Since reading Microadventures, I've been fascinated by the idea of sleeping under the stars. Not in a tent, but actually outside, in nothing more than a sleeping bag.
I've done it before. But never alone, far away from comforts of home and hearth, in the wild. I suppose I'm still a bit afraid of the dark.
As I motorcycled east across the state, I was determined to do exactly what I dreaded: find a quiet, secluded corner of earth and wood all to myself and camp there.
Since I left Saturday morning and was returning on Sunday, I had only one night to try it. But by the time I finished up on the lake I was exploring and was on my way, the sun had set. I also hadn't eaten anything in what seemed like ages, and an empty stomach has a way of making itself a priority.
I've learned that it's best to scope out potential campsites during daylight. That may just be personal preference on my part.
I knew then what would serve my purposes. Earlier that day, trying to find the lake, I'd taken a wrong turn and found myself at a derelict, abandoned bridge. I would return there to sleep. I figured I would be safe from anyone stumbling into me during the night as the unused bridge was barricaded with earthworks and warning signs.
I love places like this, despite how creepy they can be (trust me, they are even more so during the night). I think they naturally incite one's curiosity. Where did this road lead? What places are no longer accessible after this road and bridge were closed? Why went into the decision to abandon the road versus repairing it?
Those were the thoughts as I had during the day. Now, at night, conscious thoughts fled as my senses became hyper-attuned to the sounds and sights around me. The rustle of leaves and twigs in the woods around me, slowly encroaching and consuming the asphalt. Broken glass grinding beneath my boots. The beam of my flashlight cutting through the darkness.
In the end, I went slightly beyond the bridge to a row a large, round haybales that lined the road. I can only guess that local farmers and ranchers used the abandoned road to store their extra hay. For now, it would make a great bed. I ate a second dinner and climbed up top with my sleeping bag and my rucksack as a pillow. Besides the rustling of what I hoped wasn't a skunk in the hedge next to me, the night passed uneventfully. And far from any major city, the stars were incredible. I don't think I make enough opportunities to stargaze. It's good for the soul.
I woke up at 4am damp and covered in dew. I should have used my bivvy sack!
1. The Cake-Colored, Crumbling Church
This fading, pastel-colored church just outside Lexington caught my eye because of its decadent beauty. The light, almost cake-like green and pink stand out as wonderfully refreshing to the eyes under the hot Oklahoma sun. It is the visual equivalent of drinking a cool glass of water. I don't think I've seen a building quite like it. I took a quick look around it, and quickly decide that it is certainly abandoned. All the doors and windows are boarded off and locked. I wonder what happened, that would make a congregation abandon such a unique house of worship. I'd like to return to this building, before it meets whatever final fate awaits it- renovation, demolition, or a slow, discouraging collapse into rubble and ruin.
2. The Impulsive Excursion on the Explorer
This is complementary to the story of my maiden voyage on the $25 inflatable raft that I wrote about here. Take a look for some context. I'll still be here, just for you, when you get back.
After securing my Explorer raft on the not-quite-defunct boat ramp, I followed the trail through the woods and to its conclusion. I was rewarded spectacularly.
3. Meditative Meanderings on a Melancholy Marina
On lake Eufala, in Arrowhead State Park, there sits the derelict Area 51 Marina Bar & Restaurant. Funny enough, I was directed there by the park volunteer staffing the visitor center. The place was quite obviously abandoned, and had been so for some time, but somehow the park volunteers don't know that.
I was really looking forward to a cold beer, but my disappointment was offset by having this quiet, eerie corner of the lake to myself. I say eerie- I think that the more recently a building or site has been abandoned, the eerier it is. Perhaps it's because it seems like the occupants could return at any moment, or because whatever caused their initial exodus could still be present.
Exploration inside was thwarted by locked doors, though a spiral staircase outside leads to a rooftop terrace. I'm a bit too exposed up there for my liking, so I return to the decking below. I sit on the dusty old patio furniture, under the expansive shade of the deep roof, and I make myself coffee on my tuna-can camp stove. All around me is the serenity of the blue lake water tinged talc-y white, its aqueous song punctuated only once by a passing boat. I watch, wait, and relax.
I finish my coffee and head home.
When I was a Freshman at OU, I competed in a cardboard canoe regatta for a class. My team's boat, the Feral Badger, won the race but sank in the process. Ever since then, I wanted to take a stab at building a better, waterproof canoe.
