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Travel Gear Review: Peak Design Capture Pro Camera Clip
Check out our review of the
Peak Design Capture Pro Camera Clip!
20 Oct 2015
Guide to Fraser Island
Here's how to see Fraser Island on a budget!
12 May 2016
Road Trip New Zealand: South Island
The beauty of New Zealand's South Island
can't be missed. Hop in a campervan and get to it!
18 Apr 2016
2016 Gift Guide for Travelers
14 Dec 2015

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tiny House Update: Thanksgiving

Alisha McDarris
Happy Thanksgiving! Yeah, I know, it's a little late, but we were a bit busy around here visiting with family, eating too much vegan food, and working on the tiny house. But we did get a fair amount done and for that we're thankful. We're also thankful for a bit of a build break. We needed it after the last two weeks of hitting it non stop.

After the walls went up we rushed to get the roof sheathing and metal roof on before it rained. It sort of worked. Needless to say we still had to go out and buy a roll of 10' x 100' plastic sheeting to protect our poor tiny house from inclement weather. And then we got a bit more done and it rained again and we had to break the plastic back out. But when we saw rain in the forecast for Wednesday, we were all, "You know what. We don't even care. Let's veg on the couch and watch TV all day."

We didn't do that, either. Josh had a video editing project to work on so he was at that all day and I caught up on some pitching I had been meaning to do. But we managed to take our car to get the tires replaced and wheels aligned, which was a plus, we even worked a bit on the house on Thanksgiving, finishing up the last of the flashing around the doors and figuring out the door jamb situation. See, we bought a glass door at the local ReStore for $15 not thinking that we'd also need a jamb and doorstop and such for it. And hardware. Sometimes we don't make wise choices. All said and done we could have probably saved ourselves quite a bit of time by spending slightly more on a door that was ready to hang and already had a knob and deadbolt. But you live and you learn.

Friday we took it easy again, relishing the extended break. Weather was again a little spotty, but that was just an excuse we used as Josh still had to finish up that video project and I wanted to go black Friday shopping to pick up some stuff for the house. I actually hate black Friday shopping, but we didn't go super early and there were some killer deals on a few kitcheny things we needed that I couldn't even have gotten that cheap used, so it wasn't so bad. And we did still manage to hang the first two siding panels that evening (the first piece is the hardest!), so the day wasn't entirely wasted. Plus it gave us the stamina to wake up Saturday ready to hit it hard.

Josh caulking around the windows. That was probably his sixth tube. So. Much. Caulk.

And we hit it real hard. We got all but two top pieces of siding up on the entire house with the help of a whole lot of friends and family. No joke, there were so many people who came to help on Sunday that I literally didn't know what to do with them (and that's an appropriate use of literally)! They helped paint trim, caulk windows and doors, hang siding, and take down the braces inside, which made the interior look super spacious. We're only bummed we can't ride the wave into tomorrow and totally finish the exterior; guess we'll have to start building the lofts!

All the siding is up on the tiny house! Now to select our exterior paint colors.

Also it's getting really cold here in Ohio and I don't appreciate it. My tiny little body doesn't have the built-in insulation it needs to cope with Ohio winters. I think years of living in places like Florida, Texas and Australia has thinned out my blood and now anything under 45 degrees (Fahrenheit) is just too cold. And once the sun goes down? Fuhgetaboutit. I'm going inside before my toes freeze off.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Alisha McDarris

Because you can't have a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal without following it up with pumpkin pie, here's an awesome recipe for a vegan pumpkin pie that tastes absolutely delightful (and doesn't call for any weird ingredients like tofu). Whip up one or two and impress the crap out of your friends and family with this American holiday classic.

This vegan pumpkin pie is super pumpkin-y, not too sweet, and has a nice crispy crust, just how I like it. 


American (Vegan) Pumpkin Pie

For the crust:

2 Cups flour
½ Cup coconut oil, vegetable shortening, or dairy free margarine
1 Tablespoon sugar
½ Teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

1 Can (15 ounces) pureed pumpkin
1/4 Cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons almond milk
1 Teaspoon coconut oil
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½  Teaspoons cinnamon
¼ Teaspoon ground ginger
¼ Teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground clove
Pinch of salt

Mix crust ingredients by hand or in a mixer on low, just until combined. Sprinkle flour on a flat surface and roll out the dough using a rolling pin. Once rolled out thin, place in a pie plate and trim the excess, pinching the edges as you go for that nice crimped look.
Then, prepare the filling by mixing your wet and dry ingredients separately. Next, combine the wet and dry into one bowl and mix by hand or in a mixer on low. When it's all nice and whipped together spoon the filling into the crust, smoothing out the top.

