Location Review: The Hobo Pool, A Great Free Hot Spring in Wyoming

The Not So Hot Pool at the Hobo Pool, Saratoga, Wyoming

The Not So Hot Pool at the Hobo Pool

What?  Another free hot spring, complete with showers, in Wyoming?  And it’s only 20 minutes off of I-80?  Why haven’t I heard of it before!?!  The Hobo Pool in Saratoga, WY isn’t particularly well-known, but it sure is nice.  Two pools for soaking (different temperatures) sit, warm and peaceful, next to an almost-new bath house and steps away from the cold water of the Platte River.  Although it was a bit difficult to find, it was well worth the time off the highway and worth the stop!

 

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I’d originally found out about the Hobo Pool while looking for …Read More

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10 Things I Take on a Hike

Usually we don't take rocks with us on a hike...but this little guy decided it would be a good idea!

Usually we don’t take rocks with us on a hike…but this little guy decided it would be a good idea!

There are just some things I wouldn’t hike without.  Most items change depending on the weather, the trail, etc., but here are the top 10 things I rarely hike without.

 

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Canyon Ridge Trail – “Peak” into Canada

Wildflowers on Canyon Ridge, with the Canadian Cascades beyond...the boundary runs along the nearby hills.  Canyon Ridge Trail, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Wildflowers on Canyon Ridge, with the Canadian Cascades beyond…the boundary runs along the nearby hills

There are two really good things I can say about the Canyon Ridge Trail: 1) it wasn’t too terribly difficult, and 2) it gave a very different view than the other hikes around Mt. Baker (into the Canadian Cascades).  Add to that the fact that the wildflowers were nearly in full bloom (just past peak, I’d say) and it really was a pretty hike, even if it couldn’t compete with the grandeur of the hikes that include Mt. Baker and / or Mt. Shuksan in their views.  (There are actually some views of Mt. Baker, but mostly the view is of the surrounding peaks.)  In all, we hiked 6.3 miles, which got us up to a very nice viewpoint just before the trail dipped back down into the trees.  (Actually, in all honesty, if we hadn’t just done the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail and then done Skyline Divide (review coming soon!) the next day, we would have called this trail “spectacular”…but as it was it was just “nice” in comparison!)

 

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Mt. Baker is also visible from the Canyon Ridge Trail, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Mt. Baker is also visible from the trail

I had actually planned to hike up to Excelsior Pass via the Damfino Lakes Trail …Read More

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Sunrise on Mt. Hood at the Cloud Cap Inn

The sun rises though the dead trees around the Cloud Cap Inn for a stunning presentation, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon

The sun rises though the dead trees around the Cloud Cap Inn for a stunning presentation

What’s worth getting up very early in the morning for?  A sight worth seeing, I’d say.  A sight that can only be seen early in the morning or that take so long to get to, you’ll have to get an early start.  I usually don’t mind getting up early (like, before 7am Eastern Time) for a trail or really good view like hiking Horseshoe Mesa in the Grand Canyon or Mt. Elbert in Colorado.  At the Cloud Camp Campground on the side of Mt. Hood, though, I didn’t expect to get up “early”.  I knew we were heading home and so we’d probably get up as normal, have breakfast, and hit the road.  So I was a little surprised when one of my group members woke everyone up with a simple statement:  “If anyone wants to see the sunrise on Mt. Hood, now’s the time to do it.”

 

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Mt. Hood in the predawn from the Cloud Cap Campground, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon

Mt. Hood in the predawn

The van literally came alive.  Sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows went flying as …Read More

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DIY Shelving Unit for The Back of a Van or other Vehicle

The shelving unit, ready for boxes of camping supplies and the cooler

The shelving unit, ready for boxes of camping supplies and the cooler

We’ve always packed in boxes.  They’re so much efficient when it comes to space.  But lifting and moving the boxes every time you need to get to something underneath was a bit of a pain.  So when we moved from traveling in a station wagon to a van (one of the best moves we’ve ever made, I think) one of the first things we did was to build a shelving unit in the cargo space (behind the back seat) so we wouldn’t have to move so many boxes.  Four boxes can fit on each shelf, so we only ever have to move a maximum of two boxes (the ones in front) to get to the one we you want.  There’s also space for the cooler, and the sleeping bags all hang out on the very top shelf.  Pretty cool, huh?

 

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What you’ll need to make your own:

Angle iron, pipe, or pieces from an old shelving unit for uprights – something strong enough to hold up the shelves and steady enough to do so without the shelf collapsing.  Pre-made holes are a plus (and make the shelves more adjustable), but aren’t vital. …Read More

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Artist Ridge Trail – So Short, So Awesome Shuksan!

