Why Any Outdoor Adventure in Sweden is Perfect

I hope the summer of 2020 finds you well. I have lots of new experiences to share from our camping adventures this year. We have continued to travel and camp, keeping with the social distancing of the new normal and seeking the solace of nature instead of crowded tourist spots.

As the summer comes to a close, I think about how grateful I am for the community that I live in, that allows me to adventure right in my backyard.

On our friend’s amazing float in Björke, Igelfors, Sweden

Sweden has reacted to the pandemic in a serious and controlled fashion. They have been criticized by countries that look to place blame or direct the fear elsewhere. There are few words to explain the experience here.

No masks – we self quarantine. We also look for ways of avoiding groups of people we don’t know – ordering groceries online and canceling parties at the office. We still wash our hands obbsessively, but we treat ourselves well.

In this private culture, we become accustomed to the nature of the land. The worshipping of nature. Many people here enjoy life slowed down.

Imagine stepping back in time, for the months of July and August in the lush green forests. Fields of wildflowers as far as the eye can see.

A small community sparsely populated with tiny vacation cottages. It is acceptable to not have running water and use composting toilets.

A cute summer fishing village by the sea.

Islands and trails that allow travel only by bicycle or on foot.

Foraging for food and cooking by open fire on the trail is a pastime. Groups of sunbathers dive from rocks in the archipelago or along the Baltic Sea.

Seaside sunning!

Gathering on a porch or tent with friends to sing traditional songs and share the joys of life, is a reminder of how precious time really is. We trust each other and our ability to be honest about how we feel and how we can help and take care of each other.

This is the life I have always dreamed of, though it is not my home country it still feels like I am home.

I love writing stories and sharing with you, so I thank you for following my journey. If you are dreaming of doing more – please share your experiences with me and others.

I believe when you fulfill yourself with your heart and soul’s desires – the universe will follow too.

-Gina

Best Camping Recipes for Easy Cooking on the Grill

Camping usually requires meal planning and if you play your cards right, it can be down right tasty!

Of course, it all depends on how you camp and how you are getting there. In the past, I only ate what my friends and I could fit in our packs. This meant a lot of dried and dehydrated base foods that we could spice up and add hot water to.

Now that my husband and I have graduated to pulling a camper around, we are happy to have a tiny kitchen and refrigerator with a small cupboard for storing food. This makes our options a bit better.

We also upgraded to a small propane grill, which makes it easier to cook fast in all weather an elcetric kettle and electric cooktop (apartment size). These are all easy to store away and take up little space in our camper. It’s all about cooking the best and fastest way possible and getting those goodies in your belly!

Some say we are cheating, but if you understand what Swedish summers are like you would know why we stay out of tents. It means unpredictable weather – sudden torrential downpours, humidity and hot sun, not to mention – the bugs! The more north and inland the worse it is (I am speaking from experience!).

Anyway – even though we have upgraded, I still have limited space to prepare and cook meals. I have come up with some great shortcuts that many of us know, that have become a time-saver so I can focus on all the other things we need too.

Here are some of those recipes – I hope you find them fun and put your creative twist on these ideas to make more of your own. If you do – please share with us!

Foil packets:

Aluminum foil is not always the healthiest option, but using these packets can save you time and help you avoid using pans that can get messy and attract animals and insects.

Here are some easy ideas to use your harvested vegetables in a meal:

Camping Fajitas!

Who doesn’t love grilled goodies in a tortilla? You can make these vegetarian or with meat – your choice!

  • 1/2 lb of steak, tofu or tempeh
  • Fresh mixed peppers – mix colors and flavors for a colorful meal
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground chili powder
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Organic whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Aluminum foil squares 15″x15″, folded in half
  • Tabasco sauce or you favorite hot sauce
  • slices of lime
  • 1 cup of greek yogurt
  • fresh basil or cilantro

Directions:

Packet 1:

  • Add the sliced meat, tofu or tempeh to a foil packet, along fold.
  • Sprinkle with 1 tsp chili powder and a pinch of salt and pepper, fold up packet and set directly on the grill or open flame. Cooking inside the packet allows the juices to cook the meat and carmelize. It also eliminates the need to wash pans. Feel free to add extra flavors or marinate in advance.

Packet 2:

  • Next, slice up the peppers and onions into strips. Place along the fold in the foil packet.
  • Add in the tomatoes – depending on type, you can chop or cook whole. Sprinkle with the chopped garlic.
  • Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil over the vegetables. Sprinkle 1 tsp chili powder and a pinch of salt and black pepper over the top. Close up the packet and set the foil directly on the grill. Note: These cook very fast and can get soggy if you leave them on too long, so I usually add them last. Check them frequently, removing when they start to brown or blacken.
  • Now you can blend the garlic powder with the greek yogurt and add the fresh basil or cilantro. This is a great replacement for sour cream and adds more protein.
  • When everything is grilled, remove from heat and place the naked tortillas on the grill for 30 seconds each side. Squeeze slices of fresh lime juice over your veggies to ignite the flavor. Add your ingredients from each packet and top with cheese. Spice with hot sauce and a dollop of yogurt on top, fold tortillas and chomp away!