A few months ago, I finally built the Feral Badger II. I took it out to the pond behind my Mom's house for its maiden voyage. It wasn't as waterproof as I thought. It sank after 5 minutes.
I put my engineering education to use and decided that the material properties of cardboard aren't suited to watercraft, and the time vs. payoff of 2 weeks of building for 5 minutes of boating just wasn't quite worth it. So since then, I've been on the lookout for a cheap, portable boating solution.
Enter the Explorer, a $25 inflatable toy raft. Let's call it the Feral Badger III. The reviews were surprisingly good, so I bought one and made it a part of last weekend's Microadventure. It was a two day, one night trip across a couple of central Oklahoma's lakes. I was surprised at how much action I managed to pack into this trip! From breaking in my raft, to an unexpected infiltration (and some great views), sleeping under the stars on an abandoned bridge, to relaxing and napping on the shores of Lake Eufala, I put some miles on my KLR and broke in the new 50/50 Kenda 270 tires I installed on my bike a few weeks ago.
This post is part 1 of 4, arranged by topic. This article is about my rafting on the lake. I have written also about 3 of the structures on this trip that have stuck with me, my overnight camping on an abandoned bridge, as well as some observations on Oklahoma towns.
The first stop on my trip is at Lake Konawa, about an hour and a half east of Norman. To get there, I followed the State Highway 39 east from Lexington. It was a relaxing, scenic drive- few stop signs and basically no traffic. Fresh air. Wonderful.
First off, what is great about this raft is how lightweight and packable it is. The whole thing fit inside a duffel bag, with plenty of room still to spare. I was able to strap the deflated raft, my rucksack, and a sleeping bag to the back of my KLR with 3 bungee cords. It's a pretty optimum travel arrangement! I would just have to make sure that I could always make it back to my motorcycle somehow. I once read a travel website where the author was experimenting with using an inflatable raft (surely one a little better than mine) and a folding bicycle as the ultimate packable travel combination. In his case, he wanted to explore the canals of China. A motorcycle and an inflatable boat should work great for the lakes of Oklahoma where I don't necessarily need to take my bike with me!
The pictures below should give you an idea of what this thing looks like as you inflate it. It comes with a tiny little plastic handpump, and two plastic oars. I had to pump for about 10 minutes or so to get it seaworthy, and at first I couldn't tell if the pump was working or not.
Once I had it inflated, it took me about 20 minutes to get the hang of rowing it. It came down to all arm strength- with how I had to sit in this tiny boat, there was no way I could put my back into it. I started by rowing backwards, the way I'd always seen it done in movies (I've personally only ever paddled in a canoe or a kayak). It was pretty slow goings to row across the lake, especially to fight the wind and the water current. I did get some pretty views as I went across the lake, though. At one point I did get concerned- the wind stirred up the water enough that a few waves crashed over the back of the boat, which was low in the water due to how I had to sit in the Explorer raft. I solved the problem by reversing my rowing so that the pert nose of the raft, high out of the water, was facing the waves instead.
I was on the water for at least a couple hours, which was enough to wear me out and in the meantime travel a rough circle in the area immediately around the boat ramp. So this definitely isn't a speedy way to get around the water. Probably better than swimming, though.
Across the lake, on the other side of the shore, I did come a disused, weed-choked boat ramp that looked like it hadn't been used in years. My curiosity got the better of me, and I paddled ashore. I felt vaguely sneaky, struggling to clamber out of my tiny rubber raft without spilling gallons of lake water inside and soaking my gear (I had everything in the ruck in dry-bags, just in case, but still). I pulled my boat up out of the water and took a peek. Indeed, a dirt path led up and through the woods. I was here already, wasn't I? I might as well take a look and see where it went. In case my raft wasn't sea-worthy (lake-worthy?) enough to make it back across to my motorcycle.
Ah, but to see where it goes you'll have to take a look at the next post in this series.
All in all, I'm impressed with how well the raft performed. I want to use it again, perhaps taking some camping gear with me so that I can spend a couple days exploring in it, to offset its slow speed. Another option I'm considering is using it to float down a river. That way, I can use the oars to steer but otherwise not have to worry about tiring myself out rowing. In that case, I would hitchhike back to where I started. Depending on how I enjoy those trips, I may consider getting a nicer inflatable watercraft. Once I have some disposable income, of course.
I had no idea police motorcycles could be this cool. Complete with emergency lights, nightstick, water bottles, radio, and...
Assault rifles. Didn't see that one coming. Not sure why they need them, but they sure look cool!
