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.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Childhood memories BECAUSE OF A DAY THAT LIVED ON IN INFAMY Dad was in the US Navy at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. And, he was an E-7 First Class Aviation Metalsmith, teaching the Aviation Metalsmith trade to sailors, before they were deployed to the fleet. We were living in enlisted housing nearby the Naval Air Station Alameda close to Oakland California. I was too young to remember much at that time, but curiosity caused me to inquire of Mom & Dad in later years. It took awhile after the attack at Pearl Harbor, for us to go, but Dad was sent to Pearl Harbor right away and was stationed at Naval Air Station Ford Island. Probably because there were well over three hundred aircraft that were damaged or destroyed during the attack. It was only after it was decided by the war department that it was safe, that we were allowed to travel as dependents, to Honolulu on the Hospital ship USS Benevolence. My first early childhood memories was living in Enlisted Navy Housing and playing in and on the partially buried bomb shelters. Naturally this was a strictly forbidden activity, but ever so much fun. Even though down Inside the shelters was dark, dank and mostly skeery ! Made out of very thick concrete, the bomb shelters were shaped like a Quonset hut with rounded sides that we could scramble up quite readily. The Navy housing was always manicured and neat, but the nearby bomb shelters were always grown over, mostly I guess to hide them. The shelter nearest to our home was covered with wood rose vines that made a good hand hold when scrambling up to the top of the shelter. Once up on top of the large, long shelter, there was a long wood rose tunnel running full length down it. Now, unless you have been there, it would be hard to understand just what a wonderful play house this was. With sunlight filtering through the vines that had flowers that closed up at night, then opened up in daylight and seed pods that were shaped kind of like a wooden rose, it was colorful and nearly always had a gentle cool breeze flowing through it. This majestic hidden playhouse did have it’s downside though. Because it was a place that we weren’t supposed to be, we would at the first sign of adult activity, go quiet and still. All in all though, it was a pretty peaceful place to be. The concrete was cool to the touch and felt quite pleasant to lay down on, during the heat of the day. Lots of times I would go there by myself just to lay quietly on my back watching the wildlife that also thought it was a cool place to hang out. One day I awoke to Mom calling me, she was standing at the bottom of the shelter looking up when I peeked out. Yeah, I hadn’t fooled her by hiding then falling asleep, she knew just right where to find me, it was time to pull the “Santa brought it”, red wagon that I had wanted so badly, down to the Navy Exchange Commissary, one of my least favorite things to do. Now you would think that I would like to pull that wagon to the commissary since I probably pulled it a hundred miles all around the housing area while playing with the other kids ! Years later. While in the Navy myself, I always felt that it was a Honor to man the rail and salute as my current ship that I was stationed on passed Battleship row. It was quite a sight in the early years, even though there was no memorial, just rusting metal sticking up out of the harbor, with tiny droplets of oil coming to the surface, much like the remains of the Arizona was sobbing quietly in grief.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


COOKING WITH GRANDMA’S CAST IRON COOKWARE A SERIES OF ARTICLES ABOUT REFURBISHING AND USING CASTIRON BY LARRY & BETTY HARMON Part seven- “I lost my cast iron’s seasoning trying something new, what now ? It is a quick fix that you can do readily after cleaning your cast iron cookware. It is just a simple matter of preheating the cookware, adding cooking oil and rubbing it down with a paper towel. Here is a look at the finished cookware ready to use. The easiest thing to do before putting up your cast iron up is to deep fry something in it then wipe it down with a clean dry paper towel. Your cookware will look like that in the video and be nearly ready for your next use. During our extended fishing trips Betty has a couple of tricks that make things easier and reduce the cost of multiple fish fry’s. Your cooking oil will have cornmeal and French fry bits in it and look a bit tired. One of the last things that we cook in the oil after the fish, while the oil is still at a good cooking temperature is sweet potato fries , French fries and onion rings, all together. You will be amazed at how the oil clears up ! Then it is time to strain the oil and store it until the next use. To strain the oil, Betty uses a cotton jelly strainer because it can withstand fairly hot oil, yet, strains well.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

COOKING WITH GRANDMA’S CAST IRON COOKWARE PART SIX A EIGHT SERIES OF ARTICLES ABOUT REFURBISHING AND USING CASTIRON BY LARRY & BETTY HARMON Part six- “do I use a tripod, a campfire grille or on the ground ?” Most of the time your fuel source will dictate which method will work best for you. For example if you are cooking with live coals on the ground and your fuel source is foraged but un cut limb wood, the tripod will give you some good options. Because live coals vary in intensity rapidly, a tripod can give you the ability to adjust the proximity of the Dutch oven to the heat source quickly without removing it from the fire. You can raise and lower the oven by moving the “s” hook up or down the support chain. If the fire wood is limb length foraged fire wood, then it can be end fed into the existing bed of coals, then as it is pushed to the center of the circle, it will crowd the coals up into a more focused pile under the oven, at the same time that fuel is added. The tripod will give many options for suspending different types of cookware over the heat source.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


