Doing some remodeling around the ‘ol blog

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This has been a long time coming really, I’m going to be cleaning up around here.

My Blogroll is hopelessly out of date, there are still links to my old World of Warcraft characters, there are guides and such for WoW that are years out of date, along with some things I have posted over the years that still apply to my life.

Well, I plan to start writing again, but I have nothing much to say about gaming anymore. On the other hand I’ve been writing in this space for a really long time. Instead of just starting over I think I’ll be converting this space into a general purpose blog about my life and in particular the outdoor activities I enjoy.

Over the next few days I’ll be trying to figure out a way to segregate all the older WoW posts while keeping them. I’ll also be going thru and updating the blogroll.

On top of that I already have a handful of posts in draft, so I’ll be posting those about once a week or so.

Basic Family Camping Gear List

Hello again,

1024px-Campfire_4213

Yes I’m still looking out the windows at the snow and thinking about summer.

Since my last post it occurred to me that backpacking is far from the only camping activity that folks might be interested in. In fact, most folks that are interested in it likely already have a good amount of camping experience. Not everyone has had that opportunity.

With that in mind I decided to make three lists of gear instead of one. All of them will be made assuming that money is tight. Yes, more expensive gear might be better, but so long as safety isn’t compromised I’d rather folks get the chance to actually do some camping with cheap gear than wait for years saving up the cash to get started. Especially those with kids, they grow up so damn fast. Make those awesome memories now, while you still can.

That’s why my first list, which will be the bulk of this post, will be designed for a family of four that’s interested in getting into camping for the first time at a local campground or state park. Since its a campground I think we can assume access to clean water and bathroom facilities. Depending where you go there may even be electricity.

The second will be assuming a pair of adults that will also be camping somewhere near their car. Again we can assume that they will be at a maintained campsite with at very least water and bathrooms available. The gear for them will be very similar, but a bit different than the family that we will talk about today.

The third will be for that same pair of adults, but now they are going to be going backpacking. That brings a whole new pile of gear into the picture. Weight and volume of gear matter far more. We will also have to worry about access to water and restrooms.

Alrighty, lets take a look at what kind of things we are going to want for our family campout. We will divide it up into a few groups of gear.

Shelter

We are going to need somewhere to sleep. Since we have four people we will be needing something that will sleep at least that many. In a perfect world we would pick up a giant 8 person tent, but considering we are just starting out we will go small. Figure the main thing the tent is for is sleeping, it will be… cozy.

Ozark Trail tent

After a good bit of looking I ended up coming to the conclusion that the best bang for the buck here would probably be the Ozark Trail 10X8 five person tent for $50. My daughter has one, so I’ve seen it set up and find that it’s a good little tent. There is enough room for a queen sized bed and then some. Come to think of it, it’s not much smaller then the computer room I sit in as I write this.

Sleeping

So, we have somewhere to sleep. tell you what, the ground gets real uncomfortable real fast. On the plus side, I know from experience that a queen sized air mattress will fit in that tent with a little room to spare. At $20 for the mattress I think its worth it for the much better nights sleep you’ll have.

Air Mattress

Depending on the time of year you might very well be able to get away with just bringing along blankets and pillows. (Bring twice as many blankets as you think you’ll need)

If you choose to go the sleeping bag route you can go any where from the inexpensive $20 bags that are good down to about 50 degrees all the way up to hundreds for bags rated for below zero. If summer camping is where you plan to start the cheap ones will work. They will even suffice for spring and fall if you don’t mind sleeping in sweatpants and a sweatshirt.

sleeping bag

One last thing, the cute little bags for kids are usually not very well insulated. They are better suited for sleepovers at someone’s house than actual camping, at least in my experience.

Cooking and Food Storage.

First off, I like to store any dry goods in a plain ‘ol plastic tote. Those are pretty cheap at perhaps $7-$10 depending on which one you get, assuming you don’t have some around the house like I do. (I use them as laundry hampers as well as for storage)

tote

Then again, we are talking about car camping here. you could always store your dry goods in the trunk to keep critters away and save a few bucks on a tote.

For cold storage a cooler is the way to go. I use a pair of basic 48 quart Igloo coolers, one for drinks and one for perishables. If you are just starting out one should do you just fine, even none if none of your food doesn’t need to stay cold and you don’t mind warm drinks.

These can be had at the local Wally World for all of $19. The only difference between this one and the ones we have used since the kids were little is ours are blue.

Cooler

For cooking I suppose it all depends what you plan to cook. My only real input here is that you should have at least one decent sized pot to heat water for washing dishes. Granted, it would come in handy for making a pot of chili or some spaghetti as well.

