“Upptacamp” is a word brought into popular usage up here in Maine by a regional comedian named Bob Marley.

It is as much about a state of mind as it is about anyplace, and it certainly is not about any place in particular. There is no one Upptacamp. Every person, every family, every hunting or fishing group, every pair of buddies, everybody has their own.

I took this photo on the way upptacamp a couple of falls ago. It is the view from “Height of Land” looking out over Lake Mooselookmeguntic. Upptacamp for us is off the right-hand edge of the photo, about as far away as the other side of the mountains in the distance. 30 miles as the crow flies, 50 by the road.

I’m getting pretty excited by the idea of actually getting out to go camping. The pack frame that I am going to be testing is confirmed to be on the way. I should have it on Tuesday or Wednesday. I got a great deal on a used U.S. Army bivy bag that is Gore-Tex and will eliminate the need for a tent. I got an equally great deal on a superlightweight sleeping bag. Both of them ran me less than $60, and both of them have also arrived. I had already pretty much worked out my cooking gear, and almost everything else I need is stuff that I already have or that I’ve cobbled together.

Ed, or TOG has even agreed to try out MREs. A couple of those military rations each [together with a few add-ins to make them more palatable and add that gourmet touch], some gorp, and some snack food, and price of chow for two guys for three meals comes in at almost no-cost at all. We are usually all up on a sirloin steak or two, mushrooms, a full dozen eggs, pound of bacon, pound of burger, burger buns, sticks of butter, cartons of soda, and giant bags of chips… Oh, and a couple full-sized Cadbury chocolate bars. Runs us out the store at $30 bucks [or more] apiece. …That was the cost of the bivy bag.

Hopefully breakfast on Sunday might just bring TOG around to understanding my fondness for the MRE’s… on deck are pork sausage patties in maple gravy, hash browns with bacon, spiced apple slices and a cinnamon bun… all mil-spec. We’ll kick it up by taking along some Starbucks Via coffee pouches.

Saturday night may not be so thrilling. There are already a couple of enchilada dinners up at the cabin. They are more like tamale dinners. They are not the best MREs, but they’re certainly not the worst. That is reserved for what was called Country Captain chicken… Most people make the sign of the sign of the evil-eye when they speak about that one. But the refritos that come with the meal aren’t bad at all, and we’ll carry along one of those munch-sized bags of actual Fritos. Once you stir in the jalapeno squeeze-cheese and add the salsa package that comes in the meal and then crunch the real Fritos on top… Well… It reaches edible.

Anyway, my living room is scattered with boxes, bags and stuff bags of gear that I’m sorting through. Hopefully I will return from next weekend with a bunch of photos and material for a few posts on the actual experience of CAMPING! The weather will be the final arbitrator on that. Right now it’s about 50-50.

But we get to go Upptacamp. Rainy days upptacamp are why God made Kindles, bunkbeds and covered porches… You just can’t have a bad experience when you are Upptacamp.



Slightly off-topic… But I love the ocean almost as much as the woods.


My daughter, her husband and her in-laws are headed for Nantucket Island out off Cape Cod this weekend for a wedding.

The in-laws got to sail over from Newport Rhode, Island…. I am not certain whether that is the long South Shore of Martha’s Vineyard Island or Nantucket itself just on the horizon to port [left] in the photo. Doesn’t actually make any difference. It’s obviously a perfect day for a sail.

As my wife and I have so often said, “Hey, it’s a tough life. But somebody has to live it.”

More From the Design Lab

The boffins out in the MFDL* were given extra caffeine this morning and promised a trip out to the pub to pick up bimbos after work. First they delivered on the rain anorak and now they’ve produced a prototype of the “Forester’s tent” that is at least standing upright.


Using the finest R&D prototyping materials available… some old polyplastic, duct tape, and mason’s twine, they proved that the concept is at least viable. Translated from the folded paper model, a simple 9’x 9′ tarp with properly positioned tryouts and staking points, can indeed create the desired form.

I am relatively happy with the length, but I think the width of the tarp could easily be extended to 10 feet or 11 feet to allow a slightly wider stance, and increased headroom at the front. This is all subject to the length of material remaining on the known 9 foot roll of Typar.

