Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bunches of Berries

One of my favorite hiking trails in the Fairbanks area is at Granite Tors. Its a 14 miles loop trail that most people do as a night over trip. Tim and I have been up both sides of the loop but haven't done the complete loop up by the Tors. The East side of the loop follows the river then a creek until it starts climbing up a side-hill. The West side of the trail goes through the tundra and lower muskeg. Right before we left town they put in a 3-mile loop which makes for a really nice walk that takes advantage of both sides of the valley's scenery.

I convinced some of my buddies to take a little wallk with me one night after work while I was in town recently. Here's one of the bridges that's on the new loop cross-over trail.

Chris and John

After we made the turn we walked a little ways beyond the trail back and headed up the west side. The blueberries started to get thicker as we walked up the valley. We found that they were pretty big right by the creek. Kim with the east side trail in the background.

and Dorothy showing off the wonderful berries we found along the creek.

This was a strange we were starting out we heard someone calling and then when they finally got our attention a man told us his wife and two kids had taken off for a hike along the east trail at about 11 and were supposed to be back by 2 pm. He said that the rangers and helicopters were on their way. It was about 7:30 or 8 pm when we started out. We weren't sure if he was pulling our leg or what. We kept our eyes open but didn't see anyone who looked lost. About an hour later we heard a helicopter and then saw it start doing a searching pattern. On our way back we ran into a couple rangers who were sweeping the trail. And then we started hearing answers to their calls. When we got back to the parking lot they still hadn't shown up yet but we told them we had heard voices, and one that might have been a kid or higher pitched woman's voice. As we were packing up a young boy and a ranger can into view and it was the missing party. The boy seemed a little worried about maybe getting to trouble. He said that they were never lost - they just lost track of time. I guess the strangest part if this adventure was that they father never hugged the kid or expressed any strong emotion. He didn't actually start yelling. The ranger had to tell the guy to get the kid in a warmed car. We didn't stay to see the rest of the party come back. It seemed like maybe the mother had a hip problem and had to take her time. Anyway, really glad it turned out but it was a baffling experience.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Recent Readings

I've recently read a couple of books that have been on my list and finally made it to the top of the stack.

The 36-Hour Day, Nancy Mace and Peter Rabins, is a guide to caring for someone with Alzheimer's Disease and other similar dementia. It gives a lot of very good information and seems to be very thorough. It was given to a friend by her by father and who's mother has dementia. You have to be pretty brave to read it as you're thinking about a loved one because it quickly explains how things progress with the illness. No matter how much you wish it wasn't going to happen, I think its better to have some idea of what the stages are and how it might affect you. There's no fairy tale happy ending but at least the book gives you suggestions and ideas for how to accept the illness and do the best you can.

The other book is called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Robert M. Pirsig. Here's what wikipedia has to say. I also recently read Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck which has similarities it that the structure is based on a road trip and people, places and events trigger deeper thinking about life, philosophy, and one's place in the world. Much like the narrator's son in Zen, Charlie the standard poodle, in Travels, provided the innocent character in contrast to the main character who obviously struggles. I have to admit that I wanted to finish Zen before heading on a trip north so I skimmed that last third of the book and just read the parts detailing the road trip itself. Although I found the philosophical discussion interesting it did seem to become a little overwhelming to both me and the author. I'll give it some time and them pick it up again. I'm sure it'll be worth a second try.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"Almost enough to move back to Fairbanks"

That's what Tim said when he tasted the squash pizza crust we made last night. All those giant zucchini we used to watch our neighbor Beven throw in the woods when we lived on the river and all those times our "friends" tried to give us a huge zucchini - bring it on!

I adapted the recipe from this site with the following changes. Make sure you wrash your squrash.

4 c finely shredded zucchini or yellow summer squash (I used a yellow and a large pattypan)
¾ c flour (don't know why you couldn't use another type of flour to go gluten free)
¾ c grated Parmesan cheese (didn't have any of this so I used 1/4 c shredded cheddar)
½ c shredded mozzarella cheese (used about 3/4 c of motz)
2 eggs, beaten
½ tsp ground black pepper
Salt to taste
I added garlic powder, Italian seasoning, dried basil, and onion powder - maybe 1/2 t of each

Preheat oven to 350F.

Once zucchini or summer squash has been shredded (recommended—food processor) lightly salt the squash and transfer it to a strainer. Let stand 15-30 minutes and press all remaining liquid out of the squash. I shredded it was a grater and put in in the strainer that goes with my lettuce spinner to drain - then before using I gave it a couple of good spins - this worked great!

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine squash, flour, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, pepper, and salt. Mix well.

Spread the mixture into a greased and floured jellyroll pan. Bake for 25 minutes. I used our pizza pan which has small holes in the bottom to help brown the crust. I sprayed the bottom of the pan and moulded the squash batter onto the pan.

