Saturday, July 16, 2016

Product Review: Portable Rain Barrel

Collapsible Storage Container for Water

Portable Rain Barrel

Water is vital to human survival. We may last only a week without this valuable moisture. To ensure your family has a proper allotment of H2O, stash at least a gallon per person for the emergency storage plan. If you are planning on two weeks of backup water and you have four family members, you will need at least 56 gallons. Increase that by the amount of water needed for washing and that number doubles.
(See H2O - A few dozen healthy reasons to love water!)

Water storage is a high priority with a preparedness plan. While on the search for options on large capacity water storage containers, I ran across this lovely idea and immediately had it shipped. Imagine a portable rain barrel!  The price was affordable and I had to check it out. It was soon put to good use as we had storms moving through the area within the week that it had arrived.

The Portable Rain Barrel holds around 35 gallons of rainwater and it was simple to set up. The zippered top was smooth to close and the only issue I had was the water spigot assembly on the bottom of the unit. That issue was user error. It seems I had forgotten to close the gadget and all the rainwater that would have been held in the barrel freely ran out of the spout. Turn this to off when you assemble the hose attachment. 

The box size surprised me when it arrived. It was no more than a large poster box. I looked at it suspiciously when the postal worker dropped it off to me. No way will this thing hold 35 gallons. I did wait to put it together for about three days. Once I broke it out of the box I realized what a treasure I had found. The container was put to work under the crease on my roof since there are no rain gutters.

The first set up proved to be a little flimsy, but once it held water, the container sat on its own and has ever since. In time, I will empty it for fresh water addition, but for now, I am curious how long it will take to fill up. It has been about six weeks and the barrel is over half full. I am optimistic that the capacity would be overflowing had I thought to make sure the spigot valve was closed.  I can assure you, I will be buying another one in the near future

Read more about the Portable Rain Barrel on Amazon

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Preparedness and the Reality of a Home Invasion and Burglary

There are certain thoughts and realities that come to light when one experiences a burglary like I did this week. The what if's pop up every other minute counting down the possibilities. 

Door damaged during home invasion
Door damaged during home invasion
What if I were home when this happened? What if they come back? What if they had harmed my pets? What if -- what if -- what if!?! The ricochet of these thoughts are what causes the worry and anxiety to surface until the mind can settle. It takes time. Just like the effects of a bad flu or a virus, a violation of our space is an effect on the nervous system and thought processes. In time, these flickering questions will fade, but the possibility of the next event keeps a person on alert for better home security and certain practices.

My Experience with a Burglary

I came home from work like I always do, unlocking the door and stepping in to greet my animals. I was tired, but happy that I had a good night. This time, I stopped in shock as my door crept open too easy and the frame fell in upon the unlocking of the deadbolt. I thought to myself the cats must have really wanted to get wait! Oh, dear God, no! I've been broken into. The robber had set the frame back in place slightly to mimic a complete closure. My animals were all staring at me, puzzled. Two cat faces and one canine told the story of something that had gone down within the past couple of hours - or was it minutes? They knew who it was. If only they could talk. 

I paced the home carefully knowing I needed to be cautious. I surveyed my rooms and cleared my home then assessed the missing objects and rooms violated. I called the police as soon as I made the round complete. "311 Operator, Hello! I've been robbed." She asked for my street address and told me that this was a report call so it might be awhile before I saw an officer.

I took an inventory and noticed my tv missing and the handful of change gone from my desk. The jewelry box that held sentimental items was taken. It held a few mementos of the past, but nothing of value. What a disappointment that is going to be when it is rifled. Too bad they had to take that. It had a ring my grandmother gave me that was Sarah Coventry. It was worthless to all but me.

I had to get the animals fed so I did the smart thing and put gloves on. The metro dispatcher had asked me not to touch anything until the investigators arrived. I obediently went about my business - dishing out cat and dog food then went to wait outside in  my car. Thanks, dear dirt bag, I thought. A twelve-hour shift in a busy, congested city and I get to come home to this. Ah, such is life in the world we have been given.

The premises had to be looked over and fingerprinted. The door to the tv cabinet may give a clue and so might the door itself. Black dust was carefully feathered over surfaces and my fingerprints were taken to rule out my set.

