Leader’s Block

Leader’s block is that moment in time during trip-planning when you sit – eyes glazed over – staring at the counter piled high with camping food and know that everything will not go according to plan. You wonder what will unfold during the trip and hope that it will be managed gracefully (cough, cough).

This adventurer has a crazy lust for seeing everything, however, our latest trip is focusing on free which means “whoa, Nellie” on all of the added fees like park entrance charges. Park fees can put a dent in free so choice, as in being selective, has become the mantra in charting the latest On A Dime adventure. Hiking the Narrows in Zion has seduced us, courtesy of an adventuring family named Hibma. Their experience and photos had us oohing and ahhing and then budgeting the $25 park entrance fee and one night of camping for $16 as the campground is near the entrance. We’re hoping to score a first come/first serve campsite and hike at the crack of dawn. The best laid plans…

Our inspiration, a Hibma in The Narrows

Leader’s block can be brought on by intense best-laid plans followed by a “ruh, roh” regroup as in the case of an updated weather forecast. We discovered we’re up against a 40% chance of rain on the day we scheduled our hike and naturally, 0% the day before. Hiking the Narrows is a fun idea, unexpectedly floating The Narrows, not so much. The threat of drowning is not to be trifled with and the movie 124 Hours had this adventurer figuring she’s only able to survive about 124 seconds of any real danger so… drive all night and hike a day early? Looking like that may be plan B.

The real point in sharing leader’s block is to say, it’s ok. It has taken many trips to be able to realize that plan B often produces a mighty and unexpected magic. The following photos are of some Plan Bs that ponied up beautiful pay-offs and the featured umage above was of hiking in the snow after high winds dramatically shifted our plan A. And please, whether it’s gear and food or lodging or more, use this site for trip-planning as that is exactly what we do, find others who’ve gone before us and follow the places they share.

Leader’s block and the unexpected moments of an adventure are all part of the non-plan and embracing this is the goal. Now if we can just find the maps.

Check our gratitude giveaway article as well as our sister (essay) site at On A Dime Life and please know that our lives are in session and on a dime in large part due to many of you inspiring us constantly. Rock on and keep adventuring!

Feel free to share to Facebook and/or Tweet! We’re always grateful.

DREAMS – 6 Tools For Making A Dreamy Trip

A dreamy get-away, that’s what we all need. Just some moments of adventure, fun, and respite. But going from the daydream to reality requires rolling up the sleeves and making it happen. It also demands that we eschew the naysayer in our brain that starts in with the excuses of, “it’s too much money, too much time away, not enough ideas of where to go, no idea of how to pull it off”.

You deserve to seize moments that belong only to you and your loved ones and friends. In America we generally spend 50 weeks a year and receive roughly 2 weeks to call our own. If you truly sit with that, it’s pretty unbalanced. So what is the answer if that breakdown cannot be changed? Weekends. Days off. They are yours, take them. And this post is designed to get you started turning D.R.E.A.M.S. into reality with these steps.

1) D as in Design. Research has shown that the pre-planning time for vacations is good for the psyche and this is not anything we’d argue after seeing friends glow when talking about an upcoming vacation. So, get busy and DESIGN your trip. Be joyfully honest in assessing how you want to spend your time. Just because your Facebook buddy posted fantastic photos of river rafting class 5 rapids does not mean it’s the perfect fit for you. I personally love hiking – to what many people think are scary places – but I am not an adrenaline junkie. I like the Zen of being in the scary places but things like rock scrambling or jumping off cliffs into water are not my bag of tricks while hiking a solid, wide trail to high altitude and heavenly views, is. Figure out what you like and go from that point on.

2) R as in Reach. Reach for new terrain. In other words, if you are trying to travel within a budget that is more frugal than previous get-aways, reach for accommodations that aren’t as luxurious and then if you can shave money off the total, splurge on your final day. See our Big Sur breakdown for exactly how we did (and often do) this. If you’ve hosteled before, try camping, if you were strictly hotel material previously, try hostels. If you are in need of free lodging, try house swap or couchsurfing.

3) E as in Ease. Ease into a new plan for vacationing. Try couchsurfing for 2 days on a weekend away or house swap for a short period of time. Camp for a weekend and if you are intrigued by backpacking, a single overnight is a good plan and plenty of places are set up for 3 miles or less to hike into the backcountry. Yosemite’s Sunset Trail is 3 miles and it is stunning. It’s also uphill for a good part of it. Ease into new food choices. Eating out can blow out a budget in record time. Cook ahead and save eating out for a treat. Our camp-cooking article will aid in cooking in the wild and see the links at the bottom of that page for two amazing camp cooking websites.

