Category: Outdoors


2021 Week 31 – Bug Off

brown and black mosquito on green stem macro photography

The last 4 posts were a recap of my week-long trip to OH, PA & NY to visit the Allegheny National Forest. With the daily rain, and summer temps, the mosquitos were out and looking for blood but I brought a solution to that…

After seeing ads and reviews over the past year I decided to pickup a Termacell Backpacker Mosquito Repeller prior to the trip. This device comes in many different models and is powered by battery or Butane/Propane canister. I chose the latter as I use that fuel for cooking while camping.

The Thermacell uses heat from a tiny gas powered flame to heat a small pad containing a repellant solution. They claim a 15′ “zone of protection” and I think that’s pretty accurate. I noticed an immediate improvement as soon as I fired up the repeller and set it on the table next to where I was hanging out. It was especially useful under the tarp where I was spending a lot of time during the rain showers. It’s not going to work as well of there’s a lot of wind, but the bugs are usually not a problem when it’s windy.

The pads last for approximately 4-hours and cost around $2 each (cheaper in bulk). There is a very slight sweet smell but it’s not off-putting and a lot better than some of the other scented candles that don’t work very well. This being the backpacking model it’s quite small and portable. If you have a larger space to cover they make bigger units for that.

If you’re looking for something to help keep the bugs at bay while enjoying the outdoors check out the Thermacell line of products and see if they’ll work for you.

And finally… Our friend Rick (The Tenderloin Connoisseur) has a new Podcast that drops each Monday to help start your week off right. Check it out here!

2021 Week 25 – Like Golf but Better

Over the winter I watched a lot of YouTube & I stumbled upon some interesting ones regarding Disc Golf. I’d seen the baskets around various parks in the past and had never really seen anyone playing. Enter COVID-19 and Disc Golf becomes one of the fastest growing outdoor sports in the world. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association the sport saw an 84% new player growth in 2020.

There are over 10,000 courses throughout the world and most are completely free to play, unlike Ball Golf that can run you $100 a round (and take up a good chunk of your day). You can get started in Disc Golf with a single Disc that costs $10 or a starter set of 3 Discs for under $30. Scoring is can be a simple as a piece or paper or with the use if an app such as UDisk (also reporting record growth).

UDisk is a mobile app that lists Disc Courses around the world with reviews and course conditions updated by players. It also allows you to see the Disc Course layout and distances to the baskets. Lastly you can use UDisk to keep score and track your progress as you learn the game. For $15 it’s one of the most useful apps I’ve used, let alone pay for.

Playing Disc Golf is similar to Ball Golf where each player tries to get their Disc in the basket with the least amount of throws. The holes are rated with Par’s like Ball Golf and other rules such as Water Hazards and Out of Bounds are similar. I’m not nearly ready yet but there are Disc Golf Leagues all over the place & they seem to be very active. I’m going to try my hand at joining one this fall once the summer travel settles down. If you’re looking for a new sport to try & don’t think you can beat Disc Golf as a way to get outside and get some exercise while playing.

And finally, I visited Micro Center in Cincinnati last weekend and picked up a 7-inch touch screen for one of my Raspberry Pi devices. If you like to tinker, or know someone who does, a Raspberry Pi is a great gift. It’s an inexpensive (under $50) computer on a board that can be “hacked” to do just about anything. I’m going to build the real-time weather station shown in the video below.

2021 Week 22 – Camping Do Over

focus photography of a ignited firewood

May last camping trip was a wash out so I decided to try it again last weekend. This time there was no rain but the temps were a lot higher. I decided to take a different route, bypassing the I-69 construction, and wound my way south through Jasper and Ferdinand, Indiana

Ferdinand has a monastery similar to the one down the road in St Meinrad. But this one has a brewery and food! I stopped in for a late lunch of Pizza and Beer. While not they best pizza I’ve ever had it hit the spot, especially with the Sister Betty Blonde Ale I washed it down with.

After lunch I decided to finish out my last 9-holes of Disc Golf at St Meinrad. I expected to see a lot more people on the course being a Saturday but was pleasantly supersized the crowd was more like a week day. There was no need to rush and I was able to enjoy a nice round.

The Indian-Celina Lake Campground I like to test equipment at is just inside the Central time zone. In fact it’s so close my electronic devices (and car) will constantly switch back and fourth between time zones. I’ve started wearing an analog watch (Citizen ProMaster Diver with EcoDrive) to make sure I know the actual time. The Citizen is a great watch that uses the sun to keep itself charged. It also keeps amazingly accurate time. I think I’ve only corrected it twice the entire time I’ve owned it. This thing is built like a tank and it’s a nice change from the Apple Watch I wear during the week.

Another item I tested out last weekend was an Exped MegaMat sleeping pad. I bought the MegaMat last October but had yet to take it out to try it in the real world. It’s been great to lounge around on in the house over the winter but it really shines outside in a tent. The MegaMat comes in several sizes and I opted for the XL (extra long) version since I like to stretch out.

