Crystal C.
Sunset, TX
Joined July 2018
I’m a travel blogger with a focus on budget travel so I camp a lot!! Check out my ig and YouTube BunnyPlaysHere
Ranger Review: Stream 2 Sea Tinted Sport Sunscreen At Missile Site Park

While traveling through Colorado I wanted to check out some of the many campgrounds available that have unique features.    The state is filled with options for travelers looking for everything from the average to the unique for sure.     I wanted to find something which was right on target for a tent campers while also providing a great budget friendly option near Greeley.   That is when I stumbled upon Missile Site Park located only a short distance from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Campground Review:

Full Video Review. CLICK HERE

The park itself is open year round however camping does not officially begin until June 1st.    Regular season at the site runs from June to October, during which time all facilities are open for usage, this includes a bath house with running water and an RV dump site. 

So what is there to do when it is not open you might ask?   Well the thing that makes this site unique is that throughout the year you can visit a very special and unique portion of the site, the missile silo site, used during the cold war.   

Constructed originally for usage in 1961 and deactivated in 1965, the site was one of four sites which were used as a part of the Atlas E program in Weld County.     Now just a few hundred yards from the campground, you can take tours by appointment of the facility and see some of the many items which explain the cold war, the contribution the site played and the history surrounding one of the most tumultuous times in the United States.  And best of all it is FREE!!

If you do happen to visit during the regular season, you can have a front row seat to some of the most amazing views of the valley and flatlands surrounding the Greeley area with a mountain view in the distance.     Sites are $20 for tent campers or RVs and amenities include the raw basics:   picnic table and grill.     But one advantage of staying here is that you have great outdoor spaces to spread out in, spaces are relatively well spaced so you won’t be right on top of your neighbor and will be able to enjoy placing up to 2 tents on the spaces.

One of my favorite things about this campsite was that picnic tables are all covered.   During the heat of summer this could prove to be essential since there is no water at the property available for individual campers.    

One downfall of this site however is that there are no reservations available for the spaces. First come first serve can be tricky depending on time of year, so arrive early if planning on camping at the location. 

For Booking Information For The Missile Site CLICK HERE

Tips:

  • Remember to bring your ball or horseshoes!   The site has great outdoor spaces for families to enjoy activities together.
  • Call ahead for tours of the missile site.    While tours can be scheduled Monday through Friday if you are only going to be staying a single day, make sure you book your tour in advance to align with your trip.  I tried to book a tour same day and they could not accommodate me.

Product Review:

Full Product Review CLICK HERE

I wanted to check out a variety of sunscreen options to help me along all of my adventures and had the opportunity to check out the Stream 2 Sea Tinted Sports Sunscreen while on this adventure as a Dyrt Ranger.     I was very eager to test an option which could provide coverage and options for me to use as an alternative to wearing tinted moisturizer or makeup.   While I realize this isn’t a concern for all campers, for me this is a big one, I wanted something which would blend well or could stand alone on days I wasn’t feeling like rocking a full face.

Upon opening the packaging I was a little afraid of the coloration, it looked quite dark despite being considered to be a natural tone.     Maybe in my head my version of natural is a bit more pale than others.     

I first performed a patch test on my arm and hand, something I recommend anyone do when trying a new product on their skin.   Though the ingredients are much more natural than your typical sunscreens you find, it is always best to try a small area first before applying to the entire body.

When doing the test, I noticed that the coloration of the product still was looking a bit darker than my skin when applied, however after a few moments of allowing it to set it started to blend down much closer to my actual tone.    

The lotion was not as thin to apply as many other sunscreens I had tried, it was easy to move on the skin but didn’t feel tacky and quickly absorbed into the skin leaving it moisturized feeling but not oily or greasy.     I allowed it to continue to sit for 20 minutes before finally determining that I would now try it on my face, this is a face and body product.

I put it on my face without makeup and noticed it allowed me to have a sun kissed glow look without actually having had any sun.   It did not have a hard blend line at the jawline or in any areas which might not have been rubbed in as well.   It seemed to match my tones and create an even canvas.     

The sunscreen is destined to be water resilient and can last up to 80 minutes in hard sweat or water.    I noticed that after 80 minutes or normal activity it was still holding in tact and hadn’t become runny or discolored.   I did notice over time that after reapplying since I wasn’t really being “sport” active that it did feel a bit oily in my naturally more oily areas.     

I would definitely feel comfortable using this sunscreen by itself or under my make up, however I would probably not wear a full coverage foundation which tends to be heavier on the skin if using this product below.    I also would stray away from moisturizing my skin within hours of putting the lotion on my face.   

As for my body, I found this to be perfect product for evening out my tones on my shoulders and arms and while my arms were exposed all day I did not experience any burn despite this only being a SPF of 30.   Usually I am having to use a much higher SPF in other products to not worry about burning.

***UPDATE***  Overall I would rate this particular sunscreen a 4 of 5 stars because it is a little dark when first using.    I liked how durable it was but also found it to be over time a bit heavy when layering every 80 minutes as directed.     I wore this several days while traveling through the state and noticed that on my face specifically it did start to combine with my natural oils and create less coverage so it had to be reapplied.   By the end of the day I was wiping off a considerable amount of product onto my make up wipe  even when not wearing any make up and this started to reflect in my skin quality when wearing over the span.  I would definitely recommend for a day at a time of wearing but not as an every day product for someone with combination skin on their face.   My body did not experience the same issue and because it is less oily I had no problems.

TIPS:

  • While they do have a larger size I would suggest sticking with the 3 ounce for travel, not only is it TSA approved for beach destinations but it is also the best size for keeping in your bag for your destination.     They also have a small 1 ounce version great for a smaller bag or for your day to day.
  • Remember reapplying is important to keep consistency of product especially when being active.    Every 80 minutes a quick once over will be enough to keep your product in tact and protect you against both UVA and UVB.
Great Proximity Comes At A Prince

When visiting Estes Park if you are wanting to be close to all the action the KOA of Estes Park is the place to be.    Offering a midsized tent section, a large close together RV section and several cabins to provide the perfect retreat for those visiting the location is within walking distance of the lake and within a short drive of some of the best attractions of the area including the Stanley Hotel, hiking at Lily Lake or Long’s Peak and the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park.   

I found this campground to be well organized, although it was less remote and did not feel like as much of a mountain retreat as many of the outlying camps of the area.     The tent area seemed a bit less bustling than the RV section as there was a bit of green space versus the sandy and clay landscape of the RV and cabin area.   

Something that really drew me into this campground was the deck spaces which offered elevated viewing of the surrounding.   It was a really interesting component which allows you to see a much larger range than the camp itself and created a unique setting for enjoying the mountain breeze on a hot day or gave a nice view of the stars at night.

This location epitomizes the idea of KOA campgrounds offering elevated services such as WIFI, Cable TV connections and a dog park.     In addition there is a store which offers a variety of items including propane and firewood.

Since I am a tent camper I really wanted to explore more of the tent area than other areas of the park.  I noticed they had both water and electric sites and electric only sites.    Each of these accommodate up to 6 people, although I would say that would make me feel a bit to crowded.     The tent camps also allow small vans or pop ups in this area.   

But here is the BIG KICKER…. The Price!!

Staying in Estes Park and being so close to everything comes at a HUGE price point.   To have all the amazing amenities you will pay $53 or $58 for a tent site.    To me this is WAY above budget and while it is a prime location the price point is not within reason for me personally.    You can stay inside Rocky Mountain National Park at a price point that is half that of this park.   You are paying here to be in the community for sure and have the access to the local shops and restaurants.   

One special feature that comes along with staying in the area but is not included in the price is one of the best features, the wildlife!    It is known that the most likely reason for a traffic jam in Estes Park comes from the elk and Moose in the area randomly hanging out in public spaces.    It is not uncommon for them to roam into camp and make their presence known grazing around on any green space they can find.   A stay here is a chance with an encounter of something which cannot be purchased in a price point.

