8.21.2019

Rambling Over Coffee: No Camping Road Trips This year - Weddings - And Finally Organizing my Camping Gear and Backpacks


2019 has been a crazy busy year and because the first half of it was spent planning and pulling off a big family wedding, my daughter and I didn't get to make our Girls Road Trip like we usually do in May. Not only that, but most of my 'free' time was spent doing the wedding planning, which was more involved since I was the event coordinator, wedding planner, florist, cake baker... well, everything.  I also had to travel out of a state to help family members a couple times, so even the small solo camping trips I would daydream about weren't happening.

But... I'm always prepared.

One of the items that is important to me is that I have a backpack ready to go camping/hiking at all times.

I actually have two and in the past year or so, it's been in the back of my mind that I'd like to have them both outfitted with the same items so I could grab either one for a spur of the moment camping trip and know they were both 'good to go'.  Also, because if my daughter had 2 days off in a row and could come with, I'd have two packs ready to go, fully stocked, with items I knew I liked and used.  (Previously I kept one fully packed for 'me' and the second was similar, but was more of an accompaniment to my pack so a 2nd person could come with me and we would have to share some items or the 2nd person just didn't 'need' to have it in the pack as we would only need one between us.)  

But my long-term goal has been to have BOTH PACKS outfitted the same so I could grab either one 'to go' or a second person could use the 2nd pack and I knew it had exactly the same items as mine.

Last week I took both packs out of the closet, emptied them and laid out the contents in the office.  Although both packs were similar, they weren't (aren't) where I wanted them to be.  

Over the years I've tried a few different brands or styles of things and some things I have two or three of; others I only have one.  They've stopped making them, or they were too expensive for me to buy two or three of at the time (2 for my camping backpacks and I also have my 'bug out' emergency bag as well as having a get home bag in each of our family members cars with some basics for being stranded on the roads and making their way home due to ice storms, etc. which has happened twice since we've lived here!)

Everyone has different items they need/want/use.  Different skill sets. Different personalities. Different regions of the country where they live to affect what they need. Different styles of 'camping' they do. Every pack will have similar items that are essentials, but you need to pack your bag with items YOU know you will use, need and/or want.

Some of the items were packed in bins in the garage because after our last big trip hiking and camping throughout Arizona, New Mexico and Arkansas, I was exhausted when we arrived home and I HATE unpacking but it MUST be done so I simply packed most of it away in the camping bins in the garage... intending to go through it all 'later'.

Now is apparently later.

So this week I laid out everything, took inventory, and decided what I still needed to buy a 'second' of, what I didn't want in our packs, what I wanted but didn't have yet... and then packed everything back up. 

I was sick of the clutter in my office so I packed everything into the bins, packed the freeze dried food away in my case I keep just for freeze dried meals for camping... and put the empty packs in the closet.

I've started to purchase some of the items I want to have 'double' of so each pack has it's own.  I have a list to purchase online as my budget and time allows.  I'm feeling pretty good about my plan of action.

The camping bins mostly hold items for 'car camping' or extras of items; while I want the packs to be 'grab and go' for when I am not with my car or have the car to supplement that particular trip.




My office is now cleaned up again.  Bins are packed and ready to be taken to the garage again.
My packs are in the in the closet.
My 'inventory' made.
My 'need to purchase one more of those' list is made.

And I hoping I'll be doing a small 1-2 night camp within the next couple weeks (it's 100 degrees, literally, right now so waiting a couple weeks should bring the temps down to high 80's or low 90's) and I'm considering planning a road trip for October...  waiting to see what life throws at me first before I get too excited.




Enough chit chat for now - I've got things to get done.  Don't mind me.... it's just the coffee talking again.

 __________________________


 

*One of my packs that is still available to buy is the Kelty Redwing 50.  I have the black one and bought mine from Dick's Sporting Goods a few years ago, but I really (really) love this blue one I found on Amazon better;




 






Welp, that blog post turned out to be nothing like what I composed in my head while I was doing dishes!




Rambling over morning coffee.....

