A couple of years ago, we did a review on the Geek Church about the Buckshot 2.0. The product by Outdoor Tech got a bit of a boost with an all-in-one wireless speaker, flashlight, and power bank. We have a chance to review this for you today.
This product is very similar to the 2.0 with the speaker part- at least in the rugged design and look. The buttons to control the speaker part are mostly the same. The difference is in the flashlight, of course, and there is only about half the Bluetooth range and battery time. A 2,600 mAh lithium battery gives out quite a bit of power. This one also has a USB output so you can charge your devices. The flashlight has four settings- high beam, low beam, strobe/SOS, and lantern mode. The brightness goes up to 100 lumens.
Attaching your speaker/flash-light to something like the handle bar on your bike is easy. A handle bar mount is included, and looks like this:
If you need a bike headlight at night, this is not a great solution. You would probably need something with more lumens. Maybe you still might like it mounted for the tunes, and using the flashlight for something else, though. Other ways to mount include using the standard 1/4”-20 thread and mounting clip.
This gadget is pretty cool for outdoor use, and it has some water and dust/dirt resistance, but is not completely waterproof. It would make a great camping flashlight, especially if you are out somewhere that doesn’t have accessible power outlets.
If you want to purchase one for yourself, it currently costs $65.95 on the website for the Black and Sailor Blue color, and $70.95 for the Mossy Oak(camouflage) one .
We were not paid for this review, though we did receive the product for free. No other compensation was given for our fair and unbiased analysis.
Pelican brings many cases to carry your stuff. This one that we are about to review is for food. It’s one of the several coolers that they carry. We hope to be able to review others, but this specific one is the 30 quart Elite.
Made with a sturdy hard shell, this cooler has 2 inch thick insulation that will keep things cold for a long time. It claims to have the ability to keep ice from completely melting for up to 7 days. Most reviews have said that their ice has lasted between 5 and 7 days. There seems to be techniques to get ice to last as long as 10 days. This blog has some good tips. The cooler does have feet on the bottom, which is one of the tips. This keeps the cooler off the hot ground, and air flowing between the ground and the Pelican cooler.
One thing I noticed when opening the cooler is that it smelled strongly of polyurethane. You will not want to get this cooler right before leaving on a trip without being able to wash it out and air it out.
The cooler can carry a lot of stuff. With an internal size of 14.6” x 10.2” x 11”, you can fit up to 22 cans of soda.You can also carry about two days worth of food and 12 cans. It’s all pretty amazing, but is pretty big(not the largest size) and bulky. One person might be able to carry it if they’re in good shape. I think this one would be nice with wheels and a handle to pull. Some of their other coolers have these features. It will definitely come in handy for car camping it you don’t have far to carry it.
Some other great features are the built in cup holders in the lid. The press and pull latches help keep it sealed tight. It’s certified to be bear proof. The built-in bottle opener
is made with corrosion resistant stainless steel. A built-in fish scale will help you see exactly how big that fish is that you caught.
This high grade cooler comes in 12 different color combos. We received the Canyon Red/Tan one to review, and it’s really a nice color. Maybe you will find the color combo you are looking for. The cooler costs $224.95 on the Pelican site. That may seem like a lot of money, but the value you get is worth it. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee. Although our cooler was given to us for free to review, no other compensation has been given for our fair and unbiased analysis. We are not sponsored by Pelican.
We were pleased to get this new lightweight pump that is an Indiegogo project to review. The Tropo pump by FlexWeightGear will be a great accessory for those with an outdoor lifestyle.