Property Has Potential But Lacks Solid Response When Inquiring

This campground is a bit of a mystery.    If you call ahead you are often quoted one price only to arrive and be told another.   Not sure why this is the case.    I was passing through the area and wanted to check it out, drove in and went to the area which was noted to be the “office” but did not have any luck actually speaking to a person.     There were some people at the camp who were staying there and they said the host would be returning later.   

I spent a few moments driving through the camp and checking out the location noticing they had recently made improvements to the playground and also the bathrooms.    The bath house is a small building but provides all the needs you could require when staying.   There is also fresh water at this site.   

I noticed that the sites I would be most interested in were right by the water, a gentle flowing area of the river which looked serene.    Just down the waterway there was a collection of unsavory looking RVs which looked as though they were long term campers at the site which did not maintain their locations to the same standard I would normally want for my camping neighbors.    

The tent campsites each were equipped with picnic tables and fire rings and were pretty well taken care of as a whole.  They were not much higher than the river itself so this could quickly be an area which would flood in case of torrential rains.

I stayed on property waiting for the hosts for a while and no luck which made it impossible to stay at the site.     There are no significant locations to go and spend time while waiting so after really being discouraged by the lack of ability to communicate I opted to speak to those staying there to solicit information about the location.    I had mixed reviews by campers regarding the amenities and some who were locked into a longer term stay gave less than favorable reviews which I could see to be possible when glancing around camp.

The cons seemed to outweigh the pros on my visit.   I opted to move on. 

I called in following my departure and spoke to a person who then seemed scattered on their responses, this reaffirmed the comments of the campers which I had spoken to.  It was a shame because the property had great potential.

Price Per Camp To High For Limited Tent Amenities

I am not exactly sure why this area looked so much more dusty than other photos I had seen but when pulling into this campground I was a little shocked and underwhelmed.     I am used to KOA camps having some of the best amenities in the camping world but this one seemed a bit outdated.   While they did have some nice amenities, the campsites themselves seemed to have little to no shade and were more dust and gravel than anything.    

As a tent camper I have slept on some hard surfaces before and learned to pad my site accordingly for comfort, however there were a lot of large rocks in the area where tents would be located which were rather large.   With these present it is hard to imagine other tent campers having a positive experience here or having moved them for comfort.   Perhaps the best bet when staying here would be one of the unique cabins or RV options.   

Tent sites were very high considering they have no hook up connections.   After tax $40 this just was a bit over the top in my opinion.     The no frills style of camping in this area has a picnic table and nothing else to justify the price point. 

A positive to staying in the area was the proximity to many hiking trails and places to explore along the river.    I noticed that within a 5 minute drive I could easily be in several access points for recreation opportunities ranging from fishing to hiking.    The snowcapped mountain passes were only a short distance as was the ghost town of St Elmo.     This is a huge positive for the campsite.

One thing I really did enjoy about this site was the camp cook area which is accessible to everyone staying at the park.  In addition, there are a lot of small prairie dogs which make for a fun view throughout camp, especially near the road way.

On a negative note however, the bathrooms were outdated and in need of some TLC and the outdoor recreation space was in need of some soft space as opposed to the rocky landscape.

Book In Advance Before Camping

Boyd Lake State Park was a very appealing place to visit when in the Loveland area.    I had passed through this area and wanted to check out what all the State Park had to offer after visiting the two local sculpture parks in the area.   I was excited after having seen how close it was to my location and so I took the short drive to the area.     

GPS was not friendly when searching for the entrance using AT&T, but after finding the correct road it was relatively easy to find.  I recommend following signs versus GPS.    

January of 2019 the park, like many in the state moved to a reservation only system.  I was unaware of this when pulling up to the park, so though they had open sites I could not reserve them without using the booking system, which consequently charges a service charge for booking.     This to me was incredibly silly if I was speaking to an actual park employee and yet could not book a site when they were the ones telling me there was in fact a site.    This kind of left a bad taste in my mouth about the property so I opted to visit it as a day use property first and then if I was excited enough to trek back into town so I could have better signal for booking online I would do so.

When I visited, mid May, the water level was very low.   Though I was informed that they were higher than other lake properties, it seemed very low in comparison to other places I had visited in the region.     Sandy beaches were very telling of the water level with an abnormal amount of shoreline exposed.   

Lake activities for me were limited as I didn’t have a fishing license or my own boat.    If you had either of these I could see how the property would be a lot more fun.     I enjoyed exploring the property including the Cottonwood Campground which offered pull through sites which were quite large and nice green spaces right near the water.    There are 6 loops you can camp on with a variety of different services offered and a few overflow parking lots for parties which have additional vehicles.    

Sites were $36 which I felt were a bit high, though the camp was nice and well put together.   For the value however and me not wanting to utilize the lake it seemed unreasonable, especially knowing I would have to go back into town and book the site instead of being able to do so in person.   I can see this location being great for a group of friends or a family for a retreat or for those really wanting to capitalize on the lake itself.   However, for myself I found there were other campgrounds in the area which better suited my needs at a much more reasonable rate.

TIPS:

  • If you visit this location be sure to check into the visitor center if you need a fishing license or need to register your boat.   They do these type of inspections at the property.
  • Visit the community of Loveland if traveling here and see the two amazing sculpture parks, they are known for their art contributions nationwide.
  • Be sure to pay for day use at the pay station if no one is at the entry station.   You need a window sign to signify you have paid for your entry otherwise you can be fined.
Ranger Review: Wenzel Ridgeline Tent At Clear Creek Reservoir

CLICK HERE for FULL video about Clear Creek Reservoir and Wenzel Ridgeline Tent!!

Nothing in this world can beat an amazing campsite in a picturesque location, but how often can you luck into one of those right?? When traveling it is few and far between than you are fortunate enough to find these types of locations but I wanted to find my own oasis while traveling though Colorado and managed to do just that at Clear Creek Reservoir located just north of Buena Vista. 

Campground Review:

When searching in the area just beyond the frozen slopes of Aspen and Leadville, I found a series of listed campsites all located on lands which allow free camping.  I am not one to pass up a good free campsite or at least a good look at one, so I made the trip and found as the snow subsided and the grounds became increasingly more green that the weather was shaping up to be very pleasant for tent camping.    

As I finally turned onto the unpaved road I cringed in fear of the road condition in my small car but also was optimistic based on what I had seen from other campers.     The road a mixture of clay and old gravel turned out to be a little bumpy but nothing major and after passing the lake and wrapping back toward the backside of the water I noticed the small sign for dispersed camping.

I had found the location from a person who is a full time RVer and so I knew the sites would be large enough for a decent sized rig, but I was so surprised how much room really was there!  Wrapping alongside the shoreline of the creek are campsites scattered at various distances.     The campground on a Wednesday had a handful of campers, of which I couldn’t even find them til I really started driving through the far side of the campground and they all seem to have collected along that bank due to large shade trees.   

I opted for a site on the right hand of the entry in a large open space near the base of the Colorado Trail hill which goes through camp.    There were a number of established looking campsites with river rock fire rings and large portions of the area cleared of scattered rocks or limbs.     I had very little work to do to prepare my tent site before just setting up.   

The campsite does have a single vault toilet.  It is located on the side nearer the tree line in the more open area to the right of the camp.    While this was a little far for me compared to my usual wants at a campground which offers any amenities, I was glad to give up a few hundred yards for a much better view alongside the river.    

The sites are very basic, you will have to literally bring everything you want with you, no tables or lantern hooks, no electricity, not even trashcans!  Sometimes with views like these it is all worth it.     If you enjoy a good primitive site or can be sustainable off grid in your camper this is perfect.

The waters here are icy cold from the snow melt and provide a great contrast on a warm day.  They are clear and when the occasional fish does happen to pass you see it easily, though they do say you are more likely to catch fish in the lake itself.   