My conclusion is this. Mind your area. Check your doors before you leave and when you come back again. A checklist below will help cover the areas in the home that need attention before and after vacating the premises.

  • Doors Locked
  • Windows Locked and barred
  • Lights on somewhere in the home
  • Security lights in order
  • Security System Armed
  • Valuables: Serial numbers recorded, item photographed, and an itemized list kept in safe place (safe deposit box or cloud file)
  • Do not leave valuables in plain sight
  • Scan area and see that nothing is out of place when you get home.
  • Make a visual inspection of home to make sure there is no intruder

If you have had a break in the ability to itemize the situation quickly helps the information relay to the officers who will be handling the report.

What to do if your home has been burglarized 

  • Call police dispatch immediately. Use the non-emergency line Generally, 311
  • Do Not Touch ANYTHING!
  • Make a visual inspection of home to make sure there is no intruder
  • Get you and your pets in a safe area until the investigators can finish their reports
  • Make a quick survey and a list of things that are missing / damaged 
  • Let officers do their job so that the situation is handled efficiency.

After the report is made:
  • Assess what can be done at the moment and clean up / straighten up areas that need attention
  • Remove fingerprint dusting with a paper towel and cleaning agent.
  • Call your insurance company / landlord and report the break-in
  • Relax. Chances are the robbers may not be back.

Extra precautions:

  • Install metal frame doors
  • Security film on windows
  • Install lighting everywhere
  • Install peephole
  • Video camera surveillance recording off property
  • Flood lights activated by motion sensors
  • Heavy duty locks and extra secure interior chains and slider locks
  • Guard dog
  • Firearm

Police Department Video on Home Burglary Prevention 

The harder it is to get into your home, the more likely it will be to discourage a perpetrator from breaking in. They want a quick grab and go job. The longer it takes to get in the higher the likelihood of being caught.


While the temperature of those who do deeds of this sort are heating up, we need to be extremely cautious everywhere we go, not just home. We need to be alert everywhere. I'm going to be a jumpy mess for a few days, but I am determined to enjoy my home, go about my life, and put this invasion behind me. I will be placing in motion additional precautions to keep me and my fur family safe. This is just a rocky moment in a daily grind and this too shall pass into moments I look back on. It will be a space in time I am grateful that none of my family members or myself were harmed.

If you have anything to add to this list, please mention the tips below in comments. Thank you for visiting!

More on preventing home invasion and burglary:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fishing Camping Southern Nevada

Southern Nevada offers more to the visitor than the ritzy, glitzy Las Vegas Strip Corridor. There are amazing national parks surrounding the neon city. Fish, hike, camp, and relax in a variety of terrains and eye-catching natural beauty.

Fishing the dock at Eagle Valley Reservoir - Image: M Burgess
All Rights Reserved 2016
My exploration of the Southern Nevada camping areas began this past Fall (2015) when it was realized that there had not been an outing of this sort for more than 2 years. The equipment was there, sitting in wait and collecting dust. A fishing pole that had been purchased three years ago still had a tag on it and had never touched the water. This was not acceptable. An idea to hit the mountain was put into motion, the car was packed for a few days of supplies and the adventures began. The following parks are among the places I visited on my grand nature outing adventure.

Ideal Camp Schedules 

During the cooler months of winter, the camping areas of Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon (not shown below) are accessible. During the cool months, Mt. Charleston is a great place for winter sports and snow play, but not for camping. Spring and summer are a good time to visit the mountain. Waiting for the warmer days of   early spring is something this author looks forward to. Camping and fishing are the desired timeout whenever the time is available. Looking for a great place to take the kids? Any one of these areas is an ideal family adventure.

This basic list is just a handful of recommended places available for use during the more pleasant seasons of the year - Fall and Spring.

Eagle Valley / Echo Canyon - spring through late autumn

Lake Mead - early spring and late autumn

Mt. Charleston - spring through late autumn

Red Rock Canyon - early spring and late autumn

Valley of Fire - early spring and late autumn

Driving an hour or two from the Sin City will lead you to several wonderful camp and hike areas. 


