Dehydrate-a-thon Day 3

Today I was starting to feel the laziness creep on.  Still I was able to finish up the mashed sweet potatoes which were in the second dehydrator, which has proved slightly geriatric.  The kiwis finished up as well and I was also able to cook the buckwheat noodles, which I picked up my friend’s place last night along with my new cellphone and a pair of Darn Tough socks gotten for free on ebay with a discount.  I messed up the noodles a bit though since I thought the best idea was to cook all of them (12 8oz packs) in the gigantic tamale pot at the same time.  Then forget about them.  They were a little pasty going in and I almost regretted dehydrating them at all, but I knew in order to save fuel it would be necessary.  I started them in the dehydrator but looks like they are a long way from finished 😦 Basically though I didn’t get a ton done on the dehydration front today.

I DID however get my new cell phone set up.  I feel like an 85 year old as I apparently no longer have any idea how to use such a thing.  It will be a learning process for sure.  One thing that I noticed that is nice that google apparently has a voice dictation thing.  I’m wondering if wordpress or something has that as well, I will not have a computer on trail obviously and it will make blogging a lot easier.

Another awesome thing that happened was I finally sold my old MLD Exodus pack.  I had put it on a few ultralight gear sites with no replies.  Decided one last try with GearTrade on reddit, got a reply within an hour.  I had to ship to France but that was no problem as the guy actually paid me MORE than what I asked for.  I was happy to ship same day.  Got my new Zpacks Zero backpack covered for in this way.

On the way back awesome thing #3 was that I stopped in the Goodwill store at Stoner/Santa Monica.  I went in and saw a sign advertising that all clothes and shoes were $3.  Why not poke around?  I had gotten rid of almost everything before I left, and the few clothes I managed to not forget or get holes in and bring back with me mostly don’t fit anymore after loosing 20-25lbs.  So what did I find?  Exactly what I was looking for, super dope: a small size women’s Patagonia Capilene 4 bottoms, almost new New Balance trail runners, a ridiculous pair of  running  shorts (motivation for getting in shape) and a black outfit for my Easter gig (we classical musicians are used to always wearing black).  The shoes are too small I think (I really need size 11) but I at least learned I don’t prefer normal shoes any more I guess- I’ve been wearing Merrell Contour Glove trail runners the last year, which are barefoot style- hopefully the zero drop size 11 Altras I got on ebay for like $20 will do the trick.  It’s super hard btw to figure out what sort of sneakers you need overseas, none of these styles are available, let alone in one store to try them on.

Later I went with a friend to meet yet another friend for a little hike at Griffith Park.  I actually had never been to the obvervatory at the top so we checked it out.  I was a little sad I couldn’t go to “Light of the Valkyries” which was playing in the planetarium, but it was overpriced anyway.  Insanely packed over there!  We grabbed some Thai food for dinner, checking off another of my LA cravings.

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Dehydrate-a-thon Day 2

Today I finished up the rest of the veggies- 5.5 lbs of sweet potatoes turned into mash, 4 giant heads of cauliflower treated likewise, 6 giant bell peppers, and 2 lbs  of gala apples, along with finishing the veggies from yesterday (I can’t run the dehydrator overnight here and they needed a bit more in the dryer).  The cauliflower took FOREVER and I think it may be because I used parchment paper to line the trays (that dehydrator didn’t have any).  I didn’t get to the hummus but also wasn’t expecting to do the peppers or apples today.

My friend needed to go grocery shopping today anyway so he was cool to drive  me to some local places that usually have good deals.  The Ralph’s is a place I routinely used to score 50-75% off of meat.  I got a pack  of grass fed hamburgers for $3.50 to eat here, but then only got a normal sale on pork shoulder- almost 8 lbs for $11.  Not the highest quality either but a decent price at least.

A lot of normal foods are overpriced there so I suggested dropping by the dollar store up the street.  I did pretty well there, scoring 6 lbs of kiwis, 6 giant peppers and another 1.5lb bag of small ones, 3 lbs pears, 8 lbs gala and golden delicious apples, and just over a half pound  of coconut chips for $23.26.  Unfortunately nothing was organic but what can you do?  It’s a budget healthy thru hike.