When you are in the middle of doing a task like washing dishes, driving, taking a shower or even laying in bed in the middle of the night, awake and just thinking, your brain can compose some really awesome blog posts!  But when you get a chance to actually sit down to write them, it's amazing how little time you have, or you've lost that heated spark that you had when you originally thought of the topic or you just simply have 4 minutes to blog about something you wanted an hour to cover.

I've even uploaded photos hoping that it would save time and spur me to write the post 'later' but alas, those poor draft posts sit unloved and frankly... forgotten.  Sometimes I go back to see a photo of something in my files and wonder why I took it!  Ha.

I have nothing pressing this morning to discuss...  but I'm smiling at all the draft files and photos I have in my 'coffee' file folder.  Things I was pretty excited about reviewing or posting when I took them but now, it just seems like too much work to try to generate excitement in my brain for whatever it was at the time.

Life.

You know how it goes.




8.20.2019

Showing my support for: The Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico


https://bataanmarch.com/




26 MILES OF HIGH DESERT, 26 MILES OF PURE PERSEVERANCE

The Bataan Memorial Death March is a challenging march through the high desert terrain of the White Sands Missile Range. The memorial march is conducted in honor of the heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II, sacrificing their freedom, health, and, in many cases, their very lives.




The Bataan Death March: April 9, 1942

During World War II, on April 9, 1942, 75,000 United States soldiers and Filipino soldiers were surrendered to Japanese forces after months of battling in extreme-climate conditions. The U.S. soldiers were from the multiple branches of the U.S. military: Army, Army Air Corps, Navy, and Marines. Among those seized were members of the 200th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard.

Soon after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japanese forces began the invasion of the Philippines. The capture of the  Philippines was crucial to the Japanese. It would bring them one step closer to the control of the Southwest Pacific. The Philippines were just as important to the U.S. Having troops in the Philippines gave the U.S. footing in the Southwest Pacific. After the invasion of the Philippines, U.S.-Filipino troops defended the crucial lands.

These brave soldiers were responsible for the defense of the islands of Luzon, Corregidor, and the harbor-defense forts of the Philippines. They fought in a malaria-infested region, and survived on little portions of food. Some lived off of half or quarter rations. The soldiers lacked medical attention. U.S. medics did what they could to help their fellow soldiers. They fought with outdated equipment and virtually no air power. 

The soldiers retreated to the Philippine Peninsula when Japanese forces were reinforced and overwhelmed the U.S.-Filipino soldiers. 

On April 9, 1942, the U.S. and Filipino soldiers surrendered after seven months of battle combined with exposure to the extreme elements, disease, and lack of vital supplies. The tens of thousands of U.S. and Filipino soldiers were forced to become prisoners of war to the Japanese. The soldiers faced horrifying conditions and treatment as POWs. 

The soldiers were deprived of food, water, and medical attention, and were forced to march 65 miles to confinement camps throughout the Philippines. 

The captive soldiers were marched for days, approximately 65 miles through the scorching jungles of the Philippines. Thousands died. Those who survived faced the hardships of prisoner of war camps and the brutality of their Japanese captors.

The POWs would not see freedom until 1945 when U.S.-Filipino forces recaptured the lost territory.
In 1945, U.S.-Filipino forces recaptured the Philippines and freed the captive soldiers who were suffering in the confinement camps. These soldiers would be impacted by the poor conditions of the camps and the mistreatment by their Japanese captors. About one-third of the prisoners died from health complications after they were freed.

Others were wounded or killed when unmarked enemy ships transporting prisoners of war to Japan were sunk by U.S. air and naval forces.

During the Bataan Death March, approximately 10,000 men died. Of these men, 1,000 were American and 9,000 were Filipino. 

This had a huge impact on New Mexico families. Of the 1,816 200th and 515th Coast Artillery men identified, 829 men were to never return home, losing their lives in battle, in prisons, or after liberation.

World War II, the bloodiest war in history, claimed 60 million lives and ended on September 2, 1945. 



 ________________________________


The Bataan Memorial Death March: 1989 to Present

BBoBThe Army ROTC Department at New Mexico State University began sponsoring the Bataan Memorial Death March in 1989. The memorial march was to mark a page in history that included many native sons and affected many families in the state. In 1992, White Sands Missile Range and the New Mexico National Guard joined in the sponsorship and the event was moved to the White Sands Missile Range.

