Minty Ford

“I bought you a truck.”

When F says something like that, I get suspicious. My husband has an uncanny ability find great deals on vehicles. Often times, they don’t stick around very often and usually “I bought you _______” is really just a joke.

This time, he found a sweet 1977 Ford F250 in a farmer’s barn. It hadn’t been driven for about seven years and was filled with the sweet aroma of mouse urine and a fairly thick layer of dirt and grime. It has some body damage to the passenger side door and fender but otherwise, it’s in pretty good shape. He towed the truck home to await some TLC. We named it Minty. I call her Minty Ford.

Last weekend we set to work on Ms. Minty: we removed the bench seat to be scrubbed and then I cleaned the whole interior. F looked at the carburetor, checked the fluids, and charged the battery.

Finally, it was time to fire it up: it fired! The fuel pump wasn’t working but for $23 dollars we were able to not only replace the pump but also to add an inline fuel filter and an air freshener. The next step is to drain the old gas and then we’ll have a running truck!

It might be a gas guzzler but it also felt really good to get the truck running rather than just taking it in for scrap. Plus, she’s really cute.

Gear Review: Stonewear Designs Kaia Halter & Lyra Top

I’ve been wearing some awesome clothing this spring in my role as Stonewear Designs Ambassador! I’m really exited to share with you two more pieces from a company comitted to making a high quality, lasting product here in the States! These two support tops, the Kaia and the Lyra, from Stonewear Designs are a great complement to the outdoor woman’s wardrobe. Both are totally functional as yoga or running tops but yet fashionable enough to wear around town.

The  Kaia halter top is a good length and the back slit is designed to allow the tank to lay flat over a variety of hip widths (the slit is also a really cute feature). The tendency to ride up can be a real issues with tops like this but I haven’t had any issues thanks to the smart design. Stonewear recently added 2″ to the length of the Lyra top. I didn’t try it before but I can say that the new version is also a tug-free option!

The back straps to the Lyra are really cute and make wearing the top super comfortable. They’re integrated into the body of the tank so they distribute pull rather than laying it all on the shoulders. The Kaia’s halter strap is also super comfortable, as a good halter should be, most of the support is provided by the internal bra cups and shelf bra rather than tugging at the back of the neck. Both tops have internal bra cups (although I’ve removed mine as personal preference). The tops are just low cut enough to be a bit sexy and feminine without being too much. The Lyra Top and the Kaia Halter each retail for $56.

Grass and Prairie Mountains: Oregon 2,000′ Prominence Peaks

Last week, we spent some time hanging out near Alsea, Oregon. After spending sometime browsing Peakbagger, I picked a couple of mountains to summit. Grass Mountain and Prairie Mountain are both considered “prominent” peaks. (Here’s a very in depth article on prominence if you’re curious). Oregon has 74 peaks with at least 2,000′ of prominence; Grass Mountain ranks 57th and Prairie Mountain ranks 47th.

Sprocket and I set off first for Grass Mountain. The road was currently being used for logging operations and was in really great shape. Instead of hiking the closed road to the summit, I opted to head directly up the ridge. From the mid-1950s to 1970, the mountain was home to a fire lookout although all remnants except four concrete foundation blocks are gone. The trees have grown up around the mountain and there isn’t much to be seen from the summit. Sprocket, however, enjoyed a good sniff:

Instead of returning down the ridge the way we came, we headed out the road. This lead around the south side of the summit affording me views of the southern Coast Range.

As I looped back around to the northwestern side of the mountain, I was delighted to catch a glimpse of Mt. Hood:

Then, I noticed Mt. Jefferson peeking out as well:

We backtracked down the mountain and then headed south of Alsea to Prairie Mountain. I expected to have to hike to the summit, just like on Grass Mountain. Instead, however, I discovered that the gate two miles shy of the summit was open. At the top, I saw someone working on radio equipment so I grabbed a quick photo and headed back out.

In all, it was an awesome day to be out playing in the Coast Range!

Outdoor Shower & Supplimental Fresh Water System

Today we’ll talk about a big modification to our camper to make things a bit more tailored to our style of living. Fresh water and sewer capacity are our limiting factors for remaining away from services so changes were necessary!

