Category Archives: craft beer

Camping Must Haves

A lot of people go camping on Memorial weekend. Generally B and I do not but thought this weekend would be a great time to post about our camping must haves.

Independence fireworks over Lake Lucern

I’ve mentioned before that we camp…A LOT! We camp in a VW bus about once a month rain or shine [or snow, or wind….we have pretty much camped in every kind of weather]. Over the years there are products that we have purchased that just really make the trip every time and are so worth the expense. In fact, they live in the bus so we have no need to repack them.

Camping with the Lagrou’s at Larrabee State Park

The white bus in the photo above is the Synchro [4WD bus] and not the one we usually camp in. This was a special trip for my birthday last summer.

I thought I would do a roundup for camping items we could live without but why would we since they make the experience so much easier! Go ahead, call me a glamper! The below list is by no means exhaustive but things that we use every time we go.


I don’t know about you but camping in the summer is a must! What is NOT welcome are those pesky mosquitos. I am not a fan of using DEET products but prefer something a little more natural.

  • I made my own spray. Its basically essential oils, rubbing alcohol, witch hazel & water.
  • I also made citronella candles for the bus I reused old jam jars and some larger ones from existing candle containers and a cool bowl for our fire pit at home.
  • In our main camping bus we have a sunroof not a pop up [as in the photo above of the 4WD van]. I also made a mosquito net. It has magnets sewn in to the binding around the edge and covers the sunroof opening.

Bus Line Up

Marty is third from the right in the photo above.

Lighting + Electronics + Emergency

  • Guys the Luci light is a little solar lantern is amazing and worth the price! I think we have five of them now. I just discovered they even have ones that will charge your phone. It compresses down to practically nothing [1 inch] and inflates really easily. They are waterproof and float [just in case you want to take that midnight swim in your birthday suit]. We leave them on the dash of our bus to charge while we are driving. They have a handy strap and we can string them from a tie down strap [another handy item] that we always have in the bus and hook it up on the frame of our easy up. Our very own camping chandelier! Great for playing board & card games!
  • Flashlights are great and you should have one in your camping kit but even better so you can remain hands free is a head lamp. We have about five of them and prefer the Black Diamond brand. Pro tip; always keep a supply of AA batteries on hand.
  • A voltage converter in something we have and use occasionally to charge items like our phones and sometimes I bring my kindle or iPad mini to read a book. [The one pictured is not the one we have but I like how compact it is and it also has plugs for different countries].
  • A portable battery charger has come in handy a few times for us and for others. Old VW’s are notorious for issues and having this along is peace of mind.
  • Another item for peace of mind, a comprehensive first aid kit is a must. Especially if you are somewhere remote.
  • B and I do a lot of Geocaching. We generally use our phone app but in more remote or rural locations a GPS comes in handy. It can be used for more than just Geocaching. It’s a helpful tool for hiking as well.

Repurposed Items

  • Rubber backed bath mats. One of our first camping trips about five years ago together was in February and it poured! We had an easy up to sit under but nothing to sit on the wet benches. B took the rubber mats out from the foot wells of the bus so we could have something dry to sit on which gave me the this idea. They are perfect for sitting on a bench and keeping you dry and as a bonus just a bit of insulation [sometimes I will put this on the seat of my camp chair].
  • This squeegee is great because of its compact size. We use them to wipe away excess water on camp benches [tables too] before using our bath mats as well as wipe off interior condensation on van windows.
  • We also have a whisk broom that lives in the bus. Its great for sweeping off the floor and keeping things tidy.
  • Binder clips are indispensable for so many things! We have strings of battery powered lights that we like to clip to the easy up [we store them in an old ammo can]. They are great for hanging wet items to dry or keeping Luci lights in place. We even use them to clip multiple easy ups together, especially in wet weather so no water seeps in between.

Canine Comfort

  • My dog Beej comes camping with us. He has a dedicated camp chair and I attach the handle of his harness to it with a carabiner. My dog doesn’t like to wander around much but prefers his camp chair or the bus [with blankets and his sweater if its cold]. I also can use this to clip to my day pack when we hike. Other dogs that come camping with us like to have more freedom of movement so clipping their leash to a run of rope tied between two trees is great for them when their owners need to be hands free.
  • A dedicated dog towel is also a good idea. I wipe Beej’s paws off before he gets on the bed so he doesn’t track dirt in. The one I linked to is not the one I use but I like that its quick dry. I have a beach towel that is reserved specifically for him.
  • My dog also doesn’t drink much water [he will literally turn his head when offered – so I feed him a soupy style of food to keep him hydrated]. Anyway, a collapsible water bowl is a great option for those of you who have dogs who actually will use them!
  • A great item for hiking with your dog too is the OllyBottle which has a piece that comes off to make a bowl to fill for your dog. Great for hiking!

