Hobbies

My Week Shadowing Storm Chasers in Oklahoma

Have you ever seen a tornado? I paired up with a group of storm chasers for a week and have a newfound appreciation for them. We pulled off at a Kum and Go gas station to fill up the tank. Road rule: pee at every stop. Mike recalled how his best tornado video was ruined by someone chanting, “I’ve gotta pee,” like a mantra. Fortunately, I have a capacious bladder, but Dean keeps a roll of toilet paper in his glove box, just in case. Back in the car, Dean was refining our target area near Gotebo, checking RadarScope and the real-time Doppler radar, which tracks the location and velocity of storms, and referring to GRLevelX, a data-processing, and display program. His cell phone pinged with text messages from chaser friends in the area. By midafternoon, the National Weather Service had issued a severe weather warning on NOAA Weather Radio, and our …

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Solo Hiking Tips: How to Stay Safe

Sometimes a hike can be ruined, or put a hiker at risk, for trivial reasons that can be avoided with small tricks. Even a tame mountain can be unpredictable (sudden snow, rain, fog, wind), so the hiker should be mentally prepared not to panic, stay calm, and think on its feet. Here are some tips on some things not to do, and some simple mistakes to avoid while solo hiking.   Equipment Make sure you have all the gear you might need because you will be alone. Also, make sure your equipment is made of high-quality materials (you don’t want it to break in the middle of a hike) and is light enough for you to carry it all. If you aren’t sure what you will need, find some information online here and make sure you are well prepared. Food and kitchen equipment Don’t bring too much. Aside from the unnecessary …

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Five Biggest Myths About the AR-15

There is no other firearm available today that has more misinformation about it floating around than the AR-15. The amount of information that is simply wrong, or flat-out lies regarding these sporting rifles is rather astounding. There are many on the 2nd Amendment side who feel this is due to political and media bias. Is that true? Maybe, but we don’t get into those types of discussions here. Let’s just take a good, hard look at five of the top myths about AR-15s, and the real truth about today’s modern sporting rifle. What does “AR” really stand for? This is one of Eugene Stoner’s prototype ArmaLite Rifle, Model 15s. We’ve all heard this one before, that “AR” stands for “Assault Rifle.” We all know full well that that is definitely false. “AR” stands for ArmaLite Rifle, the company founded by Eugene Stoner, the inventor of the rifle and the original …

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How to Fish Without a Pole – Survival Skills

Do you know how to fish without a pole? Most emergency/survival kits include a small assortment of hooks, line, and perhaps a few swivels and weights – but no fishing pole. Quite understandable since it’s assumed you’ll simply cut a branch off and use it as a cane pole.  However,  there are several ways to catch fish without the need of a rod and reel. And doesn’t have to be only in survival situations, either. How to Fish Without a Pole There are several methods and techniques within the three main categories of fishing without a pole, each one requiring certain bait on certain size hooks attached to certain weights of main lines and drop lines – all in the quest for a certain fish, which in most cases is catfish. Three classic ways to fish are limb lines, trotlines, and jug fishing. Some consider a “throw line” as a …

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‘The Inner Coast’ Explores Our Vulnerability to Nature

In 1846, Henry David Thoreau ascended Maine’s Mount Katahdin and shouted, in a fit of exuberance, “Who are we? Where are we?” Author Donovan Hohn, in his new collection of essays, The Inner Coast, writes that those two questions are inseparable. We can’t truly know ourselves without knowing the world around us, and vice versa. The Inner Coast These interlocked questions, which animate much of Thoreau’s work, echo throughout The Inner Coast, Hohn’s second book of nonfiction. His method in these essays is to look outward and then inward, and his conclusion is that we’re mistaken when we see ourselves as separate from nature. When I called Hohn at his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he reflected on the human tendency “to pretend that we aren’t, in some extremely vulnerable and permeable way, profoundly connected to the natural world.” Hohn, who writes in a voice reminiscent of Annie Dillard or John McPhee, returns to this subject again and again as he dives …

