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Archive for March, 2014

Camping Is The Ultimate Cure For Insomnia

Posted on: March 30th, 2014 by Quik Shade


And 5 Other All Natural Cures For The Sleep Deprived.

The drastic rise in our use of technology in recent decades, especially using devices with screens, has caused more sleep interferences than ever before. New research is showing that one of the best ways to treat insomnia is to turn off electronic devices and spend a few nights outdoors.

The reason behind how this benefits sleep cycles has to do with melatonin levels. The hormone that regulates sleep cycles should naturally rise before sleep and gradually decrease throughout the course. People who spend a lot of time staring at screens throughout the day and underneath artificial lights have melatonin levels that did not follow normal patterns.

Researchers took participants in their sleep study on a week long camping trip without flashlights or any other artificial light sources. They found that their sleeping patterns began to follow the natural course of the sun. Scientists are now saying that dimming artificial lights in the evening and beginning each day with bright outdoor light can help sleeping patterns return to a more natural level. If you do go camping make sure to pack one of our instant canopies.

If camping just isn’t your thing but you’re on the lookout for a natural way to treat your insomnia, these five tips may work too:

1. Make your bedroom a sleep friendly place.

Having a television in the room, an uncomfortable bed or pillow, or a hot stuffy room can all have a negative impact on your sleep. Take a look around your room and see what could be affecting the quality of your sleep. Working or eating in bed can have an unwanted effect, as well as any loud noises. A cool, quiet, comfortable room that is a sanctuary for sleep is your best bet.

2. Monitor caffeine and alcohol consumption.

It’s tempting to have a nightcap before bed. The effects of alcohol may be to cause drowsiness, but may actually end up waking you in the middle of the night with a need to urinate, an upset stomach, or headache. Once the pleasant drowsy effect of the drink wears off, you’re left with the disruptive physical discomforts of alcohol.

Too much caffeine during the day will disrupt sleep too. Even if your last cup of coffee is consumed early in the day, the caffeine can remain in your system well into the night. Stop consuming caffeine before noon and limit yourself to no more than two cups a day.

3. Bedtime rituals help.

You may have learned to do this as a child, when a parent would read to you, draw a bath, or tuck you into bed. You can continue to have a bedtime ritual as an adult to help wind down after a long day. A hot bath just a few hours before bedtime, reading a book, or listening to relaxing music can all help.

4. Take a supplement.

It’s okay to give yourself a little help in the form of a natural supplement. Taken a few hours before nightime, a melatonin supplement can help boost lowered levels of the natural hormone that many of us experience as we age. Valerian root is another natural supplement that acts as a sedative and muscle relaxant. Valerian has been used for hundreds of years to effectively help people sleep.

5. Snacks can make us sleepy.

If you’re watching your weight this may not be the best tip for you, but studies show that a cookie or warm glass of milk before bed has a relaxing effect. The reason behind that may be a chemical called tryptophan that foods such as milk, nuts, and tuna contain.

photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

7 Ultimate Backpacking Destinations

Posted on: March 15th, 2014 by Quik Shade


One of the best ways to experience the beauty of nature firsthand is by backpacking through it. Not only do you get a vigorous walk in, you get to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of all that nature has to offer.

Getting out of your car and feeling the ground beneath your feet opens you up to a whole other experience. Here in the United States, there are waterfalls, canyons, forests and mountains to explore. Here are seven of the best backpacking destinations, and don’t forget to take a portable QuikShade instant canopy to help make the outdoors that more enjoyable.

1. Pacific Coast Trail

This hike will give you the opportunity to cover a lot of ground and see most of the western coastline. The trail itself is 2,650 miles long and spans three states. Because the Pacific Coast Trail is so long, it passes through a variety of terrain. Six of the seven ecozones are covered by the trail, ranging from desert terrain to arctic forest.

It’s easy to choose where you want to begin your backpacking adventure on this trail. There are starting points in every major western city, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.

