BWCA 2019 Gear List – Miscellaneous

This is part of a larger series where I am gathering my thoughts on my gear for a Boundary Waters (BWCA) 2019 trip.  See the intro HERE.

Miscellaneous – Anything that doesn’t fit into another category.  Or maybe it COULD fit into another category but I don’t want it to.  I could also create MORE categories but I have more than I really need anyway.

I’ve got a few things on this list and will add to it as I go.

Flat Bungie Cord
Flat Bungie Cord

Flat Bungie – Bungie cords are very useful.  In the multipack I purchased there was an orange one that was the right size to suit all sorts of needs.  I do consider them a luxury item as one can usually work around them, just not as quickly or as “Ah, that was simple!”  If I need to start removing things this would be one to go.  I have also seen the ones that you can adjust.  That looks handy.  If I happen to need to buy some bungies I’ll look into that else I’ll use what I currently have.

Usack S29.3 AllWhite
Usack S29.3 AllWhite

Critter Bag (Need) – This is under this category and not “Food” as I use that one for edible things.  I have not picked out a real critter bag yet.  Right now I use a stuff sack or the like.  I want one that is good for both hanging in a tree or leaving in camp.  With that in mind, the ursack brand bag always comes up when having these discussions.  Some use a canister for this purpose but I’m going to go with a bag solution.  I will take the bag with me on my local hikes (Ohio) and would not take the canister.  I don’t mind buying for a particular trip but I’d rather each thing be more multi-use.

Black Diamong Trail Trekking Poles
Black Diamong Trail Trekking Poles

Hiking Poles (Need) – I have a pair of cheap hiking poles that I bought at a camp store about five years ago.  I expected them to fail pretty quick but so far they have held up very well, even though they are of cheaper construction.  In a few years when I am able to get out and take more substantial trips, such as the BWCA, I am going to get a nicer set.  I like the Black Diamond brand but am open to others.  In the photo to the right is Black Diamond’s basic poles with flicklocks.

Camp Stool
Camp Stool
Helinox Chair Zero
Helinox Chair Zero

Camp Chair – Normally on backpacking trips, I would take a standard folding camp stool.  It’s easy to detach from the pack and rest on the trail and certainly does the job while actually in camp.  For times when I’ll want to be in camp for more than an evening, I’d like something more.  Enter the Helinox Chair Zero.  I researched this brand and model, the REI version, and so on.  I got this one because it’s light enough that I won’t be tempted to leave it behind when backpacking, yet large enough to enjoy.  When I’ve had it for a while I’ll review it.

Ziploc® Brand Slider Storage Bags Quart / Medium
Ziploc® Brand Slider Storage Bags Quart / Medium

Ziplock Baggies – Always useful.  I’ll use them to contain and organize spices, meal bars, snacks, toothbrush and paste, and many other things.  I’ll use multiple sizes.  Additionally, I’ll take some empties in for garbage storage to pack back out.

Oakley M Frame Heater Sunglasses
Oakley M Frame Heater Sunglasses

Sunglasses – Look no further than the Oakley M Frame Heater Sunglasses for me.  YEARS ago I was looking for a pair that would block the sun from the side while on the ball field coaching a base or hitting grounders or whatever else was needed.  Due to the wide bridge of my nose, no other pair would sit low enough to do what I needed.  When I first tried on a pair of these they were everything I wanted….. except for the price.  Back then money was tight and I didn’t want to spend it.  Father’s day was coming up so I figured the reason I needed these was because I’m out there helping the kids, so I justified it and asked for them.  Very happy that I did.  I’ve since had to replace the ear sleeves, nose piece, and a lens, but they have held up great.  I normally wear the lenses shown in the photo above but for a Boundary Waters trip I’ll look to get a lens that works better on the water.  This used to be “polarized” but I don’t know what the “now” is.  I’ll find out.

Earphones – I should probably put these over in “Electronics” since they are useless without some sort of player but that’s not how I think.  I have several pair of earphones and I’ll just pick a pair and take them with me.