Yesterday, I talked about my adventure replacing the drive chain on my bike, and how that ended with a mysteriously locked ignition cylinder. The adventure didn't end, oh no, it was just beginning!
Looking online, the most common cause of a stuck cylinder is corrosion. It seemed plausible- I keep my bike outdoors, exposed to the elements- but gratuitous amounts of various lubes did nothing to budge the stuck lock. WD-40, Dupont Teflon Dry Lube, even trusty and versatile olive oil had no effect.
Calling around to various motorcycle mechanics, it seemed I had two options:
1) Wait a week for a new lock to come in, and pay about $250 to replace the entire ignition cylinder, or
2) Get a locksmith to come out and try to repair the lock.
I have not enjoyed walking everywhere and bumming rides from friends, so yesterday I scheduled an appointment for a locksmith to come out and take a look at my motorcycle.
This morning, I get a call from the receptionist: she is very sorry, but as it turns out, the locksmith doesn't work on motorcycles. Hmm. Wish I had known that when I first set up the appointment!
I call pretty much every locksmith in the OKC area, and they all say the same thing: they won't break open a motorcycle's lock. One of the mechanics I talk to comments that this is because they're afraid of accidentally helping someone steal a bike. Doesn't exactly help my situation here.
Well, I said I wanted to learn how to work on my own bike. Be careful what you wish for, and all that.
Step 1: Figure out how to remove the console covering up the ignition cylinder. Youtube, and even the faithful Clymer KLR 650 manual, are uncharacteristically silent on this mysterious process, perhaps taking it for granted that a neophyte like myself knows how to do this. It takes quite a bit of finesse and finagling of wrenches and rachets, but I finally get the cylinder out.
Step 2: This is where it gets interesting: I need to figure out how to get the actual cylinder out of the housing. There aren't any guides out there specifically for a KlR 650 lock cylinder, so hopefully these pictures will help someone out who finds themselves in a similar situation as I was.
With the cylinder off, you'll notice that on the mount for the cylinder on the bike are a series of metal bumps. On the cylinder itself, a rotating piece with more metal bumps should come off easily along with a spring. When you turn the key, you're aligning the metal bumps on both pieces and completing the circuit, allowing the battery to turn on the bike. Set these loose pieces off to the side.
With the casing and cylinder detached from the bike, it should look like this on the inside:
Take out the screws, and pull out the plate they hold in place.
The center piece with the nub can now be removed, allowing you a tantalizing view into the actual locking mechanism. These are the actual guts of the lock, and what we'll need to remove in order to troubleshoot the problem.
This is where it got a little tricky for me. Take a look at the tiny brass nob sticking out, highlighted below in red (though still hard to see in the photo). That knob is preventing the lock cylinder from sliding out of the front of the casing, where you stick the key in at. We need to get a small object down in there to push the knob out of the way.
I used a small screwdriver. You'll notice that one side of the knob is beveled or rounded; start on that side and slide the screwdriver around the circumference of the cylinder to force the knob inside it. It helped to use the fingers of my left hand (or whatever hand is holding the casing) to push the cylinder "up" so that the knob is closer to the lip and easier to reach.
Note: Having the key pushed all the way into the cylinder keeps the knob from retracting fully and clearing the shear line, impeding the removal of the cylinder from the casing. Keep the key out, or at the least only push it in part of the way.
Also Note: Once the cylinder is out, the tiny springs and wafers that allow the lock to function properly will be exposed. Take care not to lose these pieces or let them go flying off into oblivion!
With the knob pushed in, angle the screwdriver to keep it trapped securely inside the cylinder. Then, with whatever spare appendages you have available, push the cylinder down and straight out the front of the casing. Ta-da! Easy as a-b-c.
Now to find out what's wrong with the lock. When the key is out of the cylinder, the "wafers" stick out of the cylinder, and into the housing, thus keeping the key from turning the cylinder and making the electrical connection that turns the bike on.
When the cylinder is functioning correctly, inserting the correct key causes the wafers to line up exactly so that the shear line, or space between the housing and the cylinder, is clear and can thus rotate freely.
The way to see if your lock is functioning properly is to stick the key in the cylinder and see if any wafers stick up, thus impeding the rotation of the cylinder.
What do you know- the wafer on the far right side of the picture is sticking up, as is one at the middle of the bottom row. No wonder my cylinder wouldn't turn when I stuck the key in.
There are two fixes to this. First, you can file down the wafers while the key is inside so that they are flush with the outside diameter of the cylinder.