With the leftover crust dough, feel free to use cookie cutters or a paring knife to cut out fall themed shapes like pumpkins, leaves, or Christmas trees to decorate the top. Place one or two on top, then bake for 25 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.


Serve warm or at room temperature alongside vegan ice cream or whipped topping. And try not to eat it all in one sitting, OK?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tiny House Update: Dealing with Rain

JoshMcDarris
After insulating and attaching the subfloor, it was a mad dash to raise the walls, attach the roof and the house wrap before any inclement weather. Unfortunately, we didn't quite make it. Fortunately we managed to get plastic sheeting over the whole thing just in time.

For those of you building a tiny house outside, rain can be a real problem. Water on your subfloor is bad enough but water between the subfloor and your flashing where your insulation lives can be a nightmare - near impossible - to dry out. The key here is to have plastic sheeting on hand in the form of a 10'x100' roll - available at your local hardware store. If you have a smaller tiny house, this may cover the entire thing. We had to use one of these rolls coupled with a few tarps to seal it up completely - our tiny house being approx. 28' long x 8.5' wide x 13' tall. Of course, after we go the roof on and only had to wrap the sides we had plenty! (Here's me wishing we didn't have to cover it more than once.)

But as luck would have it, we had to hang it three times. Even though walls were partially covered, house wrap was up and windows were installed, there were just too many vulnerabilities to cross our fingers and hope that not too much water got it. Sigh. Maybe we'll managed to get the exterior sealed up before the next time it rains (or snows!).

Have questions about tiny house life or building? Let us know in the comments below!

The Tiny House Gets Off the Ground, Literally

Alisha McDarris

Last weekend we finally got our walls vertical after building horizontally in the driveway for a week and a half. It was a pretty exciting step, getting those monsters upright and leveled out on the trailer after three weeks of flooring, flashing, and wall construction.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Introducing the Peak Designs SlideLite Strap

Alisha McDarris
The Peak Designs SlideLite is a fantastic camera strap for small to medium cameras. Yet another example of the company's innovative designs. 

First of all let me just say that Peak Design is my favorite camera accessory manufacturer since Lowepro. And nobody is paying me to say that. Their Capture Pro clip basically changed my life and with the SlideLite I don't have to choose between using the clip and using a strap. Brilliant. Extra safety for when I'm scaling a rock wall with my camera attached to my person. True story. This actually happens. So here's a review of this new strap and what I think of it as a professional photographer and frequent traveler.

Right off the bat let me point out all the features of this strap that I think are nothing short of brilliant.

First, the Anchor Link connection system. The strap comes with four, the perfect number for hooking up multiple cameras. Since I have two camera bodies that I regularly rotate between, I don't have to switch out my one good strap over and over or use a lesser strap on my day-to-day point and shoot. The patented Anchor Link system lets me simply and easily unclip the strap from one camera and clip it to the other that's already got the Anchor cords looped on. Too easy!

The Peak Designs Anchor Link System is secure in addition to being easy on, easy off.

Second, the Anchor cords themselves. And this just goes to show that Peak Designs really knows what they're doing, because even as  photographer I wouldn't have thought of this. There's more than meets the eye to the thin black cords on the Anchor Link system. It's actually three layers of protection that hold up to 200 pounds (that's more than me and all my camera gear combined) and indicate wear. When the cords are black you're good to go. When you start seeing the yellow underneath you'll want to replace the cords soon. When the red cord at the center shows through your camera is no longer secure hanging from the strap; you need to buy some new ones. Again, too easy.

Third, the cinch system. Really easy quick pull adjusters look slick and are way easier to tighten and loosen than most of the other straps I've used. Easy enough to adjust on the fly mid hike or while climbing a tree to get that perfect shot. It's also handy if you regularly pass off your camera to a husband or second shooter like I do.

The adjustment clips on the SlideLite are probably the easiest and least frustrating I have ever seen.

Lastly, the look. I'd be lying if I said I didn't really dig the look of this strap. Simple yet striking, it's reminiscent of a seat belt and I like that. It's not flashy (though it does come in red or blue in addition to black), and I like the simple semi-industrial look of it. It's just well designed.

But highlights aside, it's fantastically functional. It's light, it's compact, and it can be used with other Peak Designs products like the Capture Clip. In fact, the SlideLite comes with a Capture Camera Clip compatible tripod plate that you can not only use on the clip, but on an ARCA-type tripod. I already have the Capture Clip Pro, so now I also have an extra plate so I don't have to switch one between cameras. The plate also provides an attachment point for one or two Anchor Links should you like to carry your camera lens down as I do with my larger body and lenses. If not, keep them looped around the strap lugs on the sides of your camera.

