Friday, September 17, 2010

How to Find Adventure in Anything

Find Adventure in Anything
    There's really one big key to this one. It does, however, vary greatly from person to person. Really what it takes is the correct mindset. How to get yourself in this mindset is up to you. It may take some time and practice if you are not naturally outgoing and spontaneous. Several personality traits that help proliferate adventure are listed here:
  1. Outgoing
  2. Spontaneous
  3. Willingness to break or "bend" rules
  4. Ability to really SEE the world around you
  5. Curiosity
    While these are, in no way, all of the traits one might find in an adventurous soul, they are some of the most necessary. For instance, in order to find adventure in every day, one must be willing to flirt with the fine lines of rules. Perhaps while walking along one day you notice a back maintenance door hanging open and obviously uninhabited. Perhaps it would be okay to go and explore what is behind that door. After all, you walk by it every day. Don't you ever wonder what's back there?
    Adventure Games:
    Roof Game.
    Another good pastime to help inspire adventure in an urban setting would be as such: play a game with yourself. Perhaps the goal of your game would be to get on the roof of the nearest building you can. Then look around, walk to the nearest building, and try to get onto its roof any way you can.
    Exploration Game.
    A less lucrative goal might be to explore every accessible part of a building or set of buildings: such as a college campus between classes. Go somewhere you haven't been and see what's there! You might even stumble across something useful (like the college library).
    Picture Game.
    Try to find the best place to photograph the sunset. This can be urban or rural. Go to the closest hill and take a picture through the trees. Sit on a mountain cliff near home and photograph the sunset. Go stand on the beach and take a picture as it sets behind the endless waters. Be creative and make a compilation, once you've decided on your favorite place to photograph the sunset... go find a new place to try!

    Submit your best adventure idea by leaving a comment on this post!

Monday, September 13, 2010

How to Properly Hunt Squirrels

    Hello readers, last night I set out upon a little scouting expedition. I wandered into my favorite part of the woods where I often squirrel hunt. Immediately a squirrel popped up and no more than two minutes later, three raccoons wandered by, within two feet of where I stood. They stopped only to casually sniff at me, then meandered onwards. Another squirrel defended his domain from high up on a tree from the imminent danger of the impeding white tail deer which grazed below by chattering out an incessant ruckus and flitting his tail non-stop.
    Even as the odd mosquito buzzed into my ear, or bit my forehead, I still smiled to myself. Squirrel Season is here again, starting on the fifteenth! If having sighted in my two trusty squirrel guns, four times over the last month, wasn't sign enough the changing weather surely indicates that the season to begin harvesting these bushy-tails is upon us yet again.

Here are several tips to help make your squirrel hunting more enjoyable this season!

  1. Don't take yourself too seriously. This is imperative, as most hunters tend to take themselves far too seriously. Loosen up, Davy Crockett! Be sure to pack your old Gameboy Pocket and/or a good paper back novel. Go find a good sitting tree in the middle of a hardwood forest, and have a sit. While away the hours by playing Pokemon, or reading the latest novel you want to get to. The squirrels aren't that picky, they really don't mind what you're reading. Plus, if you're anal enough to think that reading or playing a game will impede your hunting prowess, then get lost! It's all about having a good time so read a little, look for squirrels, read some more, shoot a squirrel. Repeat.
  2. Enjoy the outdoors. Sometimes squirrel hunting involves a little sitting, so follow rule number one to relieve boredom. Rule number two, to put a smile on your face, is to just enjoy being outdoors! Who cares if you see a squirrel or not, smell the changing season, watch the oaks drop their leaves. Smile as you feel yourself surrounded by the simple things in life. Then kill a squirrel.
  3. Put skill back in to hunting. With the invention of rifles with optics good enough to make 600 yard kill shots on white tail, compound bows with their ridiculous sights and fancy do-dads, and legalization of the rocket-launching-rifle-like-crossbows for all people, things in the hunting world have really gone down hill. Now, I'm a fan of a high powered rifle, they're fun! But when you just sit in a factory made tent, wanking it to the latest Hustler and waiting for the deer to walk by so you can blast its brains out... we've got problems. Hunters no longer have true talent, anybody can pick up a crossbow, compound, or rifle and shoot to kill with it. I'm not saying it doesn't take skill to do these things, I'm just saying that modern hunting lacks a lot of the essential sportsman qualities. Us squirrel hunters have to put the skill back in! Try to avoid shotguns, they make it too easy. Try taking only head shots, or only one shot kills with the rimfire.
  4. Keep a sharp knife. If you shoot the squirrel, you damn well better use what you've killed. So keep that knife sharp to make it easier to skin the animal. Also, don't forget the plastic bag to put the meat in when you're field dressing! If you haven't tried cleaning the squirrel as soon as you shoot it, give it a try. The animal is much more flexible and easy to skin the sooner you get to it!
  5. Don't poach. Bag your legal limit, and call it good! I know you think it's cool to rebel against the governments laws, but don't do it. Number one, you're risking running across a C.O. and losing your license, gun, driver's license, and getting fined. Number two, you're being a bitch. The squirrels need to repopulate, and it's not like you need to kill them to ensure your own personal survival. This is your hobby, respect the animals, the environment, your rifle, and yourself and it'll be a good time all around.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hiking Tips For Beginners

Hiking Tips For Beginners

This is a sweet article by Ratty from the Everyday Adventurer. His website is awesome, and if you enjoyed mine please head over there and poke around. You'll love it!

