Just after high school, some friends and I went on a short hiking trip that would inform my opinion on "proper" hiking gear. As with most stories that begin like this, it is not a tale of success and pride. Sadly, it is one of shortsightedness and hard luck. But everyone says you learn from your mistakes and are reassured by your successes.
All 6 of us met up at the campsite and locked up most of our supplies into the guy's car with the least amount of gas in the tank. (I'm starting to think that that was a lifestyle choice instead of merely a convenient way of getting out of things.) From there, we would carpool to the trailhead and walk about 5 miles along the trail back.
A crucial part of this story is a thing I can't really explain the "Why" of, other than to say that you do things when you are 19 that make no sense. Although we dropped off our gear, we decided to take our bags with us. We wanted to feel like "real" hikers or some romantic notion thereof. So, all of my friends were carrying their clothes and water bottles on their backs. I, however, was only toting a regular backpack because I had brought a small rolling suitcase and a small backpack. In order to join in on the trek, I used the bag that had been my school bag just 8 months prior.
- 1 Glass bottle of some cheap fizzy fruit drink with a metal cap. (This will come into play later)
- 2 rolls of toilet paper
- 6 granola bars
- 3 pillow cases (white-ish)
- Small first-aid kit
- 2 sets of keys
- 1 set of playing cards
- 2 light jackets (carried for a friend)
Hardly a hiking pack, but it can contain a medium sized drink spill.
Seeing as how I didn't have a full load to carry, my friends unburdened themselves into my pack. It should come as no surprise that the aforementioned fruit drink bottle capsized in my bag and drenched most of it's contents. In retrospect, it may have been because we were acting like children, jumping from rock to rock and army crawling under branches.
When we finally made camp, we discarded our packs and set to work arguing about placement of the tent and building a fire. Meanwhile, in the bag, the faulty metal cap had give up the goat and covered everything with a reddish/pinkish corn syrup mess.
In the process, I severely compromised a set of playing cards, dyed every band aid pink, and most egregiously destroyed two-thirds of our toilet paper for the weekend. The car keys were not damaged because as poor college kids in the early 2000s, no one was driving a car with keyless entry. Yet another reason why you shouldn't have nice things at that age.
The toilet paper and the playing cards were a disappointment. The real tragedy was the destruction of the pillow cases because my friend's mom told us to take them on the trip. Some of the guys were using older pillows that smelled like mothballs, so this was a last-minute fix on the way out the door. (Which is why I had them stuffed in my bag). It was a tough choice to make: either smell mothballs all night, or stale fruity drink stink.
Oddly enough, she was the one that insisted that I take the fruit drink. She was likely just trying to get rid of them as they weren't very good.
Don't make the same mistake I did. Get a quality hiking backpack that can be used for a daily bag, too. And, make sure it has an externally mounted bottle carrier pouch. Not only that, get a better bottle.
And, where should you do that? Well, right here, of course:
Let's begin with an admission: I very much enjoy yoga classes.
That being said, I find it difficult at times to feel "swept away" when completely immersed in the practice thereof. The terms, the poses, the other class members... The first thing that goes though my head when I hear the next routine or pose called out is a quick translation into what it means to me and my joints. So, here is a quick list of translated yoga terms.
Guru - "Simon" in the game of "Simon-Says-Stretch"
Mantra - Jibberish to quiet your brain or see the attached...
Namaste - "class dismissed. Now try and roll up your mats without getting too much mat-sweat on your hands"
Savasana - "take a little nap on your back or on your side, but hopefully the person next to you isn't facing you. That's uncomfortable"
Supta Baddha Konasana
Supta Baddha Konasana - "lay on your back and hope that a ceiling tile doesn't give up and fall on your gentleman bits for the next 2-3 minutes"
Kapotasana - (Pigeon Pose) - "Simon Says Destroy Your Hip"
Bālāsana - (Child's Resting Pose) - "Forehead on mat. Here's your punishment for not de-foot-funk-ify-ing your yoga mat."
Trikonasana - (Triangle Pose)
Star Wars Trash Compactor Scene (recreation)
Trikonasana - (Triangle Pose) - I always think of that scene in Star Wars where they're all stuck in the trash compactor.
