Friday, October 23, 2020

flask's advice for bugging out

i have a friend who lives in colorado, near a significant and growing wildfire. i offered today to make an evacuation list and she said that would be helpful, so i made one.

i hope you never need to use it, but here it is:

  • gather your documents (passports, birth certificates, licenses, insurance documents, etc.), keys, extra glasses, medications, pet registrations, records, and tags and have a small bag handy to put them in so the important stuff is all in one place.
  • have your credit cards, checkbook and SOME CASH ready to go.
  • make sure your vehicles have full gas tanks.

  • have your computer and hard drives in a state where you can pack them in five or ten minutes. get your battery packs charged now, and keep them ready to go.

  • do some triage about sentimental items and mentally prepare to take as many as you have space for if you actually evacuate.
  • take unnecessary stuff out of your vehicle(s) NOW.

  • have each family member who is able pack a bag of changes of clothes: at least one pair of pants, two shirts, three changes of socks and underwear, extra shoes, a hat, glove, and a jacket. pack for if you're going camping.
  • include a comfort item, whatever book you're reading, and maybe some small games. you may be stuck somewhere waiting.
  • if you're going to have room in your vehicle(s), pack a big bag of extra clothing.

  • pack a picnic bag: enough food and snacks to get you through a day or two. bonus if you have unbreakable cups, plates, and utensils. include pet food and dishes.
  • pack a bag of toiletries. it saves space if you all have one big bag instead of everybody bringing their own.
  • bring at least a gallon of water for each person.
  • have a first aid kit.
  • if you have an emergency tarp, some space blankets, hand warmers, and cordage, put that in a bag to go.
  • pack a sleeping bag or blankets for each person. maybe even a tent. if you can't get a hotel, you're going to be camping.
  • bring pet carriers, litterboxes, and bedding for your animals.

  • put all these things in your vehicle(s). see how much room you have.
  • if you have more than one vehicle, put all the critical items in one car in case you have to leave one car behind.
  • in case you have to travel on foot, put your critical items in backpacks if you have them.

  • after you've put all the stuff in your car, evaluate how much space you have and fill that space with sentimental or expensive items. make sure you know where those items are and maybe already have them packed to go. 
  •  once you've packed and practiced, wait. hope you don't have to go. 
  •  if you DO go, remember to shut off the utilities and take out the trash. 
  •  if you think you're going to need to evacuate, go sooner rather than later. you will be competing with other evacuees for hotel rooms or campgrounds. also, death defying escapes make compelling TV, but should be avoided.


Monday, October 12, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: wrapping it up

 there are still a couple of things in the can, but the deadline is here, and i have enough points, so i'm just going to report what i have.

it was a successful season, COVID and all- more difficult to get out when i could be away from people, but the activities are always fun and i get to learn and practice skills and have a pretty medallion at the end.

i wish the challenge started earlier in the year, because i do outdoor things in january and february but i guess seven months is still a good long time to do all the necessary activities, even if i do wish the challenge ran ALL YEAR. because i love this thing. it give shape to my year and brings joy to my heart, and those are things i NEEDED this year.

i've made my documentations in blog posts, which i will link here and group by category on the scoresheet.

get moving:

 Go for a walk around your home or community while staying at least six feet away from anyone else. What neat things did you see? 

 Find a tree with leaves you can reach. Give the tree a high five! 

Roll down a grassy hill 

Do a handstand underwater in a lake or pond

Catch a butterfly or dragonfly with a net 

Take a human powered boat on a lake or pond

 Go to and find a hike you’ve never done before. Go hike it!

 Play a game outside 


 Start a nature journal. Keep track of all the seasonal changes you observe 

Write Haiku or other nature poetry based on things you observe in nature around you

 Sit in a quiet area and observe nature. Write down or draw a picture of what you see

 Photograph and identify five species of wild growing native Vermont plants 

Build an animal habitat for your favorite animal in your home or backyard

Identify a constellation that is new to you. Draw a picture of it and send it to us

Photograph two kinds of mammals in the wild. Identify the full species name and describe its behavior 

make a difference:

Collect rainwater and use it to water your garden - i used this free water all summer for my tomatoes.

Hang your laundry outdoors to dry instead of using a drying machine - since doing this for the challenge i have only used my dryer once!

