The BEST Family Tent Ever: Coleman Rocks the 6 Person “Instant Tent” Marriage Saver

Marriage Saver: One Minute Tent

Forgive me Dad, Camping Gods, and anyone else who is an aggressively pure camping guru, but I have found perfection.

Have any of you seen the recent commercial with the couple who is struggling to set up the tent while the thunderstorm rolls in? 

You can hear the clanking of their attempts to connect the rods which are flying in all directions and not cooperating. 

You can see them struggling to push the rods into the teeny tiny little slots that need to travel the length of the tent and always, ALWAYS get stuck somewhere along the line. 

You can imagine them swearing, walking away for a deep breath, and putting a hand out as the raindrops start falling. We’ve all been there & have all cursed the weather and camping and whose-idea-was-this-gods at the level of frustration this can bring.

Last summer, we were in need of a new, family tent. Off to REI! Was the initial instinct for that cool, techie tent that could withstand the wooly winds of Everest -- even though, at this point, we were merely Champion Car Campers with our young crew of kids.

But then, a miracle happened: a friend, a brilliant, brilliant friend, had just been to the Outdoor Mecca of Aisle 57,000 at Chez Target. There, stuffed next to camouflage sleeping bags and mosquito netting, was the epic item: THE ONE MINUTE, SET-UP or TAKE-DOWN “INSTANT TENT” with poles PRE-ATTACHED.

No need for flopping and cursing of un-cooperative poles in the dark. No need for dirty looks at your spouse when the kids are whining and hungry. No need for thrashing around with the rain-tarp: “gald-dang-it, which way’s the front???” – the built in Weather TEC System keeps you dry…Guaranteed!

And when we took it on our trial run in the gorgeous redwoods last summer, this 6 person tent practically walked itself out of the boot of the car and popped itself up all on it’s own! While my neighboring dad-friend spent nearly 30 minutes wrestling the 20 foot poles for his 6 person gale-force ready tent, we took our extra 29 minutes to explore the campground with the kids and laugh behind his back.

Coleman, you are a beautiful company. And you may have just saved many, many a marriage & increased the likelihood that we get our fannies out into Ma Nature that much more. Love it, hate it? Let me know! Coleman 6 Person Instant Tent, $169.99

Namaste & Three Cheers! -OM


Read This: “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall --- Even If You Can’t Run 100 Miles a Day at 12,620 Feet Wearing a Cape and Sandals and a Smile

Have You Eaten Your Chia Pet Today?

I’m obsessed with this book and I’m not a runner (yet.) 

Why the obsession? 

Let me tantalize you with a couple of fascinating tidbits:

  • Wacky, Wild, Crazy, FUN! Characters – from the lovely, shy, beer-swilling, magical, long-distance running Tarahumara Indians who run, oh, 60 miles daily just for fun in their flat leather sandals; to the ultra-marathoner, American trail runners with obsession in their legs & tequila in their stomachs; to the wide-eyed, loveable, clunker of a journalist turned runner trying to tell the story while also trying not to keel over. It has good guys, bad guys and loveable misfits.

  • Eating Chia Pets for a Cancer Free Life – Chapter 27 blew my socks off for many reasons but this one was a biggie. Who hasn’t had their heart ripped to pieces by being a part of someone’s (or your own) battle with this hideous disease. There’s a gentle, sensible, beautiful way to live and eat that the Turahumara Indians incorporate into their being. Including eating Obama’s chia pet hair from Rite Aid. Pages 208-211. 

  • Eat My Dust, Neanderthals! Why We are Actually Built to Run – sounds sorta like evolutionary mumbo-jumbo, but the author takes us to Africa to one of the last remaining Bushmen tribes who run to hunt game and survive. Obsessed scientist nearly dies keeping up with Bushmen but then has an Ah-Ha moment: “Running was the superpower that made us human – which means it’s a superpower that all humans possess.” In other words, even though it feels like crap to some of us, we were actually Born to Run.

Folks in the running community know this book already, it’s out there and it’s been read. But it’s such an incredible epic story and journey, it needs to get out to a broader group. So enjoy – read – it’s a long book with so many different things going on and so much interesting information your mind will feel excited and a little boggled. You'll need to put it down here and there just to process.

And, of course, there’s a movie in the works – so read it now! Paperback, $15.95 and it's everywhere. Let me know if you like it…. (and BIG thanks to Rosemaria for recommending!)

Namaste & Three Cheers! –A

Ps. Here are some cool, related links:


Hangover Cures for Massive Outdoorsy Weekend of Activity & Merriment!

Hangover Helper? Outdoor Music Fest Yesterday

If you guys are anything like us, the fam is now enduring the major Monday (Tues) morning blues and sloth-like-movement after an unbelievable Memorial Day Weekend of sunny sky, warmish weather, is-summer-here-yet activity!

