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BWCA Day 3: Great Views

By | Art, Backpacking, Camping, Canoe, Family, Food, Local Food, Travel | 2 Comments

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(If you’re just checking into our Boundary Water’s trip, be sure to check out Days 1 and 2 first!)

One of the highlights of our trip (for me anyway) was Neil’s breakfasts. Every morning, he was the first up, making breakfast or brewing coffee for us while getting things ready for the day. We had a busy day planned (relatively speaking) for the third day of our trip — some hiking, showers, lunch and checking out an art show in Grand Marais — so he prepped a big breakfast of eggs, bacon and coffee.

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He is so good at balancing the skillet over our Jetboil.

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After breakfast, we hit the road to find a few trailheads. Up first: Honeymoon Bluff!

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Honeymoon Bluff is a moderately difficult but short hike that takes roughly 30 minutes (with stops to see the view included). The grade can be somewhat challenging at times, but a helpful set of wooden stairs has been installed throughout parts of the trail. It has a fabulous view of Hungry Jack Lake.

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Gorgeous view!

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Can you imagine how beautiful this would be at sunset, or in the fall…

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After leaving Honeymoon, we packed up and headed to Caribou Rock. It’s a 7-mile trail, but we popped in for about 1.4 miles in and back to see the overlook:

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Gorgeous! And so green compared to Missouri this summer.

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The hiking party.

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A picture of Neil taking a picture of himself. I couldn’t help myself, we’re so camera-phobic most of the time…

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After a good morning hike, we made our way to Grand Marais for our first showers of the trip. Showers are always a point of mystery in our planning. We never quite know where we’ll find one, but we know some place will have them. On our honeymoon, our showers ended up being in the back of a laundromat, and in Montana, a local KOA campground. In Grand Marais, the place to get a shower is apparently the municipal pool. No in the pool mind you, but in the bathroom showers. They were not luxurious, and there’s nothing like water timers and peeping 6 year-olds to test your motor skills and patience, but we came out alright.

After showers, we headed downtown. We had passed an outdoor supply shop on the way into town the first night and definitely wanted to check it out. They had a lot of nice, very expensive equipment, I’m glad we left before we spent too much money.

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We decided to hit the Gun Flint Tavern for lunch, a local spot right on the water that came recommended by locals. It was packed!

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They had a great selection of craft beers and super-fresh menu options.

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Neil ordered a bowl of andouille sausage and veggie soup to start, followed by the spicy dry rub wings. They smelled amazing!

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I skipped the appetizers and went straight for a monster walleye sandwich with blue chips and cheese on the side. I just can’t come to Minnesota — especially so close to Lake Superior — and not get my walleye fix. It was SO good.

After lunch, we decided to peruse the local art fair that was happening outside…

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I gravitated immediately to this handmade canoe. Is it not one of the most incredible things you’ve ever seen? Even the weaving on the bench seat is handmade. A work of pure art and patience, too pretty to put in the water if you ask me. On a side note: I really can’t wait until we get kayaks of our own.

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We also walked enjoyed another walk along the shore. How can you not when you’re spoiled with a big beautiful lake to enjoy?

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Canadian geese.

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A seagull stalking from above.

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After our hikes, showers, lunch and perusing it was back to the woods for us! Stay tuned for Day 4!

Note: From our pictures, it’s obvious we enjoyed some non-Paleo eats. This is our first vacation since going Paleo, and we decided that while we wouldn’t go crazy, we would enjoy local food and not stress diet too much.

BWCA Day 2: Donuts and Relaxation

By | Backpacking, Beer, Camping, Travel | 4 Comments

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(If you’re just checking into our Boundary Water’s trip, be sure to check out Day 1 first!)

I love that typically our first day on vacation is a lazy and laid-back one. After fighting a losing battle to sleep in with the morning sunshine, we crawled out of our tents around 8:00 and immediately started coffee. Although there might be better or more sophisticated ways to brew coffee while camping, we’ve found the best bang for both our buck and limited ambition is Starbucks Via. Boil water, pour packet, add creamer (coconut!) and done. After a light breakfast of coffee and granola bars, we decided to make our way back to Grand Marais to do a little exploring.