4) A as in Aim. Aim for moments of wonder. Rather than focusing on pricey tourist destinations, shift the goal to one of aiming for wonder. Though the Grand Canyon charges $25 a car to enter the park, the multiple moments of wonder are too numerous to count. And Yosemite sees millions of visitors every year of which only a small percentage spend more than several hours in the park.

I suffer from the more is better affliction and used to be guilty of trying to cram as much as I could into a short amount of time. I still struggle with this but now strive to slow down and absorb moments of awe. Go ahead, hike 1/2-1 mile down into the Grand Canyon on the Kaibab Trail  or Bright Angel and just bask in the magnificence.

5) M as in Meet. Meet challenges with humor as often as you can. There will be unexpected moments, take it from a pro in this domain. From kids (with messy rooms) texting lectures on cleanliness (go figure) on a delayed 50th birthday weekend that had roared to a start with a migraine and high winds, to another kid breaking their 4th bone, ten minutes after arriving at the birthday location, well there will be unanticipated moments. And what was the solution to this upended trip? Not going to lie, tears, a cookout, and some ice cold beer and a giving-in to the chaos. And in the end, a decision to absolutely absorb the most stunning sunset ever, followed the next day by hours of warm sun and kids kayaking which brings us to…

6) S as in Savor. Savor every joyous second you are gifted with. When life gives you lemons, don’t just make lemonade. Make it, sip it slowly, take in the hue of the liquid, inhale the aroma, and all the rest. Wax poetic on that glass of lemonade or as it was in my case, the several hours that the entire motley crew were frolicking in boats and kicking back on the beach.

Too many get-aways are a frenzied, running of place to place when all that was really needed was to be present to a teeny-tiny moment that was unequaled in beauty. Savor the weekend, savor the day off, and savor the hours that you create. You are brilliant, like sun glinting off the early morning lake, when you sit at that lake, sipping an early morning java or tea, and fully own that moment.

It is our hope that you open up a travel book, spread out some maps, and start dreaming. Life Is In Session.

We’re dreamy grateful when you “like” and/or share to Facebook as well as Tweet.

Sunrise 2

10 Tips On The Making Of An Adventurer

The On A Dime gang is a motley crew of adventurers that consists of parents, kids, cousins, friends, and really anyone willing to throw in gas money – on a whim – for a trip to Death Valley or a rain forest full of slugs. We feel your envy and just know you are wondering, “how do I become like them? The few, the proud, the guileless”.

View of Half Dome
View of Half Dome

Adventurers are born, of this we’re fairly certain. The very first adventure, walking, seems to be the result of an overwhelming desire to escape from the fans that first encouraged with “come on, walk to Daddy” and then followed up weeks later with “get down, now!”

None of us would ever get down if we had the choice but the child mortality rate would also soar were we left to our own devices. Striking a delicate balance in the making of an adventurer can prove elusive and this mom – in unraveling the mystery – has been ’round and ’round the mulberry tree or should we say Mc Donalds drive-through. The mulberries were organic and dished out to child #1 but by child #3, we were charting which Happy Meal toy week it was.

The first on a dime children were three girls that were not allowed nail polish until middle school – and then when we gave in, it was only to grass-fed nail polish. By the time #4 (a boy) landed on planet earth, most of the grass-fed goals had been replaced by the steely determination to turn the kids into “adventurers” – kids that would leave our side and allow us to sleep for four hours straight.

Adventure training had begun. It spanned many years and utilized these 10 steps.

1) Just Say Yes – This theory would cause a baby powder explosion all over the driveway that was defended as a “science experiment”. The “yes” model also allowed for one child’s conviction that he was a werewolf and traveled the neighborhood every full moon (dead serious and this phase lasted about a year). The sisters encouraged the werewolf stage as they hoped he’d leave on the weekends they had friends sleeping over.

2) Just Say No – When child #2 – voted most obstinate by the other three obstinates (this should be a word) – casually sauntered in one day from the pet store with a cute four-inch lizard on her forearm, this mom inquired as to the kind of lizard it was. The rest of the exchange went like this…

Obstinate Child (in disguise as a sweet child) – Iguana

Distracted Mom – Don’t those get big? Do they need a cage?

Obstinate Child – I’m sure we can get one on Craig’slist for $10 and I’ll walk it on a leash.

