Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I Finally Got to Go Swamp Walking in the Everglades!

Florida Everglades Slough Slog
Swamp Walking

Swamp walking in the Everglades is actually something I have wanted to try for a long time.  In the last two years, I almost had a chance and then it would get cancelled at the last minute.  This past January it all worked out!  Thinking back, I was really lucky that we did this when we did.  Who knew Hurricane Irma would blow through and change a lot of the scenery!

Ranger Led Swamp Walk

I had made reservations a week before.  My good childhood friend Steve, said he would try swamp walking with me, Nadia, my daughter was not having any part of it.  We showed up on a Saturday morning and checked in with the Ranger.  (this was a ranger led tour in the Everglades National Park)

It was a cold Florida January Morning, like around 69 degrees LOL, but cold to me!  After we checked in with the Ranger, we were all to meet near the Anhinga Trail.

Everglades National Park

Once it was time to meet up, the Ranger told us we were going to our cars and follow him down the road to the "Cathedral".  This was where we were going to hike.  The "Cathedral" was a mound of Cypress trees.  He told us to be careful if we needed to grab onto a tree for balance, because snakes like to rest in the moss! "What!?"  I was really starting to think about what I was getting myself into, because I am a bit uncoordinated.  Needless to say, I was already worried about touching a gator with my shoe!

Everglades Cypress Walk

When we arrived at the spot, we just pulled over on the side of the road behind the Ranger's Van in a single file.  We then were each given a walking stick to use for balance.  In the above photo, see that mound in the distance?  That is the Cathedral that we were going to hike into.  I also thought we would use that trail; nope, we made our own trail.

As we started out, it was quite comical.  Your feet would sink into the muck and then trying to get it out of the muck would make a "passing gas" sound.  The muck really sucked your feet in, so make sure you are wearing tied shoes, like hiking boots.  (NO Sandals).

Slough Slog Swamp Everglades Outdoors
Outline of my shoe in the mud

Just starting out, was so pretty to me.  We saw many, many birds.  It was amazing to me how these Great Wood Storks could sit on the top of the tree branches and not fall off!  These are big birds!

Our Outdoor Travel Stories

As we ventured along, we started entering the "Cathedral".

swamp Walking Florida

The day we went, the highest the water went was up to my knees.

hiking in water in Florida Everglades

Inside the "Cathedral" were air plants and bromeliads.

Everglades plants

It was beautiful in here, like an oasis.

http://ouroutdoorstories.com

hiking amongst Cypress Trees in water

There was a gator in here, but we stayed away from him.

We saw a Rosetta Spoonbill fly onto a tree.

Rossetta Spoonbill

Florida Everglades

We walked around and just admired the view and wildlife.  This was a great place to find peace and to let your worries of the city melt away.


My friend Steve, making his way through the air plants and Cypress Trees with his crazy hat.  LOL at least it would help authorities to find us if we got lost.

Bromeliads in the Everglades

Above is a Bromeliad on a tree.  Everything would really start blooming in the next month or so.  Could you imagine how pretty it would look then, with orchids and bromeliads all in bloom?

This tour was about 2.5 hours long.  We loved the walk and were glad that we did it.

Afterward, we walked along the Anhinga Trail.

Florida Everglades View

Checkout this big gator!

Everglades Boardwalk Water Florida

We also saw some baby Anhingas

Nature Everglades Water bird babies

The evening was turning out nice

Everglades Sunset Florida, Palm trees

But when we went to see the Sunset, the rain clouds took over 😞

Even though, it was still a great day and an experience I will cherish always.

Please note:  We went before Hurricane Irma hit Florida.  Many areas of the Everglades are still closed, but here is a link to more information on the Slough Slog in case they offer a Ranger Led Tour soon: https://www.nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/sloughslog.htm

You should give it a try at least once.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pocket-Size Travel Luxuries to Have on Every Trip by Guest Blogger Lee Flynn

Photo Provided by Lee Flynn
Here is another article by Guest Blogger - Lee Flynn - Please Note that all links provided in this post are from Lee Flynn and may or may not be affiliate links. 


