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08 February 2009 @ 09:40 am
camping skills -constant refinement  
I have been learning how to camp down in Louisiana now for three years.

Each time, I discover solutions to problems but then move on to new problems.

For example, in 2008, I solved the problem of wood heating inside tents by putting my little stove in a duck blind instead of a tent, with a jack plate on the un-zipped roof opening for the stovepipe:



But this year I discovered the next big issue besides cold.

I mean moisture.

This is bad in winter because the ground is never completely dry then.

Also, the coolest nights tend to be clear and calm -without a breeze to carry away wetness.

The first thing that happens on such winter nights in Louisiana when I warm up the inside of the blind is that lots of condensation forms inside, and by morning there is a lot on the outside too.

I know from my physical chemistry classes that this happens because the coated canvas has almost no insulating value. (It's only good to repel wind and rain.)

Also, the night it dropped to 30 degrees, I was warm and comfortable all night inside my car, without the heater, with a blanket under me and the sleeping bag over me. And there was very little condensation. The key is that the car panels are insulated. But, the car is too small and mis-configured for sleeping in.

So I may be planning to spend a few hundred dollars for an "ice shelter" for next time.

These come in many sizes and types, from about five or six manufacturers:



And here is one from Clam that is just like my blind, but only insulated:



Ice shelters like these are specifically designed for ice fishermen, but I think they would be ideal for my winter camping in Louisiana too.

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And I may also have a new permanant and private spot that will be my camping destination in Louisiana.

For $300 per year, and as long as I spend $100 per year for liability insurance (which I needed anyway), a cattleman from Opelousas said he will lease me the right to camp on about an acre here:



The rights would apply to about 200 feet of frontage between the Bayou Amy on the left and the lower (left) levee road in the above picture.

Here is what it looks like at ground level, with the wooded frontage going back to Bayou Amy to the left of the car:



This is appealing because the place is two miles from any civilization because it is surrounded by Corps of Engineers natural areas and because Bayou Amy connects directly to Bayou Teche and the Gulf of Mexico and many other waterways.

But it is less than 20 miles from Lafayette, so there is 3G wireless coverage, and once you exit the natural areas, you are not that isolated from supplies and services.

Since I'd have a whole wooded acre with secluded water frontage, I could just keep my Porta-Bote and motor and all my camping things there hidden under my camo tarps, so all that wouldn't have to be hauled back and forth in my tiny Geo. (My car sure would be more comfortable without all that, and my gas mileage and wear and tear would improve too.)

For overnight camping on the way down and back, which I do at the Natchez Trace Parkway sites, as I said, I found I can do that in the car anyway, because it's insulated.

So I sent Mr. Fontenot a note saying I think I will come down sometime in the spring to get this set up.

And if it is not as desireable as I thought, I would just not renew the lease in future years, and I'd only have lost $300 for the first year.