Thursday, September 3, 2015

Every Kid in a Park

"We come and go, but the land is always here. 
And the people who love it and understand it are
 the people who own it — for a little while." 
~ Willa Cather

Every Kid in a Park

Every once in a while, Government and Nature collide, in a positive way. National Parks, Forests, Monuments, and a whole lot of open spaces are things that are a benefit to all of us, whether we get use them or not.

This year, in celebrate of the National Parks' 100th birthday, the Every Kid in a Park program was implemented. What this program does is gives all of this nation's Fourth Graders and their families free access to ALL federal lands and waters for an entire year (September 1, 2016 - August 31, 2016). Eight agencies support Every Kid in a Park: Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Super cool - taxpayer money well spent.

Every Kid in a Park
Photo Credits, clockwise from top left: USFWS photo by Larry Jernigan; NPS photo, Lewis and Clark National Historical Park; NPS photo by Will Elder, Golden Gate National Recreation Area; U.S. Army Corps photo by Keith B. Hyde

This program is specifically aimed at getting more people outdoors - the vast majority of us live in an urban or suburban environment and don't interact with Nature on a regular basis. Much of that time is spent indoors, often in front of a television or other screen. Few would argue it's been detrimental to our nation's health. Getting kids and their families is the first step for more people gaining an appreciation of the great outdoors. More appreciation also means more wear and tear, so hopefully Leave No Trace principles will be worked in to the program as it matures.

If you know a Fourth Grade student, tell them to use the Every Kid in a Park web site and get their pass today. Check out all the resources and plan a trip: no matter where you live in the United States, there's a site within two hours of your home.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

#Hikerchat Outing Summer 2015

I'll tell you, after three days of ORShow (thanks again Outdoor Retailer!), Saturday morning is a time when you just want to do nothing but chill. Teton Sports, however, has a different idea - #Hikerchat Outing! I had such a blast on the Snowshoe outing post-Winter Show that I knew I couldn't miss it. Also, new people, new places, and a chance to warm up for Hell Hike And Raft!

#Hikerchat Outing Summer 2015

Since I was out by the Airport, it would have been tough for me to get down to the meet-up unless I rented a car. Happily, Jess swung by and picked me up and away we flew (thanks again Jess!). Until we didn't. After stopping for coffee, we checked all the parking lots and there was no Hikerchat love to be found. Turns out that the parking lot we were planning to use was closed for The Tour of Utah. Texting  furiously (gotta love technology), we met up with everyone, introduced ourselves, and off we went, carpooling up Big Cottonwood Canyon.

#Hikerchat Outing Summer 2015

Teton Sports distributed Hikerchat shirts and brand spankin' new packs, their Summit 1500, and we prepared to hike.

The Summit 1500 is a great little pack, small but really practical. Padding on the shoulder straps, back, and waist belt keeps things comfortable and also allows air to flow across the body. Ice axe loops, additional straps, integrated rainfly, hydration compatible, this thing has it all. Two side pockets, two pockets in the top cover, and an easily accessible main compartment (from the top or full length front zipper) means that you can carry a bunch and also get to it easily. This will probably go to one of my kids as a daypack, as it fit a little snug for my big body. Thanks Teton, for the sweet swag!

#Hikerchat Outing Summer 2015

With Hell Hike And Raft looming, I was hoping for a hike on the easier side, and I was not disappointed - a few miles of switchbacks, maybe 1,000 feet of elevation gain, and we were standing on a ridge with views stretching as far as the eye could see. So beautiful. After rehydrating, chatting, and catching our breaths (we were at altitude), we started down.

A short detour to what I believe was Hidden Falls, and we were all ready for lunch - off to Teton HQ we drove! Their showroom is one amazing product after another, with a hidden climbing wall to boot. They also have a nook where they are having people sign their names on the wall, will be amazing when it's all filled in.

#Hikerchat Outing Summer 2015

Many thanks to Teton Sports for organizing the outing, providing packs and shirts, then inviting us back for a lunch. This company really goes above and beyond to make its customers (friends really) happy. If you haven't checked out their gear, you really should. Well-designed and well-priced, it will definitely get you outdoors and keep you there as long as you want.

Post-pizza and schmoozing, many of us were searching for places to nap. Grabbing a ride back to the hotel (some people had to WORK still breaking down at ORShow!), it was time to mentally change gears for my upcoming adventure, HHAR15. Laundry, rest, and chatting with the family were on the to-do list.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

#ORShow Day 3 Highlights

#ORShow Day 3 Highlights

Day 3 started off disappointingly, as the guys at Cafe Mugshot had a long line and I didn't have time to wait (good for them, bad for me, I'll visit them at Winter Show...).

#ORShow Day 3 Highlights

Hard to miss the Popticals booth, with an enormous neon green Jeep parked there. Had fun hanging out with Preston, who I had only known via social media, hearing about the plans for the new sunglasses, which are coming out in the Fall. Super stoked to have an active outdoors company here in the Midwest (they are based in St Louis).  Polarized and compact, the only way these could be better is if they floated...

#ORShow Day 3 Highlights

With a few minutes between meetings, I stumbled across Grayl, makers of a unique Water Filtration and Purification Cup. You fill an outer container with water, then push a filter down (in a French Press type action), and the clean water is pushed into an interior container. Super fast and easy - I got a sample and used this exclusively for Hell Hike and Raft and everyone was very intrigued.

#ORShow Day 3 Highlights

Another great find was MyPakage, "The World's Greatest Underwear." They've moved beyond basic boxer briefs to items such as a longer base layer, many items in fun patterns and colors. Provided a sample of the Pro Series, I brought it on the trip to give it a serious testing. Not to give the whole review away, but they were awesome...

