Cost-buster camping

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Camping can be an inexpensive vacation, and several ways to further reduce costs are presented. The purchase of good equipment and maintaining it, the use of transportation methods other than automobiles, picnic lunches and the use of lower-cost campsites are recommended. Low-cost activities are given.

Remember when you didn’t have two quarters to rub together? I do, because 30 years ago 50 would have bought enough gas for a high-school pal and me to drive his dad’s ’57 Olds a dozen miles to Michigan’s Blue Lake and back. Broke but determined, we pedaled bicycles made wobbly from the pup tent and sleeping bags we tied to the fenders. My pal toted our grub in Iris knapsack; I lugged cooking utensils and fishing gear in mine.

We were camping on the cheap, and we didn’t roll up our tent and go home until the bluegills quit biting and we ran out of food. Total cost for three days of Huck Finn fun: Zero.

One of the reasons I’ve always camped is because short of mooching off relatives or jumping slow-moving trains, it’s the best way I know to vacation on a budget. Go figure: A family of four on a week’s sojourn will spend at least a grand if they shell out a daily average of only $50 on motels ($350), $50 in restaurants ($350), and $40 or so ($300) for incidentals such as souvenirs and theme-park admissions. This figure can be considerably higher. A friend of mine recently blew $6,000 (including air fare) on a two-week family vacation to the Cayman Islands. “Can you recommend a best family tent?” he asked. “Next year we’re going camping and save some money.”

Not only does camping stretch the budget, it helps get sportsmen into remote habitat for game and fish and away from competition. That’s why an increasing number of outfitters will pack, boat or fly clients who camp and have their own gear into wilderness areas. Their fee may be a fraction of the cost to arrange a complete package that includes food, lodging and guides.

Saving money is the biggest reason why more than 80 million Americans pounded tent stakes and unrolled sleeping bags last year. Here are ways to save more this year.

THE FEAR OF COSTLY GEAR

Buy the best equipment you can afford, then take care of it. A $500 investment for new camping tents for sale, lantern, stove, sleeping bags and pads, cooler and other incidentals which you may or may not already have (cooking utensils and flashlights, for example) can be recouped in only a few nights. Campers typically save 50 percent or more on lodging and 30 percent or more on meals. Campingequipment is the ideal gift for Christmas, birthdays or Father’s Day, and many sporting-goods stores and mail-order houses offer super bargains during the off season.

Consider buying used gear at yard sales, flea markets or army/navy surplus stores. Splitting costs with neighbors or friends and renting equipment with an option to buy are other considerations. Some enthusiasts like to find a used tent for sale, sleeping bags, tables, chairs, food boxes and other stuff. A fine sleeping pad, for example, can be created from a piece of egg carton foam or by filling a used water-bed mattress with air. Check the public library for how-to books on the subject.

Extend the life of equipment by cleaning it and drying it out before storing in a cool, protected place. Most manufacturers provide other commonsense practices to follow.

CHEAP SLEEPS

There are literally hundreds of ways for campers to get an inexpensive good night’s sleep. Although user fees are on the rise as government agencies pinch budgets, many campgrounds still offer free or reduced-cost, although sometimes primitive, options. The number of federal agency locations alone, many with low-cost camping opportunities, is staggering. Included are more than 350 National Park Service properties, 156 National Forests, 362 National Wildlife Refuges, and 500 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 300 Bureau of Reclamation sites, and nearly 400 Bureau of Land Management sites. Regional agencies like the Tennessee Valley Authority and state forest, parks and recreation areas are other considerations.

Check your public library for a directory of local chambers of commerce in the area you plan to camp. Then write for information about budget camping and travel options. Regional and state travel and tourism offices are other sources, but be as specific about plans and needs as possible.

Township, county and municipal campgrounds are usually clean, sometimes staffed and often less expensive than commercial sites. En route, pick up campfire wood from sawmills, lumber yards or downed timber on public land to avoid paying high prices at campgrounds. Know, too, that overnight parking and camping may be permitted at highway rest stops as well as at truck stops, church parking lots, fairgrounds, utility properties and certain recreational vehicle dealers and other businesses. It costs nothing to ask.

BEATING EATING COSTS

There is no reason that food prepared in camp has to cost more than at home. In fact, it can be cheaper if you have any prowess as a hunter or fisherman and know how to identify safe, natural foods like spring greens, summer berries and fall mushrooms. Doing so may be healthier than eating packaged or prepared foods because some greens lose up to one-third of their vitamins within an hour of picking.

