Monday, August 31, 2015

Food Review: Nile Valley Hibiscus Tea

My First Experience Hiking with Tea

After a long days hike in cold weather, there is nothing like setting up camp and having a warm beverage to heat yourself up. Normally, I like some sweet coffee because I am a caffeine fiend, but on our trip to Pedernales Falls, I decided to use hibiscus tea as my go to warm beverage for our adventure.   

Ready to be Served
Nile Valley's Tea Ready to be Served


Nile Valley Herbs Background

Not only can tea be a delicious drink, but Nile Valley Herbs also supports a good cause through The Mother Maryam Foundation.  The foundation has supported many projects in the Northern Province of Sudan. Nile Valley has regular hibiscus or mint hibiscus. So, for every purchase a portion is donated to help those in Sudan.

Nile Valley Helps to support this clinic in Sudan
Nile Valley Helps to support this clinic in Sudan

On the Trail

I have never had any hibiscus tea before this, so the taste was definitely a shock.  It took a little while to acquire a taste for hibiscus (I began by drinking it at home to get a feel for hibiscus tea before diving in on the trail). I still think the tea has a tart taste, but it’s nothing against this specific brand. After a long day walking around, I was looking forward to trying out the hibiscus tea again.  The sun had gone down and I was starting to get chilled, so I decided it was time for an evening beverage.  I boiled some water and made enough tea for Jack and me.  Jack turned the offer of tea down.  I definitely felt much warmer and felt prepped for bed.  The next morning, I was ready for another warm drink to get me going for another long day and hibiscus tea hit the spot.  I followed the same routine on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Drinking my Hibiscus Tea on a cold night
Drinking my Hibiscus Tea on a cold night

What I like

I have had a few more brands of hibiscus tea since first trying Nile Valley’s tea, and it has had the best taste so far.  Also, it’s great that Nile Valley Herbs is formed around a nonprofit and is out there helping people.  Overall, the product is easy to carry, lightweight, and super easy to make.  Plus, it provides a few options, a warm or cool beverage depending on the weather.  Furthermore, hibiscus tea can be cold brewed, so just throw it in a water bottle during the day or your cup when you get off the trail.  Finally, it has no caffeine, which makes it a great bedtime drink, especially for those that are caffeine sensitive.    

The not so Good

While I have nothing negative to say specifically about Nile Valley Herbs, hibiscus tea isn’t my cup of tea (sweet pun).  I am just not use to the taste and prefer coffee or regular tea.  Additionally, As I now know, hibiscus tea has no caffeine, which means it’s no good as a breakfast drink for me.

If you love hibiscus tea or any other tea let us know or tell us all about your favorite campfire beverage. Also, Make sure to keep up to date on all our adventures by following us on Facebook.


This was a sponsored product review. One box of hibiscus tea was provided by Nile Valley Herbs for review.
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Monday, August 24, 2015

Trip Report: Playing at Petty’s Paintball

Jack’s Corner: Playing some Paintball

One of Jarrett and my favorite things to do is going out for a day of paintball. Our favorite place to play at is Petty’s Paintball. Petty’s is a small family owned field located between Lockhart and Bastrop just south of Austin, TX. Both of us have been playing paintball for many years, but I’ve been playing longer than Jarrett. However, we both love the sport and play whenever we get a chance.


The Details

Location: 550 Bateman Rd, Red Rock, TX 78662
Hours: Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 6 pm
Price: general admission 12.00, paintballs 45.00 for 2000, rental package 20.00

The Big Games

One nice thing about Petty's Paintballs is that they host large games called scenarios. Scenarios are continuous games that are played for multiple hours generally in some sort of wooded area. Jarrett and I are planning to go to a 26-hour scenario hosted by Petty’s and Viper who is another scenario organizer. BeeGee might make a guest appearance, but she won’t be playing because the noise spooks her. The upcoming scenario has three forts with an army of about one hundred people per team on twenty-six acres of wooded awesomeness. Petty’s also does shorter big games all year round that are generally six to eight hours long.