Nine Eleven

It's raining here, as I sit typing for all the world to see. I wonder: how many people were doing just the same thing nine years ago today when those planes hit their buildings? You all know what needs to be said, but I'll say it anyways.

Here's to those who died that day,
And here's to the wars we fight,
Here's to death,
May we all die for something worth fighting for.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Eight Rules For a DIY Survival Kit (Highball Blog)

Eight Rules to Follow for Your DIY Survivl Kit

A big thanks goes out to Constantin Gabor from Highball Blog for putting up with my questions and allowing me the opportunity to write an article about how to make one's own survival kit. If you haven't read my article, go check it out (link) and give Constantin a big thumbs up while you're out there!

Finding Freedom

    The Why:
    Most of us live a life of comfort, not to say we live free of care or sadness, as such things are unavoidable and transcendent in human nature. It is necessary, in order to fully understand the world in which we live, to experience it for the good and the bad. More often than not, the bad stuff comes along without any encouragement whatsoever, in fact, most of us spend the good majority of our lives try to avoid it! But as for me...
    I will say I am a content man who has, thus far, lived a life full of blessings. So, while I live a wonderful life, it is not yet a full life. Some things will come in time such as graduation, starting a family, and mid-life crisis.... other things can be done now. Our hesitation comes in when we realize that to live a full life we must experience all sides of it, good and bad, happy and sad.
The Way:
    With this thought I set out on a walk on Saturday night at a few past midnight. Dressed in old, secondhand clothing and armed with a lighter, a Swiss army knife, bandanna, and a water bottle I walked the cold country roads, north, alone with my thoughts. I had eaten earlier that day at six, but had eaten nothing since then and already felt the pangs of hunger when I stepped out the door. If I may quore one Bilbo Baggins:
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."
    While it's true, I was not questing with the One Ring to save Middle Earth, I felt my own small sense of purpose. After a few miles I turned into the driveway of a landscaping supply business and looked for a place to sleep, hoping that in sleep my hunger would be forgotten. It worked for only half an hour before I was awoken and scared off by a loud pack of coyotes who thought it would be fun to bark and yip at the moon, only about 50 yards away from where I reclined in the cold, damp mulch. Seeing light on the horizon, I thought I had slept longer then I really had and simply began to walk back. Not much later it hit me that the light was that of the town, some three miles distance from me. So with no where to go I headed towards the light, hoping I could find somewhere hidden amongst the old buildings in town to sleep without bother.
    Not much can be said of walking on little sleep and little food, only that you wish you could stop and sit for a while, wish that you could stand still and still be warm. These simple thoughts filled my head as I tried so very hard to ignore the questions and thoughts that normally plague my mind. The further I went, the more I wanted to just find the fastest route back to my warm bed, back to a hot shower and a late night meal. Even with that pull back to comfort I walked past all the roads that might lead home and went further away from security, that was, after all, the point of my walking.
The Result:
    As "bad" as it sounds, the point of my adventure into the discomforts of a lonely dark night was to experience suffering in some degree. One cannot truly know ones self until they have pushed themselves. By no means was this most the tiring thing I have done, it was not the most painful, not the coldest, and I have certainly been hungrier. So was it a waist of my time? Hardly. As partial as my trek was, as short lived and uneventful as it out to be, it created a feeling in me that is a rush no matter how it occurs. I felt free, not from my body in some deep spiritual way, not from the laws of man, but from the image that others and I have made for myself. In a place where I feel comfortable, in my hometown I felt the eyes of suspicion, I felt feared, I felt like a nobody; I felt alone out there walking the night. While generally not a good feeling, it was a humbling one, and one I would not change or take back.
    By no means am I suggesting to up and leave what you have and choose a life of hardship, of suffering like Siddhartha just for that new feeling, just for experience. I love the life I lead, but every now and then you need to step outside of your comfort zone and try a bite of life's more bitter fruits. As terrible as that sounds, once you know your threshold, your breaking point, what you can accomplish with nothing more than will power, once you know that, the little things in life seem even smaller. You will find you really don't need to spend that $5 on a caramel mocha latte because you can be just as happy without it. Uncertainty and fears lessen, confidence and courage rise and the constricting bonds of consumerism melt off a little bit.
    I plan on making more adventures of a similar nature in the near future to gain more new experience and insight. I recommend anyone try this, just break out of your own mold for a while. Be homeless for a night and see the world with a new set of eyes, let yourself release your preconceived expectations and foolish notions of life. Go out and have a fresh start, see what life is like when all you have is worn down soles, tattered jackets, and a brick walkway to sleep on.

