Archive for May, 2011

Mystery Monday: Flagstaff eGuide

If you haven’t downloaded an eGuide yet then get busy! I am working on eGuides for popular summer recreation areas across Arizona’s High Country.

Each eGuide is a compilation of the best camping, fishing, hiking, and public lands that the city has to offer.

Go get the Flagstaff Recreation Guide!


This e-book is the must-have, insider’s knowledge of where to go in Flagstaff for the best in summer recreation. It’s jam-packed with over 50 pages of information, updated for the 2011 summer season.

And, the best news? You get it INSTANTLY as a downloadable, fully printable eGuide, FREE from the outdoor recreation experts at

  • 3 National Monuments
  • 2 State Parks
  • Arboretum at Flagstaff
  • Upper & Lower Lake Mary
  • Volcanoes and Ruins Scenic Drive
  • 7 Flagstaff Campgrounds
  • Selected hikes
  • Kayaking, canoeing, and fishing
  • And more!

Your eGuide is a 52 page printable Adobe .pdf book. It is Mac and PC compatible and you can print it all, a selection of pages, or save it to your laptop computer to take with you.

Do you own a Flagstaff business? Would you like to promote it in the Guide? Contact Kim at Pricing starts at just $50 for an ad that will be seen by THOUSANDS of Flagstaff visitors.

Mystery Mondays: Prescott Recreation Guide

I’ve been hard at work lately creating a series of eGuides for cities across Northern Arizona. Each eGuide is a compilation of the best camping, fishing, hiking, and public lands that the city has to offer.

The first eGuide is for Prescott Arizona and is available as a FREE download.

Prescott eGuide

This e-book is the must-have, insider’s knowledge of where to go in Prescott for the best in summer recreation. It’s jam-packed with over 35 pages of information, updated for the 2011 summer season.

And, the best news? You get it INSTANTLY as a downloadable, fully printable eGuide, FREE from the outdoor recreation experts at  (That’s me!)

  • 5 Lakes in Prescott
  • Historic Downtown including Whiskey Row
  • Sharlot Hall Museum
  • Lynx Lake Recreation Area
  • Watson Lake
  • Thumb Butte
  • Camping near Prescott
  • Selected hikes
  • Kayaking, canoeing, and fishing
  • And more!

Not only will you get a detailed description of each attraction in Prescott, the information in the Prescott Recreation Guide also includes: how to get to the area, when it’s open, and if there are any fees or rules you need to know. Most pages also include full-color photos of the area so you can see the area before you visit it!

Do you own a Prescott business? Would you like to promote it in the Guide? Contact Kim at Pricing starts at just $50 for an ad that will be seen by THOUSANDS of Prescott visitors.

Pitch Your Tent: Sun Safety

Don’t Skimp on Sunglasses!

If you’ve read any magazines lately, you’ve probably seen article after article about sun protection. As an Arizona native, I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit nutsy about my sun protection.

And with summer just around the corner, I’ve been after ESP Boss to get new sunglasses (he did) and fussing at CodeWolf to either get contacts and sunglasses or a pair of prescription glasses. (Still working on that one!)

I always wear my hat, I use sunscreen like it’s going out of style, and my sunglasses are my best friends. (Yes, I’m working on a sunscreen article of my own!)

Kim in Sunglasses

But I know a lot of people who don’t wear sunglasses or who aren’t consistent in wearing them. And I’m here to tell you that you need to be!

What are some things to think about when choosing sunglasses for the family?

1. Will they wear them?
Protection does no good if it isn’t used. When you buy sunglasses, make sure the person who’s going to wear them is there to try them on. You’re going for fit first, not looks. So, make sure they don’t slip off the face, pinch the nose, or put pressure behind the ears.

2. Do they offer UV protection?
What’s the point of sun protection if it doesn’t protect? Read labels! If you can get some with broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection that’s the best bet for your money. But at the very least make sure that your sunglasses offer some UV protection.

3. How big are they?
Itty bitty sunglasses might look cute, but they don’t really protect the eyes. As anybody who’s fished can tell you, there’s a lot of reflected glare coming UP at you, so make sure they protect the eyes all the way around.

