Handheld GPS for Geocaching

When I first heard about Pokemon Go! My first thought was that it was an awful lot like geocaching. Funny thing is, just before it came out, I was busy researching what GPS I wanted to buy to make my geocaching even better. For the past few years I had been using the free app C:geo to make my finds. And that worked really well…until we moved out into the redwoods! We rarely get a decent enough signal on our phones to actually track a cache down. So Mohawk and I decided we needed to get a better tool so we could continue to build our Geocaching habit.

After reading many reviews online, and trying to weigh the various issues like cost and functionality, I settled on the most basic handheld GPS, the Garmin Etrex 10. It’s black and white, and doesn’t have tons and tons of bells and whistles. But let me tell you what we love about it so far:

👌Price! The price for this unit is on point with our limited budget, especially because we are also trying to build up our camping gear, which takes some major 💲! We paid around $100 after taxes. I saw it online between $80-100, and it just depends on s/h and taxes at the end.

👌Signal. This thing connects fast, gets a strong and consistent signal, and we LOVE it. It’s nice being able to really hone in on GZ, and spend our energy actually finding the cache, not questioning if the coords are bouncing.

👌Trip Odometer – this is a fun feature for us on a number of levels. First of all, it lets us know how soon sunset is (1 hour 9 minutes away), so we can gauge if we have time to complete our walk before dark. Out here we don’t like to take chances because of the night crew! 🐺 It also tells us our speed, time spent moving and still. This is super cool because it doubles as a fancy device to help us towards our fitness goals. Two-for-one?!? Heck yes!

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👌Easy to download geocaches! So, at first, I thought I was going to be sad because my primary device to use at home is a Chromebook. I logged onto geocaching.com and I clicked “Send to GPS,” and it turns out I have to download the little plug-in thing, which my Chromebook isn’t beefy enough to do. 😞 BUT, wait! Don’t lose all hope yet, because the fabulous InterWebz helped me out, as always. I realized I could simply download the GPX file, and transfer it directly to my Garmin. Easy – extra step, but easy. No paper needed, no signal on my phone needed, and I’ve got everything I need to grab those caches!

For us, this was a great first GPS purchase. Basically we decided to go with this one because it was simple, doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles we wouldn’t even know how to use anyway. Someday, we plan to purchase a second one, and by then we will be a little better versed in how the handheld GPS works, and we will know exactly what features matter to us. I’m also super thrilled to get out and adventure in the acreage here at home.

Let us know if you have a recommendation for our next handheld GPS, or if you have any tips and tricks for us as we learn how to use this great gadget!

 

 

Make your own cheese

Dear Friends, if you know anything about me, you know just how much I LOVE cheese. I love it all – the sharp cheddar, the freshest mozzarella, the tangiest-bluest-blue cheese, the creamiest brie with a little slice of prosciutto. I can even dig on some Laughing Cow. I mean, guys and gals, I have an unhealthy cheese issue.

And I might actually mean unhealthy. Sadly, we inadvertently cut back on cheese consumption when we moved. We’ve been eating a much better balanced diet following 21 Day Fix (if you want to know more, ask us, we’d love to share!), but following that means less “blue” containers, which are dairy products.

Recently I bought a bag of cheese chunks – OMG so good – and my face broke out in big teenage girl sized zits, I was bloated and gassy, and I realized – cheese is not my friend. 😦 At least in large quantities. So guess what makes me super happy? The idea of making my own small batches of cheese!

Dave’s dad, Threecrows, passed on an extra 1/2 gallon of milk to us recently right before we were supposed to take a trip. I was thinking about what to do with this milk when it hit me – MAKE CHEESE. So friends… here is how I made paneer and ricotta cheese all in the same night, with just 1/2 gallon of milk, some vinegar and some cheese cloth.

It was *surprisingly* easy.

First,  you put the milk on the heat. I kept it at a medium high,  because you don’t want to boil it,  you are going to bring it just under a boil.  You will want to have a wooden spoon handy to scrape the bottom,  too prevent scorching.

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I used a little thermometer to keep an eye out,  and get my milk just to 200 degrees.  I chose to add some fresh rosemary and oregano.  You could leave it plain. I suppose it depends on what you plan to do with your paneer.  I knew we would just be munching it,  and given the fact that it can be very bland,  I thought I’d like to give it a boost.

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Once the milk hits 200, you can kill the heat,  then add 1/4 cup vinegar,  or lemon juice,  to your milk.  You should notice the curds and whey separating pretty instantly.  Put a lid on it and let it do is science thing,  while you go put your feet up and peruse facebook for 15 minutes.

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Once you’ve run out of fresh content on facebook,  you are going to carefully pour the curds and whey into the cheese cloth.  For this step,  you need a pan that your strainer can fit inside.  It will take about 10 minutes to drain.  You can help it along by maneuvering the strainer. After 10 minutes you are going to give your curds a good squeeze.

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Then form your paneer into a round,  flat, hunk of burning love….er, cheese. You will need two plates, and something to weigh it down.  You will want to leave it pressing for a couple of hours.  Then you will be ready to refrigerate the cheese.  Enjoy within a week!

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Here is my finished product.  We had no problem eating this all up within a couple of days!  I cannot wait to make some more and cook some Indian food with it.

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So,  as I went to put away my cheese,  I realized I had a ton of whey left,  abd that I really couldn’t stand to just toss it.  That defeated the purpose of trying to use the milk! So I turned to my handy dandy Internet,  and found out I could basically follow the same process to make ricotta using the whey!

Granted,  with the little bit of whey I had,  it only made a small dish of ricotta,  but it was truly some of the best ricotta I’ve had!  The whey needs to get a heated a little less,  just to about 180 degrees.  And for ricotta,  you are finished after you strain and squeeze!

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Let me know how your cheese making adventures go!

 

 

Lazy Days of Summer

We were putting down the road, when a Speedy little car came up behind us. We pulled off the road to allow the car to pass, which they wasted no time taking advantage of. The narrow two-lane stretch of highway between 101 and Covelo is full of interesting people seeking refuge from the heat. As we proceeded down the road, we noticed Speedy McSpeederson had gotten stuck behind someone else. And as we inched closer, we could see they were behind an awesome bike with a sidecar.

As soon as the yellow line broke into sections, Speedy Mc Speederson took his opportunity and proceeded around the bike, but didn’t take off right away, instead rolled down their windows and let out a few waves of excitement. I thought perhaps, they just admired the bike and sidecar, but as we closed in on the couple in front of us, I realized they were waving them congratulations – the bike had a “Just Married” sign with cans and all in tow. 

It was a sweet sight to see, and we can only imagine that this lovely couple was headed to the Mendocino National Forest for their honeymoon. They had some camping gear in tow, after all. They eventually pulled off the road to allow us to pass, though we weren’t in any kind of hurry, and were very much enjoying speculating about the couple and admiring their bike.

Just as we were passing, I got my phone and snapped a quick picture of the couple. Ahh, love.

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We finally got to our favorite spot along the river, and drug ourselves down the hill in the heat of the midday sun. It was a scorcher, though a bit cooler than the past two days. As we approached our favorite stretch of the riverbank, we realized we weren’t alone. Another couple had already been enjoying the sun, without their clothes! So we figured we better give them a bit of privacy and head down the bank.

We found a little beachy area and set up an encampment. And as soon as our feet hit the sand, Bette Midler’s voice popped into my head, “Oh when the sun beats down and burns the tar up on the roof/ And your shoes get so hot you wish your tired feet were fire proof.” We ventured into the water to discover that just down a short walk, the river was more stagnant, so had more algae and fish. We kept our eyes on the Naked Folk, and decided to move in on the spot as soon as we saw them retreating up the hill.

We set up our encampment once again, and this time we were joined by a couple of kind gentlemen looking for fish. I didn’t think they’d find much, as we’ve been to this spot a couple of times, and there just isn’t much in the way of fish, but they hung out for a while and chatted with us. We got to meet Willie Nelson, a sweet boxer pup of just a few years, and watched him as he would approach the water and quickly run away. Poor scaredy cat!

One of our newly found friends pointed to the sky, “Look at the hawks! And one has a snake!” So for a while we watched two hawks, circling and diving, attacking and maneuvering, as the one attempted to protect his catch.

Eventually, we were greeted by two more gentlemen seeking to beat the heat, and Mohawk quickly recognized them. We had met them a week or so before, and we were happy to share their company again. J kindly let me borrow his inner tube, which I’ve never had the sheer joy of lazing about in a river in an inner tube before, and if you haven’t, I HIGHLY recommend it. ASAP. Talk about all of your troubles just melting away, as you stare at the bright blue sky and just feel yourself being.

We finally decided it was time to head back to civilization after the other guys had all long since left. We packed it in, hiked up the hill, and came home, sun soaked and happy.

Please, feel free to share this image, as we are hoping it can find it’s way back to the newlywed couple to enjoy.