Friday, July 31, 2009

Family Vacation Photos...

Here are some photos of the family vacation:

Gear up!  Getting ready to go out on the kayaks.   

Family fun on the water.

Riding with Uncle Nick...  and don't forget the Paddle Boat!

Taking turns paddling.

Ryder is now a pro and wants to go out on his own.  

Synchronized tandem kayaking....

Things to do in your down time.  Color in the coloring books  and even four year olds have to check their e-mail.

The next group of pictures are my favorite.  These are of the kids interacting.

Sorry about the sideways photos.  I did rotate them but when they uploaded they turned crooked again.  I'm still working on my computer literacy.  

Playing with Sparklers.

I want to wear a bandana like Uncle Nick....   Me too!

"Rock on, Dude!"

The Bumper Car "Drag Race."  

Fierce competition -- Ping Pong and Air Hockey.

Uncle Nick slaving in the kitchen... 

My "Triple Chocolate Chaos."  Tanner reaping the rewards for being so well behaved.

"Is Grumpy really doing dishes??!!"

It's true... we have the pictures to prove it!

There are a million other pictures but I think you get the idea.  It was a lot of fun.  And we all lived to tell the stories.  

Sadly, there is no video of the dancing.  I'll try to get that at the next family event!

I encourage you all to spend some time with your friends and family.  You may surprise yourself, too.

Peace and Love,

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Family Vacation...

Last week was my Family Vacation.

If you have been following this Blog for a while, you may remember from a very early Post that I planned to have someone pick me up off the Trail (and then drop me back) so I could be there.

Dad rented a house (more like a mansion, really) on a lake in New Hampshire.  He invited us all up for the week.  By "us all" I mean... ALL my siblings, their spouses and children.  There was a core group of fifteen plus a few "Day Visitors" scattered throughout the week.  

My initial reaction was that this could be a potential disaster.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my family.  In fact, I get along with all of them on an individual basis.  Mostly in small doses and spread out over time.  Birthday parties, weddings, graduations, maybe a Fourth of July cookout... But 24/7 for a week?!   Thinking about it made me chuckle and I agreed to go.  This could be more entertaining than one of those "reality TV shows."

In my head I was calculating the odds on who would survive the week and who would NOT.  Just for the record, I had myself listed Very High up in the NOT column.  In fact, I brought my tent and gear just in case I needed to disappear into the woods for a day or two.  

For me it was a culture shock.  I live by myself and generally come and go as I please.  And, I admit to being a bit OCD.  I believe everything has a place.  After you use a thing, it goes back into its place.  Counters, floors and tables are not meant to be sticky.  Cabinet doors and dresser drawers are supposed to be closed until you need something from inside-- then you close them again.

Side Note:  Speaking of drawers...  The first of many passionate discussions that we had during the week was about the little space under the kitchen counter where you keep the utensils.  You know the one.  It has a handle and when you pull it, it gently slides out so you can grab a spoon or fork, then slide it closed again.  What is that called?  Is it a "drawer" or is it a "draw"?  Go ahead, ask your family... I dare you.

Another reason I was concerned for my mental sanity is that I don't do groups of people.  I am more of a one on one kind of guy.  I rarely do parties or events.  When I do, I have to psych myself up for it.  Often I will trick myself into thinking it's a part of my job.  I will take the opportunity to "work the room" handing out business cards.  Another favorite trick is to bring the camera and float around snapping photos.  This allows me contact with everyone (but not for too long.)  

This is why being a massage therapist is the perfect job for me.  I work with one person at a time.  I am completely in charge.  Even the "chatty" people are quiet within 15 or 20 minutes.  And I get to wear sneakers!

Anyway, during the past week I learned some things about myself and about my family.  

I LEARNED that almost everyone in my family is a Reader.  I read a lot but had no idea that they all read a lot, too.

I LEARNED that both of my brothers-in-law are better cooks than all of my sisters combined.  I did know that Shawn could cook.  He practically caters most of our family gatherings.  And it is common knowledge that he could rival any trained chef.  But Matt surprised us with the spread he laid out for us on his night to cook.

In theory, we were all supposed to cook a meal.  Breakfast, lunch or dinner.  But I don't really cook.  And the kind of food that I eat, most of my family doesn't consider real food.  So I volunteered for Peanut Butter and Jelly Night...  but that was not an option.  My four year old nephew has allergies, so all week we lived in a "Nut Free Zone."  (At least "Nut Free" in a literal sense.)  

