When we were remodeling our bathroom and took down the sheetrock, we found two different families’ names inside the wall, written on the back of the sheetrock of the opposite room. One was from the 1950s, and one from the 1970s where it looked like the kids had written the names and ages of the parents and kids. The oldest boy (16) had written his name away from the others, ha. We really enjoyed seeing the names and added our own with the message (referring to the bathroom remodel) “We did the best we could!”
So here’s an even better idea — someone has set up a light switch cover template with a tiny font you can use to write a message for the future occupants of your house to find after you leave! You can find it here in this article from Makezine.com. Wouldn’t it be even more fun to leave a note behind EVERY light switch cover? 😁😁
Here is the post I promised about some little things I have now for backpacking. I call them “little”, because they will probably seem tiny and unimportant to many, but it makes me happy to have them 😀
First, before we left to start the PCT in California I decided it would be nice to have a card that had my name, trail name, phone number, email address, and Garmin InReach message address to give to people I wanted to keep in touch with. Also, I figured a card like that would make a good label for things like trekking poles. Since my trail name is “Ninja”, I had bought the rights to use this ninja girl image on Etsy awhile back and decided it would make the perfect theme for my little cards. I also made some for my friends Marnie and Linda, with their info and an image especially for them. It was great fun making these!
I had seen on the Hilltop Packs website awhile back that they will make you a dry bag out of Dyneema with your own picture or photo on it! And I mean, ever since the personalized t-shirt craze of the early 80’s I have been fascinated by personalizing my gear, ha. I wasn’t happy with my little ditty bag and other stuff sacks that I had used, so I decided to see what the Hilltop Packs bags would look like. I ordered 2 medium-long bags for electronics and medication, and a medium bag to use as a ditty bag (comb, mirror, pen, toothbrush, etc.) I had the ninja girl and another ninja-themed image I got on Etsy, and I sent one for the ditty bag (to be pink) and one for the electronics bag (to be white). For the medication bag (to be black), I sent them a photo of Tuffy, my old kitty, who passed away last year. And they printed the images on both sides! Here are the bags:
Didn’t they turn out amazing?!
THEN, as I was browsing more ninja things on Etsy, I found a matching key fob, but the posting was only for a pattern and not something I could make myself. I asked the seller if she could make it for me, and she did! It came yesterday. Isn’t it perfect?
TL/DR: I’m getting new gear! <Leaps around house for joy.>
In light of our new plan to hike the PCT in Oregon, I have ordered a new, lighter and less bulky sleeping bag, and a new, lighter and less bulky tent. I expect to receive both of them today, along with a new Dyneema bag for my clothes.
When we were in California on the PCT, everyone noted how heavy and big our packs seemed to be, and while we did send a few pounds back home, our packs were still inordinately (I thought) heavy. I was using the ULA Catalyst pack, which is a 75-liter pack that can carry 40 lbs maximum. I bought this larger pack in anticipation of having to carry a bear canister on the PCT while in the Sierra. While I don’t know how many pounds I had in the pack, especially with food and water, the pack wasn’t comfortable and after about 4 miles would start to feel like it was hanging from my shoulders. I think it was more from the heaviness of the things in the pack than the pack itself, as I have carried my ULA Circuit (68L, max load 35 lbs) on more than one backpacking trip and found it to be very comfortable.
Last year before our summer backpacking I did tons of research and bought a new tent (Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 – 2lbs 3 oz) and a new sleeping bag (Sierra Designs Women’s Cloud 20, a zipperless bag – 2lbs 4 oz). I anticipated using both on the PCT this year. While the tent is awesome (didn’t leak, only got condensation when we camped near a lake) it takes a long time to set up, weighs over 2 lbs., and is bulky. Also, the zippers are hard to open and since it is silicone-impregnated nylon (sil-nylon) it sags when it gets wet and takes awhile to dry. And while the sleeping bag kept me warm, I found that the zipperless design was inconvenient for me to wriggle in and out of, especially in the night when nature called. Plus, it kept losing feathers all over the place. Since it is 800-fill down, it doesn’t pack down as small as I’d like. (Note to those interested: 800-fill down is usually duck down, while 900-fill down is goose down, which packs smaller. Why? I don’t know.)
