After over 20 years with my old tent, I'm finally getting a new one!! Meet the Eureka El Capitan 2 XTC tent!

I was (am) ridiculously beside myself with excitement when I found out I'd be getting this tent. An outfitting store in Thunder Bay (Gear Up for Outdoors Ltd.) has really good prices on these tents. They do a lot of business with many of the tree planters so their prices are often competitive with the high volume stores of Toronto. I happened to ask my sister if she was familiar with this shop and she said she was! It's right next door to her husband's office. The very next day after I had mentioned this to my sister, I get an email. She has the tent for me!!!!! Holy cow.

It's a combination Birthday and Christmas present and she'd like to use it a few times before she hands it over.
"Um.... OK!!!!!!!"
The funny thing is that when she walked into the shop she realized that she knows the guy who works there. He gave her an even better price!! Yay, little sister!

It's a bit smaller than my old 3 person tent, considering that the new one is a 2 person tent, but it's built about 10 times better! It's not the lightest tent ever but it's very heavy-duty and made to last. (I much prefer that over ultra-lightweight items that soon become expendable.) It has an excellent reputation with the canoe trippers. I really think the interior useable space will be about the same, since this tent has 2 vestibules that I can use for gear storage and footwear, etc. The size of my old tent was overkill anyways since I'm most often camping alone.

I can't wait to try this thing out!!! You have no idea. Finally. A well built tent. I think this officially replaces the last of my low-end camping gear. Pretty much everything I have now is spiffy! I feel very lucky!

I also like that I'm getting a bit of a gear collection now. Not only can I pick the gear that is most appropriate for a particular trip, but I have a few redundant items so I can loan gear to friends when they don't have a required piece of gear for a particular camping trip! Need a tent? Well now I have an extra! Woot!


More zoo...

Stingray Bay was definitely worth the extra 3 bucks in my opinion. It was quite a treat to be able to see them so closely and touch them as well! Very soft and squishy! Conversely, the nurse sharks were very shy and stayed in the middle of the pool. It was cool to see them too though. I'm happy to have had the experience.

Old man of the forest. I had a nice moment with him, he seemed sad and bored. Much like myself when I'm alone in MY house. ;)

I shouldn't always rely on auto focus!!! The effect here isn't horrible though. Gosh, I love these animals.

This is Charles. He's a very regal character, but today he was communing by himself. He's my absolute favourite. I met him during my first visit to the zoo about 5 years ago. He was indoors at that time and in his own enclosure. He had a glass wall between himself and the visitors and he was literally holding court. A line of people had formed and everyone would take their turn coming up to the glass to study him and perhaps gently put their hand up against the glass. He would study them in return and also put his hand next to theirs. During this process, a cleaning woman came up and decided to spray the glass and clean it. Charles knew the difference between this woman and everyone else who had come to see him and was annoyed that she had so rudely interrupted this process. He forcefully hit the glass with his fist. The cleaning lady nearly jumped out of her shoes! After she left, he was once again very content and continued the process of greeting people. He is a wonderfully personality. I adore him.


"I'm not dead yet!"
...a male lion if you can't tell.
Seemed rather content if you ask me.


I love these guys too but they were busy on the far side of their compound today. Perhaps someday I'll have a Leica M8 with a fancy telephoto zoom lens. ;)

Jellyfish!! They were mesmerizing! I overheard an eight year old Australian girl talking to her friend. Her friend asked her what it was like to swim with jellyfish. "How do you do it without getting stung?" "I just let them sting me." she says, rather matter-of-factly.
Ha! She was awesome.

More birdees.

Les sigh.

Funny Grandma quotes:

I love my grandma. She desperately wishes I would find someone to marry though.

She and my mom were over at my house a month or so ago helping me get things cleaned up and in order while I was doing a few maintenance/upkeep type chores. She thought my house was looking very nice afterwards.

Her comment?
"You have the birdcage, now all you need is the bird!"

The latest was when I was loaning my sister some of my camping gear. I was going through the (considerable number) of items explaining how everything worked and showing her the features. I think my grandmother was impressed that all my gear makes camping relatively simple and comfortable and that I bothered with details like dishpans and cutting boards.

After I finished going over everything with my sister my grandmother grinned at me and said, "With all that stuff, how are you not married?"
Ha. I'm not sure that "awesome camping gear" is on many womens' dream guy list. It would be on my dream womans, but we all know how that is going so far.

Oh! My sister had an especially good comment too! I was going through all my gear and I was probably being especially specific and anal about things... In fact, I know I was. "And the stove folds like this, and then the fuel hose folds like this and you put it in the storage bag like this...."  My sister pipes up, "Um. Yeah. You won't be getting it back like that. You'll have to do some cleaning and you'll have to put it all back the way you like it."

