Category Archives: Life

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.

$1 Books And A Little Red Shack

If you are ever in Livingston, New York and driving lazily along route #9, watch for a little red shack. When you spot it, park on the grass and get the heck out of the car because you are in for the finest adventure on a dime there ever was. Melanie Nelson, a passionate bibliophile, has converted a gorgeous property that originally included an old inn, into the permanent site of possibly the biggest-little country book sale ever.

Melanie’s little book sale includes multiple buildings and 20,000+ books. Even more amazing is the fact that all hardcover books are one dollar and paperbacks fifty cents. The books are meticulously arranged according to topic and in great condition. True to her assertion that her inventory is not stocked with unappealing cast-offs, we found a wealth of desirable reading material and everything from Harry Potter and kids books to classics, philosophy, plays, biography, history, fiction, military, current popular titles, and beautiful art, music, and poetry selections.

Front porch

Kids shed

Stopping off along the road had never proven so magical and in addition to the quaint buildings overflowing with books was a tag sale that offered antique china teacups for twenty-five cents. The deals don’t end with teacups. If you are a record collector, be prepared to suffer serious danger of nostalgia overload upon perusing the thousands upon thousands of records stocked in the music building. A step back in time might just be a step forward for your psyche.

There was a palpable sense of yesteryear as Melanie sat on her porch, nibbling on a sandwich and chatting about her cats. When I purchased a hand-woven bag for two dollars and two Christmas ornaments at a nickel total, this timeless entrepreneur shook out change from an old jar. And something tells me that if – in the future – you purchase a teacup, it just may include chamomile steeping away.

tea cups

Sometimes it seems that people like Melanie are perhaps mystical beings placed on the planet to spread joy just because “why not?” Her complete fascination with all literature was contagious but what was most engaging was her obvious generosity and desire to make the books available on a dime.  As if the invitation to shop the always-open red shack and just leave your payment in the slot wasn’t enough, she also encourages patrons to bring a lunch and make themselves at home on the grounds.


If you cannot get to New York, visit her online and even if you don’t make a purchase, please give her a thank you. In a world filled with big box consumption, this woman is a reminder that life can be elusive in the self-check line of an overly air conditioned cavern, while it is easily accessible – courtesy of a genuine woman offering heartfelt, face-to-face moments – along a sunny country road.

About the Book Shack —-  the original LITTLE RED BOOK SHACK,  and  the WHITE COTTAGE ANNEX  a few steps away (in the photo), and the BIOGRAPHY SHED.  And opening 2013 The Kids Shed – AND starting September 2013 a 5th building for vinyl.   The important facts are — 20,000 used books for sale in the 3 room shack and  3 rooms annex, and the large Biography Shed, and now the Kids Shed.   And the vinyl collection.   ALL adult paperbacks 50 cents, ALL hardcovers $1.00.  Good clean used books of value, no junk. The books are clean and in very good condition, no exlibrary books,  shelved by topic– maps of buildings and topics are posted..  

           Also –A NEW ACQUIITION OF 6000 CLASSIAL VINYL LP RECORDS, from one collector, added to our current stock of vinyl- LPs priced at 1.00 each  ( boxed sets slightly cheaper), and Videos and DVDs, and CDs priced at 50 cents including foreign language videos— and cassetts and audio books 25 cents.    A building of thousands of clean children’s books priced at 25 cents each  ( 6  $1.00 ).   Also ephemera,  maps, postcards, and pictures.    Also available, a section of vintage magazines, including collection of National Geographic (pre-1945 only).. ALL  magazines are 25 cents each.    Also old newspapers 50 cents. The buildings are restocked weekly, all books shelved by subject.

ALSO NEW– SHOP ANYTIME, ANY DAY, ANY MONTH if you are passing by —- Self Service Shelves- Outside, on the roadside of the Book Shack- easily visible from the road invite you to stop and shop– Open the glass doors on the shelves and select your books–ALWAYS OPEN – 24 / 7 – year round.  Shop anytime and leave your payment in the mail slot in the door of the Little Red Book Shack 

Park right up on the grass near the Book Shack when you visit us.