We are blessed in the Bay Area to have Olympic level selection of THINGS TO DO close by in every direction: from the Hikes in the Headlands, the Wines in the Napas, the Mountainy Stuff in the Tahoe, the Sand/Surf in the Beaches, the Culture & Crabs in the City. And I believe this fam of mine accomplished nearly all of this this weekend, ‘cept for the Tahoe & Crabs part.

Hence, the Hangover.

What to do as a cure? 

1)    Nicely boot kids out of house and back to school immediately. Don’t worry about details today: Just getting un-filthy clothes on them will suffice. Maybe some SPF.

2)    Check your Facebook status. Rush of trivial friend behavior on wall invigorates. Face it.

3)    Put your exercise pants on and get outside. Not necessarily for some Herculean type adrenalin behavior. (Didn't you just do that over the weekend?) Just for a walk to 7-11 for some Gatorade. FRESH AIR, fresh lungs, the color GREEN on the trees is good for you.

4)    If you have a REAL hangover from the music festival/block party that went way past the usual school night curfew yesterday (because it was SO beautiful out!) then this may help: http://cocktails.about.com/od/healthsafety/ht/hngovr_rmdy.htm

5)    Zzzzzzzzzz.

Namaste & Three Cheers. -A


Thine/Mine Homework Due Today: Daily Moments of Joy

Sunset, Rodeo Beach

One of the categories I decided to make for this blog is called Thine/Mine Homework. Because, if you are anything like me, even at this later age, you have a deep, innate calling to the word, the thought, the notion, the feel of Homework.

Homework gives us a sense of purpose because it’s attached to an ingrained sense of self we’ve known from 6 years old to 21 and sometimes beyond – the first quarter of our entire life.

Homework is a rhythm. An accomplishment. Like the math/reading program developed to incredible success by a man with the last name Kumon, it’s a repetitive, almost soothing metronome of daily routine. Every single day you do it. And you do it so much that it becomes regular, right, purposeful, and, ultimately, extremely powerful.

You’ll see me calling for thine/mine to get our fannies in gear and create a rhythm as much for us as for the bigger picture. I think we’re all healthier with a little Homework. I know I am. And I want you to join me in doing it: let's find some Homework that brings a daily bit of joy, of caring for ourselves, into our lives -- even just for 5 minutes. Whether it’s a daily hike, breath, stretch for the hamstrings. A daily crunch for the wobbly core or the reminder to take a moment each day to smell the flower or watch the soaring hawk, it’s important. It gives you pleasure. And reconnection to a familiar, old feeling. A heartbeat.

My homework right now, for any day if possible, is to spend a little less time on the growing laundry pile in the basement and a lot more time getting out into the lush, green hills of the Headlands that dip into some of the world’s most breathtaking, windswept beaches. Grab the kids. Go solo. Find a friend. Spring is here, and Summer just two steps away. Soak it all in.

Namaste and three cheers. Have a great long weekend. -a


Happy 75th Golden Gate: Festival & Fireworks This Sunday the 27th in San Fran

The giant, long and lean, sunset-orange link from the sophisticated, forward San Fran to the jewel of an outdoorsy playground, the beloved Marin County, celebrates it’s 75th anniversary on Sunday with a day long festival topped off with fireworks at 9:30pm.

Here’s a link to the Sunday festivities:  http://goldengatebridge75.org/celebrate/golden-gate-festival.html

As I get out for my own hikes and bikes and walks, kayaks, sails, skips and jumps, just around the corner, just at the crest of the hill, the award of seeing the Golden Gate’s elegant span continues, every single time, to take my breath away. There is a power there that draws us in. Almost magical in quality. And 7 bazillion photographs of the bridge can barely do it justice. You must come see it live.

A fascinating transcript from PBS NewsHour tells the history of the bridge from all perspectives, including the more outdoor minded – here’s a little taste with the link to the full story below:

KEVIN STARR: Nothing is easy in San Francisco. The Sierra Club thought it profaned the site. Older San Franciscans just didn't like it because it wasn't part of Mother Nature.


SPENCER MICHELS: Ansel Adams, who also opposed the bridge, photographed the Golden Gate before the bridge was built. His photo is on display at the California Historical Society, where Anthea Hartig is executive director.
ANTHEA HARTIG, California Historical Society: But he grew to accept it.

The Golden Gate now crosses close to 40 million cars every year – and the number of bikers, hikers, and walkers like us are no doubt countless. Happy Birthday, Golden Gate. Looking forward to riding across your lovely span again and again. 