Remove the crust from the oven and change the oven’s temperature to broil. Brush the top of the crust with oil, and then broil the crust for 3-5 minutes until the top is lightly browned. I upped the temperature to 400 instead of broil and gave the top a spray of oil. After it was brown I loosened it from the pan and turned it over. I gave the new top a spray of oil and baked it for another 5 minutes or so.

Allow the crust to cool slightly and slide spatula underneath all edges and under the middle. Place a large baking sheet over the top of the crust and gently flip the crust over so that the crust is now facing upwards. Because it can be difficult to flip the crust smoothly, it may be necessary to cut the crust in half to facilitate the flipping of the crust.

Brush the top of the crust with oil and broil for another 3-5 minutes until the top is browned. Cover with toppings as desired.

We chose not to add a lot of toppings in case it made the pizza soggy We topped it was a little salami, chopped onions, sliced olives and a small amount of mixed shredded cheese. Fresh tomatoes after it was baked added a nice touch. We decided that it would hold up under a modest amount of tomato sauce and would be very tasty with fresh basil and artichoke hearts.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Botanical Gardens

While in town, Shari and I had an evening walk in the Botanical Gardens on campus. The flowers and veggies were beautiful and much nicer then I expected with all the rain that has fallen. You might want to take a walk around and see what varieties of flowers and veggies they planted to see what works well with the type of summer Fairbanks had.

There's a quarter on the giant cabbage in the front. Its hard to tell how much they weighed - maybe around 25 lbs or so. They felt pretty solid. Someone is going to make a lot of sauerkraut!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olypmics for chum

We've been having our own swimming events during the summer Olympics since not all of us could go to Bejing to witness the summer games. Here we are at the Gold Creek facility in downtown Juneau at the end of the thousand-mile freestyle race.

And their getting ready to do their final lap and you can see that there isn't a clear leader even after all the miles they travel...Please note the special media seating for gulls and buoys.

But of the racers appears to be making a move, Charlie the Chum has gotten a burst of energy and seems to be taking off...hold on to your seats, gulls and buoys...ever before in the history have we seen such a display of such stamina...

wait for it....

Oh, too bad, it doesn't appear that he could maintain that lead...say tuned...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cedar Lake and Camping Cover Cabin

We had a great hike a couple weeks ago and got to check several trails off our list as we combined a couple of trails to make a loop. It did require a 1-mile walk along the highway at the end but that was ok. We took time to collect misc. bottles, cans, and cardboard and ended up with an 6-pack of assorted beer cans and bottles. Too bad they weren't chilled and filled!

Our destination was Camping Cove (GPS 058° 38' 59.62"N, 134° 57' 52.25"W) via Cedar Lake. There's a state cabin at Camping Cove in the Point Bridge State Park that we've heard about but hadn't been to yet. We started on the Pt Bridget Trail and headed towards the meadow and Cowee Meadow cabin where we've hiked before. Didn't see any porcupine this summer.

After we left the Cowee Meadow cabin it was obviously a less traveled trail. But it was a nice little trail that followed the creek for a ways. Then the climb started. We didn't realize that there would be much elevation gain - it was only about 500 but it caught us by surprise. To encourage us along there were early blueberries out - if you got the ones that were facing outwards towards to sun then they were sweet.

This is Cedar Lake (click here for map - look for Cedar Lake) with a big cedar tree in the right foreground. You don't see a lot of cedar trees around here - they might have all been logged or it just isn't the right terrain, I'm not sure.

The lake was pretty inviting and if we had more time and had known what was up ahead we might have been tempted to take a dip. We found a small dock that we could have set up and used as a swim platform. And on one of the trees there was a rope tied off - way, way up.

Here's Terri ready to make a jump for it!

Something about the above photo....I quickly change the gray to a blue sky! (its a little sloppy...)

This is from the other side of the lake - the red arrow is where the rope goes!

And here is the Camping Cove Cabin (click here for map - look for Camping Cove Cabin) - by brown water creek (good name for it!) We stopped here for a nice lunch and rest.

I forgot to take pictures of the view from the front steps of the cabin - it was gorgeous! We'll plan a trip here for an overnighter and I'll take pictures then!

The trail out wasn't marked very well but we basically followed the shoreline back to the North Bridge Cove Trailhead. We walked through a lovely forest where there was little undergrown - like a soft green carpet. The tail led us past a couple of private cabins which didn't really look like they had been occupied recently. I wonder if you could get an internet signal with the ATT WiFi? I'd have to figure out that bicycle generator thing too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

You never know what you'll see

We were riding our bikes this weekend along the Mendenhall River checking out potential trout/dolly spots for fly fishing and enjoying the day. It was lightly raining but we put on our rain gear and went anyway.