One of the creature comforts that makes life so much more pleasant is a shower, especially for outdoor adventurers that accumulate a nice dirt patina after a few days! The indoor shower is really cramped and at 5’10” and 6′ it’s really just not comfortable at all. The Lance 815 from the factory also drains the shower water to the already small 7 gallon black water tank (most RV showers drain that to grey water). Even though we’re really conservative with how much water we use in the shower, the stock shower water configuration really limits our black water capacity in terms of number of days before finding a dump station. Plus, the 20-gallon stock fresh water tank is already small for dishes, tooth brushing, and drinking water for three.

To address our fresh water storage issue and cramped, inefficient shower issue, we designed a outdoor auxiliary water storage system with shower!

The flat bed on our truck is 9.5′ long instead of the standard 8′ so we have the extra needed room to put our water system between the camper and the headache rack. The tanks and all related hardware are separate from the camper and stay on the truck bed when the camper is removed so that if the the truck goes into town (or work or the ranger station) without the camper, it can top off with water too.

Water Storage Vessels:

A rectangular poly tank that would fit our available space retails for $300 or more so we set out to find a better option. We used 15(ish) gallon containers are 14.5″ in diameter. These food grade blue barrels can be purchased for $10-$15 just about anywhere. We bought ours at a farm supply store used (they started life as Dr. Pepper syrup containers), using three of them gives us a total of 45 gallons of extra water. Since they were used, we filled them with a dilute bleach solution, then a vinegar solution, and flushed them several times with just water. (This order was copied from several RV manufacturers recommendations for cleaning RV fresh water tanks.)

Water System Assembly:

All three barrels were connected at the bottom with 1″ PVC tubing using Uniseals then they were linked at the top with 3/8″ flexible tubing for venting. Assembling the barrels in this manner means there is just one opening for filling and one outlet for discharge. All of the fittings are 3/4″ hose so if any lines ever wear out or burst, one can be made out of any garden hose found at any store.

The water tanks are attached to a SHURflo pump. This 12 volt unit is the same as the pump in the camper so if that one ever breaks, we have a spare on board! It’s also the pump used in 99% of RVs and can be frozen. Downstream of the pump, water can be dispensed from a spigot for refilling the camper, the dogs bowl, Nalgene bottles, washing the motorcycle, etc.

Outdoor Shower

Our shower is a Camp Chef Triton 5L. It will flow 0.5 to 1.5 gallons a minute and can boost the water up to 100 degrees for a nice hot shower. We use it at 0.5 gallon a minute and it is plenty of water. Although outside can be chilly, we generally stay with the warm weather, plus being clean is totally it. Its propane use is minimal and runs off our spare 5 gallon tank.

In short, our 65 gallon system works great! We don’t always carry the extra weight but can if the trip requires it. Being able to take a shower after a ride or hike is heavenly!

Gear Review: J.R. Ligget Old Fashioned Shampoo

Last summer I read Green Housekeeping and started to re-evaluate the sheer amount of chemical cleaners and personal care products that I was using. One of the first things I decided to experiment with was shampoo. I dabbled with Dr. Bronner’s but didn’t really like how it left my hair feeling dry and tangled but yet somehow still not clean. (It was better when I used Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Hair Conditioning Rinse but the whole point was to eliminate products not just replace my shampoo and conditioner…) I still really like the Dr. Bronner’s (especially the Citrus Orange) soap as body wash: just a dab on a washcloth does my whole body! Still, I figured there had to be a better green shampoo alternative out there.

I used it off and on until January when I was packing for the #omnigames trip in Park City. On the way up, I was traveling with a carry-on only and hate having to pull out my little bag of liquids going through security. As I was packing, I remembered a little bar of shampoo I’d picked up at OR Show last summer and tossed it in to my bag.

Luxuriating in the nice hot shower at the Hyatt Escala Lodge in Park City, I used my J.R. Liggett shampoo bar for the first time. I was pleased to find that it formed a nice lather. As my hair dried, I was even more pleased to find that my hair was soft and looked pretty darn good without using any conditioner.

