• 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

Apr 9, 2015

Review: LifeStraw Go Water Bottle

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LifeStraw Go Water Bottle
 One of the major obstacles to hiking in Southern California is the lack of water sources.  Not carrying enough water on a hike in the mountains can put you in a life threatening situation. There are a ton of stories of people who get thirsty and wander off trail in search of water and get themselves lost.   I ran into trouble myself a few years back hiking up Mount Baldy when my girlfriend ran out of water halfway up the mountain. I have a bad habit of bringing the absolute minimum amount of water on a hike to save weight and I had underestimated the distance of the hike. We chanced it, assuming that we would have a clean water source somewhere along the way, only to find some dirty snow at the peak.  We ended up hiking ten miles through the mountains in the middle of summer with empty bottles. It was not a situation I hope to repeat.

I looked around the internet for a while for a viable way to purify water.  I actually tested two different brands of water purification tablets. Although they would work in a pinch, they were both absolutely disgusting.  The next thing I tried was a Katadyn water filter pump.  It was expensive, added more weight to my pack than I would have liked and way too time consuming to set up and pump for it to be practical for a day hike.  I randomly stumbled across an ad for the LifeStraw Go Water Bottle.  I started to do a little reading about the product and the first ting I saw was that Forbes magazine gave them an award for One of the ‘Ten Things That Will Change The Way We Live’ .  I was intrigued.

After using the Go Water Bottle on the trail for 3 hikes, I was in love.  Simply put, the LifeStraw Go Water Bottle is easily one of the best hiking accessories that I've ever used.  It’s a BPA free water bottle with a water filter built in to the straw. You can literally scoop water from the stream into the bottle and drink it directly through the straw without waiting.  The water has absolutely zero bad aftertaste as far as I can tell. The manufacturer claims it should filter 264 gallons of water before the filter needs to be replaced and should filter out 99.9999 percent of bacteria and 99.9 percent of parasites.  However, they do recommend using a water purification tablet anywhere where human sewage might be present because it will not filter out viruses.

The Lifestraw Go Water Bottle retails for $30, which is about 1/3 of what I spent on my Katadyn water filter. The Go Water Bottle also weighed less, 8 ounces vs 11 ounces and that’s not including the fact that you still need to carry a bottle when you’re using the Katadyn filter.

You can attach the Go Water Bottle to your bag using the included carabiner, or just shove it into a side pocket like any other water bottle.  I plan on ordering an extra one to keep in the car in case I ever break down and need fresh water. This would make a great addition to your emergency kit at home in case of some type of water emergency. As a resident of Southern California in the middle of a 4 year drought, it couldn't hurt to have one of these at home just in case.

Another great thing about Lifestraw is that they do a ton of humanitarian work. They have an ongoing program called “Follow the Liters” where for every unit someone purchases, one school child in a developing community receives safe drinking water for an entire school year. They're making a measurable difference in the world providing safe drinking water to communities in desperate need.

You can pick one up on Amazon right now for 30 bucks here: LifeStraw Go Water Bottle


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Apr 6, 2015

12 Fans Around a Campfire = Fire Tornado. Amazing video.

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 If you try to duplicate this and you inevitably end up setting yourself and your friends on fire, I don't wan't to know about it. :)
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Mar 26, 2015

Black Widow SpiderHolster Field Test and Review

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I do a lot hiking and I've been looking for an alternative to my neck strap to carry my Canon DSLR on the trail. I found the Black Widow SpiderHolster on Amazon and gave it a shot based on all of the good reviews. I was not disappointed. I took it on a weekend trip to Tennessee for my brother's birthday to explore Falls Creek Falls State Park and Burgess Falls State Park. There are photo opportunities around every turn in both parks and it was amazing not to have to dig into my bag every five minutes to pull out my camera. This is a fantastic piece of professional gear and does exactly what I need it to. After a few hundred hkes, you get really tired of your camera flopping around on your neck while you're hiking.

Out of the box, you can literally set up the Black Widow on your camera in less than 30 seconds. You just use a wrench to tighten a washer and a bolt. They also sell a plate you can attach to the bottom of the Black Widow to make it compatible with a tripod. I highly recommend picking one up as an accessory.

The camera locks into place using a nifty little ball joint. It sits nice a snug against your hip and you can use the Velcro strap to lock it into place with the lense facing backwards so you don't accidentally damage your lense. The quick release is basically fool proof. You can remove the holster and attach it to any belt, but I really like the Velcro belt that comes with the unit because its really comfortable and has some padding to keep the camera from banging into your hip.

On the trail with the Black Widow camera holster


The quick release is really smooth and fast. You can instantly pop your camera off the holster if you need to get a quick shot. The ball joint locks into place and you have to push the trigger to release it and slide the camera up and out. I did quite a bit of walking with this, and there is just no way your camera can come unattached.

