. I have owned them for the past 25 years regardless of where I lived. It is important to know that locking gas caps are not all the same or that there is one that will fit any make or year of vehicle. When buying one you need to know the year and model of vehicle it is for. Also there are (if memory serves) 3 or 4 styles of locking gas caps. I do not like the number combination style. I only own the type with the key - make sure there are 2 keys in the box before you leave the store.

Locking gas caps are a deterrent and not scum bag proof but it does take a lot of extra effort, a large screw driver or pry bar type tool and noise to break one off to siphon your gas. Scum bags will immediately move on when encountering a locking gas cap especially in a better lighted area. If you are reading this and do not own a locking gas cap then it would make sense to get one - wouldn't it?

-Crazy Joe

Flea: Thanks Crazy Joe!!!

...that is all.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

TennZen: Enlightenment, Southern Style

You may have noticed on the blogroll a new link to TennZen's site. You should do yourself a favor and make this site one of your regular reads.

TennZen has become my go to site for canning and southern style recipes.

TennZen's submission was also my pick as an editor's choice in our first Survival and Disaster Preparedness Carnival.

BTW try the corn bread recipe, you'll like it...trust me.

...that is all.

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Quote Of The Day

"Every man dies. Not every man really lives."

-William Wallace

...that is all.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Towing Safety Redux

I am all about safety as most of you are painfully aware. You can never be “too safe” and mitigating against risk is always high on my priority list. One thing I was very persistent with was towing my pop up safely. When I purchased the pop up I was given a primer on towing it safely and I was really disappointed with what I was told.

I had them install a Class III hitch on my truck along with wiring, I was told by a lady at the place where I bought the pop up, “you can just tow this on the bumper!” I quickly said no thanks please order and install a hitch. The pop up is close to 1800 lbs dry weight, technically I could tow it with a bumper hitch but I don’t believe that would be safe.

I also told them to install a brake controller in my truck because the pop up I bought had electric brakes and they said, “Well you really don’t need that because the trailer limit for brakes in South Carolina is 2000 lbs.” I said no thank you; please install the controller and the wiring so I can use the electronic brakes.

I told them to install a deep cycle battery on the pop up, they said “why, that only powers the 12 volt lighting and refrigerator?”, I said because I want to have the breakaway switch on the pop up actually work should the trailer become detached. A breakaway switch will not function without a battery; once the trailer is detached from the tow vehicle power is lost, electronic brakes need power. A breakaway switch for those that don’t know is a device that applies the trailer brakes to the trailer should it accidentally become separated from the tow vehicle while traveling. This will protect your trailer and the people traveling around you from a runaway trailer with a mind hell bent on destruction.

I was shocked honestly, how many people are out there towing pop ups with a bumper and no brakes? Are they crazy? Apparently I am the one that is crazy. There is a law in South Carolina that a trailer must have a breakaway switch but it mentions nothing about a battery. That is like saying well you need a flashlight when it gets dark but saying batteries are optional, kind of dumb don’t you think?

I know some of you will say jeez you are paranoid; it is a pop up camper for crying out loud! Yes but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Do you care about your family? Do you want the kids in the vehicle that is bumper towing a 2000 lb trailer when you have to slam on the brakes because of some idiot cutting you off and you trailer having no trailer brakes? That is just an accident waiting to happen. Not to mention your tow vehicle; add 2000lbs to the weight your tow vehicles brakes need to stop now and tell me how long your brakes will last or what the minimum stopping distance you need now? It is just some common sense folks; spend a few hundred dollars more for peace of mind and you and your families’ safety.

Here are some recommendations that will help you tow your load, no matter what its size, safely:

1.) Use a bigger class size hitch than needed – if you only need a Class II hitch spend a few more bucks and just get a Class III hitch installed.

2.) Avoid bumper towing all but the smallest of trailers.

3.) Always use safety chains and always cross them when hooking them up.

4.) If you have electronic brakes use them! Get a brake controller and make sure you have it installed correctly! Hydraulic (surge) brakes are better than nothing. Brakes will save wear and tear on your tow vehicle and may save your life!

5.) Make sure your trailer has a breakaway switch and a battery (small trailers can skip this – follow your local laws). Make sure the switch is hooked up correctly, mine needs to be attached to one of the safety chains for example.

