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How to Build a Campfire

Building a campfire is an essential skill for an outdoors lifestyle.

Whether you’re in the middle of the woods or making smores with the family, building a proper campfire can be a daunting task. With some wood and a little bit of knowledge, it’s not really that hard and can be a big help for many different tasks. Here’s how to do it in a few easy steps.

Start with a fire pit

To start building a fire, you are going to need some sort of way to contain it. Whether it be a big bucket, stones, or even a fancy structure. This is so that you don’t ignite the surrounding area including your house. Also, an uncontained fire is a problem especially in dry environments such as California wooded areas.

If you can’t get a proper area to hold a fire, make sure to keep a fireproof blanket or a fire extinguisher near in case of an emergency. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Getting the wood

Choosing your wood is definitely one of the most critical parts of your campfire. You want to get relatively decent sized chunks of wood for your endeavors. Hickory, White Birch, or Oak are some of the best woods to burn. Cedar lacks in flame but excels in heat, making it great for a winter campfire. Try avoiding softer woods like Spruce or Willow because density is proportionate to burn time.

Storing your wood is also an important step because it won’t burn after a rainstorm. You can put in in a storage shed or even set it outside in a stack with a large tarp to keep moisture and other unwanted debris away from your wood.

Setting up the pyre

The most common way to set up wood is in a cone fashion. This is done by inserting a support stick into the ground and leaning the chunks against it over a pile of small combustible material, or kindling, such as wood shavings, leaves, newspaper, etc. As long as they don’t fall over and have a plethora of airflow, you should be all set.

It is imperative to have extra materials around nearby like kindling to keep the fire going as long as you need it. It would be unfortunate to set up a campfire and invite all your friends and family just to have it go out and be unprepared.

Lighting the masterpiece

So you’ve built your pyre and are ready to set it ablaze. You can use a lighter or toss a lit match in the kindling. Whatever you do avoid using things like gasoline or other accelerants that are not designed for this task. You can severely injure yourself or someone else by igniting a flame with gasoline. Surprisingly, cheese puffs are a decent firestarter after you have a flame going.

Remember to never leave the fire unattended, as you never know what may happen when you are absent.

 Extinguishing the fire

You should always put out the fire if it hasn’t gone out. When you are done, there are a few things you can do to end the inferno. If it is still going strong you can pour water on it or use a fire extinguisher to reduce the flames. If that doesn’t work you can use a fireproof blanket to kill off the big flames and put out the embers with water. At the end of the day, there is always the water hose if available.

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Introduction to MRE’s and Freeze-dried Food

As the main source of nourishment from astronauts to military personnel, MRE’s and freeze-dried food are easy to eat and convenient in extreme situations.

MRE, or Meal Ready to Eat, is a form of food that is sealed in a way where it can be preserved for up to 3 and a half years at 81°F. They are used in combat and for astronauts as they can still be safe over long journeys for extended periods of time. Ever since 1981 starting with the MRE I, they have been used as the primary ration of deployed US troops.

MRE’s come in many different types, such as main courses, sides, and even desserts. There are also certain vegetarian entrées. Most of these contain napkins, utensils, and other types of condiments to spice up the not-so-good-looking meals. Here are some types of MRE’s.

Regular Meals

Usually, within the MRE, there are multiple different packages inside because the meals are tailored for a full work day in combat. An MRE contains a main course, side dishes, dessert, and a flameless heater with utensils. Sometimes there can be condiments and drink mixes in tandem to the base materials.

Types of Main Dishes and Sides

An appetizing slab of chicken tetrazzini.

Main dishes can come in a variety of different types. These are frequently the most nutritious part of the MRE and are not usually as good as they appear coining the name “Meals Rejected by Everyone”. Currently, there are rations such as vegetarian taco pasta, chicken with noodles, beef stew, chicken, meatballs and marinara sauce, shredded bbq beef, chili, fettuccine sauce, macaroni, spaghetti and meat sauce, beef tacos, and much much more.

Desserts and Condiments

An ambrosial selection of MRE apples.

MRE’s can also contain snacks and certain types of sauces, toppings, and even desserts. There is gum, cakes, brownies cookies, drink mixes, peanut butter, jam, mints, coffee, oatmeal, tortillas, and the list goes on.

Freeze-Dried Food

Freeze-Dried Ice Cream

Freeze-drying is another preservation method by low-temperature dehydration. These foods can have a shelf life of more than 20 years and can be rehydrated fully by stirring with water depending on the quality of the product. Freeze drying is not as common because of the high cost of the procedure, although it is still used today. Common foods that are freeze-dried contain water such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, and coffee. These meals are usually consumed by our space wanderers.

