Category Archives: Hiking

Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Taipei

IMG_6613As you know I love exploring history. Visiting Taipei I had a chance to visit the memorial for democratic pioneer, Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Many don’t realize this, but Taiwan is was the first democracy in Asia. Founded on the premise that Taiwan was starving from lack of educational nutrition, Dr Sun helped to point the way towards literacy.

A Chinese revolutionary, he participated in as many as eleven, he was the first president and founding father of the IMG_6620Republic of China (Taiwan) and is referred to as the “Father of the Nation”. Sun Yat-sen played a critical role in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1888. In 1912, he was appointed to serve as president of the Provisional Republic of China In addition, Sun who is still revered today, was a uniting figure in post-Imperial China.

IMG_6637I enjoyed visiting the memorial hall in Taipei and encourage anyone visiting Taiwan to stop by. I found it because of following a geocache. My how this activity takes me to unique places! The grounds are simply beautiful and there are diverse activities taking place on the grounds.

You might see prayerful monks next to hip-hop dances. The unique thing I have learned about Asia in general, parks can have many different groups congregating in close proximity, and no one is affected by the other group. For a photographer, this is a target rich environment.

IMG_6649IMG_6627The main entrance to the hall contains a huge statue of Sun Yat-sen. Every hour, there is a formal changing of the guards, which I highly recommend seeing. It is popular, so get a spot early. Also a gift shop to collect that much needed postcard or travel stamp.

The building itself is sited on a beautiful campus, Chung-shan Park. It includes lush gardens, decorative historical walls, and an exhibition and performance area surrounding Lake Cui. There are also great views of Taipei 101, the world’s second largest building.IMG_6652

For more information and to hear some great audio podcast, check out our audio blog

Puppy First-Aid Kits

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“Dad…can we go….can we go?” Trigger sits patiently while the Jeep is warming up for a run in the desert

I have a podcast out there – make sure you check www.AdventureIQ.com for the link, its pretty easy if you follow us on FACEBOOK, then you get all of our podcast…

So I was only going to post this as a list on the AIQ FB page, but after Dan from The 4×4 Podcast asked me to do a blog….well here it is… The more time you spend with your pup in the outdoors, the more exposure there is to them getting injured. Even a minor injury can dampen your trip and nothing is worse than seeing your pup limp along in pain. I have had to deal with burrs, impaled object, large lacerations, and both heat exposure and borderline hypothermia in my dogs.
Even though there are plenty of kits you can buy on-line, I believe in putting your own kit together, simply then you know what is in it.

We have a main kit for the house, one in the rig, and then a small field kit that goes a doggie day pack. I will only list out the items that goes in our kit that the pups pack with them. We have larger pups, so if your adventure pup is a small breed, well you get to hike with the kit…no K-9 EMT kits on your Mini-Rat Terrier

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Trigger ready for a day of adventure

We highly recommend that you seek out classes that are specific to first-aid for dogs. Get a good solid field manual to keep with the kit. Finally, dogs are different from us two-leggeds- human medicine unless noted is not for puppy consumption.

BIG DISCLAIMER— THIS IS MY LIST YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CONSULTING YOUR OWN VET. WE DO NOT ACCEPT ANY RESPONSIBLITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS OR ACTIONS TAKEN ON BEHALF OF THIS LIST 

  • K9 EMT Gel- This stuff interacts with the wound and maintains much-needed moisture that helps a wound in healing. In addition, it acts as a tissue adhesive to help prevent bacterial infection. It also reduces bleeding and pain. Keep it current though, it will expire.
  • Tweezers- When your pup is hurt and you are trying to remove a sliver, they don’t always hold still. One poke with sharp or pointed objects and your pal will not likely lay still for you again. I use flat slant tipped tweezers.
  • Scissors- I carry both small dull-ended snips and EMT shears. The small snips are excellent for trimming out goat heads in the fur areas in the paws or burrs on the belly. EMT shears are good for cutting medical tape.
  • Tick Removal Tool. These are designed to remove nasty ticks, which, if left in, can lead to infection or worse, diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme’s.
  • Cotton balls
  • 4×4 Gauze Pads and 4” Rolled Gauze.
  • Hibitane Disinfectant- Learn to use BEFORE you use it
  • Saline solution. We live in a sandy area and this is great to get dust and sand out of the eyes. Can also be used to clean wounds.  DO NOT USE Contact solution.
  • Flush Syringe
  • Benadryl- Trigger bit a wasp one day- and I was pretty worried that he was going to swell up and not breathe. A fellow vet-tech of Melissa’s gave him a Benadryl. It reduced the swelling, keeping his airway open…and put him to sleep.  Antihistamines can be used to calm itchiness, swelling, and hives caused by insects,  but, as with any medication, please with your vet for dosage.
  • Antibacterial Wipes or skin soap.
  • Bag Balm/Skin & Paw Cream – When feet get torn up. Keep it in a labeled zip-tight bag.
  • Rectal Thermometer. A dog’s average is around 101°F.
  • Petroleum Jelly. For use with the thermometer…and be sure to scratch your pup’s ears after the intrusion….
  • Emergency numbers- I keep three sets of numbers in my kit. My regular vet, the 24-hour vet, ad then when traveling, numbers of vets at each destination.
  • Latex gloves
  • Emergency contact numbers. The digits for your vet, the closest animal emergency hospital, and the poison control hotline.
  • Triangle Bandage to use as a muzzle
  • Corn- starch- To stop bleeding of nails (not wounds) that have been broken or cut to the quick.
  • Vet Wrap
  • Small Space-Blanket (Compact Size)
  • First Aid Manual for Dogs (small pocket-sized)