These are just a few simple ways to ensure your towing experience is safe and you get to your destination with your trailer intact. Towing is something everyone should know how to do and everyone should be comfortable with as you never know when you may need to do it.

Tip: Remember when backing up a trailer turn the steering wheel in the OPPOSITE direction you want the trailer to go.

...that is all.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Equipment Review: ENO Single Nest Hammock

I have just returned from a camping trip to Santee State Park in South Carolina. A great time was had by all except for the daily thunderstorms that seemed to hit the park. Nothing scarier than being in a pop up camper when Mother Nature decides to rattle the cage a bit. Regardless I put some good hours into my new hammock and it performed flawlessly.

I purchased a Eagles Nest Outfitters SingleNest Hammockalong with some of their famous Pro model Slap Straps.The Slap Straps allow you to safely and quickly attach the hammock to two trees, they can vary in their distance from one another because the Slap Straps are completely adjustable.

When we got to Santee, I literally had the hammock setup in less than five minutes. The Single nest supports 400 lbs. and is made of high strength woven nylon. The fabric is breathable and dries VERY quickly, which was nice especially since it rained on us a few times. The cord is nautical grade and the hammock ends are karabiners. If you JUST buy the hammock you will need to figure out your own way to attach it to the trees. The hammock does not come with any method of attaching it to a tree other than the karabiner ends.

That is where the Slap Straps come in; they are fully adjustable and only need to be wrapped around the tree and run through one of the available loops, pulled tight and then the hammock karabiner attached to the loop. They adjust fully and your hammock can be placed between trees from 10 feet to almost 20 feet apart! That is the beauty of the system, you don’t have to find that perfect set of trees perfectly spaced to enjoy your hammock.

Slap Straps are also environmentally friendly because they no damage to the trees you attach them to. They are made of high strength nylon and are UV treated (as is the hammock) to resist sun damage and fading. I thought when I ordered the system that the Slap Straps were a bit expensive but I am a true believer now and you will kick yourself if you buy just the hammock and not the Slap Straps.

ENO also makes a dry tarp to hang over the hammock and a bug net system to protect you from getting eaten alive if you chose to use this as a shelter on a hiking of camping trip. The entire system is ridiculously small and light so to be honest I would probably never even consider lugging a tent on a hiking trip ever again. No tent and no sleeping pad add up to a pretty substantial weight savings. The hammock and straps weigh a total of 26 ounces and are the size of a softball, not bad in my opinion.

A few things that scare people about hammocks are flipping it, getting into it and getting out of it. There is always a risk when using a hammock but I found the Single Nest extremely easy to get in and out of a VERY stable. I was swinging in it and never once felt even remotely that I was going to flip over. If you follow their simple recommendations you will be fine. The hammock is extremely comfortable and I must admit I fell asleep in it several times while reading.

I have been in the market for a hammock for quite awhile and I am extremely pleased with the selection I made. The hammock is just what I was looking for; easy to setup, durable, and most importantly comfortable. ENO has done a nice job with the system and I recommend it highly to anyone looking for a hammock to setup when camping or looking for a complete shelter system for their next hiking trip.

Please do yourself a favor though, if you buy one of these hammocks don't cheap out; BUY the Slap Straps as well, you will be thankful you did!

NOTE: All photos are from ENO's website.

...that is all.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Weekend Roundup Volume 24

Yes, I am still camping. I am heading back to civilization tomorrow (Sunday) and it is time to get back to the grindstone.

I hope everyone enjoyed all the posts I scheduled the last week, it was a pain in the butt to get it all done before I left for vacation but I did. I really love writing and don't look at this as work, although with regular work and school thrown in...it is only natural to feel that way occassionally.

If we have any potential Shakespeare's out there and you would like to guest post here, drop me a line!

Spread the word, tell your friends and family about us.

If you have a website or a blog throw up a link to me, I will be eternally grateful.

If you know anyone who might interested in advertising here let me know. I can give you a very reasonable monthly rate for a banner.

The ringsurf traffic is starting to pick up...I have been getting about 20 hits a day from the webring. If you haven't already join us!

Support Be A Survivor, Thanks!

