Guide to Floating the River for the First Time

The common school of thought out there is that you need to know what you know. Well, my are of knowledge is floating. The spring and summer season is here, and this often suggests one thing for most if not all people. It is the perfect time to spend time outdoors, such as floating on the water. We’ve been practicing this type of activity since we freshman year, thereby enhancing our skill levels. Even the exact details may vary, I thought it would be positive to share my experience, and the competence I’ve acquired over the years.

Before we can start, it might be beneficial to determine the genuine meaning of `floating the river`. No! I am not referring to class 5 rapids, kayaking gear, and a crazy boat. On the contrary, I am referring the large tubes, beer coolers and more.

Bring This

Although the items you carry often vary from time to time, some few items are largely considered as essential. I’ll put in my level best to outline all these items and any challenges associated with their use.


Similar to any event, it’s crucial that you dress to suit the occasion. Naturally, since the use of water is common, you need to ensure that you dress as if you were going to spend time at the beach or a fun locale. That said, for the ladies, there are some instances where floating provides a more immersive experience than just laying on the beach. As a result, this points out the fact that any skimpy swim clothing held by a small bow might fall off. That said, don’t take it wrong. A skimpy look is useful, but going for a reliable look is equally crucial. In fact, I am aware that some ladies love the attention that comes up when their clothes fall off accidentally, and those women are free to disregard my advice.

More so, another critical aspect to consider relates to the footwear. Personally, I feel that open shoes or flip flops are perfect for the beach because they are simple to put on and off. Nevertheless, ensure that you choose the appropriate flip-flops to suit your traction needs, especially when you are wet from the water.

Food, Drinks, and Snacks

On floating the river trip, it is crucial to invest in sustenance. In this case, this refers to taking with you any beverage that will suit your trip. Most people prefer beer, light sodas or even energy drinks. However, there is one notable faux pas that relates to beer, and this is the use of glass containers. I keep on getting shocked by the fact that beach lovers still use glass containers when visiting the beach. Glass products and the beach are not a good mix, and this might lead to various challenges.

A much better option would be the use of cans. However, I have determined that using Coors Light Plastic bottles is the best approach. In fact, when you are moving through any rough sections of water, you can easily recap the beverage and travel safely through the rapids, and without spilling your precious beverage.

Also, you might require a unique solution for ensuring that your beverages stay at the right temperature. As such, you might have to use ice to ensure that the ice stays cold, and so does your beverage. Many people often go to the shop to purchase coolers, only to forget the wise. That might be a serious move, especially since its summer. Worse is that some people for as far as purchasing Styrofoam coolers. These types are not used because they are prone to breaking.

If you like munching on a snack every once in a while, consider carrying packed food or a healthy snack as well. Prepare your meals ahead of time to ensure that you never compromise your nutritional needs.


On any outdoor trips that involve the water, ensure that you come with a device that helps you document the experience. For many users, this also means that you might have to purchase a camera that has waterproof features. Of course, the camera should also come with a powerful lens and various other useful additional photography features. The camera should also feature a compact design, to make simple to store and tag around as you move outdoors.

Safety & Necessities

Since you will be spending most of the time outdoors, it’s essential to keep your skin safe from the intense UV light. A good suggestion would be to use the appropriate type of sunscreen lotion. In some instances, you might also want to tag your wallet along. This might make various procedures such as the tube renting a simple procedure. Furthermore, some tube rental destinations only accept cash modes of payment. Finally, ensure that you don’t come with anything that you want to protect from water exposure. If you have to, ensure that you come with a waterproof bag or be prepared for challenges. At all costs, avoid coming with items such as the keys to water- they don’t even float.


Music can be a great addition to your outdoor regimen. However, it’s vital that you choose a media player that comes with appropriate sound performance features. There are various types of portable players available today. Choose one that has a powerful battery, loudspeaker and waterproof features as well. Also, consider choosing a music player that comes with a remote control for convenient operation.


There is nothing better than when you can spend time outdoors with your close acquaintances. Choose a group of two to three people to tag along on your trip. Remember tagging a large group is often challenging and might compromise the entire experience.

Where to Stay

Accommodation is also another equally important aspect of `floating the river.` Regardless of where you seek accommodation, it’s important to prepare early enough. In this way, you can ensure that the time you spend outdoors is exceptional minus the hassles associated with last minute preparations. Besides that, choose a location that is in line with your budget and one that suits your accessibility needs.


For those who are camping, you might have a slight differently checklist to consider when going outdoors. Broadly speaking, there are various resources available for camping purposes. Camping is an excellent choice for how to float the river, in that it allows you to gain access to the river conveniently. More so, it also provides an affordable option as when compared to spending nights in expensive lodges and cottages.

