Saturday, March 30, 2013

Samuel P Taylor State Park - Camping

We needed to get a camping trip without Blue over with. Not the most pleasant way to plan a camping trip but that was the reality. So Saturday morning, we headed out to Samuel P Taylor State Park to see if they had any walk up sites. It was about a 90 minute drive and we intended to hang out on some beach if we couldn't get a campsite and then head home in the evening.

We chose Samuel P Taylor because of the Redwoods that were said to be all over the place and the trails everywhere. The reviews also said the sites were packed together and that seemed to be the case with most of the sites.

When we pulled up, the attendant gave us two choices. One was a non-reservable (Site 45) and the other (Site 31) had been abandoned because someone had gotten ill. Sit 45 was on a rise and was a decent size for a 4-person tent. But it looked directly over another site right next to it and then the road. The other site, I can't remember the number, had a very large group in it so that didn't seem attractive. Site 31 was very small with room for 2 small (maybe 4-person) tents on either end. It was basically connected to Site 32 and divided by only a wooden fence. So the two sites together would be perfect for 2 families to camp together. That actually seemed to be the theme for the entire campground... that you need a couple families or couples to camp together or you're in strangers' spaces. We chose Site 31. There wasn't anyone is Site 32 when we got there and that was nice. No one ever showed up to stay in that site so that was even better!

We got our 3-person tent set up then went for a walk through the Redwoods. Amazing! Just amazing! It was getting to the end of the day by the time we were out there so we didn't get to go too far. Back at the campsite, I kept thinking that it felt like it was going to rain. So eventually I put up my Kelty Noah's Tarp so that our chairs were covered such that we could still sit out by the fire. It did start to drizzly but it was very pleasant! The tree coverage also kept us from getting wet much of the time.

We went into the tent a little earlier than usual because the rain got a little harder. We watched "The Closer," our current series while listening to the rain. After awhile I started to worry that maybe the tent wasn't totally waterproof. I think it actually was waterproof but there was some sagging in the top and touching the mesh. I decided to go out and move the Kelty over the tent just to be safe.

As an aside, we haven't used the 3-person tent (REI Taj) in several years because with the two dogs we needed the REI Kingdom 6 ("Queendom") to have our side and also room to keep the 2 dogs separated. After Cacciatore passed away, we kept using the "Queendom" because Blue, as she got older, needed to wander more. So that tent gave her the space to do that. Without the pups, a) we didn't want to use the tent and not have them with us, b) we just didn't need that space, and c) that site would not likely have been able to handle such a large tent.

Getting the Kelty moved in the dark and drizzle was a little more difficult than I expected. Bozo helped keep it steady and we eventually got it all worked out. With the tent covered and the hour late, we headed off to bed again to sleep in that beautiful rainy sound that I have missed so much since moving from Minnesota!

REI Taj with Kelty Noah's Tarp above
After a good night of rest, we woke up to a little more drizzle, which didn't last long. We mainly lounged by the small fire, walked around the campsite recording site reviews, then packed up and headed out. We stopped at Two Bird Cafe for Easter brunch. I'm not sure how well we fit in with our dirty clothes and smelling like a campfire. But no one gave us a second look so that was good.

Back home relatively early to enjoy our Sunday evening before returning to our weekdays. It was a good and easy camping trip. I wouldn't say that we enjoyed ourselves all that much as it truly was a "get it over with" campout.... being our first without either of the dogs. But it was relaxing to be out in the fresh air around such beautiful trees. Also, the people in the campground were all very quiet with only a couple spurts of music and no loud voices at night. Honestly, that's a first since we moved to Cali. I guess it will get easier but we are still in the stage of not wanting it to be easier... we want Blue back!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Svea 123 - Vintage Compact Backpacking Stove

Svea 123 by twotiredoc
Svea 123, a photo by twotiredoc on Flickr.
Picked up this little gem at a Sierra Club Gear Swap. I bought a cook set that we wanted to take some parts from for our car camping. I opened it up while there and saw something inside but figured I'd examine it more closely when we got home. When I did examine it more closely, turns out it was this Svea 123 compact backpacking stove! I had no idea how to use it so I went to my usual source for instructions... YouTube! Of course there were plenty of videos to help me out. So I followed all the instructions... lit the match... and whouuph... it works! The warning that it sounds like a jet engine was helpful because it certainly was loud compared to my little Whisperlite.

Pretty good deal... for ONE DOLLAR!

For those of you that enjoy this kind of thing, here's the history of the Svea 123 from Wikipedia:
Svea stoves were first made by Nybergs Lödlampfabrik, which also manufactured blowtorches as well as other machinery and equipment. Founded by Carl Nyberg, the firm later became one of the largest industries inSundbybergSweden. In 1922, the business was taken over by Max Sievert, an early associate of Nyberg’s, and renamed Sieverts Lödlampfabrik (later known as Sievert AB). The Svea 123, introduced in 1955, is considered to be the first compact backpacking white gas stove[1] and one of the most popular camping stoves ever made.[2]Its distinctive “roaring” sound has been likened to that of a jet engine at takeoff.[3] In 1969, the Svea brand was acquired by Optimus,[4] another Swedish manufacturer of portable stoves, which has continued production of the Svea 123 to the present day. Because of its simple design[5] and reputation for dependable performance,[6]even under extreme conditions,[7] the Svea 123 enjoys a devoted following.
The popularity of portable camping stoves such as the Svea coincided with the increase during the 1950s and 1960s in the awareness of the environmental impact of backpacking,[8] particularly in heavily-traveled areas,[9] and the rise of the Leave No Trace ethic in the 1970s and 1980s.[10] At the same time, scarcity of fuel in over-used camping areas as well as regulatory requirements (open-fire bans) also contributed to the need for a substitute for open campfires for "wilderness" area cooking.[11] Eventually stoves that were lighter in weight than the Svea, as well as those of other designs that were capable of burning a wider variety of fuels (useful when camping in other parts of the world where white gas is difficult to find) knocked it from its perch as one of the most popular backpacking stoves after nearly 50 years of production.[12]However, the rugged and durable Svea 123—often described by long-time users as "bomb-proof"[13] -- still remains popular and continues in wide use.[14]

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Sly Park Recreation Area Day Trip

Blue is not doing great. Her pulmonary hypertension got much worse and she needed to have pleural fluid removed from both sides of her lungs. Approximately 1 litre (take a look at your 32-oz Nalgene bottle) was taken from her 37-pound body. She's been breathing easier and feeling better since then. Think about how it feel to have a cooler full of water removed from your body and you might understand how she felt. We decided to take advantage of her feeling better and get her into the woods a little. We didn't think she was well enough for camping so we took a day trip up to Sly Park Recreation Area near Pollack Pines, CA.

There's a beautiful lake that is surrounded by campsites and boating services. We went in to check out some of the camping areas and spend a little time breathing in the wooded air. We stopped to use one of the restrooms and ended up parking there to walk around a little. Blue was so excited she started trying to walk around all over the place. We actually had to stop her from over exerting. But it was awesome to see her smelling everything and trying to get down by the water. Dogs aren't allowed in Jenkinson Lake anyway but it was just a little too far for her to get down there on her own.

We found one of our next campsites as well. The Sierra Spur campsite 63, which has a great lake view. Sites 62 and 64 were pretty good too. The lake is close by and there are only a few sites within the spur.