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We parked along the main street and immediately made our way to the shore to admire Lake Superior.

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Heaven!

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Perfect photo-op for Christmas cards!

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I’m pretty sure this is the first somewhat nice photo we’ve taken together all year…

We then hit the town. First stop, quaint local bookstore, oozing cuteness.

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Which happened to be right next door to donut shop! Obviously donuts are a “rare to never” part of our diet, but I make it a goal to eat one on vacation every year. It’s been appropriately dubbed “vacation donut.”

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World’s Best Donuts indeed! They were amazing. Super fresh, soft and sweet. Not hard to understand why they are now a 5th generation shop!

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We then hit The Beaver House to check out bait and tackle for fishing. Its been around for 40 years and have an amazing assortment of rods, tackle and bait. In addition to just stocking goods, they are a wealth of information and advice. I love that Grand Marais values a healthy local business culture, so refreshing and sadly unique.

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We then made our way back to the lodge to pick up firewood and bait. The lodge was pretty sweet, reminded me a lot of the Lodge in the movie Dirty Dancing. I wouldn’t mind doing a lodge trip sometime in the future…

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Bait and permit in hand and wood over shoulders, we headed back to camp to try our hand at fishing.

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Audrey was dubbed the Master Angler. Too bad the fish were apparently not impressed with our democratic efforts…

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While we waited for the bobber to dip, we snuck in some reading. We always shoot to read one book. For this trip, Neil chose God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens and I chose…

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Wicked! by Gregory Maguire. Definitely not new, but I saw it in a used bookstore a few weeks ago and decided to give it a try, since the play has been so successful. I always lean toward reading fantasy fiction novels on vacation. The forest feels like the perfect environment. Has anyone read this? I heard there is more in the series, are they worth the read?

After a few bites and one very small large-mouth bass, we decided to pack it in and make dinner. Burritos were on the menu!

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I won’t lie, the men did ALL the cooking on this trip and Audrey and I loved it. Neil made ground hamburger with spicy sauce on the Jetboil which we then paired with cheese and salsa on tortillas. Super simple and unsophisticated, but perfect!

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Look out, that badass burrito has a knife!

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Blurry, but you get the idea.

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Enjoyed with a Black Butte Porter by Deschutes Brewery (OR). A little heavy for summer, but still really good. We heart dark beer. After dinner we settled into our chairs with drinks and s’mores before rolling into bed. Stay tuned for Day 3!

BWCA Day 1: On the Road

By | Backpacking, Camping, Travel | 2 Comments

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We’re back! We had a wonderfully relaxing trip to the Boundary Waters, and I’m already looking forward to our next trip back, hopefully a little deeper into the woods to explore more of the rivers and backcountry. Toes first, legs next right?

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A little back story since I left you all mostly hanging last week. Originally, we were planning to return to Rocky Mountain National Park for our summer trip. Neil’s brother Alex and our sister-in-law Audrey had decided to join us. We had the site booked and our planned trails marked many months in advance. Then the fires started, and while we held out hope as long as possible that things would calm down, we eventually had to adjust our plans. We drew a 12-hour driving radius around Missouri, and were left with few options that wouldn’t put us directly in the middle of a heat wave. I’ve always wanted to explore the Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota, so on a whim I suggested it. Neil checked the outfitters, and found one with sites available in a campground. Squee!

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My crappy lens does the view no justice. Must. Get. Wide-angle. Lens.

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Entering Superior National Forest, a pre-BWCA tease!

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The drive was definitely a long one, but our suffering through Iowa was rewarded with the final four hours being along Lake Superior, with water as far as the eye could see. We traveled through Duluth, past Lutsen, and finally arrived in Grand Marais, a tiny town just a little ways from the Canadian border. We then hooked onto the Gunflint Trail and made our way to our destination, Bearskin Lake.

