Review: Helio Shower

The Helio Shower retails for about $99 at REI and my husband and I were able to pick one up at a REI garage sale for about $13. SCORE! 

For $13, I was was willing to take the gamble on whether this shower worked or not as all sales are final at these garage sales. Anyhow, here is my review on the shower based on the item we got at the sale:

Pros:

  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Holds a lot of water
  • Foot pump is nice for continuous water pressure
  • Can place the shower anywhere = no gravity feed

Cons:

  • Water pressure is not great (could be just our item as it was a return)
  • Took a long time to pump up to create pressure 
  • Not able to use hot water in this shower BUT I you could put warm water in it and it would be OK.
  • I feel like I am going to rip the handlender on the shower after it is full

With that all being said, we have a cheap $15 or $20 solar camp shower (gravity fed) purchased off of amazon and it works great!! Unless you REALLY need a shower that is not gravity fed, the Helio is compact and lightweight but….I think a modified weed sprayer bottle would be cheaper. 

Biolite Stove Review – 2 years post purchase

We have been using our BioLite stove with the grill attachment along with the cattle for about 1 to 2 years now and here are some of the things that I like and don’t like since using it:

Pros/Likes:

  1. It’s very compact as the battery fits into the stove compartment and then they both slide into the kettle. So tailgating is made easy for someone who doesn’t have the space or lives in a compact area like San Francisco. For us, it makes it easy to pack up or just store out of wa when not in use.
  2. It is an all-in-one: a grill, battery recharger, and stove top.
  3. The battery and fan are self charging/propelling via kinetic energy from the fire, unlike the latest blue version out there.
  4. Small electronic devices like headlamps, and watches recharge quickly.
  5. Wood is free fuel. I have purchased the little Biolite wood pellets for when I just want to start a fire right away (yes i have been that lazy…I mean exhausted) or keep a fire going for a long time. I find the heat from the wood pellets is long lasting and more controlled, not mention I don’t have to keep throwing in twigs every 2 mins. I want to try BBQ wood chips to see if there is a big difference in flavors…..and I have seen them for cheap at stores.

Cons/Dislikes:

  1. IF it rains…..say goodbye to breakfast, lunch and dinner. You need twigs/dry wood to start your fire and if you didn’t collect it before the downpour then you will be eating whatever doesn’t need to be cooked.
  2. Unable to sufficiently recharge larger devices like phones. My older Motorola smartphone recharged quite well with our Biolite; however, since I have upgraded to a Galaxy S5, a get a small burst of recharge (a whopping 1%) about every 5mins. I was reading that the newer phones will need more amps to recharge than older models. Just FYI.
  3. It is heavy for backpacking (33oz. = 2.06lbs) so I don’t recommend it for this activity. We use a Jetboil for backpacking and love it too but for different reasons.

In the end, I would recommend the Biolite for tailgating, car/base camping, or is you need something really compact that does it all. But if you are focused on backpacking, not feeding a fire, instantaneous ON and just reheating water for your dehydrated meals, I really enjoy my Jetboil.

How to recharge your electronic devices in the woods

Whenever we go camping or backpacking, we have a couple of different ways that we recharge our electronic devices. Depending on how much wattage you will need in order to recharge the device, will dictate which method.

For small devices like a headlamp or Garmin GPS watch, our Biolite Stove works just fine; however, my Samsung S5 needs more amps/wattage and unfortunately does not recharge well from the stove.

I would suggest getting a solar fold-able solar charger like the below picture from Amazon. I got a Ravpower charger that I think is no longer available yet this one is very similar:

My Ravpower charger is a 15W solar charger and recharges my S5 in 60-90mins in full sun.

I was really impressed with how quickly it recharged my phone!! 

Another charger that I don’t leave at home is my Jackery lipstick battery. I like this little lipstick battery versus some others for two reasons:

  1. It has a LED bar on the battery to show me how full or depleted the battery is.
  2. It is lighter than some others. My husband has an Anker lipstick battery and that thing is like lead = heavy.

All in all, while being out in the woods and decompressing from the responsibilities of life or just being an adult, it is nice and a luxury to recharge your devices via the sun, fire or a recharged battery. I know I really like being my Kindle along for a good read in my hammock or a late night movie on our tablet (Yes, I admit it 😦 I occasionally watch a movie while in the woods).

Pinterest Inspired Log Bench = Success!!

After seeing this log bench on Pinterest (photo on left from 1001gardens.org/2015/06/15-diy-log-ideas-for-your-garden/), my husband took his chainsaw and built the same bench (see photo on right) at our property. It is a solid bench and recommend it to others who need a bench. We got the 3″x12″ wood beam from our neighbor who wanted to get rid of some scrap wood. The hubby cut openings in the wood at a slight angle, wedged the beam in and then used the back of his axe to hammer/wedge the beam into the stumps tightly. It worked!! And the bench is solid. Doesn’t wiggle, shake, etc. Also the nice part about the top of the stumps and the beam protruding from the stump, is that there is plenty of room to set down a drink. Love it! Pinterest success! 

