Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back from backpacking

Since taking over the backpacking meetup group, I have been getting out on hikes and backpacking trips more often. Something about it being the end of the normal kayaking season is also having an effect on things. I just recently lead a three day two night trip out to the Shenandoah National Park with a group of 8 other people. I had 6 people the first day and night and three more joined up with us Saturday morning. The hike in was 3.5 miles and was all down hill. This actually turned out to be a good thing as it gave me an idea of who would be able to handle doing the 6 miles the next two days. As it was, I had to hike out two people as they just could not handle it. One woman had minor issues with depth perception and balance and opted to leave early, but the guy was having more issues with gear weight, over planning, and being badly out of shape. He also wrote in his comments afterwards that the trail wasn't as I had billed it. I feel it was, but that is personal opinion. I convinced him to leave as well.

I caught up with the rest of the group via a side trail but since everyone was concerned with the upcoming ice storm, we opted to chance the trip and ended up going back to the cars and driving to a shelter that was close to the road. This also gave us access to a privy, bear hanger, and more importantly a fire. We had such a party that night. I felt bad that the woman left early as she would have been a great addition to the group spirit. There was something about the other guy though that most people seemed relieved he had left.

We drove out fairly early the next morning and everything was covered in ice, the parking lot and roads were like skating rinks. It was slow driving but the rain eventually cleared the ice from the roads and we got out. We hit a nice restaurant, although certainly not the closest and enjoyed a large hardy breakfast. Based on the trip comments, it seemed everyone had a great time. The weather was cold, but we had clear skies the first night, perfect for limited star gazing through the branches. The second night we had a great big fire and eggnog; lots of nog, light on the egg.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another Successful NaNo

Another successful attempt at National Novel Writing Month. This time I wrote about my adventures along the Appalachian Trail. I hope to edit this and add in some pictures. I was a little worried near the end, I had run out of trail days but I still had words left. This was a departure from my first year participating when I ran out of words, but still had story left. I ended up finishing the story the following year. I did find out that once again the people who run National Novel Writing Month have managed to get a deal again to allow last year's winners to get a free printing of their novel. I am going to have to go back through it and trim a little bit of the fluff, but it will be so cool to have a novel sitting on my shelf with my name on it.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday night

Most of the time Sundays are relatively relaxing days for me. I don't do much as I am either recovering from Saturday or I am recovering from a morning day hike. Today since I didn't have a morning day hike, I figured I was going to work on my word count and try to finish. That didn't really happen, rather I procrastinated on the word count and ended up doing a lot of other little things that needed to get done.

I managed to do a little grocery run, although the weekend before Thanksgiving is not the best time to do that. I picked up the ingredients for Rice Crispie squares, and my granola bar squares. I need to work on teh granola bar squares as I find they are either too firm or too soft. I have to figure out how long to cook the sugar to get something in the middle. I also need to find a sugar substitute that isn't honey, as I'm sure something else would work better. And I want to cut down on the amount of molasses as I am not a big fan of the stuff.

I then started to clean up the gear closet and rearrange things so they fit better. I want to clean out the living room area of the beer stuff so I can actually invite people over for dinner parties. So I moved the kegs closer to the bathroom as they need to be washed. I moved the gear so almost all of it was in one closet and better arranged. I need to move the box out of the bedroom closet still, but I think I can store the bottled beer in that closet on the bookshelf.

I did manage to get some word count but then I ran out of story and I hit a wall as to what to do next. So then I made a batch of beer. I had the ingredients for a Duval which I had made before and had really liked. So I decided to make that one as my next batch as it is really simple to make. As I was digging through the box of ingredients, I realized that I had a bag of crushed grains ready and waiting to be made into a batch of beer. I had forgotten I even had them. I can't remember when I bought them and for what recipe I bought them for. I will have to go back and figure it out. I'm not sure they are actually any good but I guess it can't hurt to try.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Games night

I'm not much of a games player, I tend to prefer challenging myself, or playing video games. But since I needed to get out and start interacting with people and making friends I decided to go. I wasn't really sure what to expect although my friend did try to give me a heads up. I certainly wasn't expecting board games. I did eventually start feeling comfortable after meeting everyone and playing a few games. The night and people actually reminded me of the types of events and people that happen spontaneously at Arisia in Boston, which I haven't been able to go to, nor have I found an alternative down here. I ended up having a really good time.

The hosts had a photomosaics puzzle on the table in an unfinished state. In fact it looked like they had just barely started it. Apparently they have been at it for a while but just can't seem to wrap their heads around it. I managed to put a few of the pieces together although I didn't have a chance to mate any of the side pieces. I have done one in the past and they can be quite hard. I found that standing bent over their table fitting pieces together was hard on the back though.

I ran a hike earlier in the day and we had a great time exploring Difficult Run and then went up to the overlook for the Potomac. I actually had a fairly productive day as I managed to get some spaghetti in the oven to slow cook while I was hiking, then I did the hike, went home and finished the sauce and ate, then I went to games night. Lots of good stuff.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Business Trip

I am once again up in New York on a business trip. This time it is quite cold up here, especially compared to what I was getting weather wise in DC. I tried to bring enough layers but the wind is just biting. I am actually up here alone the first two days as my co-worker was not feeling up to travel and in fact, her doctor told her not to travel. It is better for her to be home then suffering here. The work isn't that hard and I have been here enough times to mostly know my way around. I was also lucky in that we didn't have that much to do up here this run, and everyone who works up here is always very helpful, so I was given a helping hand by everyone. My boss was only able to come the night of the second day and he helped on the third day. This turned out to be really good for me as we managed to wrap everything up early so I changed my flight and left early too. I think he had a good time showing off some of the data we have managed to get from previous work up in New York. The data looked quite nice and the lab is hoping to get a paper out soon on this. At least now I am back to warm DC which had cooled off since I left.