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Truth, Overachieving Underachiever

On A Dime’s mission to pass along money-saving adventures has been the greatest fun, however, there is also a dicey part of this undertaking. How do we promote gorgeous moments yet also share the truth of the journey? The truth being that this is On A Dime Adventure/Life not On a Dime Perfection. So, here we go and our goal today is to hopefully have you thinking, “good grief, the only thing she overachieves at is underachieving so if she can do it, anyone can”. Because that is the truth behind the gorgeous moments.

At the current moment, this overachieving underachiever – a description only a mother could love – is working part-time after having recently listened to her soul (note to self -if lost again – do not search for soul). The transition from full-time to part-time job brought no second thoughts (common for overachieving underachievers) but there was an idea that as long as life was rocking and rolling, why not step a little farther out of the box or maybe into the box? A rolling box to go with a rolling life.

The – already in existence – dream to build a teeny-tiny house on wheels (less than 150 square feet) was further ignited by the release of THE BIG TINY by Dee Williams. The book-signing was a turning point that had my guy shaking his head and lining up his power tools for my endeavor. As supportive partners do, he promptly ordered a first aid kit and – I am fairly certain – hid his high-end circular saw.

But I have my own tools. “What tools?” – my guy asked in a slightly alarmed tone, while inventorying, to make certain none of his were missing.

The tools in question require no batteries and were given freely by a few people who guided me to some simple realizations. Like screwdrivers and those little ratchet thingamabobs, these tools each have a specific function and aid in running a RACE. My guy smiles sweetly at this hobby mash-up and suggests I limit my consumption of coffee but I am confident that some of you might enjoy these tools and I promise to not hide them because this race is a run toward many more joyful moments.


*REMOVE – Remove the muck. Facebook will be our example. There is an icon at the top right of every post that comes across your news feed and it offers, “I don’t want to see this”. Use it liberally. It unsubscribes you from the individual post, not all of the friend’s posts, just the umpteenth snippet of wisdom that they’d never say to anyone’s face in casual conversation. Full-on unsubscribing is also a good idea if you feel the posts are impacting you negatively. Also apply this to anything else distracting you from the life you envision. TV? Use it constructively or for programs that bring enjoyment into your life. If you love the news, cool but if it has you mired in unpleasantness, turn it off. Even music. Try to seek out what will aid in making a life that is fulfilling and skip tunes that send your mood to the dark side.

*ADD – Easy-peasy and opposite of remove. Add or “like” Facebook pages that imbue you with joy, enthusiasm, and happiness. “Like” the things you like 🙂 The possibilities are endless, photography, gardening, bird watching, boating, movies, and opera (not for overachieving underachievers). Join groups that involve you in fun activities. Find a book club, sell your pearls and start sailing or meet up with a group of hikers/cyclists/tennis players. Put uplifting or encouraging music on your playlist. Choose how much and what you watch on TV or, as wild as it may seem, do away with it. I have not been in possession of a TV for 3 years and survived it.

*CHOICE – Stock your life with healthy choices. Everyone relates this to food and fitness but it’s broader than that. Take an honest look around and ask yourself if your social life enhances your life or if it drains it. Do you spend time with friends complaining and stuck in emotional upheaval or in a more balanced manner? Finding/offering support within a peer group is different than just raking the muck. It is perfectly ok to shake it up a bit and seek out new friendships that support building a joyful, healthy life.

*ENERGY – Energy is finite, we only have so much. We can’t be up and “living” 24/7. Our awake-hours are limited so any time/energy that is spent embroiled in junk is never reclaimed. If you adore the way you spend your leisure hours then you’ve no need to grab tools and race toward a life-reconstruction but for anyone desirous of change, it can be done. Take whatever amount of energy you are currently working with and invest it in building a life that you cherish. Grab a sunset or a sunrise, we are gifted with only one each day.

