Paddleboarding for Beginners - Campfire Chic

I’m a chronic beginner. It’s not that I don’t want to commit to one activity, I want to try everything (except BASE jumping, sky diving, and SCUBA. I’ll pass).

Alex and I were kayaking quite a bit earlier this summer but the price for rentals was getting the point where we needed to either buy our own kayaks or get a membership someplace to help justify the money. Our good friend, Chelsea, invited us to the Newport Aquatic Center one weekend to hang out on the water. She was a member and knew we were looking for a place to join. We fell in love with the location, the facilities, and the price for a monthly family membership after only a few visits…including a particularly pricey visit when we ended up battling the current for about 2 hours. We learned our lesson with that one!

After a few trips with Chelsea, I decided to jump on a stand up paddleboard (SUP for short) to cruise around with her instead of tooling around in a kayak. I had a quick lesson once before and was able to get on the board pretty quickly. Honestly, I expected to fall in the water a few times, but I thankfully held my own!

I like paddle boarding because I can stand, kneel, sit, or lie down. While in a kayak, I can sit up straight and I can recline…but not much else. I do feel like I’m working a lot harder to move the paddle board when compared to a kayak, but I like that tired feeling I get when I re-rack my paddle board after an hour or two of paddling around the beautiful Newport Back Bay.

As always, I have a few tips from one beginner to another…

From a Beginner - Stand Up Paddleboarding from Campfire Chic


Tips for SUPing (from a beginner):

  • Dress comfortably 

    If you’re not comfortable sporting a bikini, don’t worry about it! You can wear a rash guard, cover up, or even your favorite board shorts and tank top combo. Like I mentioned on my kayaking essentials for beginners post, I’ll always be in love with Patagonia’s Wavefarer board shorts (I have 3 pairs). My next favorite bottoms to wear are the Suva Run Short IIs from Fabletics (I now have 3 pairs). They are lined running shorts with a thick waist band…I think they may be considered quarter splits, if you’re familiar with the cuts of running shorts. The blue and multicolored shorts in the photos above are the Suva Run Shorts in high intensity & blue lava, if you’re interested. I usually wear a tank top over a bikini top to stay comfortable and usually opt for my Cool Racerback (in black above) from Lululemon or my Aventura tank from Fabletics. As for shoes, I like wearing my Keen Clearwater CNX sandals, tried going out in the new UNEEK sandals (yes, seriously), and go barefoot. I’ve been going barefoot more often so I can try and have dry shoes when I walk around later, but I prefer wearing my CNX sandals for some reason.

  • Ask for a quick lesson

    Anywhere you go should offer to give you a quick lesson if you ask. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for clarification on something. This would be a good time to ask about a good route for beginners so you have an idea of where to go and where to maybe avoid. I’m not a coach, but I get on my board in “table top position” like in yoga, plant my feet on the board right behind my wrists, drop by butt, and stand up as if I’m coming out of a deep squat. See what works for you and what makes you feel comfortable. Safety first!

  • Protect yourself

    Wear sunblock, a hat, sunglasses, and whatever other sun protection is part of your usual prep before going outdoors. Become familiar with the are and ask about the wind, tide, and dangers that may be lurking in the water. Follow protocol for personal floatation devices (PFD) for the location. Our center requires that the PFD be on board before you launch and has a life vest strapped to the front of each board before they are even rented out. Ask about the expectations and how to use the devices before heading out on your microadventure. As always, let somebody know where you are and when to expect you home.

  • Bring a friend and remember to have fun

    Trying something new and trying to remember all the little tips and nuances of a new activity is overwhelming! Make things a little less stressful by grabbing a friend and heading out together. There may even be a discount available so you can split the costs! Alex and I usually go out with our friend Chelsea but have taken other friends out with us who are interested in seeing the area (it’s a protected wildlife area) and trying either kayaking or paddle boarding. Try to have some fun…because if you’re not having fun you should probably stop and find something else to do. Life’s too short to be miserable doing something you’re not into. It’s not for everybody!

What tips would you share with somebody trying paddle boarding for the first time?


Only the Fabletics links in this post are affiliate/referral links. New Fabletics VIP members can get a full look for about $25, which is a total steal. I receive Fabletics credit for memberships made through those links, no cash.


Microadventurer Kam of Campfire Chic

Alastair Humphreys is the dude behind the idea of a microadventure. He describes microadventures as your 5-to-9 life…the time between getting off of work in the evening and heading back in the morning…it’s 16 hours of freedom waiting to be used. It’s the “reset button for busy lives.” Microadventures “are are adventures that are close to home, cheap, simple and short.” He has a whole book on Microadventures* that I haven’t read yet, but will get around to browsing soon enough.