NEW FOOD  TOTAL: $112.23

Tonight my friend and I are going  to put the pork in the slow cooker overnight (we can run that because it’s silent, unlike the dehydrator) and I guess I’ll have my first go at dehydrating meat tomorrow.  I also hope to get the apples, kiwis, and pears done.  I’ll be hiking with a frriend tomorrow so a good day to let stuff sit.

I admit I’m starting to get nervous about gettinng everything done but I’ll just do my best, prioritize the things that are  less mess-up-able or mission critical to dehydrate.  I’ve just decided on a dinner that only  involves dehydrating one thing- the rest is bought already dehydrated- so at least that’s one thing I don’t have to worry about too much.

I also am having second thoughts on making jerky.   It looks  like 4lbs of meat or so yield one pound jerky.  I haven’t seen beef or turkey that cheap and I know I can get already made jerky at Costco  (if I can find a friend with a membership) for $9.99/12oz. So I may save myself some hassle and go this route.  I guess buying online is another option which  can work well if I end up getting the amazon credits from a promo I’m working on.

My friend and I were able to go on a little hike while everything was cooking, up at Los Leones.  I had been there with friends almost a year ago to the day and the change was shocking- so green from recent rains!  Hard to believe I was in Southern California.  We logged a tidy 7.8 miles round trip and celebrated with Tacomiendo (the new location quasi-sucks, go to the original on Inglewood)

Dehydrate-a-thon! Day 1 and total budget thus far

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Last night I flew into LA from Barcelona, promptly got picked up by my friend, went to a bar, ate sushi with more friends, and had a short and decidedly out of shape karaoke session.  Nothing like hitting the ground running.

With my Japanese fix quenched, or at least soothed, off it was to start dehydrating everything.

I paid $5 to get two boxes of organic veggies via a Living Social deal that was hackable.  All of the veggies above were included!  I got started on chopping kale and chard and was ready to go when my friend kindly dropped off the super awesome, 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator.  *Side note!*  When doing a budget dehydrate-a-thon, probably the best place to do it is somewhere like LA. Because half the people there have a dehydrator they are not using.  I placed the greens on the trays, sprinkled with zaatar seasoning, and put them in the dehydrator.

It took 3-4 hours to reduce 5 huge bunches of greens to this:

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Man, shrinkage is a drag.

Anyway I felt emboldened by my first attempt and went on to the next step in my dehydration learning curve: veggies for a curry I will make.  Apparently the best thing to do is dehydrate each ingredient separately as much as possible.  I chopped up 4 HUGE broccoli heads and got this after about 6 hours:

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That is so crazy to me!  The carrots and celery took an extra hour or so.  Chopped basil and cilantro only around 4 hours total.  I also dehydrated 2 lbs of bok choi.

In general when dehydrating vegetables, if the item can be eaten in a salad, one doesn’t have to pre cook it.  Otherwise, it’s best to boil, blanch or steam first.  I was lucky in that I am staying at a friend’s house, who happened to still have a giant steamer pot from a tamale-making party I hosted a couple years ago.  Total score for bulk steaming!  I steamed the carrots, broccoli, and bok choi for a few minutes each.  These veggies are all going to go in a Thai green curry with SeaBear salmon I am making.

In the evening another friend came by with HER giant, 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator, so I have good hopes for tomorrow.  The plan is to finish the rest of the vegetables- drying mashed sweet potatoes and mashed cauliflower.  It’s a pretty natural progression on my learning curve.  I was really hoping to start on dehydrating the pasta for a grain-free spaghetti I will make, but apparently it still has not arrived yet.  So if I have time tomorrow I will probably try to start on a hummus or bean dip, which will be one of the lunches I will eat.  I’m kind of bummed since customs confiscated the awesome and cheap Spanish tapenade I had hoped to mix into the hummus (the jar was 135g and I guess the limit was 100g).  But, life goes on, and certainly there are decent options to mix in here in the US.