Glamping in Santa Cruz, CA

One of our favorite spots to camp at is at New Brighton Beach in Capitola, CA. It’s very close to Santa Cruz and the campsite is right on the ocean bluffs. The sites are large and there is running water with coin operated hot showers, flushing toilets, and Capitola is about 10 minutes away by bike or less than 5 mins by car. Last year, my husband and I were lucky enough to book one of the campsites on the bluffs and we could hear the crashing of the waves at night. It sure beat any hotel you could stay at for only $35/night. This was our first time “glamping” as it was his birthday and I wanted to do something nice for us and we had so much fun!!! Sleeping on the Intex Pillow Rest Raised Airbed with Built-in Pillow and Electric Pump, Queen, Bed Height 16 1/2″ in our Kingdom 6 tent from REI was plenty of room and comfort for a couple of nights stay. I liked the double height of the air mattress as it felt more like a real bed since you don’t have to bend down all the way. This is what we got:

I also got an Intex Quick-Fill 12v-DC Electric Air Pump, Max. Air Flow 21.2CFM so I could blow up the air mattress from our car. It fully inflated in less than 5 minutes and it was easy to place inside out tent. (I was worried it wouldn’t get through the opening but it did.)

Some other things that I brought to make our trip fun were:

    • Sand Castle Supplies – Why not? have fun no matter your age
    • Bluetooth speaker for some music
    • French Press Coffee Maker – I got mine from REI and it’s insulated so it kept the coffee warm between cups.
    • Muffins for the morning with coffee
    • Glow in the Dark Rings – we passed these out to other campers for fun and to celebrate his birthday. You can find these cheaper at the Dollar Store or Wal-mart.
    • Playing Cards
    • Birthday Cake with candles
    • Birthday Decor – Yup, I went to the good ole Dollar Store for supplies and decorated our campsite so everyone knew it was his birthday 🙂
    • Hammock – I highly recommend bringing a hammock. It was nice to take an afternoon nap or read a book in the shade while listening to the ocean waves. I did purchase this Ultimate, Compact, Single-person Adventure Hammock by Tribe Provisions (Orange) from Amazon and IT WAS SO MUCH CHEAPER THAN AN ENO!! I my husband has an ENO and we both think this one is more comfortable. Although, I do recommend getting the Eagles Nest Outfitters Atlas Polyester Hammock Hanging Straps for setting up the hammock. Paying the extra money for these straps are work it!!! The para-cord that comes with this hammock is not the best and stretch so ya eventually are touching the ground. 😦

  • Bicycle – We found getting around town much easier with our bicycles than driving, especially because it’s a small town and parking was at a premium. Also if you go around Easter or Halloween, the community of Capitola normally does something on the beach (i.e. Easter Egg hunt on the beach for the kiddos).

Some of the fun places we like to visit Capitola are:

  1. Margaritaville – this place it right on the water with great staff and fresh ingredients. It’s a place were you can hang out all night with the view from almost every seat.photogrid_1448466080310.jpg
  2. Panache – or as we refer to it as the “Rubber Duckie Store.” This store has a TON of different rubber duckies from Einstein or Ben Franklin duckie, to Pink Flamingo duckie, Devil Duckie, and more. We couldn’t help ourselves bought this enormous rubber duckie for our bathroom, lol:Enormous Rubber Duckie
  3. Shadowbrook – is a really nice place for elegant, more fine dining. The location is romantic as it’s right on the canal and you even take a funicular down to the restaurant. Be aware that there is a dress code. Luckily they don’t enforce it too much if you are traveling and trying to make an effort of having nice clothes on. I wore a sweater dress with capris and my keen water sandals. I was worried about my sandals; however, I was unaware of the dress code before packing for this trip. Just wear some nice khakis, no rips/tears and nicer sandals and you should be fine. Luckily no one said anything to me….maybe because it was my shoes, no one really saw them under the table…..photogrid_1448465176866.jpg photogrid_1448465696739.jpg photogrid_1448465271736.jpg
  4. Exploring the town of Capitola – there are many little privately owned shops in Capitola so it was really nice to just park/lock up the bikes and walk around exploring. We even got a slice of pizza and just ate lunch on a beach bench taking our time and enjoying the breeze and scenery. But there is wine tasting and more in the area. I would go on TripAdvisor and see what activities may interest you before going as well. Also this campsite is about 30 minutes away from the Monterrey Aquarium if you wanted to do a day trip.

