Monday, October 24, 2016

Interesting stories

It's been awhile since I've been active on the blog. October has been a light month here; but not overall.
We launched a new 2 month contest at work. It's a trail contest, encouraging people to use the parks and outdoor trails of Arkansas to stay active. They can log any paved or natural trail activity (biking, hiking, running) and win prizes! They are also submitting pictures and I love seeing all the amazing new places we haven't been yet. I have a list started for us.
But with a new contest comes content to keep people engaged. 9 newsletters to be exact on various topics, from hiker safety to how the Natural State got it's nickname.
My favorite is the story of The Old Man of the Lake, which I am sharing below.
Approximately 7,700 years ago there was a cataclysmic eruption in southern Oregon at Mount Mazama. According to Native American legend an epic war spurred the eruption when Llao, the spirt of the mountain, came to up from his home to stand on the mountain and was spurned by an Indian Chief’s daughter. Angry when she refused to return to his home below the mountain, Llao rebelled by standing atop the mountain and hurling fire down among her people.

Skell, the god of the sky, came to the defense of the people and began pitching fireballs towards Llao, shattering the massive summit of Mount Mazama. When the smoke cleared Llao has been driven back underground, the mountain collapsed on top of him. In celebration of victory over Llao, Skell filled the caldron left behind with water. This caldron is what we now know as Crater Lake.

There are many ghost stories and eerie encounters reported by the Crater Lake Rangers and visitors alike - phantom campers, lake creatures, snow white deer with pink eyes and campfires blazing on uninhabited Wizard Mountain. The most infamous tale, though, is about The Old Man.

The Old Man of Crater Lake isn’t an old Indian Chief as you might think. He is a mysterious, 30 foot log that has been bobbing upright for more than 120 years. First discovered by geologist Joseph Diller in 1896, the Old Man floats around the lake as he wishes, often going against the wind. He’s been observed travelling as many as 60 miles over a 3 month period.

Carbon dating sets his estimated age at 450 years, but no one knows exactly how long he has been bobbing through the water. Rangers credit the cold, clean water and the high density of the submerged portion for its ability to keep its balance.

Staying afloat isn’t the Old Man’s only power. Some say he also controls the weather at Crater Lake.

In August of 1980 a submarine exploration of Crater Lake resulted in his being tied to shore. Soon after the ropes were knotted a storm blew in that made the water too rough to navigate. Once snow began to fall (in August!) the old man was released. The weather began to clear almost immediately.
More Fun Facts about Crater Lake
  • If you stacked the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, and the Washington Monument beneath the Old Man you would still not reach the lake’s deepest point of 1,943 feet.
  • Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. and the 9th deepest in the world. The world’s deepest lake is Lake Baikal in Russia, an estimated 5,387 feet deep.
  • Average temperatures at Crater Lake never reach 70° F and the average annual snow fall is 43 feet.
  • William Gladstone Steel is considered “the Father of Crater Lake" for pushing Congress to designate it as a park. Steel also named Wizard Island, a uninhabited cinder cone in the middle of the lake. He first read about the area in 1870, in a newspaper page his mom used to wrap his sandwich that day. It would be 15 more years before he had a chance to visit the area.
  • Steel may be consider its father, but credit for the name Crater Lake goes to Jim Sutton, a newspaper editor who wrote about the area in a July 1869 newspaper.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Final Follow Up: Wardrobe Challenge

If you haven’t been following along or didn’t see my posts in September about the wardrobe challenge, you might want to catch up here.

In a nutshell: I chose 10 pieces and wore those only through the month of September. My original plan was to supplement with the alarming number of scarves and blazers that I own. Mother nature had other plans, so things got boring and quickly. But it was totally worth it.

Letting Go

I really had TIME (30 days!) to consider my choices and build my wardrobe with pieces that I felt good in, that fit right and, most importantly, worked with one another.

I emptied my closet completely and put everything in our spare room.

Then everything came off the hanger, sorted by item (top/bottom, etc.) then season (summer/fall), then type (casual/dress, etc.). I tried everything on and then it either stayed put or moved to a donate or sell pile.

I revisited the piles after a few days, made any necessary changes and then moved onto the next group. In the top picture below the items on the bottom were for current capsule, across the top is summer. I stored summer away for now. The bottom picture is the donate/sell pile.

This made a huge difference for me. I could do 20 minutes at a time or 2 hours at a time. I had 30 days, after all, so it was truly at my leisure. No stress! I just shut the door and walked away when I got overwhelmed.
Pants (top)
Dresses/Skirts (bottom left)
Tops (bottom right)

To donate (left)
To sell (right)
The most important part of this process was allowing myself to let go of cute things - worn or unworn - and things I was holding onto out of obligation or guilt from paying too much.

What I’ve learned

I will never be the girl who gets dolled up to go to the grocery store. All those years of “What Not to Wear” down the drain. Stacy and Clinton would be so disappointed. So for that I have designed a 15 piece weekend capsule.

STUFF gives me anxiety. And yet, for some reason, I still buy clothes I think are cute or that I think I should wear and then bring it home, hang it in the closet and get overwhelmed when too much accumulates and I can’t wear it all.

Sure, with 10 items to choose from things got repetitive and I got a little bored. I was also able to mindlessly thrown an outfit together in just a few minutes and I felt confident every single time

This was the game changer I was hoping for.

Did I hit my goals and what is my plan moving forward.

I did this for 2 main reasons: to get back to my true style and to eliminate the stress of daily dressing. 

I accomplished both goals - sorta!
A true capsule wardrobe is in a 3 month/4 season rotation. I bit off a bigger chunk of time and went for 6 month/2 season rotation - Fall/Winter (October - March) and Spring/Summer (April - September).

During my purge, I realized there are some things I have duplicates of, but I also wear those items a lot (basic tees, leggings). I kept one item of each in rotation and left the others in storage so that I can shop my own closet when those get worn out. 

I was hoping to get down to 40 items for my work/date night/girls night out wardrobe. I’m actually at 72 (YIKES)!! I am confident my closet will continue to shrink, not grow. I've also done the backwards hang to see what I do or don't wear over the next 6 months. I'll also get a truer sense of what needs replacing and what does not.

What's in my closet: 30 tops, 14 pants, 6 skirts, 11 dresses, 11 blazers

My advice

Go for it. I had a lot of naysayers telling me I was crazy. Shut them down and prove them wrong. you can do it! your research 1st. This would have changed some of my approach early on.  The French wardrobe and the 333 Method are good places to start. If you have time, a Pinterest account and a desire to simplify, you should also research these before starting.

Finally, download the Stylebook app and am slowly adding items from my wardrobe into the database. This should help me when I am in a style rut. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Be A Microadventurer!

I discovered the term microadventure only recently, when I stumbled across the hiking website Trail to Peak.

By definition, microadventures are just that – tiny, exciting and unusual experiences. The most important aspect of the microadventure is that it is (generally) cheap, (usually) local, and new-to-you.

A microadventure is more than just any new experience, though. It’s an experience that affects your outlook and that feels almost like a mini-vacation. It’s not reading a new book (unless you’re at the top of a mountain) or shopping at a new store. This is an experience that changes your life for the better.
Quoted from Trail to Peak:Alistair Humphreys is an adventurer, blogger, author and motivational speaker, and is the person many credit for coining and popularizing the Microadventure… My favorite description is from Outside Online where they describe a microadventure as “quick outings that offer something different, something exciting—but cheap, simple, short, and on your doorstep. Spontaneous weeknight campouts with friends. Running your ten-mile commute instead of getting in the car. A full-moon hike on your favorite trail”….
I like to think I was a micro-adventurer before micro-adventuring was actually a defined thing. As kids, most of us probably were.

When I was in elementary school we’d ride bikes and scooters all around our little town to kill time - visiting the hidden pond, climbing the slate dumps and searching for blue glass bottles for my grandmother.

As I got older and moved around a bit I’d spend weekends finding new places to explore or new festivals to attend.

When we moved to Arkansas in 2012 the microadventuring days of my youth returned! That first year we visited a new part of the state almost every weekend. After 5 years we’re still out and about as much as we can be. Just last weekend a good friend said to me: I’ve lived here my entire life and yet I learn about all the cool places from you!”

It’s easy to fall into that trap, though – I grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania yet never toured some of the most well-known sites and monuments. It’s easy to say “Oh, I can go anytime!”

And you can, until you can’t.

Microadventures are right outside your door. It’s doesn’t matter what you do or where you go.

But just in case you need them, here are a few ideas:

1. Go stargazing in the country. Find an area with low or no up lighting (like street lights, store signage or talk buildings), pack a blanket and enjoy the beauty of the sky. You can also buy star-charts, which are seasonal guides that will help you identify the constellations.

2. Go geocaching. This can be a family -friendly way to explore a new park or area and find buried treasure while you are at it. Find geocache locations in your area by visiting

3. Take the opposite direction. The next time you go out to hit the trails, change your starting location or head the opposite direction from the trailhead. Last weekend we hiked our favorite trail at Mt. Nebo – but in reverse direction. It was a completely new and different experience!

4. Watch the sunset in silence. Whether you find a local park or just sit on your own back porch, it can be very peaceful to view the full sunset without distraction.

5. Go on a digital scavenger hunt. Think of 5 fun, unique things in your community and split your friends or family up into teams and see who can come back with the most creative pictures. See this website for some good scavenger hunt ideas. All items should be found and pictured while the car is parked and not while driving.

6. Take your bike to a neighboring town and go for a ride. You can familiarize yourself with a new town and create your own bike tour.

7. Hike, bike or drive to the highest point in your state. The views are amazing and many states have a log at the point for you to sign in. The Highpointers Club is an organization devoted to education and promotion hiking to the highest point in each of the 50 states.

8. Find a historic state park or museum and go for a visit. These are easy to find and are often free or offered at a nominal price. A couple weeks ago we participated in a 1844 Trial by Jury Reenactment at Historic Washington State Park – I got picked to be a juror!

9. Take a free yoga class. Many studios offer a “first class free” to new members.

If you still aren’t sold on microadventures, head over to Trail to Peak where they discusses “5 Ways Microadventures Will Change Your Life”

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