COOKING WITH GRANDMA’S CAST IRON COOKWARE A SERIES OF ARTICLES ABOUT REFURBISHING AND USING CASTIRON BY LARRY & BETTY HARMON Part five- charcoal briquettes or campfire coals, your choice When the wagon trains were moving west as America was being settled, there weren’t any charcoal briquettes down at the corner convenience store, so everyone used hard wood or buffalo chips for cooking fuel. While cooking with coals from the campfire, using a grid works well for the bottom heat in a Dutch oven, but what about the top ? Most users put live coals up onto the Dutch oven top with a metal scoop or tongs. Live coals from the campfire are not tightly compacted like the charcoal briquettes are and must be replenished more often. While on the topic about wagon trains and live coals, I have been asked why the Dutch oven could be seen hanging from underneath the wagon at the back. It was a safe way to transport fire from one night camp to another. They would put a scoop of ashes in the oven, then a scoop of live coals topped with a scoop of ash and the lid put on. Because live coals tend to burn with a higher intensity they burn out quicker and need to be replenished more often, making temperature regulation somewhat more difficult. A long handle shovel makes handling live coals more comfortable because of the more intense heat. Betty and I like live coals for Dutch oven biscuits in the morning so we will add extra fuel to the campfire and shovel dirt over it to bank it up overnight. That newly added fuel will become charcoal overnight and you just pull the cover of dirt off to the side, shoveling the live coals as needed. As the dirt is removed the charcoal gets the air that is needed for combustion and begin to glow brightly immediately. Again, a long handle shovel is a handy thing.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

COOKING WITH GRANDMA’S CAST IRON COOKWARE A SERIES OF ARTICLES ABOUT REFURBISHING AND USING CASTIRON BY LARRY & BETTY HARMON Part four- cooking with cast iron, applying heat evenly to top and bottom Needing to apply heat to the top and the bottom at the same time is almost exclusively a Dutch oven thing. For example when coking corn dodgers, it is usually a cast iron frying pan that is used and the dodger is turned as needed with a fork or spatula. Here is a look at cooking corn dodgers over a campfire. Dutch oven cooking however seems to need a bit more heat on the bottom and a bit less on the top. Our rough rule of thumb for most recipes is about one fourth less coals on the top. Only time and experience will get it perfected to suit your old traditional family recipes. In this short video Betty is putting the corn bread batter in the pre heated Dutch oven. After adding the batter, the lid is put in place and the charcoal is put on the oven lid. The charcoal on the Dutch oven bottom is on a sheet of aluminum foil because we didn’t have a good dry layer of ash in our fire pit. We were having daily spring time showers and the foil directed the heat up to the Dutch oven instead of being wicked away by the damp ground. Though not quite done yet, here is our first peek at our corn bread. As you can see in these short videos it is a fairly simple process and the even distribution of heat makes for well browned and delicious campfire corn bread !

Saturday, October 3, 2015

COOKING WITH GRANDMA’S CAST IRON COOKWARE A SERIES OF ARTICLES ABOUT REFURBISHING AND USING CASTIRON BY LARRY & BETTY HARMON Part three- “Once the cast iron is ready how do I keep it that way ?” As a child here in these Ouachita mountain’s I discovered that there were some pretty cool secrets to be gleaned from a visit to Grandma’s kitchen. However this neat trick came from helping Granpa’ as we processed a couple of fattening hogs for the freezer. Grandpa deftly removed a couple of hog’s tails and handed them to me, saying that I should take them to Grandma’ who was preparing some of the hog’s finer cuts in the kitchen. When I asked if she was going to cook up the hog tails, she laughed out loud, put a small slice of fresh buttermilk pie on the table and said to me, “wash up and snack on this while I tell you a story.” Now, Grandma’s story was a trip back in time to life in the mountains between the two world wars when times was hard and life was a bit “catch as catch can”. The short of the story is that most mountaineer’s cabins had a pig tail on a string hanging from a nail up on the wall behind the old wood cook stove. After cleaning the cast iron, it was warmed on the stove and the pig tail which was almost all fat, would be rubbed all over it to keep it oiled up and rust free. He, he, now, there are ever so many reasons that we aren’t doing it that way now a’ day’s ! But the main principle of the story is the way to have your cast iron ready for it’s next outing. It just needs a light sheen of oil wiped on it while warm, using a paper towel. Then it is ready for storage. Yep, it is just that simple, pig tail not required !

Sunday, September 20, 2015


COOKING WITH GRANDMA’S CAST IRON COOKWARE A SERIES OF ARTICLES ABOUT REFURBISHING AND USING CASTIRON BY LARRY & BETTY HARMON Part two – Re furbishing, seasoning and maintenance Because of it’s very nature, our much beloved cast iron cookware can get a light haze of red rust on it before you know it. Especially here in the humid deep south. A light haze is readily removed with a scouting pad and cooking oil while the cast iron is warm. Wiping with a white paper towel and light cooking oil will let you know when you have removed it all. Here is a quick 17 second video of the finished and ready to use cookware. A slightly heavier coating of rust may be removed with a more abrasive scouring pad followed by the paper towel wipe down process. Deep pit’s in your cookware can sometimes be addressed with a rotary brush or a grinder. However, it must be remembered that one of cast iron cookware’s most endearing trait’s is that it heats evenly across it’s entire surface. Any thin spots that are made during the restoration process can cause it to burn, discolor and/or stick. Excessive grinding can ruin cast iron leaving you with only a cool display piece. Our favorite seasoning method, except for the seasoning of brand new cast iron, is to deep fry in it, for example, having a fish fry at the end of a camping or fishing trip. Then carefully wiping the cast iron clean while still hot. Keeping the cookware carefully oiled seems to work best and always when warm so that the pores are open to receive and retain the oil. Maintaining that great finish during storage can be tricky, but gets much simpler when it is stored in a temperature/humidity controlled environment. Because we prefer that the outside of our cookery stay campfire ready and some what smutted up, we store and transport our cast iron in heavy coarse fabric shopping bags, making it easier to handle and it keeps the smut from transferring to other things in the storage area. One of Betty’s little tricks for keeping the rust at bay is to collect the desiccant capsules, that we find in many over the counter meds such as antacids, put them in a sock and drop them in the cookware before closing the lid tightly. When the desiccant becomes less effective, she bakes them dry to re-use them.

