The blog of the adventures (or mis-adventures) of an active mountain woman.
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Gettin’ Geeky: Kindle vs. Nook

Amazon's Kindle

My adventures often take me traveling- sometimes it’s for a short period of time, but the trips lasting multiple weeks (or months) present a problem other than a shrinking bank account: how many books will I read?

Enter the eReader. It’s affordable. It’s small. It holds A LOT of books! But as we live in a capitalist society, we have the inevitable choices that result from market competition (thank goodness). The clear market leaders appear to be the Kindle from Amazon and the Nook from Barnes & Noble. By bouncing between their websites and reading some tech reviews, I have complied the below comparison that I believe to be accurate as of October, 2010 for the lowest priced models.

Basic Kindle: $139
Basic Nook: $149 (both basic models have built-in wireless for downloading new books).

Barnes & Noble's Nook

Both are 6″ diagonally with adjustable text size. I have read a few reviews that say the Kindle is easier to read in low light as the contrast is better.

Kindle: 1 month
Nook: 10 days
Nook battery is replaceable- meaning you can carry extras or replace it if it fries. Kindle’s is built-in and must be sent to Amazon if there is a problem.

Kindle: 3G (not expandable)
Nook: 2G, but has external card slot to add much more. 2G is approx. 1,500 books.

Kindle: 38.5 ounces (less than a paperback)
Nook: 11.6 ounces. For comparison, a big hardback like Breaking Dawn, the last book in the Twilight series, weighs over two pounds.

Book Format:
Nook: ePub format, which some libraries are also using as it is NOT a protected file. This allows for legal and easy loaning of books to friends for 2 weeks at a time. Nook is also partnered with Google books (which has millions of titles for free).
Kindle: Protected file- sharing not easily allowed, won’t read books from libraries in ePub format.Bottom of Device:
Nook: Touch, color screen at the bottom. As the designer in me typically judges a book by its cover, I like to see the covers in color.
Kindle: Push-button keyboard (which could be easier/faster for finding books if you have a massive library).

Book Price Comparision:
I choose some books off the top of my head and looked up prices on both sites.
Kindle: $8.01
Nook: $7.59

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Kindle: $6.17
Nook: $6.17

Pride and Prejudice
Kindle: free
Nook: $1.99

Kindle: $8.59

Bet Me
Kindle: $2.99
Nook: $7.99

The Omnivore’s Dilemma
Kindle: $12.99
Nook: $12.99

Both have a plethora of pretty, protective cases. A case can make it feel more like a traditional, open book in your hands. Also, if you spend a lot of time in Barnes & Noble, get a Nook- you can read any book while you’re in the store for free from cover to cover. While you’re in store discounts and things like free coffee or even free books will appear on the color screen below the reading screen. Technology impaired? You can take your Nook to B&N and get free, live help. Not so with Kindle.

I have no idea. If one of them showed up free on my doorstep, I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed with either reader. For my friend Rebecca, the expandability of the Nook’s memory makes it the clear winner. Since she is a veracious reader, I may just jump on her bandwagon as we can share books easily (mailing the hardcovers to and from Chicago is getting expensive, anyhow). Do you have an ereader? Click on MountainKidd’s first poll to weigh in.

Banff, Canada, ‘eh!

Helicopter Ride from Kananaskis in Canmore, Alberta

A friend told me she heard that Banff was “even more beautiful than Jackson”, which immediately raised my hackles as I tend to take everything a bit too personally. How dare she suggest anywhere more beautiful than Jackson Hole, a place I pay a small fortune to call home! However, after a majestic week in Banff, Alberta, Canada, I have to admit that she may have heard something fairly accurate.

Although we started out in Calgary, a dazzling polite city where no one jaywalks (ever), our hearts were into the Banff portion of the trip and we spontaneously splurged for a 30-minute helicopter tour outside of Banff National Park. It was awful. And by awful, I mean amazing and worth every penny. I was granted the front seat next to the pilot and the exposure buff in me LOVED cresting a mountaintop ridge to see the world drop beneath the window at my feet.

