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Walking dogs in the dark? Get a headlamp.

November 8, 2015 8 comments

CoastHL7After the big FALL BACK, I’ve been trying to find ways to keep walking the dogs (in the dark). It’s not easy walking three leashed dogs on a street without any sidewalks, especially when one has to deal with speeding cars. Add walking in the dark to the mix and… well, now you see why we walk at the dog park most nights.

Unfortunately, the great FALL BACK has also made the dog park too dark for walking dogs, unless of course, you have a head lamp.

I’ve tried head lamps before, but none of them seemed to offer much in the way of illumination. I am not keen on tripping over tree roots or twisting my ankle in a hole, so I often ended up supplementing my headlamp with my iPhone, or relying on my friend Sara’s light, to make up for from my measly one. (She got hers at Kohl’s just like I did, but for some reason, hers was ten times brighter than mine.)

This year I wanted a headlamp that would give me enough light on my own, whether Sara was with or not. So, I went looking online. (What did we ever do without Google?)

Fortunately, a great little website called Outdoor Gear Lab had already done some detailed research and testing on headlamps and had come up with the best and worst. They tested 28 headlamps in both the field and the lab. Each one was rated on such specifics as beam strength, length and endurance, and price and value. The side-by-side images comparing the beams of comparable headlamps was especially helpful in making my decision.

In the end, I decided to get the Coast HL7. It was the best value for the size and weight of the device, and the beam was especially good (196 lumens). An added bonus was that  I was able to find it at a store close by (Walmart).

I thought about going to REI to get the Black Diamond ReVolt (2nd best on Outdoor Gear Lab’s s list), but that would have required a separate side trip and I was impatient to get started walking. I also found the price a little more than I wanted to pay. The HL7 was only $34 at Walmart. I may still go get the Black Diamond ReVolt, but for now I’m going to give the HL7 a try.

HL7 compare

The HL7 has an adjusting lever on the battery pack that allows you to go from complete darkness to bright beam or something in-between.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that when I got to Walmart, the only one they had in stock was the Coast HL7 with 285 lumens. It is even brighter than the one in the review, but the downside is it lasts only 1 1/2 hours at full strength. I have yet to change the batteries, butI am not using it at full-strength most of the time, so we’ll see how long it really lasts. Who knows? Maybe that ReVolt may be in my future after all.

So do you have a favorite headlamp for walking in the dark? If not, what do you use to guide your way?

Following Atticus – A man, a dog and a call to nature

September 2, 2012 57 comments

Today I am doing a review of the book, Following Atticus. It is a book my friend Edie Jarolim, first reviewed on her blog, Will My Dog Hate Me? I had always intended to read it, but as is often the case, life got in the way. That’s why I was so very happy when I was offered the chance to review this book on my own blog. I received a copy of Following Atticus as part of the review request, but I will be sharing it with friends and family as soon as I can. I loved it. I hope you will check it out.

I think I fell in love with Tom Ryan and his dog, Atticus M. Finch, from the first moment I opened their book, Following Atticus. It’s pretty hard not to fall in love with a book that speaks to your soul in so many different ways.

I should have known I would love it when I read in the prologue – “I have come to judge a good story as one that makes me feel as if I’m losing a friend when I read the final page, close the book, and put it down for the last time.” Indeed. For that is exactly how I felt when I read the last page of Following Atticus.

The story begins in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where Tom Ryan is the sole owner, editor and publisher of his own newspaper, The Undertoad, a paper that follows in the muckraker tradition of truth-telling and investigative journalism. He is knowledgeable, respected, hated, and admired by all in this small town, and as a result he lives a busy and somewhat dangerous life.

Then one day, he agrees to take a dog into his life, Max. Max is an abandoned dog that nobody wants. Tom takes him in and gives him a home. It changes his life. Max becomes his inseparable companion and the town mascot. Sadly, Max is only with him for a year and half before he is gone, but the relationship they shared was to lead to an even greater one.

When Tom meets Atticus Finch he is a tiny little thing. A gray miniature schnauzer puppy with white eyebrows, chest and paws. He is also something else. Unusual. From the beginning, he seems to have a wisdom and understanding that is almost human-like. Maybe it was Tom’s determination to let Atticus be himself, even his name was chosen to give him his own identity, or maybe Atticus was simply born with an independence could not be contained. Either way, he is unique and different and special, and he changes Tom’s life.

He changes it in subtle ways at first –  long walks through town to visit its patrons, bike rides together, and weekends spent away from the city in a little cabin in the woods. It is there that Tom and Atticus begin to explore and to discover a new and shared passion – hiking the White mountains of New Hampshire. Soon they are off on adventure that can only be described as transformative. They start on a journey to hike all 48 of the “4000-footers” – the mountains above 4000 feet, and then to hike them twice in one winter season. All along the way is Atticus, the “Little Buddha,” guiding Tom on his journey, battling the elements right alongside Tom. He is smart, wise and inspiring.

Reading about Atticus’ meditative moments atop each mountaintop made me feel a sense of longing. I wanted to feel his sense of peace, his connectedness to his environment. I wanted to feel Tom’s sense of awe and wonder at every mountain peak. his jubilation at each goal met. I wanted to feel his sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction. But more than that, I wanted to feel what he and Atticus so clearly felt with each hike – a communion with each other and with the natural world around them. There is something that happens to the soul when you connect with nature. Tom described it as such, “It’s the natural world that heals the soul.” I believe that wholeheartedly.

Many might describe Following Atticus as just a story about a man and his little dog, but it is so much more than that. It is the story of reawakening and the healing of one man’s soul. It is also the story of renewal and transformation. At it’s core, it is a reminder of who we are when we are one with nature. I have no doubt this book will inspire many to take to the mountains, the woods and the forests. In the words of John Muir (quoted often by Tom Ryan)…

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” [John Muir (1838 – 1914), Our National Parks, 1901]

Following Atticus certainly did that for me.

You can learn more about Tom and Atticus:

On their blog – The Adventures of Tom & Atticus

On their Facebook page – Following Atticus.

Wordless Wednesday #99

July 25, 2012 18 comments

Hey pound pup. Hop up in the truck! Let’s go Hiking!

June 30, 2009 Leave a comment

j0202168When my dog Indy was alive, we used to go hiking together, mostly at Interstate State Park near Taylors Falls, Minnesota, along the St Croix River. I would like to continue this tradition with Daisy and Jasper. They love running through the woods and exploring new places. I love hiking through the woods and getting out in nature.

It’s not easy for dog owners to know where to take their dogs hiking in Minnesota and elsewhere, so here are some great sites for you to check out:

Hiking with your dog in Minnesota
Hiking with your dog in the U.S.
Outdoor Group Hikes in the Bay Area of California
Hiking with Your Dog (Resources and Information)

Feel free to share your own favorite dog hiking sites!

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