I was elated to see the wildlife in the area throughout the day which included some very cute prairie dogs, a very curious humming bird who was very impressed with my pink shirt and some beautiful songbirds.   

CLICK HERE for basic fishing Information at the Clear Creek Reservoir

TIPS:  

  • There is no cell service for AT&T at this campsite, I you are needing to make any important calls you will need to drive about 3 miles away from camp to sustain signal.   I advise dropping a pin if you have a friend of family member you check in with before you come to select your site.
  • Remember your firewood if you are wanting to have a fire.    There are several sources for your fire starters but none really for your actual campfire.
  • Pack Out Everything!!  There is NO trash collection at this site and since it is such a beautiful free site it is important that we remember to keep it clean and able to be used by the next person.

Product Review:   

As a Dyrt Ranger upon occasion I am given the opportunity to try out a new piece of camping gear and provide a little feedback on my experiences.  I was in the market for a smaller tent when I sent a Wenzel Ridgeline 3 Person Tent.    50 inches in height this would be a good solution for many small tent needs and allow comfortable sitting up and crouching while inside.     It also seemed the 7 x 7 size would easily meet the needs I might have, typically I like to use a 3 man tent for 2 people to provide some room for comfort since I travel with friends often.

Something I was most excited about with this tend is the Lite Reflect System.   This is a fancy way to say that the tent has a mesh basket which clips to the top panel inside.   You can place your headlamp of a small light inside this basket and it shines upward to create a reflection which illuminates your entire tent.    This is a ver thoughtful addition to a design to help allow more livable space in a tent at night when you need to be able to see.     This means that now instead of being stuck with your headlamp blinding another person or only being able to see a small portion of your tent without having to ransack through things, this technology would allow you to alleviate both of these issues. 

With any new tent there is a learning curve to assembly.    The poles on this tent were easy to snap together and after spreading the tent out I was able to feed them through to prepare the hoisting process within a matter or 2 minutes or less.    

 The problem for me came when the poles were such a tight fit within one of the corners that I was nervous to snap it in place.   This was not entirely the actual fits fault however, a small breeze had started to come through and pushed on the back of the tent, the only window zipped closed and not venting.   This created shifting of the tent against the pole and it made for a little tricky snap on that last corner.     Had the wind not have come along I would have had the entire tent up in less than 7 minutes.

After fully securing the tent with the tent stakes the winds continued to blow, but the tent remained in tact which allowed me to comfortably stay throughout the evening.   Sometimes I have noticed when a tent feels like it has a bit higher clearance it can get whipped around a bit, but this tent seemed very secure.

TIPS:

  • On a windy day it can be a bit more difficult to assemble this tent solo. The tent can easily catch wind and make it a bit harder to set up. While it can be done, it will take a bit of patience and creativity securing the tent base. My suggestion is to place items inside the tent before erecting the poles on a windy day.

  • The base of the tent is very durable but on a cold or rainy night it can still gather condensation. To prevent this lay a tarp down before placing the tent.

Desert Oasis Fun For All Ages

In direct contrast to the White Sands backcountry camping which offers absolutely zero thrills and access to luxuries, the White Sand KOA is a great place to stay for those wanting some of the comforts of home. Located about 10 minutes from White Sands this campground is in a great location for a run to the store, a meal at one of the great local restaurants or a trip to some of the other area attractions.

While visiting here I noticed there were plenty of options for RV campers, something lacking at the White Sands itself. But RV camping is not all created equal, and this one by far surpasses other area options. Sites were latge enough even for the largest of rigs but also offered smaller sites for someone traveling a bit lighter like myself.

Tent row seemed to be a very popular options and while the sites here were a bit closer together there was still plenty of room to move around.

The hosts were extremely friendly and welcoming. The restrooms were private and very well throught creating a feeling of being at home while on the road. There was even a small store located on property with goodies and merchandise to commemorate your trip to the area.

This place really has the family in mind with a pool, playground and game room which will leave a smile on the faces of even the smallest guests.

Tips:

  • Go check out the New Mexico Space Museum where you can find the first primate launched into space's memorial, some awesome space rockets and tons of information that will leave your head in space.
  • Take a trip out to the White Sands only a short 10 minute drive from camp and spend the day sledding down the cool white dunes.
A Perfect Camp To Put In A Tube For A Good Float

There is no better late spring to early summer activity than getting good float down one of the rivers of Texas.  While there are plenty of put in spots, many do not have access to a campground which offers as many options as the Guadalupe River State Park.  

Under the supervision of the Texas State Park system the facilities for both day use and overnight stay are well maintained. Currently undergoing an overhaul which will offer new restrooms in one of the camping loops, they are constantly striving to better accommodate guests and provide a fun and relaxed get away for a day, week or weekend.  

Taking a trip through the camping loops I noticed each were well shaded and positioned in a way that the sun could trickle through the leaves to provide warmth on a cool morning but not so much that it would make the sweltering summer days more intense.  Large parking spaces could easily accommodate two vehicles at each camp and amenities ranged depending on the location of the site you choose.  

In the improved camping loops, sites came standard with electricity and water connections, with posts being positioned at the front of the site.  You would need to provide your own hose or cord to source this toward the rear of the site if desired. Camping sites each provide a large picnic table and lantern hook in addition to a tent pad which is constructed and elevated slighting from the ground around.

In addition, to the loop camp sites, there is another section designed for tent campers wanting to walk in.  While this area is well maintained, it is subject to closures with rains unlike the other areas.  When I visited, the recent downpour had forced closure of all trails and also this campsite as a part of the conservation effort for keeping the natural lands.  While I do appreciate this as a person who wants to protect our spaces so we can continue to enjoy them for years to come, I could easily see how it could also disappoint a camper who is having change their location to an improved site.

Throughout the park there are a series of trails for hiking, biking and even horseback riding.  A full map is provided at the front gate and can come in handy if you are wanting to find more than just the river trail while at camp.  But something also to consider when looking at this map is the trail system located across the road from what most consider to be the park.  This section is less populated with hikers and provides some of the most interesting hiking you will find at Guadalupe River State Park.

But let’s get down to what everyone really wants to hear about … THE RIVER!  

The river can be a source of a lot of fun and also traffic.  Being open for day use as well as for those staying at the park, the area provides a cool retreat to dive into the cool waters of the Guadalupe River. There are picnic tables lining the shoreline, some off the river and in shaded areas while others are in full sun.  There is a no alcohol policy which is enforced on busy days, so warning if you are a person looking to float and drink, this might not be the right place to put in.

A trail runs alongside the riverfront providing great views of the river’s path.  A nature center and amphitheater are located across the parking lot from the river highlighting educational materials for the entire family but with exhibits geared toward the kiddos. In this area currently there are only port a potty restrooms.

Tips:

  • If you are planning on floating, make sure to read the guidelines by the parking lot.  Remember the river is not a loop so where you put in is not where you will end up.
  • Book In Advance!  This park is very popular and quickly fills up on weekend, if you are planning a trip make sure you book well in advance to ensure you will have a site.
  • Check the Weather!  The river’s flow is directly effected by the amount of rainfall. If you are planning a trip pull up the weather to make sure it will not make for unsafe conditions.
First to Review
Special Event Camping Area

If you have ever been through this area you might have stopped off to enjoy the water front views, the picturesque bridge and falls or maybe even a picnic in the park. But what you might have missed is an opportunity to camp in this location!!

When I pulled into town for a brief moment to rest along long road trip I thought I would check out some of the campsites the community has to offer. I was advised to stop over to check out the rock creations at this park and told that sometime they have camping available at the unique location.

Indeed they do! During the unique community events the park is opened on a ticket basis for a limited number of campers. This number has changed in recent years due to flooding along the river banks which damaged a portion of the area previously used.  

For those wanting to visit during these unique events it is well worth the escalated ticket price of staying at the park. During the LEAF (Llano Earth & Art Festival) tickets are priced between $75 and $100 per camp.  

