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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Are you "In"


I have written on my blog a few times about joining www.insulindependence.org a few times how I was so excited to join a diabetes organization that has a group all dedicated to taking diabetes in the woods.  Then I mentioned how sad I was when it hit me that they are based out of California and there were no local chapters in the Dallas area.

Well, now there is a chapter in the Dallas area.  www.insulindepence.org purchased DESA (Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association) which has a local chapter and now I have signed up to be a team captain.  I am a team captain for "Team Testing Limits" where we take the youth (teenagers) of the type 1 diabetes world out camping and mentor them.  Insulindependence.org or as they call themselves "In" has several specialized clubs but the focus for "In" is to get people with diabetes out and about with setting goals, supporting one another, and training all done with diabetes.  Now these people do anything from Ironmen competitions to Saturday morning walks.  They have something for everyone.

Now that this great program is in Dallas we can join in the fun.  As a team captain I am focusing on organizing "Dawn Phenom" events, which are just one to two hour events that can be from horse back riding to paddle board yoga and everything in between.  Organizing the "Team Testing Limits" camping trips, and promoting this to anyone that has or knows someone with diabetes.  One of my jobs as a team captain is to raise funds so that "Team Testing Limits" can provide our camping trips at or near no cost to these youth (teenagers).  I am asking each and everyone of you to please take a moment and click on my link and make a donation of any size.  That would mean the world to me.

Since "In" is just getting started in the Dallas area with the exception of DESA and its current members, it is going to take a great deal of planning, organizing, and work to get the ball rolling.  I am excited to be on the ground floor of this type of active diabetes lifestyle to the Dallas area.  There always seems to be running clubs, dancing clubs, coin collecting clubs, or any sort of club but a general outdoor club for diabetes to my knowledge has not existed and with the focus of anyone can participate with diabetes is great! 

Last but not least, I have been working on having some camping related items for that need the push to give just a bit more.

First if you donate $100.00 dollars or more I will send you a CRKT Eat'N tool.


You say you want a push to give even more?  Well how about if you donate $250.00 dollars or more.  Not only will you get the CRKT Eat"N tool but also you will receive a Mini-Maglite double "A" LED flashlight.


I know you are saying: "Umm Dave I can get both of those for less than that?"  Well yes you can but when you donate to "Team Testing Limits" you know that there will be one less diabetic youth out there saying to themselves that no one understands what it is like to be diabetic.  Having diabetes since I was thirteen and going through puberty and high school was hard.  There are alot of days you don't want to test or when your mother asks you what your numbers are and instead of telling the truth you decide to lie because you feel ashamed of how high they are.  Then even now people find out I am diabetic and they tell me about a family member that has diabetes but, they didn't take care of themselves and had a finger or toe cut off.  That makes me sad and angry because every diabetic is different and none of us are "bad," this disease sucks and it is hard so please take a moment and make a donation.  I personally can't cure diabetes but, maybe one of my bad jokes can help another diabetic understand and make them smile one more day.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Meter Bag