Attach the anchors on the Peak Designs tripod plate or on the sides of your camera. It's up to you.
The SlideLite Anchor Links on the Peak Designs tripod plate. So you can carry bigger cameras lens down.
This is the problem I have with my current strap, a Black Rapid model that screws into the tripod plate mount on the camera's underside. Don't get me wrong, I love this strap, especially as it's designed for women, but the fact that the Peak Designs SlideLite can be kept on my camera if I want to use my Capture Clip or a tripod is a huge plus. I hate unnecessary fiddling and adjusting. I'm too impatient for that nonsense. I want to get the photo from the top of the cliff and then move on (or maybe admire the view with the naked eye instead of through the camera lens).

It's intended for smaller camera bodies like mirrorless cameras and point-and-shoots, with the larger and wider Slide strap available for larger models to ease the weight to square-inch coverage ratio, but it works for all kinds.

While the SlideLite's narrow and low profile design make it ideal for smaller cameras, it functions just as well with larger bodies.
Proof that Peak Design has thought of everything are the silicon strips on the SlideLite. There are two narrow bands on one side of the strap that can easily be turned up or down. Up if you're wearing the strap cross-body and want it to slide effortlessly across your clothing when you lift and position the camera, down if you're wearing it over one shoulder and want it to stay put. The strips provide a bit of extra grip, especially given the strap's slippery material, but I still wouldn't go frolicking through a field and expect it not to slide off my shoulder. Even so, I can't go single shoulder with my Black Rapid at all, so it's still a win in the multi-functional department.

Silicone strips on one side of the SlideLite help keep it from slipping off your shoulder.

Over all, I'm digging this strap. It's definitely going to replace my former strap. And why not? With the form, function and flexibility of the SlideLite, who wouldn't? I might have to look into getting the full size Slide, too. After all, we don't want Josh to get jealous.

Want one for yourself? Get a 10% discount by going to peakdesign.com and using the code TERRADRIFT!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

5 Cheap Vegan Restaurants in New York City

Alisha McDarris
A view of Manhattan from Brooklyn

I love travel. I love food. Big cities I could take or leave. Unfortunately, big cities are often where not only the best food is located, but the best vegan food. And I will travel for vegan food. Always. And as one of the largest cities in the U.S., New York City has some excellent vegan food on offer. Hungry? Check out five vegan restaurants in NYC (that won't break the bank).

1. The Organic Grill: This vegetarian restaurant is at the higher end of the budget price spectrum, but while we usually like to stick to inexpensive vegan restaurants when traveling, we often "splurge" on one meal per trip. Keep in mind that "splurging" for us is basically normal spending for your average Joe and everything is more expensive in NYC. But in any case, The Organic Grill is a fantastically delicious option. Be prepared to spend $12-$18 dollars per (potentially shareable) meal on average. There are cheaper options, but their veggie burgers are totally worth it. And those jackfruit enchiladas! Killer.

A Vegan Philly Cheese Steak in NYC
I can't pass up a vegan Philly cheese steak. And Blossom Du Jour serves up a tasty one.

2. Blossom Du Jour: There are several restaurants in the Blossom family, but if it's quick and dirty you're looking for, Blossom Du Jour has you covered at multiple locations. I nearly shed tears of joy the first time I had their vegan Philly cheeze steak. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that because of our camp jobs I hadn't eaten anything but overcooked vegetables and mushy pasta for three months. It's about $10 for a sandwich, wrap or salad and nothing I've had has been disappointing.

Vegan soft serve gelato at Rice Cream in NYC. Yum.
Vegan soft serve gelato at Rice Cream in NYC. Yum.

3. Rice Cream Shoppe: Have a sweet tooth? I haven't met a vegan that doesn't! But when in roam we don't often get to indulge. There's plenty of vegan dessert in NYC to go around, though! But one thing I rarely see in a vegan variety is rice pudding. And I can eat some rice pudding. This joint has multiple flavors of vegan and non vegan rice pudding in addition to soft serve vegan gelato. Mmmm...so chocolatey.

4. Erin McKenna's Bakery: More of the same in the sweets department, but I simply can't pass up a sugary treat, especially if I won't get the chance again any time soon. This bakery has several flavors of vegan cupcakes and other baked goods like squares and scones. So stock up for when you get the munchies in Central Park later.