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How to Change a Bike Tire in 7 Steps

Whether you ride your bike every day or twice a year, you’re going to get a flat tire eventually. Here’s how to change a bike tire with minimal headaches. We’ve all been there. You’re biking along when suddenly something feels … wrong. You ran through glass or over a stray thorn, and now you have a flat tire. But your ride isn’t over yet. With a couple of simple tools and a bit of know-how, you’ll find it’s simple enough to replace your tube and get back on your bike. Here, we cover what tools you’ll need and outline seven easy steps for how to change a bike tire. Tools You Need to Change a Flat Tire Whenever you go for a bike ride, you should carry these tools with you. Without them, you risk being stranded halfway through your ride. A spare tube. Make sure you have a tube …

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Monsoon Photography In The Southwest

Lightning over Natural Bridge formation in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Monsoon season in the Southwest is truly something to experience. The sky darkened and the lightning flashed. I set my camera on my tripod for a stable platform, attached a lightning trigger to my flash connection, engaged mirror lockup to eliminate delay, and waited. The storm cell moved toward me, the air took on a greenish tinge, the sky lit up and a tremendous thunderclap exploded. My reward was a dramatic monsoon photo of lightning striking Natural Bridge in Bryce Canyon. With the air still glowing green, and me being the tallest point in the parking lot and standing next to a metal tripod, I decided to make a fast exit to my Jeep. Welcome to summer monsoon storm photography. It’s challenging and can be dangerous if you don’t respect the elements. It requires some special equipment to capture …

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South Carolina’s Congaree National Park

Located in South Carolina, just a half-hour’s drive from the capital city of Columbia, Congaree National Park preserves the largest remaining old-growth bottomland forest in North America. Congaree isn’t exactly a swamp, because most of the time no standing water covers the floor. However, the Congaree River floods the area about 10 times per year. This lesser-known and uncrowded park combines the watery environment of the Everglades with the towering old-growth forests of the West. It’s a small 41 square miles, but you can’t explore it by driving. Hiking and canoeing are the only ways to immerse yourself in the primeval forest. Congaree National Park Located Near Columbia, SC Starting from the visitor center, the flat, easy 2.4-mile Boardwalk Loop Trail is the obvious introduction to the park. The first section is elevated as much as 6 feet. While the second section rests directly on the forest floor, offering a …

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How Long Does It Take to Train for a Marathon?

Do you want to train for a marathon but have no idea where to start? Running coach Neely Gracey offers some tips and guidelines for runners looking to tackle their first 26.2. Completing a marathon is a benchmark goal for many runners. This distance is certainly challenging, but with the right training, it’s doable for millions of people every year. However, for many runners looking to take on their first marathon, it can be hard to know where to start. We talked with running coach Neely Gracey, who is also a professional runner based in Boulder, Colorado. Gracey has represented Team USA in five international competitions. She offered several tips on how to train for your first marathon. Here, we discuss if you’re ready to train for a marathon, how long that process generally takes, and what gear you’ll need, as well as answer several other questions you may have before running your …

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Rafting Grand Canyon: Something Magical

Our group had landed a prime campsite just across the Colorado River from Deer Creek Fall. We weren’t about to let a little rain dampen our spirits. The rain continued as I spread my tarp, assembled my cot, and looked skyward for relief. While the sun was still buried in dark clouds, a patch of blue growing on the western horizon gave me hope. As the blue sky approached, I could see that the sun would soon be released and that we—and, more importantly, the falling rain—would be bathed sunlight. Rafting Grand Canyon provides a totally new perspective on this iconic national park, and sometimes something magic happens. Setting up Camp Double rainbow and Colorado River, Grand Canyon National Park. Rain, sunlight, and a low sun angle are the ingredients for a rainbow. Though I’d always dreamed of photographing a rainbow arcing above the Grand Canyon. I tried not to …

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Kayaking for Beginners: An Essential Checklist