On a final note, often people who’ve had financial challenges tell me “but I was used to things a certain way” and I get that. Before age 40, I camped very little, I did not pile into a car with 4 other ladies and embark on a $40 weekend and I would not have considered hiking alone, much less in the dark. I was not used to any of these things but a slice of supreme luck was born out of an otherwise devastating life implosion. My luck came in the form of people who challenged the things I was previously “used to” like my in the moment Achilles heel. I was encouraged to live into a bigger picture of how I’d like my life to be and – along the way – what I was not used to, became what I loved and reveled in.

The best part of embarking on an adventure, into a land of the unknown, is the discovery of so many people who’ve taken off on treks that are full-out inspirational . They convey that what is not familiar might be the very thing that brings the most unexpected joy and wonder.


Whoa! Regroup

“Regroup”, the most dreaded comment on a vacation next to “Who had the ATM card last?” And yet there is power in the great getaway-regroup. For that matter, there is power in the life-regroup and this week we happened upon an amazing adventurer who not only accepts the power in regrouping, she celebrates it. For any of you who’ve ever wondered about climbing a 14,000+ foot mountain, hiking rim to rim in the Grand Canyon or any other trek that could be defined as “epic”, Shelli Johnson of Epic Life is your answer.

In 2009, Shelli, founder and CEO of Yellowstone Journal Corporation, sold to Active Interest Media (owner of Backpacker, Yoga Journal, and Climber magazines) and began a gradual transition from promoting America’s famed parks to lacing up her boots and trekking them full time. The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Zion, and the Rocky Mountain National Parks became Shelli’s playing field for taking individuals and groups on trips that empowered them and altered their lives in a multitude of beautiful ways. Having embarked upon a health makeover, and navigated depression and a general discontent, Shelli relates to those seeking a reconnect to a quality of life that sometimes proves elusive. Her Epic Life Coaching was born out of her own turnaround. The Epic trips she guides offer more than conquering an exterior mountain; the experience also encourages interior (emotional) mountain climbing and provides the tools to bring this to fruition.

Epic was what a trip last weekend to the Mount Whitney area was supposed to be for this On A Dimer and my little guy (age 15). An anticipated agenda of mystical sunrises and dispersed (free) camping in the Alabama Hills was on slate when gale force winds kicked up and tossed 3 semi trucks off the highway, sobering us into the image of our tent aloft with us inside. Upon this complication, we lowered our sails and coasted into the Dow Villa Motel parking lot . Rocking a migraine and a tent in 50 mph gusts was never even a consideration. The campfire we coveted was doused in favor of the boy hot-tubbing and swimming in his jeans while the fearless leader chugged coffee and Excedrin in a cushy bed and watched Mean Girls and the louder the wind howled – the louder it was proclaimed that “regroup” was the way to go.

Alabama Hills
Alabama Hills at the base of Mt. Whitney

There have been a number of regroups in my life but it is backpacking that made me hyper-aware of the seriousness of shifting the plan. When Shelli and I talked about “plan As” gone awry, we agreed wholeheartedly on one profound thing. Frequently, glorious, stunning moments and significant life-changes result from a whomp of unexpectedness. Nothing is clearer – when miles from help – than the fact that food, water, and shelter are the only things necessary to survival. Last fall, my guy and I sat on a bus bound for our Yosemite trailhead as snow and sleet quickly turned us from swaggering Half Dome hikers into lily-livered, cry-babies. When the bus driver announced that the road had been closed and we’d have to spend the night in a hotel, we threw ourselves in each other’s arms and sobbed with relief or at least half of us reacted this way.

