Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My First Backpacking Trip

It's been a while since I've written anything interesting so I thought I would entertain everybody with the tale of my first backpacking trip. Spoiler alert: It wasn't too great.

Here is the backstory:
My friend Jenny and I decided one day to do a backpacking trip together. Nothing fancy...just a two day trip in the Ozarks. We wanted to go before it got unbearably hot and before all the trails were overgrown. So we planned it for the second week of June which, at the time, was in about 2 weeks. Now, I am a car camping person through and through. When I go camping I like to bring comfy chairs and my hammock and fixins' to make s'mores and all that good stuff. But I could do without all that great stuff this one time. Or so I thought.

Since I also love hiking, I thought backpacking would be a great mix of both camping and hiking. The only problem was I didn't have a backpack. Or a packable sleeping pad. Or a decent sleeping bag for that matter. Luckily, Jenny and I work at an outdoor store so we had access to all of this stuff. Not to mention our amazing co-workers who lent us almost everything we needed so we didn't have to actually buy a lot of stuff. The only things we ended up getting were some backpacking freeze-dried foods. And a platypus container for wine. (Which we didn't end up drinking because we got incredibly dehydrated.)

Well, the day finally arrived for our little excursion. The Ozarks are about a two hour drive southwest from where we live, so Jenny and I met up at one of the nearby state parks down there on Monday night. We decided to car camp the first night to get an idea of what we would all need on the trail when we camped in the backcountry the second night. We found a primitive campsite on top of the mountain near the trailhead, set up camp, then headed into the nearby town for a decent dinner before the next day's outing. This little dinner trip was an adventure in itself. We followed Google Maps to a "diner" which turned out to be someone's house. So that was sketchy. Definitely wasn't going to be eating there. 
Apparently this little town also had a historic downtown. So we followed the signs that said "dining, lodging, shopping" and found that there was actually nothing in the downtown. No restaurants, no hotels, no shops. There was a courthouse. And a laundromat. I think. We finally had to stop at a local gym and ask someone if there was actually a place to eat in the vicinity. Turns out, there was one BBQ restaurant on the outskirts of town. That was pretty much our only option. 
So we drove out there to the restaurant. Of course when we walked in everyone looked at us like we were from a different planet. Not kidding. I believe we even got whistled at. Anyway, the restaurant was pretty good and the waitress was incredibly nice, but the staring got to be a little much. Onward...

After dinner, we made our way back to the campsite to chill out, sit by the fire, and drink some wine. Except that we couldn't get a fire. So we sat in the dark. Which was kinda scary. So we decided just to go to bed. I brought earplugs because I don't always sleep well when I camp, but I was prepared this time. Surprise....they did nothing for me. I got two hours of sleep. Not a good first night.

The next morning I got up early so we could get a head start before it got too hot. Then Jenny realized she didn't have her toiletry kit, so we had to go back into town and get some contact solution. So no nearly start. I wasn't complaining all that much because I ended up buying some ZzzQuil - at the smallest Walgreens ever! - so I could at least get three hours of sleep this next night.

Finally, at 10:30ish we set out on the trail. And of course it was already hot. And the trail was a lot harder than we thought it was going to be. Also...our packs were probably twice as heavy as we had anticipated they would be. So everything pretty much sucked right away.

The first part of the day really wasn't that bad actually. It was pretty hot, but we were feeling pretty good and optimistic. We stopped to see Missouri's largest waterfall and took some pictures at the scenic lookouts. Then we stopped for lunch a few hours later along a pretty creek where we could filter some water and fill up our water bottles for the second part of the trip. It was a nice stop, but it took us almost two hours to eat, filter the water, and pack everything up. There was no reliable water source for another 4 or 5 miles so we had to each carry almost 4 liters of water each in our packs from this point on. That is when things got really rough.