Mt. Shuksan from Artist Point, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Mt. Shuksan from Artist Point

Artist Point, at the end of the Mount Baker Highway in northwestern Washington, is a very popular place (at least when it’s thawed out – which is about two to four months of the year).  Cars drive in and out all day long; some of the owners stay to hike the longer trails or walk the shorter ones, but many stop, get out of their car, take some pictures, and drive away.  (Granted, you wouldn’t want to walk – let alone hike – in some of the outfits these drivers are wearing, but you get the point.)  The most popular of the trails is the Artist Ridge Trail, a 1.5 mile (2.4 km) (max) RT walk with fabulous views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan.  Even when it’s snowcovered, plenty of people take the walk or snowshoe along the ridge.  It’s well worth the hike, too – the views are incredible the entire way!

 

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Hikers pause to enjoy the view near a frozen lake on Artist Ridge, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Hikers pause to enjoy the view near a frozen lake on the ridge

We did the Artist Ridge Trail late one afternoon in late July. The snow had melted earlier than …Read More

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Genesee Riverway and Erie Canal Path: History via Bikes

The Broad Street Bridge that used to take the old Erie Canal across the Genesee River.  I'm biking on the Genesee Riverway Trail.  Rochester, New York

The Broad Street Bridge that used to take the old Erie Canal across the Genesee River. I’m biking on the Genesee Riverway Trail.

For some reason, I’ve never biked (or even hiked) the Erie Canal Path.  It really isn’t that far from where I live and I’ve driven across it more times than I can count.  But for some reason, it’s never been a destination.  That all changed a few weeks ago when we decided we wanted one last hoorah before the kids started school.  Our last bike ride went so well, we thought it would be fun to do another.  Two canal locks, a dam, Rochester’s signature bridge, and 18 miles (29 km) later, we were sure: it had been a wonderful ride.

 

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Times Square Building, near where we began our ride, Rochester, New York

Times Square Building, near where we began our ride

I actually started by researching the Genesee Riverway Trail.  The problem was that …Read More

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10 Ways to Pack More Efficiently

Box full of cans, raisins, and macaroni and cheese (not to mention a few granola bars), ready to be packed in the van

Box full of cans, raisins, and macaroni and cheese (not to mention a few granola bars), ready to be packed in the van

So how do we get 10 people and all their clothes, food, trip info, and amusement for a three week adventure into one full size van?  Well, I’m certainly not going to give away all our tricks (because you probably don’t want to know, lol) but there are things we’ve found out along the way about how to pack more efficiently.  It helps that we’ve some pretty amazing packers who fill every nook and cranny with stuff (and then can find what we need without unpacking every last thing), but I think I can share a few things that could be used with (almost) any vehicle.

 

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Food, waiting to be packed

Food, waiting to be packed

#1 Ditch the suitcases.  Really!  They’re terrible …Read More

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Heliotrope Divide and Coleman Glacier – Fantastic Views!

Mount Baker and the Heliotrope Glacier from the

Mount Baker and the Coleman Glacier from the “end” of the Heliotrope Divide Trail

If you want a jaw-dropping view you don’t get most other places, try the Heliotrope Divide Trail on the side of Mount Baker in Washington.  Seriously.  The trail itself may not be that exciting (save for the four stream crossings), but at the end is a view you won’t easily forget.  A huge glacier spreads upward, beautiful yet ugly blue crevasses pitting the surface in neat yet natural streaks up the side of the snow.  After the shock of the glacier, look up to the cone of Mount Baker, or ‘way across the valley to the waterfalls that roar out from beneath the ice and snow.  Really: you don’t want to miss this one (especially at 6.5 miles (10.4 km) RT).

 

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Close-up on some of the ice and crevasses on Heliotrope Glacier, Mount Baker-Snoqualie National Forest, Washington

Close-up on some of the ice and crevasses

I hadn’t actually planned to hike Heliotrope Divide on …Read More

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Cape May Zoo: Free – and a Good One, Too!

This cheetah is pacing the fence because she can smell the white tailed deer on the other side!  Cape May Zoo, New Jersey

This cheetah is pacing the fence because she can smell the white tailed deer on the other side!

The Cape May Zoo is definitely something special.  Ok, sure, it has some of the same animals you’d find in almost any other zoo.  But what other zoo – besides the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. – has over 500 animals…and charges no admission prices to the casual traveler?  And the zoo is clean, the animals well-cared for and happy, there are no pushy donation displays, and the enclosures just small enough to let you get close to the wild animals…  What other zoo would I drive 4+ hours in horrible traffic, just to visit for a few hours?

 

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I first read about the Cape May Zoo about 7 years ago.  However, a …Read More

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