Upgrading and Evolving

Creating. Those of us who blog and vlog or make music and art… we have a need to create. Doesn’t matter sometimes what it is, just as long as we make something. In this process we evolve and change, it’s inevitable. Over the past few years, I have found a lot of enjoyment creating video. I started messing with video years ago with a VHS camcorder… it was horrible, but I found ways to “produce” and “edit” on the fly. Since then I have tried my hand at video tech reviews and had a lot of fun doing them, but had more fun editing them. So I decided to merge my love of the outdoors with my new found enjoyment of video. It started with actual video about 7 or 8 years ago. Unfortunately, my computer at the time couldn’t handle the processing so I did the next best thing. I merged outdoors, video and photography and started making video slide shows of sorts, eventually mixing in short video clips.

At the beginning of 2016 I decided to dive back in to full video for my outdoor adventures and immediately realized it was way different than recording in an indoor setting. For the last 2 years I have struggled to find a balance between, good stable video and good audio. I’ve had cameras with good microphones and no image stabilization, ones with stabilization and poor microphones,  decently stable with good mics but render horribly… you name it. On top of trying to find that right balance, also trying to improve my filming and editing skills. And yet, it’s never gotten me down… frustrated occasionally yes, but not down. Now let’s see what my new recording setup does. I’m now using my GoPro Hero 5 Black on the Karma Grip for stable recording and my Tascam DR-05 portable audio recorder with a lavaliere mic. Below is my test of the new setup. What do you think?


No Plans… No Problem

Sometimes it’s tough to find new places in your local area. Over the past 3 years I’ve kayaked in most of the accessible lakes and ponds in my area, besides the extremely busy places. So, I occasionally have a hard time figuring out what I going to do on the weekends. Last weekend was one of those times.

I decided, fairly early on Saturday (like 5am early) that I was going to start the day at Prompton State Park, but I had no plans for after that. After spending 3 hours kayaking at Prompton I went home and searched the PA Fish and Boat Commission page – http://fishandboat.com  and found Stevens Lake, a smal lake about 45 minutes from home that I had never been to before. (more after video)


As I found this new spot to kayak I decided to also stop at Lackawanna State Park for a sunset paddle, which turned out to be a beautiful night. Considering I started the day with no plans… 14 hours of kayaking and exploring was a nice surprise. It just goes to show, that you can always find something to do as long as you try.

Kayaking 3 State Parks in 1 Day

Pennsylvania is loaded with state parks, the DNCR website lists 121 state parks and conservation areas. At one time it was said that no matter where you were in the state, you are never more than 30 minutes from a state park. Although, that might not be completely true… it’s pretty close. For me 8 parks are within about a 30 minute drive and 16 within about 1 hour!!! So this past weekend I decided to get out and visit a few… I actually was at 4 if you count the short hike before the rain at Prompton State Park on Friday.

Saturday, I visited Gouldsboro, Tobyhanna and Promised Land State Parks for a little kayaking. To be fair Gouldsboro and Tobyhanna border each other, but they are separate parks. Throughout the day I saw eagles, osprey, hawks, beavers, herons and more fish than you can shake a stick at.  Check out the video below to take a virtual ride along in my kayak with me.

3 Days: Hammock Camping Under a Harvest Moon

The summer just flew by.  Even though I’ve been out hiking, kayaking and camping all year, it feels like I haven’t done much!  So, since I worked on Labor Day I took my 3 day weekend this past week. With my normal days off being Fridays and Saturdays I decided to take Thursday off and head out late Wednesday to Frances Slocum State Park in Luzerne County Pennsylvania. That extra few hours on Wednesday makes it feel so much longer, probably because there’s no need to rush the following morning.

img_20160914_192919I got to the park and headed to camp site 95 in the walk-in tent section and got my hammock up and grabbed a bite to eat just before the Sun set. I was eager to test out some gear… some new and some I just hadn’t had a chance to try out yet. I recently purchased a new Paria Outdoor Products Sanctuary SilTarp after my recent backpacking trip. I was looking to shed weight in any gear I could and this tarp is only 15oz packed. So I got to test that out. I also gave my DIY emergency blanket under quilt a try… still needs some work but it’s a good start. Early in the year I found a steal of a bargain on an Exped Scout Hammock Combi for $68, usually goes for more than $200. This was the first time I used that, for 1 night anyway, I switched back to m ENO Doublenest for nights 2 and 3. I also gave my new Fire Knife from Light My Fire a good test… took a lot of practice to get the hang of, but I’m getting better with it. Continue reading

Kayaking With a Black Bear… Seriously!