With three days in New York and only a couple of hours of actually work I needed to do, I was left with a lot of time on my hands. So I managed to really put in a lot of work on my word count for National Novel Writing Month. I have participated for the last 2 years, this being my third time. I wasn't going to participate but I decided it is good incentive to get something done. And I have been meaning to write up my trail adventure and compile it into some book form. I just hope I have enough material considering I didn't finish the trail. I'd rather not leave the book in a half finished state, so I will have to come up with some ending.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Gear testing

I have been busy with gear testing recently. Actually I was asked to be a call manager so now I have to prepare notices of gear that is available to be tested, post a call then look at all the applications that come in. While it is fun to write the call, it can be quite a bit of work going through all the applications and as usual I tend to let them all pile up until the end of the call. So far I have been pretty lucky that the calls I write don't generate many applications, but at the same time, I wonder why my calls don't generate as much interest. Oh well.

I am now testing a thermal jug, a day pack, a light down jacket, and a 15 F sleeping bag. I am about half way through testing a watch and I think this is the last watch I test. They are harder to test then I thought they would be. I think it would be nice to test a tent or shelter but I already have plenty of them and was actually thinking of buying a Henry Shire Rainbow tarp tent. Much lighter then anything I have tested. And since we already tested it, I'm not sure I will have a chance to actually test one, so I might as well buy one and enjoy it. I just got most of the new items for testing recently so I have barely had a chance to play with them. In fact I just got the sleeping bag a few days ago. I love the fiery red colour.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Posting update

Its funny what you let get in the way of stuff you like to do. I like posting and was actually posting pretty regularly for quite a while until kayaking and a boyfriend seemed to put that on hold. Now that the kayaking season is effectively over and I no longer have a boyfriend, I find that gear testing and running a backpacking group now eat up most of my time. Although not having stable internet at home also doesn't help. And November is National Novel Writing Month.

Once again I have to decide if I want to participate in the wrist killing endeavor of writing a novel in 30 days, oh actually less then 30 now. Last year I decided about half way through the month to participate and I took a three day kayaking trip near the end as well. I will be able to get a demo print of the novel I wrote last year so at the least, it is worth trying to fix up the novel and send it off to be printed. Another brag item on the book shelf. This year I started trying to write something and the words just were not coming to me. I think instead I might dust off my Appalachian Trail adventure and try to finish that. It is worth while and hopefully I can find a way to incorporate the many pictures I took along the way. I do regret that my camera wasn't very good and the pictures are pixelated when blown up, but I think I can keep the pictures small.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Meetup Organizer

One of the hiking and backpacking meetups I am a member of just recently had the organizer step down. This was a new organizer that just stepped up in June as I was unable to take over the group at that time. I should have but I was just too busy with gear testing and kayaking. So when the group became available again, I jumped on it. So I find myself the organizer for a group that has been sitting basically dormant for about 4 months as the last organizer didn't do anything. The organizer before him wasn't doing much either and I was almost the only person running events. I am slowly bringing the meetup back to life but I still get few people joining in on hikes. I will have to nurse the group a while longer before I think I can get away with large events.

I have been trying to get in touch with some of the old assistant organizers but have heard back from very few of them. I think I will have to thin them down and start finding new people to act as assistants. I would like to get someone to help organize a regular weekend day hike so I can run bigger events like backpacking trips or large day hikes. I would also like someone to help run bigger events. And I think it is time to start doing moon hikes again. As they are about once a month (twice if I do new moon hikes too), I can probably start those up soon. They were a big hit in the spring when I started doing them as many of the other meetup groups also were running moon hikes.

I ran my first event this weekend and the turn out was good. I hope people will eventually come back to the group. I do find it a little annoying that some members have been leaving the group. Some of them are older member and likely have moved, but some are new members that just joined this summer. It is sad to see them leave because I don't know why they are leaving. Oh well.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Pool Session

Pool session have started again. I wasn't going to go this year as I already have a roll and I thought it would be best to focus on getting the meetup off the ground and doing a good job on the gear testing. But a friend was going to the pool session and I decided it would be a good idea to get out and hang around with someone other then the dust bunnies. This was a white water pool session and they were teaching a lesson in the shallow end while a few of us playing in the deep end. I am trying to learn how to do a stern squirt. Basically I am Not sure I will figure out how to do that any time soon, but I am hoping. The pool sessions are actually a pretty good way to get introduced to kayaking and learn a roll as there is no current to worry about. Most people are immediately comfortable in a pool and take to the lessons right away.

After spending most of the two hour pool session attempting to perform a stern squirt, I am terribly sore. Mostly it is on one side and my abs as it is a twisting motion. I have the idea down but I think I need to throw my weight a little more. As I have a roll, there really is no need for me to be cautious about flipping myself over. I think I have to put the kayak on edge a bit more and really throw my weight.