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Blissful Beach Camping

how to beach camp
Beach camping in Hong Kong
Beach camping is one of those outdoorsy things that sounds like a great idea. Spend your day fishing, swimming, and soaking up the sun then drift off to sleep to the sound of the crashing waves after a glorious sunset.

Our imaginations tend to gloss over the not-so-nice realities of our daydreams. Just like dreaming of moving to Paris means you'll have to learn French and pay 5 euros for a coffee, camping at the beach comes with a few challenges that can make for a miserable time. Has one of your beach camping trips ended in disaster or misery?
Things that (usually) Suck about Beach Camping
  • Sand gets EVERYWHERE, in EVERYTHING
    The worst line in any Star Wars movie? I think so.
  • It's hot
  • Sunscreen is sticky and gross
  • There are bugs that bite
  • Your tent blows away in the wind, or leaks when it rains
So while I can't magically make any of those things go away for you, I can share the tricks I've learned that make camping on a beach actually really wonderful.


My Camera Gear Set-up for Adventuring


My cousin is heading on a trip to Hawaii and asked me for info on what GoPro I'm using and what accessories I use most. I thought y'all might find the info useful too!

Balancing Experiencing with Documenting
I choose to be okay with using the best photo of the actual experience instead of impacting the experience to get the shot I want.  



Set it and forget it...
I am always sensitive to how documenting an experience can impact the experience itself. I'm sure you have all heard the horror stories of people so obsessed with getting 'the shot' that they ruin their honeymoons, or worse, fall off cliffs. The way I get most of my shots in the moment is by setting my GoPro on video at an angle I think will get me something good, and then focus on the experience. I think it is okay to spend a second or two adjusting the camera angle, but I try not to get too hung up on getting a specific shot. Instead, I set it on video, try to ignore it, and just pull whatever the best stills are later. I also sometimes shoot while I am teaching, in which case I cannot pay any attention to the camera. Sometimes when I am teaching, I end up not being able to use any of the footage, but that's ok, because teaching is the primary focus of that experience, and any photos I might get are just a bonus.

  1. Use a wide angle lens or camera (like a GoPro)
  2. Set the camera in a good location to capture the action
  3. Set it on video and try to ignore it
  4. Use either the camera software or use Video to Photo- Grab HD Frame  app to pull stills from the video after your adventure


5 Awesome Micro-Adventures in the Triangle

mi·cro - ad·ven·ture: noun 1. an unusual and exciting experience or activity of short duration, achievable by normal people with busy lives 

Climb Lake Raleigh Boulders
Itching to get on real rock, but don't have the time to head West? Get immediate satisfaction at the Lake Raleigh Boulders. They aren't super tall, and only have a handful of problems, but they're a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Getting There
Park at Centennial Campus Middle School in the far corner by the woods. Go into the woods and turn left on the forest 'road.' About 100 feet down that path, you'll see an obvious trail on your right heading into the woods. Follow that trail downhill and to the right to eventually meet up with the Lake Raleigh TrailOnce you hit the Lake Raleigh Trail, turn left and follow it until it dead-ends at the boulders and Walnut Creek. 


Need to Know
You'll need to bring your own crash pad and spotter. One of the routes has a large pointy rock underneath, so multiple crash pads make the landing safer. If  the weather has been rainy recently, the rock is likely to be too wet to climb. Here is a link to the info on Mountain Project. *NOTE: Don't follow the 'getting there' directions on MTN Project as of 4/9/19, follow the directions above

Float the Neuse
A lazy afternoon float in early summer
The Neuse river is a (usually) slow moving river winding its way through Wake County. You'll float at a leisurely pace to the sound of songbirds. We spotted beaver, deer and osprey on our 3 hour float in early June.

Getting There
We only had a short afternoon for our float, so we chose a small section. Wal-mart had cheap floats for $10 each that we grabbed right before we headed out. They even had a float for the cooler! I used my sea kayaking tow line to keep our three floats connected. It took us about 3 hours to float the 2.5 mile section from the Poole Road Canoe Launch to the bridge at Auburn Knightdale Road. The city of Raleigh has a handy list of access points here. You'll need two vehicles or a friend to help with shuttling.

Need to know
Never float this river at flood stage- it is full of submerged trees that turn into dangerous strainers and the river is deceptively fast and powerful at that height.  You can check the river levels online by typing "Neuse River water levels" and the town you plan to float near into a Google search. The Neuse is notoriously dirty, so avoid floating after heavy rains. It is a good idea to wear shoes instead of flip flops as there are often sharp rocks when getting in and out. Avoid super low levels, as you'll just drag your butt the whole time.

Wild Swim in Sennet's Hole
On a sunny day in April, the water was still cold and
we had the place to ourselves
This is a gorgeous swimming hole along the Eno river, where large smooth rocks emerge from the river make you feel a little closer to the mountains.

Getting There
The optimal access is via the South River Trail (0.6 miles) to where it meets up with Sennet Hole Trail (0.3 miles) Access to the South River Trail begins in a designated parking lot off of Roxboro street.
There is a shorter route via the Sennet's Hole Access Trail which is 0.3 miles, BUT there is not designated parking, and you won't find a spot on a warm sunny day. 

Need to Know
Water quality and flow levels of the river are important to safe swimming. If there has been lots of rain recently, check the river level data available from the USGS here. Avoid swimming until the water levels have come back down to normal after flood stage. This is a SUPER popular spot, so expect to share the bank and the water with lots of other people during the heat of the summer.
Forage for Wild Edibles with Piedmont Picnic Project
A Piedmont Picnic-er with a bountiful persimmon harvest
photo credit @PiedmontPicnic
Piedmont Picnic Project connects people to their food through hands-on experiences that build skills and community. Commune with deeply rooted food traditions, nature, and a vibrant community through foraging and creating your own foods. Foraging along the greenway deep within the city feels like discovering hidden treasure. I had great time exploring and laughing with new people.