Before I got too excited about it, I figured it needed a little more testing than three days with a mini-bar in a hotel where I was showering everyday so I contacted J.R. Liggett and explained to them that I was interested in further testing their product. They sent me three different formulas plus a bar of their Fergie Dog Shampoo for Sprocket!

All of the formulas, including the dog shampoo, are free of petroleum based detergents and instead are made with natural oils and sodium hydroxide (the saponification agent for turning the oils into soap). Some of the bars, like the Tea Tree & Hemp Oil, have other oils added for additional benefits. All scents are achieved with essential oils and not artificial fragrances. Since they only use natural oils, the shampoo is 100% biodegradable which makes it ideal for use in our outdoor shower (be sure to check out tomorrow’s post for more info!).

So far, I’ve tried the Original (the mini-bar I used in Park City), Herbal Formula, and am currently using the Tea Tree & Hemp Oil formula. I still have a bar of Virgin Coconut & Argan Oil to try out but I’ve loved the first three so much I couldn’t wait to share with you. I think my favorite so far was the Herbal Formula: I really like the cedarwood scent! (Although it doesn’t really leave your hair smelling anything but “clean.”) I don’t fuss too much over having everything in my life be natural but since I use it so often, a natural shampoo seemed like a good place to start.

Sprocket and I have also tested the dog shampoo several times. I love the solid bar for washing the dog, liquid shampoo is sometimes hard to distribute all over; I always feel like I get a lot in some places and none in others. It is just a no-fragrance version of the human shampoo bars and leaves him shiny but doesn’t exacerbate his dandruff. Plus, I like that the shampoo rises out so easily!

Shampoo bars were provided by JR Liggett to 3Up Adventures for review. All opinions Beth’s.

Oregon Summer

Despite growing up in the Northwest (or perhaps, because of it) there are so many things on my Pacific Northwest to-do list, it’s a little overwhelming. I’m so excited to take advantage this summer and go exploring. Here’s just some of the things I’ve been dreaming about:

South Sister:

Time at the coast!

Mt. St. Helens:

My favorite cities, Seattle and Portland:

Mt. McLoughlin:

English Paper Piecing Quilt, Part 1

It’s taken me 1 year and 5 months to finish enough of the quilt to justify writing a Part 1 blog post. I wouldn’t expect Part 2 any time soon… since, really, with so many adventures to do, crafting adventures are SO EASY to set aside.

Why English paper piecing?

When we set out on our grand adventure in early winter 2012, I decided that in addition to books and blogging, I needed a small handcraft project in the van. The only question was, “What am I going to make?” It had to be an RV friendly craft project: no sewing machine necessary, no cutting table, and something that doesn’t take up too much space.

Back in 2004, a friend had taught me to knit but I never got beyond making 6″ of a 6″ wide scarf. The unfinished project floated around in my stuff at my mom’s house until I was in graduate school and realized that I’d forgotten how to do the stitches. Same goes for crocheting: my grandma taught me the basics when I was about ten…and I forgot. I suppose I could have retaught myself either of these skills but I just really didn’t want to. Besides, we were in the desert and how many scarves, sweaters, or hats could I really use? My next choice was cross-stitch or some other needlepoint project. I did a fair amount of this when I was growing up but the fact is that I don’t really like cross-stitch as a decor choice which would mean a lot of work for something I won’t use.

Quilting seemed like a bit of an impossibility since we weren’t hauling a sewing machine around in the van with us until I remembered reading about English paper piecing ages ago. By January 2013, I’d decided to give it a try. Since I only like useful crafts and try not to do things in half-measures, I decided on making a queen size quilt. I also chose to make hexagons that were only 0.85″ to a side… I attended exactly one meeting of Ajo’s Peacemaker Quilt Club where they encouraged me to make a potholder or small pillow to start since quilters often end up with UFOs: unfinished objects.