As many hikers/backpackers do, I like to watch videos on YouTube about other hikers’ gear lists. One of these hikers is Condor, or Tiki Bird Tracy, who is thru-hiking the PCT this year. While watching her 2022 PCT gear vid I noticed that she also has the ULA Circuit pack, but while I struggled to get all my goodies in the pack she could fit hers in with no problem. In the video, she stuffs her sleeping bag, tent, and clothes bag in the bottom of her pack and everything fits with what looks like plenty of room for the rest of her stuff. When we got home from our PCT thru attempt I started researching lighter, less bulky gear and I went back to Tracy’s video and studied her gear, especially her tent and sleeping bag.
Some Pros: * The Duplex is fancy! * The Duplex is made of Dyneema, which means it is strong, it doesn’t absorb water and is easy to dry off (There can be a problem with condensation in the inside, but according to my research it isn’t as much of a problem as I thought it would be when I bought the Tiger Wall instead of the Duplex last year.) When using a Dyneema tent, you also don’t have to use a separate groundcloth to protect the bottom of the tent. More weight savings there. * The Duplex sets up with trekking poles so I won’t have to carry tent poles (now, the reason I didn’t buy it last year is because I didn’t think I wanted a trekking pole tent. What if one of my poles breaks? I have decided that if one if my poles breaks I will use one of Marnie’s poles to set up my tent, har.) * The Duplex is quick to set up and you don’t have as much worry about getting rain in it since it is a single wall tent and all sets up at once. * The Duplex rolls up pretty small. * The Duplex is green instead of orange-y like the Tiger Wall. * The Duplex has line-loc adjusters on the guylines, which make it simple to pitch.
* The sleeping bag is fancy! * The sleeping bag is a 10-degree bag, better than the 20-degree rating of my current bag. * The full zipper on the sleeping bag will make it easy to extricate myself from the bag and get into it, especially in the dark. * The sleeping bag will pack down smaller than the bag I have.
Some Cons: * The Duplex is expensive. Although, I did save $50 during the Memorial Day sale. * The Duplex can get condensation inside, and it can drip on your head or your down sleeping bag. I will bring a “shammy” super-absorbent towel to alleviate this problem. * The Duplex does not come with tent stakes, so you have to order theirs or supply your own. Since I would be using my MSR Groundhog stakes anyway, this is almost not a con.
* The sleeping bag is expensive. * The sleeping bag doesn’t have a hood, so it might be hard to keep my pillow on my sleeping pad. I will look for ways to fix this. But since it is six feet long and I am only 5’6″ I should have room to pull it up over my head, so the lack of hood won’t be missed by my ears. * There is not a sleeping pad sleeve to keep the bag on the pad, like on my Sierra Designs bag. While that is a great feature, it is really difficult to get the sleeve around the pad when you’re sitting down in the tent anyway, and I didn’t want to try wrassling with it outside of the tent and dropping it in the dirt.
In using the new tent, new sleeping bag, and (old) ULA Circuit pack, I will actually be saving about 4 lbs in weight! That may not sound like much, but when you’re carrying it on your back (and your knees, ankles, feet, etc.) it’s a good amount. My base weight (pack weight without food and water) has gone down to around 16 lbs., which, while certainly not ultralight, is acceptable. I am anxiously awaiting my new gear today (hurry up, UPS man!). Unfortunately it is going to rain here until next Tuesday so I won’t set the tent up until after the rains, I want to set it up on dry ground first just in case. I have been blessed to receive a whole lot of work in the last couple of months, which allowed me to pay for the new gear without stressing about it. God is good, all the time!
The moral of the story is, when researching and buying backpacking gear, weight and bulk should be a big part of your consideration.
I also got some fun little things to backpack with. I’ll share those in another post!
So here is my official announcement blog post — my bestie Marnie and I plan to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2022!! The trail traverses California, Oregon, and Washington, from Mexico to Canada, and is 2650 miles long. We plan to start at the southern terminus at the Mexico border and head north. It is a journey of five or six months, depending on how fast you hike.
We have gotten our thru-hike permits from the Pacific Crest Trail Association (albeit for days at the end of May which isn’t feasible when hiking through the California desert, we are looking for cancellations to get a better date and a date together) and we are working to get prepared for the trail.
EDIT: We were able to get permits for the end of March! Yay!
We would love it if you would pray for us for these specifics:
That God will be glorified in our hiking.
