Pump House Fire

After they got the flames out

After they got the flames out

Whenever it gets below 13 degrees here, which is very rare, the contacts on our pump shrink and we lose water.  Ron has to go out and push the contacts together and it’s usually fine.

It did get down to 4 last night.  And this morning we had no water.  So Ron went out to push the contacts together.  He apparently touched the wrong thing and it sparked, then a fire started.

Huge orange flames were shooting up and I was terrified it would get into the woods.  But the fire department got here before it had time to spread.  Thank God!

So now we have no water and no pump.  I have a call in to my insurance agent.

We do have some water stored and Ron is going to Walmart to get more drinking water so we will be fine.  But no laundry or showers for a while.

Playing with Fire & Primitive Skills

My first DIY backpacking stove, built around 2001 or 2002

As much as I dearly love camping in the Casita, at times I truly miss backpacking and primitive camping.

The Pocket Rocket. (image from Amazon)

I’ve enjoyed making a lot of stoves over the years, from hobo stoves to tuna can stoves to various alcohol stoves.

I fell out of love with alcohol stoves while hiking back in 2003 when I was caught in a surprise snowstorm.  The wind was whipping, I was freezing, and was trying to get water to boil for hot chocolate.  Normally 3/4 ounce of alcohol would bring my little .7 liter titanium pot full of water to a rolling boil in 5 or 6 minutes.  But since I didn’t have a decent windscreen for my stove, I used up 4 ounces of my precious alcohol fuel and the water was nowhere near boiling.

A couple of days later I stopped into an outfitter’s and bought a Pocket Rocket stove… and it’s jet-like blast of high pressure isobutane fuel assured me of boiling water on demand.

But I hated having to worry about where I’d be able to find my next (expensive) canister of fuel.

Solo Stove — wood burning gasifier hiking stove (image from Amazon)

I was lurking at a hiking forum the other day, vicariously reliving the good old days, when I saw a new-to-me hiking stove mentioned.  It’s heavy for a backpacking stove — 9 ounces.  BUT you need NO FUEL since it burns sticks and twigs.  And in the East, that means a limitless amount of fuel is always available — free!  (Add an Esbit tablet, piece of wax, or Wet Tinder to get wet wood going.)  It has a fire grate up above a solid stainless steel bottom so you don’t leave any trace of your fire on the ground.  And it burns so completely that all that is left is white ash.

So I’ve got the Solo Stove in my Amazon cart…. until I can talk some sense into myself and delete it as the unnecessary item it is.  But man!  What a COOL TOY!!!!

And remembering the stoves and how much fun I had with them reminded me of all the fun

Primitive bread (like chapitas) with no yeast and no oven.

I had learning to do primitive cooking over coals.

Cooking directly over a fire gives you very little control over the heat — and it coats your pots and pans with a nasty layer of soot.  But I learned that if I built a small fire and let it burn until I got a good bed of coals, then moved the fire over with a couple of sticks exposing the coals, that I had a perfect outdoor “stove.”  A pan placed in the center of the coal bed would get very hot and quickly bring water to a furious boil.  Move the pot out from the center and I’d have medium heat.  And if I wanted a simmer, I just moved my pot to the edge of the coals.  And when you cook on coals instead of over fire, you get NO SOOT on your pan!

The first oyster mushrooms I found on our property

Thinking about all the fun Ron and I had building campfires and cooking over them naturally led to reminiscing about our adventures with wild edibles.  I got interested in studying wild foods in the late 1990’s.  It took a few years to become proficient at being able to make decent meals from foraged ingredients.

Then I started getting bored with roots and veggies, nuts and berries, so decided that wild mushrooms would add a nice touch to my wild meals.  So I plunged into intensive mushroom study.  I was very fortunate in that David Fischer, author of Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America, was extremely approachable by email and cheerfully helped me positively identify photos of my earlier finds before I dared to eat them.

Chanterelles found in the Talladega National Forest

I used to like to hike out into a national forest with no food except salt, sugar, coffee, tea and a small bottle of olive oil, and eat only what I could forage.  The first day was always a little scary, but after that I would just keep finding good things to eat so the problem would be to not gather so much that it would be wasted. (Except in winter, of course.  I would starve to death then!)

There were also experiments with all kinds of primitive shelter building.  My most elaborate was a wickiup, pictured here partially built.  Since I didn’t have good thatching material on our property, I cheated and bought hay.  😀

Wickiup building in progress

I think that what has made all of those experiences resurge in my memory is the knowledge that, due to health problems, I won’t ever be able to backpack again.  I guess that’s something everyone has to come to grips with as they age.  Some of the good times are forever gone.

But it has reminded me that even if I can’t climb mountains or backpack anymore, I can still get out, build a campfire, and relish the satisfaction of being self-sufficient enough to cook without all the modern trappings of society.

And, in doing so, to capture a little of what our ancestors must have felt as they went about their daily affairs.

(NOTE:  Since this subject is so special to me, I am re-posting this as a permanent page so that it won’t disappear into my blog’s archives.)

Coffins Floating in Suwannee County

Coffins floating out of the ground in Suwannee County, FL

I talked with Mom today.  The roads to town are still flooded from Tropical Storm Debby.  Very fortunately, my family in Florida always keep a hurricane pantry stocked with essentials to tide them over times like this.

A couple of days ago, several coffins were discovered floating.

Here’s what the Suwannee Democrat said about it:

The recent floods have also caused several coffins to emerge from the ground.

It’s hard to see in this tiny photo from a news video, but it’s another shot of floating coffins.

Suwannee County Sheriff Tony Cameron said search teams were sent out to retrieve the coffins once SCSO was notified they were floating in the flood waters.

Once collected, the coffins were taken back to the funeral home, though Sheriff Cameron did not want to specify details out of respect for the families.

The funeral home is collecting the coffins and will re-bury them when the water goes down enough.

So right now we have Americans dealing with unprecedented heat, devastating fires, the effects of the fantastic winds of a super derecho… and back home in north central Florida, epic flooding.

Indian Springs State Park, GA

Our site at Indian Springs State Park

Our site at Indian Springs State Park

Our little Aliner is parked at Indian Springs State Park in Middle Georgia tonight.  It’s a gorgeous place.  There are very few campers here, so it is peaceful and very private.

Turning off I-75 onto Highway 42 felt like entering another world.   It’s a curving, two lane, very rural road still sporting autumn colored scenery, with several cattle operations along the way.

behind our site

Our back yard

We built a camp fire, and Ron grilled burgers.  As we were sitting around the fire after dark, Ron remarked, “This is real camping!”  It couldn’t have been a more relaxed and satisfying camping experience.

There is so much here to explore, but unfortunately we don’t have time to check out the Creek Indian museum, the springs, or any of the other beautiful sights.  We definitely plan on coming back when we can spend more time.

view from our deck

View from our deck

at the park entrance

At the park entrance

Ron gathering kindling

Ron gathering kindling with Sunny supervising

Ron preparing kindling

Ron preparing the kindling

me starting the fire

Me starting the fire. I was prepared with LOTS of paper towels!

got the fire going

I got the fire going!

Ron grilling burgers

Ron grilling burgers

We did discover that this is the oldest state park in the country.  Amazing that it is still so unspoiled.

Oh… I did want to mention the camp host.  He is probably the friendliest and most helpful camp host I’ve ever run into.  His name is Dick.  I’m curious to find out if he is here year round or not.  He seemed genuinely disappointed to hear that we were only staying one night.

 

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