The second part of our day was just pure torture. The trail was covered in rocks that were left over from a rock slide, so we basically had to boulder for an hour and a half during the hottest part of the day with incredibly heavy packs. About two hours later, we had to stop again because we both got dehydrated and sick. We still had over two miles to go before it got dark, but we decided it just wasn't going to happen. It was already 5:00pm at this point and we were running out of water and weren't sure where the next water source was going to be. We (wisely) made the decision to go back to the creek where we had lunch and camp there for the night and head back the way we came in the morning.

So we went back to the campsite near the creek and sat in the water for a while to cool off and rehydrate. We both felt like crap at this point so we didn't eat much for dinner. Good news though...we did manage to make a fire! We just didn't have any firewood so we had to keep feeding it little sticks to keep it going which was pretty laborious. (That is another reason I like car camping...actual firewood!) For some reason, I was really terrified of bears so I wanted a fire to keep the wildlife away. I'm so used to having a car to put all the food and trash into at night, but when you are backpacking you can only hang it up in a tree and hope that nothing of a large size smells it. Our master plan was to hang the trash bag in a tree on the other side of the creek so animals don't come in our camp and rip it to pieces. By the time we got around to hanging it, however, it was completely dark. So Jenny decided to hang it in a tree overhanging the creek. So we balanced on a rotting log in this creek trying to hang an incredibly trash bag. Of course the limb we hung it on broke and Jenny almost fell into the water trying to catch it. Then I broke part of the log I was standing on, so I fell in the water. Luckily, it was only a few inches deep so no wet feet for me. But that plan was an overall epic fail. In the end, we just hung the trash up in a tree in our camp. At this point, Jenny had a migraine and I had taken about three shots of ZzzQuil so all we wanted to do was sleep. And did we sleep. We were so exhausted from the day (and from the ZzzQuil) that we slept through the whole night, despite being terrified of bears and crazy backwoods people coming into our camp at night.

The next morning we got a much earlier start and made it back to the car in a little over three hours. I have to say though, those three hours were rough. I had blisters on my feet from the previous day's toils, and my hips and shoulders were so sore from the weight of the backpack they started to bruise. We stopped about an hour's hike from the car to have lunch at the waterfall again, where we saw several people hiking the loop trail. I was pretty miserable at this point so I didn't feel like talking to them. One young boy said he backpacked this trail before...I just stared at him. I wanted to smack him, not gonna lie. Meanwhile his dad is hiking in freaking flip-flops and I wanted to smack him too. But they went on their way, and we went on ours. All I could think about was sitting in a chair. Not a rock...a real chair.

We got back to the car and threw our packs down on the ground and basically just stripped naked. We hadn't showered in two days, our clothes were dirty, and it was incredibly hot so we cared little that people saw us in our undies.

We drove back to our original meeting spot to retrieve my car. Then Jenny and I decided to make our way back home. We were exhausted and dirty. So I followed her out of the backcountry. That is until I saw her pull into a church parking lot on the side of the road. Turns out she had found a huge tick that had embedded itself into her side so she stopped and we tried to get it out. Except that it was really in there. Before we knew it, a lady from the church opened the doors and asked us if we wanted to come inside and "do whatever we were doing" in the air conditioning. Ummmm...okay. Sure. So we went into the bathroom and I tried once again to get this infernal thing out of my friend. It got real weird when the lady came in the bathroom, shut the door, and started telling us how we should wear bug spray. (Uh...duh!) We definitely did. Clearly, it didn't do much. Anyway, as I was about to take a lighter to my friend's flesh in a last ditch attempt to get this tick out, the lady just dove in and yanked it out...head and all. Impressive. So that ended that. 

Following that ordeal, Jenny and I went our separate ways back to the city where a nice, long shower and hot meal were waiting for me.

Now I make this sound like a horrible experience, but it really wasn't all that bad. Jenny and I had a great time camping, and we saw some beautiful places. It was just a lot of bad circumstances that happened all at once. Not a great first backpacking trip, but definitely a learning experience. 

Things I've learned:

Good underwear is clutch. I bought some Patagonia underwear before this trip because it dries really fast and doesn't ride up when you move around. Plus, I've heard all these people say how amazing they are. So I bought some. Verdict: Game changer. I'm going to replace all my underwear with these starting right now.

