What’s in Your Day Pack?

tote bag day pack
me with my tote bag day pack

A light, but well-stocked day pack is essential to an enjoyable hike. Snacks, first-aid supplies, water, camera, notebook, rain poncho – these are just the basics. Most supplies are small and light, so you don’t have to carry a heavy or bulky pack.

After hiking the Cumbres, my new plan is to walk or ride our bikes into town every day and go hiking at least once a week. Not sure how that will work out, because the forecast is for rain every day for the rest of the week. But that usually happens in the afternoon and evening, so maybe if we can get it done before 2p.m. we should be okay.

day pack contents
contents of my daypack

I have made a list of stuff I need to replenish, and in addition, we each definitely need a decent day pack. My tote bag straps and the boy’s string back pack straps cut into our shoulders and hence, are very uncomfortable. Not sure if I’ll make padded straps or just fork over the $60+- for a  good day pack or two from Costco (if they still have them). I will check the local thrift stores in the meantime.


Some items I did not have with that I intend to put in my day pack kit:

  • waterproof matches/lighter

  • hand sanitizer (left it in the car)

  • collapsible cup (for scooping water to drink with the life straw)

  • plastic bags and trash bags

  • flatware

  • sunscreen and bug lotion

  • life straw for the boy

  • small stool for sitting up off wet ground (must fit in daypack)

Items I did have that came in handy or would have:

  • hand lotion and lip balm

  • flashlight

  • rain ponchos and emergency blanket

  • electrolyte powder

  • toilet paper and feminine products

  • umbrella (doubled as walking stick, very handy for sore knees)

  • scarf and fleece jacket (nice to sit on and wear on way out)

  • pocket knife

  • life straw

  • water bottle and extra water in car

  • insulated lunch bag with high protein snacks, fruit and ice pack

  • potato chips

  • napkins

  • sunglasses

  • camera and gps

  • pen and paper

  • small sewing kit

Choose multi-purpose items wherever possible, not only to cut down on space but also weight. For instance, a large 30 gallon garbage bag can be used as a rain poncho, ground cover, and, well, a trash bag. An ice pack in a lunch bag can also be used to treat a sprain or bruise. Hand sanitizer can also clean a wound, if it contains alcohol.

My list varies with the season and location, but most of the basics are the same. Sometimes I put unneeded items in a ziplock, so I can quickly remove and replace them if I need the day pack for something else.

So what’s in your day pack?



How to Use a Life Straw

life straw

One of the best portable water filters you can get is the Life Straw. We love ours. It does take a bit of practice to get used to. You could end up very thirsty before you figure it out.

Our hike in the Cumbres gave us the perfect opportunity to practice with the life straw some more. The boy’s had disappeared, but we shared mine. Of course, Life Straw says every one should have their own personal life straw. Unfortunately, we did not find a place to get one on the way there. I like to scoop water into a cup and then suck it through the straw.  The guys prefer to lay on their bellies and put the straw directly into the stream.

The trick is to fill the body of the straw, which contains the filter. Then you can start drinking. For me, this means suck up a cup of water to fill the straw, then refill my cup and drink (through the straw). After each session, blow what remains out of the straw. Also, it is a good idea to let the straw sit out for a day or so, to let it dry out completely, before you pack it away. This avoids any junky stuff growing in it – mold and such.

At about $20 each, Life Straws may seem a bit pricey, but when you consider that one straw will filter approximately 264 gallons, one straw will last quite awhile. We even bring ours with us when we know we will be at the mercy of city water. Life straw filters out most of the bad stuff – bacteria and protozoa, but not viruses, chemicals or heavy metals. However, the company does offer the Life Straw Steel, for $55, which will filter those things as well. Click on the links to read all the technical mumbo jumbo.

We love our Life Straws and they suit our needs. We bought them directly from the company, but there are numerous places to get them, now. Nope, we didn’t get paid for this, and I don’t have my Amazon affiliate links live, but if you want, you can make a donation to our “Movie Night Fund” at right.


Ray’s Boathouse and Cafe, Seattle, Washington

Ray's Boathouse, Seattle
Ray’s Boathouse and Cafe on the waterfront

After Ballard Locks, we asked for a recommendation of where to eat for fresh seafood. Ray’s was mentioned. We drove downtown and found it on the docks. The outdoor seating looked appealing, but not on this chilly, overcast day. Our table inside had an outstanding view of the ocean. The seafood did, indeed seem very fresh. Steaming bowls of white clam chowder, accompanied by a shared seafood salad and a shared plate of Alaskan King Crab legs filled us up.

