Archive for the ‘Adventures’ Category

Last Friday, Sandy and I went camping at State Forest Park, which is Northwest of Rocky Mountain National Park. Rather than writing another nice story about our adventure, I though I would list some of the things we learned. Some things we learned through successes, and other we learned through failures.

It is nice to have a waterproofed tent. (Success)

One camping chair doesn’t get you any place to sit unless you want to sit alone. Bring another chair! (Failure)

Pancakes don’t work so well on an un-greased pan. Bring butter! (Failure)

Cheap frying pans don’t cook pancakes evenly. (Failure)

Bring a good camping cup (mixed)

Precook the vegetables in a tin-foil meal if you want them to be soft. (mixed)

Wrap the tin-foil meal in multiple layers of foil. (mixed)

Multiple smaller foil meals cook faster than one large one. (half-way)

Include enough meat in the foil meal. (Failure)


Campfire smoke is smelly. Don’t bring anything you don’t want to have to wash upon returning home. (mixed)

Attempts to use many blankets instead of a sleeping pad may be ok for sleeping on, but if they all smell like smoke when you are done, then you have a lot to wash! (Successful sleep, failure with washing)

Camping a week after labor day is less crowded. (Success)

Camping a week after labor day is colder than camping in the middle of the summer.

Camping at about 10,000 feet is cold. (mixed)

Bring at least one large container of water beyond drinking water. (Success)

Keep your water bottle inside the tent in case you get thirsty in the middle of the night. (Failure)

Although it sounds like it rained off and on all night long, it doesn’t mean that the ground will be wet when you wake up.

An axe or hatchet may help in finding free firewood. (Failure)

Firewood is cheaper at the Fort Collins grocery store than it is if you buy it from the park visitors center. (Success)

The park visitors center closes at 5pm. (Failure)

If you arrive after 5pm, you can still put money in the slot to pay for your camping spot. (Success)

Reservations can be made online for the same price, but not the night before. (Failure)

Arriving at a campground without a reservation lets you pick your favorite available site. (Success)

Be sure you know how to get to the right campground. (Failure)

The State Forest campground called “The Crags” is actually a nice tent-only campground. (Success)

Bring extra batteries for the camera. (Failure)

Bring an extra camera. (Success)

Bring warm pajamas. (Failure)

Bring pajamas. (Failure)

Don’t leave the lights, dome light, or radio on in your car. (Neighbor’s failure)

Slow roasted marshmallows are delicious. (Success)

Bring enough marshmallows. (Failure)


Ferns don’t fall, water does

Posted in Adventureson Sep 2, 2009

This last weekend, Sandy and I, along with our friend Lori, went up to Rocky Mountain National Park to do some hiking.

We arrived in the park about 1 pm, and ate some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the parking lot before beginning our journey. We started at the Fern Lake Trailhead, which is just off of Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park. [wp_geo_map]

The beginning of the trail followed Big Thompson river for about a mile.

IMG_1014_smallerEventually our trail started following Fern Creek, which feeds into the Big Thompson.  At one point, we were so confused because we could hear rivers on both sides of the trail.  About 2.7 miles into the hike, we arrived at Fern Falls, supposedly named after Fern Creek, which I hear is named after a woman and not all the ferns that we saw along the trail.

IMG_1023_smallAlthough a few rain drops were threatening, we decided to continue hiking another mile to Fern Lake.  The total distance to which was 3.7 miles.

IMG_1048_smallWe ended up departing from Fern Lake in a hurry because of a furry of thunder looming near.

The total trip took about 4 hours, 6.7 miles, and we had climbed (and then decended) about 1000 to 1300 feet in elevation.

Spending money in Canada

Posted in Adventureson Aug 17, 2009

I thought I would share a few exchange rates I experienced during a recent trip to Canada:

Using my American Express credit card: $1.11 to $1.12 Canadian Dollars per USD

Using my Discover credit card: $1.16 CAD/USD plus a foreign currency fee which resulted in $1.13 Canadian Dollars per USD

Using my E*Trade ATM card to get cash out of an ATM: $1.15 Canadian Dollars per USD.

The conclusion: If you are just touring around Canada for a few days, the convenience of using your favorite plastic card is probably more valuable than the few cents difference in exchange rates. If you do want cash, using an ATM could be a good way to go, depending on your bank. Using currency exchange offices, especially at airports, probably isn’t as good of an idea.

I decided that I need to do better at keeping the doors to the house locked. So last night, at about 11:30 pm, in my pajamas right before heading to bed, I decided to go around a make sure all the doors were locked. Sure enough, the front door was unlocked, so I locked it. I also found the outside door from the kitchen unlocked, so I was locking it when I decided to make sure I turned the water to the garden off, and closed the locked door behind me.

