Nov 30, 2010
Nov 26, 2010
Yesterday was a lot of fun. We had sixteen people roaming about, stuffing their gullets, joking, laughing, playing games and catching up on life. Doris (our mutt) was in heaven; she got a lot of scraps from all of the weak strangers. We listened to some great jazz from a new album that my wife's cousin, Miro played piano on. He's an amazing pianist. Take a look at his website.
The menu was as follows: Two turkeys, sweet potatoes with lemon, nutmeg & sugar sauce, smashed potatoes, green beans, salad, cranberry sauce, apple sauce, pumpkin pies, apple pies, cheese cake & pretzel salad.
Nov 21, 2010
Nov 20, 2010
Above: This is the top of the stove. Note the four vents near to top of the stove. These, work in conjunction with the vents at the bottom of the stove to facilitate what is called an "inverted downdraft gasifier". In short, this enables the fire to burn from the top, down to the bottom of the fuel source (tinder).
Above: This is the bottom of the stove. The screen keeps the tinder off the ground and allows air in through the vents which double as a support for the screen.
Above: I used a coffee can to make a wind screen. This prevents the fire from being blown out when it's windy (it was windy today!) and also works as a chamber for preheating the air around the stove, further aiding combustion. The coffee can is an ideal height for use as a pot support as well.
Nov 19, 2010
Nov 18, 2010
Nov 15, 2010
Nov 12, 2010
Nov 11, 2010
Nov 7, 2010
I sat down and watched 127 Hours this afternoon and loved every heart-wrenching minute of it. It's a story based on what happened to Mountaineer, Aaron Ralston while hiking in Moab, Utah in 2003. Aaron spent 5 days at the bottom of a ravine with his arm pinned between an 800 lb boulder and the ravine wall. Ultimately he makes an incredible sacrifice in order to survive. I won't spoil it for you, but you really need to see this movie. As a climber and hiker this movie really spoke to me about how quickly things can turn from magical to miserable when alone in the wilderness.
Nov 6, 2010
We sat down with Carcassonne. Chris informed me that it was a winner of the Spiel des Jahres award in 2001 (German game of the year). It's a tile based game where players draw tiles and place them on the table to create a landscape. Castles, Cloisters, roads and farm areas are established. The players compete for ownership of the establishments by placing a "meeple" on the road/castle/cloister etc. Points are scored by tallying the amount of land or establishments owned when all of the tiles have been placed on the table. Its a lot of fun; I actually found a game that I like! We played a few games in which I was slaughtered, quite mercilessly but I think I'll be able to give Chris a run for his money the next time we play. I've been fiddling around with the Carcassonne iPhone app on and off today.
Nov 4, 2010
Nov 2, 2010
After a two-hour drive up from the city, we arrived at The Colonial Inn around 4:00pm on Saturday. Having the cheapest rooms around, I had made a very casual reservation with Steve the day before, which went a little like this:
Me: "Hi, I'm looking for a room for Saturday night?"
Steve: "OK, that'll be $75.00. What's your name?"
Steve: "I don't need any credit card information; we'll have a room for you. I'll see you Saturday."
Me: "Uh, OK, we'll be by around 5:00 will there be two beds in the room?"
Steve: "Oh there'll be two or three beds in the room. By that time the buffet will be running and I'll be in the kitchen, so just tell one of the girls to come back and get me."
We pulled up to the Colonial Inn, took one look, and just started laughing, when we finished, we pulled the car into the front lawn and parked it. This place had character, to say the least. The front porch was packed with all sorts of odds and ends. A gun case, pool table, cigarette vending machine, several pot-belly stoves, stuffed dear heads, cookware and other junk lined a path across the porch, to the front door. I opened the screen door (which had no screen) and peered in through the glass of the heavy wooden door; I saw no lights, heard no activity and felt a feeling of caution sweep over my body. Standing in the cold and quiet, we talked about what to do and looked up and down the desolate street. We felt like we were in Stephen King's The Langoliers. Chris and I navigated through the sea of junk to the other end of the porch and cupped our hands to a window. We made out a dimly lit bar and a plump lady standing behind it. Not having the gumption to enter first, I made Chris open the heavy door. Stepping inside we found another door which lead to a parlor and further to the bar. Stepping inside was like landing in Oz. Mounted animals, fish and dart boards lined the walls, along with several rifles and shotguns; a giant black bear stood mounted with a peculiar look on its face; at it's side sat an old Victrola. Shelves held things like snowshoes, an old cash register, several old oil lamps, a globe, and an ancient brass diver's helmet. Country music played from the dining room and looking around the corner, a waitress folded napkins and set places on the numerous tables; preparations were being made for the "Grand Buffet". She noticed us and came over with a big toothless smile, liken to a bowl of black bean soup. She lead us up a creaky set of stairs and let us pick which room we'd spend the night in. Just as Steve said, there were two or three beds in each room. Each, dark, cigarette stained, drafty, unsettling room. We picked the best one.
The next hour was spent mapping out a route through the mountains and throwing darts with monogrammed pot leaves on the fins. Chris has an uncanny knack for throwing darts; do not ever play him. When the buffet opened we filed in with a few other locals. Slices of every pie you could think of sat on small styrofoam plates next to a giant bowl of pudding that jiggled with each approaching footstep on the old wooden floor. We ate our fill. It was delicious! Afterword we made a dash to the closest grocery store, a mere ten miles down the road and picked up our fuel for the next day's adventure. We would be hiking the Burroughs Range Trail (7 mi)from east to west and then the Phoenicia East Branch trail (8 mi) from west to east, covering three of the Catskill's high peaks.
Sunday Morning: Woodland Valley Parking Area, 1,250ft.
7:15am: Junction with Terrace Mountain Trail, 2,556ft.
8:15am: Wittenberg Mountain Summit, 3,790ft.
9:04am: Cornell Mountain Summit, 3,860ft.
10:25am: Water Source on Slide Mountain.
10:40am: Slide Mountain Summit, 4,180ft.
12:25pm: Slide Mountain Parking Area.
When we reached the Slide Mountain Parking Area we took a brief break. The snow continued to blow down on us but was not accumulating. From here we had a 1.9 mile hike on a paved road to get to the trailhead for the Phoenicia East Branch Trail. We were thankful for flat, stable ground but were soon tiring from the pitch! Our legs were definitely tired at this point. We had hiked nearly ten miles over three peaks. The road took us past Lake Winnesook, which was beautiful albeit private.
1:44pm: Phoenicia East Branch Trailhead.
Burroughs Range: Slide, Cornell and Wittenberg. They seemed so far away. The idea of walking through the wilderness, over these mountains seemed almost hard to imagine and yet we’d done it and done it at a respectable pace I might add! A mile later we were signing out at the trailhead and sitting in the car. It was 3:00pm. We had hiked the entire 15 miles in exactly 10 hours.
I have hiked in New Mexico and the Adirondacks but I must say that this is the toughest hike I have ever done. Even though it was done with a small daypack; never have I hiked so far, over such terrain and in such harsh weather. The words and photos I have put in this blog entry simply do not do the trek justice. The beauty and wonder of the wilderness took and continue to take my breath away. I hope whoever reads this is at least inspired to get out there, wherever they are, and enjoy the outdoors in their own way. It’s waiting for you.