The Gear Doctor – Fall 2015

Most often, when people return from an exhausting camping trip, the last thing they want
to do is clean all of the gear they took with them. Being out in the wilderness and lacking the effective cleaning supplies we are accustomed to seeing in the cupboard underneath our kitchen sinks, often only the “quick clean” of gear is done, and it tends to be left that way once we return home. But good enough doesn’t always cut it – think of the money you spent on your equipment and what it would cost to replace if not properly cared for. Check out our advice for how to best clean your gear and with what products to ensure it lasts as long as possible, continuing to assist you on adventurous camping tripdirty_bootss for years to come.

The best way you can guarantee your boots will be kept in great shape is to make sure you take 10-20 minutes cleaning them up after each trip. First, remove the laces and insoles, if they are removable. Start with warm water and a small brush (a firm-brush toothbrush will do) that is able to reach into the cracks and crevices of the boots, and start brushing. If a small brush is just not cutting it, browse more specialized tools meant for boot cleaning. When the obvious dirt has been removed, rinse the brush and go over the boots again, but this time with warm water and a boot cleaner. If none is available, a mild dish soap will do. Stay away from laundry detergent or bar soap, as they can damage the boots through residue. Allow the boots to dry in room temperature. Many people use the quick-dry method of drying their boots next to a fire or in the hot sun, but this can cause the leather to become brittle and the adhesive parts of the boot to wear out. The best way to dry them quickly is to place them in front of a fan. If you don’t have a fan, REI suggests using newspapers that are shoved in each boot, which work to absorb excess moisture. Place boots upside down during drying, as this speeds up the process. Once the boots are dry, make sure to use a conditioner coating if they are looking cracked. Also, waterproof boots after each use. Many people want to remove the smell from their boots, so place each in a large, sealed bag and keep them in the freezer for 48 hours, which will kill the bacteria causing the stink. Store boots in a spot where the temperature remains constant, keeping them in perfect condition until your next adventure.

Cooking Supplies
Cleaning your camping cookware is a little less time consuming that caring for your footwear, but still just as important when it comes to preserving your gear. We all do the quick clean on cookware during camping trips, but spending time actually getting rid of the bacteria and grime when you get home is crucial. Fill each pot and pan with hot water and add several drops of soap – use biodegradable if you’re out on the trail doing the once-over clean. Make sure to use any kind of soap, even if it is biodegradable, at least 200 feet away from water sources. Scrub the inside of each several times using a rough sponge or pot scrubber. Rinse the pots with clean water and put them aside to dry. In the case of cooking supplies, the at-home deep clean is pretty obvious, but as for on-the-trail advice, place your cookware in separate pockets of your pack or wrap them in bags to avoid the blackened bottom of pots and pans from staining other equipment.

Making sure your tent lasts a long life starts the first time you set it up at a campsite. Ensure there are no objects below the tent such as rough plants, rocks, or roots, because this is the number one way tents are destroyed. This isn’t to say you just tear any vegetation to make room for your tent, but rather find a space that has even, clean ground that is already in existence. Making sure the bottom of your tent is also protected on the inside is another thing to think about. Consider purchasing a footprint, which is a barrier between your feet and the bottom of the tent that covers the entire surface of the floor. In addition, make sure the tent is taught when securing it with stakes to prevent any area becoming a catch basic for water or other debris. Make a habit of not wearing shoes inside the tent, and that should help to keep dirt and debris outside, but still make sure to sweep or shake it out several times when you’re done. Another alternative is to use a PahaQue Tent Rug to help keep your tent clean. Something else people don’t consider as often when setting up camp is that most tents are made of nylon, which is worn away by the sun. Try to set up the tent in a shaded area to prolong its life. When packing the tent away at home, the most imperative factor of whether or not it will last is if it’s dry or not. Set up the tent when you get back home and use a non-abrasive sponge, cold water, and a non-detergent soap to clean the inside and outside. Any cleaning products with a perfume smell will attract bugs. Once it is fully dry, pack away in a room temperature, dry location.

Cooky Jasons Fall Recipe

Chef Jason’s World Famous Sage Roasted Pork

OK, time for the first fall recipe of the year! It’s fall time now, my favorite season, and being a seasoned foodie it’s definitely my favorite time of the year for cooking AND camping. It’s time for pumpkin-spice EVERYTHING. But the warming euphoria of the aroma of cinnamon, sage, pine, and other holiday staples is what really drives the fall season mood in my opinion, and we’re going to use a couple of those here.