Dessert:

Samosa Banana Boats

Follow once for each person:

  • 1 Banana, unpeeled
  • 1 foil packet: about 10″x10″ or cut to size needed
  • 1 spoonful of dark chocolate chips or small dark chocolate chunks
  • 1 tsp coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp peanut butter
  • 1 small crushed graham cracker or shortbread cookie
  • First, cut a slice down one side of the banana and open the peel. Do not remove the peel. Lay the banana inside of the foil along the fold.
  • Close the foil packet and place on a wire rack over the fire or grill until the banana softens (check inside periodically) – this usually takes about 5 minutes for a medium size flame. It’s ok if the peel burns – it is protecting the banana, so the inside will not burn.
  • When softened, open the packet and add the peanut butter, chocolate, graham cracker crumbs and top with coconut flakes.
  • Eat with a spoon!
  • Note: If you want to use other toppings, such as marshmallows – you can add before grilling. I found the peanut butter was too messy to add before.
Cooked Samosa Banana Boat with added marshmallows

Packable snacks:

I had to share this fun and easy recipe that my friend Nikki shared on her blog. Follow her blog here: https://lajefacooks.blogspot.com & Instagram: @lajefacooks for lots of delicious recipe ideas!

Homemade Granola:

This is one you should make at home, while you are prepping for camping or a hike.

Here’s what you need:
Preheat your oven to 300 F.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups Oats 
  • 1 Cup Pecans
  • 1 Cup Walnuts
  • 1 Cup Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/2 Cup Pepitas
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil (or olive oil)
  • 1/2 Cup Agave (or good maple syrup)

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands. 

Sprinkle mixture onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and spread it out evenly.
Bake for 40 minutes, turning over once about halfway through the cooking time. 

Remove baking sheet with cooked granola and place on a wire rack. 

If you like your granola loose break it up every 15 minutes or so until cooled completely.  If you like it chunky let it cool then break it up once it has cooled completely. 

Split up into ziplock bags that fit easily in your backpack or if you place the granola in an airtight container, it should last about a week. 

Notes:

  • You can make this with any nuts and seeds you’d like.  Just remember for the amount of oil and sugar used here you should have about 7 cups of nuts and grains.  
  • Add Raisins, dried apricots or any dried fruit you’d like.
  • Try a flavor!  Add a tbsp of ground cinnamon or 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to the mixture before baking.

Thanks for reading!

We have been camping for the last 2 weeks, so there are more stories on the way!

-Gina

Camping spot at Tällbergs Camping

8 Healthy Gardening Tips For Adventurers

As a lover of nature and the outdoors, adventurers are more in touch with what we put in our body for maximum benefits.

Eating healthy and gardening go hand-in-hand. I find keeping it simple and learning about your local growing environment is the best way to grow edible fruits, veggies and flowers.

We have been living in our house together for 5 years in Sweden and each year we learn more about the climate, soil, insects and how to prepare it all. I am by no means an expert, but I find it helpful when others share what they know. This is a culmination of everything I have learned from advice, trial and error.

Our green garden with edible flowers & leaves and greenhouse for indoor growing.

8 Tips For Easy Gardening

  1. Choose your space: Depending on your living situation, your space can be adapted for any type of growing.
    • Container gardening: If you are in a smaller space, such as an apartment – you may be lacking in direct ground to plant. You are in luck – growing in containers can be a lot easier than a full-size garden. You can use the floor, chair, windows and hanging areas to grow. Try using different types of containers, such as recycled plastic, clay or felt for better moisture and temperature control. undefined
    • Raised Beds: Usually made of recycled wood, these are a smart idea for growing vegetable, because they create a better environment for your plants. Think about soil, temperature, and sun or shade, along with what you are planting for the best possible growth. undefined
    • Direct gardening: If you have the room to stretch out – you can still control the area with an open style, direct to ground garden. The soil should be prepared well – check the ph of the current soil first and then research how to layer .
    • Greenhouse gardening: Growing inside a growhouse is another way of controlling and protecting your plants with great benefits. The focus here is the temperature control should be balanced with an irrigation system.
  2. Choose what you want to grow: Depending on your space, you can grow almost anything.
    • Vegetables: Herbs, greens, tomatoes and peppers grow well in small to medium containers, while beans, squash and root varieties would be better for larger containers and spaces.
    • Fruits: Blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are great for your home garden in any space and are easy to grow from seed. Fruit trees take longer to sprout fruit, but are beneficial long term, if you own your property and are planning for multiple years of care and maintenance.
    • Flowers: These are essential for bees and pollination of your other plants. Check with your local grow house or farm to see which flowers will help your other plants prosper and which ones repel insects and pests.
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  3. Mapping out your ideas: I find the smartest way to plan is a go-to chart or map of what you want to grow, as well as where and how you will do it ahead of time.
    • Set your plan ahead of time based on budget, space and amount of time you can devote to the process.
    • By now (June) you should have already planted your seeds, but you can still try to add some last minute. With a set budget, you should shop for soil first, plants and then any fertilizer needed.
    • Remember to look for organic earth and organic additives. To have a healthy, edible garden, you don’t want to add chemicals.undefined
  4. The right seeds, plants & soil: Timing is the culprit here…
    • Seeds: If you planned ahead – good for you! Follow the seed packets and plants your seeds with the correct depth and space, so they have ample room to grow. Follow your map for a manageble growth and keep them within arm’s reach for easy harvesting.
    • Plants: Choose plants that have been grown organically or with hydroponics. Check the soil + fertilizer, as foreign soil can unbalance the ph of your soil. Ask at your local plant nursery – its always best to support your local farmers before buying at commercial stores.
    • Soil: Most important – make sure you purchase healthy organically treated soil. You don’t want to purchase cheap soil that has additives or chemicals. Make sure it has a guarantee. You are better off going to a local farm and purchasing some of their rich soil, specific for growing vegetables, fruits and flowers. undefined
  5. Mark your garden: Create your own system for marking each plant so that you water and prune the right plants at the right time. Laminated cards, or stakes with markers will do the trick. Get creative and you can add a fun visual to identifying what’s growing.
  6. Feed your growing garden: Watering and fertilizing your plants will give them a boost if you plan right. Based on your growing space there are lots of irrigation options. Check the weather reports to save water and use natural rainfall whenever possible. This will help you avoid over-watering.
    • Watering systems: There are tons of options for irrigation systems out there – you may want to research what will work best for your space and budget. I was surprised at how expensive it was to add a system in our greenhouse, so we decided to keep everything in the yard this year, while experimenting with different plants. If you need the hose or set up a watering system, make sure it’s not near any chemical runoff from asphalt or treated wood. If you can handle it all with a watering can, then by all means – go for it!
    • When to water: To give your plants the most nutrients, feed your garden early in the morning.
    • How to water: Water the roots only. Getting the leaves wet can cause all kinds of problems. It’s okay with occasional rainfall, but excessive moisture can change the entire environment and cause disease or mold.
    • Fertilizer: You can purchase various fertilizers or use local manure to feed your plants. There are other plants that you can add to your garden that will provide extra minerals. Check to see what works best for the environment. There are lots of holistic tips on the internet!
  7. How to maintain a healthy garden: Follow-up is important to keeping your plants healthy. There are a few things you can do to stop any problems before they start.
    • Check for bugs. Ants are ok – but aphids, fat worms, beetles and grasshoppers need to be picked off every morning. There are lots of holistic options on the market today. Check with your local nursery to see what they recommend. Neem Oil is one of my favorites, as it is made from tree sap. Try to buy local – it works the best.
    • Remove invasive plants. Make sure to cut back any leaves or move any plants that might block the light or water from getting to the soil. Some plants, such as Wisteria or Clematis will take over your garden and keep coming back if you don’t remove them from the roots.
    • Check and feed the soil. Make sure the area is absorbing moisture properly and there is no mold, especially after a heavy rain. Watch for discoloration of leaves or a white substance appearing on the top soil.
    • Pruning: Every plant has a different growth span. I find that researching further than the packet / plant info. helps with specific tips for that species. For ex: most tomatoes require pinching off the new growth in between the limbs, so that it doesn’t get overgrowth or unbalanced.
  8. Know when to harvest: Keep a binder or shoebox with all your seed packets, or list them on the back of your map. Be sure to write down the fruit and harvesting details for each variation, as there will be a lot going on, as your garden starts to burst!
Picking apples at an amazing organic Swedish orchard!