Alert Mom – Leash?

At this point, Google was fired up and revealed that Iguanas grow to six feet, head to tail, and are known to use said tail to whip those that irritate them. If they’d have been trainable, the whipping tail might’ve been a selling point. “No” was the answer to the Iguana adventure.

3) Follow The Rules – And the kids do. They would never duplicate – in the forest – the illegal campfire set on the beach in Malibu. We like to think adventurers learn to be fierce about safety and protecting the environment and abide by rules that have rangers welcome them with open arms. Beach patrol, not so much.

4) Break The Rules – And the kids do. But only when it involves managed-adventure as in skydiving a wee bit before the suggested (posted) limit with an older adventurer who was not yet aware of the power of social media. New reality show, The Moms Of Department Of Children’s Services and yeah, I’ll never get a job as a nanny for any authors of parenting books.

The daughter in this photo made the age limit

5) Be Fearless – After years spent watching too much news, this on a dimer opted out. Statistically (and speaking from experience), debt anxiety and Happy Meal toy excursions are much more dangerous than walking a trail into the wild. Do not take our word for it, look up stats for what the biggest dangers are and we can guarantee that hiking (even in the dark) is not on the same list as texting while driving.

6) Be Prepared – Adventurers the world over, prepare. They don’t happen overnight, they read, learn, ask for advice, and then make calm, rational decisions. The word adventure does not have to be synonymous with impulsive. Join your kids in discussions about safety and be open to learning from them. And if you are as lucky as this wayward trailblazer, your kids will yell “Mom, the trail is over here! You are wandering again!” Uhm hello, that’s why they call it “trailblazer”.

At the top, in honor of Kevin Cordasco and Courage*Strength*Believe
At the top of Mt. Whitney, in honor of Kevin Cordasco and Courage*Strength*Believe

7) Hold On – Only to their hands when they are little and pull you into the land of adventure and only to your emotions when they are big and strike out on their own.

8) Let Go – Of their hands when they are big and your emotions when they fly. And by “let go”, we mean go ahead and have tears just like this mom did when the baby daughter (18 yrs.) walked through security and onto a plane, heading off to backpack Europe. A year ago she announced that she was saving money for an epic trip and one of her parents  (cough, cough) responded absently with “that’s sweet, honey”, never thinking she’d work two jobs and tutor and babysit and save over $6,000. Good grief – at her age – saving $6 would’ve been a success for this mom.  Well, she pulled it off and now is headed – with a cousin – to 8 countries, in 7 weeks and will couchsurf and stay in hostels. **Update, she made it and had a blast!

9) Ache – For the memories of their sweet sleeping faces all under one roof and for the moment they’ll return and awe you with what they’ve seen and been a part of.

10) Rejoice – For the memories in the making of all of the amazing things they are taking on. You have been their comfort zone and now they are ready to be a little uncomfortable in the name of adventure. Uncomfortable can be a most stunning state of being, a state to rejoice and revel in. May uncomfortable become familiar and may it continue on and on.

And continuing in the name of adventure; if you wish to strike out of your comfort zone, rest assured that you are in good company. This on a dime adventurer never hiked a trail until the 40s and a solo/ nighttime ascent of Mt. Whitney was tackled with fear and trepidation but navigated with reverence for a world only dreamt of previously.

Adventurers are not created, they are born. Born to be bold. Perhaps the greatest gift we can offer our kids, others, and ourselves is the reminder to leave the comfort zone, be bold, and to not get down.

If you wish, “like” it/share it on FB and/or Tweet it. Deeply grateful. <3

Only One More Time

This post is inspired by a beautifully fierce, cancer-warrior by the name of Kevin Cordasco. Kevin passed from this world – to one I now think of as larger than life – at the age of sixteen.


I think of Kevin often as his investment in living was the catalyst for On A Dime Adventure. I came into the awareness that we all are so very finite, that our life expectancy varies from 31.99 in Swaziland to 82 years in Japan, and that we perhaps squander a fair amount of pretty valuable time. Kevin squandered none.

From this point on we’ll strive to shine a light on quality of life and  extinguish any derail energy. So let’s cut to the chase by cutting out repetitive time-drains so that we may redirect our zest towards joyous discovery. Let’s get completely tangible.

1) CLEANING – Some parts of our lives require ongoing clean-up and/or maintenance, however, a time-drain is the unnecessary repeats on the clean-up front. Be merciless, be ruthless. Get rid of the junk that is holding you back. Yes, I know that there have been many articles about this but I am speaking firsthand as someone who is radically upending their life and seismically shifting the lifestyle. DOWNSIZE your stuff. Donate it and throw it out. Live a calmer, simpler life and fill it up with sunrises and sunsets.

2) DO NOT REPEAT CLEAN – Clear out closets, garage, kitchen, etc. and DO NOT fill them back up. You miss stunning moments to connect to life when you are busy repeatedly organizing the unnecessary items you’ve bought lately to replace the unnecessary items you just finished clearing out . If this was not a challenge, why would it be that every single January tons of magazines devote covers to cleaning out the gluttony from the holidays? Do not rinse and repeat!

3) ONLY ONE MORE TIME – We hear about people who find out they have a terminal illness and clean their things out – one last time – and get their affairs in order. What we don’t stay present to is the fact that we all only have a certain amount of time left so why do we want to clean the garage out yearly? Again and again and again… ONLY ONE MORE TIME. Strip away the clutter and stop the consuming. Close up shop one last time. Do not refill the space you worked hard to create. Leave space only for adventure.

Adventure is aways available, it is waiting for anyone who wishes to experience it. Usually the main barriers are the ones we create by continually stocking our lives with things we’ll only be struggling to clear out all too soon.

There are tools to help support and reinforce a way of being that is the antithesis of every ad campaign running. These tools are real people, not corporations. They are former collectors, consumers, purchasers, and chasers of an American dream that they came to feel was a never-ending hamster wheel. They stepped off the wheel, looked around, and knew that Dr. Seuss was on to something…

“Trim up the tree with Christmas stuff

Like bingle balls, and whofoo fluff!

Trim up the town with goohoo gums

And bizilbix and wums!”

 ~Trim Up The Tree (How The Grinch Stole Christmas)

Courtney Carver of Be More With Less and Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist are forces in the movement – to not just clear out the minutiae – but even more importantly, to replace the quest for things with a quest for moments. They both balance their families, travel, work, and life with an ability to remain focused on shopping for opportunities to enrich their souls over any shopping for gee-gaws to fleetingly enrich their egos.  They have empowered many people to seize control of their time and this On A Dimer owes them a huge debt of gratitude as On A Dime Adventure was born out of their mission and their message.

Finally, it is our hope that this article sparks a feeling of possibility. We are aware that lifestyle is subjective and plenty of people are perfectly happy with the path they are on. This is for those, like this on a dimer, who wish to strategize more moments of pure magic and less moments of reorganization (and how is that even an allowable word or concept?). The act of organizing again or differently. Enough!

Kevin Cordasco had a very short time here on this planet and he made amazing use of that time. His refrain that “life is in session” inspired us so powerfully that it is our wish that a life in session prevail over a life taken for granted. Take Kevin’s message and Courtney and Joshua’s tutorials and live a life fully in session.

Below are several articles from Courtney Carver and Joshua Becker that are guaranteed to have you, like the Whos in Whoville, believing that life comes without packages, boxes or bags. Life comes not from a store, life – as we experience it – should be a heck of a lot more.

The 10 Most Important Things To Simplify In Your Life  ~Joshua Becker

* Project 333 Simple Is The New Black ~Courtney Carver  (Love this slogan!)

* 10 Reasons To Escape Excessive Consumerism  ~Joshua Becker

* Travel More With Less  ~Courtney Carver

* 7 Steps To Live Your Ideal Eulogy  ~Joshua Becker

* Minimalism Is For Everyone  ~Courtney Carver

Today, write down one thing you wish to do, that is all about adventure and whether it be rest and relaxation or an adrenal blow-out, make it happen and fully enjoy it.

Suggestions 😉

Grand Canyon we did it for $100.

Half Dome


Hike time
Hike time

5 Things To Know About Free Camping

Teri Clifton’s collection of hilarious essays, THE THINGS I CANNOT DO, is now available on Amazon for under $5 and includes her misfit Mount Whitney summit.

Here at On A Dime, we talk about free camping a lot, a whole lot. We lead off our lodging article with freebie camping. Obviously, staying somewhere for absolutely no cost is pretty outrageous but for those of you who have never done this, you may wonder if it is too good to be true. Here are your answers.

1) IS IT REALLY FREE? Yes. It really is free, however, we would not want to leave out amazing campsites that cost very little so we include those anytime we have them available as well. Backcountry/backpacking is free or darn near free in most areas and a whole different experience from developed campsites. *Great example of free camping was on the north rim of the Grand Canyon!