This price puts you right in the middle of all the action without having to find additional parking during the very busy time in such a small community. This park currently only accepts car or tent campers however!

While LEAF is not only festival which has access to the park it is the most popular. If you are wanting to camp during non-event times you must contact the City of Llano for approval.

So what is the benefit of this location??  

It is beautiful!  Natural beauty abounds while still nestled in the middle of the town.  The river run-through the park and sets its northern boundary.  Inside the park there is art thriving from stacked totems to unique creations all complimenting the natural environment around you.

Bonus:  There are flushing toilets and running water in the restrooms located by the parking area and picnic tables throughout the upper portion of the park.  In addition you are only a few hundred yards from downtown and all its charm, though when standing by the river you will feel so far removed from the world that it won’t matter.

Ranger Review: Primus Trail Backpacking Stove At Boulderdash Cabin & RV

Texas is such a large state finding great campgrounds can quickly get a little overwhelming. There are so many amazing outdoor spaces and camping options that unless you really have something specific in mind you can get caught up comparing sites trying to determine which is the perfect fit for you.  

This has always been the case for me in my home state and I feel as though I have missed many great locations as a result. One hidden gem I hadn’t yet discovered was Boulderdash Cabin And RV on Lake Medina just outside of Bandera.

I was pleased to have this one brought to my attention and after booking through The Dyrt’s new online booking system I packed up my car in anticipation of a great trip down south. My original day to visit was met by some of the unpredictable Texas weathers, torrential downpour lasting 2 two days. I say that to say this, the campground owner and hosts were fully understanding of the predicament of me being a tent camper and unable to fully be able to enjoy the location in such conditions.  As a result they allowed me to push my reservation, something many campgrounds would not be so accommodating to do. 

This set the tone for my trip and was echoed throughout my stay, amazing and kind customer service!

CLICK HERE For Full Video Review

Campground Review:

Finally arriving at my site mid afternoon after a long drive, I was ready to get out and explore but also relax. I was greeted by the campground hosts upon my arrival with such a pleasant and welcoming reception. They showed me to my site, gave me a short tour of the small camp and told me a bit about the area so I could fully enjoy the amenities and know what to expect for a nights stay at the location.

Amongst the highlights were the lake where you can fish, kayak, take in the sun or have a great moment around the fire ring, the nightly deer feeding just alongside the entry road and an additional patio for sunning or enjoying a peaceful retreat.

The camp itself is very small, but with that comes a lot of charm. They did mention that there is currently underway an expansion possibly on the waterfront for additional tent camping options to expand the single tent site now available.  For those visiting in an RV there are several spaces available currently with substantial parking area for larger units in addition to the lake cabin featuring 3 bedrooms and an ample porch for outdoor entertaining. 

The charm of the campground is definitely in the details from painted rocks around the patio area, the campground mascots hanging out at key places for interaction, the unique bathhouse created from a small horse trailer and equipped with rustic finishings and the deer corn and bird seed left for each camper so they can interact more with their surroundings. This is a place which uniquely unveils itself the more you explore.

I had seen photos of the location but did not fully know what to expect, and boy was I surprised at how different my visit was than other reviewers from the site. When I arrived the lake was almost to the top of the camp border retainer wall, unlike other photos which I had seen when there was little to no water to explore.  Apparently the earlier in the season the more water usually you will find because later in the season the water is used for irrigation in surrounding areas and it becomes very low. Spring and early summer is the ideal time for lake related activities while late summer and fall are more about the discovery you can find along the banks and bed of the lake, which is more like hiking in my opinion.

Tips:

  • Book in advance, especially if tent camping due to limited space. The Dyrt booking system is a perfect way to do this because it is extremely user friendly and allows you to communicate with the owner directly after your booking is confirmed if you have questions or any changes which need to be made before your reservation. 
  • GPS can be a bit tricky on the lake roads. While getting to the general proximity works well, the division of roads can be hit or miss with some GPS systems.  I use an Iphone and it had me take an extra block just to get to ultimately the same location I could have been a couple of minutes earlier had it have told me just to go straight.
  • Take advantage of the patio down the hill by the water. There is a full picnic table, 4 loungers and a fire ring with benches in this area. You can drive down or walk down, set up and have a great meal right by the water. 
  • Don’t forget to ask about kayaks! There are 2 kayaks available for rent, you need only ask in advance to reserve them for your usage.

For More Information About Fishing At Lake Medina CLICK HERE

For More Information About Bandera CLICK HERE

Product Review:

As a Ranger for the Dyrt, in addition to having access to great campgrounds, I also am given the opportunity to try and review products and gear best suited for my active camping lifestyle. For my trip to Baulderdash I was able to prepare all my meals using the Primus Power Trail Backpacking Stove With Piezo.

I was a little worried I wouldn’t have the stove before my trip with only a couple of weeks between booking and estimated camping date, however from order to delivery there was less than a week’s time, arriving well before I departed for my trip. To be honest I didn’t want to try it out or anything until I arrived at my campsite so I could get a true feel for the size, the function and overall experience since this was my first Primus item.

First Impression: 

The size seemed a good fit for what I was looking for.  I have used a camping stove previously and knew I wanted something similar in size but also something which would address all my previous concerns with the other brand. 

What Were My Previous Brand Concerns?:

  • Uneven Heating
  • Wind 
  • Heating Time
  • Starting
  • Balancing

With all these concerns, I decided to play it safe and make sure I had the instructions with me just in case. (Available in multiple languages) And while I did read them, I really didn’t have to because the stove was very user friendly when I actually started assembling it. (I would suggest a new user who has never used a backpacking stove to give it a quick once over)

I opted for this stove because of its 4 stove balancing points. My previous stove had only 3 and many times it made it difficult to balance when my surface was not entirely even or if my food was slightly shifted in my pan. The 4 points are pulled upward from their fold and locked into place tightly, giving another layer of security to me when using the stove and checking off one of my concerns.

The stove attaches to your propane bottle by screwing it onto the top.  With this you want to have a firm hold because if it is not screwed on tight enough it will not start. You will quickly know if it isn’t on tight enough when you twist the piezo because you will not hear the gas flowing. I learned this on the second use when I was making my breakfast and I thought I had broken it by not putting it in my bag the same way it had been previously. Gave me a little panic, only to discover it was operator error not stove damage.

Having the piezo and igniter fully eliminated my frustrations which came from starting and lighting the previous stove, which I always felt was a bit dangerous because you would have to ignite it right at the source of the gas and many times it would intensely flair up. The Primus keeps you at a safe distance from the actual starting of the flame so check off another concern!

To cook on the stove I opted to really test its heating ability. I did so using chilled water, wanting to see just how long it actually would take to bring it to a rolling boil for use on a variety of common camping needs.  Less than 10 minutes and my water was rolling and steaming maxing out temps high enough for pretty much anything I could ever need from creating an egg omelet in a sandwich bag, hydrating a meal, boiling water safe consumption or making piping hot water thermos for keeping warm in my tent on a cold night. 

In my opinion, the timing was very good. In addition, though there was a bit of wind it seemed to continue burning consistently instead of all of the flames shifting to a single side.  While I didn’t test the overall even cooking because I had only boiled water I can only assume from the other results that this also would be addressed and answered by the balancing and also even flame.

I hydrated a dehydrated meal for dinner, anyone who has done this before knows if the water isn’t warm enough it will not cook through and you will be eating pure crunchy starch. That meal turned out great! In the morning, I made my protein packed oatmeal with dehydrated fruits and a coffee.  Layering the fruits on the bottom to allow them the most access to hydrating following with oats and protein powder I was able to with the Primus create a breakfast quality mirroring that of what I could have made with a full kitchen at home requiring a stove, chopping block and coffee maker, all with a single burner.