So if meter bags are like purses then I like a big open purse, I mean meter bag.  I like it to be able to carry my gift cards (Starbucks), rite in the rain notepad during the week, pen, batteries (three different sizes AA, AAA, and CR123), jump drive, emergency pills (just in case I forget to take my meds in the morning), backup chap stick, library card, and alcohol pads.  With my current Lilly insulin bottle bag it works for all these things and I have space just in case I switch meters, carry a backup meter, need a place to put a backup pocket knife, and flashlight.  You never know when you need these things.  Since this bag is made for glass insulin bottles it is slightly padded and the zipper opens the bag up like a clam shell so I can cram even more stuff in it.
What I have found recently was that I need a smaller bag to just carry just my meter if I am running around and want my meter on me but not everything else.  I was teaching some camping classes at SMU and had to go from classroom to classroom but my bag was in a box with rope and stuff and I did not test a couple of times because it was going to be a hassle to get it out.  Then last weekend I was out and about camping with the scouts on my ranch and I just left my bag at camp while I was out walking around for a couple of hours.  One time I did put my Lilly bag on my belt about a year ago but really felt like an old man and it was way to clumsy to ever do again.
You are saying to yourself: "Umm Dave just use the bag the meter comes with.  It is usually pretty small and has a belt loop as well."  The thing with the manufacturers bag that the meters come with, is they are of the lowest quality.  My old Omnipod bag fell apart in my hands the day I got it.  Those bags are not worth the fabric they are made out of.  Then they put all this plastic in them and try to force you to conform to the way they want you to organize your bag.  What sounds like in theory is some sort of military Molle small gear bag (Ken actually told me that is what I needed to look at).  
I was looking around the Maxpedition website trying to see if they had any small bags and I came across the one above.  Now my luck is this is a free bag only when you buy 100 dollars worth of gear.  They have a couple more and I can search the ever expanding web to see if there is a compact belt bag that can just fit my meter and pricker (OK maybe my rite in the rain notepad and pen as well).  By the time I am done putting gear on my belt I will look like redneck batman.  I already have my pump, multi tool (only when camping), and phone.  What is one more bag hanging from my belt?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Long distance Gardening

We have a house in a sub-division in the Dallas area.  Then we have 20 acres in east Texas where we camp, lease out to people, hunt, and pretend to be country folk.  This place has a small one bedroom cabin with a cute little pond and all sorts of random cool things on and around it.
For the past two years we have wanted to start a garden at the ranch (I don't know what to call 20 acres).  The thing is we visit about once a month and trying to work around that has been our downfall.  Two years ago we tilled up a plot where the old owners had a greenhouse and planted your usual squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe and watermelons.  These are typical east Texas things to grow and can survive a while without much rain.  Well that was a disaster, we visited two weeks after we planted and everything was looking OK then when we went back two weeks after, everything was either eaten or dried up.  So last year I thought to plant some potatoes in raised tire beds.  I watched all the cool YouTube videos about how the potatoes grow out and lay in the inside portion of the tire and as the plant grows all you have to do is stack another tire on the plant and place more dirt.  As the plant grows and the tires and dirt are placed on the grow more and more potatoes in the tire.  When it is time to harvest you just take the tires off and they should be theoretically speaking full of potatoes with no digging.  Well once the potatoes were doing good my local band of deer decided the plants tasted great and would eat them down to the ground every day.
This year my son and I came up with a better plan (OK so we are just trying something different).  We decided since we have all sorts of raspberry plants growing on our land to use them as our base plant.  Then when my wife and I went blueberry picking last spring I noticed how the farm had soaker hoses ran to all the raspberry and blueberry plants.  Then as mulch they put pine needles down from pine trees they had on the side of the property.  A friend of mine told me that blueberries and raspberries need acidic soil and to keep your PH up the natural way was to lay pine needles at the base.  This made sense because when I canoed the Canadian boundary waters we would eat wild blueberries that grew near the pine trees.  My next issue was how to regulate the water while we were not at the ranch.  This smart diabetic thought to go out and buy an electric water thing that automatically turns the soaker hoses on every 12 hours.  The water thing is inside our pump house that is locked.  So if people want free water from our well they would have to be at the right place at the right time.  Last is of course our deer that like to eat potato plants.  My son and his buddy found a bunch of old goat wire on our land and fancied themselves a four foot tall fence to keep them out.  So then we added a blueberry plant, corn, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe and other things I can't remember to the other half of the garden and hopefully this year will be the year we have a garden at our house and at the ranch.
My ending random thoughts today would be about children.  So our son is now 16 and my wife and I are doing what we can do to prepare him for the real world.  The thing is I kind of would like a little bit more time with another child.  Now adding like a newborn baby does not sound like fun but maybe something greater than 4 and less than 18 would be nice.  Then I was thinking how fun (OK not fun but helpful) to like adopt a child with type 1 diabetes.  My wife and I have always wanted to adopt even taking a summer long course to be foster to adopt parents (it just kind of fell apart at the end of the program).  Is this like the blind couple wanting to adopt a blind baby because they can help the child grow up with parents that are not just in charge of you but can relate to you?  Could you do something like that?  Well I love spending time with our son and was just thinking it would be fun to raise another one.  Like I said, just random thoughts.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Product Updates