Early on, I realized that this quilt could not be a UFO. If I let it lapse, I’d have bags full of the most time consuming confetti ever made…

Van Crafting

The project started by cutting out two sheets worth of paper hexagons (I used a PDF from with 28 hexagons per sheet). Then I started covering them with some blue and yellow fabric scraps I found at a friends house (later, I added green to the loose color scheme). I did some more research and realized that I was going to need over four thousand of these little things for a quilt and that I was going to need a better system than making piles of hexagons willy-nilly.

I knew that for this project to be successful that it would have to take up a minimum amount of pace. As I realized exactly how much space the pieces my quilt was going to take, I revised “minimum amount of space” to “the working part of the quilt has to take up a minimum amount of space.” I developed a system where I would keep the paper hexagons in one sandwich size baggie, fabric squares in another, and finished pieces in yet another sandwich bag. All three bags went into a gallon size ziploc with scissors, thread, and some spare needles.

Armed with a sweet travel package, I launched into making hexagons. Eventually, I filled my very first sandwich baggie to the brim. Of course, I couldn’t help but wonder just how many pieces I had made so I dumped them out on the bed and counted. Two hundred and sixty pieces. I’d worked for at least two weeks and all I had was 260 pieces. Since I was going to need to know how many pieces I’d made so I didn’t quit too soon (or worse, keep making pieces forever and never generate a finished product) I took ten of the pieces out and moved them to a new bag. From that point on, I worked in groups of 250.

With the 250 plan in place, I set aside actually sewing hexagons to cut the thousands of paper hexagons I would need. Interestingly, I have since learned that you can buy the paper pieces pre-cut. They’re not cheap but I will totally do this if I ever make another one of these things. (I have to confess, I’ve already started dreaming about another one where I actually plan the colors and the patterns and how they’re going to fit together.) I made fifteen more sandwich baggies with 250 paper hexagons each and placed the whole lot inside of a gallon size bag. I didn’t count out fabric pieces and instead just cut squares relatively free-hand. A rotary cutter, mat, and ruler would be really helpful here (and something that could fit in a van or RV) but I didn’t have one on hand and improvised with a school ruler, a sharpie, and scissors.

Each time I finished covering a set of 250, I came back to this bag and grabbed another set of hexagons and stashed the bag of finished pieces. Eventually, I got tired of recounting how many bags I’d made and started keeping four sandwich bags in a gallon size bag as a convenient batch of 1,000 pieces:

So many hexagons…

Just before I left for Jordan, I realized that I was almost done. I took along my travel bag with me and made some pieces on the bus while we were in the country and made a whole set of 250 on the thirteen hour return flight. (I replace the TSA unfriendly scissors with fingernail clippers for flight.)

Last week, I finally wrapped up the hexagon making (with an almost complete seventeenth bag to use up the last of the fabric I bought). Suddenly, it was time for all the old pieces to come out of hiding. I went to the store and bought a couple of plastic bins to see which one would hold all my pieces. I had a misguided hope that a 10 quart box would hold them and quickly realized that I was going to have to use the 20 quart version…

It was really cool to see all the patterns laid out together. For awhile I’ve been nervous that the colors would all look awful together and I was going to find out that I’ve completely wasted my time.

Then came the fun part: dumping all seventeen bags into the box. (The not so fun part of this? Realizing just how many hexagons 4,100 is and how long it’s going to take to stitch them together…)


I made my first group of seven hexagons yesterday. I’m cautiously optimistic that this project will be finished someday…

D1 College Softball: Eugene Regional

Last weekend the NCAA Women’s Division 1 softball regional tournaments took place throughout the country. I was really excited to learn that the University of Oregon’s softball team is ranked #1 in the country and were hosting a regional tournament in Eugene. I headed down Saturday for a great day of college softball. The first game featured the Oregon Ducks taking on the Wisconsin in a winners bracket game. The Ducks treated their hometown crowd to a really fun 6-1 win over the Badgers. Even as an Oregon State fan, I had a ton of fun cheering a Pac-12 team.

The second and third games of the day were elimination games. They were really fun to watch especially since the competition to stay in the tournament was intense. Utah Valley was sent home by Albany after the second game (4-3) and Albany was eliminated by Wisconsin in the third game (8-4). It’s been a really long time since I got to watch softball so I drank it all in!

Sunday Sermon

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”







–René Daumal