Mystery Monday: Backpacking Feather Mountain

Happy Labor Day!

If you know me at all, you know that I pretty much stick close to home on a holiday weekend. I just don’t want to deal with the traffic, the crowds, or the multitude of noisy people in the forest. Which means that I never ever go camping over Memorial Day, Independence Day or Labor Day.

Except for this year!

My long-time college buddy, Jessica, has been begging me to do a camping trip since June. And wouldn’t you know, the only weekend that we both had available was Labor Day!

Back in April, I introduced Jess to the joys of backpacking. She’s been hooked ever since and has joined a backpacking group, and geared-up with a backpack, sleeping bag and pad, outdoor clothes, and gear galore!

It seemed that this trip was doomed from the get-go though. Because of some heat sensitivities, Jess needed a trail that would be relatively cool and would be near a water source so we could re-fill water bottles often. After a ton of research, I settled on going to East Clear Creek. To Kinder Crossing Trail #19 to be precise.

And then the trip started to fall apart!

At the last minute, Jess invited Ben & I to join her on a friend’s trip to Havasupai in the Grand Canyon. But Ben had to work Saturday morning AND on Monday. Plus, there’s a huge difference between a 3-mile trail and suddenly thinking of a 9-mile one-way trip.

Too bad Mother Nature just didn’t get the memo that I wanted to go backpacking! There were epic rainstorms all across Northern Arizona. Everywhere that we could have gone was flooding or in danger of flooding: the Verde River, East Clear Creek, and every single little drainage or normally dry wash.

While we were trying to plan our adventure, I suggested a game of indoor mini golf at Lunar Golf. Fun, but not backpacking.

But as we were leaving the mall (Seriously? ME? In a mall!?) the storm clouds to the north were lifting and flowing away. After a brief deliberation, it was decided:

A quick overnight trip to the Feather Mountain Ruins! No water but a “short” hike and stunning views.

The hike is pretty much straight up a mesa. We figured it out to be about 450 feet elevation gain in about .75 miles. If that sounds easy, let me remind you that we were each carrying 35+ pound packs, at the end of a hot, humid summer afternoon. Oh, and we were booking it up the mesa with no trail so we could get to the top before dark.

Read the full post at is my new blog about backpacking. I’ll cover gear, trips, tips, tricks, and all things backpacking related. It’ll be 100% beginner and focused on women.

Pitch Your Tent: New Camping Book

It was going to be one of those “quick” projects. But it really wasn’t! But today, after weeks of work, I finally was able to order a proof copy. Whew!


This new book (available mid-September 2013) has 101 camping recipes that have been featured on the Pitch Your Tent Newsletter and some that have never been published before. Book will retail for $14.95 and be available through,, and

(When the book is published, I’ll make those active links to purchase the book!)

It’s fully indexed for quicker searching too!

Let me tell you how much of a PITA (Pain In The A$$) creating an index is! After reviewing a ton of other cookbooks, I realized that a real index is a must. Did you know that a lot of cookbooks don’t index by ingredient? Just an alphabetical list of recipes…

Read the full article at

Mystery Monday: Prescott’s Great Outdoors


I’ve been invited to be a presenter at the 2013 Prescott’s Great Outdoors event in October! This is the second year of the event, held at Watson Lake Park.

The details are still getting nailed down but it looks like I’ll be teaching at least one clinic on beginning camping. I’ll also have lots of books for sale and signing!

This event is designed to highlight the many outdoor and water-based recreational opportunities, organizations, retailers, equipment, and resources in the Prescott area. The expo component is designed to expose participants to the latest equipment for enjoying the outdoors, while the festival component includes a large educational emphasis.

Prescott’s Great Outdoors is a family-oriented event with music, food, vendors, clinics and demonstrations, recreational activities, and displays. Various musical artists will also add to the festival component.

The event will take place 9:00 am to 7:00 pm Saturday October 12 & 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Sunday, October 13 at Watson Lake Park.

Rumor has it that they will charge an entrance fee but I haven’t heard for certain one way or the other.

Here are articles about the 2012 event:


And PS Happy Birthday to The Queen Mother!