Tropo is an air pump that is both lightweight and affordable. It’s also versatile with its multiple attachments to inflate items, fan flames, blow away small debris, or even suck air out of vacuum seal bags. The pump comes with 4 attachments. From left to right in the picture above, they are:
Vacuum nozzle- Goes on the top side that you see in the picture to vacuum seal bags
Sharp air nozzle-For inflating beach balls or beach toys
Large caliber air nozzle- For inflating large air mattresses or directing air to fan flames
Rubber air nozzle- Fits over valves on some outdoor air mattresses
The nozzles and the Tropo pump all fit in a small black drawstring bag. I didn’t see the little bag in their Indiegogo pictures, but it came in the Tropo box I received. By the way, this box has all the tips and instructions written on it, so you might not want to recycle the box until you know the ins and outs of your device.
Did I mention the Tropo is lightweight? Without batteries, it weighs 100 grams. It only requires 4 AA batteries, which really is amazing. My regular battery operated pump is about twice the size and takes 6 C batteries! That’s a lot of weight to lug around, and more expensive to power. The little Tropo pump is efficient, too, and can fill up an air mattress in the same amount of time as my bigger pump in the picture.
So, the Tropo pump is not yet on Amazon, as it’s still on Indiegogo- probably for another month from the time of writing this. If you want to buy the Tropo, you can go to this site and choose your color of green, pink, gray or blue. You could also choose which early bird package you would like. Just for the single pump, it costs $19. The cost says it is marked down from $27. I would hope they keep the pump at the Indiegogo price. I think it’s definitely worth the $20 price tag. The bigger pump I have is more affordable, but again, it uses more batteries that are harder to find, and the weight makes the Tropo worth it.
Thanks to FlexTailGear for providing this pump for us to try out. I hope they would consider sending us their air mattress(also available as an option on their Indiegogo page) to review. No other compensation has been given for our fair and unbiased analysis.
If you have issues with stinky feet, these MP Magic Socks may be the answer to your putrid-pedi problems.
These socks are said to have magic antibacterial powers due to three infused metals of silver, copper, and zinc. We were sent a pair of these socks(as shown above) for free to try out for review purposes.
I have worn these socks for 5 days now, and they don’t stink. They don’t smell like roses, either. I think it’s necessary to take them off at night so they can have a chance to dry out. The socks that I received to review were thin, but comfortable. They would make a good pair of liner socks on a backpacking trip.
They do have a variety of styles and patterns for men and women. They start about $10 a pair- which is comparable to the price of Smart Wool socks.
On the 1st of February, girls all over the nation celebrated in different ways their inauguration into the Scouts-BSA program. My daughter, Kyrie, represented her troop in our Council, and it was a special night.
The other day, I read an excellent essay written by an Eagle Scout with two young sisters. With permission from the author, Austin Nedrow, I’m sharing his words.
Scouting: How Did We Get Here?
In 1907 the word “Scout” was associated with masculinity. What was a “Scout?” A Scout was a young male warrior who was sent forward to understand the enemy’s location. This man would live in the wilderness and be prepared to survive on his own. Even in our own “American” culture the word Scout conjures images of a young native brave, alone and facing the elements of nature. This word for centuries assumed a masculine role in society. When Lord Baden-Powell created the Scouting program in Britain, he used the image of the “Scout” as a backdrop to teach youth to be confident adults and leaders through service and adventure.
Baden-Powell’s father died when he was three years old. He was raised by his single mother: a strong woman and a positive role model, his mother instilled some progressive ideas in her children. Baden-Powell wanted to create a development program that would welcome all youth: girls and boys. In his era, Baden-Powell’s ideas were well ahead of their time. Our society in the early 1900s had well established gender roles that defined what a man and woman could or could not do.
Faced with overwhelming cultural pressure against the idea that all youth could learn these skills within the same organization, Baden-Powell encouraged women close to him, including his wife, to create a similar organization oriented towards girls. They called this program the Girl Guides. In the early 1900s, what did women do? They were helpers, they guided children and sometimes the men in their lives, but they were never given the opportunity to be leaders or scouts. Because the populous refused to look at young women as “Scouts,” this new program initially built upon the “guiding” image of women to build their program supporting girls. I now honestly wonder what Sacajawea, a 17-year-old with a baby in her papoose, leading Lewis and Clark across the vast wilderness, might have thought about that intentional terminology slight.
