On camping, and the removal of filth from an aquarium.

February 25, 2008

A landmark weekend at the Maison du Hobnottle: we’ve begun acquiring our camping stuff. Annual bonuses finally landed at work, and gearing up for family camping trips has been near the top of the to-do list for a little while now. So far we’ve acquired two (2) 6-8 man tents, dual-fuel stove and lantern, sleeping bags for those who didn’t already have them, a small folding table for the stove and a few other odds and ends. The next phase will be cooking supplies and tools (hatchet, shovel, etc). There’s a Cub-and-family camping weekend in April at the local scouting reservation, and we aim to be there with bells on. Directly after that in May, we’re going to do a family trip to one of the local parks because my parents want to set up in the adjoining site, pop open beer and watch the proceedings.

We went camping frequently when I was a kid, and I can still remember trips to Yellowstone NP, Devil’s Tower, the Cascades, the Olympic Peninsula and all the trips into north Georgia (Cooper’s Creek chief among them, and only because we got rained out there twice). They were all Extremely Good Times. It’s been entirely too long.

I was sort of wishy-washy on making trips while the least of the Hobnottle children are still so small, but others in our little homeschooling circle are doing it, so what the hell. After the initial investment in gear, you’re pretty much set for long weekend trips whenever the weather permits for the cost of fresh food and the usage fees. It’s a bargain however you look at it, and our area has no shortage of state and national parks within a half-day’s drive. Throw in the built-in flexibility of homeschooling (which will let us get a good spot on Wednesday nights, before all the weekend suckers start rolling in), and it’s win for everyone involved.

Furthermore, having the stuff means that the fetching Mrs. Hobnottle and I can hit the road, drop off the kids with Gramma and head for the hills. That’s a blog for another time, probably after Buttercup is weaned and/or going through the night without a feeding.

For the record, we bought all of it at the local Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World-A-Rama. We looked at prices online, and even without shipping, their prices were lower. Plus I didn’t want to have to futz around with shipping back a busted stove or something. The local Dick’s has a pretty limited selection of gear, and the closest REI is in Atlanta.There’s a Coleman factory outlet store in Commerce, Georgia as well. Maybe next time we’re visiting, we can hit a few places. I have to return to ATL on business sometime in the next few weeks, so the planets might be aligning nicely. We also happen to be low on Two Buck Chuck. Isn’t it nice when things work out?

Otherwise, this weekend has only had two other items of note. First, we’ve suddenly become tragically addicted to Firefly, just having finished the first few episodes on DVD.  If you’re familiar with the show and its fate, you’ll understand why I qualified it so. We eagerly await the rest of the shows and the additional movie. Yes, I realize I’m a little behind on this. We’re only just now getting around to Battlestar Galactica, too. This is what happens when you ditch cable.

Second, I hacked up a quick gravel vacuum for some impromptu aquarium maintenance and figured I’d share it.

Take one plastic water bottle, drink the water, then cut a hole in the cap just large enough to snugly fit a length of 3/8″ ID plastic tubing. Cut out the bottom of the bottle, and presto, you have an el cheapo tool for sucking huge clouds of fish poop from out of your gravel substrate. I had the tubing laying around already – I use it to siphon out the tank when I’m doing water changes. I wasn’t about to go buy a dedicated vacuum, so I took the Dremel to the bottle cap and was happily cleaning things out just a short time later. Enjoy!

Picture by UpNorth Memories.

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