Old and New Friends

Jarrett and I went out to see some old friends and to start prepping our equipment so it will be up and running for the big game. Plus, it’s always fun to get in some play. Jarrett built a rocket launcher many years back so we could go ham on the opposite team in the scenario games. The launcher was in pretty rough shape since it’s been at least five years since anyone has touched the thing. Luckily, we got it working with the help of a master genius Mr. Petty. Once that happened, I got the great idea to build another rocket launcher, just ten times better than the old one. After tinkering with the launcher for a bit, 3 guys showed up to play that morning. They ended up being really awesome and super fun to play with. We had not had that much fun playing in a long time. Because there were only five of us, it made the teams a little lopsided. Thankfully, they were cool with letting Jarrett and I play together because we hadn’t played together in such a long time. Jarrett and I were worried somewhat about playing with them because we are pretty OG and veterans of the sport, while they had only played a handful of times. It didn’t help that they were using rental gear, but it all turned out ok and everyone had fun at the end of the day.


We started the day playing on the speedball fields first. Speedball fields are small fields with walls or as we like to call them bunkers, which are equally spaced and mirrored on both side to make the field as fair as possible. We played quite a few games on a few different fields. Plus we switched up teams here and there. After an hour or so of play, we decided to take a break because the heat was so bad and some of us needed air and paint. While in the staging area, Jarrett and I asked the guys if they wanted to go and play some woods ball, which is what it sounds like. Paintball in the woods is just running around in the woods and sometimes bunkers are randomly thrown about. This is where Jarrett is most at home sneaking around like a tiger waiting for the right moment to go ham on his opponents. Unfortunately, I fell victim to him a few times and was unable to handle it. We decided to take another little break because of the heat. Plus one of the guys liked running around wild like and sounded like he was going to die. While on our time out, Jarrett had a Godzilla-sized spider hanging out on his leg so I attempted to shoot it off. I got the spider but clipped Jarrett in the leg making him a little upset. We had so much fun with these guys and they ended up being solid sports so we decided to invite them to come play with us in the Viper game on September 12th to the 13th.


Final thoughts

We invite everyone to come and play with us. Everyone is welcome with the BeeGee crew. If you are not able to make it to the viper game, we will be doing a post about it so you won’t miss out on any of the action.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Food Review: Tactical Bacon in a Can

My First Taste of Bacon from a Can

On a previous hike to Pedernales Falls State Park, I brought along some CMMG Tactical bacon in a can. Tactical bacon is fully cooked bacon with added smoke flavor that is conveniently placed in a, you guessed it, can. It is manufactured by CMMG, which is a company that builds and sells firearms. The can has about fifty thin slices of bacon in it and weighs around 9oz. The product has a long shelf life, lasting around 10 years. Canned bacon is great for camping in the great outdoors, the zombie apocalypse, or just around the house because you love bacon just as much as BeeGee and I do.

Bacon in a can!
CMMG's tactical bacon in a can

I ended up buying the tactical bacon because I love bacon and I wanted to take some backpacking to see if it was completely awesome or just regular awesome. The weight was great for me at only 9 oz., but some might find this too heavy for just a portion of a meal. However, 9 oz. gets you around fifty slices of bacon, which could easily feed a family of four. The size was all right it is about three inches by four inches, which is not the best size for you pack but I was able to make do.

Taste

You can’t get a much better tasting treat in a can. I mean come on, it's bacon in a can. It makes what I would call a blissful day in adventure paradise. On the down side, there was a white grease that had an odd flavor, but all in all its bacon, which means it is yummy just like all bacon is. I also think the white grease wouldn’t be an issue or in warmer temperatures. Plus it didn’t help that we ate the bacon without heating it.

Me chowing down on some bacon!
Me chowing down on some bacon!

Delivery system

It turns out, getting to the bacon was very difficult without a can opener. I always carry my trust P38 can opener with me, but I’m really bad at using it. So, it ended up taking me about fifteen minutes to finally get to my bacon. I really wish CMMG would incorporate a pull-tab on the lid for much easier opening. It would also be nice if CMMG made different sized cans, so I could have taken a can that served 2 people instead of 4.