The quality of the food was exactly what you would expect from a high-end fresh seafood restaurant. Our budget is certainly not high-end, but by sharing 2 entrees among the 5 of us, and partaking of the cafe menu, we were able to enjoy a classy dining experience. We always enjoy waterfront dining and Ray’s is definitely tops on that list.

fishy bike rack
There’s something fishy about this bike rack.

Thunder Burgerz and Pizza, Huntington Beach, California


Went to lunch with dad and my aunties at my cousin’s new burger joint in Huntington Beach. About 2 blocks up from Pacific Coast Highway (aka Hwy 1), right next to Gallagher’s and the 2nd floor, Thunder Burgerz and Pizza is set to rival In-n-Out in my humble opinion.
Using high quality kobe beef and all fresh ingredients, the simple burgerz and fries are affordably priced and scrumptious. I had to try the cheeseburger, but I stole a piece of Yak’s pizza. I love the ultra thin crust and the simple, 2 price options – cheese for $5 and the works for $7.99. The perfect pile of meat, cheese and veggies without all that bread in the way.


The weather was perfect for sidewalk dining and we enjoyed soaking up the warm weather in the shade. People watching at the beach is always an interesting occupation.
To my chagrin, I realized after we got home that I did not try the deep fried oreos!


After lunch, we got a private tour of my cousin’s other new eatery, the totally upscale and gorgeous BLK’s Earth Sea Spirits. They took this old building and gutted it, completely redesigning the interior and most of the exterior to take full advantage of the abundance of natural SoCal light and unobstructed ocean views. Nearly all the décor is handmade by local artisans, including the light fixtures, tables, chairs and tchatchkes.


The menu is sophisticated and pricey, a bit out of my comfort zone, but I can confidently recommend it, based on the fact that the beef is kobe, the fish is fresh, and the ambiance is impeccable. I do think on my next visit I will try their Sunday brunch.


If you must park in the structure, make sure to bring your ticket, BLK’s validates for 2 hours, and you will want to soak up all the ocean view you can get. My aunt recommends the free parking up the street, and a leisurely stroll to work up the appetite and enjoy your dinner.

Portland Spirit Luncheon Cruise

Before we left Portland, we were treated to a luncheon cruise on the Portland Spirit. Unfortunately, we parked in the wrong area and ended up walking over a mile to the launch area. This was not good for abuelo, so finally a pedal powered transport was located and abuelo loaded on for a ride the rest of the way to the boat. The crew was most cheerful and accommodating. They procured a wheelchair to board the abuelo and seated us with easy access to the restrooms.
I am very much a landlubber, though I am open minded about the water. I was wondering if I could tolerate even a short cruise without getting sick. As I sat at our table, pre launch, I began to feel queasy. I turned my head from the window and decided to take some pics of our party. The moving around helped. It helped settle my stomach when my peppermint tea arrived. I think I was a bit hungry and tired from the long, hot walk from the car.
The menu offered 4 choices: vegetarian yellow thai curry, parmesan crusted chicken breast, fresh pacific cod fillet and beef bourguignon. I was not in a vegetarian mood, so I chose the beef, as it included mashed potatoes and my stomach was just not in the mood for the rice pilaf, included with the other choices. Appetizers and alcoholic drinks were also available for an extra fee. The food was excellent and I felt much better afterward. A grand piano was situated in the center of the room and we were entertained with music and singing by the cruise director (who was also our server). She even sang a special Father’s Day request for the dads in our party.
As we proceeded down the Willamette River, we decided to explore the ship. The second level contained a lounge and minimal outdoor seating at the bow. The top tier had quite a bit of seating, as well as the bridge. The captain was quite pleased to let the boy take the helm and even teased that he would be going to lunch, since the boat was in capable hands. Thank God he was teasing! The boy enjoyed learning about the computerized sonar and steering the boat. We all jumped about 2 feet when the captain told him to “push that button”, which caused a loud blast of the ship’s horn. I don’t think anyone dropped their phone/cameras in the water.
We spent some time enjoying the view up top, and relaxing in the deck chairs. Then it was already nearly time to disembark. We proceeded back down to our table, collected the abuelo and awaited docking. Satisfied that I could endure a short cruise, I determined that we must try a longer one very soon.