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We live in a fantastic world where we carry amazing devices around with us everywhere! Free aps have made us all recording artists, video stars and photographers, what a world. Unfortunately, there are people who genuinely think that the quick snap they take with their new iPhone or Samsung is the same as the carefully set up image captured on a $4,000 camera by a photographer with years of training and experience. So, let’s talk about some of the differences.
Although there are natural photographers, people who just seem to have both the eye and the luck to get the right shot, most photographers are not only trained but also have an amazing amount of experience. Digital cameras may have made taking images faster, but they still do not detract from the amount of time it actually takes to get the right shot (anyone who has ever been in a wedding party when a good photographer has been hired knows just what can be involved and how long it takes).

Specialist Skills
Although the person taking pics with their phone can shot everything from selfies to landscapes to that cute thing their dog is doing, photographers tend to specialize in the type of photography services they offer. Of course, photographers are trained to be able to capture images and work with lighting anywhere, but there are vast differences to taking images in a closed studio, product shots using a lightbox, model shoots at the beach or family shots on location. Each requires different knowledge of lens, lighting, positioning, angles and reflections in order to get the most out of the subject. When you’re looking at on location shoots a professional photographer in Phoenix, AZ understands the local environment, which has different conditions that might be found in Denver, CO. Having someone who understands your locality is important.

Event Photography
Often people will think of wedding photography when you mention event photography, but there is so much more than that. In the age of cell phones you may think that the candid shots are all you will need to remember that special party, bridal shower or even corporate launch. However, one of the things that photographers are trained in is how to capture the images you want. Candid shots are great, but you do want to make sure that you get key moments – and that they capture your good side. Photographers will generally survey a location before the event to work out where the light falls and where to stand to get the best shots. Whether that is the bride-to-be hugging her future mother in law, the company president walking to the podium, or a reunion class group shot.

The people attending the event are there because they want to be there, to celebrate with you, to remember, to learn. They aren’t focused on capturing the rapt expression, the shining applause, the faces that you will always want to remember.

Portraits
These can be on location or in the studio. From a family portrait that will be a cherished memory for years to come, to action shots that highlight your skills, or corporate photographs that can are used in company marketing to highlight your talented team. Portraits are one of the oldest forms of photography (click here), and although you may still see the traditional seated shot, generally photographers try to capture a more unique version of their subject. Unlike original portraiture which required subjects to stay perfectly still for a long period, modern photography can take hundreds of images in that same time – so smiling is completely optional.

Did you know that most photographers will still use lighting and reflectors on outdoor shoots? Knowing how to use light to bring the best in your subject is one of the signs of an experienced and knowledgeable photographer.

Product Photography
Having your products photographed well can make all the difference to your sales. Even if you sell 100% in store, having beautiful imagery in any marketing document (including your website and social media streams) brings potential customers through your doors. Again, lighting is a key component, but so is having access to equipment like backdrops, screens and lightboxes.  Although stories abound about tricks used to make fast food look good https://www.thisisinsider.com/food-photo-tricks-2017-9 photographers do know how changing the focus can highlight a product, and the importance of a background.

Your product photographer is able to provide true to life images of your product that most people just can’t capture – and certainly not on their quick phone snaps.
Article written by Tara
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Drug testing is a reality that we have to live with in today’s world. There are many situations where you will be required to assent to one form of drug testing or another. Though individual employers can decide that they want to have drug testing as part of their pre-employment or regular evaluation and promotion process, there are certain industries where these tests are almost always a requirement. Some of these include the defense, transportation, aviation, safety and transit industries.
You can read more about this here.

These drug tests can come in various forms, examples of which include saliva drug test, sweat drug test, blood drug test, urine drug test and our focus today – hair follicle drug test. These tests are usually used to determine the usage of some controlled substances.

Examples of some of these substances include: Alcohol, Cocaine (crack, coke), Amphetamines (meth, ecstasy, crank, speed), Phencyclidine (angel dust, PCP), Opiates (opium, heroin, morphine, codeine), THC (marijuana, cannabinoids, hash), Barbiturates (butalbital, phenobarbital, downers, secobarbital), Methaqualone (Quaaludes), Benzodiazepines (tranquilizers such as Valium, Xanax, Librium).

Others include: Propoxyphene (Darvon compounds), Methadone (usually used in the treatment of heroin addiction), Inhalants (paint, hairspray, glue), Hallucinogens (mushrooms, LSD, peyote, mescaline), MDMA (Ecstasy), Anabolic steroids, Hydrocodone (Lortab, Oxycodone, Vicodin).

What You Should Know about Hair Follicle Drug Tests
Since we are focusing on hair follicle drug testing, there are a few things you should know about it. This type of testing is one you should worry about the most. It’s not as common as the urine or saliva drug tests. However, should your employer or prospective employer ever ask for a hair follicle test, then be scared.

The reasons is that of all the different types of drug testing methods, this method can show drug usage from as far back as 90 days before the test. For most other drugs, testing methods, they can show drug usage from between 24 hours to about 30 days.

