Tag Archives: adventure

4 Skills to Perfect in Fort Backyard

So you’ve been reading our articles, went to one of our camps, or maybe just looking for something fun to do with the family. Here are four skills you can perfect in your back yard before you have to use them for real.

Fire Craft

The single greatest skill for both confidence and usefulness is mastering fire craft. But don’t play with matches; work on two paths of mastery. The first is using a sparking device like the Light My Fire from Industrial Revolution. The second is learning a primitive technique such as the bow-drill.612

Once you begin to master- push yourselves to experiment with various tools and harder conditions. A great activity for gaining experience is to tie natural fiber rope to two stakes or rods in the ground about 18 inches high and time yourselves on how long it takes to bundle materials, get a flame, and then burn the rope down.

The ability to start a fire is key to staying alive in the wilderness. This means fire starting is a priority in the list of bushcraft skills.

Some residential zones may restrict fire to specified enclosures. If restricted then use a homemade or purchased fire-pit for containment. We built a pit using 8”x12”concreate pavers to create a pit to practice in.

Gimme’ Shelter

Many backyards don’t have ready-sized trees to practice with. Still, there are many things you can do to create shelter. You can use t-post stakes purchased from local farm and feed stores to create anchor points that simulate trees and common tent stakes to represent natural wood stakes you would normally make in the back country. Just know where water, electric, and sprinkler lines lay.

Experiment with tarps, ponchos, and even a few discarded pieces of lumber. You kids will love that you are building a fort with them.

Learn a few knots, get some decent 550- cord and get to it!

Wood Splitting- Knife Skills

608Wood splitting with a survival knife- also known as batoning can add a valuable wilderness survival skill to your toolbox. This is useful because it helps you in creating smaller- easier to ignite pieces of wood even when the wood is wet. Learn with a full blade survival knife and work your way to using a small axe or hatchet.

Bushcraft Cooking

You’re getting the hang of fire building so might as well use it to try your cooking over an open fire. You can choose to use a grate in the beginning- but move yourself into experimenting with cooking with Dutch Ovens, #10 cans, and wooden spits.

Try making a “survival stew (anything you find in the fridge) in a coffee can or pick up a Cornish hen and cook it over open coals. Be sure to follow all safe food handling protocols- and it’s okay to use a meat thermometer to help you learn.

We still use Fort Backyard to master skills, and these four will get you on a path to perfecting skills before you have to use them.

Nothing Routine

Another kid is out there this morning. Somewhere possibly worried. Possibly hurt. God forbid, dead.

I am amazed when I walk into a room and whether its a bow-hunting club or a troop full of Eagle Scouts, how there are so many survival “experts”. I am equally blown away by the idea that a weekend camping trip or day trip to the woods is somehow safe. In addition, how the four letters P.A.R.K. some how makes a trip so innocent.

The facts are simple people. We are not at the top of the food chain when we go outside. The lives we lead, sitting with our @$$3$ on a couch playing video games, watching the latest episode of “Naked and Afraid”, or browsing the fridge for our next meal does nothing to get us ready for when things go wrong. Even worse, the self-proclaimed “experts” (atv guys, hunters, hikers, etc.) are more likely to wind up in a body bag or as a minimum, a SAR statistic because they first of all, have increased risk due to exposure, and second have developed a huge ego. Sorry guys, the numbers speak for themselves.

In cases involving kids who get lost or are in a survival situation, they are more likely to rely on training they have BEEN AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN. This is why all of our workshops require hands-on training. We have documented cases where kids we have trained have used our information in real-life scenarios and not only waited out the situation until rescue, were able to provide a calming impact on adults.

It is simple people. We not only need basic instruction in the outdoor survival disciplines, but an on-going diet of training and practical simulations.

See the article that prompted this quick write-up




Day Nine- NW Overland Rally

So on day nine we awake at the North West Overland Rally in Pine, Washington. The growth this rally has had is incredible. Last year camping directions were “go find a spot out there”. This year we were given a defined space, and we really stretched our boundaries with tent-trailer, shelter, and Abby’s tent.

The rally is an opportunity to meet other overlanders, take a few classes on living and traveling out of a 4×4 vehicle, take group drives with various skill levels, and attend workshops on recovery, cooking, driving, and other related topics.

I am always glad to meet up with old acquaintances and meet new ones. Abby quickly found Jack from Adventure Trio. They are both close to the same age and have tons of miles in remote travel. While Abby has spent her time in a Jeep, Jack and his family work from motorcycles. I ran into John Reid who we have had contact with at other events.