Tips:

  • Try the Primus pots to cook with on the stove. Designed by Primus the materials are durable and have a non-stick element to them that is unmatched in my opinion. Not to mention by using these you are guaranteed an even cook because they are designed with the perfect dimensions for the cook surface and when using you will not have to worry about your pot or pan being sized to large on your surface and becoming tipsy.
  • Store items together. If you do choose to use the Primus pots and pans, you can easily store your Power Trail Backpacking Stove within its pouch and inside the pots and pans to reduce your footprint in you bag or when storing your items when not traveling. Think of those nesting dolls and how they stow one inside another, this is basically the same thing.

For Full Product Review Video CLICK HERE

A site unlike any other you will experience for day use or camping

I will say a trip here is worth more than one trip! For this reason I found myself back in the midst of the soft white sands in March of this year. Taking a few notes from my last trip I planned a bit smarter for the journey.

Packed a face shield - This is imperative to keep your mouth free of loose winds when the weather quickly decides it wants to kick up a big mess.

Remembered a hat - Being out in the white sands you can quickly forget how damaging the sun can be. The sand remains cool and though you are in the midst of all the reflections of light and and you often can forget that your head is unprotected. I made sure to bring a cap to wear for the extended stay of anything over 20 minutes.

Used a shade shelter/sand shelter - When camping sure you remember this, but when playing you should also have it on hand. Many come out recreationally and find themselves into midst of a harsh wind storm which can create white out sand conditions. This can be scary, dangerous and overall just very frantic. Winds often will reach these conditions making it impossible to drive or hike, so a quick shade shelter/ sand shelter is the way to go for protection.

Lots of water -Over the past few years I have learned more and more how continually improve my campaign experience at various locations. With no two locations being the same it can be a learning curve to say the least. Because of the location I improved my packing for this trip adding additional water to my gear. While you might not realize your body is in need, all the trudging around in the dunes can quickly dehydrate you without you realizing it.

Checked the weather- While you can't predict the sand you can get a good handle on when it for sure will not be manageable. Usually in Alamogordo the news will share if there is a wind advisory. If you ever see one of these, just DON'T try to get out on the sands. From the first trip here to the second I will say there is a massive difference between a gentle breeze and a lightly windy day. Now just imagine straight line winds… NOPE!!

Checklist aside, the White Sands is a place you need to remember to educate yourself about before taking on one of the backcountry sites. I advise visiting the visitor center and taking in the entire experience to emerge yourself in the surroundings, the why, the what and the how. Then make sure you talk to a ranger before attempting any kind of camping in this location. Unlike a mountain camp or even a regular desert camp, this location comes with its own unique set of rules that you will want to be aware of.

Retreat Just 15 Minutes From Downtown Austin

With summer rapidly approaching for Texas I wanted to cruise down to Austin before the heat waves made it a bit unbearable. In doing so I elected to check out McKinney Falls Park. I will say that going into my stay I had only seen a couple of videos about the park which were less than descriptive as to what to expect from the park. Typically I would pine over reviews in advance but this time I decided to instead let the park surprise me and report the full initial reaction.

I did not book in advance, something I would not advise you to do unless it is winter season at the park. When I arrived there were only 2 campsites left on a Thursday just after noon. Needless to say this park fills quickly when the weather is pleasant. These two sites were literally only available for a single night as the campground was fully booked for the weekend.

I can see why quickly from pulling into the park why it is so popular, the grounds are well maintained, the wildflowers are in bloom making for a wonderful retreat for some amazing hiking and a scenic area for family photos and being only 15 minutes from downtown Austin easily makes this the best retreat away from the city for those wanting a quick weekend get away.

When selecting a campsite I often times like to find an area near the restroom without being directly across from them, having access to this amenity can be useful however proximity to avoid cross traffic is key when using a large campground. This location has restrooms scattered through the various loops with a centralized shower house. Our site was site 69, it backed up to one of the restrooms on our loop and actually had a small private path to the facility which made it unique from other sites and very convenient.

While the spring has brought in recent rains, the site was a it more overgrown than I would have liked considering this area is noted for a variety of snakes, however the tent pad and picnic area itself was cleared so with hesitation we went ahead and set up our overnight home.

The tent pad was a right pebble base, this made sleeping in just a sleeping bag impossible. We had to pad the base with several layers due to the sharp texture of the rocks below. I noticed later when packing the tent we also ended with a small tear at the lip of the tent because of these rocks. I would advise on this surface potentially laying a tarp barrier before placing your tent fo this reason.

Sites were standardly equipped with a picnic table and fire ring. Our site had both water and electricity, which actually were quite handy considering we were having some charging issues with my in car charger. This particular site was located directly beside the camp host.

We used the site as a basecamp for exploring the city in the evening and the following morning before checking out of the park we took a drive to the showers and explored the park fully. The showers had pretty hard water and lower pressure than some but definitely got the job done for bringing us back to life from the muggy day, nearly 75% humidity.

We visited both the upper and lower falls areas as well as the wildflower field. I can easily see after visiting these just why the park stays so busy! The beauty is astounding, but more so the water offers a retreat for those looking to take a dip in the cool flowing pools. While both were down from normal account, we still saw many people diving in and enjoying the day. Others fished along the banks, hiked the many trails surrounding the waters and enjoyed picnics in the designated areas.

My friend wade into the water to see what it felt like and it was still a bit cool for her liking at this time of April, but give it a couple months and that cool temp would be more than welcomed!

All in All despite the few small areas for improvement I couldn't see this park being anything less than a 5! The quality of experience when we visited with not impaired by the numerous guests and though it could change later in the season, for early April when the wildflowers bloomed wild, the waters flowed cool and the camping was not in intolerable heat it was a win!

Tips:

  • Book in advance any time other than Winter.

  • Bring sunscreen there is little shade near the falls so you will want to protect yourself. In the brief time I was out there I got a little burned on my neck and shoulders.

  • Bring drinks, we stopped in the Check In Station and there were only a handful of drinks and supplies. I would suggest bringing a water filter or bringing a cooler of drinks for your visit.

  • Beware of snakes and spiders. On our stay we noticed an influx of spiders, while we personally did not see a snake some others were saying they had seen them basking near the banks and on some of the trails. Always be aware!!

  • Remember do not pull vehicles into the grass, keep all cars in designated drive areas. Each campsite has a parking area for you to use, if you need additional parking there is more parking near restrooms.

Ideal Country Setting Only A Few Miles From Waco

There is nothing I like more than finding a nice place to retreat from a city which allows the comfort of the outdoors and relaxation with the convenience of the neighboring city amenities. It is the perfect blend of both worlds.

This can be a bit difficult for a tent camper however, so again I was able to find an ideal location for my RVing friends at this site. Normally that would instantly lower my rating because I cannot personally utilize the location at this time without a rig, however this site was so impressive I couldn't steer away!

Pulling up to the park the gate is grand. The park itself sits a short 5 minutes away from the city on a quiet road. The park is expansive and the accommodations rest several hundred yards away from the traffic of the small country road. It is so peaceful!!

Sites seemed to be spread nicely to have the sense of community but not being to close to form crowding. Each space is separated by a grassy area which accommodates a picnic table and has enough room for a little stretching room.

When I visited all of the units there seemed to be very well maintained and even though they do have both overnight and long term stay options, nothing seemed to have the "moved in" look (no underpinnings, no long sewage hoses typical of long term parks).

I was very excited to see the large area for walking your dogs, area which allowed space to play and roam, a pond to fish in or to enjoy, a fire pit for community use and very nice shower and laundry facilities.

The roads around the park were wide and well maintained, the green spaces were manicured well and as I visited people were all very friendly. It made me want an RV just so I could visit!

Tips:

  • To stay at this park make sure you make reservations ahead of time. While there is plenty of space, they do fill up and reservations will ensure your stay especially during the more populated seasons.

  • Take advantage of the free wifi when here, just pulling in I checked it out and noticed it was pretty decent from all areas of the park.

