Saturday, August 13, 2016

SATURDAY’S in POLK COUNTY ARKANSAS By Larry Mountainborn Harmon Friday afternoons after school could be very busy, or at least it seemed so to me. They went like this. Get off of the school bus at the end of the road that ran out to our farm. It was a mile and a quarter and I could get in trouble for dallying along the way. I was bad about getting distracted by the cool things such as squirrels, terrapins, rabbits, etc. . Then, ole scoop the family Rat Terrier and my buddy, would meet me along the way somewhere. It was pretty often that I heard, “you better get on around, you have kindling to split and a bath to take”. On Fridays I had to make sure that there was enough kindling and cook stove wood in the box on the back porch to last a couple of days because Saturday was town day. Drawing well water and filling up the hot water reservoir on the old brown and cream colored cast iron stove in the kitchen and filling the sink side buckets, as well as the drinking bucket with the enamel dipper was part of Friday’s chore list. But the water drawing didn’t end with the kitchen. I had to draw bath water for that old galvanized washtub that hung on the back porch. In warmer weather, I could skip drawing the bath water and slip off down to the branch in front of the house with a bar of soap and a towel. As the weather cooled and when I finally stretched that branch bath as long as I could stand it, I had to draw well water to bathe in. By the time I came back up the hill from the branch it would be getting dark enough that I needed to watch my step while keeping an eye out for snakes. The coal oil lamps in the living room were coming on by then. And I could always tell when Grandma lit great grandma’s lamp it had a tall glass globe/chimney and it was much brighter. Scoop would be “muting” around by the branch, but he could always beat me to the house, noisily crossing the front porch and tapping the front door screen. By then everyone was beginning to gather in the living room and when I came through the door I often heard, “your Saturday clothes are laid out on your bed, don’t get them dirty”. The old wooden battery radio cabinet was the focus of attention on a Friday evening, because the Grand Old Opry was on then. Radio station WSM was located at 650 on the dial. However Grand pa had made a small pencil mark near the number to fine tune the AM frequency. While the Old tube type radio was warming up, Grand pa would fill up the living room wood stove, if it was cold weather. If not he would fill his pipe with tobacco, carefully tamping it down and lighting it as we listened to see if the reception would be good on that night. Warm weather meant less of a chance of good reception. All too soon it was time to turn in for the night. Usually the last thing I would hear before dropping off to sleep would Grand pa putting wood in the living room stove and Grand Ma walking back to the kitchen with a coal oil lamp to shake down the ashes in the cook stove fire box and add wood before dampening it down for the night. Even though four thirty came early, I seldom heard the alarm clock go off, especially on a Saturday morning. In the predawn cool of Summer time I could hear the gentle creak of the boards in the floor of the house as Grand pa tended the living room stove and Grand ma went to the kitchen. The creak of cast iron stove doors seemed to be my signal to get up and get going. In warm weather the living room stove didn’t need wood so Grand pa would draw an extra bucket of water for the kitchen. Grand Ma always did the dishes before leaving out for town. One of my favorite sounds in the morning was hearing that large old wooden bowl put on the counter and the biscuit dough being kneaded by Grand ma. It had a certain rhythm and smell as the buttermilk was poured in. By the time the biscuits were put in the oven I was already getting instructions about what to fetch to the table, stove or sink counter to help out. The old wooden ice box was outside on the back porch to one side of the kitchen door by the wood and kindling box. At some point while the biscuits are beginning to brown and the gravy is beginning to thicken, I would get the word to shake down the ashes in the cook stove and add wood to the fire box. During one of my fetching runs out to the icebox I would hear the harness jingle as Grand pa brought the team of Percheron draft horses down the hill from the barn and hooked them up to the wagon. The old blue speckled coffee pot had been slid back off of the stove eye and was slowly percolating as I waited for Grand pa to come out of the dark, stomping his feet on the porch steps before coming into the kitchen. Always grand ma said “pour PaPa a cup of coffee and come to the table”. When we had Black strap molasses it was a tough decision about which to pour over smoking hot, well buttered cat head biscuits. By the time “town Saturday” came around we were out of, or nearly out of ice in the ice box, so one of the things that we had to make sure was in the wagon, for the trip to town, was an old heavy quilt, several clean tow sacks and a tarp to put over the fifty pound block of ice that we would bring back. Soon Grand ma was mentally going down a check list of things to be sure we had, such as an umbrella and a collapsing drinking cup in every ones pocket so we could get a drink from the spring in Janssen Park. I always had mine in my pocket because I would often slip away and be roaming the town at large and if I came back to the wagon, I ran the risk of being collared and taken in hand to stay with the adults. Lots of folks brought extra produce to town and we also did. Packing flats of eggs so they wouldn’t break and produce so it would not get bruised. Most mornings the sun would be coming up as we listened to the wagon brake squeal on the metal rims of the wood spoke wheels, holding the wagon back while going down the Rock creek hill. When we got to town we would make the rounds of the stores where Grand ma traded, dropping off eggs and produce as needed, before tying up the team and wagon by the bear pen in Jansen Park. Many that brought wagons and teams to town wouldn’t park near the bear pen because the bear would spook them. Training the team about the bears smell and sounds meant that in the summer’s heat of the day, the wagon and team would be in the shade.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

