Saturday, August 29, 2015

Chanterelles Gift


I was gifted an ample pile of foraged chanterelle mushrooms from a long time friend, Mai.  What a wonderful culinary opportunity.

 However, knowing the hazards of randomly picked fungi, I did some research before cooking them up.  One good source is from the Mycological Society of San Francisco. 

I learned of the look alike and toxic jack-o-lantern mushroom that is bio-luminescent.  I read that chanterelles have false gills that fork and white flesh instead of the orange flesh and true gills of the jack-o-lantern. I read a story about an ER worker who had a patient they named "Jack" because he came in poisoned from eating the toxic version two years in a row because the poisonous jack-o-lantern has a lovely fruity smell like the chanterelle.  I even found comfort in learning that toxic one is not deadly; it just makes you wish you were dead for a couple of days. 

 Once confident that this gift was in fact chanterelles, I carefully cleaned them.  They smelled wonderfully pungent of the earth and apricots.  Sauteed with garlic in butter they were superior to other fungi. The flesh was firmly creamy while the flavors of fruity umami carried solidly through the butter and garlic.  I look forward to more chanterelles.

I appreciate the gift of a bag of mushrooms.  The sharing of a precious, seasonal bounty, the piqued curiosity about wild mushrooms and the new reason to connect with my immediate nature are the best part of this present.  Thanks, Mai.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Black Powder

Pace of life has been fast and exciting lately.  The observation of Martin Luther King Jr. afforded me a couple of hours to drive to my shooting range.  40 degree weather helped too.

I brought two guns.  The rifle is a percussion cap ,50 caliber Thompson New Englander I received as a gift from my Uncle Al while on a trip with Claire and Harris in Montana.  90 grains of ff black powder sends a lead ball down range with surprising accuracy.

The revolver is an Uberti replica of a 1860 Colt Army that fires .44 caliber balls truly with 30 grains fff black powder times six. Old school now, being Civil War era, however, this was a state of the art weapon used by both the North and the South.  

I enjoy shooting these guns because they demand a slower pace granting me time to think and to focus on accuracy.

While trying to hold steady on the paper in front of me,  I thought about how I would not want to load and fix the regular jams of these guns while someone was shooting at me.  I thought about the technology of these guns causing more American casualties than in all of the United States wars combined.  I thought about the causes of the Civil War.  I thought about MLK day, hatred and assassination.  I thought about more...

Shooting black powder is visceral; you feel the thud and hear the blast as wonderfully sulfurous smoke hangs in the air.  Today I learned that thinking while shooting has much the same effect.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Jan. 17th Trip to Itasca and Swim in the Mississippi Headwaters.

Two other dads and I took a group of skiers to Itasca for the weekend to ski. Snow conditions did not allow skiing, so we went on a hike with a football.  The other fathers and I hustled to keep up, as the kids ran, jumped and tackled each other.  I am impressed by their ability to make the best of a ski trip without enough snow to ski.


When we got to our cabin we discovered that the furnace was out; it was ambient temperature or colder inside.  Kids huddled around an electric space heater and  had a blast.



During a similar trip last year the skiers and I waded the Mississippi's icy waters.  This year one of the boys decided that we needed to get submerged.  Five skiers and I went into the shallow water and did a push-up to get under the surface.  This turned into a push up contest.  The winner was able to do about 10 below the water.

Harris makes the swim and walks back to our changing tent and a set of dry clothes.  We kept wool socks on to protect our feet in and out of the water.  This trick made being submerged in the cold water easier than I anticipated.

 It is good to travel with people who are interested in making their own fun.  I am proud to associate with such fine young people.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ski Season

Busy with the ski season again this year.  It's a blast.  The picture below is of a figure 8 course I groomed on an irrigation pond on our campus.  I used my snow blower to augment the sparse snow on the track.  Ended up making this cool pattern.  I invited Claire's team from Math and Science Academy over for an afternoon of fast paced racing in the Infinity Bowl.



