Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New things, new things


I am looking for a camera, a "bombproof" camera, the kind that I can drop, drop in the water, a small stream, a random stream for that matter. Enter the new Olympus Stylus Tough 8010. I saw one video for this thing and I am sold!

This thing can go under water, get dropped, survive being frozen, aaaand still take pictures! Great pictures, so the reviews say. 14 megapixels, 720 p HD video, wow!


Gonna get this thing, and you should get one too. Gotta get it as quick as possible.

I hope to get the rest of the Backpack Extravaganza on here very soon!

21 skidoo!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

First Ascent- Little Tahoma

Eddie Bauer claims that this simple little pack is perfect for trekking or town, so I decided to put it to the test.

I got this bag around the Winter Holidays last year as a little Christmas gift to myself.

My initial trials with the Tahoma were in some frigid temps and pretty harsh conditions while on a few snowshoeing hikes.

The bag proved itself in the snow and has since proven itself in a variety of conditions and scenarios including kayak trips, hiking, jaunts into town, school bag, weekend clothes bag, biking to work bag, shopping bag and camera bag.

As with all things the Tahoma has appealing features and a few negatives.

This thing has multiple tool straps on the front which offer various ways of attaching extra items. It also has two compression straps on each side, with clips, that serve as compression straps and also aid in holding water bottles in the shallow side pockets.

The top-load feature of the large main compartment in placed in a neutral spot that allows easy access for you or a partner. While inside the main compartment you will find a hand feature, a mess pouch to keep necessaries out of the hodgepodge of the large compartment.

A quick access zipper on the top offers enough space to hold a wallet, some keys, your phone and a pocket digital cam. Lower down the pack there are two side-entrance pockets that are much roomier than they first appear. They come in very handy for holding flashlights, meal bars, tools, knives and other implements that are require quick access.

Ripstop construction assures a long life for the pack as well.

The back board does not offer much support, however in this case the flexibility of it does not take away from the pack overall. The limp back support actually helps to conform to the back, and offers a comfortable fit no matter the load, that is if the straps and compression adjustments have been made.

Little Tahoma does have accommodations for a hydration system or a laptop.

The negatives of this pack are not terrible, but they are worth mentioning:
     -Shallow water bottle pockets, while bottles fit they often fall out if not strapped in.
     -Non-waterproof zippers/ material. Not a biggie for a school bag, or a travel pack, but would have been nice on a few trips.
     -No hanger hooks for the water bladder (this causes folds in the bladder and your supply can be cut off temporally.

Overall this is a good entry level bag it also works well as a school bag or a traveling bag. It has all of the techy features that bag lovers could seek without being bulky or too heavy.

I would both buy it again, and recommend it to a friend.

In fact I bought one for C. Bromley. She loves it and will be adding her own review soon.

Take care.


Woohoo to the Mitten!

Congratulations is in order to our great state of Michigan for claiming two top honors in Outside Magazine's "Where to Live Now" article in the August 2010 installment. It turns out that the towns they picked in Michigan were very Grand.

Grand Rapids was named as the best town in the nation for the mountain biking enthusiast. While the local trails are the main focus of the article (75 plus miles of marked trail in the surrounding areas with access to the North Country Trail), GR also boasts an in-town park complete with a roller/ pump practice area, trials/ skills park and three miles of single track. Kudos to GR, turns out that the whole Cool Cities plan wasn't only referring to the walkability and the artwork.

Continuing with the Grand theme, Grand Marais took the first runner up position as the place to live if you appreciate flat water paddling, aka kayaking or canoeing on lakes. Grand Marais came to the title due to its proximity to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The house prices are affordable (can you say vacation home?) and the town even has a yearly paddling festival! http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=241388245346. Sounds like a place for me to test out.

Well well, looks like things are looking up for Michigan in my book. I think that it is high time people start to see this state for what it really is, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, tree huggers, wide-eyed optimists and health nuts.

Give yourself a hand Michigan... you deserve it.

As always,

   (A proud Michigander)

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's in the bag!