There is no better way to become a more well-rounded person than by getting off the couch and visiting a great mountain by hiking or going fishing. Traveling outdoors is the only way to experience all of the beautiful cultures, attractions and natural sights throughout the world. Whether you are going camping or just taking a short hike, it is always nice to some comforting items to make your travels more enjoyable. These are the six pocket-size travel luxuries that you must have the next time you go outdoors and explore.


Noise Cancelling Earbuds
Outdoor travel may be filled with a lot of exciting adventures, but there is also going to be some downtime on your trip. There is no better way to make the most of this downtime than by having a pair of noise cancelling ear buds in your pocket at all times. These earbuds will allow you to watch a great movie or listen to some of your favorite songs. You will also not have to worry about being disturbed if you are in a noisy area of the woods at night when you are trying to fall asleep.


Sleep Mask
One of the best ways to get the most out of your trip is by getting a lot of sleep every night. It can be hard to continue to explore a new location if you are completely exhausted. Since sleeping in a new environment can be extremely difficult for some people, you will want to carry a sleep mask every time you travel. You may not think it will help much, but a sleep mask is crucial to feeling refreshed every morning while outdoors. In addition to blocking out of all of the outside light, sleep masks will also help reduce swelling and relieve any sinus pressure.


Carry On Cocktail Kit
It may not be easy or convenient to carry a full bar set while traveling, but that does not have to stop you from enjoying a few of your favorite drinks. The carry on cocktail kit contains everything you need to enjoy a delicious drink no matter where you are at. The special tin is small enough to fit in your pocket, and it only requires you to add a few ounces of the proper liquor to get a premium cocktail. An old fashioned, Moscow mule, hot toddy and margarita are a few of the excellent cocktails that you can have ready in your pocket during your next adventure.


E-Cigarettes
Anyone that enjoys using an e-cigarette knows that they are a great luxury while traveling. Nobody wants to go several days without enjoying their favorite relaxing hobby just because they are not home. Luckily, you can have your e-cigarette wherever you go because they are small enough to fit in your back pocket. If you are going to be gone for more than a few days, then you need to make sure you have some replacement coils in your bag.


Disposable Travel Toothbrush
A clean mouth is essential for having a healthy body, so you do not want to ignore your teeth just because you are busy rock climbing. Since you may be away from your personal belongings for most of the day, carrying a disposable travel toothbrush is highly recommended. A disposable travel toothbrush can easily fit in your pocket, and it can be used to provide freshness and properly clean your teeth at any time. Once you are finished brushing, you just throw the tiny toothbrush in your personal trash bag, grab another one before you leave the next morning and you are ready for another great day of traveling.


Pocket Travel Journal
A travel itinerary is essential to creating a smooth travel experience. Since you can’t rely on finding an internet connection or having your smartphone constantly charged in the outdoors, it is best to have a physical itinerary in your pocket. This itinerary should be the first entry in your pocket travel journal. You can then use the rest of the journal to write about your experiences at every destination.

You can read more about Lee Flynn at https://medium.com/@Preparation

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Top Five Essential Items to Have While Hiking



Here is another article by Guest Blogger - Lee Flynn - Please Note that all links provided in this post are from Lee Flynn and may or may not be affiliate links. 

Going hiking is a fantastic way to get outdoors, become healthier, and appreciate nature. Before grabbing your shoes and heading out the door for your first or next hike, consider that you are leaving with all of the correct items and gear. Hiking and being unprepared are a dangerous combination. You never know what can happen while out on the trails. The following five items are this list are essential things will you need to bring with you to keep you safe and have a perfect hike.


Navigation
It does not matter if you have done 1 hike or 100 hikes; the risk of getting lost always exists. Even if you have your trail all mapped out in your head or have hiked this trail before, there are still situations that could cause you to lose your way. Animals, bad weather, Injuries, and closed trails are all things that could throw off your hike.


To make sure you always know where you are, pack as many of the following as possible; a handheld GPS, a compass, and a map. Do not rely on your cell phone. It is common to lose most, if not all cell reception during your hike. Having a backup navigation plan is essential.


