Traveling During A Pandemic: 8 Things to Consider.

We drive from Oregon to Ontario and back each summer. Typically, we spent several weeks on the road and explore everywhere from British Columbia to Colorado. This year is different. We are in Colorado, halfway to Michigan. Here are some reflections from the first half of our trip: 8 things to consider when traveling during a pandemic.

1. Camping is more complicated than usual when traveling during a pandemic.

The first night on the road: Campground #1 was closed. The local Walmart did not allow overnight parking. Campground #2 was full but we drove in anyway and the camp host pointed us towards a spot that was open due to a cancellation. We felt so lucky! In the morning was drove to the day use area and it was pretty much full. We were able to snag a spot to the side and hike in an area away from the river.

Tumalo State Park, Bend, Oregon

The second night we were in Utah. I cannot speak to the situation at Utah State Parks because we arrived in Ogden around 10:30 and Utah State Park campgrounds close and lock gates at 10 pm.

We broke one of our own unwritten rules and ended up at a KOA. Again, we were lucky! It was barely occupied, clean, spacious, and had affordable tent sites for our van. It was pouring rain and we were lucky to be self sufficient.

The third night we opted to stop driving at around dinner time. We were at Dinosaur National Monument and stayed at the campground. It was easy and great. The hosts came over to welcome us, which would have been great if they had been wearing masks. Overall, it was still a hit!

Dinosaur National Monument

2. Be prepared to be amazed and scared.

We left a highly mask and social distancing compliant town in Oregon in order to travel and see our families. It turns out that the rest of the world is going on with their lives and not necessarily very compliant.

I was almost immediately shocked by the lack of masks compliance. We haven’t been in any stores or even gas stations but I have been watching people go in and out of places as we drive through. We spotted 1 mask the entire time we were in Utah. Eastern Oregon was the same. Steamboat Springs and Summit County Colorado were a bit better but, overall, I was horrified and a bit scared.

3. Bring more food and drinks than usual.

I packed food and drinks for weeks. This includes snack size bags of chips, M & Ms, Diet Coke, Gatorade, and all the provisions that you would usually run into a gas station to pick up. We have not been in a gas station or store and do not intend to change that.

4. Consider a camping conversion that includes a toilet.

Again, we have not been into gas stations, campground bathrooms, stores or restaurants. This is probably self explanatory.

5. You may feel guilty at times.

I find myself feeling like I need to justify why we are traveling.

During a remote work meeting while on the road, I felt the need to explain why we chose to travel and every precaution we are taking. I did not do that but I still want to call the people in that meeting and tell them all about it.

It is easy to find myself reviewing these points in my own mind in order to justify this trip.

6. You may find yourself judging others while traveling during a pandemic.

I find myself judging other people behaviors which is kind of funny because they could be judging me as I drive by with my out of state plates.

A playground full of mask-less adults and kids without social distancing while driving through Salt Lake City had me judging them for sure. I am aware that this is neither appropriate nor helpful.

7. Empty parking lots are more appealing than ever before.

CD and the kids spent two hours in a National Forest Service Parking lot in Utah. I was on a phone call and they set up hammocks and cooked lunch. They were happy.

Traveling during a pandemic

I cooked lunch on a our camping table in the parking lot of an abandoned department store in Idaho. We ran laps to the lamp post and back. It wasn’t our usual picturesque lunch at a park or splash pad but it was okay.

8. You will wonder if traveling during a pandemic was the right choice.

This is impossible to know. We will just do our best to keep clear minds and hearts.

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Dinosaur National Monument: 5 Things to Know
Packing for a Pandemic Road Trip.
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Kids Bike Review: Prevelo

Our daughter rode a strider bike at one year old and a two wheeled bike before age two. On son was a bit older but only because of our own ignorance. We didn’t know that two or three year old kids can ride two wheeled bikes. Well, they can! It helps if you have the right kids bike.

Islabikes is our first love in kids specific bikes. I was lost when they discontinued their store in the United States but things tend to work out and it led me to an even greater kids bike love.

Prevelo Kids Bikes!

Prevelo

Here are my top 5 reasons that both you and your kids will love Prevelo bikes.

1. Prevelo Customer Service.

My son had barely outgrown his bike when my daughter was more than ready for a bigger bike. We went to every bike shop within a fifty mile radius. We read bike reviews, articles, and blogs. My son test rode every bike we could find.

His reach was just a bit too short for any of the bikes, including some of the kids specific brands. I had nearly lost hope when I found Prevelo online.

Jacob answered on the second or third ring when I called.