The best source I have found for pots, pans, silverware, etc to add to my camping gear is the local Goodwill. One could likely outfit a whole campsite for $20-$30 assuming you chose not to just use some of your normal stuff from home.

Campfire Stuff

There is really not much to say on this one. A good lighter, some folding chairs, perhaps some hot dog pokers. Sticking with the walmart theme, since I still have their website up in another tab, Basic folding chairs are $7 a piece. Hot dog sticks come in at $2 for a four pack, lighters can be had at the local gas station for about a buck.

campfire

Now, firewood is likely to be another expense. Anything from those $4 five hour firelogs from the hardware store to buying split wood on site. Depends on where you are, what you want, and the campground rules. One thing I like to do for fire starting is to get one of those fire logs and cut it into roughly 2″  thick hockey pucks. I then wrap the pucks in waxed paper and they make real easy fire starters.

Fun Stuff

Depending on your families tastes, perhaps a board game or some cards. a Frisbee, and sportsball of some type to toss about. Basically the kinds of things your family finds fun.

As much as I love to sit out after kids are asleep and the fire has died looking at the night sky, I’ll be the first to admit a flashlight comes in really handy around camp.

For starters my kids were big on a combination of flashlight tag and shining lights in peoples faces when talking to them, though your mileage may vary.

Either way you will want to be able to see in the dark, whether if its just to find your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night or to chase the kids around the camp.

I found two that tied for the best deal and both kind of surprised me. Four LED flashlights and two LED headlamps plus the 18 batteries it takes to fill them all for $10. Headlamps come in really handy if you are trying to work on something in the dark and need your hands free.

flashlightThe next lacks the utility of the headlamps, but I think more than makes up for it in sheer volume of stuff. Ten of those same LED flashlights, and the thirty batteries it would take to run them all, for the same $10.

flashlight 2

I honestly expected to spend more for the batteries than for this.

Not So Fun Stuff

You definitely need a first aid kit (about $10 to $20 for a premade basic kit, or variable depending what you get if you build your own)

first aid

Some basic tools. A hammer for tent pegs, pliers for various things, maybe a screw driver or two, some leather work gloves to act as pot holders and for general safety when working with the campfire, and of course some duct tape. Never leave home without some duct tape.

duct tape

Garbage bags, cleaning supplies for doing dishes, toilet paper in case the campground runs out, hand sanitizer, and of course bug spray.

Summary

Honestly that’s my basic list of things to get started.

We have a shelter that cost us $50, a $20 air mattress, we can bring blankets from home, a $19 cooler, four folding chairs for $28, assorted pots and pans from the goodwill for another $25 or so, some hot dog sticks for $2, $10 for some flashlights and batteries, a plastic tote for another $10, then $20 for a basic first aid kit, and lastly a buck for a lighter.

That’s a guesstimate of about $185 to get started for a family of four.

Granted, that doesn’t include food or bug spray or any of the other consumables, and assumes you’ll use some things from around the house, but this would be enough to get you started.

Like I said in the beginning, it’s better to get out there and start having fun with the cheaper gear, you can always upgrade later. Memories with the family, you can’t go back and redo it.

See you by the fire,

Dech

Where Dech Ponders Getting Back to Nature, or Possibly Plans his Midlife Crisis

As those who have followed this site for a long time know I am very fond of outdoor activities. You also know I write about what is on my mind, not just about WoW. (which I’m not even playing at the moment)

Many years ago as a teenager I was into backpacking and canoe camping with my scout troop. I didn’t have to do much of the planning and I had my parents around to provide me with the gear. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Fast forward to my late 20’s and My wife and I would take our kids car camping at least once or twice a year. It was a lot of fun, and something we still enjoy.

As I got back into scouts as a scoutmaster I found that most of the camping done in our area is also car camping. Well, that’s fine, the families loved it, the scouts had the advantage of a big ‘ol trailer full of everything that you could think of.

One thing I have found that I miss is the feeling of camping with a small group, off the beaten path, with just what we carried in on our backs.

Well, my kids are grown now with my youngest being 18. I’m not getting any younger, but at 45 I’m still in good enough health to hit the backcountry a few more times.

So perhaps a year ago I started looking into what kinds of backpacking was available near me, and what kind of gear I would need to get back out on the trail.

Holy crap is there a lot of gear out there compared to what was available when I was a kid. There are also a lot of opinions on what to buy and what to avoid.

I have started making a plan and making a list.

As I go I’m planning to post more on what actual choices I’ve made and my reasoning behind them.

Getting Started

My challenge here is twofold. I need to have appropriate gear or the trip will be miserable at best, unsafe at worst. On the other hand, I don’t know if the rest of my family will be interested in going more than once, so I don’t want to invest a ton of money in gear.