The central aspect of enjoying your camping experience is to choose the appropriate spot. Consider various factors such as safety, convenience, accessibility and more. This will go a long way in making your camping experience exceptional, and you can even decide to pop one beer open once you set up the campsite.


Despite the fact that investing in a hotel is associated with various costs, you will be gaining access to various convenient resources. Some of these resources include a shower, plumbing air conditioning, clean bedding and more. In other words, a hotel provides you with a homely experience, to give you the peace of mind required to make the most of your outdoor adventures.
The only hassle associated with investing in hotels is that the location is often at a fixed point, and this might sometimes work against us. This is especially true if you have to trek along trails and explore various locations.

Wrapping it Up

Taken together, spending time outdoors, especially on the water is a great way to enjoy leisure time. Your time outdoors can be taken to the next level, if you are well informed about your outdoors experience. Equipped with the appropriate accessories and information, you won’t encounter any hassles when you enjoy your time floating. The information in this list is useful suggestions for you to consider.

Wildlife Rehabilitation FAQ

There are a few common questions we get when it comes to encountering wildlife when on the river, camping, hiking, or just out in nature. Hopefully these will help some of our readers.

What Should I Do If I Find an Injured Animal?

Short answer: Don’t take it and try to rehabilitate it yourself.

Saying that wildlife rehabilitation is difficult is an understatement. Treating and caring for injured animals requires years of training and vast resources. It is a full-time job in itself. By law, wildlife rehabilitators can’t provide the public with information on long term care for wild animals.

Remember that these are wild animals and do not make good pets. Animal diets vary widely and zoonotic diseases are a serious concern. Handing the animal over to a licensed rehabilitator is in the best interests of the animal.

State and federal law requires every rehabilitator to hold state and federal permits. You should ask your state’s department of natural resources or Fish & Wildlife Service for a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators in your area.

Not all of the animals rehabilitators receive are in need of help. ‘Babynapping’ is a common problem in the spring and summer. Many people bring ‘abandoned’ animals that are in fact just learning to live on their own. If you find a young bird on the ground, discreetly observe it for about 30 minutes. Chances are that the bird’s parents aren’t far away.

The bird you’ve found may be learning to fly or forage. If the bird is only partially feathered and seems to be uninjured, try placing it back in the nest. Birds will not reject offspring that have been touched by people. Baby birds that are newly hatched and completely naked need immediate care. If you do not know where the nest is or if it is the correct nest, call the nearest wildlife rehabilitation expert.

In the meantime, it needs to be kept at about 95 degrees Farenheit. When you call, they can tell you how to keep it warm during transport to the Center. If the animal you find has any apparent signs of injury, place it in a well ventilated box with paper on the bottom. Keep the animal warm, quiet and away from children and pets.

Please do not offer the animal food or water without first talking with someone at the Center. Whenever you attempt to handle wildlife, remember that any animal that feels threatened will defend itself. Being handled is extremely stressful for wild animals, so minimize contact. Avoid making quick movements and loud noises. Please do not wait to contact a rehabilitator. The faster wildlife gets to the proper person, the better its chances of survival are.

Can’t Find A Wildlife Rehabilitator?

Remember that wildlife rehabilitators MUST be licensed by the state for mammals and federal government to handle birds. You should call your state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) for a list of licensed facilities in your state before taking an injured animal to a rehabilitator. In Maryland, you can call Maryland DNR at 1-877-463-6497.

It is ILLEGAL to care for most wild animals without a permit! Each year LCWC takes in a few animals that the public, with the best of intentions, has tried to raise. Unfortunately, many of these animals can never be released due to unintentionally inadequate care, improper diet, and being inappropriately habituated to humans.

What About Rabies?

If you see an animal that you think might have rabies, do not attempt to handle it. Call your local Animal Control office. In Frederick that number is (301)694-1544. Animals that can carry rabies are called rabies vector species (RVS). Foxes, raccoons, skunks and bats are all RVS animals. Under Maryland State law, these animals may only be handled by rehabilitators with an RVS permit.

You can call the Maryland DNR at 1-877-463-6497 for a listing of rehabilitators with RVS permits. LCWC does not accept RVS animals. It is possible that any adult wild mammal that is unafraid of humans may have rabies.

Any Tips for Attracting Wildlife?

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources publishes a series of books on how to feed and shelter wildlife. ‘Woodworking For Wildlife’ and ‘Landscaping For Wildlife’ are especially helpful. Minnesota DNR Publications Please remember that you should never trap, cage or handle wildlife, unless it’s injured. It’s unfair to the animals and it’s an easy way to put yourself in the hospital.

Should I Be Concerned With West Nile Virus?

West Nile Virus is here to stay. Generally, the only way that the public could contract WNV is from the bite of an infected mosquito. All birds are susceptible and some mammals as well. Animals suffering from West Nile Virus (WNV) usually display varied symptoms. These can include emaciation, partial paralysis, termors, and the inability to stand up.