The second option- and this is the one I chose to do- is to simply remove the offending wafers. The lock will still function perfectly well with 4 or 5 wafers. In fact it would work fine with just 1 wafer, though that would also make it very easy to pick or force. In other words, the more wafers, the more secure the lock is. A pair of pliers will do fine. Here we see what the problem is: the far-end wafer is bent, which prevented it from re-entering the cylinder properly.
I try the key to see if that fixed the problem. Lo, the remaining wafers now line up perfectly! Success.
That's really all there is to it. After that, you have to merely put everything back together.
The hard part for me here was figuring out how to force the brass knob- the same one as before- inside the cylinder so that it will slide into the housing. The mistake I made was to keep the key fully inside the cylinder, which makes it impossible for the knob to clear the shear line and stay flush with the cylinder's outer diameter.
Instead, I pushed the key in but not all the way in. Then, you can line key up with the "off" position on the housing, and use the handle of the key to rotate the cylinder in such a way that the beveled edge of the brass knob "catches" the inside of the housing and pushes it inside the cylinder.
With the cylinder inside the housing, you can reassemble all the bits and pieces and reinstall it on your bike. Before bolting everything back in, test to make sure that you've solved the problem and put the pieces back together right by holding the cylinder onto the mount on the bike and turning the key. You know it's working when your lights come on! Congratulations on successfully repairing your KLR 650's ignition lock and saving yourself a good $100-$300!
Let me know if you have any questions, or take a peek at some of the resources I used:
Bonus: How to hotwire a motorcycle. Tried it on my KLR and I at least got the lights to come on and the engine to turn over a couple times before the wires got too hot to hold.
Stay thirsty, my friend!
Dillon Dakota Carroll
I've never been a mechanically inclined person, but always wished I was. I am envious of those that have a way with machines, engines, and mechanical components. Perhaps one of the reasons why I studied engineering was because I (mistakenly) thought it would make me a more proficient tinkerer.
When I bought my motorcycle last year, one of my goals was to learn how to work on it. It has been wonderfully interesting so far. Sometimes I wonder, though, if my old 2001 KLR 650 has been inoperable more than not. An important question, given that it's been my only motorized transportation since April.
So far, I've changed the oil (laugh if you must, it was a big win at the time), replaced the rear brake line and bled it, changed the fuses, had the cooling fan rewired, replaced the solenoid and the battery, and probably done a few other miscellaneous things to it.
Like most things, this has been a blessing and a curse: I've learned through that most effective of teachers (experience), and I have experienced quite the emotional roller coaster ride. I have the perfect example of this from this past week.
The drive chain started slipping, and upon investigation the rear sprocket was missing about half its teeth. I decided to replace the drive chain myself. It seemed like a smart move. New front and rear sprockets, plus a new chain and lube, cost about $110. I figured it would be double that, with labor, to have it replaced at the shop.
What I wasn't expecting: A 14 hour job requiring 7 helpers and 1 tow truck. But by the end of it, I had replaced the rear sprocket and the chain. The front sprocket was in good enough shape that it didn't need replacing- and thank the heavens, because the nut holding it in place wouldn't budge. After a motorcycle mechanic hit it with his impact tool, and it didn't move a bit, the mechanic told me that the only way to get the nut out would be to "burn it out". Not sure what that meant exactly, but it sounded invasive to say the least. I decided to hold off on that operation.
What took so long, you ask? Everything.
First, I had to assemble my motorcycle lift. It took me a shameful amount of time to figure out how it worked and went together, which I'll shamelessly blame on the terrible instructions that came with the lift.
There was probably an hour or so after that of trying, and failing, to get the front sprocket off.
We could, however, replace the rear sprocket- success here!
Until we tried to move the bike.
The motorcycle won't budge. And the bike is literally stuck 3 feet in front of the front door of autozone, right on the sidewalk. The wheels are stuck like a tick. At this point, it is 11pm, so we call it a night. I show up the next morning at 7:30am when autozone opens to explain myself. Turns out, we left out a spacer on the axle when we put the rear wheel back on.
I reinstall the spacer, but the brake pads now scrub on the brake disc. I decide not to worry about it until I get the rest of the drive chain replaced. The bike shop about 3 miles away offered to zap the nut on the front sprocket off with an impact tool if I can get the bike up there. We know how that turns out.
