Tips for the outdoors

Campfire picture (not taken by me though.)
Campfire picture (not taken by me though.)

Since my last post wasn’t really about the outdoorsy stuff, I thought I’d try and write a post that gives readers some useful information. Throughout my life I’ve spent a great deal of time having various adventures in the wilderness – and there’s definitely been at least a couple of times where I was in a potentially unsafe or hazardous situation. These situations could definitely have been avoided if I would have had the experience that I have now, but I guess that’s the reason people say ‘You live and you learn’. So, to help my readers out a bit, particularly the younger ones who think they’re invincible, here are a couple of useful tips that may end up saving your life or help you get out of a dangerous/unsafe situation when you’re having adventures of your own.

  • I was never a boy scout - I generally consider the whole program to be too watered down and bureaucratic for my taste. My own father thought the same thing (that’s probably where I get it from), and we were totally fine having our adventures on our own – we never felt the need to be part of a large group of people to go camping or hiking. But the boy scouts do get one thing right – their motto is absolutely spot on and if there’s one thing you need to know, it’s that any time you go on an adventure of any sort, you must always ‘Be Prepared’. This means preparing the right gear, but it also means you need to prepare yourself with the right knowledge. Look at a map so you know which direction you’ll be going (and which direction you’ll need to go to get back to civilization). If you’re going to a location that’s a bit more off the beaten track, always do research before hand to make sure its safe, and also find out what the most likely sources danger might be.
  • Unless you’re a very experienced outdoorsman, you’ll always want to travel with at least one other person – when I was young, obviously I would go out with my father, and these days my most common companion is my wife – she is also an outdoors enthusiast (and that’s one of the reasons we ended up together). If you’re got 10 years of experience and you know all the standard survival stuff (how to start a fire, how to signal for help, how to navigate without equipment, some basic first aid stuff, etc) then you can probably go on trips by yourself reasonably safely, but for those of you who lack experience, try not to go it solo at the beginning.
  • Learn how to start a fire – you never know what kind of situation you might end up in, and knowing how to keep warm, stay fed, stay hydrated, and stay safe – all these are crucial skills, and knowing how to start a fire is helpful to all of them. Obviously a fire can help you stay warm, but you can also potentially cook food and boil water (which doesn’t always make it safe to drink, but often helps). Also, a fire is a great tool to keep wild animals away – obviously, wild animals rarely attack humans in the first place, but having a fire acts almost like a force field – animals are naturally afraid of heat and fire and you’ll be in a much better position to take rest if you have a solid fire going. To read about how to start a fire in the wilderness without supplies, click here. Obviously as part of your basic gear, you should always have a lighter as well as some matches.

Well, off the top of my head those are just three of the things that I would highly recommend everybody take to heart. Obviously I didn’t go into great depth, but those three tips are definitely solid things to keep in mind anytime you’re planning an outdoors excursion, particularly if it is a long one.

Also, just a note on boy scouts – while I was never a scout and my kid probably won’t be either (unless he really wants to), I’m not saying that their program is bad. It just wasn’t the way my own father wanted to pass survival skills on to me, and it’s not the way I want to do it for my son. If you’re a parent who doesn’t know that much about being in the wilderness, enrolling your kid in boy scouts or an equivalent program is a pretty great way for kids to learn this stuff – and as a parent, if you participate as well, you’l probably end up learning a lot as well.

In the Wilderness

Hi. This is my first post and for whomever out there who’s reading, welcome to my blog.

Lake Powell, Arizona
(I didn’t take this picture, I just pulled it from a stock photo site. It’s really beautiful though.)

I’m an avid outdoorsman who finds himself spending more and more time indoors due to work and family obligations – but I never stop yearning to be in the wilderness, whether I’m camping, hiking, hunting or just taking a stroll. Due to the fact that both my wife and I work, and the fact that I currently have a young child, I find myself spending less and less time doing the thing I love the most in favor in being at home, helping out around the house and taking care of my kid. Obviously being a father is a huge privilege and I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world – on the other hand, I also can’t wait until my son is old enough to come with me on one of my outdoor adventures.

