Gear Review: Merrick Backcounty Treats

A few months ago, I came home from work to find a package on the front porch. I excitedly tore into it and discovered that it wasn’t for me, it was for Sprocket!

He’d received Wild Prairie Real Chicken Jerky,  Wild Prairie Real Chicken Sausage Cuts, and Great Plains Real Steak Patties. The lucky dog was drooling immediately after I opened the first bag.

While all of the treats were enjoyed by Sprocket I think his favorite were the chicken jerky strips. I can’t say that I blame him, they smelled like meat and the ingredient list is impressive (“mixed tocopherols” are often found in human nutritional supplements; Vitamin E is a tocopherol). They’re grain-free which I appreciate since his food (also Merrick Backcountry) is as well.

Lest I give all the credit to the jerky, the sausage cuts and the steak patties were hits as well! I think I’d say the steak patties were his second favorite but the sausage cuts get him running to the kitchen for a treat all the same.

I don’t give SP treats very often but when I do, I try to choose things that fit in with his grain free diet and these Merrick treats fit the bill! While I putting together this review I found out that there is also a Wild Catch Salmon Jerky variety that I bet Sprocket is dying to try.

Merrick Backcountry treats were provided to 3Up Adventures by Merrick Pet Care. All opinions are my interpretation of Sprocket’s thoughts.

On The Screen: Mile… Mile and Half

Although Saturday morning was special in that I finished piecing the hexagons for my quilt, I followed my usual practice of drinking coffee between pieces and watching something on my laptop. While I was browsing Netflix, Mile, Mile and A Half showed up in my suggestions. I was super excited since I’d been hearing about it for quite awhile but some how hadn’t gotten around to it.

It wound up being a really hard film to watch while quilting. Even as excited as I was to finish, the quilt lay dormant in my hands a lot as I was completely fascinated by the gorgeous footage of the high Sierras. I haven’t spent any time in the Sierras and this film really made me want to go check it out.

Mile… Mile and Half tells the story of a group of friends that not only sets out to hike California’s 210 mile long John Muir Trail but also to document their hike. They absolutely killed it at the documentation part. This is one visually stunning documentary.

I was skeptical about how much I would actually enjoy the story of their particular thru-hike. I mentioned in my review of the really enjoyable Almost Somewhere that some trail memoirs are really painful for me and in the first ten minutes of of Mile Mile and Half, I started to fear this was going to be one of those memoirs. It wasn’t. This group of friends tackled pass after pass in a really high snowpack year and with each one, I cheered them on a little more. They were frank and honest about their challenges but they also remained happy and upbeat throughout the hike.

For someone who would love to visit “The Range of Light,” this film was exciting. (And for that same person whose vehicle is not currently running it was frustrating to not be in the mountains…) I’m not sure that for non-hikers this film would hold one’s attention. It is visually appealing and that might be enough. But for an outdoors person? The enthusiasm of Durand, Ric, Jen, Jason, and Zee is infectious. I wanted to run to the Sierra, and being unable to do that, I wanted to immediately find myself in the mountains of Colorado.

Mile… Mile And A Half is currently streaming on both Amazon Prime and Netflix. It is definitely worth your viewing time!

#Wild4Backcountry: Dog Tested, Mom Approved

If you’ve spent much time around this blog or perhaps had the good fortune to hang out with Sprocket and I in person, you know that he and I are a team. My dog is not just a canine to me but is really a member of my family. Sprocket can be counted on to join me on roadtrips, on hikes, on lazy days in bed, for indulging in a beer, or in going out to meet new people.

It’s really important to me that I feed Sprocket the best food I can afford to try and keep him in top health. When Merrick Pet Care approached me about an ambassadorship, I was very skeptical. I wasn’t about to feed Sprocket something that wasn’t up to our standards just for a partnership. As I researched Merrick, I became really excited about the chance to test out their new Backcountry products.

What made the difference for me?