Personal Use

  • After one camping trip in November a few years back where I had to layer up in 5 degree weather and walk about 1000 feet to get to the bathroom I vowed to get myself something I could use in the van. Right after that trip I purchased the Luggable Loo and for $20 is was a great investment. [I even have used it for getting out and Geocaching in non populated areas – like long power trails where a bathroom is not convenient]. I just recently had to replace the lid after four years as the hinges broke [even that didn’t prevent me from using it]. The replacement was $19. To keep things contained I buy these toilet waste bags. They are double lined and have a gelatin in the bottom to help with odor [doubled up garbage bags and kitty litter work in a pinch]. Generally I try to use the toilet for liquid only since it is in the van where we sleep and the gelatin helps with no smell. Bonus it works as an additional seat in a pinch.
  • I place a roll of TP in a ziploc bag and that works great. We also have a couple of these portable dispensers which are awesome if you are out on a hike.
  • However, I just purchased this pop up portable changing room to use as a bathroom so solids are not a problem. This changing room collapses flat really easily about 2 feet around and comes with a carry bag. We plan to do more camping in areas where they don’t have facilities [BLM] so this tent will make it nice for both of us to use. Pro tip, place your luggable loo in a corner facing the opposite corner – it’s roomier.
  • I just recently purchased the pStyle for long hikes where there are no facilities. Definitely would recommend practicing with it at home first!

Cold Weather Gear

  • My feet get cold easily even sitting around a campfire. A friend told me about Bogs and I purchased these boots a couple years ago. You don’t even need to wear socks with them. They keep my feet nice and dry and warm! Great for hiking too. They are currently having a sale – use code MAYSALE for 25% off [expires 5.25 11:59 PM].
  • Hot water bottles are a great option for keeping parts of you warm.

Sparkels and Marty

The blue bus in the photo above is Marty who we normally camp in. This was at Camano Island State Park and it snowed on us [obviously]. Pictured is our friends school bus he converted to enjoy Burning Man which they go to every year. He now has a company that converts Ford Transits in to two person campervans.

Dishes & Utensils

We like to eat well when we camp and bring the necessary items to do so. Along with our camp stove, we have a dedicated set of pots and pans that live in plastic tubs in the bus and a full set of silverware. We also have a dedicated cheese grater, microplane, tablecloth, measuring cups/spoons, wine cork, bottle opener, French press, spatulas & mixing spoons, can opener, tongs etc. Some of this was made easy when we combined households so we didn’t have to go out and buy things.

  • We always travel with 5 gallons of potable water for washing dishes, drinking, putting out campfires, etc.
  • Our go to lunch or late night dinner is a panini. We found our camping panini press at the local goodwill but they are not that expensive.
  • Another item we love to use is the Toas-Tite. It takes Hot Pockets to a whole new level! [My fave is banana or strawberry and nutella].
  • Being beer loving campers we bring along melamine Solo cups to drink our beverages from. [Pro tip; let others know they are not disposable, we lost one to the garbage as a new camper threw it away not knowing – even though we have blue ones].
  • B was gifted a personalized stainless steel growler in a carrying case for helping a friend and this generally comes with us camping. We like to check out local breweries wherever we go and this allows us to take something we like home [or back to camp] with us.
  • We also recently started drinking more cocktails. B will mix up a batch of Manhattan’s or Old Fashioned’s to bring along. We use these plastic tumblers for sipping our cocktails.
  • One item that has made life easier are these super thin flexible cutting boards. Each color is marked with a symbol [beef, fish, poultry & veggies]. We don’t use them that way but they are easy, don’t take up a lot of room and clean up is a breeze! [Pro tip; clip them to the easy up with a binder clip for quick drying].
  • We also have a set of sleeved knives for cutting and chopping. They store away nice and safely!
  • We often pack paper dishes but found these melamine ones and have them in the bus. Easy to clean and match our dishes we have at home even! We bought four plates, four bowls and one serving bowl. Often when we camp we have a potluck dinner on Saturday night so a serving bowl comes in handy.


  • A hatchet in a protective sleeve is super useful for cutting up wood for the campfire and making kindling.
  • B bought me my very own multi tool which has any number of useful items on it. [Sog is a brand B is loyal to. They are only a few minutes from our house, super friendly and if you bring in your knives they will sharpen them for you for free].
  • Delorme map for your state. Phones and Google maps work great but sometimes there is no reception and a phyiscal map is a good thing to have.
  • Reference books for trees, plants and geology for your area are also nice to have with you.