Yoga: the unintentional investigation of body scent
For years, I have been wearing the standard athletic shorts to yoga classes. But the new shipment of 2XU products has given me cause to change my thinking. The functionality of the compression shorts worn under a pair of athletic shorts cannot be over stated. They thwart the unrelenting creeping that a pair of shorts has a tendency to do while in a pose, thus sparing you the indignity of revealing things that others might not wish to see.
Wear these UNDER your athletic shorts for total coverage, and comfort.
Or, if you're of the ladies yoga pants persuasion, take advantage of these stylish yet affordable yoga pants from Colosseum.
Well, no one asked for it, but here it is: The 2017 Power Rankings of 2nd Tier Sports.
This is by no means an objective list. This is merely the musings of an overly excited mind about leisure activities. To start, the major sports (football, hockey, baseball, etc) have been removed from competition due to their obvious unfair advantage.
In the interest of fairness, the “sports” have been grouped by the type of venue.
The average person gets about 2-3 weeks per year to leave work behind and pursue their own interests. For some it means tackling put-off projects, traveling to parts unknown, or even just sloth.
What a person does with this allotted time says a lot about themselves and where they are in life. Not just in terms of financial security but motivation. How a person spends their money is one thing. We all have regrettable purchases. (I'm looking at you Cuisinart Convection Bread Maker. Only used twice).
How NOT to spend your money.
This year, roughly 10,000 people, will spend a week's time riding bicycles from the western edge of the state of Iowa to dip a tire, (just the rear) into the mighty Mississippi River (That's on the eastern side of the state, for those who slept through geography). No offense to Iowa, or bicyclists or those easily offended but here's the thesis statement: Why would an otherwise in-shape person want to spend a week's vacation peddling across a fly-over state in the middle of the summer?
Going into it's 45th year is the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, as everyone calls it. Every year, the route is different, as is the participants because entrance is based on a lottery system. Even the weather changes every year. Granted, there is no escaping the heat and humidity of a steamy July day in Iowa. Unless, of course, there is the potential for hail, lightning, and other ways water can punish you for being outside for a week.
The sleeping arrangements are typically camping out on some local's lawn in the town the ride stops at that night. The dining options are a combo of little restaurants working their hearts out and pop-up vendors in each town. The bathroom facilities are reminiscent of: (Choose your reference here) Over 40 - "M*A*S*H" ... Under 40 - "Outdoor Festival".
So why would anyone want to do this, right? In my life, I've spoken with a handful of people that have completed the ride. Members of my family have done it several times over the last 20 years. Friends and co-workers have done it. They all say the same thing, "It's a great time. You feel a great sense of community and accomplishment." A friend of mine went a few years back having almost no prior knowledge of the event and relatively little training logged. She was included as part of a group and had this to say:
"It was a big challenge laid out in front of you every morning, but you bit off little chunks into shorter rides throughout the day. Everyone stopped in these little towns for lunch and whatnot. Then, at night, everyone camped out and drank beers. It was great!"
Years ago, my step-father entered as a solo rider and was quickly adopted by a group of riders and drafted into their riding group. Every year that he has done the ride since, he finds that same group of guys and quickly falls into the role of old friends. RAGBRAI has taken what was a very solitary sport for many and given them a community. (Granted, this isn't the first or only big bike ride every year, but it is the largest of it's kind in the world).
Also, the money raised from the ride goes to local charities and non-profits. Reports estimate that roughly $3 Million in tourism dollars are generated every year during the week.
Spending a vacation week challenging yourself has been a running theme here at "Proozin' the News" and at Proozy.com in general.
While the ride is going on now (July 23-29) it's never too early to start training for next year. Make sure you register for the entrance lottery in time.
There can be a lot of looming fears when camping for the first time by yourself. There’s no one to lend you the toothpaste you forgot or assure you that the growling sound during the night was a nearby camper and not a bear.
My number one tip for preparing for a solo, weekend camping trip starts before you leave your air-conditioned house: don’t over pack. There’s a lot of stuff that you already have to bring like a tent, sleeping bag, pillow, backpack and all the gadgets. You don’t need three pairs of jeans for camping in the summer and you don’t need eight hot dogs (why don’t they come in lesser quantity?).
