Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Red Lodge Vacation

With my family in Taiwan I traveled West for a short vacation.  I have been working on getting in better shape, so I hoped to turn my new fitness level into something adventurous.  After finally getting on the road at noon, I realized that I forgot my helmet and needed to turn around and go the 30 minutes home to get it. I left for real at about 1 pm hauling my DR650 on a trailer without lights.

My first stop was in Miles City, Montana.  I was graciously hosted by my Uncle Al and Aunt Lucy.  I woke early and solved my trailer light issue.  Turns out the frame was not working as a ground like it should. Once I added dedicated ground wire I saw the lights.

Al recommended riding in Strawberry Hill Recreation Area.  I experienced solid riding there and on an area gravel roads.

After riding back into Miles City, I hung around with Al and Lucy during the afternoon and stayed for dinner.  Lucy sent a few slices of left-over ham with me for my trip to Red Lodge.

My cousin Chip gave me access to his condo while in Red Lodge.  I looked forward to him joining me later in the week.

My first motorcycle ride was up Hell Roaring Road,  I found the baby-head rocks challenging at first. I dumped twice.  First tipping over into the road and next bonking into the uphill berm beside the road.  Once I learned to keep my speed up and let the suspension do the work I felt more confident and remained upright.

The next day, I looked on a map and found what looked like a good route.  I went from Red Lodge to Belfry to The Chief Joseph Highway back to the Bear Tooth Pass for the trip back to Red Lodge.  I saw several dirt roads and double tracks to ride.  I followed this for about 5 miles.  The tracks continued much further than I traveled on it.  Lots of big sky here.

Friday night Chip arrived from Fargo.  It is always good to connect with him.  Saturday morning he suggested we play around doing some climbing on a snow field.  

This is the same set of chutes that makes the backdrop for my motorcycle picture taken on Hell Roaring Road.  Cool coincidence. 
 This picture shows the steepness.  I went up as far as I could on snowshoes bearing aggressive cleats.  Chip was able to go higher because he had proper crampons.  This climbing was physically challenging and just the right amount of scary.  Going down was harder than going up.  I used ice axes and kicked in steps on part of the descent.
 Sunday Chip and I road up Bear Tooth Pass on bicycles.  It took me 3 hours of steady climbing in, or near granny gear to go 15 miles and gain 4,000 vertical feet. to the 10,900' top.

I took my first rest break in the parking area below the chutes we climbed.  I still had 10 miles to go.

Shortly before we pedaled above the treeline, we saw this bighorn sheep ewe standing next to the road.  She seemed to wait patiently as I took out my phone and snapped this picture.
Chip rode ahead and took this picture as I crested the summit by the ski lift.  My Surly Long Haul Trucker had lots of gears for the climb and stable handling for the fast ride down. 

Huge thanks to Lucy, Al and Chip.  Their guidance made this a week to remember.  

Grounding seems to be a theme of this trip from lights on my trailer, to connecting with family, to tipping my motorcycle, to proudly huffing and puffing on the side of hills.  

Mountains offer grounding perspective.  I can simultaneously hold pride in my accomplishments and feel insignificant compared to their size, age, and grandeur.  This is a memorable trip.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Wet Ride to Duluth

Jared and I rode to Aerostich's Open House Saturday.  Rain and temps in the lower 50's to lower 40's provided ample opportunity to try out my Darian Jacket and AD1 pants.  I won a MSR titanium two pot set set, and purchased a back protector and a t-shirt.

Sunday morning we had round two of gear testing.  Despite being wet on the outside, I stayed warm and dry inside my jacket and pants.  It was cold enough at home to turn on my furnace to warm the house and help dry out my gear.

Here's some info on the pot I won as a door prize.  It's a sweet titan titanium two pot set from MSR sans handle pliers.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Overnighter to Pipestone

 Hoping for a quick overnight motocamping trip, I pulled up a map of Minnesota looking for a novel destination.  I decided on Pipestone, Mn.  I know about the historic significance, but had never visited.  I called Jared, and he was able to both join me and plan the route.

 The two of us rode through the Laura Ingalls Highway to the West.  On the road, I thought about Mr. Edwards and the US-Dakota War of 1862 that emptied the the region of settlers and Natives though ethnic cleansing.
 The weather was nigh perfect.  Sunny skies, bright moon and moderate temperatures combined with no bugs made for a pleasant trip.
 We arrived at the Pipestone National Monument at about 4:30 pm.  Toured the inside exhibits and went for a 30 minute walk around the ancient grounds.
 We camped 6 miles south at Split Rock Creek State Park.  It was nothing fancy, but sites were available near the lake.
 We took a detour to ride up a gravel road toward a wind farm.  I wondered what geological structure made building wind towers particularly appealing here.  According to the Pipestone Chamber of Commerce.  "This area of Minnesota, called Buffalo Ridge... is a glacier-deposited ridge that runs diagonally accross the state.  Because of its higher eleveation of 1950 feet, the area experiences continual wind speeds of 18 mph.  This and the plentiful open farm and pasture land make it an ideal place for wind turbines."  
We arrived back at Jared's for a special late lunch of foie gras, brie, french bread and other charcuterie.   

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Crutch Jack Stand for the DR 650

Put together a jack stand for the motor bike.  $3 for a set of crutches from the thrift store.  Simple to make, cheap, strong, compact, and light make it a winner.

There are several web pages that show alternative designs, but this one works for me.  I get excited when I find simple solutions to problems that could easily be solved by money.

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.