90 days is a whole lot of time. You will think that little indiscretions from that long ago should be left to the past. However, it is not your call. If your employer of prospective employer decides that they want to know if you’ve had some sniffs in the last 3 months, their best option will be to do for a hair follicle test.

Before you begin to shit your pants, know that 90 days is not fixed. It is largely based on the type of drugs you took and the quantity you took. Other factors such as frequency of use, your body weight and how much you exercise (your lifestyle) will also affect how long the residue of the drugs will remain in your hair follicles.

People who use very frequently, are overweight and hardly ever workout will have more to be afraid of as the residue is likely to remain in their system for the longest.

Is that the end of the matter for these ones?

Most certainly not!

We will now look at how to pass this test even with the odds stacked against you.
Article written by Shynet
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The internet has become synonymous with twenty-first century lifestyle. There is hardly any activity that does not have an online component. Electronic appliances and devices are increasingly interconnected via the World Wide Web. If they aren’t now, they will surely be soon.
It’s not as hard to be connected from the world around you via the web. What’s hard instead is to disconnect from it. The news is disseminated using it. Our messaging systems – email, WhatsApp, and so forth – depend on it. How then could we talk of living without it. Not having access is worrying. In fact, anxiety and stress levels go up when we are without a link to our emerging virtual reality.

As unrelated as it might seem, boating increasingly demands connecting to this virtual reality. Going on a cruise with family makes it more of a necessity than a luxury. There are ways however, to retain access to YouTube, Twitch, and your Netflix subscriptions while sailing. The solutions mostly depend on price range and your specific situation, but there is guaranteed to be a solution tailored to you.

Staying connected at sea with full internet capable of streaming movies and shows, with one of three main options:
  1. Marina WiFi
  2. Amplified cellular data
  3. Satellite


Option #1 – Marina WiFi
For those sailing close enough to shore, a fairly common option is to use WiFi provided at most marinas. This option is also the least expensive of the three. The first thing you need to know however, is that signal quality is highly variable.

Another issue with marina WiFi is that even at maximum signal strength, the quality rapidly diminishes as one pull away from the shore. There is a WiFi booster antenna (extender) though that can help retain the signal strength for longer.

Not all WiFi extenders are made equal, so the distance you experience over which the signal can be strengthened may differ from the manufacturer’s claims. A combination of strong WiFi signal, excellent weather conditions, minimal interference, and a direct-line-of-site are often important to attain the manufacturer’s claimed distance. That said, extenders would generally improve WiFi signal range greatly even if there are any variations between distances claimed and the actual range experienced.

There are popular models of marine WiFi booster antennas and extenders and setting them up ordinarily requires a good deal of technical sophistication, especially now that it’s a boat environment. This means extra equipment might be required for a complete installation. The basic equipment remains the same anyway.

Option #2 – Amplified cellular data
It is possible there’s no WiFi available. There is no need to get too anxious. Your cell phone company will likely offer a data/LTE (Long Term Evolution) plan. Simply switch to that and boost the signal further. Your mobile internet is available on your boat for as much as 8-10 miles away from the shore.

The required tools to set this up includes:
  1. SIM card – Often available from the cell company. You will need a data plan for your needs. Some cellphone companies offer regional data plans, so it may be wise to purchase a SIM for the area in question. Others offer international data plans and rates.
  2. Modem to read the SIM card
  3. Marine cellular booster antenna for improved signal reception
  4. Cellular signal amplifier to amplify signal strength

Concerning SIM cards, many companies provide international SIM cards usable globally. Purchasing local SIM cards may be more cheaper and provide superior service quality. As you switch between areas, you can swap them out of your modem for better service.
Unlocked modems that can read SIM cards for more carriers (cell phone companies) are usually preferable, especially if visiting various regions. Unlocked modem versions are sold online.
Regardless of whether you use WiFi or a cell connection, a router is needed to “route“ the internet to your device. Many routers provide the option to switch automatically between WiFi and cell connection, whichever is available. Priority is however given to WiFi.

Using a router, you can bring WiFi and cell data internet on one module and transmit the signal to your devices. Once you rein in the signal from either WiFi or cell data booster antennas and convert properly, a router is the means through which you will share this signal to all your devices on-board.


Option #3 – Satellite
If you are close enough to shore, the previous two options – marina WiFi and cell data, with appropriate equipment – will suffice. But knowing your knack for adventure, you’d soon be cruising beyond 10 miles away from shore. This is out of hotspot range and you will need to settle for satellite internet.

Satellite internet options are the most stable for boating purposes and are available in almost any location, but the biggest snag is the heavy price tag. No other option comes close at all. It is worth the expense if you can afford it though.

The satellite dish alone will set you back a minimum of $1,500, and in some cases up to $50,000. Monthly rates are equally high – a truly premium service at premium price. This article will help you compare marines satellite solutions and pricing.


