#17: Autumn Dusk at Hudson Mills Metropark You don't have to go into the wilderness to get a taste of nature. If you want to just get out there but live in an urban or sub-urban area look into the parks in your region. You'll probably be surprised at what you find. Besides the numerous city parks here in Ann Arbor we are blessed with an extensive metropark system that covers 5 counties (we are lucky to also have State Game Areas and much more, you probably have them too). This time we visited Hudson Mills Metropark and strolled broad nature paths and paved trails for a couple hours. Even though we were about as close to civilization as you can get an urban nature hike can still re-vitalize and give you that little extra boost that makes being outside worthwhile (the excursive doesn't hurt either). Autumn is a superb time for little treks like this. Get out and enjoy.
Direct download: 17_Autumn_Dusk.m4v
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#16: Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar - First Pitch

I have a confession to make: I like space. I shudder when I look at some backpacking shelters and see that they claim to be suitable for two people and yet have only space enough, or so it seems, for one. To the best of my knowledge I am not claustrophobic but I know that squeezing into a shelter with just 20 or so square feet and only a small bit of headroom near one end or another really gets on my nerves if I must spend hours, let alone days, under the sheltering canopy of fabric. I worry that in such a tiny space something will get wet all too easily as I brush the walls of the shelter. I bemoan the fact that I can wriggle around all long nights but must stay put so I don't bump the walls. I know that in the vast majority of cases I really do not need the space. I shelter alone most times even if I am traveling with a group. I don't have a canine companion I need to keep under cover (though I have thought about that now and then). But I like the ability to spread out. That desire outweighs the urge to save a few ounces of weight (heresy, I know). So when a shelter like the Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar comes along I find myself intrigued. Here is a shaped tarp, a plus in its own right since I don't have to have an advanced degree in tarpology, that when even pitched low affords not only ample floor area but copious headroom (i.e., volume). It feels larger than it actually is because of its openness. I can bring a Tyvek floor or a bug bivy to improve my comfort depending on the situation (in either case the weight will likely be similar) and I even have all the extra space I could want should the day come and I find myself sharing a shelter routinely with another person.

While MLD claims the shelter can be set up in less than two minutes I doubt I'll ever get that fast. I take longer than anyone I know to set up even the very fast-to-pitch Shires Tarptent Virga. That is just the way I am: blame my vision. However, I have no doubt that in short order I will be pitching the Trailstar much more adroitly than I did in this video.

Direct download: 17_Mountain_Laurel_Designs_Trailstar_First_Pitch.mp4
Category:Vidcast -- posted at: 5:02am EST

#15: Ann Arbor Art Fair, 2009 The Ann Arbor Art Fairs have been around for fifty years (the original street Art Fair) and I don't think they're going to stop any time soon judging by the number of booths and people I saw milling around thi summer. I enjoyed my wandering around over the 4 days of the Art Fair. I think the secret for my successful enjoyment is to spend just a couple hours any given day. If you can spend some of that time enjoying the Art Fair extras like live music that makes things so much better.
Direct download: 15_Ann_Arbor_Art_Fair_2009.m4v
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