  • Bring your fishing poles! This park has a variety of fish in the stocked pond perfect for a relaxing day at the park.

First to Review
A lot of road noise

Just outside of temple this location has great access for visiting the event center. Design for RVs only the quick access on and off of the highway are both a blessing and a curse.

When I visited the location and spoke to management they did say there was no tent access at this location. They do allow overnight RV stay although most of the people who stay here or more long term residents.

The grounds themselves feel somewhat compact not a lot of green grass vegetation makes for a dusty campground.

The staff was very nice and seemed welcoming. Explained amenities which include a small bathroom and shower house and laundry. They do offer mail service for nomads looking to settle for more than a couple days who need to have gear shipping or long term stay residents.

The negative for me was the road noise. When I was there is was pretty extreme. I added a video to share how much traffic passes pretty much all the time.

I would suggest this if you need a couple days stay close to Temple but personally wouldn’t recommend long term or could opt for a place a bit more off the main road, there are other options in the area which offer much quieter accommodations.

RV Storage But No Longer Campsite

I went on search of this campground for options near Salado. When visiting here I noticed that it’s proximity seemed relatively close to be able to enter the city limits with ease while not paying quite as much potentially for campsites as some of the neighboring communities. I also hoped that this would offer a tent camping option as many of the options I have checked before do not offer this feature.

Boy oh boy was I surprised! After following GPS for about 15 minutes and winding through what looked like a rural area, my coordinates noted that I had arrived. But where? Where was the park? All that I could see was a field with cows.

I then googled the RV park no results found not even previous results saying they had been closed. I continued on the road hoping that potentially the GPS marker had been dropped incorrectly and about half a mile up the road there was an RV storage area by a similar name. No active sites no campground host not even an open gate.

Normally I wouldn’t post a review of a site which isn’t really a site however I feel as though if you are in this area you do need to be aware that this site is not a real campsite though it was marked and I feel as though at one point it might have been a campsite at the RV storage facility this option is no longer available at these GPS location coordinates.

First to Review
Dusty Option Frequented By Long Termers

When traveling through this area you will drive for miles and miles of desolation. Fort Stockton is one of the largest towns you will reach on this section of road until you get to El Paso. You would think that there would be some options for accommodation for those to rest their weary heads when traveling. Are there a few hotels here. Yes. But what about those pulling an RV or wanting to tent camp?

I checked out this site in hopes of finding a tent camping site. What I found was a location. which could accommodate RV travelers, but is often used by long term stay traffic from companies in the area. A. lot of oil field traffic here, reserving sites for weeks on end.

Despite the long term nature of many of the visitors it didn't appear to be the typical scene you find with lots of underpinning. It was however a dusty park because of the lack vegetation in the area. With high winds it can be a bit dusty at the park.

Typical amenities are offered for short or long term stay. The park is located very central to local businesses including laundry, restaurants and grocery stores. But perhaps the things I would recommend if making your way through this park for a night or even a longer span is checking out the historic Fort Stockton and the most infamous giant RoadRunner of Fort Stockton.

These places of local tourism are only a short 3-5 minute drive from the park and while the RoadRunner is free to see the Fort is $5.

Tips:

  • Use this stop as a refuel station if heading West the prices were reasonable and provided the last real stop for tourists.

  • Stop along the way at the Texas Safety Stop not to far from Fort Stockton for an additional little bit of West Texas History and a place to stretch your legs.

Pick Your Site Carefully

Ok so for a person staying in a tent, this place ins't ideal year round. They receive snow and are a known New Mexico ski area. So if you are planning a visit during the "off prime season" you might want to check into one of the other options for stay in the park.

The park has 50 camping sites designed for tent or RV campers and a few scattered sites for larger RVs as well. While only a handful of locations actually have access to electricity for those wanting of a nice stay without all the extras this place is quite nice. Water stations are scattered throughout camp along with vault toilets.

Something which does set this park apart from others in the area is the Yurt accommodations for those wanting to try something new or wanting to get outdoors but not so much that they are renting an RV and dealing with maintenance or sleeping in a tent which might be a bit overwhelming.

When I visited, it was not yet prime season so many of the amenities were limited. The regular season runs from May 1 to October 31, at this time the Lodge and private picnic shelters are available for rental and from what I have seen the accommodation there is quite spectacular. The lodge plays host to a lot of beautiful weddings and retreats.

While in partial winter shut down mode however, the access to trails is still available and I found that the trails were pretty spectacular to see as you would find native vegetation poking through snow patches, beautiful fluffy snowflakes to play in and plenty of options for enjoying your version of winter activities.

I was a bit concerned about road conditions in the ongoing snow, but even the roads were taken care of with a certain level of detail which made this park enjoyable as a 4 season park.

My only real concern would be some of the campsites did have pretty close proximity to the roadway. I could see this becoming a bit concerning for road noise as even though on my visit it was a weekday and also during a slower time for tourism, it remained quite busy on the road near the camp.

Tip:

  • Book in advance online, especially if you want one of the only 7 campsites with electricity.

  • Try to snag a spot away from the main road to make your stay a bit more quiet.

  • Bring layers year round, despite being less than 10 miles from Santa Fe where weather is often very warm, the elevation is much different and considerably cooler.

  • Try the waterfall trail it is a short hike of less than 3/4 mile round trip with great pay off at the end

Best Of Both Worlds: City Access With Outdoor Retreat

With seasonal access this campground can get pretty crowded during peak season due to its close proximity to Santa Fe as well as the amazing outdoor spaces. Driving out of the city you leave the desolation and low laying vegetation and are transported into an oasis of tall growth trees and mountain living. It is hard to believe that less than 10 miles separates these two spaces because of the dramatic difference in appearance. This place really has the best of both worlds!

Driving into the camp, you have three options: Walk-In Camping, Camping With Parking Access & Limited Access.

The walk-in spaces are directly to your right across a small bridge with flowing stream below. Some of the spaces are close enough to the stream that you can hear the gentle trickle of water to put your to sleep at night. Parking for these sections is limited, so it is not recommended to take advantage of these if you are with a party bringing more than one vehicle.

The units with parking are well spaced. Pavement and landscaping create separation which allows each camper to have their own space without feeling cramped. Throughout this section are staggered water stations with potable water and toilets as well as trash cans which are weighted to keep animals away.

A trailhead can be accessed from the rear of this camping area so during busy season there are hikers which park in one of the two lots creating excessive foot traffic throughout the camp;. My suggestion would be to avoid site 24 or 26 which are the sites positioned on either side of the official trailhead.

Each site in the campground is equipped with a fire ring and grill top, a picnic table and a lantern hook. Though this campground has not showers the potable water is a nice touch for those visiting making it much more convenient than other area limited access camps.

Because the trailhead leaves from the campground, throughout the off season the first restroom, the one by the trailhead parking and the walk-in camping does remain open along with the water access to the potable/drinking water fountain at this point of entry.

TIPS:

  • Check the Kiosk when you arrive, this are will provide any information you might need about the area including any potential dangers on trails, closures or maps.

  • The pay box is located on the kiosk in the bricks. It is a weird place and isn't the most well marked so rather than looking around for a while and contemplating what to do when you see the broken pay box (previously used) just look down in the middle on the rocks.

  • The camp host is available during open season and is located in the first space of the drive in loop, when in doubt always remember they are there to help you find information.

RANGER REVIEW: Aftershokz Trekz Titanium At Eisenhower State Park

Campground Review:

For Full VIDEO Review: CLICK HERE

I decided to visit Eisenhower State Park during the last part of November, just before Thanksgiving when the leaves were putting on their final showcase of the season and casting their amber and red tones everywhere. It was absolutely breathtaking to pull into the park and start to see this area unfold around me.