Best Adventures!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cheap Adventure Travel: Top Five Ways to Save

1. Book Early and Compare Rates:
    If you're flying, book early and compare rates at ALOT of different sites. My personal favorite is Expedia, they're cheaper (in my experience) even than "student booking" sites. Spend some time comparing prices, as this could save you hundreds easily. Your five minutes spend surfing other sites translates into a hundred dollars saved... that's worth it in my book!

2. Get a Student ID:
    If you are a student, hook yourself up with an International Student ID Card. Especially in Europe, these cards are often the key to saving ten percent or more on everything from dining, travel, or lodging. The most common mistake to hamper the success of these cards is forgetting to use them! So always ask if there are student rates available. Even here in the States, a lot of venues and local businesses offer student rates, use these to your advantage!

3. Pack light:
    Using an airline or not, the more you carry the more it will cost. Often airlines will let you take internal frame packs into the passenger compartment as carry on (I've seen people board with 5000 series packs). Road tripping or local travel is always easier and less expensive the lighter you pack. Plus, having only one backpack with all your worldly possessions in it just gives your heart that spirit of adventure!

4. Be Frugal:
    This might seem obvious, but most people fail here the hardest! Decide early on what your budget is. Is your goal to spend nothing at all? Or are you going to be free with your money. Chances are, if you're reading this you'll want to be saving that pocket change! Do you really need that ice cream cone, or how about that souvenir t-shirt? It should go without saying, DO NOT BUY BOTTLED WATER! Find the stuff at a free drinking fountain and fill up your own bottle, people. Don't even think about being frugal if you can't stop yourself from buying the pathetic bottled waters. A good way to practice this is every time you catch yourself eyeballing something, or starting to consider purchasing it just slap yourself. If you don't already have it then chances are you don't need it!

5. Use Free Resources:
    These include but are not limited to local hospitality and friends, a bench in the park for a bed (be careful of the neighborhood), free transportation I.E. freighthopping. Other common online resources to help you plan adventure travel include:

Workaway - A work exchange website for free room and board worldwide.
Couchsurfing - Most of you probably know this one, a website to find a free spot to sleep.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Michigan Shore To Shore Backpacking and Horse Trail

    How to Get Started Hiking Michigan's Shore to Shore Trail:
    There is a significant void of information about this trail. My article will fill in the gaps. 


        First up (and possibly the most lacking) is the MTRA website, these people "own" the trail in a sense and are responsible for the only set of production maps available for the trail. It can cost either $25 or $15 depending on what time of the year one orders the maps as MTRA requires a membership (sort of) in order to get the maps. Let me tell you right now, the only good these maps will do you is to give a vague sense of the shape, direction, and intersections of the Shore to Shore Trail. For backpackers (me) they don't do much good at all, the only markings on them are for equine camps and equine watering holes. Unfortunately most of us will have to give in and buy a set of these fire starters from the MTRA just to see the trail in any detail. The trail does intersect a lot of roads and small towns through the state, so it can be marginally helpful for getting landmarks and intersections.
        Our set of maps was already showing holes in the folds by the end of the first day, and by the end of our shore four day hike the maps were sheared apart at the folds. They're also organized so that the map which fits on the border of the one you're looking at is actually on the back of the one you're looking at. In order to lay out a full view of the trail, I had to copy the maps onto copy paper to lay them out side by side. One might just as well forego the maps and wing it.
        An alternative method of gathering resources, information, and friends is to walk into any local bar in Oscoda with your pack on. The patrons will quickly take you up as one of their own, in fact the chef even came out of the kitchen to greet us as we sat down for our end of the trip meal. Everyone is eager to hear stores, share information, and help out travelers. See who you can talk to before you set out, and what you can learn!

    Web Resources:
        Second up, which you will find to be equally useless, is the Wikipedia page for Michigan Shore to Shore Trail. For all intents and purposes, the Wikipedia page simply restates what MTRA already said, such as the length of the trail (220 mi) and the two endpoints (Oscoda or Ausable, and Empire). It gives little other pertinent information to prospective hikers. This excerpt is from and has a little more pertinent information than other places:
        "The Shore-To-Shore Trail was the idea of trail riders looking for a lengthy horseback trek from shore to shore across the northern tip of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. With the help of Michigan Senator William Milliken, the trail was established in 1962. The 220-mile trail connects the town of Empire, on Lake Michigan, with the Lake Huron community of Oscoda. Hikers need to be aware of the use of the trail by horseback riders, but the trail is open for all users but bicyclists. It is the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. The trail offers a look into rural Michigan, and although it doesn't trace a path through the wilds like the North Country Trail does, it follows many northern back roads and river valleys. The Shore-To-Shore Trail is easy to hike as it follows roads and well-marked pathways through stands of conifers and hardwoods, making its way across the northern tip of the state. A group of horseback trail riders called The Michigan Trail Riders provides a complete set of maps, as well as a trail guide, to help hikers cross the state by this route. Although the trail is fairly "urban," it avoids the tourist destinations of Michigan's north country. Its scenery—some of the most beautiful the state offers—ranks highest on the list of special attractions. Another attraction is the Kirtland warbler habitat near Grayling and the banks of the Au Sable River, through which hikers pass. The rare Kirtland warbler is carefully watched over by the Department of Natural Resources; it is a treat to see and hear. Mixed upland and lowland habitats mean that hikers will see a wide variety of birds, animals, and other creatures as they hike from shore to shore. Special attractions: Cross-state route, wildlife, rare Kirtland warblers."
    Original SiteShore-to-Shore Trail | Oscoda Michigan Hikes |

