Call for Submissions: The Nature Zine, issue 3


It’s that time of year, well, a bit past due but I was lucky enough to be doing field research for an extra 5 weeks this year. I’m looking for your submissions for issue 3 of The Nature Zine: (re)connecting with the natural world.

Get creative! Send your poems, stories, thoughts, illustrations, paintings, photos to be submitted in the next issue. Topics can include but are not limited to: favorite hikes, backcountry recipes (vegan only please), foraging tips, trail reviews, adventure stories, bike touring, species descriptions/identification tips, collages, places in the city to appreciate the natural world, permaculture, primitive skills,  fears of the natural world, train hopping, attempts to balance city and wilderness, essays, book reviews. I think you get the idea.

There will be a limited edition tape release with issue 3!

Thanks to everyone who has submitted to and supported the Nature Zine in the past and continue to do so. Issues 1 & 2 are still available, but there may be a delay on shipping as I need to focus on getting Issue 3 together for now. If you are in Chicago or New York City, you can pick up a copy at Quimby’s Bookstore or Bluestockings Bookstore.

Send submissions to batsnbikes at gmail dot com by December 1, 2014. If you prefer to snail mail your copy, please email for an address.



Alone in the Wilderness

It’s 21:00 Wednesday night and I’ve just pulled my Toyota into the dirt drive of the trailhead to Big Beechy trail off of WV150 Scenic Highway.  I turn off my car, and then the lights.  Everything goes dark around me.  I panic for a moment, a long moment and a million thoughts go through my brain:  What am I doing? Why am I so stubborn and why am I at this trailhead at night and most importantly- WHY AM I ALONE?!  Why did I think this was a good idea?!  What if someone saw me pull into this drive and they know I’m alone and they are going to wait until I get out of the car to attack me? WHY AM I ALONE?!  No phone service. Ahhh, I totally have to pee and now I’m too freaked out and don’t want to get out of the car.  CALM DOWN! Turn on your dome light, no wait, don’t- then people can see in and you can’t see out.  WHAT PEOPLE?!  Ok, turn on your headlights… but wait, that’s when it happens in movies: you turn on your lights and BAM there is someone right in front of you!  Just do it, Vanessa.  Ok… no one is around.  Calm down and get out of the car.  How do you plan to go into the forest alone if you can’t even get out of your car at night. OK! OK!”

I eventually got out of my car, headlamp on and knife in hand to pee right outside my car.  Don’t worry, I didn’t start hiking right away.  I decided to sleep in my car and wake up at sunrise to start my adventure.  It was a long drive and I figured it best to just be there at night and ready to go in the morning.  After folding up my back seat giving me enough room to lay down in the back of my car (Toyota Rav4) I got out the map printouts, copies I had made from a trail guide and my hiking GPS.  Something I’ve always done before wandering off into the forest:  take a GPS point of the vehicle.  I reread through the trail info I’d copied from a pretty awesome book I recommend checking out if you are going to hike the Cranberry Wilderness: Monongahela National Forest Hiking Guide.  Looking at maps and reading trail guides calms me.  An outline of the hike, followed by a bit of details and photos:

Sept. 13

  1. Big Beechy Trail:  2.0 miles
  2. District Line Trail:  2.8 miles
  3. County Line Trail:  4.0 miles

Sept. 14

  1. County Line Trail:  3.0 miles
  2. Middle Fork Trail:  2.5 miles
  3. Big Beechy Trail:  3.0 miles

Sept. 15

  1. Big Beechy Trail:  3.5 miles

Total:  20.8 miles  (I’m going to call it at least 21 because I wandered and check out some things off trail.)

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Vegan Sloppy Joes

Note:  This is less of a recipe and more of an idea of something easy to make while bike touring / backpacking.

I often have a fun time contemplating what would be a fast, easy and light-weight meal to make while backpacking, camping or in this case, while bike-camping.  Rarely will you find me following any sort of recipe- I tend to just throw things in a pot.  Take that as a warning in advance that my recipes may be vague, but that just makes it more fun and creative for the both of us.

Vegan Sloppy Joes

Advice:  Choose tortillas over buns or a loaf of bread.  They take up much less room, you can cram a bunch of food in them and you won’t smash them in your pack.

I use a Trangia (27-7 UL/HA) cooking set.  Plus I took the handle off of a miniature wok-like pot that is slightly larger than the Trangia pot I replaced it with.  It comes in handy for two people.  Plus, it’s a safe-for-you-and-the-environment-non-stick pan.  I’m sure I’ll get super nerdy about the stove after I’ve used it more and can give a better review.

On to the recipe!

Vegan Sloppy Joe’s – While Camping

  • Couple of cups of TVP (texturized vegetable protein)
  • Use the same amount of water (1:1 ratio of TVP:water)
  • Little can of tomato paste
  • Spice pack made for sloppy joe’s (or mix your own!)
  • an onion
  • couple of garlic cloves
  • bell pepper of your color choice
  • tortillas
  • olive oil

Use medium heat. I put on the simmer ring and adjust it open half way on the Trangia.  If you are using a campfire, set up some logs so it’s not right on the coals or directly in the flames.  Add a bit of olive oil to the pan, then add the onions, finely chopped.  Let those soften while you chop up the pepper and garlic.  Add the pepper to the pot, let it soften a bit and then add the garlic.  Once all that is sauteed to your liking put in a couple of scoops of TVP- eye it out to your liking, and an equal amount of water.  I also add in the spices and and tomato paste at this time.  Cover it if you can, but make sure to stir it occasionally.  It’s complete and ready to eat once all the water is absorbed.

Pile it onto a tortilla, add some fresh onions or any other toppings that you may have with you and devour it!

They will taste like the best food you’ve had in a long time if you bike half the day in hilly terrain with all of your gear, arriving to the campsite just before the sun is setting.  I think it was 40F and windy when we ate these.  They were warm, filling, and packed with protein.

Granted you can find sloppy joe/tvp mix at your local health food store that is light weight/ just add water, but it’s cheaper to just have a bag of TVP that you can use for other recipes as well.