Become a "made guy". You guys REALLY need to be my friend in Facebook so we can meet at Mafia Mikes!

Remember I am posting tips and other stuff on Twitter, so follow me!

...that is all.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Life Long Love Affair With Books

One thing I have done since I was a young’un was read. I remember back in the day when we lived in the city there was a library one block from my house and my mom trusted me enough to let start going there myself around 5th grade or so. Nothing brought me greater joy than finding a good book and sitting down to read it from cover to cover. I remember some of the heroes of my childhood to this day; Danny Dunn, Encyclopedia Brown, Mad Scientists Club, ring a bell for anyone? I read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories and then discovered my real love…biographies.

I have read some pretty diverse biographies, from Leonardo DaVinci, Albert Einstein, Alexander Hamilton, Sir Isaac Newton, John D. Rockefeller and Stephen Hawking to name just a few. I always found it fascinating to read about intellectual giants and people who have had a profound effect on mankind.

Reading has given me the career I have today and almost all of the knowledge I have in my tiny little brain. I never did graduate from college, I only went as far as high school (I am rectifying that now by getting my associates degree in a few months – 2 classes to go WOOT!). Having just a high school diploma never held me back, my voracious appetite for learning helped me to show the people I needed to that in my case that framed piece of paper was optional.

One thing I would encourage parents to do it to read to their kids at a young age and encourage them to pick up books on their own and read. Reading is a skill, you get better as you do it, you comprehend more as you get better, your vocabulary increase as you comprehend more. In this case there is no substitute for “doing it”.

I also encourage people to read some non-fiction. I have nothing against fiction; you certainly can develop your reading skills reading fiction, as well as obtain enjoyment from reading fiction. The real learning happens when you pick up non-fiction books; the book could be a manual, how-to book, biography, history book, or whatever. These nuggets of knowledge are the types of books that will provide you with "smarts" that can be carried around in your noggin for the rest of your life.

From the survival perspective I can assure you; good information can be obtained by reading. My wife and I can food and make jams and preserves, all of which we learned to do reading books. All of my knowledge of gardening has been obtained by reading first, then doing. I read about planting and growing tomatoes, and then I went out there and got my hands dirty with my new found knowledge. Almost anything can be first learned about by finding a good book on the subject; it certainly does not replace hands on experience but can get you pointed in the right direction. I would never even imagine doing something "new" without first at least reading a bit about the subject. I can assure you, my love affair with reading is ongoing and my appetite for knowledge has yet to be satiated.

One way to begin the love affair with reading is to set aside some time everyday to do it. Some people like to read before they go to sleep, some people like to read in an easy chair after dinner, whatever your poison, try and develop a schedule and stick to it as much as you can. Soon you will find that when you miss your reading sessions it starts to feel like you are missing out of something important. Reading quickly becomes “your time” and you will begin to crave more and more…trust me.

Start this whole process by visiting your local library and getting a library card if you don’t have one already. Take your family on a Saturday to the library and have everyone pick out their “book of the week”. Set aside family time so everyone sits down and reads for a while together. You will soon see a change in your kids; they may even put down the video game controller for a little while, and who knows? Maybe some improvements in the grade department will follow soon after.

...that is all.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Be A Survivor Italian Gravy (Sauce)

I have been making my sauce this way for years. It is great with spaghetti but also makes a great base for stuff like Baked Ziti or Lasagna. It is way better than the jar stuff like Ragu or Prego.

What is needed:
Large pot with lid
Wooden spoon
Olive oil
4 large cans of tomato sauce (like Hunt's or something)
1 large onion
Jar of chopped garlic
Kosher salt
Parmesan cheese

Add some olive oil to the bottom of your pot and turn the heat on medium-high.

Dice your onion and put it in the pot.

Add 1 heaping tablespoon of chopped garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent.

Add the four cans of tomato sauce to the pot and stir well.

Add 1 tablespoon of parsley.

Add 2 tablespoons of oregano.

Add 1 tablespoon of basil.

Mix thoroughly and add salt and pepper to taste.

Cover the pot with lid and lower the heat to low, cook for a half hour (stir occassionally).

Add 1 heaping tablespoon of parmesan cheese, mix thoroughly and taste.

Adjust with additional seasonings as needed (if needed).

