My Household Shopping

Furnishing a house always seems to involve buying a lot of stuff. With a job and a girlfriend, I don’t have the time to go shopping for every little thing. Therefore, I decided that my best bet would be to buy the majority of it online. While some stuff is better seen in person before purchasing, a lot of things are going to be just as good whether I’ve seen them or not.

When putting together a list of what all I needed to buy, kitchen supplies was a long section. I needed the works: plates, bowls, cups, silverware, appliances, etc. In particular, I wanted to pick up a knife set and sharpener. I may not be a five star chef, but I cook some and I’d like to have the proper tools at my disposal. I began investigating the knives that would best fit my needs.

Little did I know, knife sets come in a wide selection of styles and prices. I did some research and looked up several reviews. One of the best rated knife sets was right at $100 and included everything I seemed to need. I decided that would work for me. The set came with a sharpening steel, but I was more interested in picking up a sharpening stone. Worst case scenario, the steel could serve as a backup if I ever lose or somehow destroy the stone.

Though not quite as plentiful as the knife sets, there were quite a few different options for sharpeners as well. Cutting out steels and electric sharpeners trimmed out a lot of choices, but there were still a ton of stones to choose from. After looking through several sharpener options, a simple diamond whetstone with a fine grind seemed appropriate. No need for fancy oils or extra tools necessary.

When I received the knife set in the mail, the knives already seemed extremely sharp. I made a point to use them as much as possible for a few weeks in order to dull them at least somewhat. After a while, I noticed that they weren’t cutting quite as easily as they were at first. Time to break out the sharpener. It turns out the sharpening stone was pretty easy to use. In not long at all, the knives were just as sharp as they were when I first got them, if not sharper. One of the knives I sharpened with the steel that came with the set. Perhaps I’m biased, but it seemed as though the stone sharpened the knives much more quickly, and the blade seemed sharper. Maybe I just didn’t spend enough time on the steel, but the knife I sharpened with it seemed to plateau on sharpness no matter how long I kept grinding it.

I would say I’m very pleased with the purchase. Though I could have used the included steel, I much prefer using the sharpening stone. Even when the knives eventually wear out and need to be replaced, the sharpener seems like it will outlast them. Easy to use, compact enough to store anywhere, I think it’s great.


Food and Nature

When I am off my day job, and sometimes even when I am on it, I love cooking. So much. I believe in another world I am the top chef of the top hotel in that other world. Being a nature guide is interesting in ways I can’t even explain. It’s the thrill of nature, the adrenaline of seeing a new creature for the first time-this is literally always happening-I will spot a bird which I have never seen before, or walk by a raccoon that looks absurdly cooler than the usual ones. As you can already tell, I am a nature geek. I love all things nature and I enjoy being around them even more.

Now I do not get so much time to experiment with my cooking while I am out camping. My food options are a tad limited, and so are my heat sources. But every once in a while, I convince my fellow campers to start a fire and get a pot of something delicious brewing. These are mostly limited to meat stews-which are usually so delicious. Or maybe it’s just the feeling of being out in the great outdoors that make everything seem so surreal. But for some reason, being there with a bagel or other type of bread and taking that with some meat we cooked over campfire is always such an unusual experience. Other times, we stick to roasting good old marshmallows over the camp fire. Enough songs have been sung about this, but that only serves to prove how awesome it is. To sit round in a group of people and enjoy marshmallows roasted over camp fire. It is like a never-going-to-end tradition.Most times however, when I am going for short periods, I carry pre-cooked food from home. Sometimes I carry dried beans and easy-to-make soups that I eat with my meals. I prefer carrying home cooked meals, because it gives me a chance to go crazy in the kitchen. I make all kinds of food, trying out anything my heart desires. Most times this is rice. I can’t seem to get over how great rice is. Especially since I discovered I could cook it using a rice cooker, and the results would be amazing. I have tried out several different recipes which I looked up online and the results have been spectacular to say the least. Rice has the advantage of not being messy since it is a dry food. And I can use my rice cooker at home, then carry a couple of pots when I go off camping. I can use the pots to cook up whichever stew or dish that my heart desires to go with my rice. I could also use the dried beans or easy-to-make soup as accompaniments to the rice I pre-made at home.

