Sunday, December 23, 2012

Olympus Stylus Tough Takes the Plunge

Two years ago I bought the Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 because I wanted a camera that could handle not being treated nicely. After getting it my natural instincts kicked in and I babied it like I do all of my electronics. Though it had the capability to go in the water I never took the chance; I dreamed about it and often came to the edge of putting it in the water.

However, today I just did it. I manned up and took the first underwater shots with it. Check them out.

They are a bit fuzzy because there were so many particles in the water. Still they are pretty cool.


Note: the image quality is not a true representation of the camera's ability, there was a lot of silt and sediment in the water.

Check out the newest version:


Winter Comes to Bear Creek

Bear Creek runs through the Spirit of the Woods Club just outside Brethren, Michigan. The sign on the road does not do justice to the beautiful network of trails and natural surroundings around the preserve. It has always been a favorite place of mine, especially in the winter.

Everything looks so peaceful after a fresh snow. I wish that I had the luxury of resting during the winter months. Sometimes I think that man has strayed too far from his natural origins. Some animals hibernate, plants allow certain parts to die off while they take a break from producing, and there is a general feeling of preservation among all things living.

The heavy, wet snow clings to everything.

All in all winter is a very introspective time for the natural world. It's too bad that humans do not get a chance to have a season of self inspection and consideration. 

Perhaps one day when I am outside of the bustling world I will be afforded the ability to take the winter off to live like an animal. I will hole up and think about spring and the things I will do when the sun comes back to breath new life into the world.

When the sun returns I will greet it with renewed strength and greater focus, just like the plants and animals.


Sloppy Dirt Road Ride

Last weekend I took to the dirt roads around my apartment complex to get some fresh air and burn some calories. It was my first time taking the Novara on nasty roads. However, I felt the need to give it a go as I recently picked up a set of fenders from the garage sale at REI.

Seeing as the fenders ended up with mud on both the inside and out I am glad that I chose to wait until the bike had fenders before taking it on a muddy road. That being said, the fenders kept me, the bike and my panniers clean and dry. I was quite surprised by the amount of mud that the tires picked up as they are very mild with little to no tread.

One of the best things about dirt roads is the lack of traffic. Even if you are only a few miles out of Ann Arbor you can feel like you are worlds away.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Optimus Crux

Getting ready to play with our new Optimus Crux stove. Sweet little piece. Our family knows us so well. Got almost all hiking and camping gear this year! Gotta love the holidays.

Expect new things, soon.


New Mora knife

In preparation for the end... sometime today, I picked up a mora knife. I have been reading about them for a while and decided to see what the Dealio is. It came in the mail the other day so I have no field time with it. But when I get out in the upcoming weeks it will tag along. I look for it to be a regular in my new quest to become bushcraft savvy.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stuff from Summer Biking

Here are some randoms from when the leaves were green and the ground was parched. Enjoy.


Early Fall Murray Lake Ride

Last Sunday I met Hunter and Spence at Murray Lake for a late afternoon bike ride. We started out on the Torn Shirt loop which I think is a great way to warm up. It really forces you to push yourself for the first 2.5 miles  and when you get to that point your body is loose and warmed up for the rest of the ride.

As a result from our recent fall drizzle the trails were well-packed and fast. The leaves have started to really fall and incidentally add variable to some of the corners. They did not play such a big role in either of these loops, however, the local loop in Ann Arbor is very much different as a result of their falling and early stages of deterioration.

Here is a quick vid of Hunter and Spence playing around on a root gap.

As the sun started its descent the air chilled and the distinct smell of a woodstove heating a house was very noticeable.

When I got home I had some Short's Autumn Ale, an "extra spice bitter ale" it proclaims. I think it was a perfect garnish for such a ride.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First Ride with the Osprey Manta 20

Last week I had some Birthday money burning a hole in my pocket so I took a trip to REI in hopes of finding some kind of gear fix.

As per usual, I made a beeline to the "garage sale" section where they sell gently used and returned gear. (Thank God for that REI member policy).

I sifted through the usual junk; cruddy Fivefingers, shorts with worn out crotches, single socks, and there on a hanger was a beautiful Osprey Manta hydration pack.

I have been hesitant to buy an Osprey hydration pack though I have coveted one for quite, they usually don't fit into my student-sized budget. However when I found this gem for 75% off I snapped it up. The super bonus part is that it had a brand new Nalgene bladder inside. It was returned because it was shipped with a little dirty spot near the left shoulder strap... yeah... If this person really planned on using it they would not have been bothered by that dust spot. But nevertheless, bless them, bless you finicky person.

Sunday was my first chance to give the Manta a go on the trail. I used it for an XC ride at Torn Shirt and Murray Lake trails. Though not an all day epic, nor an extended test, I think it was a well-rounded trail to take it on. There are some flowy sections, a decent amount of climbs and enough time out of saddle to get a feel for how the bag will ride.

Initial Thoughts:

  • It seems to offer decent airflow on the back panel and did not mat itself onto my back under the weight of the reservoir.
  • Unlike most 1" web waist straps the waist strap on the Manta is wider, contours to my body, and really helps shift the weight evenly.
  • The bite valve is has to be switched out. I like to drink while moving and I am afraid I will break my teeth if the hose gets caught on passing sticks.
  • The attached rainfly is a great addition.
  • waist pockets are always cool.
A real review will come in a month or two after I get some more time with this. I plan to hike and snowshoe with it as well.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sick Rig

While interweb walking last night I came across this awesome adventure machine.

I know that it does not conform to my overall message of being environmentally friendly while enjoying the outdoors, but dang it is cool. It's a Mercedes Benz Sprinter with 44's and improved suspension. One can't help but wonder the places that this could take you.

The 4x4 site that I found it on say that it got a surprising 15 miles per gallon. Nothing I would ever make, but I can see the appeal.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Etsy Shop

Hey all,

just thought I would let you know that I have opened up an Etsy shop to help fuel my habits! Give it a look. Let me know if you see anything that you would like, or if I should change something.

I will have some pics of the sweatshop where these are made later.

Have a great day!

Message for the day

Never forget that:

You can do it!
I have been on the Honda Fit train for a month or so now. Was planning on procuring one asap following graduation. But I think that the winds have changed for me.

(image from

Holy crap sweet new capable vehicle. I am talking about the new Subaru Crosstrek, their newest in piece in the crossover market. I saw one in the parking lot the other day and they look to be a pretty solid vehicle.

Some sweet little old lady's new whip in the school parking lot.

They get up to 33 mpg, which is pretty cool. I wonder what the fuel economy is on the manual? As graduation gets closer I would really like to take one for a test drive. The pics look like it has ample interior space to load up with gear and maybe a dog, and a factory installed roof rack would be a definite step up from the current situation.

Looks like a great vehicle for some long-distance outdoor trips.