Two words: Trekking. Poles. I always made fun of people who used trekking poles when they hiked and/or backpacked. Well...never again. I would have died if I didn't have them on this trip. Or at the very least would have broken my ankle or fallen into the creek. Seriously people...trekking poles.

Water is not quite enough. I think one of the reasons we got really sick and dehydrated was that we weren't getting enough electrolytes. I had some Clif Shot Bloks energy chews (yum!), but I went through the whole pack in like two hours because I was so low on energy at the end of the first day. Maybe bring electrolyte tabs or powder next time.

Never underestimate the power of a chair. Especially after hiking what seems like 50 miles (it was actually only 10 miles) with a heavy pack in 95 degree heat. Hard rocks just don't cut it.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

New Pics

I have been on a little bit of a photo hiatus lately. I wasn't feeling very inspired these past few months, but the other day I went out with my camera and took some winter foliage pictures, as well as some random photos of an old 19th century main street here in Missouri. We got quite a bit of snow last night, so I am hoping to get out tomorrow morning before work and take some winter wonderland pictures. Then the snow can go away for the next 10 months. Because I'm sure ready for some warm weather.

I have no idea what these plants are, but something about the muted colors and textures is aesthetically pleasing. And then there is that random Missouri River picture. I was trying to not get run over by a snow plow when I took this so it's not my best effort, but this scene was calling to me. (Maybe I will return to it tomorrow.) 
Even in winter, "dead" things can have some beauty it seems. 

I have recently been on a huge "ghost sign" kick lately. In case you didn't know, ghost signs are old advertisements painted on the side of old buildings, usually brick ones like these. I have found some good ones around the city that I really want to take some pictures of, I just have to get out and do it. I also have to have someone go with me since a lot of these places are not in the best parts of town.  
Which means I have to convince the boyfriend. 
Anyway, these ghost signs are in an old frontier town along the Missouri River. Coca Cola is the obvious one, and then there was also a tobacco one next to it that was from the "Bull Durham" brand. 
I am hoping to get out and find some more and maybe make a compilation of some sorts. Maybe make it into a book or something. 

Let's hope I have the energy to get out tomorrow and get some more pictures taken. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

It's been a while...

Well it's been quite a while since I've written anything. Sorry about that. I have to say it's not for a lack of things going on in my life. I had an amazing trip in Colorado with my boyfriend, finally bought a respectable DSLR camera, took a family vacation to South Carolina and spent a week doing nothing but relaxing on the beach, spent Halloween with my college friends in a cold and snowy Chicago, went back to Chicago in December for Christmas shopping, and am now preparing for a girl's only family weekend in New York City to see an opera. You know what I'm not stuff. All of the weddings I had been planning (and paying) for for over two years are over. I'm kind of relieved and kind of sad not that I won't be around all my friends.'s baby showers. Lots and lots of baby showers. When it rains it pours I guess.

Until next time...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My First Birchbox!!

Yay! I finally got my first Birchbox in the mail a few days ago!
Because I definitely need more stuff. Not really. My boyfriend thinks I am a borderline hoarder, but I'm not. I actually use my stuff, and if I am a least I'm an organized one. (The Container Store and I are really good friends.)

Anyways...back to my first Birchbox!

Pretty box...plain and simple. I'm a fan so far.

Looks like it comes with a little description card. How nice. This month appears to be a travel-themed box. I can dig it. I've got some travels coming up.

And here are the contents! 

We have Tinted Matte SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen from COOLA, a fragrance sample of Folle de Joie Eau de Parfum by Joie, Hydrating Conditioner from Number 4 Hair, a Vasanti Cosmetics BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator, Number 4 Hair Hydrating Shampoo, and London Collection Body Lotion by Gilchrist & Soames

Not too bad. Can't wait to try out some of this stuff. I'm not the biggest fan of lotions or haircare products (I'm really more of a makeup kinda gal), but I'm ok with branching out and trying new things. I'm always up for some new fragrance sampling and the mineral sunscreen will be perfect for my beach trip this year. And I'm sure my face could use some rejuvenating. I'll let you know what I think of all these goodies in a few weeks.

