How to Prevent Bruised Toenails

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One of the very first times I went hiking I came home with a bruised toenail.

What does that even mean?  I didn’t even know that could happen.

But sure enough, once I got my boots and socks off there it was: a black toenail.

We had been hiking at a fairly moderate pace when I jumped down off of a tall rock.  I felt it right then, and wondered if I had hurt something.  It didn’t hurt to continue walking, so I marched on.  But I knew something had happened inside my boot.

I headed to the internet to figure out what a bruised toenail meant for the future health of my foot.  Luckily, my toe ended up just fine after I waited for the black portion of the nail to grow out.  (If you are of the female persuasion a little toenail polish can help the situation along.)


The medical term for this condition is Subungual hematoma.

My time researching the issue lead me to the following tips:

  • Keep your toenails clipped short.

  • Lace ’em up tight!  If your boots aren’t laced tightly enough, your foot can slide around inside the shoe and cause your toes to jam up toward the front of the boot.

  • Bruised toes are especially susceptible during long downhill hikes.  Make sure to re-tighten your laces often to prevent the sliding of your foot.

  • When you buy boots purposely try to make your toe-nails hit the front. They shouldn’t. If they do then those boots probably don’t fit you properly.

Where There’s a Will There’s a Badass

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I’ve come across a few videos lately that go to show that no matter what you’ve got holding you back, you are only limited by your own mental limitations.

One armed athlete:


The blind downhill mountain bike racer:


Mountains Without Barriers:


What’s holding you back?


I Would Move There: Profile of a Mountain Town Joseph, Oregon

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Joseph is a small mountain town in northeast Oregon. Situated six hours east of Portland at 4,150ft above sea level, and surrounded by the towering Wallowa and Seven Devils mountains, Joseph is a rather picturesque small mountain town.

Mountain Town: Joseph, OR


With a population hovering around 1,000 Joseph maintains a thriving main street (yes, they literally have a Main Street) equipped with local breweries, bank, library, cafes, and art galleries.

Mountain Town: Joseph, OR

The physical town of Joseph is less than one square mile.  Though, the community is often referred to as Wallowa County, as the surrounding unincroporated areas add to the recreation and other opportunities.  The county borders Idaho to the west and Washington to the north.

Joseph, OR Mountain Town

Enterprise, the closest larger town, is just five miles away with larger town comforts such as a Safeway grocery store and a BJs warehouse club.


For such a small town Joseph has plenty of events and celebrations packing the calendar.  From a classic car show, to traditional Fourth of July celebration, triathlons, Native American celebrations, sled dog races and more.  For the locals, a summer-long farmers market with accompanying concert series offers access to local fresh produce.

Joseph Or Bronze Bike Rally

While there isn’t exactly a dedicated bicycle shop in town, the local hardware store has kept up with local demand by expanding their bike offering to an entire room.  Several of their employees were even sent to the United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, OR to be schooled on the basics of bikes.

A beautifully pristine lake nestled between snow capped 9000′  mountains, nearby Wallowa Lake offers camping, hiking and boating.  There is even a tram that can be taken up to the top of the mountain.  Bring along your mountain bike, and you’ve got the equivalent of a shuttle-ready mountain biking nirvana.

Wallowa Lake

There is also a recreational train, the Eagle Cap Train, offering relaxing scenic rides through the local mountains.

There is a local ski run, void of the tourist drawing amenities it is a locally-run area.  With one t-bar and one rope tow up the mountain and a 640′ elevation gain its the perfect little mountain for kids, beginners or just drama-free fun.

Ski Wallowa Or

Local Business

For such a small town there is a shockingly long list of local storefronts:

Joseph OR Main Street

Joseph’s Sheep Shed is a local yarn shop and fiber gallery.

Bee Crow Bee is a local shop offering a line of carefully handmade bath & body products.

Mad Mary is a shop offering “everything fun & fattening”.  It’s a fun gift shop and soda fountain all in one.

Downtown Joseph Or


Lodging options are plentiful.  From B&Bs like Barking Mad Farm where you can stay in a turn of the century farm house with views of the mountains.  To the basic Indian Lodge Motel and the East Street Cottages.

Barking Mad Farm


Though they certainly feel all four seasons, the weather in and around Joseph is rather mild, as being in a valley surrounded by mountains shelters the area from many of the extreme weather fronts.


The local economy, while healthy, does rely on government jobs (being the largest area employer).  Average income hovers just below $30k, with the average two bedroom house priced around $100k.

Welcome to Joseph, OR


The lifestyle in Joseph, OR is summed up pretty well by the county chamber:

“When you are 65 miles from a McDonald’s or a Wal-Mart, and two and a half hours from a mall, you will find a whole new definition of the phrase for quality of life – It’s a “way of living”.  Here, the focus is definitely not on consumption.  It’s on family and community.  It’s on entrepreneurship.  And perhaps above all, it’s on outdoor beauty and recreation.”

Fish Trap at Wallowa Lake

We first heard of Joseph when Russ & Laura rolled through and interviewed Dan Price.  Then Tammy at Rowdy Kittens visited while on a writing retreat.  Joseph, by all accounts, is a delightful mountain town.


This is the first in a series of posts profiling mountain towns.  Let us know where your favorite mountain town is to see it featured in a upcoming post.  


Tiny House Interiors

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Tiny houses are small.  How the interior of a tiny home is finished is a very personal detail.

I think its the details of the interiors that amaze me the most.

There are about as many ways to furnish and design the interior of a tiny house, as there are tiny house owners.

Some keep it minimal, focusing on the views:
Tiny Home Office with a View


Tiny House Kitchen View Others go the opposite route:

A Tiny Victorian Cottage

Tiny House Den

Tiny House Living Room

Tiny House Bedroom Family

Sometimes the natural wood and natural light steal the show:

Hornby Island Caravans

Tiny House Interior

Tiny House Kitchen

Tiny House Kitchen

Tiny House Loft

A pop of color can add a whole lot to such a small space:

Colorful Tiny House

Tiny House Office

Colorful Tiny House

Colorful Tiny Home

For others, the rustic look seems to be a natural fit:

Rustic Tiny House

Tiny Bedroom Fireplace

Tiny House Tub

Mushroom Dome Cabin in Aptos




99 things to do while camping

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“What do you do while you’re camping?” ” Isn’t it boring?”

I get asked this every once in a while by friends who aren’t into camping.  Here, in no particular order, is our list of 99 things to do while camping.

1 – Catch lightning bugs in a jar.

2 – Make smores.

3 – Start a camp fire.

4 – Practice yoga.

Camping yoga Chris Binkley

5 – Look for big foot.

6 – Play hackysack.

7 – Use your flashlights to make shadow puppets.

8 – Tell scary stories around the fire.

9 – Go fishing.

10 – Play charades.

11 – Lay on your back in the grass and watch the clouds drift by.

12 – Read a good book by flashlight.

13 – Play horseshoes.

14 – Watch for shooting stars.

15 – Knit some socks.

16 – Pick wild berries.

17 – Go for a bike ride.

bike ride Carissa Earl

18 – Go on a photo walk.

19 – Practice geocaching.

20 – Pick a wildflower bouquet.

21 – Learn to play badminton.

22 – Learn to tie a new knot.  Use it while setting up camp.

23 – Take a nap in the middle of the day.

24 – Practice your axe throwing skills.

Throw an axe Chris Binkley

25 – Forgo the portapotty and poop in the woods.

26 – Explore.

27 – Craft a snare and see what you can catch.

28 – Make a lean-to tent just in case it rains.

29 – Take a bath in the lake.

30 – Play tic tac toe in the dirt using sticks to draw.

31 – Sing your favorite songs out loud.

32 – Mix up a batch of cocktails and imbibe.

33 – Play Uno.

34 – Learn to play a new song on the guitar.

35 – Make friends with the campers from the nearby campsites.

36 – Play hide and go seek.

37 – Climb a tree.

Climbing Chris Binkley

38 – Toss a frisbee.