Because I often have to spend so much time in the house these days, I’ve decided to start this blog as an outlet for my passion. Over the next few months and years I hope to share some of my knowledge and experience with whatever audience happens to stop by this small corner of the internet. Through this blog I will attempt to communicate with the world – albeit anonymously – some of my ideas about not only the outdoors, but also the trials and tribulations that I’m going through as a father, as a husband, and as a man. That pretty much means any topic is open for discussion here.

To start of with, I thought I’d just direct you to a couple of sites that I find interesting myself.

One of my favorite adventure/outdoors blogs is at http://www.adventure-journal.com/. The writing is great, but what really gets me is the beautiful pictures of the earth that he posts. The world is just a stunning place, and for those of us who probably won’t ever get to travel it to any great extent, looking at pictures and videos of it is the next best thing. On Adventure Journal, you get to look at places around the world, and I for one am constantly awed by how incredibly beautiful so much of the earth can be.

I’m not only an outdoors kinda guy, I also love taking photos myself, and although I don’t think that my own work is good enough to share, I do spend a good deal of time reading about photography. One of the sites I find most useful is http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/blog/ – I find myself checking back to this site whenever I have a question about photography. It’s a really good resource, and hopefully one day I’ll have learned enough from this site and the many others that I peruse and I’ll be confident enough to share some of my own personal photos with the world.

Hope you enjoyed this first post, and more of this to come.

 

 

 

Kids spend too much time looking at screens

Some mountain in Alaska
Here’s a totally unrelated image of some mountain is Alaska – just because I think it’s beautiful.

I watched the Disney movie Big Hero 6 with my son today. In all honest, I would have preferred to watch Interstellar, but I was overruled by both my kid and his mother – such is life I suppose. I suppose it was alright, but I’m not really a big fan of these animated kids movies – it feels like there are just so many of them and as a Dad I can barely keep up – I feel like I’m watching one of these things every other day at this point. Apparently this movie was based on a comic book of some sort – actually in my own youth I was very much into comic books, but maintaining that kind of hobby with work and family is more or less impossible, and besides, nowadays when I’m free I prefer to spend as much time outdoors as possible.

I feel like kids these days just have too many things to play with that involve screens and just don’t spend enough time outdoors. I remember when I was a kid, even though Video Games already existed, my own parents would always limit the time I could play them – and frankly, all of my best memories from childhood involve hijinks in the playground or in the yard – I don’t have single ‘special’ memory of sitting in front of a screen pressing buttons on a control. I feel like this screens are entertaining when you’re playing with them, but they don’t build lasting memories and I reckon every kid should only spend a limited time looking at a screen – and for my kid, that includes TV time, movies, playing with the Ipad and computer and all of that. I’m not like most parents – I’m not particularly worried about the violence in these games and TV shows – according to science, it doesn’t cause violent behavior and I tend to trust science on these matters – what I am worried about is that my kid grows up and basically has no experiences or memories that he treasures. One of the great things about doing things outside is whether it goes well or goes poorly, more likely than not you’ll end up with a story to tell, and I really believe its these experiences that make us who we are. A kid who grows up playing angry birds or candy crush or whatever game is popular  – he won’t develop any lasting memories, nor will he develop the the skill-set and problem solving abilities that come with being a frequent camper/hiker.

Right now my kid isn’t really old enough to any of this stuff properly, but I can’t wait until he’s grown up a bit so I can take him on a real camping trip – rather than just pitching a tent in the yard and his mother bringing him snacks all night.

Well, this was originally supposed to be a post about Big Hero 6 but I guess I went off on a bit of a tangent there. I must really sound like an old fart with my ‘kids nowadays are so much worse than in my day!’. Never thought I’d end up one of those guys, but I guess that’s the nature of things.

Anyways, signing off now – until next time.