Mount Charleston / Kyle Canyon Hill Top Campground

Picnic table and view - Hilltop Campground, Toiyabe National Forest, Kyle Canyon, Nevada Image: M Burgess
Picnic table and view - Hilltop Campground, Toiyabe National Forest, Kyle Canyon, Nevada - Image: M Burgess 
All Rights Reserved 2016
Basic Information: 

Open til October 10

Address: Las Vegas, NV 89166
Location and GPS Info: 36°18'35"N, 115°36'24"W

Phone:  (801) 226-3564

Take the 95 to the Mount Charleston Exit and follow that past the Mt. Charleston Resort. Make a right at Deer Creek Road. Drive about 5 - 6 miles up and look for a brown sign past Robber's Roost (great hike!) that reads "Campground 1/4 Mile." That is your marker. Slow down and turn right into that forked road. The fork to the left is the one you want to take.

Driving Time: about 1 hour

Campground rental fees and other services may be found here at the park's website

Our Mt. Charleston Adventure

Mount Charleston was our first stop on a six-weekend journey. The Hill Top Campground had one available area with a view of the valley. We got lucky, my dog and myself. The camp was full. There was a drawback on this visit. The water reserves had been tapped for a devastating wildfire two years ago and the mountain had received little rain in the time period. There would be no water on the mountain. The toilets were port-a-potties. Luckily we brought our own jugs, bottles, and containers. It is a wise choice to bring few days supply of water, especially when visiting a natural area. Water quality is always questionable. Having your own saves a few moments of grief. Mt. Charleston normally has spigots nearby, but they are dry. The water is potable only, which means it is only for washing, not for cooking or drinking.

Related blog link: Camping on Mt. Charleston with a Dog and a Dutch Oven


The Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire, Nevada - Atlatl Rock Campground Image: M Burgess
Valley of Fire, Nevada - Atlatl Rock Campground - Image: M Burgess  - All Rights Reserved 2016

Basic Information:

Open year round

Address: 29450 Valley of Fire Road Overton, Nevada 89040
GPS Info: 36.4303° N, 114.5143° W
Phone: 702-397-2088

From the I-15 N. Take exit 75 from I-15 N  - Merge onto Valley of Fire Hwy - follow road to Valley of Fire State Park 

Driving Time: about 1 hour 15 mins

Be advised there is a toll booth for entry into the park

Campground rental fees and other services may be found here at the park's website:

Visiting The Valley of Fire

Easter weekend (2016) warmed enough to consider a visit to Valley of Fire. The campground is located about 60 miles from the city of Las Vegas. The road is paved and the journey is a breathtaking ride into desert beauty. This time of year encourages the blooms of various cacti and desert flowers. The valley floor is dotted with lovely blossoms and colorful foliage. It is a striking contrast to the deadly heat of the summer months when the vista is dried and patiently waiting for the temperatures to cool once more. 

Again, we found the last campsite available. The Atlatl Rock camp provided a nice backdrop and a secluded area for pitching our tents and enjoying the area.

Related Article: Camping Early Spring in Valley of Fire


About an hour from the city

Lake Mead / Callville Bay Campground

Callville Bay Campground SignImage: M Burgess 
All Rights Reserved 2016
Basic Information:

Open year round

Address: 100 Callville Bay Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89120
Location and GPS Info: 
Latitude 36° 08.6401'
Longitude -114° -43.3200'

Phone: 702-293-8990

Take I-15 S, I-215 E, W Lake Mead Pkwy and Northshore Rd to Callville Bay Rd - Follow Callville Bay Rd to campground

Driving Time: about 1 hour

Be advised there is a toll booth for entry into the park

Visiting Lake Mead

Our visit in October to Callville Bay was a test run for camping near Lake Mead. The temperatures were still in the nineties and I have to admit that this trip was a bit uncomfortable during the daylight hours. The ideal expedition to the lake involves a boat if one really wants to experience the area in comfort. There are coves around the water areas that are available for camping.