If you’ve found an animal that you think may have WNV please call your local vet or wildlife rehabilitator. More information on WNV is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site. CDC Online

I Found an “Orphaned” Baby Bird. What Should I Do?

Discretely observe unattended young carefully for a period of time to determine if they are truly orphaned. Usually the parents will return. When baby birds “fledge” they often spend time on the ground or on a low perch.

This is a normal aspect of their development and as a general rule, does not require human intervention. Ensure only that the fledgling is in or near adequate cover, parents and the area is free of children and pets.

How Back Pain Shouldn’t Stop Your From Camping

Camping with a bad back can cause a lot of frustration when you’re expecting to have a good time with family and friends. In case it’s your first time, you’ll be worried about how you will sleep, how you set up the tent without killing your back and how you will carry belongings without excruciating pain or exposing your back to further injuries.

It can be even more complicated if you have a small baby that you need to carry along. Camping is fun and bad back should not stop you from enjoying yourself at your favorite camping destination.

How to Camp with a Bad Back

First, if you have problems with your back you need to treat the camping like any other time you have gone. Plan early before camping day and assemble everything you need together with understanding the areas you are going to camp. The following tips will help you have a successful and enjoyable camping trip.

1. Packing

Camping always starts with packing and making the right decisions at this point will allow you to have a much more fun and less stressful time. There are basic factors that you should keep in mind while packing:

Camping bag – in case you are planning to walk a long way from your car to the campsite, you’ll want to consider choosing a light bag. A bag with a wider padded shoulder strap will be the best to offer proper back support and make the trek the least painful as possible. A bag made of light materials such as canvas or vinyl will be a good option.

Shoes – good camping shoes can make a huge difference in pain management. Make a smart investment by getting the best walking shoes for back pain that you can afford. They’ll make walking and standing for long stretches of time more tolerable.

Pack only what you need – remember you have a bad back and so you don’t need to carry a lot of things that will make it fee worse. It will be wise if you pack the items you will need and leave any non-essentials behind. Carrying a heavy backpack can cause further injuries to your back and end up ruining the fun. The weight on your back should not be above the recommended 15% of your body weight. More weight = more pain.

2. What you should do on arrival

Break time – upon arrival at your favorite camping site you need to relax for at least a few minutes since you have been driving for a while. Try to walk around for a few minutes (unless you already walked a long way to the campsite) to stretch your legs to help your back relax from the prolonged sitting in the car. At this time don’t even think of unpacking! Make your back comfortable first to avoid aggravating it any more than needed.

Try to stretch – your bad back now needs some light stretching since you have likely been sitting in a car for a while. Lying on the grass and stretching will be an excellent option. Try to pull your knee to the chest among other few exercises to keep your back in good condition. Stretch your hamstrings by trying to touch your toes and hold for a few seconds. Lunges are also and excellent stretch to do.

Core strengthening – since you’ll be using your core muscles quite a bit and they are super important for back support, you’ll want to get them firing. Try doing some easy exercises such as a front plank and side-plank to get your core muscles warmed up.

3. When Camping

Drink a lot of water – the idea of camping means that you will be likely spending a lot of your time in the sun. Dehydration can tighten up your back muscles and have a negative impact on blood circulation. Therefore, you’ll want to stay properly hydrated at all times.

Take care when lifting or bending – the unpacking phase while camping might force you to bend but always be careful to avoid tensing your abs since it can lead to further injuries. Don’t lift heavy things since overstretching your back can lead to more back pain. Take the items you need from the car slowly and in small amounts. It’s better to make multiple trips to the car than cause yourself additional pain.

Pain management – two of the best items to have on hand for pain relief when camping are an acupressure mat and portable TENS unit. Use the TENS device a few times a day (wireless models can be discretely hidden on your lower back) to reduce pain. An acupressure mat is great when you just want to lay down and rest. It not only releases endorphins while in use to reduce the pain level, it also helps promote blood circulation in the area to encourage healing. Also, don’t forget the Ibuprofen or any pain medication you take.

Consider stretching regularly – doing small exercises daily while camping is a great way to keep your core muscles healthy and active. Flexibility is often the keep to prevent additional injuries. Take at least 10-20 minutes every morning to do little exercises to prepare your body for the day’s activities.

How to Keep Bees, Yellow Jackets, and Wasps Away When Camping

You cannot blame bees and wasps when they interrupt fun times when camping; these pesky insects are only trying to distribute pollen and gathering nectar to feed their colony. However, it can be quite unsettling and dangerous to have them around your campsite or RV especially if you are allergic to bee’s stings.

Fortunately, few measures can be taken to keep bees and wasps from congregating around camp. First, understand that bees often intrude your outdoor space when they smell something they like, while wasps will come looking for flies, centipedes, and aphids. Once they discover that your place is somewhere they can get something for the day; they will not want to leave.

