Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hikes in Utah: Millcreek Canyon Lambs Pass Great Western Trail

Lamb's Canyon Trailhead at Elbow Fork in Millcreek Canyon

Distance for Lambs Pass: 4 miles round trip
Easy to Moderate with some steep climbs
Dogs allowed to the pass but not into Lambs Canyon

Lamb's Canyon Pass is part of the Great Western Trail. This portion of the trail makes for a great day hike. The trailhead in Millcreek Canyon is located at Elbow Fork. From Wasatch Blvd. take the Millcreek Canyon Road (3800 So.) and drive about 6.3 miles up the road to Elbow Fork which will be on the left. There is a small parking area with an outhouse.

The trail is well marked. The Great Western Trail marker is also visible.
Lambs Canyon Great Western Trail Marker

At .25 miles, the Mt. Aire and Lambs Canyon trail split. Again, the trail is well marked. Stay to the right for Lambs Canyon Pass which is 1.8 miles from the split. The trail follows the stream then makes two switchbacks away from it. At about .8 miles, it crossed the stream again.

Lambs Canyon Pass Millcreek Canyon

After the trail crosses the stream for the last time, there are two steep switchbacks on the spine of the mountain. At the ridge, enjoy the views of Millcreek Canyon. Here you will turn left to hike into Lambs Canyon. It will also be the turn around point for Lambs Pass. If hiking with your dog, you must turn around at this point as no dogs are allowed into the Lambs Canyon side of the trail for watershed. For those hiking the Great Western Trail or all of Lambs Canyon, the trail continues down Lambs Canyon about two more miles. The trail is rugged on both sides and backcountry camping is limited.

Lambs Pass Trail Millcreek Canyon

Lambs Canyon Pass

Sunday, May 25, 2014

How to Pack a Carry On Bag for a Week's Vacation

Let's face it, with the high costs of checking a bag not to mention the damage caused to luggage by the airlines, it is becoming more important than ever to learn to pack light when traveling. This means you must take less than you think you will need and leave the heavy stuff behind. Start with liquids. These are generally heavy and usually not necessary. Hotels provide lotions, soaps and shampoo and will give you additional bottles upon request. If you are staying anywhere near civilization, you can buy these things when you get to where you are going. If you can't fit it in a quart size bag, don't take it. The exception would be medicines, especially prescription medicines. Of all the things, this should be the item you pack first.

Start with your bulkiest items. For me, these are my running shoes, my jeans and a sweatshirt. Instead of packing these items, put them aside to wear onto the plane, thus freeing up space in your carry on luggage.

I always bring three pair of shoes, one pair of athletic shoes for my workouts, a lightweight pair of walking shoes and a pair of sports sandals.

The shoes go in the carry on bag first. Remember to wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane. The other two pair line the sides of the suitcase leaving the middle for clothing.

I never bring more than three pair of pants. This includes the pair I wear on the plane. Pants can be worn twice on a trip. The best travel pants are those made my outdoor companies like Columbia or prAna as they are lightweight and not prone to wrinkling. I pack a colored pair like gray, and a khaki or tan pair. I also pack one pair with zip off legs that convert to shorts. If I am going somewhere warm, I will often throw in an extra pair of shorts.

 As far as shirts go, it's easy to fit in one shirt for every day of your trip plus a long sleeve shirt for cool nights. For the long sleeve shirt, stay away from bulky fleece and sweatshirt fabrics. Instead opt for shirts made with athletic fabrics. They are just as warm and take up less space in your bag.

Lightweight fabrics are the key for shirts as well. I usually pack a few button up shirts. I lay them one on top of the other, fold the arms and sides in and then roll them altogether. For my pull over shirts, I keep the fabrics light and roll each shirt separately.

I also pack one skirt and dress shirt. Polyester blends don't wrinkle and work best. One swimsuit, unless spending more than three days at the beach, is plenty. A pair of board shorts will transform the swimsuit into a leisurely outfit for adventure sightseeing.

Now for the packing:

The key to getting everything to fit is rolling your clothes. 

Rolling your clothes like a sleeping bag or bedroll allows you to place the items side by side instead of on top of each other. If I choose the right fabric, my clothes rarely wrinkle. If I have room when I am finished, which I always do, I will throw in a couple of ratty t-shirts. Sometimes, I throw them away after my trip to leave room for souvenirs. It's always nice to have a few extra shirts.

Underclothing, including seven pair of socks, will fit inside the netting on the inside front panel.

Most hotels have a blow dryer in the room so it isn't always necessary to pack one. If not, a small travel size blowdryer works best.

I never put liquids inside of my bag. I place them in a quart sized bag in the outside pocket. This way it can be removed easily at the security gates.

My packing method works every time with room to spare. My bag is never too heavy to fit into the overhead luggage bins. If it is heavy, you over packed.

I also travel with a small backpack that will fit under the seat on an airplane. Most airlines allow one carry on and one personal item. As your personal item, a backpack or shoulder bag works the best. Use the personal bag for your most important items. This is where I pack all medicines, money, passport, laptop, reading materials and snacks for the plane ride. I also keep a toothbrush, toothpaste, small hair brush and an extra pair of underwear in case my luggage doesn't arrive at my destination. In all of my travels, this is all I have ever needed.

Additional tips:

  • Check your airline's carry on weight limits and bag size. Do not go over the bag size limits or you will be forced to check your bag and pay a fee.
  • Never pack banned items in your carry on luggage. Check which items are banned.
  • Don't expect the flight attendant to lift your bag for you into the overhead bins. If you can't handle your own bag, it is too heavy.
  • Use a bag that is easy to navigate through the airport. Those with wheels work best.
  • Some airlines charge fees for carry on bags. It is cheaper to pay ahead of time than at the airport.
  • Try to avoid checking your carry on bag even if airlines allow it. Every time I have ever checked a bag, it has come back with some type of damage.
  • Put your bag inside the overhead compartment with the handle facing outwards. It makes it easier to grab. 
  • Never put valuables in a carry on bag. Some planes are small and carry on bags must be checked. Keep your valuables in your personal bag.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ozeri Green Earth Frying Pan: Product Review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. 

Ever since my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, I have become increasingly worried about the chemicals my family come in contact with on a daily basis. I have been using non-stick pans for years. It wasn't until recently that I discovered many of these non-stick surfaces contain the chemicals PTFE, and PFOA. PTFE (PolyTetraFluoroEthylene) is a synthetic substance which is what the coating of many non-stick pans are made. At high temperatures, that substance can break down and release harmful fumes. PFOA (PerFluoroOctanoic Acid) is a substance that has been classified as a pollutant by the FDA. I have wanted to replace my non-stick pans for some time with a safer alternative.

Green Earth Frying Pan by Ozeri is made with exactly the coating I have been looking at replacing my pans with, a ceramic coating called GREBLON which is an ultra-safe coating made in Germany. The Grebelon ceramic coating is free of PTFE and PFOA. This makes be feel better about using the cookware to prepare my family's meals.

I love the look of the pan. The color is nice and looks sleek. However, looks mean nothing if the product doesn't work well so I put it to the test.  I use a frying pan to prepare home cooked meals at least four to five times a week. We love fresh, healthy food and eat a lot of stir fry dishes including fajitas. The textured bottom works well for fajitas and other meat and veggie combos. However, these types of dishes rarely stick to my pans anyway. I did notice that the manufacturer warns of oil buildup and how to clean it. I have this happen with my other non-stick pans so with the types of food I prepare, I am assuming this may happen over time. However, I have only used it for a week which is not long enough to determine whether this is true or not. The pan is the right size for a meal for four people.

Like other non-stick pans, it will made a difference in how long the surface will last if you don't use the right utensils. I have always used plastic spatulas or wooden spoons which I used on this pan. I did not notice any damage from my utensils. Also, I can't comment on the durability as I am a firm believer you have to use cookware for at least six months to see how well the non-stick coating holds up.
 I also made crepes with the Ozeri pan. I have to admit, this is where I worried about the textured bottom. It ended up not making a difference at all. I wasn't able to flip the crepe just by moving the pan. I did have to loosen it a bit with a spatula. Most of the crepes did well but I did notice a little residue sticking to the sides of the pan after my eighth or ninth crepe. It came off easily but it did make me worry what the pan would be like after months of use.

One of the things I like most about the pan is the heat conductivity. I only needed to keep my stove at medium low setting for the pan to be hot enough to cook crepes and meatIt cooks uniformly which is so important when making things like crepes and pancakes. While I wouldn't compare this pan to high end cookware it is good for everyday use at a price comparable to other non-stick pans and a good replacement for pans made with PTFE and PFOA

  • Looks nice
  • Versatile
  • Cleans well
  • Non stick surface works without oil though a drop of oil is recommended
  • Durable weight
  • Conducts heat well
  • Fair price point
  • Food sticks a bit after repeated use
  • Surface sensitive to hard utensils   
Rating: ★★★★☆

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Day Out of School and We Do This: Salt Lake City PMAA Gun Range

Yes, Caden was scolded for not opening his gun case down range.

It's not easy having a son who has had a fascination with knives and guns since he was two years old. My grandfather was a gun collector but I was never interested in them. I never talked about them so it came as a shock when one of my children wanted to think and talk about guns and knives all of the time. For me, the challenge was to figure out how to handle his curiosity in a safe way without making him sneak behind my back.

At fifteen years-old, my son is old enough hunt and carry his own gun. Honestly, that is a scary thought. I don't like the whole idea. However, if my son is going to have a desire to hunt, it is my job to make sure he  learns to be a responsible gun handler.

Caden recently had a day off school. I offered to take him to the movies, to the climbing gym, and/or hiking. What I didn't offer was to take him shooting.

And of course, because I didn't think of shooting as an option, he did. He wanted to sight and set his hunting scope for his Hunter's Safety Course the following week.  I had to go through a moment of inner turmoil. In reality, he needed a bit of practice. I don't think he would admit it, but I am sure he was shocked when I agreed to take him shooting.

Since I am no expert on guns, my husband didn't feel confident on letting me take our son alone and insisted on going with. That was actually a big relief and a welcome addition. I'll admit, guns scare me.

We headed up Parley's Canyon to the Salt Lake City PMAA Gun Range. The range is open to the public on many days. However, I would suggest calling ahead as the Salt Lake Police Department often reserves then entire range for practice and training. It is fairly inexpensive. We pad less than $25.00 for three of us. Children from 12-15 are only $3.00.
Even though guns scare me, I like to practice shooting a handgun so I will feel confident in using one for self-protection if necessary. While the boys practiced with their hunting rifles, I practiced with a 22 caliber pistol. I definitely need to practice more as I only hit the target about half the time. It does help to ease my fear of guns to go to the range. It also gives my family a chance to practice gun safety, to remind our children what that guns are not toys, and to teach about the right time and place to shoot a gun.

Caden can hardly wait for his first real hunting trip and he has become quite a good marksman.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Lumenx Bike Light Review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

As an avid cyclist, I have to always be prepared for the unexpected. There is nothing worse than having a problem like a flat tire that makes a planned bike ride take longer than expected. When I'm tight on time and I know I have little daylight to spare, a flat tire can mean the difference between riding home in the last of the daylight or in the dark. In fact, I have avoided riding in the dark for the simple reason that I never had a bike light and didn't want to take the chance of being hit by a car. 

The Lumenx bike light is the one bike accessory that I will always be grateful I own for the added safety it brings to my rides.

The front light does require 3 AAA batteries which do not come with it. However, the back light does come with it's own power source.

 I had no trouble mounting the light to my bike. However, I did have to take out the extra padding inside of the mounting apparatus to get it to fit on my handle bars. It was easy to remove and it still left me with a nice grip inside that will protect my handlebars. 

One of the best features of the LED light is that it can be zoomed in and out for focusing on a small or larger area. I could move the light with little effort while keeping both my hands on the handlebars. This gave me added comfort.

 The Lumenx light comes with a red light for the back of the bike. It also is easy to mount. The red light can be used two ways, as a solid light or a flashing light. I like the flashing light better as it is better at getting driver's attention. 

Both lights are bright enough to be seen by cars but not too bright to blind somebody as they pass by.

The price of the light is fair and really a small price to pay for something that may save my life someday. I haven't used the light long enough to comment on the long term durability but so far the light has proven to be of good quality.

What I like about the Lumenx bike light:
  • Easy to install
  • Removable for flashlight
  • Zoom in and out
  • Flashing back light
  • Easily adjustable while riding
  • Price 
  • LED light uses less energy
Rating: ★★★★★
The Lumenx light can be purchased on Amazon.


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.