Need to Know
While there is always something to harvest year-round in North Carolina, opportunities for foraging are more plentiful beginning in the Spring. Expect to forage for leaves and flowers in the spring, fruits in the summer, and nuts in the fall. Other learning opportunities include learning to ferment, can, and pickle.

Find out about upcoming Piedmont Picnic Project events below:

Paddle Robertson Millpond
Roberston Millpond is the only bald cypress blackwater swamp in Wake County. Paddling through a cypress swamp feels like floating through a forest on a black mirror.
Need to Know
Bring your own boat to get on the water any time the preserve is open. Hours of operation and more info is available here. Life jackets are required to be worn at all times while on the water. If you don't have your own boat, Paddle Creek offers rentals from mid April to mid October on Saturdays. To schedule a rental, visit their website here.

Every Day Carry Tiny Knife Roundup

If you know me at all, you know how obsessed I am with tiny things, and how I pride myself on being ready for anything at a moment's notice. I've got quite the collection of tiny things for travel and EDC, a collection which would be terribly incomplete without a useful variety of knives. Here are my favorites.

These are wonderful blades for every-day use and survival, but should be noted that tipped blades (blades with points) should NEVER be used during rescues.

This knife is a game changer and the ultimate in tiny.  Can you believe such a tiny knife both folds and locks? It attaches to a zipper pull and is easily accessed via a quick release buckle.

It's one of my favorite purchases and a knife I use almost every day. I use it frequently to open boxes, cut string and for other small tasks.
At a price point of right around $15, there's no reason not to have several.
Weight: 0.32 ounce
Closed length: 1.7"
Blade Length: .68"


CRKT Rsk MK5 $14.50


I keep this knife in my 'go anywhere' survival kit because it is so slim, short and light. While it is too small to tackle large survival demands, it comes razor sharp right out of the box and is perfectly capable of cutting rope, slicing meat and shaving twigs for kindling. I have even cut heavy weight leather with it. I found the sheath it came with too clunky for such a tiny knife, so I made a leather one for mine.

Weight: less than 1 ounce
Length: 3.8"
Blade type: 1.75" fixed drop point


SOG Snarl $32.50
The Snarl is a large scale production version of a knife designed by Jason Brous. It is a badass little tactical self-defense blade that comes in a nylon sheath designed to be worn in a wide variety of ways. Finger holes not only improve grip, but also keep the user from dropping the knife should they open their hands when defending themselves from attack. Jimping for the thumb also improves grip and reduces slip. I've worn mine on my belt, on my pack, hung around my neck, and clipped to my bra beneath my clothes. Eventually, I'll stonewash it so it isn't so bright.

Length: 4.3"
Blade: 2.3" fixed wharncliffe
Weight: 3.4 oz



The minimalist is available in five blade types: bowie, tanto, drop point, keramin, and wharncliffe to suit anyone's purpose or fighting style. It is designed to be worn as a neck knife and comes in a secure nylon sheath that comes with both a paracord for neck wear and a clip for wear on the hip. Finger grooves keep this small knife securely in the hand.
Length: 5" to 6.6"
Weight: around 1.5 ounces


This is the smallest, most useful multi-tool I own. It lives in my EDC adventure bag that moves from dry bag, to day pack, to handbag as I move through activities and locations. It's actually pretty cute, although I do wish it had tweezers. If you're looking for a multi-tool to take on a backpacking trip, this is it.
Weight: 1.92 ounces
Length: 3"
Tools: spring pliers, wire cutter, knife, file, scissors, flat head, Phillips head, pry bar


This bladeless multi-tool is TSA approved, so you can still have the basics even while traveling. I like this tool because it gives me what I use often- pliers, tweezers and scissors- in a compact, travel friendly package. And its only 14 bucks.
Weight: 1.5 ounces
Length: 4"
Tools: spring loaded pliers, wire cutter, file, flat head, Phillips head, zipper pull, tweezers, scissors, bottle opener


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Exciting News for Outdoorsy DIY-ers and MYOG

Does your favorite piece of gear have a hole in it, and you just can't find fabric to match it for repair? Or maybe you have a new design for a pack, but want to use two types of fabrics and need them in the same shade.

Now you can get the fabric you need in any color or pattern you want. Ripstop by the Roll just debuted 9 outdoor fabrics that can be printed on demand in over 1,000 colors AND whatever pattern you upload. I don't know about you, but my creative gears just started spinning!


If you need to match pre-existing gear or want to see what each color looks like on the fabric you'll use, you can order color swatches containing all 1300 colors. You can also custom print your own patterned fabric- in custom camo, your favorite galaxy print, a map of a beloved trail....the possibilities are endless.


To get the best results in pattern printing, I suggest designing or purchasing what is called a "seamless" pattern. This means that the pattern can be repeated like tile- laid end to end horizontally and vertically, and appear seamless.

Here is a youtube video that will show you how to make a seamless pattern:

Happy creating!

Fun Fast DIY for Your Foreign Coin Collection

Travel Coin Magnets
Do you have a jar of coins from your travels that you don't want to get rid of, but you're not quite sure what to do with?
Enjoy looking at and using your collection by turning them into magnets!

This project is super fast, easy and cheap! Here is what you need:


I'm so happy with how my magnets turned out- they look so good on my gold dry erase board!


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