Archive Page 2

11
Apr
13

Pups Go West 2013 – Begin Again

After weeks of anticipation, the morning was finally here, time to leave for vacation with the dogs to Utah. Since I worked a late shift yesterday evening, I packed the remainder of my gear and clothing this morning…that, extreme weather in the area and two overexcited dogs underfoot delayed departure a bit. It was cold, wet and gloomy, which would continue throughout the day and across five states (with a little snow an sleet thrown in).

I made my traditional stop in Davenport, Iowa to grab the amazing sub that is Capriotti’s Bobbie (shredded turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo). During the time I was in the sub shop, Mira, the crafty little Aussie that she is, figured out how to open the cooler and had dragged a 2-pack of vacuum sealed New York Strips out. Thankfully she didn’t have time to get the package open. I think my future dogs will need to be stupid, that speckled little nut is always a step ahead of me 🙂

The Bobbie
Rain and cold were a constant throughout the day
Wet weather = muddy paws 🙂
Mira was enjoying the windy day (so much that she forgot she was out to potty)

My original destination for the evening was North Platte, Nebraska but between battling the Jeep in the heavy crosswind and dealing with the rain and snow I was very sleepy and stopped short. One thing that always appeals to me about driving rather than flying, are the amazing things you see while on the road. In the last hour before stopping for the night, I saw hundreds of Sandhill Cranes – I must have lucked out and hit Nebraska during the crane migration. What an absolutely amazing thing to see!

Tomorrow…Utah or bust!

03
Apr
13

Pups Go West 2013 – Pre-Trip Prep

 

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Mira testing out her new ABO Travel Dog Bed (my Big Agnes Lulu bag behind her).

The time is upon us, time for the second annual ‘Pups Go West’ hiking and camping trip. Aside from some mishaps, dehydration and doggie seizures, the dogs and I had a great time rambling around Utah for a couple of weeks last spring so I decided I needed to make time for it again.

I’ve made a few changes to our sleeping accommodations: a curtain between the front and back seats instead of Reflectix, thinner more travel friendly dog beds (that can also be used outside at the campsite), an ENO Hammock and my Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent. We’ll be sleeping mostly in the Jeep but I wanted some additional options in case we wanted to sleep under the stars (without the risk of rattlesnakes and scorpions). The dogs still don’t quite grasp the concept of the mesh tent but we all fit it fine and have spent several nights in it.

We’ll be heading out bright and early on April 11th, hoping to hit Western Nebraska our first evening and Utah the next afternoon. For the better part of the vacation, we’ll be spending time exploring the San Rafael Swell/Reef area, Escalante and if road conditions permit Cottonwood Canyon Rd. This year my goal is to be a better blogger and not wait and entire year to start my trip report. Any followers have suggestions on good hikes (with dogs) or must see features in the areas above?

13
Mar
13

Hitting the Wall AKA Learning to Climb

Climbing has always been a sport (art form) that has intrigued me. There are various reasons that until recently I hadn’t tried it – intimidation, bad shoulders, location and so on. Thankfully, a couple of weeks ago, a friend informed me that Grand Rapids Hiking Meetup group was heading to the local climbing gym, Inside Moves, all experience levels welcome. I instantly signed up for the Meetup group and RSVP’d – YES!!!

After a night of learning the basics of belaying, bouldering, climbing and knot tying we spent the evening navigating routes and socializing. Not only did I meet some really nice people, I realized that I would be able to climb and the intimidation was all in my head. The next day, I picked out some basic gear and anxiously awaited its arrival. Weather and work (Ok, I’ll admit – very sore muscles) kept me from trying again until this past Thursday night.

Since I had already been to one of the local gyms, I thought it would be interesting to see what another had to offer. Unfortunately, their bouldering wall had all the holds removed for an upcoming competition. All day, the one thing I could think about was how anxious I was to get back in the climbing gym so I headed back to Inside Moves. One of my big concerns was getting in an experienced climber’s way but while paying for a day pass I was assured that being an absolute beginner was not a problem.