Camping is all about going back to basics, or in this case Asics. If you’re looking at your wardrobe and realize you simply need a pair of gym shorts, a breathable tank top and a zip up jacket that will do its job, Asics is king. It’s an affordable brand that makes quality clothes for the people that aren’t so flashy. It makes for great hiking clothes that are easy to wash and go right back on for the next adventure.
Another thing you can’t go camping without: A flashlight. The 1TAC Tactical Flashlight was not only a saving grace for late night bathroom breaks but also for providing peace of mind. If I got lost I could adjust the power of the light or use the strobe feature to harness attention. While it was mostly used to see my gourmet chef skills at making S'mores for one (the secret is to use a Reeses peanut butter cup) I liked knowing I’d be able to find help even if I was hiking alone.
The next essential? A LifeStraw Portable Water Filter. It’s easy to waste your water supply on cleaning your hands, dishes or soaking a bandana to feel the cooling breeze when you tie it on. The best part about LifeStraw is it makes any freshwater safe to drink. I used it in the waterfall I hiked to the top of and in the river the waterfall turned into at the bottom. Most passerby thought I was Bear Grylls and were very jealous that I could make nature a portable water bottle.
My last tip is to simply embrace the benefits of camping by yourself. There are obvious positives up front like not sharing food and taking a nap in the middle of the day because no one’s dragging you to the next spot. But being in nature with just yourself to rely on is freeing and brings a great sense of accomplishment. You’re able to not care what strangers might think about the only adult jumping off the dock like a child or using a selfie stick to prove you made it to the top of the mountain. You’re allowed to make every choice based on what you want to get out of the experience, and who couldn’t use more of that?
If you've ever been to the land down under, (where women glow and men plunder), then you'll know how deadly the land, sea, and animals can be.
In the interest of equal time, and to not dissuade you from booking a vacation there, here is...
"Crocodile Dundee, AC/DC, the Sydney Opera House, Crocodile Dundee 2, Crocodile Dundee's knife, and Heath Ledger... in that order... oh, and Jim Jeffries, he's pretty rad!"
At Proozy the other day, we got heaps and heaps of products from this company called "2XU" from Australia.
Here's the top 3 things you need to know about them:
1. It's Pronounced "Two Times You" and NOT "Two XU"
2. They make performance workout clothes.
3. They don't fool around.
Full disclosure: I've never been to Australia, and I've known about them for a few months now, but didn't realize the breadth and depth of they're products.
Knowing the benefits of compression clothing, (check out the archives for the Compression post where I put on the tightest shirt I've ever worn) I was glad to see how many different products they make. The mission statement is to "Advance human performance through the development of world-leading athletic garments" for activities such as cycling, wrestling, swimming, running, yoga, basketball, and so many other sports. It's a pretty lofty goal, but wouldn't you be motivated to move faster if you were surrounded by air, land, and sea by some of the most dangerous creatures on the planet?
The most dangerous creature from Australia
I'm not going to waste a bunch of your time with trying to explain the benefits of the different materials and fabrics that they use or how awesome they are. You can learn all about it on their site and they will undoubtedly do a better job of it. There's nothing wrong with being loyal to a brand of athletic gear, but 2XU is doing more to earn your business. I implore you to check out the huge group of new 2XU products here at Proozy.com
Finally, I'll leave you with this. There's an old proverb from Tanzania that translates to:
The person who has not traveled widely thinks their mother is the only cook.
Some weeks back, a few of us at Proozy were having some water-cooler talk about the ultimate camping spot. All the usual suspects were there: Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and even the 50 yard line of the new US Bank Stadium. (With a caveat of "not during a Vikings game, of course"). Then someone offered the most exclusive woods retreat known throughout the nation: Camp David in rural Maryland.
Not knowing much about the little-talked-about Presidential retreat, I did what all lazy people do: I checked Wikipedia. As it turns out, since it was built in 1935, every president has visited and most have used it to broker deals with other foreign leaders.
(I realize this is the internet, but let's put politics aside for a few minutes, please?)
The retreat into nature is as essential to world leaders as it is to us at Proozy. There seems to be a strong bonding effect when people surround themselves with nature. We let our guard down a little and actually hear what people have to say a little more than in formal settings. These were the sentiments that were filling our heads and hearts as we returned from our holiday vacations this summer. Also, that we have tons and tons of products to make your next camping trip that much easier. See for yourself HERE.