Eisenhower is named for our former president, Dwight D Eisenhower, who was born in nearby Denison, Texas. Opened in 1958 to tourists as a Texas State Park, the area is divided amongst lake activities and wildlife preservation. In more recent years they have added ATV trails to accompany the bike and walking trails, the swimming beach and the outdoor amphitheater and pavilion.

Day use here is only $5 or for those camping you can easily find a perfect fit for your needs between $12 and $25. I noticed depending on the loop of camp you are enjoying amenities do vary as to site sizes. All sites except primitive and a single specialty reservation lot were equipped pretty standardly with a metal picnic table and fire ring with grill. The biggest differences were in that some had electricity and water while others had neither. (You can book your campsite online by clicking HERE )

I really enjoyed the spacing of the campsites, though the area I was visiting for the day had neighbors the spacing managed to mask any noise that might come from their camp. The tree coverage in the area was amazing and shady, I can only imagine this to be a necessary feature during the hot Texas summers.

Since I was only able to enjoy the park for a day, after enjoying one of the campsites for a lunch, I took to the hiking trails and explored the many areas there are to check out. I was most excited about the swimming beach, it reminded me of the beaches I had seen in Nevada nestled along the Colorado River in groves of mountainous rocky mountains. It felt secluded and while the beach area itself was a mix of rocks and sand, it could be a great retreat on a warm day for some fun with the family. The steps down to the beach captured my attention, I later noticed the same steps repeated by the marina and also by the amphitheater. They were unlike poured concrete and made for a more organic feel to the landscape. Created by bags of concrete hardened then used as pavers the surface provided a perfect step that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

A few things to remember about Eisenhower:

In this area throughout camp and other parts of the property you might see bats, armadillos, beavers, coyotes, deer, opossums, rabbits, bobcats, raccoons, foxes, squirrels and roadrunners. In addition, during warm months you can see a variety of snakes hiding on rocky surfaces so always be aware of your surroundings and remember to keep your food items secured inside your vehicle.

  • The Lake is a BIG draw. This is one of the more popular stops along the massive Lake Texoma. Because of this you can take advantage of fishing, utilize the boat ramp and boat houses or rent one of the many watercraft they have to offer. CLICK HERE for more information about the lake, requirements of fishing and boating, activities available and any current advisories.
  • There is an interpretive guide online which will completely give you a better perspective of the park and some of what it has to offer. CLICK HERE

Rating:

Overall I would give the State Park a 4 of 5 stars. I feel as though the park is large enough to accommodate large groups, essential during the busy lake season including holidays such as the 4th of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day. With the spacing it provides, not only can it accommodate crowds but it can make for a still enjoyable experience when visiting on these busy seasons.

Activities vary for those seeking non-lake related things to do, this is of great interest to me as a traveler who does not often hit the lake on one of my adventures. I like that there is an option for someone like myself to be able to if I choose however it isn’t the sole focus of the site.

PRODUCT REVIEW:

For Full VIDEO Review: CLICK HERE

As a part of a program I belong to in conjunction with the website The Dyrt, where I serve as a Ranger, sometimes I am sent items to test along my many travels. I recently received an exciting package from Aftershokz to test their Bone Conduction Technology provided in their Trekz Titanium. I was very excited to find a product that answered some of my most pressing questions when camping, hiking, working out and adventuring.

How can I hear what is around me if I have in an earbud?

How can I comfortably listen to music for extended lengths of time?

Can I have something which is reasonably fashionable to listen to my music?

The Backstory:

So why is it so important to have your ears free when you are performing activities outside? Well in my personal experience I have found that awareness of your surroundings can make all the difference.

SCENARIO 1:

When I travel with friends many times we have a speaker we travel with, and while we enjoy it, not everyone around us typically likes the same music we do. This poses a problem.

SCENARIO 2:

When I travel alone, it doesn’t matter if I am hiking or just exploring an area, I always need to know what is going on around me. From hearing the stops on the METRO clearly to hearing the leaves rustling around me to signal a potential animal in the area, there are so many reasons that knowing what is going on around you can come in handy. But from my vantage point hearing traffic and people is the most important because you never know what is going on when you completely block out the world.

I saw a study conducted over 7 years (2004-2011) which stated there were some 116 people who died as a result of wearing earphones of earbuds and not hearing what was going on around them. While 68% of those effected by this were men under the age of 30, I still was really disturbed to see that the number was so high considering it is something we don’t typically consider to be something dangerous. That got me really wondering if I could solve both my scenarios and the potential issues by simply trying a new style of listening device.

Information & Specs:

  • Name: Aftershokz Trekz Titanium
  • Retail Price: $99.95
  • Includes: Carrying Bag & Charger Cord (cube/plug port not included)
  • Color Options: Slate (Grey/Black), Pink, Ocean (Blue/Black), Ivy (Green/Black), Red

Shipping Information:

Shipping on this item was pretty rapid. From the initial order to delivery at the door was only 4 days. The package arrived via USPS and was in great condition. The box itself was well packaged to prevent denting or tearing of packaging. The product was secured well in the container with the remainder of the items which were included packaged behind the item’s plastic packaging.

First Impressions:

Packaging of this item was very well thought and attractive. I was pleased to open the box and discover the item inside. The see through boxing really made for an exciting reveal when I initially opened the packaging. The bold blue color I selected was much brighter than I had even expected and presented a very vibrant look which I really wanted to get right into using.

As I continued unboxing I did find it a bit odd that there was no charger port, only the cord was included. Still, I like most phone users, have more than a couple extras so I didn’t find this to be a deal breaker on my feeling of the product.

Field Testing:

I was ready to get these right out of the box and start using them, I was a bit disappointed that there was no charge to them whatsoever. Usually an item like this at least provides a bit of charge for you to start off using it straight out, however with these I had to wait. And not just a bit, I had to leave them charging for several hours before I could actually begin the process of utilizing them. This was a bit discouraging.

After the Trekz Titanium had fully charged I was able to finally initiate the connection process. As there are no cords on these headphones, they need only a device which can be connected via bluetooth, for me this meant my IPhone. I have connected devices previous, so for me this seemed to be a very simplistic process to set up. Simply holding down the “+” button on the headphones for 5 seconds activates the power. From this point you simply go into your phone settings, turn on Bluetooth and find the discoverable Trekz Titanium option.

Wearing the Trekz Titanium was pretty comfortable. Fitting just over the ear and in front of the drum itself, the phones kept that irritating feeling of pressure from building over time through use. I found the fit to be comfortable, though one size fits all did become a little looser feeling when I was running and bouncing in contrast to walking or hiking at an even pace. The back of the Trekz do not fit flush with my head personally, I do have a smaller head however so this might not be the case for all users.

The technology behind the Trekz Titanium and other Aftershokz products utilizes Bone Conduction Technology. This simply means, they sit on the outer ear to provide sound while also allowing the user to still hear what is going on around them. Unlike earbuds which fit inside the ear and create pain over time or earphones which are bulky these are designed to be streamlined and provide a more comfortable wear.

When I was wearing them I noticed that the sound was a little light in the bass when I turned it on and as I turned up the sound to get more of the bass it lowered the amount of sound from outside I could actually hear. The sound quality was very crisp and did not muddle the sounds of my music. Another negative about turning up the music was that others could then hear what I was listening to if I was standing near them. I don’t know if that is the best experience for others around me when wearing them if I really want to crank up my volume to get a good workout pump if out and about. Certainly it didn’t make me the most considerate person on the hiking trail when I encountered someone else, I felt like I needed to turn down my volume.

PROS:

  • Comfortable on ears
  • Able to hear outdoor sounds when volume is at moderate level
  • Variety in colors and styles
  • Simple Set Up
  • Compatible With Most Devices (I could not however connect to my MacBook)

CONS:

  • Fit a bit large on my head personally, although this did allow for plenty of space for a hat or headband
  • When listening at louder volumes less ability to hear outdoor sounds and also can be heard by those around you
  • Does not come charged

Rating:

Rating this item is a little difficult because the technology behind them is pretty genius and fits all my needs as a person who spends a lot of time in the outdoors. However the few small things which I could see as areas of possible improvement do bring them down a bit.