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Because this was our first trip to the area, we decided to take it easy. We opted to stay in a campground adjacent to an outfitter’s lodge (about 2 miles away). Fortunately for us though, the layout of the campground made our stay incredibly private, and there were only a few other campers. Even though this felt easy, the amenities were definitely not glamorous. There were obviously no hook-ups, and we had only pit toilets, and one spicket for drinking water for the whole campground, making for rougher conditions than both of our bigger trips to RMNP and GNP. I kind of regret not taking more pictures of the campground as kind of a “spoof” on a lot of the blogger hotel pics/recaps I often see online.

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What our camp lacked in frills it made up for in beautiful views. Our site was right on the lake, with a little path leading down from our site.

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We set up our camp and settled in our chairs for a nightcap.

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Classy right? But sooo convenient. When you want booze but don’t have a ton of cold pack space, I highly recommend the ol’ plastic mini bottles. Anyhow, so ends our first day. Next: Day Two!

Our Long Lost Friend

By | Backpacking, Camping, Food, Local Food, Travel | 9 Comments

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Pizza! Can you believe I haven’t made a pizza crust in almost a year!? We ate so much pizza before going mostly Paleo (80/20 with our cheat days) that I could almost throw together a crust with my eyes closed. This time however, I had to double-check the recipe.

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Our pizza tastes have definitely changed over the past year.Gluten-free crust, tons of veggies and meager amounts of cheese. We also opted for organic goat cheese, yum!

So what’s the occasion? A fridge full of miscellaneous veggies that needed to be used up before our VACATION! That’s right, we’re on the road now and headed to northern Minnesota to backpack in the Boundary Waters. We are so excited! The pups are with my parents and we have a house-sitter hanging out at the house, we’re all set!

A peek at our Fourth of July break

By | Camping, Floating, Travel | No Comments

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Our Fourth of July weekend was a whirlwind of travel and food. Looking back, it’s almost impossible to recount all the stuff we did! The main event was our two night trip to Table Rock Lake near the Arkansas border to stay at our friend’s lake house with a slew of our other friends.

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We arrived Saturday morning, a bit later than the rest of the crew who had arrived the night before. It was the cutest little a-frame, and with nearly twenty of us, it was PACKED! Upon arriving, we noticed immediately that Neil’s brother Ben was missing. Turns out he’d had a little “oops” the night before. He jumped off a moving golf cart and broke his wrist. Yay for urgent care!

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You know you’re having a good time when finding broken bones on your x-rays becomes a game. They also ended up as window decorations later in the weekend…

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We decided to make his arm festive too. I have no idea why I had Mardi Gras beads in my bag, but they looked good wrapped around part of a beer box. After adorning Ben’s arm, we made an awesome dinner of bbq burgers, jerky and dessert (recipe coming soon!).

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Huge yummy burgers, mixed with bread crumbs, onions and seasoning.

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Cooking with cheese and one lonely veggie burger for Kaycia…

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Yummy deer jerky from Matt and Katie. So good! Yes that’s yours truly, a rare sight on this blog. After dinner, it was time to make our way to the lake to watch the fireworks from the boats. However we were slightly delayed by the boys. Somewhere in the planning stages of the weekend, they had decided they were all going to make and wear jorts (jeans + shorts).

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It was definitely a competition to see who could have the shortest jorts. Poor Nathan (far right) cut his so short they ended up being a skirt. And after looking at tags, we realized Matt (in overalls) was wearing Rue 21 — a girls clothing brand. A total Michael Scott moment if you’re a fan of The Office. And yes — that is the start of a beer-amid on the table.

I opted not to take the camera on the boat to see the fireworks or swimming, a decision I was sad about at the time, but grateful for now, as our group did lose some valuables to the lake over the weekend. And really, it was nice to totally de-tech and enjoy not feeling the need to document everything. We had a crazy fun time, with lots of good food and relaxation. Neil took one picture that I think sums it all up:

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Kaycia on the couch-mobile Sunday morning. She’s so cute, this was the perfect picture to encompass how tired we all were at the end. I always feel that weekends like these come fewer and far between the older we get, and although I’m always happy to return to the sanity of our house and routine, it’s still fun to party and play hard when we’re able.

Speaking of getting older, in two weeks Neil is turning 30! He’s requested a float trip, and plans have been well underway for the past few months. Now I just have to figure out how to make sure there is birthday cake — any ideas?

