I don't really get all the science of how it works, but I've learned a few buzz words. So you set up the stove and put in some leaves, twigs, or whatever else might be laying around. Then light it! It's called gasification. Basically, the smoldering tinder gives off smoke. The fire that cooks the food is actually burning up the smoke. The result is a fairly adjustable (via air flow) cooking fire, that does not give off any smoke (can cook inside the tipi and thus somewhat heat the tipi), requires only minimal readily available fuel with none of it bigger than can be broken by hand, and when it's all said and done there is charcoal left in the bottom which can be used for dutch oven enterprises. I was skeptical, but the proof is in the sausage! It seems a little rickety and I'm afraid of tipping it over, but Jeremiah says it has really good secondary stability. He has a system that stakes it to the ground and also a way to attach it to the support pole of the tipi.
Plans have done a lot of changing in the last few days, even with talk of not going at all due to issues with passports and then the cost of the ferry which was plan B. The current decision is that we'll just go see the northwest, focusing on being together as a family, and leave Wednesday or Thursday. Mom made a list of thing that need to be done before we leave and we divvied up responsibilities. Meanwhile I'm driving around a minivan filling with camping gear. :)