A shift in plan is unsettling initially but it is what transpires afterward that can elevate us into a realm we did not anticipate. When in the backcountry, we are at the mercy of the elements and strategizing, in the face of adversity, exercises our courage and tenacity muscles of which mine are the consistency of jelly.

A solo trip up Mt. Whitney strengthened my tenacity muscle and brought respect for the wrath Mother Nature wields when I found myself racing a lightning storm to get below the tree line. I won and as silly as it may sound, I grew from the face-off with electricity in the raw. I had planned carefully, consulted the Rangers about weather, and adjusted by starting my climb at 11:30pm (cough, cough, permit allowed for midnight entry). I hiked all night through the dark rather than at sunrise and this had me staring down imaginary bears and serial killers most of the night. I was alone until 6am when I came across a 65-year-old hiker who literally was the reason I was able to summit. He asked how my head felt and I replied that it hurt. He then instructed me to “HURRY!” as the current altitude of 12,000 was just an appetizer for the pain my head would encounter at 14,508 and I would have to outrun the oncoming altitude sickness or turn back. He was right. I made the summit with a naughty headache and upset stomach and hurried down in an attempt to alleviate nausea and beat the approaching storm.

Highest point in the lower 48
Highest point in the lower 48

At the bottom, I felt empowered but I also felt humbled. My new respect for the mountain and the possibility of shift was something I carried with me the next two times I climbed Mt. Whitney as I had learned that multi-day, as opposed to 24-hour trek, was the way to manage altitude sickness. A later summit with a cousin and two teens was dramatically different, gifting me with a clear head, settled stomach, and glorious weather.

Glorious weather was not to be for Shelli and her group and their Mt. Whitney adventure (see blog here) was tricky with the addition of a snowstorm and regroup. The photos of the fairytale snow on the following day had me smiling and remembering last weekend when the boy and I left the Dow Villa Motel and headed up to Horseshoe Meadows. After sharing one of the Whitney Portal’s ENORMOUS pancakes and, friends, this is very much on a dime – we headed up the recently opened road. Horseshoe Meadows sits at 10,000 feet and it is beyond stunning. If there was a North Pole heaven, this would be it. Our regroup proved magical despite the boy having terribly ineffective shoes on his tiny (size 11) feet and the clean air and breathtaking scenery made “Plan B” an A+.

Teri trail2

Tree sculpture

If magic is what you are dreaming of, the list of possibilities is endless. If pulling off an adventure has you dreaming but nervous, call Shelli. And if it seems I am selling her services, it’s because I am. For free. I get no commission beyond the satisfaction that you are in good hands. Hands that will work with yours when it’s regroup time and clap loudly when you forge ahead and rock your regroup with some hard-earned sass and a saucy wink.

Please keep us in the loop on your adventures if you Tweet, Instagram and/or Facebook, we’re regrouping all the time in those arenas as well.

Rock on! Life Is In Session.

Ego? Check

Several years ago I was out on uneven terrain, trail running (I use “running” loosely) and decided to finish up with a graceful, downhill sprint (I use “sprint” loosely). About the exact moment I was feeling one with nature, like a deer in flight – I tripped and quite literally sailed upward, executing the most stunning jackknife dive ever witnessed by – absolutely no one. Thank you ego talisman. And when two unaware runners approached minutes later and greeted me cheerfully, I answered with a lofty wave and then tucked my hand behind my back as one finger was noticeably pointing the wrong direction, another was sideways. Final tally, one fainting spell in my firefighter neighbor’s car on the way to the ER, eight weeks in a cast, and a permanently bent finger but by golly, the ego was uninjured.

20 mile Big Sur backpacking trip w/ 2 kids, a cousin, and a cast

And this brings us to the experience of adventure and a wish for all travelers. A desire that the healthy (puffed up) ego of a mediocre runner, hiding radically broken fingers, not dictate your feeling about your excursion. A run or hike should be yours and yours alone, not a comparison to how someone else has done it. In other words, just do it, your version of it. Throw on some tennis shoes, find a lovely spot, and take stroll or jog or bike ride and just enjoy your time, on your terms.

