camping

#WayBackWednesday - Backpacking

I keep saying that Friday I’m embarking on my first backpacking trip… that’s not ENTIRELY true. Back in 2010, my best bud Kevin and I did a “backpacking” trip (click here to see that post) at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It wasn’t too far in, about a mile, and we took only regular sized gear as well as beer. It was a nice change of pace from state park camping, and afforded us a quick hike to the beach. All in all, I’d say it was a great intro to overnighting with a backpack. Each time we go to Kevin’s family cabin in Northern Minnesota, we also sort of “backpack” in. We are miles from phone service or actual utilities and we have to take everything by canoe/boat or sled, then on our backs, to the cabin. I was letting the anxiety related to the idea of backpacking get to me, mostly underestimating my own ability to persevere through situations. I am no quitter, I do push through, and once started, I don’t give up. I can’t wait to get to it and hike a few miles (4-5) to a campsite and explore the wilderness in Arizona this weekend.

Enjoy a few photos of previous “backpacking” trips, and know I’m going to call this upcoming weekend my first time because it will be with new people and more than a mile from the car or boat dock.

#WayBackWednesday - Ludington State Park, 2007. #PureMichigan

Back in 2007 some friends and I took a trip to Ludington State Park on Michigan’s west coast. The park sits along Lake Michigan with dunes, trails through the woods, and access to nearby lighthouses. The whole coast of Lake Michigan is amazing, but this little slice is extra nice. If you get the chance to visit Michigan, make sure to travel along the shorelines of the Great Lakes and stop at Ludington State Park.

We lived in nearby Allendale, MI where our college was located so this was an easy little trip for us. We were a bunch of twenty somethings headed camping and we definitely made some memories. The photos I share are from an old camera and are mostly the natural beauty. I didn’t find many photos from our campsite, probably because we were having a real good time.

Spring here in Texas reminds me of summer up in Michigan. The temps are warm enough, the sun is plentiful, and the air is breezy. Here’s to the summer nights of the past and hopefully some in the near future on one of Michigan’s coasts.

#ForestFriday - Santa Fe National Forest (special repeat)

I recently did a tribute to the Santa Fe National Forest for Forest Friday, but here's another because it's fresh off the brain from our recent trip.  Here are a few views from our campsite, from the evening.  Enjoy and I hope you can find the forest this weekend!

2017 Subaru Outback - 1 Year Celebration!

July 7, 2018 marked the first year of life with Oliver the Outback.  It’s been a beautiful year, filled with commutes and adventures, and I am beyond happy that I chose Subaru.  At the one year mark, I had over 28,000 miles on the odometer and countless hours of rocking out to my jams.  (Check out my 6-month update here)

Features I (still) Love

  • Climate Control - The system has me cooled off before I leave the parking garage, it's fantastic and stays strong as the sun beats in on my hour long commute home.  Good cooling goes a long way during Texas summers.
  • Entertainment - My music has never sounded so good, and I've always had upgraded sound systems in my cars.  I love the steering wheel controls and the Bluetooth connects swiftly every time.
  • Visibility - Driving through traffic can be hazardous, but I have great lines of sight in the Outback that pair nicely with the safety features to ensure I get home in one piece.
  • Safety - EyeSight has saved me more than once, both in alert and automatic braking, as well has eased commutes with adaptive cruise control for the less congested areas.
  • Interior Design - Controls, handles, and storage are logically laid out and my RTIC tumbler fits perfectly in the cupholder
  • Gas Mileage - With a large tank, long range, and excellent highway mileage, the Outback is designed for road trips.  Added bonus, I only have to fill up once per week for commutes.  Total win.

The Places We Went

  • To Work - as boring as it may seem, I need to get there to make money to take adventures so I'm glad I don't have to worry about anything because Oliver the Outback is takin' care of business.
  • 52 Hikes With Mike - While I've had to fly and rent cars for a few hikes, I've taken Oliver to places both near and far to get a good hike in.  I love the custom rubber tray in the back because it contains the mess from my sweaty pack and dirty hiking boots.
  • Michigan - I'm from the mitten state, so in June of 2018 we drove on up to visit my family and it was a superb ride.  We only had to stop a few times for gas, which made me happy.  Oliver the Outback crossed the Mighty Mackinaw Bridge, got dusty on the Northern Michigan back roads, and took us safely 3145.1 miles.

Oh, the Places We Will Go!

Going forward, I have a few trips in the back of my mind that I want to take that Oliver the Outback will be perfect for.  Once the weather cools, we'll hit up the campgrounds out west in Texas, and visit Big Bend.  Until then, I plan to make an appearance in the Santa Fe National Forest and take a quick trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Here's to another year of safe commutes and amazing adventures!

#ForestFriday - Santa Fe National Forest

A year ago this week, my other half and I visited the Santa Fe National forest in New Mexico.  The city of Santa Fe is a colorful desert town, but the National Forest is burst of green trees and mountains on a completely different level.  We stayed at the Holy Ghost Campground and explored around that area.  Here are some photos of the forest to enjoy!

#WayBackWednesday - Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Camping in Palo Duro Canyon State Park was a highlight from spring of 2017.  Looking back through my photos, I didn't even capture the immense beauty of the canyon but sure did get some great shots from our hikes and our campsite.  If you get the chance, it's one of the most beautiful places in Texas and is worth a visit!  This place was Hike #6 of my 2017 52 Hike Challenge and you can read more about the adventure and see more photos HERE.

#WayBackWednesday - Big Bend

I've been thinking of Big Bend often and I can't wait to schedule a trip back out there.  The park entrance is about 7.5 hours from my house, with another hour or so of driving within the park to get to the Chisos Basin Campground.  Big Bend is HUGE and it can easily take all day to drive through if you're stopping for little hikes and viewpoints - as we did.  I'd really enjoy going back to spend time exploring one area or backpacking a specific trail. Being honest with myself, I'll go back in any way I can and with anyone willing to enjoy the experience.  Here are some photos from a trip in January of 2014 with my other half and one of our best friends. 

Classic entrance sign photo

A view while driving down into Big Bend

Morning views from the campsite in Chisos Basin Campground

More driving views

Rio Grande!

Sotol Vista Overlook views

Santa Elena Canyon views

Santa Elena Canyon Trail friendship selfie. <3

#MondayMotivation - The nervous and excited energy of just getting out there

I still think back to my first, and only, camping trip to Arches National Park.  It was part of a great road trip involving two friends that went from Michigan to the west coast and back.  My camping prior to 2009 was limited to the Great Lakes and I really hadn’t been in the middle of nowhere like you are in Arches or along US-50 in Nevada.  This trip in 2009 was my first real hiking through a National Park, my first middle of nowhere camping trip, and my first time TRULY appreciating the little things like a campfire, cold beer, or a crappy hotel room.  When I sit here and think it’s too hard to get outside or it’s too far, I think back to that trip.  We camped, road tripped, stayed in hotels, hiked, and everything in between all on a budget and with time constraints.  I now look to my peers and see them doing all of the activities from simple car camping to backpacking trips and beyond and I’m motivated.  I’m glad to be connected to so many people doing things I had never even heard of before.  I’m glad to have memories of being a bit nervous about traveling across the country and camping, but also just so excited.  I’m motivated today by my desire to keep that feeling going and the desire to just go for it – whatever activity that may be.  Happy trails and stay motivated!