After really going back and forth on which of these things were really deal breakers and which were just things which obviously come with the territory of Bone Conduction Technology, I settled upon a rating of a 4 of 5.

While I do feel like fit was a factor for me personally, I do not feel it would be to every individual user. The main area which I feel should be improved upon would be the bass sound being more clear at lower levels. I feel like had it have been I would have never had to turn up the volume to cancel the sounds around me, nor would I have been “that hiker” who has their music up loud.

Overall the idea of the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium is something which meets a lot of my needs as a solo hiker and camper. It provides a great service which otherwise I was hesitant to explore due to safety while in remote areas with animals and other warning sounds of which you need to be fully aware.

Additional Reviews For This Product Featured On The Following:

BunnyPlaysHere.com

REI

Aftershokz

Ranger Review: Mountain House Beef Stew At Lake Arrowhead State Park

Campground Review:

To Check Out Lake Arrowhead State Park CLICK HERE

To See My Full VIDEO Review Of Lake Arrowhead State Park CLICK HERE

I have passed by the sign to Lake Arrowhead State Park probably hundreds of times and never stopped in. It was always intriguing, but like most places in your own backyard you tend to neglect sometimes the most obvious places to stop in for some rest and relaxation while trying to run off to the next big adventure up the road. But finally I had enough and just had to make a stop after seeing somethings online which swayed me to take the short exit off Highway 287 in North Texas.

Pulling into the park, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I have heard about this park mostly as a fishing destination, however what really brought me to the park were the Prairie Dogs. Yes, you heard me right… the Prairie Dogs. I am an animal lover, and anytime I get an opportunity to see so many cute free roaming animals, I simply cannot pass

I pulled in mid-day and was greeted by the Park Ranger who extended a map and trail map and gave me a brief understanding of the points of interest. Day use was only $4, something I felt would be totally worth the value for being able to have a day away. I mean, where else can you enjoy an entire day away for under $10?

The roads of the park are paved and wide enough for two lanes of traffic. I could easily see why boaters and RVers alike would enjoy coming out to the property based on how well maintained the roadways were. I first trolled through the campground itself to check out the three different options for camping.

I will say that of the camping options I would by far prefer the improved campsites at this campground. While primitive camping is great and I typically camp without amenities, I found that the primitive camping sites here had much higher grass and no fire rings or items which could be used for such. In this area of North Texas, the high grasses typically attract snakes, rattlesnakes specifically, so I couldn’t see myself trying to call this area home when other areas were just a few dollars more and were not only improved but also maintained at a higher standard. Price points varied from $10 for primitive camping to $22 with full hookups.

As I moved forward toward the lake a bit more the day use area was wide open with great lake views from all angles. The fishing pier and beach were along the same shoreline and because of recent rains the water levels were very high. This brought many of the critters right up to the grass including several breeds of waterfowl. And perhaps it was because of the recent rains, or perhaps it was because of the amount of in and out traffic leaving behind food, but this area was filled with Prairie Dog mounds and some very bold little furry friends.

I spent the better part of an hour grabbing some great photos of the infamous residents, the Black Tailed Prairie Dog, almost within petting distance. They were not fearful at all and instead were very curious and comical.

Leaving this area I moved on to the other side of the day use are which had a large boat ramp with plenty of parking for trailers, a basketball court, playground, picnic shelters and canoe and kayak rentals. This area seemed to be the busiest area in the park with several people out chatting after coming off the lake, some people having a late lunch under the shelters and even a family which looked like they had been swimming.

While this is not the most improved campground and facility I have seen at a Texas park and while I am sure they do have some room to work on modernizing, as a whole I would give the experience here five stars. The staff I encountered while at the park were all very friendly, the access to the lake was plentiful, the programs they offer were many and there were enough campsites to suit the needs of campers even on busy holiday weekends.

TIPS:

  • Check out the Disc Golf course which runs alongside both the Onion Creek Trail and Dragonfly Trails.
  • Get your supplies before you come out to the campground in neighboring communities Wichita Falls, Jolly or Henrietta. Though the entry station sells firewood there are no additional supplies sold on the grounds.
  • Bring your camera and go to the beach! This area is the most populated by the Prairie Dogs and will make for some of the most lasting memories of the park. This area is a MUST SEE!!

Product Review:

To Check Out Mountain House Products CLICK HERE

To See My Full VIDEO Review Of The Product Including A Recipe CLICK HERE

As a part of a program I belong to in conjunction with the website The Dyrt, where I serve as a Ranger, sometimes I am sent items to test along my many travels. I recently received an exciting package from Mountain House, an amazing company which provides food selections for hikers, preppers, travelers and even military usage in simplistic freeze dried form.

Information & Specs:

  • Name: Mountain House Beef Stew
  • Retail Price:
  • Servings: 2.5 Serving Pouch

Shipping Information:

From the time I corresponded with Mountain House and the Dyrt to the day I received the item there was less than a week’s wait. I have previously also received items from Mountain House through other companies which sell and distribute their items, again with little to no delay on receipt.

First Impressions:

The packaging for this product was slightly different than the item I had previously ordered, a Pro-Pack version of Mountain House which is designed and packed for higher altitudes and thus is sealed much more tightly. The directions on the packaging were clear and concise and it seemed as though it would be pretty simplistic to prepare.

Field Testing:

In previous experiences with freeze-dried meals I had been a little less than excited by their flavors, many seemed flat or chalky tasting. Being that I am a texture eater as well I don't like the off putting feel of something being soggy when I eat, so I was very eager to see how Mountain House held up to the challenge, especially when it came to stew, something which typically can go pretty soggy when preparing.

At my location I wanted to test how easy the pouch would be to prepare, how far it would stretch and also how I could potentially easily incorporate it into my camping in a variety of ways. The meal itself was very easy to prepare with very little requirements for doing so. Basically I only needed a small bit of water and something to heat it to make it work, this I found to be key when I do more minimalist camping or backpacking. I prepared the meal in this way first to get an overall feel of the meal and gauge if I would respond well to the taste and texture. It was a success! After a total of less than 20 minutes to fully prepare the meal from start to finish, I was very pleased by the flavors, the perfect texture of the meat and potatoes and how the carrots and peas seemed to just melt in my mouth.

Though I often travel alone, making 2.5 servings more than enough to send me to bed in a food coma for the evening, upon occasion I do have additional people traveling with me. This made me think, what if I needed to stretch this meal a bit further because there were two people starving after a busy day? How would I do that? I put a lot of thought into options and concluded that there would be several ways you could do so.

If continuing to be on a minimalist prep you could simply take tortillas and with the added starch find a way to make the contents stretch. But what about having my full camp set up at my disposal, how then could I stretch my meal to accommodate another person? My conclusion was to prepare a delicious meat pie by adding just two ingredients (puff pastry and mushrooms). With this idea, you could of course add any items you want and make your pies as large or as small as you would like. I would also suggest peppers or onions if you really want to expand the contents without taking away from the flavors. These are all items which compliment the flavors of the pouch well.

I prepared with a single puff pastry 4 small pies and still had enough left over in the pouch that I could have made a solo meal out of that alone. By far Mountain House is one of the most diverse and flavorful providers of freeze-dried meals. No wonder around 70% of all freeze-dried meals sold in the US are Mountain House.

Rating:

If I were rating this item I would have no questions in giving it a 5 of 5. I feel like the content of this items package standing alone is enough to speak for itself as the robust flavors bring you that little sense of home while in the wilderness. It is designed for the every day camper to have something which is easy to prepare but has the ability to transform into much more than a pre-packaged meal. This item is perfect well beyond the bounds of camping however, I am most excited about adding this item to my supplies for emergencies as well in case of power outages during cold winter months of bad weather which can often leave me without power living in the country.

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