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    Harper was a rescue, that when we got her, required lots of medical love…

Square Peg Expeditions

Tonight was answering an email from someone in the expo community I highly respect and growing friendship I cherish. I won’t let on who that was, if they chose they can post up on either the Facebook page or here on the blog.

An excellent point was made on fitting into the crowd. In Seth Godin’s work in “Tribes”. Seth contends that it is natural and in fact, people are desperate to believe in the elusive ‘something’ whether it’s religion, human rights, trail access, or in our case, adventure of places new and unique. unfortunately, there is a despair when the group is going nowhere, yet still committed to believing in the “one thing”. This is where it is essential for leadership in the Tribes equation.

There has been an exciting movement in the Overlanding Tribe, mainly with the Overland Expo event and the Expedition Portal forums. This has been a place for like-minded adventurers and expedition participants to meet and share ideas. But as many Tribes grow, there begins to be certain cliques that evolve. I have already noticed that in the forums there has been a minor divergence of “elitist” who have grown impatient with the weekend adventure postings, the “Jeepers”, rock-crawlers, and those mainly focused on just equipment enhancements.

This is an easy crowd to quickly feel like an outcast. Most of us have day jobs, work towards the few weeks a year we can get away from the boss, pull off an amazing adventure traversing a few states on dirt, maybe a smattering of weekend adventures, and all on a budget. Some of us get lucky and wind up doing a gear review or perhaps a sponsor. When compared to the guy who traverses Antarctica in a rig, the team that explores 5 continents in a year, or makes a pilgrimage to the Mayan ruins, well our feats can feel a bit small. On top of that, going to an annual rendezvous each year to learn about our discipline and not being accepted as equals can leave one a bit jaded.

Truth is for me, while it is a great commitment to unplug and travel the world, I have found it is even a greater commitment to stay plugged in. To be a father and committed husband. While I dream about going to great destinations, my destiny is to be there when my little girl needs a Daddy when she wakes from a bad dream.

I refuse to be labeled as an adventurer because of a $300 camp chair, $100 cooking pot, or $75 shirt. While we still use high-end gear where it makes sense, and will endorse high-end gear when it is something we honestly use, we will not allow product to define us. It’s not the vehicle, the rack, or even the places you go to explore. It is the spirit of adventure and exploration you choose to embrace.

I love the life I have and thankful for a company that financial supports my expeditions in exchange for my trade. I love being on the road with my family, but last night hanging out on a couch doing story time with my family was awesome.

We explore our backyards and backroads….we spend weekends not weeks on end. We traversed Idaho on dirt and probably had the same feeling as those who explored Africa by Land Rover.
In place of high-end sponsors, We have steady jobs that support our adventures, and in most cases understanding employers.
While the expo world has a standard for keeping food cool, we store our pantry in a Coleman we bought on sale, not a fridge from ARB unless we give up a few pleasures or get a great tax return.
Though an Africa to Asia tour may be not be on the horizon, just as many memories are made in finding a dirt road route to Arco a familiar place on a map.

There will be a day when many of us will do a third-world trip for an extended period of time. Some of us will get to spend several months traversing a new country. A few will have the opportunity to be professional transients. It is not those trips that make us explorers, for the adventures we live now will have already made us as that long before we step off.

No we don’t fit the mold…we are Square Peg Expeditions…we support our adventures through hard work and sacrifice…and we are about to ream out the round-hole world….