 I wanted to do another product review update.  Last weekend my friend Ken and I were having one of our usual discussions about camping gear and I mentioned how my rite in the rain notepad is an essential part of my gear (relative use here) and that I will use this product from now till something better comes along.  He argues that this is just an expensive notepad and he can just use a .69cent cheap notepad (The rite in the rain costs about 4 bucks) and use a zip lock bag to keep it safe.  Now, Ken and I have these discussions in a fun and productive manner but we agreed to disagree (I am right on this one).
 The reason I love the rite in the rain notepads so much is because I have been using a notepad for the good part of eleven years now.  They are great to write down a memorable meal or a BG number.  I can put down notes to remind me of anything to do or to ask my Endo or dietitian the next time I see them.  Yes, all of you are saying that these are easily done on a smart phone, tablet, or laptop computer.  What those items don't do well is go camping where I spend most of my weekends peeing on trees and breaking electronics.

My rite in the rain notepad was in my pocket while we were fishing in the Smoky Mountains two weeks ago and when I went under not once but twice the notepad was still legible to read and also write on.  My camera did not work after it went under and lucky for me my meter was in a safe bag and my phone was back in the vehicle.  The rite in the rain notepad just needed to be left out to dry over night and I was still using it the whole time, wet and dry.  The good thing about taking a dip with the rite in the rain notepad probably was now it doesn't have all my sweat in it any more.  I now can go back and look at my BG diary and all my scouting notes any time I want, rain or shine.  This product is definitely worth the money.  The 88 cent notepad with all my Italy honeymoon notes in it  was washed once and never survived.

The rite in the rain has several styles and sizes but for some reason I just love the outdoor journal size and it has a handy ruler on the back.  Maybe in the future I will try another model but for now why change what works.

Friday, March 23, 2012

It is about time!

 Spring is in the air.  Everyone is dying from allergies and the pollen count is through the roof.  My grass needs to be mowed again.
 The Red buds are in bloom.  Don't look down at the bottom of this picture of my jungle of a garden.
 The Wisteria is blooming and the days are getting longer. Everything could not be going any better than this.  Even our lakes are filling up in Dallas.  We have been in a pretty bad drought and now we have all the water we could want well at least for now.
 Then the most wonderful thing has ever happened this spring.  Pete the Chicken laid her first egg!  We are so excited to now make fried eggs, hard boiled eggs, and egg salad.  When we first received Pete the Chicken from our friends I told my son that if she does not produce any eggs in six months she is going to be a good nights meal of fried chicken.  With the skin on of course.
 Well we received Pete the Chicken on October 31st of last year and now on March 18th of this year she started laying eggs.  I will tell you something, she is like an egg factory.  When they say they lay an egg a day they aren't joking she lays an egg every day.  Above my son is holding her first three eggs.  Well she had four by this time but her first one was a soft weird one.  What good times are these because it was going to be hard to snap that neck next month and pluck those feathers off for some extra crispy chicken.  Now we can eat Un fertilized Pete's all the time.  Maybe we can get enough by Easter to have a Easter Pete the Chicken egg hunt?  Who knows.
This sign cracked me up on our vacation.  You have of course seen the free wine tasting signs on Vineyards.  In Tennessee they have free moonshine tasting.  I am not a drinker but my wife tried them all.  She was real partial to the apple pie.  I know what you all are going to ask, did we buy any.  Of course we picked some up for the family.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The death of a camera