The campground itself was clean and quiet. The air was sticky and hot during the day. The dog and I agreed to leave early as the mood was dampened by the heat and humidity. We set up camp late in the afternoon, had dinner, then slept overnight. The following morning we found a fishing cove further down the road and tried our best, but the fish were showing several yards from where the bait would reach. I did not enjoy this trip as I would have liked to. The checklist was complete after a failed fishing attempt, so we packed up and left. The cooler months of winter would be an ideal time to camp Lake Mead's campgrounds.

About three hours from Las Vegas is a beautiful area called The Spring Valley State Park. It holds a few great camping and fishing sites. These are my favorite places to camp out. I favor the Horsethief Gulch Camp near the Eagle Valley Reservoir over Echo Canyon, but both locations are beautiful and peaceful. 

Campground rental fees and other services may be found here at the park's website


Just a three hour drive from Las Vegas, Nevada you will find these gem locations

Echo Canyon

Echo Canyon camp side view. - Eagle Valley area Spring Valley 
State Park, Nevada. Image: M Burgess All Rights Reserved 2016 
Basic Information

Open until late October. Reopens late February - Early March

Location and GPS Info: 
37º54'27.81" N 114º16'4.89" W

Phone: (775) 962-5103

Directions: I-15 N to the 93 N exit. Travel north  US-93 N/Great Basin Hwy to the 322 near Pioche. A small sign will indicate Echo Canyon. Follow the road to the campground.

Driving Time: about 3 hours

Campground rental fees and other services may be found at the park's website

The camp was a wonderful experience. The shore was easy to get to, just drive the car to the edge near the water and set up the spot for fishing, The campground was clean and set comfortably up a hill with a marvelous view of the water. I found the water area too weedy for fishing, but it was a relaxing experience. Just being out in the great outdoors was reward enough. The dog was a bit reserved when it came to leaving the tent. He must have smelled something in the area he found threatening. There are wild animals around that might cause him harm, but I neither saw nor heard anything, Some guard dog he is... 

Read more about our visit here:
Camping with a Dog and a Dutch Oven - part two


Eagle Valley Reservoir - Horsethief Gulch Campground

Eagle Valley Reservoir - Fall 2015 - Image; M Burgess - All Rights Reserved 2016

Basic Information

Open until late October. Reopens late February - Early March

Address: Pioche, NV 89043
Location and GPS Info:
38º01'21.33" N 114º11'41.42" W

Phone: (775) 962-5102

I-15 N to the 93 N exit. Travel north  US-93 N/Great Basin Hwy to the 322 near Pioche. Follow the road to the end past the Eagle Valley Resort.

Driving Time: about 3 hours

Campground rental fees and other services may be found here at the park's website

Eagle Valley, by far, is my favorite camp site. The area is serene and surreal. The rolling hills and the assorted brush are appealing to the eye and the mind. The dock is a great place to fish early mornings and there are comfortable campgrounds within the park. Amenities include a fish cleaning station, modern restroom facilities, fire rings and covered picnic tables. 

Related Article: Camping with a Dog and a Dutch Oven - part two


About the Author:

Fish caught Eagle Valley Reservoir
Image: M Burgess  All Rights Reserved 2016

Camping and fishing are my very favorite time outs. I love cooking over the open fire and enjoying the scenery. The relaxing hours with a fishing pole are what a friend of mine calls tension relief. It certainly is that. The added thrill of a fish on and a tasty fish dinner makes these trips worthwhile. A visit to an area with wildlife and beautiful scenery is just the thing a restless heart and tired mind need after weeks on end of a busy work schedule. You may care for the hiking and exploration in these areas. As for me I will stick to the leisure of fishing, resting, cooking, and meditating on the views. 

It has been my pleasure sharing this passion with you and I thank you for visiting! 


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Civil Unrest - Events That We Should Have Prepared For

When chaos pulls up the reigns on a calm society, the events can produce a sense of disaster especially if our homes are near the target areas. In our news, just this week, are incidents that are heated with violence and angry mobs. There is a real cause for concern if this is in your city. Readiness basics need to be in place before these things happen. 

We can be fearful of the dangers that accompany the event. We may have to defend ourselves and our homes. We need to be prepared for any scenario. This is certainly a situation that should take everything we know about preparedness. Our skills, testing, and supplies need to be in order in these times. Are these things in our toolbox, so to speak?    

