Sunday, June 30, 2013

This Weekend's VIP - Grace Ecoextreme Rugged All Terrain Speaker Case

We were finally able to get on this river this weekend! The weather was iffy and we weren't sure we were going to get out there. By mid-morning the forecast had changed and it was going to be beautiful so we loaded up our kayaks and headed out! We had a great afternoon! We spent about two hours paddling a seven and a half mile section of the Catawba River. It was a perfect day! We saw tons of turtle’s sun bathing on downed trees, several blue herrings and a family of little curious ducks. 

We love being on the river! Our VIP for this weekend is our Grace ECOEXTREME Rugged All Terrain Speaker Case

Yes mine is Pink!! It matches my kayak! 

We were looking for a waterproof case for our phones and were hoping to find a waterproof iPod player. Luckily for us we found both in this one product! It is easy to use, waterproof and a great music player! The ECOEXTREME produces awesome sound! We took a video today so you can hear for yourself! If you enjoy spending time on the water, want water protection for you iPod or iPhone and love listening to your tunes then this is the product for you! The ECOEXTREME is easy to use; we also made a video showing the ease of use and provides hours of entertainment. There isn't a river trip we go on that we don’t take along our ECOEXTREME.

Great sound on the river:

So easy to use:

This item is a little too heavy for backpack camping. We’d like to try the Rock Out Speaker from Goal Zero to go along with our Goal Zero Sherpa 50 for our backpacking and camping trips! If we decide to get one we will let you know how it is! 

For now we will keep enjoying our ECOEXTREME Rugged All Terrain Speaker Case, this weekend's VIP!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Happy Friday!!!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend of fun, laughter and adventure! This is my birthday weekend! Technically so was the weekend before even though no one else agrees… My birthday fell on Wednesday of this week which is just awful! Birthdays should never be on a weekday/work day… That’s not fun at all! Since my special day fell on the most boring day of the whole week we are planning a night out to one of my most favorite places this weekend and hopefully at some point we will get to spend some time on the river if it doesn't rain!

I fully expect today to be awesome! It is again the start to the much anticipated weekend! Happy Friday and Happy Weekend! Enjoy!

Lessons Learned

We love camping! I may have mentioned before and I am sure I will mention again that we work for the weekends! Oh and I am a planner… As soon as we wrap up one weekend we are thinking ahead to what the next weekend will bring. Of course aside from a ten day forecast, which 9 times out of 10 will change by the weekend anyway, there is no real good way to predict the weather for the upcoming Friday through Sunday on the Sunday before… So we plan away regardless of the future conditions. It helps morale throughout the week as we anticipate the adventure ahead! Usually we will look at the forecast the days leading up to our trip just to make sure conditions are looking good!

Often times we book “car camping” sites well in advance. We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country (in my opinion anyway) and many places we enjoy will fill up quick with reservations. If we have paid for a reserved site we will go even if there is a slight chance of rain. If there is a 100% chance of rain however we probably wouldn't. The way this has typically worked for us is that we will plan a trip, look at the forecast every day leading up to the trip, there will be a less than 0% chance of rain, we pack up and head out, and as soon as we set up camp torrential down pours… Ok so maybe there was a 10-20% chance but jeez that’s pretty slim and it never fails! Especially when we have convinced our teenage daughters to come and enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors! Monsoons do not exactly enhance their camping experience! Ha!

To help you prepare for this phenomenon - less than 0% chance of rain = torrential down pours as soon as camp is set up – here is a list of seven very helpful tips (lessons learned):

  1. Avoid camping in rain… Brilliant tip I know and one day maybe we will figure this one out (probably not, we are beginning to think our girls do rain dances before heading out to camp ha!). 
  2. Take tarps! Take extra tarps! Take a couple more! Ok maybe that’s overkill but having one down under your tent and one over top if the forecast is iffy will help tremendously. 
  3. Keep important things like camera, cell phone, lighters/matches, etc. in zip lock bags and pack a few plastic bags just in case! 
  4. Bring a deck of cards! On one of our trips, no joke, we set up camp and headed out on a hike around a lake we were camping by, we got only a few steps away from our tent and the sky opened up and began pouring!! We headed back to the tent and for six hours we played Rummy! We had fun even though it was pouring rain! 
  5. Be sure to also have food that doesn't have to be cooked! On said trip above fortunately we had tons of snacks to eat since we couldn't get outside to cook our hot dogs. Otherwise we might have perished! Just kidding but it was great having sustenance throughout the evening while we were trapped in the tent! 
  6. Ponchos are also good to have on hand and can easily be made part of your standard camping packing list. At some point someone will have to go to the bathroom… Yep in the pouring rain! It’s best to at least attempt to keep dry (or dryer then you would be without the poncho).
  7. Keep some extra plastic bags and towels in the car. Sometimes you are left with no other option then to tear down camp and make a run for it! Do not stick around if conditions get scary! On the aforementioned trip by midnight we were left with no options as we had a foot of water rush through the bottom of our tent (which we no longer use by the way – a good tent might have held up better but we were beginners) and so James told us girls to run for the car and he quickly rolled the whole campsite up, crammed it in the back of the car and we headed home! 
Every time we camp we learn something new and now we are well equipped to camp in just about any conditions! It isn't always fun to camp through the rain but it does and will happen, I will say that some of our best stories are from those trips so enjoy the moments and make the memories even if they are a little soggy :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Active Wear Junkie