CAMPFIRES by Larry Mountainborn Harmon  July 9, 2016  By mountainborn  In Camping Tips  No Comments lakegreeson It is that special time of day on most camping trips, not long after happy hour, when the evening breeze carries the magical aroma of campfire smoke. That time of the day when folks gather with their lawn chairs to review the days fun and plan the adventures of the coming day. I am convinced that there are no average or generic campfires, and, that many of the worlds ailments can be clearly defined and resolved while looking across the campfire through a light blue haze of smoke. Yet, some campfires will stick in our minds more readily than others. Today I was pleasantly reminded of one such campfire. Jugfest 2009 was in full swing and a whole gaggle of molded fiberglass Nomads were camped out on Lake Greeson in South West Arkansas. I had just retired from many years of public service, though Betty was still on the job at that time. Here is the video that I found while looking for something else. It caught me by surprise and brought a broad smile to my face ! This, for Betty and I, was one of those memorable campfires.
Sorry about the poor quality of the video but the audio was the main thing, for after all, we were sitting around a campfire. Turn your volume up and imagine the expressions on our faces as we heard it for the first time. Our clever entertainer friend even worked the name of our boat,”Harm’s Weigh”, into the verses ! I wish that I had caught the jaw drop expression on Betty’s face when the author/singer referred to how she got her nick name, “butcherknife”. Should you or a family member be allergic to the smoke of a campfire then consider a propane campfire to set the stage for a good night’s rest while camping. Either way, here’s hoping we see you around the campfire where problems are solved and memories are made !

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

SNOW CAMPING by Larry Mountainborn Harmon

Home / Camping Tips / SNOW CAMPING by Larry Mountainborn Harmon TrujilloBettShovelsnow  SNOW CAMPING by Larry Mountainborn Harmon  June 11, 2016  By mountainborn  In Camping Tips  No Comments Our campground assignment for the summer was up high, at 10800 ft., and we were arriving early, so the likelihood of the road being still blocked by snow drifts was high. Because we would be passing near by, to get to our staging area, we thought that we would swing by and take a look anyhow. Here is what we found.
Local fishermen hoping to be the first to fish the lake were stuck in a drift that blocked the road. Though we were hooked to our Oliver trailer, we were still able to pull them straight back then turn around to get out. Yep, welcome to the front range of the Rocky Mountains, we were just a bit early ! Two weeks and another snow storm later we were able to get into the campground.
The post in the foreground is our water hookup and the picnic table top is just barely showing above the snow bank in the background.
Later in the week, Betty digs around the picnic table, looking for the fire ring. It was a couple of days later that she found it on the other side of the table. Before we were able to get our Oliver into the campground, we got in with the Jeep to check things out. Our four season camper with a couple of solar panels and an extra propane tank kept us comfortable even with on going, early season snow storms, during the days that we worked to get the campground ready for opening day.
In this photo the solar panels are covered with snow from a overnight storm. The sun came out and by mid morning our battery’s were topped off again. It was pretty nice to be able to catch the news and weather thanks to the King Dome satellite TV. Between snow showers we put our screen room on the awning and set up Betty’s cook shack. Cooking cornbread and biscuits above ten thousand feet is quite a trick but Betty has got it all going on !

Saturday, March 12, 2016


Could a macerator be in your future ? By Larry Harmon The first time that we considered a macerator, our Oliver had sat in the RV port with the holding tanks about half full. We had stayed at the lake until late in the day and just didn’t have time to dump the tanks because we had to be at work the next day. Well, naturally, one thing led to another, and the following weekend we had out of state visitors. Yep, you know it, they also wanted to stay in the Oliver during their visit, to check it out. Not being tank volume conscious boondockers, out visitors waved their way down the driveway with us looking at approximately a forty mile round trip to dump those full tanks. You know that is when I thought how easy it would be to run a water hose over to the sewer line clean out cap and pump the tanks out with a macerator pump. That way we wouldn’t even have to hitch up to the Oliver ! Later, I bought a macerator pump and a couple of hoses that would readily stow in the back bumper storage. The hoses were 5/8 of a inch for maximum flow and stored in their own roll up case. Here is a look at a different one that we have now, but, it is the same portable style that will stow easily. One great feature of the macerator was that I could pump up hill as high as ten feet if needed. This set up gave us years of good service, weighed little, took very little space to store and it was simple to clean and sanitize. As we traveled dumping was usually done with the regular stinky slinky hose, but when the occasion demanded we had the macerator and we did use it quite often even out on the road. Our overall macerator experience was so positive that we have had one with us ever since as we travel about America.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