Boneless country style pork ribs are my personal favorite. It’s super tender and easy to grill. But any cut of pork will work just great. If you’re using pork chops, make sure they’re at least an inch thick. And this will be a double cooking process. Follow along…

Major Players:

  • 3-4lbs preferred cut of pork. Boneless is best
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced/diced
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup finely shredded/chiffonade sage. Must be fresh sage; no dried stuff from plastic jars here.
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, or 1 ½ cups fresh ones (roughly chopped)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Start by grilling the pork just until all sides are browned and you have some nice grill marks on all sides. Make sure you coat the pork in a little olive oil and salt and pepper first. You don’t need to cook it all the way through here. The second part of this is done in foil pouches. Pour a little olive oil on the foil and lay the pork down on top. Then simply add the garlic, onion, sage, cranberries, butter, and chopped walnuts over the pork. Seal it up but leave a slight opening for venting. Let that hang out over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the pork from the foil to a plate to cool, but don’t you dare throw all that wonderfulness in the foil away. No no no… Drizzle the contents over the pork and serve. Sagey goodness abounds. Happy Fall!










Questions/comments/requests/suggestions/limericks/thoughts on life/childhood stories? Feel free to drop me a line at

Celestial Navigator – November 2015

November is always a great time of year for stargazing.  Cool nights and crisp clear air provide spectacular views on cloudless nights.  As always, stargazing is best away from cities and populated areas, and is a great nighttime activity in camp!111104-Meteor1Photo-hmed-0355p.grid-6x2

  • November 5, 6Taurids Meteor Shower. The Taurids is a long-running minor meteor shower producing only about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is unusual in that it consists of two separate streams. The first is produced by dust grains left behind by Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second stream is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke. The shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10. It peaks this year on the the night of November 5. The second quarter moon will block out all but the brightest meteors this year. If you are patient, you may still be able to catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • November 11New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 17:47 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • November 17, 18Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids is an average shower, producing an up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. This shower is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The shower runs annually from November 6-30. It peaks this year on the night of the 17th and morning of the 18th. The first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight leaving fairly dark skies for what could be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • November 25Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 22:44 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Beaver Moon because this was the time of year to set the beaver traps before the swamps and rivers froze. It has also been known as the Frosty Moon and the Hunter’s Moon.

Celestial Navigator for September 2015

Supermoon Rising
Supermoon Risin September 3 – Neptune at Opposition. The blue giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view and photograph Neptune. Due to its extreme distance from Earth, it will only appear as a tiny blue dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.

September promises lots of exciting night sky activity – ideal for camping and stargazing.  The first half of this month will bring us great views of Mercury and Neptune, a new moon, and a partial eclipse!  During the latter half of the month, the September (autumnal) Equinox occurs, and the fall Supermoon – also known as the Harvest Moon. Perhaps most exciting of all – a total lunar eclipse for North America at the end of the month.

  • September 4Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation of 27 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the planet low in the western sky just after sunset.
  • September 13New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 06:41 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • September 13Partial Solar Eclipse. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers only a part of the Sun, sometimes resembling a bite taken out of a cookie. A partial solar eclipse can only be safely observed with a special solar filter or by looking at the Sun’s reflection. The partial eclipse will only be visible in southern Africa, Madagascar, and Antarctica. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
  • September 23September Equinox. The September equinox occurs at 08:21 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • September 28Full Moon, Supermoon. CNlBALCWEAAoIbUThe Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 02:50 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Corn Moon because the corn is harvested around this time of year. This moon is also known as the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the September equinox each year. This is also the second of three supermoons for 2015. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual. This will be the closest full moon of the year.
  • September 28Total Lunar Eclipse. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes completely through the Earth’s dark shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of North and South America, Europe, Africa, and western Asia.
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End of Summer Photo Contest!

End of Summer Photo Contest!

Win a brand new PahaQue Cottonwood Shade Shelter!







Calling all PahaQue customers – now that another summer is winding down, let’s take a moment to share and reflect on our favorite summer camping photos!  The winner will receive a PahaQue Cottonwood 10×10 Shade Shelter, and 2 runners-up will win a PahaQue Tent Rug!  Here’s how to enter:

  1. Only summer-camping related photos will be considered
  2. Photos should be no larger than 1200 x 1200 pixels
  3. Submit your photos here in the PahaQue Camping Experts Blog, or by emailing them to
  4. Include a short description of your photo, as well as the location of the photo
  5. BE SURE to include your contact information with each submission.
  6. Deadline to submit photos is September 20, 2015
  7. Winners will be announced on Friday, September 25!  Announcement will be made here as well as on our Facebook page.