39 – Draw a scene.

40 – Make friendship bracelets.

41 – Learn to skip a rock across a body of water.

42 – Go foraging for something to add to your dinner.

43 – Build a sandcastle.

44 – Use a compass to find your way on a map.

45 –  Make a situpon.

46 – Practice your cartwheels.

47 – Rent a boat and go boating.

48 – Make coffee.

49 – Play volleyball in the sand (or dirt).

50 – Go rock climbing.

51 – Create camp nicknames for everyone on your trip, and insist that only those names are used.

52 – See what kind of bugs you can collect.

53 – Go on a scavenger hunt.

54 – Stare up at the stars and try to point out the constellations.

55 – Reenact your favorite movie scene by scene.

56 – Try to make a fire by rubbing two sticks together.

57 – Sharpen your knife.

58 – Make a cup of tea.

59 – Go on a picnic.

60 – Hunt for buried treasure.

61 – Whittle.

62 – Play the harmonica.

63 – Make a sundial.

64 – Go for a run.

65 –  Set up a hammock and take a nap in the middle of the day.

66 –  Go tubing.

67 –  Practice your target shooting.

68 –  Hug a tree (you dirty hippie).

69 – Learn a new card game.

70 – Paint a picture.

71 – Fly a kite.

72 – Make a tree fort.

73 – Have a light saber fight.

74 – Dig a hole.

75 – Make old fashion jiffyy pop over the fire.

76 – Write a poem.  It doesn’t have to rhyme.

77 – Climb up something tall (tree, cliff, car roof) and jump off.Up a tree Chris Binkley

78 – Listen to music.

79 – Stay indoors.

80 – Play capture the flag.

81 – Create a checklist of what you packed for this trip that you don’t want to forget for the next trip

82 – Find a fallen log to use as a walking stick.

83 – Find a fresh water source and filter some water for drinking.Camping water Chris Binkley

84 – Sommersault down a hill.

85 – Sunbathe.

86 – Collect shells or rocks.

87 – Play hide and seek.

88 – Bird watch.

89 – Make a rope swing.

90 – Chop wood for a fire.

91 – Make boobie traps to protect your campsite.

92 – Build a dirt jump.  Practice jumping your bike off of it.

93 – Build a solar oven.

94 – Go horse back riding.

95 – Practice your leave no trace skills.

96 – Start a drum circle.

97 – Write a novel.

98 – Play kickball.

99 – Take a picture.


Spirits in the Woods

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No, not the ghost and goblins kind of spirits…

Ghosts in the woods

The kind you put in a mixed drink!

It seems that asking what type of alcohol should be brought along on a camping trip often brings up some strong opinions.

There are those who prefer a cold beer.  Though due to temperature and weight, beer is often reserved for car camping.

Wine can be a great choice once you remove the heavy glass bottle.  We usually opt to bring along our wine in a Platypus container designed for this very purpose.  I’ve had friends use bagged wine – though I’ve never found a variety I could stand to drink.  There is also the outdoor oriented Climber wine from Cliff Wineries (the same family behind Cliff Bars).

wine in Platypus 1L Water bottle

With an appropriate mixer, vodka can be a lovely camping companion.  Pre-mix a few cocktails, stick them in  the freezer and pull them out just before you leave home.  By the time dinner is done on the first night they should still be chilly enough to enjoy.

There is a new vodka on the shelfs of our neighborhood market that looks to be made especially for taking into the outdoors.  Kru vodka comes ready to go in a reusable stainless steel bottle complete with lanyard and carabiner.

KRU 82 Camping Vodka

I’ve known friends on especially chilly nights to bring along a flask of caramel or peppermint schnapps to mix with some powdered hot chocolate.

camping flask


What’s your favorite campsite beverage?


Your Mountain is Waiting: Our Favorite Outdoor Lifestyle Quotes

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We’ve been squirreling away quotes about camping, biking, mountains and outdoors for some time now.  We thought it would be fun to compile them all into one post.