    The Real Shore to Shore Trail:

        While it is true that the trail runs along a lot of the Au Sable, it doesn't really follow it in any reasonable sense. For the most part the Shore to Shore Trail keeps a distance from the river but does follow the same direction. The maps and all sources would have you believe that for fifty miles, the Shore to Shore Trail becomes one with the river. You will occasionally bump into the river on your hike, and don't get me wrong, the views of the Au Sable are beautiful.
        On my own hike of the Au Sable stretch of the Shore to Shore Trail, my partner and I ran into a guy who had attempted a through hike of the Shore to Shore Trail some years prior. He had, in his youth, completed the entire Appalachian Trail. However, upon trying to through hike the Shore to Shore Trail in autumn, he ran out of water in the middle of the state, where the trail has few water resources and little contact with civilization. He was admitted to the hospital for dehydration and heat stroke where he spent five weeks recovering. This shows clearly that while the trail is tailored for equine uses, hikers be warned! advises readers that this trail is "best in fall", I would urge hikers to seriously reconsider this (not to mention this site lacks any pertinent information). I'm not saying, at all, that it's not possible. In fact, this older gentleman revealed to us his plans to re-attempt the trail in the spring time when water is in more supply. So be sure to plan your hike accordingly and carry lots of extra water!
         Due to heavy use by equine traffic, the trail has a cross section of a V. This relentless groove in the center of the path if from countless hooves and horseshoes removing soil in a narrow, eight inch, path. When wet and muddy, or snowy this kind of trail, even on level terrain, is a hazard to foot traffic. I can tell you personally how much it hurts to have your foot twisted step after step while trying to walk in a deep groove. I gave up and walked beside the trail, even though the brush was less well kept. Anything is better than that foot torture with a 35 pound pack on!

    Author's Note
        I tried to compile a list of the best resources on the web available to supplement my information about Michigan's Shore to Shore Trail... however I find myself utterly at a loss for any other information. There are quite literally no other decent web resources (even Wikipedia failed me this time). I apologize, however if you've read this much you're already ten steps ahead of me when I set out to hike this trail. Buy the maps from MTRA (if you must), and just go and hike it.

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Letter in a Bottle.

        As a little boy, and even now at 19, I would hope as I walked along the beach that I would come across an old bottle with a letter inside that would lead me on some great adventure. At this point in my life I have yet to come across any such thing. However, I realized that I have the means to make that happen for some one else. So, pulling out my trusty typewriter and a glass coke bottle I set to work. It was only after I had written "Dear," that I figured out I had no clue what to say next. Writing a meaningful letter is hard enough when you know the receiver, thus writing one to a stranger was going to be a challenge.
        With nothing better to say, I explained this conundrum to the reader and went on to simply give some words of wisdom I thought any person, of any age, could benefit from. Boiling it all down, the message was:
    "Don't forget the good times, don't forget about the sunrise at the end of every dark, lonely night. When all before and behind you is dark and depressing know that the good times are just hiding below the surface, dig just a little and you will smile again."
        I was once again stumped as to how to end. Sign the letter, or leaving it with nothing but "Sincerely," and a blank where a name should be? I have heard of people signing and giving out contact information so that the recever can get in touch, perhaps become pen-palls with a true stranger. Wishing to send out more, and keeping with the mystery behind a bottled message, I signed it under the name "Sub Rosa" (Latin for 'under the rose' or 'secret').

    Road Trip Adventure: Video Documentary

    Road Trip Adventure: Day Three

        Let's start with a sum of cost from day two:

    • $15 per person for a tank of gas
    • $1 per person for milk
    • $2.50 for subway
    • Day Two Total: $18.50 per person
    • Trip Total Per Person: $39.25
    • Distance Traveled: 445 miles

