Why does the campfire smoke follow me? (and other burning questions…)

Doug and I have been camping for roughly nine months and I have enjoyed the experience completely!  I have also made some observations on our travels that have left me with unanswered questions.  Anyone who knows me well can attest that unanswered questions never stay that way for long!  Thank you internet!

Why does the campfire smoke always follow me?

I know, I know, it is not just me!  Anytime we have gathered around a campfire with friends and family it is funny to watch the game of musical chairs that ensues as the smoke decides to travel in circles.  But why does it do this?  It seems to happen whether it is windy or calm!

IMG_2859     According to experts (well various people on discussion boards, anyway), the smoke isn’t really following you.  it is simply reacting to the changes in air flow when a person or many people move around the fire.  Theoretically, if you were to all sit perfectly still, the smoke would only bother one person in the direct pattern of air flow.  But who stays perfectly still?  And don’t forget those dogs that are always moving around…they shift the air flow continuously.  That’s it!  Blame it on the dog!

According to many sources, the Native Americans had it all figured out.  The tee-pee shape causes a better burn with less smoke because it funnels all the energy upward.  The downside is the heat is also directed that way.  So when you start a nice tee-pee fire you are not bothered by smoke until it gets going and you rearrange the wood to get more heat from the fire.

The best remedy I could find, aside from buying a smoke shifter from Camp-Mor, was this from “Kambucta” –The scientifically tried and true method to deflect smoke is to lick your pointer finger and then point it in the opposite direction to which the smoke is drifting.The only problem arises when the campfire is surrounded by people all doing the same thing. I have, however, seen smoke spiral into an upward vortex when this happens.

I can’t wait to try it! 🙂

Why is the big fat hairy spider in the campground shower with me?


One of the most vivid things I recall about our camping trip to Winton Woods State Park in Cincinnati was the huge spider that shared the shower stall with me.  I must confess this picture was not taken by me (I would not have had the composure to take such a clear picture in this scenario nor would I have dared taking the camera into such a dangerously wet environment!) You can click the pic to see John and Christa’s blog about the “incident”. In any event, I was completely bewildered why a spider would want to hang out in a shower to begin with.  Wouldn’t it be a dangerous place for a spider to hang out?  Or just the perfect place to find the perfect victim!

The most common answer I found was that they don’t want to be there any more than you want them there!  They crawl on the ceiling and fall down.  Then, because the walls are slippery, they are unable to get out.  Some people suggested helping them out….I think I will just cower in the corner, thank you very much!

Why do mosquitos bite some people more than others?

mosquito_65147_7 Have you ever noticed that mosquitos seem to enjoy some of us better than others?  Well, turns out it is true. Mosquitos have a preference to victims with type “O” blood – great, how lucky for them it is the most common!  Turns out some of us “O” people even secrete some sort of marker through our skin that tells the mosquitos we are a tasty delight.  They are also attracted to carbon dioxide emission, so those of us who are prone to mouth breathing or heavy breathing from hiking those trails – look out!  The mosquitos are hot on your trail.  Sorry pregnant women, you are giving off more CO2 and they can smell you a mile away! But you may sympathize with this tidbit I found out – only female mosquitos bite.  They need the nourishment to support the larvae that in turn will become lots of little mosquitos eager to bite you some more!

Are there any Canadian Geese left in Canada?

Because it seems like they have all moved here.  This is not just an observation from camping, but observations from anywhere we go.  Those honkers are EVERYWHERE.  And if they are not there at the current moment…you know they HAVE been because they have left piles of their stinky green and black droppings.  I love animals, and particularly love photographing birds.  But I have really become annoyed with these foul fowl.  According to the Ohio DNR  “In just a few years, a pair of geese can easily become 50 to 100 birds.  The feces will foul the areas around the pond and surrounding yards and also damage the lawn, pond, and other vegetation.”  No wonder they are everywhere.  Apparently you can hunt for them during certain seasons…but I don’t see many recipes out there.  If you would like to do your part to rid the world of them one bite at a time be sure to check out Hank’s website: http://honest-food.net/2010/10/11/cooking-my-goose/

I hope you are really hungry! I snapped this family photo while we were at Higgins Lake…


Well, that’s all for now.  Do you have any observations or questions from camping you would like to share? We would love to hear them!

What is it about a camp fire?

It doesn’t matter if I camping in the middle of the winter or in the hottest part of July, a camp fire is mandatory in any camping experience! But what is about a fire that intrigues us so much? I can sit around a fire with a cold beverage shooting the breeze with my wife and friends for hours! When I camp I need to start my morning out with a good cup of coffee and a fire. Mid afternoon I need to stoke that fire back up for some good pot pies or hot dogs. And by evening that fire becomes the epicenter of the social gathering. Campfires are the essense of camping. There was a campground that Amy and I considered when we traveled to Nashville. However, when we found out that the campground had no firerings it was a done deal. No way could I stay for three nights without a fire! What kind of campground does not allow campfires? The campground had a lot of good reviews online but for me, not having campfires was the ultimate downside!