A note on WiFi boosters
If you’re only using one laptop or desktop computer, simply boost marina WiFi signal with a signal booster made up of a waterproof high-gain antenna and a long cable, terminating in a USB connector. This takes priority over the PC’s internal Wi-Fi card once the USB is plugged in. You can select and connect to your preferred WiFi hotspot using the software user interface supplied with the antenna.
There are two variants of high-gain antennae – directional and omni-directional. The directional type often comes as a flat box holding a simple flat plate or two within. It can be inclined towards the preferred signal source, basically tuning it to the transmitter.
The omni-directional is often a tubular pole type and does not require any such alignment in any particular direction.

The equipment for on-board internet access like other marines services accessories can be readily purchased online. So, plan your cruise for wherever you want it to be and stay connected just like you were on land.

Article written by James
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In a time where many prescription drugs have been shown to cause as many side effects as they claim to cure, if not more, some natural medicines have shown promise in the replacement of harmful and addictive pharmaceuticals. One of the most exciting and versatile of these medicines is that of CBD, a once outlawed substance that is now proving to be changing lives*. CBD is one of many cannabinoids or compounds found in cannabis (also known as marijuana), each with their own healing, soothing or therapeutic effect. You may be thinking: "yikes, this article is about illegal drugs…" And I’d have to say that you’re wrong. But let me explain...
For decades, the U.S. government had propagandized cannabis among the masses, claiming that it will make you crazy, evil, and lustful, among many other ridiculous claims. But now with the advent of the internet, times are changing, and because of access to new information, old minds are changing and young minds are finding truth before the lies, and so with new minds comes a new vision and a new understanding. Not only was the government wrong about cannabis, they ruined millions of lives in the process. But now that times are changing, it’s important to understand the proper use of cannabis, because like most psychoactive substances, abuse is possible. Although, cannabis as been shown to be very kind to the human body and mind, even when abused in excess.

It’s important to understand the differences in each of the cannabinoids, though we know little about many of the other compounds found only in marijuana, the truth about CBD has been proven; so much so that it is now legal in all 50 states. There is THC, which is the psychotropic chemical found in the female flowering portions of the cannabis plant, which does indeed ‘get you high.’ THC is only legal in the states that have legalized cannabis or medical marijuana. But CBD is now available in most states, which is huge news for many suffering from a myriad of health issues and other debilitating diseases. The difference is that CBD doesn’t get you high, at most you may feel a calmness, which if you’re like me (who suffers from crippling anxiety at times) is a godsend.

While all health claims are based purely on personal experience, most people who try CBD find that it may help with calmness, anxiety, sleep and appetite right off the bat. CBD is the non-psychotropic cannabinoid found in hemp, the male non-flowering part of the plant, which has been found to have inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects, as well as sedating, hypnotic, anti-epileptic and anti-dystonic effects, among other healing attributes. CBD does not ‘get you high,’ as they say, but it will relax you, soothe pain, help regulate sleep patterns, control certain cancers, stimulates bone growth, and stops the growth of bacteria, as well as it suppresses muscle spasms and convulsions, slows inflammation, reduces blood sugar levels, reduces the risk of artery obstructions, decreases pressure in the blood vessel walls, helps control epileptic seizures, reduces risk of nerve damage, and eases nausea.

I recently teamed up with the wonderful folks at CannaWell in the UK, and they were kind enough to send two of their oils for testing. Their latest products consist of an all organic hemp line of extracts that can be used as a food supplement. I haven’t come across another CBD line that can claim ‘organic,’ so I found that to be particularly exciting. The difference being that both the strain of hemp, as well as the growth process, and the production of the extract is done organically, so no chemicals and no GMO nastiness.

CannaWell’s Organic Hemp CBD 10% tincture and Balance 10% tincture consists of organic hemp extract and hemp seed oil, and that’s all. The CBD 10% differs from the Balance 10%, because the Balance includes other cannabinoids, like CBD, CBDA, with traces of CBG, CBC, CBV, which essentially creates an entourage effect, where by the CBD works better in the body and the sensation feels more balanced and encompassing.

Each is guaranteed for its potency and purity, which is a beautiful thing, especially when you consider how harmful toxins and chemicals are to our bodies. You wouldn’t want your medicine laced with traces of things that will harm you. You take a medicine to feel better, not to make things worse. That’s why I prefer self-healing with plants, herbal medicine and natural extracts like CannaWell’s organic line.

I found the CBD Balance 10% to be the finer of the two, because of those extra cannabinoids, but to be straight with you, I don’t think there was a massive difference in them, and believe the choice between the two is simply up to how your body responds. Your need will also factor into which might work best for you. I noticed when I have a bad day and take around 25mg, sometimes more, then I feel relaxed, as if my baseline had shifted to be more positive and balanced. On nights that sleep alluded me, the CBD assisted me in my ability to ease anxiety, while keeping me in a sedated state. When my back pain reared its ugly head, a higher dose eased the pain away and relaxed me.

If you would like to find out more about CannaWell, click here.