Mountain Snow


There is an intense but simple thrill in setting off in the morning on a mountain trail, knowing that everything you need is on your back. It is a confidence in having left the inessentials behind and of entering a world of natural beauty that has not been violated, where money has no value, and possessions are a dead weight. The person with the fewest possessions is the freest. Thoreau was right.

– Paul Theroux


I love to be outdoors. I prefer being outdoors to, you know, being inside.

– Keith Carradine


The clearest way into the universe

is through a forest wilderness.

– John Muir


I became a loner. I became a mountain man. A lot of those things are very good qualities and they help you do your work, help you be singular and keep the artistic integrity of your work intact, but they don’t make it very easy to live your life.

– John Milius


The modern world is fast, complex, competitive, and always concerned with what happens next. There is always more to do than there is time. The landscape and even the light are mostly artificial. This can be exciting, but all too often it is frustrating, stressful, and exhausting. In contrast, hiking for weeks or months at a time in an unspoiled natural environment is a simple, repetitive activity that leads to calmness and psychological well-being, a feeling of wholeness, of being a complete person. Each day follows the same pattern, linking in with natural rhythms–walk in the light, sleep in the dark, eat when hungry, take shelter from storms. Only the details are different. I get a great pleasure from this simplicity, from the basic pattern of walk and camp, walk and camp. It is good to escape the rush of the modern world and for a period of time to live a quieter, more basic life. Problems and worries subside as the days go by; they are put into perspective by the elemental activity of putting one foot in front of the other hour after hour, day after day. And on returning from the wilds, restored and revitalized by the experience, I find civilization can be much easier to deal with; indeed, aspects of it can seem very desirable.

– Chris Townsend


There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.

– Chinese Proverbs


A mountain has no need for people, but people do need mountains. We go to them for their beauty, for the exhilaration of standing closer to mysterious skies, for the feeling of triumph that comes from having labored to reach a summit.

– Earl Hamner, Jr.


Mountain Lake

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

– John Muir


I had daydreams and fantasies when I was growing up. I always wanted to live in a log cabin at the foot of a mountain. I would ride my horse to town and pick up provisions. Then return to the cabin, with a big open fire, a record player and peace.

– Linda McCartney


Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…

– John Muir


I do not own an inch of land,

but all I see is mine.

– Lucy Larcom


There is no bad weather. You are not well equipped!

– Unknown


Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up, as did men of another age, to the challenge of nature. Modern man lives in a highly synthetic kind of existence. He specializes in this and that. Rarely does he test all his powers or find himself whole. But in the hills and on the water the character of a man comes out.

– Abram T. Collier


A simple equation exists between freedom and numbers: the more people, the less freedom.

– Royal Robbins


Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful.  Everything is simply happy.  Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance.  Look at the flowers – for no reason.  It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are.

– Osho


Marry a mountain girl and you marry the whole mountain.

– Irish Saying


I’ve learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.

– Andy Rooney

Mountain Snow


I never had any other desire so strong, and so like covetousness, as that… I might be master at last of a small house and a large garden, with very moderate conveniences joined to them, and there dedicate the remainder of my life to the culture of them and the study of nature.

– Abraham Cowley



It is impossible to overestimate the value of wild mountains and mountain temples as places for people to grow in, recreation grounds for soul and body.

– John Muir


We’ve been swimming at nude beaches and I love to go skinny dipping, but I’m sorry, sitting on top of a mountain, that’s just, you’re trying to show off or something. That’s ridiculous.

– Andy Richter


You can never conquer the mountain. You can only conquer yourself.

– James Whittaker


The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.

– Galileo


It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.

–Horace Kephart


No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied – it speaks in silence to the very core of your being

– Ansel Adams


I was comin’ down the mountain.

– Jane’s Addiction


If you are faced with a mountain, you have several options.

You can climb it and cross to the other side.

You can go around it.

You can dig under it.

You can fly over it.

You can blow it up.

You can ignore it and pretend it’s not there.

You can turn around and go back the way you came.

Or you can stay on the mountain and make it your home.

– Vera Nazarian


There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.

– Chinese Proverb


The mountains are calling and I must go.

