Friday, September 15, 2017

Trip Report: Downtown Dallas Adventure

Downtown Dallas Weekend Getaway 

After working through my birthday, as is the case with most years, Linda decided to plan a birthday weekend getaway from August 11th through 13th. This isn't our first birthday adventure trip and you can check out some past trips like Fredericksburg day 1 and Fredericksburg day 2.

Indigo Hotel

Our base of operations, which we didn’t even spend much time in, was the historic Hotel Indigo, which is in Downtown Dallas. Because of its age, the hotel feels small and the rooms/hallways are tiny. In addition, don’t expect any free meals, but they do have a small restaurant and bar, which are pretty good albeit expensive. Overall, it’s a nice hotel that wants to be upscale but feels a little older.


The Indigo Hotel was built in 1925 and 89 years old. In addition, this is actually the first hotel to bear the Hilton name. Furthermore, Hotel Indigo was once the site of the Dallas Opera House and the Titche-Goettinger department store. Finally, if you are looking for spooky places, it's rumored to be haunted due to its long history.

Big D Fun Tours

The next morning, we woke up, ate a quick bite in the hotel restaurant, and took a short Lyft ride to Dealey Plaza. We made the incorrect assumption that the bus tour was somehow affiliated with the Sixth Floor Museum. An employee set us straight and we walked to a small kiosk in the plaza across the street. We checked in and had a small chat with the odd kiosk employee who provided 0 details on how everything worked. Having no instruction, I wandered around Dealey Plaza while Linda, thankfully, found the bus we needed to get on. We eventually loaded up and were on our way with the tour. A little surprisingly, the driver is not the tour guide and ours didn’t add anything extra to the trip. Instead, the tour is prerecorded and our driver had to occasionally time location with the story.

 

If you are looking for a tour that stops, lets you out to take pictures, this isn’t that tour. At least in my experience. Our trip started in downtown Dallas as we learned about the events leading up to JFK’s visit and the plan for JFK’s motorcade and how it changed last minute. We then traveled a short distance to visit some key Lee Harvey Oswald sites. We passed by the hospital where JFK and Oswald spent their last hours. A little bit further down the road, we took a brief stop at Oswald's Rooming House. People currently live there, but they have a small sign in the front yard that says you can schedule “appointments”. 


Next stop is the site in the Oak Cliff neighborhood where Oswald tried to walk away from the assassination site and where he ended up murdering Officer Tippett. We also learned how bystanders were able to use Tippett’s radio to report the murder to the police. Finally, in this area of town, we passed the Texas Theater where Oswald eventually apprehended by the Police.


For the final section, we learned some history on Jack Ruby and headed back to downtown Dallas. We passed by some of Jack’s old business and the Dallas police headquarters building, which is where the ramp Jack walked down to kill Oswald. Lastly, we headed down the Main Street route that the JFK motorcade before ending back the former School Book Depository Building (Sixth Floor Museum).

JFK Sixth Floor Museum

After a quick lunch, we made our way back to the Sixth-Floor museum. The museum was originally the Texas School Book Depository but is now the Dallas County Administration Building. The museum looks at the life and death of JFK using an audio guide and some short movies sprinkled in. It was hard to move through the museum because it was packed and quite a bit of information was fresh from the bus tour. However, standing in the spot Oswald fired his shots was very surreal and a unique experience.

Nightly Spirits Ghost Tour

After a free dinner from Hotel Indigo, we headed off to a downtown Dallas ghost tour. Dallas is one of the older cities has a ton of haunted places and ghost stories. The tour is a mix of a pub crawl and ghost stories. The general premise is to walk to a bar in or near a haunted building, grab a drink, and then settle in for some history and ghost stories.

The tour was ultimately fun, but I went in with my expectations set high from previous tours and your guide was very energetic, over the top, and frequently went for the easy scream scare. While Nightly Spirits ask that you don’t directly share their stories, I will list the locations we visited so you can do a little research. The first stop was Frankie’s Downtown in the Davis Building, Money Alley, Press Box Grill in the Wilson Bldg (it stormed hard during our time here), Pegasus Plaza, and the Rodeo Bar in the Adolphus Hotel.

