• the first encounter.

  • Retro Vintage Girl in Grass With Purple Shoes

  • Retro Vintage Girl in Grass With Purple Shoes

  • Retro Vintage Girl in Grass With Purple Shoes

Nov 26, 2014

10 Christmas Gifts under $30 for Manly Men

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If any of my ex-girlfriends had bought me a Dremel and a hatchet for Christmas instead of socks, I would probably be married.  I hate nearly every "gift idea" list on the internet, so I decided to post my own personal Amazon wish list in hopes that someone on the web will read it and buy a stun-gun for that special guy in their life. I've never been to a party in my life where a stun-gun wouldn't have made it more fun. And I don't care what anyone says about the frisbee on my list. A frisbee is a manly gift and I stand by that. 

Sriracha Rooster Tee
14.99 from ThinkGeek

Vipertek Mini Stun Gun
10.99 Amazon

Hatchet by Fiskars
$25.97 Amazon


Nov 13, 2014

What should I put in my first-aid kit for a hike?

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First-Aid Kit for Hiking by Black Diamond Outfitters

There is no definitive right answer when putting together a first-aid kit for hiking.  Every hike is unique.  My kit is based on the dry, hot, cloudless weather in Southern California. At first glance, the list below seems huge, but my kit only weighs about a pound. I buy everything in travel size and small individual packets. I'll add a picture below this post so you can how small the items above pack up in your kit. My own first-aid kit has saved me many, many times. The most common items I use are my windbreaker, my headlamp, my sunscreen and my toilet paper/hand-sanitizer. The most common item I need is extra water. Have a suggestion for something to add to my kit? Add it to the comments at the bottom.:)

My Kit:
Light wind-breaker jacket
Hand Sanitizer
Small roll of toilet paper
Extra plastic bag
Flashlight or Headlamp with fresh batteries
Anti-diarrhea medicine
Extra Inhaler for Asthma
Small roll of duct Tape
Safety Pin
Antibiotic Ointment
Alcohol Prep Pad
Length of Rope
Map of the area
Iodine Tablet or Chlorine tablet for emergency water purification
Needle and Thread
Small empty water bottle for carrying extra water
Sunglasses or a hat
Pair of light gloves
A few non-lubricated condoms for protecting electronics during a storm or river crossing

Small First Aid Kit For Hiking

Oct 28, 2014

Indian Cove Campground. Joshua Tree National Park

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Indian Cove Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best places for a fall camping trip in Southern California. The weather is mild and breezy, the night sky is cloudless and perfect for stargazing, the crowds are relatively thin and the chance of rain is basically zero. Joshua Tree is a short 2 hour drive from the beach in Orange County.  If you absolutely hate camping, you always have the option of staying in nearby Palm Springs about 50 minutes outside the park. If you’re headed to Joshua Tree from San Diego, you might even consider a stop in Temecula to visit a winery.

I've stayed inside the main part of the park on past trips, but this time we opted to stay in the Indian Cove Campground located in the northern part of Joshua Tree,  just outside of the town of TwentyNine Palms. The Indian Cove Campground is less cramped than many of the campground located in the main part of the park. Most of the campsites in Indian Cove are situated in between giant rock formations that offer a fair amount of seclusion from neighboring campsites.  The tent sites are extremely reasonable for only $15 a night. You can even avoid paying the 15$ entrance fee into the main part of Joshua Tree by hiking the trails located within the Indian Cove Camping area.

The best trail in the Indian Cove section of Joshua Tree has to be the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail. The word “trail” is a bit misleading, as Rattlesnake Canyon is really a maze of giant boulders you’ll have to hop, squeeze through and climb until you've had your fill. There are countless small caves and crevices to explore among the boulders. We even found a few small arches. This is also a popular spot for rock-climbing.  We saw several groups of people climbing in this area of the park.  We spent 3 hours in the canyon navigating through the boulders up the mountainside. We took a break at the top of a large pinnacle of rocks. We came back down limping like wounded birds and covered in scrapes and got ourselves into a little trouble while exploring a pool in a slot canyon when I accidentally disturbed a wasps nest. They chased me up the side of an eight foot granite wall, but I avoided getting stung. I didn't notice how tired I was until we reached the car. This not a hike for beginners or small children. If you plan on hiking to the top of the boulders, do not be mislead by other sites claiming this is a moderate hike. Rattlesnake Canyon will kick your butt. With that said, this was one of my all-time favorite desert hikes.