        Day three of the trip dawned with me having yet another headache. I unzipped the tent and wandered on the beach for a while without shoes which quickly numbed my feet after the 60ยบ night. The single blanket I had brought really didn't keep me warm in the night and I woke up frequently from the cold. I grabbed some tylenol from the car, woke up Jay, and we packed up and left after eating some wild blueberries that were growing in a shrubby patch on the beach.
    Our buddy.
        We drove a long time before finding our morning stop. In a town called Paradise, Michigan we pulled into the gas station. A giant wooden carving of a black bear wearing hunter's clothing and carrying a gun guarded the entrance. We bought some more milk for cereal, and I grabbed a delicious looking honey bun (health snack). We decided that Paradise was not nearly a cool enough setting for us to eat breakfast in so we struck out once again, this time for Whitefish Point. We pulled in to find only one other vehicle in the parking lot, three older men who appeared to be doing much the same thing as us. The two groups politely ignored each other, as people so often do, and Justin and I wandered through the buildings. Finally we settled upon eating our cereal out on the driftwood strewn across the beach. While doing so we discovered, to our great delight, a fluorescent orange salamander, wandering near the lapping waves.
        We played Magic on the pier, and Justin beat me for the 7th or so time. By this time people were beginning to arrive in groves, and the buildings and museums opened up at ten o clock. We walked up to one and asked the attendant if there was anything inside worth seeing. She wasted no time in telling us that we would have to pay to get inside. Apparently she guessed from our dirty, run down, look that we weren't going to pay to get in anywhere. We thanked her for not wasting our time and then walked away remarking to each other how nice it was that someone had just cut to the meat of the issue in a conversation.
        Cereal hadn't been enough so, for the second time, we set up hobo camp in a parking lot (this time Whitefish Point Coast Guard Museum). I grabbed out the skateboards and terrorized all the elderly people visiting the museum by riding in circles in the lot. It was plain to see that they were disgusted by anyone who rode around on those little punk teenager pieces of wood with wheels. The plain instant oatmeal finished cooking and we each had half a cliff bar to go with it. Let me tell you, plain instant oatmeal is the bane of my existence. I've had bad experiences with oatmeal before, once by washing out the pot used to cook it and then heating up the oatmeal-y water and trying to drink it in order to conserve resources. Never do this, as it will force immediate projectile vomiting in all but the most hardened stomaches. Plain instant oatmeal is just one small step below this. So we broke out a can of fruit and dumped it in. It was not the most pleasant experience, but the sugar and flavor of the fruit made the oatmeal bearable, however, I'm not sure I'd do it again if I had the choice. It saved us money, though, and it's really all we had with us for a decent meal at that point. I washed out the pan in the lot while Justin went to the little boy's room.
    Vermillion Station
        Fifty minutes later we pulled in to Vermillion's parking lot. I'm not going to explain this in great detail, as the video will do a much better job for you. However, when we arrived it appeared to us to be nothing short of an abandoned settlement that survived a nuclear apocalypse. Quite the interesting destination, and an adventure well worth the taking! It turned out to be all we had expected and more, because exploring somewhere new, abandoned, and with no one in sight is always exciting. After inspecting the premises, we waded through soggy cranberry bogs to get to the beach. It stretched endlessly both ways with nothing on it but smooth, flat, marvels of Lake Superior rocks. Justin set about building a scale version of Stonehenge while I threw off my flip-flops and looked for cool rocks in the shallows. I ended up returning all my rocks to the water, as I decided that in the spirit of a true adventure, I should take nothing with me. The rocks would most likely get lost, or lose their meaning to me in time. However there, on the beach where they belong, they will last until the final wave breaks them down, for all to see and to be a part of something real. They were just stones, but they were the beach, the open waters needed these rocks. After all, the waves would get bored if they didn't have rocks to polish as they splash ashore.
    Magic at the Falls.
    Tahquamenon Falls (Upper). 
        We fell asleep on the rocks, they were so smooth and flat that they shaped into a perfect bed upon laying down. Some forty five minutes later we headed back and left Vermillion Station (Vermillion Point), the old abandoned Coast Guard Station first established in the late 1800's. We headed out to Tahquamenon Falls, paid to get in (simply because one must pay sometimes), and played Magic on a picnic table overlooking the river for about thirty minutes. We visited the gift shop and once again marveled at the sheer stupidity of all the hordes of identical tourist families. I will tell you, the falls are well worth paying to get in and see, as things like these don't occur very often in Michigan. If you're near them, go and see them. Make sure you spend some time there to really appreciate them, though. Just relax, kill some time, stroll along slowly, stop everywhere there is something to see. It can be hard to find a decent adventure when you're shoulder to shoulder with stereotypical tourist tools, but just follow your heart and do whatever so pleases you and an adventure will be sure to follow.
        We struck out for home... the wrong way! Our travel home started out a little wacky, as we took the road the wrong way and headed west into the U.P. coming out in Newberry. If you look at a map of the U.P. in google, Newberry is one of the only cities to show up at a zoomed out level. One would assume the city would be large, if it's worth showing up when zoomed out. However, this is not the case. Newberry is really nothing more than a large town, however it is quite the cool place. We passed a train stopped at a small "station", and we took a side road down next to it. Parking the car, we decided to walk the tracks and climb the train. This was one of my personal favorite "sub-adventures" during our trip. There's something about the spirit of the tracks and the train that says adventure like nothing else can. Down the tracks a ways we found a railroad refuse pile, and LO! A pile of railroad spikes ten feet in diameter and four feet tall!
    Newberry Train Station.
        We backed the car up Italian Job style, and I jumped out as Jay popped the trunk. I threw in a few buckets of spikes and we "peeled out". Now my old tan car doesn't like to peel out at all, but the tires slipped on the gravel so I think it counts. We took the spikes because both of us are, and know, blacksmiths and these railroad spikes come in handy! Especially in significant quantities as railroad trash.
        We stopped at McDonald's to use their WiFi and try to find an Adult Store. It's been a long running goal of our adventure to find some adult stores to poke around in, just for the hell of it. We found none, however. Try googling adult stores in your area, or at least in Upper Michigan. THERE AREN'T ANY! Oh well. We took our last video documentary, and headed home. In Indian River we both put $10 in the tank, which put us at about 5/8th of a tank. We hoped this would get us home. We arrived around 2 am, Justin drove the whole way for who knows what reason. All in all a great time, 844 miles in three days and countless places visited and sights seen. An adventure well taken!
        Pack light, carry what you need, don't indulge yourself, and find your own adventures where it doesn't cost $3 for a day parking pass. There are plenty of good times just waiting to be had off the beaten path but you'll never find them unless you force yourself to break the mold. Take a different kind of trip next time you go. (HINT: more people means less per person on everything!) Make your own adventures!

