Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Those who can't... Review!

Haven't gotten to do much outdoors in the past couple weeks except working out. I can tell I need to be outdoors when I start browsing REI for nothing in particular. I know I'm really desperate when I start reviewing things I've purchased there! (=

Had a conversation with Pam about our upcoming Superior Hiking Trail hike. That got me more excited about the trip! Then I'll have more equipment to review on rainy days like today! Ha!

My Review of Keen Arroyo Sandals - Women's


Elevate your idea of performance and comfort with Keen® Arroyo hybrid shoes that pair sandal ventilation with trail shoe support and protection.

We each got a pair!

TwoTireDoc Minnesota 6/16/2009

5 5

Gift: No

Sizing: Feels true to size

Width: Feels true to width

Pros: Durable, Cute, Breathable, Stylish, Comfortable

Best Uses: Walking, Beach, Travel, Everyday

Describe Yourself: Stylish

My partner and I each had to get a pair of these... and we are not the type of couple that likes to dress alike. (= We needed something that we could canoe the Boundary Waters in, which also meant quite a few portages. These are exactly the ticket! They dried quickly and stayed comfortable. Definitely durable.


My Review of Keen Targhee II Mid Hiking Boots - Women's


The Keen Targhee II waterproof day hikers deliver tenacious traction, stability and comfort on the trail.

Great all-around boot

TwoTireDoc Minnesota 6/16/2009

5 5

Gift: No

Pros: Easy On/Off, Great Traction, Comfortable, Dries Quickly, Multi-Use

Best Uses: Everyday/Practical Use

Describe Yourself: Avid hiker

No breaking in worries... they were comfortable right out of the box. Great traction for serious hiking but also comfortable walking around in town. I used them this past winter for walking to work and they kept my feet very dry and warm. I recommend these boots to everyone! I'm starting to become a Keen-addict!


Monday, June 15, 2009

My Review of Ruff Wear Palisades Dog Pack


Dogs love to carry their own weight—let them do it with confidence and comfort in this full-featured dog pack from Ruff Wear.

Careful with Sizing

TwoTireDoc Minnesota 6/15/2009

4 5

Gift: No

Pros: Fun, Versatile

Cons: Expensive

Best Uses: Everything

Describe Yourself: Long-time Pet Owner

I haven't used this on the trail with my dog yet so I'll have to do another review later. But I think the sizing issue I had is important to get out there. Based on the reviews here and on the size small pack I got my 45 lb Blue Heeler (aka Australian Cattle Dog) a size small. It was WAY too small around for her muscular build and much too short for her body length. Blue Heelers are relatively stocky. That was confusing to me after reading reviews about all the Labs in size small. So, take the measurements but then also look at your dog's build. If your dog is muscular, I'd say the sizing is right on. But, you may just have to take the dog with you to REI, buy the pack, try it in the parking lot, and exchange it immediately if it doesn't work. I think you'll know right away.

Again, I haven't used it on the trail yet. But I think the separate pieces are great for getting my dog used to the whole pack thing. And I'm excited to see how the hydration bladders work out. To be continued...


Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Review of Sven Folding Saw - 15-inch


This portable, compact saw is ideal for light woodcutting chores.

You don't even need upper body strength!

TwoTireDoc Minnesota 6/14/2009

5 5

Gift: No

Pros: Easy to Use, Easy to clean, Lightweight

Best Uses: All around tool

Describe Yourself: Casual Adventurer

I looked at numerous saws trying to figure out which I would be able to use when my upper body is not my strongest area. I'm not a wimp, but I knew I couldn't handle some of those bigger saws. Anyway, it was light, easy to use, easy to set up and put away, and cut through wood like it was nothing. After the first time I used it, I turned around to see my campmates sitting there with their mouths hung open at how quick and easy I cut the wood. We'll use this one for both car camping and backpacking!


My Review of REI Kingdom 4 Tent


REI Kingdom 4: This family palace of a tent features 2 private rooms, tall vertical walls that maximize livable space, and multiple organizer pockets located throughout.

