Category Archives: The Great Outdoors

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!



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.

May Goals

After reviewing the first four months of the year I am making some changes to simplify things.

  • Eliminated slush fund and placed $250.40 back to checking. That amount covered a new phone I had to buy or I would have placed in savings.
  • Will transfer all monies left in checking to savings on pay day – zeroing out account for pay period.
  • Had planned on making extra payments on my car for May & June. Those payments will go to my credit card so my car will now be paid off in July [one month later – no interest]. Updates are added below.
  • Making my to do list less aggressive so I will actually get things done. The two main things I am focusing on this month are a basic veggie garden and decluttering the spare room to make room for my sewing table.
  • Getting back on a low sugar eating plan, drinking more water and exercising 20 minutes daily.

The first four days of the month we are headed to eastern Washington to visit B’s aunt, take her to Cirque de Soleil for her birthday, camp, do some Geocaching and drink some yummy beer. A mini vacation. I will try my best to not eat sugar and carbs but I can’t guarantee anything.

Originally we had planned a road trip in September/October of this year down to California to visit B’s grandparents. That might be on hold. B’s best friend since forever is moving from Baltimore, MD to Tampa, FL and asked us if we wanted to fly over there and drive one of their cars down. If this happens, it will be in mid June.

Here is to the second month in the second quarter!

Net Worth

My net worth percentage is a negative 7% [last month was negative 10%]. As mentioned at the end of April, I have decided to break savings and retirement goals in to two separate categories and I have a new debt thanks to Uncle Sam. I am not trying to set a goal for IRA interest any more but will just publish the interest as of the last day of the month. Also, my 401[k] is a guestimation as I have increased the amount and taxes are different. Will know more when I get my first check this month.


  • 401[k] personal: $198.24 [guestimation]
  • 401[k] employer match: $99.12 [guestimation]
  • IRA interest: [tbd]

Total: $297.36 [+/- IRA interest]


  • Automated savings: $200
  • Additional savings: $200

Total: $400


  • Personal loan: $169 payoff this month
  • Credit Card: $175 payoff July 2015
  • Car payment: $200 payoff July 2015
  • Key Bank: $43.57 payoff August 2015
  • Taxes: $100 payoff December 2015

Total: $612.57

The Great Outdoors

  • Camping: Riverside State Park & Kitsap Memorial State Park
  • Geocaches 20: complete HQ Geo Tour & add 4 to WA State Parks Geo Tour

Hand Crafts

  • Hexipuffs: 5
  • Hanging storage for Marty
  • Purchase/sew clothing for warmer weather
  • Start woven pom pom rope rug


  • Create compost bin for chicken yard
  • Create raised bed for vegetable garden
  • Plant Wandering Jew and purchase some succulents for mud room


  • Move all book cases to one wall in spare room
  • Set up temporary sewing space in spare room

Better Health

  • Workouts: 8
  • Hike: 3
  • Dog walks: Daily in nice weather
  • Lose 10 pounds

Here’s to this month!

January Wrap Up

Recovering from the loss of yesterday = Blue Monday. So bummed, all we had to do was hand it off to Marshawn. Still proud of the Hawks back to back Super Bowl appearances! Next year just sayin!

I'm Still In

And now back to my regularly scheduled life…

The first month of the year has come and gone and I have been able to put my 2015 plan in to action. Here is how I did……

Net Worth

Remember that bubble I mentioned that I don’t live in? Yeah…..

I had a larger than expected vet bill as Beej developed a rash. Also, a trip to the dentist for me for a cracked tooth and crown.

I paid for the vet with my credit card which meant I didn’t have any room to use it to help pay my dentist [I have a small limit – rebuilding credit]. They agreed on two separate payments on my pay days. Problem was, no matter how I worked the numbers I could not come up with all I needed to pay them for the second half.

This forced me to be creative and look somewhere I was not expecting.

I will disclose in a separate post why I chose to withdraw money from a retirement account. Here is how the numbers sorted out…..

Savings/Retirement Goals

  • 401[k] #1 personal: $211.11 – goal met
  • 401[k] #1 company match: $105.56 – goal met
  • 401[k] #2 divorce settlement goal [interest]: $100  – goal exceeded by $23.27
  • Savings goal: $235. Actual $200 – deficit $35
  • Slush goal: $90 [based on previous month]. Actual $80.50 – deficit $9.50

Total savings/retirement goals: $741.67. Actual $720.44 – deficit $21.23

Debt Payment Goals

  • Personal loan: $200. Actual $0 [used to pay dentist] – deficit $200 
  • Divorce attorney: $50 – goal met
  • Tires: $50 – goal met
  • Credit card: $25. Actual $105 – exceeded by $80
  • Car payment: $200 – goal met
  • Key Bank: $43.57 – goal met

Total debt payments goal: $568.57. Actual $448.57 – deficit $120

Additional Debts Accrued

The dental bill and credit card balances will be moved in to regular budgeted items for next month.

  • Vet: $153.03. Actual $0 – deficit $153.03 [credit card]
  • Credit Card: $250.01. Actual $105 + $.45 [gas credit] – deficit $144.56
  • Dentist: $561.50. Actual $280.75 – deficit $280.75

Total additional debt: $964.54. Actual paid $386.20 – deficit $578.34

Total balance at the end of the month – deficit $719.57. Yikes!

The Great Outdoors

  • Camped at Grayland Beach State Park. Get the rainy/windy recap here.
  • Completed three Geocaches in our neighborhood.