Campsite along the river
Campsite along the river in the Hoh Rain Forest

2) ARE THEY REALLY NICE? We don’t feature any sites that we consider unappealing for any reason. We encourage you to Google sites for info but then also absolutely search for photos! Here is an example of freebie camping at Gumboot Lake photos (not taken by On A Dime) in the Mt. Shasta, CA area. Having been there, we can confirm that these photos accurately represent the campground.

On A Dime photo of Gumboot from a campsite

3) DO THEY HAVE RUNNING WATER? Not always and this is very important to note. We feel it is also not a bad idea to travel with adequate jugs of water anyway. Car trouble in rural areas with no water is no fun.

$5 camping at Tuttle Creek, approx. 10 miles from Whitney and elevation 5,120
$5 camping at Tuttle Creek, approx. 10 miles from Mt. Whitney, CA and elevation 5,120

4) WHAT ABOUT BATHROOMS? Also a wild card but often they’ll have pit toilets and for the most part, we’ve had luck in that they’ve been pretty clean and odor-free. Come prepared w/ a small garden hand shovel and be prepared to dig and cover. If you’d like a giggle, know that on multiple camp trips when the kids were little, this On A Dimer brought the kiddie potty with plastic bag liners and more than one adult was known to utilize it as well. This also comes in handy during car travel with wee ones needing to wee-wee.

Sunrise Lake Yosemite, no bathroom and 3 mile hike in
Fall is in the air
Fall is in the air in Kansas and yes, Elk City has bathrooms

5) IS IT SAFE? That is up to interpretation and asking the rangers in the area is beyond smart. We’ve had wonderful experiences and passionately love the pristine and Zen energy the non-fee sites  offer. Only once did we feel uncomfortable and leave due to there being no one in the area except a lone and unseen camper in a cave. This turned out to be kismet after a park ranger offered us an alternate site in an area nearby that turned out to be stunning and offered a view of the mountain range that houses Mount Whitney. Remember that there is safety in numbers and you save even more money (see Grand Canyon article) by splitting more ways!

*Fire, critter, and food safety? Check this link.

Finally, go ahead and try some free camping and enjoy spending your hard-earned, adventure dollars elsewhere. You deserve it!

Share to Facebook and/or Tweet it if you like it and thank you tons!

Grand cyn sunset
Grand Canyon, North Rim has some dispersed camping, south rim we camped at Mather for $28 w/ amenities
Kings Canyon $40 each for the whole weekend

7 Cost-Friendly Ideas For 4th of July

We recently had the good fortune of not spending a fortune and yet greatly enjoying some beautiful moments.

Backcountry Hoh Rain Forest, WA. $9 total for the permit and overnight for 2 people

Now we’re looking to bring you the links to places across the land that are offering On A Dime activities for the 4th of July but also for anytime.

1) Check out the best FREE 4th of July events at national parks and get out and grab some fun and if you want even more information look at The National Park Foundation website. Hankering to lock down next year’s 4th in the Grand Canyon? Here’s one link about the festivities and also our link that breaks down inexpensive lodging.

Grand Canyon

2) Last minute travel. Here at On A Dime, we avoid vacationing on the holidays as generally it’s a bit crowded, however, the backcountry is doable. We’ve trekked Yosemite’s wilderness and climbed Half Dome on two Independence Days and had great luck. So, if you want to head out last minute, our best advice would be backcountry or dispersed camping. Before heading into the backcountry, call the ranger station to secure any needed permits.

3) Stay home. That’s right, save your money and stay in. You can make your own celebration, your way, on your budget.  If you wanna get really cash conscious, check out these amazing and easy homemade desserts!


4) Break out the games for kids and let your day unfold in a casual manner

5) Camp at home. Just throw up the tent, bring out the s’mores, and watch the fireworks from home.

Campsite along the river
Campsite along the river

6) Teens? Show theme movies such as Independence Day and make red, white, and blue popcorn.

7) Romantic 4th of July, you bet! These ideas will have the sparks flying.

Now, in the spirit of transparency and sharing that every single moment is not necessarily an adventure, this on a dimer has no 4th of July plans and will be going with the flow. We’ll see what unfolds and who knows, perhaps an adventure will appear.

On A Dime hit the 2,000 “like” mark on Facebook this week and we wish to offer a huge show of gratitude to all the dreamers and adventurers who’ve shown us the love. Powerfully grateful to everyone and as always, feel free to share and/or Tweet.