Protesting Crowds
Protesting Crowds

72-hour kits

Are your 72-hour kits in order? Does every member of the family have one of these supply bags? Three days of food, water, and hygiene supplies should be prepacked. A change of clothing, socks, and undergarments need to be ready to grab and go at a moment's notice. Keep one in the car for roadside emergencies. The better you plan ahead, the easier it will be to bug out or stay in place for #SHTF events. Include important medications for individuals and tailor fit each one to fit the family member. Do not forget to pack one for the beloved family pet. They may have to move with us quickly and there may be no time to pack the food dish and other supplies. 

Food Storage

Is there food storage enough for every one of our family members and pets for at least two weeks? Are the basics stored and all of the food groups covered? Does the family stash include multivitamins and other nutritional supplements? Canned goods, dried goods, and jars of necessary nutrients are a must for preparedness. It is the foundation of all we do to be prepared. Food storage is energy for the body. Without fuel, we are running on empty. A good food supply will aid in comforting our family in times of extreme stress. Read more.... 

Water Supply

Water supplies should cover more than that time period. The possibility of water shortage and the ability to leave one's home may come to pass. Plan for drinking water and potable or wash water. Potable may not be consumed, but is safe for bathing and clean up purposes. Do we have sanitizing tablets or bleach for killing bacteria if we have to process our drinking water? Is there a way to boil water to sterilize it? Do we have a life straw or another form of filtering tool for processing tainted water, if needs be? Read more....

Toilet and Hygiene Prep

Whether or not you shelter in or bug out toilet and hygiene preps are inevitable. In the home, if the water is shut off, using the commode can get a little messy. There needs to be a supply of water which will flush the discarded waste down the pipes. A five-gallon jug placed in the bathroom might last for a few flushes. Make sure to keep a container of bleach handy for sanitizing the bowl if needed. 

Bugging out to a wilderness location might require the digging of a latrine. Bringing a prepared sanitation bucket along packed with trash bags and bleach for a chemical toilet is a good alternative. The problem with a makeshift chemical toilet is disposing of that bag some place proper. 

First Aid Kits and Medical Supplies

A first aid kit is one of those things that is unappreciated until it is needed. Stocked well with the wound packing items and bandages it can turn a bad situation into a livable one. Be sure to stock this kit with medicines like ibuprofen, antihistamines, stomach remedies, anti-diarrhea meds, and antibacterial ointments. Buy one pre-packaged then stuff it full of additional goods. The better off this is set up the easier it is to treat wounds and common ailments.  

Safe Shelter and Evacuation Planning

If you are blocked into the home, there is no choice. You must stay safely indoors. There may be a chance of a break in or windows knocked out so stay somewhere you can be safe. A large closet or interior room without front facing windows is best. Go quietly about your business if possible. 

We may need to evacuate the home if crowds get too unruly, but what to do and where to go? If evacuation is possible staying at a shelter or a camp area are options. Shelters will not allow pets or certain preparedness tools, so be aware of those conditions before you start out to that location. A campground might be ideal if you have a good tent and the necessary items to set up your camp properly. There will be camp fees so be sure to have enough cash stashed n the emergency kits to cover a week or two outdoors. If you have done your research on the area surrounding your home, you may have already found a safe zone to camp in that does not have an entrance fee.

Remember that leaving the home may entail a traffic tie up as everyone in the area may be thinking and doing the same thing and heading in the same direction.

Defense Training

Do you have weapons training and proper permits? Let an intruder pass unless they confront you.
If confronted, there are a number of ways to handle that situation. Protect your family and yourself at all costs if this is the situation. By all means, do not make a situation worse than it already is by causing more harm. In a split second, things can get deadly. Make this a last resort, but by all means, be ready for it. Stay on the side of the upper hand.


Don't wish you had planned. Be thankful you did and keep adding to the stores and stock set aside. Grow a garden. Network with people who have this same mindset. Follow groups and newsletters of preparedness sites. Planning for a disaster and not using the supplies is better than the crushing, panicky feeling you'll get when you do really need prep items and are foolishly stuck without them.

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