A coffee update

A while back I wrote a post about coffee, and our options for coffee while camping. I said that I’d never tried the pour-over method.

On a recent trip to REI (I swear, that place has become my new Home Depot) I showed Michael the GSI version: GoGoTacoNegro

He saw the price ($12.95) and said “why not?” So we added this bad boy to our coffee arsenal.

The GSI takes up a fraction of the space required by the French Press. But how did it work?

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I am happy to say it worked like a champ. I’m not completely sure, but I believe we used less grounds than with the French Press, too. I think we have a winner!

One last note. On some other trip to REI (this one was to the Denver Flagship store) we found a screaming deal on a portable speaker. In the photo below, it’s to the left of the coffee.

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The ECOXGEAR EcoExtreme is a portable, waterproof speaker. Now, I don’t think these are all that expensive to begin with, but we found ours for just $20. Again – we said, why not? If it really sucked we knew we could return it.

And maybe it’s not that great. I mean, I’m a musician but not a speaker expert. But I have to say I’ve been pretty impressed with this little speaker. I think it sounds great! We hook our iPod up to it, although we could also stream Pandora if we were in range. (We had zero cell phone reception on this trip.)

The EcoExtreme really is waterproof – we left it out in the rain while we got the chairs, blankets, tea, and reading material together under the tarp. Supposedly the batteries last for 30 hours, but I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Overall – on both the coffee and music fronts – I’d say a win for Team Drazsnzak!

 

A last little getaway

After Michael gave his notice at work, we took the opportunity for a little getaway and headed up to the high country with the dogs and the bikes.

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I apologize for these pictures – they are definitely not up to my standards. But with the house sale going on (inspections and appraisals and such), I didn’t make my standard list of things to bring. As a result, I forgot a couple of things. Like my good camera. So these pics are all from my phone. Good enough for Instagram, but…

Anyway. After looking over all the weather reports we decided to head up to Winter Park/Fraser. I saw a 40% chance of rain each day. Well, that’s a 60% chance of no rain! Besides, the forecasted high temps for Curt Gowdy State Park were in the 90s. No thanks.

I should have remembered how weather works in the high country. A 40% chance of rain actually means a 100% chance of rain at some point in the day. And so it was. Each day it rained in the afternoon, anywhere from a couple hours to about 6 hours, before clearing off.

Michael got creative and set up the Noah’s Tarp. I bought this thing at an REI garage sale years ago. But every time I’d try and use it, I’d find such a tangled mess of guylines that I would immediately give up and shove the whole thing back in the bag.

Michael sat down with it during this trip. And I’m really glad he did! This tarp is 12×12 and completely awesome.

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Next time we might try to cover more of the topper, but as Michael set it up we had this fabulous space to hang out, read, and watch it rain.GoGoTacoNegro

 

The blanket Michael has is called the Puffin Blanket. This beauty has synthetic insulation and a DWR finish (so it’s water-repellent). Plus, it’s got buttons so you can make a little pocket for your feet! Michael also used this blanket in place of a sleeping bag, and said he kept toasty warm in 40 degree temps.

 

 

Now, it wasn’t rainy the whole time… each morning started out sunny and warm! We rode on Wednesday morning and ran on Thursday morning. The rain came in the afternoon. Proof:

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Michael set up the hammock for some quality rest time. Bailey the Snuggle King just didn’t want to be left out… in fact, I’m kind of surprised Bailey didn’t try to jump in there with him.

 

 

Elvis did his own thing for down time. He kept up really well with Bailey, despite his senior status. But when everyone was sitting around, he’d pick a spot in the grass and curl up for his nap.GoGoTacoNegro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are other pictures – ones with me in them, too! But they are on Michael’s phone. And he’s at work. I asked him to send them but… he tends to actually be busy at his job.

So those pics will just have to wait for another post. Stay tuned!

The Big Announcement

This one’s a doozie, I’d say. It’s been in the works since last October, and everything is falling into place. It’s time to let everyone in on the secret:

Michael and I are going to run off and be adventurers for a year. In Taco Negro. We’re bringing the dogs, our bikes, and our running shoes. And not much else. Think of Taco Negro as the Tiny Tiny House On Wheels.

Taco Negro Cascadia RTT

The Moab trip back in March was actually done to test out all of our new gear – the RTT, the insanely expensive cooler, the solar lights – and I’m really glad we did it. I’m sure there will be more kinks to iron out, but I really do think we got the major ones out of the way.

We’re selling the house and most of our possessions – so if you want any of our crap, let me know. What we don’t sell/want to keep will go into a storage unit.

I have no idea where we will end up. I think we’ll just figure it out along the way.

Some details:

The house is already under contract and barring any problems (those do sometimes happen in real estate), we close on July 27th.

Keep in mind that RockyGrass starts on July 28th, and we wouldn’t dream of skipping that. We’ll board the dogs and camp out at Planet Bluegrass.

Monday morning, August 1st, we’ll pick up the dogs and head out towards the Aspen area. Why? I have my very last gig with Steel Pennies at Aspen Bluegrass Sundays on August 7th. (So if you’re looking for some high country fun, come out and see us!)

After that – Monday, August 8th – is when we will head out of the state. Michael said he’s never been to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, so that will be our first stop. After that, we’ll track west into Yellowstone National Park.

And after that…. well, that’s what maps are for. We’ll figure it out along the way.

I plan on posting twice a week so friends and family can follow along on our adventures, so stay tuned!

