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Updated: 15 hours 32 min ago

The Perfect Cup of “Camp” Coffee

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 11:14

Sunrise in the Badlands

It was a frosty Sunday morning. I was camping in the North Dakota  Badlands, Slope County. Though early, a clear blue sky surrounded us. Save for the light chatter around the campfire, there wasn’t a sound. With no plans for the morning, I stayed put for a while and enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow campers in the site. Rounding out a delicious breakfast was a cup of steaming homemade coffee. I remember thinking, This is the way to start a day!

I’ve been a coffee drinker most of my adult life. While I enjoy drinking coffee in general, a cup of joe just seems to taste better outdoors.

What makes a great cup of coffee? Fights have broken out over more mundane issues. Because I’d like to remain on cordial grounds with you and my other readers, I’ll keep this as neutral as possible. Believe it or not, it is possible to mess up a simple cup of coffee. But it is also possible to enjoy a great cup of coffee outdoors.

While, I can taste a difference in the first few mouth fulls, I am happy just to have a hot, black, caffeinated cup of liquid whether weak, bitter, strong, smooth or something in between is OK. And it is even better, when someone has it made, when I get up!

Some fundamentals of making coffee

You wouldn’t think there’s much to making a pot of coffee. And, in fact, there is not. But there are some basics to keep in mind for that ideal campfire coffee.

Coffee pot: Make sure it’s designed for use over a campfire. The standard kitchen variety won’t cut it outdoors. Beyond that, any style or brand is fine. One thing to consider is its capacity: Does it produce enough coffee for your entire group?

Manufacturers often claim that their coffee pots hold eight cups of coffee. What they don’t tell you is that it’s based on a 6-ounce coffee cup. That is a typical size, but some are larger. In addition, few people drink just one cup of coffee at a time. (I don’t just drink one cup!)

Consider those factors when you decide how many and which size of coffee pots to bring.

Coffee: I’ll leave the brand up to you; you know what you like. A key factor is the grind. There are seven categories: extra course, course, medium course, medium, medium fine, fine and extra fine. Course or extra course are good for cowboy coffee; medium is good for drip and perked. Start in the middle (medium) and go up or down to get something you like. If a special grind or mix is required, do the prep work before leaving. Those steps can be challenging at a campsite.

It’s all about getting the essence out of the coffee. If the coffee is under extracted, you get a sour, salty taste. If it’s over extracted, the coffee is bitter. Experience will teach you the proper mix of heat, coffee and time to get that perfect cup.

——————————————————————————————————-
“Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.”
French politician and diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand (1754-1838) on coffee
———————————————————————————————————

Brewing the coffee: Coffee is brewed a number of ways. You can make cowboy coffee, perk it, or use one of several forms of drip (pour over, French press, drip funnel). We ruled out instant coffee except for the direst of circumstances.

Most recipes I have seen recommend water temperature at about 200 degrees (just below boiling – the acceptable range is 195 to 205) and a ratio of two tablespoons per cup. Remember that is a 6-ounce cup (¾ of an eight-ounce cup). If you don’t have a tablespoon or a standard coffee measure, use a Tequila shot glass. 1 oz. equals 2 tablespoons. If you prefer a particularly robust cup of coffee – add more grounds or change the roast.

Cowboy coffee is almost as fast as instant except you use freshly ground (medium grind) coffee. A recipe is provided below. You try to replicate as closely as possible how coffee was made back in the cowboy days.

With cowboy coffee you get some floaties. There always are a few grains of coffee that don’t mix in. Adding a little cold water will force them to sink. Worst case, just spit ‘em out.

Handling the coffee grounds

Even though coffee grounds are biodegradable, they must be disposed of properly. There was a time, perhaps, when you just chucked ‘em in the weeds. As good stewards of the land, we four wheelers subscribe to the TreadLightly® philosophy. And as you know, that pertains to all activities while outdoors, not just driving habits.