There is of course a complication in getting to the bike shop: the old chain is worn out enough that it slips off when the motorcycle rolls. I mistakenly think that I can't replace the drive chain with the new one I bought without removing the front sprocket. It's actually really easy to change with the front sprocket still on- embarrassingly easy. Live and learn. But after another 30 minutes of trying to remove the sprocket myself, and hitching a ride with my roommate to the bike shop to talk to them in person (thanks, Matt!) I give up and call a tow truck. Thankfully, tows are covered by my insurance policy! Along the way, I get some colorful commentary from Larry, the tow-truck driver. Let me tell you, I've never had a dull ride in a tow truck. I lost count of how many red lights we ran en-route to the mechanic.
Anyway, we know how this story ends: I get to the bike shop, and they can't do anything to help. So I walk my bike 30 feet away under the shade of an oak tree to try and replace the chain through trial and error, with the front sprocket still on.
Sometimes, you just have to trust yourself to figure it out. I get the new chain on, and I disassemble the rear brake caliper. Both work great. I roll away, and am amazed at how smooth my ride feels.
Looking back, it seems like the part in The Alchemist when the Englishman travels all the way to the Sahara desert to meet (go figure) the Alchemist. He wants the Alchemist to teach him how to make the Philosopher's Stone. The Alchemist asks him if he's tried, even once, to make it himself. He hasn't. Guess what the Alchemist tells him to go do?
There's something fantastically empowering about knowing you can take at least part of your bike apart, troubleshoot it, repair it, put it back together, and have it work better than it did before. You feel like you know your bike, like you've developed a special rapport with it. Like she's your accomplice, in on a secret that only the two of you know. All the rest of that day, I was riding on cloud nine.
The next morning, I went out to ride my motorcycle to the gym. I strap my gym bag down to the back, toss my leg over, stick the key in and... nothing. The key physically won't turn the cylinder.
This one, I'm outsourcing. The locksmith is coming today at 2pm.
I haven't been totally scared away though- my next project? Changing the tires! My current pair are street tires, and are almost bald. I will be replacing them with new 50/50 tires so that I can enjoy my bike more off-road! We'll see how it goes. Until then,
Dillon Dakota Carroll
A few days ago, I read a book called Microadventures by Alastair Humphreys. An accomplished adventurer, Alastair has rowed across the Atlantic, crossed the Empty Quarter desert in Northeast Africa on foot, and bicycled around the world. Microadventures describes his attempts to reconcile the spirit of his wanderings with a season spent working in urban London, without the time to travel across the world in search of adventure.
The idea is simple: invent excuses to get away from your routine for a day, a night, or a weekend. Instead of looking for wilderness adventures far away from home, his book asks the reader to look no further than their own periurban region for a source of inspiration and adventure. The idea is to make the act of getting out of your house to explore and seek adventures as easy as possible, while fitting it in between a typical 40-hour work week.
He illustrates this with examples of his own microadventures around England. These range from 1 day hikes to overnight camping in a bivvy sack to weekend trips tubing or swimming down local rivers. I like how he tries to tear down as many obstacles to just getting out of your house for a night and using what he calls the "5 to 9".
At one point Alastair self-consciously defends himself, noting that "a few people have criticized me for putting a fancy name and a hashtag to activities that people have always done...". I can understand that criticism from one perspective. But I also think that the critique is a bit one-dimensional. Yes, people have always gone hiking, camping, cycling, etc. But what makes Alastair's perspective valuable is that he encourages and equips the reader to do these things regularly and naturally, and in more or less their own backyard. He argues that you don't need to travel hours away to find beautiful wilderness, but that you can step outside your front door and walk to the beautiful wilderness that probably lies within 10-15 miles of your house. They may be tiny slivers of nature in the left-over space between urban or suburban areas, but they're probably enough for a day or night long adventure. In fact, some of the suggested microadventures are designed to take adventure of precisely this kind of local natural space. The microadventures are enticing for their unorthodoxy, such as walking the normal commute instead of driving or catching the train at the end of the work day and bivvy sack camping halfway home.
I also enjoyed being challenged to observe and appreciate what already lies around us. We tune out the potential beauty and the opportunity for exploration and discovery of our immediate surroundings because we've become accustomed to it. It's lost its novelty and become mundane. Alastair invites us to reconnect with our oft-ignored home turf and engage with it in new and adventurous ways.
