Backpacking on a budget, part one – decisions

Welcome friends.

It’s a nasty stormy spring morning, but my coffee is hot and the power is still on. Since I can’t get out and do anything, you fine folks are stuck with listening to me ramble.

If you know me, or have read my previous posts on the topic, you know that I am looking at getting back into backpacking. I already do car camping with both my family and my Scout troop, and do some limited hiking in the form of Geocaching.

Once upon a time, I was very much into backpacking and lightweight camping. Some of my favorite times growing up were spent in a tent or around a fire, far away from the cares of the world. Just a few friends and some good times.

Now, as I work on getting back into it I find that I need the gear to be able to do the activities safely and within my means (both physical and financial).

That led me to realize that a good inventory of what I already had was in order. After that, I would need to look at what was actually necessary to bring along. Finally I would have to factor in the weight and cost of the various options.

All of these things together are way too much for a single post. That said, I am going to break it down into sections, and look at each one in my weekly post. Here are the ones I have come up with so far.


  • Enough room to carry all my gear, but not so much that it encourages me to bring things I don’t need.
  • Decent ergonomics (a frame of some sort, well padded straps, belt, etc)


  • Lightweight tent or tarp.
  • Bug netting depending on the season
  • Rain gear


  • First aid
  • Emergency supplies
  • Backups for important gear


  • Pots, pans, utensils
  • Stove or other heat source
  • Items for cleanup
  • Methods of starting fire


  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad or hammock
  • Sleepwear


  • At least two methods of purification
  • At least two liters of carrying capacity

Odds and Ends

  • Things that I won’t have looked at elsewhere, a headlamp for instance

That’s my overall list of things to look at. I will likely be posting about the shelter system next week, followed by another section each week until I am done putting my basic gear set together. I will also do reviews of the primary pieces of gear as I acquire them and test them.

In the end I am going to try to build a cost effective, lightweight, and effective pack of gear. We shall see how it all works out.

See you on the trail.

Yarrrr, thar be treasure over there

I grew up in the stone age.

Seriously, just ask my kids.

No internet, it hadn’t been invented yet.

Cable TV was for “them rich folks what lives up on the hill”

We had three channels, plus PBS on a good day.

What I did have was a library full of books and miles of woodlands near my home.

Well, back in these dark ages I used to spend a lot of time in the woods with my friends. One of our favorite games was “Pirate Treasure”.

One of us would go out and find a likely spot to hide some little trinket and mark its location on a map. then the others would go try to find it.

blank pirate map

We had a lot of fun, and needless to say we all got pretty good with a  map an compass. Oh, did I forget to mention I’m older than GPS?

Fast forward more years than I want to think about and you find me, sitting around with my own kids. Kids growing up in a world so different than the one I grew up in. I looked for a way to have fun with them, while connecting them to the world I once grew up in. I found Geocaching.

Now, it may not be exactly the same thing, but its pretty darn close. Especially the part where someone else hides the treasure. Looking around the house I found my old GPS, a birthday gift from many years back. I dusted it off, grabbed a pencil and a flashlight, and we went out and did us a few hunts.


It was fun, lots of fun.

It was a bit on the paperwork side though, since I had the old equipment. Not to worry though, with my GPS enabled smartphone I can simply pull out the iPhone and find a nearby cache whenever!

phone gps

In all seriousness, with my newly rekindled desire to spend time outdoors, especially with my family, this is an awesome activity. Its relatively inexpensive to participate in, lots of fun, and good exercise to boot!

See you in the field.

Why hello midlife crisis, nice to meet you

Hello again.

I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately. I didn’t realize thats what I was doing, but looking back I can see it.

I struggled with things. Video gaming, and how much time I spent on it. Sitting mindlessly in front of the television was another thing. Most of all, I kept thinking back to a simple comment my dad said years ago.

“Is what you are doing today really that important? After all, you are trading a day of your life for it.”

Now, I can’t remember the context of what we are talking about at the time. I do however remember that shortly after that we tossed some sandwiches and sodas in the trunk of the car and headed to the lake to spend the rest of the day fishing.

There is a lot that I do in my life that as I look back really doesn’t matter all that much. Many days that were simply wasted. I don’t regret the things I did on those days as much as I wish I had the time back, so I could spend it doing something else.

It’s almost like I can see the rest of my days as grains of sand in an hourglass, slowly but inexorably draining away.