 While on vacation my son and I splurged and payed for a guided fishing trip.  We woke up that morning to what sounded like the worst rain storm on the planet but it turned out that those metal roofs just amplify the sound of rain.  Since we were just down the street from the outfitters we decided to walk instead of driving the truck and having my wife come and get it later.
 The guide took us up the mountains to Cades Cove which is about 20 miles into "The Great Smoky Mountains."  At the top is a scenic ten mile loop where you can spot wildlife.  You can see in the picture above a nice sized "Tom" running away from me as I chase after him trying to get a good photo.  It was so weird to see geese and turkeys hanging out together on the side of the road.
 Fly fishing is a wonderful sport.  You have your waders on, stand in a stream and try to hook the thousands of trout laughing at you.  Now there are trout all around you our guide kept telling us and all it takes is a little skill and the ability to set the hook.  He was so right on that setting the hook.  We would stand in a spot and try to catch fish with no luck, then he would wade up to you and take your pole and pull one in.  Lots of skill and setting the hook.  What you see in the picture above is a 125 dollar fish because we caught a total of two fish.  Now we did fight a few but we officially pulled two off that we caught.  Our guide caught like fifteen fish if that tells you how much skill and setting the hook this fly fishing takes.
 Above you can see my son just before he catches a fish looking like Brad Pitt in that movie "A river runs through it" or something.  He was real good with his cast but with some work he could get that setting the hook part down.  Now this was the sad moment where I took a dive into the water and my camera bit the dust.  Lucky for me I kept all other expensive electronics in the car.  If you have never fallen into water with waders on it is a bad feeling.  First you feel the initial cold around your chest, then it slowly works its way to your feet where it stays the rest of the day.  Fly fishing was interesting to judge my diabetes on.  I had my meter on me but only could test two times during the day.  I had some apples and gummy bears to snack on every hour or so.  Our guide also cooked an interesting backpacking lunch for us (of course you cant see a photo because the camera was dead by this time).  He took three zip lock bags and put one of those Pasta Ronni side dish meals in each one.  Then he boiled some water and put about two cups of water in each bag.  Then on his backpacking stove he heated up some of that half spaghetti sauce, half Alfredo sauce stuff and mixed in some chunk tuna.  Once the sauce was warm he dumped out 90% of the water in each bag and then put the cooked pasta in a bowl and poured some sauce on top.  This was a real satisfying meal with my wet toes and water logged camera.
We saw this bear in the outfitters supply store and I instantly came up with this idea to do a staged bear attack photo.  So my son was not really into this and what you get is the picture above which is me looking like I am a weirdo in a store.  It could have been a great shot.  This was the coolest display for those Deuter backpacks.  The bear had the largest backpack I have ever seen on.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hiking out to the falls

