Fjallraven Nikka Shorts ~ WanderGear Wednesday

by Beth Whitman (July 1st, 2015)

Fjallraven Nikka ShortsIt’s summer in Seattle and I’m confident enough that warm weather is here for awhile that all of my cool weather clothes are put away and my warm weather clothes are all that’s left in my closet and dresser drawers at the moment. That’s a great feeling.

Even though our summer has technically just begun, between travels to Hawaii, New Orleans, Santa Fe and London, my Fjallraven Nikka Shorts have actually been getting some regular use. So I feel these have been put to good tests thus far.

The trick now is putting them to use during our short window of sunshine and heat. And yes, we’re having a heatwave here!

Here’s the deal with the Nikka shorts. These are considered trekking shorts for several reasons. They’ve got a bit of stretch so they’re easy to move in. But, more importantly, they’re super durable, so they can definitely take a beating on the trail.

The folks at Fjallraven were pretty smart when they made the waist a bit lower in the front/higher in the back so that a backpack can sit comfortably on your back. The front pockets are both zippered so you won’t lose anything on the trail and there are two additional pockets on the legs that snap shut to carry extra goodies (protein bars, cell phone, etc.).

Truth be told, I haven’t even been out hiking in these yet. But I’ve been wearing them regularly since April when I was on Maui.

I will say that because of the length and heavier material, these aren’t shorts you want to wear around the neighborhood on 90+ days. They’re just a bit too thick for that. But for slightly cooler summer days and for hiking, you can’t go wrong.

The Fjallraven Nikka Shorts retail for about $120 but are a bit less on Amazon. You might think this is a little pricey for shorts but, as in all Fjallraven clothes, these technical hiking shorts are going to last you for years.

Be Bold,


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Surfing Maui

by Beth Whitman (June 30th, 2015)

Beth Whitman SurfingBack in April, I had the chance to go to Maui (my first time there!) for a retreat with my fellow Expedia Viewfinder bloggers. We took writing, video and photography workshops, had business meetings and spent time experiencing some of Maui’s best activities. Oh, and we ate. A lot.

Jon was able to tag along so we spent a few extra days on-island and hiked and took in the sunrise at Haleakala. To work off all the food we were eating, I ran on the promenade along the waterfront in front of our hotel, the Fairmont Kea Lani.

But one of the most fun activities for me was surfing with my colleagues!


I’ve been surfing only a couple of other times–once in Costa Rica and once on Kauai. I’ve haven’t yet fully taken to it, probably because I’m not great at it and I don’t have enough opportunities to get great at it, but I figured it would be fun to get out of my comfort zone and head out with some instructors from Hawaiian Paddle Sports.

Thought you might enjoy this story about the adventure…


Six surfboards lay ready in the sand. Mikey and Jason, our surfing instructors, encourage us to choose a board based on our height and experience. Three guys and Trish take the 12-footers, while two of us take the 11-footers.

Jason gives us the first of our lessons. “Lay down on your stomach and when you paddle, you’ll want to scoop deep with your hands so as not to waste your energy on small strokes. Place your hands in the middle of the board, arch your back and pull yourself up, planting your feet in the middle of the board.”

After I try this a few times on land, my hands working through the gritty sand, I think, “This is harder than I remember,” thinking back to my last lesson on Kauai five years ago. I continue with my thoughts. “Why didn’t I go standup paddle boarding with Kara? I bet she’s having fun. I have to go out in the water and spend the next hour paddling with my arms through those waves. Why didn’t I go canoeing with Deb and Dave? This is going to be hard.”

We’re encouraged to pick up the boards and carry them to the water. But my arms are too short to wrap around the board’s middle and I end up dragging it through the sand. I think to myself, “This is heavier than I remember.”

Once in the water and on the board, I easily paddle out. “OK, not so bad after all.”

We’re supposed to spend about an hour in the water catching as many waves as possible. But they are so spread out that we spend much of our time waiting, alternating between sitting and lying on the board. As the sets of waves come up, Mikey and Jason guide us two by two, helping us catch the wave and instructing us when to stand up.

With my first wave, my arms and legs are fresh and energetic. I’m up and gliding along, barely aware I’m moving with the ocean.Surfing on Maui

But I now have to paddle back to the group and wait for another wave. Now we’re all fighting the heavy winds coming in from the shoreline and have to continually paddle in and to the left where the waves are breaking.

By the third set, Jason yells back, “Let’s make this our last wave.”

I wait patiently for my final chance. I wait some more. Jason guides me over to where the waves are breaking and I dutifully paddle. “Here it is, take it,” he says.

I paddle harder. When I think the wave is breaking, I jump up and quickly fall into the water. It’s then I realize my legs are spent. I jump back on the board and start paddling toward the shore. It’s then I realize my arms are also spent. I hope for more waves to push me the rest of the way in.

I drag the board back through the sand and, once again think, “This is much harder than I remember.” But really, I can’t wait to try it again.


Are you a newbie surfer? Where have you surfed?

Be Bold,


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Are Full Body Scanners Safe?

by Beth Whitman (June 23rd, 2015)

Beth Whitman Airport PatdownI’ve written the past couple of weeks about the TSA Pre✓ program and the Global Entry program. Both are great for frequent travelers who want to get through lines at the airport more quickly.

If you’re like me, however, you’ll avoid these programs because you must be fingerprinted in order to be part of them. Call me (and Edward Snowden) crazy but I’d prefer to keep my prints out of any national database. The government has access to enough knowledge about me without having that info, too. :-)

To take things one step further, when I arrive at the airport, I opt out of going through the full body scanners. Instead, I endure a hands-on pat down by a female TSA agent.

Opting out is a choice I make.

I began opting out when the backscatter scanners were first installed. These were rushed into implementation so quickly that not enough research had gone into the affects of these machines on the human body. When something is deemed unsafe for children and pregnant women, it can’t be great for the general population, can it?

These backscatter scanners were then replaced–for both privacy and health issues and at a cost of about 45 million dollars–by millimeter wave scanners. Theses are the machines you now walk through at airport security in most US airports. What many people don’t realize is that this is also a form of radiation and that, still, not enough research has gone into the affects of these machines on the human body.

While the millimeter wave scanners, as these are called, have not been thoroughly tested on humans, the affects of terahertz waves, which these scanners use, have been confirmed to cause DNA damage. That information came from a study published by Los Alamos National Labs. You know, the place where they developed the first nuclear weapon? Those folks know a thing or two about radiation!

As noted in this article from the MIT Technology Review, “…although the forces generated are tiny, resonant effects allow THz waves to unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication.”

The argument could be made, as someone said in this lively discussion on my Facebook page, that I’m exposed to lots of other forms of radiation so why not just get over it and go through these scanners. My point is that if I have the ability to opt out, why not exercise that right?

I question dentists, doctors and chiropractors every time they suggest I need an x-ray. More often than not, they back off and admit that it isn’t absolutely necessary to accurately treat me. If I question my doctors, why would I then just walk through a radiation machine that has now been proven to cause DNA damage?

Many people don’t realize they have the ability to opt out. And all I’m saying is that we have choices. Are you going to get cancer because you’ve walked through one of these millimeter wave machines two, eight or dozens of times in a year? Probably not. But the truth is we likely won’t ever know.

Look, I eat well (vegetarian for 25 years!) and exercise daily. I limit my intake of sugar, alcohol and processed foods. So if I have a choice not to expose myself to something unhealthy (especially an unknown like the millimeter wave scanners), I take the healthy route.

Do I think the full body scanners are safe? Probably not. But I don’t see them going away anytime soon. Until then, I’ll continue to opt out.

Do you opt out?

Be Bold,


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