The bacon is unwrapped and ready to eat
The bacon is unwrapped and ready to eat

Final Thoughts

Overall, I think CMMG makes a good product, but with a big con. The price of a single can tactical bacon is 19.99, which is an okay price for the novelty. However, this is much too expensive for practical and frequent adventure use. The poor delivery system is my biggest problem with the product. While, It doesn’t kill me to use a can opener but it wouldn't hurt to put a pull tab on the lid. All in all, I would give it four stars only because there are cheaper products that are very similar with the pull tab delivery system.

If you've ever had Tactical Bacon, let me know your thoughts or where to find the best hiking bacon?  Make sure to keep up to date on all our adventures by following us on Facebook.

Jack Morgan
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Trip Report: Purgatory Creek Trails

Riding the Purgatory Creek Trails

Well I’ve been busy and I always mean to get back to blogging but end up too busy with life.  As the weather cools, I plan to get back out adventuring and return to blogging.  Another exciting note (which I completely forgot about), Adventures With BeeGee is now over a year old! Now it’s time for our latest bike trip report to Purgatory Creek. On July 19th Jack and I headed out for a ride after a long time without a trip.

Trailhead for Prospect Park
Purgatory Creek Natural Area Trailhead

The Background

Location: 1414 Prospect St, San Marcos, TX 78666
Admission: Free
Elevation: 600 to 750 ft
Weather: Sunny, Hot, 98F
Difficulty: intermediate

Check out the map before you head out
Information Booths at the Start of the Trail

The area is 570 acres and close to downtown San Marcos and make sure to have a look at the Purgatory Creek Map before you head out.  Furthermore, the Purgatory Creek Natural Area is broken up into three sections Prospect Park, Upper Purgatory, and Lower Purgatory.  There are various types of terrain in the area, but the most frequent is cedar (juniper) trees and limestone covered trails. Finally, the area is open to bikers and hikers alike, but has some areas only for hiking.

stone art in the distance
The scenery from the dam, lots of stone art down below

Starting Out

After unloading and getting geared up, we took off from the Prospect Park trailhead only to have Jack puncture his tire by hitting sharp limestone 50 yards into the ride.  After what seemed like an hour-long tube change in the hot sun, we headed off in search of adventure. We headed down Virgil’s Trail, which had some rough limestone at the top of a hill. But, as we traveled down, the trail became mostly flat and took us through an area of tall grass.  I was not a fan of the tall grass area, but it was the only way to get to the other trails.
  
Jack checking out the damage to his tire
Jack checking out the damage to his tire

After that, we just fumbled along for the next few miles not sticking to a single trail and using trail crossovers in a choose your own adventure session.  This led us under the Wonder World Rd overpass.  We then headed over to the dam and checked that out for a bit.  Then we road by what is called “The Pit” before finally making it to the Hunter Rd trailhead. 

Nasty looking water below
Overlooking "The Pit"

Dante’s and Paraiso Trails

From there we jumped on Dante’s Trail, which is the longest trail in the park. Where we started, the trail was pretty smooth with nothing to serious; however, there are multiple sections on this trail, which are intermediate or advanced.  Most of the trail wasn’t an issue heading down hill, but the uphill stretches over all the limestone was brutal.  We ended up doing a lot more walking of sections than I would have liked and because of the heat quite a few rest breaks.  

technical riding ahead
Section of limestone trail

We eventually made it to Paraiso Trail, which forms a loop with Dante’s at the end of the park. Paraiso turned out to be similar to Dante’s, with lots of brutal limestone riding and hills. The ending of the Paraiso ended up being pretty intense with a long, steep downhill over loose rock.  It was just enough to keep you on your toes without being way too difficult. 

Easy riding down, tough riding up
A long stretch of rocky riding on Dante's Trail

We finally linked back up with Dante’s and began our exhausted ride back to the car, but we took one final rest at Grandma’s Oak before heading out. Thankfully, Jack knew where some 4x4 trail that paralleled Dante’s and we were able to ride something a little smoother for a ways back to the car.

A big old oak tree
Checking out Grandma's tree

Final Thoughts

I was glad to get back out there on a ride finally, but Purgatory Creek ended up being a pretty tough ride on an extremely hot day.  I don’t know that I will ever go back because all the trails are pretty similar with the only challenge being limestone.  However, there are multiple groups that are actively working to increase and upgrade the trails.  If you live in the area, get out there and ride it, but I wouldn’t travel too far.