Here’s some other photos from our trip:

Our site all set up:

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A little skunk ate our Birthday Muffins. We locked up our food but the little bugger was able to get into the wooden locker with his little paws and then let his mark on our trunks (what we haul our gear in).

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Building Sand Castles after coffee (Thank you Dollar Store). We gave our bucket and shovel to a family with small children to play with afterwards. 🙂

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Hope you enjoyed this post.

Cheers!!

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Mount Rose Waterfall Hike

Good for:

  • Family
  • Fido (dog-friendly)
  • Going Solo

Difficulty:   Easy to moderate

  • I believe the elevation gain is about 1,000 feet but I have heard 2,000 feet…..(not sure).

Distance:

  • Aprox. 6.4 miles  (about 2-2.5hrs)

Location:

What can I say, it’s hard NOT to like a hike in the Tahoe area.  I really like this hike for someone who wants something a little more than beginner but not sure if there are ready for something steep; plus there is a great waterfall at the end of the hike 🙂

When arriving at the trailhead, you will see a parking lot along with the building (which houses vault toilets and has trash bins) in the below photo.  This is where you can park for the day:

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Also, there is no water at this trailhead so you will need to bring a water purifier or 2-3L per person for the hike.

Next, pass the building on the left side (closest to the road) to start towards the trail. Very shortly (less than 3 mins) on the trail you will see a board that gives information on trails in the area…..yet you will need to turn right (almost a U-turn) to see the “Hiker Only” sign. THIS IS YOUR TRAIL TO THE WATERFALL.

I have accidentally passed these entry stairs and have ended up on the Tahoe Rim Trail which is not all bad as you have great views of Tahoe (I’ll write another post this trail) but you can travel on this trail for 100+ miles…..

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Once on the trail, you will start to see a bit of Tahoe 🙂 = an added plus for the day

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Some views of Tamarack Lake as well along the way…….

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I took this photo at the end of summer so I’m sure Spring time it must be even better.  You can hike to the top; however, last time I was there, people mentioned that you have to climb the rocks up.  I didn’t want to try climbing that day as I was perfectly content residing under a tree and just taking in the scenery.

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And finally arriving at the Waterfall 🙂

 

Crochet Wrist Sweatband

Since I started trail running and now it is July in Reno, NV where the temperature can hit 100 degree plus, it’s HOT here. Even with sweatproof sunscreen, it doesn’t matter. At that temperature and creating body heat, you’re melting and sweat is going to drip into your face.

So with staying frugal and especially for something like a sweatband…I didn’t want to spend money on something that is soaking it up. I went through my old yarn to see what I had and luckily I have some remnants of 100% cotton yarn from when I made dishcloths and eye make-up remover  pads.

Here’s the pattern:

  • chain 12
  • in the second stitch, single crochet all the way across
  • chain 2 and turn, double crocheting (through broth loops) all the way across again 
    • Let’s call a row of single with a row of double crochet a “set”
  • chain 1 and turn, single crochet (through both loops) all the way across
Repeat this pattern of alternative a double crochet line for a single until you hit your desired length. I did 8 “sets.” With my left hand, I just held the seams together and tried pulling the sweatband over my hand a couple of times to make sure that it was snug enough before finishing.
**Remember that the cotton will stretch a little over your hand and you don’t want it too baggy. Especially when wet, it can get annoying if it hangs too low on your wrist.
To finish:
  • I single crocheted through the loops of both ends which made a chain along the width of the sweatband. You can sew the ends together for a more seamless look. 
By the way, this sweatband idea can also be used for a coffee cozy if you are in need on one 🙂 = easy, fast but great Christmas idea.
I like the idea of this sweatband being cotton like a towel because I have used it like a dishcloth when I had nothing else around and a tissue was too flimsy to clean up from dirt (on me) while on the trail.

SAFELY enjoying the great Outdoors

Hi Everyone,

I am normally outdoors exercising (weather permitting) and it occurred to me the other day while trail running alone….and no one was on the trail, which is quite odd as it is usually frequented. I realized that there are some extra safety items that I need to get since I’m going out alone:

  1. Whistle – in case I don’t have the strength to yell or need to call attention to myself
  2. Mini first aid kit
    • I carry band-aids, antiseptic ointment, blister cream and Tylenol
  3. Water
  4. Gel or Energy Bar in case I go longer than anticipated
  5. Medical ID card or bracelet
Some items that I am thinking about getting however not really sure….
  1. Swiss Army Pocket Knife??
    • Maybe come in handy. I’ve also heard that someone protected himself against a mountain lion attack with his pocket knife, yet going up against a mountain lion with a tiny knife is a feat in itself…
  2. Pepper spray or some other sort of protection
    • Honestly, I’m not a big fan of this and think I would carry this if I was more of an urban runner
Any other suggestions? Or is this overkill?