Missing Outdoors -> Bring camping to the backyard

What a great idea! Being in quarantine is bringing back memories from my childhood. As kids we would “beg” our parents to let us set up a tent and sleep in the backyard. Of course, they would say, “No!”

Well, they saw a bunch of kids in the backyard making noise, coming in and out of house all night – it got them NUTTY just thinking about it. However, we would beg and beg and FINALLY they would relent.

I’ve gotta tell you, I have NEVER liked camping in a tent, but I don’t mind a cabin. WHY, well, my first camping experience was with Girl Scouts. We camped in someone’s backyard, two girls to a tent. We put up our tent and it kept collapsing, which got me claustrophobic, because the zipper was closed to keep the mosquitos out. Needless to say, I could not wait until morning to go back home!

I like the “idea” of camping and being in the outdoors, I’ve upgraded my sites though. Look at this British camper. NOW, I smiled. I can definitely see myself camped out on one of those beds, cozy with a blanket and a good book. The windows are charming, I would just need someone to bring me some hot tea in a “tea cup.”

Ah… the beauty of dreaming….

Falconry at Adare Manor Castle Hotel in Ireland

IMG_2060I’ve always been fascinated by eagles, falcons, and owls. They are powerful and mysterious. So, I was excited when my ex/husband suggested that after our daughter’s graduation (University of Limerick) that we head over to Adare Manor Castle Hotel (Adare, Ireland) for some Falconry and Archery.

Right now, they are doing a lot of refurbishing at Adare Manor, so, I was unable to take a picture to share with you.

Our Falconry Instructor was a nice fellow. He had a variety of birds for us to look at. First, he would tell us about the bird. Then with heavy glove on he assisted us to hold the birds, being very careful of their feet/talons. With the falcons, we could FEEL the strength in their feet through the glove. When they go for their prey, watch out!

Sometimes in photography, we get a FUNNY shot. For example, if you look at this owl, at first glance the owl appears to have headphones on, BUT then if you zoom in, you’ll see that when I took the photo, the eagle was directly behind the owl. Very amusing!

IMG_1798

Here are a few more photos I thought you might enjoy. Owls have amazing eyes! I have never seen one up close, have you?

IMG_1875

Next, a falconry show must have a falcon, right. Here you go…

IMG_1859

Now, this owl had enormous FEET.

IMG_2133

 

Finally, the Eagle…

IMG_2316

IMG_2356

And for the grand finale… drum roll please… I bet you were wondering how I did in Archery. Well, I got a bulls eye, right in the middle of the apple – 3 times too! I have two brothers, so you KNOW I’ve been bragging about my Archery skills! A friendly bit of competition is good.

IMG_4665

Ireland is beautiful and a lot of fun. Similar to Seattle with the weather and they really enjoy their outdoor sports, I like that.

The Falconry fellow said Adare Manor should be open to the public November 2017. THEN we can go back for Trap Shooting! I smiled and thought, “Good marketing! I’m on board for that!”

My First Race – Dragon Boat Racing

IMG_3594I heard a team captain say they were “short” one woman to be able to form a team for the Dragon Boat races that were coming up, so I shyly raised my hand.  DONE – I was part of the team!

Our day started at 5 AM on Saturday. We had to drive to the location, set up and prepare for the day’s events. A group got there before us and set up our tents. We all brought food for a pot luck and stored our bags, paddle, etc.  FYI: Never forget your towel and change of clothes. You do get wet, it’s fun, but not if you can’t change your clothes on a cold day.

IMG_3601When we practice we do not have a dragon head on our boat, so I was curious to see how this would look.  I didn’t realize that there is a real drum on the boat too. For those of you who do not know much about dragon boat racing I’ll fill you in. There are 20 paddlers to a boat. The first two paddlers at the front of the boat are called, “the strokes,” they set the pace for the boat.

The drummer uses the drum to set the pace of the strokes, so this person must have a loud voice for all of us to hear. When we are paddling it’s easy to get distracted by the boats next to us and their drum beats. I also learned that you lose time if you look up to see “how” you are doing in the race, best to stay focused and give your strokes ALL you’ve got. Finally, there is the steerperson at the back of the boat, who steers the boat and also gives IMG_3609commands to the paddlers. Here is a glossary of Dragon Boat terms.

We raced about 500 meters in 2.5 minutes. There were four boats racing at once and it took a little time to get us ALL lined up. I know 2.5 minutes might not seem long, but imagine how you feel when you are doing “planks” at the gym. You start out strong and then your arms get tired and it takes everything you’ve got to keep in the plank position. Same with paddling, you force yourself to continue paddling through the pain and finish STRONG. That’s where the drum beat comes in, it keeps the team focused.

BAD NEWS – We didn’t win!

GOOD NEWS – We had a lot of fun, we worked as a team and after our 3rd time out, we improved our time, and we finished STRONG!  It was a great day!   GO TRY IT!

REI closes on Black Friday

Courtesy of Recreational Equipment , Inc. (REI)

Courtesy of Recreational Equipment , Inc. (REI)

Finally, a store that is willing to fight back and say, “No, we don’t need to shop on Black Friday, instead let’s enjoy the outdoors with our family and friends!”

What a GREAT move by REI (outdoor retail sports store). I agree with them. I was shocked when, a few years ago, retailers started to have special promotions on Thanksgiving Day… at midnight. Such a frenzy, it was crazy.

I’m sure many of us thought when is “enough–enough?”

REI created a wonderful website (optoutside.rei.com) to promote their closing and encourage others to follow along. I think it would be a great idea for ALL of us who “believe” that a holiday should be a holiday to share an outdoor photo on REI’s website.

I’m sure there are some fantastic photos out there!

Here’s to having some fun in the outdoors this Thanksgiving!!

MyAdventures.com – Try a new adventure…

Keith Bates

Keith Bates

A few years ago I sat on the board of The Adventurer’s Club of Chicago. There I met Keith Bates who had a passion for traveling the world, meeting new people, and learning new things. He decided he wanted to bring like minded people together. So, he created the website: www.MyAdventures.com

Keith’s goal was to create a site where people could post the trip or adventure they had gone on. At the same time, other people who were planning an adventure could search for someone who had already gone on that trip — view trip details, photos, etc., which would help them plan “their” trip. Great way for people to meet kindred spirits.

The site has taken off and I wanted to share it with you.

Napa Hot Air Balloon Ride

Napa Hot Air Balloon Ride

You might come across a new adventure you had not heard of OR you might connect with a like minded sportsman, traveler or adventurer. These days an adventurer can be anything from a bird watcher, a kayaker, a mountain climber, to a fly fisherman, race car driver, piloting  —  who knows!

Here’s to finding our NEXT adventure!  Life is about exploring, meeting new people, and enjoying the outdoors.

If you’ve gone on a GREAT trip, let us know. We learn from each other.

I still want to visit Mackinac Island. Would that be an adventure?