Good morning fellow runners. As I sit here fueling up for my morning run trying to wake up just enough to tie my shoes and get out the door I am thinking about my current mini obsession with fitness/active wear. 

I am slightly obsessed! I find myself wanting more and more and more. I keep telling myself there are only seven days in a week and I really only need enough variety to get me through those seven days. This is very logical, if I do say so myself, but that thought quickly passes and rather I decide I love having reason’s to shop. My newly discovered love of running has given me a good excuse to do a little retail therapy. I at least have to get those seven outfits right… Ha! I love TJ Maxx. I love TJ Maxx for anything!! The closest TJ Maxx right now is about a half hour away but there is a sign up nearby that indicates a TJ Maxx is coming soon!! I am elated and cannot wait until they are open closer to where I live! I find such great things there anytime I go and so I decided to check them out and see what they had in the way of active wear.

I of course am pleased with the selections and options at TJ Maxx and found several things I love! I have tried a few pieces in various brands all of which I like but I have fallen madly and deeply in love with MPG. Mondetta Performance Gear is amazing! The clothing fits so well, like a glove, no uncomfortable shifting, I don’t find myself tugging and pulling at my clothes to keep them in place on my run. The fit is true to size. MPG is made from very nice comfortable materials I love the way they feel and the articles look great on too! There is no shame in at least attempting to look somewhat presentable when running bright and early in the mornings through town, even if you did just roll out of bed! Ha! I currently have several tops and a pair of shorts and I absolutely plan to continue to grow my collection. Not only do they work great for my early morning runs, these clothes are great for my afternoon gym classes, the tanks are great over a bathing suit on the river and they pack light so they are great for my summer time backpacking trips! I couldn't ask for better performance!

I look forward to exploring other brands throughout my journey and will of course post about my loves and loathes. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Musing ~ Happy Thoughts

Happy Monday!! May you have a wonderful week! 

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. ~Buddha

Sunday, June 23, 2013

This Weekend’s VIP - Nikon Coolpix AW100

Well… We had a wonderful weekend but our kayaking adventures planed for Sunday were hindered by the pending weather conditions… It was supposed to start storming at 12:00 pm and last throughout the day and evening, so we decided to play it safe and skip the river this weekend… Still hasn't rained a drop… But I do think it is coming… Maybe...

Regardless of the weather conditions we did have a VIP (very important product) this weekend! As mentioned in my "Here's to the weekend" post we were thrown an engagement party on Saturday. We had an amazing evening, the weather was perfect, food was so delicious and we were surrounded by family and close friends. We couldn't ask for more! Of course pictures were a must and we used our Nikon COOLPIX AW100. James got me this camera last Christmas. I really wanted a camera that I could take with us on the kayaks and not worry about getting wet. My previous experience with waterproof cameras was using the disposable ones and the picture quality was always horrible! 

The Nikon COOLPIX AW100 now goes with us everywhere! The picture quality is amazing!! We bought back up batteries and battery charger and we love this camera! We took it with us last weekend on our backpacking trip. In addition to being waterproof it is also shock proof so it’s pretty tough too. We have had this camera for exactly six months now and don’t use any other camera. The Nikon COOLPIX AW100 works for us no matter the occasion!

Another item you may like to go along with you water proof camera that we purchased for ours is this Chums Waterproof Camera Float. It easily detaches, we only use it when boating. It is the perfect complement for our camera and will make it easier for me to grab the camera should I accidentally drop it in the river… Let’s hope I never do that though! 

If you decide to follow our blog you will see pictures posted, all using the Nikon COOLPIX AW100, except of course the pictures of the camera shown here :). This camera was the perfect pick for us!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Here's to the weekend!

Happy Friday!! We have been working for the weekend and it is finally upon us! We are being thrown and engagement party on Saturday and are planning to paddle a river on Sunday! It's the perfect mix for me! A little dress it up and mingle time and a little dress it down and adventure time! I hope your weekend will be filled with adventure and fun as well!! Check back in with us on Sunday and find out what this weekend's VIP (very important product) will be!!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What in the world do you eat?

