spending money…Yikes!

It’s been a long winter in Kansas & I wasn’t even here for the month of January!  It’s been bitter cold, tons of snow, some crappy ice, now we’re deep in mud & it’s always kind of boring.  Our driveway is an adventure itself!  I’ve been out on a few long walks through the woods, but not many.  

One of the fun holidays I’m home for is Mardi Gras.  What’s it like to celebrate this fun-filled celebration in Kansas?  It’s a tiny celebration, but people come out annually for a little springtime fun.  There’s a very down home band & a rather random group of about 35 people that dress up, parade (on the sidewalk) up Mass Street & in & out of various business’s along the way.  The whole gang ends up at Free State Brewery, with the band perched on the stairs for about 20 minutes of Mardi Gras music.  This year, I had to “Polarize" my costume, so for the first time ever, I tore up an old one to create a new “winter” version, since it was going to be 22 degrees out that morning.  I was trying to not “add more” stuff to my life (& my costume closet), & always trying to not spend money.  I made for about $12 & ransacked everything else I had to make it.  I was happy with it in the end, borrowed Dannys green down coat to wear underneath, covered up my snowman hat (I needed something over my freezing ears!) & was pretty warm throughout the whole parade.

My friend Cheryl has been going with me for the past couple of years…we are both great partiers!  This year was no exception.  We walked in the parade…sneaking out for the last block so we could find seats at the bar & have our Hurricanes in hand for when the band & the rest of the party arrived! 

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(Thats my friend Maize back there pulling off the photobomb (right photo).  We both love to travel & she is a huge beach person!  Whats not showing in the photo is her broken armguess thats why shes not somewhere on a warm, sunny beach with her own pretty drink in hand!)

The only creative thing Ive done since last fall, is work on a salt dough hand print of Emma’s left over from when we made Christmas ornaments. I have one of Claire’s handprints when she was 2, that’s filled with doodles & hung on my wall…it makes me smile everytime I look at it.  So, I wanted to have one of Emma’s too.  It didn’t go as planned, so I tried a few different things each one seeming like a little more of a disaster than the previous try.  I made one last attempt (before I would throw it out) & ended up doodling on paper then using gesso, attached it to the handprint.  I’m good with the finished product.  Neither one of these will last forever, but for now, they make me happy!

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Similar to my pattern the past several winters, my time at home pre-spring is also my pre-travel season (need to fix that someday & find some warm nice fun place to go!)  So, I start to plan & dream & think about equipment, etc.  All those travel things I love to research & talk about.  But, I’m also the person who doesn’t always want the upgrade, more stuff (that’s never me) & I'm forever conscious of the money factor.  And, the space factorhopefully its replacing something I can get rid ofnot add to.  Ive always bought really quality gearwhich is great because it doesnt wear out very easily or very often.  Hence.my 23 year old rather outdated & heavy backpack that was my first & still is my only backpack.  However, some of my stuff is getting worn out & in need of replacing.  Last year I bought a new water bladder (remember mine leaked all last summer), a new day pack, a new rain jacket & a new pair of low hikerseverything replacing something very old. I really dont like spending a bunch of money before I ever leave for my trip!  But, YIKES!  I seem to have done it again this year!  Here goes.

Altra Lone Peak 4.0.  Ive had a little trouble with my feet last year & usually swap out my trail runners & low hikers every other day or so or change them depending on the terrain Im hiking.  But, they are both Salomon's so built pretty much the same.  Ill still take both pair with me, but really wanted to try these out & see if I can avoid any common foot issues hikers experience.  They have a huge big toe box & are a zero drop shoe.  Ive never worn that style before, but Im told I can still swap them with my Salomons, which are not zero drops. Wowthey are super light weight too.  They are one of the top three trail shoes for long distance hikers.  I only wish they had them in bright red! (But, sadly like every other active thing for women, its pink, purple or turquoise….not my taste…so, I went with black.)

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inReach Mini by Garmin.  This is the big purchase & I did a lot of research on it before I made the decision & was a little queasy before I handed over my credit card.  Years ago, Sara gave me SPOT GPS locator for keeping in touch & emergencies when cell phone service is non-existent.  I have used this so much, thank goodness not for any emergency, but it sends a pre programed message to Danny letting him know where I am—the GPS coordinates & the message that I don’t have cell service.  It gives both of us a level of comfort when Im all over the country traveling & camping by myself.  But, last year, for the first time, my SPOT had two failsin two different locations.  Customer Service told me, after the fact, that I was just in a difficult place.  Both times I was using it, all the lights that tell you have GPS & your message has gone through were lit like it all worked rightbut it didnt.  The rest of the trip, it worked fine, but we didnt know if it would.  Anytime I thought Id be out of cell range, Id call Danny, tell him where I was headed & ended all those messages with but if you dont hear from me, dont worry!  my SPOT just may not be working.  It was a little bit of stress neither one of us wanted or should have had.I pay $170 a year subscription to have the confidence the device will work when & wherever I need it to.  