*This article is for entertainment use, and should not replace the diagnoses of any disease or the subscribing of any medication. Always consult with your doctor or a medical professional for any and all health-related advice.

​(Photo by or agriculture via Flickr)
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This article presents the basic algorithm of actions that you need to follow when creating and optimizing a landing page. Perhaps someone examples listed above could look quite simple but do not underestimate them. Return to this post the next time you will be creating a landing page. Simple rules will save you from mistakes and help bring the visitor to the conversion.
Step O. Meet the target audience
Do you really know your customers or just think you know them? For a better understanding of the audience before you begin to making the landing page, experts advise to conduct research and find out how your potential consumers live.

Here are some possible research questions:
  • Tell about your age, job, position, etc.
  • What are you using our product for?
  • What advantages of the product could you highlight?
  • Are you considering any alternatives to our product? Why?​​
These questions will help you find out what the analyst is not telling you about. Based on the responses received, you will be able to start creating a landing page that will meet audience expectations. After all, one of the biggest problems in the design and optimization of landing pages is the lack of understanding of who your visitors are. This is where understanding landing page psychology can be the difference in winning a conversion or losing the prospect forever.

Create a compelling headline to draw visitors in
To capture visitors’ attention immediately and keep them engaged on your page long enough to evaluate your offer, you need a compelling headline. Speak directly to the benefits of your product or service and how it fulfills an essential need for your prospect.

One technique to use is the focusing effect.
The focusing effect is the tendency of people to place too much emphasis on one thing at the expense of others. When it comes to your landing page headline, though, you can use this to your advantage.

Your product or service likely has many benefits, but highlighting your unique value proposition (UVP) in your headline helps prospects focus strongly on that one feature. In turn, your UVP encourages them to click your CTA button.



Article written by Ann
(Photo by williamhook via Flickr)
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Student life does not give time to laziness, all the time the student is busy with studies, entertainment, work and not always enough time to even sleep. Studying takes most of this time. Using essay writing service, students can devote time not only to study, but also to their favorite affairs or work. Given that, students do not always have extra money. That is why they have to look for ways to buy cheap essay online. So what is advantages of buying original essays for cheap:
When buying an essay for cheap you can be sure that you save your nerves and forget about stress and save your money
The tendency to use cheap and reliable essay writing services is growing rapidly among students all over the world. Many students have difficulty writing their essay, so they choose the academic service to complete it.

You can be sure that the work will be done by a professional in a short time, regardless of the degree of complexity
You will save yourself from performing complex tasks that take a lot of personal time. To help students write essays and other assignments, these services are available worldwide. Winning free time, you can spend it with friends or with your family.

Experts guarantee the execution of the essay on time and a good price
A specialist performing the work ensures that you receive your essay according to your wishes at affordable prices. The essay authors of such companies are working effectively to complete the work within a specified time. You receive your essay according to your needs. And it will be done in time.

You get a discount on the first order and a unique text
You can always contact the service representatives to evaluate the cost of the essay writing service. The authors are professionals with extensive experience. They create interesting and unique texts. You will write an essay on any topic and will do everything possible to achieve the best result in this particular task.

You will receive high-quality and affordable service from anywhere in the world where there is access to the Internet
For assistance, the student should just send a message to the site’s email or call the number indicated. Experts will certainly help the student get good grades. The authors of the essay are highly qualified specialists who are well versed in writing skills, they will help the student to improve his score at the university. Service staff can also be contacted directly in the chat, they will analyze your topic and find reliable resources to complete the task.

There is a free time from study
Now you will have more time that you can spend with family or leisure. And if you previously could not combine school and work, the service gives you such advantages for relatively some money. In this case, you will go about your business and not worry about homework, which will be done for you in the shortest possible time.

Writing an essay by such online services is absolutely legal
Such online services, which write an essay, position themselves as educational assistance. Of course, the main customers who use this service are students who improve their knowledge of subjects with the help of specialists and want to improve their grades. This is like a private tutoring offer. Students, like anyone else, should be interested in hiring such specialists. Timely execution of work should be an important point. Moreover, such companies are fully aware of the rules of plagiarism.

However, it should always be remembered that this service is intended in cases where there is absolutely no time and no other choice. Using of cheap online service to write an essay will make studying easier, save the student money and provide an opportunity to make student life brighter. Despite the use of such services students must believe in their capabilities.


​Article written by Alex
(Photo by 18614695@N00 via Flickr)
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The scene was vivid, yet pale, and all around me the harshness of winter had turned the usually thriving forest into a barren landscape of nothing animate but myself. Windswept snow clung to boulders and tree trunks, and ice hung low on their heavy branches. Sweet pine and woodland scent hung in the crisp air as I made my way deeper into the wilderness. It was deeper than I had anticipated, but I was managing like a well worn donkey with a carrot dangling in front of my face. So I slogged on through the bitter cold, mustering enough in me to force another step forward. And another, and another.
The weight of my pack pulled me down with each step. The wind whipped icy whip cracks against my face, cracking my lips and searing my eyes shut. I peered through bleary slits as I continued on. Frost had frozen to what remained of the grass beneath the carpet of snow, and it crackled beneath the tread of my boots. I went on like this, slow but steady, for what seemed like days. The only thing keeping me up were the thoughts of being warm in my sleeping bag, and a meal on a campfire.