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Best Running Shoes Under $150

Your closest companion when you’re out is the shoes on your feet.

You know the drill, putting on your worn out shoes that barely fit and are falling apart at the seams. It’s time for a new pair. Why not up your game and get some that are comfortable and fit all of your duties? Welcome to the world of running shoes.

Running is also one of the easiest ways to get a good workout. The hardest part is not knowing which shoes to aid you in your journey. After a while, your feet tend to hurt and getting a good pair of shoes is key to maintaining your endurance and not putting a premature end to your venture. Here is a list of the best shoes money can buy for under $150.

Asics GEL-Cumulus 19: $59.99-$69.99

The Cumulus series is a favorite among runners for the outstanding cushioning and long term comfort. The shoe is designed so the foot has an even distribution point upon landing, and also has a quality mesh body for ventilation. The previous generation from Asics is on sale as the 20 series are out, providing an amazing pair of shoes for half the price. They come in a wide variety of colors which should suit just about everyone and their mother (you should get her a pair too).

Reebok Floatride Run: $54.97-$150

Reebok’s philosophy is to make the lightest possible shoe to make your feet feel responsive. What makes this shoe different? Well, the heel is 3D printed, claiming to support up to half-marathon distances. The responsive feel is from the Floatride foam, making the shoe lightweight yet soft. There are also a few different color schemes that might match your style.

But wait, there’s more! If you want to get a completely 3D printed variant of the shoe, Reebok is offering their Liquid Floatride Run for $180 which is 20% lighter than the original. They also changed the laces a bit to make them slip on with a comfortable firm fit.

Saucony Azura: $85

“Just one seriously awesome sneaker”. Saucony focuses on the inside of the shoe to produce a comfortable long lasting shoe built for the foot. It’s a retro shoe brought back from 1988 with the same color scheme, the orange and white. Made with micro-suede and the original rigidity bar, this is a serious bargain for $85.

New Balance 1500v5: $109.99

The 1500v5’s offer superior lightweight construction. New Balance claims their REVLite foam is 30% lighter compared to other foams with the same durability. Classified as racing flats, they took inspiration from their spike line-up in terms of a new aesthetic with two beautiful styles. With a sturdy outsole and superior lightweight mesh upper, these shoes will suffice from going on a walk to Walmart to a full marathon.

adidas Pureboost Go LTD:  $120

These shoes were designed to be springy; you can push off and get more of a bounce from the BOOST midsoles aimed for faster-oriented runs and corners as opposed to long training sessions. Built around the city, the boost offers a true foot mold that provides easy movement for the Achilles. As opposed to the mesh upper, the Pureboost Go LTD has a knitted breathable fabric with a few colors to choose from.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 Shield: $130

Have you ever wanted to go for a run in the rain? These are an exceptional pair of shoes for the moderate to extreme weather. For everyday runs or races, the Air Zoom Pegasus has a grippy sole even when the ground is wet. There is a new lacing system too. It’s a small adjustable piece on the lace that gives you a good fit during any season.

Did we mention that you can even customize it to your liking? On Nike’s website, the possibilities are endless. Although these custom shoes go for $155, they aren’t a bad deal especially when you can make them look however you please.

Under Armour HOVR Sonic 2: $100

Under Armour is a staple in the athletic department. Not only do they make pretty much everything under the sun, but their HOVR Sonic 2’s are also phenomenal for the price. The HOVR technology makes the runner fell weightless allowing for increased endurance. The rubber soles have abrasive to increase traction on the ground and provide counterweights for an even step.

These neutral running shoes also give runners an option to connect their smartphones wirelessly to track all of your running statistics and has the ability to aid your performance by telling you what you can improve on.

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The Conservation Fund: Removal Of Eklutna Dam Complete

Historic effort allows salmon passage for the first time in nearly 90 years

ANCHORAGE, Alaska—Today The Conservation Fund announced the completion of the four-year, $7.5 million effort to remove the Lower Eklutna River dam in Southcentral Alaska. For the first time in 89 years, the five species of Pacific salmon that live in the Eklutna River, located 20 miles north of Anchorage, can now move upstream to additional spawning habitat.

The Conservation Fund partnered with the Native Village of Eklutna and the Eklutna Native Corporation on the work to remove the dam. “This has been an exciting and rewarding project for the Eklutna Dena’ina people who still live and fish along the river,” said Curtis McQueen, CEO of Eklutna Incorporated. “Eklutna River salmon are an important part of our culture and we are hopeful that this is the first big step toward the recovery of the salmon runs that our people once relied on for subsistence.”

The Conservation FundU.S. Congressman Don Young (R-AK) said: “The Eklutna people are to be commended for tackling and completing the difficult task of removing the Lower Eklutna Dam. This spectacular and high-profile project has captured popular attention and earned tremendous political and financial support.”