Made in America: I’m leery of pet food that is either made overseas or comes from overseas ingredients. Americans highly value their pets and Merrick recognizes this and sources their ingredients in the USA not in China. Just as importantly, they do not use preservatives, additives, or colors.

Backcountry is grain-free: When Sprocket was younger, we had him on a grain-free diet feeling that it was healthiest for him and slowly drifted away from it because the food we were feeding him didn’t seem to be working for his digestive system. (Truth: he had horriblesulfur-y farts.) Rather than experimenting with other grain-free foods we transitioned him to a fairly premium food that did include grains. Last fall, however, when I found Sprocket in my sole care, I transitioned him back on to grain free foods and have been really happy with how his coat looks and how much he seems to enjoy his food.

Glucosamine & Condroitin: Labs are prone to hip dysplasia and I’m doing what I can to help Sprocket maintain his mobility for as long as possible. While the jury is still out on their efficacy in dogs, most things I’ve read have called them low risk with a potential reward so I’m opting to make sure Sprocket gets it in his diet. Backcountry promises 1200 mg/kg of both nutrients which 200% increase over his previous food.

And on his end, Sprocket seems to be really pleased with Backcountry. He chows down on the dry food with gusto. If he likes the dry food, I don’t even know what to tell you about the wet food. Wet food has always been an “in case of emergency” (aka “Mom decided we were not going home tonight and are sleeping at this sweet lake on the way home”) food that I’d pick up at the grocery store randomly. I’d also never bought anything for him as awesome as Alpine Rabbit Stew or 96% Real Beef. Although he loved that, our go to is Great Plains Red Meat dry food.

This post was sponsored by Merrick Pet Care. While Sprocket and I were compensated for this post and Sprocket’s samples of Backcountry were provided free of charge, all opinions are my own plus my subjective interpretation of Sprocket’s thoughts.

Gear Review: SKINourishment SPA Deodorant (+ a giveaway!)

My mom’s family decided a couple of years ago (in my absence) to do a White Elephant gift exchange for Christmas instead of drawing names. I actually despise this decision and participated in the White Elephant exchange this year under protest. I really enjoy picking out presents for people and White Elephants take all the fun out of it for me. I made the best of it and put together the best package of awesomeness from SKINourishment ever.

Seriously. I almost took back my own gift. Which is why I’m super pumped to be giving away an awesome package of goodies from SKINourishment as the first ever giveaway on 3Up. (Keep reading or click here to jump right to the giveaway)

Fortunately, I went ahead and purchased a climbOn lip tube and some SKINourishment SPA deodorant for myself when I made the order. I had everything shipped to my mom’s to wrap (for the gift stuff) or take home (for my stuff) when I got there.

It took about a day for my lip balm and deodorant to be swapped out for their SKINourishment counterparts. I’ve written about my love for climbOn lotion bars before and I was super excited to find more things made from natural ingredients that actually work. They’re not joking around about natural ingredients either: they use no phthalates, no petroleum byproducts, and everything is food grade. (Seriously, how awesome is it that when you find yourself with a lotion bar but no lip balm, you can just use the lotion bar?!) I have some skin sensitivity issues so I’ve been trying to make the switch to as many green products as possible. I hate seeing the looongggg list of chemicals on some of my personal care and cleaning products!

That being said, I’m not willing to change to a deodorant that just doesn’t work, you know? I’m really pleased with the performance of the deodorant so far. SKINourishment’s deodorant is not an antiperspirant, which is totally okay with me since I’ve found that most deodorant/anti-perspirant combinations don’t really stop the sweating anyway. I bought the low-scent version of the deodorant which actually has a really pleasing smell. (It can’t be “no-scent” as is pointed out on the website because that requires chemical maskers since natural ingredients have a scent.)

I’ve been wearing it for daily use for a week now and it’s been great. New Year’s Eve was the big test though: could I dance my face off for hours and not smell horrible? The answer was a resounding YES.

SKINourishment Giveaway

One of my goals for 2015 is to continue to replace chemical laden cleaning and personal care products with truly green products (I’m not content with things labeled “natural” or “green” that still have lists of synthetic chemicals a mile long.)