We here at On A Dime have done some things that sound pretty exciting but what was not apparent in the photos most usually, were the moments of supreme stupidity or the breakdowns, the tiffs, the tantrums and then the way all of my compadres acted when I was not at my best. There is a reason I don’t let them carry the camera. The imperfect times are fodder for future laughter but, in the moment, they are not fun. I have slept in terrible sleeping bags (note to you, don’t sleep at 10,000 feet in any bag with Cinderella on it), worn ridiculous clothing, and been really hungry due to inane food choices (note to you, dehydrated Indian food at 10,000 feet is not pretty).

My ego survived the jackknife dive but was happily shelved the time the trail was lost in Yosemite. Navigating in snow, I am certain, is precisely why Hansel and Gretel wound up needing a dentist and a police report. The trips with the gorgeous photos have a witchy underside that thankfully fades a bit over time. And the second my ego starts twerking like a – not well thought out – Grammy performance, I usually face-plant in three feet of snow as I did while calling over my shoulder to two of my teens to “walk exactly as I am and follow in my footsteps”. Yes, that really happened and yes, they caught it in a glorious photo.

I now am lucky to encounter footsteps that I wish to follow in. The launch of On A Dime Adventure has opened up an entire world of fellow travelers that I admire and am inspired by. One such adventurer and writer, Lisa Beliveau, sails through life literally and figuratively and her beautiful essay on her initiation into rock climbing left me smiling and joyful.  PINK TOES is an account that celebrates the poetry of the journey as the pinnacle and the arrival as simply the outcome.

A friend who’d had taken the class said,

“Don’t worry. The first climb gets rained out. You’ll just go to breakfast.”

Twelve weeks in, I’d made it through the skills outings—though my inexperience had been noted. I was training but still worried about fitness, the weight of my pack, keeping up.

The day arrived. It didn’t rain. I had an hour. I’d packed, repacked, weighed my food, even purchased Dental Dots to replace brush and paste. Dan, our instructor, would soon arrive in his Escort, which, with five climbers shoehorned in and gear atop in a RocketBox, looked comical as a Volkswagen Beetle full of clowns.

Check out the entire essay. You will be happy you did and – if not inspired to sign up for rock climbing – you’ll most assuredly be donning pink nail polish and getting to know Lisa over at her blog I Sold My Pearls To Do It.

At 14, I convinced my parents to let me sell my add-a-pearl necklace to buy my first boat. The pearls versus the boat as means of 14-year-old-gal empowerment was no contest.    ~Lisa Beliveau

On A Dime Adventure was created to share ideas on increasing quality moments without spending a fortune but we want to take this opportunity to disclose that our motto “Life Is In Session” does not mean life is perfect. The next time you fall flat on your face, go ahead, make sure nothing is broken, that your ego is unharmed, and then take your pink toes and carry on.

We saved our blog post on regrouping for this coming Saturday as it feels to be part two of Ego? Check.

Photos below appear quite lovely but include a couple of lines revealing the ego fail. 🙂

Boy Crazy

Yes, I am boy crazy. I admit it, I like the guys and – with only a few exceptions in my life – I’ve found them to be overwhelmingly authentic and noble. I’ve had the supreme luck of being surrounded by an entire posse of incredible men (some family, some chosen family, a great ex, loyal cousins, inspirational friends, a wonderful guy, and on and on) but there’s one in particular that has been a cause for celebration since day one. Well, when he’s not a cause for sending me to an island until he’s grown.

Noah baby

This post is to celebrate adventuring with the guys in your life but most especially focuses on camping with a little guy. My “little” guy is now taller than I am and almost fifteen so this week when I casually mentioned camping, I figured he’d politely decline in favor of a 72- hour weekend playing Xbox – he’s falling behind in this and really needs to apply himself. Shockingly, he signed on for the great outdoors.