I read this book concurrently with Access All Areas, written by a deceased urban explorer who went by the moniker Ninjalicious. It's a sort of beginner's guide to the activity of urban exploration, and I drew parallels between both these books. As you might guess, urban exploration involves engaging with the urban environment and infrastructure around you in unconventional ways. Urban explorers make a point to "take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints", and find their way into abandoned buildings, buildings under construction, drainage tunnels or maintenance tunnels. They take satisfaction in learning about the parts of their community that most ignore, and engaging with their environs on their own terms. At the risk of making a sweeping generalization, I see Alastair Humphrey as advocating more or less the same philosophy, except for natural spaces instead of the urban environment.
My first microadventure
Properly inspired by Alastair Humphrey's book, I promptly picked Saturday, August 2nd as the date for my first official microadventure. My plan was simple: pack water, a little booze, a can of lentils, homemade camp stove, and a book (the aforementioned Access All Areas), then hop on my KLR 650 and ride to the local reservoir, Lake Thunderbird. It's a pretty big lake, and a popular recreation area, so I figured I'd circle it on my bike until I found a fun trail or forestry road to follow on my motorcycle. I'd tool around for a half day while exploring on my bike, test out my homemade camp stove, read for a bit, do some hiking, and head home.
I stopped at a gas station on the way to the lake and asked if they had a map of the lake. The attendant asked me if I was looking for anything in particular at Thunderbird, so I shared my quest for a fun bit of trail to take my bike out on. She replied that all the roads in the area were paved, and that there weren't any trails for off-road vehicles. Alas, her response didn't bode well for my search for a proper riding trail. But I am not so easily defeated!
I figured, I'lI keep riding around the reservoir and I might happen upon a lonely forestry road or some such trail that, waiting to be discovered, might provide my desired recreation. I wish I could say I found one- what a fantastic discovery that would have been! Instead my curiosity nearly got my bike trapped in a treacherously sandy hill.
You see, each road I turned on to was filled with homes and inevitably led to a dead end. Frustrated, at the end of one such teasing street I noticed that a well-worn path through the grass seemed to lead off through the trees and towards the lake. Ah, I thought, my search has born fruit! Off I took, chortling along around the bend.
I chortled my bike right into a sandy hill, where it cut a rut into the earth and got stuck fast.
It took 30 minutes to free my motorcycle from the sand and backtrack to the road. Dual sports are decently weighty bikes, and they're also top heavy. I struggled to try and push and pull the bike out of the sand, but it kept sliding into the ruts. Occasionally I'd lose my balance and the bike would fall over, leaking gas out of the top of the gas tank. It was pretty miserable.
I finally freed the bike by finding sheets of fiberglass someone had thrown away in the woods. By this point, the bike was so firmly held in the sandy ruts that the motorcycle patiently stood up straight on its own. I slid the fiberglass sheets behind the wheels and pulled the bike backwards onto them. That gave the bike the traction it needed to take off, and I chugged back the way I came without stopping to avoid getting stuck in the sand again.
I resigned myself to the fact that I probably wasn't going to find any cool riding trails at this point, and my thirst for dual-sport adventure had been quenched. I continued my circumscription of the lake, stopping a few times to take in the scenery.
I stopped at the southern dam and dock area of Lake Thunderbird. I figured I'd explore a bit on foot and go for a swim. I was lucky enough to stumble upon the network of mountain bike trails in the area. I knew there were bike trails in the area, but I'd never considered exploring them before. I was impressed with how pretty and bucolic this part of the lake is.
I consider the trip a success just for having "discovered" the bike trails. I spent probably about 3 hours exploring the trail system and getting a bit lost. It was a blast! I also had the opportunity to test my homemade camping stove. You can find the instructions here.
You punch holes in the side wall of an old tuna or cat food can, fill it with a bit of denatured alcohol, and light it. It burns invisibly, so you have to be careful, but in my first test it heated up a can of lentils in no time flat. Easy to make, inexpensive, and lightweight- who needs a fancy $50 camp stove?
I am happy and quite satisfied with how my first Microadventures inspired trip went. I got to spend a day fooling around on my motorcycle and discovering a local sliver of beautiful nature (yes, I am aware of the irony of this being a man-made reservoir). Walking along the trails, shrouded by laden boughs of verdant trees, experiencing what the Japanese call komorebi- the dappled effect created when sunlight filters through trees- I felt a world away from all the stresses, worries, and responsibilities that we all face. It was regenerative, despite being only the better part of a day. And I think I captured at least some of the spirit of a bigger adventure.
Here's to my next microadventure!
Until the next time,
Dillon Dakota Carroll
...sees much and knows much