#ORShow Day 3 Highlights

Since I've started thinking about hammock camping recently, it was inevitable that Lawson Hammock would catch my eye. More structured than most hammocks, this design seems the best as an introductory product and I love that it can be used as a tent on the ground as well.

#ORShow Day 3 Highlights

Granite Gear, another "Midwest" company (they're up in Minnesota), was another good surprise. Originally geared towards long distance hiking, the products now run the gamut from military gear to school backpacks. The reason you should be interested? Light, priced right, and built to endure.

#ORShow Day 3 Highlights

Celestron, makers of telescopes and binoculars, primarily, fulfills two of my needs. One, to get my kids interested in the outdoors and specifically, the stars. Two, I get to learn about the stars with them in a non-threatening way. The Celestron SkyPortal Mobile App (free) is super cool - among other things, it enables you to hold your device up to the night sky and instantly identify stars, planets, galaxies, and more - how awesome is that?

#ORShow Day 3 Highlights

Merrell is a company I've wanted to connect with for a few years, but it never happened naturally. After meeting with their PR rep, it looks like my lifestyle and their products (especially for the kids) are intersecting at the right time. Time will tell if anything will come of this partnership.

At this point of the Summer Market, I really just wanted to curl up on my hotel bed, have a beer or two and some ice cream, and just chill. OR Show is draining! Paulina and Jessica would not let it end so easily, however, so we headed to the Pacific Northwest Fest, a chill time with good PNW food, beer, and music.

I bowed out relatively early, FaceTimed the fam, and headed to bed to rest, knowing the #Hikerchat outing was happening in the morning.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

#ORShow Day 2 Highlights

Day 2: more appointments, more people, more products (what's not to love?).  An early breakfast with the inspirational and very funny polar explorer  Eric Larsen, put on by the Conservation Alliance was a great way to start the day. If you ever have the chance to hear him speak, definitely do so. Super sad that he might be the last person to reach the North Pole on foot (it's melting something fierce up there).

#ORShow Day 2 Highlights

Onto the floor we go - right off the bat, I met Paulina! She of the Little Grunts - we ended up running into each other a lot and then finding the best happy hours together. She's kind of like a live action video game, high energy and all over the place. Fun.

#ORShow Day 2 Highlights

First up, group presentation by Osprey Packs: I've been a fan on the side for a while (I don't own one of their packs, but Laima does), so it was very cool to see what they have now and what's forthcoming. Definitely a fan of the Zealot and their luggage (rolling duffels are awesome if you have to check baggage, get from the car into the hotel, or any other time you're moving lots o' stuff). Also super excited that they have kid-specific packs.

#ORShow Day 2 Highlights

Timex: Long, long time fan of this brand (anyone else remember "Takes a liking and keeps on ticking?" Now, more appropriately, it's #MyExpedition, at least for outdoor folks.). With a Timex on my wrist, I was excited to see what they had going - the Ironman One GPS+ is a mini mobile device on your wrist, allowing you to listen to music, get messages, all with an included 3 year ATandT plan. Pretty cool.

#ORShow Day 2 Highlights

Sierra Designs was one of the most surprising brands I visited - not one that comes to mind immediately (and I'm really not sure why), their raingear is so well thought-out, love their sleeping bags, and their new tents are brilliant in their simplicity. Hopefully I'll get a chance to try their gear out in the field soon. They also had the Whack-A-Mole game set up at the booth, very popular stress reliever indeed.

#ORShow Day 2 Highlights

Timberland (remember them?): to me, this brand was first work boots, then urban rappers, and I never really thought of them as a serious outdoors company. Turns out that Timberland has a wide range of products (including apparel), and their designs are, while understated, thoughtful and, apparently, functional. Hoping to put some of these to the test to see if they are more than an urban brand. The fact that they have a broad kids' selection is nice as well.

#ORShow Day 2 Highlights

To me, Kelty has long been like the Kmart of the outdoors: solid, reliable, not sexy, light, or cutting edge, but products that worked as they were supposed to and you didn't think too much about them. Their new gear, however, is definitely moving in a new direction. They've taken some old faves, tweaked or updated them, added some new lines, and are looking to break out of their old ways without alienating anyone. Looking forward to including them in our upcoming adventures.

#ORShow Day 2 Highlights

Have you heard of Wenzel? I hadn't, but I'm so glad I got to visit their booth - while they have a wide range of products, it was their family-centric gear that makes me want to try them out. They are also reasonably priced, which is never a problem in the outdoors, right?

#ORShow Day 2 Highlights

Native Eyewear: so bummed I didn't videotape this meeting. CEO  is so passionate about the brand and where it's going - biodegradable resins anyone? New products, can't wait to see their ski goggle design - a true grassroots, dirtbag type company that is staying true to its soul and making quality stuff that works well and looks good.

Unrelated to meetings, but an integral part to the show is stopping at the Darn Tough booth to enjoy soft serve maple ice cream with bacon bits. Yes please. Also good to have while on the way to the first of several happy hours (see previous post for more of the blogger's good life).

#ORShow Day 2 Highlights

The evening's entertainment was the KEEN "Live Monumental" party, celebrating new national monuments and urging the decision-makers to keep 'em coming (can't have too much nature protected, that's for sure). Hanging out with Paulina and new friend Jess of You Did What With Your Weiner was a great way to cap off this day for sure. Good food and beer, signing petitions, and having t-shirts made for us was a good time.

ORShow Day 2 Highlights Video

More FaceTiming on the way home meant I got a little family love and could rest easy for Day 3.

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