Dec 16 2014

Camp Coffee: It’s the Taster’s Choice

My day hasn’t properly begun till I’ve downed my first cup of coffee. And I make that coffee the old‑fashioned way. By hand. No sputtering grampus of an electric drip pot for me. I use a French press. This fussiness helps to explain why I wasn’t entirely happy with my camp coffee until quite recently, when I bought a GSI Personal Java Press. Now my coffee in camp is as good as my coffee at home.

My first cup from the Java Press was a eureka moment of sorts. I figured I’d found the Philosopher’s Stone of camp coffee, the sine qua non, the nonpareil, the… Well, you get the point. I was convinced that the Java Press was The Answer to the paddling coffee‑lover’s prayers, and I couldn’t see why anyone would want (or need) anything else. I was wrong, of course. Serious coffee drinkers are fiercely independent, and they’re not shy about setting forth their views — or even laying down the law for others, come to that. (Maybe it’s the caffeine!)

In any event, my Java Press column garnered more than the usual amount of mail, each letter outlining the writer’s take on the best method for making good coffee in camp. And (with one exception) no two writers agreed. It’s like I just said: Coffee drinkers are an independent bunch. I shouldn’t have been surprised. But I’ve still had to rethink the conclusion of my Java Press piece. Perhaps I didn’t discover the Philosopher’s Stone of camp coffee, after all. In fact, the evidence of my mailbag suggests that there are as many Answers to the question of how to make good coffee in camp as there are coffee‑drinking paddlers.

Which is why I’m writing this. If you, too, find it hard to start your engine in the morning without a jolt of java, but if you haven’t yet found a way to make a perfect cup of coffee when you’re camped at the water’s edge, you’ll want to keep reading. There’s a whole world of choices out there, and thanks to the generosity of In the Same Boat‘s readers, that cornucopia of choice is about to be spread before you. Try one reader’s suggestion or try them all. See what works for you. My opinions don’t matter. It’s the taster’s choice, pure and simple. So let’s begin with café filtre… Read more…

This article was originally published on December 22, 2011.

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Dec 15 2014

Bike Monday for December 15, 2014: String Theory Brought Down to Earth

Rudolf Smuntz, the string magnate whose death kicks off the plot in the riotously funny movie MouseHunt, left this piece of wisdom for his heirs to contemplate: “A world without string is chaos.” And sure enough, string has proven itself to be essential in our household. Often it’s the only thing keeping disorder at bay. Here’s a for-instance: When you remove the cassette from a freehub, it’s likely to separate into its component parts, a confusion of single cogs and spacers, along with a multi-cog “spider” and a lockring. If these bits then become separated, chaos is the inevitable result, and it’s a chore to put things back as they were, particularly if you’re doing it for the first time. Our solution? String. We just loop a short length of string through spider, cogs, spacers, and lockring, then tie it off with a slipknot.

The result? All the bits stay together, in the proper order and orientation. Once again, string has defeated chaos. Rudolf would be proud.

Cluster Headache Averted

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Dec 13 2014

Another Leg to Stand On: From Cow Cane to Trekking Pole

Cyclists and paddlers are only cyclists and paddlers part time. Much of the rest of the time we’re pedestrians. And this isn’t such a bad thing. For many of us, walking involves more than swinging our hind legs back and forth beneath us. We’re tripeds (or even quadrupeds) by choice. Like me, for instance. I take a walking stick whenever I go afield, even tucking it under my getaway pack when I go out in my little canoe. (Frequent readers of In the Same Boat may recall that I’ve encouraged other paddlers to do the same.)

And how many folks have I met who followed my example? Until recently, I could count them on one hand. But now that’s changed. Suddenly walking sticks are fashionable… Read more…

This article was originally published on January 5, 2012.

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