Now…  rain and possible thunderstorms are forecast for the next few hours so we will see how it stands up. The mason’s twine is quite likely the fail point, it has a very low tensile strength, and it is also quite likely that the side tie-out duct tape patches could pull off. More will be revealed… That’s why you prototype before wasting good materials.


Update: 6 hrs later- the twine slackened a bit in the rain, but the proto-tent stood up throughout. Looks like it could be called a “working model”.


*MFDL= Moosenut Falls Design Lab

A “Down ‘n’ Dirty” Anorak

You probably would be hard-pressed to find a faster, cheaper DIY project than this one…


Yesterday I picked up this chemical “splash guard” suit down at the Fell-Off-A-Truck-Stop [shown here undergoing the rigorous Moosenut Falls Development Labs Quality Control Process by one of our certified technicians]

It only ran me $3. And, yes, it does look like it’s sized for Shaquille O’Neal. For my purposes that’s quite fine. I think it was actually a 3X. Because I was planning on making an anorak and rain chaps out of it, the extra size to allow for warming layers underneath was just what I wanted.

I laid it down on my deck and made a shallow crescent out of six or seven pushpins curving down from one side to the other. This was to hold it firmly and to guide my cut through both layers at once. I used the catenary curve rather than simply cutting it off square. That way it will be easier to pull down over my knees if I want to sit.

Quite literally, 30 seconds later I was finished. It took longer to set up and take the photos than the project itself took.

Image  Image

The whole package rolls down without any excessive force to just larger than a soda can. I don’t have a scale, but it seems to be about the 1/3 the weight of a full soda can. The suit I used had a zipper that came down fairly deeply, perhaps almost to my crotch, so I believe that I will be able to just step into the anorak and pull it up. Unlike a lot of the white Tyvek jumpsuits I have seen other people on the Internet use for this project, it even had a full-length placket over the zipper. The sleeve cuffs were also elasticized to prevent flapping. I’m going to cut the legs off of the remnant using a pair of jeans as a template. They will be single leg chaps that tie off to my belt.

The one thing that remains to be determined is that, while this is designed to protect from chemical “splashes”, I have no idea how waterproof or water resistant it actually is. So, I have taken one of the legs, folded a couple of pieces of paper towel in under just one layer of fabric, and set it out in the rain with a rock on it to see what it’s “soak through” time might be.

Regardless, and in the worst case, I’ve got a pretty nice, very light-weight wind-suit that allows for layering underneath. Even if it proves not to be terribly waterproof, I have a spray can of Scotchgard that I got a couple of years ago to re-treat an older, but expensive, parka. I’ll give that a shot before I give up.

The technical stuff…

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Onward through the fog…

The Art of the Scrounge… #174

This season, down at my local dollar store, I picked up a bunch of those solar powered yard lights for [DUH!] a buck apiece.

With a little ingenuity, and out of just one light, I managed to create three very different, but useful items.

  1. An upgraded light with a much softer, more even “glow”. By their nature, the LEDs give off a point light source. It is harsh, overly bright, and messes with your night vision. By using the semi-opaque jar that some boullion cubes came in, I achieved a nice, white, evenly diffused light. I am thinking I will jury rig some kind of a loop attachment to secure it up on top of my pack, so it can charge while I’m hiking.
  2. 30 seconds with a whittling knife turned the stake from the bottom of the light into a lightweight, strong tent-stake.
  3. I unraveled some sisal rope strands, wrapped one end with electricians tape, and slipped it down through the thin metal support tube. Sisal makes a very decent charred tinder that will catch a spark very easily. It can then be blown upon to produce a very, very hot ember for lighting heavier tinder and creating a fire. [I will show a DIY on this in another post]


Starry Night over ‘Lagoa do Fogo.’ [Lake of Fire], São Miguel, Azores

Starry Night over 'Lagoa do Fogo.' [Lake of Fire], São Miguel, Azores

“One of the islands is São Miguel, where we can find a beautiful lake in the crater center, called Lake of Fire, ‘Lagoa do Fogo.’ Above it, the sky reveals the magnificent arc of our galaxy, the Milky Way, besides the light pollution coming from Vila Franca do Campo, a small town at the southern shore of the island, that illuminates the clouds near the horizon with the an orange tone” –Astrophotographer Miguel Claro of Lisbon