Buying union made in the USA tires is simple but a little time consuming. Tires are a big purchase so it’s great to make sure I’m investing in good union jobs.

United Steel Workers (USW) represents the workers at a number of tire plants in the US.  As with many items, it’s all about tracing the tires to which plant they were actually made at.

I take my car to Don Foshay’s in Hallowell, and Chris there was fantastic at helping me find union made tires– thank you Chris!

I went online and printed off this list off this list from USW. What’s great is that each tire has a DOT number, and that number includes letters that signify exactly where they were made.

I faxed this to Chris at Don Foshay’s, Chris faxed it to his warehouse, made a couple of calls, found the tires that fit my Ford Focus, and ordered them.  They were on my car within a couple days.

I got B.F. Goodrich tires and they are great. What a difference a good pair of tires makes.

Camping gear: FOOD

This past weekend Andy and I and two friends hiked into Russell Pond in Baxter State Park. It’s 7+ miles in, and so every ounce on the back counts. No fancy meals.

We picked up the Good to Go dehydrated camping meals we saw by chance at Eastern Mountain Sports and decided to try them.

Made right in Maine (Kittery) these are designed for camping. You just add boiling water. The ingredients list is not scary- it’s all real food. Right now they make three entrees to choose from. (They are all vegetarian)

We loved these meals and they were super easy and light. They were yummy and made a bunch of food- two generous servings per packet.

Smoked Three Bean Chili was very tasty and satisfying.  We actually hiked in some pre-cooked chicken sausage to throw in with it ince we had this on our first night and we could splurge on one meal with perishable food.

Herbed Mushroom Risotto was also delicious. We added pepper, and also recommend 2 cups of boiling water instead of the 2.5 cups listed on the directions.

The best of the three was the Thai Curry– spicy and so delicious.  Loaded with veggies and flavor and coconut milk.

I am definitely going to eat these again and recommend them widely! Great to see a Maine company getting into this market and improving it.

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Camping gear: sleeping mats and pillows

I have been investing in good camping gear over the past few years, since camping is one of my favorite activities.

My sleeping mat is made by Therm-a-Rest and was made in the USA. Mine is a few years old, but I believe many are still made in the USA while some of their products are made in Ireland.

I also invested in Therm-a-Rest pillows that are made in the USA. These fold down into small sacks but poof out to make decent pillows. These two items do the trick for backpacking but also getting a good night’s sleep.

I got both my mat and the pillow from the wonderful folks at Epic Sports in Bangor, my favorite outdoor gear story. Brad Ryder and his crew at Epic Sports are knowledgeable and helpful and they have a huge selection of outdoor gear for all sports and activities.

Andy’s sleeping mat had a hole in it, so he was looking for one a few months ago when we stopped at Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) in Portland.   It turns out EMS makes their own brand of sleeping mats that are made in the USA. It’s the “Siesta” sleeping pad.  He is a handful of camping trips in with it so far and he likes it.

Made in the USA sleeping mats and pillows for this camping crew

Made in the USA sleeping mats and pillows for this camping crew