As with all your other garbage, coffee grounds should be placed in the proper garbage bag (Trasharoo, for example). If the smell of the grounds bothers you or you think it might attract critters, first place the grounds in a smaller bag. A used bread bag or Ziploc® bag works well for this. Be a good sport and take your garbage with you.

How to make your cowboy coffee

Cowboy coffee is quite easy to make. There are just a few ingredients and a few steps.

  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Take the coffee pot off the heat and let set 20-30 seconds. This will bring the temperature down to about 200 degrees (at sea level).
  • Add the coffee, at a mixture of 2 tablespoons for each 6-ounce cup of coffee. Stir briefly and let set for 4 to 5 minutes (you can stir once more halfway through if you want).
  • An alternative is to bring the pot to boil with the coffee already in the pot for only 1 minute. The risk is missing when it started to boil.
  • Let it set another 2- 3 minutes to settle the grounds, or pour cold water on the top.
  • Enjoy your robust coffee in the great outdoors!

Nothing could be easier and you don’t need any special equipment. On top of that, the coffee doesn’t care if you cook with wood, propane or buffalo dung.

Perked Coffee

This is a common way to make coffee when camping.

  • Use the same ratio of water to coffee ¾ cup water – 2 Tablespoons coffee
  • Once the pot starts to perk, turn down the heat to providing a vigorous perk but not boiling over.
  • The water that tops out of the percolator will be in the sweet spot of 195 to 205 even if the coffee water in the pot is boiling
  • Perk for 4 minutes and let stand one minute and pour into your cup

BTW, I always make enough for a 2nd cup and to share a cup or two. If I am using a percolator, I believe they brew better with close to the number of cups the pot is designed – just below the holes in the pour spout.

I want to keep the coffee hot as possible for that second cup.  The technique I use is to set the hot pot on one dish cloth and wrap a second one around it. The thought that I should have a cozy, passes through my brain but is well forgotten by the time I could purchase one. Besides The dish towel serve multiple uses.

The next time you go camping, taking along this recipe. First thing each morning, brew up a pot of rich, full-bodied cowboy coffee. Savor those moments as you watch the sun rise in the distance. You’ll soon realize those are some really precious times. And if we cross paths while on the trail, we’ll enjoy a cup together.

#   #   #

Did you miss the previous article?

 

Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

Memorial Day in the Inyo Mountains

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

Yellow is back in stock! The Orange and Red went fast last time with blue not far behind so if you want a specific color order now while we have most of them available. The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready. Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed. The original press release with larger graphics is on the website .

73
KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to: www.4x4training.com/w/contact-us.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site?
You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2017, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

Convenience of a 4-Door Model in a 2-Door Vehicle

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 19:50

On the Rubicon Trail

Every once in a while a new product comes along that is a real game-changer for the 4WD community. It may not be flashy, but the product fills a void. Such is the case with the hinged side windows in the new hardtop for my Jeep Wrangler. What’s just as amazing is the story behind this tremendous find.

I was working on the Jeep one afternoon when this couple walks by. I know them vaguely, haven spoken a few times over the years. Jerry Mancini and his wife live about a block from me.  Jerry owns Rally Tops, www.rallytops.com, located in nearby Gardena, Calif. They make hardtops for a variety of off-road vehicles, as well as tonneaus and bed covers for pickups.

At the time my Wrangler had an old, zipper challenged, yellowing windows soft top. As he approached Jerry said, “Did you ever think of putting a hardtop on that vehicle?” Coincidentally, that thought had crossed my mind every time I tried to unzip the rear window. “I have a top that will fit,” he said.

During a conversation, as I toured his factory, I outlined what I wanted. Jerry said he’d kick around the idea. He called me one day to say he had a solution, and asked me to bring in the Jeep. After he described what he had in mind, I agreed and thought, “That’s nice.”

But after I got the Jeep back “nice’ just wasn’t descriptive enough. I couldn’t stop thinking that this is a really fantastic solution.