BWCA 2019 Gear List

In this post will be all the gear that I know I will need to take on the BWCA 2019 trip.  Most of this gear is on the list because I know what is needed in the outdoors, yet this list will be compared against published BWCA resources to ensure reality and to not assume I know anything at all.  I’ll also break it out into categories as I go along just to organize.  Where I take the time I’ll post a link to the item on,, or wherever it may roam.

As I get a category done “enough” I’ll put it below and link to the post chatting about it.

I have a bunch of categories for my gear.  I break it down like this because that’s how I think of these things.  Have I forgotten a category?  Combined too many things into one?  Let me know!  Additionally, the spreadsheet I keep with all this gear has the weight of each item so I have a generic idea of pack weight.  I don’t obsess over it, but it’s good to have a general number.




Countdown To BWCA 2019

For quite some time I’ve heard about people taking trips to the Boundary Waters.  Enjoying the outdoors like I do the type of trips that were described seemed like what I would REALLY enjoy.  I’ve wanted to learn more about the trips but due to a busy life and other things, I’ve not gotten serious about it. My brother-in-law’s good friend has gone a few times so hearing about it briefly from him on a camping trip two years ago the idea burned a bit brighter.  In 2019 I’ll suddenly have more discretionary time and I decided that it was time to get serious about investigating what’s all about.   After looking into it more there wasn’t much of a question… yes, I need to go.  I contacted the core of the group that goes on a yearly long weekend trip and they are in.

In this post, I’ll put a bunch of setup to the BWCA and then create a series detailing my prep, the trip itself, and then lessons learned.

What is the BWCA?  Read about it here (Wikipedia): Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Basically, it’s a huge protected area that allows people to take their non-powered watercraft (canoe, kayak, etc) and get into nature.  Only a certain amount of groups are allowed to launch by site by day.  Only 9 or less people in a group, and four water vessels or less in the same group.  Having all these rules and more attempts to keep the area from getting over visited and therefore available for many generations to come.

So …. 2019.  Countdown.

BWCA 2019 Gear List

240lbs., Don’t Let The Door Hit Ya When You Leave

Dear 240lbs,

I have found someone else. Though you have been replaced by 239lbs that is only temporary as well. 239lbs is just being used. A stepping stone.

We have been together on and off again for many years. Though we have had fun together, I’m not going to miss you at all. Now don’t try to get me back, it just won’t work. No standing outside the donut shop beckoning me to come in “just to talk.” I know that trick. No disguising the container of carrots as a family-sized bag of pizza rolls, I fell for that too many times!

240lbs, it is best for both of us that we part. I’m no good for you, and you certainly are not good for me.

I remember when we met, do you recall that moment all those years ago? I was steadily seeing 238lbs and then I had that large portion of lasagna and HELLO THERE 240lbs! And though I’ve strayed from you with 250lbs, 260lbs, 270lbs, 280lbs, and even heavier siblings I always seem to find myself back with you, 240lbs.

But no more. Be gone. Off with you. I banish you and all your older siblings. If you try to contact me, I won’t respond.


How’s That Cheat Day Thing Working For You?

Way back at the end of 2012 when I hit my heaviest weight, I had stepped on the scale and got slapped with the max weight it would register, which was 300 lbs. I was shocked.  I know for certain I was OVER 300 lbs because as time moved forward and I know I had lost a fair amount the scale STILL registered 300 lbs.  By my estimate, I probably was about 330 lbs, but maybe is was JUST 315 lbs?  Who knows …

So… I took action. I didn’t go low carb or anything but I did what the typical human knows to do and that was to improve my eating and get my body moving.  More sensible meals, portions, etc. and get that bike out and get peddling!  For me, that was a huge shift in what I was doing.

Time went forward and I got in a groove and I was looking for something to improve upon what I was already doing.  Advocare and I found each other.  Super!  In addition to a 10-day body reset at the beginning, their approach followed up with a continuous 14-day cycle which gives you the tools needed to continue progressing.  It certainly works, if you allow it to.

