Saturday, June 26, 2010

Eight Year Olds and Fire-Belly Toads

Hi, thanks for coming, you’re now here and may want to:
subscribe to my feed (click on this link).

“You have to kiss a lot of toads before you find a handsome prince.”

On at least one morning each weekend I try to go on a fast paced hike up and around a mountain and reservoir that’s about 20 minutes from where I live. The whole hiking loop I normally do is about 5 miles. I attempt to do it and get back before the family is 100% up and about. It’s a little bit of quiet alone time for dad and it helps me clear my head. Usually I make an insincere offer the night before or that morning asking if anyone would like to come with me. Normally no takers, but this past Saturday for some reason (I was suspicious already) my son decided he would love to join me. fire_belly_toad

So my pace dropped to the stride of an eight year old boy. A boy who was apparently in the mood to talk a lot (so much for quiet time), to talk a lot about Fire-Belly Toads. The hike went something like this:


“Dad, did you know they sell Fire-Belly Toads at Petco?”
“No, I don’t think I know what a Fire-Belly Toad is.”
“They are really cool toads, they eat crickets, could we get one?”
“Live crickets?”
“Ya, you can buy the at Petco, they come in a box.”
“You want to keep live crickets in a box in your bedroom, aren't they noisy?”
“You have to feed them every couple of days”

Time goes by, as we walk along…

“Dad, did you know my friend Mary won a national art Contest in school.”
“Oh, that’s great, she seems like a nice girl.”
“She’s interesting. She doesn’t eat meat. They eat worms too, you have to give them live food (the toads, not Mary) ”.
“What did she draw to win the contest?  She’s a vegetarian?”
“She draws pictures of airplanes.”  “She’s a Muslim, she’s from Portugal.”

Time goes by…

“My one friend, Nick, he is a model. I think it might be better to be an actor”
“You, want to be an actor?”
“No. You have to keep them between 72°F to 78°F degrees, can’t let them get to hot, but they can get colder sometimes”
“Anyway, there aren’t any actors my age.
“Sure there are; what about Cassady, she’s an actress, you know her.”


“She’s Nickie’s age (12).”  “Toads are amphibians, we need to have a pool of water in the cage.”

“What about Annasophia Robb (continuing to try to change the subject), she was about your age when she made “Winn-Dixie”

“Ya, I like dogs too.”

“Hey, Look Connor, there’s a Frog!”
”Why don’t you pick him up?”
"Dad, I don’t want to touch him.”
”Won't you have to touch the toad to pick him up to clean his cage?”
”That’s different. That is  a WILD frog!”

Time goes by…

“How long do these toads live?”
"About 10 to 12 years”
“So is it final we are getting a toad?”

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Too Short Visit to the Rocky Mountains

Hi, thanks for coming, you’re now here and may want to:
subscribe to my feed (click on this link).

“Faith, indeed, has up to the present not been able to move real mountains . . . But it can put mountains where there are none.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

This past weekend I went to Denver to be at my nieces’ wedding. I was lucky enough to be able to take a few additional days off work and do some hiking in the Rocky Mountains.  My brother and I, both being sea level people, decided to take Sunday to do a day hike and acclimate ourselves to the altitudes.

Sniktau Mountain View










We chose Sniktau mountain on the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass.  To get there from Denver, use I 70, exit at Loveland Pass just before the Eisenhower Tunnel onto Highway 6.  This mountain has an altitude of 13,234 feet at its’ summit.  This is a good hike to start with for us low landers.  At the bottom of the mountain the temperature was about 75 degrees.  The trail head starts at about 11,900 feet and goes up fairly steeply.  Having a bit of trouble getting used to the thin air, we just took our time.  The trail ascends steadily as it reaches the first knoll.  The temperature dropped to about 50 degrees at the summit, with some serious winds.  Sniktau mountain ridge

The views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains are extraordinary and breath-taking (couldn’t resist that pun).  The trail then follows a ridge line descending and ascending from Knoll to knoll. The partially snow covered trail (this was June 6th) continues to give fantastic views well worth the hike.  At the fifth knoll you reach the summit and are rewarded with picture perfect panoramas.

View from summit of Sniktau mountainOn the way back down the ridge line, winds picked up significantly, somewhere between 60 – 90 miles per hour winds, giving us a go feel for the power of nature.



Some video clips from the hike up Sniktau mountain:

Monday we went to Rocky Mountains National Park.  About 2 hours from Denver, RMNP is a national treasure.  If offers over 350 miles of hiking trails, many drive in camp sites and over 200 ‘backcountry’ campsites.  Permits and bear canisters are required for backcountry camping.  We visited the parks backcountry permit office, were greeted by an attractive young ranger, Megan.  She was helpful and efficient.  Walked us through the rules and paperwork, and issue us a permit to camp at Spruce lake.  We were on the trail minutes later.  No problems whatsoever.

I only wish I could have spent more time exploring the trails and mountains.  That will have to wait for a longer next visit.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Vargo Triad Titanium Alcohol Stove

Hi, thanks for coming, you’re now here and may want to:
subscribe to my feed (click on this link).

“Contentment consist not in adding more fuel, but in taking away some fire.” ~ Thomas Fuller

I really love this little Vargo Triad stove, I don’t really use it much but maybe I will start again.  It has 3 folding legs that are intended to be pushed into the ground to hold the stove steady.   It has another three ‘arms’ that form the pot stand.  It weighs practically nothing, boils 2 cups of water in about 7 to 7 1/2 minutes.  It is VERY sensitive to wind, so you must use a good wind screen.  One unique thing about it, you can blow it out when you are done and easily pour the remaining alcohol back into you fuel canister.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hiking & Backpacking First Aid Kit

Hi, thanks for coming, you’re now here and may want to:
subscribe to my feed (click on this link).

“For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind.”  ~Eleanor Everet

So if your like me you have some sort of a first aid kit in your pack, and probably only look in it when you are on the trail and need something, then discover you used your last one (of whatever it is your looking for) on your last trip.  Tomorrow I’m flying to Denver for a wedding and following the wedding will be doing some backpacking in the Rocky Mountains.  Since I have to check my backpack on the plane, I figured I better look what’s in the first aid kit and make sure it is OK to bring on the plane.  It’s  good opportunity to refill it and replace any old stuff anyway.  I sometime leave out a few of these things to reduce the weight.  If I’m hiking with a group, I can sometime bring much less.  Solo or with my children, I feel comfortable with this.

So here is what I have in mine:


  • Ibuprofen tables (Motrin)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Nasal decongestant (Sudafed)
  • Diphenhydramine HCI (Benadryl)
  • Tylenol Cold
  • Zantac 75
  • Pepcid
  • Gas X
  • Cough drops
  • Burn gel (1 blister pack)
  • Chloraseptic strips
  • Anbesol Toothache pain killer

Basic Care & Wounds:

  • Sunscreen lotion (2 blister packs)
  • Neosporin (3 blister packs)
  • Benzoin Tincture
  • Antiseptic Towelettes
  • Moleskin
  • Blister bandages
  • Sting Relief Pad (Benzocaine)
  • Ace Bandage
  • Medical tape
  • Small magnifying glass
  • Dental floss
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins (2)
  • Contact lenses
  • Aquamira water purification tabs
  • BreatheRight stips
  • Assorted bandages

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Alcohol Stove Fuel Comparison – Part 2

Hi, thanks for coming, you’re now here and may want to:
subscribe to my feed (click on this link).

“Contentment consist not in adding more fuel, but in taking away some fire.” ~ Thomas Fuller

My prior post “Alcohol Stove Fuel Comparison”  did a few tests comparing different backpacking stove fuels such as HEET, Iso-HEET, denatured alcohol and grain alcohol.

When comparing HEET (methyl alcohol) in the yellow bottle to Iso-HEET (Isopropyl alcohol) in the red bottle, Iso-HEET showed itself to be a much better performer.  Although it is an extremely sooty and dirty fuel.

This surprised myself and some of my readers.  One viewer suggested the performance issue of HEET might be related to the height of the pot stands.  In the below video of this follow-up test, this indeed proved to the case.  I varied the distance between the stove and the pot and at the medium distance HEET performed well.

Here’s the video of my results: