Camping at Crater Lake

Ever since I was a little boy I remember the many times I spent camping out at Crater Lake with my family, there was always something fun, interesting, and simply magical about the atmosphere. It had actually been quite some time since I had last spent a short get away weekend away from my hectic work schedule and as such, was nearing the point of a much needed mini vacation. Coincidentally I had some time off from my job as a game developer at a major game studio. Seeing this window of opportunity I seized it and took the time off, I was even thinking about taking an extra day.

Although it was only mid day I couldn’t keep myself from being excited about this vacation, even though it was only going to be myself and my Golden Retriever Sparky. Nonetheless, the end of the workday finally arrived and I was finally on my way to a long weekend of relaxing and enjoying nature at it’s finest.

Upon arriving and glancing at the brochures the man at the front desk had given to me I immediately noticed that there were a ton of different activities to enjoy. Rather it was swimming and/or taking in a tour of the area by boat it was plain to see that nature could fondly be enjoyed no matter what the weather was like.

While the area activities were considered to be seasonal I was looking forward to enjoying the full benefits as it was towards the end of June so summer was in full swing. However, for now it was time to pitch my tent as it was getting close to night fall.

sparkyAfter staying in the rest of my first night I decided to explore the area for myself and get the lay of the land, Opting for a nice soothing nature walk to start the day Sparky and I were well on the beginning of our Crater Lake adventure, and what a beautiful day it was. With the sun shining brightly and the warm breeze blowing it was not long before we had made our way to the area lake.

Set against a backdrop of mountainous scenery the lake was quite a wonder to look upon with its blue inviting waters so peaceful and still. Even though I knew that swimming was allowed it were as though the soothing waters had offered a personal invite to Sparky and I. It was in this moment when I made up my mind to go back to the campsite to get my swimming gear as well as Sparky’s doggie life jacket that he was used to wearing. Next time, we’ll upgrade his to the Ruffwear K9 model which Life Jacket Advisor recommends. His is getting a bit beat up.

Things went on this way for the remainder of my vacation and with a few small restaurants around the area I was glad that there was no need for me to take time to prepare my meals myself, furthermore, it was the perfect weekend because it was summer and there were no storms in the forecast.

Despite the fact that the drive to Crater Lake was a bit annoying to say the least the staff was helpful as there was a particular point on the way when I got lost due to the construction built detour that had messed the roads up badly. One of the best things was that their “open door policy” remained the same as I had always remembered it: no need to set a reservation. All in all, I was glad that I was able to take the mini vacation when I was able to because (as remembered) the scenery was worth the trip itself.

My Quest to Eat Healthier

Let’s face it. A lot of us who make a living working in front of a computer screen all day don’t exactly have the best eating habits. For me, keeping a well-balance diet has been difficult (to say the least) for my busy lifestyle, but I realized my unhealthy habits are taking a toll on my health. I’ve been feeling a lot more tired, have constant headaches, and I know I know I could lose a few pounds so I’ve decided it’s time. Time to eat healthier, exercise, and break some bad habits.

My bad habits include stopping at fast food restaurants on my way home from work due to not having much time to eat at work and becoming too hungry. Also, heading out to them when I need a late-night snack. Sometimes I find myself stopping for a basket full of barbequed chicken with sides of mashed potatoes, buttermilk biscuits and a large Coke to down everything. I guess you can also say I’ve become an emotional eater, but now my eating and bad habits are taking over my life and my health.

A few days ago, I sat down with a friend of mine who’s a certified nutritionist to come up with a healthier eating plan. However, she also recommended I see a therapist for emotional support since my eating habits stem from my emotions. Well I didn’t see a shrink but we discussed healthier habits for replacing the bad ones I have developed over time.

One of the healthy habits I’ve started doing is writing down what exactly I’m doing/feeling when I’m craving some no-so-good food. It seems to be helping a lot to just get stuff down on paper. I also started doing exercise in place chowing down food when I have a craving, such as going for a swim, hiking, or taking my dog Charlie for a walk. I do find I spend less time “emotionally” eating by doing stuff like that. I used to play all sorts of sports back in high school so I soon realized exercise is actually something I really enjoyed. I shelled out some money for a pair of running shoes for my bad back and started walking daily. My goal is a to complete a 5k run next summer.

As far as my healthier eating plan my friend and I came up with, it’s going well. I stick to creating meals around whole foods such as dairy, fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, seeds and nuts, and whole grains. When I feel the need to stop for fast food after work, I visit the grocery store instead and pick up a piece of fruit or some veggie sticks with a single serving of milk to drink. It’s been much healthier and has actually been helping me lose weight. However, I still have my days when I feel the need to stop for some fast food. On those days, it takes everything I got inside me just to stay away. I have slipped up a few times already, but I’m always able to get back on track fast.

Best of all, my back is feeling better and I’m no longer having to use my neck traction device which I’ve been using since a bad car accident over a decade ago. That was a huge bonus. My chiropractor told me because of my change in diet, it may have also reduced inflammation in my neck as it did for my back. It’s crazy to think just how much of an effect food has on our bodies.

I’ve also learned that staying away from the middle aisles in the grocery store is key to eating a healthier diet with foods that actually nourish my body. I’ve learned that junk food only makes everything worse and healthy foods will actually heal my body so I have less behavioral issues such as mood swings and depression. When you nourish the body you are actually nourishing the mind and you do become less emotional, which helps with staying on track. Well, at least that’s what my nutritionist fried told me. The best thing in all of this is that because I helped her move a couple months ago, she agreed to provide her services for free. That was awesome news once I learned how much they charge.