The Pacific Coast Trail offers so many options for backpacking exploration. It’s up to you to decide how you want to shape your course.

2. Appalachian Trail

This trail is something like the eastern version of the Pacific Coast Trail. Spanning 2,178 miles and passing through 12 states, the Appalachian Trails offers numerous unique opportunities to take in beautiful scenery and experience different terrains.

It is the longest trail in the United States, beginning in Georgia and winding all the way up to Maine. Preparation is important when planning a hike along the Appalachian. The trail takes you through some rough terrain that may not be the most appropriate for beginning hikers.

3. Grand Canyon National Park

One of the most well known of the national parks is also one of the best places to hike. Grand Canyon National Park has more than 5 million visitors each year who come to see the famous vistas that are unique to the region. Hikers on the trails need to be careful about the distance they cover.

Descending into the canyon can be fun, but hikers must remember that they will need to go back up. It can be easy to get caught up in the easy part of the hike and go a little too far. Temperatures in the park can soar during summer months, so it’s important to bring along plenty of water and snacks if you plan on staying long.

4. Yosemite National Park

This may be the most impressive of the national parks. Yosemite National Park covers about 750,00 acres and contain 800 miles of hiking trails so there are more than enough opportunities to soak in the beautiful scenery.

It may be overwhelming to decide which trail to go on first, but no matter which one you choose you’ll get breathtaking views and interesting terrain. Yosemite contains ancient forests, glaciers, mountains, lakes, and plenty of wildlife sightings. It’s up to you which one you want to explore first.

5. Glacier National Park

This Montana national park is a popular destination for hikers. Be sure to see the park’s well known mountain peaks, lakes, and abundant wildlife.

6. John Muir Trail

Named after the naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, this trail begins in Yosemite and stay mostly in high terrain.

7. Zion National Park

The trails in Utah’s Zion Park offer desert canyons and vistas to explore. Some of the canyon trails take you through narrow passages that eventually open up to waterfall and river views.

photo credit: OliBac via photopin cc

March Madness Tailgating Ideas

Posted on: March 8th, 2014 by Quik Shade


March Madness means tailgating season is in high swing and those of us who consider it to be more of a lifestyle than a hobby are looking for ways to make tailgating more fun. Here are ten tips that will bring a creative twist to your tailgating festivities, and maybe make life a little easier too.

1. Keep your tailgate essentials in your car.

Set up a tailgating kit in a toolbox and leave it in your car or whatever vehicle you use to tailgate. This toolbox can contain a variety of things, including:

-Spatulas, bottle openers, baster, and any other kitchen tools you may need.

-Trash bags and paper towels for cleaning up.

-Plastic ziplock bags or tupperware for food storage.

-Wet wipes and hand sanitizer for killing germs.

-Your favorites herbs and spices for seasoning food perfectly.

A toolbox will have multiple trays, compartments, and drawers for keeping all your stuff sorted and organized. You’ll have your tools handy every time you tailgate and will be prepared for anything.

2. Know how to pack food and supplies.

Cut down on space used for supplies just by learning how to pack a car and cooler properly. With a cooler, you can follow a few tips:

-pack food items in watertight containers.

-chill all beverages beforehand, especially beer, and place at the bottom of the cooler where they’ll stay cool the longest..

-add a layer of ice over bottled and canned beverages so it fills gaps.

– add bagged food items and other food containers on top.

-finish with a tightly packed layer of ice, so warm air doesn’t get into the cooler.

3. Do food prep the night before.

Not only will this help you save time, it will help foods taste better by allowing seasonings more time to be absorbed. Kebabs, chicken, and other meats can be skewered and marinated overnight and will taste great the next day.

Burger patties can be shaped ahead of time and packed between sheets of wax paper to retain their form. Burger toppings can be prepped ahead of time too. Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cheese can be sliced and packed together in a covered tray for convenience.

4. Make things easier for guests.

Labeling coolers with the names of their contents helps guide guests to their favorite drinks and eliminates confusion. This will also keep drinks colder by cutting down the number of times guests open and close the cooler. Setup a canopy area to help keep your tailgate are cool and dry.