Cover and cook on low for another 45 minutes (stir occassionally) and you are done!

If you want to make it “interesting” add two cans of solid white Albacore (drained - packed in water), tastes a bit like clam sauce if that is your thing.

...that is all.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Learn To Improvise

This guy has...

I am sure those Harbor Freight gloves keep him from losing his death grip on the AK...

...and hey if I couldn't get body armor, a life jacket would work just fine, right?

...that is all.

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Quote Of The Day

"Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh."

-George Bernard Shaw

...that is all.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Fashion Maven, I Am Most Certainly NOT! (Mild Rant Warning)

Today I am switching gears a bit, going from my usual merry and happy self to someone with an ax to grind with some of America. Now you know I am not speaking of any of the people who read my blog because you are all highly intelligent and beautiful people and you all value comfort over fashion.

George Clooney I am not, most days I can be seen prowling around in a 5 year young, Old Navy tee-shirt and a pair of sweats. I really could care less what people think of me or how I look or dress. I must have been attractive to the opposite sex at some point because I am married, and yes my wife has her vision intact.

What tends to irritate me is the fact that some of America (well at least on the ends of the country - "typically" - not everyone) tend to be obsessed with appearance and beauty. You are all undoubtedly familiar with Megan Fox; the “hot chick” from Transformers, like many celebrities who should stick to acting/singing and leave thinking to the “other people”, has said some nasty things about the people in Middle America. I will leave it to you and your master Google skills to find the details because that is not what this post is about ultimately. Needless to say the phrase beauty is in the eye of the beholder holds true in her case…so she is a fairly ugly person as far as I am concerned.

I digress; I don’t want to offend anyone so I will continue on with my diatribe against looking hip. I love Crocs; they are SUPER comfortable and even the knock offs I have worn are comfortable. They are easy to clean, pretty rugged and because they are rubber water holds no power over them. I recently visited a forum where people railed on anyone who dared wear the “stupidest looking shoes in America!”, ”They are for kids!”, “I snicker every time I see an adult wearing those ridiculous shoes!” Excuse me Mr. Fashion Critic, aren't you the same lemming that has 30k in credit card debt, 50k in car debt, not a dollar in your wallet but you are driving a BMW and your Stepford wife is carrying a Louie Vuitton bag??? Because for a second there I thought you were making fun of me…

Some of us choose comfort over needless expense and hip clothing. Don’t get me wrong, I get dressed up when the occasion calls for it. I have a suit and a sport jacket and nice shoes, uhhh I don’t wear them to Wal-Mart though. I don’t have a closet full of clothes with tags on them that I never wear. I wear what I own.

To the folks reading I say, should you always present yourself in a clean and neatly groomed fashion? Absolutely. Should your clothes be clean? Absolutely. Do you need a wardrobe full of designer clothes and shoes? NO!!! Don’t let the high and mighty Clinton and Stacy’s (TLC) of the world get you down, because you are smarter, choosing to save your money for things that count. All you need to be is clean and neat, if anyone has anything to say to you…tell them Flea said to stick their Vera Wang where the sun don’t shine!

{insert tongue in cheek here}

...that is all.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Weekend Roundup Volume 23

My wife and I finally found a church we like down here in Summerville; up north Catholics are all over the place, down here we are a rare breed. There is a Baptist church on every corner...not so easy to find a Catholic church. We have been visiting a few and finally decided on the one we will join, nice place and very "hands off" which I like.

I am in my final stretch with the associates degree. I am starting my last two classes and I get my degree and then it is on to the bachelors. I never did graduate from college, regardless I have done pretty good for myself in IT field; mainly through a lot of experience and certifications. The degree is long overdue and I will be done in a few months! I am going to take a month or two off between the end of the associates and the beginning of the bachelors.

I am on a camping trip again as you read this, 8 nice relaxing days with the wife and dogs in our pop up. I got a new hammock I will be trying out (I will review it when I get back) and I plan to read a few books while I gently sway in the breeze. Of course I plan on doing a little fishing as well.

Don't fret I was very diligent and have a bunch of posts scheduled for you so you don't go through withdrawl. I am also bringing my laptop and will most likely logon once a day when I talk my daily walk, they have Internet access over at the Rangers station, so if I don't get back to you right away please be patient!