I’m super excited to be giving away an awesome package of SKINourishment goodies to a lucky reader to start their new year off with a new kit of awesome natural skin care products!

The package contains two mini-lotion bars (one original scent and one men’s scent…I use and adore both and couldn’t pick just one), a lip tube, a deodorant, and an awesome face wash.

Enter below! Leave me a comment about what your 2015 goals are and share via Twitter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

On The Screen: Easy Rider

A few days ago, via my Tumblr feed, I came across an article from Outside Magazine about the glories of road trips. In the article, author Mark Jenkins references five classic literary and movie road trips: On The Road, Travels With CharlieZen and The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, Blue Highways, and Easy Rider. I have read all of the books he mentioned multiple times but I had never seen Easy Rider.

Easy Rider Movie Poster

Known as a “cult classic,” I was fascinated by Easy Rider. During the first scenes of Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) riding through the Southwest F and I tried to name the places they were traveling through (and based on the location list at IMDB, we did pretty well). I’m always a sucker for beautiful scenery shots and this was no exception. Aside from the scenery, I was really impressed with how current the film felt to me. Aside from the undercurrents of hating the long-haired hippies, the themes of freedom and stylistic choices felt like a modern independent film. Sometimes it felt a bit contrived but it was that good kind of contrived, if that makes any sense.

Easy Rider Stil

Easy Rider Still

The whole film was summed up by George (Jack Nicholson), in his discussion with Billy about freedom. It’s not a rosy vision of freedom but rather a dark and realistic one.

George: You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can’t understand what’s gone wrong with it.
Billy: Huh. Man, everybody got chicken, that’s what happened, man. Hey, we can’t even get into like, uh, second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel. You dig? They think we’re gonna cut their throat or something, man. They’re scared, man.
George: Oh, they’re not scared of you. They’re scared of what you represent to ’em.
Billy: Hey man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody needs a haircut.
George: Oh no. What you represent to them is freedom.
Billy: What the hell’s wrong with freedom, man? That’s what it’s all about.
George: Oh yeah, that’s right, that’s what it’s all about, all right. But talkin’ about it and bein’ it – that’s two different things. I mean, it’s real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. ‘Course, don’t ever tell anybody that they’re not free ’cause then they’re gonna get real busy killin’ and maimin’ to prove to you that they are. Oh yeah, they’re gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom, but they see a free individual, it’s gonna scare ’em.
Billy: Mmmm, well, that don’t make ’em runnin’ scared.
George: No, it makes ’em dangerous.

Easy Rider sits with me sort of like Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance did; there’s a lot to relate to and a lot to ponder. Lots has been written about this movie (this original NYT review is pretty neat). It also makes me want to drive through the southwest.


P.S. Just found this picture of F’s truck he had when I met him. I’m sorta sad that he got rid of the Easy Rider poster:

Box truck motorhome garage

Review: Zuke’s Hip Action Dog Treats

While we were at Outdoor Retailer, we learned about Zuke’s dog treats. Made in the USA and based out of Durango, Zuke’s uses human grade ingredients in their treats. Reading through the pages detailing the philosophy of Zuke’s, I found myself nodding in agreement. “Adventures in life and love are all around, just follow your dog’s lead and open your eyes to opportunities. Our favorite adventures are those that start as nothing, like when a jog in the park turns into an all-out frolic in the creek.” Yup, Sprocket definitely agrees! And they pay their employees to not drive to work, how cool is that?

Sprocket with Zuke's Hip Treats

Since Labs are predisposed to hip displasia, we worry about Sprocket’s long term mobility sometimes. Zuke’s makes a treat for that! Packed with glucosamine and chondroitin plus eggshell membrane (which is packed with nutrients that support joint health) Hip Treats are made for dogs just like Sprocket.

Zukes Hip Action

Furthermore, he finds them absolutely delicious. (Actually, he knows the phrase “Hip Treats” now.)