Before this past week I hadn’t seen a single Black Bear in 2016. Then at Trough Creek State Park I came across one who was thoroughly investigating a picnic area and could not care less that I was 30 feet away watching him. So, on Saturday 8.20.16 I went kayaking at Shohola Marsh Reservoir in Pike County, Pennsylvania with a friend of mine. This was the 3rd time we had kayaked here and both times before we had seen more Bald Eagles than you could shake a stick at.

What's that swimming in the distance???

What’s that swimming in the distance???

We arrived about 8 a.m. and promptly hit the water, heading straight to the back side of the lake… that’s where we have the most Eagle sightings. After paddling for a few minutes my friend points out something swimming across the lake a few hundred yards ahead of us and asked “What is that?” It was big and black and looked like a bear’s head, but I didn’t say anything because… you know, how often to you see a Black Bear swimming across a lake? Especially a few hundred yards from shore? We watched it for a few seconds and he said “I think it’s a bear! I saw it’s snout!” I had to concur, it was most definitely a Black Bear swimming across the lake in front of our kayaks! Continue reading

Lightning, Thunder & Bears… Oh My! 3 Days: Dodging Rain at Trough Creek State Park

The original plan was to head to the Catskills and disappear on the trails for a few days… the weather had other ideas. I decided to head south west instead to Huntingdon County, PA and explore Trough Creek State Park, Raystown Lake and a little bit of the Rothrock State Forest… weather was still an issue.

Also, here are some photos of the trip.

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3 Days: Looking for Elk

It is thought that in the late 1600’s, when Pennsylvania was in it’s infancy, that there were as many as 100,000 Eastern Elk that roamed here. After the massive clear-cutting of the forests and un-checked hunting the entire species was made extinct… other species where eliminated from the state but have slowly returned such as River Otters and Fishers. White Tailed Deer were almost eliminated as well.

IMG_20150912_113353756However, in the late 1910’s and early 1920’s an effort was made to reintroduce Elk to the Keystone State. Rocky Mountain Elk were transplanted from Yellowstone National Park and an Elk Farm in Monroe County, Pa. Since that time the Elk herd has slowly grown from roughly 177 to now nearly 1000. Still a far cry from their earlier number.

Continue reading

Gear in 120 Seconds – New Video Series

Back in the day when I used to do phone reviews, I had a series I called Apps in 120 Seconds.  These were short videos that gave basic, stripped down reviews of apps without all the unneeded fluff… who really wanted to watch a 15 minute video about Angry Birds?? I recently decided to take that concept and retool it towards outdoor gear, so today I launch Gear in 120 Seconds or GI120 for short. I’m kicking off the new series with 3 videos:

GI120: Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Daypack

The Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Daypack is a light weight, compactable top-load daypack/hydro-pack. Although the hydration bladder is not included, most standard bladders will fit – my CamelBak Antidote 3L bladder fits easily. Made from ripstop nylon, this pack is made for simplicity. There are no side pouches, just the main compartment with a hydration bladder sleeve and a small zipper pocket on the front that doubles as the stuff sack. The mesh shoulder straps and waist and chest straps are adjustable.

GI120: Paria Tri-fold Carbon/Cork Trekking Poles

The Paria Outdoor Products Tri-fold Carbon/Cork Trekking Poles are perfect for those who want poles that pack out of the way. Personally I have a love/hate relationship with trekking poles… I love having them when I need them, but when I don’t I hate trying to pack them!! These tri-fold poles collapse down to only 15 inches!! They can be stored in a side pouch or even completely within most backpacks. They set up in seconds too, 2 sizes are available the 100 (100 to 120 cm) and the 120 (115 to 135 cm).

GI120: Anker PowerCore 20100

If you are planning on spending more than 1 day outdoors, you’ll probably need to charge some gadgets… whether it’s phones, tablets or cameras. Unless you are car camping at a site with an electrical outlet you’ll need something like the Anker PowerCore 20100 – a 20100mAh power bank that can charge 2 devices at once.