Although most anything would seem anticlimactic after a helicopter ride, Banff didn’t disappoint. For those familiar with Jackson hikes, I describe it as this: hike 20 minutes up Death Canyon overlooking Phelps Lake, then place a complete town with everything from Gucci to McDonald’s.

Teahouse at Plain of the Six Glaciers

Banff is completely nested in amazing mountain views with the spectacularly colored Bow River running though the middle. Although the main street, Banff avenue is as packed as Jackson’s Town Square in July, some of the nicer hotels just 10 minutes away offer solstice for those more interested in mountain scenery than accessible shopping. We stayed at the Rim Rock Resort Hotel and would absolutely choose it time and time again.

And what’s with Canadians being so nice? No wonder the European and Japanese crowds prefer Canada; these people have infinite patience and kindness. Banff is building up their single-track trails for mountain biking and when we half-destroyed a decent rental bike (bye-bye derailleur), they cheerfully responded that all repairs were included in the reasonable bike rental cost. However, my favorite part of Banff was the Canadian attitude towards National Park and the teahouse they allowed at the top of a spectacular hike.

At 5.5 kilometers each way (3.4 miles), the hike to The Plain of Six Glaciers climbs 370 m (1215 ft) to a maximum elevation of 2100 m (6890 ft). It takes about 1.5-2 hours each way for most folks and I would classify it as moderately strenuous. The trail head is gorgeous Lake Louise but the hike quickly climbs after leaving the lake area. Because of this, I expected the tourists to start dropping off like flies. However, the Japanese tourists in Banff are a bit hardier than the American tourists in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

Me hiking back to Lake Louise from just above the teahouse.

There were Japanese grandmas and little kids hoofing it up this hike. Amazing. And they were well rewarded. As the hike was a spur-of-the-moment decision, our uninformed and cynical American selves half expected the ‘teahouse’ at the top to be a dilapidated building with a marker explaining its historic significance. Not so. The teahouse was a legitimate if small restaurant with sandwiches, warm biscuits with jam and butter and, of course, tea. A placard told us that they helicopter in flour, sugar and such at the start of the summer and backpack in the rest. The waitresses and owner/operators live in small cabins around the tea house 5 days a week and hike down on their days off. I reasoned that if rewarded with such a teahouse at the top of Teton hikes, I might hike a little more often. With responsible stewardship on behalf of the vendor, what would be so bad about motivating hikers in Grand Teton and Yellowstone for a few select hikes? Opinions? Submit a comment below.

I’m-jealous-of-your-blog of the day: Smitten Kitchen – I’m about to make their chewy oatmeal cookies and have it on good authority that they are heavenly.

Super-cute-athletic-clothing-company of the day (men and women):  Lululemon

Running for Tin

2010 Tin Cup Half-Marathon Map

I’ve been so busy having fun that I have neglected to blog about my fun. My apologies and promise that there is quite a bit of fresh new content on the way!

I ran a half-marathon, which is 13.1 miles. Bear in mind that the last time I ran competitively (and I use that term loosely), I was partially motivated by the fun of eating bacon while running. Not shockingly, the half-marathon didn’t involve any bacon. Bummer.

I decided to do the run on my dear friend Niki’s birthday. I will shamelessly admit that she was less than sober when she agreed to accompany me- thus committing me as well. The run was six weeks out and although we had just completed a 10K called Shirly’s Heart Run, neither of us had ran much further than a 10K. Ever.

I started training with some beta from other distance runners- they said if I ran 5 miles, 5 times a week, I would do fine. Later someone added that I really should include a 9 mile run in there, so a week before the big day I ran my happy dog 9 miles. We were tired. Wendell (my dog) asked if I was sure I could run further. I wasn’t. Damn dog.

However, on the day of the race, the weather gods smiled down and bestowed their greatest running gift- overcast skies with the slightest of showers for the first 30 minutes. Having never run so far in our lives, we started with a conservative pace and maintained it throughout the race. After one hour, we both ate a Gu shot. I personally think they are delicious (especially the espresso love flavor- caffeine bonus!), but many would disagree. What people don’t disagree on is that after 45 minutes, your body needs something. Taken with water, these go down quick and are nicely balanced to keep you performing at the top of your game.