  • Foldable camp chairs are a must have. Portable and easy to pack away.
  • We have this rollup camp table that B bought years ago. I found this similar one for a lower price. I may purchase it as we have thought about buying a second one and I would be curious to compare the two.
  • A shade cover is always packed in the bus. As good as it is for rainy trips it also nice on hot warm days as well.
  • An easily cleanable rug for right outside the van door. This way we leave nature outside and it doesn’t get all over our bed. [The one I linked to is not the one we have].
  • When we go camping I like some time just hanging out and reading a good book or taking a nap. I love the ability to hang a hammock. Our hammock takes up hardly any room and lives in the bus. It has really long ties and I keep additional peri cord so we can tie it up just about anywhere we have trees.
B in the Hammock
B the Camping Model


We also generally bring a bunch of board, card and lawn games to play. I wrote about our favorites a while back. Along with the games listed in that post we have picked up;

  • Codenames is a social word game with a simple premise and challenging game play. Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their temmates know the agents only by their codenames. The teams complete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the table. Their teammates try to guess words of their color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin. The game words very well with 4 players if you prefer to guess without help. Or you can add more players if you prefer lively discussion. There is also a cooperative variant where a single team tries to achieve the highest score they can by playing against the game itself.
  • Bocce although our version is called Extreme Woodland Bocce. One player tosses the small white ball we call the Botch and then players attempt to get as close to the Botch as possible. Highly entertaining for player and spectators, especially when beer is involved. There have been several instances of quite a bit of time spent searching for the balls. Many times down holes. One time we had to dig out a tree stump to get a ball back.

Even with all of the above I do have a few wish list items;

  • Non toxic, bee safe mosquito repellent sticks are a product I currently do not have in my camping goodie bag but am interested in purchasing them and will report back.
  • My dog still hikes but as he get’s older longer trails are harder for him [he will be 15 in July]. I found this four in one dog carrier which I have not purchased but have my eye on [for dogs under 15 pounds]. You can wear it as a backpack, a cross body bag, or a duffel. It has a fleece insert as well.
  • One thing we currently do not have is a camp shower. We have never gone camping for more than a few days and generally we have gone somewhere where facilities are available. In future for longer trips and/or BLM camping we want to invest in a camp shower setup. I am researching this and will post when we have more info. We are thinking of rigging up something that attaches to the side of the bus so you don’t have to hold the shower head [I believe this heats the water as well]. A curtain you can pull around you and a cedar shower mat to stand on. This plastic shower caddy would be perfect to hold shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
  • Our friend Glen uses an old tea kettle he places right in the campfire to heat up water and then uses welding gloves to be able to pick it up and pour. Both items are on our purchase list.
  • We have utensils but I would like to get a couple of these sporks which is a fork, spoon and knife in one. I have owned these before but not in titanium. Purchasing a couple [even four] of these would reduce the amount of utensils we have in the bus and free up a little more room. Our utensils are in a double bagged ziplock which is a pain to find what you are looking for. I have considered making fabric cutlery bags [like this] so we can easily grab a setting. Shall see what we end up with. Maybe both!
  • I’ve debated getting a mosquito net door for the slider of our van. Not sure we would really use it that much since we have the sunroof and usually keep the door closed even when in camp.

Hope you like the list I put together and it helps you on your next camping trip. If you have suggestions for me leave them in the comments. I am always looking for great ideas and hacks to make our camping experience better!



Vacation Arizona

B and I took a trip to Arizona for ten days last September to a visit a friend. It was a much needed time for us to relax and hang with friends. [Don’t know why some of the photos are big and some are small but enjoy]!

We arrived in Phoenix Friday afternoon. It was a quick shuttle ride from the airport to the mammoth car rental garage. We hopped in our economy car and quickly found sustenance in the form of food and beer at Mother Brunch Brewing not far away. We knew it was a perfect place to choose when we saw the VW van parked out front. The interior of the pub was industrial and quirky.


I had the lunch special of a half sandwich, small salad and pint for $10. B tried the slider trio and a flight of six of their beers. One of their feature menu items is called The Mother of All Burgers. A beef patty topped with a fried pork belly, white cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion, smoked tomato-onion jam and aoli. You can add another patty if you like.

While lunching we searched for Geocaches in the area. B found one nearby that had been published three days before and had not been found. Getting an FTF [first to find] for our Arizona souvenir = awesome! We were even sent trackables as our FTF prize. We did a couple more Geocaches and then stopped at Wren House Brewing [Geocaching is thirsty work]. They also had an industrial vibe inside and this little alcove above a fireplace with a Madonna sitting in it [beer for size].



On our way out of town we stopped at Flowers Craft Beer & Wine to pick up some beers to take with us and share with out hosts. Great little craft beer market and deli founded by a guy who was from near where we were headed and recommended some breweries for us to visit. Our next stop was north to Cornville where my friend Terri moved. It took us about two hours including a coffee/Geocaching stop in Anthem [a bedroom community of Phoenix]. One of the things we noticed was how aggressive Arizona drivers are. Wow, 75 mph was NOT fast enough for some people! We also noticed there are A LOT of Geocaches in the desert.