So, it is all up to you to take some defensive mechanism to keep them away. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to keep wasps and bees away from your campsite.

Important:  Bees are one of the most beneficial insects for the environment so make every attempt to simply keep them away from you rather than killing them.

Prevent Them From Showing Up

The most important thing is to find ways to keep bees and wasps form showing up in the first place. As noted, these insects are often attracted many things on your campsite, mostly food, but anything attractive such as clothing or even hygiene products will draw their attention. Therefore, when you are planning your trip, you might consider taking some precaution to prevent them from showing up in the first place.

Avoid vibrant colors and bold patterns

First, when packing your clothing, consider the color and texture of what you are bringing with you. Vibrant colors such as red and brown will look like natural predators and will provoke bees, so you might want to choose light colors such as white or pastels. Bold patterns such especially floral pattern will get bees attention. To simply put it, anything that looks like a flower will be a flower to bees, and they will ultimately congregate around your area.

Get rid of anything that smells sweet or flowery

It is not just the looks that attract them but also the smell. Unlike mosquitoes, bees are not drawn to the human smell; they will be attracted to the sweet fragrance from your picnic food. or anything else that smells sweet or flowery, whether its sprays, or deodorant, or lotion or shampoo your moving home.

Therefore, if you see bees coming to you, there are high chances that you got something in your campsite or on you that allured them. So, when camping, wear products without scents. If you will be serving sweet food, it could be a good idea to set up a decoy.

Set things like the sugar water mixture, or fruits, or even a cup of juice a couple of meters away and about half an hour before bringing your food out. Essentially, this may hopefully distract bees and wasps, thereby keeping them away from your area.

Mask the scent

The other strategy to use is to reduce your food scent or lotions thus preventing them from catching a whiff. Anything that can mask the smell will ultimately keep them away. Remember the stronger the smell, the more likely bees and wasps will be attracted to your camping site.

A simple trick is to keep all food covered unless necessary or you could scatter some mint or cloves on them. Typically, this will effectively distract these stinging insects, making them think that you or your kitchen area has nothing of value to offer.

Don’t leave trash out

It can be tempting to leave garbage out given the limited space you have , but doing this will only attract bees and wasps. Put an outdoor-lidded trash where you will be dumping all garbage, but always makes sure that it is properly sealed so that it does not entice smell that can attract these insects. As soon as the trash is full, deposit it in a designated area. If you decide to use a trashcan, place some repellents around it.

Getting Rid of Bees and Wasps From Your RV

Use Repellents

If bees and yellow jackets have already congregated on your camping site, then the best and easiest way to keep bees away is to use commercial chemical repellents. Some repellents will work, but some may not; therefore, you might want to do your due diligence on the most effective brand, but this might be a trial-and-error process. You will find a good repellent on a drugstore or a local retailer.

Start a campfire

If you can, start a campfire because smoke always does an excellent job when it comes to keeping bees and wasps away. Smoke causes these insects to release hormone, which means that they will only be concerned with their survival rather than congregating on your campsite.

Trap them

Trapping is probably the best strategy to keep wasps away from your site. Wasps are more aggressive, so to protect your family from these stinging insects, then you might consider trapping them. You will find some liquids baits, but you can also find some natural methods of trapping them.

Mostly wasps will smell sugary stuff, so make anything sweet such as diluted jam and fruits then add soap or something sticky that will catch their wings.

The problem with trapping is that it can attract other insects including bees. Remember that these insects are only trying to find food or even better to pollinate flowers, so it would be a good idea to find a better option of repelling away from your RV other than killing them.

Of course, there are plenty of other similar organic and chemical free approaches to keep bees away and a simple search on Pinterest will give you tons of ideas. The most commonly used is the Almond extract. Other natural deterrent includes mint, lemongrass, garlic, and cloves.

Preventing Nests

If you are staying in the same spot for a long time, or have your storage in an RV, it is a good idea to make sure that bees and wasps do not nest around it. To prevent this, check the area and make sure there aren’t any bees and wasps activities.

If they have already assembled in your camp try the deterrents methods suggested on this article or, you could simply try to cover areas where bees and wasps could build their nests.

Basically, these are the most known methods to drive bees and wasps from swarming your camping area. You could test each one of them and see the one that works best for you, but using repellents when these stinging insects have intruded in your home is never a bad idea.

8 Safety Tips When Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater rafting is one of the most popular extreme sports in the world. Thousands of adults (and kids) like taking part in this sport either when traveling or just a spur of the moment fun daytrip. Certain areas of the country are well known for rafting and visitors from around the world travel to take part.

However, whitewater rafting is also risky due to natural elements which can be present in the rivers. No matter how experienced you are in this sport, it’s important to always ensure you are safe since an accident can occur at any time.