I can remember many great childhood memories of campfires. When I was a young cub scout we always loved to mess with fires. Every year we had an annual campout; just the boys and their dads. We had a great time. During one campout, the boys decided to embrace our pyro sides and make a huge campfire. We took everything we could and put it in the fire. The fathers had no idea until the next morning when they were looking for the styrofoam cups and bowls! We had burned them all! Burning styrofoam is way cool 😉 A really pissed off father who did not get his morning coffee is NOT way cool!

Some of my more “high class” friends complain that campfires cause you to smell like, well a campfire. So? The smell of a campfire and the site of tall flames in a fire ring bring peace and relaxation to an otherwise stressful week! (For tips for eliminating the tell tale signs you have been camping – Click here!)  Roasting marshmallows, making pot pies, using the dutch oven to cook, roasting hot dogs, or just simply burning stuff are the cool aspects of a campfire. And isn’t funny how campfires cause people to talk? Maybe it’s the beer but campfires have a way of facilitating a good discussion. Whether it’s hanging out with old high school friends bringing up stories of the “old days” or colleagues sitting around complaining about the incompetent boss, the campfire is the common denominator.

What is Camping?

It seems like a simple question, right? Webster defines camping as “to live temporarily in or as if in a camp or outdoors, usually for recreation”. Yet, defining camping is ultimately in the eye of the beholder. One aspect of camping Amy and I enjoy is people watching. We love to walk around the campground and check out what everybody is camping in whether it is a  pop-up, travel trailer, fifth wheel, motorhome, or tent. Actually, we have seen some people camp in teepees.We stir up conversations, find out where they are from, why they camp, etc.

Camping means different things to different people. For some it is embracing the simple life and getting in touch with nature. This means nothing more than a simple tent. I have met some people who would never set foot in a camper  because it is not “real” camping. Our first camping experience as a couple was at a campground near our house called Cedarbrook. I met an older gentlemen who had been camping since he was a boy scout. We had a good conversation on what camping means. He was there with his wife who insisted on camping in a travel trailer. She had to have her own bathroom and shower. As a good husband, he respected her wishes and they own an RV. However,  he told me that he prefered tent camping to anything else. He told me stories of winter camping in Michigan. WOW! That seemed crazy to me, until I tried it myself. This man told me the only way to experience true nature is to camp as close to it as possible (tenting). Being in a camper is not “real” camping, he told me.

While this man enjoyed the experience of tent camping, I have talked with other campers that insist that pop-up campers are the way to go. They are the best of both worlds. On one hand they offer the nature aspect of camping, since it’s essentially a glorified tent on wheels, yet it provides the luxury of being off the ground and other amenities such as water, stove,refigerator, etc.

A buddy of mine owns a 30 foot travel trailer and loves it. He has a wife and two little kids and for his family neither a tent nor or a pop up would be their definition of camping. Although both he and his wife both started out tenting and then moved up to a pop-up, when the kids came along there was need for more space and a sense of self-containment. Bathrooms were a must. And truth be told, my buddy could not live without his flat screen tv or sattelite on a trip camping 🙂

As Amy and I visit more and more campgrounds, we meet many people that have made their camper their home. Many campgrounds not only offer weekly rates, many also accomodate campers who stay “long term”. Most of these type of campers choose 5th wheelers. “Permament campers” want the freedom to up and move whenever they choose and live in regions of the country dependant on the seasons. Amy and I joke a lot about selling the house and buying a fifth wheeler as our portable home. Though sometimes I am not sure if we are joking….

For me, camping is an escape from the reality of the stresses of the work week, deadlines, projects, etc, etc. Camping gives me that much needed break from every day life, even if it only lasts a weekend. It energizes me to get through the next week so that I can camp the following weekend! From a spiritual side of things, camping and embracing nature allows me to enjoy God’s creation and spend time with Him. Walking the trails, sitting on the benches next to the lake, and relaxing by the campfire give me that opportunity to experience God.

Amy and I started out with a tent. We loved tent camping with our dogs and they loved it too. After a few months of fall camping, we decided to buy a Rockwood (model 1980) pop up camper. We love our new camper and we have used it several times in the winter and this spring. As teachers, we are blessed to have the summer off so we have big plans to travel the country searching for more campgrounds and experiencing the peace of camping.

What does camping mean for you?