So Shawn took pity on me and offered to "assist" me on my night to cook.  We made a fabulous pasta dinner complete with homemade pasta sauce, garlic bread and sausages (all made from scratch) and an awesome "triple chocolate chaos" for dessert!  That's chunks of chocolate cake mixed with chocolate pudding and topped with ice cream.  Very decadent.

Maybe Shawn did a little more than "assist."  He made his famous homemade pasta sauce.  AND he made the sausages too.  That is definitely not a job for me!  OK, I admit that he made the garlic bread, too.  But I was there when he did it.  

But really, I did cook the pasta.  I boiled the water, poured the pasta from the boxes into a huge pot of boiling water.  Probably the most dangerous part of the whole meal.  

And I did make the dessert.  Except for the cake (my niece baked that.)  But I did stir the pudding mix with the water and put it in the fridge to solidify.  And I did cut up the cake into chunks and mix in the pudding.  And I did scoop ice cream into anyone's bowl who wanted it.

Mostly, I think I hung out in the kitchen trying to look like I knew what I was doing.  But in reality I was just in the way.  But I think we have a picture to prove that I "cooked."  

I LEARNED that my niece and nephews are all creative.  It's amazing.  They range in age from two years old to twenty.  They are writers, artists, musicians and story tellers.  We have quite the talented family.  Apparently we come from the deep end of the creative gene pool.  

I knew my niece was an athlete but I had no idea she was an amazing creative writer until I read the first three chapters of her novel.  This is a work in progress.  The imagery, characters and narration are all believable and easy to read. 

It was so good that I am inspired to get back to work on a book that I started months ago but never finished.  I challenged her to finish her book and try to get hers published before I publish mine.  

All three of my teenaged nephews are musicians.  This I knew.  But this week, I was privileged to see video clips, read song lyrics and see works of art in progress.  

I was impressed all around.  So impressed that I commissioned one of them to create an artwork project for me.  

My four year old nephew is the story teller.  You can hand him any object and he can create a story-- past, present, future.  He can make it up on his own or you can give him guidelines to work within.  It doesn't matter.  Change the guidelines mid-story if you want.  He will adapt to it.  He is a master of improvisation.  

Even the two year old shows promise.  It seems his brain is working in overdrive, absorbing everything he sees and hears.  His older cousins sent him home with a whole new arsenal of words and phrases (some accompanied by hand gestures.)  

I wish I could be there next week to see the look on that poor unsuspecting Mom's face when he flashes the peace sign and says, "Peace, man!" to the two year old in the shopping cart across the aisle in the grocery store.  And I wish I could be there next Sunday when he raises his index finger and pinky finger (but keeps the middle two fingers bent down, tucked under his thumb) and says, "Rock On, Dude!" to the priest in church.   Note:  The "Rock On, Dude!" phrase is delivered complete with bobble head and slot machine arm.

I LEARNED that almost everyone in the family (with very few exceptions) enjoys being out on the water.  When I heard that the house Dad rented was lakefront property, I decided to bring the kayaks.  Come to find out there was a tandem kayak, a rowboat, and a paddle boat that came with the house.  But still, at some point all the boats were out.  

We took turns bringing the younger  kids out.  Between the beach and the boats, they couldn't get enough.  

I LEARNED that we all work well together as a team.  I brought a dry erase board so we could post daily chores.  But the board  never left my car.  Our chores seemed to rotate effortlessly.  Whoever didn't cook, cleaned.  When the trash or recycle barrels were full, they got brought out to the garage.  None of the bathrooms ever ran out of toilet paper.  It was all pretty organic.

The thing that I was most impressed with, was the interaction between the "cousins."  As I mentioned, they span almost two decades.  Ages 2-20.  The teenage dynamic is hard enough by itself, but toss in a two and four year old, and things can be very unpredictable.    

What happened absolutely amazed me.  The younger kids quickly became attached to the older kids.  And the older kids were very gentle with and very entertained by the younger kids.  

As a general rule, kids like me.  And I like kids.  But that may be because I deal with them in small doses.  Actually, as I am writing this, and thinking about it... the same is true with grown up people, too.  I can handle just about anyone in small doses.  

I was fortunate enough to spend some quality time with each of them.  Which of course is how I learned all this great stuff about them.  And about me.

My patience and tolerance quota got better as the week went on, but I found that I do have a maximum limit.  

Pay attention, I'm getting to the good part.  