How did you spend your holiday break?

Brown Butter and Cinnamon Rice Krispies Treats

By | Backpacking, Camping, Desserts, Food | 8 Comments

Browned Butter and Cinnamon Rice Krispie Bars

I’m always looking for fun treat ideas for our backpacking and floating trips. Being that we camp with Neil’s mostly male friends, I’m fortunate that they give their opinions almost involuntarily, while still gobbling everything regardless of if they like it or not. As anyone familiar to backpacking or floating knows, the less leftovers you have to bring home, the better.

After making my Brown Butter Butterscotch Banana Bread a few months back, I concluded that in all but a few cases, browning butter is better than simply melting it. It gives it a richer, almost nutty flavor and brings out the other ingredients of baked goods, sauces or select vegetables. As an avid lover of the old-school Rice Krispies treat, I felt browned butter would kick the simple flavor up a notch, and coupled with cinnamon, make it the perfect treat for a night next to the campfire.

Ingredients:

8 ounces butter, salted or unsalted (if using unsalted butter, you’ll need 1/4 teaspoon salt added with the marshmallows in step 3)
1 10.5-ounce bag marshmallows
1 12-ounce box Rice Krispies cereal (I actually used a little less than a full box, so add slowly)
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon

Browned Butter and Cinnamon Rice Krispie Bars

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Directions:

1. Line a 9- by 13-inch pan with parchment or wax paper. Butter or grease well.
2. In a large pot, melt butter slowly over medium-low heat. Carefully move the saucepan around to melt and move the butter, but do not stir. Allow to foam until it subsides, then remove from heat and set aside once it goes from golden to brown.
3. Once the butter is evenly browned, add the marshmallows, stirring to mix. If you used unsalted butter, now is the time to add the salt. Add the cinnamon at this time. Continue to stir and cook until the marshmallows melt down and the mixture turns a light shade of brown, about 3-5 minutes.
4. Remove the pot from heat, stir in Rice Krispies and quickly mix well, using a rubber spatula or silicone spoon. Spoon into prepared pan. Butter or oil your rubber spatula or silicone spoon and press lightly to flatten into pan evenly. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes and slice into squares to serve.

It doesn’t get much easier than that. They were by far the best I’ve ever made, with full credit going to the switch to browned butter and cinnamon. They were a hit with the guys (and one girl) as well, and we polished the whole batch on the short overnight trip. I found myself laying each of mine on the warm logs of the campfire and softening them to make them gooey and soft again. A completely new take on a classic treat we’ll definitely be making again soon!

Weekend Recap: Floating on the Current River

By | Backpacking, Camping, Clive, Floating, Food, Friends, Jessica, Neil, Travel | 14 Comments

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On a whim, we decided to hit the Current River with a group of Neil’s friends this weekend. They are camping and floating weekend warriors, often starting as early as January and sometimes taking trips in late November as weather permits. With my crazy schedule this semester, this is the first time I’ve been able to go, so I was determined to make it, come hell or high water. Little did we know, one of those situations would be greeting us very soon.

With all the rain we’ve had in the past month, the river was quite swollen. One one hand, it made the normal shallow points in the river easy to navigate in a canoe, a perk that allows consistent momentum and little worry about scraping the bottom of the river. On the other, it required close attention because the river was moving FAST. The first 11 miles of our 22 mile float were swiftly over in a matter of several hours. A quick look at our Garmin GPS indicated that without paddling, we were floating at a rate of 5-6 miles per hour. Definitely more of an amusement park water ride than a lazy river float.

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I was not the only new member along for the trip, Clive also made his debut on the river this weekend. We’ve been wanting to get him on a trip to get a sense of how he’d do in more remote camping situations, and an overnight float seemed the perfect short test run. The only sticky point was the whole floating part. If you remember from a few of our trips (here and here) last year, Clive is not a fan of the water. So how would he fare in a canoe?

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Lucky for us, Clive took right to canoeing. After a few minutes of nervous shaking after drop-in, he was quickly diverted by the tour of what had to have been his nose’s paradise. He just kept smelling and smelling, watching the world go by and having someone paddle him around. He is a spoiled pup after all.