Saturday, September 5, 2015


A SERIES OF ARTICLES ABOUT REFURBISHING AND USING CASTIRON BY LARRY & BETTY HARMON Part One -“I found Grandma’s Dutch Oven in storage all rusted up, now what ?” Every time you saw it while in storage, it put a smile on your face as you remembered those delicious treats that Grandma’ surprised everyone with, when you were a kid. Then after that smile, the next thought was, “it looks rustier every time I see it, I sure need to do something with it”. But, just what, you might think. Most of us have helped with and been around Dutch oven cooking off and on for years, but looking at a rusty Dutch oven can leave us scratching our heads, about just what needs to be done next. Here is a quick video we took during our last boondocking fishing trip that addresses cleaning, seasoning and putting cast iron back in service. In this case we used a little cooking oil and fine rock salt to work out the surface rust and restore the finish. Pre heating the cast Iron is important in that it opens the pores of the utensil. You may note at the end of the video how the Dutch oven and lid have started to get a polished oil look to it. In this video where Goga is scouring the oven with a brush, you can see that the neatly kept campfire of Opa Ohoyo and Goga uses both wood and charcoal briquette’s and is just a pretty tidy setup. Some folks prefer that the outside of their oven is not scoured but is instead, left in it’s natural campfire smoked condition and that is the case here. . This particular oven does not have the cast Iron legs on the bottom and it must be used with a campfire grille as it is in the video.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

BOONDOCKING PART SIX OF A SIX PART SERIES By Larry Harmon fresh water / black water handling techniques Use of gravity to transfer fluids under boondocking conditions is not practical in many campsites. A couple of transfer pumps can make moving fresh water and black water simple. However those pumps need power and we solve that issue by using a battery jump start power pack on our twelve volt pumps. We clip the color coded power cables to the pump’s negative and positive wires and turn the pump on and off with the power pack’s front panel switch. Our FRESH WATER PUMP is a salvaged pump that had started leaking in the pressure cut off switch’s diaphragm. Instead of throwing it away we converted it into our transfer pump using twelve dollars of hardware store brass fittings, a bit of Teflon tape and our fresh water pump is ready for action. Using water hose fittings we connect our transfer pump and white hose to our trailer mounted tank to put water into our camping trailer. Our transport barrel, complete with brass hose bib to hook up to, cost $40, At a local farm and supply, making it the least expensive of the two pumps. Our BLACK WATER pump is a MACERATOR that we bought new off of EbAY. It and a “roll up flat” 5/8” hose designated for black water only, cost in the neighborhood of $200. Using the macerator pump we can pump black water up hill for short distances. Once again using the power pack and it’s switch for a power source. We chose a macerator that came in a plastic hard case for weight and storage considerations and the reel up, lay flat hose for the same reasons. Our BATTERY JUMPSTART PACK was purchased at a discount tool supply for about $60. We have hauled it many thousands of miles while constantly charging and discharging it under rigorous conditions. A quick word of advice about the power pack. It can have a small inverter and an air compressor built into it as well as a work/safety light and a 12 volt power outlet. This is a place where we felt it well advised to spend a little extra to get one with all of the features that we thought we might need. We even use this battery pack to power up our twelve volt impact wrench that we use during a flat tire change.

Monday, August 3, 2015

BOONDOCKING PART FIVE of a six part series by Larry Harmon

BOONDOCKING PART FIVE Of a six part series by Larry Harmon Extended stays and support methods When you are in your favorite primitive campsite and the ranger comes around to say that your twenty eight day stay will be up tomorrow, and you immediately think, “so soon ?”, you likely have a good system of extended support figured out. In addition to our camping trailer we pull a boat and a small support trailer to our favorite primitive campsites. That trailer has a black water tank and a fresh water tank on it and we will make a short trip to the nearest dump and fresh water fill station every couple of weeks. For many this just isn’t practical and they carry water in a roof top fresh water bladder or jugs, then tow the trailer to dump black water as needed. If your camper is a larger one that it isn’t practical to pull out to a dump station, black water tanks come in various sizes and brand names such as “sani tote” and weight can be an issue for transporting them, for example, at roughly eight pounds per gallon, a thirty five gallon “blue boy” might be more than one would want to handle. Putting the portable black water tank on a receiver hitch cargo carrier works well for dumping, but, may be too high to gravity fill directly. Macerator pumps can solve the problem of getting the black water from the camper to the portable tank and they may be powered from a Jump start battery pack or a trailer plug. We prefer the jumper pack for power because we use it to power up other things around the campground. Generator size can relate directly to your camping style and I tend to look at it this way. Need a microwave, air conditioning or maybe a hair dryer ? Then you need to bring a big generator and a big gas can for it. Most folks can quite readily camp for extended stays with a small quiet and fuel efficient one thousand watt generator that they run sparingly in the morning and maybe in the evening. Ours uses about half a gallon of gasoline in eight hours or roughly four days. Betty and I just completed an extended stay at a lake and it was ever so fine sleeping with the windows open listening to the loons calling across the lake was so wonderful !