 I am not sure if any of you have ever visited "The Great Smoky Mountains" but I would say they are a unique set of mountains.  They are different than Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming (OK so that are the major mountain states I have been to so far).  The Smoky Mountains really do have that kind of feel of Smoke to them.  There are all sorts of water falls that are easy day hikes and one of the more popular is Laurel falls which you can see in the photo above.
 Laurel falls is a 1.7 mile hike up on a paved trail.  This trail is like a highway with lots of people going up and plenty going down.  Once we saw the falls and took our pictures my wife and I wanted to head up another 1.5 miles to see remnants of the old growth forest.  Remember these mountains were clear cut back in the day for their timber and just a handful of the old trees are still around and we wanted to be able to touch one.  Now, this hike was the highlight of the trail.  It was a more natural trail and when you get up to the old growth trees it is full of breath taking views and just a quiet and peaceful feel to the area.  The picture above is my wife and son looking at one of the old growth trees we came across.
 Once we were in the old growth section of the trail we decided to do the final .9 mile hike to the top of the mountain.  We stopped for lunch along the trail and had some nice PB and Jelly sandwiches and apples.  I had all this in my MountainSmith fanny pack with plenty of space to spare.  Plenty of water, hand sanitizer, test strips, back up meter, napkins, survival gear, fire starter, glucagon pen, compass, flashlight, pen, paper, maps, trail mix, and glucose tablets were also in my pack.  I will tell you what, that little fanny pack is the best thing I have ever tested.  I keep trying to push it to its limit and it keeps asking for more.
 Here I am at the end of the 4.0 mile hike and the top of Cove Mountain.  I am pointing to the .1 mile trail to the fire tower and ozone station thing.  Yes, I know that my fanny pack, sunglasses I just found in my truck, blue jeans, and dorky pose that I am a true nerd.  Always remember that when you are out in the wilderness comfort and functionality is the most important and how you look does not matter.  Why suffer trying to look good for the bears when you can be comfortable and have a good time and show everyone how dorky you can be.  There is always the saying that "Cotton Kills" and that is true in more extreme environments but remember that cotton is also comfortable.  Why do you think under wear, under shirts, t-shirts, and jeans are made from the stuff.  It feels good on the skin.  The weather was a good 50's to 70's and usually I would bring a long sleeve shirt but this time I went crazy and left without any long shirt.
 I wanted to show how diverse these MountainSmith bags are.  You can see I have two side pouches and on one side I keep my water bottle and on the other side I figured out it is nice to keep a few apples in to snack on while hiking.  Fruit is real good to have because it gives you water and just a nice amount of sugar to keep your numbers in the good range.  Then the MountainSmith bags are at least twice as solid as any North Face, Camel Bag, or other brand bag is.  The zippers are solid and the material is heavy duty and all the straps and draw strings are use full, functional, and are built to last.  Every time I use this bag I fall more and more in love with it.
On our way down we had the most funny experience ever.  In the picture above you can see a gentleman and on his right hip he has a pistol hanging on his belt.  My son spotted this and tells my wife and I.  So my son and I come up with a plan to get a picture of it.  Now, my wife has one of those IPhone and she was listening to her tunes in one ear and halfway paying attention to us.  While I am trying to take pictures of the cool gun she sees me and keeps putting her hand over my camera so I can't get the photo.  Then while we are walking down the trail I keep trying to get photos of this cool gun and all of a sudden the gentleman thinks he sees a snake on the trail and pulls out the gun.  My wife freaks out and turns to us and in her "I have headphones on voice" she says out loud, "He has a gun."  My son and I look at her with those question marks above our heads and ask her what she thought we had been talking about and trying to get photos of for the last 10 minutes.  She just thought we were trying to get photos of people she says?  We could not stop laughing the rest of the half mile walk down and from then on we joked how she just looks at us and when we talk we must make those sounds that Charlie Browns teacher makes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Making Camp

 Recently a fellow blogger wrote how she was thinking about adding some camping to her activity list (www.diabetessunshine.blogspot.com).  She was worried about having type 1 diabetes and celiac disease which diabetes is a fun dieting exercise then throw on the no gluten and your options go down to water and jello it seems like.  I mentioned to her how to take small steps like taking a long walk in a park and bringing a lunch with her and seeing how the hiking and eating the lunch worked out then hiking back out.  This is a fun way to test your outdoors with a practice hike, or a practice meal.  You are kind of in a controlled environment and able to test it before you do it.
 Last week our family spent five days in "The Great Smoky Mountains" and my wife had rented a cabin for us to stay in.  Now there are plenty of hotels and motels in the area but we wanted that outdoors feeling with a little bit of seclusion and with the amenities.  This is another great way to go further into your practicing camping without being too far from safety.  We were about a half mile from the park and at the far end of town.  This is the best of both worlds being next to nature and next to the city.
 My wife and I have rented alot of cabins over the ten years we have been married and this cabin was the best so far.  Cabins range from almost primitive with only electricity and water to full on houses that are just made to look like a cabin.  Another good thing about renting a cabin is having a kitchen.  With my diabetes and family vacations if I eat out to much my BG numbers get all wacky and adding the constant heading out to get food takes away from the trip.  We only ate out twice in five days and ate real sensible meals that kept me trucking along at a solid 150.  Then the savings on money is awesome as well.
 Here is where my wife went above and beyond.  She found a cabin that had a pool table, laundry room, satellite TV and a slot machine in it.  We had lots of fun playing games during the night hours and watching "Phineas and Ferb" with my son before we went to sleep (yes I know he is 16 but he loves that show).
I had to take a picture of this because I could not believe my eyes.  four dollars and four cents for a single gallon of gas.  My first reaction was thinking since this was the only gas station in a tourist town so they had the market.  Then when we left and I was still paying almost four dollars the entire way home I realized that gas had jumped .25 cents while we were in the mountains.  Strange things happen when you go camping and return to everyday life.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Road Trip sites along the way.

