Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Where there is (camp)fire, there may not be smoke

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We already carry everything, including the kitchen sink, but now my wife wants me to buy a portable propane fire pit. When did campfires go high tech?

At first I laughed at her, then I discovered she was serious. Whatever happened to "smoke follows beauty?" My old Scoutmaster would turn over in his grave. I have heard of gas around the campfire, but not a camp fired by gas.

How do I talk my wife out of this crazy idea? Please tell me you are not in favor of modernizing this age old camping tradition.
 --Nostalgic in Needles

 Dear Nostalgic:
I am sorry to say, tradition lost me when campfire wood went from free to six bucks a bundle. When I say a bundle, I mean six sticks of wood wrapped in plastic. Usually it is some fast burning variety like cedar. We call that "gopher wood." You throw some on the fire and go fer more.

I think the most lucrative work-camper job you could score would be the campfire wood concession at any Federal or State Park.

Another great place to sit around the propane campfire is the desert where wood is often scarce. They are easy to clean up after, convenient to extinguish, and you can light up at the drop of a hat.

This is not to say you still can't have a traditional campfire whenever you have access to wood, marshmallows, chocolate and Graham Crackers. There is nothing like good hot coals to cook over, but in fire danger areas a propane campfire is much safer to sit around and tell ghost stories, jokes, tall tales, and just plain lie to each other.  --Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink


Mike said...

An alternative is a wood pellet fire pit. Don't know what the fuel cost would be compared to gas fired. Video of one in use https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om8Djltbzus

Dan said...

A recent comment on the reluctance of using a propane campfire hit close to home. My wife and I purchased one of these due to the number of campgrounds that now prohibit open fires and fire rings. The reasoning is that sparks are carried by the wind onto awnings, foliage in the campground and other flammable materials around the campsite. Every campground that we have shown our propane fire pit to has approved its use including it in the gas grill category. No sparks means a relatively safe campfire. We have also used it at our condo unit in the driveway. The association again includes it as a gas grill and allows its use as long as it too, is 10 feet from structures. It's not a "real" campfire but is pleasant to gather around on a cool evening.

tj said...

The biggest advantage to me would be the lack of smoke. Campgrounds are filled with smoke. Often people will let the fire "burn down" and then smolder all night. You can't sleep with your windows open. I think this little fire pit is a great idea!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I "work camp" at campgrounds and when there is a fire restriction you can still use a propane fire pit. Anything that can be turned off is allowed. Also all the other comments are good reasons to make this part of your camping gear. I hate the smoke smell on my clothes and hair when I go to bed is another good reason. We have purchased one!!

Anonymous said...

Nothing more ridiculous to me then when it is 80 to 90 degrees outside, and people start up a campfire, smoking out the campground, then go back into their air-conditioning while the campfire smolders.

Sue and Brian said...

We can't count the number of times we have been smoked out of our own RV when inconsiderate neighbors fire up their campfire. We have to close all our windows or our RV fills with their smoke. Then they sit around outside our window for hours drinking and laughing and talking as loud as they can to drown each other out. We have been in campgrounds and RV parks where there are so many campfires you can't even go outside anywhere without stinging watery eyes. Campfires are great when you are out boondocking in the great open air wilderness but firing up in a crowded campground just makes no sense. If you want to go camping then go camping - which means getting out and away from it all. We escape the city to get some fresh air and find more pollution than in the most polluted cities.

MarvThom said...

I think Sue and Brian just need to stay in the city. Being a fulltimer and workamper. I've worked from Maine to California, Texas to Wisconsin and never seen anything close to what they report. I wonder if you're speaking of mythical campgrounds, not actual. Yes, local campgrounds that attract family groups may have more fires, so stay away from these campgrounds. Don't try to spoil the experience for others. When we were having a campground sponsored campfire, a number of people complained about having to shut windows and going inside. These were the people that don't open windows anyway and don't come out at night.

Bluebird Bob said...

Well MarvThom,
We manage a campground in Arizona during the winter and people have come up to the office and complained that with their asthma the wood fires aggrevate their problems.
We only allow propane or pellet fires now and no complaints.