Monday, July 20, 2015

BOONDOCKING PART FOUR Of a six part series by Larry Harmon

USFS / BLM / USCOE AND SOME DIFFERENCES THEREIN. Boondocking in these areas is a very cool thing that allows us to enjoy Mother nature’s splendor in a up close and personal way. However each of those agencies have a set of specific requirements that cover the whole spectrum of activities during your stay. Many of the core values for those agency’s are the same, but, and now, that is a big BUT, each of the various Ranger districts can be ran as a small kingdom all unto it’s self, with the ability to adjust the regulations to suit the needs of that particular area. LENGTH OF STAY has a direct impact upon the area and may be regulated individually, but the general rule of thumb is fourteen days then you must move on out. How many additional days that you may stay for the remainder of the year can and often times does vary widely. ELEVATION will often dictate your style of camping because of wide temperature changes from season to season coupled with whether the area is arid, moist or maybe even in monsoon season. Each agency is good to post the individual area’s rules and regulations, so it is a good idea to spend a few minutes to pause and read how that may affect your visit. A quick check in with other campers in your chosen area will get you up to speed on particular’s about distances for dispersed camping and surface discharge of grey water and it’s various acceptable or non-acceptable, local methods. Each district office is a great source for maps, brochures and information about cool features in that area. Sometimes the USFS and BLM share offices in a given area.
USCOE lakes are almost all power generating and flood control lakes that have built up campsites, some with full hookups and some with partial hookups. In the heartland the USCOE many times, has primitive campgrounds with bare bones amenities such as picnic table fire ring and lantern pole, that are in remote locations and there is no charge to stay there. They are usually not advertised and campers depend upon word of mouth to learn of them. USCOE LAKE LEVELS CAN VARY WIDELY, chose your campsite wisely, after observing the high water marks left behind by previous high lake water levels. USFS and BLM lease land for livestock grazing in many western states and livestock can come to visit on occasion. Sheep in these areas are normally accompanied by a sheep herder and his camp wagon. Cattle normally free range and are checked upon by a stockman that is in a pickup with a horse trailer. Both of these stockmen are great sources of local information and because of the solitary nature of their job, will usually chat freely, giving you a perfect source of cool local stuff to see and visit. COYOTE’S, all of the various agency’s campgrounds seem to have a chronic Coyote problem. They are seldom seen and only occasionally heard, but they are there. An unattended pet is at jeopardy and coyotes are serious predators. Though we have covered a lot of ground, we have barely scratched the surface so far as USFS, BLM & USCOE bondocking is concerned. Our time spent boondocking with them is our most fun, memorable and continuous learning adventure that we enjoy. Safe travels and happy bondocking !

Monday, July 6, 2015

BOONDOCKING PART THREE of a six part series by Larry Harmon

Stretching your resources Just suppose that it is a holiday weekend, one of those cool three day holiday’s. You are used to boondocking for Friday night, Saturday and leaving back to civilization on Sunday. But now, you have an extra day to unwind and commune with nature. Most of us only have a limited amount of storage space in our camper and that means packing extra stuff can be a challenge. Boondocker’s have so many clever ways of stretching their resources that we could never cover them all in our limited space, so we will touch base with some of the more common ways and let your imagination be your creative guide.
WATER is heavy, takes up a lot of space and in some places it is not readily available. Under those challenging conditions, bringing it with you is necessary. Since your fresh water tank can only hold so much, many boondocker’s look for a way to make that weight count twice. Freezing gallon jugs of store bought water gives you long lasting blocks of ice for your ice chest that can be used for drinking or cooking after it has melted. a. Bathing, shaving and other chores can be done with a small amount of water in the sink using a wash cloth. Most commonly refer to this as a “spit bath”. As molded fiberglass enthusiast, Betty and I usually do a very quick wet down, soap down and rinse off that goes like this. Put plug in sink b. Adjust shower water temperature catching that water in the sink c. Put shaving lather in the sink water to warm up d. Wet down then turn the water off at the showerhead to keep the temperature unchanged e. Lather down f. Rinse off, turn water off This method can be stretched even one step further and is popular in the arid desert southwest. Catch the gallon or so of shower water in the shower floor pan with a stopper and add Epsom salts for soaking the tired hiker’s feet. GREY WATER storage can be extended in some arid areas operated by the U S Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management if your campsite is well away from streams or reservoirs and you carefully surface discharge your grey water. In these situations it is advisable to check with the local Ranger to insure whether or not it is a local custom. BLACK WATER by it’s very nature must be handled very carefully. Most camper’s have enough black water storage for a week or more, so an extended weekend will not create a issue there. If handling black water is necessary many deem the “blue boy”, “EZ TOTE” or similar container as the safest way to handle the black water. PROPANE is a bit more difficult to stretch, but the main ways that most boondocker’s use is reduced hours of use, cooking over a, open fire, or using a small generator for heat or cooking power source. For most camping trailer’s an extended weekend is not a propane issue. GASOLINE for a small generator as well as PROPANE give some cause for safety concerns and those folks seek other methods that can sometimes be difficult and or expensive. FOOD is space consuming and it’s weight has been addressed by the back packing community quite handily. The easy and convenient solution is to go the dehydrated route which makes many meals fit into a small light weight space. CLOTHING is also handled by back packers quite readily. The secret is light weight layered high tech fabrics. Here’s hoping that these few simple hint’s help you on your journey to a enjoyable extended boondocking experience.