Camping may seem to bum out all the options that are available when it comes to food, but the truth is, camping allows you to be creative, and you can go as all out as you so desire. Anything goes as far as food is concerned when you are camping.

Learn from my mistakes – keep you car maintained!

I understand that most guys dream of having an exclusive and cool first hand car such as a BMW 5-Series or a Mercedes Benz  S-Class or perhaps a Lamborghini or Ferrari. However the reality is that most of us have to be content with a second hand mediocre Toyota, Nissan or Honda.
There’s nothing wrong with owning a used car. In fact, I would say that it’s a wise decision for those who are on a budget. With that being said, used cars don’t always offer you a smooth ride in the sunset and I found that out the hard way when the transmission of my car failed a few days ago.
Being a nature guide, I have to take my car out in the wilderness quite often and so you can imagine the predicament that I was in when the transmission gave away in the middle of nowhere, in the forest! To say that I was upset is to say nothing, I was furious to the point where I wanted call up the previous owner of the car and scream my lungs out. Thankfully, a fellow tourist from the group I was leading, had a temporary solution for the problem and I made it through the day without further blushes.

Don’t end up like this guy!

Once I got back home, I realized that it wasn’t right of me to put the blame on the previous owner of the car. I should have known that any used car has a lot of miles on it, and when a car has been put under immense stress for so long, the chances of the transmission failing are pretty high.
When I checked up on my car, I saw that the transmission fluid turned dark red and was was smelling like something burned. In addition to that, when I looked into the transmission I saw some small dirt or debris in the fluid, which isn’t right. From all these signs it was very clear to me that the transmission fluid needed changing and transmission itself needed to be checked by professionals.  Without further ado, I drove my car all the way to the nearest auto service to have my transmission repaired.
The mechanics over there used the special flush system to repair the damage to my car’s transmission. In simpler words, they basically forced out the old burned and contaminated fluid and pumped in new fluid. They even cleaned the filters attached to my automatic transmission. Once they were done with the repair work, my car was as good as new (except for the countless dents on the body). It cost me quite a lot though to get it fixed.
So what’s the verdict on transmission repair? Well if your car, used or not used, has run for about 100,000 miles then you should seriously consider changing the transmission fluid in your vehicle. If you are reading this post – consider yourself well warned. Don’t be like me and make sure you keep your car well maintained before taking off into the wild!

Being a Runner

Hi there again! This is Jake and today I am going to talk about my life as a runner. As I’ve mentioned before, I live in Southern Virginia.

Life in Southern Virginia is slow-paced so I live a perfectly normal, laid-back and easygoing lifestyle. I can go walking and jogging from one time and the other day you can see me humming a song or two while I run errands for my girlfriend or parents. I’d like to think that I live a nonchalant but exciting life down here.

 I am an avid runner. I run five times a week, with the exceptions of Saturdays and Sundays as I prefer to just bum around and sleep during these days. My girlfriend Janie usually comes with me as she herself is a sports enthusiast. In fact, she’s the one who encouraged me to try running as she noticed how much I gained weight for the past two years.

 In fact during our runs, we bring with us Janie’s niece. Her name’s Stacey, a cute 8-month old toddler who loves the outdoors. Well you might be thinking how on earth can we run with this little rascal, but I daresay that it is possible. When Janie’s sister, Bridget, noticed how Stacey would love to come with us and cry as we bid her goodbye before we start our run, she bought her the greatest jogging stroller we could find, after reading some positive reviews, of course.

 That was the first time I heard of it and I was even skeptical about the idea at first. Oh boy, that was even the first time I ever saw one. When we took Stacey with us, we comfortably placed her in the jogging stroller.