It takes time and patience, but you can’t replace the proud feeling you get when you pick your items from your own garden to eat.

Keeping positive vibes in your garden will nurture your plants – greet your new friends each day by sharing happy oxygen. Best wishes to you and

MAY YOUR GARDEN PROSPER!

One of my favorites for growing tips is Epic Gardening on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/user/EpicGardening/featured

Next up: Healthy recipe tips for your camping and kayaking adventures!

See you soon!

-Gina

How To Beat The Quarantine Blues Part 2: Explore Somewhere New

Lately, it feels like we got suspended from school. Sent home to sit and think about why you were naughty. Except we are stuck there. For an indefinite pause.

If you are at a loss to plan your next steps – I am with you. Getting outside makes you feel more alive inside and out. 

This pandemic has a strange effect on other people’s reactions and behaviour. You find yourself more conscious of who is around you, but extra friendly because you are so happy to see a face in person. Of course, social – distancing is easiest when you are outdoors.

I see a lot of people sharing their old posts, vacation pics and dreaming about that next adventure.

We wanted to continue with our exploring, and give you some inspiration.

Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Pick somewhere new. Using google and maps, we just choose an area and type ‘nature reserve near me’ or ‘nature trail near me’.
  • Choose a less populated location – try the thickly settled forest you viewed from your window seat on your train ride to work or choose a place you don’t usually visit. Use your imagination.

We searched the local google map for trails and nature reserves in the area.

https://naturkartan.se/sv/norrkoping/glotternskogen

Glotternskogen (Lake Glottern + skogen = woods) popped up.  It looked like a maze of trails along one side of Lake Glottern, with miles of varied altitude and terrain.

This forest is north of Norrköping in Åby off the main highway, where you drive about 2-3km into the woods to reach the marked trails.

Glotternledning (Glottern trail)

The sun was barely shining through the trees when we parked on the dirt road near what looked like the main trail entrance. There were a few cars nearby and a couple further up the trail.

Social-distancing achieved.

It was about 15 degrees C (59F) when we started out at 3 p.m.

We followed a mini trail along the water and eventually started deeper into the trees.

Lake Glottern

We saw a lot of turned earth, which means these woods are full of wild boar.  Luckily, they are night hunters.  Imagine coming face-to-face with one of these ugly dudes.

(Just for a laugh – I am not a hunter, but I found this newsworthy link!)

https://www.tellerreport.com/news/2020-01-10—want-wild-boar-meat-on-the-school-menu-.H1PnVCreU.html

Moss grew everywhere like a carpet of green cushion.

The windstorms have been rough as of late, so there are thousands of strange looking bent and broken trees. 

The hiking trails climbed high up into the rocky cliffs and getting down was sort of steep. We climbed up over and down embankments and tree trunks blocking the trail.

hold your breath!

At one point I looked at the steep hill to my left and there was a gigantic rock, just poised on another, ready to roll down and splatter us on the trail.