Friday, June 26, 2015


IN IT’S STRICTEST FORM, WITHOUT SUPPORT. Many RVer’s perceive that this means staying camped in their chosen location as long as the stuff that they bring with them lasts. And often times this can come down to how much water you brought with you. Limited space for stuff seems to be the main controlling factor. Black and grey water holding tanks are usually fixed size containers that are installed by the camper manufacturer. Filling black and grey tanks to capacity usually depends upon their size and your stay time, but even one trip a day to a primitive campground’s vault toilet can really extend your stay.
Some of the campgrounds that we have stayed in out West on the USFS ( United States Forest Service ) and BLM ( Bureau of Land Management ) , don’t mind the careful discharge of grey water when it is at considerable distance from a stream. These less strict campgrounds are nearly always up high and way back in the more arid mountainous places. Their current position on grey water under these conditions is that it can be beneficial to tree life. Now under those conditions an outside shower with solar heated water can be a really fine thing and stretch out your stay. Also being able to put a small dish pan of dish washing grey water under a needy tree can do likewise. Probably the most common grey water storage saving under those conditions can be attained by hooking a hose to the grey water tank and placing it a strategic and appropriate location. With the hose hooked up many molded fiberglass camping friends follow this shower sequence. 1.Put plug in sink 2.Adjust shower water temperature catching that water in the sink 3.Put shaving lather in the sink water to warm up 4.Wet down then turn the water off at the showerhead to keep the temperature unchanged 5.Lather down 6.Rinse off, turn water off 7.Shave, rinse, turn water off Some even plug the shower pan drain to catch that soapy shower water, add Epsom salts to it and soak their feet. Under this strict water rationing protocol many campers report using a gallon to a gallon and a half to complete the process. Your method can vary considerably but you get the idea ! Ice Chest use is somewhat similar in frugality. Some will fill drinking water containers and freeze them at home before the camping trip. Put the frozen containers in an ice chest to keep perishable’s fresh then they can use the remaining water as needed around camp. There are way too many such clever ideas to be able to cover them in such a short writing, but your imagination will doubtless come up with many more ! DISPERSED CAMPING, a term used by USFS & BLM for when there are no facilities at all. Some of the coolest camping of all and often times in some of the most pristine wilderness. One popular camping site in the Southwest is near Quartzsite Arizona where in January and February there will be tens of thousands of RV’s scattered across the desert. BLM sells a Long Term Visitor’s pass that will allow winter visitors to stay for several months. In town there are RV service sites that specialize in providing tank dump sites and fresh water fills. Many RVer’s there move every two weeks and go through town to dump, fill with water and move to another camping place. There are even mobile water delivery and pump out services along with mobile RV repair technicians.

Friday, June 19, 2015

BOONDOCKING PART ONE Of a six part series by Larry Harmon WHAT IT IS AND SOME OF IT’S FORMS Boondocking comes in many forms, so it’s not likely that we will be able to cover them all in this brief writing. So, let’s talk about the most common types of boondocking that comes to mind.
So, just what is boondocking ? It is camping without hooking up to water, sewer or electricity, and there are many ways that folks like to do it. ASPHALT/CONCRETE BOONDOCKING is just as the name implies but the location can be widely varied. This is usually in an urban type of environment. There are many names for this type of boondocking. Some that come to mind are WALLYDOCKING or overnighting at Wal-Mart. A hint for here, park out of the way, near the security cameras and away from the receiving dock area where noisy deliveries are often times made in the wee hours. Many retailers do not discourage this type of camping and some encourage it. One of our favorites is Cracker Barrel because of their roaring fireplace and great breakfast. This type of boondocking can have some hidden Dangers so reading the local vibe can be important. For example if you see gang graffiti, vandalism, street people with all of their worldly goods in a shopping cart, it might be better to move on. Broken safety glass scattered around a parking lot can well indicate that smash and grab thefts are happening there, and leaving someone in your camper, even when shopping could be a wise move. Again, parking in full view of security cameras is always a good idea. STEALTH camping is somewhat the art of blending in or hiding in plain sight. Being anonymous by virtue of, “out of sight, out of mind”, can provide not only security, but also a good night’s rest. One of our old standby’s is a RV sales lot or dealership, they always have easy in and easy out access and we look like we belong there. DRIVEWAY Boondocking can be great, either at kinfolks or someone that you know along the way. Great visit’s and wonderful local flavor from this type of boondocking, and there is no check in or out time ! REST AREA’S, TRUCK STOPS and other high traffic, noisy type, of area’s can be convenient but hard to get some rest in, because of the noise. Even with the stereo on, if a truck sets it’s air brakes next to you, it will likely wake you up. Should you find a lower traffic part of it, there will always be the bull hauler Cowboy with a Jake brake racking off. We tend to use them, but sparingly when pushing hard to get somewhere. REMOTE BONDOCKING, commonly referred to by the USFS ( United States Forest Service ) and BLM ( Bureau of Land Management ) as DISPERSED CAMPING, can vary widely depending on which part of the USA you are in. For example, in the West, sunshine and solar panels can really keep you out there in pristine wilderness for long periods of time. In Heavily timbered areas the sunshine can’t get to solar panels and other alternatives such as small generators can be used. Water is the usual limitation to remote boondocking, fresh water, grey water and black water capacities will be critical in determining on site stay time. BOONDOCKING WITH SUPPORT can be as simple as using vault toilets and carrying water in containers to extend your stay, or, to having a utility trailer to haul fresh water and waste water. This is one of our favorite ways to boondock and as I write this we are in our third week of boondocking with more to come, in a primitive campground that has a lake on three sides and a magnificent view in all directions. Later in this BOONDOCKING SERIES, we will talk about supported boondocking in depth.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


