Rural Lifestyle Blog

Life in Rural America

Category: Hiking and Camping

Hiking and Camping

Giving back to the community

angelina river jasper texasHow often do you give something back to your community? The other day I was watching one of those Law and Order shows on TV. Someone on the show made and interesting statement, it went something like this – “the same people that dodge military service, usually dodge jury duty.” I don’t know if that statement is true and correct, but it does bring out a sub-culture of American citizens that do not serve their nation in any shape, form, or fashion.

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Real Map VS Electronic Map

Which do you prefer, a real map or a electronic map? Call me old school, call me old fashioned, call me out of date, or even not keeping up with the times – but give me a real map over an electronic map any day. Heck, I’ll even take a hand drawn map over an electronic map.

Ok, so why the hatred for electronic maps? Its not that I “hate” electronic maps, there are just too many points of failure.

Electronic Maps

Lets take a GPS and has a built in map feature:

  • Require to batteries.
  • May not work well without clear view of the sky.
  • GPS satellites are under government control, and can be turned off at anytime.

I dont know about you, but sometimes I go hiking / camping in places that have a dense tree canopy, which can block the GPS signal. My GPS is a Garmin Etrex. Its a fairly inexpensive model, and a fairly old model – but it gets the job done (most of the time.) Continue Reading….

Summer is almost over

As Labor Day approaches, this marks a good time to reflect over the past summer. Overall, the summer of 2010 was a great summer – my dad gave me a boat a few months ago, so a lot of time was spent on the river fishing and camping. My wife and I got to go fishing a couple of times. Being sick for the first 2 weeks in August was no fun, but I’am felling a lot better now – except for a slight residual headache. With all Texas summers, the heat has terrible.

Labor day plans include a bar-b-q with a brisket, maybe some ribs, chicken, sausage, ranch style beans and whatever else I can fit on the grill.

After Labor Day focus is going to shift a little more towards hunting. My kids and I might head out to the deer lease to check the stands and feeders out. Continue Reading….

Personal hygiene kits

Years ago my buddies and I used to go camping along the salt marshes of southeast Texas – Bridge City and Orangefield, Texas. We would load up the boat with our ALICE packs, and head out for a weekend of adventures and exploring. One thing about those bayous and low lying areas, there is a plentiful supply of mud, and a short supply of fresh water. Its one of those situations where you bring plenty of water, some canteens and a good water filter.

This is a description of my personal hygiene kit. Personal hygiene is one of the topics that I take into consideration everyday. I wear contacts – everytime I put my contacts in, I think about if my hands are clean or not. Having infected eyes is no fun. If an eye infection can be prevented by washing my hands before I put the contacts in, then it needs to be done. My daily routine is – get up, shower, put contacts in – that way my hands are clean from the shower.

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Maxpedition water bottle holder and mini rollypoly

Need to carry plenty of water on that pack of yours? Looking for a way to carry 32 ounce water bottles instead of canteens? While looking for a water bottle option for my Maxpedition Vulture-II, I came across the Maxpedition water bottle holder and the Maxpedition mini rollypoly dump pouch.

The water bottle holder is just that – its a padded pouch that is designed to hold a standard 32 ounce water bottle.

This is some information from the Maxpedition website:

Water bottle holder

The water bottle holder has webbing on 4 sides – 1 side to attach it to the pack, then webbing on the 3 other sides. The zipper closure makes sure that the pouch stays closed. I like the extra webbing so you can attach a couple of smaller pouches to the outside of the water bottle holder.

The 10” x 4” Bottle Holder is designed to fit a 32oz / 1L Nalgene bottle (sold separately) or similarly sized containers.

Product Features

* Main compartment: 10” high x 4” diameter, padded, with drainage grommet
* Frontal: 6” x 3” x 1.5” with elastic retention
* PALS attachment webbing: Front and sides
* Attachment1: D-rings for optional shoulder strap
* Attachment2: 5″ TacTie™ (sold separately)
* Attachment3: Keyper quick release hook on back
* Available colors: Black, OD Green, Khaki, Foliage Green

Product Materials

* 1000-Denier water and abrasion resistant light-weight ballistic nylon fabric
* Teflon® fabric protector for grime resistance and easy maintenance
* high strength zippers and zipper tracks
* UTX-Duraflex nylon buckles for low sound closures
* Triple polyurethane coated for water resistance
* High tensile strength nylon webbing
* High tensile strength composite nylon thread (stronger than ordinary industry standard nylon thread)
* #AS-100 high grade closed-cell foam padding material for superior shock protection
* Internal seams taped and finished
* Paracord zipper pulls
* Stress points double stitched, Bartacked or “Box-and-X” stitched for added strength


Its a pouch that can fold up until you need it. Then its unfolded. Unlike the water bottle holder, the dump pouch has a folding top for easy access.

Folded: 3.5″ long x 2.25″ wide x 1.5″ thick
Open: 4″ diameter, 8″ tall
Total Volume: 100 cu. in.
Belt: Integral Closed Loop
The Mini Rollypoly® (#0207) is a folding dump pouch designed to hold a standard 32 oz. / 1L Nalgene or smaller water bottle. Bungee cord cinch and velcro flap lid secure top.

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East texas wild grapes

East Texas wild grapes, also called Muscadines grow on long vines and usually grow around creeks and streams.  Their range extends far past Texas and have been known to grown from Texas all the way to New York.  Their native climate is warm humid areas, such as the deep southern part of the USA. The grapes start off green and turn a dark purple color when their ready to be picked. The taste is sweet, with the husk being a little tough and maybe a little tart.  Some types of Muscadines may stay green when they are ready to be picked. Muscadines have a high Polyphenol content. Which is supposed to promote good health. The inside of the grape has at least 1 seed that Continue Reading….