Jerry solved an issue that has been bugging the heck out of me for years. Because my Wrangler is a two-door, packing gear and retrieving supplies can be a challenge. It’s really tough to find all those small spaces in the back. I’d have to reach over the back seat or climb in through the tailgate while packing and retrieving.

Pop-up side windows are a godsend

These side windows are just what I needed. Each swings up like a tailgate window. Two small struts hold the windows up and out of the way; the keyed handles keep your gear secure. Those handles recess when in closed position so they don’t get caught on brush or other material.

The hardtop is made of fiberglass and inlaid with mildew-resistant carpet. When installed, you’d swear it’s a stock hardtop: It’s designed that well. I ordered black, but I believe he also offers white and tan.

It’s amazing the difference these windows make. Loading up is much more efficient. I can reach all those pockets and holes that previously were nearly inaccessible. I find I can pack more into the Wrangler because I can access from the sides.

Size comparison of the flip up window on the yellow LJ to a stock Jeep top on the silver LJ.

 

Retrieving stuff is equally slick. No more having to climb over the back seat or in past the tailgate. Just pop a window, and reach in. In the past I had to unload most of the vehicle to reach certain gear. Again, no more. Everything in the back of the Jeep is within arm’s reach. And I can reach it from the outside of the vehicle.

New windows pass an important test

Hinged windows may seem great on paper, but they must stand up to the rigors of four wheeling. If not, they’re of little value.

Soon after installing my new topper, I headed out on my annual Rubicon expedition. If you’ve done the Rubicon, you know how demanding it is – on humans and machines.

The route is dusty. It can – and did – rain, and rain heavily. And, of course, I got jostled about as only the Rubicon can do to you.

The new windows passed with flying colors. The locks never let go. The windows never popped open. There wasn’t a smidgen of dust or water in the cab. To say I was amazed is an understatement. In fact, I was flat out impressed.

Even though this was a one-off production, Jerry and his crew put their almost 3 decades of experience into it. The top fits like a glove, and the windows and window frames are of high quality. Jerry tells me that the top is a bit lighter than a stock hardtop, but it’s just as sturdy. I know I can count on years of worry-free use.

A couple quibbles with the new hardtop

Only two issues have come to light so far. For some reason, the locks on the driver side are keyed separately from the passenger side. My guess is that it’s a simple oversight. This was, after all, essentially a prototype.

I’d also like to see thicker bolt protectors on the undersides of the locks. Those bolt ends protrude quite a bit. If your vehicle is leaning toward you (causing the window edge to drop), you can bang your forehead on a bolt end. The bolt ends come covered with a small covering (see the image); a thicker and softer piece would be nice. I like the orange color. It’s easier to see them from a distance.

Window size comparison of a Rally Top on the left LJ to a stock Jeep LJ window on the right

 

Considering what a difference these windows make, I’m really surprised that more hardtops aren’t made this way. Whether Rally Tops will introduce the product I don’t know. I sense that if he were to begin production, Jerry would limit his hardtops Jeep models.

I’m sure he’s open to hearing from other 4WD enthusiasts. If you own a Jeep and are interested in learning more about the hardtop with the hinged windows, contact Jerry Mancini. He can be reached at 800-664-8677, or by email to sales@rallytops.com .

If Jerry realizes there is sufficient demand in the 4WD community for this type of hardtop, he might begin producing some models.

This is new window configuration is the perfect solution for a two-door Jeep Wrangler. The side windows make such a difference in being able to pack and retrieve your gear. I’m even more excited now to go four-wheeling. This new hard top has added a whole new dimension to my adventures. Perhaps one day you, too, will be able to enjoy the added benefits of this type of hardtop.

#    #    #

Did you miss the previous article? Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

West side of Long Valley Caldera in CA

Summary of upcoming events.

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

We have new stock of all colors!

Yellow is back in stock! The Orange and Red went fast last time with blue not far behind so if you want a specific color order now while we have most of them available. The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready. Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed. The original press release with larger graphics is on the website .