Pros and Cons of the rooftop tent (RTT)

So I belong to the group on Facebook called Pickup Truck Camping. It’s moderated by a guy named Ryan Shauers, author of a book called “Big Travel, Small Budget: How to Travel More, Spend Less, and See the World.”

I read the book a while back and I think it’s pretty cool. Ryan has traveled most of America, living in his pickup. When I first read the book Michael and I were also camping out of the truck – sleeping in the back with the dogs.

Recently on FB, Ryan put up a link to an article about RTTs and commented, essentially, that sleeping in the canopy (topper) was “so much better.”

I have to admit I bristled at that, and posted as much. I was then asked to post why I prefer my RTT to the canopy, in case others were on the fence with this type of decision.

Here’s what I wrote:

For us, it really is just a matter of space. For starters my husband is 6’4″ and our truck has a 6′ bed. He’s much happier stretching out in the RTT. I like being able to sit up, read, etc without hitting my head on the ceiling of the canopy.

We also travel with our dogs… and we found that 2 dogs and 2 adults in the canopy was too crowded. And while we debated long and hard about leaving the dogs with friends while we travel – ultimately we decided that the dogs travel with us.

I have not found that setting up the RTT takes any longer than getting ready to sleep in the canopy. In inclement weather, the RTT has an annex (complete with a bathtub floor) that allows us to go from the tent to the cab without having to go outside. This happened on our recent trip to Moab and was basically a “holy shit this thing is the best ever” moment for me.

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The article mentioned that it’s a PITA to go down the ladder in the middle of the night to pee. Maybe that’s true, but I still find the ladder preferable to climbing over the husband and 2 dogs in the canopy. The husband prefers it too… the risk of me accidentally elbowing him in the balls is a lot lower in the RTT.

I’m no expert but I can’t say that I ever thought we’d tip over while off-roading because of our RTT.

Yes, RTTs are expensive. About the cost of a brand-new canopy, I’d say.

Does the RTT affect our gas mileage? Of course. Right along with lift and off-road tires. We’re actually looking to spend more time on dirt and jeep trails than in the highway, though.

Just so we’re clear, I’m not bagging on the canopy crowd. If I were traveling alone I would not go for the RTT – but that’s mostly because of my height. My husband can set the RTT up himself, but I’m too short. (Also, if I were traveling alone I wouldn’t need all that room….)

Here’s my one big complaint about the RTT: once it’s set up, you’re tied to the vehicle. If you want to move, you have to put the RTT away first. So it gets interesting if you can’t camp at your trailhead, for example. But on the whole I’m very happy with our decision to get the RTT. Like I said earlier, it works best for us, for our situation.

That was the end of my rant. Interesting…. I never thought I’d have to defend my decision to get a RTT. I thought we were all in this to have fun.

UPDATE: the search for a waterproof duffel

I’ve been trolling the internet in my search for a waterproof duffel bag.

I finally found one! From Cabela’s: The Boundary Waters Duffel Bag. Not cheap, but definitely not as expensive as the Patagonia bag. And this one is fully waterproof! I ordered the large and it arrived over the weekend.

I was so excited! Then I pulled it out of the box. And suddenly I’m not so sure I ordered the right size…

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It seems a bit larger, yes? Like, more space than I need. A lot more.

See, one of the things I’m going for here is simplicity. Minimalism, if you will. And if we’re going out for 10 days, how much crap do I really need to bring?

The funny thing is that I actually didn’t know how big the REI duffel was. I bought it on a prodeal years ago. I was guessing based on some measurements I took that kind of matched with what REI puts on their site.

So, now that I have them side by side, I looked up each on online again. The REI size large is 5,125 cubic inches. The Cabela’s size large is 5,880 cubic inches. So… not that much bigger.

I think the Cabela’s bag is a keeper. We’re planning a quick overnighter next week, so I’ll let you know how it works out. If it rains, that is. Spring seems to have ended on June 1st here. We went from cool, rainy weather to the mid-80’s overnight. By the end of this week daytime temps are forecasted for the 90’s. Every day.

So that overnighter might be up to the high country.

 

Paleo banana almond butter pancakes

Well, we finally came up with a pretty good recipe. Yay!

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It took a couple of attempts, but Michael helped me come up with a recipe for these awesome pancakes. On the first attempt we used almond flour. They were tasty, but we needed an entire cup of almond flour. Not ideal. Why? Well, first of all, almond flour is kind of ridiculously expensive. And second, that’s a LOT of almond flour. And therefore a lot of almonds.

I read somewhere that coconut flour is more absorbent, and that in recipes you’ll need to use less of it. So on our second attempt, that’s what we used. Bingo! Although I’ll say I had a really hard time flipping these bad boys. They kept crumbling on me. Michael’s turned out perfect (of course).

So here’s the recipe:

  • 3 medium-sized, very ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3 TBSP almond butter
  • big pinch of salt
  • fat of choice, for frying (we used pure olive oil)

You can mash the bananas by hand, or throw them in a food processor for a better consistency. Add in the egg, coconut flour, almond butter, and salt. Mix well.

Heat up the pan and add in your fat. Make these just like regular pancakes – flip them when the bottoms are golden brown and slight bubbles form at the edges. These might require multiple flips to cook thoroughly.

This recipe makes about 6 pancakes. It might not seem like a lot, but they are super filling.

Now that I’m not on Whole30, I drizzled some honey on mine. Yum!