Hand Crafts

  • Purchased pattern and yarn to start the Bee Keepers Quilt. Hexi puffs made: 15.
  • Decided against utensil storage and repurposed my silverware in a clear zip lock bag [duct tape comes in handy – no need to be fancy].
  • Started my “go to” recipe binder.
  • Purchased black leggings [denim button down will be in February].
  • Decided against making the cooking spray.
  • Hanging storage for Marty [pushed to February].
  • Compost bin [I need a compost bin for yard first – pushed to February].
  • Citrus enzyme cleaner [pushed to February].
  • Bathroom storage nixed. Bonus – did repurpose a lazy Susan for lotion storage.


No gardening to speak of. I am making plans for what I want to do when the weather get’s nicer.


  • All of my boxes residing in the spare room have been gone through and contents placed in new homes, sold or donated.
  • Moved six boxes of B’s to storage.
  • Have made plans for the spare room in the coming month.

Better Health

  • Hiked and Geocashed on our camping trip and in our neighborhood.
  • Total pounds lost: 8.

I am happy with the progress I made this month and will be posting my February goals tomorrow.

2014 Camping – Year In Review

Although I didn’t post about each trip, B and I had 17 camping expeditions in 2014. Most of these were with B’s Volkswagen club The Cascade Kombis. A few of these adventures were combined with another Volkswagen group in the area the Wet Westies.

Passenger and Driver

January: Deception Pass State Park with the Wet Westies & Sparkles The Bus. Sparkles belongs to friends of ours in the Kombis. They converted a school bus in to a party bus/camping vehicle for burning man. B’s mom gave him Flamingo yard art and we quickly decided it should be our marker for our site.

Flamingoes in January

February: Fort Flagler State Park with the Wet Westies. Busses lined up in a row, Marty in front, he’s the BF’s bus. Next is Janes “Carolina” and then Dug’s bus [almost cruised away without him and just his three dogs inside] and then Jennie’s bus “Little Magic”.

Four Busses in a Row

Had Toas Tites for the first time. Using them over the camp fire.

Toas Tites

March: Dash Point State Park with Sparkles the Bus again. Very wet and grateful for my Wellies. Learned to play Phase 10. Did some geocashing.


This is my dog Beej. He’s pretty mellow and comes on all of our camping trips.

Beej Chair

April: Camano Island State Park. B was in Japan. We thought this would start out as a girls only trip and Jane and I joked about making a sign on cardboard that said “No Boys Allowed” but then others showed up. The flamingoes now have leis.

Camping at Camano

Had Panini’s in Jane’s camping Panini Press. First time I took Marty out by myself. Sadly the trip ended with me getting a migraine Sunday morning. Everyone was awesome and got me home and I slept the rest of the day. We rescued Marty on Easter Sunday as it was parked at a friends mom’s house near the campground. Bus people are awesome!

Camping Panini Press

May: Kitsap Memorial State Park. As the weather warmed up more bus club members ventured out for camping. That is Curt’s van “The Rivi Room” in the front. He’s got a sound system and a flat screen TV in that thing.

Da Busses

Stopped in Port Gamble and saw a famous Camperdown Elm.

Camperdown Elm

June: Camano Island State Park again with the Wet Westies. Hung around the campground most of the time. Potluck on Saturday night where we tried some amazing Paleo bars. Yum! Checked out the cabins at Cama Beach State Park. Yes, I’m a mermaid! Learned to play the board game Sequence.

Karen Mermaid

July: Hammersley Inlet. Private property of one of the bus club members. The photo below is our view from the bus. It was my birthday so we made Gorgonzola stuffed, bacon wrapped dates and Jane brought oysters.

Hammersley Inlet

Jane and her son with a lovely shade umbrella as we waited in line for the ferry to take us home.

Happy Campers

August: Blue Fox Drive in Theater for a double feature of Guardian’s of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Injured my knee before trip. Airplane ride’s with Al [a guy in the club].

Blue Fox Drive In

B and Curt’s son Go Kart racing.

Go Karting

Whidbey Island for one of B’s best friends wedding.

Hells Gate State Park to visit B’s grandparents.

Hell's Gate

September: Riverside Sate Park to visit B’s aunt as well as trips to Breweries [No Li, Ramblin’ Road, Steam Plant & Waddell’s.

Bowl and Pitcher


Big Pines Campground for river rafting and Moxee Park for Volksfest and a stop at Bale Breaker Brewing on our way out of town. We took White Pass home which was a little out of the way but fun.

Beej Goes Rafting

October: The Cove at Fish Lake Campground & Leavenworth for Oktoberfest and Blue Spirits tasting. I tried the vodka and the guys tried the whiskey. My tastings were little Bloody Mary’s. Dug brought pumpkins to carve.


We also found quite a few varieties of mushrooms on our hike that weekend.

Orange Mushroom

Dugs three dogs are always along for the ride. We hiked down to an abandoned camp ground.


November: Visited B’s dad in Tri Cities. Kulshan Campground. Got down to 10 degrees and we adopted “the most interesting man in the world” [more about that in an upcoming camping post]. Stopped at Birdsview Brewing for beer and dinner.

Ten Degrees

December: Verlot Campground. Very wet! Big Four ice caves and geocashing.

Camping at Christmas

“Not all that wander are lost”.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

This year I will do a post for each trip with more photos per trip. Enjoy!