 I am now well aware of how to prep for a road trip that includes mountains and no Internet and cell phone reception.  Have posts prepared just in case you can't write a post on the road.  So now I have so much to tell about and am so far behind.  Last week we took a family spring break trip from Dallas TX to Gatlinburg TN.  This is something like a 14 hour drive and we left at 6:00am on Saturday morning and made it to Memphis TN around 1:00pm and time for lunch.  Now I am not a huge BBQ fan but, the best BBQ on the planet is Charles Vergos Rendevous.  I think the fear of BBQ is in the diabetes genes or something.  Just way to hard to count the carbs.
 The family has never been to Rendevous so it was appropriate for us to stop and get some world famous pork ribs.  I ordered the full order of ribs which were extremely good and tasty.  My son ordered the same and my wife had a chicken sandwich.  She plays it safe on road trips with the food.  Above you can see the excitement on my face to be at Rendevous.  Now, my wife says I hold my hands in a fist position like a primate and that my posture is horrible.  Looking at the picture above I have to agree with her.

The good thing is my BG's never were above 178 the whole trip, even after my slab of ribs.  Is it healthy if anything is served by the portion size of "Slab."  Reminds me of the Jim Gaffigan joke of is there anything healthy that you can order it in the size of "Bucket."
 Oh the lovely self pictures while waiting for our food.  I think they had a little March Madness in Memphis and the place was packed with college fans.  My wife says the under the head self photos gives people double chins so I should start taking the self photos above the head to hide the double chin.
What a fancy looking Caddy.  I was taking pictures of this car when the parking attendant told me it belongs to one of the guys that works at Rendevous and he has him park it up front so that people walk by and take funny pictures of them posing in front of it. 

Now when camping, or traveling make sure to look for any place to stop that is historic or a "must see" destination along the way.  Instead of stopping at McDonald's or Wendy's you can see a historic site or visit the worlds largest Moth ball or something.  This way you look forward to each stop and it adds spice to your trip.  My son and I count Cracker Barrel restaurants along the way.  Then with the diabetes I usually do a plus 20% to my basal rate and have my co-pilot test me often.  My BG's run high and I also love to snack and drink plenty of fluids along the way.  Then when I get to my destination I am well prepared for whatever comes my way.  After this 14 hour drive I was ready to walk the town and do something because I prepared along the drive.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Vacation

Ok so I am on vacation with the family in Gatlinburg TN.  That is the good part.  The bad part is the password to the WiFi in our cabin does not work.  So i am able to post from my phone but not able to share my pictures with you yet.

Today we hiked the great smoky mountains looking for waterfalls and black bears.  We found a few of the waterfalls but only saw some deer.  So right here would be some killer photos of old cabins and waterfalls.  Instead you get my talking about it.

Hopefully I can find a way to upload some pics Tomorrow because we have rented a guide to take us fly fishing.

Tune in tomorrow and see if we catsome fish or just write about it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

"It's so cold in the D"