Before taking part in whitewater rafting, always make sure to follow the relevant safety tips which are as follows:

Proper preparation

Every sport either competitive or for fun needs proper preparation. Putting in mind how whitewater rafting can be risky, you should prepare adequately before participating in the sport. Be honest with yourself, if it’s your first time, consider getting an experienced rafter to teach you the ropes.

Learn and make sure you understand whitewater rafting, don’t dare to do a class V river during your first time out. It’s advisable to know what you are capable of doing before participating in the sport.

Like when floating a river, you’ll want some protection from the sun since you’ll be on the water for a while. A good waterproof sunscreen can mean the difference between a fun day rafting or a miserable time afterwards. Even if slightly overcast, don’t underestimate the sun’s rays.

Understand river classifications

Whitewater rafting rivers are rated in different classes. Each class (from class I to VI) is made for different individuals according to their experience. For instance class I, II and III will be perfect for beginners since they are less risky. Experienced rafters normally use rivers from class IV to VI. Your physical limitations and experience should guide you to choose the best class for you.

Be aware of your physical limitations

What can you do in water? If you are an excellent swimmer and you can sustain upper body exercises for at least a couple hours? If so, then you should be fine. If you doubt your capability, take some swimming lessons before going on the trip. Also, exercise which utilizes the upper body is one of the best things you can do to help you through those long rafting trips.

Have a good understanding of the river

In many cases, rivers have different behaviors. Some are clam others are not. Rafting in summer could be the best decision since many rivers are calm and the water volume is lower than usual. To be safe, understand how the river you are going to be using behaves.

Always raft with friends

Rafting alone can be very risky no matter if you are experienced or not. Sometimes, you might need help urgently and only fellow rafters can help you. For the newbies, consider rafting with an experienced guide for your first time. If you are experienced, try to find someone with less experience. You’ll not only be helping them with tips, you’ll have someone else in the raft to help in case of emergency.

Always wear a life jacket

No matter how good of a swimmer (or rafter) you think you are, never get on the raft with putting on a USCG approved life jacket and a helmet. It should fit snug but not be uncomfortable. Life jackets with large arm openings for paddling are the best as they won’t restrict your movement as much.

Follow your guide’s instructions

The only person you should listen to while on your first trip is the raft guide. He/she knows what you need to do and when to do it. Following guide instructions will ensure you are safe throughout the trip. Mostly you will hear “lean left”, “lean right”, “stop paddling”, “bounce”, “sit in”, and “sit out” among other instructions.

No alcohol before rafting

Drinking alcohol before the trip endangers both you and other rafters. Alcohol can impair your judgment and cause accidents.

If you follow these tips, you’ll not only stay safe but have so much fun, you’ll want to start planning your next whitewater rafting trip as soon as the first one is over!

First Time Off-Roading: 3 Tips

You probably have come across someone who owns a lifted Jeep Wrangler or Toyota 4Runner. The vehicle looks like a beast and can probably handle whatever rough terrain the owner throws at it. The truth is, there’s a good chance that the most off-roading that vehicle has done is gone down a dirt driveway.

Many people tend to buy 4×4 vehicles and underuse them. They buy these trucks thinking that they will use them when it snows or on muddy roads during the rainy season. Others buy them because they simply want a bigger vehicle to haul all their stuff. These are all viable factors where no one can be blamed.

However, 4×4 owners may need a few tips on utilizing the full power of their vehicle. Off-roading is a sport that can be practiced by everyone. If you’re a city slicker with something like a Toyota Prius, you obviously will need to find a friend who has a 4×4 if you want to ride along. The major challenge you must overcome as a first timer on the rough road is being prepared for whatever you might face.

Here are a few things you can do to prepare to head for a wild ride on a boring beaten up road.

1. Do not go alone

Off-roading requires teamwork. Never go at it alone, ask a friend to accompany you. By this, I mean, the friend you bring along also has their four-wheel drive vehicle. This is essential in case you try a crazy idea and wind up stuck. Your friend will help you get unstuck or drive to an area where he can get extra help if needed. Even if your new hi lift jack mounted on the back of your Jeep, it won’t do you much good if you get stuck in a ravine. A buddy with a winch will be a lifesaver in this case.

2. You are not an expert

You are not headed for a rally race like Dennis Anderson, Tanner Foust or Ivan Stuart. It is also not a monster truck exhibition. Begin by establishing your limits. Do not be in a rush; drive slowly. Practice on a dirt road that could have a bit of mud. After that, head to a basic rough road trail whereby you can ask an experienced driver to accompany you.

If you are not so confident when driving on a trail, there is a chance you could be in trouble when you move to the next level. This means that you can only drive in more difficult rough roads when you have had adequate practice. A great tip one of our readers emailed me is that if you want to learn how you would maneuver on various rough roads, visit old Forest Service roads.