Footwear
You should always wear appropriate footwear when hiking. Not wearing the right shoes can lead to tripping, twisted ankles, sore feet, or shin splints. Eighty-five percent of people wear the wrong type of shoes when working out, and that includes walking, running, and hiking.


For shorter hikes or hikes with easy terrain, athletic shoes like sneakers or tennis shoes with good rubber treading should be sufficient. For longer hiking trips, hikes on tough terrain, or hikes while carrying a heavy load, you are going to want hiking boots with more support than regular shoes.


Water
The average person needs to drink roughly 9 to 13 cups of water every day. For people going hiking, especially in warmer and more humid climates, you need to bring water with you. Never assume that you are hydrated enough to not bring any with you. Hiking is a great exercise and it causes you to burn through your body’s water quick.


Heat exhaustion is common among unprepared, beginner hikers and having at least a liter of water can help you stay safe and hydrated. Never assume that you will find safe drinking water. Always have water bottles, canteens, or drinking bladder with you whenever you hike.


Skin Protection
Depending on the weather conditions, it can take only 15 minutes of sunlight exposure before developing sunburn. Unless you a taking a hike out to your front mailbox, you are going to need to protect your skin. If you are going hiking in a wooded area, do not assume that you will be in shade most of the time. Protect your skin with clothing and accessories like hats and sunglasses while also using sunscreen on any exposed skin.


In addition to protection from the sun, you might also want to consider protection from insects as well. Keeping a can of bug spray with you can prevent you from the misery of bugs crawling on you and mosquito bites. Wearing light pants and light long sleeve shirts can also protect your body from sun and pests without needing to put something on your skin.


Backpack
All the essential items listed above have to go somewhere and you are not going to want to carry them, so a backpack or daypack that can fit everything is another necessity. When picking the right backpack, you are going to want to look at two things, capacity, and comfort.


You are going to want a backpack that can hold everything you bring and even have room for any extra you want to bring along like food, an extra vape box mod, batteries, or an extra change of clothes. Also be sure that the backpack is comfortable. They can get heavy with all your gear in them, but quality packs will be easier and more comfortable on your back, shoulders, and neck.


Hiking with the proper apparel and equipment can lead to having a healthier body and an overall great experience on the trails. The above list is by no means everything you should bring. Depending on when, where, and how long your next hike is, you might need more than what is above. No matter what type of hike you have next, everything above should be a requirement.

You can read more about Lee Flynn at https://medium.com/@Preparation

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

10 Essentials Campers Should Always Bring Along

Photo Provided by Lee Flynn

Here is another article by Guest Blogger - Lee Flynn - Please Note that all links provided in this post are from Lee Flynn and may or may not be affiliate links. 

Also, keep in mind these are all good essentials for going through a Hurricane too.  After going through Hurricane Irma though, you may want cool clothing too 😅

10 Essentials Campers Should Always Bring Along

Warm Clothing and Blanket
Even if you are going to be camping at a generally high temp location, chances are the nights won't be so forgiving. If you would rather not be chattering from the cold all through the night due to only bringing along your regular pajamas and a sleeping bag per person as a sole means of warmth at night, then loading up on enough extra blankets and warm pj's to sleep in would be the smart move. No one wants to catch a cold on their weekend off in the woods.

Ample Lighting
A few flashlights, a lantern, and a headlamp would be the suggested light sources to tote along for your next camping trip. These are invaluable to keep near you in your tent, for both safety and convenience reasons. Having a flashlight that you can easily access when you need to use the restroom at night or grab something from the car quickly in the case of an unexpected turn of events.

A Backup on Power Sources
Having enough batteries for all your light sources, in case they go out, will serve you and your family from a potentially dangerous situation. Also, if you rely on a portable battery to charge your phones or something to that degree, it's important to be able to keep a consistent charge in times of emergency. If you have a power source and are able to, be sure to bring along rechargeable batteries for all the necessities you would use every day. Think of things such as a means to power your e cigarette starter kit or Iphone while away from home.