Upon arrival at our friends house we chatted on the patio with some snacks and beer and went over our game plan for the week. Dinner and bed were early as B and I had been up since 3 AM [note to self, I learned my lesson flying red eye from our last trip but we still had to get up at an ungodly hour to get our ride to the airport for our 8 AM flight – Grrr].

The next morning we headed to Jerome for a VW bus show held by the Arizona bus club. We met up with a couple friends who reside in AZ, one who had been living in South America and drove a bus she had purchased up to the show.

Jerome “America’s most vertical city and largest ghost town” started as a large copper mining camp and today it’s known for its quirky artistic vibe. Near this puppy art below we found our first Geocache of the day.


The show is just outside town near the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town. The elevation of town is 5,200 feet and it was plenty hot so I spent much of my time that day under the shade of a friends tent. Below a leather bus bra another friend made and a Coleman tent trailer that was pulled behind the bug in the photo.



After a short nap and some nourishment our hosts took us in to Sedona. I was really excited to see Sedona for myself as I have heard it’s very earthy and well for lack of a better word – woowoo. I was a little disappointed as with all the visitors over the years it has turned in to a place to shop. The views of the red rocks were stunning and photos do no do it justice.



We ate dinner alfresco at The Jevelina Cantina in Sedona that evening. A Javelina is a small hoofed mammal kind of like a wild boar and local to the area. Our friends have seen them walking along the road in front of their house.

Sunday B wanted to go back up to Jerome as he had purchased tickets to win a bus. Sadly he did not but the person who won turned around and handed the keys to a friend and said “happy wedding”. How cool is that? After that we met our hosts at an ancient pueblan monument nearby, Tuzigoot built by the Sinagua people. Below you can see the separation of different rooms of the pueblo.


In the small museum at the site there was this amazing poster which was unfortunately not for sale. They had similar ones but I wanted this one. I found it on line and emailed the artist. He had one made for me for a reasonable price. I collect posters of this style of places I have been.

Tuzigoot poster

An interesting thing about Tuzigoot is they found bones from a toucan. Likely it was traded from South America.

On our way back in to Cottonwood we stopped at an art studio. The woman whose studio it was makes wings out of things like agave leaves and scissors [purchased from TSA].


B posing before huge agave leaf wings.


We found a great place to grab some food and drink at Pizzeria Bocce. This is also where all four of us played Bocce for the first time. It was a blast!


B is concentrating hard.


Terri is trying to knock our balls out of the way.

Latter that evening we drove along the highway and saw another ruin, Wupatki. You can walk out to this one and all the way around it.



Most evenings we spent time out on the patio enjoying the weather and the sunsets. In the early mornings I would sit out here by myself with a book and my morning coffee.


B and Terri’s husband Tom did a lot of plotting for excursions during the week.


Monday Tom, B and I headed to Montezuma’s Castle and Montezuma’s well. Although Montezuma had nothing to do with these ruins. We found out that the women and children were responsible for the building of the walls and they are slightly tipped back toward the cliff. If you were able to go up to the dwelling you can even see finger prints on the walls.


Sycamore trees and Datura were plentiful. I love the bark on the Sycamore, it looks like camouflage.


Datura, also called Angel’s Trumpet is poisonous and the Native Americans used it as a hallucinogen.


Below is Montezumas well. You really don’t want to swum in it. Not only is the water very brackish but there are leaches and all sorts of creatures that live in the water.


Later we went back to Sedona to this crazy little shop called Silver Sun West. The shop was made up of a bunch of little buildings all cobbled together in a maze. We also went in to Tlaquepaque which is a shopping area in Sedona with restaurants and lots of stores. It has the feeling of an old Mexican town with squares and fountains full of art and lush flowering plants. We even met up with a couple famous people. Can you spot B with Einstein and Mark Twain below?









The next day we took a drive north east. Our first stop was Walnut Canyon which was probably one of B’s favorite places on the trip. Unfortunately I didn’t take many photos as I had a serious case of acrophobia. The trail down in to the canyon was steep and narrow and there wasn’t much in the way of railings. B and Tom hiked down and Terri and I waited at the top. The visitors center location at the top has an amazing view down in to the canyon. The photo below does not do it justice but you can see some of the cliff dwellings across the way.


There was a trail that looped around the ridge of the canyon that Terri and I followed. We came across a little garden. The red plant in the photo below is amaranth.


Another view of the canyon.


