The “perfect” set up – is it possible???

After much research, I saved up quite a sum of money and purchased what I thought was the “Perfect” set up.  After receiving and trying my new items, I am surprised at the number of items I have traded/sold/purchased different items.

I sold my Warbonnet Blackbird 1.1 Double Layer and purchased the same hammock in a single layer (and did a review on this blog if you are interested).

I sold my Warbonnet Mamajamba Tarp (with door kit) and purchased a Warbonnet Superfly (and did a review on this blog if you are interested).

Instead of a canister stove (which I have enjoyed) I purchased an alcohol stove (and did a review on this blog if you are interested).

I just I traded my ULA Circuit for a ULA Ohm 2.0.

My base weight continues to drop and I’ve justified purchasing a few more additional items while my base weight (no food or water) has stayed around 16-17 pounds depending on the weather.

I’ve also explored lighter hammock set ups, tarps, still more stove and cookware options, clothes, reducing my FAK, etc.

So, do you ever find the “perfect” set up or do you just get tired of messing with it and settle and say that it’s good enough???  I’m still trying to find ways to lighten my load as I would love to hit the 15 pound mark while still not having to “rough it” too much….

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First trip to Europe, now it’s time to go camping!

I had a work trip to Germany from 06 Sept to 21 Sept and it was my first trip to Europe. I won’t bore you with the details, but I have fallen in love with that part of the world and cannot wait to return.

Among the highlights of the trip were driving on the Autobahn (yes, parts have speed limits), attending one of Germany’s oldest festivals, trying all the different foods, visiting a castle from the 1400’s, and experiencing a differnt culture.

All is good, but now that the weather is cooling down, I’m ready to pull out the hammock and backpack. I have a new pair of hiking shoes that need to get dirty! I’m also still refining my kit and will continue with the gear reviews I started last year. I have already made a few changes and added a new item or two as money allows….

Keep posted – more to come soon!

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AMAZING pictures from an AMAZING experience!!!

In an earlier post I did a quick summary of my dives from the M/V Spree the first week of August, 2014. If you have never been SCUBA diving, or SCUBA diving in the Florida Keys it is hard to relate to just how beautiful it is down there.

To me, it shows just how beautiful creation can be. The colors! The variety of life! The fun!

Here is the advantage of having a dive buddy (actually my Father-in-Law’s dive buddy) that is a professional photographer. His skill, equipment, and expertise. I was just along enjoying the sights with them. All pictures belong to him but he was gracious enough to share them with me.

So, since a picture is worth a 1000 words, here’s about 60,000 words from the trip.


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Quick M/V Spree Dive Trip Summary

I am not quite home, where I will be able to provide a proper trip report including pictures and summaries. I traveled with the M/V Spree out of Key West on a Wreck Tech trip. There were many technical divers doing decompression diving, but these wrecks are also in the recreational range. Here is a quick summary of the trip (we were diving HP 95 steel tanks containing 32% Nitrox):

Friday August 01, 2014
Spiegal Grove – 39 minute dive, 105 ft max depth
Spiegal Grove – 42 minute dive, 104 ft max depth
Spiegal Grove – 44 minute dive, 95 ft max depth
Spiegal Grove – 33 minute dive, 110 ft max depth

Saturday, August 02, 2014
USGS Duane – 36 minute dive, 100 ft max depth
USGS Duane – 33 minute dive, 105 ft max depth
Eagle – 38 minute dive, 107 ft max depth
Eagle – 41 minute dive, 113 ft max depth

Sunday, August 03, 2014
Thunderbolt – 38 minute dive, 106 ft max depth
Thunderbolt – 37 minute dive, 106 ft max depth
Adolphus Bush – 44 minute dive, 97 ft max depth

Monday, August 04, 2014
Vandenberg – 42 minute dive, 96 ft max depth
Vandenberg – 42 minute dive, 94 ft max depth
Vandenberg – 41 minute dive, 101 ft max depth

As you can see, it was a busy couple of days. I did 14 dives in four days with a total time underwater of 550 minutes (that’s over NINE HOURS) and an average max depth of 102 ft.

I have lots of pictures and video and will complete a proper trip report when I have time to process everything.

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Demonstration of color absorption as you descend underwater

I finally did it!  After several attempts, I made a video today demonstrating the depth at which different colors are absorbed by water.  I only went to 60 ft, but the effect is shown.   Check it out here:


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Making a list, and checking it twice!

One of the things I have learned in my few years of hiking and backpacking is the importance of a packing list. By making a good list, one can ensure the needed items are taken, unnecessary items are left at home, and (if the list is really good) have an idea of the weight of your pack before you even actually weigh it. There have been trips where I have forgotten something or something did not work just right. That is part of the adventure in backpacking.

I am making a “new” list, though. I am just 9 more days away from departing to my first liveaboard SCUBA Trip. The importance of such a list is very prevalent as one considers the consequences of forgetting something…. In backpacking, forgetting something may make me slightly cold, hungry, wet, or otherwise uncomfortable until the weekend is over and I return home. On this liveaboard, we will be miles from shore and not return to the dock once we leave unless there is a medical emergency. Forgetting something can mean the difference between having the trip of a lifetime and watching others having the fun. If I forget something or if an item quits performing properly the consequences may be I become be a spectator instead of a participant. IF the item is relatively unimportant, I may be able to repair or borrow the item from someone.

So, making a list, checking it twice, and seeing what backup items are needed or required. For readers that have traveled on the M/V Spree or other liveaboard SCUBA trips, are there any suggestions or commonly forgotten items?

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Busy times and the countdown has started!

Wow, the past 30 days has been nonstop! I have earned my Advanced Diver and Enriched Air Certifications in SCUBA, been on a work related weeklong trip to Ogden, UT as well as another work related trip to Ft. Bragg, NC (which I was preparing for in a previous blog). I have picked up an older model of the GoPro camera (lost and recoverd while using it on the first dives) and HAD to practice with it before an item on my bucket list! In fact, this video was shot just two days ago: It’s not super duper quality, but I’m still learning….

I have wanted to learn how to SCUBA dive after watching Wild Kingdom MANY years ago. Although I’ve been certified since 2009, my diving experience has been fairly limited as I only have approx 30+ dives. Well, that is about to change! In 16 days I begin my journey to an item on my bucket list – my first liveaboard dive trip. On Wednesday of that week, I drive to central Florida to my father in law’s house. The next day we will drive to Key West to board the boat. This trip I will be traveling/diving with my Father in law as well as his friend that is a professional photographer. Basically, you live on a boat and dive in different locations over several days. Not only will the diving be amazing, but we should have plenty of pictures of our adventure.

We board the MV Spree on Thursday (31 July) at night, and dive all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Just to give you an idea, we will do about 20 dives on that trip. We are doing the “Wreck Trek” trip, so most of our dives will be on shipwrecks – either “accidently” or purposely sunk for diving. The Florida Keys has a Shipwreck Trail ( and we are scheduled to dive on all nine wrecks on the trail during this trip.

So I’m starting to gather my equipment and make a packing list. 16 more days….

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