Planning meals ahead of time encourages campers to shop for sale items weeks in advance and skirts what might otherwise be a budget strain. Spaghetti, chili and meat loaf are among many popular meals you can make at home, then freeze in containers and haul in the camping cooler. Instead of buying brand name or expensive freeze-dried foods, purchase generic bulk items and repack them into plastic bags or boxes. When on the road, buy fruit and vegetables from roadside stands. Picnic lunches at free rest stops beat the cost of eating out during the day and make for a nice break if you’re road weary.

TRIP TIPS

Travel by train, airplane, bus or boat can save time and money compared with driving your own vehicle. Most airlines allow two carry-ons and two pieces of checked luggage to 70 pounds or more total. That’s more camping gear than I can comfortably carry. Sometimes bus companies offer unlimited travel promotions for a set fee during a prescribed period of time. A few years ago, crossing Lake Michigan by ferry saved my family and me 400 miles and eight hours of driving. We pocketed about $50 in savings, too, and the kids enjoyed the diversion as much as my wife and I did.

Speaking of children, admission fees to amusement parks and sundry other tourist traps can be shockingly expensive. Free or low-cost activities include public museums and historical houses, factory and farm tours. Instead of wasting money on costly souvenirs, encourage the kids to collect natural treasures like rocks and seashells.

Know that sales, alcohol, cigarette and gasoline taxes vary widely from state to state. In 1991, for example, the fuel tax in Georgia was only 7 1/2 per gallon compared to 26 per gallon in Rhode Island. So if you’re driving, it pays to know when and where to fill the gas tank.

I’ve learned a lot in 30 years: The two quarters I couldn’t find as a kid is the 50 and more I’m saving as an avid camper today.

THE FRUGAL TRAVELER

Stop by any American Automobile Association (AAA) office and buy a copy of Digest of Motor Laws for $7.95, or call AAA (407-444-7962) for more information. In addition to listing state gasoline tax rates, the book summarizes towing requirements and other laws and regulations in the United States and Canada.

Other helpful tips to remember on the road:

* If the boat or camper you’re towing is level with your vehicle, you will burn less gasoline.

* Adding a cab-flush topper to a pickup truck cuts down on wind drag and improves gas mileage. If you don’t have a topper, drop your tailgate when traveling.

* In mountainous country adjusting the air-intake screw on your vehicle’s carburetor (if so equipped) will boost power and fuel economy.

* Other ways to add miles per gallon include keeping tires properly inflated, making sure your vehicle is properly tuned and avoiding sudden stops and starts.

* Avoid toll roads. Secondary highways and back roads are more interesting anyway.

Savings Sources

* Kampgrounds of America, with more than 600 sites nationwide, offers a 10 percent discount on all daily RV campsite registration fees for Value Kard members. To get a card, send $8 to KOA Value Kard, Box 31734, Billings, MT 59107.

* Two excellent national sources of no-cost and low-cost campsites are Save-A-Buck Camping and Don Wright’s Guide to Free Campgrounds, which cost $13.95 and $14.95 postpaid, respectively, or $24.95 postpaid for both. Order from Cottage Publications, 24396 Pleasant View Dr., Elkhart, IN 46517.

* A new book that details more than 5,000 wildlife and outdoor recreation areas, many of them free or low cost, is The U.S. Outdoor Atlas & Recreation Guide by John Oliver Jones and published by Houghton Mifflin Co. for $16.95. Check your library or bookstore for a copy.

KUUKYUAK HUNTING

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I remember the time my grandfather Stephen Angulalik had bought a kayak made by Kupluguk. It was the first time I had seen that kind of kayak. It was small and narrow. I was fascinated by it and I had to try it. I climbed into the kayak and I began paddling towards the distant mainland. I almost tipped over, and I got so scared that I started paddling madly towards the land.

When time passed, we had spent our spring camps over at Kulgayuk — Foggy Bay — with my parents and my in-laws, the Alikamiks. The kayak was short and very tight fitting around the waist so that it would be virtually waterproof. I used Nahaklolik’s kayak to practice and became much better.

Using Nahaklolik’s kayak, I went searching for caribou over at Kulgayuk. I shot two bull caribou, removed their hides, and cut them into pieces. I then piled them onto the kayak. Because the kayakwas very small and narrow, I tied the caribou rumps to the back with rope to prevent them from falling. I also put some meat inside the kayak, making the kayak deck almost level with the surface of the water. I piled as much meat on the kayak as I could, making sure it would not sink. Being so far away from camp, I did not want to leave any meat behind for the foxes to steal.