It was really windy and the view was amazing! Next stop was Winslow, AZ where yes we did stop at The Corner. Route 66 runs through Winslow and that “one song” is played on a loop outside at the corner.


We obviously took the opportunity to take a selfie.


Lots to spy in the mural. Notice the eagle in the first window on the left.


We lunched at La Posada which was built by renowned architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter who also designed buildings at the Grand Canyon.


There were a lot of sculptures in the gardens.


A view from the back. Lush grass and just opposite the train station.


I love the sign on these doors.


The next day we went back to Sedona for some shopping with Tom and then on the way back home we did a little wine tasting. We stopped at three wineries and Page Springs Cellars was our favorite. Their menu was amazing and they had loads of gluten free options as well so we knew we were going to need to bring Terri back with us another night.


Our $10 tasting fee included this glass. The vibe in the place was really cool. Lots of leather couches with burgundy velvet curtains to partition sitting areas. When we went back a few days later we sat out on the patio.

The next day we took a drive up north to Flagstaff and stopped for lunch at Beaver Street Brewery. This place also had an amazing Gluten Free menu. Route 66 runs through this college town too.

In the town of Cottonwood near our hosts home B and I stopped at That Brewery which was recommended to us when we were in Phoenix. Between the two of us we had a flight to taste all of their beers.


I love the industrial vibe of the place!


B with our tasters.

One of our last days in Arizona B and I trekked north to the Grand Canyon. It was my first trip to this wonder of the world and it did not disappoint. Alas photos do NOT do it justice.

We started on the east end of the south rim at the Watchtower [also designed by Elizabeth Colter].


Inside the watchtower.


We visited several lookouts along the way where my acrophobia did not get any better. I peeked over the side and then stepped back some distance to feel better. Some people were going past the barriers and it was making me very nervous.


B looking to the north over the canyon.


Some shots taken from the different scenic overlooks along the way.



When we got to the main area we parked and walked several of the paths or took a shuttle to get around. We wandered by different hotels designed by Mary Colter [the same woman who designed La Posada in Winslow]. The sun was at a weird angle so my photos of those buildings did not come out. We ventured inside El Tovar which was really cool.

On our last day visiting our friends we headed to another pueblan ruin called Palatki heritage site. Our friends husband Tom volunteers here and we were treated to quite a tour.


Cave drawings at Palatki.


Looking out from our hike.


A man who originally owned this property in the 1930’s used some of the cliff dwelling rocks to built a shelter which he lived in for two years. He planted an orchard with all different types of trees and later built a house which stands today and is used as the office for the historic site. We even saw wild mistletoe on our hike to the shelter and cave drawings.


B is looking at the outside of the shelter.


From the inside. The wall B is looking at is on the right.


This is that same wall B is on the other side of. The top has this makeshift screen.

We are very grateful to our hosts for having us for ten days and can’t wait to go back as there is so much more to see and places we want to revisit. All too soon we were headed back to the west coast but we have the photos and our memories.


A Pirate Geocaching Weekend

Our long weekend started Thursday night after dropping Beej off with a friend [he could not participate in one of our adventures this weekend and it was going to be HOT] we met up with friends who were visiting from California for dinner at McMenamins Anderson School. We ate at the North Shore Lagoon which features Polynesian style decor, food and drinks and is located above the hotel pool.


This hotel used to be a high school and sat for many years until McMenamins purchased and transformed it. The Art-Deco styling throughout the property is wonderful and very colorful. The goal of the owners who own many properties in Washington and Oregon is to “keep the past in the present, to celebrate and connect us all with people and events”. They “research, interview and compile materials to identify and commemorate our properties and their surroundings”. Not certain how the Polynesian theme came about but I loved it!


The next morning B and I took Friday off and headed over to Port Orchard for some Pirate Geocaching fun. We got up very early and made it to the Fauntleroy/Southworth ferry in record time for our 8:45 crossing. We arrived in Port Orchard and found parking just in time for the lab caches to go live. We met a friend of the event creator and hunted down some of the labs with him. Unfortunately there was some miscommunication and not all the businesses were ready for us. We found 8 of the 10 and met up with friends for Bloody Mary’s at a local bar.

Bloody Mary's

The two lab caches we were waiting to complete were at business that opened while we were in the bar. Once our afternoon libations were done, we were able to complete the last two and were very high up on the leader board [4th & 5th respectively]. We grabbed some lunch at a local Mexican place and proceeded to Manchester State Park to check in to our camp site.

Flamingo and Beer

Our flamingos went up immediately.

B Natural Environment

B in his natural environment with a notorious “PNW vampire flamingo” as dubbed by a friend. We chilled a bit at our campsite and then headed back towards town for the first meet n greet at a sports bar, Everybody’s. B and I split a burger that had bacon jam on it. A side of potato macaroni salad was an interesting addition. Both were very good!