Haha!  Boy, does she "get" me. :) She makes me laugh. It nice to have someone accept you despite all your weirdness.


After camping...

No matter how careful you are, there always seems to be repairs after camping. Sometimes it's a repair after a lesson learned; other times gear just wears out or it begs to be improved. (This last thing might just be my own personal affliction.)

Repair #1

My Primus stove has a plastic piezo ignitor. It doesn't do so well when the heat is trapped around it by a wind shield. Oops.

Melty goodness.

Ignitor removed.

Bracket cut off to allow for the new ignitor to be attached.

New shiny unmelty MSR piezo ignitor.

After a little bracket modifications it's mounted. The new ignitor was slightly longer than the old one so I had to improvise. It's not quite as sturdy as the old one so it might get bent out of position from time to time. It's not a big deal to bend the bracket so the wire is the correct distance away from the burner holes though. I should probably get some sheet metal and bend up my own bracket to solve the problem for good but it'll do for now.

Voila. My Primus stove now has a MSR piezo ignitor and a Brunton stove stand! I don't think I have any brand name allegiances.

Repair #2

This one has me feeling like crap. When you buy used barrels, each one is unique. This particular barrel has a pressure relief hole below the seal in the lid. I suppose they had trouble with deformation of their barrels due to pressure differentials. It did come with a rubber plug for the hole originally so the barrel could be waterproof if you wanted. I worried that the plug might get lost so I glued it in place with silicone glue before the trip so we wouldn't lose it. See how it's no longer there? Somewhere along the way it got lost despite me trying to make sure it wouldn't happen. The problem is that it's no longer waterproof! Worse than that, it's no longer SMELL proof! I feel like an ass. I put my friends' trip in jeopardy. They could have lost all their food to an animal! Worse yet, a bear could have been drawn into their camp site.

Missing plug!!!

No more relying on glue! Besides, I no longer have the plug anyways! Time for a mechanical fastener. A bolt and some bicycle inner tube for a waterproof washer should do the trick.


Double washers just to be sure! No more leaks or sniffs! Hopefully this is the end of that problem and I won't have to feel like a complete jerk again.


Camping on the brain

Fun with gear:

My new 60 litre food barrel!! They say it was used to transport pharmaceuticals but I have to admit that it smelled a bit petrochemical-y when I got it. Honestly, probably some sort of strong smelling medicine. Two doses of bleach later and it's MUCH better. Perfect really. My old barrel had an additional locking pin on the spring clip. I've heard that some raccoons have figured out the spring latch! I've added an additional clevis pin to lock the spring latch to try and keep sneaky raccoons at bay.

I love my universal barrel harness! It works on my old 45 litre barrel AND this one too!

I've made some modifications to my stove. I bought this nifty little stove stand last year and it converts my LPG stove to a configuration more similar to the white gas stoves. It was a bit tippy before with the large canisters of fuel and this greatly reduces the centre of gravity and it also allows the use of a windbreak without trapping all the heat around a pressurized fuel canister! Not a good idea! I'm thrilled with it. All the ease of a LPG stove with many of the benefits of a white gas stove.

Here's the bounty from helping out the Summer Drama Festival last year: a MSR Blacklite Gourmet nesting pot set!

My new pot set is a bit small for a group of 5 so I'll bring along a 5 litre pot I picked up at Ikea (of all places) last year. It's aluminum and reasonably light weight, teflon coated and it even has a built in strainer in the lid for pasta! I'd say it's the perfect camping pot. ...and only $15! The MSR pots fit perfectly inside it as well and the Ikea pot has a locking lid to keep everything inside. Perfect!

And my final bit of new kit.... A Thermarest Prolite 3! Oh, how I'm looking forward to using this! I've been stuck with foam mattresses these last few years and while the good ones are decent, I miss the ease and comfort of the self-inflating models! Thremarest has all new models this year so MEC had a great sale on the old stock a while back.

Speaking of self-inflating air mattresses, Forest City Surplus in London has a great deal on used Canadian Military mattresses. They're made by Mustang, the same company that makes very high quality inflatable PFD's. Relatively lightweight, VERY heavy duty, full length and quite thick. $20! I can pick some up if any of the camping crew needs one.



I'm actually quite pleased with the results. It's very solid and it's fairly quick to install and take apart. It'll easily take two boats. Since the kayak might be more problematic to take without a roof rack it might be best for me to take a canoe and the kayak and the other car could take a canoe using my foam blocks. I'd still like to try to mount everything on this rack. It'd be easier to only have to deal with one rack if it can work without being silly. We'll see.