Provision (finances, bravery, physical and mental strength, etc.) for the trail.
Protection from injury/illness, ice, snow, water crossings, critters, anything else.
Fitness and ability to get good nutrition on trail (both of us sometimes find it hard to eat while backpacking).
Successful and smooth food and resupply boxes prep (there are places where there isn’t a good place to resupply for food, we will mail supply boxes to those places).
That we will get our “trail legs” soon so we can hike the miles we need to hike to finish on time (before the snows in Washington).
Energy to journal at the end of each day.
That neither of us will experience post-trail depression when we get home, but instead have energy and enthusiasm for the next stage of our lives.
Anything else applicable that you can think of!
Thank you!! Please feel free to ask any questions about our trip in the comments!
By popular demand, here is Mom’s Applesauce Fruitcake recipe, taken from a long ago edition of the Farm Journal. Note: We like these best baked in cupcake size. If you bake some, let me know in the comments!
3 cups thick applesauce 1 cup shortening 2 cups sugar
1 lb dates, pitted and chopped 1 lb raisins 1 lb walnuts (4 cups), chopped ¾ lb candied fruit (red and green cherries, pineapple), chopped Save some whole walnuts and cherries to decorate tops of fruitcakes.
4 ½ cups flour 4 tsp baking soda 1 tsp nutmeg ½ tsp ground cloves 1 tsp salt
*Boil applesauce, shortening, and sugar together five minutes, stirring occasionally. Be careful, it will pop out of pot. Let stand until cool.
*Line pans with waxed paper or grease and flour.
*Mix fruit and nuts together. Mix dry ingredients together and mix with fruit and nuts until each piece of fruit is coated.
*Stir in cooled applesauce mixture. Spoon into pans.
*Bake at 250˚ in loaf pans for 2 hours (less for small or cupcake pans) until wooden pick comes out clean.
*Peel off paper while cakes are still warm (or it won’t want to come off at all). Cool on racks. Pour glaze over cold cakes (recipe below). Store in plastic bags for two weeks to mellow. (Or gobble them up right now, they’re just as good either way!)
Fruitcake Glaze *Bring to a boil: ½ cup light corn syrup ¼ cup water
Cool to lukewarm, pour over cold cakes for a shiny glaze. Decorate immediately with whole candied fruit and whole nuts.
Mom and Dad got me this spectacular birthday cake made by our friend Jeanne. It is (or was) dark chocolate with cherry filling and chocolate buttercream, with real gold-dusted chocolate-dipped cherries for garnish. It didn’t take long for us to polish it off. YUM!!
This last weekend I bought a few magazines from the 1940s. I’m kicking myself for not buying the whole pile, but hoping that the man will be at the flea market next month with the rest. I want the magazines because A) I love reading old magazines; B) Our house was built in 1946 and I’m interested in the history; and most importantly C) we have been re-doing our bathroom, and I’ve decided (I think) to decorate with travel ads from the 1940s. This is the cover of one of the magazines, which will be perfect for my travel theme. Seriously, you should have seen the giant grin on my face when I found it!
While looking through old magazines, I’m always struck by how similar the articles and content are to what we have today. For instance, I read an article about a lady who was a writer, and tired of trying to do her work in a space where she was constantly trampled by children, puppies, and tradespeople, decided to redo a cellar room into a study. She managed to do it for only $25, ($384.59 by today’s standards, according to The Inflation Calculator). Today, however, I saw this in a 1941 Better Homes and Gardens. The first two paragraphs read:
“There’s one sure way to tell a long-lasting paint. Find out how much white lead it contains. For as good painters and architects will tell you, the greater the white lead content, the more enduring the paint. And you can’t get a more weather-resistant paint than one containing 100% pure white lead.”
<Jaw drops to floor>
Little did they know, a few years later children would be seriously injured from eating bits of the paint that was not, I suppose, as durable as the ads wanted them to believe. Of course, 15 years ago people still thought margarine was better for you than butter. We just never know when our prevailing wisdom will turn to foolishness!
As my last post anticipated, a week or so ago my son and his grandpa went for a hot air balloon ride. On Friday they were instructed to meet at 7:00 a.m. at site “W”, a church in West Salem. (The church has a sign that says “Drive-In Church”. I’m still trying to figure out how that works…) The balloon van arrived and the crew started unpacking. The whole process of unpacking and blowing up the balloon took about a half hour – I’m always impressed when people accomplish such big things in so little time!