Apparently this is what A midlife crisis feels like. Awesome.

Some folks reach this point and decide that they are going to try to go back in time. They get themselves a sports car, or a flashy motorcycle, or something of the like. They go out looking to hang with a younger crowd, doing things they once did.

I suppose in a way thats kind of how I’m feeling right now as well.

I have always loved the outdoors. I have camped, fished, hiked, hunted, etc, all my life.

My interest in that had waned in recent years, as work and kids in school and all the other things that make up my daily life took up my time. Now, as he kids get older and life is settling down a bit my interest is back.

It’s back, and stronger than ever.

I expect that over the next little while I will be transforming this site into something that fits more in with that newfound enthusiasm. The Warcraft posts will be copied over to my old Warcraft blog, Dechion’s Place, and deleted from this site.

The “how to” section at the top will no longer be about leveling a Resto Shamen or making gold in the WoW auction house. It will be more about how to do DIY projects for my new activities.

Anyhow, thanks for bearing with me as both the site and the guy behind the keyboard are changing.

A quick post

This is going to be a short one, as it’s mostly a heads up to those that still follow this site.

I’m coming back, I will be posting.

I have also realized that I really need to revamp the site.

That will happen over the course of this week, and there will be new posts coming about new content.

See you soon.

*tosses up “under construction signs”.*


An Oldie, but a Goodie

Good evening folks,

I just figured I would drop by and say hello. I know I havn’t been posting much of late. Sorry about that.

My middle child has reached the milestone of 18, and I have been incredibly busy helping put an 18th birthday party together. Not to mention that summer is beginning and with it a ton of things to do about the house.

Meh, thats not the point.

I was talking to a friend of mine today *waves at Nick* and we chatted briefly about my moderately infamous pulled pork recipe.

SInce it was posted long ago on a now retired blog I figured I would repost it here. Besides, it’s rather fitting for my current mood anyhow.

For the last few years I have been posting things here as opposed to my old WoW blog.

When I started that old site it seemed like I was sitting at the keyboard talking to myself, but I soon realised that was not the case. People stopped by, some may comment, some may not, but they stop in and hear what I have to say.

I was not talking to myself after all.

I was blown away.

Anyhow, as much as I would love to get each and every one of my readers something to enjoy, a present as it sere, it’s a bit beyond my ability to do so. At least I can’t get you anything in a material sense.

All I can offer is a thank you for stopping by, you folks make all the writing worthwhile.

Actually there is one more thing I can offer.

I can give you a recipe for some seriously yummy sammiches.

I hope you like it as much as I do.


Dech’s Crock Pot Pulled Pork Sammiches

Man, I love me some pulled pork sammiches. Just typing this up is going to make me want to go in the kitchen and cook a batch. As a matter of fact, since I needed pictures for the post I decided to make up a batch and take it to work for everyone to enjoy.


The Meat

4 pound pork roast (I like a shoulder roast for this one)

Buy it, put it in the fridge, and get cracking on the other stuff. Don’t’ worry, we’ll get back to it. Whatever you do don’t trim the fat off of it, we need it for flavor. The trimming will come later.


The Rub

1 tablespoon mild paprika (smoked paprika works as well)
1 1/2 teaspoons of hot paprika. (smoked works ok here too)
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (I like sea or kosher for this. Table salt will work in a pinch)

Mix the rub ingredients in a small bowl until blended.

If you like you can scale up the recipe and make a good-sized batch of this, simply store in a mason jar with “Dechs BBQ Rub” written on it with a magic marker.

Actually if you are going to go with the Mason jar idea, make enough to fill it about half way up and then just shake the heck out of it. No need to dirty a bowl. Also, a second lid with holes popped into it makes an excellent shaker for the rub; just remember to put the sealed cap back on for storage.

Now we are going to grab the pork roast out of the fridge, rub this generously on all sides, wrap in aluminum foil (shiny side in) and put it back in the fridge. Leave it at least 8 hours, preferably overnight. I rubbed this one down on a Sunday evening for cooking Tuesday.


The Sauce

We simply have to have sauce, what’s BBQ without sauce? Overcooked meat?

