Street View goes on a road trip through California’s national parks

If you can’t go camping, then at least you can take a virtual trip through the California national parks! All this from Google:

One hot summer day in Yosemite National Park in Northern California, I sat under a tree along a lazy river in awe of the natural beauty around me. I looked out at the majestic granite mountains, the chirping birds and the rustling leaves, and thought about how they were the same that day as they had been thousands of years ago.

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People around the world can now appreciate the beauty and timelessness of the wilderness through Street View. We’ve recently added 360-degree panoramic imagery for five of California’s national parks—including Yosemite—to Google Maps. In addition, we’ve refreshed Street View imagery across most of the state. You can now take a virtual road trip practically the entire stretch of California from north to south.

Redwood National Park sits near the California-Oregon border and hugs the Pacific Ocean. It’s most famous for its giant redwood trees—the tallest trees on Earth. With Street View, you can now stare up at them without straining your neck:

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Inland, at Yosemite National Park, you can visit historic Inspiration Point, the site famously photographed by Ansel Adams in “Clearing Winter Storm”. Panning right from the same vantage point, you can see the cliffs of El Capitan and the picturesque Bridalveil Fall waterfall flanking iconic Half Dome, a granite rock formation almost 5,000 feet tall. You can also use Street View to venture into the valley, overlook Glacier Point(visited by John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903), explore the more remote upcountry along Tioga Pass road and see the Giant Sequoias in Mariposa Grove.

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You’ve seen the redwoods, now see more enormous trees with a visit to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, whose namesake trees are the most massive in the world. It would take almost 30 adults linking their outstretched arms to wrap all the way around the largest sequoias. These parks also offer rich and varied landscapes featuring everything from mountains to canyons to caverns.

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The name may be foreboding, but Death Valley National Park, which lies along the California-Nevada border and has the lowest elevation of any spot in North America, is home to a variety of flora and fauna and well worth a visit. With average summer temperatures in this desert environment soaring above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, most people visit in the winter, but Street View lets you check it out any time of year—no sunblock required.

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Slightly north of the U.S.-Mexico border is the fifth and final national park recently added to Street View: Joshua Tree National Park. The gnarly, twisted trees here seem like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Plan your escapades ahead of time from your browser, then pack up your hiking shoes or your mountain bike and hit the trails in this one-of-a-kind desert landscape.

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This only scratches the surface of what California parks have to offer travelers looking to explore the great outdoors. We hope a virtual trip through Street View inspires you to visit these places in person as well. If you need some additional inspiration, I’ll leave you with a quote from naturalist and author John Muir:

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.

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Driving down Highway 1 through Big Sur is the ultimate road trip in California.
Posted by Evan Rapoport, Street View Product Manager

Measuring Your Distance Using Strides

Another cool idea by Brian!

From Brian’sBackpackingBlog:

Measuring Your Distance Using Strides

A useful way to estimate the distance you’ve walked or hiked for any given period of time is by counting the number of strides you’ve taken.  A stride (or pace) is the distance traveled by the heel of one foot to the next time that same foot strikes down – in other words, two steps, since in that time the other foot has also touched down once.  Knowing how far you have traveled is extremely useful for being able to accurately determine where you are on a map or trail.

Measuring Your Stride
There are many reliable ways to determine how long your average stride is, or how many strides you take to travel a pre-determined distance.  Here are two methods that I like to use.

  1. The Wet Foot Method: Create a puddle of water on a stretch of sidewalk or street where you can be walking at your natural speed before and after you reach it. Start walking at your natural pace and walk through the water. Keep walking naturally for about 10 more strides. Now measure the distance from the heel of your left footprint to the following heel of your left footprint (one stride) on several of the wet footprints and average them to determine how long your stride is at your normal walking pace.
  2. Measured Distance Short Walk 
    Measure off a known distance – 20 feet or 50 feet. Then get up to speed in your natural walk and count the number of strides it takes to cover that distance. Divide the number of feet by the number of strides. Feet/strides = Stride length in feet. I personally use the metric system, so I measure off 10 meters and see how many strides it takes me to cover that distance. From there the math is easy. Note: Most quality maps use the metric system (kilometers) so knowing how to calculate distance or count you strides for kms is a good idea.

Once you have determined your length of stride or how many strides it takes you to cover a pre-determined distance, the next step is to track how many strides you’ve taken or how far you have gone. Here are two trusted methods to keep track of your strides and distance using simple tools.

Ranger Beads on my Daypack

Ranger Pacing Beads
Ranger beads have been used as a means of measuring distance for centuries. The tool is usually constructed using a set of 14 or more beads on a length of cord. The beads are divided into two sections, separated by a knot. 9 beads are used in the lower section, and 5 or more beads are used in the upper section. There’s often a loop in the upper end, making it possible to attach the tool to your gear or the shoulder strap of your pack with a simple Prussik knot.

There are two ways to use the beads. One is to represent the number of strides you have walked, while the other is to represent the distance you have walked. Both methods requires you to know the relationship between the strides walked and the distance traveled. As previously mentioned I use the metric system. Each lower bead represents 100m and each upper bead represents 1km. I know my 100m stride count (60). Every time I reach that count, I slide one of the bottom 9 beads up to the knot. After the 9th one, all bottom beads get pushed back down, and one of the upper ones gets pushed up, marking 1km (or one “klick”).

Ranger Pacing Beads

The set in the photo is one that I made myself for almost no cost using some left over paracord and some pony beads that were $1.50 for a pack of 500 at Walmart.  You’ll have to remove the inner strands of the paracord to leave just the sheath if you want to make a set for yourself, commonly referred to as “gutting” the cord.  My set is capable of measuring 5km.  It can just as easily be used for measuring distance in miles. With each lower bead representing 1/10 of a mile, and each upper bead representing 1 mile – I’d have to count my strides differently of course.

Hydration Counter Variant: Instead of using Ranger Beads for land distance estimation, they also work great as a simple visual hydration counting system. Here’s how it works.  Every time I drink a whole bottle of water I move a bead. I aim to have moved all the beads by the end of the day or I know I haven’t been drinking enough water – which for me is usually around ten bottles on a long hot hike.

A significant draw back that I’ve experienced when using pacing beads is that I have to pay a lot of attention to counting as I walk. It sounds obvious, but unless you are constantly counting in your head the whole system fails.  Why is that such a big deal? Well, one of my main reasons for getting outside and hiking is to enjoy the surroundings and relax.  I like to look around and talk to a hiking buddy as I walk – having to constantly count in multiples of 60 and move beads is very distracting and memory intensive (for my pea brain at least).

A much easier way to keep track of the number of strides I’ve taken without the need to be constantly counting in my head is to use a simple hand tally counter.

Hand Tally Counter

Hand Tally Counters
A tally counter is a small, light weight mechanical device that sits in the palm of your hand and reliably counts the number of times the button is depressed.  I use my tally counter to count the number of strides I have taken by pressing the button every time my left foot takes a step.  Because I carry the tally counter in my left hand it feels very natural to depress the button in time to my left foot’s pace.

The advantage of the tally counter is that I don’t have to concentrate on counting in my head, I can easily keep pressing the button as I walk and enjoy my surroundings.  Whenever I stop I can look at the counter window to see how many strides I’ve taken and calculate the distance I have walked.

Operation of the tally counter is very straight forward. Push the button each time you want to track a stride. To reset the counter just turn the black knob clockwise until it resets to 00000.  I bought mine for a couple of dollars online and so far it has worked reliably.  It weighs just 1oz so it’s light enough to take with me every time I hike.

Whatever method you decide to use to estimate the distance you have walked, remember that this is only an estimate at best.  It’s most accurate when walking at an even pace on flat terrain.  Changing pace or going up and down hill will significantly impact the accuracy of these methods of estimation.

Smores in a Jar

Yummmm! Nothing says summer more than s’mores! From EmmalineBride:

Just when you thought you had seen all of the possible desserts-in-a-jar combinations, a fun idea comes along to make you smile. These incredible smores in a jar cakes will delight guests of all ages and they are easy-to-DIY (get the full how-to scoop here). I’m not sure if I love this because a) it is a genius idea, b) it is less messy to eat than a traditional smore, or c) last weekend I did tons of camping and bonfire-ing, consuming yummy s’mores along the way. OK, all of the above! This yummy cake in a jar will make a unique wedding favor your guests will always remember (+ immediately enjoy!).

smores in a jar


smores in a jar


smores in a jar

YUM. Ooey, gooey, and chock-full of chocolate goodness. My favorite!

Amazingly Effective, Nontoxic Fly Repellant

From the sounds of things, this weird, simple method works! Will have to try this as I don;t like toxic solutions for getting rid of flies. Details from TheHealthHomeEconomist:

Amazingly Effective, Nontoxic Fly RepellantFlies seem to be everywhere this time of year.  I was out at a local farm just yesterday and the flies were very noticeable and quite annoying as I went about my work.

Seeing all those flies reminded me of a simple, nontoxic and very effective fly repellant that I observed in action at one of my children’s field trips a couple of months ago.

The class was visiting a petting farm with a large open barn where donkeys, horses, goats and other livestock were available for the children to observe and interact with.

Despite so many animals in a small semi-enclosed area, there were no flies buzzing around!   Curious, I asked the owner about this and he pointed to plastic bags partially filled with water hanging over every stall.

He explained that a clear bag of water with a penny at the bottom would repel the flies very effectively.  He went on to explain that the “eye” of a fly is actually hundreds of eyes and the reflection of light on the bag of water keeps them away.

“Why the penny at the bottom of the bag?”, I asked.

Grandpa the farmer answered that he wasn’t exactly sure but the penny did seem to increase the effectiveness of the hanging bag of water alone.  He added that he didn’t know how many square feet of area each bag covered so he just put a bag over every animal stall to keep as many flies away as possible.

He also had put up a few bags over the picnic area and it was so nice to be able to eat lunch without flies swarming everywhere!

Try this fly repellant method for yourself!  If you do, please check back and let us know how it worked for you!   Please note that this only works for flies, not mosquitoes and other insects.