Exchanged it

TwoTireDoc Minnesota 6/14/2009

4 5

Gift: Yes

Pros: Comfortable, Waterproof

Cons: Collects Condensation

Best Uses: Car Camping

Describe Yourself: Casual Adventurer

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

I bought the Kingdom 4 for my partner for her birthday. We took it out once before deciding that the Kingdom 6 would fit our needs better. That was mainly a size issue. It was put up twice. The first time I put it up alone and it was pretty easy with lots of looks at the directions. I'm 5'9". The second time we put it up together and it went slightly faster but we still had to look at the directions a lot. I can see it getting a lot faster and easier. The weekend we took it out, it rained almost the entire time. We stayed totally dry! There was no wind or anything severe so I can't say how it would handle that. But it seemed sturdy. The only 2 issues we experienced were 1 - There were several little snags or blemishes in the screens. It meant slightly bigger holes in the screen, which I worried might mean bugs getting in easier. It was raining and there aren't a lot of bugs out right now, so I can't say if that would have happened. 2 - When we took the tent down, there was water pouring out of the poles. It must have been condensation because the poles were completely covered by the rainfly. I thought that was a little strange. Overall a great tent. I agree with others that it sucked to have to buy the vestibule. But I did and that was a very very good choice! Especially with the rainy weather and a couple of dirty dogs. It makes a great "staging area" for either going it or going out.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Nerstand Big Woods State Park - Day 3

Day 3. The rain seems to have gone. I got up and out first. The fire pit was still a little warm under the ash so I started gathering tiny pieces of kindling. Didn't take much to get it going again. We had a little bit of dry wood left so that helped get it going even more. The wet wood would lay on the grate drying and then when it caught fire, it could go in and burn proper. I made some eggs for breakfast and toasted a ciabatta role over the fire for some toast. Pretty good breakfast. I also reheated Lorrie's coffee from Northfield for her. Nancy strolled over with her oatmeal. Of course, the dogs had their food. The fire ended up being extremely hot so none of us could make ourselves move from it. We sat there for several hours chatting.

I am hiking part of the Superior Hiking Trail this summer and had hoped to do some major hiking this weekend. I know that rain is no good reason not to hike... and I have hiked in lots of rainstorms. But this weekend, for some reason, was more about resting. Which is definitely okay too. I am coming to the end of an academic year and am, understandably, exhausted. So I'm not going to chastise myself too much. How often do any of us just sit around stoking a fire and learning about each other. My answer is .... not often enough!

Lunch was an easy organic mac&cheese. That seems to be a staple nowadays when camping. Nancy had the same but added broccoli to hers. Though she dropped some and that's what Emma Blue got for lunch! lol

Eventually we had to get up and out. Which we did. Funny how well everything fits in the car on the way there and how I have to cram it all in to fit it for going home! lol Rain must have expanded everything! But we got it all in and headed out around 3pm. Nancy left about the same time.

We got home pretty quickly and got everything unpacked. Then the task of laundry and much needed showers. My parents came for a quick visit and then it was time to relax and watch a movie!

We camped a lot in April and at the start of May. Weather was never really great. Since then, the weather on weekends has been incredible. We didn't camp. We waited until the rainy forecast to get out there. One nice thing about that was how few people were out. And though going into town was, for us, like going home while camping, Nancy said she enjoyed it because she had never been there before. So that was a good way to see it. We would have enjoyed it more in a new place as well. Ah, but the drive home was awesome... 15 minutes and we're there! (=

Next time I should hike in the rain!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park - Day 2

Well, the weather forecasts were right! It started raining very early in the morning. And hasn't stopped yet! We woke up around 7am when everyone needed to use the outhouse. Then back into the tent for more snuggling. The pups were SO good. They just stayed snuggled up in their blankets. We stayed in the tent until about noon when the rain was slightly less a downpour. I went over to Nancy's site and she was putting a tarp over her tent... a leak! Arrgh! I helped her with the tarp and that seemed to take care of it. Then we decided to head to Northfield for lunch and to get out of the rain for a little while. We also decided to stop at Menards for rugs and rope. It's funny to go home in the middle of camping. I'm not sure I've ever done that before! lol

We headed back to camp around 4pm when the rain was mainly a drizzle with spots of actual rain. We were under a lot of trees so that seemed to protect us in one way from the heaviest of the rain. But then after it had stopped raining, the leaves were still hanging on to water so we got dripped on a little longer.