The log was this telescope. We met some people we knew of their caching names from logs around the state. We stayed there for a few hours and search the parking lot for trackables on the backs of people cars.

On our way to the back of the parking lot we saw an interesting site.

Turkey in Tree

Yes that is a turkey in a tree.

Mosquito Netting

It was in the upper 80’s around 8:30 when we got back to our camp site. We opened up the sunroof and deployed the mosquito netting. That shiny spot is B with his headlamp. This made sleeping MUCH more comfortable!

We had a lazy morning of sipping coffee, breakfast and reading and headed back to town early afternoon. The second meet n greet of the weekend was at Slaughter which is a pirate themed brewery. The beers were really well balanced and good! B and I sampled a few and then headed to the dock of our two hour pirate battle aboard the tall ship The Hawaiian Chieftan. Our foe was the notorious Lady Washington which played the Interceptor in the film Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.

B dressed as a Pirate for a day.

My Pirate

The crew preparing to fire.

Prepare to Fire

And the aftermath – smoke on the water.

Smoke on the Water

The Lady in our sites.

Lady Washington

The two hours flew by and before we knew it we were docking. We went back to Slaughter where a fourth anniversary party was in full swing. Lots of people dressed as pirates and cannon being shot.

We soon returned to our campsite and our friends joined us for some snacks and a campfire.

The next morning we packed up after breakfast and headed out. There was a car show in town that B wanted to check out where we discovered this restored VW Kubelwagon. We chatted with the owner a bit who bought it from someone in Holland a year ago. It was the gentleman’s daily driver and he even towed a boat behind it. The new owner spent time tracking down and purchasing many accessories he had on display. We are hoping he attends B’s club vintage meet next year.


A couple other cars I liked at the show, a Willy’s Jeep.

Willys Jeep

This Nomad.


I left B to wander while I got an iced coffee and took some shade. Our plan before hopping the ferry back to the mainland was to do some Goblindust caches while we were in the area. Goblindust was the creator of the Dead Men Tell No Tales Geocaching event  we had just attended. My favorite smiley of the day was The Super Pages. The effort and detail that went in to this caches was amazing! If you are in the area go check it out!

We had planned to do a night cache Saturday night but we ran out of time. That’s OK, just means we have to go back over!

Our weekend ended with picking up the dog and getting Zeek’s pizza for dinner.


Camping & Geocaching Lake Chelan

Our goal was seven state park caches in the Lake Chelan area. Thursday night after work we met up with Dug at the Nelson Creek Rest Stop on highway 2 where we stayed the night (more free camping).

The next morning we found sustenance  at Louie’s Cafe in Leavenworth. I chose to have a scramble with veggies and ham. The waitress gave me an extra veggie as I didn’t want cheese. I assumed the hash browns would be on the side. Oops they were mixed in. I did my best to pick around them. It was good!

Our Qwest led us further east to Sun Lakes-Dry Falls state park. We stopped to look at the Dry Falls where I took this selfie of B and I. I could not stop laughing.


There used to be great waterfalls in this area after the ice age when glaciers cut through the land. The photo above we are at the top of the falls area.

After touring the area and the visitor center and finding a cache hidden in the park sign we were off to the Sun Lakes below. The buses in the photo below as we were coming back from the state park cache hide. Potentially A LOT of desert fauna hiding in the scrub brush. Thousands of years ago this was under water.


At the end of the road was Deep Lake. There was Cottonwood “fluff” everywhere.

Cottonwood “fluff” on the water

Couldn’t help but take another of selfie.

Dug, B and I

We moved on to Steamboat Rock state park where we planned to camp for the night. After setting up our site we decided to knock out the cache before dinner. It’s listed as a difficulty 1.5 / terrain 4. 

Steamboat Rock

B thought we could find an easier way to the cache. It was a few hours before dark and we were prepared with headlamps, water and dogs. We saw lots of flowers along the way.


Beej decided to walk with B for a while. He likes to be up front and has contests with Sausage for leader of the pack. Below Beej is winning and Sausageis stuck behind B.


We saw the sun set.

Sunset at Steamboat Rock

However, we DID NOT obtain the cache. B’s idea led us to this side of the rock which was a fairly easy hike. Once near the base we were faced with a slippery shale slope and then 800 feet straight up the rock face. Nope, we would have to try again in the morning.

We ended the eve with dinner and a campfire after I had a well deserved nap. I left the guys to their beer and hit the sack early.

The next morning after packing up we encountered wild turkeys.

Male turkey – Tom

We moved the buses to the day use area to be closer to the trailhead. B read up on the cache. 

We would need to climb to the top of Steamboat rock. 