    • $1.50 each for milk and honey bun
    • $1.75 each for parking pass into Tahquamenon
    • $1.50 each for four Vaults
    • $1.75 each to cross the Mac
    • $10 each for gas
    • Advenure: Priceless
    • Day Three Total: $16.50 per person
    • Trip Total: $55.75 per person

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Road Trip Adventure: Day Two

    Cedar Swamp and White Birch Forest of the U.P.
        I woke up when the sun came streaming through the rear window of the car, directly into my face. I was greeted by a miserable headache which proceeded to worsen over the next ten minutes as I lay there trying to let Justin get some more shut-eye. Finally it was too bad to lay still, so I rolled out, threw on the flip flops, and tossed on a hoodie. The weather had gotten pretty cold, the whole trip had been progressively declining in temperature and the cloud was still overcast in the morning, with temperature in the low 60's and a 15 mph wind. I tossed the hood up, stuffed my hands deep in the pockets, and walked out to the shore where I let myself revel in the freedom of the open water. Twenty minutes later, we were heading towards Cedarville on 143, looking forward to a full tank of gas and some milk for our cereal.
        As we drove, we talked of adventure and looked for new places along the road to explore. Several times we passed promising looking roads the stretched out straight towards south, the coast of Lake Huron. The gas station rolled into sight behind a few small establishments, a brick BP that seemed to be the center of morning activity for the town of Cedarville. We pulled up and got out two unwashed, disheveled young men in a town where the only people out and about this early were all old men filling up their work pickups for a long day of manual labor. We filled the car, bought milk, and semi-secretly used their bathroom to brush our teeth. Then it dawned on us that we had no utensils to eat with Justin, however, managed to find a lunch-time soup counter in the gas station which had free plastic soup spoons sitting out. I think it was implied that the spoon was free IF you bought some soup, but we just picked up two of them and walked out. We were paying them $35 for gas, a more-than-fair trade if you ask me.
        We decided that it was necessary to find a good scenic view to eat our cereal. So the decision was passed to head back a few miles and venture off towards the coast. We did so, and stumbled upon a public access dock that let out in a beautiful secluded bay with tall water grasses growing thick on the edges of the rocky shoreline. 3/4 of a mile distant, at the very mouth of the bay, a large mining operation spout two very large conveyor belts out over the water where ships could pick up loads of whatever rock was being mined. We sat on a large steel-truss peer and ate up the Apple Jacks, discussing how awesome it was that we were sitting next to a bunch of fishing vessels in the complete seclusion of the morning in Michigan's U.P.
        De Tour, the farthest east one can go in Michigan without taking a ferry, was entirely unimpressive. We consulted the GPS on my phone and found out there the actual farthest east point was but couldn't even get to it, as the property was well marked to STAY OFF, and we were just too tired that morning to  feel like trespassing. The old tan car pulled into the State of Michigan owned pier and we used the john, while watching the car ferry travel back and forth to Drummond Island. It dawned on us that we didn't have any idea where we were going from this point. We debated going into Canada through the Soo, heading back west into the U.P., and a myriad of other options. Finally we settled on heading to the Soo and going whichever way we so chose.
        Twenty minutes back on the roads we passed the mining operation that fed the aforementioned machinery at the mouth of the bay. Broken rock piles acted as a fence, easily fifty feet high. Justin wanted to climb it and look over, so I slammed on the brakes and the car reluctantly slowed and pulled off. We tried to jump across the ditch, but I fell in with one shoe and got soaked. Climbing the little rocks was a lot like trying to climb a sand dune. At the top we found a vast expanse of mined earth (what did we expect?) but were high enough to have a perfect view of Lake Huron, stretching endlessly towards the horizon. Little spontaneous acts such as this are what a true adventure is made of.
        Around 11am we came up to the last rest area before the Soo and pulled off in hopes of finding a suitable location to play Magic (and relieve ourselves). We spent the next hour playing Magic: The Gathering in gusting winds on a picnic table surrounded by families and old people traveling the roads. This was quite a fun time, as the game its self is quite entertaining, and we both enjoyed just kicking back and killing some time. It's really the spirit of adventure when one is able to just make a decision to sit around and use up the time of the day doing whatever so pleases. We truly had nowhere to go, no schedule to follow, nothing mattered except finding the fun.