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While Clive took to floating like a champ, we were unprepared for the weather. After being spoiled with warmer temperatures all week, they suddenly plunged into the 50’s on Saturday. On the river, it felt more like lower 40’s. Despite Neil’s calm and happy demeanor in this photo, we were freezing. Look at his purple legs and you’ll understand why he switched to pants on the next stop. The photo bombers behind him had the right idea.

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We saw some amazing sights. Beautiful cave openings flooded with bright aqua water in the rocks and freshwater springs. This was the biggest one and there were about six canoes and kayaks in there.

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I also saw my first Brood 19 Cicada of the season. I work in a plant sciences and entomology department, so I’ve been hearing a lot of about their impending arrival. They are here a little earlier than expected, and are a lot bigger than I remember. Don’t worry, it was dead, I just couldn’t help but get a macro shot of the wings, aren’t they beautiful?

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I snapped a shot of my finger, which was completely numb after about an hour. I’ve had frostbite before (its basically a rite of passage in Minnesota), and this is the closest I’ve felt to having it again. I wanted to remember my finger in case I lost it.

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About a quarter of the way into our float we had our first and only dump of the trip. A dump is when someone overturns, usually as a result of hitting something in the water, or something in the way of the path. In this case, it was tree that had recently fallen over the water. One of Neil’s friends, Justin, brought his cousin, Kaycia, and she followed Neil’s brother Ben into a more narrow pathway and got snagged by the tree, which overturned her kayak. Poor girl was soaked to the bone and her kayak quickly filled with water and started to sink as it kept moving down river. Justin quickly retrieved it while Ben got her to the nearest sandbar. Justin towed it ashore, emptied the water, then decided to swim it upstream to her.

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Grazy bastard! That water was freezing! Don’t judge, but I couldn’t have done it. Maybe I’m just not that good of a person…

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With two of our group members soaked, and the cloudy day quickly growing darker, we decided to make camp at the next sand bar and get a fire going.

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With the brief appearance of sun, the smorgasbord was on! If Clive had any doubts about camping, they were quickly gone when he realized there was people food to be had.

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Matt quickly became his new best friend. He had hot dogs and snacks!

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“What do you have that I can have?”

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Stringing up a pineapple. Apparently this is a Futurama reference? Anyone? I was just ready to eat it. Fresh pineapple has to be my favorite fruit.

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Neil sliced it up like a pro, I was so proud. It was a sticky mess though. Pineapple is not really an optimal camping food choice. Its deliciousness redeemed it though.

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How about some pineapple and kielbasa kabobs with complimentary penis jokes on the side? One can not expect to camp with men without such topical entertainment.

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We ate so much food! I was SO stuffed and didn’t partake of nearly 1/3 of what everyone brought to share. I love the simplicity and informal nature of camping food. No one is pretentious, everyone shares, and everything cooked over a fire has a beautiful flavor.

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Oh look it’s me! Neil snagged the camera to get a few shots and got one of me before I noticed. Is it weird that this is my blog and there are rarely any pictures of me?

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Water brought to us by Ben. This is a really sweet device that Neil and I would like to someday add to our inventory. It’s called the Katadyn Base Camp Water Filter. It’s great when you’re in large or small groups. There’s no pumping or repetitive trips to the river to filter enough for a CamelBak or Nalgene bottle. Simply fill the bag and hang it, and it filters as you use it.

We sat by the fire late into the night and finally passed out around midnight. I always fall asleep early on trips and wake up around 5 or 6 am. Maybe I should sleep outdoors more often?

The next morning…

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No, raccoons did not get into camp, this is all us. I can’t decide whether to call this “Beer-nado” or “The Morning After.” I think it is accurate to say we had a great night.

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Bacon and eggs for breakfast, with a twist…

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…in a bun with a hot dog? I stuck with eggs and salsa.

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Soon it was time to hit the river again and head home. Clive was suited up and ready to go. He even hopped in the canoe on his own. I’m so proud of my little water dog! We’re definitely going to get him a better float coat for the next trip. This one is great for little lake trips, but he’s in need of something more serious and better fitting for movement. We’re eyeing The Big Eddy by Ruffwear, but are open to suggestions if you have any!