Armed with water and hiking poles we set out. I was mentally preparing myself for a grueling hike. It soon became obvious why the terrain was a 4. It started to get steep and there was a lot of loose shale we had to walk over. Beej didn’t have a problem. I was not so sure I was going to like this. Dug had to carry Sausage. He is grinning in the photo below. All 40 pounds of him. Gus (Dug’s other dog) managed just fine.


Then it started to get really steep…


In the photo above, Dug was about ten feet above me. This was where I lost my shit and turned back. I have a slight issue with heights and combined with the slipping rock under my feet, a small dog attached to me and the thought of having to climb back down I just could not deal.

B carried Beej and I got back down to a level I could handle. He took our cache passports and proceeded with Dug. I sat at a bench and rested for a bit.

Bench still life

Below is a photo of the area where I turned back. You can kind of see where it switches back. I was halfway up the switchback before I turned around. The people in the photo give it a bit of perspective. If it had been dirt I think I would have managed.


I went back to the bus and brought out my knitting.

When Dug and B  got back a couple hours later they said it was a good thing I turned back and that I knew myself well enough to know I could not make the climb safely. B decided to stamp my passport for me since I was close the night before and made an effort to get it that day.

We decided to get Concanully next since it was sort of remote. We took a highway B and I have never been on before. We arrived in Concanully state park in time for a late lunch. This cache was an easy hike with just a little reroutinf due to some flooding of the wooded path.

On our way to Bridgeport we stopped at The Breadline Cafe to visit the owner and a friend of mine, Paula. She gave us a loaf of her freshly baked bread. It was lovely to catch up to her.

We swung by her house which is the original Omak Hotel and even has a song by the Paperboys which you can hear here.

Omak Hotel

Once arriving at Bridgeport state park we set up camp and quickly stated a fire and got dinner rolling.

Sunday morning our objective was the state park cache at Bridgeport. We are led ourselves with long pants and hiking poles and powered through tall grass and scrub brush. This was tick country.

The cache was a quick find and hidden sort of in plain site. I like to think we hid it better as the original owner intended. 

On our way to our next stop we passed Chief Joseph damn and did a few caches for their passport which we found out about that day. Hmmm another small Geotour. On the drive in to Alta Lake state park we saw evidence of charring and fire on the higheay and in the park which received heavy damage from the fires of the previous summer.


Burned trees and wild flowers
The cache was a quick one. But the view……

Alta Lake

Sadly there was not a lot to see here so we headed in to Chelan. The town of Lake Chelan or Chelan as it’s known to locals, is tucked in the rolling hills of central Washington and a destination for many a wine lover. 

Our purpose for visiting the area was two state parks and more importantly – state park Geocaches!

It was lunch time and I googled breweries in the area. We ended up at Lake Chelan Brewing for lunch and beer for the guys (I was still on the Whole30). Once we wakes in I knew I had been there before.

I remembered this very wall of graphities brick when I spent a couple days with my mom on a winery tour a few years previously. After lunch B wanted to check out Stormy Mountain brewing which was on the way to our next state park. We stopped in, Dug had a pint and B tried a flight of their four beers. The ambiance was good. The beer was just OK.


Old leather and hardwoods
Refreshed and ready to carry on we headed to Lake Chelan state park. Upon arrival we loaded up the dogs and headed out for an adventure.


Beej at the trailhead
The trail took us under the highway and through a lovely hiking trail full of flora and lots of signage to describe what we were seeing an experiencing. Some of the signs were very poetic. 

After finding the cache (hidden by a Geofriend Grievous Angel) we continued along the path. As we rounded the final bend back down to where we had come there was a disturbance in the brush. Later on we would find the two deer we had bothered watching us.

We continued out of the park on a loop that led us pastries of waterside camping spots.

Further along the lake we came to our last sto of the weekend and where we would spend Sunday night. Twenty-Five Mile Creek state park is way off the beaten path. We drove through the mostly deserted campground and found two excellent spots right on the rushing creek. Boy was it loud!

B and Dug went to pay for sites and I started setting up camp as well as performed tick inspection on Beej. He gets flea and tick medicine but that didn’t stop TWO of the little buggers from hanging out for a joyride. I promptly tossed them in to the fire and continued about my business.


Dinner was quickly made and eaten. Then it was time for a nice rousing game of Guillotine. Soon it was bed time and I was lulled to sleep by the rushing creek only a few feet away.

Monday morning after breakfast we quickly nabbed the final state park cache de the weekend. We thought a bit more caching was in order and followed up on some that B had stored including the one pictures in the photo below. There were a lot of ants. 


Off to Leavenworth and Icicle Creek brewing for the boys. This brewery serves one of my favorite porters – Dark Persuasion, it’s pretty much like drinking German chocolate cake (which was my dad’s fave). We had some munchies and on the way back to the car chatted with some local roller derby gals.