In 2003, for the only time in its history, the Bataan Memorial Death March was canceled. Operation Iraqi Freedom required extensive deployment among the units who usually support the march and event, which could not be safely and efficiently conducted.

Since its inception, the Bataan Memorial Death March’s participation has grown from about 100 to about 8,000 marchers. These marchers come from across the United States and several foreign countries. While still primarily a military event, many civilians choose to participate in the challenging march. Participants get to choose between two courses: a 14.2-mile route and a 26.2-mile route. 

Marchers participate in the Bataan Memorial Death March for many reasons: personal challenge, the spirit of competition, or to foster esprit de corps in their unit. Some march in honor of a family member or a particular veteran who was in the Bataan Death March or who was taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese in the Philippines.

8.12.2019

What to do with a dead Goal Zero - Yeti 150 power bank - hint: replace the battery


https://amzn.to/2yVSdLr


Years ago  I decided to invest in a solar panel and a power source that I could use for camping, car trips and power outages as well as helping out my ongoing emergency preps.  My needs were; something that could power a laptop, recharge my cell phones and run a small light source.  My research led me to the Goal Zero products, which were 'new' and pretty darn exciting back then.

Some background story while I sip my coffee... skip this part if you wish.

I opted for the small Escape 150 (which is no longer made or available) as well as the Goal Zero solar panels to recharge it and invest in a lamp/lantern that plugged into the Escape 150. 
The Escape 150's had a lot of problems.  I ended up with a third Escape 150 before I got one that actually worked. I got to actually use the final Escape 150 just twice, really.  I charged the laptop from it once on a cross country car trip and I used it to power a light in the tent for two hours while camping one night.  Other than that I would keep charging it every 3 months as they suggested at the time but it was dead within 6 months. 
I couldn't bring myself to get rid of it so I kept it and forgot about it... and was kind of pissed that I now had Goal Zero solar panels that were worthless because they carefully made sure their panels couldn't use used with anything but their own products.
 A few years later I pulled out the Escape 150 and took the time to see if I could do anything to fix it.  

Looking online, I found I could replace the battery inside it. I searched for the right battery that would work, ordered one, and proceeded to try to replace it but because of the shape of the Escape 150 it was a difficult job.  It was SUCH a tight fit that absolutely would not fit over the battery.  Many online said they got theirs to fit, others had to file down the corners of the battery to get it to slide in.   We are talking a millimeters here - 1 or 2 mm made a difference!  And my Escape would NOT allow the replacement battery.  I was 'over it' and wasn't going to bother filing the battery down or ordering another. 



End of background story.....



Life was FAR too busy at the time to deal with this stuff so I put it away (again) and forgot about it.

Seeing my Goal Zero solar panels unable to be used was frustrating.  I knew that I ultimately needed to just invest in another of their power banks in order to get use of out of them (because I am NOT comfortable in my skill level of jury-rigging the Goal Zero power cord to work with other brand items - I researched how to and said 'nope, not happening').

In the end - skipping all the details that aren't too important at this point, is that I threw out a broken and useless and antiquated Escape 150 and bought the newer re-made and updated version of the Escape... the Yeti 150.


https://amzn.to/2yVSdLr

I bought mine a couple weeks ago (in the summer of 2019 for future reference).   And sure enough, it was a repeat of the Escape 'dead and won't take a charge' issues.

The Yeti 150 showed up DEAD on arrival.  I emailed their customer service along with photos showing the item was dead when it arrived and would not even take a charge.  "Andrew" answered my email and informed me I needed to print off a return label, ship the Goal Zero Yeti 150 back to them and they would try to find another one in the warehouse to send me.

I jumped through the hoops, did as requested, drove 10 miles into town to a shipping location to send it to them and... waited.  Andrew didn't get back to me so I followed up again only to find out the person in the warehouse was 'out' so they were going to look for another one for me.

Andrew told me in the last email, if they couldn't find another one to replace mine (they were apparently discontinuing them and weren't going to carry them anymore) then he would 'start the refund process'.