Pine and rock cascaded all around me as I trekked up along a steep, slippery pass until an overlook expanded before me. The clouds parted, revealing a brilliant blue expanse that extended over the mountains and beyond for as far as I could see. Mountain peeks and crags littered the picturesque landscape, providing a deep contrast against the elements. The break in the weather filled me with a renewed energy and my pace quickened.

Eventually, I found a safe place beneath a patch of aspen trees. I unloaded my pack, then began clearing the snow from the area. I setup my Access 2 Tent quick, then rolled out my bedding before getting to work on a fire. I searched the area in a circle around my camp, finding fallen limbs and logs for firewood. I cleared a patch, pulling up the frozen grass and dead wildflowers, then I gathered bundles of brown pine needles and twigs, and arranged them on a patch of uncovered earth. I used flint and steel and struck them hard against one another to ignite a spark, which fell onto a ball of unwound jute twine. I cupped the jute in my hands and exhaled steadily until the ball burst into a reeling mass of flame. I placed the ball on the ground and covered it in dry needles and twigs, until the flame turned into a mini fire. From there, I worked the fire until it was large enough to cook a meal.

I spent the rest of the night enjoying the fire, and the stars. I came all this way to sit beneath the night sky, to experience the natural world, to see wildlife, and to simply find peace. The hustle and bustle of modern lifestyles had worn me thin, stressing my body and pushing my mind into a place I didn’t want to be. Depression and anxiety, and tension had worked its way in my life, controlling me until it had poisoned my very outlook on life. So I laid there, on the cold ground, beneath the trees and the cosmos, and I breathed in slow, meditating with each long drawn breath. I reconnected, feeling at peace, and filled with a deep sense of belonging.

I laid there for ages, taking in each twinkle the stars gifted me, and with each meteor that sliced the black sky, and with each, I said a prayer and thanked the animate force that’s in all life. Eventually, the stars blurred and my eyes grew heavy. Before retiring into the confines of my MSR 4-season tent, I covered my dwindling fire with a campfire defender cloth to keep the coals alive. I retreated into my -15 sleeping bag and let the sounds of the howling winds, the creaking trees, and the singing coyotes loll me into a peaceful sleep.

In the morning, it wasn’t the wind that woke me, nor a winter storm, but the snorting of a large creature outside the walls of my tent. I had missed the sunrise and cursed myself for it. The sun streamed in through the aspens and flooded my MSR tent with orange light that illuminated the silhouette of a huge, mammoth moose. His wide antlers were tremendous, and with each turn of his head they seemed to grow and elongate against the fabric of my tent. I feared he might trample me, but fear was overcome by curiosity and awe. I sat still, listening to his grunts, snorts and call until my eyes watered with the beauty of simply being near something so wonderful, powerful and enchanting.

The natural world is the most beautiful and powerful thing we have in this world, and even though humans have made an unconscious attempt at rivaling her, Mother Nature persists and will always persist, with or without us. Through the experience of fighting through the snowy mountains, experiencing the clear night sky at elevation, and being mere feet from something as miraculous and impressive as a bull moose. I am filled with wonder, that quickly turned to sadness, as I wonder if this place will be here next year, and the year after that. And the year after that…
Winter travel is not easy, but it can be extremely rewarding, because not only are you typically alone with Mother Nature, you are allowing yourself time to feel and experience her, and for her to work on you as well. So if you’re suffering from depression, anxiety or exhaustion from our modern lifestyle, then it’s a great opportunity to get away, to rebalance and recenter one’s self, as well as to make a deeper connection with this amazing planet we live on and were born from.

When I travel like this in winter extremes, I always take an absolute approach to planning, and packing, because one forgotten item and one mistake can have drastic consequences. So I plan for anything that could happen. I go so far that I pack a 2-way radio with weather alerts, a tent that can handle the extremes, multiple blades, and beyond. Basically, I come ready to stay awhile, just in case something major arises like taking one bad step and hurting myself, or being attacked by an wild animal, or being stuck in a freak flash storm.

I reached out to MSR before my latest winter trip and they were excited to team up on this story feature, and were willing to let me try out their Access 2 two-person, four-season tent, which is advertised as a ski touring tent, but is capable of being the perfect year round tent for anyone who backpacks, hikes the backcountry, and simply wants to grab this lightweight tent and wander the forest for a few days. The Access 2 is a versatile tent that’s built to be carried through the backcountry, for with its lightweight build, strong frame, quality fabric, and for how small it breaks down to, it’s a very capable extreme weather and extreme sports tent.