        Soon we moved on and entered the Soo, with no particular destination I followed the signs to the Locks. We parked, joined the stream of tourists, and observed the huge steel machinery that allowed gigantic vessels to be raised and lowered. The park was government owned, but free to enter and for that we were grateful as we would not have gone in if there had been a price. We took Justin's laptop and walked the city looking for WiFi. First we succeeded in finding a head shop on accident. This was quite entreating, but we quickly left after indulging our curiosity in the ridiculous amount of glass bongs of all shapes and sizes. An interesting sort of adventure, that's for sure, when one accidentally stumbles into the middle of part of society that is unfamiliar.
    A river running out into beach sand.
        We found some WiFi right in the middle of a street corner, sat down next to a clock tower, and searched Couchsurfing for hosts in the area. We gave up soon after beginning, resigning ourselves to the fact that no one would want to host us with such short notice. Deciding to head back to the car, we passed an alluring smell and followed it right to the back door of a Subway. We split a $5 footlong to save money and then sat in the booth for a good fifteen minutes, talking about how tired we were. We truly must've been looking pretty run down, dirty, and disheveled by this time. We left and struck a course back for the car. Upon arriving we decided to eat most of a box of oreos to sate our hunger. We then decided that crossing the bridge into Canada was off the list, as it would cost us money to cross both ways, and going through Customs is just a pain in the arse. So it was that we decided to continue following the coast of the U.P. and we left Sault Ste. Marie heading west on the southern shore of Lake Superior. It had to be approximately 3 am as we set out.
    Our pristine secluded beach of Lake Superior.
        As we drove, the road we were traveling on was continually graduating away from the coast which was our destination. This would not do! So we promptly decided to alter our course and we drove north on a dirt two track into the Hiawatha National Forest and towards the freedom of the open water. Some forty five minutes later, the dirt road dropped us out right on the shore. Now, you might think that "right on the shore" means near the shore, but I literally mean that this road ended IN the beach. There was one other vehicle parked there, and I turned the car to park beside him but found, to my dismay, that the "parking spot" behind the other car was actually a dune of beach sand. So we plunged head first into a sand dune with my two wheel drive tiny car and got quite entirely stuck. Thus we met Steve the Radio Tech who works for the DNR and his wife (name unkown) who helped push our tiny car out of the beach dune.
        As we got talking to the couple, they told us that it was "technically" legal to sleep on the beach. So we did. They also told us about a small little place called Vermillion where the beach is made entirely out of pristine tumbled flat rocks from Lake Superior. We decided to visit the place the following day, thanked the couple, and they left. The rest of that day we didn't see a single person and we had the virgin beach to ourselves. We discovered a recently shipwrecked paddle boat, half buried in the sand which we excavated and tried to ride in two foot swells. It went poorly, but was limitless amounts of fun. Afterwards it was time for dinner, so we hit the road again looking for somewhere close by to cook/eat.
    Overlooking the setting sun on Lake Superior.
        A scenic pull-off served the purpose and we set up hobo-camp in the parking lot. No one was around so we threw out our lawn chairs next the the stonework ledge overlooking the setting sun next to Lake Superior. Ramen noodles cooked while we played Magic late into the evening and tuna fish added a little zest to the noodles. Some chips and crackers rounded out our meal and we headed back to our beach. The little two man tent went up quickly on the sand and we played one more game of Magic before falling asleep to the angry waves beating down on the sand. In the distance, red signal lights flashed in unison across the water where wind generators stood tall on a distant island.

    Saturday, September 4, 2010

    Road Trip Adventure: Day One

        I crashed on Justin, my buddy's, couch the night before our trip started. We spent the evening throwing odds and ends into the car which added up to a traveling total (estimated) of:
    Somewhere on our journey...