Spread the word, tell your friends and family about us.

If you have a website or a blog throw up a link to me, I will be eternally grateful.

If you know anyone who might interested in advertising here let me know. I can give you a very reasonable monthly rate for a banner.

The ringsurf traffic is starting to pick up...I have been getting about 20 hits a day from the webring. If you haven't already join us!

As our friend Dakin says...buy my crap, please?

Got Mafia? You guys REALLY need to be my friend in Facebook so we can whack some wise guys together!

Remember I am posting tips and other stuff on Twitter, so follow me!

...that is all.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

How To Learn About Something That Interests You

One of the things that blows my mind is the fact that with all of the resources at most people fingertips; many don’t know how to properly learn about “something”. That “something” could be almost anything; I am not talking about specifics as the concept can be applied broadly. Learning is something that is fundamental to almost all creatures great and small, but the ability to learn and reason makes us different than every other one of the planet inhabitants. If you want to learn about a topic you have more tools and options available to you now than ever before.

There is one golden rule about learning anything; this rules importance cannot be underestimated. If you don’t follow this rule it can come back and bite you in the most horrible way. Depending on what you are trying to learn about, ignoring this rule could conceivably result in your untimely demise. What is this oh so important rule I speak of, it is so simple you will probably laugh, but we ARE ALL guilty of ignoring it in our lives at some point. The rule of which I speak is using or relying on more than one source to obtain information on any given topic when attempting to learn about “something”. Using one source to learn about any subject is a really, really bad idea.

Oh come on now you say, how can violating a simple rule like this result in my death? There are many things I can think of; canning food is one fine example that immediately pops into my head. If you search the Internet (and we all know if it is on the Internet it MUST be true) and you find this great site on canning that should be good enough…right? You religiously follow the instructions on the website and can your items. Later on that year you decide to crack open your work and have it for dinner, sounds great. The only issue is that great website was run by an incompetent canner who is now dead, tragically killed by a tiny creature called clostridium botulinum. Hope you have good health insurance…

I was always a good student and I realized at a very young age that there were three types of information: good information, bad information and information that falls somewhere in between the two. Bad information is the kind that will undoubtedly get you killed and should be avoided like the plague. The information in between is the kind that will make you dangerous, this should also be avoided or diluted with as much good information as possible.

Inevitably you ask, what is the dilution you speak of? Simply put it is using as many sources as you can to weed out the crap. If you read a book and it says to do x, you read three more books on that subject and they say to AVOID doing x, I would probably discount that first source of information as sketchy. Does this always work? No, unfortunately I hope you enjoying gambling because you are just playing the odds; they are good odds, but tough to bet the farm on. This can really get sketchy when dealing with Internet resources because bullshit spreads faster on the Internet than swine flu at a hypochondriac’s convention in Acapulco.

When I want to learn about something, I may start with the Internet, dipping my toe in the proverbial water, just to see what is out there. I definitely use printed books on a subject to start any serious research. Make a trip to the library or the book store and look through a few books and takes notes. I check reviews of the books on the Internet and the message boards to see what is rated highly. I read a few of the highly rated books, I take copious notes on what I want to learn more on and then I head to the Internet once again. The most important part of this process is to cross check any information to make sure you can verify it or at least see that it is consensus among the authors.

One thing I tell everyone is to always doubt the validity of anything that you come across on the Internet, and no a picture does not PROVE anything as Photoshop can do amazing things. There are good sources of information out there, I am not saying the Internet is useless, I am just saying be wary. Dilution is the key, the MORE sources you use to learn the more of a chance the information you are reading is true. Remember this simple fact when you want to learn something new and you will do just fine, take it from someone who does a lot of research, and remember to use MULTIPLE SOURCES.

...that is all.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Repair, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose

Not sure when the turning point came, I guess it snuck up on us while we labored away trying to make ends meet. There once was a time when quality and workmanship were important, that time has come and gone. There are still some examples out there of quality and workmanship but they are becoming harder and harder to find. Everyone who reads this has a relative that had that refrigerator or TV for 20 years or more, you know the one that never needed any repairs done to it. Things were built to last when my parents and their parents were growing up, now there is planned obsolescence designed into most things we buy or consume. Things are meant to be discarded and tossed into the landfill to sit there for eternity, “Oh, it will cost you more to repair it…just go buy a new one."