Thanks for joining and good luck!


Al Foran 2 Art DeLeon 4 Bill Piper 3 - Copy


D Hemmingway 2


Donna Zitzelberger a 3 Fred Bailey 3 Jenn Kirk 2 Jennifer Lynn Joan 4 John McMinn 3 John Wright Judy Orick Judy Whittaker Julie Buege 3 Katherine Katherine' Kenny Rzonka 2 Kenny Rzonka

our camp

Shawn & Brett eating a snack

Mark Jernigan Ryan Willmore 5 sonja hagmeyer 3 Susan Elwood suzanne cobern van veen 4 Toni Eaton 3 Toni Eaton a 3 Vera Morgan 4

Cooky Jason’s September Recipe – Lamb Burgers

010115_mediterranean-lamb-burger-recipe_largeWell the end of summer draws nigh. But that’s OK. Soon we’ll all be drinking/eating pumpkin-spice EVERYthing. And football is gearing up which brings its own genre of cookout favorites (as long as weather permits, of course) as mainstays such as hearty chili and beef stews have the dust brushed off their recipe pages. Until then, however, it’s time for one last summer hurrah…

You can’t go wrong with burgers at the campsite, right? The combination of beef and lamb here along with the magical basil sauce make these a bit unique, yet still easy to make, and guaranteed crowd-pleasers. Serve with watermelon wedges and a nice summer ale or fresh lemon-limeade and enjoy the last 3 weeks of summer while you can!

Major players

  • 1lb ground beef (80/20)
  • 1lb ground lamb
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp each of salt and pepper

Magical Basil Sauce

  • 1 cup chopped basil
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • Juice and zest from 1 large lemon

For the burgers:

OK, let’s do this. Using 2 different meats really adds a lot of depth profile in the flavor. If you can’t get ground lamb just use ground pork. Using your hands, thoroughly combine the beef and lamb in a large mixing bowl, then add the olive oil and salt and pepper and combine. You’ll get 6 to 7 burgers out of this, depending on how big you make them. Start by forming a giant meatball. Then slowly compress your hands while rolling it between your palms until a patty is formed. Then use your thumb to press an indent into the middle. If you’re taking these to the campsite, wrap them individually in plastic wrap or wax paper and keep chilled until ready. You can also freeze them if it makes them easier to transport for you.

Cook on grill over medium-high heat about 3 ½ minutes per side. About a minute before removing from grill, add a slice of your chosen cheese. Mozzarella loves basil…

Serve on toasted sesame seed or ciabatta buns. Using good bread here really makes a hug difference, so it’s worth it to choose a higher quality bun to go with all the love that just went into the burgers themselves, don’t you think?

Magical Basil Sauce:

Blend all ingredients until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust by adding salt and pepper if needed. You can do this several days ahead of time if you like. Just make sure it’s plenty chilled while transporting. Spoon over burgers and finish off with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc… Or leave them veggie-less and let the lamb really be the star. Perfection.

This is our last newsletter recipe of the summer and we’ve had a truly fantastic summer and I hope all of you did, too! Feel free to share/email me pictures of our recipes when you try them.

Questions/comments/requests/suggestions/limericks/thoughts on life/childhood stories? Feel free to drop me a line at

The Gear Doctor – September 2015

The Gear Doctor – Camping With Kidscamping4

 Camping can be the most enjoyable trip for kids, or it can be the most boring.  In this day of electronics, kids are always busy with something at home.  Rule #1: no electronics allowed on camping trips.  Getting to know nature and creating memories will stay with your child longer than playing video games.

Some fun activities include:

  1. Do It Yourself First Aid Kit: cartoon bandaids, bug towlettes, antiseptic wipes, calamine lotion, and gauze pads.  The Dollar store is a great place to get a themed zipper case and all the ingredients for the kit.  As your child puts the kit together,  teach him/her what each item is used for.
  1. Make your own bubbles:

To make your bubble mixture:

Dissolve the cornstarch in the water, stirring really well.  Then gently stir in the remaining ingredients.  Avoid creating a lot of froth.  Allow your mixture to sit for at least an hour, stirring occasionally if you see the cornstarch settling to the bottom.

To make your bubble wand:

 I used two drinking straws, and a length of yarn that was 6 to 8 times longer than the length of one straw.  Thread the yarn through the straws, tie a knot, and you’re good to go!