1 cups apple cider vinegar
2/3 cups water
1/3 cup ketchup (I prefer store brand for this)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt (once again, I prefer sea salt or kosher salt here)
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 /2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 /2 teaspoon ground white pepper (if you don’t have it just sub in more black pepper instead)
1 tablespoon liquid smoke

Making the sauce is simple. Put it all in a pan on the stove under low heat and whisk till the brown sugar and salt have dissolved.

Once again making extra is easy; just make sure you store it in a proper container. Once again, a mason jar with “Dechs BBQ Sauce, Use with caution, Shake before use” written on it with a marker is a good choice. In my case I make a batch four times larger and store it in a half-gallon jug I once bought beer in. It just fits if I let it cool off first.


The Slaw

Now this pulled pork is designed t be served with slaw. Like peanut butter and jelly both the pulled pork and the slaw can stand on their own, but they are much better together.

We want slaw, we need veggies. Go ahead and round up:

1 big head of cabbage, finely chopped.
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
2 carrots, grated

Take the chopped veggies and pot them in a mixing bowl, we will get back to them in a minute.

Grab a pan and combine:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil (I suppose you could use regular oil, but I like the olive for this one)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt (same as before for what I prefer)

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until everything is good and dissolved. Pour over the veggies and toss. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, preferably overnight.


The Cookin’

Now we have made are slaw and our sauce. The butt has been sitting at least over night in its rub wrap. It’s time to get busy.

If you are using the oven or you have one of those fancy roaster oven type slow cookers, like a Nesco cooker, that have an actual temperature gauge set it for 325 for about 6 hours. Using a meat thermometer in the center (away from any bones) monitor the temp as it runs up to about 185-190. Once it’s there lower your cooking temp to maintain 170-180 for about three hours.

If you are like me and all you have to work with is a crock pot with high and low settings go with High while using a meat thermometer to let you know when it makes it to 185-190. Once it does, drop it to low and cook for an additional three hours at an internal temp of 170-180. Probably about 6 hours total, but your mileage may vary on that one depending on your crock pot.

Once it has had a few minutes to rest up grab a pair of forks and shred the roast with them. Take any bones or bits of fat you see and give them to the dog, put all the meat into (or back into) your crock pot or Nesco cooker. Add the sauce we made yesterday until it seems right for sammiches (too wet will make the buns soggy). This takes patience to do right, but it’s worth it.

Shred it up good.

Anyhow, put the shredded meat into the slow cooker, stir in the sauce, and heat on low for anywhere from an hour or so to overnight, stirring occasionally.

The Servin’

Take a nice big roll and pile some BBQ on it, add some slaw on top and cover it up. Toss a pickle spear and some chips or fries on the side for an awesome meal.

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does.

I thought I was too old for school?

Those that follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook already know this, but I took a bit of a trip yesterday.

I flew halfway across the country to attend a class for work, which should be fun. Challanging, since it’s a maintenance course for a machine I don’t actually have at my plant yet, but fun.

Just a heads up that it may get really lively here if I have a lot of time to write, and might go completely dark for the next three weeks if i’m buried in classwork.

Time will tell.


The Crazy Train Derailed

I have had some real interesting runs over the last week or so leveling my Pally by tanking LFD content. Last night in SM Cathedral it really took the cake though.

As soon as I zoned in I saw the healer and all three Dps running towards the first pull. They never stopped.

The Hunter was pulling whatever he felt like, tanking it with his bear while the Rogue helped him (guildies from thier tags). The Priest healer was mind controlling one mob at a time trying to tank the place himself while the mage was running about seemingly blasting crap at random.

Usually once I politely ask folks to let me do the pulling they do. If one person is a problem we kick them, or I simply go get another group.

This time I actually stayed, just following that crazy train to see how far into bizzarro world it would go.

They actually made it as far as clearing to the doors to the cathedral itself, clearing all the courtyard trash, only to have the healer mind control someone to pull the boss as soon as the doors were opened.

After watching a boss and about 50 or so trash mobs crush the group I decided I had seen enough for one night and left them to find another poor tank to take my place.

Lets just say it was an interesting run.

Millions of Mosquitoes

For a brief time I thought about shutting down my various sites for the day.

I thought about it, and decided against it.

It’s not that I support SOPA or PIPA or any of the other bits of alphabet soup that will try to chisel away at our freedom of speech. In fact I hate them with passion. Instead I am going to post this about how I addressed the issue as  citizen, and a consumer.