Noah and Mom

The Xbox fan’s sisters were the trailblazers in camping and backpacking in the family and he only tagged along when I bribed him with candy and they only tolerated their little brother when I bribed them with large amounts of cash.

On a particular trip with one sister and me, the little guy crankily agreed to abandon the campsite and sleep on the beach, under the stars – this was clearly not his idea. When we woke, I cheerfully chirped, “Wow! Sleeping out was great. It was not too cold or too damp or too uncomfortable” at which point the poor guy popped out of his sleeping bag and, in his prepubescent cracking voice, wailed, “It was ALL of those to me” He regretted this outburst about twenty times that day when his sister would hang over the backseat and squeak exaggeratedly, “It was ALL of those to me!”

As the little guy gained a foot in height, he discovered photography and this, coupled with the deepening of his voice, turned him into a stellar camper. We seemed to almost reverse roles when his bass overrode my soprano and he was able to keep me in line.

I am known far and wide for outdoor skills that include unexpectedly wandering off trail, the inability to see “do not enter” signs, and an enviable talent for sinking a car in clearly marked sand. It takes just the precise combo of ignoring warnings and strategic off-road maneuvering and voila! Tenacity At Mono Lake would be the title of that adventure.

Car + Sand = oops
Car + Sand = oops

Post Mono Lake car sinking – as I sprung from the car hysterically yelling “Oh no, oh no, it’s quicksand and the sun is setting” – the little guy never even blinked. He waited a moment and then gave me a withering look I recognized as the one I’d used on him during toddler tantrums.

“Mom, this is not 127 HOURS. We are four miles from town and you have cell service and an ATM card. We’ll have pizza delivered and I’ll take a photo, captioned “Saharan crisis” that you can post immediately because you also have WIFI here”

He then proceeded to dig the car out while I took photos of a glorious sunset that he pointed out to distract me.


With that trauma laid to rest, I noticed the reflective lake at a distance. As the sun sank, I tore out – camera in hand – with the boy calling after me. Darkness came swiftly and, photos taken, I turned back toward the car? Or uh toward the vast, empty, PITCH landscape! Ruh roh! This time around he just sighed, took the lead, and called over his shoulder, “I figured on this so I marked in my head where the car is, follow me”  As the responsible grown-up, I was happy to bring up the rear.

Sunset Mono Lake
Sunset Mono Lake

A few years ago on a camp weekend, I was noting the loss of the little guy’s babyhood and the onset of adulthood when I glanced over and treasured his infant face – sound asleep. In his hand he clutched a souvenir. One vial of instant snow.


So this weekend, as we hit the road for the Mount Whitney area, I am counting on him to make the fires, decipher the maps, and keep me out of trouble and in exchange I plan on gifting him with some instant snow.

Go camping with the kids, the memories are priceless. Below are photos, titled with the locales, of a few of our adventures.


Pack Only Your Zen

Dear On A Dime travelers, I am an almost rehabilitated over-packer. Like a celebrity’s “clean and sober” weekend with twins, I tend to teetotal pack only to fall off the wagon by loading twin pieces of souvenir granite into the backseat of my car, of course only where it is permissible. It’s hard to outrun rangers with boulders slowing vehicle movement, not that I would know about that personally.

 And speaking of movement, there is an interesting one sweeping the land and we’re applying it to travel. Minimalism is the new kid in town and it feels in sync with On A Dime Adventure’s mission to travel simply and without breaking the bank although the mantra of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists might – at first glance – seem frivolous to the financially conservative crowd. Their 20/20 rule goes something like this, “Most everything can be replaced for $20 within 20 minutes”. These guys assert that the possible, small amount of money spent in a moment of “oops” outweighs the insanity of an overstuffed suitcase as well as an overstuffed life. They also make the point that, barring the extreme; generally people are within 20 minutes of a business that can replace for $20 or less whatever is needed. Socks, underwear, a pair of sweat pants, a blender…