4. How dark are they?
You want sunglasses that are dark enough so you won’t be squinting, no matter how bright the reflections or glares are. Squinting creates wrinkles too, and who wants those?

If you can, walk outside on a sunny day before buying your sunglasses. If nothing else, look at a store’s florescent lighting to get some idea of how the glasses will work outside.

ESP Boss and The Outdoor Princess

Between the hats and the glasses you can hardly see our faces! Trust me, that's ESP Boss and The Outdoor Princess under there!

5. Don’t skimp on cost
I love my polarized sunglasses since they dramatically reduce glare and reflections. Of course, they’re prescription so they were expensive to begin with, but the added cost of polarization is well worth it. But, if your family won’t WEAR the sunglasses (see Tip #1) then cheap or expensive doesn’t make much difference.

I will tell you this, though, if you wear prescription glasses and spend a lot of time outdoors: spring for the extra pair of prescription sunglasses OR the glasses the darken in the sun.

If you wear contact lenses then YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE not to have a good pair of sunglasses!

You know I LOVE recommending people take a look at for shopping ideas so here’s a link to the page about sunglasses. (Affiliate link)

Readers Weigh In:

  • How often do you wear sunglasses?
  • Crows feet make you look younger: yes or no?
  • What is your favorite pair of sunglasses? (Style, brand, etc)

Find Your Geocache: Removing Cactus Spines

Caches and Cacti

As geocachers, we spend our fair share of time out in the wild, hiking. And sometime during our adventures we’re sure to run into one of the great sticker-plants: a cactus! In researching this article, I’ve heard that there are wild cacti in all the contiguous states except Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

saguaro cactus

Saguaro are iconic cacti. And they ARE native to Southern AZ.

Glad to know that us desert dwellers don’t enjoy a monopoly in these mild forms of torture!

(Hey you Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont people: is it true? Are there REALLY no wild cacti there?)

So I wanted to share with you two tested and proven ways of removing cactus spines.

Removing Big Cactus Needles

Here I was, honestly minding my own business doing some caching in Southern Arizona. Up this super steep hill I go, sign the log, come back down and as I get ready to climb back into the truck I look down to see:

A Hitchhiker!

Cholla in shoe

This is a whole joint from a nasty cactus called a jumping cholla. It doesn’t really JUMP but it will stick to just about anything!

The best way to get rid of a joint of cactus is to gently work a comb between the joint and whatever it’s stuck in. Then FLICK!

Putting the comb behind the cactus

Of course, you need to be sure not to flick it back at yourself or at anybody else! And I recommend having a buddy do it because the last thing you want to do ANYWHERE near a cactus is to sit on the ground!

Group of cactus spines
You can continue to use the comb to get rid of any remaining groups of cactus thorns. Then follow up with a pair of tweezers. We always carry a comb AND a pocket multi-tool for just these things.

Thank you Leatherman Multi-Tool with Tweezers!

Removing Little Cactus Needles

The tiny, nearly invisible, oh-so-terrible, hair-like cactus spines are called glochids. Not ALL cacti have glochids but if you have them stuck in your fingers, that fact is small comfort.

Last Saturday, ESP Boss & I drove to Tucson to visit my grandparents and pick up a kayak my grandfather had bought for me. He got it for a STEAL ($60!) because a packrat had made a nest inside the kayak and the large sections of foam inside were COVERED in glochids.

We had to totally take all the inside parts out of the kayak so we could clean it enough to load it onto the car. And I learned two things:

1. Packrats are really gross creatures who line their nests with cactus spines
2. No matter how careful you are, you WILL get glochids in your hands!

Poor ESP Boss ended up with a half-dozen that he just COULD NOT GET OUT.

Cactus in finger

You can't see it, but it IS there!



Removing Glochids
Tweezers are a good bet but they can shear the glochid off at skin level. It won’t stick out enough to grab it with anything but it will stick out enough for you to brush it against EVERYTHING and generally make yourself miserable.

What we found that worked was covering the area with white glue (Elmer’s is perfect) then pressing a small section of gauze over it. Allow it to dry COMPLETELY and then peel the gauze off.