After the initial 24 days, in which I was locked in like with any new shiny thing, I decided that to “keep on track” I was going to incorporate a “cheat day”.  My plan was to stay strict during the week, but on Sunday I’d do what I want.  That’s where my mind was, like many others.  Though at the beginning, when I first stepped on that poor scale, I was punched in the gut by the shock of the reality of how far out of shape I had allowed myself to get, I had yet to exercise the muscle of discipline to a point where I didn’t have to have one out of seven days be free from the responsibility of improving my health.  Going from ignoring it all to a sustainable, longer-term effort to change my ways was too big of a leap, apparently.

I started my cheat day strategy.  On the first of these cheat days, my mood was very bright.  It was glorious!  And since I had blown the day I indulged that evening as well.  Even better!  Then Monday morning I was prepared to face another week, knowing that next Sunday I could go nuts again! I would speak of this strategy with others, and it seems this concept of “cheat day” was not uncommon.  They agreed it was a great idea and they had done similar. It was DESERVED! We had DONE GOOD FOR SIX DAYS IN A ROW! How WONDERFUL!  Give ourselves a participation trophy just for not abusing ourselves the previous six days!

The thing is, for someone who had slowly allowed themselves to get to the point where they had to adjust and hold their breath to tie their shoes, doing well for six days and then becoming unglued on the seventh was a massive improvement.  It WAS wonderful.

But it wasn’t.

I found, after about a month, that it would take me until Wednesday, sometimes Thursday, to get back to where I was on Sunday morning. And this was a time where I had gotten back on my bike and was hitting it as hard as my body and current fitness would allow, which means calories were being burned for sure.

The results of having a whole day of cheating meant that I was actually only progressing, as far as body fat % was concerned, about three days out of the seven. The remaining days were either having that cheat day or recovering from the same. Once I figured that out I had a chat with myself.

During this conversation, I admitted to myself that the reason I was doing the cheat day was that I had succumbed to all the temptations that living in this fine nation presents to us.  We are a weak willed country when it comes to our health, and I’m right there with the majority.  I need to HTFU and get the job done.  This conversation went rather well, and I decided that having a cheat day wasn’t worth it.  What to do then?  How would I give myself a mental reset so that I didn’t snap in the middle of the night and break into Jim’s Donut Shop and dump enough cherry filling over my head to look like Carrie standing on the stage after being crowned Prom Queen?  Hmm…. cheat day is a terrible idea but how can I …. wait … how about just a cheat MEAL?  HAHA!  Yes!  I am a GENIUS!

Cheat meal it was.  But… and you know this is coming…. that just meant that it took me less time to get back to zero, which means it takes longer to get to where you need to be, which means increased frustration, and … And what it really means is that it isn’t sustainable.  How many people do you know that are in the boat we (you, I) are in and have sustained a “cheat day/meal” approach for healthy living?  This assumes that the “cheat day/meal” is what I was doing, which means “Revert to being a damn pig for a while.”  While enjoyable (oh yes) for the timeframe you are shoving that half pan of lasagna in your face, it quickly leads to longer-term failure.

So what to do?  As someone who has struggled with their weight since parenthood stated in my mid-20’s, I THINK I’ve found my happy place with all this.  I believe that a person has to be strong enough to fail, get back up, fail again, get back up and repeat that cycle until they are convinced that what they are doing isn’t working.  I/we can be TOLD it doesn’t work, and I/we can CLEARLY see that it doesn’t work, but we are weak creatures.  We want that food!  We miss over-eating!  We actually MISS eating as an enjoyable activity.  In my happy place, I’ve found that what I have do is redefine what a cheat meal is.

First thing, it’s not a “cheat meal.”  It’s a meal that I’m deciding to have because of whatever reason.  Maybe call it “off plan.”  It could be that I’ve been cranking along for three weeks and I’d like to enjoy some pizza and a few beers with the wife while watching a football game.  It could be my birthday, or a camping outing, or whatever the whatever is.  The key here is two-fold… first, it’s not a cheat meal.  If it’s a cheat meal then it means it’s not what I want to do and I’ve broken down mentally and I need an artificial reset to continue forward.  Second, it can’t be to often.  If my occasional off-plan meal is about every three weeks or month and then it becomes every two weeks and then once a week and then what the hell I’ve blown it so let’s go out to Chinese again and before you know it my scale has sent itself to an orphanage to avoid the abuse.