Trinity Treetops Adventure Park

After another night in Hotel Indigo, we headed off to our final destination: Trinity Treetops Adventure Park. It’s an aerial obstacle course reminiscent of Army obstacle courses from my past except you are harnessed in and at least 10 feet in the air. There are 6 courses of various difficulties and all are self-guided. Once you are hooked in, you move at your own pace through the lane until completion.


Linda and I were the first ones there, so they trained us up and set us free, which worked in our favor because a Girl Scout Troop showed up a little after us. I fired up my new FITFORT 4K Cam and we started out on Green which is the second easiest. Green was various types of aerial bridges with ziplines sprinkled in. After that, I moved on to the 2 blue courses, which involved similar obstacles and ziplines; however, these were twice as high, harder to balance on, and tougher to navigate through. I briefly considered trying the hardest, black, lane, but I was far too tuckered out and had to call it quits.



I’d love to hear your experience and adventures from Dallas, so go ahead leave some suggestions below in the Comments. Also, if you like the blog follow us on Facebook to keep up to date. 
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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Gear Review: Primus Yellowstone Classic Trail Stove

A Long-Term Review of the Primus Classic Stove

I have been using this stove for about 5 years as my primary stove and I’ve never had an issue. If you want to learn more about different stove types, make sure you check out our previous post Stove Basics 1 and Stove Basics 2. When I was getting back into backpacking, I needed an affordable stove and this was the best option at REI. This stove is ubiquitous in outdoor stores, but the best price is generally Amazon.


Background

Weight: 8 oz
Size: 2.8x2.4x2.9”
Boil time: approximately 3 min
BTUs: 10,000
Price: $15 to $20

Canister stoves are generally considered lightweight and durable. The fuel source is an isobutane and propane mix in small metal canisters, which is where they get the name canister stove. The canister is generally the heaviest part of the setup and doesn’t get any lighter as your burn fuel. Finally, canister stoves are extremely easy to use and maintain.

How I Use It

I have used this stove for a variety of outdoor activities including backpacking, hiking, glamping, and I would cook lunch when I worked in the woods. On hiking or backpacking, I bring this along to cook hot breakfast, dinner, and warm drinks. For Glamping and cooking lunch, I have a large isobutane container and cook some well-rounded meals using a 1L pot and skillet lid.

Performance

The Primus Yellowstone has never had any significant performance issues. The stove boils fast, is a stable platform, and functions great in adverse weather. Additionally, this stove is incredibly durable. I have never performed maintenance other than halfheartedly wiping it down after use or drying the stove.

Less than Ideal Weather

After years of use, I have rarely seen a decrease in performance in less than ideal weather. Out of the hundreds of times I’ve used this stove, I can only remember a single time when the flame was completely extinguished by strong wind. Furthermore, wind will decrease the overall performance, you shouldn’t use a windscreen as it can overheat the fuel canister, but the stove will boil water fine.
I have also been lucky enough to use the Primus Yellowstone stove in light to moderate rains. Rain will decrease the performance of your cook times and will make a worrying sizzle sound the entire your pot and stove are hot; however, I was still able to brave the rain and cook a nice warm meal in about the same time as ideal conditions.

Boil Time

The Primus Yellowstone is a great source of heat and brings 300 ml of water in an open pot in approximately 4 minutes and make sure you check out the boil test. For comparison, Jack’s Etekcity stove boiled water in 4.5 minutes in the same conditions, and you can check out that boil test here. The Etekcity stove will save you 3 oz, but increase you boil time around 30 seconds.


I think one of the reasons the Primus Yellowstone stove boils quickly is the larger burner. It works exceptionally well on a wide pot where the large burner creates a lot of heat that doesn't escape out or around the pot.

Stability

The Yellowstone stove has a fixed pot stand with 4 smooth legs, which allows the stove to accommodate pots of all sizes. This makes sure the stove amazing stability. The biggest concern to stability is finding a cook site that is relatively level and free of debris. If you are a beginner and don't have all your gear perfectly dialed in or for younger/uncoordinated adventures the great stability and pot size accommodation will significantly smooth the learning curve.


Issues

Overall the issues with the Primus Yellowstone stove are pretty limited and for your beginner or intermediate backpacker/hiker, this is still a solid investment. In addition, there are some inherent issues with canister stoves which are not limited to just this stove but will be addressed anyways.