Also... I just found out today that I got off the waiting list for ipsy!!! I've been waiting to get on their Glam Bag mailing list for a few weeks now, and today I got an e-mail saying I'll be receiving my first one in July. Woohoo!!! More stuff! Sorry boyfriend. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Being an Old Soul

The other day at work, we had to do this game where you had to write down three things about yourself on a piece of paper, one of which had to be a lie. (We were trying to get to know our new manager and vice versa.) So I wrote down three things: I collect antique books...I have two cats...I have arthritis. After I went through my three "facts," someone goes, "Oh my God, you are such an old lady!!!" I looked at the paper and was like, "Holy. Crap." (FYI: I don't have cats, but that is such and old lady thing to write down!) I kind of always knew I was an old soul at heart, but it all made sense after that morning. So, if you are like me and are basically an old lady in a 25-year-old body, then you are awesome. If not, then just watch some Matlock or something. 

Here are some of the things that might make you an old lady at heart. I personally prefer to call it having an old soul...

1. You love quilts. Pretty quilts make me swoon. Sometimes I put myself through playing hours of church bingo just so I have the chance to win a quilt. I don't know why. I never win (anything!), and half of the time I don't even like the quilts they are giving away. I'm just obsessed with them. And I'm determined to win one since my friend who has been playing with me for years has won. Also...antique quilts are amazing. And pricey. And sometimes smelly. But I can just Febreze them. 

2. You have arthritis in your knees and elbows. Okay, this one wasn't my fault. I've had junior rheumatoid arthritis since I was 2 years old, and recently have acquired it in my elbows. It's super. You get to go to the doctor's office and sit in a room full of sick, old people. (Because that's who gets arthritis. Not two-year-olds.) Then you wait for two hours before a doctor comes to see you, and then he just moves your arms and legs around for a minute, feels around the joints, then tells you to take these horse pills. Oh and sometimes you have to get an injection in the bum. It's a bummer. (Hahahahahaha! I'm hilarious.) So, don't get arthritis, kids. 

3. You own the entire series of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, plus the two movies. (Yes, there are movies.) I don't really need to say much about Dr. Quinn. She's one bad*** woman. And that Sully character is nice to look at too. Just sayin. I also have an extensive collection of Hallmark Channel movies. They're pretty cheesy with a lot of religious undertones that get kind of annoying, but who doesn't love a good, cheesy love story, am I right? I am. I recommend starting off with The Magic of Ordinary Days (I can't even type that without's so cheesy) for all you Hallmark newbies. Or if you just want to dive in and go crazy, try the entire series of Love Comes Softly. It actually has a decent cast...Janurary Jones, Katherine Heigl, and Dale Midkiff are in the first couple movies. It's great family fun. And it's a western!!!! I'm basically in love. It doesn't get much better for me than romantic, western movies. Oh, and they are actually read those too. 

4. You spend an unreasonable amount of time at antique stores or flea markets. What do I look for at antique stores you might ask? Mostly antique books. Any kind of cool paper product. (I'm really into postcards, photographs, vintage advertisements, and maps. Vintage maps...ugh...dying!!!!) Quilts. And, oh my God, Pyrex. I love me some vintage Pyrex. It's my new kick. Of course, it seems everyone else on this planet is also obsessed with those, so I'm not doing anything original there. I just like old things. Plus old books look awesome on bookshelf and make me feel intelligent. I'm going to have a library someday...

5. You start buying shoes based on comfort rather than looks. The past year or so I have been buying shoes because they are comfortable instead of buying shoes because they look pretty. Oh believe me, I still buy a pretty Target shoe here or there if it's not super uncomfortable, but I'm finding myself trolling Naturalizer and Clarks for shoes nowadays. I have also started to hoard Merrell shoes. I know some of my friends would be horrified at this, but I don't want to have to wear orthopedic shoes at age 40 if I can help my feet now. Pretty sure I already have plantar fasciitis. It's pretty much the worst.