A slightly rising lake during a fishing trip is generally a good thing ! The fish bite better and in a springtime fishing trip the air is washed clear from time to time by those wonderful and mild showers that are causing the lake rise.
Most of our springtime fishing trips kind of follow a pattern in general, that goes like this. Fish during a mild lake rise for a couple of days. Then as the lake drops back to a more nearly normal level and the fishing slows down, we have held our daily catch in the live box. During this lake dropping and slower fishing time we catch up on our fish cleaning and filleting, putting one gallon freezer bags of fillets up for future use. This slow down period is when we catch up on fish fry’s and Dutch oven cooking.
This spring’s fishing trip however, was different. Once the lake quit raising, we, . . . . No, wait ! The lake just never did quit raising ! Between rains we were able to have fish fry’s and some great Dutch oven cooking, but that lake just kept on rising.
Fishing was pretty good, but, then, that lake just kept on raising. Daily it seemed, we would have to move our boat tie up lines further up the bank. Soon our neighbors were leaving out and, soon, there was just us ol’ die hard’s left there with the rising lake. Then we realized that it was time for us to go. After all, we had a trans Canadian trip to get ready for ! Yep, we’re back at the docking port, rounding up our plunder, getting ready to tour again !

Saturday, May 16, 2015


We are not fishing quite as hard while at Lake Ouachita. Rain, winds out of the East, friends visiting, going to town for supplies and so on and so forth, consumes our days. We have a large rain fly over the fire pit and cooking area which gives us a gathering place around the fire with full coffee cups where we plan our day. Checking the forecast has allowed us to adjust our activities so that between weather events we are cleaning fish, repairing the jugs or cutting firewood.


Meals have been absolutely primo events with all kinds of Dutch oven fine fare. On a personal note, clicking on the photo’s to get a better look can trigger  campfire cookery cravings !


Dutch oven treats such as yeast rolls and blackberry cobbler as well as things like racks of ribs barbequed over the campfire have been such a real memorable treat.


With regular fish fry’s scattered through the week, the variation of side dishes has been amazing.

As our campers and fishermen have came and went over the duration of our stay at Big Fir campground, each has brought different skills to the cooking fire and kitchen area.

The clickable video link below gives a quick look around the campfire during a rain shower.

Rain fly campfire big fir 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Our boat has sat in our campsite, out of the water, for the best part of a week. Heavy thunderstorms and high winds from the east will capsize our boat where it is tied up at our lakeside campsite. When the National Weather Service sent an alert to our cell phones we knew that it was time to pull the boat out of the water.


That means it is time to pull the bait traps out of the water, repair jugs and other chores around camp so that we will be ready to fish. He, he, now, after three days of rain and storms, none of which amounted to a hill of beans,  all is ready to fish and I have gone to looking for things to do around the fiver while it is raining, After five days I have read all of the books from kindle that I have on my tablet. The rain finally quit last night and this morning I am starting the reverse process. Traps are baited up and back in the water, and the boat is ready to launch, when the NWS sends out a lake wind advisory  ! There will be gusts up to 30 MPH !

Crud, crap and crim o nettly ! Oh well were’ on the lake, it is a beautiful day and I think I will cut a little firewood because there is nothing quite like the smell of a campfire on the banks of the state’s largest lake !

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Back in 97’ or 98’ while fishing down on Lake Greeson I found a Hickory stick that I liked. It caught my attention because it had been stripped of it’s bark by a beaver. Now, Hickory is a bark that Beaver’s seldom like, so, it caught my eye. The stick was quite long and still pretty green, but it was fairly straight. Naturally I hauled it home and it stood by the fireplace, with me thinking about it, for a couple of years. I had a hiking stick on my mind.

Hikeing stick

Hickory is well known for it’s strength and being a particularly hard wood when seasoned, and this one was well seasoned. My cool Sister, Candy who is quite the Artist took it home to Centennial Colorado to carve on a bit. And a bit of carving it did take, it is well seasoned Hickory for sure.

Mountainman on stick

The first year she carved a long haired, bearded mountain man on it.

Bear on stick

The second year she sculpted a Black Bear on it.

ghost fish

Followed by a silhouette of a Ghost Fish.

stick name

Then the nick name that Granma’ gave me.

Who would have thought that a old stick floating in a lake could make such a light, strong, beautiful and very useful keepsake ?

Saturday, April 11, 2015


Sharp eyed mountain folks have always kept a look out for Polk salet early in the spring time. Back in the day, here in the mountains after a long winter,  that the main food staple might have been pork that was salted down in a barrel, the early salet sprouts were a real treat. Though now it is more of a tradition, we still look forward to spring time polk salet greens. Betty picked these this morning.


We are camped on the shore of Lake Ouachita, Arkansas’s largest lake, jug fishing. We especially love the polk salet fried up in scrambled eggs.