– John Muir

Mountain Sunset


A man does not climb a mountain

without bringing some of it away with him,

and leaving something of himself upon it.

– Sir Martin Conway


Climb up on some hill at sunrise.  Everybody needs perspective once in a while, and you’ll find it there.

– Robb Sagendorph


We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home, in towns and cities.

– Nessmuk (G.W. Sears)


I got into an argument with a girlfriend inside of a tent.  That’s a bad place for an argument, because then I tried to walk out and slammed the flap.  How are you supposed to express your anger in this situation?  Zipper it up really quick?

– Mitch Hedberg


If you don’t let go, you can’t fall off!

– Jerry Moffat


Be master of your petty annoyances and conserve your energies for the big, worthwhile things. It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out – it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.

– Robert Service


Even in these mercifully emancipated decades, many people still seem quite seriously alarmed at the prospect of sleeping away from officially consecrated campsites, with no more equipment than they can carry on their backs. When pressed, they babble about snakes or bears or even, by God, bandits. But the real barrier, I’m sure, is the unknown.

– Colin Fletcher


The bicycle is its own best argument.

– Richard Ballantine


Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.

– Rachel Carson


No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied – it speaks in silence to the very core of your being.

– Ansel Adams


Always in big woods, when you leave familiar ground and step off alone to a new place, there will be, along with feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. You are understanding the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is the experience of our essential loneliness, for nobody can discover the world for anybody else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes common ground, and a common bond, and we cease to be alone.

– Wendell Berry


I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

– John Muir


To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.

– John Burroughs


Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.

– Dr. Seuss


Resoul, Repair, Revive

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Do you have an old pair of hiking boots that you love?  They’ve been everywhere with you, the tread is starting to go, they don’t sell anything like it anymore and you just can’t stand the thought of dealing with the ordeal that is shopping for new hiking boots?

Old Hiking Boots

It may be worth looking into resoling them.  Companies like Mountain Soles out of Portland, OR specialize in this type of repair to outdoor equipment.

Mountain Soles provides ‘Sewing and Repairs for Outdoor Adventurers’.

It’s not just old hiking boots that can be brought back to life.  A review gives an extreme example of a specialty item being repaired: “saw an unusual item, asked what it was and was told it was a several thousand dollar canopy/tent used to develop film onsite for natural photography.”

Often times it can be cheaper in the long run to resole or repair than to repurchase when it comes to gear that’s already stood the test of time.


Prepping: Why We Keep a Supply of Medicine On Hand

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We’ve got a medicine drawer where we keep a general supply of common medicines: pain relievers, cold/flu medicine, vitamin C & zinc supplements, indigestion aids, muscle relaxers, etc.

We regularly prune through this drawer to ensure we don’t have erroneous and expired products.

Keeping this medical supply drawer started innocently enough, someone got a cold and didn’t use up all the medicine.  Someone needed some Tums, and now we have half a bottle left.  But on many occasions we’ve purposely restocked these items before they ran out, and before we needed them again.

prepping medical kit


Recently Chris thought he was getting allergies, a day later he was sure that what he thought were allergies was most certainly a cold, and the day after thought it was evident that he had the flu.  The sickness progressed so quickly that if we didn’t have the medicine on-hand and in the house, he may not have had the medicine he needed to relieve his symptoms.

Should we get sick while in a worse situation: while we’re broke and out of money, during a natural disaster, or any other time, we know we’re safe with our medicine safely stashed away.

How do you prepare for unforeseen uncertainties?

Mountain Muse: Blue Ridge Parkway

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Blue Ridge Parkway Mountains

Sometimes it’s important to learn to use the tools on hand.

Blue Ridge Parkway Bridge

I ended up on a trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway without the batteries to my DSLR.

Blue Ridge Parkway Beauty

These photos were taken with my cell phone.

Blue Ridge Parkway Mountains & Sky

Two lessons learned:

1: Don’t forget to pack the batteries.

2: Often times the tools on hand are perfectly adequate.

Blue Ridge Parkway Mountains & Sky

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