It took me all week to notice this, or to figure it out.  And I don't know for sure if they consciously did this or if it was just coincidence, but I think the older cousins were "looking out" for me.  

Whenever I found myself getting close to my maximum little kid limit, one of the older cousins would magically appear and take the little ones away to play some game (or to read or color.)  

In my experience, most teenagers are self absorbed, but these kids played a big part in allowing the grown ups to feel like they were on vacation, too!  I know these kids will all grow up to be great parents... or teachers, or coaches, or leaders of some kind.  They each displayed great character and discipline.  And I am Blessed to have them in my life.

I LEARNED that I come from a family of debaters.  Some people might call it arguing, but in this case I do mean debating.  I have learned that my family is opinionated, but not in a radical sense.  Everyone was always willing to listen to the opposing opinion.

As an example, I return to my Drawer/Draw discussion.  Everyone was passionate in their opinion, intelligent in their presentation and polite while listening to opposing view points.  Sometimes our discussions got loud, but never angry.  And it never got violent.  In the end, it was tomayto vs. tomahto.  We agreed you could call it whatever you wanted (as long as the drawer stays closed.)  And nobody was shunned for going or not going to church on Sunday.

This passion carried over into our games.

I LEARNED  that the rest of my family is as competitive as I am.  We spent hours playing Pictionary and Catch Phrase (among other games.)  And who knew that Ping Pong was so addictive?

One evening we took the older cousins to a place that claimed to be the "largest Arcade in the world."  It had a miniature golf course, a few bowling lanes, air hockey, pinball, skeet ball and every retro video game you can imagine dating back to Ms. PacMan, Donkey Kong, Asteroids, and even the original Atari game "Pong"!  

I'm not sure who "threw down" the challenge, but our Gang of Teens ended up in a drag race with a Gang of Local Teens...  on the Bumper Cars!  The funny part about it wasn't that Bumper Cars are not designed to go fast for racing.  It was that these particular Bumper Cars were specifically designed for kids age ten and younger.  I know this partly because all the cars had funny faces on them with goggle eyes and tongues sticking out, but mostly because it said so on the Sign.  

Luckily, it was late and all the little kids were gone for the day.  So the attendants didn't toss us out.  In fact, I think they enjoyed watching the race, too.  The kids all  looked like clowns in circus cars.  

And then there were the Riddles!  One of my favorite cousins got me hooked on the Riddles years ago, but I didn't realize the others enjoy the thrill of solving the puzzles, too.  

Here are just a few of the Riddles we solved during Vacation Week:

--- A man leaves home.  Takes three lefts.  Returns home.  He finds two masked men.  Who are they?

--- A man rides into Dodge City on Tuesday.  He stays three days.  Then he rides back out of Dodge City on Tuesday.  How is that possible?  

--- The more it dries, the wetter it gets.  What is it?  

If you know of any good Riddles...  feel free to share!

I LEARNED  that you don't need to be a little kid to appreciate coloring books.  At some point during the week, I saw almost every person in that house sitting with a box of Crayolas.  Some coloring inside the lines... some outside.  I know what you are thinking.  That big kids and grown ups were sitting coloring with the little kids.  But no.  More often than not, it was a solo retreat.  I would be willing to bet that if you look through all the coloring books, that you would find more adult pages than kid pages.  There is something very therapeutic about it.  I know.  I did it myself.

I LEARNED that we are all addicted to our computers.  One of the things I love about being out in the woods, is that I don't feel the need to go "on-line" to see what's happening in the world.  I feel like I'm already IN the world and I just look around and I see what's happening.  

I may have been the last hold out, but a few years ago, I finally broke down and bought a computer.  In my lifetime, I have been exposed to some peer pressure.  But never more so than in the past year or two.  It seems that just having a computer is not enough.  Now they want me to swallow the "FaceBook" Pill.  One of these days, I'll write a Post on Social Networking and my predictions about the Evils of FaceBook.  

I LEARNED that my family appreciates a very wide variety of music.  And I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by looking through their iPod.  (I have always felt the same way about looking through somebody's book shelves.)  

The music ranges from classical and oldies to rock, jazz, punk and more.  Some of it is interesting and some is just noise.  But....

I LEARNED that when Neil Diamond sings "Sweet Caroline" and "Cracklin' Rosie" everybody sings along or gets up and dances.  I got some pictures but this was truly a video worthy moment.  Sadly, the camcorder was not handy at the time.  Who would have thought Neil Diamond was middle ground?  Maybe we should send Neil Diamond on a concert tour through the Middle East.