He is the owner, designer, and mastermind of the company. He was happy to provide custom measurements, answer questions, provide encouragement, and fill me in on company policies and perks. These include the following.

  • 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
  • $15 Shipping, refundable in the US

I was pretty much sold when Jacob answered the phone as if he was an old friend.

They don’t mess around with shipping!

2. Kids Bike Design

Once you see your kids on a bike designed just for them, you will be convinced. The difference between a bike that is small and a bike that is for kids is unbelievable!

Jacob could tell you all about it but here are some of the basics.

  • Low Geometry!
    • Riders are low to the ground
    • Low seat heights, low peddle brackets, and increased rider and parent confidence!
  • Short crank arms and narrow Q angle.
    • You may want to look these items up but, trust me, this is a good thing!
  • Robust designs
    • Improved kid specific durability
HB’s first two wheeled bike. A 14 inch Islabike.
HB learning to work on bikes. He asked for all of the accessories on his Islabike.
Grace learning bike maintenance.

3. Social and Environmental Responsibility

Check out Prevelo’s advocacy and giving page for a full list of organizations that they support. The list includes People for Bikes and 1% for the Planet.

For places like this!

4. Trade Up Club: Kids Bike

Its exactly what you think. Send back your bike when it is too small and put 40% of your original purchase price towards a new bike.

As the mother of a 7 year old and a 5 year old, the previous owner of 4 kids specific bikes, and the current owner of 2 kids bikes, I am especially interested in this program!

Out to lunch a few years ago. Kids bike.

Highlights of 5 Years of Family Bike Riding:

  1. Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, Michigan

2. Luton Park, Michigan

Prevelo Kids Bike

3. Commuting around town on kids bikes!

This is actually at Sleeping Bear but our local commute has a similar trail. Grace rode her bike to her first day of preschool and I didn’t even get a picture.

4. May Flower Gulch, Colorado

Kids bike.

5. McDonald Dunn Forest, Oregon

5. Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada

Disclosure: Please note that this post contains affiliate links. This means that we may get a small commission if you click a link and purchase something that we recommend. Clicking these links will not cost you extra money but will help us grow our website. Thank you for your support!

10 Things To Pack For Hiking The PCT.

Are you considering a multi-day backpacking trip or a long thru hike, such as the Pacific Crest Trail? Do you wonder which things to pack for thru hiking the PCT?

You can benefit from our experiences thru hiking the PCT, the Vermont Long Trail, and the West Coast Trail. Here are a list of 10 things that we pack and love!

Hiking the PCT

Please note that this post includes affiliate marketing links. This means that we may benefit from a small amount of any purchase. This would be at no additional cost to you. We only endorse products that we use and love!

For Meals and Food:

  1. Ursack Allmitey Bear Bag. This works for rodents, as well as bears. CD used this for his thru hike in 2004 and we still use it today. You may consider sleeping with it under your pillow depending on how significant the rodent problem. It is durable, effective, and convenient. It is a must – have!

2. Titanium Spork. In the world of sporks, we vote for titanium. After breaking a couple of plastic sporks each, we decided to endorse something more durable. These have lasted us 5+ years and I anticipate that they will last at least another 5.

3. GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug. CD did not have this on the trail as he was given it last year. He tells me that he would have taken it if he knew it existed. Apparently, he may consider taking it in place of water bottle. That is saying a lot since he was never far from his Nalgene when we first met.

4. MSR Dromlite Water Bag: 6 L. Methods for carrying water on the trail are a matter of personal preference and comfort . This is CD’s choice. More than 16 years later, it still has not gotten a leak.

5. Evernew Titanium Pot, 1.3 L. It is years later and this pot is still good as new. It is just the right size to feed one or two thru hikers or three or four car campers.

To Stay Warm and Dry:

1. Gators. There are different lengths, colors, and styles for different purposes. Wet grass, snow, mud, rain, and bugs are a few examples. Ours get a lot of use!

2. Camp socks. Spare socks for your sleeping bag are a must! You will thank us later! I currently love “Darn Tough” socks but any socks will work. CD carries three pair of socks. Two for hiking and one only for camp. He continues to stand the principle of camps socks. Whether we are home, in the Sprinter, backpacking, or car camping, we wouldn’t consider getting near our sleeping bags with anything other than our camp socks!

3. Marmot Driclime. This is my favorite layer of all time! CD thru hiked with in 2004 and still wears today. It works for any temperature, packs small, weighs little, and stands up to the challenge. He gave me a Marmot Driclime for my birthday the first year that we met and I was quickly convinced.