Now, even if we never backpack again there are several things that could easily pull double duty when car camping. Lightweight sleeping bags are a good example. Those will work for camping whether from the trunk of the car or in the backcountry.

I figured the first things to pick up were what my old scoutmaster once called the “Big Three”. My pack, my shelter, and my sleeping system (sleeping bag and sleeping pad).

So here we have where I am now. Researching gear and planning purchases in such a way as to make the trip safe and enjoyable while not having to take out a second mortgage.

Seriously, A quick look online shows that there are some tents alone that go for several hundred dollars and only sleep one person. I could easily get a pack full of gear costing upwards of a thousand dollars per person. That’s simply not in my budget.

Next time I’ll get into my choices for the big three. If you have any ideas fire away, I’m all ears.

What happens when there are no good guys?

I find myself sitting here pondering something, the creation of yet another alt.

An alt to level slowly, uncaring about whether they ever see end game content or not.

One to go experience the story as its told while I’m leveling, as opposed to going full heirlooms and burning my way thru the zones, just killing the quest mobs and looting anything that sparkles.

Thinking about this I ran into a problem.

I’m planning to level as Horde, as most of my friends are there, but story wise it’s hard to wrap my head around wanting to be a part of that faction.

The Orcs, well, we have the whole Garrosh as a genocidal madman thing going on, and many following him. He’s even going to go on a recruiting spree thru the dark portal, and I may end up fighting my evil grandpa.

Something to do with the characterization makes me not want to go that route. Even Thrall, a character that once held my respect, is now in my mind complicit in Garroshes actions. After all, who made Garrosh warchief?

Then we have the Forsaken.

They have an interesting starting zone, and I did play thru most of the quests (at light speed, full heirlooms, never reading more than needed to know what to go kill). A lot of what they do just kind of gives me the creeps from a story perspective.  The biggest thing though, the events at the Wrathgate.

The Forsaken are members of the Horde only because it offers some bit of protection. A military alliance of convenience. They are actively trying to make a plague that will turn the whole world into forsaken.

Sorry, I just can’t get on board with that.

Goblins in and of themselves are pretty cool. The starting zone is pretty fun and well laid out, though it’s a bit of bizarro world mixed with the fantasy setting. My biggest problem is the faction leader, Galliwix.

The fact that he ended up as the faction leader I simply can’t understand. He left most of his people to die on Kezan and was planning on selling the rest into slavery.

I don’t know about you, but any Goblin character of mine would much rather kill him than follow him as a leader. (Has they made the faction leader Sassy Hardwrench we wouldn’t be having this conversation).

One of the things I have to wonder is who was the planed buyer. Looking at the map I don’t see any alliance cities nearby where my goblin washed ashore. Just food for thought.

Then we have the Blood elves.

I don’t know. Perhaps it’s all the time I spent grinding sunfury signets back in the day, but I just can’t wrap my head around playing a blood elf. Not to mention some of the underlying issues they have with substance abuse. (I wonder if there is an NPC named something like Walter White who makes really good mana crystals)

Trolls? Well, my first main character was a Troll. Still is actually, though I no longer play him. Once again, How many trolls out there are the bad guys? Troll raids, check. Troll heroics, check. Troll quest mobs, check.

Last but not least we come to the Tauren.

Well, now that I think about it, I don’t really recall them being painted in a bad light thru the story. Perhaps I missed that? The only thing that I find kinda odd is that Thunder Bluff, the home city of the Tauren, has most of it’s buildings made of leather. That always made me curious.

Ok, enough of my babbling about the problems with the Horde races. I’m sure I could find just as much bad by going thru the Alliance races as well.

Honestly I think that’s one of the problems with WoW.

Over the years there have been many tales told as part of the ongoing war between the factions.

Theremore.

Wrathgate.

Camp Tajuro.

Gilneas.

In an effort to give each side a rallying cry against the other, time and time again, they have had to paint both factions in a bad light. They both have done some pretty horrible things to one another.

There is no black and white. Both sides are a dingy tarnished grey.

There really are no good guys.

Bucket list?

So lately I’ve heard people talking about Mists of Pandaria  bucket lists.

Are there that many buckets that we need to list them all?

Does that have anything to do with this expansion being MoP?

I mean, yes, MoPs need buckets, but why a whole list?

Oh, my bad.

You ment THAT kind of bucket list.

Boy, I feel silly now.

Well, I’ll tell you what, here is my bucket list in a single picture.

Dechen

Thats Dechen, the Pally that I am nearly done leveling towards this next expansion.