So, you have been hearing about it, and anticipating this for at least a week or so! Here it is: the backpack extravaganza!

Before we start in with the reviewing madness we will discuss the basics of a backpack.

Some people have a different backpack for every occasion, which is very nice if you have the money and the space. However I would rather spend good money on a few packs with essential elements and creature comforts.

The perfect backpack for everyday use or even weekend trips needs the following:

-30 liter capacity

-Multiple front hooks for attaching extra things via carabiner

-Adjustable/ stretchable side pockets to hold water containers

- Sternum strap, if you can get a whistle attached to the strap that is a definite bonus. Sternum straps are one       of the most important things that you can get one a backpack. They will make your load a lot more comfortable and it will feel like you are carrying a bag full of air.

     -Top loading main compartment: must have a padded (insulated) sleeve, for water reservoir or laptop.
     -Front pockets to help separate things that you will use more often.
     -Quick access top compartment. These are great for the things that you need most; wallet, phone, energy      bar, camera or other necessaries.
          -Within the quick access compartment it is very nice to have a key clip to help keep your keys from falling out when you are on the go.
     -Inner mesh pocket to separate things like deodorant and extra socks.

-Ripstop material; so that little tears don't ruin the whole bag. Also small tears are easily mended with a needle and a little dental floss.

-Contour padding on the back and the hip-belt.

-Compression straps on all sides. These allow for a more tailored fit and feel no matter the type or size of load.

-Water/ weather resistant. When choosing a bag be sure to weigh the elemental stress in with the features that you seek. It is definitely worth spending a little extra money for a bag with weatherproof zippers, zipper flaps and tough waterproof panel materials.

Remember these criteria when you read the reviews that will follow in the next few days.

Thanks for reading.
Got a lot going on.
Moved in to apt.
Pics coming very soonish.
So many reviews to come.

Hope you are doing well.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Get inspired!

Every once in a while I get a little feeling like I am turning my wheels as we all do. When this happens I look for something to turn things around. I have had the list in my head for a few hours now and I would like to share it with you. I hope you find some sort of inspiration in it as well.

1. The end of this wretched humid, hot, soggy weather.
     Being hot is no fun for anyone, especially for me. The hardest part is that when you are hot you can only go so far to cool yourself down, you can get naked, which is never fitting for the workplace. However, when you are cold you can always add a jacket, sweatshirt or what ever layer you choose. So today, I am being inspired by the times of the year when the mornings are brisk.

1. (a)

           A nice little pond in Northern Michigan is the perfect spot to sit and take a break while hiking along the two-track. I especially like how the trees in their metamorphosis make a perfect frame for the marsh behind them.

1. (b)

        The barely frozen ice at the backwaters of Tippy Dam offer picturesque views almost every day of the year. They are especially beautiful in the winter as the leaves are off the trees and the hills behind offer an interesting backdrop. I took this while hiking around with my brother.

I cannot wait to enter into cooler seasons, oh yes, words like splendid, cozy, chilly, breathtaking and the best of all, bone chilling. Cooler times call for long hikes, bonfires, cold beer, football games, movie nights, long mornings with coffee walks, snowshoeing, visiting family, wine rides and exploring of every kind. This year I am especially lucky because I do not have to start school until January and can explore and take trips and enjoy the fall with much more ease!

2. My guitar.
     I have begun this odd obsession with picking up the guitar again. I've been playing with increasing frequency, and hope that I keep at it this time. I would like to be confident in my guitar playing. When I play it I feel very inspired. Gotta keep it up!

3. Water.
     In all shapes and forms. I love to swim in it, kayak, fish, float, boat, and just be near it. Water is elegant and destructive at the same time. This is seen in the way a wave will roll over a sandbar slowly only to smash onto the shore to reshape its line. Every wave is different and perfectly beautiful.

4. Health.
     I am still on the jogging kick, although I have become sidetracked by moving. I would like to start taking my supplements again and being conscious of what goes in my mouth. I would like to become healthy all around, body and mind. I need to take time for me, to meditate and relax. So here is to health!