I LEARNED a lot this week.  About myself and about my family.  I think if we were on one of those family against family shows that we would kick ass.  It seems that whatever differences of opinion that we had... we all pulled together when it counted.  I was pleasantly surprised by my family and a little surprised by myself.  We all survived the week and even discussed the possibility of doing this again.  Sometime.

I'll share just one last story.  Occasionally my siblings and I get wrapped in those "Reply to All" on-line chats.  Usually they are quick and have to do with what day or time is best for everyone in regards to planning a birthday party or other family event.  

But about a month ago we got into an on-line debate about the economy and how poor we were.  I don't know how we got on this conversation... we've never really discussed anything like that before.  

It turned into two or three days of, "I'm so poor that..." and "That's nothing, I..."  I have to tell you it was very interesting.  And funny.  That's something about my family I already knew.  Very funny.  And clever.  We grew up speaking "sarcasm" as a second language.  

Anyway, after about three days of this I got tired of the conversation and wrote something like:  "I suggest you ask Dad to compare all our tax returns to determine who makes less."  With that, I declared myself the "Poorest of the Poor" and the conversation over.  (Dad is a CPA and does our taxes!)  I never heard back from any of them on the subject.  So they either believed me or they asked Dad... and he told them.  

I love my family.  And they love me.  I know this.  Not because they told me (which they did!) but I know this because of how they acted around me and how they treated me. 

They love me even though I'm not a college graduate.  They love me even though I'm impatient and a little OCD.  They love me even when they get their birthday cards/gifts a little late.  They love me in spite of the fact that I'm a terrible cook.  And they love me even though I Clobbered them at Ping Pong (OK that part isn't true.... but the rest is!)  So after spending this past week with my family I would like to publicly change my status. 

My point is... with all this love around me, I'm finding it very difficult to uphold the "Poorest of the Poor" title.  So as of now, I hereby declare myself...

"The Wealthiest Man In The World."

I hope you all find such wealth in your lives.  

Note:  It has been my experience that the more you invest in it, and the more you give away, the more it comes back to you.

Good Luck!

Peace and Love,

P.S.  Thanks Dad.  Good week!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Layers...

When it comes to the clothes you wear on the Trail, there are some important things to keep in mind.

First of all, be practical. Whatever clothes you bring must be lightweight and "scrunchable." In other words-- no jeans. They are too heavy and take up too much space in the backpack. You can't roll them up into a ball and fit them (along with 5 or 6 other items) into your clothing Stuff Sack.

Second, they must be quick drying. So generally, cotton or jean material is out. A lot of hiking clothes are nylon or a poly-blend, which make them lightweight, quick drying and easy to fit in a Stuff Sack.

Also, don't over pack. This was one of the things they gave me a hard time about at my "shakedown." When I originally geared-up for my six month Thru-hike, I packed four sets of hiking clothes and one set of "Town Clothes." One of the books I read mentioned that it might be a good idea to bring "town clothes" so that when you go into town to resupply, you don't look like a homeless person. And so people aren't afraid to sit near you in a restaurant.

Now I carry two sets of clothes and a "town shirt."

Another important thing to consider in regard to Trail attire is layers. You should easily be able to add on or peel away layers depending on the conditions (weather, elevation, time of day, etc.)

Let's start with the Base Layer and work our way out:

Socks-- As with all hiking attire, cotton is out. When your feet sweat, those white tube socks will never dry. So, with socks you have two options: wool or silk.

It's really a matter of preference. Most hikers feel strongly one way or the other. I haven't met anybody who likes both.

Those who wear the silk say they are warm, comfortable on the skin and lightweight. They don't like the wool because they are too bulky or "itchy."

Personally, I agree with the wool wearers. I enjoy the extra comfort of the thick socks and find the silk a little "slippery." Some say the silk bunches up and causes blisters.

Either way, wool or silk, be sure to wear your hiking socks when you buy your boots. It will make a difference in how your boots fit.

Side Note: When machine washing your wool socks at home, be aware of what else is in that load of laundry. Many pants pockets (jackets, too) are conveniently made with Velcro. And in the course of the "laundry dance," when wool meets Velcro, they quickly become one and nearly inseparable. The battle to tear them apart is like trying to dislodge a tick that is well burrowed. It also compromises the integrity of the sock as a good portion of the fibers remain on the Velcro.

