Tag Archives: Begin Your Adventure

Great American Backyard Campout 2011

Even though it was a night in advance, Jason and I took part of the Great American Backyard Campout with our niece, Reagan, on Friday night. It was Reagan’s first time “camping,” and it has been something we’ve promised to do with her for several months now.

Our campsite for the night.
Backyard Camping

Inaugural use of our new fire pit.

Nothing like hot dogs roasted over a campfire.
Dinner Time!

Bailey joined us in the campout. She has camped a couple of times with Jason and I, so we knew she’d handle it well. Thea, our flight risk, had to stay inside and miss the festivities (more on that later…). Bailey was in all of her glory. Typically, Reagan gravitates to Thea since Bailey can be a bit much with the licking and need for attention. With Thea out of the picture, Bailey took full advantage.

Focused on a bug.

Campin’ Buddies

I have to say, our backyard is ideal for camping. Even though we live in town, the wooded creek area along the backside of our lot means seclusion from houses on the other side. None of our neighbors ever seem to use their backyards, so it’s perfect.

Looks Like We're in the Woods...Kind Of

We had a couple of “wildlife” sightings. First, Bailey and Reagan spotted a cat a few yards over. The cat disappeared into the wooded area of the yard…and then we heard the insane meowing. The cat was obviously battling something. The cat won – we saw it headed back to its house a bit later.

The other prominent wildlife were birds, particularly a pair of bluebirds nesting in our neighbor’s birdhouse. We all enjoyed watching them fly around.

Of course, no campout would be complete without s’mores. I really enjoyed REI’s The Art & Science of S’mores, and I was sure to share my favorite variation: fudge stripe cookies in place of graham crackers and chocolate. I found the idea online a couple years ago, and I have to say that I prefer this version to the original. I’ve never been a big fan of graham crackers, but fudge stripe cookies…that’s a different story 😀  Reagan likes these “marshmallow cookies,” too.

Marshmallow Cookies!

Once it got darker out and we had our fill of s’mores, it was time to catch fireflies. Reagan started out wanting to catch 49 of them…but she settled for five.

Catching Fireflies

Our Bounty

Jason and I were a little perplexed. The fireflies wouldn’t light up while they were in the jar. We remembered catching fireflies as kids, and the bugs always continued to blink in their prisons our containers. Anyone know what would be going on there?

We headed back inside to clean up and, by that point, I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. I felt terribly guilty leaving Thea by herself in the house while we were having fun outside 🙁  We considered leaving Bailey inside with her, but I think part of Reagan’s excitement was over Bailey camping, too. Since today was Thea’s birthday, so I wanted to be good to her. Jason, Reagan, and Bailey got settled in the tent while I headed into the house and up the stairs to my bedroom.

Jason and Reagan woke me up around 6:00am. Jason was freezing all night – Reagan was perfectly comfortable with only her thin sleeping bag. Lying niece or wimpy husband – You decide  😉

Overall, Reagan did great! We’ll try another couple of backyard campouts with her (and me), and we might try taking her on an actual camping trip sometime if she’d like to go.


Did you get out camping this weekend?

Feelin’ the Love

My Monday started with a small rant on Twitter:

[blackbirdpie id=”52444351942508545″]


Where did it come from? Well, there were two sources. First, about a month ago, I shared a link over Twitter from Glamping Girl about an amazing glamping resort near the Great Smokey Mountains. Well, a random on Twitter didn’t think so. I was scolded for my desire to “glamp” and was told it was “time to embrace the dirt.” Ok  😕

The second kick came via Facebook. Jason and I had just been to the travel agent to get our flight booked to California in July. Since this pretty much immediately followed our big purchases at REI, I shared on Facebook that this had officially become the most expensive camping trip ever. Keep in mind that I tend to be a little sarcastic and snarky, and that’s all I meant to convey. Of course, an old high school acquaintance felt compelled to tell me that I should “quit now and go 100% native.” Thanks for the unsolicited, judgmental advice  😡

To my great joy and, dare I say, surprise, I had a wonderful outpouring of support from some of my fellow outdoorsy Tweeters. And then came this…

Daily Inspiration #16

Today’s inspiration is courtesy of Laura…

Read the full post on The GearCaster!

I was so flattered and touched. It brought a much needed smile to my face.

Remember, people, it’s all about getting outdoors and enjoying nature…in whatever manner and style works for you  🙂


Backpacking for Divas 101: Conditioning

I almost titled this post, “Backpacking for Dummies,” but I don’t consider myself to be a dummy. I don’t really consider myself to be a diva either, but it seemed the best title for capturing my upcoming challenge. As I’ve said before, I’m much more of a high-maintenance camper. Therefore, backpacking is well out of my comfort zone.

As I wrote last week, I am starting my preparations for our July trip through the Yosemite High Sierra Camps. First up: Conditioning. I need to get my butt in shape and keep it in shape in order to tackle the mountain passes in Yosemite’s high country, trails which “provide strenuous hiking.” Conditioning will be my focus for December and January.

My Current Physical Condition

So what kind of shape am I in right now? Not the greatest, but not the worst. On the positive side, I have been jogging consistently since mid-summer, and I recently worked my way through the Couch to 5K running program. I plan on maintaining a schedule of three runs a week, which will be a challenge in itself now that it’s snowing in Wisconsin 🙁 .

On the downside, I am still struggling with my weight. I really don’t want to be carrying around extra body weight on top of the weight my pack will provide. Therefore, getting back to a healthy weight (right now, I’m technically overweight) is my top priority in terms of conditioning.

The Problem

My current problem is my diet. Actually, this has been my problem for a few years now. I went from about 180 pounds in 2003 to about 135 in 2005. I went down another 10 pounds over the course of 2006…and it has been uphill since then. Right now, I’m at about 160 pounds, which is about 25 pounds over my ideal body weight.

How did I lose all of that weight? By tracking my food and following a sensible calorie-reduction plan. Combined with regular workouts, it was actually quite easy. Of course, that’s when I was still in my 20’s…

My ideal body weight is about 133 pounds. When I hit that weight four years ago, my body just worked. I could tell that everything was in balance and I felt great. Now, my body is just out of whack. And I’ve also discovered that something evil must happen when you turn 30 – suddenly, the weight doesn’t come off like it used to 🙁 .

I have a long road ahead of me…

The Plan

So how do I get started…for really real this time? Here is my plan for December:

  • With the holidays upon us, I aim to maintain my current weight through the month. I will use SparkPeople to track my calorie intake and keep it within 2000 calories a day.
  • I will continue my workout streak, jogging three days a week for a total of 5-7 miles and doing a David Kirsch 7-Day Prescription workout each day.
  • I will keep myself accountable – and ask you, my readers, to keep me accountable – by blogging about my progress at least three times a week.

If all goes well – which it will 🙂 – I will start a weight loss plan in January. Here we go…

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