I paddled towards home not knowing my father-in-law Alikamik was worried about me because I had been gone so long. I was paddling using all my strength. As I did, the kayak began to dive under the water. Just my upper body was showing as I paddled. The harder I paddled, the farther the kayakdove. When I stopped rowing, the kayak seemed as if it was floating on air.

I was not afraid of drowning. It was not scary at all. I had overcome my fear from drowning. From that day on I enjoyed rowing a kayak. I was a young man then and full of adventure.

Our ancestors before us used kayaks quite often. They used harpoons with metal tips and wooden spears to hunt the caribou crossing the rivers. When caribou started crossing, the hunters would row toward them. The Inuit would usually hunt caribou by looking for their crossing places rather than by using blinds. This type of hunting required great skill and if it was not done right the kayak could be tipped right over. If a hunter caught up to a swimming caribou, he would not just try to stab at it.

There was a certain way he had to do it. If a caribou were on his left, he would not use his right hand to try to stab it. If he did, his kayak might tip over. If the caribou was on his right side, he used his right hand to spear it. This kept the kayak stable.

Hunting Seals

The Netsilikmeot Inuit did not use kayaks to hunt seals. I have heard that they may do this in the east, but I have not heard or seen people using kayaks to hunt seals here.

Seal hunting is very hard. When seal hunters are out on sea ice and they catch a seal, they love to eat the liver while it is still warm. It is a delicacy to seal hunters. A small hole is cut on the stomach area of the seal. Once the liver is taken out, they use a tool that looks like a long pin made of bone. The pin is used to prevent the blood and meat from spilling out while the hunter takes the animal back to camp.

A seal hunting kit is brought along during the coldest months. It contains items such as an indicator, which tells the hunter when a seal is about to pop its head out of the water. When the seal is coming through the hole, the water will start waving, causing the indicator to sway. Indicators are made out of antlers tied to sinew. Hunters put the indicator down at the bottom of the hole where there is a layer of crystallized ice.

Bones and swan feathers and all sorts of other tools are also used to hunt seals. The women make bags out of caribou skins to protect the tools. Sometimes the hunters attach the bags to their backs using a button made out of antler. When the seal hunting preparations take place, the hunter can pick his tools out from behind him.

Kuukyuak is the traditional name for the area around the mouth of the Perry River, which is in the Queen Maud Gulf Bird Sanctuary. The name means “place of swans.”

Hunting blinds are low, inconspicous walls that hunters lie behind waiting for a caribou to come near. Other hunters drive the caribou toward the walls until they are close enough to shoot or spear.

Siney (si-NEW) is a fibrous cord that attaches muscle to bone.

Donald Kogvik, an Elder from Gjoa Haven, is in his mid-sixties. He moved to Gjoa Haven in 1967 when the Hudson’s Bay Trading Post at Perry Island closed due to low fur prices. As a young boy, Kogvik worked with Sir Peter Scott researching waterfowl in Kuukyuak — especially the Ross Goose, which is now extinct.

Kim Crockatt is president of the Kitikmeot Heritage Society, a historical and research society based in Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, in the High Arctic.

Good Will Fishing

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Corinthians 1:10-13 in the Bible states that “He said, ‘Come after me and I will make fishers of men.'” This statement is enigmatic and is analyzed. The beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom heaven” is likewise analyzed.

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 24 Readings: Is. 8:23-9:3; 1 Cor. 1:10-13, 17; Mt. 4:12-23. “He said, ‘Come after me and I will make you fishers of men'” (Mt.4:19).
FOR MANY YEARS, “fishing for people” seemed to me an odd and dangerous way to describe the apostolic mission. First, fishing is a predator-prey activity, perfectly legitimate in the larger scheme of things in which humans use fish to feed their need for protein, but it is clearly bad news for the fish. And then there are those phrases in our language that link fishing imagery with devious human activity. We speak disapprovingly, for example, of someone “fishing” for a compliment. Or we refer to the sinister work of drug pushers as getting people “hooked.” The work of another kind of hooker is sometimes described as “luring.” How does an image that has such negative connotations fit the ministry to which Jesus calls his followers?