Size and Weight

Over the years, nesting my cook gear has become more important as I’ve learned a low volume pack can be just as important as a lightweight pack. Plus, nesting can reduce the awful noise of metal on metal clinking caused by stove, canister, and pot interactions as you walk. On top of being large, this stove is also considered heavy for canister stoves. You can easily find a stove with a similar boil time around half the weight.


Fuel Level?

An issue with all canister stoves; there isn’t a good way to check your fuel levels in the field. I have seen ways to measure canister to estimate the fuel left and tools that allow you to cannibalize almost empty canisters to refuel another canister. Unfortunately, neither will provide an accurate estimate while out adventuring; therefore, using a canister stove will require a little extra planning if you intend to be out for an extended period.

Weather Issues

Wind is the enemy of all flame and this is true with canister stoves. There are clever designs and picking good cook sites, but windscreens can’t be used because heat buildup can cause canisters to overheat and explode. Finally, canister stoves have decreased to non-existent performance in cold weather, so if you live in a cold climate, there are better fuel options available.

Final Recommendation

I have found the Primus Yellowstone stove to perform exceptionally in diverse scenarios, and this evident as I have never replaced this canister stove as I’ve collected various new and fancy stoves throughout the years. It’s not a bad stove to start with for the low cost, simplicity, and reliability, especially for beginners; however, if I had to do it over again, there are cheaper and lighter models available that I would consider better options. However, this is a great bargain stove for beginners or some good canister stove in a pinch.

Let us know your experience hiking in St Edwards Park and any recommendation on which route to take. Also, if you like the blog follow us on Facebook to keep up to date. 

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Trip Report: St Edwards Park

Day Hiking St Edwards Park

On June 1st Jack hit me up to do some local day hiking. It's been such a long time since we adventured together, I jumped at the chance.


Background

Info: St. Edwards Park offers 6 trails with two considered the main trails. The park is considered a wilderness gem inside the city and is spread over 80 acres with a creek, pools, small waterfalls. If you want to bring a pet, they are allowed as well.
Address: 7301 Spicewood Springs Rd., Austin 78759
Admission Cost: free
Difficulty: easy to intermediate


The Adventure

We made it out to the trailhead with no issues and took a look at the area map to decide which trails to explore. After deciding we would do a sampling of green and brown trails we headed out.


As we started off, we quickly met a group just socializing in the middle of a trail intersection with multiple little and unleashed dogs. Thankfully, the girls remained calm and we moved past without incident. Not much further, we quickly realized what a hot day it was and it felt like we were hiking in a sauna with all the humidity. As we headed down towards Bull Creek, the trail was muddy in more than a few spots.


We ended up at a small dam, where I walked across to take a few pictures and BeeGee did some wading. Angela hating water wanted no part of it and hung back with Jack. After that, we paralleled the creek for a bit before he intersected the road and used that to cross over the creek. Then it was all uphill on a rocky trail similar to the type of trail I've come to expect in central Texas.


We reached what appeared to be the highest point of the trail after a handful of minutes, which led us to a 4x4 track. Not sure if this was still the Brown trail or access road, we decided to start back down; however, we spotted a side route and took that instead. This turned out to be an amazing decision. After walking a few steep ups and downs, we found ourselves on a ridge trail with a fabulous and picturesque view of the surrounding area.


For me, the view made my entire trip and after soaking it in we started our hike up and back towards the trailhead. There were a few more steep inclines and declines on the way out and at least 1 or 2 guesses on which of the spider web like trails was the way out. We just kept searching for the creek in the lowlands and before we knew it, we were back at the trailhead. This is an area I intend to further explore with BeeGee and Angela, but it will have to wait for cooler weather so can see the entire park in a single go.


Let us know your experience hiking in St Edwards Park and any recommendation on which route to take. Also, if you like the blog follow us on Facebook to keep up to date. 

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Trip Report: Trip to London Part 2



London: Part Deux

This is part 2 of our holiday trip to the UK and London in December 2016 and January 2017. Make sure to check out our London trip part 1 and here is a little background info as a reminder:

Travel Agency: Go-Today
Flight: Delta Airlines
Destination Route: Austin to Atlanta to London
Return Route: London to New York to Austin
Hotel: London House Hotel

Day 3 (Continued)

So last I wrote, Jarrett and I had returned from Bath and Stonehenge.  It had been a long day, and we were EXHAUSTED. Yeah, that’s right.  I’m a millennial and I capitalized a word, because I cannot put enough emphasis into how exhausted we were, particularly me. After a nice dinner at a tiny Moroccan place near the hotel, Jarrett and I headed back to the hotel for a “nap.” It was too late for us to try to get any tickets to view the celebrations by the Thames; the city limits the amount of people that can attend those celebrations with the fancy fireworks, and you have to get them months in advance.  However, we planned on going to Primrose Hill with a bottle of champagne to welcome 2017.