I get asked a lot "What in the world do you eat on a backpacking trip?" 

Well, we like eating several small meals throughout the day. Of course when backpacking weight is a big deciding factor when it comes to determining what we will take. We look for food that is packed in a light weight manor and that don't require temperature control. We also think about bears and critters... We select food options that result in little waste, small portions and efficient packaging. We want to be able to eat all of what we fix for a meal so we aren't dumping leftovers near our camp site and we want little packaging so there isn't much trash. 

Out trash from this past weekend’s back packing trip… In one sandwich size ziploc bag we have the trash from two breakfasts, two lunches, two suppers and five snacks each!!! 

For this particular trip we enjoyed the following meals: 

We like having Quaker oatmeal for breakfast. We take the individual packs! 

Breakfast Coffee!!! I cannot function without one morning cup! We take coffee beans and grind them on site but we also sometimes take Folgers Coffee Singles! Light weight and easy!

For a morning and afternoon snack we have trail mix and protein bars. This trip we had a fun variety of bars! Jerky is a good snack option as well! A friend of mine recently recommended Krave. Might have to give it a try! 

We had these Yummy Atkins Bars

Cliff Blueberry Crisp, one of my favorites!!

For lunch I enjoyed an apple and some almonds! James had the Chili Mac with Beef meal from Mountain House, it was easy to make, he said it was very tasty and clean-up was easy! We may have to try out some other Mountain House Meals!

On the first night we had the Cheddar and Broccoli Rice Side for supper and it was very filling.

Night two we had Kraft Easy Mac and Cheese and added StarKist Tuna Packets while cooking. Yummy!! Just needed pepper and we had left the pepper at home. we take the individual packets and it packs so nicely!

We also drink plenty of water all day. We had plenty of food this trip; we didn't feel hungry and had lots of energy for backpacking! We are always trying new things and interested in new ideas. So far we have been very satisfied with our selections and are looking forward to our next trip!!

Don't forget to:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lake James State Park

A couple weeks ago we camped at Lake James State Park in Western NC. We had a great time and a lovely view! 

Evening view from our camp site

Morning view from our campsite, beautiful fog over the lake

As mentioned in the very first blog post we tend to do a lot of trial and error! James researches EVERYTHING and does an amazing job finding great spots to camp, kayak, hike, etc. What we can't always do is a site visit to confirm conditions before we go... 

We set off to camp at Lake James State Park site unseen. We took the car and packed for "car camping". What this means is that instead of having everything packed up in our backpacks we have all of our gear in one extra large rolling Rubbermaid container. Not including our duffle bags of clothes, standard pillows, big rolling cooler and on occasion a travel grill, and then usually some more stuff just in case we need it... We arrived at the park with the van loaded down and discovered a long gravel trail and several sets of steps to tackle to get to our site! Oh boy was that fun!! We carried the heavy Rubbermaid container, the heavy cooler and several armloads of stuff to our site! Not something I want to do again. Wheels are useless on that type terrain and steps. We had originally considered taking our kayaks too so we could paddle around on the lake a bit. So glad we didn't!! I would not want to have carried them down that far to the site!

 Once settled at our site, however, we had a wonderful time! Reservations are required for this park so be sure to call ahead if you decide to go! We absolutely loved camp site 4. We didn't have other campers near by and that was nice! We will definitely go again but next time we will take our backpacks and a smaller more manageable cooler. We also know now that we could take out kayaks next time too but would need to put them in the lake at the boat access down the road and paddle over to the camp site. Lessons learned while having fun!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

In search of the right running shoes

I love to run! I am not an ultra runner, I have not done marathons and at this time I don't want to (at least I don't think I do anyway). My friend Elizabeth and I have been running only a few months and I am on a trial and error journey with running as well. We do a three mile loop 3-5 days per week. We were running 2 of those miles and walking 1 working our way up to running the whole three and gradually add more mileage. At the moment, however, I am having issues with my feet. 

I am on a mission to find the right pair of shoes! I started out running in an old pair of New Balance shoes and discovered quickly what a bad decision that was. I then bought a pair of Brooks Ghost 5 shoes (which I LOVE) but I started having serious issues with my feet like ankle pain and swelling. 
I went to a specialty shoe store to get a proper fitting and was told I was wearing the wrong size! Oops!! I have a very narrow foot with high arches. Apparently in order to feel fitted into the shoes I was wearing I was wearing normal width shoes a size smaller then I should have and squeezing in to get the snug feel I desired. Not a good plan!! This makes my feet hurt just thinking about it! So obviously my fairly new Brooks are too small which is very likely the source of my trouble. I have other running friends who have highly recommended Asics and so I bought a pair in the narrow width and proper size. I bought the Asics GEL-Nimbus 15. I was super excited when they arrived! I love the way they look and they are made very well.