SALT FREE OLLIE ! Wintering up down on the Gulf of Mexico and wondering about the possible effects of salt air on your aluminum framed Oliver ? Not a problem ! Back in the winter months of 2009/2010, Betty and I spent eleven weeks down on the Padre Island National sea shore. Our senior pass, read that as “geezer pass”, got us into the park for free and the associated half off senior discount let us stay right on the beach in the paved but primitive campground for $4. Per. day ! The stay limit was fourteen days, so we left for two days, giving us a chance to do laundry, restock groceries and so forth. Then move right back to the beach. The campground we stayed in was just up the beach and was ran by the County, located right by the Bob Hall fishing pier, and again, was right on the beach. The Jeep that we towed our Oliver, hull #3, was driven on the beach for many miles almost daily and our Ollie was exposed to the salt air environment constantly. Our salt abatement strategy was to drive the Jeep and the Oliver through one of the local salt free car baths upon arrival and when departing the area. These are easy to locate and are operated by coin or credit card. At first when you enter the car wash you can feel the powerful surge of the high volume of the rinse. And that high volume rinse is a good thing, for it removes little pockets of very fine salt laden sand that will be in every niche. Because our winter stay was longer than our plan, we actually rinsed at a car wash three times. I am not convinced that three times was necessary. Most of the salt away car washes are plainly marked and simple to use. We probably did over worry the issue, since we rinsed in clear water then followed up with a separate rinse that included the salt away solution in the rinse.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Propane Quick Connect, are you ready to plug in ?

When building your Oliver, as you work on your build sheet, you may decide to add a propane QUICK CONNECT to facilitate use of various propane appliances such as a BarBeQue grill or Little Red campfire in a can. In the photo above the female fitting on the left is where your appliance will be plugged into. This port is often times mounted to the trailer tongue on the curb side of the trailer. A lever valve is just behind the female port as a emergency shut off. The part on the right, in the photo above, will go on your appliance hose to attach it to the quick connect. So, you are ready to hook that grille up to propane for the first time, here is something to look for during your project. If your appliance has a hose with this connector on it then it is designed to hook up directly to a tank like the those under the cover on your trailer's tongue. This is a high pressure connector and your appliance has a regulator to drop it down down to a useable value. Now if you replace this hose with one that has the male quick connect half on it and leave the appliance's regulator in place, your appliance will not work like it should because there will be one regulator behind another, dropping the pressure well below a useable value. Should you need to use the appliance before you replace it's hose, regulator and add the male fitting, you can hook your high pressure connector direct to your other propane tank that is on the tongue. I think that the easy solution to resolve all of the "what if's", might be to have your appliance with you when you pick up your new Oliver and ask the factory technicians if it is ready to plug in to the quick connect and use.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Part eight cooking with grandma's castiron cookware

COOKING WITH GRANDMA’S CAST IRON COOKWARE A SERIES OF ARTICLES ABOUT REFURBISHING AND USING CASTIRON BY LARRY & BETTY HARMON Part eight- storage, care and maintenance of the outside of cast iron In this final part of the Dutch oven series, the meat of our topic has been revealed right along through the series, a little at a time, out of necessity, in order to fully cover each area. So, let’s pull those little fragments together. INSIDE cast iron care, maintenance and storage. Simply put, oil it, and keep it oiled. Cooking oil of the type that you plan to cook with will work nicely. Some folks will fold up a few layers of paper towel, soaking them slightly in the oil and leave them inside the cast iron so that it is handy to rub it with. If this is your choice care must be exercised not to over saturate the towels as they will attract dust and so forth. OUTSIDE cast iron care is often done in one of two ways, lightly oiled or well smutted as it comes from the cook fire. Either way provides a quality rust resistant coating and it works well. However both ways will rub off onto anything that they touch. A carrying case , box or bag is in order. Heavy fabric shopping bags seem to work well for us. Some cast iron cookware can be quite collectable and fairly valuable, so keeping it in that “ready to use” condition is a natural concern. Learning how to determine the value and collectability of your cast iron is not difficult at all since there are so many on line resources out there on the internet. Here is a link to one such page that talks about the numbers on the cookware and how to read them.