Florida – Making the Most of Not Enough Time

florida cranes

The Silver Bullet is coming up on her first birthday. With me, anyway. Last year, the man-of-the-place purchased a truck bed off Ebay, and decided for the price of shipping, we could go to Florida to pick it up and have some fun while there. It also provided an opportunity to test out the new-to-me truck, pulling the trailer on a long drive. She did very well, by the way.

truck, bed, trailer
Silver Bullet, carrying truck bed, hauling trailer.

Although the trip was way too quick and not scenic enough, (we stayed on the interstate) we were in a time crunch, to not spend too much time away from the abuelo. From Colorado, we made dry camp in a parking area outside Amarillo, Texas. The following day we stopped to have lunch at Cracker Barrel with my brother and his wife.

cracker bqrrel checkers

After our lunch date, we zipped along into Louisiana and stopped near some train tracks, where we could put the slide out and cook some dinner. Another early start. Another long driving day and we made it to Florida. We parked it at a farm, thinking it was the one we were headed for, but it was next door. Luckily the guys were friends and were very patient with our goof.

tropical palms florida

After picking up our merchandise, we treated ourselves to 2 nights in an rv park (which we got for ½ price with our Passport America Membership) and went to Harry Potter world at Universal Studios. Had a great time.

harry potter dragon

While in Kissimmee we also did the brakes and enjoyed the pool at the rv park. Very much.  Then it was back to long driving days.

tropical palms pool florida

We zipped through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, getting introduced to boiled peanuts on the way – yum! Rivers and swampland were visible from the interstate, but we didn’t get off to explore. Sheets of rain slowed, and at one point completely stopped our progress for a while. When we finally emerged, we were grateful for dryer weather. Even though fuel prices were significantly lower in the southern states.

gas price mississipi

This would be a great trip to do again, sometime. With plenty of time to explore, and no torrential rains or potential floods to contend with.

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5 Steps to Avoid Altitude Sickness

red lake trail 733 stream

We normally reside at about 7500 feet, but even then, at above 10000 feet I notice the effects of the altitude. Cumbres Pass is over 10,000 feet in elevation. When we went on our hike, I noted several symptoms of altitude sickness in myself and immediately took steps to prevent it.

Drink lots of water

water bottle walking stick

As we started out on our hike, I felt a dull headache. Dehydration happens fast at this elevation. I was not even thirsty, but with a simple pinch test (pinch the skin on the back of your hand. If it doesn’t immediately return to normal, you’re getting dehydrated.) I could tell I was definitely needing water.

Consume extra protien

I also indulged in the salty snacks and made sure I consumed some extra protein. Thus, I did not suffer any nausea or other symptoms of altitude sickness, as I did the last time we made a jaunt to the high country, in Leadville, CO.

Breathe deeply

One of the reasons for altitude sickness is the lower levels of oxygen present in the air at high elevations. Slow down and breathe deeply to help your body adjust.

Take a nap

sleeping on bench

While the guys were fishing, I drowsed in the sun, enjoying its warmth after too many months of winter.

Acclimate slowly

Most people will adjust to a higher altitude within 2-3 days. When we went to Leadville, I didn’t realize I was suffering from altitude sickness until it was well underway. My headache persisted through the weekend, and nausea made me lose my appetite.

Move to a lower altitude

If all else fails, head back down to lower ground. As soon as we were back to the car and driving down the hill from Leadville, My headache began to subside. Once we got home, it was gone.

More info on moderate to severe altitude sickness see: http://www.traveldoctor.co.uk/altitude.htm

 

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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?

 

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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.

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Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon

Wreck of the Peter Iredale
Wreck of the Peter Iredale

We drove through Astoria, Oregon, but having already visited the famous column on a previous trip, we decided the rest of the town was too busy for the relaxation we craved, and we drove back to Fort Stevens State Park, where we grabbed a great campsite for a few nights. We went to see the shipwreck before setting up camp and parked abuelo in the front seat where he could enjoy the view, while we went exploring. Apparently, the rusty skeleton of the ship Peter Iredale is quite popular, so we only got a few pictures before abandoning our treasure to the next group.

rv spot at Fort Stevens
rv spot at Fort Stevens

The campsites at Fort Stevens are large and sheltered by big trees. The rv loops have water and electric hookups (good, because our solar panels don’t seem to like to charge in Oregon). There is a community dump site, community trash/recycle area, hot showers, handicap accessible spaces and clean bathrooms. Several tent loops give tent campers ample space from the rvers (read that “generators”). Fire rings and picnic tables seem to be available at all sites.

Battery Russell
Battery Russell

We made good use of the hiking and biking trails, spending most of our second day wandering through big trees, meadows, past streams  and a lake, and viewing wildlife. Thankfully, lots of signs point lost hikers in the direction of the campgrounds. The boy and I took a trail from the back of our campsite up to the bike path and all the way to Battery Russell, on the Fort Stevens Ridge Trail, where there was a civil war reenactment going on. This was a nice distraction, as we had already walked much further than we had anticipated. We took our rest in the museum and watched a video that informed us that Fort Stevens had also been attacked by the Japanese during WWII. We refilled our water bottles and began the trek back to the campsite, grateful that 7 mile hikes did not come around every day.

SAM_1056

Oregon state parks has a 3 level Jr. Ranger Program. The 1st level award is a badge; 2nd level, a pencil and decal; 3rd level, a certificate and patch. Ranger programs are available on wildlife, shipwrecks and more. Kayak and hiking programs are also popular offerings. Lewis and Clark National Park is also nearby. The entire area is steeped in history, with reenactments taking place all summer. The town of Hammond offers several restaurants, a laundromat, and St. Francis de Sales Catholic Mission for Saturday 4pm Mass.

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