Sunday, August 19, 2012

Homemade pasta.sauce

Tonight I made my own pasta sauce using our homegrown tomatoes, wax peppers, bell peppers, a bit of shredded zucchini, and the last of the non-flowering basil. I used store bought onions, carrots, and garlic.  This picture is the two jars of yellow tomato sauce. We ate the one-meal portion of red sauce from the brandywines.  The red was delicious over speghetti and sauteed zucchini.

I didn't can. These are in the fridge, so come on over and have some pasta - we'll be eating it a lot in the next week or so.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

How does your garden grow?

Yesterday I canned 10 half pints of low-sugar plum jam from the big basket of plumbs I picked off our tree in the front yard last Monday.  It got me thinking about how I love to watch a garden grow and then harvest it.

Here is a series of pictures of our garden taken over the last 10 weeks.

June 2, 2012. Just after planting.  Note the size of the pumpkin and zucchini.

 June 17.  2 weeks in. Growing nicely.  Drip irrigation gives each plant water every morning.

July 1. 4 weeks. Broccoli is almost ready, but one of my four plants is severely stunted by aphids.

July 21. 7 weeks.  Notice the new addition of the Tower of Pumpkin to the left of the cucumber trellis.  The one pumpkin plant was taking over half the garden, so we threaded it up through an 8-feet-tall tube of 6-inch wire mesh leftover from our garage build several years ago.  It pays to hoard. 

 August 12.  10 weeks.  Basil has gone to seed and the broccoli I didn't get cut is flowering, but everything else is producing well.  We have 5 pumpkins in the tower!

I'm getting big harvests once or twice per week.  

Today's harvest basket.

Apparently it was too hot for tomatoes to set fruit in July, so the tomatoes are just now starting to ripen.  Look out!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Race Report: Pierre's Hole 50/100 mile

This weekend we journeyed to Grand Targhee ski resort near the Idaho/Wyoming border

to have another go at the Pierre's Hole 50/100 mountain bike race.

Last year, I raced the 50 mile option and Drew attempted the 100, but had to drop out due to painful ligaments.

This year we coerced our teammate Stephanie to join us for the drive. Also racing from the team were Ellen, Karl, and Alison. Alison's husband Erik, despite a recently dislocated thumb, also raced. Only Drew and Ellen were crazy enough to attempt the 100 mile option. Believe me, the 50 was hard enough!

We checked into the Teewinot Lodge on Friday afternoon.

I had intended to get in a quick spin, but instead we just goofed off at the resort

Before meeting up with cousin Milissa, Christian, and Niki for dinner.

Drew and Christian each ordered two entrees. You can do that when fueling for a big race.

Race day started early for Drew; the gun went off at 6:15 a.m.

 Drew at the start. He is the 7th from the front in this picture with a blue jersey and lime green hydration pack. Picture from the race organizers.

Stephanie and I started at a lovely 10:15. By that time, Drew was already on his second of four laps.
Me #218 and Stephanie #211. Picture from the race organizers.

I learned my lesson last year to not start at the very back and start slow. This year I was about mid pack and pushed the pace a bit so that I would not get stuck behind a lot of slow descenders. It worked and I ripped down the new single track and into Mill Creek with a fast crowd. Last year, Rick's Basin was my favorite section of the course, but this year, I think I loved the long fast descent  into Mill Creek the most. The Lightning Ridge and Colter's Escape (probably named after John Colter's famous escape from the Blackfeet Indians in 1808) trails are pretty similar to our home town PC trails - just enough rocks and roots to make it super fun.

Picture from the race organizers of random racers snaking down Colters Escape single track.

The next section of the course is 3 miles of paved road climb, which I usually avoid at all costs, but I have to admit a smooth road felt pretty good after the rough descent, and it gives your brain and butt a much needed break.
Picture from the race organizers of random racers we know showing the road climb with the iconic Teton Range in the background. The Teton Range formed between six and nine million years ago and is the youngest range of the Rocky Mountains.

Cousin Milissa caught this shot of me just before the descent after the road climb. 
Then it was down a nasty 4WD road to a private ranch down in Teton Valley. Of course that means you have to climb back up, and that climb is a bugger! It was at the top of this climb that Stephanie caught me. I cheered her on as she passed me and vowed to ride my own race and not get caught up in trying to hold her wheel.

The last section of the course is a big loop out on Rick's Basin's perfect single track trails. I finished the first lap in 2:38 and headed out for lap #2. The addition of a new climb up single track at the start of the 2nd lap was supposed to add 20 minutes (4.3 miles and 400+ feet of climbing compared to 2011), so I figured lap 2 would take me 3 hours. The fact that it took me 3:19 was proof that I slowed down a lot in the second lap. The second lap was OK though. To be sure, I felt leg fatigue and my right eye went blurry as usual, but mentally I was mostly there throughout and I had no leg cramps! My goal this year was to finish in under 6 hours and in good health, meaning minimal or no cramping and no bonking like last year. To that end, I throttled back on the climbs a little bit, didn't stop at the aid stations very long, and ate consistently. My food and drink intake for the day consisted of 4 servings of Hammer Sustained Energy, 2 mini Snickers, 2 bottles of Carborocket, about 9 Hammer Endurolyte tablets, a handful of potato chips, a Coke, and about 80 ounces of water.

As I came through the resort area on lap 2 at about mile 42, Alison cheered me on. She had dropped out because the massive amount of time racing and riding over the past month had taxed her reserves and she just didn't have 50 hard miles in her.