Kayaking for Beginners: The Gear you Must Have.  People begin kayaking for different reasons — for physical fitness, for mental health, to fish, or to join a friend who has a kayak. And some people enjoy access to a sport where leg strength or mobility is not required. We’re here to help you navigate the exciting world of kayaking for beginners. In this article, we focus on kayaking in still water — primarily in lakes. This guide focuses on items to bring kayaking and will not dive deep into water safety, which is crucial to the experience. We recommend you educate yourself further before the first launch, whether from a guide, a friend, or another online resource. The Essential Kayaking Checklist for Beginners Kayak A sit-on-top kayak is the best choice for a true beginner. In general, they are more affordable, more balanced, and sturdy on the water. They’re also easier to …

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Solo Sleeping Shelter – What is the Best Option?

Whether you’re heading out alone for a simple overnight getaway or embarking on an extended, minimalist-style adventure, choosing the right type of sleeping shelter is a major consideration. Besides weight and volume, the utility also plays into deciding what type of gear to bring along. The choices are straight forward and offer a good range of options to consider: Sleeping Bags – Sleeping Shelter Presuming you aren’t going to curl up in the fetal position and burrow into a pile of leaves, the most basic sleeping arrangement is a sleeping bag laid out under the stars, on top of the ground cloth.  Sheltered under a tarp is a smart adaptation of this method. Besides the comforts one wants in a bag, it’s also important to consider how well the outer shell resists moisture in the form of dew or rain. Some bags are designed with a pocket or fasteners for …

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Everything You Need to Know to Start Fishing

Start Fishing Today! Learn Everything you Need to Know! Have you always wanted to start fishing? One of the best things about fishing is that it can challenge and reward you for a lifetime. There’s always another species to outwit, another body of water to explore, another skill to master. It’s also a great way to spend quality time with friends outdoors and get a big dose of all the positive benefits of simply being outdoors. But because fishing is so varied and nuanced, it can be tough to know how to break into the sport. Where to start? Patrick Mapes, the founder of Urban Angler USA, a blog that highlights how accessible and close-to-home to start fishing can be, suggests spin casting. “The gear is easy to use and inexpensive.” Here’s everything you need to get going. Is It Safe to Fish Right Now? The short answer: yes. But …

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Pro Picks – Best Trail Running Accessories for 2020

Firstly, great gear makes trail running safer, more comfortable, and more fun. If you’re looking to take your trail running to the next level, here’s your spring shopping list for running accessories. We asked Scott Jurek, Hydro Flask ambassador, and professional ultrarunner, for his favorite running accessories in 2020. This is the gear that will help you lengthen your runs, roam new terrain, and recover and refuel after a workout on the trails. Photo credit: Adam Weitzel Brooks PureGrit 8 — Men’s & Women’s These PureGrits have been my shoe of choice for all trail pursuits. They are low-profile and lightweight with forefoot protection, which makes them extremely versatile. And the tread works well on a wide range of surfaces in different seasons. Hydro Flask Lightweight Trail Series™ Bottles I look forward to chugging down fresh, ice-cold water after a long, hot day in the mountains. The Lightweight Trail Series Bottles are 25% …

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Milky Way Panorama On The Coast Of Maine

The Milky Way arcs over the rugged coast of Maine on a clear night. First, I love being out under the stars, and for me getting there is often half of the fun. For example, this shot involved hiking a few miles round trip in the dark, through wet coastal hiking trails with lots of rocks and exposed roots that can easily trip me up even in daylight. But it’s all worth it when the sky is clear and the Milky Way is in just the right spot! Technical Details Nikon D810A with NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 14mm and f/2.8 for all shots. Blend of two panoramas, one for the sky and one for the foreground, 6 exposures each. The sky exposures are 20 seconds each at ISO 3200. And the foreground exposures are 2 minutes each at ISO 4000. All shots were taken in the same spot on …

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Your Guide to Planning a Perfect Florida Road Trip