5. Simplicity.

     Like the stuff that comes from taking and looking at things in macro. I love taking pictures of small things that many people never even notice.

I can truly say that I am inspired by many things at the moment. I would like to keep this up. 

So if you are reading this and have anything that inspires you please let me know. I would love to check it out.You know, pictures, web links, sayings anything really. 

Hope your day is swell. I am off to do something!


Sunday, July 11, 2010

New new new

The new apartment is really shaping up. Though it has only been one full day of work we really kicked its butt!

The list of achievements looks something like this:

-Painted Bedroom
-Painted Bathroom
-Assembled Ikea Furniture
-Unpacked Kitchen
-Semi-set up living room

Whew, it doesn't look that good on paper. I promise pics soon.

In other news, the area surrounding out new place is really peaceful, in fact, we are really close to the botanical gardens which I am really excited for!

take care,


Friday, July 9, 2010

Check Check chektitout!


You should watch this, it is too cool. I hope that this person makes some more of these.

Oh nature.


Today I feel like...

1. Going for a jog.
     I just bought a new pair of Brooks Defyance 3 shoes, and I would like to give them a try. I am sure that I will review them in a week or so to let you know how they are.

2. Beating the Heat
     What better way to do it than a quick dip in Lake Michigan. Soon, oh soon I will be back to you.

3. Playing my guitar.
     I stumbled upon a guitar magazine at borders this evening and I bought it to help me get reacquainted with the old ax.

4. Hydrating.
     I stick with water. Even when I have worked all day then go for a run I stick with water. We are made of the stuff, what better way to help heal the body. Please if you drink water stray from the bottled menace that is destroying our precious groundwater. They lie, none of it comes from beautiful flowing springs, and if it did would you really want to deprive the people downstream from getting it? (enough ranting)

5. Moving into the new place.
     Tomorrow we start the move to the new apt and I cannot wait! I will have a load of pics for you all in progression over the next week.

6. Starting The Go To Series.
     As promised I will be starting a series of reviews focusing on my favorite gear, and the gear that I am currently using. I also plan on doing a how to guide on the essentials of the perfect backpack for all occasions. Look for it soon.

     Stopped by MooseJaw tonight and they hooked me up with a MooseJaw flag. Now it is time to get out there and see some places.

8. Wrapping up my review of the Friday Harbor Jacket.

9. Go find that Perfect Spot.
     Check this PM short out..... so perfect: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgfE5xNiEz4

Ok, I hope you all have a great weekend, I will document the adventure of the move this weekend.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hopping on Home

We truly enjoyed this trip North, it was much needed and worth every second. But as with all things, good or bad, it had to come to an end. Luckily we brought with us a memory card full of pics, and minds full of memories. On the way home I took a few of my favorite kind of pics, what I call "Road Photography."


Mint Snapple, 3/$1 stop the press!

Read: Road Fuel for a quarter...

Look at her zoom! 

Trusty travelin' companion, check! Calvin loves trekking.

Back in Ann Arbor.

Time to start working, move into the new place this weekend!


Portage Point, so nice, so nice.

The water is refreshing, the sky is always brilliant and the sand is the cleanest and whitest that I have ever seen.

I have been going to this place ever since I can remember and it just gets prettier and prettier every time that I get out there. The water is almost always cold, so swimming is usually for the thick skinned, which I was blessed with.

We got the chance to swim here quite a few times this break, which is great as we usually do not get so many opportunities.

The night of the 4th we went swimming and the waves were incredible. Unfortunately it was too dark to get any good shots. The swimming was great, it reminded me of being a kid again, splashing and diving into each crest, only to emerge in mid air above the following trough.

I did, however, go out the next day and grab these:

I am so glad that places like this exist. Thank you God.

Lake Michigan and all of the beaches on the West Side of Michigan are Pure Michigan to me.

And as always:

Totally Salt Free!! (oh yeah and no oil either)


Fish fish, caught some fish

After my graduation party with my dad's side of the family Chels and I hiked over the Charlie's lake for some bass fishing.

It was a hot mid-summer afternoon, perfect for reeling in some inland lake largemouths.