These progressive-thinking Brits soon found other countries taking up the ideas to support and develop their youth. As the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides developed globally, leaders in other countries added their thoughts and ideas to the program, especially within the United States. When William Boyce introduced the Boy Scouts of America, Juliette Low challenged the idea of calling the girls program “Guides.” She wanted to establish greater equality between the boy and girl programs, and insisted on calling the American version of the Girl Guides – The Girl SCOUTS of America. Her ideas took Baden-Powell’s forward thinking to a new level of progressive thought.
Over the past 100 years, the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides have become the most successful youth development programs in the world. The Girl Scouts of the USA uniquely use the word “Scout” and maintain an identity separate from the BSA program. Many countries now maintain integrated coeducational national Scouting organizations, not separate gender programs – so how did the United States fall behind the rest of the world? Over the decades, the Girl Scouts of the USA modified their mission. The US female youth development arm of this global peace movement reduced the emphasis on wilderness skills and refocused on civil rights, equality and the entrepreneurial skills necessary for women to compete in a man’s world. By doing so, the GSUSA made a great impact and many significant changes to the perspectives of boys and girls within our American culture. Ironically, the effort to make women more equal actually contributed to the growing chasm between these two American programs.
As this division of focus between the female and male programs grew, many girls sought the benefits of the outdoor Scouting program focused on leadership development. In the 1980s and 1990s, this debate changed the fabric of Scouting across much of the world. Boy Scout programs throughout Europe began allowing girls into their ranks and integrated their gender differences. The US Scouting programs debated allowing girls into Boy Scouts around this time. They even attempted to discuss integration of the two programs, but ultimately succumbed to the adage that “Boy Scouts is for Boys and Girl Scouts is for Girls.” They did allow one subtle change and began to allow young women into the high adventure Explorer program – not as well recognized by many Americans, and therefore did not receive the same scrutiny and opposition. By the late 1990s, The US Scouting program allowed girls age 14-20 to participate in Explorers, Venture Scouts and Sea Scouts – but maintained fierce opposition to girls in the iconic Cub Scout [1st – 5th grade] and Boy Scout [age 11-17] Programs, which lead to the coveted Eagle Scout rank.
Until 2017, the United States continued to resist the global movement to allow girls into the Boy Scouting program. Ironically, those same gender biases that Baden-Powell and Juliette Low sought to destroy created a divide in our American thoughts about Scouting. Juliette Low sought EQUALITY between girls and boys when she substituted “Scouts” for “Guides.” Baden-Powell himself wanted a program for ALL youth, but our Victorian era ideas of gender bias reinforced by that same simple naming convention [Scout] was pressing against the global peace movement’s ideas about how to best develop our youth.
Shortly after the new millennium, the Boy Scouts of America began to reassess its gender policy. They began to walk back strong opposition to gender identity and sexual preferences accepting many of the ideas already embraced by other global branches of this same youth development movement. By 2017, the BSA finally challenged the last remaining gender bias precluding young women from earning the Eagle rank. The BSA asked why so many were leaving the program and found that families simply didn’t have time to support sons in Boy Scouts and daughters in Girl Scouts, especially single-parent families just like young Baden-Powell’s family over a century ago. Families wanted a program that would enable them to teach the same skills to all children, enabling a value based youth leadership development program that embraced equality – EXACTLY the mission the programs founders sought over 100 years earlier. Scouting had come full circle. Our society is more tolerant now than it was 100 year ago. If Baden-Powell and Juliette Low lived in today’s society, their progressive thinking would no doubt support this change.