A road trip in the Sunshine State sounds like a slice of heaven. A lot goes into planning a Florida Road Trip, which holds doubly true if you are planning on RVing or camping your way through Florida. Since the state is long and skinny, you can plan your Florida road trip based on the direction you want to go. Drive either north-to-south or vice-versa. This may depend on how you’re initially getting to Florida and how much time you’ll have on the road. Road Trip through the Sunshine State One of the ways to decide on where your route leads you is by considering where the end will be. Have you always dreamed of watching the sun go down on the Gulf of Mexico? Maybe you want to end your road trip at the very tip of Florida, gazing across at Cuba. Either way, you’re in for a memorable trip! …

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The Wise Wake up and Start Living

If you’re like me and many others it’s easy to find yourself caught up in life’s hustle and bustle. Well, it’s time to wake up and start living! Don’t let the rat race keep you from living a fulfilling life. I get it though, if you want to get ahead in the world, whether it be getting out of debt or saving to buy your dream house, you gotta put in the work to achieve your dreams. However, don’t let the “chase” distract you from noticing everything going in around you right now.  Now, I’m not saying don’t be ambitious and shoot for the stars with your goals. I believe goals are a necessity for bringing drive and motivation into your life. What I’m saying is simple, but not so easily put into practice. Take your time on your journey, notice the small things, and enjoy the company you have along …

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Take a Trip to Colorado’s Lost Creek Wilderness

Tucked into the foothills, between Denver and Colorado Springs, lies a mighty expanse of wilderness. Named for the perennial stream that empties into the South Platte River, the Lost Creek Wilderness has largely escaped development projects, due to its rocky and rugged landscape. This 119,790-acre wilderness area is unlike your typical Colorado natural area of jagged 14,000-foot peaks and high alpine meadows. Instead, Lost Creek is a wonderland of rounded granite domes, natural arches, and other interesting rock formations that make it well worth a visit. How To Get To Colorado’s Lost Creek Wilderness The Lost Creek Wilderness is located south of the town of Bailey and can be reached via Highway 285 South, from Denver. The Goose Creek Trailhead is a common entry point into the wilderness area and is located 38 miles south of Bailey. The dirt roads leading to the trailhead are generally accessible with a standard …

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The Best Mountain Bike Helmets of 2020

After countless rowdy test days, here are the best mountain bike helmets for all types of rides, from casual singletrack spins to enduro pursuits. On a good day in the saddle, you won’t notice your helmet at all. But when an unlikely disaster occurs, a helmet can prevent serious injury or fatality. 20% OFF CBD GUMMIES WITH CODE “Gummies20”   To determine the best mountain bike helmets of 2020, our gear testers rode variable trails and conditions across the Rocky Mountains. Our team of men and women included professional, competitive, and recreational mountain bikers in Colorado and Utah. Their specialties range from dirt jumping and enduro events to endurance all-mountain, multiday, and avid weekly excursions. Throughout each ride, we meticulously examined each helmet’s characteristics from ergonomics to safety, customization features, accessory integration, and durability. And while there isn’t a single helmet that works for every rider, we’ve categorized our picks to …

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You Should Be Downloading Your Trail Maps

On most trips and in most locations, to navigate I rely primarily on my paper topographic maps, ABC (altimeter, barometer, compass) or GPS watch, and magnetic compass. As both a backup and supplement to these tools, my smartphone has a GPS app like CalTopo (good) or Gaia GPS (better), which I use to access downloaded map data for offline use of these trail maps. A GPS smartphone app has two purposes: It acts as a map library, in case your printed documents are damaged or lost or if you unexpectedly hike off course. It has the same functionality you’d expect of a traditional handheld GPS—like pinpointing its location and navigating to waypoints—but is lighter, less expensive, and more user-friendly.   Collectively, these four instruments constitute my navigation system. Some hikers may consider my preferences old-fashioned since it’s increasingly common to navigate exclusively or primarily with GPS. But I value the reliability and …

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