Below is our Skidoo Skandic with the Tidd Tech groomer.  I've had it out a few times this year.



After a race Claire and Harris are eating gyros.  Both were the fastest varsity skiers for their teams on this day.  I'm proud of the hard work and fun these two put into skiing.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Fat Ride Before Thaw

My fatbike makes winter fun.  With several 40 degree plus days in the forecast, I felt the need to get some snow time in.  Nothing special, just a ride along the Minnesota River Bottom.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

An Adventure?

By nature an adventure entails risk and the possibility of a misadventure.  Regardless we drove North East of Park Rapids to the Paul Bunyan State Forest despite a dangerously cold  forecast.  Below is a screen shot of the actual temps.
We parked the car, donned our snowshoes and did our final staging before walking into the forest.
 
 The bright setting sun made each bare tree cast long shadows in the deep sugary snow.  Only animals had preceded us on this trial for some time.  We worked hard breaking a path.  


 Jared used his pulk sled to haul his gear and my bulky -40 sleeping bag.  His large snowshoes and trailing wake made him easy to follow. 


 
I took my turn leading too.  My smaller snowshoes and pack made my steps plunge a little deeper. 


Finding a spot  somewhat out of the wind we began to dig in  and set up camp. 
 With the extreme cold and with darkness coming we decided to skip making a hot meal.  I munched cheese curds, a granola bar and a few fun sized candy bars for supper.  I looked forward to snuggling in my bag and watching "No Reservations" and "Top Gear" on my phone, but dozed off.  I woke up about 30 minutes later to twigs snapping as something walked through the snow about five feet from my head.  I'd guess a deer, but the snow didn't allow distinguishing tracks to form.
 About an hour later the cold really settled in.  We made the call to pack up and head in for the night.  This, however, never felt like failure.  It was the right decision on such a cold night.  We had a great car ride,  snowshoed in an amazing forest and spent time in the woods with the animals.  Once out of the woods we drove to our cousin's cabin, made a late night pizza and slept well.  Yes, our adventure turned into a misadventure, but that doesn't mean it wasn't well worth doing.



Monday, January 20, 2014

Fatpacking the Minnesota River Valley.

Jared and I decided to escape for an overnight bikepacking trip.  The picture below is of my bike pre-assembled on my porch prior to leaving.  I'm trying some tweaks on proven gear systems.  I have my bivy and zero degree F. sleeping bag mounted to a second stem under my handlebars.  I'm using a single Thermarest Ridge Rest pad attached to my seat post rack for the first time.

 Below is my bike ready to leave Jared's just after 9pm. 31 F. made for a warm ride to our camping spot.

Jared's Moonlander with orange and yellow and my Pugsley with blue and green during a break.  The trails were soft and took some work to ride.  Better after we both lowered tire pressure; plodding might describe our progress.  Not out for speed; we enjoyed a warm night.
 
I took a picture of Big Foot behind Jared.  Too bad the photo is grainy: you can just make out his outline.  Warm weather must have lured him out.  I rode for some time without hat or gloves.  Not bad for a mid-January night.
 We camped in a sheltered spot surrounded by brush and small trees.  In the Minnesota River Valley.
 Pictures, above and below, show the location of my bivy for the night.  Billowy snow, still soft after being stepped down, helped me sleep well.  The single pad, bivy and sleeping bag all worked wonderfully.
 We woke up to temps.were in the high teens around 8:30 am.  These small trees sheltered us from a stout wind.  Jared's Moonlander unloaded with his camp set up behind him added color and contrast to a white and gray landscape.


Here's Jared's view of my campsite
 We decided to eat a handful of nuts instead of heating water for our oatmeal and coffee, packed camp and were riding by 9am..  Soft snow, a big climb out of the valley and a headwind had us questioning our meager breakfast choice an hour later.


 Oh well, we were back at Jared's a few minutes before 11am.  Our trip finished with a drive to Wampach's Restaurant for onion rings and the Monday meatloaf special.   Loads of fun and a little adventure packed into a 24 hours.