We returned home tired but satisfied. Only five state parks left in this challenge. With the deadline a scant two months away – we have the gold in our sights.

P333: Capsule for Travel

Road Trip For my upcoming vacation to the east coast I have four requirements;

  • Travel bag [purse] to be hands free, non-bulky yet safe
  • To be comfortable in warm/muggy weather
  • To pack all in a single carry on
  • Mix and match clothing items to rotate through the ten days I am gone

I chose a neutral color palette of black, white, grey and oatmeal/tan in classic silhouettes with aqua as my accent color. I can assemble ten different outfits with the clothing listed below, most items will be worn twice. That should allow me to get through the ten days we will be gone. I likely will have access to a washer and dryer at some point on the trip. Worse case I hand wash in a hotel room. Note: all items with an * behind them have been purchased recently.

Bottoms – 4

  • Leggings black
  • Maxi skirt grey *
  • Linen pants black *
  • Capri jeans dark wash *

Tops – 6

  • Umpire waist tank green
  • Tank turquoise
  • Tank black & B/W stripe [layer together and count as one]
  • Tank aqua & white paisley print *
  • Cami aqua*
  • Gauze button down aqua & white *

Dresses – 2

  • Halter floral aqua
  • Swing tank striped B/W *

Sweaters – 1

  • Cardi grey [PL]

 Shoes – 3

  • Espadrille’s oatmeal * [PL]
  • Ballet flats black *
  • Keen Criss Cross Sandal aqua *

Accessories – 5

  • Evening bag blue [small holds necessities & has long cross body strap]
  • PJ bottoms and tank aqua [will hand wash during trip] *
  • Ombre scarf blue *
  • Travel bag black *
  • Headscarfs paisley green & aqua

Total Items – 21 Clearly from the *’s in list above you see I was in need of some new items of clothing. Normally I would wear my bulkiest clothing on the plane but since we are traveling overnight [both ways] I plan on wearing the following as my travel outfit: black linen pants, B/W tank layerd over black tank, cardi and oatmeal espadrilles. I really feel the need for comfort over saving room. I don’t typically wear a lot of jewelry. I have 1/2 carratt diamond studs I wear in my ears. I have an amber ring on wear on my right hand at all times as well. Often jewelry I wear would be a bracelet or necklace. I will be leaving those at home. Also in my bag will be my toiletries bag [makeup, travel size shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste & brush.

Years ago I used to watch Rick Steves [a native of my current hometown of Edmonds, WA] on our local PBS station and one trick I have carried with me through the years is rolling your clothing for maximum packing efficiency and less wrinkles. I actually do that at home in my dresser as well.

The majority of our trip will be hitting museums, drinking craft beer, driving and Geocaching. Normally I would not bring three pair of shoes for a ten day vacation but the Keen sandals will be great for lots of walking/sightseeing and slipping on in the car for any Geocaching we may do on the road. I adore my other Keen sandals and hiking shoes so there was no need to research these. They have already gotten plenty of wear since I purchased them. The black ballet flats double as slippers and have their own travel case [small enough to be packed in my travel bag]. I can also wear them to dress up an outfit. I had wanted to purchase these for some time and read many reviews online before deciding to get them. The espadrille’s are also an alternative for walking or a nice outing and pack pretty flat.

The travel bag I researched as I wanted something small and hands free. Something that I could wear across my body that would maximize storage for items I carry with me at all times [iPhone, cash, credit cards, Kindle, small bottle of water, sunglasses, Excedrin migraine, lotion, etc]. This one has a steel cable in the strap, mesh in between the outer fabric and lining, FRID so no one can scan my card information and two locking pockets to prevent pick-pocketing. It’s also pretty flat. It really is a great bag for the price. I tested it out camping in May and it worked really well for a Geocaching bag too. I clipped a carbineer to it to hold the dogs leash. Perfect hands free walking!

I will be utilizing my credit card while on vacation for hotel and gas purchases [I get cash back when I use my cc for gas]. I plan to have three envelopes in my travel bag to hold receipts for cash, checking and credit card. That way I can keep a running tally of expenses on the outside of the envelope.

I purchased two Kindle books for the trip. Ironically both have been/will be produced by Reese Witherspoon in to films. The first is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn [I saw the film and really want to read the book and I don’t care that I know the ending] and the second is Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.

My travel clothing could be viewed as a mini capsule wardrobe. I love looking on Pinterest for ideas on packing for a ten day trip utilizing mixing and matching items for different looks. Recently P333 posted this blog post about travel and moving that I also thought was helpful. I have my iTunes on my iPhone and am prepping a vacation playlist. Songs that are summery and some that are oldies but goodies.

How do you pack for a vacation?