5. Beyond Sushi: Sushi makes me smile. Even more so when I can have all the sushi on the menu! But this cozy spot doesn't just serve vegan sushi, but ramen, kimchi, and wraps, too. And you won't be stuck with your basic vegetable roll, either. Sushi rolls like the Mighty Mushroom and Spicy Mang start at under $7 and soup, desserts and sides are even less. Perfect for grabbing before a respite in the park.

What are your favorite vegan restaurants in NYC? Share them with us!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

One Day in Philadelphia

Alisha McDarris
The Liberty Bell

Maybe you're passing through on your way to New York, maybe you're heading east to West for an adventure in middle America, maybe you're enjoying a mountain respite in the nearby Poconos. But whatever brings you to or through Pennsylvania, don't miss the opportunity to visit Philadelphia. The city of Brotherly Love is a happening and historic place that is not only easily walkable, but great for visitors who aren't keen to drop a hundred on day out activities. And while you could easily spend a week strutting around the city, seeing the sights, sometimes all you have is a day. And you know what? That's OK. So put on your walking shoes and check out this itinerary for Philadelphia in a day.

Above: The Liberty Bell

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The cheapest way to get into New York City

Alisha McDarris
NYC from the Brooklyn Bridge


New York City is expensive. Period. The food is expensive, the lodging is expensive, the attractions are expensive. Everything is expensive. So naturally, you'll probably want to save a few bucks everywhere you can. And since even getting into the city is expensive, you'll probably want to start there. So if you're heading to NYC for a visit, here's how to save money on transportation into the city.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Closet of a Traveler

Alisha McDarris
messy closet

I recently returned from nine months traveling around Australia and when I descended into my parent's basement to sort through the handful of boxes of things we had left there a few years ago when we began our transient lifestyle, I nearly had a panic attack.

Pictured above: "Yikes! Let's get rid of some of those clothes shall we?"


Thursday, August 18, 2016

25 Free things to do in San Diego, California

Alisha McDarris
Fireworks over the bay in San Diego. Photo: Hornblower Cruises and Events
Fireworks over the bay in San Diego. Photo: Hornblower Cruises and Events

There's so much to do in San Diego this summer it would take months to uncover it all! Fortunately, our friends at the San Diego Tourism Authority compiled an awesome list to keep you busy this summer! So grab your flips and get to it! Here are 25 things to do in San Diego that won't cost you a dime.

1. Get active: Bike, walk or jog along Mission Bay Aquatic Park's many trails. Outdoor exercise enthusiasts share more than 20 miles of scenic paths winding through sunlight and shade near the shoreline with workout courses at planned stations along the route.

2. Enjoy the arts: Experience all the Liberty Station ARTS DISTRICT has to offer by attending a free Friday Night Liberty art walk on the first Friday of every month from 5-9 p.m. Meet working artists, enjoy dance, theatre and music performances, visit museums and galleries and explore the growing historic district. 

3. Have a pint: Check out the local craft beer scene during free tours and events at many of San Diego's breweries. Beer lovers can download a free brewery guide map of San Diego's more than 120 breweries to discover.

Take a dip in the beaches at La Jolla. Photo: SanDiego.org
Take a dip in the beaches at La Jolla. Photo: SanDiego.org

4. Get wet: Go scuba diving or snorkeling off San Diego's shores to see spectacular creatures of the sea. La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove offer some of the clearest waters on the California coast, as well as miles of protected underwater preserve to explore. 

5. Get historical: Witness the living legacy of California's birthplace in Old Town State Historic Park, San Diego's first “downtown.” The six-block park features 12 acres of Mexican lore and historical sites presented in shops, restaurants, museums and several carefully preserved or restored adobe and wooden buildings. Free “Living History” tours are offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily.

6. Wonder at the Ocean: Take a free public tour of the renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the seaside neighborhood of La Jolla. Outdoor walking tours, including historic buildings along the Pacific coast, are offered monthly and are free, but registration is required.

San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter beckons. Photo: SanDiego.org
San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter beckons. Photo: SanDiego.org
7. Take a walk: Stroll through the 16½-block historic Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego. Once the stomping grounds of the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp, the Gaslamp Quarter is now home to unique stores and numerous restaurants, nightclubs and bars, many of which are set in turn-of-the-century Victorian architecture.

8. Go swimming: Put on your bathing suit, grab your towel and head to one of San Diego's 30-plus beaches, all open to the public, and perfect for body surfing, boogie boarding, building sandcastles, collecting seashells and basking in the sun.

9. Have a wander: Visit Seaport Village and the new Headquarters at Seaport on weekends for free entertainment, hours of leisurely strolling and window shopping, and a small free police museum including vintage jail cells open to the public at the site of San Diego's former police headquarters.

