Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Brings a (quelle surprise!) Camping Trip

With a large son watching the house, Mrs Elliott and I are taking off for a camping trip in a couple of days.

This will be a longer camping trip than we've taken before.

We plan to head in an easterly direction, bearing toward Redfish Lake in Idaho, and though we don't care whether we make the destination or just find a sweet spot along a river or lake or meadow and decide to just park there, I know that we need to be prepared for (a) very hot weather and (2) mosquitoes.

I drove to Home Depot this morning (they open at 7 a.m. -- "man stores" open early), then Target, Big R (Redmond), and then the Columbia Sportswear Outlet. I was hunting campin' necessities and tackle.

Back home, I treated our outerwear with permethrin, a mosquito and tick repellent that, when applied to clothing and allowed to dry, stops mozzies in their tracks.

(Funny story: two weekends ago I was hiking in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness area and I encountered fewer than a dozen mosquitoes; I wasn't bitten once. In the evenings, when the mozzies were feeding, I wore permethrin-treated clothes: a hat, a bandana, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants; and a little DEET on the neck and wrists and face. So last week, on First Friday Art Walk downtown we ran into someone who told us that they knew two people who, as it turns out, were in the same area on exactly the same days I was, and that they were "eaten alive" by mozzies. So I know that permethrin works and it works big time.)

Wet, the stuff is nasty: it's an insecticide, and is toxic to mammals, including us primates, but dry it looks to be harmless [at least when compared with West Nile disease -- Ed.]. 

If you buy permethrin spray in the camping department of your basic Walmart or REI, it's expensive: one can with enough of the stuff to do one outfit costs $7.

So at Big R I picked up some concentrate, the stuff sold for livestock use. It's a 10% concentration (the spray sold to campers is 0.5%) so I diluted the stuff to 0.7% and dunked our "evening wear"in it.

It's smelly (essence of Raid) and one needs to wear rubber gloves when handling the wet solution. But when dry it is odor-free. It says here.

Hung the clothing on a line in the backyard, let it all dry out (cotton takes ages to dry), and we now have seriously anti-mozzie toggery.

I bought a spray bottle we can use to keep cool with by spraying each other with water while driving. The van does not have air conditioning, and we learned from last year's trip down to East Park Reservoir (a camping trip with elder stepson and his redneck friends at one of their favorite "loud engine" rowdy places, it's south of Redding--a hellishly-hot part of the world) that simply spritzing each other with water while driving was perfectly sufficient for keeping cool. I expect the drive to Idaho to be hot hot hot, so this should help help help.

From Target I snagged some C9 underdrawers (on sale) that are far more comfortable than cotton in hot and damp climate.

For the van (1984 VW "Westfalia" poptop camper) I'm a gonna bring some additional spare mechanical parts: When I was driving back from a summer trip two years ago (H. Bruce Miller and I rented a cabin at Flathead Lake in Montana for fishin' and kayakin') I encountered hot hot weather and drove some nasty long long steep desert passes and the engine in the van cut out every couple minutes, for several seconds (causing High Anxiety) repeatedly (but dependably). I was unable to determine the cause, but high temps and long climbs both seem to be required to make this happen.

So this time I am bringing a spare engine Electronic Control Unit, a spare ignition coil, and hoping to get my hands on a spare Hall-effect sensor for the distributor, as all three of these are apparently susceptible to "heat soak," i.e., failure under high temperature.

I'll keep those on hand and if the hot-weather behavior reoccurs, I'll start changing out parts.

Mrs Elliott-specific gear which needed to be added: a banana lounger for lounging on the ground, an inflatable air mattress for lounging on the water, and a hammock for lounging between trees. Get the picture of what camping with Mrs Elliott is like?

Me, I like tinkering with camping gear, reading, looking at maps, and cooking. Maybe catch a trout. Cook 'em if I got 'em.

Her? She likes napping when we camp. 

Which is fine, I do like her company, and Happy Wife, Happy Life!


  1. What's with the wife-beater T-shirt, Jack? People are going to think you're an Eastsider.

  2. And is there some way you can make the Captcha thing less hard to read? I had to try three times to get past it on the last comment. Jeez!

  3. The wife-beater T-shirt's part of my writin' outfit.

    Eastsiders sport hoodies in cold weather, while in warm they like the Larry the Cable Guy look: shirts with the sleeves cut off. To better show off their pink hamlike upper arms, I reckon.


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