After testing the Black Widow for a weekend on the icy trails in Tennessee, I may never bring my DLSR and hike without it again. I definitely recommend picking one up. I put together a short video of the hikes below if anyone is interested in checking out the waterfalls. Falls Creek Falls is often called the largest waterfall east of the Rockies.


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Mar 19, 2015

A Wild Boar Attacks People. People are saved by ponies?! Unbelievable video footage

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Can you imagine trying to tell this story to your friends before the days of the internet?
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Feb 20, 2015

Pulkey's Pool Hot Springs near Mammoth Lakes California

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Pulkey's Pool Hot Springs near Mammoth Lakes California
If you're driving on 395 near Mammoth Lakes, you really should make the ten minute detour to visit a few of the hot springs. I've hiked all over America and I've never really seen anything like it. Where else can you sit in a hot tub in the middle of a meadow with a 360 degree panoramic view of snow-capped mountains? And these are big mountains. In fact, many of the peaks in this area of the Sierras range rank among the tallest in the Continental United States.

Most of the hot springs in this area are secret spots known only to the locals. Hilltop Hot Springs, also known as Pulkey's Pool, is one of the few tubs that locals will openly discuss with visitors. If you do a little digging online, you can find directions to quite a few hot springs in the area. Pulkey's Pool also has several free camping spots nearby. This particular tub is large enough for about 5-6 people. Its actually a small concrete tub that's fed by a tube connected to a natural spring about 50 feet from the tub. I've read that it can get really busy here on the weekend. We visited at noon on a Tuesday and had to share it with two other people. I have to say, I wasn't nearly as upset as my girlfreind when two beautiful blond women walked up,stripped down to their bikinis, and climbed into the tub with us. :)

If you're on the way north to Yosemite National Park, make sure to check online before you leave because the back entrance to the park is usually closed in the winter and its a long drive to the front. The hot springs may not be worth the  hour detour if the back entrance is closed. Also, don't forget to stop in Bishop nearby and hit Erick Schat's Bakery. I'm not embarrassed to eat an eclair in a hot tub.  You may also want to drive into Mammoth during the summer and visit Devil's Postpile National Monument. Its closed in the winter, but It's definitely on my bucket list for this year. 

Directions:

Pulkey's Pool aka Hilltop Hot Springs

Hilltop Hot Springs has some of the best views of the area. Located only a short distance from Mammoth Lakes, the hot spring is quite popular so don't be surprised if you have to share a tub with someone else. Hilltop is located on the west side of Benton Crossing Road and is open to the public.
Directions - From US 395, take Benton Crossing Road (also known as Green Church Road) 2.7 miles until you see the Hot Springs on the west side of the road.

Wild Willy's Hot Springs

Also known as "Crowley Hot Springs," Wild Willy's is located just a few miles from Mammoth Lakes. There are two man-made sitting areas here, and their sides are reinforced with cement.
Directions - From US 395, take Benton Crossing Road (also known as Green Church Road). Travel east about 2.5 miles until you cross two cattle guards. Turn right just past the second cattle guard and follow the road, always taking the left fork whenever there's a choice. About a mile down, you'll reach a parking area where there's a sign and wooden boardwalk that leads about 200 yards away to the pools.


Twin Lakes in Mammoth Lakes, California

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Feb 14, 2015

Using a Camera Stabilizer For Better Hiking Videos

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I know that a lot of hikers like to shoot video, so I thought I would do a tutorial about how I set up my camera stabilizer. There are a lot of things that factor into a nice hiking video. If you’re not using a stabilizer, you really won’t be able to get a good shot if you’re walking and shooting at the same time. I put some side by side footage in the video above. The results are pretty drastic. 

There are a lot of times when using a handheld camera stabilizer can really come in handy. You obviously won't be able to set up a tripod and a dolly and start wheeling around your camera in public wherever you want.  A handheld stabilizer is also great in a situation where space is limited. Before you hit the trail, you should practice walking backwards with the stabilizer while keeping your subject at an equal distance from the camera to keep them in focus. Here is an example that shows what you can do with a stabilizer in a confined space on the fly. We were actually scolded by the woman working the sunglass hut for shooting without her permission, but we were finished before she could even complain.



I’ve used a couple different models in the past, but I’ve finally settled on a Roxant Pro video stabilizer. They sell for around 60 dollars on Amazon with free shipping.   I really like the build quality. It’s also really light, you can fold it up and it works great with with my GoPro, my point and shoot and my Canon DSLR. I also like that the Roxant Pro stabilizer is easy to customize.  I’ll show you in the video how I use washers to fine tune it.

Here are five shots you can do with a stabilizer to make your videos more interesting

1. Tracking shot while trail running: On a wide trail you can actually run alongside someone and film them with a wide angle lens and get a really great shot.




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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

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