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For Health and Safety:

1. Mosquito Head Net. When you need this, you will be glad it is packed. It is small, versatile, light, and effective. We recommend wearing it over a sun hat with a brim all the way around. This will keep the net from sticking to your skin or being irritating.

For more tips on handling mosquitos while on the PCT, check out this post: https://ramblingfootsteps.com/2020/05/07/pct-packing-list-throwback-travel-journal/

2. Black Diamond Head Lamp. CD uses this every day on the trail and at home. It is a way of life I guess.

For a look inside CD’s pack from Northern California onward, please check out the following post. https://ramblingfootsteps.com/2020/05/07/pct-packing-list-throwback-travel-journal/

If you are seeking a different perspective, you can check out the “what I didn’t need” gear list from REI. You may notice some healthy differences of opinion that are worth checking out!

https://www.rei.com/blog/hike/pacific-crest-trail-packing-brought-didnt-need?cm_mmc=sm_pin-_-always_on-_-brought_didnt_need-_-blog

I hope your thru hike gives you everything you need.

Enjoy and Hike Your Own Hike!

Tips for Handling Mosquitoes While Hiking the PCT.

CD’s trail journal entries become less consistent in Oregon. He documents damp air, cool nights, mosquitoes while hiking, and endless self reflection.

His journal entry from 8/7/04 addresses the mosquitoes three different times in two short paragraphs.

  • As I was alternating between swatting mosquitoes and pumping water today I wondered, “What can’t I just sit on the couch and go use the tap when I want water like most people?”
  • Soon, however, it was back to the woods and endless mosquito-hatchery ponds.
  • Today’s mosquitoes are worse than last night’s but seem to be staying outside (but close).

Tips for handling mosquitoes while hiking.

1. Setting up your Tarptent.

  • Lay down your floor cloth
  • Lay your tent on top of your things
  • Arrange your pack and other belongings on the floor cloth
  • Pull up your tent
  • Climb in quickly
  • Enjoy!
#PCT

2. Cooking dinner.

This may not be the best if bears are a consideration but you pick your poison I guess.

  • Get into your Tarptent
  • Set up your stove and prep your meal in your floor-less tent
  • Quickly move your stove just outside the vestibule, exposing only your hands. Light outside your tent
  • Wait inside the tent
  • Reach out, grab the food and eat

3. Hiking.

  • Expect to be bitten by mosquitoes as soon as exciting your tent
  • Wear your rain jacket for protection
  • Be organized and efficient
  • Start walking
  • Once you hit a good hiking speed, remove your arms from you rain jacket and tie them around your waist
  • Untie your rain jacket and slide it back over your arms and head as you approach water stops or other stops
  • Repeat as often as needed

4. Using your mosquito head net.

5. Embrace at least 20% DEET.

  • Longer hair
  • Thicker hair
  • A longer, thicker beard
#PCT. Notice the hat and the beard.

6. Embrace at least 20% DEET.

You will likely regret it if you don’t have it on hand.

#PCT

The trail through Oregon leads to Mount Hood. CD found himself sleeping close enough to the Timberline Lodge to hear the music and see the lights of two wedding receptions. Such common first-world activities brought forward the surreal reality of having walked there from Mexico.

Was it worth the mosquito bites and endless buzzing? A picture is worth a thousand words.

#PCT
mosquitoes while hiking
#PCT
#PCT

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10 Clues That Your Husband Was A Thru – Hiker.

My husband was a thru-hiker. Here are some of the habits that I assume he picked up on the trail.

Disclosure: Please note that this post contains affiliate links. This means that we may get a small commission if you click a link and purchase something that we recommend. Clicking these links will not cost you extra money but will help us grow our website. Thank you for your support!

1. He drinks the dish water from the pot, even when car camping with a potable water source. This is not my favorite.

#PCT

2. He puts on his “camp socks” for sleeping and insists that everyone in the family do the same.

He also has sleeping socks at home as well.

3. He makes a solid argument that floor-less tarp tents are better than traditional tents for avoiding rodents.

He argues that while they may not keep rodents out, a tarp tent at least doesn’t keep rodents in. I can’t really argue with that I guess.

#PCT

4. He can wear gators pretty much anytime and has gators for any occasion.

#PCT

5. He doesn’t understand why people exercise when they should just thru hike.

“They should go outside.”

Notice the switchbacks. #PCT

6. He wears layers all the time, even to go the grocery store.

He adds layers and takes off layers constantly. The sun is shining and a layer comes off. The sun is behind a cloud and a layer goes on. Our kids do this as well and it is exhausting.