I donned my shiny new (very tight) climbing shoes and made my way over to the bouldering walls. Apparently I not only didn’t know I was doing, but I looked like I didn’t know I was doing because after a few minutes of struggling, an older gentleman came over and started chatting with me and giving me tips (beta as I would come to find out). Joe told me he started climbing 12 years ago at 75 years old looked like he was going strong and would be for quite some time! It just goes to show, you’re never too old to try something new!

Over and over, with the help of Joe and another kind woman who had been climbing for 2 years, I attempted to less-than-skillfully muscle my way up the various routes/problems.  At last, I was able to complete one of the easiest problems…I was elated! After working on that same problem until I ripped the skin off of four of my fingers, I tried a few other problems before packing up my shoes, thanking everybody and heading home with a big grin on my face. The following day, I had a hard time tying my own shoes, but that didn’t matter I was hooked!

Easing the pain of my skinned fingers with a Big Sky Trout Slayer

03
Mar
13

Daily Prompt: No, thanks! (No more!)

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Prior to 2011, the Indian subcontinent held little appeal in my mind. The heat, the crowding, the trash, the pollution – I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to spend 30 hours flying to be miserable. This all changed when my younger sister made the announcement that she would be moving to southern India, Chennai to be exact, for a couple of years. Having my little sister 10,000 miles away for that length of time was a bit difficult to process so I immediately decided I should plan a trip to the land of spices. Tickets purchased, passport and visa approved, I would be arriving in Chennai on October 25th of 2012.

After 3 weeks in the country, my mind was changed. Though there were some frustrations, I left knowing that I would be back again. The people, architecture, culture and religions were all beautiful – despite my short stay, I left a different person than when I arrived. Never again will I say I’m uninterested in visiting someplace – every destination presents an opportunity to learn and grow.

The Daily Prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/daily-prompt-no-thanks/

01
Nov
12

Wrath of Nilam

Well, I haven’t been in India a week and I’ve already experienced my first tropical cyclone. Melissa and I were out and about yesterday and decided it was time to hightail it back to her house. The winds were picking up and the sky angry. On the auto trip from Alwarpet to Besant Negar, we saw many trees down and streets starting to fill with water. The winds increased in intensity shortly after reaching the house and the power cut. We could hear glass breaking, people yelling and trees cracking as the storm made landfall south of here (near Mahabalipuram). The extent to which the wind bent the coconut trees around the house amazed me, how were they all not snapped in two? This morning, aside from a bit of wind it’s hard to tell a storm went through, we’ll be leaving soon to see the damage to the neighborhood, and check to see if they rescued the large diesel tanker that ran aground at nearby Elliot Beach.

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25
Aug
12

By the Shores of Gitchee Gumee

Gitchee Gumee as Longfellow referred to it, Gichigami or “Big Water” to the Ojibwe natives, Lake Superior was my destination for the day. Lake Superior State Forest campground on the dirt portion of H-58 east of Grand Marais was where I hoped to find a campsite to spend a night on the big lake.

As I was loading up for the day, a fellow hotel guest asked me a few questions about the V-Strom. He is a long haul trucker but has a Gold Wing at home he gets to ride on occasion. Without fail, the question, “Do you feel safe as a woman traveling alone?” came up. I’m very used to this question and explained that in general I feel very safe and that common sense is the best tool to protecting yourself while touring. Checked out and loaded up, I was on the road around 8:00am, heading north again! As always, being in the Upper Peninsula felt great, it was nice to be away from the city for a bit.

Heading through Newberry, I noticed signs in store windows thanking firefighters for their help, evidence of this spring’s Duck Lake forest fires. I made the turnoff to Muskallonge Lake and H-58, 23 miles until the pavement ends and the V-Strom fun begins! The Wee handled the dirt road quite well despite its fairly worn street tires, I stood on the pegs and enjoyed the fresh air. Thankfully, when I finally made it to my destination campground there were several campsites available. I decided on site #4, a fairly secluded site with a path down to Lake Superior. I quickly unloaded my drybag full of camping gear, set up my little tent and hung my new ENO Singlenest Hammock (review to soon follow).