If you've ever been out to Purgatory Creek Natural Area, let me know your thoughts are and where to find the best ride?  As we get back into the swing of things, keep up to date on all our adventures and post by following us on Facebook.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Recipe: Backpacking Pancakes

Easy Backpacking Pancakes

I have been on the lookout for new recipes to try on our trips.  One of these recipes was for easy pancakes, which I tried during our trip to Pedernales Falls State Park.  I usually just eat instant oatmeal for breakfast, but I decided there might be something even better out there.

Tasted and approved at Pedernales Falls State Park
A finished backpacking pancake.  Tasted and approved

Original Ingredients

  • 1 cup biscuit mix
  • 1 Tbsp. dry milk
  • 1 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. margarine squeeze
Serves: Approximately 6

Our Ingredients

  • 1 cup biscuit mix
  • 1 Tbsp. dry milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 Tbsp. butter or 1 Tbsp. ghee
Serves: Approximately 6

At Home

Before heading out, mix all of the dry ingredients into a quart size zip lock bag (a larger size bag might not be a bad idea either). Then mix everything in the bag well by squeezing and mashing.
Original dry ingredients:  biscuit mix, dry milk, and sugar.
Our dry ingredients:  biscuit mix, dry milk, and protein powder.

Pancake mix and butter packed and ready to hit the trail
Pancake mix and butter packed and ready to hit the trail

On the Trail

When preparing your mix for breakfast, start by adding ghee, margarine, or melted butter to the zip lock bag.  Next, add warm water.  Warm water will make blending your mix easier.  Then squish your bag until you remove any visible clumps or lumps.  If there are still clumps, add water as needed to get consistent mix.

finished backpacking pancake mixed
Backpacking pancakes all mixed up and ready to be cooked

Once mixed, you can either just pour the pancake mix into your pan or cut a corner of the bag and squeeze the mix out.  Cook until the side down becomes golden brown or about 1 minute in a hot pan.  Then flip your pancake and cook until golden brown or around another minute.

Final Thoughts

I ended up not using sugar because the biscuit mix already quite a bit already.  Plus, I felt like the protein mix would add sweetness if it was needed and would keep me fuller longer.  Moreover, I am not sure this would actually feed 6 people without anything else (like bacon), more likely 3 to 4 people.  Furthermore, I always carry 1.5 ounces of honey for sweetening oatmeal or coffee.  Honey works great for pancakes, which reduces the need to add another item, syrup.  Finally, the pancake mix takes up a surprisingly large amount of room when compared to other foods.   Without reducing it down to 1 to 2 person serving size, I don’t think it’s a very good backpacking recipe.

If you've ever made pancakes on the trail, what was your method and mix?  Keep up to date on all our adventures and post by following us on Facebook.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

How to Start a Fire with a 9-Volt Battery (Video)

A Quick way to Start a Fire Using a 9-Volt Battery and Steel Wool (Video)

Starting a fire in an emergency situation can save lives.  That is why it is so important to know how to start a fire using multiple methods in less than ideal weather.  When you are cold or wet and the wind is strong, fire starting will keep you warm and dry out your clothes. 

This will start a fire in most conditions
Jack starting fire with a 9-volt battery and steel wool. This will start a fire in most conditions 

There are multiple ways to start a fire in any situation, my go to method is a mini lighter; however, there are many other great ways to start fires.  Today, Jack has prepared a video on using a standard 9-volt battery and a handful of steel wool.  Make sure to check out all of Team Adventures With BeeGee Videos on our YouTube Channel.
   

Transcript

Jack:  Hey guys its Jack with Adventures With BeeGee and the other day I was talking to my buddy about starting fires. He didn't know that you could a fire with 9-volt battery and steel wool. 

Jack: So hopefully I'm going to be able to start [a fire] and do a demonstration for you guys tonight. So all you have to do is get yourself a piece of steel wool and just a regular 9-volt battery.  Then, all you gotta do is touch the battery to the steel wool like so and blow.  Get yourself some kindling. 