First Aid Kit
Speaking of cases of emergency, you should never go on a camping trip without bringing along a first aid kit stocked with all your needed essentials. Bandages, ointment, sewing supplies, gauze, and anything else you may need in times of injury should always be found in the same place. Dedicate a box to hold all of these supplies and keep it somewhere that is easy to access, such as somewhere that is easy to reach in your vehicle. Should you go hiking and are away from your vehicle for a time, be sure to take the kit along with you in a backpack. There is a comprehensive list available with suggestions of what a proper first aid kit should include.

Rope and Tarps
There are many ways that rope can come in handy around the campsite. Same with tarps. In case of a storm hitting your site, you can use tarps and rope to protect your campsite from hail or otherwise.

Map and a Compass
These items are especially useful if you aren't very familiar with the area. You could be going on a hike with your group and exploring somewhere new that you've only ever heard about by word of mouth. Even if you are familiar with the area, it's useful to have a map of where you're at and a compass just in case.

Swiss Army Knife
Invest in a good quality Swiss army knife for all its uses and keep it on your person at all times. These knives come in many sizes, according to what you are looking for in their tools and the quality of the knife. The best kind of Swiss army knife will include useful tools like a small and large blade, can opener, corkscrew, tweezers, mini screwdriver, and pliers, just to name a few.

Plenty of Fire Sources
Even if you prefer to use a lighter to light things, always be sure to pack away a nice carton of high quality matches and leave them where they will stay dry, such as in the car. On the same note, even if you aren't a smoker, always bring along a few spare lighters for the same reason. You can never have too many backup options.

Toiletries
Even though you'll be spending the bulk of your time outdoors on your camping trip, that doesn't mean you have to live completely all natural. Remember to pack away all the necessities that you use every day at home, such as toothpaste, hair product, face wash, and so on.

Bug Spray
Unless you want to get eaten alive out there, bring along some bug spray that wards away ticks, mosquitoes, and gnats. Mosquitoes are especially bothersome in the evening and in areas where there is a water source nearby.

You can read more about Lee Flynn at https://medium.com/@Preparation

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Portable Technology for Your Next Camping Trip


Here is this Month's Article by Guest Blogger - Lee Flynn - Please Note that all links provided in this post are from Lee Flynn and may or may not be affiliate links.

Portable Technology For Your Next Camping Trip
Camping has become a lot easier, comfortable and enjoyable thanks to various advancements in technology and their resulting devices. Some camping purists will argue that the point of spending time in the outdoors is to disconnect from everyday gadgets; while this is quite the valid point, it is important to note that the devices listed herein will add to the safety, entertainment and overall enjoyment of your trip.


Solar Battery Chargers
First things first: you must find a source of energy to recharge the electronic devices you intend to bring with you on your camping excursion. A solar battery charger such as the Instapark 10 watt panel is very portable and lightweight, but will only work when the sun shines; for this reason, you may want to include an external battery to hold the energy generated by the solar panel. You can also look into batteries equipped with a small solar cell; these often come with a clip that you can attach to your backpack for recharging on the go.


Rugged Tablet or Smartphone
If you're outdoors camping trip will leave you exposed to the elements, chances are that your everyday laptop, tablet or smartphone will not be able to handle the conditions. You have a few choices in this regard: if you only intend to use your mobile devices occasionally during your trip, you can store them in a rugged protective case. If you plan to become an avid camper or hiker whose lifestyle demands connectivity, you will be better off investing in rugged devices such as the Dell Latitude 12 tablet or the Ulefone Armor line of smartphones; these are waterproof, dust-proof and impact resistant devices that provide long-lasting battery life and excellent wireless broadband connectivity.


Survival Lamp
Thanks to advances in illumination technology, you can now go camping with incredibly useful gadgets such as the 30-Day Lantern from Ultimate Survival Technologies. Powered by three D-sized batteries, this lantern will last for a month if you set it at the 29 lumen rate, which is the lowest setting, and for more than 30 hours when it is set at the highest level of illumination.


Earphones
The sounds of the forest may be soothing, but you will sometimes find the need to listen to music, a podcast or a local radio station. Even the most rugged headphones or earphones are known to break down during camping trips, and thus you should look into affordable options that give you decent quality. To this effect, American brand Koss is one of your best options.