73
KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

#####

If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to: www.4x4training.com/contacts.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site?
You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2017, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

Amateur International 4WD Event – the Penultimate Bucket List Trip

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 16:38

Lots of planning is involved.

Four wheelers like to dream. Sometimes they get to act out those dreams. Marc Schreuder is one such person. This January he is checking one item off his bucket list. He’ll gain valuable 4WD experience and do some tremendous good in the process.

The Mountain View, Calif., resident is participating in the Budapest-Bamako rally one of the more challenging expeditions around. And at the end of the ride, he will donate his vehicle and gear to charity.

Held every two years, the rally starts in Budapest, Hungary, and historically ended in Bamako, Mali. Turmoil in that country forced organizers to shift the route to Banju, Gambia. Africa. Next year’s rally runs Jan. 12-28.

Billed as The World’s Largest Amateur Rally, the excursion covers nearly 5,000 miles and includes some very challenging terrain. While some really hard-core drivers participate, it’s really designed for the common man. Amateurs on a low budget can get their entrance fee waived participate. (See the website for all the details.)

Another cool aspect is that the ride has a philanthropic angle. Most of the participants donate their vehicles and gear at the end of the ride.

Schreuder talked about the rally while taking one of my classes. Intrigued, I called him one day for more about him and his plans.

Born and raised in South Africa, Schreuder fondly recalls taking road trips to the country as a youth. “So I’m kind of nostalgically attached to driving around and seeing the country,” he says.

In May 2003, Schreuder embarked on a four-week, 5,000 mile trek around California. At one point he got stuck in snow while on a forest road. Driving alone, he had to come up with a solution. That incident gave Schreuder a taste of being self-reliant.

He’s also done some dirt road driving in Africa. The trails were graded, and the driving didn’t require spotting for lines or other techniques. “I certainly don’t have a wealth of experience before this trip,” he says.

Schreuder has since taken both of my starter classes, along with my Sand & Dune class. He has signed up for Winch & Recovery Clinic and the Self-Recovery Clinic to be held on Sept. 23 and 24.

Bitten by the rally bug

Schreuder discovered the Budapest-Bamako rally while working in England in the early 2000s. He couldn’t participate at the time, but was really inspired by what he saw.

“Some people will travel around the world before starting their careers,” he says. “I haven’t done that kind of thing.” He offers another good reason on his website: “I want to see if I enjoy the adventurer experience – it may become more of a lifestyle.” Schreuder, 43, feels this rally will build his confidence to do something more adventurous—perhaps take off for a year or two by himself somewhere.

Test loading with new draw system.

Schreuder purchased a 1998 4Runner for the rally. That’s an appropriate choice. Toyotas are durable, and are really popular in many African countries. He should have little difficulty getting parts or help should he need either.

It sports a 3.4L V6 engine and stock 5-speed manual transmission. Though it as 203,000 miles on it, the 4Runner is in pretty good shape. “Engine to me felt it was running smoothly,” Schreuder says. “And the gearbox felt fairly crisp, so I felt it should be decent platform to start with.”

Improvements include installing a suspension lift with modified upper control arms, a heavy-duty clutch and flywheel. He swapped out all the fluids changed the brakes, air filter, plugs and wires, and installed a heavy-duty battery. The 4Runner also got a new steering rack and rods, half shafts, extended bump stops, anti-roll bar and control arm bushings, ball joints, valve cover gaskets and a fresh timing belt and water pump. He chose BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain tires for their deep tread and added a second spare.

His gear includes a Hi-Lift jack and recovery strap. Because he’ll hit sand in parts of Africa, Schreuder has purchase a Pull Pal sand anchor and installed an 8,000-pound winch and an ARB bumper.

Schreuder wouldn’t divulge what he has sunk into his 4Runner. [editor: To outfit for an excursion like this figure 4 or 5x what you paid for a used vehicle. That includes replacement parts and upgrades to the vehicle, as well as your gear.]