White glue is cheap -- use plenty!



It might take several tries, but it really does get them out.

ESP Boss likes to do it once with the gauze and then once with just two layers of glue (let it dry completely between) and peel.

With or without gauze will depend on you and on the size/depth of the cactus thorn.



Here’s the good news:

  • Cactus spines aren’t really poisonous. They’ll just make you miserable.
  • They WILL work their way out of your skin. Eventually.
  • Most of the time, they’ll be large cactus needles that are easy to deal with.

Here’s the bad news:

  • Sooner or later you WILL encounter (and be stuck by) a cactus in your geocaching adventures.


Readers Weigh In:

  • What tips and tricks do you have for removing cactus needles? From skin? From gear or clothing?

Mystery Monday: Scary Campfire Story

This story and others will appear in the eGuide “Campfire Stories: From the Chill to the Giggle” Volume 2 coming June 15, 2011.

The Very Hungry Ghost

Haunted Hallway


A young business man was delayed in his travels one evening and had to spend the night unexpectedly. He went to the only hotel in town and inquired about a room for the evening.

“I’m sorry, sir,” said the desk clerk, “I have only one room left in the whole hotel. But you don’t want it; it’s haunted!”

The young business man assured the desk clerk that he didn’t believe in ghosts and would rent the room. After the young business man had crawled into bed and turned out the light he lay there thinking about the ghost. He reminded himself that he didn’t believe in ghosts and rolled over to go to sleep.

A little after midnight, the young business man heard the bathroom door creak open. Frightened, he closed his eyes tightly. Then he heard someone moving around his room. Terrified, he put his head under the pillow.

The ghost started crying:
“I’m hungry! I’m so hungry!”

Upon hearing this, the young business man screamed, jumped out of bed and ran from the hotel.

A few weeks later a woman arrived at the hotel very late. Again, all the rooms were full except for the haunted room.

“I’m not afraid of ghosts!” the woman announced to the desk clerk and went up the stairs to her room.

Just after she went to bed, the woman heard the bathroom door creak open. The woman froze looking up at the ceiling. Then she heard someone moving around the room. She held her breath.

The ghost started crying:
“I’m hungry! I’m so hungry!”

The woman took one look at the ghost and ran.

The very next night a rock and roll band arrived at the hotel. The band members filled every available room at the hotel until only the haunted room was empty. Long after the rest of the band was asleep, the drummer arrived at the front desk.

Again the desk clerk explained about the haunted room. The drummer said he had no issues with ghosts.

The drummer headed up the stairs to the haunted room and promptly fell asleep. A little after midnight, the bathroom door creaked open. Then the ghost started to move around the room. Finally the ghost started crying: “I’m hungry! I’m so hungry!”

The drummer opened his eyes, took one look at the ghost and said, “Knock it off! Just order room service!”

New Shopping Cart

I just wanted to announce that has a new shop! This is where you’ll be able to find all the cool eGuides that I write.


This is just a soft opening (since I can’t 100% guarantee that it will WORK). But I didn’t want to wait to have my readers check it out:


Shopping cart image


Right now, I have three eGuide titles available for download but more will be coming soon. At the moment, I am only accepting PayPal but I might look into other payment methods as well.


To celebrate the THREE WEEKS that it took to get the programming behind the shopping cart up and working, I’m offering a discount coupon of $2 off. (You can use it an unlimited number of times.)


The coupon is




So go check it out! And PLEASE let me know if something is broken, not what you expected, doesn’t work, etc. The coupon will work until 5/31/11.


Future updates will include more eGuides, free downloads, and maybe even REAL products. (Of course, I’d have to figure out SHIPPPING… Oh well, maybe I’ll just do the free-shipping digital downloads for now!)

Faked Baked Potatoes

This week’s Fun Food Friday post isn’t a recipe but a cooking tip. Enjoy!



Once a month, all the single ladies on my street get together for a party. If it’s one thing all us gals have in common (besides loving to eat, socialize, and drink cocktails) is that we all love the outdoors.

Since our April get-together, Janice and Patty took their brand-new tent trailer out for its inaugural journey. They did everything right: left in plenty of time so they weren’t setting up in the dark, brought a variety of meals so they had options, and kept their good sense of humor.

