Monday, January 30, 2017

Dog Sledding $$ 🎓 💪

Dog sledding is a fun thing to do in the snow.   It is fairly easy as the dogs do all the work.  Most of the time the sleds have one passenger sitting in the cargo area and one driver standing on the back.  The passenger doesn't have to do anything at all.  You do need some balance and the stamina to stand up while the dogs pull you.  Generally you go with a guide, and he has to know the route and what he is doing.   He travels in front and the dogs will follow the sled in front of them.   You also need the brains to let the dog do their thing instead of trying to tell them what to do.

The dogs are working dogs bred for the weather.  They are usually treated pretty well and have a better life than some pets.  Not as boring, and they have a real pack, rather than one or two companions.  They have heavy fur and suffer in the heat of summer.  While they are running they are more likely to overheat than to be cold (exercise keeps you warm).

It's typically moderately priced, at least for a short trip "try it out" trip, obviously if you try to do a full day or extended camping trip it moves into expensive territory.   It's easy and takes no muscle if you are  the passenger, and just a little if you are the driver.  Note, you can also find some deals, particularly if you are looking for a shorter trip in a non-touristy part of the country.
It's split male/female fairly evenly.     It's kid friendly and elderly friendly - you don't even need to be able to walk.  At the same time, if you want to 'mush' the dogs, it's not that much more work.

Dress warm, you won't be exercising like the dogs.

I did it at Jackson Hole Wyoming, taking the trip to the Hot Springs and went swimming for lunch (cost more to do that):

If you aren't in Wyoming, you may not get a hot spring, but some kind of dog sledding is available near most winter ski resorts - but do some price checking.  Usually they charge per sled not per person.  Price and availability are also also fairly time dependent - if you try to do it on Christmas eve you will pay a lot more than a random Thursday in January.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Metal Casting $$ 🎓 💪

Metal casting is similar to the mold casting I mentioned earlier, only instead of poring liquids that turn solid, such as plaster or rubber, you pour molten metal into the molds.

As such, the molds have to be sturdier.  You can use a mold carved out of cuttlefish bones, a plaster mold (often made by crafting a wax  version, then covering with plaster, then heating to melt the wax out - called the lost wax method), or sand molds.

It is not cheap - you are working with molten metal.  It is fairly easy to do, at least if you don't care that much about making it perfect.  Nor does it take a lot of muscle. 

Mostly used for jewelry and similar items, this class trends female, especially if you are making stuff out of pewter, which is a lot easier to use than bronze.  Bronze is mostly copper with a little bit of tin and/or other metals.  Pewter is mostly tin with a little bit of copper and/or other metals.  Bronze is much harder to re-melt and requires a much hotter flame, so it is harder to work with.  If you are using pewter, make sure it is lead free if you are going to make anything that comes in contact with food.

Because it involves molten metal, this class is not for young kids.   A wide range of ages take classes, some are very young artists, some are older people.

I made some nice bronze pieces back at 3rd ward, but they closed down.  Brooklyn Brainery offers a pewter class that uses the cuttlefish bone method and the sand method:

Monday, January 16, 2017

White Water Rafting $ 🎓 💪💪

Get in an air filled raft and head down the river.   You have a raft captain that needs to know what he is doing, but you can be clueless.   It's that simple.  The one thing you have to do is pick how strong a river you want.  There are six main levels (sometimes they use a - or + to indicate weaker/harder versions of the six main levels).

Class I, is mild, Class V is harder.   Even the youngest child can do a Class I or  II.  Teenagers should be able to handle Class III at the very least.

But if you are looking for excitement, then you want Class IV or Class V.    Don't try class V until you have had some experience on a class IV.

But wait, I said six levels, and V stands for five.   So yes, there is a Class VI.   It is the term for a river that that is too harsh to run.  For example, Niagra falls is a Class VI rapid.  Do some people go over it anyway?  Yes.  We call them suicidal.  Don't try this unless you are a) an experienced raft captain and b) not taking anyone else with you.

I have done Class IV rapids in Alaska.  It was a lot of fun, the wet suit kept me warm and dry.   I do like speed.

Note, price depend a lot on length of the trip as well as the class.  It's only cheap if you go for a short 4 hour or shorter trip.  If you go for much longer than that, it edges into expensive, especially if you are talking class IV or V.   If you go for a full on multi-day camping trip, expect to pay thousands.    While it takes  a lot of skill to captain the raft, you need no training to just do it.  While you don't have to be in good shape to do it, you should at the very least be able to swim.  If you can't swim, stick to Class I or II.

You will have to wear a life jacket even if you can swim.  A helmet is heavily recommended.  In colder locations, a wet suit (including shoes) is needed.

If you want a Class IV or V experience, you may be dependent on timing - rivers run faster when dams let water out or when snow melts.

White Water Rafting  is gender neutral.  They take kids as low as 4 years old (at least for the milder stuff).   Seniors are welcome, especially for the milder runs.

You can learn more about White Water Rafting here:

Monday, January 9, 2017

Mold Casting $ 🎓 💪

This is the process of making a rubbery mold of something, then filling the mold with plaster or similar substance to make an exact duplicate.    How exact a duplicate?  If you make a plaster copy of your fingers, the fingerprints will match what's on your hand.  Depending on the material, their may be some shrinkage/expansion.  You can intentionally make smaller or larger versions, by careful selection of the material.  While the original shirnkage/expansion ratio is relatively small, you can use repeat the process to make something twice as big as in real life or half as small.

It's cheap, easy, and doesn't take a lot of muscle.

It's got a good mix of male and female.   It's not that hard to do, teenagers kids can easily do it, as can seniors.

Dress for a mess, both the mold making and the casting involve liquids that turn solid.

I took lessons and bought my materials at "The Complete Sculptor".  When I took it it was a class called "life casting" and focused on making casts of living things, such as your foot, hand, torso, head (with breathing tubes), etc. You can just as easily do it with other things - toys, cups, etc.
Now they have called it Rubber Resin and split into two classes - 1) mold and 2) casting.  It's basically the same thing, but cheaper because of the split.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Snow boarding $$ 🎓🎓 💪💪💪

Snowboarding is very similar to skiing.  Both involve going down a snow covered hill at high speed.  Both are mainly about balance.   Both are only cheap if you live in the area, both are good exercise.

But snowboarding has you on one wide board, rather than one on each foot.  The balance is now more about forward/back rather than side to side. That makes it significantly easier to do as the human body is designed to deal with forward/back balance more than side to side.

It is very very hard to stop while snowboarding, unless you sit down in the snow.   So generally that's how they teach you to stop.   Doing it too quickly is called 'falling' and hurts.   Some people can stop without sitting down, but it takes a lot of skill.   Many snowboarders get pads on their butt - both to protect it from a fall and from the cold.   After about two days or so you learn to do it slowly, in a more controlled, less painful manner, and you start sitting rather than falling.  This is a significantly FASTER learning curve than skiing - but you don't fall as much with skiing.

Snowboarding is slightly more male than female, but that is changing.  Most people recommend kids start snow boarding later than skiing (age 7 rather than 3).   Snowboarding is still a young person's sports - it's a relatively new sport and once your learn skiing you often have no desire to start over and learn a whole new sport.  You don't see 60+ year old people snow boarding, but you will see them skiing.

Snow boarding also has the advantage of a more comfortable boot.  It's not as rigid, as you don't need to be able to 'edge' the foot.

You can snowboard at most ski resorts - but you should double check with any place you go before heading there.

You can snow board at Mt snow, just like skiing: