I recently hiked six miles into a valley of Olympic National Park, straight into a temperate rain forest. I’d never experienced one before and it was certainly something to behold—a forest of trees so big and so old, packed with every other type of greenery in between, that I couldn’t help but wonder exactly what the U.S. was like when those trees were saplings.
My campsite was seclusion. I, in a ENO hammock, by my lonesome in the dry part of a creek-bed next to a running river.
I’ve long desired a big expanse of space, snuggled with numerous copses of trees and calm lakes, in the heart of Orlando. But while we don’t have that massive, thousand-acre park in The City Beautiful, I’ve had to settle for visiting other parks recently. It’s been a bit of a binge, really. So, judge away if you need to.
The criteria is as follows:
–I have to have personally spent time in the park.
–It has to be larger than 100 acres.
–It has to have green space as well as trees and/or lakes.
If you’ve ever traveled via plane you know how difficult (or fun!) it can be. In truth, I really like the act of traveling, to a degree—and not because it gets me to purchase things, though that's sometimes necessary. Here are 7 things I do regularly when traveling that help me keep my head in the game:
This is the option if you don’t care what people think about you or if you know you need to learn that lesson. Throw some pushups, a headstand, or copious amounts of squatting. This greatly increases blood flow, which is a needed precursor to sitting in chairs for hours on end—even if you get up and walk around or do exercises in your seat.
I rolled into the car camping site at 11:30 pm after only sleeping a few hours following a cross-country flight to Seattle and a two-hour drive to the Cascades. Needless to say, when I got there, I was ready to sleep immediately. I brought my Eagle’s Nest Hammock sleep system but I had no interest in setting anything up, regardless of how easy it was. So I looked up at the sky, double-checking the weather report’s accuracy, and went straight for my Outdoor Research Bug Bivy.
Over a decade ago in Guatemala, I fell in love with hammocks. I was strictly loyal to those that were handmade in Guatemala, but a few years ago, I switched to a synthetic made by ENO for everyday use. Whatever hammock you choose and for whatever reason, allow me to give a few of my favorite tips on how and where some of the best places to set up hammocks are:
1) Leave One in Your Car
I drove by the cargo truck in time to read the words Orion and see a group of people shimmying into wetsuits, prepping to get soaked. I didn’t have any plans, so I promptly hit the breaks and reversed back to a young woman who looked like she was in charge.
“You guys got any room?” I probed.
She told me that as long as I called in to check with the office, paid, and was ready in 10 minutes, I could hop in a raft with them.
When I went camping in the backcountry of North Cascades National Park in Washington state, there were two things that saved me: one, my Eagles Nest Outfitters hammock, and two, a potentially dubious park ranger.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure of the park ranger’s intentions from the start. A ranger by the same name had been quite rude to me on the phone just the night before, though this one said he wasn’t working that particular day. There was yet an air about the man that made it seem like he knew something that I didn’t about our interaction. So, when he selected a particular site that he ‘liked,’ I wasn’t sure if he was picking me one that was unique awesome, or one that was actually horrible in some way.
In the past, the thought of traveling to Italy came with mental images of wine, pasta, and love—things wildly propagated by the entertainment industry. And while those things truly are aspects at the core of certain areas of Italian culture, my trip there informed me of the depth and breadth of that beautiful place. The following are a couple of my favorite experiences from a couple different genres:
Outdoors: The parks in these old cities are always the most amazing for me. In Rome, Passeggiata del Gianicolo was a delight—looking down upon the city from a tranquil public space. In Bologna, it was Giardini Margherita—tucked into a lonesome corner of a city as a tranquil little oasis. Whenever I get to that green space, I can breathe deeply and reconnect. It’s very meditative. I also greatly enjoyed a trip just into the Dolomites while I was there. Oh, and how could I forget Salerno, the entire coastline was an opportunity to take in a great big deep breath and enjoy.
Who knows about how electrical outlets work in other countries? I certainly didn’t until almost immediately before I was leaving on for an international trip.
The outlets in different areas of the world are different shapes, so the prongs are shaped to match them. Meaning: our US plugs don’t work.
But fear not, products like Eagle Creek’s Dual Wattage International Converter set solves that problem for you. The package consists of adapters for each of the major sockets throughout the world. It also includes, a power converter than can enable you to use high and low voltage to connect your device, regardless of where you find yourself.
15 years ago, I began camping more frequently and purchased a Black Diamond headlamp to accompany me in my outdoor adventures. It was small, light, and I adored using it. I ran that headlamp into the ground, using it for all my overnight expeditions for the next dozen years. And I’m amazed at how long it lasted. The quality in light never really diminished, but the elastic band slowly lost its strength.
Two months ago, I was going on another trip and it was time to purchase a new lamp. I wasn’t sure if I’d find one that was as good and small as my longtime headgear.