But, of course, there was always the unexpected outdoor cooking event!

In this case, it was too windy to have a campfire to bake their potatoes. And there’s no oven in their tent trailer!

So, Patty, being the brilliant woman that she is decided that she make “Faked Baked Potatoes.” She scrubbed the potatoes like normal, and then popped them in a pot of boiling water.

I know what you’re thinking: that’s just BOILED potatoes. Bare with me on this one:

Patty left the skins on the potatoes and boiled them until they were tender all the way through. Then, she removed them from the water and wrapped them tightly in a dishtowel.

The dishtowel absorbed the excess water from cooking and left the potatoes the exact consistency of a baked potato!

Slather with butter, sour cream, salt and pepper and enjoy!


Baked Potato

Set Your Hook: Lightning Safety

Stay Lightning Safe On the Water

Lightning on Water


I don’t know about the weather were YOU’RE at, but Northern Arizona has been having its share of really strange weather this year. Not only is it STILL knock-you-down-wind (weeks after it should have stopped) but we also had a thunder storm last week!

(The type of storm that blows, booms, and only rains enough to get your windows dirty!)

So I wanted to start the summer season off with an early tip about staying safe on the water when a storm is coming in.

Of course, the best way to avoid a lightning strike is to avoid becoming a lightning target. Each year in Arizona alone, several people are killed when the lake they were boating on is struck by lightning. Staying safe is more common sense than anything else!

Stay off or get off the water whenever weather conditions are threatening.

Keep an eye on the weather. Watch for the development of large well-defined rising cumulus clouds. Once they reach 30,000 feet, the thunderstorm is generally developing.

Now is the time to head for shore. As the clouds become darker and more anvil-shaped, the thunderstorm is already in progress.

Watch for distant lighting. Listen for distant thunder. You may hear the thunder before you can see the lightning on a bright day. You know how far you are from shore and you can guess how far the thunderstorm is from the lake. But, can you guess how fast the storm is moving your direction? Can you reach shore, unload the boat, store the gear, get the boat onto shore or into the truck, AND seek shelter within that time? You’d better move!

If a storm comes when you’re boating or swimming, get to land immediately and move away from the river, lake or whatever body of water you’re near. Get off the beach. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity and saturated sand or ground conducts electricity very well. Each year people are killed by nearby lightning strikes while they are in or on the water or on the beach.

Weather Radio

Our's is much older but very similar. About the size of an old Walkman tape player.

Carry a portable weather radio with you. There are models that are no bigger than a walkie-talkie that will easily slip into a tackle box or pocket. Think I’m being over cautious? ESP Boss has carried a pocket-sized, battery operated weather radio for YEARS.

Here’s an affiliate link to the weather radios carried by Amazon. The one we own is very similar to the yellow model pictured above.

Readers Weigh In:

  • Do you carry a weather radio?
  • What do you do if you think a storm is coming in?
  • If it’s raining but not lightning, do you stay on the lake or head for shore?

Product Review: Pitch Your Tent

In late summer of 2010 I was asked by a blog and newsletter reader to do some reviews of various types of insect repellants. Now, as The Outdoor Princess, I realize that bugs are just a part of being outside.

But, I will admit, as part of doing this research, I was surprised at how many people said that they absolutely never go outside for hikes, camping, or geocaching without some type of bug spray. Here in Arizona, we have our share of biting bugs, but thankfully, we’re pretty much safe from ticks, chiggers, and no-see-ums.

For all the long-term blog and newsletter readers, you’ll know that I’m allergic to pretty much everything that grows here in Northern Arizona. So, last September, I mentioned to my allergist that I wanted to do a product testing article and review on various insect repellants.

Well! Dr. Zeschke got very animated about that subject. (He’s opinionated about EVERYTHING so it wasn’t surprising.) Dr. Z told me that I absolutely had to test insect repellent clothing. He’s an avid hunter and when he told me that a shirt and hat were enough to keep the car-sized mosquitoes at bay in the Arctic Circle in the middle of summer, he had my attention.

The shirt I tested.