Along the trail we can across this carved tree. I hope that since these are salmon that they were put there to honor the salmon so that she would come back bring her trout and dolly varden friends with her.

The National Park Service calls them Sylvan Petroglyphs (wood carvings on trees).

There are also some carved trees at the top of Mt Roberts by the gift store and along the short nature trail as well as some in Glacier Bay National Park.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We've had some foggy mornings and evenings which tells us that the warm air is meeting the colder water. It seems like we often have fog in the fall and the spring when we have the most obvious weather changes.

One thing about living on the Gastineau Channel during this foggy time is that you get to hear the ship's fog horns. This clip looks really dark - its not that dark out yet. The Amsterdam just left the Juneau Harbor and is heading down the channel towards Marmian Island...

Did you hear how long the echo of the horn lasted? The Gastineau channel is about 5 miles long and the ships are traveling very slow. If you sound your fog horn every two minutes how many blasts do you hear... in the morning starting around 5 am? and then multiple this by 3-5 ships all coming into town and docking by 7 am. In the evening they are usually gone by 11 pm.

oh yeah, I forgot to mention that it was raining.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Grilled Eggplant

We received a nice eggplant in our food box and I found this recipe for a glaze to spread on before we put it on the grill. It was really very good, even if I left out the garlic! Before we put it on the grill I sprinkled each of the 1/2 inch slices with a little salt and then put them on a paper towel to take some of the moisture out. They didn't bead up with eggplant dew too much but it might have been enough. Our eggplant made about 6-8 slices and I doubled the recipe.

3 T olive oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
2 cloves minced garlic
1 pinch each of thyme, basil, dill, and oregano
salt and pepper to taste

We spread the marinade on one side and then put it on the grill, glaze side down and then spread the remainder marinade on it. Tim cooked the slices about 10-14 minutes on med heat, turning several times.

I think the marinade would be really good on brussel sprouts and cauliflower too.

August Sunset

We had rain and a gloomy fog most of the day which resulted in a beautiful evening sunset.

The light hit the metal sided buildings and made them really sparkle. As the sun went down I think the fog rolled in faster. But in this picture, it almost looks like the downtown area has been bombed, doesn't it? Its still there today!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

This and That

This time of year there are lots of yachts and sailing vessels that come into town. We've seen boats registered all over the world, So. Africa, Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Maine, Italy, and this one was registered to the Netherlands. Terry said it was an old-style Dutch ship. I didn't catch the name on it or I could probably google it. Its really wide and has these additional keels that you you let down to keep it steady.

This fireweed was providing yummy food for some busy bees!

Now this would make one big bowl! But too far off the trail to retrieve very easily - definitely not by 4-wheeler - maybe by a football team in training.

I love this rooftop water spout that drains into a pile of gravel.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

One big Mushroom

As we were walking along the highway this weekend we came across two huge shaggy mane mushrooms. One of them was already starting to turn black. They are edible but these were right along the roadside - growing out of the crumbled aspault. They were at least eight inches tall. Here you see Oso, our mushroom model, posing with the specimen.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Short visit with Cappy

We had a short overnight visit with Doug, Jami and Darby from Sitka on their way towards Haines. We have often visited with them at their home in Sitka when we're visiting Tim's folks and it was nice to see them get off the island! Darby kept us all entertained by doing cartwheels, playing games, and being very funny. She was very polite and was a good sport when we took the long walk to Sandy Beach (well she did have some transportation from Mom and Dad).

Jami used to live in Fairbanks and worked for CDE for a short stint. When she moved she left us one of those big plants that I think CDE still has, although I'm not sure where it ended up in the last move.

We're sorry we didn't get to spend more time with them but we'll see them again sometime soon in Sitka!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Treadwell Waterfall

The Treadwell waterfall isn't in the 99 short hikes of Juneau. In fact, we'd only heard about it and haven't seen anything written up about it. We thought we knew where the trail to it left the main treadwell trail but we weren't sure until it was confirmed by Terry.

So a couple of weekends ago we set off to explore and find it. After about a 3 minute walk along a gravelled pathway we found the waterfall. Who knew that it was so close. It was pretty but we were a little disappointed that the walk wasn't longer and that it was more of an adventure finding it. When Thom was here he and I thought about looking for it but since I wasn't sure where it was I didn't really want attempt it. Ha - we could have made it, Thom!

I'm sure there is a trail that goes down to the pool but because of the heights we didn't attempt it. I'm also not sure where the water from the pool goes. Is this the famous glory hole? I'll have to do some local research.

So last weekend we went up on the Mt Roberts Tram and walked up to Gold Ridge. After climbing awhile we looked back over the channel and we saw the waterfall!

We made is just past the famous "boxing marmot" ridge before the wind drove us back down the hill. The snow level is still pretty low and with the wind it felt like winter.