Underwear-- Trying to find non-cotton underwear was a challenge. There is the silk option which is great from a "sexy lingerie" perspective, but not durable enough for hiking.

I am not a big fan of the Under Armour products. I like the concept of "wicking" material but somehow the Under Armour brand seems to hold that sweaty smell.

Luckily, just before I left I found another option. A company called Exofficio makes a similar product. The material is breathable, wicking, odor-resistant and comes in whatever style you are used to wearing (boxers, briefs, etc.)

You just wash them, hang them out and they are dry in about two hours. Unfortunately, they are much more expensive than you would pay for your Haynes or Fruit of the Looms, but I am happy with them, so far.

Another Side Note on Laundry: Thru-hikers go into town about once a week to resupply and find a laundromat, but if you are section hiking there's no time to waste going into town (if you don't have to.) Of course, you can't do your laundry at the water source, because that is also the drinking water! So you fill your water bag or water bladder, bring it back to camp, wash the clothes and hang them in your tree. By morning they should be dry and ready to fold up and pack. The next day you wear the alternate clothes.

There is another Base Layer of clothes. The overnight wear. This time I did spring for the silk! I bring two sets of overnight wear. One silk and the other is a poly-blend. Both sets are long sleeve, long pants. Both are plenty warm enough. I admit that the silk feels great on the skin, but the price difference is substantial.

On REALLY cold days I can wear the poly-blend as an extra base layer under my hiking clothes and feel comfortable that it's durable enough to not fall apart. But that is very rare, because once you get moving your body warms up and the extra base layer is not easy to peel off. It requires stopping, removing all of your other layers and then redressing.

At this point you are sweaty from having the extra base layer, then cold again from stopping and taking off your clothes. Now you are cold and wet. Not to mention the time you wasted making the extra stop to change and repack.

You learn very quickly that just because you are a little chilly at 7 AM when you start your hike, that you don't necessarily need an extra base layer. Tough it out for an hour or so and see how you feel then.

Pants-- I bring two pairs of pants. They look like regular "cargo" pants with lots of (Velcro) pockets. But they are much lighter and have zippered legs that I can unzip to remove the lower part of the legs-- which turns the long pants into shorts!

Generally, I keep the pants long because a lot of the sections so far (especially in CT) are a bit of a tight squeeze. The branches brush against my legs and I don't want to get too scraped or bruised. Not to mention the spiders and ticks...

Shirts-- Because the shirts are so light and compact, I bring three regular t-shirt type shirts (in case I wear more than one in a day.) And I bring one "town" shirt. This is a Polo-type shirt with a collar made out of the same lightweight wicking material.

Outer Layer-- The Windbreaker is exactly what it sounds like. It's perfect for starting off in the morning, for windy days and even for a foggy or misty day. It appears to be a normal Windbreaker but when zipped all the way up, it covers the neck all the way up to the chin. And hidden in the collar is a hood with a drawstring that covers your head to leave only your face exposed to the elements.

Rain Gear-- For my Rain Gear I opted to NOT get the pants. Partly because the jacket is so long it covers my upper legs anyway, partly because I'm a "tough guy," partly to save space and weight in my pack, but mostly because I'm a cheap skate. Good Rain Gear is generally very expensive.

My Rain Coat looks similar to the Windbreaker, except it's bright yellow (not blue like the Windbreaker.) Also, it's longer and has elastic at the wrists. There is a drawstring in the hood and also at the waist (which is really lower than my waist.) And the big difference is-- it's REALLY waterproof. And breathable.

Cold Weather Jacket-- The one item I let someone talk me into that I wouldn't have bought-- but now I'm glad I did-- is my Mont Bell Jacket. It's 90% goose down, 10% goose feathers. It seems more like a ski jacket than a hiking jacket. The great thing about it is, it's very comfortable and very warm. It's actually too warm to use for hiking. But because it's so comfortable... it's perfect to wear at night while sleeping.

I've only had to wear it a couple times but it's so light that it's worth carrying!

Another Side Note: In the world of long distance hiking, size matters. All three of the outer layer items; the Windbreaker, Rain Gear and Cold Weather Jacket-- come complete with their own Stuff Sacks to keep them compact for easy storage. The Windbreaker and the Jacket each compress to about the size of a pair of wool socks, and the Rain Gear compresses to about two pairs of wool socks.