So the final results? We finished and helped a good cause (Teton Valley nonprofits raise money from donors and all monies are matched). The course was great; it started out on the highway but happily included quite a bit of dirt-road running. Race supporters are amazing people and I plan on giving back someday. We weren’t fast, but we felt good when we finished and made some happy Saturday morning memories together. That’s really all that matters, anyhow.

Caffeine tidbit of the day (from the Gu site): Caffeine helps the body produce more power, reduce the pain of hard efforts, and may even tap fat for fuel during exercise. All of this prolongs your ability to exercise at a high intensity.

Running for Bacon

With 50,000 runners, the race begins in waves spanning over 5 hours.

I don’t love running, but I love that it’s low-cost, easy to do and almost year round. I also believe it’s an efficient form of exercise. I believe this so thoroughly that I assumed running a 10K (about 6.2 miles) would burn calories. However, in the home of the fit, known as Boulder, Colorado, I was able to debunk this myth.

When I was told that a group of friends annually ran a popular 10K known as the Bolder Boulder, I said I was in and mentally reminded myself to continue running the weeks before the race. In the weeks leading up to the race, I casually asked one member of the group if they trained much for the race. He laughed in my face.

The Bolder Boulder can be a serious race. I would like to think the runners from Kenya who finished the race in 28.13 minutes took it seriously (that’s 4.34 minute miles… for 6.2 miles in a row). But the Bolder Boulder can also be a circus. That was the race I was in. And I was running for bacon.

Bacon was not the sponsored cause for the Bolder Boulder but rather my personal mission once the face-laugher told me what the race was really about. I was going to find bacon and eat it while running. Thus it came to pass that my Bolder Boulder in-race tally came to include the following: bacon (turkey and pork), cotton candy (pink), beer (Fat Tire!), Doritos (nacho cheese) and a few other items I’m sure I’m forgetting. Along the way, my motivation/cheering came from Jake and Elwood, belly dancers, way too much 80’s cover rock, bag pipes and a complete marching band, to name a few. I also hit one slip-and-slide with vengeance. It was a fabulous Monday.

Cumulatively, I’m sure the 50,000 Bolder Boulder participants burned a few calories on Memorial Day. I roughly calculated my caloric burn to be about 550 calories (using the formula .75 x your weight (in lbs.) for each mile from this Runner’s World article). But my team also ate a few, and it was fun. With our bathroom and bacon stops we finished, as a team, in one hour and 20 minutes. The Ethiopians were much (much) faster and some were much slower, but ultimately there was a lot of fun had by all and I saw more than a few people pushing themselves towards a healthy goal. If there needs to be a little bacon involved, so be it. 

Fourth Place! out of four…

Action shot of the 'Patriot' crew

Last weekend I traveled to Houston to sail in the 2010 Shoe Regatta. I was looking forward to soaking up some sun and heat, but the first hint that this would not be a walk in the park but a race under sail came a day before I even departed.

As former Colonel in the Army, our Captain emailed a tight itinerary in the format of ‘0800 hours’.  Uh-oh. My apprehension grew as our Saturday races were canceled due to weather (going out on a large body of water with a big metal pole seemed like a bad idea with the lightening). However, Sunday dawned bright, sunny and hot (yes!) so we set sail with a meager 7 knots of wind. Our 46′ Morgan sailboat, Patriot, performs optimally under 15-20 knots, so suffice to say we were not exactly cruising. As one of the largest and heaviest boats in our class, we slowly fell further and further behind competition under they were all finally out of view. With a time limit of two hours until the first marker, we were in a new race – against the clock.

We cleared the marker with a few minutes to spare and set our course towards the next, which we very nearly crashed into as the wind went from seven knots to five and finally to zero. With crisis adverted, I returned to my book and we sailed through the finish without mishap. I had survived my stint with the Army.

Book of the Day: A quick summer read, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything (click to buy on Amazon)

From the White Strip to the White House

Inside the fence at the White House

Inside the fence at the White House

With dismal snow conditions and no signs of immediate improvement, I accompanied a friend for a long weekend in Washington D.C. and Boston. While there, an old kayaking buddy arranged a few fantastic tours through his employer that resulted in a) my deliberation of jumping the White House fence and b) leaving my Smith sunglasses on top of the Capitol.