I put them on and immediately I was a little concerned. They were springy. Not exactly what I expected. I ran in them this morning for the first time and I was so disappointed. I did NOT like these shoes at all. Even with the 2A width my heel slipped with every stride. I might as well have been wearing flip flops. The gel cushioning was too much for me. They were so soft that it made my run labored. I felt like I was trudging through mud. 

Fortunately for me I bought these through Road Runner Sports and I can return them and find something else.  I was referred to Road Runner Sports by a colleague of mine who is also a runner and I have been very happy with the service and responsiveness I have received! I purchased a membership and have already realized the benefits! Our sporting good store in town had about a $20.00 per shoe mark up from what I found on Road Runner Sports. Check them out!!

These Asics may very well be the perfect shoe for you. They simply didn't work for me. Now I am off in search of my perfect pair... Wish me luck!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Musing ~ Wishful Thinking

I am sure I am not alone when I say that Monday’s are just not my favorite day of the week. I am, however, grateful for Monday’s. If Monday comes it means we have made it to another day and for that we are thankful! Monday’s represent a fresh start to the week. We do still dread them a bit though, mainly because it is the clear indicator that the weekend is over. It is back to the grind, so to speak, and the hustle and bustle picks right back up where it left off on Friday.

This morning I woke up at 4:30 a.m. planning to go out for a run, those endorphin's do seem to help with the Monday Blues but today it was storming so I was stuck indoors on the elliptical… Going nowhere fast… Sigh… On the bright side I am a planner and as soon as Sunday comes to an end I have already thought about the weekend ahead. That wishful thinking propels me through my Monday’s! Happy wishful thinking on this Monday to you too!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

This Weekend's VIP - Goal Zero Nomad 13 and Sherpa 50

So you may already know by reading the first post that this weekend was our very first two night backpacking excursion... I feel so strongly that you need to disconnect now and then from your day to day life and connect to nature...

However... I have two teenage daughters who were not with us this weekend. I can not possibly go the whole weekend without knowing how my girls are, where there are and that they are home safe and sound at the end of each day. Without that ability to check in I would not go. I am sooooooo glad we made the big purchase of the Goal Zero Nomad 13 and Sherpa 50! This charged my iPhone four times this weekend as well as his Droid and by the end of the third day we still had 60% charge!! Amazing!!!

Day 1:

As long as there is sun there is a charge!! Setting up camp and getting charged up! 

Once we set up the tent we decided to catch as much sun as we could! 

And charge our devices at the same time!

Day 2: 

Packed up our bags and hiked six miles to the next camp site, getting a charge all the way!

Set up camp again, then took a relaxing break in the hammock while the Goal Zero Sherpa 50 charged up our phones. 

You can't always guarantee cell service deep within the woods and this weekend where we were it was spotty at best but I was able to talk to my girls several times (and text them) along our weekend adventure and that made this purchase well worth it!!

Check out Goal Zero for more info on this product! 

We bought ours after much research (on his part) and waiting for the release of this system. We  bought ours at REI using our REI Member Rewards Coupon plus an REI gift card we received for Christmas last year! 

Our Goal Zero Nomad 13 and Sherpa 50 are most certainly this weekend's VIP!!

Here we go :)

Welcome to our blog It's the Sound of Sunshine! We are new to the blogging world... We decided to start this blog this weekend while were on a three day and two night backpacking adventure in the mountains. This was our very first two night camping excursion, just the two of us. We always have the best time and then afterwards realize we really had no idea what we were doing. Thank goodness we survived! Ha!

We have discovered over the years a serious lack of information on outdoor adventure for people like us... We are your typical girl and guy next door who love a little outdoor adventure. We are not into extreme sporting nor are we into leisurely strolls. We are somewhere in between. We are in our mid-thirties. We enjoy dressing up and date nights but also LOVE Kayaking, Camping, Hiking, Mountain Biking (him) and Running (me).

This weekend with little information to go by and the gear we have collected over the past couple of years we loaded up and hit the trail. We covered 8 - 9 miles of strenuous, rocky, root covered trails with significant grade changes and with 30 lb. (mine) and 50 lb. ( his) backpacks. Drank the water God provided from the streams and branches along the way. Trusting the trees to provide us cool shade during the day and the campfire to provide us warmth at night! Breathtaking views were abundant along the way! We had a wonderful weekend!

Since we have had a bit of trial and error we decided why not help out other people like us, those in search of the in between. We want to share some of our experiences, gear review and trail routes for the locals. We hope you enjoy!

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