Jack: There you guys have it. 9-Volt battery and steel wool, any kind will do to start a fire. If you guys know how to do it better or I left something out, let us know

If you have any tips or tricks on using 9-volts and steel wool let us know.  We would also love to hear how you start your emergency fires.  Keep up to date on all our adventures and post by following us on Facebook.

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Trip Report: Pedernales Falls Day 3

Trip Report: Backpacking Pedernales Falls Day 3

It’s time for the 3rd and final day of our recent trip to Pedernales Falls State Park.  If you missed out on the past fun, make sure you check out Day 1 and Day 2 of the trip. 

Breaking Camp

Once again, I was glad to be awake, having spent close to 12 hours in darkness.  BeeGee and I woke up before Jack again and I decided BeeGee should wake him up again. So, we stealthily tried to unzip Jack’s tent and before he could wake up to stop us, BeeGee bolted in to wake him up him successfully.

She is ready to continue adventuring Pedernales Falls State Park
BeeGee waiting patiently.  She is ready to continue adventuring.  

After that, we had a quick breakfast of oatmeal while breaking camp.  I was a little sore that morning from sleeping awkwardly trying to keep BeeGee warm.  Jack also mentioned he was sore from all the miles the day before.  If BeeGee was sore, she didn’t show it.  Once we broke camp, we began the 2-mile walk back to the Wolf Mountain Trailhead.  We then drove to the wildlife viewing area.

Wildlife Viewing Area

We made a quick stop at the wildlife view area to see what was out.  I’ve heard the viewing area here is a good place for birding. Birding is pretty big in south Texas and I’ve been interested in trying, so I decided it would be worth it to have a look at the birds here.  One of the first things we saw was a small sign saying no pets, so Jack and BeeGee stayed in the car while I went inside. 

Try birding at Pedernales Falls State Park
Just inside the fence of the Wildlife Viewing area.

I quietly approached the fenced in area as another sign stated.  Once inside, you see what I would describe as a garden with multiple benches and 2 small buildings.  I first entered the building on the right and there at least 3 different types of bird and a squirrel.  I exited and went to the other building, but there was only another squirrel and no birds present. 

An interesting bird I spotted.  If anyone knows the species I'd love to know
An interesting bird I spotted.  If anyone knows the species I'd love to know

Pedernales Falls Trail System

After about 15 minutes looking at the wildlife, I got back in the car and we headed for the Pedernales Falls Trail system.  This is the main attraction of the area and provides an interesting view of the rocky Pedernales River. 

Taken from the observation platform
Overlooking the Rocky portion of the Pedernales River

We parked and headed along the trail towards the river.  We first reached a brick observation area that provided an excellent view of the extremely rocky area.  We then went left (west/up river), which took us down into the rocky river area.  BeeGee loved the rocks.  She was scrambling around and jumping all over the place.  She was pumped to the point of being almost unstoppable. 

The hole is at least 10 feet above the Pedernales River
It looks like that rock was pushed into that hole.  The hole is at least 10 feet above the Pedernales River

We walked around the river and its rough terrain for close to 30 minutes and then decided to try to take the trail further up river.  While the map states there is a trail that heads that direction; the trail quickly disappeared.  Plus, we couldn't find any trail markers to help guide us along.  After 5 minutes of wandering around, we decided to head back the other direction to the down river portion of the trail. 

The water of the Pedernales River is quick flowing through all the rocks
BeeGee and I pose for a picture.  The water is quick flowing through all the rocks

The down river section of the trail quickly led us away from the river (still parallel) and on to an old 4x4 track.  Around 20 minutes of walking, and no views of the river, we reached a sign that said we were heading for the swimming area of the day use park.  This didn't sound appealing, so we decided it was time to head back to the car and finish up our trip.

Final Thoughts

Pedernales Falls State Park is a great place to visit with stunning views.  I recommend everyone make some time to check out the waterfalls and the Pedernales River.  However, true backpacking here is difficult because many of the trail systems do not connect.  Furthermore, the park is located in the hill country, but it still has a front country feel to it.  Finally, not all sections of the trail are marked well, so be prepared to backtrack and navigate yourself.

What is your favorite part of Pedernales Falls State Park? If you like the blog, go ahead and follow us on Facebook.

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