Namaste and Three Cheers and see you there! -a


BEST Water Bottles: Mom & Kid Tested and Approved

Modern Art or Typical Water Bottle Drawer?
Our water bottle drawer has been a massive conundrum for years. One style, one brand works for a while then the disastrous leak into the old diaper bag or purse during pee-wee soccer has us groaning with dismay at the “leak-proof” bottle that is a necessity for every single mom/parent on this planet.

After purchasing just about every single brand with every single top on the market, here are our FAVORITES factoring in age of person, size of bottle, and, most importantly, easy access to water! (The tight tops on some of these bottles have lead to many tears!)

1) Best for little kids – Sigg Kids .3L - .6L, $17.99 - $19.99. Sigg had us worried a few years ago with the scandal about BPA in their liners. But we forgive them now, maybe, because their bottles are just SO great for little kids. And they now have an “EcoCare liner made from BPA Free and Phthalate-Free ingredients.” From the smaller sizes, to the cute design, to, most importantly, the EASE OF ACCESS to the water….little hands can easily flip off the top protective cover and turn the inner bottle top for a manageable amount of water flow for their little selves. We are outgrowing these in our family, but thumbs up for all those years of service…

2) Best for tweens/teens – CamelBak eddy .75L, $15
Bite, Sip, Go! Great catch phrase for this age group. These bottles have been phenomenal for my thirstier, rougher, more active son who needs lot of water, fast – but I need something that won’t spill all over his soccer bag AND that is easy to get water out of fast, without wrestling with tight tops. We have an older version than the eddy – which promises a redesigned bite valve and faster flow – and the only prob we’ve found is the straw coming off when cleaning and getting lost in the abyss of the water bottle drawer. Great, great bottle and kids love to sip from it…

3) Best for us old people/parents – KleenKanteen Wide Insulated, 16oz, $25.95-$31.95
This is not the light-weight bottle for backpacking, this bottle gets the major two thumbs up for carting around your either hot or cold beverages while you are schlepping the kids to their various games on Saturdays. There is NOTHING like taking a sip and instead of it being the awful lukewarm water that’s been sitting in the car for 2 days, it’s deliciously cold ice water that has held it’s temp. Or steamy hot coffee from an hour ago to enjoy at the 9am game. This is a new discovery for me (and the stainless steel reminds me of the old Coleman camping one that my dad use to put soup into for our camping trips.) Ps. Go for the extra cash for the “CafĂ© Cap” option so you can sip like a regular to-go cup.

Agree? Disagree? Have another favorite? And what do we all think about the new Roll-Up water bottles?

Namaste & Three Cheers. -A


Local, Marin Mom Admits to Tree Hugging While Hubby Away on Biz Trips

Caught on Tape: Tree Hugging in Yosemite 
I admit it. I am the occasional tree hugger. As we descend into a gorgeous, lush grotto of majestic Redwoods, I will spot a tree. The tree. Walk over, and wrap my arms around it, as best I can given it’s a giant tree, and say: Thank You. Thank you tree.

I rest my forehead against the bark and thank that tree for all the fresh air it gives us greedy humans and for all the energy it spends turning our exhales into fresh, pure inhales.

My hiking friends have gotten used to my behavior after the initial look of “you gotta be kidding me.” And, sometimes, they join in like some weird little cult. They find their own tree to thank and hug.

And, lastly, of course, I have my favorites. My favorite, big, old hugging tree just on the other side of the hill from Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail heading towards Stinson Beach. There it stands, on a bend in the well-worn trail. Humongous. Possibly the great, great grand-daddy of all the other Redwoods in the grove. I give that tree a hug every single time I pass.

Maybe I’m nuts. Maybe I’m right on. I suppose we’ll never know.

Have you hugged a tree today? Try it. You just might find it makes your day... or makes you nuts.

[Ps. I couldn’t resist this title. It was just too funny even tho it makes absolutely no sense.]


Universe & Ma Nature Welcome New Outdoorsy Blogger

Hello Universe! 

It is me, small but ultimately significant, I hope, peon Annie Y starting-up my new Blog titled: Outdoorsy Mama. I plan to wow the planet and those who stumble upon this daily/weekly babbling with fun, outdoorsy, at times practical, but mostly whimsical adventure and thoughts from a gal with Ma Nature and 3 kids in her soul.

Excited you’ll be in on the ride and excited to start typing and see where this all leads us.

Join in the fun and let me know what you think.

Namaste and 3 Cheers!

(ps. this pic rocks except for random dude in background who i am, at this moment, trying to photoshop out of the pic. looking forward to the before and after...)


Yammerings of an Outdoorsy Mama

Yammer as a noun is defined as nonsense and "jabber". Which is another great word. Jibber jabber, but i digress. And what does this have to do with the Outdoors? Nothing, yet. Until i get a good name.

Yammer is funny and ridiculous. We can't laugh all the time, but sometimes it's just fun to use the word: "Yammer" in a sentence. Try it.