The Access 2 was built with creating the ultimate shelter for backcountry skiers, splitboarders, snowshoers and backpackers, and after working with this fine tent, I can see why they arrived at this design as their final creation. The limited mesh of the tent body offers greater warmth on frigid nights, while the ability to strip the cover allows for use during the warmer months. The first major detail is that the Access 2 only weighs a minuscule 4-pounds and packs up to 18x6-inches. But beyond that, I was surprised by the interior and how it’s spacious enough for two along with some additional gear, but what really took me by surprise was how quick the setup was. Overall, I found the Access 2 to be just the tent to get me through a winter backcountry trip, and I’ve returned safely, with a balanced mind and another wild experience under my belt.

If you would like to learn more about MSR, click here.
(Moose photo by tuchodi via Flickr)
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​Crisp pine and woodland aromas lingered on the cool winter air. Vivid but pale and glowing was the landscape all around me as the wind swept snow against the rocks, creating mounds around each tree trunk. It was deeper than I had anticipated, but I was managing…

Like a worn donkey with a carrot dangling overhead, I slogged on through the bitter cold, mustering enough in me to force another step forward. And another, and another. The weight of my pack, tent and gear pulled me down with each step. The wind whipped icy whip cracks against my face, cracking my lips and searing my eyes shut. I cracked them open, peering out through bleary slits, as I continued through the winter wilderness. Frost had frozen to what remained of the grass beneath the carpet of snow, and it crackled beneath the tread of my Keen Targhee boots. I went on like this, slow but steady, for what seemed like days. The only thing keeping me up were them boots.
Like a worn donkey with a carrot dangling overhead, I slogged on through the bitter cold, mustering enough in me to force another step forward. And another, and another. The weight of my pack, tent and gear pulled me down with each step. The wind whipped icy whip cracks against my face, cracking my lips and searing my eyes shut. I cracked them open, peering out through bleary slits, as I continued through the winter wilderness. Frost had frozen to what remained of the grass beneath the carpet of snow, and it crackled beneath the tread of my Keen Targhee boots. I went on like this, slow but steady, for what seemed like days. The only thing keeping me up were them boots.

Pine and rock cascaded all around me as I trekked up along a steep, slippery pass until an overlook expanded before me. The clouds parted, revealing a brilliant blue expanse that extended over the mountains and beyond for as far as I could see. Mountain peeks and crags littered the picturesque landscape, providing a deep contrast against the elements. The break in the weather filled me with a renewed energy and my pace quickened.
Eventually, I found a safe place beneath a patch of aspen trees. I unloaded my pack, then began clearing the snow from the area. I setup my tent, rolled out my bedding, and got to work on a fire. I searched the area in a circle around my camp, finding fallen limbs and logs for firewood. I cleared a patch, pulling up the grass and dead wildflowers, then I gathered bundles of brown pine needles and twigs, and arranged them on a patch of uncovered earth. I used flint and steel and struck them hard against one another to ignite a spark, which fell onto a ball of unwound jute twine. I cupped the jute in my hands and exhaled steadily until the ball burst into a reeling mass of flame. I placed the ball on the ground and covered it in dry needles and twigs, until the flame turned into a mini fire. From there, I worked the fire until it was large enough to cook a meal.

I spent the rest of the night enjoying the fire, and the stars. I came all this way to sit beneath the night sky, to experience the natural world, to see wildlife, and to simply find peace. The hustle and bustle of modern lifestyles had worn me thin, stressing my body and pushing my mind into a place I didn’t want to be. Depression and anxiety, and tension had worked its way in my life, controlling me until it had poisoned my very outlook on life. So I laid there, on the cold ground, beneath the trees and the cosmos, and I breathed in slow, meditating with each long drawn breath. I reconnected, feeling at peace, and filled with a deep sense of belonging.

I laid there for ages, taking in each twinkle the stars gifted me, and with each meteor that sliced the black sky, and with each, I said a prayer and thanked the animate force that’s in all life. Eventually, the stars blurred and my eyes grew heavy. Before retiring into the confines of my 4-season tent, I covered my dwindling fire with a campfire defender cloth to keep the coals alive. I retreated into my -15 sleeping bag and let the sounds of the howling winds, the creaking trees, and the singing coyotes loll me into a peaceful sleep.

In the morning, it wasn’t the wind that woke me, nor a winter storm, but the snorting of a large creature outside the walls of my tent. I had missed the sunrise and cursed myself for it. The sun streamed in through the aspens and flooded my tent with a golden light that illuminated the silhouette of a huge, mammoth moose. His wide antlers were tremendous, and with each turn of his head they seemed to grow and elongate against the fabric of my tent. I feared he might trample me, but fear was overcome by curiosity and awe. I sat still, listening to his grunts, snorts and call until my eyes watered with the beauty of simply being near something so wonderful, powerful and enchanting.