Lake Superior State Forest Campground – Site #4

Dragging myself out of the hammock was a chore but I had to head into Grand Marais to grab a bite to eat. Riding the Wee into town was a ball, I was singing at the top of my lungs as I pulled into town, The Sportsman’s Restaurant was my stop. I was hoping breakfast was served all day, I love their french toast, but they stopped breakfast at 11:00 I was there at 11:05, bummer. After inhaling (my normal mode of eating) my burger, I buzzed across the street to the small town grocery store to pickup pop, adult beverages and some grub for the evening.

Hmm…no cooler for the beer or the pop, time for some moto-camper improvisation. Since the V-Strom didn’t have Givi bag hangers, I was using some older soft saddlebags for this trip. I lined one side with a grocery bag and filled it with ice – instant cooler!

My moto-camper cooler – still had ice left the next morning

I had one more stop to make before heading to my home for the night, on our recent car camping trip we found a great source of firewood just east of town. This guy had a firewood buffet, you could choose from several different hardwoods, softwoods and small pieces of split cedar for kindling. I grabbed a bundle of birch and a bundle of cedar kindling and strapped them to the bike – have I mentioned Rok Straps are one of the best moto inventions ever?

The Wee makes a great firewood hauler

Singing Janis Joplin’s ‘Mercedes Benz’ at the top of my lungs, I was loving life!  That’s when it happened…I overreacted to a car coming the opposite way (narrow truck trail type road).  I pulled too far to the right and the bike’s front wheel  was sucked into about 5 inches of sand.  As the bike swerved slightly, I did something very stupid…chopped the throttle instead of accelerating, my back wheel hopped over the sandy embankment on the side of the road.  Looking back, adding to the V-Strom’s top heavy nature by loading firewood up top probably wasn’t the best idea 🙂

With adrenaline (and embarrassment) surging, I did the first thing I could think of…I grabbed the Wee by the bars and yanked all 500 lbs of it in a rage.  I never said I was bright!  As I righted the bike, it started slipping in the sand and I had to quickly set it back down.  Despite the diminutive assigned to it, the Wee is anything but little and light!  It was then I started to realize I was a bit bruised and shredded, the bike was damaged very little thanks to the frame sliders and other safety doodads.  While standing on the side of the road trying to figure out how I was going to get myself out of this mess, a couple in a truck showed up, followed by a trio of dual-sport riders – a sight for sore eyes!

After a bit of effort, we got the bike up but still had to contend with the rear wheel being stuck in a sandy embankment.  The guy from the truck and one of the dual-sporters pushed while I hit the throttle and I was finally out of the mess.  Thank goodness for kind strangers.  I’ve never backpacked but have heard of “trail magic” in the form of people unexpectedly helping or the like.  For as much as people worry about me traveling alone, I’ve experienced the motorcycle touring equivalent of “trail magic” more than once.  For anyone feeling down on mankind, take a road trip, meet some great people, it’ll restore your faith in the good of people!

The couple in the truck were heading my way, so they loaded up my firewood and followed me to the campground.  After thanking them profusely, and offering them a cold one (the beer survived the crash thankfully), they were off, on their way to their campground.  Still shaking from the crash, I cracked open a beer and attempted to calm myself down.  Prior to crashing, my intent was to head over to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and hike the Chapel Loop, one of my favorite hikes in the area.  After the crash, I decided I should just stay put, enjoy a beer or two and relax.

Sweating from the effort of wrestling the motorcycle, I took a quick dip in Lake Superior followed by a nap in the hammock.  I swear ENO has perfected time travel, whenever I get in that hammock it’s all of a sudden 2 hours later 🙂  It will definitely be a constant in my motorcycle camping kit from now on.