Last week, my sisters and many other young women around our country celebrated the opening of Scouts BSA, allowing creation of female Troops where girls can seek the Eagle rank. As I read the articles and watched the news clips following their bridging ceremony, there was overwhelming media support for this change. Comments on social media are mostly positive and supportive of these girls, but many oppose it too. Many of these Scouters themselves, continue to comment about “Boy Scouts is for boys and Girl Scouts is for girls.” I remarked to my father that “Scout” is a neutral word, why can’t we just embrace it and stop putting gender in front of the word? He encouraged me to review the history of the word “Scout” and see if my perception was generational and if history supported my perception. How did we get here, he asked? So I researched.
Now I understand how we got to our current place in history, but to those who oppose this change I ask: Did you really do your homework? You totally missed the point of this youth development journey. The Boy Scouts of America is part of a global peace movement focused on developing youth as strong leaders and citizens. Even the Girl Guide/Scout evolution in focus was done to seek greater equality between men and women, building a kinder world for everyone.
Which adjective in the Scout Law exclusively describes a man? Trustworthy? Loyal? Helpful? Friendly? Courteous? Kind? Obedient? Cheerful? Thrifty? Brave? Clean? Reverent? Can’t each of these words describe a woman? To the Girl Scouts I ask, how is your mission unique to girls? Was Juliette Low seeking to make only women stronger? The root of her mission and the Girl Scout program itself is specifically defined to develop equality, is it not?
Currently, the Girl Scouts are suing the Boy Scouts over the use of the term “Scout.” Ironically the plaintiff [The Girl Scouts of the United States of America] originally took the word “Scout” from the Boy Scouts to create a more level playing field. The Boy Scouts of America has finally opened themselves to the global scouting movement allowing females into the outdoor classroom of leadership and wilderness skills creating the very equality Scouting sought over 100 years ago. The Girl Scouts have a wonderful entrepreneurial program for youth. The Boy Scouts have a great leadership program centered in the outdoor classroom. We are so much closer to the original dream of Scouting’s founders, but yet we are in a quagmire of controversy. Why? Mostly because adults don’t understand the history and only see things from their own perspective, which is mired in the very gender perceptions Scouting teaches you to erase. Step back and look at the program’s purpose over the longer run. Join hands and sing a joyful song of selfless service to others. Isn’t that the Scouting Way? Those who protest the recent changes really missed the point. You’re not helping the program’s mission – you’re actually undermining the objective Scouting sought to resolve. These girls are enthusiastic and full or Scout Spirit. Don’t scoff. Celebrate their inclusion and find ways to work together to mold today’s youth into tomorrow’s leaders.
Our first day at Yellowstone National Park, we drove right up the hill from the Mammoth Campground, and started exploring Mammoth Hot Springs. The first place we stopped was the visitor center, where we picked up Jayden’s Disabilities Access Pass.
The visitor center had a small gift shop and an interactive exhibit with taxidermy animals.
By the way, we saw lots of elk, but none with antlers. Even with all of the signs telling people to keep their distance… well, people are not very bright.
There are a few places between the visitor center, and Mammoth Hot Springs. There’s a post office, Mammoth Springs Hotel, and the General Store- among others. It’s a short walk, though from the visitor center to the lower terrace boardwalk. The parking around the lower terrace fills up fast, so if you’re just passing through, you want to get there early if you want to park close.
Mammoth Hot Springs is a hill of travertine(a form of limestone). The shades of brown, orange, red and green are from algae living in the pools on terraces.
Jayden’s standing in front of Devil’s Thumb. The terraces were somewhat dried out when we visited. I’ve heard that earlier in the year, there is more water in these. Jayden’s facial expression is due partly to the smell. If you’ve never been to Yellowstone, you might find the strong smell of sulfur to be displeasing in some areas. The kids weren’t very appreciative of the smell here, but it is a very interesting area visually.
The steam rising from the ground provided an added aesthetic.
Liberty Cap, named in 1871 for its resemblance to the peaked caps worn in the French Revolution, is probably the most prominent feature seen. It stems from mineral built up when the water used to spring to a great height.