So, that’s it.  That’s how I’m approaching things now.  I’m changing how I view an off-plan meal and the frequency that I do it.  In January of 2017 when I knew I was going to be able to exercise again I planned my off-plan eatings.  Knee surgery weekend I allowed myself some small indiscretions, but not permission to go crazy.  A camping outing went very well, but I ate some Dutch Oven ribs with a bit of sauce on them.  A family tubing outing and did work over a pizza and have two fine beverages.  At the end of February, I have another camping outing, and I’ll have a few more beverages sitting around the fire.  And the end of March we are going with my daughter to play High School Fastpitch in Florida during Spring Break.  That sounds like a fair list of “cheats” but it’s fairly spread out and otherwise, things are going well using this approach.

What do you think?  Sustainable?  A better way of looking at things?

Don’t Make The Struggle a Struggle

Getting through a tough workout is 100% mental. That’s it. As long as you have a recent heartbeat there is always the ability to scale to any physical limitations that you may have, or think you have.

…. Can’t allow the struggle to become a struggle.

Getting through a tough workout is 100% mental. That’s it. As long as you have a recent heartbeat there is always the ability to scale to any physical limitations that you may have, or think you have. You just have to find out what your mental block is, then confront it. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
What most people, especially myself, have to work on is their resolve and ability to not quit. As someone who still has strong urges to not push themselves, this resolve and abolishment of the ‘quitter’s mentality’ is a daily struggle to overcome.

And really, ‘quitter’s mentality’ isn’t quite the right phrase for me. It’s more of ‘fear of failure’. Isn’t it easier to do a low-energy activity instead of just struggling to just get through warmups? Isn’t it easier to go to another gym and lift on my own versus the coach helping me with simple lift form over and over, for the 100th time? Isn’t it much easier to go ride my bike by myself and do intervals that leave me with black dots floating in my eyes, heaving for air and wishing for death, instead of not scaling properly and having to stand for a bit during Metcon instead of keeping moving, like we are supposed to?Yes, it is easier. For sure. 100%. For that moment, anyways. What isn’t easy is the terrible gut feeling you get once you realize what you are doing. Avoiding. Letting yourself down. Fearing ‘failure’, or at least the perception of failure. What failure really means is not showing up and giving your full effort.

Yes, it is easier. For sure. 100%. For that moment, anyways. What isn’t easy is the terrible gut feeling you get once you realize what you are doing. Avoiding. Letting yourself down. Fearing ‘failure’, or at least the perception of failure. What failure really means is not showing up and giving your full effort.Five am comes early. So far I am getting up and getting there. Trying to develop the habit which will carry me through upcoming times when I’m running low on mental energy. What is helping this is the patience of the coaches and that I’m seeing physical results. The challenge is more if apparent progress stalls. Progress stalling would be a human factor though with that human be myself.

Five am comes early. So far I am getting up and getting there. Trying to develop the habit which will carry me through upcoming times when I’m running low on mental energy. What is helping this is the patience of the coaches and that I’m seeing physical results. The challenge is more if apparent progress stalls. Progress stalling would be a human factor though with that human be myself.

Got to keep going, of course. Can’t allow the struggle to become a struggle.

Holiday Season Health Meltdown – Strategies To Help Next Year

Each year the holiday season arrives and destroys our health goals. Well, we ALLOW it to destroy those goals, but since it happens EACH YEAR we just blame the holidays, because it’s easier. It’s become common to the point that it’s accepted and acknowledged, and we go along for the ride.

The New Year is a time for renewal. Promises to ourselves are made, Facebook posts made, and exercise programs started. How many of us actually believe ourselves? Do we believe that the next holiday season will be any different? How many of us actually fully recover from what we did to ourselves to get back to the next holiday season at least even? Most people arrive at each holiday season in worse shape than the previous one.

Many of us, during this time of the year, are engaged in work weight loss programs, renewed commitment to fitness, and generally promising ourselves that we won’t let what happens during the holidays happen again. A fair amount of us experience severe regret, agony, and something close to mild depression.