I came back to the game right after Blizzcon, recharged and excited. Not so much for this expansion, which just never really clicked with me. I’m excited for the expansion to come.

In my opinion both Cata and MoP were rather lackluster. I’m hoping to fall back in love with the game with WoD.

Anyhow, my list.

Its pretty simple really. Since I came back after quite a break, I started from scratch with a new character. She is currently 89, though I hope to fix that soon.

  • Finish Leveling Dechen to 90.
  • Level Fishing, Cooking and First Aid to max.
  • Choose two professions and level them as well.
  • Gather the set of armor I want for transmog. (The Karazhan tanking plate)
  • Liquidate all the excess stuff I have in my assorted guild vaults.
  • End up with one banker guild and bank alt on each faction.
  • If I still have time, pick a class to level Horde side and do the same over there. (if not, that’s my free 90)

I think that just about covers it for me.

I’m so far behind I don’t have any raiding goals, no major achievements to grind, nothing really other than using this content to get ready to launch into WoD straight away.

How about you?

Any plans?

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This should be a simple question

I was spending my Monday morning thinking about my future plans in World of Warcraft. More specifically about how and where I plan to level characters in Warlords of Draneor.

In the end I plan to only level two characters to the cap next expansion.

I figure One Horde and One Alliance will allow me to play with any friends that happen to be doing something at the time i’m on. If I have too many as I have in the past I’ll simply burn out and accomplish nothing. 

For now my goal heading toward WoD is to get those two characters leveled up to 90, get their bank alts leveled at least to the point of having a mount to run around town on, and to spread my assets between those two toons.

Alliance side I already have pretty well set.  I’m leveling on Draenor, in the guild Mythos. I have plenty of resources there to support the pally, even a few high levels (85’s) I can use as bank alts.

Horde side is a different story.

I have three places I could easily call home. All have their ups and downs.

On One server I have a friend that I talk to quite a bit, who is fun to game with, and who is often online at the oddball hours that I manage to fit WoW into my life. I also have no resources at all there, beyond that friendship.

Granted, I could simply move money over via buying and selling pets so that’s not really an issue. With Heirlooms about to become cross server mailable why not move there? It’s a bit of work, but such is life. I plan to turn all my assets into cash soon anyway.

Second is a server with a number of good friends, a place I really liked to call home. A place with about 5K in cash and easily 10K worth of stuff in my personal Gbank. Hell, I even have some heirlooms there.

On the down side, I haven’t seen any of them online in quite a while. The heirlooms and cash, while making life easier, are not that big of a deal. As I said, i’m liquidating everything anyway.

Third is the server I most recently played on. It has a large active guild, one that will probably be doing Mythic content at some point. They aren’t a very social bunch, but there is little to no drama. (It’s simply not tolerated, which I like.)

I have about 30K G sitting there, plus 12 guild bank tabs full of stuff spread over three vaults. I don’t know how much it’s all worth, but I’ll conservatively say 100K.

Just a quick look says that I should probably level on the server with all the extra resources, after all I will be able to run just about anything with any friends that come online anyhow right?

Does it really matter what server I’m on?

Once I consolidate everything all the resources will be split between the two, so maybe it really doesn’t matter?

Why is this buzzing around in my head so much?

It should be simple right?

Right?

Visions of a better mobile app

As I’m sitting here on a quiet Sunday morning I do what I normally do when I have a bit of free time.

I goof around on my phone.

As I often do, I log into the mobile app to see if there’s anyone online that might want to chat. While I was bouncing from character the character to check the various guild chats I realized I had accidentally deleted a “chatting alt”, and now couldn’t talk to a group of my friends until I get back online and make a new one.

First world problems, right?

Well, that may be, but it did get me to thinking about the mobile app itself. More specifically how it could be so much more than it is now.

I know there was some talk at Blizzcon of having the ability to do the pet battling minigame from mobile devices at some point. That would be pretty neat.

How about managing your farm? Or even your garrison perhaps?

That would be pretty awesome. I could do those kinds of things while I’m on my lunch break at work.

The biggest thing I think should be added is the ability to log into my list of battlenet friends and chat with those people, just like I currently can with guildmates.

Blizzard is certainly encouraging the social community aspect of the game by encouraging players to build their own groups. With that in mind I think being able to chat with ones friends in the mobile format would come in pretty handy for coordinating things.

One caveat though, it would have to have an “Invisible” mode. Simply logging into the app to check your auctions, or farm, or something else, does not mean you are in a mood to chat. Actually I kinda wish I had that option when logging in, preferably something I could set on a per character basis.

Yes, I was one of those that used to have stealth alts for when I wasn’t feeling social.

Anyhow, that’s my random thoughts on a chilly Sunday morning.

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