 So in the Dallas area (where I live) we usually get a nice warm streak in the middle of winter.  That warm streak gets everyone all spring crazy and people go out and plant their gardens early (I made that mistake once) and put up their winter coats and sweaters.  Then when you just know that the little ground hog thing is wrong it bites you in the butt and a cold front moves in.
 OK, so Dallas really doesn't even get a winter, more of just a cool fall with a few days of winter like weather.  This winter has been one of the best on record (for me at least) because it has been down right warm all winter long and we never even had a descent frost much to say snow like last year (can we all remember the super bowl?).  My early, middle spring bulbs have already bloomed and gone away.  The only bulbs I have left to bloom are my lilies and they usually bloom just after Easter.
Last night my son fell into this "spring fever" and decided to be proactive and remove the insulating walls off of Pete the Chickens coupe.  When I woke up to let the dogs out, I look over and see Pete cold as she can be.  The temperature last night was in the upper 30's and she was not a happy camper.  I asked my son why he took the insulating walls off and he said: "it was warm when I did it yesterday."  Now I was not mad or anything but it does show us that patience is a virtue and sometimes waiting is not procrastinating but holding off for the appropriate time.  I think this also goes with diabetes.  We or at least I sometimes eat something (I eat like a goat) and know that it was way too much fat and also way too many carbohydrates.  I do the math for everything and then feel it is not enough.  You all know that feeling that your sixth diabetes sense tells you to push the button just a little more it wont hurt.  I always think there is this little insulin bottle on my shoulder and he is talking in my ear like hey buddy what could hurt with taking one more unit?  Then about an hour later after I am stuffed from Pizza or sweets I get the shakes and know I did too much and have to pile more carbohydrates on top of the ones I already had just to get my BG's.  So lets all remember spring is still on March 20th and I should eat less pizza and count my carbohydrates better.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Gear Envy

 Yesterday I wrote about how I stole my sons Thermarest I bought for him.  Now that I am comfortable with taking his gear (OK, he didn't want it in the first place), I was thinking about getting a Thermarest trekker chair.  This is kind of like a sock thing with some straps that converts your Thermarest into a seat.  Then the straps help fold the thing into a backrest and a bottom.  Then when you go to bed you just take your Thermarest out of the trekker chair and sleep on it.  A real nice way to get more functions out of one piece of equipment.  The only thing is after backpacking all day, setting up camp, and cooking dinner you want to sit and relax a little.  You might even want to sit while cooking dinner.  Well this trekker is nice but you are just sitting on the ground.

This past weekend while backpacking we get to camp around 5ish and set up tents then my buddy Paul pulls out this NRS roll-A-stool.  Now lots of kids bring small stools and chairs to sit on and they all do an OK job but usually weigh more than they are worth.  I just sit on Julian (my Thermarest) and relax.  This NRS roll-a-stool is unique because it has extremely light weight legs, stands 18" and has a 14" seat.  So it is light, has a comfortable seat size, and the right height to keep your legs from cramping.  I instantly had gear envy and have been scouring the Internet to find one.  Come to find out I was searching three legged stool and I should have been looking for roll-a-stool.  I finally had to break down and ask Paul where he got it and he told me www.campmor.com where they run about 30 bucks.  A great website but still 30 bucks is a bit pricey to just buy without searching for a coupon or a discount.  I am so full of gear envy though, this stool is absolutely high quality and fits the backpacking parameters perfect.  Now the cherry on the top was Paul showing us how fast his Jet Boil stove works while sitting on his roll-a-stool.  I think that is about half the fun of camping, is seeing all the cool gear others bring and use so a little gear envy is good.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Julian and I

I bought this Thermarest for my son.  He has one of those military ground pads that are maybe one step better than sleeping on the ground.  Well as it turns out he loves that military ground pad and he lets me use "Julian." 
As everyone knows I am always looking for a deal and when camping I always use my cot.  Now that I am getting older and carrying more crap in my backpack I had to shed some pounds which resulted in my cot.  This past weekend while we were backpacking McGee Creek in Oklahoma I brought Julian on her maiden voyage. 