So even though it was cold and we didn’t swim and really didn’t see a lick of sunlight, we had a great time. The river was quiet, we rarely saw another soul and it was great to really feel like we were leaving civilization and spending time with friends and each other. This was my first Current River trip, and of the rivers I’ve canoed in Missouri thus far, this has been my favorite. We’re definitely going to have to save a little money and expand our inventory to include kayaks and a canoe. The further we dive into camping and backpacking the more we see our gear needs changing. It doesn’t help that companies are constantly putting out great tools that make packing and enjoying the trip easier!

Stay tuned, I have a few new camping recipes to share! I’ll give you a hint: browned butter and bourbon…

If you’re interested in canoeing the Current River, you can find more information and trip planning routes and tips here.

Hiking the Buffalo River Trail (BRT)

By | Backpacking, Camping, Neil | 3 Comments

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A couple weeks ago a friend of mine messaged me on Facebook and asked if I wanted to go backpacking that upcoming weekend. Considering it was the middle of January, I was a bit wary at the thought of waking up to subzero temperatures. This group of friends have been known to backpack in sub 32 degree temperatures, and even sleep without a tent when it is in the single digits! Not only was my gear not really up to the task of extreme temperatures, but my courage wasn’t either.

As luck would have it, that particular weekend a warm front came through, warmer than any we’d had all winter, and the day time temperatures were in the upper 50s! Jessica had to stay home with a mountain grad school homework, but she told me to go anyway. I’m glad I did, the hike was just the escape I needed from the long winter.

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We hit the trail early Saturday morning. For those of you not familiar with the BRT, here is a quick overview of the trail. There is a lot of wildlife and amazing views on the hikes in Arkansas and I don’t think it gets as much credit where its due. A full 36 miles if you do it all, but this weekend we would be taking on a mere 15-17miles of the trail.

During the hike we tracked our progress with the multiple GPS devices among the crew. Here is a map of our hike to reference.
View Buffalo River Trail – Steel Creek to Boxley in a larger map

Even though hiking in January meant little foliage and tree cover, it allowed us to see amazingly clear views of the river and the hills around.

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There were even a few surprises like this little sinkhole/cave we decided to check out.

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As the miles rolled behind us, 9.1 the first day to be exact; it started getting a bit later in the day and we needed to look for a good place to camp, one hopefully with a water source nearby. We came atop one of the hills/mountains and found a flat peak, however the only water source was over 300 feet of elevation drop below us.

My brother Ben and our friend Nathan took on the task of trekking down the steep gorge and getting 2.5 gallons of water (heavy!) and then climbing back up. Kudos to them, I highly doubt I would of had the fortitude to do that after the full day of hiking.

Our camp:

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I had canned soup and a hot dog for dinner. There were many different meals going on that evening. Some pastas, some rice dishes. If you have never heard of a JetBoil it is an extremely versatile cooking system that is lightweight and very efficient. Jessica and I used them on both our Colorado and Montana trips to cook many great dishes.

Nathan brought this awesome wind-up radio. I have to get one of these. It is great to get some tunes with the conversation around the camp fire sometimes. No batteries required. Wind it up for 60-120 seconds and get nearly an hour of radio. How cool is that?

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The morning came a lot earlier than I would have liked. However I did sleep well thanks to our awesome sleeping pads. Ever since we purchased them I have not felt the ground ever again on our camping trips. To see all of our favorite gear, check out this post!

Coffee in 60 seconds with the JetBoil and Starbucks VIA is a life saver on early camping mornings.

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I told you that they sleep without a tent. Crazy, but when you imagine the weight savings to your pack, it’s definitely tempting to try.

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We packed up and headed back out, immediately coming across a great view. Here’s a shot of my brother Ben and I. Can you tell we’re related?

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Another 7.3 miles to the end of our trek. Overall, I really liked the part of the trail we did. There were a lot of elevation changes that challenged me, but there was also a good amount of flat area where you did not have to stare at your feet and could enjoy looking around a little more.