One really nice feature about the MegaMat is it self inflates. After you unroll and open the main valve it takes about 15-20 minutes to get to about 95% of where I like it. I can then take the manual pump that’s included to top it off and make it perfect.

This sleeping pad is thick and a little bulky so it’s only really good for car camping or a very short hike to the campsite. It feels like a memory foam bed when you’re laying on it and if you’re a side sleeper you’ll be happy to know it’s supportive enough to keep your hip from digging into the ground. It was worth every penny and I would not hesitate to purchase it again.

I have another camping trip planned in a couple of weeks and I’m gearing up for a trip to the Allegheny National Forrest this summer. So look forward to more trip reports and gear reviews throughout the year.

2021 Week 20 – Mini Road Trip Part 2

photo of lightning

Picking up where we left off last week. After I finished checking out Spring Mill state park I headed to another item on my travel list, Hemlock Cliffs.

Located on National Forest Rd, in English Indiana, Hemlock Cliffs is a little out of the way and on this Friday afternoon the parking lot was pretty empty. I could see this place getting really busy on a weekend. The trail loop out the the cliffs is about 2 miles long and easy to moderate in spots. It’s NOT accessible buy wheel chair or stroller as it has some narrow parts and several sets of steps.

Here are some short videos I made of the various waterfalls in the area.

While heading to the next destination I saw a sign for the Winzerwald Winery in Bristow Indiana and decided to check it out. They had a nice tasting room where you could get 4 samples for $4. I chose the flight of their “dry” wines which consisted of the following:

  • Black Riesling (Red)
  • Blaufränkisch Rosé (DEEP Red)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon (Red)
  • Grüner Veltliner (White)

All were quite good but I settled on the Grüner Veltliner to purchase and enjoy at home. Winzerwald Winery also sells a Pumpkin Spiced wine that I was too scared to try this time around.

Pumpkin Spiced Wine…

I was surprised to see the number of wineries in the area. On Google maps I counted at least 12 within an hours drive of this one.

Next we’re headed to one of the reasons for the trip. The 18-hole Disc Golf (DG) course at the Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Indiana.

Unfortunately this is where the trip goes south. After 9-holes of DG the skies opened up and there was no end in sight. Between the rain and lightning I decided to cut the trip short and head back to Indy. I’m glad I did as the rain continued into the evening and setting up all your camping gear for a single night is just not worth the effort (or the cleanup afterwards). I already have a return trip planned and hope to finish out my round of DG and get a night of camping in the books.

That’s it for now, enjoy the warmer temps this week. I think summer is finally making an appearance!

2021 Week 19 – Mini Road Trip Part 1

I took the day off last Friday & headed down to Southern Indiana for some sightseeing, Disc Golf, and camping. With the knowledge that State Rt 37 was closed in Martinsville I decided to take State Rt 39 that runs parallel to the west. I also wanted to check out the Goethe Link Observatory along the way. Unfortunately it was closed.

My next stop was Spring Mill Park, which I have not been to in years. When I got down to Mitchell Indiana I realized it was lunch time so I stopped at my road trip favorite McDonalds.

Being lunch time in a small town the drive-thru was backed up to the street so I decided to go in. There was a clear division of masks and no masks. The older the person was the more likely they were masked up. The younger crowd not so much. It was an otherwise uneventful visit until I got back to my car. This was the BEST quarter pounder I had EVER had! It was seasoned a little more aggressively than normal and was LOADED with onions and pickles (like, double the amount). I never thought I’d ever enjoy a fast food sandwich this much. The fries were as good as always and someone was a little heavy handed with the salt on those as well. No complaints here!

East of this location I noticed a sign for the Gus Grissom Monument and I decided to check it out. I drove right by it the first time as I ws expecting it to be further up the road. It’s actually right behind the Mitchell police department and it’s quite the monument!

Virgil I. Gus Grissom Rocket Monument

What an amazing monument to an American Hero. Little did I know there was ANOTHER tribute to Grissom at Spring Mill!

Spring Mill was a lot bigger than I remembered and was pretty empty that day (benefits of visiting on a weekday). I remembered to purchase my annual park pass at the gate. HIGHLY recommended if you are going to visit any of the state parks throughout the year. It pays for itself after a few visits. The Spring Mill Inn is in the process of remodeling on the outside but was very nice on the inside. I could see spending a new nights here while exploring the area trails and activities.

There’s more to this trip than I’ve listed here but I’m going to save that for the next post. It was great to get out of the house and get back outside after a miserable 2020 and a longer than usual winter. The Allegheny National Forest trip I canceled last fall (because everything was closed) is being re-scheduled and there should be some good travel posts coming up this summer.

Finally, I came across this video on YouTube last week. I never knew this job was available in the Military!

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