Two casts in I hooked in to this monster:

He had my rod bent into a teardrop, what a beast of a fish.

We caught a handful of fish, mostly all keepers, but as is my practice most of the time we released them all.

Here is Chelsea's first fish of the day, she even took it off by herself:

This lake is private, so I am sorry to say that you will not be able to fish on it. It holds some of the largest bass that I have ever seen in Northern Michigan. A few years ago my brother caught a huge one with a jitterbug after dark that pulled the boat all around. Maybe it is the spring that feeds the lake that causes them to grow so large, or maybe it is the fact that not too many people over fish and keep everything they catch. Either way its a great place to spend a hot afternoon.

What a pretty spot. If you know of any good fishing holes let me know, I would love to check them out.

We also made a trip to Tippy Dam on the Manistee River. Chelsea's dad and I caught some very nice rock bass, but decided not to eat them. We opted for a Big Al's sub instead, great choice on our part. (Pics of this coming soon.)


As promised

As I mentioned in the feats of strength post I swam across a lake. It was not a huge lake, but it was a good time. What a great way to bond with family over the 4th of July celebration. While I do not have a pic of me swimming, I did get some shots of the lake from the deck in from of our cottage.

We swam from this beach to the other side, just left of the white beach-looking area. The total swim, there and back ended up being about one half mile. Not too shabby.


So much inspiration!

The day after our stay at the Hart Motel we had to trek further North to Traverse City, easily my favorite town in Michigan, for an orthopedic appointment. The good news is that I can stave off future back problems with a nightly routine of yoga, hurray!

After finding out that the National Cherry Festival did not start until the following day we decided to check out some of the local shops.

We hit up the Cherry Republic, where we bought some Boom Chugga Lug Cherry Soda for a buck a bottle! What a great local shop.

After a little more walking we popped into Running Fit of Traverse City. I was very tempted to purchase a new pair of Asics, but did not have the funding at the time. I will most definitely be buying the Nimbus 12s this week though! It was like walking on a cloud. (once I buy them a review will be in order.)

We perused numerous other downtown shops and decided, yet again, that we love Travers City! Gonna hit up a Beach Bums game later this summer.

On the way home we traipsed the elegant M-22 South to a tower that overlooks the land just north of Arcadia. It is known as Inspiration Point, and the name is surely an accurate description of the spot.

The trip to the top is not quick, but it is worth every step.

So worth it.

We even caught a glimpse of a few deer taking a break from the heat on the beach.

And a real life Lower Laker!

A great way to cap off any trip, sitting way up high, looking down at what we have been given.

If you are ever on M-22 check out Inspiration Point, and if you have the time shoot on over to gravity hill on Putney road.


Picnic at the Hart Motel

What a week off we had!

It started off with a picnic at the quaint and accommodative Hart Motel. We had a feast of sorts with the owner. He is a great guy who loves to party and have fun. If you are ever in the area, or at the near by Silver Lake Sand Dunes, you should check them out. Tell them Hobbit sent you, he will know what you mean!

Check this spread out!

We ate well and enjoyed good company.

Would you believe that the owner has multiple fires every night!

I will definitely stay at the Hart Motel again. Very friendly folks. Check out his Tumblr: http://hartmotel.tumblr.com/

Like I said, that was the first part of our mini adventure. What a great way to start out!


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Feats of Strength

Yesterday, I swam across a lake, and back. It was not even really that much of a challenge. Tomorrow I will post exact measurements and a few photos of it.

Hope you are enjoying the 4th.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Have you ever seen...

The sunset on any of Lake Michigan's beaches? Well if you have not you need to get to the west side of the state. It is worth any length of drive. Last night I chronicled one. All that I can say is that it is good to be home. Let me know what you think.

Everything is beautiful, and the clouds could not have cooperated more.

This is my personal favorite from the night, love the light waves coming in.

You should see the shots she took! They will be accessible from: http://cinemarie.tumblr.com/ any day! Check it out!

A great way to end a great day in Northern Michigan.

Having a blast, hope you are too.