They found one.  They sent it. It too was dead on arrival. And it would not take a charge.

The entire panel was blank and plugging it into the wall would not recharge it.



So I emailed Andrew again and sent photos.  I asked him to send a return label and I'd return it, and we could start the refund process.




And I never heard back from him.

I followed up with another email and then, over the next few days, 2 more.  I requested the return label all 4 times and wished to start the refund process he told me we would start if this one didn't work.

And then he completely ignored all correspondence.

I was slated to leave town for a week on vacation and would be 'off the grid'.  So at that point I was doing to deal with it when I got home.

But then I had a brainstorm.

The Yeti 150 was an updated version to the Escape 150 and I had a battery in the closet I had purchased for the Escape.  It just might fit the Yeti 150 as well!
  
What to do with a dead Goal Zero
Yeti 150 power bank
hint: replace the battery


  • I pulled the small Mighty Max battery (12v 15AH) out of the closet.  
  • I removed the screws on the top of the Yeti 150 and lifted the cover off.
  • Pulling the red and black connectors off the battery pack (one was easy and the other was so tight I had my husband help pull that one off), I removed the dead battery that came in the Goal Zero Yeti 150.
  • Laying the new battery in place I reconnected the black and red wires to the corresponding colors.
  • Replaced the lid, screwed the screws back in and... WE HAVE POWER!

The panel showed the battery level and power.
Plugging the Yeti 150 into the wall it responded perfectly and gave me a full charge.

I was able to use the Yeti to charge a cellphone with no issues at all!

In the end, I'm not impressed with the large, well known company that employs 'Andrew' who completely ignored my emails (I've been a customer of theirs since 2011) but I am happy I was able to find a 'fix' to use the product, with no help from them and with no additional cost on my part as I already owned the $35-ish battery I needed to replace the Yeti 150.

In the end I'm thrilled I can once again use my solar panels, I can use the Goal Zero lantern and I have an item I can take camping with me to recharge my cellphone and other small items.

I'm just... happy.  I love the product (when it works!) and am thrilled I know that I can buy a replacement battery (I bought mine from Amazon and I'll link to it, but you might be able to find them where you live too.  I'm not sure since I order my security system and Yeti batteries online from Amazon myself). 


Thrilled with it now that it works!

https://amzn.to/2yVSdLr


This is the battery I bought on Amazon to replace my Escape 150 but also was the right size for the Yeti 150.




Mighty Max Battery 12V 15AH F2 SLA Battery for Goal Zero Escape 150 Power Pack Brand Product

  • ML15-12 SLA is a 12V 15AH Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) rechargeable maintenance free battery.
  • Dimensions: 5.94 inches x 3.89 inches x 3.95 inches. Terminal: F2. Listing is for the Battery only. No wire harness or mounting accessories included.
  • SLA / AGM spill proof battery has a characteristic of high discharge rate, wide operating temperatures, long service life and deep discharge recover.
  • Rechargeable battery that can be mounted in any position, resists shocks and vibration. Long lasting high performance in high and low temperatures.
  • Backed by a 30 day refund policy and full 1 year warranty.


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You might also be interested in the products related to this post available  through Amazon:



Goal Zero Yeti 150






Mighty Max Battery 12V 15AH F2 SLA Battery for Goal Zero Escape 150 Power Pack Brand Product



Goal Zero Boulder 50 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel

8.11.2019

Rambling Over Coffee: Those peanut butter rice krispy bars from elementary school



This morning I was sipping my hot coffee and checking emails when I suddenly remembered, for no reason whatsoever really, the peanut butter krispy treats one of my elementary schools used to serve.

As a child my mother would attempt to make krispy treats, but she always made them rock hard.  (It was that she 'cooked' the marshmallows instead of just melting them.  She still does it to this day, decades later, even though she's been shown numerous times how to make them and even simply use the microwave to melt them... she still overcooks them.)  So I grew up eating regular (albeit hard) rice krispy treats but it was when I started a new school that I discovered something different.

Peanut butter krispy treats.

We moved to a new city when I started first grade.  A new city, a new school, a new school lunch program with different menu ideas.