In addition, if you’re not a “car guy”, get educated about vehicles including how an engine works, what each part does, and know the signs to look out for when something is on the verge of failure. For example, if you rear shocks are making a lot of noise going over bumps or the ride is harsher than usual, they may be symptoms of bad shocks which could fail at any moment.

3. Carry food

It’s all too common to find that people don’t carry anything except a few drinks when they go for an off-road adventure. This of course is not recommended as there is always the possibility of getting stuck or even lost somewhere. Just as in hiking or mountain climbing, you want to prepare for the worst.

Before you drive out, make enough preparations. Decide on the area you will be driving to and carry a map or GPS device with you. Tell some of your friends where you are headed in case you do not have phone service in the area. Pack essential things such as a shovel, tow strap and have enough fuel. Grab a few sandwiches with your buddies before you get going. Also, don’t forget some warm clothes (think how cold it can get at night) and water!

If you make use of these tips, your first time off-roading will be guaranteed to be an amazing experience and you’ll likely be hooked.


Environmental Pros and Cons of Salt-Based Water Softeners

Installing a salt-based water softener in your home is one of the best ways to combat the effects of hard water – from soap that doesn’t lather properly to clothes that never get fully clean. If you’re tired of dealing with limescale build-up on your clothing, bathroom fixtures, and even your skin and hair, it’s time to consider investing in a water softener.

How Does a Water Softener Work?

Water softeners employ an ion exchange process to replace the magnesium and calcium ions in your water with sodium ions. In other words, the sodium ions essentially switch places with the hard water minerals. This ion exchange takes place in a chamber or resin tank.

As hard water passes through the reservoir, the polymeric resins in the tank release sodium ions into the water, while the calcium and magnesium bind to the resins. Once this ion exchange has taken place, soft water exits the water softener tank via various pipe fittings. the resins are then ready to soften more water.

The resins in a salt-based water softener do not last forever; over time, they become less effective, and their ability to replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions diminishes. For this reason, the polymeric resins in the exchange tank must be replaced every five to ten years which is very similar timeframe to replacing the anode rod in your water heater.

Pros & Cons of Water Softeners

Water softeners offer several environmental benefits. That said, they are not perfect. Below we’ll take a closer look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of installing a salt-based water softener.

Advantages of Water Softeners:

Improved energy efficiency – French researchers have found that increasing water’s hard mineral content by just 1mm can reduce heating efficiency by up to 6 percent. Another study, conducted by New Mexico State University researchers, discovered that gas heaters operating on hard water use almost 30 percent more energy than gas heaters running on soft water.

Cleaner clothes – Hard water minerals prevent soaps and detergents from lathering properly, which can result in a buildup of soap scum on clothing and linens. By preventing soap scum from forming, water softeners have been found to increase the life of clothes, towels, pillow cases, and sheets by up to 40 percent.

Less money spent on soap and detergent – Research shows that people who use hard water need more than twice the amount of soap or detergent to get their clothes, hair, and skin clean than they would with soft water.

Disadvantages of Water Softeners:

Increased water consumption – According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the ion exchange process employed by a salt-based water softener uses approximately 25 gallons of water per day.

Increased pollution – In many states, sodium is considered a pollutant. The wastewater from alt-based water systems can have a negative effect on local agriculture, ecosystems, and marine life. Water with high levels of saline have also been found to cause leaf burn.

Increased lead and metal levels – In addition to high levels of sodium, soft water may also contain increased levels of lead and metal. These higher levels of lead and metal can make soft water less safe to drink – especially for individuals with hypertension.


So it is worth it to install a salt-based water softener in your home? For some areas, it’s probably a necessity. It’s really up to you whether the benefits of a water softener that used salt are worth it after reading this article. You may also look at various salt-free water softener alternatives that are coming out on the market. They provide similar benefits but no impact to the environment or having to constantly buy bags of salt. Their biggest drawback at this point is their high price.

8 Tips for Fly Fishing Newbies

If you wish to be one among the anglers, you have to be able to do as the experts do. And the most basic skill you’ll have to master off the bat is how to cast. The way you cast will set you apart, so here are the skills you’ll have to master in order to get from beginner to true angler.

1. Know and understand the angling lingo

The butt is the lowest section of the fly rod—the one you hold on to. The guides of the fly rod are known as guides, and the ones that are in the very bottom are known as stripping guides. Fly rods will generally have one or two stripping rods depending on its weight. Every single guide on your fly rod is also known as a snake guide except for the topmost one, which is called the tip top. The reel is supposed to hang under the rod, and the real seat is where the reel fits on the road. There is an opening on the real seat where one of the feet on the reel slides. The reel is held onto the rod butt by a piece of metal that slides over the other reel foot. If it comes from the top of the reel seat, it’s known as down-locking. The opposite is known as up-locking, and it happens when the piece of metal come up from the base of the reel seat The metal ring used to secure the pieces is known as the locking reel.