I took a ton of photos, though they don’t all capture the depth and character of this place. I almost wanted to turn these photos into 3-D relief shots, but I would rather spend time writing to you.

Weight of the world…

This place never gets boring.

Sweden, you are a whole new world!

We didn’t carry a lot on this hike, but here were the crucial items to protect us against unexpected weather and getting lost.

  • GPS on phone + naturkartan map- check
  • Pack with snacks and water
  • Clothing – layers are a great rule – breathable, but able to retain temp.  In this weather, I only needed a base layer and a light jacket.
    • All fabrics should be less than 60% cotton – synthetic fibers are best, as they dry quickly when wet and allow your skin to breathe better.
  • Shoes:  When hiking in the forest, I find that wearing a shoe that can function in multiple terrains works well –
    • Hiking sneakers or trail runners with a low ankle are my favourites (I tend to bounce around or sprint short distances), they should be waterproof, with a thicker sole, but bendable with traction for better grip.

When this is all over, I hope you still have Sweden on your list to explore!

See you next time!

-Gina

How To Beat The Quarantine Blues, Part 1: Adventure Films To Keep You Inspired

Planning is #1 in adventure!

No adventures planned?  There is plenty to do.

Right now, is the perfect time to look toward the future to keep our spirits happy.

For me, researching and planning mini adventures is any easy YES!  It gives you extra time to fill in the details that can’t be captured spontaneously.

Of course – a parking spot with our old camper will provide endless options in the outdoors of Sweden. If you have read my other posts, then you know that Camping in Sweden is awesome!

https://nosmalladventures.wordpress.com/2019/05/20/camping-in-sweden-is-awesome-in-torpon/

For now, we can’t book anything, so the planning stops at dreaming, packing and getting the camper ready.


When life gives us limits to seeking out adventures, living through another’s trials and tribulations is the next best thing.


We got a new LARGE tv and decided to watch some bigger than life outdoor films.

No cable here – my search was on available networks here in Sweden (licensing issues prevent me from the same access as in my home country, U.S.A.)

I found a lot of independent films that I have never seen – old and new. I just knew I had to share them with you:

  1. Meru (2015) – filmed and directed by J. Chin and E. Chai Vasarhely

This is a roller coaster of a film.  It was released in 2011, but I have never heard of it before. An amazing story of friendship, tragedy and the love of climbing, captured on live film. By the climbers. Unusually professional and breath-taking film.

Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk made a commitment to climb Mount Meru.

Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania, reaching a total height of 4,566 meters. Since no one has actually achieved this feat, including many professional climbers…


They quickly realize this is not a normal climb.

Their plan goes off-track within the first few days, as they alternate climbing and sleeping in alignment with storms, sunlight and melting ice.

They do not back down easily – ambition is part of the climber’s attaché’. Their attempt to ‘scale the shark’s fin’, which is the nickname for the infamous northwest peak is a goal to be achieved at all costs.

This climb has been attempted many, many times for over 30 years without a win.  Many top climbers in the world have failed to reach to the top, which made this film even more exciting to watch.

I won’t give the entire story away, but I will say that there is more than just the climb.  You follow their history and start to understand their thinking.

I am a lower altitude climber, so a climb like this is unimaginable. I do have an immense amount of respect for the loyalty these guys have for the sport. Thanks to J. Chin and E. Chai Vasarhely for filming a truly beautiful piece of art.


2. Last Breath (2019), directed by Richard De Costa and Alex Parkinson

This was an unpredictable film!  A documentary released in February 2019 in the UK, this is the story of a group of divers working in the North Sea, that become involved in a ‘situation’ with the boat they are attached to.

The first diver, Chris Lemons, becomes trapped and has to remedy his situation in a panic. While the minutes tick away, he loses air and has to do what he can to save himself.

Great storytelling, videos with the different divers and crew on the boat, and information on how they determine problems and deal with them. I definitely sympathize with the emotions of Chris, Duncan, Dave and Morag.

It was a nail biter!  I don’t want to give anything away, as this was told in an unusual sequence.

Available on Netflix and Amazon.


3. Losing Sight Of Shore (2017) – directed and written by Sarah Moshman, Peter Saroufim

Okay – imagine living in a boat.  A large rowboat.  For nine months. 

I just had to see how they do it.

Now think about being out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  The goal to row from America to Australia sounds amazing and ambitious.  It can also be gruelling and miserable at times.

The Coxless Crew rows over 8,000 miles while still managing to be patient and understanding with each other. I have had roommates that I wanted to replace within a month.  These women are hard-working and relentless. An incredibly humbling and easy movie to watch. There is no attitude like the human spirit! 

For some reason, I want to start training to row…

I found this one on Netflix.


Also – these are cult status required for all adventurers:

  • The Dawn Wall (2017)
  • Everest (2015)
  • All is Lost (2013)
  • 127 hrs (2010)
  • Into the Wild (2007)

My future list of films to watch:

  • Safety To Nome (2019)
  • Winterland (2019)
  • The Mountain Between Us (2017)
  • Charged: The Eduardo Garcia Story (2017)
  • Abandoned (2015)
  • The Barkely Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young (2014)
  • Desert Runners (2013)
  • Maidentrip (2013)

Got any recommendations or reviews? Let’s hear ’em!

Road Tripping…The Beaches of Florida

Road trips are a journey and the people you meet along the way are the highlights!

I must thank our family & friends for for being so gracious as to have us as guests while offering the comforts of home. You really made our trips extra special!