There is also the opportunity to meet new people and learn about their travels, equipment, etc. once again this year I have great neighbors and last night enjoyed good conversation around our Little Red Campfire unit. Henrik who I will interview on the podcast just finished two-years on the road with his wife and owns a company that has designed a security drawer system for full-sized oick-ups. We spent the evening talking travel, business, and equipment. I used to feel out of place at the events because I am often surrounded by retired CEOs, highly successful business owners who have either sold their company or can work from the road, or self-made men who live off their previous success. I now see it as opportunity to learn about success and gain nuggets of truth from hard-working individuals who also know how to enjoy their triumphs.

One of my goals is to find storage solutions for our rig. I want to either buy or build a drawer and storage system that helps us stay organized while on the road. I’ll be talking to allot of vendors and DIYers.

I can’t sigh off today without mentioning some the equipment being demonstrated and sold here. Adventure Trailer of course has the rig I will build someday, a fully livable JK. I will be doing an interview with them as well. AEV is also out here and brought there 4-door Wrangler along as well.








Day Seven….Heading in to Olympia

Day Seven….hard to believe we have been on the road for a week. Having the ability to sleep in on Lopez Island and use it as a base was a good option. The island is very friendly and a far cry from the hustle and bustle of San Juan Island. It was also great to let my guard down and not worry about bears for a change on this trip. Instead there is an infestation of rabbits.

I really want to understand more about how this place has become a safe haven for the bunny population. Its seems there are no natural predators, never saw a single sign of coyote, fox, or even feral cat. Hawks and eagles were spotted, but not in enough numbers to diminish the population.

We did venture to San Juan island for a few hours. To ferry the Jeep over it cost about $24 for a round trip ticket. Once on the ground we decided to find sea food. With limited parking, dogs in tow, and a tight budget, finding a spot was difficult. We eventually wound up at a grill on the main drag. We picked up an order of crab sliders, beef sliders, and some sweet potato frys. The tab still came in around $40, but it made the wife happy….so I was happy.

We cruised around to the state park area to do whale watching. We had to buy a discovery pass, which is required for all Washington parks. A trip to the gift shop and $30 later we had a pass for the year, we will never use again. Glad I could chip in….

We saw a few porpoises but no whales. Still a good trip. We headed back to the docks, parked the rig in line, then used the two hours to walk around with my wife.

In our early dating life, we often hung out in harbor and inlet towns. Often she would tag-along when I was doing a class or working a wreck. After long hours of working a dive, I would decompress with her walking allot of the shops in places like Barnagate, Strathmere, and Long Beach Island. It was good to shop with her again. I even got real seafood. While she watched a glass artist, I scored BBQ clams. I slurped down two baseball-sized crustaceans while she looked on in horror.

Today it was on to Olympia to see Melissa’s cousin. This put us on the only interstate we have done on this trip (except 95….but its a two-lane road anyway). Going through Seattle was a nightmare. I was pretty shaken by the time we checked into a cheap motel for showers and down time.

At Kelly’s the pups had an opportunity to run free. Kelly has three young women who rent rooms, all highly intellectual and very conversational. We talked travel, lifestyle, education, environmental issues, and raising meat rabbits, etc.

More later….time to crash…..













Day 5 Lopez Island and the Ferry Ride

Made it to Lopez Island today. The ferry ride was a great new experience for the crew. I have been on several before, but driving an expedition rig and a trailer was new. Since Melissa and Abby had not been on one this size, I stayed with the pups close to the Jeep and let them go to the upper deck.

The ferry service cost us just shy of $90 for a round trip. The upper deck area offers a full cafeteria style dinning. Since we got the ferry with a little over two-hours to spend, we ate lunch off the tail gate as we waited. A two-hour wait normally would stress some people out and by some of the conversations around us, most were still in the “hurry-up and wait” mode. For me it was a mandatory decompression time. I took the opportunity to sit with my pup, eat from the back of the rig, and catch a quick cat-nap.

I was also able to watch the protest of an out-of-control 10 year-old as he was telling his mom that he “could not support her decision to not allow him to go to the wharf” and that “he was frustrated with her for bringing ham and cheese and not turkey and cheese”. Some people should not be allowed to procreate. It really made me wonder how a kid gains so much power, let alone the vocabulary to express him self like that. I’m thinking there has been more counseling and less butt-whipping going on in that house. It also made me very proud of my own kiddo and though sometimes she can pull a few stunts here and there, for the most part she is a great kiddo.