 …Blender? Guilty. Yes I have been tempted to take along luxury items on camping trips. Fine, I have taken luxury items on camping trips. A cousin once considered poisoning me after I pranced to the top of Clouds Rest in Yosemite and bragged loudly about being first. He quickly busted me down to size with “Hey there Champion, does this ring a bell, ‘first is the worst, second is the best, and third is the one in the polka dot dress’. It’s your favorite chant when you’re in the polka dot dress.” And then to add insult to injury – in front of many other hikers – he tossed a large throw pillow at me that oddly resembled one from my couch back in the city and declared, “you’re first because someone else was carrying what fell out of your pack, Kim Kardashian.” I briefly considered trying to deny it but was afraid he’d demand a thorough inventory of my pack at which point the matching pillow and personal massager would give me away. So sue me, I have an irritable back and I like my pillows in pairs. And if I ever climb Everest, I will educate my pair of Sherpas on the seriousness of neck support. This dream is but one of many.

 In another fantasy, I pack only the exact amount of clothing I will wear on a trip, leave behind my aromatic oils, and return from the outback with slight body odor and a small wallaby. In this dream I am relaxed, joyful, and fully experiencing every second as my many – in the moment –  Facebook selfies with the wallaby attest.

Some fantasies may require an intervention and luckily help is out there. Courtney Carver creator of Be More With Less, Life On Purpose gave this descriptive of a recent getaway to France in her article 5 Ways To Make Anything Easier.

“I spent the last leg of my trip last month in Paris alone. I didn’t have wifi outside of my apartment, and had no idea where I was going or what I was doing. I was excited about the trip, but I also thought it might be hard and it was sometimes. I got lost and delayed, and sometimes felt a little unsure about myself.  In between the very few hard parts though, were the amazing experiences pictured above. I had time to start to my day slowly and drink espresso while writing in the most beautiful parks and cafes. I saw amazing works of art in the Louvre and the L’Orangerie and enjoyed watching artists create new works of art by the river. Being alone gave me time to appreciate the simple things in one of the grandest cities of all.”

Courtney Carver is not alone as fellow minimalist, Tammy Strobel, of Rowdy Kittens (see her tips and stunning photos in our Tahoe article), also celebrates simplicity every single day and the stunning feeling of a large exhale is both palpable and seductive. These innovators walk a walk that is not about going without but rather shines the light on deliberate choice. They pack into their suitcases and into their lives only what is meaningful. And friends, if you really want to get radical, check out Colin Wright. This minimalist pared down everything he owns to 51 items and spends his time traveling the world. He journeys to a new country every four months and has visited the 48 contiguous states not once but twice and this guy is not yet thirty.

 Our quest to become gentle and lightweight travelers is still in its infancy at On A Dime but this week it appears we’ve been handed a challenge. In addition to a streamlined backpacking excursion in Yosemite slated for June, in December we will travel Europe for an On A Dime Adventure totaling about 15-16 days and we will only be carrying backpacks. My guy is joining and he has been known to check extra shoes, golf clubs, and a charcoal grill. In other words, he is a fellow packing-addict and enabler and this – being a winter trip – has his love of high-end backpacking clothing and gadgetry being severely tested. The gauntlet has been thrown and we will document our attempt – once we find an airline that will accommodate multiple cameras, tripods, and reflectors as we hear light can be a problem at the Eiffel Tower.

 Want more simplicity? Check out the site links in our article as the minimalists are living a dream and it’s available to all of us on whatever level syncs with our psyche. And if you crave some extra Zen, check out Tammy Strobel’s new book My Morning View. It is a healthy dose of relaxation and a reminder that life is in session all over the place, every single day.

 *The photos we chose for this article were taken during moments of abundant tranquility and not much luggage.

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Spring Green

Well it’s official, spring has sprung and this post is being joyfully flung far and wide with its creator in absentia.