London Eye Fireworks for New Years. From traveljee.com
London Eye Fireworks for New Years. From traveljee.com

Day 4: New Year’s Day

Unfortunately, my nap ended up lasting several hours because next thing I know, I wake up to find that my phone says it’s 1:00 a.m. I elbowed Jarrett to tell him we missed the New Year celebrations, and he replied with a very tired, “I know. I tried waking you up several times, and you kept telling me ‘no’ and falling back asleep.” So, we both then got up, had some leftovers and champagne, and called it a night again.

So there you have it. Yours truly ruined our New Year’s celebration in London.  I don’t think we’ll ever get over that.

Westminster Abbey

When we arrived at Westminster, we saw a long line ahead of us.  Fortunately, the staff at Westminster are very efficient, and we were in the Abbey within 20 minutes.  Knowing there was so much history in this building, Jarrett and I made sure to purchase tickets for a guided tour at the front desk.

from  a stroll by the abbey a few nights before
Westminster Abbey at Night

We are glad we purchased the tickets because our tour guide, a verger, was phenomenal.  He guided us into various chapels where many famous monarchs are interred, including Edward the Confessor and Henry the III.  My favorite chapel though was the one where Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Mary I are located, side by side and across from their great-grandmother, Margaret Beaufort.  However, the big crowds do not allow you to enjoy them peacefully for long.  Fortunately, there are pictures to remember that visit by.  Towards the end of the tour, we saw the tombs of notables such Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.  After the tour ended, Jarrett and I went down to see the most ancient sites within the Abbey. We were hoping for something like the tombs underneath the churches in Italy. Unfortunately, there were not very many for us to see. Nevertheless, the place is magical and I am so glad we got to go inside of it and walk around it several times.

A quick and sneaky photo from inside Westminster Abbey
A quick and sneaky photo from inside Westminster Abbey

Hampton Court Palace

Address: Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU, UK

On the same morning, Jarrett and I boarded the train and headed to Hampton Court Palace.  I am a big Tudor history geek, so it was on my “must” list. The palace is gorgeous and huge; it covers both the Tudor and the George II era.  I regret that we got there in the early afternoon because we needed more time than we had to properly explore the palace.

Inner Courtyard at Hampton Court Palace
Inner Courtyard at Hampton Court Palace

The staff at Hampton Court is spectacular.  During the Christmas season, they have guided tours where the tour guide acts as one of Queen Catherine Parr’s ladies in waiting. At the time, Queen Catherine is at another palace, anxious over King Henry VIII’s declining health.  The tourists follow along as other “noble staff.”  Through the tour, our tour guide tells the staff about the brief history of the palace at the time, all the rumors and intrigues that plagued the court, and all the nugget of historic gems hidden within the palace.

The Great Hall in Hampton Court Palace
The Great Hall in Hampton Court Palace

We toured the Georgian section of the palace individually.  I love art and had to appreciate all the treasures in there, while Jarrett was more interested in the history.  Somehow, we both still managed to finish touring the area.  Unfortunately though, we did not get enough of the palace. By the way, if you go during the winter season, Hampton Court Palace also has an ice rink. Plan accordingly for a great day and night at the palace.

William's State Chamber in the Georgian Apartments
William's State Chamber in the Georgian Appartments

After the palace closed, we headed to town to find a place to eat.  We found Poyntz Arms - Shepherd Neame, a nice and cozy place with excellent food and drinks.  It even has a nice big dog walking around, so for us, it was just perfect. 

Day 5: Warwick Castle

Address: Warwick CV34 4QU, UK
Opened: 1068
Architectural Style: Medieval architecture

Somewhat late in the morning, we boarded the train for Warwick.  I am not as knowledgeable when it comes to The Wars of the Roses, but ever since I watched The White Queen, I also wanted to appreciate the history from that period.  It is also a castle in great condition and I knew Jarrett would love to tour it to see its military prowess. 

