Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankgiving Adventures

Well, here in the U.S. it is Thanksgiving Day.  A day full of adventure potential.  For most of us, we visit family, eat turkey, watch football, eat pie, eat other foods, including turkey, and watch the rest of our family make fools of themselves.  (Depending on the family, events may take place in other orders)  The next day is Black Friday, where people perform combat in the gladiatorial style in order to be first go save $10 on a $600 dollar TV.

Because it is what is known in Spanish as la dia de la accion de gracias or dia del pavo (Turkey Day, yes, people really say that in Spanish) I am not going to write much, but remember the adventures that we can each have in the outdoors as we compete in a Turkey Bowl Game or inside as we fight for the last bit of yams.

Personally, I will get cozy with the Hobbit, maybe play some football with the cousins, be useful in the kitchen, eat too much of everything (especially pie) and then lay around until I feel well enough to move to my car so I can go home.  Adventures, here we come!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My weekend adventure

This weekend, I was going to have an adventure.  I was planning a hike up a wash near my house.  For those of you not in the know, a wash is a dry canyon.  I didn't go.  Instead I went grocery shopping and to the public library with my wife, the Hobbit.  Not in that order.  So we were at the library Saturday Morning, and the place was a mess.  On an usual basis, the library sells off old and or extra books, and last Saturday morning was the sale.  People were crammed into a small basement room, just to browse a collection of used books.  It was worth it.  The Hobbit and I picked up a bag full of books, for only 3 dollars.  Included in the bag was a guidebook of day hikes, a healthy cookbook, a medicinal herb book, and a good selection of novels.

Following our adventure at the library, we had another by heading to a new grocery store that we haven't used before.  Well, I had a 6 dollar gift card, and I bought the Hobbit some chocolate covered pretzels on my way home one day.  I liked the store, checked out some of the prices, and liked what I saw. 

My point is, even though this blog is about outdoor adventure, if we go into life with the right attitude, we can change every day experiences like going to the store or getting books at the library into an adventure.  The more adventures we choose to have every day, the more we will enjoy our lifes.

Go choose to have an adventure.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Getting Ready- Some Tips on Gearing Up

One of the most important things about getting ready to go into the outdoors is having the right gear.  Many friends of mine have worked on or with Search and Rescue teams, and when they see people heading out without the right preparations, it makes them wince.  They have had to pull people off a mountain or from a canyon, (or insert any particular land formation from your area here) because they did not go with the right gear.

Now, all things cost money, but there are lots for ways you can save money when finding outdoor gear.  My first search is always the thrift store.  Be it an old school mom and pop store, to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or one run by any number of local churches, these can be a great stop.  Now you may not be wearing the latest and greatest, but most of the time you are not heading out to pick up hotties.  Things to look for here: Water bottles, clothing, backpacks, and sometimes sleeping pads and bags, boots or tents.

Online is a good location as well.  Google Shopping is your friend.  You type in the product, and it will bring up a variety of online vendors and allows you to compare product price, shipping, and total price.  Another good online source are w00t style sites like and its affiliates.  They are clearance sites put on by bigger gear sites that put out a cheep but good product every hour.  Downside is that it's only one product, that is changing frequently, but will work well for you if you get the smartphone app.

Another site that I like to use to get a huge discount on gear is  It is an invite only site, like gmail and google+ in their early days.  I have to admit, it is partly selfish, because every person that you invite who joins gives you a $10 credit.  So click here!  The site changes its selection every few days, and drops you an email so you can check it out.  Downside: Not a full section, so they may not be selling gear you want and choices go fast.

The next site I like is and it's clearance site  With REI, and most outdoor sites that also have a storefront, you can get free shipping to your local store.  Even if the store is a bit of a drive, if you are heading in that direction for another purpose, add a few minutes to your route, swing by and grab your gear.  I also recommend becoming an REI member.  REI is a CO-OP, so it's like investing, but you get a portion of the money you spend every year back.  You can also get 20% coupons 5-6 times a year, as well as the REI Garage Sale.  The Garage Sale is a members only event that allows you to buy returned gear at a good deal.  Some of the stuff is worn out or damaged, but most of the time it is a simple patch fix or you can send it back to the manufacturer and pay a small fee to have them repair it.  Still, pay $50 for a $200 jacket, plus another $10 to send it back and pay for repairs and you still saved $140.

If any readers have other good gear tips, please share them in the comments.  I look forward to seeing what you all do to save money.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Gear Review- Keen Voyageurs

So, here it goes, my first review here.  I bought the Keen Voyageurs last summer when teaching rock climbing classes at a summer camp.  Hiking a few miles a day and being on my feet all day, as well as taking a few climbs now and then took their toll on my previous pair of shoes and my feet. 

So I was off to the store one payday, the one day during the week that I was free to do what I wanted, and that day it was to find the best pair of shoes I could in my budget.  After trying on a few different pairs, and remembering the opinion of some of my friends, I settled on the titled pair of Keen Voyageurs. 

For the next month of so, they survived sand, rock, scouts, and some random bouldering.  Six months later they are still going strong.  They are still quite comfortable, and lace up well.  I still take them on hikes and wear them as my everyday shoes. 