Through my new, appropriately themed book, “In the President’s Secret Service” by Ronald Kessler, I have learned that I am not even close to the first person to have such thoughts. These thoughts are, however, a very bad idea.

At eight-foot-high, the reinforced steel fence surrounding the White House doesn’t look very intimating. While I was waiting in line for the White House tour, I didn’t see a single security guy on the grounds. Of course, the agents are purposefully hidden but my impression was that the property has a rather unguarded appearance. This thinking is, of course, asinine. My book has informed be that agents “…know right away if there’s a fence jumper. There are electronic eyes and ground sensors six feet back [from the sidewalk] that are monitored twenty-four hours a day. They sense movement and weight. Infrared detectors are installed closer to the house. You have audio detectors. Every angle is covered by cameras and recorded.”

And if I had actually jumped the fence? “If somebody jumps that fence, ERT is going to get them right away, either with a dog or just themselves. They’ll give the dog a command, and that dog will knock over a two-hundred-fifty-pound man. It will hit him dead center and take him down. The countersniper guys within the Uniformed Division are always watching their backs.”

As for the lost sunglasses, I grabbed a serendipitously timed spot on a very special dome tour of the Capitol where you must be personally accompanied by a congressman. As I was meeting folks for a cocktail directly afterwards, I wore a semi-formal dress and heels. Let’s call this “bad idea number two”.

Proper Attire for a Stair Hike

Proper Attire for a Stair Hike

The Capitol has 365 steps leading to a balcony at the base of the tholos approximately 210 feet above the Capitol’s east front plaza. This is a lot of steep, narrow stairs. Heels are technically not allowed, but being a climber I’ve worn far worse on far steeper. The entire dome is cast iron and truly a beautiful building in a stunning location with sweeping views of the capital city and its neighboring states. Taking pictures on the balcony outside, I removed my sunglasses and set them down. Oops. With visions of sniper teams descending from helicopters to test my poor sunglasses, my vivid imagination estimates that I may have cost taxpayers $500,000 in tactical assault team and bomb detection charges. My pledge to you, my blog readers, is this: I’ll stay away from Washington for a while. After all, heels aren’t even my style.

Apples in Paradise


Be sure to get directions:

With autumn quickly drawing to close, I decided to embrace the last days by visiting an orchard with fresh cider and apples for the picking. Either that or I was compensating for not having a boyfriend with apple trees I could pick off of. One of the two.

I browsed campsites near Logan, Utah on the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide. The site certainly isn’t great, but the information is all there if you’re willing to look around. I was torn between Sunrise Campground in Garden City and Spring Hollow in Logan, but finally settled on Spring Hollow based on the elevation (lower, thus warmer) and close proximity to Logan. At four hours from Jackson and only 6.6 miles from the town of Logan, Spring Hollow was tucked just inside Logan Canyon and understandably popular. I doubt we would have found a site without a reservation during any other week of the summer, but the brisk weather culled a few of the less hardy campers and we were able to pull right in.

Tent Sweet Tent at Spring Hollow Campground

Tent Sweet Tent at Spring Hollow Campground

The $15 campground was minimal but adequate- vault toilets, water spigots and picnic tables with fire rings at every site. Although the web sites referenced mentioned no tent pads, almost every spot had a beautiful flat area for a tent.

Paradise Valley Orchard was a 30 minute drive the next morning. It was small but the trees had copious amount of fruit and the owner was friendly. An old ski bum, he had done the original land survey at my old stomping ground of Eagle-Vail and Beaver Creek in the late ’70’s. He went on to explain that he did “this” because he got January and February off to ski. When I mentioned I wanted to get some fresh eggs, we headed out back to the chicken coup to see if the ladies had laid a few more to round out the dozen. The cider he sold is the best I’ve had since I left Michigan, maybe even the best I’ve ever had.

A gorgeous branch of fruit

A gorgeous branch of fruit

The cider alone was worth the trip, but the stunning fall colors and wonderful fresh food made the drive worth every minute. Highly recommended, although I would strongly suggest a reservation for the campsite, which can be made online. We just got lucky, which is always nice.

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