Orange Peel Campfire Muffin

This is a cool and easy idea – LOVE campfire food. Here are some other DLT camping ideas as well:

This from Instructables:

Orange Peel Campfire Muffin
I absolutely love camping. But do you know what I love most about camping? Why, the campfire food, of course! You have your pie iron recipes, your tin foil meal recipes, and of course, s’mores. Here is one of the tin foil meal variety, the orange peel muffin.

Step 1 Ingredients and ToolsIngredients and Tools

To make your tasty muffins, you will need:
    • Oranges (of course!)
    • “Just add water” muffin mix (But you can bring a pre-made recipe as well! I don’t like to cart around extra stuff, so I just use the mix.)
    • Tin foil
    • Knife
    • Spray cooking oil
    • Spoon
    • (Not shown) Bowl
    • A grate or something to put the oranges on over the campfire.
    • A campfire!

Step 2 Cut the orangesCut the oranges

This is pretty self explanatory. Try to cut your oranges right down the middle. Make sure the brown place where the stm one was is facing upward when you cut.

Step 3 Scoop out the gutsScoop out the guts

Take your spoon and scoop all of the orange guts out. There is a method to it. Bring your spoon all the way around the edge to loosen the orange. keep going around deeper and deeper. Once you are right near the bottom, use the spoon as a lever and pry the orange guts out. 5 points if you get them all out in one piece!

Step 4 Fill peel with mixFill peel with mix

If you have the just add water mix, put it into a bowl and, well, just add water! If you brought a homemade mix with you, skip that part. Pour the mix into the orange peel until it is a centimeter (.4 inches) from the top.

Step 5 Wrap the orangeWrap the orange

Tear off a piece of tin foil around 20 cm (8 in) long. Spray it evenly with your cooking spray. Place the tin foil on top of the orange and wrap it up. Place it on the grate on the campfire. with a fork, poke a few little hole on the top of the foil.

Step 6 Wait….. And finish!Wait..... And finish!

Wait until some muffin mix comes out of the top of the holes. When that is cooked (or when you stick a toothpick in and it comes out dry) You are done! Enjoy the muffin-y, slightly citrus-y, campfire-y taste of your muffins!

Top 10 Survival Downloads You Should Have

I am not a survivalist, but I am practical. Plus I live in earthquake country. So when I saw this list of free downloads, I thought I’d grab em! You might want to as well – from Alabama Preppers:

bugout, cabin, tshtf, teotwawki, survival, downloads

The following article has been generously contributed for your reading pleasure by Rourke at Modern Survival Online. We strongly urge our readers to take Rourke’s advice and download or print (or both) the following guides, which are available 100% free. Ideally, retain a paper copy if you have a survival folder, and save a copy to your reserve USB drive, which should be a component of your bug out survival bag or stored at your bug out location.

There are tons of good downloads in the Survival Database Download section of this website. For this article – I have selected 10 that everyone should have either printed and put away, or placed on a USB drive – or better yet both.

So – let’s get to it:

#10. FM 4-25-11 First Aid (2002) – Military First Aid Manual.First aid information is a must – get training before you need it – use this manual for reference.

#9. Guide to Canning – Being able to preserve crops to be able to provide for yourself and your family long after the growing season is over is important. This guide will help with that.

#8. Rangers Handbook (2006) – Crammed with info on demolitions, booby traps, communications, patrolling, tactical movement, battle drills, combat intelligence and much more

#7. Where There is No Dentist – The author uses straightforward language and careful instructions to explain how to: examine patients; diagnose common dental problems; make and use dental equipment; use local anesthetics; place fillings; and remove teeth.

#6. NATO Emergency War Surgery – While this is certainly not a manual that would stand alone in most persons emergency/disaster library, it is an absolutely necessary resource if you expect to handle any type of trauma where immediate comprehensive medical care is not available.

#5. A Guide to Raised Bed Gardening – This is not an “all knowing” gardening book – however it provides a lot of information to the “urban gardener” before or after TSHTF. Best to get the experience and knowledge of gardening NOW rather than later.

#4. FM 3-06 Combined Arms Operations in Urban Terrain – Combat techniques covered in the manual which may be very valuable in a “Roadwarrior”-type world.

#3. 1881 Household Cyclopedia – A massive resource of information that much of it has been lost over the past 203 generations. From Angling to Knitting – its here.

#2. FM 21-76-1 Survival-Evasion-Recovery (1999) – Excellent manual geared towards the soldier that finds himself behind enemy lines

#1. FM 21-76 US Army Survival Manual – From This manual has been written to help you acquire survival skills. It tells you how to travel, find water and food, shelter yourself from the weather and care for yourself if you become sick or injured. This information is first treated generally and then applied specifically to such special areas as the Arctic, the desert, the jungle and the ocean.1970 Military Issue Manual. General Introduction and Individual and Group Survival Orientation Navigation, Finding Water In All Parts of The Globe. How To Obtain Food, Start a Fire and much more!

Bugout cabin??

Well, there’s my list. Best of all – they are all 100% free. So, feel free to download them all.