5 Fire Building Tips

Building a fire is a skill that must be mastered. There is a difference in knowing how to build a fire with a lighter and charcoal lighter fluid, and knowing how to build a fire just before sundown when you’re lost in the woods.

Fire building skills have become a lost art. People have gone from sticks and stones, to matches, and finally to fancy electric lighters that can resist just about any wind.

Several years ago I witnessed a young man hold a match to a piece of oak firewood that was three inches in diameter, and then asked why the wood was not catching on fire. He had no understanding of fire building basics.

When someone is lost in the woods, that is no time to doubt your fire building skills. Continue Reading….

Maxpedition Vulture-II

Looking for a good quality 2 – 3 day pack? The Maxpedition Vulture-II might be just what your looking for. When your looking at backpacks, there seems to be small, medium, large and super large.

Small – good for day hikes and short trips

Medium – good for day hikes or overnight trips

Large – good for 3 – 5 day trips

Super Large – good for 5+ days trips (think expedition)

The problem I have, I need a pack that fits right in-between medium and large. These are the ones where you can pack enough for a 1 – 3 day trip, but not too big or too small.

This medium sized pack is where I’am trying to fit the Maxpedition Vulture-II. I need something for warm / hot weather camping, and just big enough to carry some food, one man tent, rain poncho, hammock, poncho liner,,,, but not too big that I’am tempted to carry gear that is not needed. If your like me, and if there is spare room in your pack, your going to find a way to fill it up. A half full pack just does not look right.

Before a pack is taken out on a hiking or camping trip, it needs to be loaded, tested and checked out. So before my Maxpedition Vulture-II was taken on a real hiking / camping trip, it was loaded up and taken on a trip to the deer camp. Inside the pack I was able to fit – hammock, one man tent, 3 legged stool, couple of MREs, compass, map, and topo map compass.

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Thoughts on the large MOLLE pack

After about 15 years of using the medium ALICE pack as my primary warm/hot weather backpack, I decided it was time for a change. So I got on Ebay and after looking through some of the listings, I decided to go with the large MOLLE pack with internal sleep system carrier.

There are 2 versions of this pack on the market – one where the main pack is separate from the sleep system carrier. And the one like what I bought, which is just one large pack.

First Impressions:
Its more slimlineed then the large ALICE
Its easier to get into then the medium ALICE
It has more webbing then the large ALICE
The map case is larger then either the medium or large ALICE
The map case has a mesh bottom, so its easier to see the contents
The internal sleep system carrier has a zipper for easy access – lets talk about that just for a minute.

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Why I like to go camping

Being raised in Southeast Texas has presented a vast opportunities to go camping. This includes everything from my parents taking my brother and I to local parks, to camping on the bayous with my buddies, to camping at the lake with my kids, hiking in and camping at remote areas, to take my kids camping on the river. While I’am sitting around the camp fire looking at the coals and staring at the stars, I often wonder about the people that came before me. And I’am not just talking about the people in the last 100 years. Did the neanderthal look up at those same stars and wonder where he came from and where he was going? While Julius Caesar was fighting the Gauls, did Continue Reading….

Camping on the Angelina River

Camping on the Angelina River

For those you in Southeast Texas that are looking for a little adventure, the Army Corp of Engineers has something you might want to look into. And that is a series of primitive camping spots set up along the Angelina and Neches rivers.

The Corp calls these camping spots “Primitive Campsites” and here is a list from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website. As of July 18, 2010, these is no fee to use these sites, and they have to be reserved. To reserve the site, you just fill out a form, fax mail or hand deliver it to the Town Bluff Project Office (phone number 409-429-3491) and they will give you a permit to use the spot. These primitive camping spots are reserved on a first com first served basis – so do not wait until the last minute to reserve the spot you want.

Primitive Campsite List
1. Bluff 1
2. Bluff 2
3. Hamilton Lake 1
4. Hamilton Lake 2 (Closed Indefinitely)
5. Hamilton Lake 3 (Closed Indefinitely)
6. Angelina 1
7. Angelina 2
8. Angelina 3
9. Angelina 4
10. Moon Lake 1
11. Moon Lake 2
12. Moon Lake 3
13. Warden 1 (Closed)
14. Warden 2 (Closed) Continue Reading….

Gator in the Angelina River

On July 9 – 10 my son, my son-in-law, a friend of the family and I went camping at Bluff 1 – which is a primitive camping spot along the Angelina River. We got up that morning, and headed down stream to another camping spot that has nice rope swing. While we were going down the river, we saw a gator eating on something. At the time we did not pay any real attention to it and kept driving the boat to the place we wanted to go swimming. Well, on the way back we saw the gator again – and it saw us. As soon as we came into view, the gator broke of its attack on the dead turtle, and headed into a Continue Reading….

Review of the Eureka Solitaire

While writing this review of the Eureka Solitaire one person tent, I tried to be as impartial and honest as possible. The tent was bought from Academy Sports and Outdoors in Beaumont, Texas and was not supplied by anyone. The first part of the review was setting it up in the yard and the the second part is taking it on a camping trip.

After about 15 years of use, I decided it was time to retire my Wenzel Starlight tent. The replacement had to be light-weight, fit into an medium ALICE pack or large MOLLE pack, easy to strap to the top or bottom of a pack, easy to setup, easy to take down, good for hot weather camping, bug proof,,,,,, just the typical stuff.

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