The whole balloon is in this bag!
Cold air is blown into the balloon with a fan:
The burner is fired up and hot air is blown in:
Balloon is up and they’re ready to go!
I had planned to spend the morning checking out some estate sales, or rushing home to take photos if the balloon was going to come our way. But, the winds were “light and variable” and the balloon floated off toward downtown. I was snapping away when one of the crew asked if I wanted to come with them in the chase van. Yes!
When they call it a “chase” vehicle, they aren’t exaggerating. There’s a sign on the back of the van that says “Warning: Frequent Stops and Indecisions!” While we zoomed and stopped and looked and went around the block and zoomed the other way, Dad and Ben were floating over the river looking down at the Oregon State Capitol building with the Gold Pioneer on top, and all of downtown Salem; and listening to the balloon pilot, Jim Desch, guide them through their aerial tour. Jim, who owns Balloon Flying Service of Oregon, has been flying since 1989 and knows every possible landing spot in the area. They estimated that this spot would work so Cecil pulled the van in here and stopped:
But…oops! The winds changed direction and we had to jump in the van and take off to the east, where there was a nice big field next to the city shops.
It cleared the wires effortlessly (although from the ground it looked like they were coming in right on top of them!)
A perfect landing!
Time to pack up…
At the top of the balloon – it’s 200°F on this end!
They wrap straps around the balloon and then pack it into the bag…
They have to squish it so it will fit in the van!
When everything was packed up we all rode in the van back to the launch site, and took our cars to Wallace Marine Park in West Salem for the traditional champagne or sparkling cider breakfast. Jim graciously invited me to join in, (but only those who flew in the balloon were allowed to have champagne)!
Setting up for breakfast.
Ben wanted to go throw a rock in the river (ka-bloop!)…
Before breakfast, Jim introduced the champagne toast with a history of ballooning…
…and presented Dad and Ben with framed Certificates of Ascension! (They also got to keep the champagne cups with the little balloons on them!)
Breakfast included croissants with strawberry cream cheese or chive cream cheese, crackers and a cheese spread, chocolates, and brownies. For beverages we could choose hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles or coffee. Everything was delicious, and I was enjoying the meal and the conversation (mostly about Jim’s former career – monument making) so much I completely forgot to take any photos of the food!
I JUST realized that the whole time Ben and Dad were on their balloon ride and I was in the chase van, I didn’t once think of the song “Up, Up and Away” until just now when I was trying to invent a title for this post. Can you believe it?
(Sorry about the weird fonts in this post. I can’t figure out what happened, and it won’t let me edit the font sizes!)
These photos were taken 2 weeks ago, I was in bed and heard the WHOOOOSH! of the balloon burner and ran outside to the porch to take a photo since it was flying so low. As I was waving enthusiastically at the people in the gondola I realized I was still in my nightie and had sleep hair…but the people were turned the other way so I don’t think they saw me (whew!) This balloon often flies over our house and has had to make a few emergency landings in our neighborhood. This time it was aiming for a church parking lot but ended up in someone’s yard instead!
Anyway, the other day my dad called and invited my son and me to go for a balloon ride in this very balloon! (It’s on Dad’s “bucket list”, last year he and Ben went on the Slingshot ride at the Fair, and he has been skydiving about once a year for the past 4 years. Dad had to miss skydiving and the rafting trip this year because of problems with his heart, and he was quite disappointed! Now he’s good to go, though!)
After the balloon flight there is a picnic continental breakfast with champagne or sparkling cider. It sounds like so much fun. I would LOVE to go. But, last time I was up high (Ferris wheel) I had a small panic attack and couldn’t stand to look. Since there isn’t room to sit down and hide in the balloon gondola and I don’t want to be a party-pooper, I decided not to go this time. My logical brain wants to go, but my bipolar brain is a total spoilsport.
So, Ben will be going with his grandpa bright and early tomorrow morning – there are multiple start points so they will find out tonight where they start (depends on the weather and wind). He is super excited. It’s so great that Grandpa includes Ben in all his adventures. I’m going to have him text me if they are going over our house so I can go out and wave and get a photo! It’ll be awesome!