Our adventures define us…not the adventure cliques, clothes, or having the recognized brand…

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ACR Firefly Strobe- Product Failure

I take my survival gear very serious. When I product meets our demands, we let you know. When it fails….you get that side as well.

I have been a long time fan of ACR, and I am surprised that the Firefly strobe failed….epically failed.
The device is designed to be a beacon signal should you get in trouble when out doing any number of activites such as boating, skiing, hunting, hiking, etc. It includes a lanyard ideal for securing to your gear. It has an O-ring designed to keep it water-proof and the beacon is omni-directional to improve the odds it is seen by rescuers for a rated distance of two miles. It also tested true to the ability to float. It uses easy to find AA batteries, which is what most of my lights, GPS, FSR, and other electronics use. Easy to find anywhere or I can simply scavenge from another device.

Where the Firefly Plus has failed is in construction of the battery compartment. When any of my electronic gear is not in use, I store it with out the batteries (although I do velcro a fresh set to the device so I don’t forget them). This morning as I opened up the strobe to place a couple of AA’s in the battery tray, one of the springs popped out. Thisnunit is less than a year old. (4 May 2012).

After several attempts to fix it, I have determined that it is not repairable. So here is the issue: Imagine I was depending on this unit to signal a rescue craft it would have failed me. If I had been using the strobe to attract attention, and needed to change batteries, it would have failed me. If this was in my kid’s survival pack (and there is) and she needed it if she was lost….you get the point.

Like my Spot GPS and other devices, I have carried my strobe with me in the Jeep on overlanding trips, in the kayak on river expeditions and island hopping trips, in my back country aviation trips, even carry-on luggage when flying commercial aircraft (especially third-world trips).

Again, I think ACR makes great products and still have many in my bag. Unfortunatly, until this one is rectified, this one will not be in our survival kits, nor will we present it at our seminars. At present time we do not recommend. I have attempted, but not been in contact with ACR on the issue and the retailer has recommended I contact ACR since I could not find my receipt.

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The Adventure of…..Building Brands, Blogs, and Brains

So its been awhile since we did an actual blog. Still trying to figure out the best way to post the podcast on here…it does an autofeed so I really don’t see it until its posted up.

Much of our work has been focused on helping other adventurers with understanding their strengths, assisting in mind mapping books and articles for others, and helpingnteams set up their own personal branding.

All of this has been exciting to work in, and although it has taken us from our own adventures, we have grown from it as well.

This morning I worked with a client who has had a steady career, but due to the still struggling economy, has faced not only job loss, but a cut in hours at her new gig. All of this as she prepares for a major expedition. Our main focus shifted from understanding her leadership and thinking preferences to defining and communicating her personal brand.

Most of this has not been on the forefront of most adventurerures….but here is why we think it is important….

Personal Branding

For most of us, our expeditions and journeys are paid for through the hard work of our daily gig. Doctors, retail clerks, teachers, the guy who hands out baskets at the local discount store….we don’t have major sponsors, we work, save, take on extra hours, sell our stuff on craigslist. When we lose a gig it not only impacts rent, mortgage, and repayment of loans…it its our ability to do that trip we have been planning.

When we have to get a new gig, everyone out there has a resume. The difference maker is what we do while we have a gig. I strongly recommend networking, but more than that, getting involved in social media. Having a solid presence on Facebook, a sepperate page from your personal one, where you can share your insights, “like” pages that share your interest or places that could potentially hire you, network with others in your field, etc. On top of that, post often…if you are a mechanic or a welder, show off your work, post info about the latest trend in your industry, tell about a class you went to…. This is all good information for the next fab shop to have in the front of their mind when you post up after your shop closes down and you need a job.

Linking facebook, twitter, tumblr, and other social media is important. If you like to talk, do a podcast and publish that as well. Are you a nurse, do a youtube video series on packing a firstaid kit….and don’t forget about other sites such as Linked In.

The point is, be an expert. Have 15-20 topics you can easily discuss, and do a video, blog, or a podcast. Be sure your local network has access to this info…

Emergenetics

We have been intrigued by this work and use it specifically for helping both teams and individuals understand how they think and behave. I won’t go into detail here because we have already featured this, but it is a service we offer. We believe that this is the single best tool to help adventure and expedition teams as they prep for an upcomming journey. Our focus is specific to adventure and expedition, although the bulk of our work is in the corporate environmnet.

Strong Presentation Skills

The ability to talk about your adventure, an expedition you have just returned from, an elevator pitch to a sponsor, or asking someone for a gig is important. I am amazed the same people who polish their skills and expertise, travel the world with expertise, are sent out by churches, non-profs, and humanitarian groups absolutly suck when they are asked to present. At best you get boring, more boring, and completly disinteresting….