I bribed the kids with ice cream a couple of times from the General Store. I was pleasantly surprised by the serving size- which is hard to see in this picture, but single scoop waffle cones only cost $3.50. The single scoop was more like a double scoop because they put a scoop to fill the cone, and then a scoop on top of that. The huckleberry ice cream is delicious.
Elk are found in abundance around Mammoth. They seem to be tame, which made stupid tourists ignore the signs to not approach. People were posing their kids right in front of elk- inches away. I was waiting for someone to try to sit their kid on them.
This was a random evening that I walked up from our campsite, and was met with thunder and lightning, but also a rainbow.
Noteworthy- Mammoth Hot Springs is one of the few places in Yellowstone that has internet. If you enjoy Pokemon Go, there are several stops in this area, and even two gyms by the terraces.
There are other places in the area I didn’t get a chance to explore, but hopefully this might be of help to those unsure of what to do in Yellowstone. Stay tuned for our next visit- the geysers and springs day.
Today is the day that begins a new legacy in the Boy Scouts of America. Today, girls ages 10 1/2 to 18 will be welcomed into Scouts-BSA. Now, they can earn those merit badges and work all the way up to Eagle like they’ve seen their brothers do.
My daughter will be pioneering by helping to get our new troop for girls started. She doesn’t really care about earning Eagle, although she has the ability to get an extension as a 16 year old joining BSA if she would like. Now she has the ability to earn those merit badges that she has taught at Boy Scout camp in the past.
Scouts is a place where our youth can learn the skills needed to succeed at life. Are you interested in being part of this adventure? Go to BeAScout.org to learn more and find a troop near you! Leave a comment below if you’d like to chat some more about this day in history!
Back in July, I took the kids to a place I’ve always wanted to go- Yellowstone National Park. Before we left, I attempted to do some research, but a lot of our trip was not planned. I could have used a little more personal experience. By writing this series, I’m hoping to let others know what to expect. This first entry will be about camping- specifically, at Mammoth.
Getting a Mammoth Campsite
Part of the reason we chose Mammoth to camp at is that the availability looked the best. It is a first-come, first-served campground, so you need to make sure and get there early, but it seems to be one of the last to fill up. When we entered the turn in for the campground, there was a line of cars. A gentleman gave us a little clipboard and had us fill out our information(name, license plate number, number in party, and how many nights) while we were waiting.
We waited a bit in our car as all others in front of us went through and paid and got their info one by one. I would say we were in line for about half an hour. The kids were still asleep, and fortunately it wasn’t hot yet. When it was finally our turn, I paid our $20. Note, they do accept credit and debit cards. They assigned us a campsite, told us about the rules, gave us a map, and sent us on our way.
Mammoth Campground Amenities
Our campsite was very close to the bathrooms. This was a blessing… and a curse. The bathrooms have electricity and flushing toilets. There is also soap and paper towels. No showers, but if you NEED a shower, you could go to Mammoth Hotel up the hill and use theirs for a fee. The only issue I had being close to the bathroom was that it was loud with people walking by at all hours. We were also close to a water pump. Tent platforms are made up of pea gravel. Definitely want a heavy duty tarp underneath, and take care not to damage the floor of the tent. Bear boxes are located in every site. The campground hosts told me that bears weren’t an issue, really, but elk were.
In reviews of Mammoth campground, people mentioned that they saw elk and other wildlife in the campground. We didn’t see much wildlife in the campground. Just up the hill in Mammoth Village, however, we saw lots of elk.
I was told that elk would try to break into tents to get at good smelling stuff, so bear boxes are really essential to storing food.
There is the bear box in our campsite. There are firepits, and you can buy wood in the campsite. I think it’s pricey, though.
You might notice in the picture that there aren’t many trees around. Most of the sites do not have much as far as shade.