I say baloney.

Part of the issue is the fact that most people, especially kids these days don’t take care of their things. We bombard them with endless amounts of stuff so they place no value on it. Why should Jr. give a hoot about that XBOX he has when you are buying him an XBOX 360 in six months (You just don’t know it yet). Why should he care if he trashes his iPod when Steve Jobs over at Apple upgrades them faster than you can whistle Dixie. When I was growing up I treated everything I had with respect, I kept my toys/stuff clean and put them away when I was done playing with them. My parents weren’t Donald Trump, whatever I got I treasured. This has carried over into my adult years and I try my best to take care of everything I own. Parents need to instill this at a young age otherwise their kids are “doomed to consume.” (Wow I just made that up...nice)

What I suggest is when you think you have an item that needs to be replaced, take a moment to consider the possibility you could be throwing money away. Consider this example, my in-laws have a vacuum cleaner they purchased in the 80’s but it was a quality model when they bought it. The vacuum has worked great for all these years, one day it stopped working. Rather than run to the store and spend $200-$300 on a new vacuum, my father-in-law took it to a vacuum repair shop (they exist – look in the phone book). They replaced a switch and for $18 bucks the vacuum was as good as new, the guy even cleaned it up real good for them. This is why I say baloney to the person that throws things out and immediately buys a new one without any consideration or thought.

When something is truly beyond repair, I would scavenge what I could from it and possibly repurpose it. One example of repurposing something is a shower curtain. No matter how much cleaning you do eventually the shower curtain will get skuzzy or rip. Instead of throwing it out, use it as a tarp, tent foot print or even use it to line the trunk of your vehicle when you run to the store and pick up something messy like bags of dirt or mulch. Another great example of repurposing something would be tires. Use them to plant flowers or vegetables in raised beds rather than sending them to a landfill.

If you remember one thing from this post let it be this; when you do need to get rid of something, dispose of it in the proper manner. You cannot just throw out computer equipment for example. Computers and computer peripherals contain lead and other hazardous materials and must be disposed of properly. Never throw out batteries, motor oil, used cooking oil, paper, plastic, magazines, cardboard, aluminum cans or anything else that is recyclable. Most town have recycling centers where you can dispose of these items. Many gas stations and auto parts stores will take your used motor oil. You should always try and do your part to help the environment if you can. I am certainly not one of those environ-nuts, who will stop progress of mankind because the two-fingered, bow legged, polka-dotted sap sucker’s habitat will be infringed upon, but I do care about the planet. If everyone did their small part to fix the problem the difference would be HUGE.

If you toss aluminum cans out you are crazy because many states will give you cash refund for returning them, and most recycling places pay for aluminum by the pound. I recently purchased the Easy Pull Can Crusher which I installed in my garage. I have to say it has made the job of crushing the cans considerably easier on my feet. My wife and I store the cans in our garage in contractor bags and once a year visit the recycler. The price we get depends on the price of aluminum per pound at the time but it requires very little effort on our part and is found money as far as I am concerned.

I store our used motor oil, cooking oil, paper and cardboard in the garage until I have a decent amount and then I drive it over to the recycling center and in 15 minutes I have disposed of all my stuff in an environment friendly manner. Most recycling centers also take lawn debris, construction debris and old appliances so check with your local authorities to find out what they accept and where.

One final point I would like to drive home in this repair, reuse, recycle and repurpose post is to buy quality, even if it costs more money up front. You will save money on the back end in repairs because things that are made well usually last longer. I don’t know how many times I have seen someone buy the cheap version for $100 bucks for example, and then go back and have to buy the $300 version anyway because the cheaper one was unusable or broke. Does that make sense? To buy something that costs $300 for $400 because you were trying to “save” money? No of course it doesn’t, so don’t do it. Buy quality the FIRST time and save yourself money and headaches.

...that is all.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Welcome to the first Survival and Disaster Preparedness Blog Carnival. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit their work. I had a lot of fun looking over all the entries and learned a thing or two in the process!