A quick rest in my ENO Hammock – doubles as clothesline!

After I managed to get a decent campfire going without lighting my hair on fire (which I’ve done the last couple times I’ve camped) I headed down to the beach for the sunset.  Despite the black flies trying to make me a meal, the sunset was beautiful – it was going to be a great night!

Trying out the Crazy Creek Hexlite chair (another soon to review) while enjoying the campfire

Sunset on Lake Superior

There was no rain in the nighttime forecast so instead of sleeping in my stuffy tent, I dragged my sleeping bag to the hammock and crawled in.  I quickly slipped into sleep under the stars next to the dying embers of the campfire.

24
Aug
12

Northward Bound

This summer’s motorcycle adventures have been sparse (ok, non-existent) so when given the opportunity to test ride a used 2006 V-Strom 650 for the weekend I jumped on it.  Where to go for a short camping weekend…the Upper Peninsula of course!  On a recent car camping trip, Andy and I had noticed a small campground on H-58 east of Grand Marais, Michigan called Lake Superior campground, that would be my destination for Saturday night.  Since I’m diligently saving vacation for my fall India trip, I planned on leaving after work and staying somewhere in St. Ignace for the night – riding at night isn’t my favorite (especially in rural areas).

After what seemed like a never ending day at work, I got home and loaded up the Strom.  On schedule for a change, I hugged the dogs good-bye and pointed the Wee north.  The ride up was pretty uneventful albeit a bit shaky at first.  It took a few miles to get used to the new machine, but once I was comfortable all was well.  After a few hours on the road, I saw the white towers of the Mackinac Bridge looming in the distance – the gateway to my weekend getaway!

My plan was to camp at either Carp River State Forest Campground or Foley Lake Campground, but while crossing the bridge, the clouds started to open up…motel it would be!  After a few calls to find a place with vacancy that was sufficiently cheap, I landed at The Pines Motel, a little mom and pop on the north end of St. Ignace.  Thankfully there was a convenience store next door with homemade pizza and baked goods.  It was nice being able to take a short walk in order to grab a bite to eat!  After scarfing down a couple of pieces of pizza, it was down to the lake to watch the sunset.  On my walk back, I was joined by a party of bats swooping around me grabbing their evening meal.  Off to bed, it’d be an early morning ride to the big lake and my campsite for the day.

All packed up, the V-Strom ready to ride




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Yesterday was a Surf N Turf kind of day.  Turkey hunting in the morning, bluegill fishing in the afternoon.  First time out with the new @cabelas CGR 3 weight-what a hoot! #flyfishing #fishing #bluegill #panfishonthefly #bluegillonthefly #glassisnotdead #michigan Didn't think I'd be able to get out for this turkey season, but made it out this morning.  This Tom came in strutting with another tom and two jakes following a hen.  Talk about getting your heart racing, the hen yelping angrily and the boys behind her gobbling their heads off!  21.5 lbs, 10" beard and 1 1/8" spurs - turkey schnitzel pieces and fried heart for lunch (after bluegill fishing 😉). #turkeyseason #turkeyhunting #wildturkey #michigan #spring #womenhunt #woodstotable #compnchoke #browning Did some last minute packing for the one day I'd get to go turkey hunting this season.  I guess I forgot my hunting boots.  My non-waterproof Salomon trail runners must have attracted the birds in because it was a successful hunt!  My feet are soaked 😂 #turkeyhunting #wildturkey #turkeyseason #michigan #spring #womenhunt #dressforsuccess Finally made time to visit the McConkie Ranch Petroglyphs on this trip.  It's on private property but the owners have kept the rock art accessible to the public as long as they respect the property (small $5 donation, totally worth it). I lost some of my photos from here in the phone drowning but thankfully still have some good examples of the amazing Fremont rock art.  We saved the Three Kings panel located in a different spot on the property for a different trip. #rockart #petroglyphs #fremontculture #utah #vernal #mcconkieranch #roadtrip #dryforkcanyon
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