Other Nice Features of Mammoth Campground
We appreciated being able to get internet 4G service at our campground. There is an amphitheater in the campground with nightly ranger talks. There is also a PokéStop at the amphitheater. Above the amphitheater is a short trail that leads up the hill to Mammoth Village. I’ll do a whole other post on Mammoth Hot Springs and the village next. But I really enjoyed being close, and I found some other trails that I could go on next time I’m in Yellowstone.
Have I mentioned the views?
I enjoyed our stay at Mammoth Campground. I would love to go back and try out other campgrounds. It’s a good spot in the northwest part of the park. It was a long time to get to other parts of the park- especially since we had to deal with road construction.
If you want a nice guide to all the campgrounds available in the park, here is a good link. Also, this site is what I used to find out what campgrounds filled up and when.
Sometimes having a disability can cost lots of money. Therapies and doctors costs, adaptive equipment costs, and not working so you can take care of your loved one- well, it can be quite costly. So here’s some good news for a way to save money while seeing the beauty in our national parks if you or a loved one has a lifelong disability. We’ll be talking about the free National Parks Access Pass.
This is our youngest son, Jayden. He has Autism. Although he’s not as severely affected as others, he has some limitations that impedes with his ability to do certain activities. I’m glad that he can have this opportunity to enjoy any national park for free now. It will open up more opportunities for us as a family, as well.
Who qualifies for a National Parks Access Pass?
Anyone who is a US citizen or permanent resident who has a lifelong, permanent disability. In order to get this pass, you need to prove citizenship/residency. You’ll also need to have a way to confirm the disability.
What documentation is needed to obtain a pass?
You will need documents proving citizenship or residency. This can be a US State or Territory issued Drivers License, ID, birth certificate, U.S. passport, or a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card). Also needed is proof of disability. For this, you can use a note from a licensed physician. A document issued by a Federal Agency would also work- for example, the Veteran’s Administration, SSDI (Social Security Disability Income), or SSI (Supplemental Security Income).
How do you obtain the pass?
I was unsure of what to expect when we arrived at Yellowstone National Park a few weeks ago. When I asked how to get the pass on their Facebook page, they simply said to bring the documents needed to any entrance of the park. We got to the park early because I was anxious about getting a campsite without having a reservation. I tried to hand my documents for Jayden to the lady at the gate, but she told us to go to any visitor center, and they would issue the pass card. When I did get to the visitor center at Mammoth Hot Springs, they issued the card quickly and easily. This is all done for free.
If you don’t want to show up to a National Park and wonder if they have a pass available, as some do not, you can order one using this application. This does require a $10 processing fee.
Other bonuses of the Access Pass
Not only will Jayden (and his carload) be able to get into national parks for free for the rest of his life, other amenities are provided at a discount. Camping in the park, for example is discounted. We camped at Mammoth campground, which normally runs at $20 per night. For us, it was only $10. Get your pass before you get to your campsite, though. We did not pick up the pass before heading to our campsite. Since we didn’t have a reserved site, and it was first come/first served, I wanted to make sure we had a site. Unfortunately, there was no reimbursement of our fees. At least we got our 2nd night discounted.
This National Parks Access Pass is going to be a great benefit to those who have a lifelong disability. A beautiful creation available for access to many who qualify. Maybe someday state parks will follow in the footsteps. If you have any questions that I haven’t touched on here, let me know in the comments. Stay tuned for more articles on our trip to Yellowstone.
For a while, I’ve been thinking about a place where I could write about Scouting related stuff and our outdoor adventures. The Geek Church is a great source for tech and gadget related stuff, but it was a little hard to shoehorn in other things that I like to write about like our adventures and Scouting.
When I’m in the outdoors, I often find that being surrounded by nature brings me closer to my Creator than any brick and mortar building. This is my inspiration for our new site.
On this website, I hope to inspire others to enjoy the outdoors as much as I do. I will share my adventures as a Scout mom, the trips to the National Parks we take, and reviews of products that will assist in enjoyment of the outdoors.
Are you ready for adventure? Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!