For starters, the connotations of fishing imagery in current English are not necessarily the associations people would have made in first-century Palestine. While archaeologists have indeed found what appear to be ancient fishhooks around the Sea of Galilee, the Gospel references tofishing envision the use of nets, like those used by Peter and Andrew and the Zebedee brothers in today’s Gospel. Already we have moved from hooking to gathering. Further, some have found in the ancient world a use of the fishing image to refer to bringing people to a new level of consciousness, analogous to moving from underwater existence to open-air existence (fatal to gill-breathers, of course, but a positive move for humans).

More pertinent perhaps, because more biblical, is the possible background of Jer. 16:16–“I am now sending for many fishermen, says the Lord, and they shall catch them.” How is this to be taken? If the statement goes with what follows that verse, hunting out evil-doers, the fishing is a kind of “search-and-destroy” action.

If, however, the verse goes with what precedes it (“I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their ancestors”), then the fishing image refers to the ingathering of restoration after exile. If that is the meaning of “fishers of men” in Jesus’ saying, the phrase integrates powerfully with his preaching about the coming kingdom of God. For the coming of the reign of God means the end of the spiritual exile that the people of Israel felt they had been experiencing for centuries. Understood this way, the call to fish for people was an invitation to join Jesus in his preaching and enactment of the coming reign of God (or “kingdom of heaven,” in Matthew’s preferred phrase).

If we wonder how this mission applies to church life today, our first thoughts might very rightly run to our ongoing mission of evangelization. But the second reading, from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, suggests another kind of unfinished apostolic business– healing divisions within the church. The Corinthians are indulging in rivalries that threaten the unity of the body of Christ. Having been unified by baptism and faith, they are now allowing factions to pull them apart. The gathered people are allowing themselves to be scattered. Paul answers by reminding them that this motley crowd were first gathered into unity by their discovery of the power and wisdom of God in Christ crucified and in the life of mutual service to which that discovery drew them.

We need not look far to find analogies to Paul’s Corinthian community in our church today. Our church knows increasing polarization that can be described in a multitude of ways: e.g., between those who are attracted by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s call for Catholics to recover our “common ground,” and those who find such talk a threat to orthodoxy; between those who like their Gospel served on The Eternal Word Network and those who do not; between those who find the word of God in revelations at Medjugorje and those who are content with the mainstream tradition and magisterium; between those who find a kinship with the “Christian right” and those who find in that alignment a serious neglect of the common good.

Each of us could compose a list, finding our emotional heat rising with each entry. The church has always carried, and probably always will carry, creative and painful tension in its body. But as Paul and Matthew remind us, what we have in common is that, like the Corinthians, we have found Jesus to be light in darkness; we have dropped the nets of the world’s business-as-usual. We who have been summoned to gather others into new life are called to work out our own differences in ways that serve the body of the church and enable that body to serve the world.

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 31 Readings: Zeph. 2:3; 3:12-13; 1 Cor. 1:26-31; Mt. 5:1-12a.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:3). ho are the poor in spirit? Several common misunderstandings can block our comprehension of the first beatitude. For example, some people hear the phrase “poor in spirit” as analogous with language like “the soil is poor in nitrogen”–as if the condition of being relatively spirit-less were being praised.

This misunderstanding springs from an unfortunate accident of language. Then there is the reading that takes the first beatitude as consolation for the destitute, as if Jesus were saying to the economically deprived, “Don’t worry: you are suffering now in your poverty, but your present suffering will be amply recompensed in the next life, after you die.” But “kingdom of heaven” is simply Matthew’s Jewish way of referring to what is elsewhere in the Gospels called “the kingdom of God,” or God’s reign, already inaugurated in the life of Jesus and accessible even before death.

Another source of confusion, common even in commentaries, is the claim that Luke’s version, “Blessed are [you] poor,” congratulates the economically destitute, whereas Matthew’s version somehow takes the bite out of the beatitude by “spiritualizing” it with the phrase “in spirit.”

The case can be made that both Luke and Matthew are faithful to the teaching of Jesus, which draws its meaning of “the poor” from Isaiah. In a number of places, Isaiah describes Israel in exile as poor, hungry and mourning as they await God’s response to their need for rescue from exile. In this context, to be poor is to know your need for God.

Once we are in touch with the biblical home base of “the poor,” we can see why Matthew introduced the phrase “in spirit,” for knowing one’s need for God is a disposition of the heart, not an economic state. At the same time, however, those who know the pinch of actual poverty have the edge in knowing their need for God. In this respect, the economically secure can more easily succumb to the delusion that they are self-sufficient.