At the last aid station, I caught up to Drew! He was in great spirits at mile 67 and was determined to finish. I gave him a hug and then headed into Rick's Basin in pretty good shape, but I was ready to be done. Finally, I crossed the finish line right at 6 hours.  Considering my time of 5:21 last year plus an extra 20 minutes for the additional single track, I was considerably slower than last year, but I sure felt better afterward and had met my goal.

Here is my Garmin track. My average heart rate this year was 149 bpm; last year it was 156. I burned 2240 calories, road 51.3 miles, and climbed 7800 feet. I ended up in 9th place out of 27 women 50-mile geared-bike finishers. 

I waited for about 10 minutes for Drew to cross the start/finish to see him out on his last lap and give him some ibuprofen.  Again, he was in pretty good spirits.

But I was in better spirits because I was done!  Stephanie had finished just before me, so we made a mad dash for the shower.

And headed out to enjoy the post-race Mexican food and micro brew on tap with Christian and Milissa until it was time to head over to the camping area to see Drew through the last aid station.  We ended up seeing Ellen through first, but her pit crew had her covered.

And a few minutes later along came my man.

He was still smiling at mile 92 and had the will power to refuse the beer Christian was trying to give him.

It wouldn't be long now until he came around to the finish line.  Just enough time for another beer and then to the finish to see him role across at 14 hours, 16 minutes!

He was awarded the coolest finisher's mug!

Hats off to Ellen and Drew for finishing the Pierre's Hole 100!  Here they are with race director Andy Williams, Christian's brother.

 We got some food in him before the beer.

 Proof that the trails were dusty.

What a great accomplishment by all our friends.  We will enjoy our mug and BPA-free freezable, flexible beer glass for years to come!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Day 4 Cascade Huts hut-to-hut mtb around Mt. Hood: The End

Day 4 would be our last day of the circumnavigation of Mount Hood. Where we saw only clouds the day before, that morning we were treated to excellent views of the mountain.  It was like the mountain was kissing us goodbye.

Instead of fussy pancakes, we woofed some instant oatmeal, but Drew would not have us start the day without the fried Spam. And coffee, of course.

The ever-important biking fuel.

We were all pretty quick to pack up, take one last group photo,

and hit the road. Today had a couple of options. Trav, Meg, and Shelly took the 32 mile straight shot on mostly paved roads downhill into Hood River, while Jim, Drew, and I opted to add a 17 mile loop up to Lost Lake that would add a "nice" 1700 foot climb. What I didn't count on was the elevated pace Jim and Drew would set on the climb to the lake. I held on, and therefore insisted that we go the half-mile spur to see the lake after all that.

In addition to a beautiful lake
Lost Lake

and beautiful flowers

We got close enough to Sasquatch to have our pictures taken with him!

We didn't stay long at the lake; our next stop was civilization and beer! But first, a long, fast descent on a very skinny paved road that must have been impassable to cars due to the deteriorated pavement. Perfect for thirsty mountin bikers!

 This area had a lot of logging activity.

Back on the main road we kept descending down and down into the Dee Valley, an area packed with fruit farms.

Cherrys, pears, berries, peaches. They all tempted us but we obeyed the no trespassing signs.

We took in all the scenery we could though.

Eventually, after 20 miles of me being dragged by Jim and Drew, we came upon more and more buildings, then vineyards, then the outskirts of small towns, then signs for Hood River, then other cyclists, then convenience stores, then schools. Would we ever get to town?

Yes! At about 2 pm after 49 miles, 4 hours ride time, about 2000 feet of climbing, and 5300 feet of descending, we reached the parking lot.

Making good on her trip mantra "One and Done", Shelly pulled up to pick up Jim with special signs on her bike on top of the car.
Bike For Sale! Ah ha, ha, ha that is the funniest joke of the trip!

We needed instant food so to MacDonalds we went.

And then checked into our Villa Columbia Bed and Breakfast to get cleaned up before hitting the town.

First stop, the Full Sail Brewery! You probably can't see all the windsurfers and kiteboarders on the Columbia River in the background, but there must have been 30 or 40 of them. Now we know why they call it Full Sail. (p.s. I'm drinking one right now.)

Start with beer, move to wine at the Naked Winery tasting room. It was a hoot!

Time to put some real food into our bellies on the patio at the 3 Rivers Grill.

My fresh salmon was delicious,

as were the other entrees, and desserts, and wine, and beer!

Being fully fed and our thirst satiated for the moment, we wandered Hood River.  Shelly and I got into a little (shopping) trouble in this funky clothing store while Jim and Drew sat it out on the lawn. Tip for other boutiques: have a comfy place for the men to sit and the shoppers may buy more!

But in a town with so much good beer and wine to be had, we felt obligated to check out the Big Horse Brewery

and the wading pond outside.

But the brewery ran out of beer and Shelly and I were not happy about it!

Just kidding, they didn't run out.

We made it back to the B&B just in time to crawl into our first soft bed in four nights before a wild thunderstorm rolled through. So glad the weather waited until we were off the trail!

On our last day vacation, we enjoyed chatting with the other guest before a nice breakfast before hitting the long road back to Utah.

So what did we think about the Cascade Huts trip? Super! I really enjoyed the territory and routes-how remote we were, the scenery. I was surprised at how long the days were, not in a bad way - long days just made the cold beers taste better. The huts provided instant shelter and adequate food. In fact, I think the menu of canned foods and granola bars added to the trip experience and certainly kept the cost reasonable. I may even allow canned Spam in my cupboard.

I sort of wished for more single track, but then we would not have covered as many miles and have been able to get all the way around Mount Hood. We circumnavigated Mount Hood!

Of course any trip like this is only as good as the company you are with, and in this respect, I could not have asked for a better trip! We all got along swimmingly, even after missed turns and postponed dinners. What a great group of friends!