Cut your own energy use 

outdoor skills:

 Learn to set up a tarp or hammock

Learn to tie 3 new knots besides the ones in this entry, i also learned a marlinspike hitch and a double footrope knot.

Build a fire only using one match

Make a map of your favorite natural area 

Go on an overnight backpacking trip with everything you need in your backpack 

 Learn a new technique to purify water 


Weave a basket using natural materials

Create art out of rocks 

Create a meal cooked on a campfire 

Use recycled materials to create a game 

just for fun:

 Learn a tongue twister and say it as fast as you can. 

Build a solar cooker or oven

Create a scavenger hunt for you and your friends and find everything

Tell your best campfire story! 

explore our parks:

Go to a VT state park you’ve never been to

Camp in a tent or lean-to at a VT state park

Have a picnic in a VT state park

Find a historical fact or story about a Vermont StatePark 

so that wraps it up for me. i also wrote a song about sedges, but i have no recording of it that i can embed, so i'm not claiming points for it. sometime if you ask me, i'll teach it to you.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Start a nature journal. Keep track of all the seasonal changes you observe

it is not possible at this point for me to start a nature journal, because i keep one now as a matter of course. but i do track seasons, take notes, make sketches.

for this item on the challenge i decided this year to take photographs to document the changing seasons, so here's a video i made from them, with all the photos appearing in chronological order.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Play a game outside

 you guys maybe meant football or frisbee or something, but i was camping at new discovery state park and in my world, what you do on camping trips is hang out and play table games, so i brought a selection of little portable games that could be enjoyed on a fall day in a state park.

and yanno? in the time of COVID, i can't play games indoors, so it's nice to feel kinda normal.

anyway, my friend barb and i kicked back and we played iota, hue, and a round or two of my own game that i made from recycled parts for the venture challenge.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Tell your best campfire story!

i'm a big fan of the true story. i used to work as a storyteller and i used to tell folktales, and unless i have been asked specifically to tell a folktale at a campfire, it feels too performative for the venue.

also, i don't like ghost stories at campfires- there are enough noises and beasties out there in the dark and life as it happens is scary enough. but the act of telling stories around a fire is as old as language and human mastery of fire, so if you have people and fire, there will be stories.

so recently out at osmore pond i had the opportunity to tell this story of a time a couple of summers ago:

So i had just arrived on one of the remote sites on the north end of Waterbury Reservoir and it had started out as a beautiful summer day with a cloudless sky but all of a sudden - and you KNOW how you're slotted in tight under the ridge there- this giant mass of black cloud comes up over the mountain and i can see it's got a great deal of rain in it and probably a lot of wind, too so in a hurry i drag all my bags up to the site and pull out a tarp just to get my stuff under cover and by now this monster is ALMOST HERE and i can see it's POURING on the west side and i haven't got but a handful of seconds before that rain gets to me and i did what any sensible person would have done in the circumstances, and i pulled off all of my clothes and stuffed them under the tarp with my gear because i had been planning to wear those clothes later and i wanted them to be dry.

by the time the front of the storm hit me i had all my gear under tarp and i was just tying it off so i could work under there when OH MY GOODNESS it was suddenly gale force winds and i had to redo a lot of my ties and i bent over to secure a line and a giant gust blew a whole bunch of leaves and sticks RIGHT INTO my butt crack at the same time a large brach near me came crashing to the ground and i remember thinking "this is not how i wanted Chad to find my body".

Monday, October 05, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Camp in a tent or lean-to at a VT state park

 i love this challenge.

this season i haven't been camping as much because the remote sites are crazy because everyone who would have gone on vacation somewhere else is in the campgrounds and everyone who would have been in a nice quiet campsite wants to be out at the remotes, and those of us who need to be careful about exposure don't have a lot of places to go.

yet it's the end of september and some of the occupancies are down, plus i was able to get reservations for a few days on a remote site so my friends john and liz packed our drybags and headed off for a few days at remote site 2 on osmore pond.

it wasn't the easy weekend it would have been had we been out the weekend before when it was all clear skies and bright sunshine, but the weather was unsettled; by turns windy and rainy and sunny and all the inbetweens.

we're none of us young, and just the business of being comfortable takes up time but it's easy time.

plus i was impressed with the cleaning schedules and the general plague safety of the campground staff, enough so that we've got reservations in a couple weeks INSIDE a park.

here's a picture of osmore pond at dusk on the first night.


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