Heading into Warwick Castle
Heading into Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is currently owned by Merlin Entertainments, the company that owns Madam Tussauds. Even before that, the Castle had been sold to Madam Tussauds itself.  It is officially a theme park, and it does an excellent job of showing historical artifacts while at the same time interacting with the tourists. It covers different eras ranging from the 1100s to the 1900s, from William the Conqueror to The Wars of the Roses to the Edwardian Era.  They have guided tours, interactive buttons, screen shows, games, and gardens. 

The town of Warwick below the castle
The town of Warwick below the castle

The Castle exposes you to architecture from across the centuries as well. What stands out to me was the Red Room, which was a formal waiting room; the dining room with its furniture from various exotic places; the main hall, which was actually rebuilt in the 1800s, yet appears medieval; and the motte, believed to be there since the Norman period. It is like traveling in time in one place.

The Motte at Warwick Castle
The Motte at Warwick Castle

The Castle is filled with wax figures from Madame Tussauds, including figures King Henry VIII and his six wives (though that is just because the company had nowhere else to put them).  I think if more museums had the budgets to become theme parks like Warwick Castle, more people would visit them.  Even though it was rainy the entire time we were there, we had a wonderful time.

Wax King Henry VIII and his 6 wives
Wax King Henry VIII and his 6 wives

In the evening, following the Castle’s closure, we headed out to find some food.  It being so early in the year, it was dark pretty early and the town felt eerily desolate.  Jarrett and I managed to find a nice place to eat at though:

The Roebuck Inn


Ancient 1470 hostelry with black beams and white walls serving hand-pulled ales and hearty cooking.
Address: 57 Smith St, Warwick CV34 4HU, UK

I enjoyed the fish and chips; we cannot recall what Jarrett had but it was scrumptious.  We both also discovered Strongbow Dark Fruit, which is flavorsome. We cannot wait for Dark Fruit to make it to the United States.  So, if you find yourself in Warwick, make sure to check out the Roebuck Inn.

The Roebuck Inn in Warwick
The Roebuck Inn in Warwick

Day 6: Magic of London with Afternoon Tea

I am not sure whether I recall the order of the events of this day properly.  However, I will do my best to recall the experience.

Tower of London

Address: St Katharine's & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB, UK
Hours
Monday        10AM–5:30PM
Tuesday        9AM–5:30PM
Wednesday   9AM–5:30PM
Thursday      9AM–5:30PM
Friday           9AM–5:30PM
Saturday      9AM–5:30PM
Sunday        10AM–5:30PM
Built: White Tower: 1078; Inner Ward: 1190s; Re-built: 1285; Wharf expansion: 1377–1399

On our final day, we took our final Premium Tour, Magic of London with Afternoon Tea.  We started the day bright and early with a tour of the Tower of London.  There is so much to see there and such little time!  After a summary tour of the place, including the sites of execution of historical figures such as Anne Boleyn, we joined the line for the Crown Jewels.  You have to get in line as early as you can to see the Crown Jewels because otherwise, you will end up waiting for hours.  The items are magnificent to see, and many had me wondering how in the world monarchs ever wear them. As a history buff, though, I was sad to hear that most original crown jewels were destroyed after the abolition of the monarchy in 1649. So, most of the exhibited jewels only date back to the period after the Restoration of the English monarchy.

The Royal Throne in the Tower of London
The Royal Throne in the Tower of London
After the crown jewels, I headed over to the towers where the Princes in the Tower are said to have been held.  The rest of the tour is now a blur to me. I still regret I did not have time to actually go into The White Tower or into the rooms where Anne Boleyn spent the time leading up to her coronation. 

The Bloody Tower. The murder site of 2 princes in the tower
The Bloody Tower. The murder site of 2 princes in the tower

Walk through the Palaces

Since there was no Changing of the Guard that day, we took a walking tour of London.  We walked by St. James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace.   I will say that having recently watched The Crown, I was able to recognize some places very easily, including Clarence House. 