Electronic Cigarette
If you are a smoker, a portable vape box mod will make your trip to the wilderness more enjoyable than bringing along traditional cigarettes that are bound to get wet and create fire hazards. You will still need to look into a protective case for your vaping device, but you should not have problems recharging with the aforementioned solar chargers, just be sure to bring a few batteries.


Spot Satellite Messenger
Depending on the camping destination you choose, you may not be able to get a decent wireless signal to operate your mobile devices, thereby making your trip a bit risky. You should only venture into remote and inhospitable locations with some sort of emergency signaling and communications device such as the Spot Satellite Messenger, which is used by park rangers in very remote place such as the rainforest regions of Costa Rica. These devices utilize GPS and satellite communications technology that connects to the GEOS International Emergency Response Center. Spot Messengers can also be used for simple, one-touch communications sent by email or SMS to contacts and loved ones for the purpose of letting them know that you are doing well. Professional mountain rescue squads around the world have invested in these devices, which require payment of a reasonable annual subscription.

In the end, the key to enjoying technology during your camping trip is to choose the right gadgets that will keep you safe and comfortable.

You can read more about Lee Flynn at https://medium.com/@Preparation

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Four Safety Tips to Learn Before Camping


Here is this Month's Outdoor Safety Article by Guest Blogger - Lee Flynn

4 Safety Tips to Learn Before Camping

If you are planning on going camping, you are probably really excited about connecting with nature, getting some exercise and enjoying some fresh air. You probably do not want your experience to be ruined by any incidents, however, so you could be wondering what you can do to stay safe. Luckily, following these four safety tips can help you stay as safe as possible on your upcoming camping trip.


1. Dress Properly

First of all, you should make sure that you dress properly. Check the weather forecast, and look into average temperatures and weather for the month that you will be traveling in. Remember that weather can change drastically throughout the course of a day and evening when you're camping, so make sure that you dress in layers so that you can add and remove layers as needed. Additionally, make sure that you are properly covered so that you can protect yourself from insect bites, the sun and the sticks, twigs and plants that you might encounter while you're out there. Wearing good shoes or hiking boots can also help you stay comfortable and can help you prevent yourself from getting injured when you're hiking along the trail.


2. Travel in Numbers

Another thing that you should remember when going camping is that traveling in numbers can be a whole lot safer. Along with sticking together when on the trails or out in the woods, it is also a good idea to have a designated meeting spot in case you get separated. You can also bring along walkie-talkies so that you can communicate with the people in your group if you get separated or if you split up for some reason or another, since you might find that you do not get very good cell phone reception.


3. Bring the Right Food and Water

Even though you might have already made a packing list that included things like your clothing and your vape battery, you might not have thought much about the food and beverages that you are going to bring. However, putting some thought into these things is important.


For example, making sure that you drink plenty of water while you are camping is very important; it can help prevent you from being dehydrated and can also help you stay cool when the temperatures rise and when you might be at risk of a heat stroke. Bringing along a few jugs of water and separate refillable water bottles for everyone in your group can be a good idea.


When packing food, you'll want to pack things that will be easy to eat and store while you're hiking or doing other outdoor activities, such as protein bars and fruit. If you are going to be cooking out on an open fire, you may want to bring along meat and other perishables. This is not necessarily a bad idea, but it's important to make sure that you keep your food at a safe temperature, such as by bringing along a good-quality cooler that will keep the food cold for a long time.


4. Protect Yourself from Wildlife

Ensuring that you protect yourself from wildlife is key when you are camping. Make sure that you bring bug spray to help with the insects, and keep food sealed up properly to avoid attracting bears. Keeping your eyes open for wildlife and avoiding touching or otherwise disturbing any animals that you might find on your adventure can help you stay safe. It's also important to look for any warnings about wildlife where you will be camping, such as bear spottings.

As you can see, there are a few different safety tips that you can follow if you'd like to stay as safe as possible on your upcoming trip. If you remember these tips and make an effort to stay safe and careful, you can help prevent anything from happening. Then, you can focus on having a good time and enjoying your surroundings.

You can read more about Lee Flynn at: https://medium.com/@Preparation