Yurtcation 2013. A Gear in Review.

Our favorite gear from our road trip to Utah — tested, tried, reviewed by me and Karl (thanks for helping me with these reviews!).

Mira

The odds are pretty good that you don’t have a Mira. However, if you are lucky enough to have a four-legged friend like the Mira, take him or her on a road trip with you. How do you know if your dog is good roadtrip companion material? Here’s how we knew about Mira. She loves the car….seriously, she really loves the car. Walk her out back and she thinks she’s going on a ride. The excitement, it’s very real. But it dies down once in the car. She’s a very quiet and patient car rider. And she can wait hours between bathroom breaks, which makes her an ideal road trip buddy. She also provides great protection at sketchy rest stops and gas stations. If any questionable human gets close to the car, she politely lets them know that their jugular will be hers. Remember to pack poop bags and always pick up after your dog at rest stops and gas stations. We scheduled in a few longer breaks to feed Mira, that way she didn’t feel rushed to scarf down her food at a gas station while we were filling up. She’s a nervous eater, and that definitely comes out more when traveling. Know your dog’s quirks and be prepared for them to be magnified while road tripping.

Cons about Mira, and possibly about traveling with your four-legged friend. National parks. Whether they’re closed because of government shutdowns or not, dogs are not allowed in them. This means you’ll need to be staying in a place where your dog can spend his or her days while you explore the wildernesses that our great country have deemed worthy of protecting. The yurt provided a more permanent abode than a tent for the Mira to hang out in while we were gone. Remember that your pup may also be a bit anxious about traveling to a new place. Be sure to bring some comforts of home with you such as favorite toys and dog beds or blankets. Allowing the occasional treat such as bed snuggle time or wet food instead of dry food, may help make the transition to a different place a bit easier.

Kelty retro packs


The Kelty packs started out for us as a fun way to carry necessary items when we were having local adventures around our cities and to hold clothing as we travel back and forth between Milwaukee and Indianapolis. Even in this capacity the Kelty packs rock. One can hold an incredible amount of shit. I’ve packed all of my clothes for a weekend to Karl’s in mine. So of course they would be coming on the Yurtcation. One of our favorite things about this particular Kelty pack is the classic design. Kelty rereleased this design, which echoes the original Kelty daypack with modern updates. As unhipster hipsters we appreciate anything that suggests vintage and historical and classic.

We used our Kelty packs pretty much every day while hiking and exploring. At the parks we packed fleeces, water, my camera, lunches, snacks, and emergency items (i.e. headlamps and first aid kit) in them. The small inside organizer pocket, complete with zipper, is great for small items, like chapstick, drivers licenses, and money. We were shocked to find that the modest Kelty pack stands up to class II rapids, too! Our Colorado River rafting trip took us through a few rapids and Karl’s Kelty kept our few items (fleeces, Karl’s camera, and ids) perfectly dry. Now, I’m not sure just how much water this pack can withstand, so please don’t test fate.

Sleeping pads (trekker 1.75 REI)


Sleeping pads are a necessity for a few reasons. 1. Something insulating between you and the ground will keep you warmer, and as Bear Grylls always says, “One layer on the bottom is worth two on top.” 2. The ground is rocky. For years, like I’m talking 15, I had a ThermaRest self-inflating sleeping pad. When I finally admitted that the tiny hole somewhere in the pad was inconviently keeping the thing always inflated and set out to buy a new one, I figured I’d go ThermaRest again. Karl, however, convinced me otherwise.

Karl decided to replace his foam sleeping pad with a self-inflating one earlier this summer and ended up going with the REI brand trekker 1.75. Not only did it come in long (big points for us tall folks), but it was super soft and less expensive than a ThermaRest! Win. It didn’t take much for me to get the same one, but the women’s version. And I’ll tell you what, we have had nothing but fantastic sleeps on these things. They are incredibly comfortable and seem to be durable. The only downside? They take about an hour to self-inflate. We usually encourage them along by blowing them up ourselves.

Check back soon for our reviews of foot and legwear!

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Yurtcation 2013. A Photo Dump.

In September Karl, Mira, and I roadtripped out west to Utah to celebrate Karl’s impeding 30th birthday.

Our route out took us west on I70 through Illinois, Missouri, (never-ending) Kansas, Colorado, and finally Utah. The return route took us through Durango, CO and the Colorado mountains, and back to I70.

Our digs varied from a KOA campsite in Limon, CO, to four nights in a yurt in Monticello, UT (think Genghis Kahn goes glamping), to an inn in Ouray, CO that Mira and I are convinced was haunted after a hairy mountain drive in the dark, to my cousin’s house in St. Louis, MO.

We explored Moab one day as hail fell from the desert skies and questioned Utah’s low ABV content law.

We stood under arches, marveled at nature’s ability to balance rocks on top of each other, and scrambled up rocks at Arches National Park.

 

 

We rafted on the Colorado River.

We followed cairns through Canyonlands National Park’s Needles District and off-roaded with Karl’s Subaru Forester, Jake.

We had coffee in an Airstream in Cortez, CO., ate well and hiked in Durango, woke up in the mountains in Ouray, stood on the Continental Divide, and barely made it out of Kansas with our lives.

 


What do we wish we could’ve done? Spend more time in Denver and Colorado in general, camp and explore more in Canyonlands, and visit Zion National Park and Goblin Valley State Park (but we know that Leave No Trace applies to the boulders there, *cough* *cough* Boy Scouts of America).

 

Not all those who wander are lost

I made the decision to start using Pandora again after a break. My stations had been playing the same songs over and over again because I hadn’t added any new music in awhile. In light of my recent music renaissance though I added two new stations and settled into an afternoon of music fun.
My first new station is all Lollapalooza music. I’d kind of zoned out until a vaguely familiar song came on. I switched to the Pandora tab on my browser and discovered a band called Ratatat playing. They’re kind of rock/electronica, instrumental. Tim, who worked at the coffee shop in Raleigh, liked them and consequently, when I worked with him, they would make it onto the playlist.
This moment is really completely insignificant, or would be except that I’ve been feeling incredibly restless or something like that lately. I’d also like to throw the word apathetic into the mix of my feelings vocabulary. I realized that being here in Indy for almost a year is the longest I’ve stayed put in one place since I went to college. While at IU I moved between Bloomington and Tuxedo. By the time May rolled around I would welcome the change of scenery and happily go running to the mountains. Once I graduated, I picked up pretty quickly, I think it was October, and moved down to Raleigh. And then of course that summer was camp again. By the time I got back to Raleigh after camp, that restless feeling bubbled up again. And it’s not like I wasn’t happy there. I really was. Anyway, that’s when I moved home. And here I am, almost a year later, not having gone anywhere. I’m really mostly happy here. I mean, my job could be better, but really, if that’s all I have to complain about, I’d say I’m doing pretty well. So why do I feel like crap?
I do not want to end up being one of those nomads who can never be happy in one place for very long. I want to settle down somewhere and make a real life.
My friend is getting ready to “pull a Julia” as she described it. She’s a recent college grad who moved back to her parents house and was working a crappy job. Next month she’s moving to a new city to live with a good friend who has an extra room in her apartment. Sound familiar? I’m incredibly jealous of her. Starting completely over and fresh in a new city is so promising. I love that feeling.
Maybe if I didn’t have so much holding me here I’d pick up and move again. That would probably be a very silly and rash decision so it’s a good thing I do have that so much in my life at the moment. He’s good at keeping me in the present and keeping me from doing ridiculously crazy shit like moving for no good reason.
I need to get rid of my itchy feet.