A word of caution though, after separating the leaves from the stalk, they must be washed, checked for insects, discarding the damaged leaves. Then they are ready to cover with water and bring to a gentle rolling boil, cook until the water turns green and the leaves are tender then drain, rinse and boil again until completely tender.  Then drain,  rinse and drain completely. Cook in hog jowl or bacon grease until all moisture is gone, then add scrambled eggs to suit. We like onions in with ours.

It sounds like a long complicated and lengthy process but it goes quickly and is well worth the effort.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


One of our most important chores around our fiver each year is the checking of the  condition of the solar storage battery bank. Lots of things can go wrong over the course of a year what with all of the miles that we tow. However, strangely enough it is the prolonged stays in the docking port with full hookups that wreak the most havoc on the battery bank.


The coach’s  converter provides a constant charge that tries to cook the battery’s to death. Under those conditions the acid level can drop causing the lead plates to loose efficiency.


Keeping the acid level up over the lead plates is done using distilled water. The trick is how to put a accurate stream of distilled water into each cell until it is at the correct level. Needing to add the water in a confined space means that the gallon jug can’t be used. It is just too large.


This Coca Cola bottle’s slim design and small size works out well after a cleaning in distilled water. After each cell in the battery bank is carefully topped off, the next step is to clean and inspect all battery cable connections.


After four years, this connection seems to be working well but corrosion is obvious, meaning that it could loose connection at any time.  Yep, it’s time to do some routine maintenance and cleaning ! I wonder, does this qualify as Spring Cleaning ?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


We are Back home in South West Arkansas. After being out on the road for awhile, we are always behind on chores around the fifthwheeler, dually, Jeep, Boat, and all kinds of other stuff. Today I was changing oil in our generators, we have two of them, a Honda 1000 watt and a Yamaha 3000 watt.


Both are quiet and efficient, but, the thing that amazes me is just how little oil they actually have in them. The actual oil change doesn’t take very long, but, the getting them in and out of the dually, where they are strapped in and locked down to prevent theft, takes awhile.


This little Honda 1000 has had a rough life. Tens of thousands of miles rattling around in the back of our dually, then, run un mercilessly on extended boondocking stays. Yet, regular oil changes keep them both alive and well. Tomorrow, if the weatherman should be wrong, and we don’t get rained out, I’ll start on the boat.

Now, there again, the boat has been in storage in the boat barn, and, it will take a bit to get it out, washed off  and ready to start the servicing process that includes a gear oil change in the lower unit.

Have you figured it out yet ? Yep, you know it. We’re getting ready to go fishing !

Monday, February 16, 2015


As Betty and I ran ahead of the ice storm to hole up in our docking port, I thought about how such a serious weather event was handled in different parts of the United States. This week the New England States have been inundated with massive record setting snow fall and ice. As we watch the evening news we are amazed at the sheer mind numbing logistics of keeping travel routes open up there so people can survive.


Here in the South when we get a quarter of an inch, of freezing precipitation, we are really up against it ! The logistical support and the finances for it just are not there. Things just pretty much tend to shut down. Here in S/W Arkansas we only got 1/4 of an inch of ice. Here is a look at Hohenwald Tennessee, where the Oliver Travel Trailer Plant is.


This photo from Robert Partee’s back yard show’s that they got much more than we did here where Betty and I are holed up.

That has got to just absolutely overload local government resources and cause all kinds of School, Church and plant closings.  I heard that the Oliver plant may well be down for a few days because rural workers can’t get through on the roads. The County road department is likely struggling with the task of snow removal from the roads.

I guess that what with about half of our Nation under a Winter storm advisory, we didn’t fare too badly here, with only a quarter of a inch of ice.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Valley View Mall/Shopping center in North Dallas. The last part of our Winter of 2015 Oliver Legacy Elite II Tour is being steered by customer requests ! Great visits and showings in Dallas. Next tour stop seems to be Oklahoma City Oklahoma !

Valley View Mall/Shopping center in North Dallas. The last part of our Winter of 2015 Oliver Legacy Elite II Tour is being steered by customer requests ! Great visits and showings in Dallas. Next tour stop seems to be Oklahoma City Oklahoma !

Monday, February 9, 2015

Overnighting @ The Houston East RV Resort

Overnighting at @ The Houston East RV Resort, located @ 11810 I-10 East of Houston in Baytown, Tx 77532 Our phone number is 479.243.5450 We have appointments to show for the next two days, so come on by and see the beautiful Oliver Legacy Elite II !


Here is the way we look  in campsite B-1.


We are the first trailer in the second row.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


At first light, well before the first rays of sunshine splash across the Beach at the back of the Oliver travel trailer. The fishermen and their boats come flying down the intercostal waterway. It is Saturday morning and they are in a hurry, although it is somewhat foggy, to get to that perfect spot where the red fish are “tailing”, and cast their lines. I slip out of bed hoping to give Betty a few more minutes snuggled down deep in the warmth of the comforter, in the morning chill. After shaving, I return for a fresh tee shirt when I see that the wylie Poco has slipped  quietly into my warm spot ! Here is a look.


The Intercostal Waterway is a busy place here at Bird Island Basin, down on the Padre Island National Seashore, just South of Corpus Christi Texas. There are wind surfers, fishermen, tug boats with barges, campers and lots of visiting with neighbors. The Canadian Neighbors on one side always have something going on, like his drift fishing rig. And the neighbor on the other side is always surf fishing and reeling in one large fish or another.


As the sunshine burns off the thin layer of fog, I think, it is time for another cup of coffee and some serious lawn chair piloting time !