First Editors Pick: Albert Rasch presents The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: Disassembling, Cleaning, and Reassembling your Ruger 10/22 Rotary Magazine posted at The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, saying, "Here is a highly rated tutorial on the maintenance, disassembly, cleaning, and assembly of the Ruger 10/22 rotary magazine."

Second Editors Pick: TennZen presents TennZen: Enlightenment, Southern Style: Unsafe canning practices - don't try this at home posted at TennZen: Enlightenment, Southern Style, saying, "Review of safety procedures and mythbusting of unsafe canning methods that are still spread around, especially on the Internet"

Now on to the BEST of the REST!

matthiasj presents Get Home Bag: Summer Edition posted at Kentucky Preppers Network.

Carolyn presents The Barber Bunch: How to make Strawberry Jam posted at The Barber Bunch.

YeOldFurt presents Brain Tanning Hides posted at Old Lightning.

Ranger Squirrel presents Am I Crazy? posted at RangerSquirrel's Ramblings

Dan Wolfe presents The Survival Knife Wolfe's Blog posted at Wolfe's Blog.

Riverwalker presents Stealth Survival: Homemade First Aid Kit posted at Stealth Survival.

Mayberry presents Keep It Simple Survival: Gettin' Philosophical...... posted at Keep It Simple Survival.

Phil Burns presents Prepping for Prepping Utah Preppers posted at Utah Preppers, saying, "One of our best for general preparedness and what it takes to be a true Prepper."

Mikkal Travvis presents How To Survive A Flu Pandemic posted at Bird Flu Pandemic.

No Fate presents Supplies: water posted at Nuclear Disaster Preparedness.

Brian presents Super Sturdy Trellis posted at Meadowwood Garden, saying, "Need support? The Super Sturdy Trellis is inexpensive, easy to make and a hurricane couldn't knock it down! Perfect for pole beans, peas, melons, cucumbers etc. Visit us to learn how to make yours!"

Mesquite Pete presents Mosquitoes - Fact and Fiction posted at Mosquito Basics, saying, "Some myths and facts about mosquitoes."

Scarecrow presents Emergency heat for your home... posted at ONTARIO PREPPERS NETWORK.

Better Homemaking Network presents Swine Flu and a Healthy Immune System posted at Better Homemaking: Health and Fitness, saying, "The Swine Flu seems to be pandemic imminent. Are you prepared?"

Nomad presents Survive The Worst: Can One Nuclear Weapon Cripple America? posted at Survive The Worst.

Shreela presents Be Prepared: EDC Keyring posted at Que Sera Sera.

Everyday Prepper presents How much of X will fit in a 5 gallon bucket posted at Everyday Prepper.

FernWise presents Suffering Is Optional. posted at Fern's Fronds.

John Mellem presents Survival Stew: Survival Garden posted at Survival Stew.

I want to thank everyone who has helped make this a success by submitting an article and congratulate Albert and TennZenn on being the Editors Picks for this carnival edition. I look forward to more editions of this carnival and if another blog would like to host it let me know and we'll start the planning!

I would like to remind everyone who entered the carnival to please link back to it and to Digg, Tweet, Facebook, Reddit, Stumble this and whatever else it is you normally do...so that everyone gets the most traffic from this they can...once again thank you!!!

...that is all.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009


The blog carnival just stopped accepting any further entries. (I need time to put everything together)

Thanks to all who have submitted articles.

The carnival will be published at 8 am EST tomorrow (6/10/2009)

...that is all.

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Quote Of The Day

"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first."

-Mark Twain

...that is all.

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Last Day To Submit To Blog Carnival

As they say, smoke me if you got em, speak now or forever hold your peace, Elvis will be leaving the building shortly. Today is the last day to submit your posts to the 1st Survival and Disaster Preparedness Carnival. You may submit your entries here.

...that is all.

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Monday, June 8, 2009


I have been an avid camper since I was a little boy. It started with me and my dad going fishing and my obsession grew after I became a boy scout. I really just enjoy nature, so much so that there was a period in my life where I didn’t really have many friends (by choice) and when the few that I had couldn’t go or didn’t want to go camping I would go myself. It sounds strange but going camping by yourself, especially during the week when the camp grounds are a ghost town really helps you tune into nature.