Since Florida is one of the only states in the U.S. with 2 full coasts of beaches, there are too many to count.  I have been to some and the experiences are different each time.

For those of you who are geographically limited: the east coast reaches into the Atlantic and the west coast is in the Gulf of Mexico.

The east coast is cooler due to ocean winds, with temps varying fro 59F in winter to 89F in summer. The tides are stronger and the sand is white, but more rocky. The west coast has slightly warmer temps, with warmer water – sometimes 10-15 degrees higher. The sand is much softer and whiter on the gulf side, and it is know for washing up lots of shells.

 

 

East Coast -vs – West Coast

Let’s start with the my faves along the East Coast:

beaches map

Central Florida’s beaches are just an hour outside of Orlando, leaving you plenty of time for the other touristy destinations.  If you are road tripping, the next three are within an hour of each other:

Daytona Beach

Known as the “World’s Most Famous Beach”, it was known for the wild spring break parties you saw on Mtv, back in the 80’s and 90’s. It has recently undergone a bit of restoration, with the addition of the new Hard Rock Hotel. Daytona’s population is one of the largest of the central Florida beaches, at 55,000.

Daytona sign

Being a big tourist destination, you many find the beach extra crowded on any summer day. Since it stretches for 23 miles, I am sure you will find a spot (subject to tides). It can be less crowded to enter the beach at one of the 26 entrances to the beach and park there.

Check the map at https://codb.us/407/Beach-Information before visiting to be sure. You  can drive right onto the beach, but it will cost you $20 per day. There is also parking in some of the lots on Atlantic Ave. that charge by the hour.

From May 1st to Oct.31st, the sea turtles are known to nest here, so that explains why you may see areas roped off and protected.

Want to grab a bite to eat? Ocean Deck (https://oceandeck.com/) is a fun bar/ restaurant right on the beach, where you can sip a margarita on the deck and watch the waves roll in. The main pier also has a Joe’s Crab Shack for a more family atmosphere. There is a small amusement park for date night with a ferris wheel and go-karts along the boardwalk.

Daytona Pier

Daytona Beach Pier & Boardwalk

You should also cruise down Main St. and check out the tourist shops, restaurants and bars. Always check the city website for events before visiting, as local traffic can be unbearable during Daytona 500 (Feb.) Bike Week (March) and Biketoberfest (Oct.).

https://www.codb.us/

FB_IMG_1508764793632

Daytona Bikeweek on Main St.

Starting in Feb., there are lots of live concerts around the clubs and on the main stage by the beach.

Daytona Speedway is also a must see and is just up the road – I recommend taking a tour of the speedway to get the feel of what its like to be on the track.

There are a ton of hotels along the coast, along with rentals on www.vrbo.com

We met here at Bikeweek 2014 and returned for our 2017 wedding at the newly renovated and lovely Holiday Inn & Suites:

https://www.ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/us/en/daytona-beach/dabfl/hoteldetail?cm_mmc=GoogleMaps-_-HI-_-US-_-DABFL

Daytona wedding

We found love in Daytona Beach.

Holiday Inn

View from our room at the Holiday Inn

 

New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna is a smaller community, with a population of 22,000. The beach is smaller, so you get more of the local vibe here.  You can drive onto the beach or park in the main lot for an hourly rate. There are also public bathrooms and showers, in case you plan on going for a stroll after a sandy and salty day.

 

drive on beach

me at Cocoa

Can’t beat this parking spot!

The village here is what draws so many tourists and locals – there are lots of small boutiques offering one of a kind souvenirs –

  • Gifts With Humanity sells handmade Fair Trae certified items from all over the world. https://www.facebook.com/GiftsWithHumanity/
  • There are also a few shops with handmade art and tees from the locals and imports from Bali, Mexico and South America.

New Smyrna

Shopping in New Smyrna Beach village

There are many great restaurants to choose from, but our two favorites are:

  1. Flagler Tavern  for the mahi sandwiches and island drinks: https://flaglertavern.com/
  2. Tayton O’Brian’s Irish pub – Ask for the ‘snakebite’ or ‘chocolate cherry’  (for a beer and cider combo).  They are famous for their scotch eggs and of course, fish & chips:  https://taytonobrians.com/

There are a few smaller motels and apartment or villa rentals in the beach area.

(check http://www.vrbo.com for condo rentals to fit your budget).

Cocoa Beach

This is another small beach community, complete with local shops and restaurants.  The population here is only 11,000.

There are 2 large bridges that cross the Indian River and the Banana River before you arrive at the coastal part of the city. Its a beautiful drive, so get your camera ready, co-pilot! It also borders Cape Canaveral, which is just to the north.

 

Cocoa map

map of Cocoa Beach area

 

The beach is much wider here and less crowded.  We always park in the main lot and pay hourly.  The wooden footbridge is such a beautiful entrance onto the sand.

 

cocoa beach 7_16_11

Our last trip, we ate lunch at a beachy, surf style grill called Murdock’s Bistro.  The vibe here is fun – they had an acoustic guitarist inside that sounded great.  The patio is large and a great place to enjoy the weather. Go for the southern style dishes on the menu – the fried okra is the best!

http://murdocksbistro.com/

Ron Jon’s Surf Shop is a must for anyone looking for trendy summer clothing – not only do they print their name on anything and everything to do with the beach (swimwear and mugs to surf boards!), they also carry all the surf and skater style brands – Vans, Billabong, Volcom, Salt Life, etc.