According to Brad Meiklejohn, project director for The Conservation Fund: “This was the fastest and most efficient major dam removal effort ever completed in the country. We had tremendous support from the public, from all levels of government and from a wide array of funders.”

Project support was provided by the Rasmuson Foundation, the Open Rivers Fund of Resources Legacy Fund, the M.J. Murdock Trust, the Marnell Company, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through its Alaska Fish and Wildlife Fund and ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation Program, the Alaska Community Foundation, Patagonia, Trout Unlimited, New Belgium Brewing, and Wells Fargo.

Removing the Lower Eklutna River dam is the first step in the recovery of the Eklutna River. “But the salmon need more water. With the lower dam removed it is now time to find ways to restore normal water flows to the Eklutna River,” added Congressman Young. Efforts are now underway with the power utilities in the region to put more water back into the Eklutna River.

“We waited a long time for this moment. The Eklutna people are still here and we are anxiously awaiting for the salmon to return,” said McQueen.

A public celebration will be held on September 22nd at Eklutna Lake. For more details visit:


About The Conservation Fund

At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect eight million acres of land, including more than 337,000 acres in Alaska.

Brad Meiklejohn | The Conservation Fund | 907-694-9060 |

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Best National Park Vacations for Couples

They say that it is better to spend money on experiences rather than things…

And rightly so! But when your experiences are accompanies with the hand of a beloved and the rarest gifts of Mother Nature, the word “experience” isn’t quite enough to encapsulate the phenomenon. Here are some of the places where you might be able to experience such a phenomenon:

Arches National Park

The Arches National Park is, perhaps, the best location for a vacation with your beloved. From the beauty to the peace to the relaxation to the overall experience to the love in the air—the Arches National Park has got everything that you can ask for. Regardless of whether you’ve got a day to spare for the vacation or an entire weekend, you can be sure of the fact that the Arches National Park has got something for you and your partner to enjoy. While every season is in its full glow in this park, the spring time and the Arches National Park appear to have a different proximity altogether!

Death Valley National Park

The Death Valley National Park is not “just another” retreat for two individuals who are madly in love. Rather, the place is perfect for such couples who have got the spirit of adventure imbued within their souls. Why? Well, it’s because the Death Valley National Park is a place of extremes where you’ll find all sorts of landscapes. From dunes to mountains to salt pans—the Death Valley National Park has got them all. This national park is known, typically, for its dry climate but don’t let that stop you from having the adventure of your life with your partner!

Virgin Islands National Park

The Virgin Islands National Park is perfect place for you to unwind with your partner. Why? Well, what can be more romantic than a chance to relax under the sun, while the waves crash at your feet? From snorkeling to scuba diving to mountain biking to complete tours—the Virgin Islands National Park is the perfect spot for tourists and lovers, alike, owing to how beach isn’t the only thing that the park takes pride in. At the Virgin Islands National Park, you can either choose to lay low with your partner or have an adventure instead by getting lost in the 20 miles of hiking trails that the park has got to offer.

Grand Tetons National Park

If you’re looking to take a vacation in the fall then the Grand Tetons National Park is “the” place where you need to be. There are few places on Mother Earth that come alive during the fall season like the Grand Tetons National Park. Imagine a wide range of aspen, exploring with different colors, in the backdrop of the Grand Tetons Mountains. Can it get any better than that? Only a select few (read: lucky!) will disagree. From the rare wildlife to the sight of the Snake River winding into the mountains—some of the scenes at the Grand Tetons National Park seem too good to be true!

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

The Glacier Bay National Park is perfect for those who are looking to leave all of their stresses behind, owing to the secluded location of the park. The Glacier Bay National Park can only be reached through a boat or plane, meaning that you and your loved one will be able to experience the much needed feeling of seclusion. From glacier cruises to boat tours to deep fjords to snow-capped mountains to awe-inspiring wildlife—the Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve has got it all for you to treasure and behold!

Acadia National Park

A list for the most romantic national parks cannot be completed without a mention of the Acadia National Park. Regardless of whether it’s a fun-filled park vacation that you’re looking for or a walk along the seaside—you can be sure that the Acadia National Park has got just what you need. The offers activities like biking, hiking, camping and bird-watching for you and your partner to indulge in. However, if you’re looking to make the most out of your visit to the Acadia National Park, you’ve got to take a hike to the top of the Cadillac Mountain. The sight of the beautiful sunrise—or the majestic sunset—is bound to set the fire of love burning!

The gifts of Mother Nature are vast, no doubt, and they certainly make the destinations for having the best time with your loved one!