The natural world is the most beautiful and powerful thing we have in this world, and even though humans have made an unconscious attempt at rivaling her, Mother Nature persists and will always persist, with or without us. Through the experience of fighting through the snowy mountains, experiencing the clear night sky at elevation, and being mere feet from something as miraculous and impressive as a bull moose. I am filled with wonder, that quickly turned to sadness, as I wonder if this place will be here next year, and the year after that. And the year after that…


​(Main photo by antrover via Flickr)
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Some years back, I took a good hard look at the effect our food has on us, as well as our medications, which led me to looking deeper into our effect on the environment and on all other life. Humans are having a drastic and destructive effect on all of life, but what’s more puzzling than how we did it, is how we are treating ourselves. Our food is genetically modified, filled with chemicals, toxins and additives, and our medications are often more harmful, causing more side effects that can be tremendously worse than the originally intended ailment.
Our food is toxic. Our water is poisoned. The planet is sick and reeling with climate change. Our forests are disappearing with deforestation. Our animal brethren are dying off in tremendous numbers… And our own modern medicines are killing us. It’s no wonder so many people fall into depression, addiction, and sometimes worse. We’ve evolved to believe we are the only important living thing, and now we’re reaping the benefits. This is what drives me everyday to make a difference, to learn more so that I can reiterate the important issues throughout my work. But in my personal life, I also have made major changes.

I’ve changed what I eat and how I medicate myself. While modern medicine still has its uses where natural means fall short, majority of our everyday issues can be helped by herbal medicine and natural supplements. That’s why I reached out to Garden of Life, to both test and feature an alternative option. I can’t diagnose anything for you, and will not offer advice, as I legally am bound to not do so. But I can describe my own experience, and then it’s up to you to do your own research, which includes speaking with your physician.
Garden of Life is a vitamin and supplement company that prides itself on clean and health ingredients. They offer a wide range of probiotics, proteins, vitamins, herbals, fish oil, natural foods, essential oils and more. I reached out with the interest of testing their Men’s 50 Billion Once Daily Probiotics, Vitamin Code RAW B-Complex Vitamin, Oceans 3 Brain Omega-3 Supplement, and their Men’s Vitamin Code Multivitamin. Each offers a different approach to everyday wellness and health, by providing the body with the nutrients it needs to perform at its best, as well as provide beneficial bacteria to the gut.

The Dr. Formulated Probiotics Once Daily Men's 50 Billion CFU are 15 raw strains of bacteria that help support a healthy microbiome, with a direct approach toward benefitting men’s specific health needs. This is indeed a high count for probiotics, but what this number means is that it can be beneficial for serious cases of digestive issues, which have been linked to mood, depression, and more. A good probiotic can restore the bacteria in your gut, which can support colon health, reduce occasional gas, and support immune system health. For starters, I found that my body could handle certain foods better, with less consequences, but usually, I tend to use them when I notice certain symptoms.

Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code RAW B-Complex is blend of 23 fruits and vegetables, which add supporting antioxidants, vitamins and nutrient cofactors. This B-complex vitamin includes Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Vitamin B6, Folate (B9), Vitamin B12, Biotin, and much more. This vitamin complex can have an effect on mental and physical energy, heart and blood health, a healthy response to stress, and support healthy digestion. I started taking this B-complex daily, noticing that I seemed to be able to handle more stress and have a little more energy. So now, I take it on days when I feel sluggish, fatigued, or suffering from brain fog.

One of the most beneficial oils our bodies need is fish oil, because of how rich it is in EPA, DHA and Omega-3 fatty acids, which is a big reason as to why I wanted to feature the Oceans 3 Better Brain Omega-3 with OmegaXanthin. This formula provides ocean-based antioxidants, among other vitamins that have shown to support healthy brain function. Fish oil alone is important as it has shown in clinical trials to lower blood pressure and triglycerides, while supporting a healthy heart, as well as brain and eye development. When it comes to fish oils, I tend to lean on the understanding that you may not feel a massive difference right away when taking it, but it’s one of those success of invisibility things. But if it improves my brain function, while keeping my blood pressure lower than it has been, then I am a fan.

Lastly, I tested the Vitamin Code Men’s Multivitamin, which is a complex vitamin that’s made up of raw ingredients. So unlike many major label vitamins on the shelves which come from synthetic derived sources, this multivitamin is blend of natural plants, fruits and vegetables. The vitamin list of ingredients is impressive, as is the raw blend included. Over twenty fruits and vegetables are combined to add supporting antioxidants, vitamins and nutrient cofactors, with no high heat, synthetic binders, fillers, artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors or additives. Garden of Life mentions that this blend can support mental and physical energy, heart and prostate health, healthy digestion and can support a healthy stress response. I noticed myself being more energetic, bouncier, one might say, and overall, I feel like my brain is working quicker with less fog.

Overall I’m very happy with Garden of Life vitamins and supplements, as they each have a dynamic approach to natural healing and health support, which I found to be beneficial in my life. The quality is obvious, the formulas wide ranged, and the effect speaks for itself.

If you would like to learn more about Garden of Life, click here.
 