Also, because they are in their own easily identifiable Stuff Sacks, they are more easily accessible. When it suddenly start to rain, it's nice to be able to open the pack, spot the splash of bright yellow and pull out your Rain Gear without everything getting wet.

A Stuff Sack (for those of you not familiar with the term) comes in many sizes and colors. It is usually nylon or similar material, preferably water proof or at least water resistant, and has an adjustable drawstring. Using Stuff Sacks helps you compartmentalize and identify the gear inside of your backpack without having to empty your pack to find something. For example: small black Stuff Sack- jacket; big light blue- food; medium size grey- base layer wear; medium size green- mid layer wear (pants, shirts); small navy blue- windbreaker; and yellow mesh- Rain Gear.

You may also want to use a Stuff Sack for wet or dirty clothes. And you may use one as a Bear Bag. A Bear Bag is what you use to keep your food in at night. It hangs from a tree-- away from where you are sleeping. The last thing you want is a bear knocking at your tent door asking for the food it smells!

Every hiker I've talked to has their own system. I use a system similar to what I just described above, but some pack one Stuff Sack per day. One pair socks, underwear, pants shirt, etc. all in one Stuff Sack.

And everyone has a valid theory on whether the sleeping bag and tent should be at the top or bottom of the pack. What should be closer to your back and what should be in the outer pockets. What if anything should hang on the outside of the Pack. Weight distribution can change the way you move... which can change your hike.

It all depends on what is comfortable and convenient for you.

OK, so we're almost done with the Layers...

The only thing I would add to this thread (pun intended for my computer geek friends) is:

Accessories-- There are a few more items that don't exactly fit into the other categories. For example:

Camp Shoes-- When you get to where you are camping for the night, it's good to take off your hiking boots to let your feet (and boots) breathe. Some hikers use flip flops as their Camp Shoes. Mine are more like boat shoes or what you might wear on a personal water craft or kayak. They are rubber but have a removable insert to cushion the sole of your feet. And there are holes to let the air circulate.

Gloves-- I bring a pair of 3M Thinsulate gloves in case it gets really cold. I've never had to wear them while hiking but I have put them on at night.

Hats-- I have a collection of hats, but only bring the ones I think I'll need. I have a Rain Hat that I always bring just in case. It's the camouflage hat that you see in a previous post.

The other hat I always bring is the knit ski cap that I only ever wear at night. We lose most of our body heat through our head, so wearing the ski cap really helps on those cold nights.

Occasionally, I wear my "Life is Good" baseball cap which can also be seen in a previous post. It has a visor to keep the sun off my face. But I almost always wear sunglasses anyway so lately I've been wearing...

Bandanas-- I haven't cut my hair since I started hiking in March. Needless to say, my Flat Top has grown out, but not quite long enough to do anything with it, yet. So I have been sporting some type of head cover whenever I leave the house.

A Bandana is easy to throw on, it allows my scalp to breathe and I can accessorize so that the color matches what I'm wearing.

Besides being a fashion accessory, a bandana is a multi-purpose tool. It can be used to tie things together or to lash something onto your backpack. And if your water purifier is clogged AND your cookstove is out of gas... a Bandana can be a makeshift water filter. This, of course, should be a last resort and is not as efficient as the other alternatives. But it is better than no filter at all.

One last note in regard to the clothes. There is a very wide price range in clothes marketed to hikers. Don't be fooled by name brands. Look at all the fancy, expensive brands and then really compare it to the less expensive stuff.

You have to compare comfort, efficiency, size and weight, quality and then figure the cost in the Big Picture.

As frugal as I am I still opted for the good Rain Gear. There were cheaper brands that were very sturdy and I'm sure waterproof-- but they were bulky and felt like a heavy rubber straight jacket.

The pants I wear are a mid-range price. The less expensive ones looked like the stitching would fall apart after one or two washes. But there were also pants that cost twice as much-- I think just for a name brand label.

Shirts I go through very quickly anyway because I sweat like a monster, so I opted for the cheap ones.

That is one benefit of shopping at a place like Kittery Trading Post or Cabellas, they have a lot of options to compare. If you go to the warehouse outlets you only get their name brand with nothing to compare it to. So shop around. Do your homework.

The next post will be on Trail food. More than Trail Mix...

Also, anytime I use a term that you aren't familiar with (like Stuff Sack or Bear Bag) feel free to ask for clarification. And if there is a topic that I haven't discussed that you would like more information about, just let me know and I'll try to write a post about that subject.

Happy Independence Day!!

Peace and Love,