#PCT

7. He anticipates river crossing, even on day hikes.

He sometimes crosses rivers that we don’t even need to cross or at least he talks about how to cross rivers that we don’t need to cross.

8. He keeps his things in tiny bags and boxes. Seriously, he has endless tiny bags.

#PCT Kennedy Meadows

9. Pack weight is a constant concern, even on grade school field trips.

#PCT

10. He doesn’t know the day of the week, time of day, or federal holidays but he can tell you how to find the nearest mountain pass.

Thru Hiker For the Win.

To learn more about the PCT and CD’s thru hike, you can check out these links!

Tips for Handling Mosquitoes While Hiking the PCT.
10 Things To Pack For Hiking The PCT.
Hiking Pack List: PCT Northern California.
PCT – Southern California, Thru Hike Throwback
PCT Menu: Throwback Thru-Hike Edition
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Sprinter Van Shopping List For The Minimalist

I could write dozens of blogs about products we use and love in our Sprinter. Each time we change the layout of the van or try a new design, we end up with new products. Some last the test of time; others are quickly proven ineffective and re-purposed or passed on to the next person. The most important products are best discussed in detail with friends on a Friday afternoon. In any case, here is a minimalist’s Sprinter shopping list.

Disclosure: Please note that this post contains affiliate links. This means that we may get a small commission if you click a link and purchase something that we recommend. Clicking these links will not cost you extra money but will help us grow our website. Thank you for your support!

Light My Fire Titanium Spork

Light My Fire Titanium Spork: We stand by the titanium model but please beware that if you pair stainless steel plates with a titanium spork, you may have to tolerate the metal on metal scraping noise.

For those of you that are not quite ready to commit to titanium, there is a plastic model as well.

3 mm Accessory Cord

3 mm accessory cord: CD’s exact words are: “3 mm cord is handy“. It may be because CD knows every knot and when exactly to use every knot but I actually am starting to believe that string is an important travel accessory. Regarding everyday use, we have a piece approximately 6 inches off the floor of the van, extending from one end of the kids seat to the other. This cord keeps the storage boxes under each seat from sliding across the floor and it is quite effective!

Plastic Soap Dish

Plastic Soap Dish: When CD recommended this, I laughed. It reminded me of going to the community pool in 1985. That led me to consider going to garage sales looking for one. I don’t really like shopping, however.

I soon admitted that the best option was to just spend a few dollars, sacrifice a little plastic, and buy a soap dish. Wow, what a game changer. Our Sprinter has a hand washing station and now our bar of soap stays nicely in its soap dish.

No Mess! Clean hands! This was a win!

National Park Passport Books

National Parks Passport Book: Pick up at any National Park. Warning: May be habit forming.

CD has commented that he is glad we didn’t have one of these before we had kids or else we may have doubled the length of all of our trips by just driving around to get our stamps.

Hydroflask

Hydroflask: We live in Oregon. This is standard equipment. It really keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. It doesn’t leak. Try it!

Dustpan and Brush

Dustpan and Brush: This is another one that I thought I would never use. CD had this in his Honda Civic when we met. I never used it and was actually against using it. I just thought it was crazy and the car would be sandy anyway.

My opinion has since changed. Last summer CD caught me brushing out the van floor, step, and seats. Once I started, I just couldn’t stop. I keep this next to the sliding door, secured by 3 mm climbing cord, of course.

A quick brush of sand or dirt off the step or floor is super satisfying. It may be the mom in me speaking but I just can’t see traveling without it!

All The World by Liz Garton Scanlon

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon.

We travel with the smallest version of this book. We love it. It inspires us. The full size edition is great for a baby shower, grandparents gifts, or just anyone that appreciates a pick me up.

“Hope and Peace and Love and Trust, All the World is All of US”.

Headlamp

Head Lamp: The kids and CD love their headlamps. I prefer to use my “night vision”. Ha! I am sure we couldn’t travel without these!

Notebook

  • Notebook: An old fashioned lined notebook . There is just something great about it!

Portable Charger

Portable Charger: We charge this each day using our portable solar panel. Then we charge our cell phones or whatever else. It has saved us tons of times. We have the Jackery Bolt 6000 mAh

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Portable Solar Panel

Portable Solar Panel: We have the Biolite Solar Panel 5 and we like it. It even works on cloudy days.

Small Wooden Cutting Board

When you eat cheese and crackers everyday you need a good cutting board!

Have fun out there!

Please follow our blog for more tips and adventures!

Hiking Pack List: PCT Northern California.
Sleeping 4 in a Sprinter 144. Sprinter DIY camping conversion.