A 45-minute ride and then off the ferry and into our base camp for the next few nights in the beautiful Spencer Spit State Park. Melissa picked this place from our research work the weekend before. She found a great campground for us and probably the best site in the whole park. On top of that it was a pull in spot so getting the trailer in was easy.

The site is surrounded by lush greenery and plenty of room for us to set up a full base camp for a few days. We are testing a new sun screen on this trip that came from Cabela’s, and due to the light rain and bug population, I think we are going to be pretty happy with it. It took about 20 minutes to put up, including time to read the directions. Will have a full summary of it after the trip.

So taking a much needed break now, with plans to drive and explore the island. There are other islands to check out- such as San Juan, but I am fighting the urge to leave camp. I need time to just do nothing. I’m not even breaking out the RC truck I brought along. Instead, I need time to be quiet and still to allow God to renew my strength and spirit.

Taking the opportunity now to just sit in silence….so signing off for now….












Day Four- Mike and Ruth

Day Four. Took off from Bonners Ferry this morning from the worst Best Western I have been in. Avoid the Best Western unless you want to be treated with mediocrity.
We left around 6am with the plan to stop off in Quincy to see long time friends Mike and Ruth in Quincy, Washington. Mike was not only a good friend, but later on he hired me for my first job as an instructor, which was key to putting Adventure IQ on the map.

We opted out of boing US 2 so we could make good time. As luck would have it, 30 miles from Spokane Interstate 90 was shut down. We detoured over to US 2 anyway.

Mike is now a pastor and I enjoy not only our frequent trips down Memory Lane, which always seem to get better, but also our spiritual discussions. Mike has been a bigger influence than he knows and Ruth has always provided insight for me.

As a young instructor, Mike showed me the ropes and guided me around obstacles that could have derailed me. He also gave me the freedom to explore and learn. I owe him a debt of gratitude for giving me a shot to be where I am today.

After a great lunch, good conversation, and Ruth’s apple pie, we headed down US 2 towards Lopez Island….6 hours away. Knowing we were not going to make that far, the plan was to get an hour or two outside of Quincy to make the drive on Monday easier.

We found a spot in the hardly populated NFS Thousand Springs Campground, about 90 minutes from Quincy. After paying our fee and setting up tents, we realized why there were so few residents. The place was overrun with mosquitos. There are enough of these pest to start another malaria epidemic. Using my last check, I bought three bundles of wood. I figured between the smoke and the cans of bug spray, I could protect Clan Anderson from any assault. I was wrong, they were persistent in their attacks.

Still, Melissa fixed a great meal and we spent the evening playing drums together and a few rounds of Zombie Dice.

In the morning we are waking early to hit the road to make the ferry to Lopez Island. A bit nervous since I have no idea where it is and need to be there by 1230.




Day Three of our NW Overland Expedition- Glacier to Bonner’s Ferry bwo Canada

Third day on the road. Great overnight in Glacier. Really wish we could have seen more– but so much of the park is closed due to snow. We picked up our yearly pass, paid $23 for a camp ground and $23 for wood. Melissa cooked up her awesome pita pocket meal. Note to self- make sure the pita pocket bread doesn’t freeze or it will break apart when re-heated.

I got some hang time in my hammock, played with my pup a bit and we got to weather a short thunderstorm with lightning hitting as close as three-hundred meters. It was great hanging with Melissa by the fire while we both wrote in our journals.

This morning we were up and out of camp and on dirt by 8am. We attempted to take the dirt road just out of Fish Camp, but it came to an abrupt end around the 8 mile point due to snow. We turned around and made tracks for Bonner’s Ferry with lots of dirt road stops along the way, which also included a stop-off for Huckleberry Pie for breakfast. We also stopped at the middle fork of the Flathead to let the pups run crazy.

Part of this trip was to explore old US 2. Once west of the hustle and bustle of K-town it was everything I hoped for. Windy turns with mountains, lakes, and beautiful scenery. Taking our time we made the 4-hour journey to Bonner’s Ferry in 6-hours.

I got us checked into a hotel so I could drop girls and guns off- grab a quick shower, let Melissa hit the laundry mat and then I dashed for a quick crossing of Canada. Because I am short on time (for dinner) I will cover that in another blog when I can dedicate time for the “incident-free” trip….hope you get the sarcasm.