  1. Make papier mache:

Start with one cup water and one cup flour.  Mix together in a large flat bowl until smooth.  Tear 1” strips of newspaper and dip into mixture.  You can use plastic cups, blown up balloons, or things found in nature, such as pinecones as your base.  Place wet strips over the base and smooth out.  Continue layering strips until you have the desired thickness.  Allow to dry overnight.  Paint or decorate with leaves, twigs, and tiny pinecones, using plain white glue.  You’ll need to bring watercolors and brushes if you decide to paint it….cleanup is easy!

  1. Make your own trail mix. You’ll need ziplock bags, nuts, dried fruit, coconut, chocolate or butterscotch chips, pretzels, etc.  Let your child use a small cup to measure each ingredient and place into the bag.
  1. Look at trail maps close to the camping area. There may even be some right in the campground.  Take a hike to a fun destination such as a waterfall.  Don’t overdo or try to do too many miles in a day.  For a beginning hiker under 5, 2 miles round trip is plenty.  For an older child up to age 10, 3 or 4 miles is OK.  Have a daypack ready for your child, and have him/her fill it with trail mix, water bottle (a must!),  first aid kit and box juices.  Camera and binoculars are optional but fun.  If you see wildlife, these items will come in handy.  DO NOT approach wildlife or attempt to feed it.  Feel free to use a cell phone video setting to capture some live action.  Hiking will tire your child and they will sleep well at night!
  2. Don’t forget games: playing cards, jigsaw puzzles, yarn kits, and collecting jars for bugs and leaves.  When you get home, you can press leaves between wax paper and place between two towels.  Iron on low to melt the wax paper around the leaves, and your child has a lasting memory from the hike.  Remember to PLAY with your child on a camping trip, and you will all have an enjoyable, happy memory!

We are very pleased to have Anita Hudson Easton back on our writing staff as author of our monthly Gear Doctor.  Anita is a 30 year veteran of the Outdoor Industry and is an expert in the design, manufacturing, care and maintenance of outdoor gear!

Cooky Jason’s July Recipe – Mini Kabobs

Chef Jason’s World Famous Mini Kabobs

mini kabob 3

Who doesn’t like kabobs? We’re in full camping swing now and it’s high time we get into some grilling action. And kabobs are just plain fun. These… are minis. More of an appetizer, really. The key to making these special is in the fresh herbs. There are countless marinades. You can play mad scientist and come up with all manner of concoctions. The idea here is to have fun with it and experiment. (I actually brined mine for the 4th of July BBQ I just hosted.)

Major Players

  • 2 to 3lbs Beef and/or pork – London broil is really great, but sometimes I even use New York Strip or rib eye (my personal favorite). (2lbs will make 25 to 30 kabobs)
  • 1 cup salt, and ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 5 sprigs rosemary
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • 1lb raspberries
  • Tbsp course ground pepper
  • 6 or 7 garlic cloves crushed, and 1 large onion
  • 2lbs small to medium white button or crimini mushrooms
  • 3 inch toothpicks (they come in lots of sizes)

OK, the fun stuff:

First we’ll start with the brine. This is pretty simple; don’t be intimidated by brining. It’s like marinating, but with more science involved. Boil the salt and sugar in 6 cups of water until dissolved; it will only take a few minutes. Let that cool. Then add your meat, whole and uncut, to a large stock pot. Add the dissolved sugar/salt mixture and fill the rest with cold water until meat is covered. Then add garlic, rosemary, and onion. Give it a gentle stir, cover, and refrigerate 12 to 24 hours.

Remove meat from brine and discard brine.  Let rest for at least 5 minutes. Heat grill to medium high. Slice mushrooms in half and sauté them in 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsps. butter in a foil pack or disposable aluminum baking pan on the grill. (They come in various sizes and are perfect for this.) At the same time, throw the meat on, too. Grill until done, roughly 5 minutes per side for beef and 4 minutes per side for pork. The meat will be done before the mushrooms, which is fine. Once everything is cool enough to handle, cut the meat into half-inch cubes. Now it’s time for the fun. You can even get the kids in on this. And it really is the sage and basil that make these special, so don’t skip it. You can skip the brine if you like, but not the herbs. Trust me on this… Here’s the stacking order, from top to bottom: Raspberry/mushroom/folded basil and sage leaves/meat. It’s that simple. Cut your lemon in half and squeeze over all the kabobs once completed. Crowd-pleaser? I think so…

Questions/comments/requests/suggestions/limericks/thoughts on life/childhood stories? Feel free to drop me a line at