Ordered, Finally!

Three months ago I posted about my discovery of a sleeping pad from a cottage manufacturer that intrigued me. I had intended to order one shortly thereafter, but life and its corresponding fiscal responsibilities got in the way, so I postponed.

Well, as has been the case with the purchase of much of my gear, I was able to order one after receiving a gift card, this time for Father’s Day. It’s due to be delivered on Saturday and I’m anxious to mess with it, as I’ve never had a self-inflating pad before. My experience with sleeping pads up to this point has been with the summer season air mattress, those of the blow-air-until-you’re-dizzy type. It will be a treat indeed to watch it expand itself to near-capacity with just a few breaths from me to complete the process. Theoretically, at least.

Sadly, the first time I use it may be on a carpeted concrete floor. I’m still without my own mode of transportation for another week or two, so no immediate trips to the woods are planned. It will still be fun to give it a whirl with my sleeping bag, though using a 20-degree sack inside an air conditioned home pinned at 70 degrees might be a bit of overkill.

I wonder what the neighbors would think if I pitched my tent on the front lawn and broke it in for real…

The First (But Not Last) Time

My first week in Virginia featured little-to-nothing hiking related until my daughter suggested a trip to the Richmond area to shop her favorite HomeGoods store. Well, that would be a five-star yawner for me, except for the fact that HomeGoods shares a parking lot with the Glen Allen location of REI. Where I lived in Maine, the nearest REI was a less-than-leisurely 3.5 hour (traffic permitting, of course) sojourn to (nearby?) Reading, Massachusetts. Given that I had never been in a physical location, and that I had a $9.58 dividend burning a hole in my account pocket, I was thrilled with the invite.


I was hoping against hope that they might have a Granite Gear Crown 2 in stock so I could set some eyes on one. It was a longshot, for sure; even Granite Gear has been out of them for weeks. And my now-local REI didn’t disappoint. Nary a Crown 2 to be seen anywhere.

Still, they had a pretty solid array of packs, about half of which are represented in this photo:


I was able to strap on the 48L version of my trusty Kestrel 28, and give consideration to a few others. But by the end of my hour-long trip through the backpacker’s candy store, all I walked away with was some GU hydration tablets which, after my staggeringly huge $9.58 dividend, set me back a grand total of $3.75.

Still, it was great to spend some time in an actual REI store rather than burning through page after page on their website. And I enjoyed the experience of proudly whipping out my membership card when asked if I had one…

One Last Time

I managed to squeeze in one last run on my favorite local trail between all the packing and planning this week. It was perfect spring weather and perfectly soggy in spots, a fitting finale for this dirt and trees lover.

That little 2.5 mile out-and-back has come to mean a lot to me over the last five-and-a-half years, both as a runner and a hiker. I logged hundreds of miles in the midst of its solitude, first as a trail runner, then on casual weighted practice hikes while I got my body used to carrying a backpack. I’ve seen deer, foxes, rabbits and a lone coyote. I even treed a startled black bear cub one morning as I turned tail and fled, not wishing to come between the little one and its mother. On the athletic fields that blossom from either end of the trail I pitched my tent outdoors for the first time, dug the tips of my trekking poles deep into mud and snow, and gave the Vibram outsoles on my Merrells a trial-by-fire on wet and slippery terrain of all types.

There are hundreds of woodsy trails in Virginia, and I’m so looking forward to tramping on as many as I can, whenever I can. And as I sit in my living room watching the movers empty our belongings into a twenty-five foot truck, I’m anxious to get started on my exploration of the Commonwealth…