Tag Archives: camping

Campfire Magic

What makes a good fire so magical? I mean there’s just nothing like it. They bring out the good spirits. In our neighborhood, a backyard fire also brings out all the neighbor kids (it could be the marshmallows and chocolate more than the fire). This is a fire I built Friday night on a little solo hike and camp (yes, I owe my wife). I wasn’t cold, and it wasn’t very dark (nearly full moon, even after I put my clothes back on). But that fire brought me a wonderful kind of peace and comfort out there. I wrote a little haiku verse about it.

flame dance on autumn night
from broken old oak limbs
ash comes home to earth

Friday early morning was a beautiful heavy fog in the valley where I was camping, so my morning of hiking left me soaked to the bone from belly to toes. I built this little temporary fire ring (and returned everything to the way I found it before I left, except a few ashes) so I could dry my boots. Hope and I are fans of the Discovery Channel show Man vs. Wild. We really loved the latest new episode–Bear was in the Black Hills  and Badlands of South Dakota! It’s on our DVR if you missed it. If you watch, you know host Bear Grylls tends to get naked a lot while he’s drying his clothes. Dad figures I must have been dancing around naked too. Only the blue jays and I–and the hunters who probably have little secret deer hunting cameras out there–will ever know…

I borrowed most of the gear for my solo hike/camp. So, thanks to Uncle Bob for the tent (at 3am Saturday morning I decided I might also ask for a rain fly next time), Dad for the rain coat, Greg for the sleeping bag you didn’t even know I borrowed, and Jason for the camping permit. And thanks to my wonderful wife for letting me go play mountain man while she chased three little kids around for a couple of days. Love you.

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Posted by on September 16, 2008 in hiking, poetry


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First Day Part 2

As in daughter number two. School started today in our little village. Mesa is at her first day of Kindergarten today. Leading up to Hope’s first ever day of school, she and her Mom were both nervous (and Mommy was a bit sad). But this time around, it’s been nothing but excitement. Mesa has been pumped for a while, and she jumped out of bed this morning and ran around giving high fives and thumbs-up.

Cousin Riley is a Kindergartner too. Having a kindergartner in the house means the triumphant return of Mrs. Smith’s Kindergarten Home Page. Not much up there yet. Hey, it’s the first day. Hope is off to second grade with Mrs. Weibersick without any sweat or tears. Here’s a link to keep up with Mrs. Weibersick’s class (again, not much there yet).

Other updates…

Since bartblog has been a little quiet lately, here’s a quick update on stuff we’ve been up to:

  • Daddy’s been ‘on the road again.’ Traveled a lot last week and some this week.
  • We went camping with Grandpa and Grandma’s camper weekend before last (see pictures here).
  • Jaime mowed Dad’s lawn when we got back–her first ride at the controls of a zero turn thing-a-magig.
  • Our tomatoes are starting to (finally) ripen.
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Posted by on August 20, 2008 in Family, Kids


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The Wind Stopped Blowing

But not until nearly 9:30pm. It just suddenly shut off like a faucet. And so we scrambled to set up, and made s’mores and camped in the yard afterall.

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Posted by on July 13, 2008 in Kids, Weather


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Weed-Chopping Cousins (plus losing the battle with wind)

Charlie in his oats.
(photo by Sam Hurst for

The Madville Times reports (Mrs. Madville Times too) that the Johnsons from Orland Township are featured in a new story on about their 30-year experiment with totally organic farming. Not your quaint little vegetable farm either. Charlie and Alan farm 2,400 acres (divided into 60-plus fields) in Lake County, SD, planting and harvesting 5 different crops on a 6-year rotation.

The Johnsons are my cousins. Mary (Bartmann) Johnson, Charlie and Alan’s Mom, came to America from Essentho, Germany (where my great-grandpa was born) as a teenager with the help of my grandparents. Charlie and my Dad are friends, cousins and successful farmers–and their passions for the work are carried through in very different ways. I remember “walking beans” to chop those sunflowers, thistles and cockleburrs in the dawn hours of July mornings as a kids, though. That was before “Round-up Ready” was for real. Or… Maybe, just maybe, it was another way Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 12, 2008 in garden, going green, Weather


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