I am usually willing to sacrifice a name brand for price any day but when it comes to ground pads I stick to what I know.  That either means Ridgerest or Thermarest (OK, so then there are the military ones).  The reason is that first I had my Ridgerest as a kid for seven years with no issues and it worked great.  Then the reason for Thermarest is they have a lifetime warranty and you can replace and repair them.  My dad had replaced the air valve twice on his and it looked like a porcupine slept on it because all of the repair patches.  The thing is it still worked and it was nice.
I am not sure what model Julian is but she is at least a regular thickness and definitely a long because I am six foot tall and she is a couple of inches longer than I.  Now I have been wanting to buy a Thermarest for at least five years now and what has held me back was the price.  These things run from a low of 69 bucks up to 150 bucks and that is alot of green in my world. 
One day I was scrounging around the corners of my local Army and Navy outlet store.  Looking for some interesting used military stuff for my son.  He loves anything of old military that is still useful.  These Army and Navy stores rotate their stock often and get great items for cheap.  I bet after we start winding down these wars there will be a surplus store on every corner but, back to the story at hand.  While searching the dollar bin at the Army and Navy store I come across this used Thermarest behind the table.  I asked the gentleman how much it was and he did not know.  So he asked the manager and come to find out they wanted 15 bucks for it.  Now that is a great price but since this thing looked like they did not know what they had and I am diabetic and keeping every dollar in my back pocket is not just a goal it is a way of diabetes life.  I offered them 10 bucks for it and they could not have said yes any faster.  This was a true win-win situation.  Now of course you can see in the pictures why I refer to her as "Julian."  The previous owner or someone had written Julian on it in black permanent Sharpe.  So now lets hear all the jokes, such as yes I sleep on Julian at night, and yes I have to blow Julian up to use her.  Ha, Ha and oh how easy these jokes go on and on but, at night I know I have the best ground pad on the market at one of the best prices ever.
Here is the money shot of Pete the Chicken eating dog food right out of the dog bowl.  I figured out what my problem is when trying to photograph her.  She is scared of the flash on the camera.  We have a routine now where the dogs go out in the morning to do their business.  Then the dogs sit and watch Pete-vision and that is when I know to let them in.  Last I let Pete the Chicken out and now she runs over to the dog bowl to see if any food is left then she hits the water bowl.  She loves those dogs, only if they would stop trying to eat her when they are both out at the same time.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Duct Tape

OK, lets just keep the comments to a minimum.  I know I wear whitie-tighties and If I were any paler I would be a ghost.  So anyway last weekend we did a weekend backpacking trip at McGee creek.  Yes, I know I was just there a couple of months ago.  The gentleman in charge of this trip wanted something familiar and close, since I did not volunteer to lead this trip so I was supportive and assisted the leader on the trip.  Good leaders need good followers.
Recently I have been having a little bit of a rub on my waist belt while hiking.  I am trying to figure out if  it is the belt on my pants getting in the way, or am I packing too much, or could I just be a wuss and should man up and stop crying about it.  This weekend the rub was real bad and once I put my leg in a two foot deep mud hole I decided to tape the hot spot (I had to change my pants anyways).  How you tape a hot spot is you get some duct tape and just put it over any area you see redness or feels tender to the touch.  You can do this with any part of your body from your toes to your mouth.
Now, everyone is saying "what does the duct tape do?"  What the duct tape does is takes away a point or spot of friction and replaces it with something that glides and creates a barrier just like oil in your engine.  I wore this duct tape the entire weekend and now I have a beautiful red circle where the duct tape was not and it is nice a white where the duct tape was placed.  With diabetes any ulcer or sore can prove to be dangerous (lets just remember back to my foot and the foot warmer) so when on the trail we need to do small adjustments so that we don't have big problems down the road.  My hip hurt a little the rest of the trip but did not get out of hand.

My next step is to asses the situation of why is this happening now.  Could it be my waist belt needs adjusting or I need to re-think how I pack my backpack and where the weight goes, maybe my pack is not the right size for me and I need to think about a replacement.  Any way a weekend backpacking trip will help you prepare for those week long or longer trips.  Every Backpacker should have duct tape in their emergency kit.  I would also recommend a small sewing kit.  I was once backpacking and one of my friends shoes had a blow out and lucky someone stuck a sewing kit in their bag.  That was a life saver and the trip was rescued because of a small needle and thread.

Last, I am sorry to say but Pete the Chicken was too fast for me this morning and all I got were butt pictures and blurry running pictures.  I still want to get a photo of her chowing down on dog food.  It cracks me up everytime.