Camping is one of those activities that you either love or hate. Before my wife met me she had never been camping in her life. That quickly changed; bless her heart I think she started going just because she knew I enjoyed it. I know now that it has really grown on her and she is really a true sport when it comes to my obsession.

Camping is a cheap way to have some fun and get the family out of the house for a few days. It can be as hectic as you want, you can cram a full itinerary of activities into your time camping or do nothing but swing in the hammock and listen the wind blow and nature play its tune.

Places like Jellystone and KOA offer park like settings that are usually more wide open and activity focused. These are perfect for families who need to ensure there is adequate entertainment for their kids. They often have activities like movies, games, hikes, etc., to fill your day with and they more often than not, offer hookups at the campsites for water, electricity and sewer. State and national parks are often more rustic offering only the most basic of services. This can vary widely from park to park so ensure you go on a scouting trip first to see what is available.

I mentioned the importance of a scouting or intelligence gathering trip to the park before committing to reserving anything online or over the phone. I cannot tell you enough how important this is, especially if you have never been to the park. All camp sites are not created equal, trust me…some are too close together, some are too small, some don’t have enough shade and some have too much shade. My wife and I always scout new parks before we reserve any sites for a trip. We often drive to the park on a weekend and stop by the ranger station for a map. We then proceed to drive around the entire campground noting which sites look promising. Trust me when I say you will be glad you did this, nothing is worse than baking in a wide open campsite when the sun is high in the sky and the temperature is 95 degree out.

Camping comes in many forms, the three that I am going to talk about are car camping, primitive camping and trailer/RV camping. The types of camping are as different as apples and oranges and some prefer type one over another. I have done all three and I have enjoyed them all.

Car camping is probably the type of camping most people are familiar with. It involves being able to pull or back your car right into the campsite and it great for families. Having access to the car lets you store your cooler in the trunk when in bear country; it also allows you to haul more crap into the campsite. We did this all the time before we got our pop up camper. We used to bring a tent or two and sleeping bags as well as a screen room and other assorted stuff. This offers the greatest bang for the buck for families with kids because you can bring the bikes and other stuff right into the campsite and not have to worry about carrying stuff over long distances. You can also just hop into the car and drive to a grocery store if you happen to forget something, very convenient.

Primitive camping is a bit more work and you really have to enjoy camping to be able to enjoy this. I really do enjoy primitive camping every once in a while but it isn’t my favorite type of camping. In primitive camping situation you most likely will park your car in a lot and have to hike into your campsite. Distances vary widely and range from a few hundred yards to several miles. When my wife and I lived in NJ we did this at Round Valley Reservoir. We needed to hike 5 miles to get to the campsite and therefore we needed to carry everything on our back. We carried 40 pound packs for the 5 miles and trust me we checked our list twice because it was 5 miles back to the car if we forgot something. This is very primitive, the only thing they offered was a fire pit and a spigot for water (and you had to walk to get to it). You will be eating freeze dried meals most likely and you will have to rough it in every sense of the word; including hiking all your waste out with you.

RV or trailer camping is similar to car camping except that you bring an RV or trailer with you. We do this most often now because we have a pop up camper. This is luxurious by camping standards as many times you have air conditioning, hot water and porta potties right in your camper. Our pop up has a propane grill and stove, hot water heater, AC, lights, refrigerator, outdoor shower, and a queen sized and full sized bunk; a far cry from sleeping in a tent on the ground. To take full advantage of it you will need hookups at the site for electricity (if you don’t have a battery), water (ours has a 23 gallon we can fill), and sewer (or a dump station). Camp grounds vary so you will need to call or visit ahead of time to see what is available.

Regardless of the type of camping you enjoy or where you enjoy doing it, camping offers a rich and rewarding family experience. It allows you to spend time together, outside, in nature and experience life the way it should be experienced, rather than sitting inside playing video games or watching TV. Use camping trips to try out new survival equipment/ techniques or bone up on skills such as trap building or fire making. Trying out these skills during an enjoyable camping trip will make them easier for you to do when the chips are down and no fire means a night freezing and wet.

I would suggest you check out the resources online for your state. South Carolina has all of its state parks system online and there is a plethora of information available. We can reserves specific sites for up to a year in advance so I would suggest you check the resources available to you today and enjoy the great outdoors with your family.

...that is all.

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