2. Learn how to use the reel

Now that you know reel parts, you need to learn as much as you can about it. You’ll need to learn how to take it apart and put every single piece back together. You’ll need to master how to change your spools or cassettes until it becomes comfortable for you to do. Any spools you may have should be marked for each line. Learn about drag adjustment and figure out where it is and how it can be used to your benefit.

3. Learn which grip to use

Most anglers prefer to use their left hand in the project, unless of course, you’re left-handed and would have to use your right hand. Casting won’t require handedness, but once you get to the stage of trying to land a fish, you might want to use your stronger and more dominant hand for the ultimate control.

4. Proper equipment assembly

The goal is to learn how to assemble a fly rod so it won’t blow up on you. Fly rods will have at least two pieces, and if you have a rod that has more, you’ll just have to repeat each step for every piece. You need to start at the tip section, and as you connect them to the butt section, you’ll have to do it mismatched by a one-quarter turn. As you twist the two pieces together, you’ll feel them tighten snugly without being forced. Once the guides are lined up, this means that you’ve connected your fly rod properly.

5. String up the rod

Once you’ve assembled your fly rod, you’ll want to begin stringing by pulling off some line. Fold the line and run it through every guide on the rod, while the reel is upright.

6. Tie some knots

You’ll want to learn how to tie as many knots as possible, but a couple of basic knots should be enough to get your started. We recommend learning how to expertly do a surgeons knot, a clinch knot, and an improved clinch knot should be enough to get you started, but you should take any opportunity you may get to learn a knot.

7. Get the proper attire

Skip the bright colors and the hats. Fish have great eyesight and can see better in the water than people could. Try to blend with your surroundings by keeping the colors muted. You’ll want to dress in something light and airy, and while vests may not be necessary, you’re going to want to wear something that has a lot of pockets.

8. Organize everything properly

Having a system makes everything easier. You wouldn’t want to fumble around looking for your things. You’ll wan to do it the way experts do, and experts know where everything is they need at all times.

5 Ways to Preserve the Rivers in Colorado

What does a water problem look like? A good example of this is the shores of Lake Mead on the Colorado River. The shore is sun bleached and it resembles a bathtub ring as the shore fades away.

This is the way nature lets people know there is a problem. Over the past 16 years due to droughts the water levels fell 135 feet. The lake is only filled to 37% capacity. This is the lowest water level since the Great Depression right after the lake was constructed.

Lake Mead is a sign that the Colorado River basin in is problem and is facing one of the worst drought to hit the western part of the country in more than a century.

Several years ago the lake was at 1,075 feet and at this level a water shortage was declared for the Colorado River basin. If something is not done it is estimated that there will be a 50% chance of there being a water shortage. This will go into effect January 2018.

The problems are related to the drought as well as strict water management laws in the area. More water is being used in the seven states that are along the Colorado River and Mexico than the water is providing. This is a threat to 36 million people that depend on this water. The basin is having trouble keeping up with the demand for water.

Las Vegas which is 25 miles from Lake Mead, hosted a meeting for the Colorado River Water Users Association to address this issue. The Bureau of the Reclamation selected Commissioner Estevan Lopez to lead the federal conference. The states alone the river will meet as well as official from the Mexican government, Native American tribal leaders, and both private and non government parties.

The Walton Family Foundation is supporting measures to stop the overuse of water and is looking for a healthy solution. They are supporting the University of Colorado River Project which is looking to spread the word about water waste.

There are five actions that need to be taken immediately to save the water supply.

#1 – Working Together

USA and Mexico need to work together to manage the river flow. This includes joint conversation attempts and short term water exchanges and sharing.

#2 – Stabilize Lake Mead’s water levels

The government should lessen the impact of over use of this water. The states of Arizona, Nevada, and California need to do this and they should work with the government to find an alternative solution.

#3 – Develop a drought plan for the upper basin

The Federal Bureau of Reclamation needs to come up with a drought plan for the upper basin states and work with those on the Colorado River Storage Project.

#4 – Resolve Tribal Claims on the Water

There are Native American tribes alone the Colorado River that if are not resolved can hurt the water levels. The government needs to work with the tribes to agree on a solution.

#5 – Improve federal help on the management of the Colorado River

The Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture need to work to advance conversation efforts and work on the issues that are affecting water levels.

Cutting Your Own Christmas Tree in Colorado

It’s actually possible to make cutting down your own Christmas tree a family tradition as it is an exciting experience. Colorado is one of the best places to find dense forests of pine trees. Christmas trees come in all sizes, shapes, and types. Get your family into the Christmas mood early by heading out to Colorado mountains to find and cut down a tree that will always have a special meaning.