My best advice to give those struggling with a busy lifestyle and emotional eating is to get help from outside sources so you can get the support you need to get your life and health back on track. Whether you get professional help or just spend some time Googling, you’ll learn a lot about yourself.

Considering Run Flats?

When I got my Leaf earlier this year, I promptly got my first flat tire. There’s nothing more annoying than heading to an appointment and feeling the wobble of the steering wheel because of a flat. This got me thinking about getting a set of run flat tires. Here’s what I discovered.

A run-flat tire is designed to keep running even after the tire has run out of air. This technology was created to buy motorists some time so that they can drive to a safer place to change a flat. Although this type of technology has it many benefits, it also has its cons as well namely price and sometime handling performance. The biggest benefit is that drivers can keep driving on a flat tire without fear of being stranded.There are three general types of run-flat tires and they are:

Self supporting – This type of run-flat tire has sidewalls that are much stronger than regular tires. This design was created to allow the sidewalls to bear the weight of your vehicle after it has lost air pressure. Self supporting run-flat tires also have a specially designed bead that ensures that the wheel rim is being protected in the event of a flat. However, the hard sidewall makes for an uncomfortable ride and the heavier tires will negatively affect your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

Auxiliary supported – When a flat occurs, this type of run-flat tire ensures that the tread of the tire rests on a support ring that is attached to the wheel. They were designed in this manner to that the load is taken off of the flat so that you may continue driving your vehicle. This type of run flat tire are lighter than self supporting run flat tires but they are also more expensive and require special wheels.

I still remember an instance years ago where I had a blowout when I was still running regular tires. Not only did I lose a tire, I came out of it with a wheel that was damaged beyond repair and a broken tie rod end.

Self sealing – This type of run-flat type has a special lining of sealant under the tread that automatically seals smalls holes as they occur. If a nail is embedded in your tire, the lining will seal the hole after the foreign object is removed. Unfortunately, the self sealing run-flat tire’s best asset may also be it’s biggest flaw. With this type of run-flat tire, you may drive your vehicle for a long time without realizing that it has been punctured. Nails, for example, can create bigger holes when left in tires for long periods of time which can be problematic for the sealant.

my-flatLike all things, these types of tires have their pros and cons but the positives far outweigh the negatives for some people. Personally, I still use regular tires on my car as the price doesn’t justify the convenience factor and I actually enjoy the process of changing a flat.

That said, I don’t use the cheap scissor lift jack to lift up the car. Ever since my autocrossing days, I’ve used an impact wrench connected to my air compressor from Harbor Freight to make changing tires a breeze! All in all, run-flat tires can be a good choice for some people at delaying the time consuming hassle that is the flat tire but it may not be for everyone.

Planning for Baby

For those that don’t know me on a personal level, my longtime girlfriend and I found out a few weeks ago she’s pregnant! Craziness… I know. I never thought I’d be a daddy but I’m stoked! Since I’ll all about research, I was assigned the task of planning the nursery. With technological advances in every aspect of our lives is it any wonder the baby nursery is also becoming an area of the home that takes on the appearance of a starship’s cockpit. Some tech gadgets for the nursery are just fun and others are highly beneficial in making sure your baby remains safe at all times. Here is a list of several high tech nursery accessories that will be at the top of our baby registry (hint… hint):

  • Crib Monitor – There are a wide variety of brands that produce crib monitors. The monitor helps detect every moment of the baby while it lies in the crib. If the monitor does not detect a slight movement every 20 seconds, an alarm will sound. An indispensable addition to any nursery, a crib monitor can help alert you if your baby stops breathing and may help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by offering early detecting of any abnormality that your child may exhibit.
  • Remote Control Mobile – There is no reason to tip toe next to your baby’s crib and rewind its mobile. There are not remote control mobiles which allow you to control the mobiles speed and music choices from across the room. No reason to disturb the baby.
  • Monitor and Television – Do you want to keep an eye on your baby from you television, mobile phone or computer? Well now you can with a variety of baby monitors and televisions which will give you a clear view of your little one any time you want.
  • Crib Soothers – Most babies like the sound of a soft song, rain water or other soothing noises to fall asleep too or to calm them in the middle of the night. With crib soothers, you can pick the melody, time and duration for your baby. If your baby wakes up, the music starts to play.
  • Bouncy Seat – The bouncy seat is no longer for simple bouncing. Now a parent can program the bouncy seat to recreate a variety of motions such as a car ride, a hammock on a breezy day or the gentle waves of an ocean. No matter what your baby’s personal taste is in motion, the new age of bouncy seats will provide it.
  • Crying Analyzer – A crying analyzer is suppose to detect subtle changes in your baby’s crying to determine the baby’s problem. Is your baby wet, hungry or sick? The analyzer will help you learn what your baby wants and needs.
  • Sleep Sacks – Not electronic but these are the future of traditional baby blankets. Sleep sacks for babies have been used in Europe for over 20 years and are becoming more commonplace in the US. They allow babies to sleep better and remain covered during the night as well as reduce the chance of SIDS. All types of fabrics are available from cotton to merino wool and cotton muslin. You can even buy baby swaddles which put old-fashioned swaddle blankets to shame.

With so many high tech gadgets, parenting has never been easier. Your baby’s nursery will be a safe, secure environment that is beneficial to your baby and you because of the advances that technology has made to make parenting easier than ever before.