Mystery Monday: Flagstaff Day Trip

Every family should have one last Hurrah! to say goodbye to summer. This summer, the folks have been super busy with home improvement projects so they haven’t gotten out much.

(I’ve been camping without them! A LOT)

But yesterday, we all decided to head to Flagstaff to celebrate the last weekend of summer before mom heads back to teaching on Tuesday. The original plan was to ride the ski lift at Snowbowl but the monsoons just were having none of it!

Instead, it was a trip to Bookmans!

I love Bookmans. It’s a HUGE used bookstore with stores in Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff. I found some great resources for future blog articles! (And a couple of cookbooks just for me!)

From there, it was on to lunch at, you guessed it: Flagstaff Brewing Company! There’s this post that I keep seeing around Facebook that goes something like: “Just how DID we ever survive without seeing pictures of your breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack…” And while I whole-heartedly agree with that statement, I couldn’t help snapping this pic of my beer.


My favorite part? The guy’s back in the background!

And yes, I had the French Onion Soup! It’s to die for. If you’re ever in Flagstaff, go to there. Order it. Enjoy. Tell them I sent you!

Since it was still raining, we drove out to Mormon Lake to see if there were any elk grazing in the “lake”.

Rain on the windshield!

Rain on the windshield!

Let me explain about Mormon Lake: it’s the largest natural lake in all of Arizona. And it is massive! But really really shallow. Mostly it’s more like a marsh than a lake. But it’s also a great nursery for cow elk to raise their calves. There is an abundance of water, grass, and you can see for miles so mama can keep track of the herd, her calf, and any potential threats.

We figure there were upwards of 300 elk on the lake. Just munching and moseying from one primo patch of grass to the other. Now I know these elk look tiny but they’re really quite large animals! And thank goodness for a 35x optical zoom. Everybody else’s pictures just looked like green grass.



Sorry the color is so weird! I edited it a bit. The wet weather caused everything to be VERY washed out and the elk weren’t clear to see at all! I figure neon green isn’t too much of a price to pay for being able to SEE the elk!




And a few artsy fartsy pictures for your viewing pleasure:


Between dodging rainstorms,


we also checked on five of our six geocaches in the area. Here’s the entrance to my favorite: The Groaning Gate.

And then it was on to drive the back roads. And I must say, I should be old enough, but I did fall asleep in the truck! I woke up long enough to marvel at this:


Nope, that’s not a stream. Or as we call them in Arizona A RIVER. That, friends, is a wash. Running. And doing its best to wash out the road!

Happy Independence Day!


A huge shout-out to all our service men and women who put their lives on the line for us so we can have our backyard BBQ, fireworks, parades, and daily celebrations.

I have a confession to tell you:

I never really “got” it until recently. I never really understood our Veterans and what they’ve given and done and sacrificed to our country. Isn’t that kind of sad? But I wasn’t raised in a military family. I had a few acquaintances who had ties to the military, my uncle sends regular care packages to troops overseas, a former roommates’ grandma makes blankets, a friend’s daughter graduated from the Air Force Academy.

But me, I never really GOT it.

Until last August when I started dating a wonderful man who had spent seven years in the Air Force. Yep, he was an officer. No, he wasn’t a pilot. He did two tours of duty, ON THE GROUND, in Afghanistan. Through his stories, I think I finally started to understand what these men and women do for us, for the country. He’s told me stories that made me laugh, he’s told stories that made me cry. And he’s told me some stories that left me shaking — stories that ended well but could have ended so badly; stories that meant that he may never have lived to even meet me, let alone help an average American woman understand what this day really means.

Now, when I thank a Veteran for his or her service, I feel I can look into their eyes and say, “I have no clue how you do it. I know the barest bit of what you give for me, and I am eternally grateful.”

So, happy Independence Day. Eat a hot dog, watch some fireworks, thank a Veteran. I appreciate you.