The pros for this pair of shoes for me in no particular order are:
Light weight but strong
Good looking.  Leather uppers can pass it off for a casual shoe under a passing glance.
Good treads for most hiking purposes.
Comfortable enough for all day walking or standing.
Ridged laces lock in shoe tightness.

Edges of the soles separating and need re gluing.
Some threads stick out and needed trimming.

Overall, the pros out weigh the cons, as some shoe goo and a pair of scissors fixed them.  The threads that are separating were not structural and this pair is still rolling strong.  This semester in school, discussing footwear with one of my Recreation classmates, we were asked if there was a particular brand that we liked, and about half the class dropped the name Keen, and on a recent trip to Capitol Reef Nat'l Park, about a quarter of the group had Keens, which was more than any other brand.

Granted, this is all personal to me and I cannot tell you every story out there, but I hope this helps some of you out there.  MSRP for the shoes is right at $100, but shop around and you can probably get some for at least $15 or $20 off.  Good luck.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Capitol Reef Trip 10-13 November 2011

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Capitol Reef Field Station, ran in conjunction with Utah Valley University and the National Parks Service.  The Field Station is located on a bluff near Pleasant Creek within the park, looking out between two mountains at a wonderful view of the beautiful Henry Mountains in Southern Utah. 

One thing that makes the station so unique is the fact that is is self sufficient for ta majority of its consumption needs.  It relies on a solar panel bank for it's electric needs, and can draw water from a local creek for water.  The buildings were designed to use passive solar to assist in the heating of the buildings, and they were able to stay 20-30 degrees warmer than outside temperatures without additional heating.  With a small propane heater, the buildings stayed quite comfortable for the time I stayed there.  Jane, the station caretaker, shared how the buildings use a passive cooling design with windows and heat towers in each of the buildings that allow them to remain cool even in the hot desert summers of Southern Utah, without any power to assist in the cooling.

Aside from the Field Station, there is so much to do and see within the Park.  A quick trip to the visitor center to learn about the local history, both prehistoric and modern, can give you a start.  A walk in the area of the visitor center can allow you to take in the views of the historic pioneer village and orchards.  If you visit in the main season, take a swing by the Ripple Rock Nature Center, especially if you have young ones with you.  There are a number of hikes in the area that you can take, and I won't share them all, because finding which ones to take is part of your job in planning your own adventures.

With my friends, we visited the petroglyphs carved by the Fremont Indians that are located near the road, as well as the historic Fruita School House.  A short way up the road, we parked at the trail head and went on a hike to Hickman Natural Bridge.  Carved by running water over thousands of years, it towers over the wash where it formed.  Our group took a few minutes after some scrambling to the top to reflect on the beauty and quiet that can only be found now in places like the national parks.

We also took the Cohab Canyon Trail, located near the visitor center, and had a wonderful time working on some basic canyoneering skills in a small side slot canyon.  After journeying a bit farther, we returned to the station.  The rest of the trip was involved in classwork and discussion, and some games at night.  I learned that some people have the odds to make it in Vegas at the poker tables, and that poker is not my game.  But the desert is defiantly my home, and I can't think what I will do if I had to live without the outdoors to refresh me.

Photos by the author

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Getting Ready- A few tips from past mistakes

So, this week I have a four day trip to one of my favorite National Parks, Capitol Reef.  It is located in South-Central Utah near the town of Torrey.  I am lucky to have so many great places like Capitol Reef located within a few hours of where I live.  To get ready, my group had a quick meeting to give us the heads up on things like the weather.  A high of 40 F., and I won't say the low, so it's going to be cold. 

A few months ago many of this same group had the opportunity to summit a local mountain while reviewing Leave No Trace principles.  There were a few things that I forgot to do that made that trip a bit less than enjoyable for me, and I want to pass on some tips that I threw out the window because I was a spaz.

1. Don't just break in your boots, break in your feet.
What I mean to say by this is take a few hikes to re-introduce your feet to your boots, especially if it has been a while since your last trip.  Failing to do this you will pull a lazy me and get some nice blisters.

2. Get the right clothing.
This one I did right, but one of my buddies missed.  He wore jeans.  Now don't get me wrong, I love jeans, just not for backpacking trips.  When he got to the snow fields toward the peak, those pants got wet and stayed wet.  He was not a happy camper.

3. The right weight of pack.
I thought that because I left my tent behind I would be OK weight wise.  Nope.  A good part of my gear that was brought, "Just in case," turned out to be just extra weight and more stuff to move around to get what I wanted.  I was with a group, and didn't need to bring all the stuff that I am used to bringing when I am by myself.  I could have moved faster with less weight as well.

I hope that these tips help you on your next trip to where ever you go.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

So, this is the real life

The real life, not the fantastic illusion of the computer world that we spend so much time in.  I love the outdoors and the wonder and amazement that I get from a 250 foot repel.  Or from hiking to a waterfall.  You also get some strange experiences too, like finding a buddy using a cathole in the dark.  But all of these experiences build together to adventures and those adventures remain memories that stay with us forever.  More than the latest tweets or facebook posts. 

My goals here are simple and transparent.  I want to show my adventures, post gear reviews,  and encourage you to have adventures.  If any of my posts don't fit that criteria, call me out on it.  If you have a question, ask!  This blog is for you readers, as much as it is for me.