We recommend a presentation workshop that is tailored to your specific needs. Sorry, that org that has you mastering toast falls way short of the skills you need to present to a sponsor, give a mission recap to the folks that invested in you, or the 30 second pitch you need to give when walking a resume in.

Understanding how to sell yourself and your ideas, get a new gig, and building your own personal brand is just as important as knowing how to build an emergency fire, put in a clutch, or plan a mountaineering trip.

From Don’t Tread On Me… to Tread Lightly

 
Very Cool– we have just become an OFFICIAL PARTNER of  Tread Lightly!
 
These are principles I grew up on before leaving only foot (or tire) prints was the cool thing– and my family was much more involved in preserving the outdoors long before granola types and tree fornicators came along. My Grandpa Turner was a huge protector of the environment and would throttle anyone who threw down a candy wrapper or beer bottle. He also used the woods for camping, fishing, and hunting. He hiked trails, chased game, and drove his pick-up…and he fought to protect the woods and deserts of Arizona from both types of extremist…goons and granolas.
 
So it is with pride we not only announce our new status as a PARTNER with Tread Lighly- but publish in our blog the official ethics of the outdoors here…
 

TIPS TO MINIMIZE A JEEP’S IMPACT

  • Stay on routes designated for four wheeling. 
  • Cross streams only at designated fording points, or where the road crosses the stream.
  • Cross large rocks and other obstacles slowly, at an angle, one wheel at a time.
  • Avoid muddy trails.  Leave them for another day when they’re dry.  If you do come across mud on the trail, go easy on the gas to avoid wheel spin, which can cause rutting.  Don’t leave the trail to avoid muddy spots, this can widen the trail and damage trailside plant-life.
  • Straddle ruts, gullies and washouts even if they are wider than your vehicle.
  • Don’t turn around on narrow roads, steep terrain, or unstable ground. Backup until you find a safe place to turn around.
  • Travel straight up or down hills. Don’t traverse the face of a hill; you may slip sideways or roll your vehicle.
  • Stop frequently and reconnoiter ahead on foot.
  • Ride in the middle of trails to minimize widening them. Avoid side-slipping and wheel spin, which can lead to erosion.
  • To help with traction, balance your load and lower tire pressure to where you see a bulge (typically not less the than 20 pounds).
  • Know where the differential or lowest point on the vehicle is.
  • Choose the appropriate winch for your vehicle size.
  • Attach towing cable, tree strap or chain as low as possible to the object being winched. Let the winch do the work; never drive the winch.
  • Protect the soundscape by avoiding unnecessary noise created by your vehicle. 
  • Leave gates as you find them. Respect private land.
  • Yield the right-of-way to those passing you or traveling uphill. Yield to mountain bikers, hikers, and horses.
  • Avoid “spooking” livestock and wildlife.
  • Always avoid sensitive habitats: wetlands, meadows, and tundra.
  • Following a ride, wash your vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.
  • Motorized and mechanized vehicles are not allowed in areas designated “Wilderness.”
  • Pack out what you pack in.  Carry a trash bag in your vehicle and pick up litter left by others.

 WHEN CAMPING

  • Whenever possible, use existing campsites. Camp on durable surfaces and place tents on a non-vegetated area. Do not dig trenches around tents.
  • Camp a least 200 feet from water, trails and other campsites.
  • Minimize use of fire.  For cooking, try using a camp stove.

Soon you will find more tips and tricks to reducing impact and keeping access for all of us. There is also more tips are available at http://www.treadlightly.org

BEFORE YOU GO

  • Contact the land manager for area restrictions, closures, and permit requirements. If you cross private property, be sure to ask permission from the landowner(s).
  • Get a map.
  • Make a realistic plan and stick to it.  Always tell someone where you are going and your expected return time.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Make sure your vehicle is mechanically up to task. Be prepared with tools, supplies and spares for trailside repairs.
  • Travel with a group of two or more vehicles, as riding solo can leave you vulnerable if you have an accident or breakdown. Designate meeting areas in case of separation.

Geo-Adventuring or GeoCaching

GeoCaching in London— Keeping me out of the troubles–and exploring a magnificent city!

Is it a hobby, a sport, or activity? Is it hide and seek, a treasure hunt, or a high-tech form of letter dropping? Armed with a GPS and a backpack full of trinkets I pick up at garage sales, thrift shops, and when feeling very generous, classic toys from all the regular cast of fast-food joints.