I don't dress like an old lady or anything yet. I just kinda act like one every once in a while. I like to think it's endearing. Ta for now!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Life Lessons: Part 3

Part 3 of my Life Lessons posts comes to you today. This post is not the most entertaining, but I really just need to get this off my chest. Consider this more of a venting post. Sometimes you just gotta let your frustrations out.

Shoes. Oh my decent shoes! This comes from me working in a footwear department. Every day I have people come in who have a lot of feet problems. You know why? Because they wore crappy shoes earlier in their life and now they have bunions and messed up toes and flat feet and plantar fasciitis. Yes, our shoes are not the cheapest out there, but they are real shoes! People always come in and are complaining that their feet hurt. That's because you run in Nike shoes. Nike shoes suck. Yes, they are pretty and come in fun colors. I have Nike shoes. I wear them when I go out in my fun little workout clothes when I want to look trendy but not actually workout because working out makes me sad. I don't run in Nike shoes. Brooks shoes are the way to go for serious runners or for people who want a good supportive walking shoe. (I say "walking shoe" with a grimace because I hate that term more than anything else on Earth right now. WTF is a walking shoe? I want to punch people who come in and want a good "walking shoe.") Also...don't hike in hiking boots you get from Wal-Mart. Oh, you're surprised your $35 hiking shoes from Wal-Mart broke after 3 miles and gave you blisters....DUH! You get what you pay for people. I'm not saying all your shoes need to be super nice, but please don't buy all your shoes from big box stores (Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart, etc.). Don't get me wrong...I have several pairs of Target shoes and I love them, but if you're looking for a shoe that you are going to wear...
A) almost every day (like running shoes or work shoes)
B) shoes you are wanting to have for 5+ years (hiking boots, snow boots, special occasions shoes) or
C) shoes you will need for a trip with a lot of walking or traveling
...dear Lord, please buy decent shoes. I've been really good lately about investing in my feet. I bought some nice waterproof Merrell boots this past winter that I wear all the time when it's cooler. I also have some not-so-cute summer sandals that I wear a lot when it's warmer. They don't hurt my feet so stop judging. I would love to get some nicer sandals, so if anyone would like to gift me the new Tory Buch 'Savannah' wedge sandal in Newport Navy, I will be forever in your debt. Like, seriously, forever. I'm OBSESSED. That's them right there. Look. I want that.

Monday, April 28, 2014

SkyMall Fun!!!

Hey one and all!!! I was in Texas this past weekend for a wedding (again) and there was a bit of a delay on my flight so I thought I would have some fun with a SkyMall catalog. Whilst I was flipping through the seemingly endless pages of the best stuff on Earth, I came across a few gems that are definitely worth sharing with the world. For those of you who don't fly very often and do not have the good fortune of being able to view the SkyMall catalog, here are some of my favorite items available for purchase.

For those of you who would like a not-so-subtle travel pillow or who would like people to judge them...the SkyRest is just the thing for you!!! Packable, soft, and lightweight, it's the perfect gift for weary travelers or for people who just like to sleep while sitting up.

Now this is just awesome. Give your kids a ride on your shoulders...hands free!!! Now you can hold other items like your coffee, your phone, or even your other child, all while hauling a human being on your back!!! Talk about multi-tasking!


If you're too lazy to take your dog outside to go to the bathroom, this will solve all your problems! Comes with optional sprinkler for easy cleaning. "Why stink up your lawn when you can just stink up your house?" It just makes so much sense.
Porch Potty

"Turns your pool into an enchanting Venetian canal!!!" (Does not include sewage smell, overpriced everything, and pickpocketers.)


Just in case you want to experience a Bigfoot sighting...every single day.


This is something I would totally have in my garden if I ever have one. It's a classy, traditional water feature with a little bit of hilarious. Plus it reminds me of this peeing toy my aunt used to have when I was a little girl. It's just so perfect.


Last, but not least, is the perfect gift for those who are maybe just a little too obsessed with Jurassic Park. Or for those people who just want to scare the crap out of their neighbors.

Check out these items and thousands more at!!!