You can also freeze water bottles beforehand to use in place of ice and drink when they melt. Bring along hot sauces and other essential condiments together in a cardboard six pack holder. This keeps everything in one place and makes transporting them easier.

5. Pack a first aid kit.

This doesn’t have to be big. Take the essentials like bandages, disinfectant, cotton balls and ointment, and pack them into an old prescription pill bottle or candy tin. You never know when it could come in handy.

6. Make cleaning up easy.

Bring a large plastic tub to hold dirty dishes. It will be easy to haul them away after the party’s over. You can also create a hand washing station with an old detergent dispenser.

Fill it with water and have liquid soap nearby. A roll of paper towels can be tied to the top with bungee cords to make it more convenient. A paper towel roll can also be hung with bungee cord from the frame of a portable canopy.

7. Stay organized.

Keep supplies in prepacked plastic sets of drawers so they are always ready to go and you’ll never have to search too far for what you need.

5 Best College Sports Towns

Posted on: March 1st, 2014 by Quik Shade


Hit up these five towns for good times, the best teams, and the most dedicated fans. Nothing beats the fun loving atmospheres and excitement of these college sports towns.

1. Madison, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin

The city of Madison is a world unto its own, where football is on the minds of every citizen around the clock. Every bar and restaurant here seems to be on top of airing the games on big screen tv’s because they know that’s what their patrons are expecting. Attending games at Camp Randall is a whole different story.

Expect to find the bleachers packed and filled with fans eager to support their team in any way possible, which could mean smearing their faces with the signature red and white colors of the Badgers, doing the wave, and singing and dancing along to fight songs. Madison is a place where it’s not unusual to spot a Badgers tattoo on a fan, or where you can run into a player at the local pub or on a campus basketball court. Other sports are important in Madison as well.

The Ultimate Frisbee program won the national title and can be seen practicing on the fields on the west side of campus. Madison residents also enjoy a good game of ice hockey on the lake in the winter, as well as rowing in the summer. But football remains the true unifier of Madison. Everyone from grandmothers to teenagers come together to cheer on their team for another win.

2. Athens, Georgia

University of Georgia

Athens may be known for its 1990’s alternative rock scene, but it has a thriving sports scene as well. The University of Georgia boasts one of the nation’s tennis teams. Both the men’s and women’s teams have finished in top spots and the school has hosted the men’s championships several times.

Nightclubs and restaurants here are tuned into the sports scene, as well as the music scene. Enjoy delicious southern favorites at several of these venues while watching a local game. Athens combines the all American approach to fun of their sports fans with the laid back bohemian attitude of their music scene.

3. Austin, Texas

University of Texas

The city of Austin is best known for its originality and status as the state capital. The liberal attitude of Austin’s residents coexists with the fanaticism of the school’s football fans. Football isn’t the only sport that thrives on campus. Their athletic program was ranked number one in the country last year by Sports Illustrated.

Austin nightlife offers many opportunities to enjoy the best food and drink, get together with other sports fans, and listen to great live music. The South By Southwest music and movie festival takes over the town every year, bringing some of the country’s most innovative bands together.

4. Boulder, Colorado

University of Colorado

Outdoor sports enthusiasts will love this town. In addition to the picturesque mountain setting, there’s endless opportunities for hiking, fishing, climbing, kayaking, and skiing. The university’s football team is one of the nation’s best, as well as the cross country skiing team. Bars and restaurants are hot spots for fans to gather.

5. Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana University

Bloomington may have a reputation for being a party school, but it’s also a beautiful campus with one of the nation’s best athletic programs. The men’s basketball team has won five titles so far and show no signs of losing steam.

Soccer and swimming are other top sports at the school. Residents get together every spring to watch the Little 500, an intramural bicycle race. Fans take their drinking and sports seriously in Bloomington.

photo credit: Sam Howzit via photopin cc