And if the video wasn’t enough to convince you, I give you “Hover Dog”:

Hover Dog

Review: Good2Go Protein Bars

Among our many highlights of OR Show was the #hikerchat adventure. In the “buffet” of things we collected were Good2Go bars. F and I each grabbed a few but didn’t eat them on the hike because we were so busy talking (and grabbing an extra peak!).

When we headed up Mt. Sneffels with our buddy Ezra and tossed three of them in our packs for some sampling at over 14,000′.

Since we hadn’t sampled them before, I was bit apprehensive handing one to Ezra on the summit. I opened my Almond Butter Chocolate Chip bar, F bit into the Almond Butter Fruit Nut and Ezra tried the Peanut Butter Fruit Nut. Our snack quickly turned into a summit tasting party as we passed them around..

First, the flavor: excellent. Each of the three flavors we sampled was really yummy. They were simple and delicious.

Second, the texture: These bars had little of the “grainy” texture that I associate with protein bars. They are a bit greasy but that’s purely due to the “good” fat from the nut butters (something you need when out hiking all day).

Third, the ingredients. As much as I like how they taste and feel in my mouth, I also love what these bars stand for. They’re made with all natural ingredients, are gluten free, and basically are full of things you don’t need a degree in chemistry to pronounce.

Fourth, They are made here in the Rocky Mountains by people that love the mountains and support the outdoor community. Sounds like a winner to us!

On The Screen: Craiglist Joe

I heard about Craigslist Joe a few months ago and got really excited and also to see if Joe could measure up to Craigslist F. As a couple who met via Craigslist, found too many cars to count, bought our house, and have bought and sold many miscellaneous items, we immediately assumed that this would be an exercise in trying to build a life from nothing via Craigslist (as in get a job, an apartment, a car, etc.). That wasn’t what this movie was about.

Rather than an exercise in obtaining basic material needs through an alternative means, Joe explores how Craigslist can be a way of drawing people together in an increasingly isolated world. Joe set out on his adventure with nothing but the clothes on his back, a cell phone and a lap top journeying to see how Americans in the midst of a recession could “take care of each other.” He meets people though Craigslist (and in bars, dance classes, and volunteer gigs he found on Craigslist) who let him ride in their cars, sleep on their couches, and dine with their families.

While the movie was not what we expected, we enjoyed following along with Joe’s adventures in meeting people and traveling around the country. We were surprised by his lack of negative experiences (he only had a couple of “no shows” and no real weirdos), occasionally cheered by the people he found, and found ourselves wanting to shake him and give him advice (for example, “If you need to get to New Orleans, any destination on I-10 is probably a good bet”). If you enjoy a good travel documentary that features the good of people (even people you meet on the Internet), check Craigslist Joe.

On The Screen: The Way

Tuesday night we settled in to watch The Way starring Martin Sheen. The movie written (and directed and acted in) by Emilio Estevez tells the story of Tom’s (Martin Sheen) reaction to the death of his globe trotting son Daniel on the Camino de Santiago. The film examines Tom’s growth in the face of death as the inexperienced trekker carries his son’s ashes down the Camino.

The “journey” metaphor is used so often that it is very nearly cliche but the simple truth that a journey can be trans formative keeps it from being so. I found the film’s arms length examination of Tom’s emotional journey (and those of the three travelers he meets along the way) to be well done and interesting and in the end mostly avoids cliche. The characters are fleshed out enough that the viewer feels like they know them but there is still an element of the unknowable surrounding each one. This sense of mystery was enough to have Forrest and I talking about the film on the way home last night; we discussed what each character took from their journey. We discussed what catharsis was achieved by each one.

It made me itch to jump on a plane to Europe (but it isn’t hard to make me crave travel these days). It made me want to take a long, perhaps walking, journey. It made me think about people and the things they seek to escape in their lives. It made me consider ritual (and religion). So all in all, we give The Way the 3Up stamp of approval.

And this tagline? I LOVE IT.

You Don’t Choose A Life, You Live It.