As the temps start to stabilize, it’s getting closer to camping season. I’ve wanted to purchase a small camper but the logistics of licensing, storing, and towing are a little overwhelming (and expensive) right now. At the minimum, I’d have to upsize my existing vehicle for anything but the tiniest of teardrop trailers, and with the supply chain shortages, everything is very overpriced. The RV industry has had record sales these past few years, so I’m hoping to pick up a used unit for a decent price in a few years. Until then I’ll continue to “car camp” but this year is going to be a little different.
For the past several years I’ve been using an ALPS Mountaineering Phenom 3 Tent. It’s worked well and is pretty easy to set up and tear down. It also has enough room for myself and the gear I want to have handy at night. Several of the trips I’ve taken have been interrupted by rain and inclement weather and being stuck in a small tent while you wait out the rain can get a little old. Enter the Gazelle T4 Hub Tent (T4).
Coming in at $350 the T4 is a reasonably priced option for an 8-foot x 8-foot x 6.5-foot tall tent. It’s supposed to sleep 4 but like all tents, you should cut that in half if you want to be comfortable. The T4 will sleep 2 comfortably with extra room for all your gear. Unfortunately, the Footprint (the piece you put under the tent to protect it from punctures) is not available in the US, but I found a shop in Toronto that sells it. They don’t ship to the US but I’m hoping to be up that way next month, so I’ll be sure to pick one up if I can. Until then I purchased a tarp to use that should get me by.
The T4 is a self-supported tent that has a setup time of approximately 90-seconds (munis Rain Fly that’s supposed to take another 30-seconds). This not only makes it convenient but could come in handy if you get to camp and need to set up in the rain. The size also gives me enough room to sit in my Yeti camp chair and wait out a rainstorm in comfort.
I’m looking forward to using the T4 with my ExPed MegaMat during an upcoming trip and will do a follow-up post about how it worked out. According to Amazon, it should be delivered today!
I’ve lived in my current house since 2005 and prior to 2021, I had maybe 2-3 (very brief) power outages in that time. Since 2021 I’ve had about 6. None have lasted longer than 2 hours, but it seems to be more of an occurrence than ever before. During the last one, I stumbled upon a site that shows power outages across the U.S. (including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico). PowerOutage.US lets you tap on the state and get details for each county. If you have family, or customers, in other areas it’s a good way to see what’s going on during storms, etc. I’m not quite ready to get a generator yet since I have a Jackery 500 that could keep the deep freezer running for a day or so, but the thought has crossed my mind.
And finally, mountain bile riding has come a LONG way since its popularity grew in the early 80s. The video below shows what it takes to win a World Wide competition these days. Watch out for the trees without safety pads, and try not to get motion sickness while viewing this. 🤮
Last week it was 73 and Sunny on Monday, and 45 and rain on Thursday. So I think the coats need to be kept handy for the next few weeks, especially with you see what’s coming up this week.
Just got back from a visit to see family in Cincinnatti and visited a new BBQ place called Pig Candy. They celebrated their 1st anniversary, and every order came with a complimentary bottle of their white BBQ sauce. I tried the Brisket special (topped with cheddar and caramelized onions) with macaroni salad as my side and a local brew to wash it all down. The brisket was tender and juicy, and the macaroni salad had a lot of diced vegetables and a lot of flavors. I would not hesitate to order this again. I’m looking forward to cracking open the white BBQ sauce and trying it on some grilled chicken this week.
No trip to Cincinnati is complete without a stop at Jungle Jim’s. There happens to be one on the way to visit family, so it’s an easy stop on the way home. I focused on some new Asian sauces this trip, and I may be reviewing them in upcoming blog posts.
And finally… The Wall Street Journal had a follow-up to the short video we shared last week regarding supply chain issues. This one is about 45-minutes long and goes into great depth on all the things that have to happen to get that USB charger from the manufacturer to your doorstep. It’s more complicated than you think!
I’ve been using my iPad Pro a lot lately to create these blog posts. It’s such a convenient tool to get online, and I really enjoy how it connects to my iPhone almost immediately for seamless connectivity. It’s almost like having a cellular modem built-in, without the extra expense. Paired with the Magic Keyboard this compact package can easily replace a laptop for most day-to-day tasks. Highly recommended if you spend a lot of time online and/or travel a lot.