Amy mentioned Alastair’s site to me and the term microadventure earlier this year and I was hooked. I mean, that’s what I do.

I am stretching this idea of the microadventure to include my weekends. Alastair would understand.

It’s getting out of work on Fridays and heading straight to the beach for a few hours of stand up paddleboarding. It’s spending an entire day driving and walking around Los Angeles visiting museums, eating the hottest things on Yelp, and taking photos. It’s going on a sunset hike to avoid the heat at home. It’s embracing the once-dreaded time change this winter…because I know that means night hikes and bonfires.

I follow plenty of adventure, outdoor, and travel bloggers and I hesitate to write the word adventure anymore because I’m not exactly through-hiking the John Muir Trail, climbing in various locations across the world, or spending extended periods of time living out of the United States. I’m hanging out close to home and trying new things as I come across them.

What I’m doing is microadventuring. 

Alastair has a ton of resources on his site including how to plan your microadventure (which is actually a ton of individual posts) and ideas for simple microadventures like commuting to and from work a different way. There are some things on his site that remind me that not everybody is going to be within reasonable driving distance to someplace where they can camp overnight and then head back to work the next day, so I’m taking things in stride and making these microadventures my own.

My plan:

  • Keep a microadventure kit in my car for an easy transition between getting off of work and starting my evening. I’m thinking it will be much simpler but should include a headlamp, water bottle, first aid kit, spare clothes, extra socks. I don’t need this to be a full bugout bag, but something close to it and flexible for the “seasons”. I say “seasons” because this is Southern California and I have no idea what an actual season is like.
  • Involve my friends. Sure we’ll get together for dinner on a whim, but what about a night hike? What about going to the grunion run? Or going on a night paddleboarding tour?
  • Keep trying new things. Because that’s the other thing I do. I like to try new things, experience being a beginner, and sharing what I learn.

What do you think? Are you up for some microadventures?


*That right there is an Amazon affiliate link. I’ll get a small portion of the sales made through the link (of anything in your cart) which will then support Campfire Chic and upcoming microadventures. 


LA Tour - Say Cheese Street Art

Last week I shared a little about the self-prescribed Los Angeles Food Tour we took. While I would love to pretend that we were able to eat non-stop for 13 hours, our double-date involved a fair amount of non-food exploring and a handful of photos to document our micro-adventure.

Between eating at Blu Jam Cafe, Sprinkles Cupcakes, and drinks at the Upstairs Bar, we planned some stops that would allow us to digest our meals and catch some air conditioning. It was a very warm weekend so anywhere with free parking and air conditioning was high on our list!

The non-food places we visited:

  • LACMA – Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • Eighty-Two
  • Shops in the Artists’ District
  • Pershing Square
  • Angels Flight
  • Los Angeles Public Library

LA Tour - Los Angeles County Museum of Art

LA Tour - LACMA Metropolis Exhibit

LA Tour Downtown Los Angeles


We went through several great exhibits at LACMA including Breathing Light (such a trip if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into), Levitated Mass (that giant rock I’m “holding” in the photo above), and Metropolis II (such a cool exhibit, the people-watching alone is worth sticking around). We didn’t spend much time in other exhibits, but we did take a quick ride in a giant elevator…which sounds super dumb, but it’s a thing…and the chairs in the outdoor patio area inspired the color palette for a future quilt!

We spent a fair amount of time in the Artists’ District (where Salt and Straw, Blacktop Coffee, Wurstküche, and The Pie Hole are located) including Eighty-Two which is a barcade. Alex and I love Ground Kontrol in Portland and all other barcades are held up to it so we weren’t blown away by Eighty-Two. I assume the club scene on weekend nights is what draws people in. 

In order to work up an appetite before dinner, we walked around Downtown to find some locations from 500 Days of Summer including the park bench Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character) sits to look out at the skyline. The area is kind of blocked off while Angels Flight is on hiatus but we were able to see the short railway that normally carries folks up Bunker Hill. We also did a quick tour through the Central Library location of the LA Public Library system to see some of the art, the card catalog-covered interiors of the elevators, and the gorgeous dome and old card catalog area outside of the Teen Library section of the library.

We are brainstorming ideas for our next tour through Los Angeles and Hollywood, so if you have any suggestions or requests, please let me know.