Total costs so far for food:

$4.96- Living Social promo for two Farm Fresh to You organic CSA boxes of veggies

$39.85- 12 8oz packs of 100% buckwheat soba noodles

$3.05- 45 sq feet parchement paper for lining trays when I make mashes, sauces, etc 😦 would have been cheaper at dollar store but I was able to just run across the street to Smart and Final to buy

$6.67- 1kg Tunisian deglet noor dates (bought in Barcelona)

$12.49- Google express/groupon promo (Got 5 packs of instant sticky rice, 1lb organic mulberries)

$10.95- Google express/groupon promo (4 6.5oz boxes Mary’s Gone Crackers to use with dips/nut butter)

FOOD BUDGET TOTAL THUS FAR:

$77.97

Other things I have gotten so far for free:

I used $35.05 in Amazon credits to buy 5 lbs of dehydrated coconut milk powder.  I hope to use this in quite a few things because of it’s great calorie/weight ratio, and health benefits.  I am not counting the Amazon credits in above totals since they were basically, or actually free from a variety of sources.

4 3oz packs organic beef jerky, 9 grass-fed meat sticks, 2 lamb bars, 20 3oz pouches wild-caught salmon, 30 1.5 oz pouches smoked wild-caught salmon, 123 gluten free, mostly Paleo bars from assorted companies, 10 small chocolate bars, 8 packs seaweed cracker snacks, 24 packs seaweed snacks, 3 lbs sprouted seeds, 6 single-serve size coconut snacks, 6 16oz jars sunflower seed butter, 18 9.75 oz jars chocolate-nut butter, 31 single-serve packets of sunflower or almond nut butter, 24 packs of superfood supplement drink powders.

I got all of this for free just by telling quality food companies (I only wrote ones with sort of things I’d recommend my patients) about my trip and how I am trying to eat healthy on a budget!  I will be reviewing these products on this site and/or Appalachian Trials so that people know there are options out there besides ramen noodles and Snickers bars for their thru hike diet.

I am hoping that I can only spend another $2-300 on food for the grocery part of my hike (I plan to have meals in towns of course when I pass through).  Even though it seems like a lot, it’s actually my food for 4 months of life!  It’s really not that much.  So we’ll see if that works out or not.  I have not made my major expenses of meats yet which could be quite pricy potentially.  Also nuts may be very expensive, but there’s a possibility I may have more Amazon credits soon, so that might be covered.

Updates, Appalachian Trail, and other stuff

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Haven’t written in a while, surprise surprise.  I have been quite lazy about this on the road this year but I’ve been starting to receive some inspiration.

I am currently at my last stop (Barcelona) before heading back to the US.  I don’t feel my adventuring is done so I will be heading out to hike the Appalachian Trail before the month is over.

I have this idea in my head that I will write a lot of info on how to travel cheap.  Actually, I have to do this as part of my AT sponsorship from Adventure Possible, so look there over the coming months for these articles.

I want to write a little something on all the places I went so I might do a short ‘n’ sweet series here, maybe just a summary of impressions of each place.  I need to write 5 articles (2 or 3 already done) and then whatever-else-it-is by the end of the month.

Anyway, keep an eye out for more content, just as soon as I plop it down (quick) and figure out how to upload it to the right category (will take me much longer).  Not the fastest tech person here- I haven’t even had a phone in months (and friends know how often I lose/break/boycott them).

If anyone has questions about what I’m doing I’d love to hear from you!

How to get from the Westside to LAX, for $1

In the past I have always taken public transit to the airport whenever possible- train, subway, etc.  In Los Angeles, however, it’s a huge pain to get anywhere with public transit.  I generally rely on several awesome (yes, awesome!  thanks guys) friends to give me a lift.  I’ve also taken supershuttle, which costs $18-20, and gives me a whopping 50 UA miles for each ride.

I’ve heard of services like Lyft and Uber, but they just seem too expensive.  I’d rather save my money (or free ride credit) for something I absolutely can’t get to with public transit).

So on a balmy Friday afternoon, after asking a bunch of random people in school if they were heading south on the 405 anytime soon, I decided to give google a try.  It told me to take the bus, and it didn’t seem too crazy.

It was delightfully easy, and 75 cents less than expected.

Instructions:

1.  Walk, bus, or bike thyself to PCH (Lincoln Blvd).  For me, the cross street was Washington Blvd.

2.  Get on the Rapid 3 Big Blue Bus and give the driver $1.

3.  Get off at the LAX bus transfer station.  Walk straight for about 50 feet and get on the FREE airport terminal bus.

4.  Get off at terminal of your choice, after telling driver where you want to stop.

That’s it.  The only bad thing is that the bus does not run late at night/early in the am.  But at least you’re covered during the day.  Think about all the tacos you can buy with the dollars you saved.  Then get some.