I am among this group.

A few years ago I had escaped this group and was on a very good path. Then early in January, 2016 I suffered an injury that removed my ability to exercise. Exercise was my rocket that allowed me to counteract the gravity of food temptation. Without that rocket, I fell into the black hole.

This pattern of trying to do the right thing then blowing it during the holiday season is more common than we would like to think. I’m right there with you. I’ve contemplated this with myself over and over and though I’ve come up with a few strategies that help, but only if you want them to. What I’ve recently done is go back to how I’ve achieved goals that are for other than eating and tried to apply them towards this quandary. Below is how I’m going approach it this time, this next holiday season.

Remember Your Pain: Write down what I (you) are going through NOW because of what you did THEN. Read that next year and decide if it was worth it. Take pictures. Strip down to bathing attire and document where you are now. Video? Sure. Talk to yourself in that video and let yourself know what you are experiencing NOW, because of THEN.

No Leftovers That Hurt: After an occasion, even if it is at your house, don’t keep leftovers that don’t allow you to recover. Turkey? Sure. Desserts? No, give them away, throw them out, or take them to work and let everybody else make bad decisions.

Trade Meals For Exercise: Say “OK this meal, which I’m going to eat because I’m just going to, is worth 5 extra hours of blah blah” and then make sure you get it done. Use your community and your “Thing”, both of which I’ll get to in a moment.

Prepare Your Body Before: Starting NOW, and at LEAST a few months before the holiday season, get to where you need to be with your bodyfat, fitness, and health in general. Not only will that give you a tad bit of leeway for the holidays you will be in a routine that you can get right back into.

Have Your Fitness Routine: This is similar to the above, but it is HUGE. If you are already into a routine, you can continue on it and minimize or erase the damage. This doesn’t give you license to go nuts and then fix it, but we know that no matter what those meals and occasions are going to occur, so let’s acknowledge it and deal with it.

Community/Support: By nature, we are social creatures. We also crave some sort of accountability; however slight it may be. You may be able to keep yourself accountable, but probably not enough. Having a community around you can help encourage you when you need it, create a bit of social pressure when done right, and generally keep you accountable. Make plans with your community to chat about your specific holiday event and also to make plans BEFORE the event to get together and do something healthy. Your community is not there just to make everything “all right” and pat you on the back, it’s there to help each other stay on course and to get BACK on course, if needed.

Have A “Thing” That You Do: Do you have hobbies? You may chuckle and say “Yes, if I had time”. As of now you HAVE time and one of your hobbies is going to be some sort of healthy movement. Prior to my injury, and what I’m working back towards, I liked to ride my bike, do CrossFit, and hike. Those three things were among my “Thing” and I was interested I them, read about them, planned them, and generally treated them like something that I REALLY liked instead of a necessary evil. In fact, I DID enjoy them, to the point of talking about them so much I was irritating to those around me.

In summary, do something to remember your pain NOW as you approach the next holiday season. Prepare ahead by starting a sustainable health program, and surround yourself with a community of people who truly care about you and will encourage you before and after.

Barre Chords – E Major Shape

Little post to keep track of my barre chord information.  Not a bunch here right now.

I use’s information quite a bit.  I’ve purchased some of his material and also donated to his site.  One of the most useful exercises is the One Minute Changes.  Here he is below showing how to do the One Minute Changes with barre chords.

Sister Golden Hair – America

This is part of my Acoustic Guitar Set List series if you care to read that.

This song was chosen by my jam buddy and after looking at it I think it will serve the purpose of learning something, which is barre chords.  I’ve been somewhat avoiding them even though they are a valuable skill to have.

Some collateral information for this song.

Lyrics HERE.

Background, meaning of lyrics HERE.

Alright now that is out of the way we can get on to learning the song.  I searched YouTube for a good tutorial and I found the below and will use it unless I find another.  And actually the only time I’d seek out another is if I try to find a watered-down version to play while I’m working on the barre chords.

As I mentioned above this is a great tune to work on some barre chords.  I speak about barre chords, and improving them, HERE.

As I learn this song I’ll put information below.