 If you’re wondering, the jogging stroller is sturdy and is unlike the ordinary four-wheeled strollers that you see in the department stores as this one comes handy with three large wheels. The stroller kinda looked like an upgraded version of a wheel barrow and I hesitated to use it during the first few days but I was wrong about it. Stacey’s BOB jogging stroller is very well-balanced so I never had a problem maneuvering it as we climb up and down a hill.

Greenbrier River

What a wonderful and exciting trip we took a group on down and around the Greenbrier River. 23 miles or so and it took us a few days of camping along the river. The weather was beautiful and allowed us easy access without the worry of high water or crazy unexpected situations. You would be amazed at what fun adults have when out in the wild.
riverTelling scary stories is not only for children, but for everyone. We roasted marsh mellows, and sang songs around the campfire like a family would, even though singing is not my talent and I thought I would scare the group off into the forest. At least, though, my girlfriend can sing pretty well and kept them going and having fun. One of the best aspects of my job is getting to meet real people with all sorts of stories and knowledge. I am an avid learner and I have a blast when you get guys or gals from all over the world come and tell me things about where they are from, or useless facts. After a few days and some really good times, my girlfriend and I came home and it was like instant nap time. Once we got around to waking up, we had a talk and decided seriously that we are going to do this for the rest of our lives. It just is so much fun and why would you want to have a boring uneventful job? I noticed how many people out there are so unhappy with their lives and most of it is the time its stress that comes from the job the seeps into the home and causes more problems than necessary. Something else when I woke up I noticed, while unpacking that I had dulled my knife while out this weekend and I don’t even own a knife sharpener and this knife not being a kitchen knife I do not even know what type to get. So went online searching for the best way to sharpen a knife. Turns out there are many different types and knife sharpening models available on the market. So have funny names like this one. Anyways, I did not want to spend to much time on knife sharpeners as I was eager to get my life on new and exciting path. I just picked the one with highest reviews on and went on.

Changes are coming!  Talk to you soon!

Bow + Arrow or Gun + Bullet?

I decided that I should probably increase my education in all things outside. From hiking, to safety, and weaponry that may come in handy in the outdoors. I know that most who spend time outdoors of course have some kind of knife, but also I feel more comfortable carrying a bow rather than a firearm, or shotgun. I researched so many options for best compound bows and great hunting crossbows, and what size or shape I personally would need. I went to a sporting good store to ask some advice because I do not want to spend a bunch of money on something that isn’t going to be a good fit. I found so many options such as the Ten Point Titan Xtreme Crossbow, Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Bow, and a PSE Legacy Longbow. I haven’t decided yet exactly what type and design to go with. I don’t want something too heavy because walking and hiking don’t need extra weight. Also, I want to make sure the bow has great survivability and longevity. I like how a long bow is very natural, and it seems to me it could be easier as far as making one, or keeping one. Although a crossbow would give quicker reaction time. My girlfriend says no matter what, I will look ridiculous and it isn’t necessary. I wonder how well I could carry a firearm, I know they are much smaller but the thought of using one is beyond my understanding. I guess I always saw a bow as the super hero of the outdoors weapon of choice. Like Green Arrow, I believe a bow is more stealthy, and quiet. Check this video and you’ll agree with me: When a gun goes off it shocks the people close to it, and everything around you meaning it disrupts the natural environment. I did realize through trying to buy a bow online that the options are endless and I am so confused. What does “Draw Weight” mean? So I Goggled it (found this nice site where all of this was explained). Did you know that draw weight refers to how much weight it is to pull the string back? You can purchase a bow with as little as 15lbs of draw weight, however it is suggested if someone is going to go hunting with a bow they need at least 40lbs of draw weight. At least when I do purchase a bow, I will know everything about them so if someone on a trail asks I will be able to give good advice on what they too can purchase.

Pottery and more

Welcome back if you are continuing to read my blog, My girlfriend Janie and I found some really exciting pieces of pottery while out exploring Southern Virginia. We took it to the nearest University, where they found out that the pottery was from the early nineteen hundreds. How amazing is that? Continue reading