A glimpse of Clarence House
A glimpse of Clarence House

Cruise along the Thames

Following the walking tour, we took a one-hour cruise along the Thames River. The boat was a modern catamaran with indoor cabins, so it was a nice relief from the cold and wet weather, which our tour guide swore was not London’s typical weather nowadays. I am not sure I can believe him because it was cold and wet the entire time Jarrett and I were there though.  Anyway, it was nice to be indoors, warm and cozy, as we watched the historic city of London. From it, you can see, as the website quotes, “The Houses of Parliament, The London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe, St. Paul’s, The Shard and The Tower of London and Tower Bridge.”

London from the River Thames
London from the River Thames

Tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral

The tour at St. Paul’s was a little faster than the one at Westminster. It has plenty of gold and marble, and an amazing dome at the very top.  It is such a sight to behold. I am sorry to say though that at this time, I do not recall much of our visit. Probably because it was too short.  Such a shame, considering the rich history of the building.

The Dome inside St Paul's Cathedral
The Dome inside St Paul's Cathedral

Afternoon Tea

Once our tours were done for the day, we went to a restaurant within a hotel for our evening tea.   They served us traditional tea with a great variety of sandwiches, as well as champagne.  It was a great way to end an entire day of tours.

A stop for afternoon tea
The view from Park Plaza Westminster Bridge 

Overall, London and the towns around it offer plenty to see.  So much, that six days was simply not enough.  I definitely recommend it for a vacation.  Just keep in mind that you might need a vacation after that vacation. While you're at it, let us know about your previous experiences or your dream trip to the UK. Also, if you like the blog follow us on Facebook to keep up to date.
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Trip Report: Zip Lost Pines (Video)

Ziping at Zip Lost Pines

A group of us headed to Zip Lost Pines near Bastrop, Texas on May 6, 2017. Zip Lost Pines is an interesting use of the available land and an exciting adventure. Make sure you check out the video below to get an idea of the fun. If you are curious about our previous experience Zipling, check out a previous trip to Zipline Lake Travis Adventure.


Zip Lost Pines Background

Location: 1760 State Highway 71 W, Cedar Creek, TX 78612
Price: $115 per person (frequent Groupons so be on the lookout)
Weather:  Sunny, 85 F
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Website:  https://www.ziplostpines.com

Big Lizard just hanging out
Big Lizard just hanging out

Zip Lost Pines is located near Bastrop, TX (in the Austin area). The tour includes 6 ziplines and every line is a double, so you can race a friend every time. Thankfully, all the zip
line platforms are close together so there isn’t too much hiking required. Zip Lost Pines is new to the scene and open at the end of 2016 and is located on McKinney Roughs, which is a 1,100-acre park owned by LCRA. The park itself covers multiple ecosystems and has some of the central Texas’ only pine trees. Plus, the Colorado River runs through the park.

Main office at Zip Lost Pines
Main office at Zip Lost Pines

The Zips

Our zip tour was at 2:00 pm, and we ended up being around 30 minutes early to account for Austin traffic. Being this early, Linda and I ended up being the first ones there, which gave us plenty of time to sign in, sign waivers, and explore. The facility is new, clean, and climate controlled so you can experience a few more minutes of cool air before heading out on your 3-hour tour. In addition, they are stocked with water, drinks, and snacks if you need something before or after your trip. Finally, everyone showed up, and we ended up on a full tour. Everyone put on their gear, did a short round of standard ziplining training, and we were off to the first zipline.


The interactive map for Zip Lost Pines
The interactive map for Zip Lost Pines

If you have ever zipped before the first line, named Piney Plunge, is a little on the boring side; however, this line is a good for those who are new to ziplining. It is short and slow so you can get a feel for the process. The platform itself isn't too big and the tour good hooks 2 zippers up at once, which adds a decent amount of time to the process. Once the zip is complete, you must hang there a moment while you wait for the guide to use a ladder to get you and your partner down.

The Platform for the first zip
The Platform for the first zip

The second zip, Cactus Corridor, has the tallest platform and a massive spiral staircase. Linda ended up dizzy and feeling horrible after the climb up and unfortunately, her tour ended here. This line is a little longer and a good bit faster, but unlike the name says, I don’t think I spotted any cactus below. Once lowered on the other side, you get the opportunity to walk across 2 rope bridges. There are no gaps in the floor and it’s pretty stable, which made the walk across easy.  It’s also a good time to look out at the surrounding area.