Rally entrance fee was about $2,000, and he’s projecting out-of-pocket expenses along the way.

Preparing for the rally

The rally offers five categories: Classic GPS, 4×4 Touring, School Bus to Africa, Touring Adventure, and Bamako Spirit. It’s the last one the offers you the chance to avoid the entrance fee. (Although every team pays the 200 Euro administration fee.) Schreuder is participating in the 4×4 Touring category. Though it’s extremely challenging, he will be driving alone. Not having passengers provides more room for gear and supplies, but means he’ll have no help riding with him. He’s counting on skills learned during the Badlands Off-Road Adventures clinics to help him navigate through sand and other challenging terrain.

If something were to go terribly wrong, Schreuder feels he’ll be able to limp to the nearest village. Doing so may disrupt the day’s plans, “but it won’t be life threatening.”

Schreuder is also hoping to meet two or three other teams he could caravan with. Daily drivers’ meetings will help him decide whether he needs to take a different route at times.

He anticipates some issues with pop-up roadblocks and border crossings in Africa. And language will be a bit of a challenge. Schreuder plans to learn some simple phrases in Arabic and French.

“I feel there is a decent amount of safety nets,” he says. “A lot of experienced folks on the journey.”

Sand Driving class – on the beach ready to head into the dunes

The first step in this journey involves getting the vehicle over there. In early October, he will ship the vehicle from Oakland, Calif., to the Port of Felixstowe in England. Friends will collect the car upon its arrival in late November and store it for a few weeks. He’ll pick up the car in January; after a few days of prep, he drives it to Budapest. Schreuder will arrive in Budapest on Jan. 11—the day before the rally starts.

He is required to obtain an export certificate from California. After the rally concludes, he’ll remove the license plates, and bring them back. Schreuder is buying international insurance, and had to undertake a series of vaccinations, including one for yellow fever.

Communications gear will include a satellite phone and CB radio. (Event organizers recommend that.) He has a blog, Fair Winds 2 Banjul, but he’s not sure whether he’ll encounter internet access to allow for updates. If not, Schreuder would like to offer tracking through a Spot transponder or similar device.

The ride won’t be all work. Schreuder plans to take in some of the sights along the way. He’s especially taken in by big trees, and hopes to see a giant Atlas cedar while traveling through the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.

“I’m counting on the route going through some interesting places,” he says.

Once he reaches Banjul, scheduled for Jan. 28, Schreuder will quickly donate the vehicle and get ready for his return flight on the 31st. In addition to the four-wheeling gear, Schreuder is taking along a 25-person medical kit. He hopes the donated vehicle can be used in a humanitarian manner, perhaps in search and rescue.

“That’s the nicest option,” he says. “Good chance for the vehicle make a decent impact in a lot of people’s lives.”

This rally impressed upon Schreuder the value of 4WD training. “There’s no substitute for practice,” he says. “There’s no substitute for having some confidence of how things are going to work and how much stuck you can get and still get out.” Which is why he is taking my Recovery Class. (The next one is on Sept. 24. You can register for it here.)

On off years, the Budapest-Bamako promotor offers a Baja style amateur event.

Although he hasn’t done the Baja Rally, Schreuder feels it would offer some good training. “Do that before doing the bigger deal further away.”

If you want to dream big, this rally could be for you. Even if you can’t participate, put one challenging ride on your bucket list. Drive out of your comfort zone and enjoy the experience that only a truly challenging route can offer.

# # #

Did you miss the previous article? Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

West side of Long Valley Caldera in CA

Summary of upcoming events.

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

We have new stock of all colors!

Yellow is back in stock! The Orange and Red went fast last time with blue not far behind so if you want a specific color order now while we have most of them available. The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready. Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed. The original press release with larger graphics is on the website

73
KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

#####

If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to: www.4x4training.com/contacts.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site?
You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2017, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.