    • 2 skateboards
    • 2 folding cloth lawn chairs
    • 2 sleeping pads
    • 1 sleeping bag and 1 blanket
    • 1 change of clothes each
    • 1 backpacking stove and titanium cook pot
    • 1 large box stuffed with cereal boxes, ramen noodles, tuna, plain instant oatmeal, and canned fruit
    • 0 eating utensils (as we realized later, to our dismay)
    • toiletries and other odds and ends
    The uses of some of these items will be explained all in due time, have no fear. So with these items packed we set ourselves about the monumental task of trying to fall asleep the night before a much anticipated event. It's something like trying to fall asleep the night before Christmas, it just doesn't work very well. My friend's brother and some of his friends were up in the house preparing to leave for the Renaissance Fair the next morning. So I stayed up until 3am with them and finally crashed, getting a full six hours of sleep before being awoke and kept up by the sunshine in the living room.
        We left after Justin so generously read excerpts of The Dangerous Book for Boys over our breakfast of cereal. It was 9:30am and the open road stretched out endlessly before us. The gas gauge on my '01 Intrepid was reading 1/4 tank so we stopped to top it off before hitting the highway. We bought four energy drinks, two apiece, for the adventure. You see, road trips mandate drinking excessive amounts energy drinks, this is something you will come to learn. We hit 127 North, breaking open the drinks with that crisp snap. Some good punk music (it was most likely Gaslight Anthem) motivated us to knock down some miles on the trip while we were nice and fresh, ready to go!
        The first major "roadblock" of our road trip was my own huge oversight to have somehow misjudged the weekend of our trip. You see, Black Iron Days, the blacksmithing event that was first on our list of things to see and do on the journey, happened on the weekend of the 27th. We arrived at Hartwick Pines State Park just after noon on the 21st and realized, with a great deal of cursing, that we were one week too early. The spirit of a road trip prevailed in us and we were soon on our way north again with little complaint. Off to a new destination, somewhere unexpected, and a day early too. This actually bolstered our drive to adventure as we now had all the options in the world open to us. As we drove a back-country road in no particular direction, I consulted our map. We decided to head north, and stop somewhere across the Mackinaw Bridge. Two hours later, the bridge towers loomed into sight just beyond a forest covered hill in the distance. We pulled off in Mackinaw City to poke around for a while, since we still needed to find some Magic: The Gathering cards to bolster our adventure.
    Mackinaw City Lighthouse
        There is very little in a tourism destination for the open heart and frugal soul of a traveler. The whole place is packed with the same stores, selling all the same useless trinkets, and all for an amazingly extortionist price. In fact, even the people were making us sick. Everyone looked the same to us, all the same middle aged travelers on their disgustingly embellished Harley's. All the same tourist families, with teenage daughters and every one of them had the same straight hair, the same cell phone, the same ridiculously oversized designer sunglasses, and the same super-short-cut blue jean shorts. The teenage punk guys were the same way, flat brimmed hats pointing sideways, striped polos, or a "Knockout" shirt to show the world that they think they're cool for watching shows where men punch other men's brains out for fun. It was claustrophobic, polluted, and fake.
        Now, this is NOT to say that Mackinaw doesn't hold some gold nuggets for the rest of us. My friend and I walked out to the Mackinac Fog Horn at the end of a nice boardwalk next to a beach riddled with sharp seashells. We went into the shops in the city to try to find some Magic: The Gathering Cards, and succeeded in finding some over-priced starter packs. We coughed up for them only because they were the ONE thing we had promised ourselves we would buy. With the success of having found our cards, we set off to leave the city and all of it's pretentious tourists behind us and find a spot in the middle of no where to play Magic and camp the night.
    St. Martin Point, Night 1
        We payed up the $3.50 to cross the bridge, took a right in St. Ignace and stopped at Betsy's Pasties for dinner. Once again we gritted our teeth and payed for dinner which we now realized was necessary since we had the great oversight not to pack any dinner food with us. We forewent the gravy on our pasties since it was an extra ¢50 and used the free ketchup in copious quantities instead. The waitress almost spilled water on Justin and apologized ten too many times for it, while I laughed relentlessly at Justin because I really wanted to see him get soaked in water just for my own amusement. We left again heading back onto 127 North and then exiting again to take 143 east into Hiawatha National Forest. We slept here in a private community where it was quite obvious that people who are not members, are not welcome. We took our chances because the view was PERFECT!
        The sunset wasn't much because the weather was very overcast, however we sat upon our folding chairs, overlooking the vast waters of Lake Huron as the day came to a close. Our adventure was well under way and so far well worth it. Price of adventure so far:

    • $15 per person for gas
    • $15 for Magic The Gathering cards
    • $4 per person for gavy-less pasties
    • $1.75 per person for bridge toll
    One would not have to pay for Magic cards normally on this trip so, without having paid for cards, this trip's day one price comes to $20.75. 269 miles, lots of small towns, several major ones, a new card game, and a beautiful view later our first day comes to a close as we crawl into the trunk of my car, back seats folded down, to make a bed. Before falling asleep we decide to go get gas first thing in the morning and pick up some milk for our cereal at the station, then eat and find somewhere to start our first game of Magic.

    Coming Back

        As you all know, from my last post, I recently set myself upon a great adventure into the vast U.P. of Michigan. Upon my return I ceased updating of this blog temporarily due to the disheartening number of views it received while I was gone. I personally struggle with sitting in front of a computer and devoting time to writing content that (sometimes) it seems no one cares about. However, I decided that I would continue writing once the views hit one hundred, and I am happy to say that they have, as well as I had my first three google hits just the other day! People are reading my website, guys!
        I will be releasing the results and insight of my adventurous journey to you all as a story and guide to frugality, travel, and fun. I will aim to make the reading fun, informative, and worthwhile. So keep your eyes open for the upcoming three posts!