Everyone else on that side of the park had left! The people in the other 2 walk-in sites and all 3 group sites were all empty when we returned. Ha! Wusses!

Lorrie and Nancy went into their respective tents. And I tried my hand at hanging a tarp that we could sit under if it started raining harder again. I've never done it and I'm not the greatest at "mechanical" type things. But I make up for my lack of knowledge with patience and creativity! It was a little low... but it worked! Lorrie and I had a place to sit while eating our hot soup... that we'd also gotten in town.

I decided I would try to start another fire even though a lot of the kindling would be wet and even some of the wood was wet. Ah well, we just kept lighting our little orange firestarters and throwing them in until the kindling was dry and then burned. It turned into a great fire that lasted several hours. Lorrie sat by the fire holding Tori all cuddled up in a blanket like a little baby. Very cute... and a little weird! (= Emma Blue laid nearby on her little pad. She's not fond of the popping fire sounds so she gets only as close as she needs to feel some warmth.

It's amazing what people will talk about around a fire. There is just no limit to the topics... our lives, politics, movies, animals, parents, and on and on. And sometimes it was just quiet. I like that too!

Eventually Lorrie got tired enough that it was time for bed. So she took the dogs in... they will go in as soon as a person does! Emma Blue would have been in bed at 8pm if she'd had choice! So Nancy and I sat out for awhile until I started blinking away sleep. Tonight is VERY dark! Especially compared to how bright it was last night. Lorrie said she felt a little nervous walking over to the outhouse but was glad Emma was there to protect her. I thought I would do fine with my flashlight and headed over on my own. I got to the little roadway and realized, "Wow! I is *really* dark out here! Honestly, I got a little freaked out. So I went back and got Emma Blue... and some laughing from the others... and she came with me. It is definitely less frightening with a protective dog nearby!

And then there was one. Nancy stayed out for awhile... I can hear the fire poking and see the light of the flames through the tent walls. (= No reading tonight... just sleep.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park - Day 1

My first organized group outing for the Minnesota Outdoor Women group. Lorrie and I headed out after work. I have everything pretty well organized so we can just throw it in and go. But our brains seemed to not be working very well this afternoon after work and it took us a little while longer to make sure we had everything. I hadn't rolled up the sleeping pads last night and I hadn't organized the food as well as usual. The food, I think, is what threw us the most. And making sure we had enough warm stuff for the dogs. Tori just got her hair totally buzzed and she has recently gone blind from cataracts, which we just found out is because she is diabetic. So we wanted to make sure was very comfortable.

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is so close by that we got there at a reasonable time. Nancy had already been there and set up. But she wasn't around when we pulled in. So we got started with Lorrie's new tent and getting the pups settled. After we'd gotten the tent laid out, Nancy walked over so we could meet and chat for a minute. So, the "group" was the 3 of us! (= It's a start, right? We got the tent up without much ado and settled in. It's really an awesome tent, I have to say! I got a fire started so we could make some dinner. Originally hamburgers... but decided "organic grass fed free range beef" hot dogs were easier.

The rest of the night was spent sitting around the fire chatting. Gotta love that for a Friday night! Neither Lorrie nor I generally have much energy on Fridays so this was perfect. And the moon was, if not totally full, very close to full and very bright. When we did finally get into the tent, I thought we'd left a light on on the picnic table or something. Nope, just the moon.

So far, I am very happy with these walk-in sites! Nancy had WI02 and we had WI03. There is a lot of room and underbrush between them. 02 and 03 are probably the closest to each other so were good in this situation. We couldn't see the tent or people in 01 from our site. Nancy said she could hear but couldn't see the people in 04. 01, 02, and 03 are reservable and 04 is non-reservable.

Rain forecasted tomorrow!