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I was certainly tired by the end of the second day, but it felt good to get exercise that challenged every one of my muscles. It’s a great workout when you are hiking with 30-40lbs or more on your back. Beats the gym any day!

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End shot of our group.

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This weekend I may be heading down to do another weekend of backpacking. Stay tuned!

Neil

School Lunches Revisited: Vegetarian Extra Sloppy Sloppy Joes

By | Backpacking, Camping, Food, Recipes, Vegetarian | 4 Comments

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

I keep multiple lists of all foods I want to make. Vegetarian Sloppy Joes were actually on two lists: things I wanted to try in general and recipes I thought might be perfect for camping. I’ve been wanting to give them a makeover and a second chance because I’ve never been a fan of traditional sloppy joes. First, because the meat was always chewy and filled with tiny slivers of bone, and because let’s face it, anything served as part of the school lunch program during the ’80s might as well have been served on the floor, because there was no where to go but up. School lunch sloppy joes were even depicted in all their horror in the movie Billy Madison. Accurate? I think so.

Ingredients:

Recipe adapted from the USA Rice Federation
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (we actually forgot this and were trapped by the blizzard)
3 cups short grain brown rice, cooked
2 (16 oz) cans Mexican style pinto beans
3/4 cups hickory smoke BBQ sauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 whole grain buns
Serve with lettuce, pickles, cheese, or any of your other favorite toppings

Directions:

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and green pepper; cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice, beans, spices and BBQ sauce. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until heated through. Serve on buns with choice toppings. Makes 4-6 servings.

Be prepared to add extra barbecue sauce to make them extra sloppy! We really liked these, and because they are meatless and super hearty they’ll be perfect for a short backpacking trip (cans are too heavy for longer trips) or just a way to break up another day of the frigid monotony that is this seemingly never ending winter. A cool variation would be to grate a little mozzarella or pepper jack cheese into them and make the whole consistency a little stickier.

Is there a school lunch meal you’d like to offer a makeover and second chance to? Leave us a comment!

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread and Winter Camping for One

By | Backpacking, Breadmaking, Camping, Design, Food, Freelance, Jessica, Neil, Vegetarian | 5 Comments

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

I’ll admit, I’m a complete brat when it comes to Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread. I have standards. The swirl to bread ratio has to be exactly the way I like it or I just don’t enjoy it. Nothing is more annoying than not enough raisins or cinnamon swirl! I know, I’ve got issues. As I’ve been completely obsessed with breadmaking lately, I decided to make a trial run of swirl bread at around midnight last night.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Having read Eat a Duck I Must’s review of Martha Stewart’s recipe, I decided to use it for the trial. With only a three-hour total rise, it was a lot quicker than a no-knead slow rise. For whatever reason though, it seemed to call for an obscene amount of raisins. I was happy to oblige, love raisins, but it was more than a little perplexing trying to get them all to stay in the dough.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Despite the raisin overload, I got two perfect loaves of bread. Unfortunately, I was only able to snag one piece for breakfast. Neil will be packing up both loaves and leaving town after work. The un-nibbled one will be a gift to my mother-in-law (we enjoy sending stuff back and forth to one another), and the other will be snackage for the first camping trip of the year with Neil’s brother and some friends, which unfortunately I will not be going on.

Gear

Because I’m just coming out of the woods with the cold and blegh I’ve been battling for two weeks, I decided it was too soon and too cold to be camping and hiking outdoors. Very adult and responsible of me for sure, but I’m really bummed. REALLY. BUMMED. But I know there are plenty more weekends to get a winter-ish camping trip in, and it’s a good opportunity to tackle some design and homework, as well as some projects I’ve been meaning to do around the house. Like the out-of-control pantry:

Out of Control Pantry

…as well as some window treatments that need to be fixed, and some bedding that needs to be cleaned. Always tons of stuff to do, and I’ve resolved to have a little fun too. I’m definitely making another loaf of Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread, but will use a slow-rise approach to see how it changes the flavor. I’m also going to make a few other treats for my bachelor weekend. What are they? You’ll have to check back in on Monday to find out! Neil will also have a recap of his weekend in Arkansas and a few tips for planning the perfect winter camping trip.

What are your weekend plans?