The largest platform at Zip Lost Pines and the start of the second zip
The largest platform at Zip Lost Pines and the start of the second zip

Valley Vista is the third line at 773 feet, the tour finally gets interesting. This line takes you over one of the area’s deepest valleys, which isn’t very deep. The view down is nice and there is a small creek that runs through it and I think I got a quick glance as I flew by.


Looking out to the rope bridges and the Valley Vista platform
Looking out to the rope bridges and the Valley Vista platform

The fourth line is Loblolly Landing, named after the type of pines in the area, at 1074 feet. This line is another spiral staircase and platform, but the view is one the best on the course. There is luscious greenery and you can glimpse the Colorado River. While I was on the platform, eagles were flying overhead and buzzards were just hanging out in nearby trees.


Looking up to the  platform of the 4th zip
Looking up to the  platform of the 4th zip

Horseshoe Highway is second to last a good bit shorter at 535 feet. This line is interesting because you walk through a large horseshoe for luck and then up a fairly steep rope bridge. No shame in using your hands for help with the walk up; I know I did.

Looking through the Horseshoe!
Looking through the Horseshoe!

And last is River Run 1,316 feet and the longest line at Zip Lost Pines. This line has some of the best views and you end up within walking distance of the Colorado River; however, I was unable to see it from our end point.

Looking out and over the final and longest zip
Looking out and over the final and longest zip

Overall, it turned out to be a hot but fun day. I definitely recommend trying Zip Lost Pines out at least once, especially if you live in the area. If you watch their Facebook they frequently have themed events. I know I will be back out there as soon as they start night ziplining.

Let us know your experience with ziplining and your favorite place to go ziplining. Also, if you like the blog follow us on Facebook to keep up to date.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Trip Report: Zombie Apocalypse Live

Zombie Survival at House of Torment

Normally going to a haunted house wouldn’t be the best use of my time, but throw in some zombies and I’m all about it. It turned out to be a fun and amazing trip with my friend David. If you have any interest in a Zombie Apocalypse Live check out their tour dates here.

destroyed car at Austin at House of Torment
Zombie Apocalypse Live Logo

Normally going to a haunted house wouldn’t be the best use of my time, but throw in some zombies and I’m all about it. It turned out to be a fun and amazing trip with my friend David I wasn’t sure what to expect from a zombie haunted house that used CO2 powered laser guns and figured it would be fairly easy with a few cheap scares. But it turned out to be the right amount of intense with a few white-knuckle moments. Unfortunately, they don’t allow photography or videos once you enter the building.

destroyed car at Austin at House of Torment
Crushed VW Bug outside to set the ambiance 

Our time slot was at 7:30 and we arrived 10 minutes before, and staff shuffled us into a line to sign waivers and receive wristbands. There were 3 types of wristbands available: recruit, special, and elite that provide various mission lengths and the amount of ammo. We chose elite, so received ammo reloads at each station and continued our mission into the special ops area.

Zombie running around as we wait for our turn
Zombie running around as we wait for our turn

It wasn’t too much longer before it was our turn to enter the building, just 3 rooms until the excitement began. The rules were explained to us, we picked up our CO2 powered M4s, and we took a man date photo before charging into the unknown.

I snuck a picture in the brightest location. It's a creepy doll under a lamp.
I snuck a picture in the brightest location. It's a creepy doll under a lamp.

David took point and led us into the darkness. Now if you have ever been into a haunted house you can imagine the narrow hallways, small rooms with horror movie settings, strobe lights, darkness, fog, and limited visibility. That is exactly what we experienced except zombies were jumping out and you had to shoot them to make them stop attacking. Each zombie was wearing a headband that would activate and vibrate when they were shot.

David and I pose for a picture right before we head off on our mission.
David and I pose for a picture right before we head off on our mission.

We slowly flowed through rooms and each had a zombie or two that needed to be dispatched quickly, while some zombies seemed even harder to kill and required both of us to take it down. Once you cleared a room, you still weren’t safe as zombies would reanimate and chase you out of their room.

David enjoying a Zombie after we successfully completed our mission.
David enjoying a Zombie after we successfully completed our mission.

At the end of the day, our adventure took us through 2 separate zombie houses, 4 reload points, and ended at a gift shop. It ended up being the perfect length, so that become overwhelmed and stop jumping. If Zombie Apocalypse Live returns next year I will definitely give it another try.