Friday, January 30, 2015


Absent With Out Leave !  As our last appointment of the day was over, at Mathis Texas,  and we took measure of what we needed to do next, we came to a startling discovery ! We were ever so close to the National Seashore just South East of Corpus Christi Texas ! Now, that is where all measuring of what comes next stopped. Right there. Dead in it’s tracks. And a full fledged escape began to happen ! Yep, we went off schedule, off route, played hookey’ and I mean, we went full fledged AWOL ! Here is a look.


In this photo the early morning sun reflects brightly off of the Ollie that we are pulling behind the Pony Express. We slept all night with the windows open, listening to the surf on the beach. A gentle breeze blowing through the windows. It was quiet, really quiet. This morning about sun up, a ICE heilo made a beach patrol pass by us. I snapped this photo as the heilo passed over the visitor center.


About the time I snapped the last photo, Betty hollered out the window, come and get it ! IMAG1190

Breakfast Burritos with Picante’ sauce ! What a great start to a Beach Escape Day !

After breakfast we will move up to the Malakeet campground, dump tanks, top off with water, then move over to visit with cool Casita friends that are camped at the Bird Island Basin campground over on the estuary, or LaGuna Madre side of the island.

Island camping with the Ollie, it’s the BomB !

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


We had the pleasure of meeting some really great folks while in Grand Prairie, but other appointments were calling on down the road. We had hoped to make San Antonio for the night, but we were able to squeeze in one more showing before hitting the road this morning, so, we made it to Bourne before shutting down for the night. Here is the location. 33000 I-10 Boerne Texas 78006 Call us at 479.243.5450 Exit 543, campsite 147 Come give the astonishing Oliver legacy Elite II a good looking over !

We had the pleasure of meeting some really great folks while in Grand Prairie, but other appointments were calling on down the road. We had hoped to make San Antonio for the night, but we were able to squeeze in one more showing before hitting the road this morning, so, we made it to Bourne before shutting down for the night. Here is the location. 33000 I-10 Boerne Texas 78006 Call us at 479.243.5450

Sunday, January 25, 2015


We will be spending two nights, Sunday and Monday at the Trader's Village RV Park in Grand Prairie Texas 75052 As you turn into the RV Park we are in the first row on the left in campsite # 407. We are shining up the Oliver Legacy Elite II for your visit and are looking forward to seeing you !

We will be spending two nights, Sunday and Monday at the Trader's Village RV Park in Grand Prairie Texas 75052 As you turn into the RV Park we are in the first row on the left in campsite # 407. We are shining up the Oliver Legacy Elite II for your visit and are looking forward to seeing you !

Saturday, January 24, 2015


1-24-2015 We are overnighting at the Pavilion RV Park in West Monroe La. 71292 The physical address is 309 Well Road. Their web site is


We have ran out of the rain and cold and it is tee shirt weather ! Call us at 479.243.5450 ! We are ready to show you the 2015 Oliver Legacy Elite II !

Friday, January 23, 2015


Left the Montgomery Alabama area in the rain early this morning. Drove in the rain to Meridian Mississippi where we are camped just East of town in a newly renovated KOA Campground. Setup in the rain and it is still raining.
Our physical address is, 3953 KOA Campground road Toomsuba, Ms. 39364. We are in campsite #1 right by the office, come on by and see us ! Wev'e got the coffee pot on and we are ready to show you the beautiful 2015 Legacy Elite II ! Click on the map below for a larger view. Call us at 479.243.5450


Thursday, January 22, 2015


Montgomery Alabama overnighting at K & K campground 1808 I-65 service road E, that is across the river and is near Millbrook, Al Located right by the K & K camping center. Here is the web page link: the coordinates are N 32* 27.329' W 086* 23.000' Call us at 479-243-5450


We are located where pin “C” is at on the map. Click map for larger version.

We are looking forward to your visit !

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


The Oliver road team has left Florida and is heading North up I-75 to near Macon, Georgia where we will turn West on US Highway 80 which follows, somewhat, the old Dixie Overland Highway, one of America's oldest Paved coast to coast highway...s. This "Heart of Dixie" route will take us all the way to Dallas Texas where we will head South towards the Padre Island National Seashore. There is so much history along this route that we will be going slower than the usual Interstate Highway speeds, so, call us at 479243.5450 and we will show you the 2015 Oliver Legacy Elite II that we are pulling ! Here is a look at our route.

2015 Winter Tour Route

Sunday, January 18, 2015


The 2015 RV Super show is in the History Books ! We are North on I-75 at High Springs Florida. Staying at the High Springs RV Park ! Stop in and visit for a spell ! Since we were dry camped in a parking lot, we need to catch up on the usual camping chores of tank fills, dumps, laundry and so on and so forth ! I will be looking for your visit ! Here is a link to the RV Park Reviews listing.…/high…/high-springs-campground

Friday, January 16, 2015


We arrived at the 2015 RV Supershow in Tampa Florida and are having the best time ! There are thousands and thousands of RV’s to see and many cool street performers to watch.


Tram trains cruise the many parking lot’s to give rides up to the entrances.


Poco and I are napping as this tram passes by.


One of the entrance gates.



Riding the tram to the gate.


The half scale wall is at the show.


Betty talking with visitors about the Oliver Legacy Elite II.


This fifthwheel can haul your cycle in a slide out !

Busy days here at the super show. Wish you were here !