I recall the sliced bread and butter we got with lunch in that school;  they didn't spread butter on the slices.  The bread was all drizzled with melted, real butter and served from a large tray.

On days we were served chicken noodle soup it always came with the option of a cheese sandwich.  I had never had American cheese before and I remember how I loved (loved loved loved) those cheese sandwiches with thick American cheese between the bread.  I would smoosh it and rip off small pieces and put them into my soup, scooping them out in spoonfuls.

Another item they served that I had never had before was batter fried fish.  I loved it!  A far cry from the fish sticks I had known at home.

But then, one day, I bit into what I thought was a rice krispy bar and found it was new and different.  It was peanut butter flavored!

And to this day that is a memory that I still have; those peanut butter krispy treats from Holy Family Catholic School.  Nothing I'd had before, nothing my mother had ever made and not an item any other school after that served, as they only served the regular marshmallow version. 


I only attended that 'peanut butter krispy treat' school for 1 1/2 years before we relocated again.  But my next school?  Even better!  It was a small Catholic school that literally was KNOWN for it's awesome foods.  When I met my husband later on in life, he was from a town about 20 miles away and he said our school lunches were even known in HIS school...  everyone in surrounding towns knew about how good our school lunches were.

They even added a 'school lunch' recipe section in our church cookbook because they were always getting asked for their recipes.

Their pizza burgers.  The schools homemade pizza. The hamburger gravy on mashed potatoes.

All their foods were homemade by an older woman who was 'head cook' and back then not only did the government not meddle in school foods as much, but it was a private, Catholic school, not funded by the government so they had free reign on what they served.  And we had amazing foods.

A quick version is made by simply adapting the traditional Kellogg's Rice Krispie Bars with peanut butter - and it will do just fine - but it's not the recipe my old school lunch ladies made.

This one comes from source:  https://www.ricekrispies.com/en_US/recipes/peanut-butter-treats-recipe.html

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz., about 40) JET-PUFFED Marshmallows
or 4 cups JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows
1/2 cup peanut butter
6 cups Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® cereal
In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter until melted.

Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated.

Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.
MICROWAVE DIRECTIONS:
In microwave-safe bowl heat butter and marshmallows on HIGH for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Add peanut butter, stirring until combined. Follow steps 2 and 3 above. Microwave cooking times may vary.


Note

For best results, use fresh marshmallows.
1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème can be substituted for marshmallows.
Diet, reduced calorie or tub margarine is not recommended.
Store no more than two days at room temperature in airtight container. To freeze, place in layers separated by wax paper in airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 weeks. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.




A version more like the style of peanut butter krispy bars served in school lunch rooms all across America were made with corn syrup, not marshmallows.  Still fairly simple, I used a version of this recipe to make 'kids cookies' for my kids when they were little (before we gave up sugar in 2003).  You can replace the Rice Krispies with corn flakes, or a mixture of cereals like Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Cheerios and Rice Chex's.  I used to 'use up' the last of the breakfast cereals to make these as no one ever wants to use that last 1/2 cup of cereal in the bag.  I'd just grab enough cereals to make about 6 cups worth and make these bars.

These are not the exact ones my school used to serve but they are good... and good enough.

Peanut Butter Krispy Treats


1 c sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
6 c Rice Krispies
1 1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c butterscotch chips

Heat sugar and syrup to a slow boil, remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Pour over the cereal in a bowl and mix quickly and well.  Press into a greased/sprayed jelly roll pan (the larger pan gives a nice sized bar but you can use a 9X13 and the bars will be a bit thicker).  Set aside while you melt chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a bowl in the microwave, stirring often.  You can add another tablespoon of peanut butter to the 'frosting' as well if you wish.  Spread over the bars and let harden.  Yes, you can speed the process by putting them in the refrigerator.



It's just the coffee talking again.......



___________________


You might be interested in these related products available through Amazon;


     







It's Just the Coffee Talking.... gun control? What about implementing a minimum age requirement.






I don't support government gun control but I absolutely, 100% would support a minimum age requirement.  Minimum 25 years old to purchase guns?  Yeah, I could get behind that.


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