I contacted the great people over at Insect Shield to see if I could test their products and see if Dr. Z was right or if his success was an isolated incident. Not only are the Insect Shield shirts insect repellent, many are also rated at 30 SPF. Very cool!

The Test

My Insect Shield long-sleeved shirt arrived via UPS (happy). Of course, it arrived on the Tuesday before Labor Day weekend so there was no way I could test it until the holiday weekend.

Test 1:

Sunset picnic at Fain Park

Fain Park has a small trout pond so I thought it would be PERFECT for an evening test. I sat at a picnic table for a few minutes (munching KFC chicken) and looking for mosquitoes. The light breeze would have been great on a normal night but not when I was LOOKING for bugs! I finally found one buzzing around and then ran to my truck to put on the Insect Shield shirt. I never saw that mosquito again, or any others, all evening, even when I walked by the water.

Test 2:

Morning kayak at Lynx Lake

It was interesting to kayak in long sleeves, but I got used to it quickly.

Lynx is a beautiful lake here in Prescott. I really wanted to try out the SPF 30 rating on the shirt so I made sure NOT to put any sunscreen on my arms under the shirt. It took a while to get used to wearing long sleeves in the heat, but after ten minutes or so, I really didn’t notice if I was hot at all. I didn’t see a single bug all trip so I don’t know if it was the Insect Shield technology or if it was just a bug-free day. I can say that the SPF 30 worked like a charm though. I didn’t get any color on my arms but I DID get pink on my hands. I’ll remember next time to put sunscreen on my hands!

Test 3:

Morning kayak at Goldwater Lake

I was determined to find mosquitoes at the lake so I could really test the insect repelling properties of my new shirt. I saw several swarms buzzing around various trash cans and signs, but they were all too far away from my kayak. Then I hit the jackpot! I large swarm of mosquitoes buzzing along the shore, a foot above the water, near a tree. I kayaked over and held out an arm. Poof! All the mosquitoes got near the shirt and then promptly took off. Gone! Outta there! Adios!

Test 4:

Afternoon geocaching in Prescott National Forest

It was a lovely day for geocaching: hot and buggy. But not a bug to be seen near me!

In my area of Arizona, it seems the nastiest mosquitoes are the really hungry ones that lurk on the sides of the trails. So I went geocaching along trails, in bushes, and over boulders. No bugs. Even when I could see them up head on the trail, by the time I got close: gone! The closest I came was when I brushed a bug off a bush I was pushing through and onto me. The clothing not only repelled bugs, it also held up well to sweat (breathable and not too hot) and didn’t snag or catch when I was pushing through scrub oak. I was still careful with it as I bushwhacked, but I didn’t feel like I needed to find a path AROUND the bushes!

The Results

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit, I figured the clothing would work (truth in marketing) but I wasn’t prepared for how WELL it worked. When I saw all those mosquitoes head for the hills on the lake, I was sold on the Insect Shield Repellant Clothing right then.

I hate getting bit by mosquitoes. Like when I went camping with Nicole — mosquitoes turned our trip from “Great!” into “Okay”. But with this shirt… I’m 100% sold. This is a must-have for any adventure weather it is geocaching, camping, kayaking, hiking, hunting, biking, fishing, bird watching… (you get the picture!)


  • The clothing repels all types of bugs: mosquitoes, chiggers, black flies, ticks, ants, etc.
  • SPF 30 (not all clothing, but a lot of styles)
  • Very stylish (pockets, breathable, variety of colors)
  • No mosquitoes! It even kept the flies away.
  • Excellent construction (I didn’t worry when I was pushing through the brush going after geocaches)
  • Comes in a variety of styles: shirts, pants, socks, bandannas and more
  • Lasts through 70 washes. Which, when I sat down and did the math, comes out to be 3 years or so. I wore it as a shell (over my tee shirt) so even though I wore it 4 times, I don’t feel it needs to be laundered.
  • Not a bug bite all weekend (while I was wearing the shirt. Without…well, that’s another story!)
  • Wash at home like any other piece of clothing. In fact, if you dry clean an Insect Shield product, it removes the bug repellent!
  • Not putting chemicals onto your skin. (That’s a big thing that Dr. Z really liked about the clothing!)
  • Kid and pet safe. Tie a bandanna around your dog’s neck, or over your kid’s head and you’re good to go!


  • Price. Clothing ranges from $20 to $80. My shirt was $80, so it can be kind of spendy. BUT, when you figure that on a per-wearing basis (maybe wear twice before washing?) then it comes out to be about $0.57 per use. Not bad!
  • You have to wear long sleeves in the heat. Of course, if you’re in an area with ticks, you probably wear long pants and long sleeves ANYWAY so it probably doesn’t make much difference.
  • You have to remember to bring it with you AND to wear it. Trust me, insect repellents (of any type) don’t do much good sitting at home!

About Insect Shield Technology

Insect Shield uses a man-made version of a natural insect repellent found in certain types of chrysanthemum flowers, like an African Daisy. There is a patent-pending process and proprietary formulation that secures the active ingredient to the fabric fibers. It lasts through 70 washings which would be more than the life of the garment.

Please check out Insect Shield on Facebook or directly on their website.

Where To Get The Clothing

If you follow any of these links and purchase your Insect Shield clothing, then I get credit as an affiliate. And that’s a GOOD thing!

Continuing Results

I’ve worn my Insect Shield shirt from everything to kayaking to hiking, gardening to parade watching and the shirt WORKS. After the initial test, I had no issues wearing long sleeves in the heat.

Knowing that I’m safe from bugs AND sunburn: wow!

Though the affiliate links above, I’ve also sold over $400 worth of Insect Shield clothing. Not one person has written to me complaining about the products either. This product is fantastic and I tell everybody I know about it. Well worth the money!

Future Testing

ESP Boss and the Queen Mother will be taking a 4 week long trip this June through Zion National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Montana. They’ll both be wearing Insect Shield shirts. As soon as they get back, we’ll get the results of their trip.

When I contacted the makers of a spray-on insect repellent last summer they NEVER got back to me. I’ll try again this spring. The same thing happened when I contacted the makers of the insect repellant bracelet.

However, I did get an all-natural product to test. That’ll be coming up in the next weeks so look for it!

Find Your Geocache: Power Caching

Geocaching Power Trails

I’m lucky enough to spend a lot of time with a brand-new geocacher. This gives me a lot of perspective on what the newest of the new cachers know and what they don’t know. (And sometimes that is surprising!)

So when I was chatting with Code Wolf today about today’s geocaching article, the subject of a “power trail” came up and he asked me to write an article about it.

Now, there are people who love power trails since they can rack up a bunch of finds in a short amount of time. And there are people who think that scooting down a 10 mile long road grabbing a cache every quarter mile is just silly.

A power trail is loosely defined as a series of caches laid out along a roadway. They are usually a series of PNG caches with cache sizes being small or micro. There are some power caches that are 50 or more caches along a single route!

An example of a 50+ power cache series is “Hang’m High On Hwy. 51 #1” GC20GR1 in Louisiana.

For me, there’s a big difference in a power cache series like this versus a road that has lots of caches along its length but each cache is hid as if it were a stand-alone hide.

Way back in 2009, I wrote about caches along a trail. But I wasn’t thinking of anything like a “power trail”. I like hiking along a trail or a loop and finding a cache on a regular basis, like the caches along the trail that lead to my “High Gear” GC1PN22 cache.

High Gear Cache

There are 5 caches along a steep, rocky hiking trail in Prescott National Forest.

Somewhere between caches along a trail and a power trail are caches that are one right after another BUT you have to walk or bike to get to them. There are two trails like that here in Prescott, both Rails to Trails, that I have been itching to go after: the Peavine National Recreation Trail and the Iron King Trail.


Iron King Trail

Caches along the Iron King Trail. The trail is walking, bike or horse ONLY. No motorized vehicles here!



I don’t think I’d make power trails by caching bread and butter, but just once I think I’d like to try my geosenses against a true PNG power trail. Just to say I did it!

Readers Weigh In:

  • Power trails, yes or no?
  • Do you think that power trails add to or detract from the geocaching experience?
  • Is it still a power trail if you have to walk to get all the caches?
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