Dinner was fun, tasty and affordable at Long Dogger’s – they have every type of fish – the Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl was delicious! Their ‘long hot dogs’ are a thing here – loaded with everything from pork and bacon to cheese and veggies. Their menu is also a bit long, but they have a ton of local craft brews on tap.

https://www.longdoggers.com/

Of course, if you are in this area, you need to experience Kennedy’s Space Center in Cape Canaveral, for everything NASA.

 

 

Hope you enjoyed our suggestions for the East Coast of Central Florida.  I would recommend staying for at least 2 days at each stop, so you have time to settle in & enjoy the sites!

Next up…West Coast beaches…

 

A Hike Into Swedish History

Our visit today to Norsholm Nature Reserve was a step back in Medieval times – we followed the green path to see what this nature reserve would offer. 
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Norsholm is just 15 minutes outside of Norrköping, just off the highway.  There is parking just up the road from the entrance, which is marked with a map of the area.  This is where we learned there were actual ruins of castles that once stood proudly in and around the forest.

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Ebba & Andy leading the 2k trail

 

To think there were castles, monks and prosperous folk here is hard to believe.  The trails are rough and natural, aside from the signs set up to mark the history that once occurred. 
Of course, Henriksborg Castle was built in the 1400’s, after being left to crumble, following the time when the king denounced the monks’ home and religion back in the 1500’s. 
At the top of the hill in the middle of the forest, is the stone structure of only the sides of what was once a castle.  As we observed the amazing view over the treetops, you could see the river nearby.  The silence here is intense and strangely haunting.  
At one end of the trail a field appears, with a wooden plank for a walkway.  We soon realize that these planks are helpful in navigating across the muddy cow flaps and swampy grassland.  

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the footbridge

The Munkaboda Borgruin is the medieval abandoned bishop’s castle at the top of the small hill.

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The remnants of cut and shaped stones that are just a pile, but was once a magnificent structure that stood proudly here at the center of the village. 
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As the mist sprayed our faces, we stood trying to imagine the drawbridge that once existed and the knights that might have protected it’s doors.
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You can imagine the layout described on the sign – of small wooden houses built along the edges of the three islands that are connected with wooden bridges. 
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Thanks again to our favorite local source for adventures:

How To Find Hiking Trails In Sweden

Despite the many groups that flock to popular hiking destinations, there are undeniable moments of calm that you can find when hiking on your own in the forests of Sweden.  There is a magical element to hiking in the winter here – rocky hills, covered in furry green moss, with the looming trees swaying around, as if welcoming you in.  Bits of ice cover the ponds, while frosty tips of the tiniest leaves show a hint of green peeking out.

This past weekend’s hiking trip got me thinking about all of the gems we have discovered while following the trails and maps listed on the Swedish nature site:

https://naturkartan.se

 

Åby is a small town / suburb of Norrköping.  Developed on and around the small mountain, you will find trails and lakes intertwined within the different neighborhoods.  The Naturkartan (nature map) link above will help you to find entrance roads, parking and trails, along with areas to sit and enjoy the sun, swim or drop-in a small boat.

Lillsjön – (little lake)

https://naturkartan.se/sv/norrkoping/lillsjon

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Located in Jursla, this is a great spot for running and hiking with a small lake that is lovely for swimming (especially fun for kiddos).  Great for a winter dip if you like an extra cold swim, as this lake does not totally freeze over all the time.  Temperatures have been a bit warmer here in Sweden this winter, so I was not surprised to see this for myself.

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The trails range from a 1k dirt road to hiking or trail-running as far as 10k.  There are a lot of rocks sticking out along the trails with tree roots – so trail-running is fun, but you really have to pay attention.

Adding in loops from different trails can make for a full day of nature worshipping in this local gem.  There are a few spots for climbing and some amazing views over Norrköping.

 

Ågelsjön Nature Reserve

https://naturkartan.se/sv/norrkoping/agelsjon-naturreservat

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The view is breathtaking.

 

This is further up the road from Lillsjön and a much larger territory.  It is named for the lake, which this incredible place surrounds.  A fantastic place to kayak, that connects to the many lakes around Åby.  The climbing is a more advanced level here, with steep cliffs and rock ledges that would have any climber satisfied for weeks.

 

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On our way up!

 

The trails are rocky and steep, but there are a couple of side roads if you need to take it mellow on the way down.  It is important to follow the designated routes and plan ahead, as you don’t want to get lost or confused after dark.

A lot of people come here to camp or just gather in a group to cook lunch over an open fire.  There are random campsites that can be found on the trail maps if you decide to make a full night of it.

 

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We took a different route this time around, that led higher and deeper into the forest.  Rödgölenleden – is a 7km trail with a campsite near the top.  It has a shelter with  firepit.  We were headed that way, when we found another trail heading to the right.

We came upon a  bench on the side of the mountain that looked out over the lake, so we sat here and took a break.  It felt so wonderful to feel the sun on our face.  It has been so dark and rainy here most of the winter, with only a small amount of snow all season.  We snacked on cheese and knäckebröd with orange slices.

 

 

 

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Ante and me on the ridge. Zen found!

 

 

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We were only out for a few hours in all, but covered around 3 km uphill with a 2-3km descent.  With our fill of sun and nature, we headed back home to start a fire in the pit outside our place.

 

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Cozy back at home.