10. Market it up: Sample some of the more than 200 varieties of fresh produce grown in San Diego at one of the region's many Farmer's Markets, held daily at locations throughout the county.

The farmers market in Little Italy abounds with all manner of food and wares. Photo: Annie Pearson
The farmers market in Little Italy abounds with all manner of food and wares. Photo: Annie Pearson
Spreckels Organ Society is a great place to catch a free concert in San Diego. Photo: Robert Lang
Spreckels Organ Society is a great place to catch a free concert in San Diego. Photo: Robert Lang
11. Listen in: Enjoy free outdoor organ concerts on the world's largest outdoor pipe organ at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park every Sunday at 2 p.m. The Summer International Organ Festival occurs Monday evenings at 7:30 p.m. through Aug. 29. Beginning June 14, Twilight in the Park free concerts are held at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

12. Roll with it: Rollerblade, skateboard, bicycle or people watch along the Mission Beach and Pacific Beach Boardwalk, a scenic three-mile esplanade running along the coastline of these lively neighborhoods. 

The busy Boardwalk at Mission Beach. Photo: Brett Shoaf
The busy Boardwalk at Mission Beach. Photo: Brett Shoaf
13. Marvel at the stars: Stargaze on the first Wednesday of every month at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park hosted by the San Diego Astronomy Association. During Stars in the Park, SDAA members set up huge telescopes and offer guests a great view of the moon, planets and brighter stars.

14. Lace up your boots: Hike the trails of Torrey Pines State Reserve in La Jolla and see the rare and elegant Torrey pine trees, a number of wild flower and animal species, and miles of unspoiled beaches below.

15. Get outside: Visit Mission Trails Regional Park featuring a state-of-the-art Visitors Center where guests explore and learn about the wonders of nature and the native people who once lived on the land. The park also offers more than 40 miles of natural and developed hiking and biking trails.

16. Find Nemo: Explore the clear, shallow tidepools of La Jolla Cove and Point Loma when the tide is low and the pools are teeming with aquatic life.

17. Play away: Walk along downtown's beautiful new Embarcadero, featuring new parks, promenades and an 830-foot-long water fountain to splash and play. Visitors can view impressive public art sculptures and memorials celebrating San Diego's international ties, cultural diversity and military and maritime heritage. 

One of San Diego's many art installation at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Pablo Mason
One of San Diego's many art installation at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Pablo Mason

18. See a nature in action: Join San Diegans in a local natural phenomenon, the grunion run, on warm summer nights when the tide is high and the moon is full. Guests can witness thousands of small grunion fish swimming ashore to mate and bury their eggs in the sand before riding the waves back out to sea.

19. Bring the dog: Watch tail-waggin', Frisbee-catchin' and stick-fetchin' dogs splash in the surf. Man's best friend is permitted to roam leash-free at all hours of the day on designated “dog beaches” in Ocean Beach, Mission Bay, Coronado and Del Mar.

20. Take a walk: Stroll through Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the United States, and discover its beautiful Spanish Colonial-Revival architecture and remarkable gardens. Visitors can take advantage of the park's free ranger-led walking tours at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesdays and Sundays.

21. Light the night: Gather friends, family and firewood for a cozy beach bonfire at one of San Diego County's bonfire-friendly beaches located in Coronado, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and Oceanside.

22. Guess that sculpture: Go on a self-guided walking tour of The Stuart Collection, a display of contemporary sculptures scattered throughout the University of California, San Diego campus in La Jolla. Tour maps are available at the Gilman Drive campus entrance. 

23. View the stories: Experience the history of the local Hispanic community's struggles and triumphs with a visit to the Chicano Park Murals, established by activists in 1970. This cultural park has received international recognition as a major public art site for its commanding mural paintings set beneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. Some of the murals narrate the history of Barrio Logan, where the park is located. 

Pack a picnic and attend a free summer concert in Spreckels Park. Photo: SanDiego.org
Pack a picnic and attend a free summer concert in Spreckels Park. Photo: SanDiego.org
24. Feel the music: Take advantage of San Diego's warm summer nights and wonderful public parks, and enjoy a number of free summer outdoor concerts held throughout the county.

25. Be entertained: Check out the monthly Ray at Night art walk in San Diego's North Park neighborhood, featuring gallery exhibitions, artisan crafts, live music showcasing local bands, and fresh local food. The event is held 6-10 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month along Ray Street.

For more information and even more free things to do during your San Diego visit, check out the San Diego Tourism Authority's website at www.sandiego.org.

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