The following article will give you a few simple guidelines you should make use of when heading out to the mountains. It comprises of what you need to carry and the direction on where to get the best tree.

Rules and regulations

It is vital that you adhere the rules stated in the Forest Service Act when cutting down your tree. When out for this family adventure, it could be disappointing if you come across a Forest Ranger who confiscates your tree because it is too small or even issues you a citation for not following the rules.

First and foremost, you have to get a permit from the local Forest Ranger’s office that allows you to cut a tree. It is easy to locate this kind of office when you are driving to Colorado.

If you are driving from Denver using interstate 70, you can get one at Dillion Ranger District Office. When using Highway 285, you can find the South Park Ranger District Office located at Fairplay.

The cost of one permit is ten dollars where they are sold after Thanksgiving day. The rules and regulations that are to be followed when cutting a Christmas tree are written down on the permit. You are also given a tag to attach to the tree you cut down. The tag is to measure the diameter of the tree you cut. This ensures that you have a standard tree which is not too small or huge.

What to carry

It is vital that you pack appropriately for your tree cutting exercise. Having the right tools and equipment will give you and your family the best experience. I personally make a point of carrying a thermos of hot chocolate. It is an excellent way to keep the kids entertained as the adults handle the hard work.

Below is a list of what you need. Be sure to pack all the items listed to make the task of cutting the tree much more enjoyable.

Leather or winter gloves will keep your hands safe from the needles in the trees. They will also prevent you from getting the sticky substance from trees on your hands. Additionally, wear clothes that have long sleeves to keep you warm and from being scratched by the tree as you cut it down.

Saw or Axe

A bow saw is the type of saw you want to use when cutting a Christmas tree. It is much easier to use and does not require much effort. However, an axe can serve the same purpose though not as efficient as a saw. But do yourself a favor and spend $20-$30 to get the best bow saw your local Home Depot or Lowes carries.


To get the tree out of the forest, dragging it is usually the best option. Drag it from the base so that you do not destroy the branches. Dragging in snow is easier since pine trees slide on it pretty smoothly.


Carry your permit. You need to attach it to your tree after you cut it down.

Snow Boots

Since it is winter season, you need waterproofing when walking on snow. This will keep your feet dry and warm. Snow gaiters are the best shoes for this type of activity. You may even wish to wear cross-country skis when heading out to cut your Christmas tree. But snow boots for the entire family are always the best option.

Warm Clothes

Usually, people think that they are going to find a tree quickly. This is not the case; I find myself taking more time trying to find the perfect tree. Therefore, dress warmly in preparation for the cold weather.

Where to go

The mountains of Colorado are vast. There are many places in which you can find your Christmas tree. Summit County offers some of the best locations to get a tree. There are some areas in which you are not allowed to cut down trees. Therefore, gather enough information from the Forest Service regarding such areas before you begin your journey into the forest.

You can also make use of the maps you are provided with to identify these areas. Breckenridge, which is along Boreas Pass, is one of my favorite places to cut down a Christmas tree. The Boreas Pass is quite popular and easy to hike. However, if you are planning on getting your tree from Silverthorne and Dillon, it is advisable that you find an area off Highway 9 or the Salt Lick Trailhead.

What to look for

Finding the right tree is not an easy task, but you can make it easier by knowing what you want. Some of the tips I use include, deciding where the tree will be placed in the house and measuring the height from the floor to the ceiling. If you plan on positioning the tree in a corner, you only need to find one that is full on two sides. It is difficult to find a tree that is full on all sides which is why the positioning of the tree in the house is an essential factor.

The other important tip is to cut a tree at a slightly higher height than you think you need. You can always cut off the extra length when you get home. Longer branches can be trimmed off the tree to give it the perfect shape and size.

When looking for a Christmas tree, there are a few details you need to consider. The Lodgepole and Ponderosa pine trees do not allow you to decorate with heavy ornaments due to their long branches. On the other hand, Spruce and Fir trees have shorter needles and branches which are great for hanging decorations. From these characteristics, I would recommend that you get either a Fir or Spruce tree.

Create Memories

Once you have cut down your tree and taken it home, you should prepare to trim it into the perfect shape. Cut off the base if it is longer than needed to give it the perfect height. Chop of the extra branches at the bottom of the tree to provide you with space to place your presents. It is also crucial that you water it regularly to ensure that it does not dry out. The first couple days, it will use up water like a sponge see keep an out on the water level in the tree base.

The final step is to decorate the tree. Usually, my family and I cut out a disc from the bottom of the tree. We write the most memorable moments of that year using a permanent marker. After that, we drill a small hole into the disc and hang it as an ornament on the Christmas tree. It’s fun to look back at all the previous years’ discs.

You too can create memories with your family once you harvest a Christmas tree from the beautiful mountains of Colorado.