Geocaching has its official start around 2000, but many of us in the military teaching land navigation and GPS (PLGR) technology were into it well before that time. Our first cache sites were usually food, ammo, and water drops for troops in training exercises, but to increase interest, make it fun, and add a challenge to it- we would fill ammo cans with anything from movie tickets to the base threater, unit patches for trading or collecting, or some small trinket that would only have meaning for those on the search. (I once left a bag full of toy compasses for one of my squads signifying their completing of the night navigation scenario—some of those soldiers still carry it to this day).

Geocaching uses GPS coordinates found on sites such as geocaching.com to find a specific location containing a cache. By registering on the website you can gain access to the location of cache sites- many of which are within a short distance from your home or office. You also have the ability to see the level of difficulty, specific facts and hints, and of course what kind of cache it is.

Cache types can vary. The most common is the Traditional Cache– which is a waterproof container with a pen, a log book, and items to trade. The rule is that you sign and date the log book and trade for one of the items in the cache. Good Geocachers will trade items in their pack of equal or greater value. The slackers of the Geocaching world leave the crappy stuff, bits of change, or nothing. They are the usually the same people in life that live off of the rest of us… At the end of your adventures you go home (or from your mobile device) and log whether you found the cache or not.

Hula Chicken- found in a cache in Colorado

Micro and Nano Caches are tiny caches that create a great challenge. Micros are about the size of a film canister and Nanos are about the size of a pen cap. Normally, these only contain logs to sign. These are common in highly congested areas.

Virtual Caches are normally sites of historical significance. This is one of my favorites because it gets us into areas where we can learn about a place we might have never traveled to. Early in our geo-adventuring days we often traveled a few hours to such places. With virtual caches you not only have to find the location- but also answer some obscure questions about the site. This last weekend we learned about mayors and county clerks in our town during significant periods of growth and change, while standing in a pavilion that was once city hall. You email the answers to the cache owner who determines if you completed the find. There has been a moratorium on new caches like this because of the perceived increase in traffic. Not sure here—but if people are learning about these obscure pieces of history- I would think more traffic is better.

We have been learning to love Earth Caches- party due to the Virtual Cache going away. These are sites such as river confluences, petrified trees, rock formations, cracks in the earth, caves, etc. These combine science, geology, and GPS navigation. I have learned allot since I started doing these and they are a great way to teach science to the kiddo.

There are a few other types of caches we won’t go into detail on- mainly because I don’t do them. These include the multi-cache, the mobile cache, and event caches. I loved webcam caches but no sense going into that since most have been removed.

Something we are just getting into – that requires some steeper etiquette is the Travel Bug. The Travel Bug is not a cache, rather an item that goes into a cache. The purpose of the Travel Bug (TB) is to be transported from one location to the other and be logged. The actual (TB) looks like a GI dog tag and normally has “hitchhiker” attached to it. The hitchhiker is usually some type of toy, coin, etc.

Adventure IQ Overland Travel Bug #1– on a mission from Asia to the US. These are tracked through the geocaching.com website and you can see the calculated distance it has traveled, where it is, and who has it. It is tracked by those who find or “grab” the item, relocate, and log it.

Each Travel Bug has a goal set by its owner. Goals are typically travel-related, such as to visit a specific region or country in Europe or travel from state to state. I am about to launch TBs into Asia with the goal of making it back to the US. Travel Bug trackables move from cache to cache with the help of Geocachers find it in a cache, move it to a new cache, and log it. TBs should not be kept for more than a week. If you are not willing to log it and move it- leave it where it is. TBs have a monetary and emotional investment from the owner and depend on good Geocachers (not the ones living off the rest of us) to move these along. Often it is requested to have pictures taken of places or scenery with the hitchhiker. If you do this DO NOT PHOTOGRAPH THE TRACKING NUMBER. Those same slackers that are not good Geocaches will see the number and log it. I have seen TBs in California on Wednesday morning and in Aberdeen, Scotland the same afternoon. There is a special section on geocaching.com that explains what to do with these as well as other trackable items. I have a video posted showing a Travel Bug.

The last has been “Challenges”. This is a new one for us. Challenges are close to virtual caches in that it gets you close to some cool areas, but usually you are posting a picture, though in some cases it might have a question to answer.

We love Geocaching and its an opportunity to get out. I especially like it when I travel for work. It gets me out exploring my surroundings. It also gives us an excuse to really explore an area. We often pick an area of the map, load our GPS with Geocaches, and head out for a day of adventure.

I have placed several geocaching videos on my Youtube site, go check them out- learn from them- and then go explore!