Let me know your experiences with zombie houses. Also, if you like the blog follow us on Facebook to keep up to date.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Trip Review: An After Work Get Away

A Quick Trip to Goodwater Loop


We have been trying to move to a new home over the last few months and for one reason or another, we just haven't been able to make this happen. Our close and move in date just kept getting pushed and this ended up interfering and postponing multiple trips. With Good Friday off, BeeGee and I just couldn’t handle this any more so we headed out Thursday evening.

BeeGee and I take an awkward selfie at the Cedar Breaks Trailhead for Goodwater Loop.
BeeGee and I take an awkward selfie at the Cedar Breaks Trailhead for Goodwater Loop.

Goodwater Loop Day 1

As we arrived at Cedar Breaks Park the sky was already twilight and the park was mostly empty. At the trailhead of Goodwater Loop, we find two fellow backpackers gearing up and they started a little before us. We took just enough time for a trailhead selfie and started on our way. We quickly caught up to the pair of backpackers and they seemed a little weirded out by us following them, so BeeGee and I took a short break and let them get some distance.

The night sky as we started our adventure
The night sky as we started our adventure

Once we were back on the trail, the sun had set and it was very dark out without the moon in the sky yet. We hiked on and gained a new perspective of Goodwater Loop as we had never hiked this much of the trail in the dark. What felt like just a short jaunt, we were at the first creek crossing. Unlike the last time we were here, the water levels looked normal (high water trip). We took a second for BeeGee to splash around and then we were off again.

BeeGee cooling off at a creek crossing
BeeGee cooling off at a creek crossing

As we neared Crockett Garden and Falls, a large creature came charging out of the darkness towards us. It was shocking at first, but instinct kicked in and quickly prepared myself for whatever may lie ahead. I quickly realized it was a cow and moved towards it while clapping and telling it to "get out of here". That mostly worked, but the longhorn had it out for BeeGee while keeping its gaze leveled at her and occasionally stepping towards her. We quickly left that area and made it to Crockett Gardens.

This longhorn wanted to forcibly remove BeeGee from the area, but we were able to slide on by.
This longhorn wanted to forcibly remove BeeGee from the area, but we were able to slide on by.

By this time, it was more than dark enough for me to try out my new headlamp as we neared Cedar Hollow Camps. My Black Diamond Storm Headlamp and its red light was more than enough to navigate with, but I went dark when I heard voices in the woods. It turns out the backpackers BeeGee and I saw earlier were already set up and hanging out.

Crockett Garden at night
Crockett Garden at night

As the time and miles flew by, BeeGee successfully evaded any critters and went un-skunked. We arrived Sawyer Hollow Camp around 23:00 (11 pm) and began setting up. The moon was large and bright, perfect for camp chores and lounging around and relaxing after a long walk.

Yellow flowers along Goodwater Loop
Yellow flowers along Goodwater Loop

After an hour or so of enjoying the outdoors, lake, and moon we jumped inside the tent and went to sleep. Except BeeGee didn’t really sleep the entire night. I left the rain fly open because it was a little warm out and BeeGee spent the entire night just staring out. The few times I woke to check on her, she really seemed to be enjoying herself.

The bright moon was rising above the lake. As seen from our campsite.
The bright moon was rising above the lake. As seen from our campsite.

Goodwater Loop Day 2

Morning came and we broke camp, had a quick breakfast, and prepared for our 8-mile hike out. Before leaving, I noticed the building around the pit toilets collapsed on top of the pit toilets, so cat holes it is from now on. I was also a bad friend and forgot BeeGee’s leash hanging on the tree next to our tent. Thankfully, there weren’t many hikers out and when we found some I’d call BeeGee over and we would step off the trail to let others pass.

A caterpillar was just hanging out on our tent the next morning.
A caterpillar was just hanging out on our tent the next morning. 

The walk out was enjoyable but uneventful and warm. We made it back to the car by noon and headed home. While being a night owl didn’t affect BeeGee on the hike, as soon as we were home she passed out. I was also sleepy and tired but felt so relaxed. This short trip was just what I needed.

Tongues out by Lake Georgetown while we took a little break
Tongues out by Lake Georgetown while we took a little break 

Make sure to leave a comment below telling me about your much-needed trip. Also, if you like the blog follow us on Facebook to keep up to date.

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