My first approach was to go around the entire house and find an open door or window, but apparently I had been doing a better job than I thought at keeping things locked up. My second thought was to use the garbage can to get onto the root and try a for-sure-to-be-open second story window. But my chin barely cleared the gutter, and I wasn’t sure I could pull myself up onto the roof, especially since the garbage can had wheels. Placing a bucket on top of the garbage can seemed even more perilous.

My arms were about three inches too short to reach the garage door knob through the cat door (no I don’t have a cat). The most I could do with a board I found was to turn on the outside light switch, but I could never get the pesky little door lock turned.

I considered a brick through a window, and also sleeping outside, but neither option seemed elegant. So I decided to bury my pride and call for help. So I walked, in bare feet, to the gas station to find a phone, but pay phones are only for airports now days. I then walked to the near by 24 Hour Fitness and used their phone to call Sandy. I was really glad for the few moments I spent a few months earlier memorizing her phone number, because otherwise I would have been calling my parents in Oregon.

I woke Sandy up, but she drove down to use the garage door remote to open it up for me, so that I could actually sleep in a real bed.

Tickets to Romanian castles

Posted in Adventureson Feb 4, 2009

Entrance Tickets

Entrance Tickets

As I was digging through some of my old stuff, I came across these two entrance tickets to a couple of castles in Romania.

The green ticket on the left is for Peleş Castle, built between 1873 and 1883.  The blue ticket on the right is for nearby smaller Pelişor Castle, built between 1899 to 1903.  I visted these castles while on my church mission in Romania.

In comparison to many other castles, these were quite new, and I might find the word mansion more fitting for these buildings.

It is hard to see the price on these tickets, but the green one seems to say 60,000 lei, which would have been worth around 2 dollars at the time.

Now that I’ve blogged about these, I can throw them away and have just a little less clutter around.

I fixed my broken car

Posted in Adventures, Lifeon Jan 21, 2009

From Car Pictures

Last Friday I was driving to work…. I was about a minute away from my home, stopped at a stop sign in the neighborhood, and when I started to accelerate again, my car stalled, and wouldn’t start again.  When I tried to start the car, it would just turn over and over but without starting.

At first I thought that I might be out of gas, since I knew that I was low and while the gas gauge hadn’t quite hit the E, I thought it was the easiest thing to try.  So I got a gas can and put an extra couple of gallons of gas in the tank, and it still didn’t work.

After a little research, I figured out that it had to be that either the fuel or a spark wasn’t making it to the engine.  I thought it might be the gas pump, but after talking to my friend Steve, he suggested that it was less likely to be the fuel pump and more likely to be the ignition coil.  I read a bunch of other storeis on the Internet about similar problems with Honda Civics, and I decided that I would replace the coil and see what happened.

On my 1994 Honda Civic, the coil is located inside the distributor.  Three screws attach the distributor cap which were removed.  Then I was confused because the rotor part of the distributor wouldn’t move at all, and I knew it had to come off so a cover part could come off so I could get at the coil.  After more Internet searching, I found that there was a screw holding the rotor on, and that it was only accessible when the screw was at the 10 to 11 o’clock position.  After a couple of tries of cranking the engine a bit, I found the screw, removed the rotor and the cover to the coil.

The biggest problem with removing the cold coil were the wires that were screwed into the coil.  The screws weren’t moving, and I broke one of the wires.  I eventually had to put a new spade lug back on the wires and get new screws (that had to be just about exactly the same size, and metric) but by that time, the wires were maybe a little too short.  But after tugging and pulling on the wires, I was able to connect them to the new coil. 

I screwed everything back together, said a little prayer, and my car started right back up.  

Before this, the most I had ever done to my car was re-install the radio and change the battery.  Certainly taking apart stuff under the hood was beyond prior experience, so I was quite happy when it actually worked. 

All in all, it took about 4 hours of getting my hands dirty (an expert with all the tools could have done in maybe an hour) a couple of hours for buying parts and tools, a few hours of Internet research, and about $90 for the new coil.   If I had to tow it to a mechanic, I would have expected that it would have cost me 3 or 4 times as much, and still had a lot of the hassle. 

Special props out to Sandy, my amazing girlfriend.  She helped drive me around to stores, took me to work for a couple of days, and helped me with my Internet research.

Here I am about 58% the way through the year 2008. As I’ve been thinking about blogging, and what I like to read in other’s blog posts, I’m beginning to think that my blog here is a little boring. I apologize.
So I’m going to make a New Year’s blogging resolution for the last 42% of the year, that I will hopefully make my blog more interesting. That means more personal posts, more photos, and maybe a video from time to time. Who knows, I might even start drawing pictures.

To get started, I thought I would share this photo that I took in Rocky Mountain National Park.

In other news, my parents are coming to visit Colorado next week and I should have some fun with them taking pictures and seeing new things.