First and foremost, I contacted the offices of both my House and Senate representatives and asked them politely not to endorse the bills. Essentially I outlined that they are bad pieces of legislation and asked them to vote no if they are ever considered.

Then I set about my business for the week, only this time armed with a list of organizations that are pouring money into getting these bills passed.

 It just happens it was time again to order a years supply of contacts from 1-800-Contacts, the company I have dealt with for years. Funny, they are one of the sponsors.

I called them up and let them know it was time to reorder, pointed out that their sponsorship had cost them a regular customer, and took my money elsewhere.

I scroll down the list, making notes, remembering things.

That Harley I have been saving up for? Never going to happen, they just burned that bridge. I’ll just keep riding my old Honda.

I have always been one that is on the fence between Gerber and Leatherman multi-tools. Looks like Leatherman just lost out on that, and I order for my maintenance department as well.

Walt Disney apparently wants me to vacation elsewhere, Wal Mart wants me to shop elsewhere, Sony and Nintendo both really want me to buy an X-Box.

You get the idea.

I have three ways I can address attacks like SOPA and PIPA.

I can write about it, for now at least.

I can hold my elected officials accountable, I tell them what my concerns are, and I vote.

Lastly I can hold those companies that would pay to break the internet by taking my money elsewhere.

You think the tiny little bite I put in these companies is worthless, well maybe your right. I’m little more than a mosquito buzzing around them. Tiny, relatively harmless.

Then again, if you think a mosquito is insignificant, try sleeping in a room with just one.

My friends, there are MILLIONS of us.

Think about it.


You folks have an awesome day. I’ll be back posting about WoW again soon enough.


Thank you

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the guns fell silent across europe. The Great War, or World War One as we were to later call it, had come to a close.

It was decided to mark that date as a reminder of the sacrifices of those who served their country. Today is the ninety-third anniversary of that day. In the United States it is called Veterans Day. In other parts of the world it is known as Armistice day or Remembrance day, but the reasons for the day remain the same. To remember those who had fought for their country.

I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the people, whatever their nationality, who have taken it upon themselves to defend their country, whichever it may be.

In donning the uniform and doing your job you have earned my respect.

Thank you.


Warning: I am out of coffee. This will probably be much more disjointed and rambly than normal.

Yesterday Softi, a longtime twitter friend of mine, and once upon a time WoW blogger went out of her way to set up an account based on US servers. I was (and still am) quite happily looking forward to hanging out a bit while in game.

Seriously, I was just as happy as if one of my long lost classmates or perhaps one of the few old service buddies I still have, would have said they were coming to town.

That got me to thinking a bit about what it means to be a friend.

When you are talking about Johnny from down the road that you went to high school with, or Mary from the cubicle next to yours, even Willie from the service that you have not seen in a decade and you call them friends everyone knows what you are talking about.

Society seems to say you can be friends with folks you rarely speak with and in some cases would not even invite to your home.

There are people who go out of their way to set up pen-pals, friends who by their very nature will likely never meet, and that’s perfectly OK and acceptable.

Why is it when I try explaining to someone who does not spend much time on-line how you can be friends with people you have never actually met I just get funny looks?

How can it be normal to be friends with a pen pal in another country, and yet be somehow twisted and wrong to have met through playing a video game? We are still just writing words back and forth right?

Why is it that people simply can’t understand that you can in fact become friends just chatting, Sitting up late, just hanging out in vent or typing back and forth?

The Internet is a wonderful place, I have gotten to meet lots of interesting people I would likely never have met without it. The only downside is that while the earth has shrunk in terms of communication it is still a pretty big place as far as actually getting somewhere goes.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say, lets raid (insert instance here) tonight and then all get together for lunch tomorrow? How about getting a whole guild together for a cookout?

In a few rare cases it has been known to happen. For example, a couple of guild mates were moving across the country a few years back. They stopped to visit folks in three or four towns along the way, including stopping in mine for a weekend of camping and other offline fun.

I still have pictures of our kids playing together, it was rather surreal.

I know from listening to the Double O podcast (which everyone should be doing) that Opheile took quite the road trip, during which she met up with her co-host Oestrus and much fun was had by both.

I hear over and over about people meeting through online interaction, then meeting offline as well. My brother and his wife met that way years ago.

I suppose the way I see it, a friend is a friend, no matter what media you happen to interact thru.