So, ever since, weve been talking about what to do.  This is a fairly new product that came out last summer, but it's gotten really good reviews.  It uses a different satellite network than SPOT.  This tiny lightweight device can do a whole lot--including live texting. Im going to buy the basic package, because I dont need all the electronic bells & whistles, but even the basic package has some other nice options I will use.  And, I can turn the service on & off, so I wont have to pay for the months Im just sitting here at home or when Im traveling somewhere I dont need it.  With all that said, just like with my former SPOT, I hope I never, ever, ever have to hit the SOS button.

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Kathoola Microspikes.  Because it’s been snowing heavily in the mountains since November & record depths in so many places (it hasn’t stopped yet & so many places get their bulk of snow in the springtime), my chances of hiking in the big mountains as much as I did last year & not being on snow are pretty small, so I bought microspikes.   I’ve had these on my ‘wishlist’ for a couple of years, but this was the year to buy them.  I also researched snowshoes, but since I’m not going to be hiking on fresh snow, I went for the spikes to keep me from sliding off the trail.  And, I will be hiking on trails that are already made in the snow….because if I can’t find the trail, I probably won’t be hiking off into the woods & up the mountains by myself.  Now I just have to consider those raging water crossings….ugh!

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One of my other ‘research’ projects to do this winter, was to see if I could figure out a way to eat more at camp & make smaller meals with no fuss & no leftovers.  I’ve mentioned before how I don’t like to cook in camp & I really do like to eat out.  So, I’ve been trying to learn about dehydrating foods so I would eat a few more easy meals in camp & save a little money.  I’ve tried a couple of things that have given me confidence to keep going.  I’m guessing if I can take about 25 meals, & make myself eat them, that’s a great start.  But, I dislike cooking so much, that if this new process is going to be a pain in the butt or expensive, I’ll just eat peanut butter out of a jar.  

I started with dehydrating some homemade chili I’d made recently & a prepared package of Indian food I purchased at Trader Joes for $1.99 for two servings.  That’s way cheaper than the yummy stuff they sell at REI that’s $13 a package that would probably make me 3 or 4 meals, but it’s not dehydrated & I’d have leftovers…something I want to avoid (cooler issue, remember?)  I took two jellyroll pans I had, added parchment paper & then spread out chili on one & the Dal on the other.  Then I put them in my oven on the lowest setting (propped a wooded spoon in the door to leave it open just a bit) & went to bed.  The next morning everything was crunchy dried up & unappetizing looking but successful.  After they both cooled, I tried re-hydrating each one to see if it worked.  It did, but not the tastiest way.  I’ll have to refine that part, but I’m ready to move forward.

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I’d mentioned to my brother earlier in the week, I was going to try to do this.  He, thankfully, mentioned to me he had a vacuum sealer he wasn’t using that I could borrow ….Yay!  that’s was going to be my only purchase for this experiment & now I didn’t need to buy that.  And, boy is it really easy to use.  I hate single use plastic, so that’s an icky part of this process, but I cut the quart bags in half to try to save both plastic & money & they’re the perfect size for single portions. I’m going to pay attention to any leftovers I have…particularly the meatless one & start dehydrating those for variety & it will be something I already have & know I like.  The meat in the chili tasted fine, but I think it might have a better chance of going bad than meatless dishes.  I was a vegetarian for 20 years…I don’t mind meatless sometimes.

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Living in the past...I think it’s hysterical, that I only just realized I marked the dates on these as 2018. Oh well, I’m good at smiling at all the mistakes I make in life.

The one thing I have enjoyed about being at home this winter, is Danny & I have had some awesome weekends together.  Because the weather has been so horrid, he hasn’t been able to do all the stuff he normally feels obligated to do outside.  So, we’ve just been tucked in the house, a warm fire always going, good beer shared & lots of time just talking together.

But, as the temps warm up, the mud dries & the grass starts to grow, spring will arrive.  Danny will start going to the lake more often & working on his never ending to-do lists here & there.  I’m grateful he will get to join me in Florida in April for part of the trip…his grand girls give him more joy than anything else in life!

And, I’ll be heading out soon after we get home.  I’m still in the trip planning stages…but I love this part of the adventure.  Stay tuned…it all starts on April 7th with a 9 day trip to Florida to see the girls, then back to Kansas for 5 days, then my long road trip begins.  I’ll be headed south to Waxahachie, Texas to speak at & have fun at the Girl Campers event.  

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Then I’ll head west…my favorite part of the country!

PS:  This is a quote I came across while reading one of the Camino de Santiago FB groups I follow (I would love to do this hike someday).  The author, Kate Spencer-Millan, is talking about the Camino, but I think the quote spans the magic of any kind of travel.  Thats one of my favorite parts of travel… the people you meet.  And I’ve been so fortunate to meet so many wonderful fellow travelers along the way!

“We’re all guilty of judging someone on first appearance, but the Camino teaches you to be less so.  You meet amazing, inspiring people.  People you don’t expect to be walking, of all ages, sizes & abilities.  
There’s a massive acceptance for all our imperfections, limitations & our quirky personalities."

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