 As I provide the rear supervision (hike the slowest) for a trekking expedition in Kings Canyon, the true big brains behind On A Dime Adventure does a Risky Business dance and declares open season on the site. So if you have any challenge with navigation this weekend, just know that unlike the wizard from Oz, my guy is truly turning the knobs and making it happen. His genius flourishes best without his sidekick, Dorothy, applying the three clicks of the heels philosophy to website design which translates to repeatedly and randomly punching computer keys faster and more assertively (aggressively) with no change in outcome. It is at this point that my guy usually quotes the definition of insanity to me… repeatedly. He always follows this with his magic touch of calm otherwise known as humble and absolute success.

 This weekend’s focus is on springtime’s success when she takes center stage and elbows winter into wallflower category. The photos with this post are all from Oklahoma with the top dragonfly image captured on a dreamy Saturday morning at Lake Texoma. I spent hours, camera in hand, watching this magical, freebie show as I sipped cafe con leche – yes I am bilingual when it comes to coffee. My first twenty-five springs were spent there and the many hues of seasonal green trumpet a significant change in energy and aura. To the folks weary of the cold, a return of longer days and warmer weather is as welcome as Miley Cyrus keeping her tongue out of the spotlight and in her mouth.

 Fly in to the Midwest in the spring, look out the plane window, and you will immediately be transfixed by the patchwork-quilted landscape. Rusts, golds, greens, it is these colors as well as the stunningly simple and ever so sweet photos that float across my Facebook of infant bunnies sleeping in a hayloft, a newborn donkey named Kong, and a lapful of baby piglets that announce that life is profoundly in session. I am grateful for the “salt of the earth” friends who recognize that Nielsen ratings and cliffhanger season finales are man-made entities and pale in comparison to Mother Nature’s springtime showers and heading to a river to catch a mess of rainbow trout.

Patchwork Oklahoma from the air

Happy spring and Life Is In Session!

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Sunsets and Sand Dollars

Though sand dollars are unique to the beach and ocean, sunsets are happening everywhere, every evening, and they cannot be bought or sold.

To all you sunset (or sunrise) lovers, grab your camera and enjoy an art show that you can’t put a price tag on.

If you have questions about photography, check out our article at On A Dime Adventure.

Moss Landing Parking $0

Scott sunset

Teri Moss Landing

Sunset Moss Landing


One Man’s Tumbleweed

One man’s tumbleweed is another man’s treasure. While driving through Nevada as 100mph wind gusts practically sailed the kayaks and car into a field, the treasure hunt of a lifetime appeared. You see, this adventurer has for some time coveted the very elusive, almost endangered, tumbleweed. Yes tumbleweed – don’t question it.

 So while my guy slapped on some chaps, entered a gale force storm, and roped two kayaks, I donned spurs and wrestled a rogue tumbleweed to the ground. It now rides in the back seat, giving off what one of us deemed an “odor” and the other lovingly called herbal.

 The reattachment of the kayaks, now referred to as sails for White Lightning (a big britches Hyundai), and the addition of the thorny souvenir had my guy smiling and shaking his head sweetly. Sweetly is the perfect descriptive according to a dear friend whose mischievous auto correct inquired how “sweet pie” and I were faring. My guy instantly acquired a new and very deserved, nickname.

 On A Dime strives to save money whether we’re talking accommodations or souvenirs but one thing to note for you fellow travelers, having a “sweet pie” who makes room for a prickly, back seat addition and grins all the way, is key to the success of any adventure.

 Photos below are of Virginia City, an unexpected jewel. This Wild West destination is an upcoming On A Dime Adventure article.

Saint Mary Catholic Church in the mountains. Nevada’s oldest Catholic church, built in 1860.
Queen (1)
Silver Queen. Dress made up of 3,261 silver dollars.
One man’s tumbleweed is another man’s treasure