A few words of warning: The sun can be intense in Joshua Tree and you can end up severely sunburned, even when the temperatures are cool.  Sun tan lotion and plenty of water are the two most important things you can have in Rattlesnake Canyon. I also recommend bringing a pair of leather gloves because the granite in Rattlesnake Canyon is rough and will tear your hands up.

Rattlesnake Canyon was closed for 5 months this year due to graffiti in the canyon. If you see someone vandalizing the park in any way, please report them immediately by calling park headquarters at

Indian Cove Campground can be booked in advance by visiting http://www.recreation.gov/

Rattlesnake Canyon in Joshua Tree National Park
Directions to Rattlesnake Canyon Trail-head:  From TwentyNine Palms Highway 62, turn right onto Indian Cove Road and drive approximately 3 miles. You will pass both the ranger station and the group camping area. Make your first left onto Indian Cove East and continue one mile through the campground until you reach the parking area for Rattlesnake Canyon. 

Oct 18, 2014

Mount San Jacinto State Park. Palm Springs, California

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Mount San Jacinto State Park
This week, I finally made my first trip to Palm Springs to hike in Mount San Jacinto State Park. My girlfriend and I had a few consecutive days off and we made the decision to drive up at midnight the night before. I found a cheap hotel about ten miles down the road in the town of Desert Hot Springs through Travelocity for $60. The Aqua Soleil looked nice in the photos, so we booked it and headed out at 10 a.m. the next morning.

We made it to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway around noon. Tickets for the tram cost us $24 each. You're basically forced to take the tram, because if you tried to hike from the bottom, it would take you around 7 hours and ten miles of hiking with 8,000 feet of elevation gain. People who have hiked it say that its worse than hiking Mount Whitney. The tram ride takes around ten minutes. Once we reached the station at the top, the temperature was  around 30 degrees cooler than on the desert floor below. It was a nice change to hike in 60 degree weather in the middle of a desert. The tram station at the top has a few small restaurants where you can buy food and snacks. I bet a lot of people never make it outside of the tram station.

We opted to start with an easy trail. The Desert View Trail is about 1.5 miles round-trip with a slight uphill elevation gain going in. This is the trail that most of the tourists do. There are 5 overlooks along the trail with views of the valley floor below. I was surprised to see so many large Jeffrey Pine trees in the park. I have no idea where they are getting water from because the creek was bone dry and we haven't had a significant rain or snow in several years now. October is a really great time to see Mount Jacinto. We could not have wished for better weather. My only regret was that we should have done this trail during sunset and not in the middle of the day. You can see all of Palm Springs below and I bet it looks amazing at night.

The next trail we hit was the Round Valley Trail. For this section of the park, we had to stop at the ranger station and fill out a permit. It only took about 3 minutes, it was free, and the ranger gave us a map. The hike to the Round Valley Campground from the tram is about 4 miles round-trip with approximately 1000 feet in elevation gain. It took us less than two hours and we stopped a bunch and goofed off. We really should have hiked the last mile past Round Valley to Wellman's Divide, but I was really sore from playing basketball the day before and I was really looking forward to a seafood dinner and a bottle of wine in Palm Springs. If you plan on hiking all the way to the top of Mount San Jacinto you would follow the signs and continue on past Round Valley. It gets rough from this point on, so make sure to bring enough water and allow yourself enough time to make the last tram out. The hike from the tram to the peak of Mount San Jacinto and back is about 11 miles round-trip and may take as long as 7 hours because of the thin air and elevation gain. I would like to come back and turn it into an overnight trip sometime and just camp at Round Valley.

All in all it was a pretty awesome trip, but a little more expensive than our typical day hikes after we racked up a bill at the restaurant that night and then drank ourselves into a coma at the bar. We found a couple of cool places around Palm Springs that I thought I would mention:

Tonga Hut
An awesome little bar in Palm Springs that serves tropical drinks. The bartenders were rad and we spent our night sampling beers with them.

Ruben and Ozzy's Oyster Bar
A east-coast style Oyster Bar. The Campechana appetizer was glorious. I tried to bribe the waiter to steal the recipe for me.

It was $60 for a room midweek and the rooms had just been renovated. They have two hot tubs and a large pool. The pool and hot tubs were open 24 hours and we had them to ourselves. 

To do for next time:

6 miles roundtrip
Trailhead in the Indian Canyons located on S. Palm Canyon Dr.
Admission charge; Information (760) 323-6018

3.5 mi roundtrip, 300 ft. gain, 2 to 3 hrs 
Trailhead: at the Tahquitz Visitor Center located on Mesquite Ave.