I traveled to the small town of McCordsville last week to visit the Scarlet Lane Brewery and try the food at the Trax BBQ restaurant attached to it. Scarlet Lane is heavily focused on the Haloween theme and there are props and signs everywhere. I sampled a few of their Ales and was able to find a brew that was decent to sip on. I order it by number and don’t remember the name, I think it was a Hazy IPA. I then proceeded to grab some food. I had every intention of sampling the BBQ at Trax but their Burger of the Month caught my eye.
The Mushroom Swiss Smashburger was featured in February and included Double Blackened Patties, Swiss Cheese, Mushroom Demi-glace, Bacon, LTOP on a buttered brioche bun. Add a side of Garlic Parm Tater Tots and you have yourself a meal!
Trax has a lot of sauces to choose from. They have a sauce bar off to the side with little paper cups so you can find your favorite. I sampled about 6 of them, by dipping a tot in each one, and I think it was a tie between the vinegar-based and the mustard-based options. The two “hot” sauces lived up to their name and each had a nice bite that could easily build to an uncomfortable burn.
I hope to return in the next few weeks to actually try the BBQ and get some more of those sauces. Scarlet Lane has other locations in Broad Ripple, Indy, and Beech Grove, each with different food options. I particularly want to try the Gastropub in Indy.
And finally, Ars Technica had a report on the newly released US EV Infrastructure plan – Four fast chargers every 50 miles. The new plan begins to address the “Range Anxiety” concerns people have about Electric Vehicles (myself included). I like to do big road trips and get “off the grid”. The places I’ve been visiting have no charging facilities available and I’d be unable to visit with an EV. As the technology (and range) improves this could be a thing of the past but we’re years away from a solution. But as more and more automakers shift focus to EVs, the internal combustion engine, in my opinion, has a big target on its back.
I’m not sure what took me so long, but the Sun King Tasting Room at Fishers District has become a regular hangout lately. I’ve eaten from the three rotating food stalls since its inception but never really stuck around much more than that. However, now that I’m writing more and looking to get out of the house this winter, I’ve been visiting the Test Kitchen at least once a week to enjoy a Sun King Orange Vanilla Cream Ale and something from one of the three food vendors. You really can’t go wrong with any of them. You have Smash Burgers, French Bread Pizza, and Tacos/Tortas. These all fill a need one way or another, and on any occasion, at least one sounds good to nosh on. I can only imagine how popular this place will be in the warmer months when the upstairs bar and outdoor deck are open.
After seeing it on many cooking shows, I had to make it a point to source the spreadable pork sausage known as ‘Nduja. I was able to find it at Whole Foods (in the cheese section), where a 4 oz tube costs $6.99. The brand I purchased says it’s “Spreadable Proscuitto,” which sounds a little more appetizing. We broke out the crackers and went into this with an open mind… It was DELICIOUS! The flavor reminded me of a mild pepperoni that’s been blended to a smooth paste. The spice takes a long time to build and never gets too uncomfortable. Paired with a nice white wine and some cheese, this makes a great little appetizer that should prove to be a hit. (UPDATE: Smoking Goose makes their own version that I will be picking up next time I’m downtown)
We received our first measurable snowfall last Saturday in Central Indiana. I could still see the grass, so it wasn’t much of an event. After an unusually warm December, I hope Spring gets here early as I’m ready for a few road trips. Inspired by the always amazing 36 Hours In … series from the NY Times, I have been thinking about hitting up Toronto in the late spring. Have you been? Is there anything I should be sure to see while I’m there?
And finally, do you know how the fire pole originated? Fire poles in firehouses were originally installed to allow for faster descent than the houses’ narrow spiral staircases, which were themselves installed because horses kept climbing to the second floor and getting stuck.
It’s the NFL Wild Card weekend, and there have been some great games played these past two days. But, unfortunately, the Colts blew their chance to go to the playoffs last weekend with an embarrassing loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The only thing I like about the cold winter weather is the food we fix during that time. Comfort foods like casseroles, stews, and pot roasts seem to taste better when we’re stuck inside on a winter day. I just updated my Pot Roast recipe that’s been on the site for years to now include dried mushrooms (vs. fresh) and tomato paste. This adjustment resulted in a much more flavorful broth and some nice textures from the rehydrated fungi. If you end up trying the recipe, let me know what you think!
And finally, Marques Brownlee and his team took a Tesla, a Mustang Mach-E, and a gas car on a 1000 trip to see which car could make the trip the fastest. The results were interesting & show just much more infrastructure is needed to make (non-Tesla) electric cars viable.