Explore Your Hometown Through Food


Last weekend, Alex and I joined forces with some friends (another couple who love to try new things — especially when it comes to good food!) to embark on a self-prescribed food tour through Los Angeles. Why a food tour? Because exploring your city through the food is something amazing…you’re seeing what the locals are creating, you’re trying new things, and seeing your city through new eyes.

This micro-adventure has been in the works for a few months and I’m glad we finally found a weekend that would work for us! While a few of the places we hit were on the list for months, Iris (the same girlfriend from the sushi class earlier this year) and I planned the tour just days before heading into LA. We even came up with a few extra places in case we were hungry or needed a Plan B if a line was too long to wait.

On our food-related itinerary:

LA Food Tour Blue Jam Cafe and Ramen


We started out with breakfast at Blu Jam Cafe — 2 orders of eggs benedict and an order of their house special: crunchy french toast with two sunny side eggs on the side. Let’s just talk about the french toast…it’s amazing and we all thought about the french toast for the rest of the day. They use brioche bread and cover the dredged bread with corn flakes and then fry them. Instead of syrup (peasant food!) you are given a portion of warm vanilla bean sauce to drizzle over your perfect french toast with strawberries and blueberries.

The line can get long for Blu Jam, which we witnessed as we walked out of the restaurant. We didn’t wait at all, so I’ll say getting to the restaurant before 9:00 a.m. is a good bet.

The black and white photo is from our dinner in Little Tokyo. The ramen was nice after a long day of walking and taking in the sights, we just wish there was a vegetarian option for a certain boyfriend. Alex is a team player and ate a ton of avocado and cucumber rolls as the three of us chowed down on our ramen bowls. (Don’t worry, Alex was got veggie ramen the following night, I’m not that terrible of a girlfriend).

LA Food Tour Salt and Straw and Sprinkles ATM


Before heading downtown for the rest of the day, we made the short trip from Blu Jam Cafe to Sprinkles in Beverly Hills. We have Sprinkles (and Sprinkles Ice Cream) in Orange County, but this trip was special: The Beverly Hills location has the Cupcake ATM outside! It was pink and beautiful and perfectly set up for photos…in fact, the photo above shows the door closing while Iris’ cupcake was still inside! Have no fear, the machine will reopen the door so you can grab your treat without rushing your photos.

Alex and I opted for juices at Kreation next door to Sprinkles. The juice place also has an ATM but it was out of stock. Next time we’re in the area, I hope to capture one person getting juice from the machine while another is getting a cupcake.

Yes, it’s true: Salt and Straw landed in Los Angeles! Truth be told, we had no idea the truck existed so this was not part of our original plan, but after lunch at Wurstküche (for a similar experience in Orange County, go to Linx near the Orange Circle. You’ll probably see us there since we seem to go once a week), we wanted something cold and decadent. We got three cones: two Stumptown coffee with “love nuts” (we don’t know and we didn’t want to ask) and one salted caramel. Alex picked up a cold brew coffee from Blacktop Coffee and tasted some of my ice cream cone (above).

LA Food Tour - ACE Hotel Rooftop Bar


It was super warm and we needed a place to relax and have a cold drink so we headed over to ACE hotel (cheap parking is hard to come by so be prepared to valet or circle the block a few times) and check out the rooftop bar. We have some friends who go up there pretty often and I would be a terrible blogger if I didn’t at least peek inside the hotel a bit. The upstairs was crowded but the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. The pool area was cramped so we stayed closer to the elevator and found some seating near the windows so we could look out over the city while we cooled off a bit. If you enjoy people watching, grab a drink and stay a while.

We didn’t eat at Grand Central Market, but we wanted to walk through to see some of the new stalls (including McConnel’s fine ice cream from Santa Barbara with a cult-following) and to show our friends where EggSlut and Sarita’s Pupusaria are located. Both places are great…I’m craving the Fairfax sandwich from Eggslut right now.

After dinner, we headed back to the same area as Wurstküche/Salt and Straw/Blacktop Coffee to have dessert at The Pie Hole. We ordered the banana cream, vegan blackberry crumble, and a chocolate crostata. Everything was delicious.

Other places we would like to visit: Milk, Bottega Louie, Standard Hotel’s rooftop bar, and anywhere mentioned on Best Thing I Ever Ate/Diners Drive-ins and Dives/etc. because, why not?