This post started out as a way to offer a 4th of July discount on my Publish Your eBook Blueprint: Home Study Course that I’ve created to help you publish your eBooks for Kindle and Nook. But as I sat down to write, I realized that it needed to be oh so much more. So I’ll make a deal with you: Here’s your coupon:


It’s good for 20% off through the weekend. But if you choose NOT to use it, I’ll donate that same 20% to Wounded Warriors.

Fun Food Fridays – Orange Cream Frozen Ice

It’s not ice cream, it’s not slush but it’s yummy!


  • 2 liter bottle Orange soda
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Mix soda and sweetened condensed milk in a large bowl. It’ll froth up so make sure your bowl is big enough! Freeze until solid.



Take frozen to camp. As it melts, it will become slushy and creamy and wonderful. Eat in a cup (or straight from the bowl!)

This recipe is probably best served as soon as you get to camp unless you’re lucky enough to have a freezer in your RV. In that case, freeze in smaller containers. If in an ice chest, the larger the container; the longer it stays frozen!

PS: Sorry there’s no picture of it frozen. I ate it before I remembered to take pictures! I’ve heard that this will work with any flavor of soda, but I’ve only tried it with orange.

Fun Food Fridays: Stuffed Crab Salad Shells

When I’m camping but planning on staying in camp, I like to pack a lunch that requires no cooking, is cool, and above all yummy! I first made this recipe last summer for the BS Club camping trip. The girls are heading out today but I can’t go. So I figure I should at least share a super yummy recipe from last year’s trip!



  • 1 box large pasta shells
  • Imitation crab meat
  • Black olives, chopped
  • Celery, chopped
  • White or yellow onions, chopped
  • Greek yogurt (plain, full fat)
  • Mayonnaise (full fat)
  • Salt & pepper

Cook the pasta shells according to package directions. Drain and let cool. Toss with vegetable or canola oil and store in large zip-top baggie. (It must be vegetable or canola oil; olive or coconut will solidify when chilled!)

Flake the crab meat into a large bowl. Add olives, celery and onion. To make the dressing, mix equal parts yogurt and mayonnaise. Toss gently. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and any other spices you like.

You’ll notice that there are no amounts listed on the salad itself. That’s because its one of those wonderful, easy recipes that you just make “to taste”.

Store salad in a lidded plastic container.

When ready to serve, fill a shell with crab salad. Serve with chips!

HINT: If you let the pasta shells warm up ever so slightly, they are easier to work with!

Survived Tax Season




Mystery Monday: Feather Mountain Ruins

I think that Northern Arizona has some of the coolest place names ever! Mint Creek. Feather Mountain. Hootenanny Holler. Mary’s Mesa.

Yesterday, I “kidnapped” Ben for a much needed hike. We only had a couple of hours before he had to go fly and I needed to head back to work on the never-ending illustrations for Pastarelli.

But, after the crazy-busy tax season it’s been, I needed a break! I think Ben, Pete-The-Dog and I all desperately needed to get out into nature, enjoy the signs of upcoming spring, and get some air that hadn’t been locked up in an office!

I love the way the flower looks like it is made of ice!

I love the way the flower looks like it is made of ice!

It was a quick jaunt north on Feather Mountain Road and then up a MONSTER mesa. At the top, along the ridge, were the ruins.


After examining them, I’m really not sure that they were Indian ruins. Rumor has it that the Spaniards, had horses and a fort in this area. For some reason, the walls just didn’t feel old enough for Native American.

Regardless, Ben, Pete The Dog, and I had a great little hike and a much needed break!

Ben, Pete-The-Dog, and Kim, The Outdoor Princess.

Ben, Pete-The-Dog, and Kim, The Outdoor Princess.

I could see the San Fransisco Peaks (Flagstaff) above the surrounding mesas.

I could see the San Fransisco Peaks (Flagstaff) above the surrounding mesas.

The view to the south.

The view to the south.

Find Your Geocache: Did You Know?

Trivia Tuesday

Geocaching got its start on May 2, 200 when satellite accuracy instantly improved with the pressing of the “Great Blue Switch”. Dave Ulmer placed the first use-the-Internet-to-find-it container on May 3, 2000 and the game of geocaching was birthed.
Read more about geocaching at

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