 
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(Main photo by 131171769@N08 via Flickr)
 
 
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*Attention: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This article is for entertainment use, and should not replace the diagnoses of any disease or the subscribing of any medication. Always consult with your doctor or a medical professional for any and all health-related advice. ​
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​You haven't experienced all that Nature has to offer until you’ve met all of her sides. That includes exploring and experiencing winter, as winter is a time when most folks choose to stay indoors, to avoid the cold weather, the snow, and to simply hibernate the season away. However, for me, it’s a mixture of extremes. I do tend to hibernate for much of the holidays, spending time with family, friends and loved ones, yet I also try to always plan a trip that takes me out into the winter wilderness. No, it’s not because I’m mad, crazed or delusional, but mainly because I find it extremely peaceful.
Exploring the forest and mountains, when possible, in the wintertime is about being one of the only humans in a natural place, so you can finally experience what it is to be alone with Nature. Imagine it, all other times throughout the year, you have hunters out and about, families tripping, cars, planes, and worse sometimes, but when it’s winter, you’re typically alone with your thoughts and experiences in a winter wonderland.

It’s not about not seeing other people, but it’s more about losing yourself in the wildness of the natural world from which we came from and evolved from. When you’re in the forest in the winter, you can no longer hear cars, trains, planes, human voices, gun shots (hopefully), nor be bothered by all the sounds humans create. When you’re left with the natural sound of the wind creaking the trees, then a great peace can come over you, and if you meditate, there is no better place or time to reconnect with not only Nature, but with yourself.

After years of doing so, I despise living in a city, so it’s not a problem for me anymore, but when you do live in a city and your everyday is surrounded by the hustle and bustle of modern life then you never have a chance to be alone, with your thoughts, with peace, in tranquility. I am a firm believer that too much chaos leads to a full and clouded mind, which leads to a condition where it’s difficult to think clearer, to rise above emotions, and to be fully in control of your life, and feelings, and it’s possible your overall happiness level has dropped with being constantly surrounded by too much clutter.​

So this winter, plan a trip, even if it’s only for a few hours and then you’re back again. I find hiking in the wilderness during winter to be one of the most worthwhile experiences. When you have time to fully disconnect, you allow yourself to recharge. I feel like every idiot on the road, and every loud sound, every advertisement, and every situation causes my heart to raise or my tension to boil, a little part of my soul is chipped off, and the only way to truly get it back is to recharge in Nature.

When you do plan a winter trip, I can’t stress enough how important it is to plan accordingly. Survival in the wilderness in any season can be dicy if you don’t have the proper experience. Survival is about understanding the situation you’re in with a level head and acting strategically, so for winter camping for instance, be sure you know how to make a fire in winter weather, and how to find your way back out, and how you will deal with a set back like an injury or a winter storm worsening your situation. You always want to come prepared with the right footwear and enough clothing to layer properly, a knife, water, and food, etc. The list goes on, but the point is that if you want to try this for yourself, you need to take some precautions. Study what you don’t already know and pack for whatever might come.
For serious trips out in it, I go nowhere without a proper winter boots. Especially when you’re in real mountains, like the Rockies, then you don’t want to venture too far without knowing what’s happening with the weather. Sometimes, you can be prepared, yet the weather may turn in an instant, and when you’re in serious mountains, that statement is truer than any other words I’ve ever spoken. It can be scary, so being prepared for anything is very important, because believe me, anything can find you out there. And sometimes you simply need to weather the storm, but that can’t happen unless you’re prepared for the worst that could happen.

When choosing the best winter boots for you, consider the extremes you will endure, the terrain, and choose wisely. Don’t settle for a pretty price tag, because those boots could mean the difference in your survival. Personally, I look for an insulated boot that’s comfortable, yet sturdy, as well as for excellent grip and a strong build that will last, no matter what Mother Nature throws at me. 2019 has brought some wild weather to the US Midwest, and so for my trips, after much testing and research, I chose Garmont’s Momentum WP (or waterproof) boot.

Garmont is one of my favorite companies, because they never cut corners and always product a optimal shoe, be it for summer climbing, autumn trails, or winter extremes. Their quality is always there, and with it comes a longevity that can be trusted every time. Garmont’s Momentum series winter boot has a modern, sleek black design, with a very comfortable feel inside the shoe. Not only does it grip your foot as an extension of your own limb, it keeps you warm and dry when it matters most, while keeping you comfy. Most serious winter boots don’t mark off all of those checkmarks, but Garmont is special.

The upper of the Momentum boot offers a thick webbed fabric that lets air in but keeps moisture out. The Hypergrip outsole comes with IceLock technology, which has micro-glass filaments that offer excellent traction and stability, even when you’re on steep, icy or wet terrain. These are outfitted with a hard toe bumper for added protection. The inside of the shoe fits like a glove, as it’s cushioned and insulated with Primaloft Gold Insulation Eco, which is the best-in-class insulation that continues to trap body heat even under compression. The heel fits into its own heel pocket, which works well at preventing heel slips, as well as friction blisters, too. All in all, I came away very impressed with Garmont’s Momentum series and will continue to work with them on my winter trips.

If you would like to learn more about Garmont, click here.

(Photo by ross_vernal via Flickr)
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