My challenge to you this week is to try someplace new in your hometown. Something that you can’t find elsewhere. Something that may seem ridiculous (we want to go to Cafe Gratitude just for the pretentious way you order food) but, in the end, will make for a great story. Who knows, maybe you’ll have guests in town soon and they’ll want to try something new and different!


Visit Salt Lake City - Campfire Chic

Earlier this month, I attending (my first) Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was traveling alone, wasn’t sure about my exact role while at the show, and didn’t really know what to expect because the Twitter and Instagram feed from last year felt like not many attendees had the time/energy to update often (except Jam Media Collective, they do an awesome job covering the show, in my opinion).

Now I know why.

Outdoor Retailer (#ORShow) is just as exhausting as San Diego Comic-Con…and maybe even more because I was working in a booth, walked a ton (one day I did 16 miles!), and because it’s so new and different. Also, not all brands are thrilled with having photos taken of their products and because I didn’t have a media badge, I was out of luck getting any sort of special privileges.

What was my favorite part of the show? Meeting more of my internet friends! 

I was able to finally put voices to the friends I’ve made through blogging, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s so interesting being surrounded by people who are not only thrilled about being outdoors, but enjoy talking about ethically-sourced down, the nuances of posting to Instagram, and don’t ask questions when you grab a Snickers bar before a long hike. Seriously, these are my people.

Blogger Cliche Photo - Campfire Chic

Keen Footwear UNEEK Shoe - Campfire Chic

Teton Sports Showroom in Utah - Campfire Chic

Other highlights of the show:

  • Working the KEEN sandal sale — KEEN was selling their CNX sandals for $30 (such a steal!) and I had the opportunity to learn how to use Square on an iPad. It may sound silly, but I’ve been wanting to see how the system works and I love how easy it was to use!
  • Going to the Teton Sports showroom for #HikerChat on Friday morning — I love the #HikerChat Twitter chat and it was interesting to be sitting in an office with 3 other people during the chat. We didn’t talk too much since we were feverishly typing and trying to keep up with the notoriously fact-paced chat…I ended up sprawling across the floor as I tried to catch up on questions and cool off after an extra-warm walk from the convention center with Adam (@ThatOutdoorGuy).
  • KEENfest! – I knew it would be awesome, but being inside the tent and seeing all the awesome things going on and meeting people (over free food) was fantastic. This is where I first ran into Jeff and Joan (@TheSocalHiker and @JoanEHester) and Katie and Laurie (@katieboue/@themorningfresh and @laurietewksbury)! I scored an awesome sling made out of a parasail, dove into the photobooth with some new friends, reconnected with some of the folks from the Bridge to Nowhere hike from last year.
  • Fangirling over my favorite brands… — Now, this probably sounds super silly, but seeing some of my favorite brands “in real life” was super thrilling for me! And knowing that there were real-live people standing in those booths who probably shared the same level of love for that brand was just too much for my little gear-loving heart. A friend and I hunted down the TICLA booth (and I just about died when the founder said, “Campfire Chic? I know exactly who you are”), I tried to keep a straight face (instead of sporting heart-eyes) as I traipsed past the Arc’teryx booth, gawked at the upcoming line of beautiful SUUNTO watches…you know, totally normal reactions.
  • …and discovering new-to-me-brands — My Miir water bottle and Vim&Vigr compression socks are two of my favorite things I picked up at the show (and I picked up a TON of stuff). There are so many cool products and cool people at the show that it’s hard to remember everything, but trust me…there are some cool things that will be popping up here soon enough and I’ll give you the low-down at that time.

The highlight that almost killed me? 

A super-secret hike with fellow members of the Mountain Adventurers team! It was super-secret in the sense that I received an email that pretty much said, “you’re going on this strenuous 6-mile hike. Bring a headlamp and 3 liters of water.” Hiking with strangers at an unknown location and I can’t bring a friend? Okay, I guess that’s cool. 

Lake Blanche Trailhead - Campfire Chic

Teton Sports Trailrunner Hydration Pack - Campfire Chic

My sea-level lungs got the best me of as we made our way up to Lake Blanche (trail information here) but I made it (thanks to Jordan, Kristie, Adam and the others for sticking with me!) and after a few photos we used our headlamps to race back down to the trailhead. While I would’ve skipped the hike if I had the opportunity to look up the details (2,500 feet elevation gain!), I’m glad Teton Sports kept me in the dark and I tagged along.

I’m really thankful I was able to finally attend #ORShow and see what actually happens at the show. I hope to have the opportunity to attend the winter show even though snow is pretty much my Kryptonite (I hate being cold and wet…which is snow, right?).