Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Solo Camping near Blue Ridge

A buddy of mine told me about Blue Ridge Reservoir, about 65 miles from Flagstaff. Pictures on Google Images looked promising, so I packed up on Friday evening and headed out there, just me and the FJ.

The camping was fairly generic forest camping; no view of the water, nothing really to write home about. However, I managed to get onto some pretty cool trails that hadn't seen any traffic yet this season by pulling aside some downed trees using my recovery gear.

On the way out Lake Mary Road - gorgeous light

Big ol' tree in my way.

By pulling it (very gently) with the FJ, I was able to snap it into three sections and move each of those sections aside.

Went wandering in the forest. Used this tree as a landmark to find my way back.

Gotta give a shout-out to Tepui Tents. They rock.

After two days camping, Kristen and I headed to Page to spend some time with our friends up there and get out on Lake Powell. The water was a refreshing and (in my opinion) perfect 68 degrees. Kristen got this picture of me on the drive up there during sunset. Best time of day to drive to/from Page is always sunset.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Overland Expo 2014

My Overland Expo experience this year was very different (and much better) than last year!

We camped with some of the AZFJ group out at Dairy Springs Campground, which is about four miles from the expo. It was quiet, in the trees, and out of the wind.

The actual expo part was cool - though we didn't have much of a budget for purchasing STUFF this year, so we mainly looked around and tried to figure out how we could make the things that we wanted, instead of paying hundreds of dollars for them.

We had a great time in the Tepui Ayer rooftop tent - it's almost better than sleeping on our bed at home! Meeting and greeting with the FJ crew was fun too.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Off Topic: Smile.Amazon.Com

We all shop at Amazon.com. I think I can say that with some level of certainty.

Some of us do it more than others, some of us pay for the "Prime" membership with special prices on shipping and unlimited video streaming and all that jazz.

I'm a habitual Amazon shopper. I admit it. 

The other day, I learned something really cool about Amazon. They have a campaign they call "smile" which donates 0.5% of the purchase price of the things you are buying anyway to a non-profit of your choice.

For example:

You were already going to buy that $1,000 1TB USB thumb drive because you "need it for work." (hah! yeah right).

When you choose the URL smile.amazon.com instead of just amazon.com - everything looks the same, Amazon works the same (including your Prime membership) - but now they donate $5 to the non profit organization you have chosen instead. 

Yes, 0.5% is not a huge percentage - but considering Amazon makes about $75 BILLION in sales each year, they could be donating an awful lot of money to non-profits to make the world a better place. That's pretty great of them.
Oh yeah, and it doesn't cost you anything extra - so there is no reason for you NOT to do it!

So here's what you need to do. 
1) Go to your smile.amazon.com and sign in with your regular amazon account.
2) Choose your charity! I am choosing Orchestra Northern Arizona, which is Flagstaff's community orchestra that provides FREE concerts to the public each month. 
3) Shop on Amazon like you normally do. Some of your purchases will automatically generate cash for your favorite non-profit without costing you anything extra. Sounds like a win-win to me.
4) Change your browser's bookmark to smile.amazon.com, so you don't forget next time.

If you want to help support my non-profit-of-choice for this program (I will probably change it up every year or so) just enter "Orchestra Northern Arizona" when it asks you for a non-profit to support. If you have another organization in mind - just search their name! If they haven't signed up for this program yet, you can be the hero who gets them involved.