 

Tips:

  1. There are lots of maps and signs, with marked trees for different color / length paths to follow.  All these parks have a trail map posted in the parking lot.  A compass is the best if you know how to use it or a smartphone with compass app & GPS are great as well.
  2. Food and water are important to have, just in case.  The 1 hour trail you were on could suddenly turn into 3 hrs. when you take a wrong turn (it happens!).
  3. If you take a wrong turn, don’t panic!  You’ve got a back-up (see #1).
  4. Charge all devices you are bringing along.
  5. Bring a basic emergency kit.  It can’t hurt to have some of the essentials – band-aids, sanitizer, matches / lighter, flashlight, knife, etc.  You can make your own – here is a fun site with a ton of info. based on different situations, location and budget.

https://www.myopencountry.com/backpacking-first-aid-kit/

If you are into climbing:  I recently found a site for climbers that offers route info. created or found by other climbers.  The pictures, maps and descriptions are full of details to make sure you don’t miss the fun parts. There are a lot of global locations, so check it out – there may be something you can add!

https://27crags.com/

 

Thanks again for reading.  I look forward to your comments!

//Gina

Local Guy Meets Charity Challenge

Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes.

Joining group adventures is quite popular and can sometimes fit neatly into your vacation plans.  Commitment, training and setting your own personal boundaries are great – but why not do it for a cause?  This is a story of self-discipline and giving that is sometimes known as a ‘charity challenge.’

 

I have done my own share of volunteering, participating in fundraising bake sales and even running a road race for charity.  Some of us were scouts as kids or were part of a sports league, raising money for trips or different charities.  When my buddy Steve mentioned his experience cycling for charity last summer, it sounded very personal for him.  I could tell there was more to the story.  It turns out it wasn’t the first time he attempted something like this.

 

John ‘Boog’ was Steve’s best friend while growing up in Rockland, MA.  John mentioned that his dad, Bob, wanted to cycle from the west coast to the east coast.  John and his brother Robbie had been very sick when they were little. The Jimmy Fund stepped in to help with their treatment.  Bob had wanted to give back to the charity for a long time and decided that an epic trip such as this one, would be a great way to do some fundraising.  Steve jumped at the chance to join them.  They worked for months, asking for donations from everyone they could.  That summer of ’88, the group of four: Steve, John, Bob and John’s uncle, left Massachusetts on the drive to Los Angeles in a van packed with bikes and supplies.

 

June 28th, they left the Santa Monica Pier for the long journey back home.  Choosing the hottest day of the year at 124 degrees (51.1 degrees C.) was the toughest part.  They found it hard to breathe while riding and tried desparately to keep hydrated in the dry California heat.  During one of their rest stops, the radio recommended staying in the shade rather than attempting strenuous activity, but that didn’t stop them.  They pushed on, riding 70 miles each of the first two days.  They eventually biked around 100+ miles per day, making great time.  Arriving home 38 days later, they had cycled a total of 3,414 miles and raised an incredible $20,000 for the charity.

 

Charity Cyclists raise money and reach their goal.

Steve, Bob & Boog at the Finish Line in 1988.

 

Steve and John formed the band Dread together. They were a part of the local metal music scene for many years. Boog managed to live a happy life, after conquering his sickness as a child.  They stayed friends even after the band ended, so Steve was there for John when Bob got cancer and passed away, followed by his brother Robbie’s passing in 2004.

When Steve also lost his father, Steve Sr. to cancer, he wanted to do something about it. Then Boog received another cancer diagnosis.

Steve knew it was time to take on fundraising once again.  What better way than to sign up for the Pan Mass Challenge.

30 years after his first long distance event, he was set to cycle 192 miles from Sturbridge to Provincetown with Team Lindenmeyr.

 

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PMC Route:  Sturbridge to Provincetown, MA = 192 miles

 

Raising the money was not easy.  He found it humbling to ask his friends and family to donate, but still managed to take in tons of donations.  He had hoped that Boog would hang in there to see him finish the race, but the day before he rode up to the starting line, Boog passed away.  Steve was now the last of the group alive, so this made the task even more important.

 

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400+ names listed in memoriam on the Lindenmeyr sponsor shirt to commemorate the ride.

 

At the start of the ride, he took his time keeping a steady speed.  For those that don’t know the area, the track is on public roads from the centre of MA to the farthest shore.  The terrain varies from sharp turns to downhill descent with occasional straight roads.  As he made his way to the first water stop, he gradually began to feel an aching pain in both of his knees.  He looked forward to each rest which helped him to cycle a total of 110 miles. When he reached Mass Maritime Academy in Buzzard’s Bay, he stepped into the medical tent. The news was not good.  After learning he had strained the IT bands in both knees, his ride was over.  He was 82 miles short of the goal.

It’s important of course, to listen to your body. To continue that ride, would surely have done some serious damage.

 

This didn’t stop Steve of course – the following year, the PMC was on his radar once again.  He had trained better this time, trying a shorter 50-mile test.  August 2019, Team Lindenmeyr had 38 cyclists riding together.  The PMC is not a race, it is a charity ride.  Most of these cyclists are not professional athletes.  Some feel the need to set goals per hour and per day, but Steve was focused on his own personal goals.

 

Cruising along, he was confident and mindful of his previous knee problems.  But when he tried attaching his water bottle on the bike after a drink, it wouldn’t fit.  He struggled and lost control, which sent him crashing to the pavement.  Luckily, he didn’t suffer any catastrophic injuries.  Bloody and road-rashed, he heroically climbed back on the bike and made it to the water stop in Brewster to clean up. The scars he still has from that day are a reminder of his accomplishment.