How, then, do those of us who are relatively secure economically qualify for the blessing of the “poor in spirit”? Some have found that poverty of spirit by discovering their helplessness in the experience of addiction or in the loss of a loved one. Others have learned to recover their need for God by standing in solidarity with the economically deprived and seeing the world anew through their eyes.

A man obsessed. (Hunting)

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Hunter with his dog silhouettes on sunset background
The days lengthen, and my friend Cameron stays out hunting till nearly seven. This is because he has the zeal of the convert. `At half past four, we found again,’ he says excitedly, `there were only three of us left, so I could watch hounds losing and catching the scent in the strong wind.’

Cameron is a man with an eye. He works in the world of exquisite furniture, and he is attuned to fine distinctions. He lives in London, but if you go for a country walk with him, he will educate you in seeing–a particular sedge, a bird, a type of stone. He loves the natural world. I’d never thought he would hunt, though. He has a horror of anything hearty, and if he thinks someone is a red-faced philistine he will either fall silent or become foul-mouthed.

He admits that he held off hunting for years because of preconceptions of this sort, but the threat of a ban finally drove him towards it. He had almost never ridden and so took dismal lessons on the outskirts of London and then some nicer ones in Dorset. By the time the current season began, he thought he was ready for his first expedition. As soon as the field moved off, his party led him to some far coverts where the fox needed heading, and Cameron, unwarned, had to jump eight fences. Since then, he has been addicted.

Now he has hunted more than 20 times, o’er field and fountain, moor and mountain, following his new star. Fifteen different hirelings have carried his six foot five inches frame, and once, when his horse went lame, a girl lent him her coloured pony. Everything was fine, until someone pointed out that his legs were hanging down below the pony’s body like those of some mediaeval knight. This made him all nervous when approaching each fence, and he hitched his long shanks up at each jump. He has fallen off only three times, last weekend `onto compressed gorse, just like a mattress’. He has a Patey hat, and a long, elegant coat which is new but looks as good as old, so that people think it was his grandfather’s. `Goodness, I despised the uniform before I wore it,’ he says, `but now I like it. It’s levelling to wear it, and I like the ceremonial, such as it is. There’s a dignity to it which separates it from baser blood sports. It’s a serious responsibility killing things, and therefore I like it when it’s dignified.’

What else has he learnt? Being new, he always asks what isgoing on, and is surprised to discover that many on the hunting field do not know. He keeps asking though. He is fascinated by the relationship between man and horse, and even more by that between huntsman and hounds. He likes watching something so ancient, he says, and being on a `platform’ from which he can see the country, the sun on the hill, the winter light on the mosses beneath the beech tree. `I love having my prejudices and expectations burst. I see a man with a red coat and an aquiline profile and I think, “What a complete bastard”, but then he isn’t.’

As a result of his new addiction, Cameron has become a sponge, a bore, a pauper and a recluse. Ned, his benevolent West Country hunting friend, has got used to him coming to stay most weekends, while his old pals see so little of him they have been reduced to writing him a `plea for friendship’. Part-addict, part-missionary, he can’t stop talking about hunting. `The other day I met a very selfish couple at a party. I said I’d been hunting a lot of foxes. “Oh well,” they said, horrified, “we like animals”.’ `There’s obviously something missing from his life since he gave up drink,’ says one of his newly neglected friends, `he’s a man obsessed.’ Cameron cheerfully admits it. Next autumn, would he like to hunt with the same pack all season, or move round trying different hunts? `Both. If I were rich, I would stop working and hunt four days a week.’ Wouldn’t he be quickly sated? `That would be quite a good point to get to,’ he says dreamily.

Sorry to wrench the tone round from my friend’s first, fine, careless rapture, but I thought readers would be interested in the following letter I received from Major Tim Fitzgeorge-Parker MC:

   ... The most infuriating popular misconception     is that the fox is related to the dog and     that cubs are, ipso facto, dear little cuddly     puppies. Now the fox (genus lupus) has a bone     in his cock, whereas dogs (genus canis) and     humans have gristle. Jack Lawrence,     Heythrop huntsman before Ronnie [Wallace]     had orders from that old shit Harry Rosebery.     Every time Jack broke up a dog-fox, he had to     cut off the cock, dry the little bone and send it     to Lordy, who would then have them mounted     on gold card and sent as tie pins to his girlfriends!!     So, you see, the term `dog-fox' is a     misnomer. You probably know this, but it is a     very potent argument. Keep up the good     work.  

I have nothing to add.