He cycled 110 miles to Bourne and stayed in a tent, before finishing the last miles on the 2nd day.  This time Steve reached his goal.  He cycled the full distance to the tip of Cape Cod and raised a total of $5,000 on his own, bringing Team Lindenmeyr to a total of $600,000 raised in just two years!

 

Local Guy Meets Charity Challenge

Steve at the Provincetown Finish Line in 2019!

 

 

In an interesting twist to the tale – Steve decided that if he was able to finish that race, it would be his last challenge.   He met a volunteer there who had expressed interest in cycling the PMC herself one day.

Steve said “I’ll give you my bike!”

Imagine her surprise when he fulfilled that offer.  They agreed it should be passed onto another rider each year to keep the tradition growing!

 


 

Steve is a great guy, with a big heart.  In midst of great loss, he gave back the best way he could to help others.  Thanks to him, there are other families feeling less of a burden today with the help of his efforts.

The search for a cure is ongoing, with help from donations and events such as the PMC who gives 100% of all donations to the Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber Cancer Research.  So, when you see a friend or colleague with a passion to give back – do whatever you can to support them – they are going to need it.

I want to thank Steve for sharing his story. It shows that being mindful and grateful, we can find ways to help each other through the tough times.

 


 

Here are some links if you need more information:

Pan Mass Challenge:       https://www.pmc.org/

The Jimmy Fund:              http://www.jimmyfund.org/

Dana Farber Cancer Institute:         https://www.dana-farber.org/

No Small Adventure 2020: New Beginnings

Happy New Year!  Today is the last day of 2019 and what a great year it has been.  As I recollected in the last post, the year has been full of exploring some truly beautiful locations.  2020 will be no different, with a long bucket list of things to conquer in the future.

I am a big believer in Dreamlining and Tim Ferriss is a genius at getting shit done.  I purchased his 4-Hour Workweek book back in 2013 and read it in one week.  I started using the tools right away and I re-read the book many times before passing it on to a friend. His book, blog and 5 bullet-Friday emails are fun and keep you inspired:

https://tim.blog/4-hour-workweek-tools/

There are lots of tips to get started – you don’t have to use them all – just focus on your intentions.  For me, it was part of a conscious effort to make my dreams happen and ignite a change.  I dreamed of a life of adventure, while at the same time finding happiness in my work.

I picked up some multi-colored index cards and I wrote down something I wanted to do or try on each one, creating a pyramid on the wall above my desk. “Live In Europe” was my first one.  I had no idea how that could be possible, i just thought it sounded interesting and fun.  1 1/2 years later it happened.  Lots of other things were listed up there – such as freedom from debt, sea kayaking and running a race in a foreign location.  Check, finished and done.

You can do anything your heart desires, but it doesn’t happen on it’s own – it takes discipline. Your cirmcumstances may differ, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fulfill your own dreams.  It not the stuff of movies – it’s the law of attraction and it is real.

 

Path to the best beach in the USA

Siesta Key Beach, Florida

 

Step 1:  Not just another To-Do List I suggest you start by creating a list of New Ideas for 2020.  This is not about resolutions that you might or might not do.  No details needed – keep it simple, with just ideas to start.

Here’s is my list for 2020:  not necessarily in order

  • Visit a new country
  • Start something new
  • Volunteer to help someone or something
  • Try a new sport – SUP?
  • Conquer a fear
  • Visit an old friend
  • Retirement goals

 

Step 2:  Write.   Write each of the items on the list on a separate index card, piece of paper, or a dry erase board.  The act of hand-scribing each one is part of the commitment.  Find a place you can tack them up – a wall, back of your closet door – somewhere you can see each separate idea all at once.  They shouldn’t be too hidden – a bulletin board in your kitchen or near a working space or computer may be appropriate.  The idea is that you see it and feel a sense of excitement at the idea of setting forth the steps that can make these happen.  They may even evolve into something you hadn’t expected.

When I wrote down ‘Live in Europe‘, I didn’t write – meet someone to marry, so that I could move to Europe.  I actually looked at jobs and schools in London, Spain and Portugal.  I had no clue that a chance meeting of my future love while on vacation, would invite me to live in the land of vikings.

Step 3:  Don’t let go.  I believe it is actually unhealthy to let go of your dreams.  Remind yourself how important you are to the world and the people around you.  By doing this, you are expressing the gratefulness that is required in the law of attraction.  Being mindful with repitition and the belief that anything can happen is what will take you to the top of that mountain, a new career or certification in scuba diving.

Step 4:  Continue.  Once you achieve one of these dreams I won’t have to convince you further.  Your list can adapt as you become a believer – these ideas are not set in stone until they are part of your legacy.

 

 


 

 

I have another important goal in 2020.  I have dreamed of taking No Small Adventure a bit further.  This is where I need your help.

I believe that adventurers are a giving and harmonious tribe of people.  I want to help others to join together in travel and adventure, by setting up an online organization.  The plan is to start a site where we can offer each other items to trade, loan or barter all over the world.

For example:  A couple is visiting Norway and would like to borrow two bicycles for the day to ride from one location to another.  Or maybe they need help or supplies to fix a tear in their tent in a remote location.  There may be someone located nearby that has an item you need or can help you out.

nosmalladv Tribe

The idea is more of co-op – with contribution from many groups, individuals and freelancers / guides that are willing to come together.  This is a not-for-profit idea that benefits us all.  It will obviously take some time, but I am already working on it part-time, so any ideas you have would be gratefully appreciated!

Thanks so much for reading and sharing here – I look forward to the excitement of the new year and wish you well on all of your fantastic journeys!