Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sailing away...

Any trip to FL would not be complete, for me at least, without a trip out on the water under the power of nothing but the wind. And... I got to do just that the other day with pops. My folks in Indian Harbour Beach, FL live on a great canal overlooking a marina and the mouth of the Banana River. What that means is that they also have a dock with a sailboat that we can take right out into the Indian River (which is really just the space between the barrier islands and the mainland of Florida) which is 3/4 miles or more wide and very very long and also great for sailing.
Pops has been fixing up his little boat, a 1983 Commodore 26 which was the last year in a series of years the boat was produced from a hull design originally created by Columbia. It is a solid little lady and I quote:
"... an exptionally roomy and stable cruiser with the capability of going almost anywhere on coastal waters, lake or highway." The boat has "a true shoal draft of 25 inches."
specs:
LOA 25'-10"
LWL 22'-10"
Beam 7'-11"
Draft 2'-1"
Displacement 4400 lbs
Ballast 1400 lbs
Sail Area 288 sq. ft.
This boat actually performs quite well due to the rather long keel. She slide a bit and does not point as high as many of her contemporaries, but man, not much else competes with the water tightness (no silly dagger board to content with), seaworthy characteristic plus the ability to practically drive her right up to the beach, throw the anchor out on the sand and call it a day.
We decided to head out in relatively light winds blowing 10 knots and hoped it would pick up more as the wind moved around from East to South, allowing us to just cruise back and forth across the river practically on a beam reach. Well, we quickly realized the weather was not going to cooperate!
What we did instead, which actually ended up being quite fun, was spend the rest of the afternoon figuring out how we were going to avoid the individual storms rolling in from the west. First we high tailed it across the river to avoid rain to the north that was rolling in more like a sun shower then took a nice 4 knot cruise downwind (north) to avoid the big storm coming in from the west. We eventually ran out of water and the beat back south but doing our best to keep clear of the little squalls and ended up only putting our foul weather jackets on for about 5 minutes. Mission accomplished!
The last 1/3 was spend pleasantly tacking up the river towards home, enjoying the cooler weather brought by the passing storms.
Another great day in FL!

Bouillabaisse...mmmm good!!!!!

During a quick trip back to Winter Park to pick up the Plater side (my mom and step-dad who have been featured in the pics from Taos) at the airport upon their arrival from Taos I spent two days lolly-gagging around O-town. Man it is so amazing how much your hometown can change. I moved away from Orlando in February of 2002 and what a difference the real estate boom and bust has made!!! No good pictures since I forgot my camera at the other folks, but house after house around the neighborhood has been erased and replaced with a huge McMansion. Pretty sad to say the least, but I guess it is good for my family's real estate values.
Anyway, on to the food!!!! So upon waking up the first morning - probably around 7:30, I discovered my step-dad pouring over 20 years of Bouillabaisse recipe stuff. I mean, 5 cookbooks, multiple note cards and personal pad paper, each with notes of this ingredient or that spice. A jumbled mess, is what I would call it. Now, you have get some of the back story here.
At our not-s0-great meal in Taos (earlier in the blog somehwere) he ordered boullabaisse and it was crap. really weird and seemingly of the same sauce that we got with the mussels and that was just alright in the first place. Well, my step-dad is well known for his amazing concoction of this French stew so I asked if we could rectify the situation by cooking up a big pot of it and having some friends over when they got back from Taos. There you go... now you are up to speed.
So, here is my dad, all entwined with ingredients - mind you over 20 years and many times and aging a bit - it is not always easy to get 'em all straight and correct. He has always complained that it takes so long and makes too much etc, well, now we know why... he has to reinvent the wheel every time he makes it!!! Now, luckily for us, it has always been AMAZING! On with the story.
Between my mother, my step-dad and myself we managed to find all the 400 ingredients, spices, secret spices, etc, chop up a storm, boil down, simmer and all in all prepare the base for the stew that then just cooks away for about 4-5 hours. Mind you, "finding" means running all over creation for fish, mussels, more fish, shellfish, onions, Pernod (pastis) and the list goes on. But we did it and were able to have a fairly relaxing afternoon before the guests arrived.
Promptly on time, Rich, Cathy and Lauren arrived packed full of vino, desert (an amazing light and fluffy key lime pie) and an amazing cheese along side a balsamic reduction combined with stuff I cannot remember right now. Helen - my other neighborhood "mom" soon after strolled in and the party got started. I won't bore you with the details, but we had a blast. The only real hit of the night worth bringing out is the story of our new neighbor who is from "whisper" "L.A." and a "wisper" lawyer. Apparently this gentleman who hails from parts west has two white, standard poodles that he walks in his white track suit with silver running shoes. I can only imagine the stir he causes in the republican bastions of conservative W.P. If I get a pic I will surely share.
Oh, of course the bouillabaisse went off like a smash and we could have fed the whole neighborhood. We had too much wine and everyone went home fat and happy! I was supposed to post the recipe because my mom has now meticulously taken the multitudes of notes, comments and recipes and combined them into one cohesive, documented tomb, but, well... she has neglected to get it to me. :( when I get it I will definitely post it!
Hope we get to make it over Christmas again!!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

T-storms!

When someone moves from CA - especially from NorCal - to the east coast, one of the things that changes drastically is the type(s) of weather you encounter. SF especially, has its own anomalous weather patterns that are much different from the rest of the bay area. In the city, the trapped fog coming in from the Pacific Ocean blankets every cubic inch of air, making it impossible see 10 feet in front of you, let alone street signs, restaurant logos etc., while the in Marin or the East Bay it will be sunny and clear. Most of the time in the SF and the rest of the bay area - fog excluded - it is extremely dry and it definitely does not rain much at all. This year was especially bad.
Don't worry, this is leading to my point:
Having finally entered into lower gulf coast climes, and especially back into FL summer weather patterns I have been able to experience some incredible summer thunder storms. It has been quite a while since finding myself listening to the clapping of huge rain drops falling on the roof and the leaves of nearby trees and listening to the crackle of thunder just before the loud "CLAP" and rumble that sends dogs scurrying to safer places. My first re-introduction was when I got to drive through driving rain and even some hail on my way into town. It was pretty sketchy driving through 8 in. of water on I95 and hoping the brakes still worked after 20 minutes of non stop puddle. Check out the video. I have, however also been lucky to now enjoy several great shows under the safety of my folks back porch. Cousteau has gotten pretty used to the sounds now and has enjoyed chillin', curled up next to me on the patio couch.
All said, I sure love the sweet wet smell after a good storm and the cool breeze that makes summer here just about bearable!
video

Sunday, July 20, 2008

High ground to flatland

Hi All, been a few days since the last post. Since Thursday, I have traveled from Taos, NM to Dallas, to Dauphin Island, Alabama and then a short jaunt to Panama City, FL where I am staying the night before heading to see my folks in Indian Harbour Beach, FL. I have traveled about 1500 miles in two and half days. A bit more driving than I had wished but I have had some great fun in between!
This is the short of it:

1. a wonderful trip out of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains during a beautiful morning light, the red rocks slowly subsiding to lush green ranch land of full of cattle.

2. a great evening of boating on a large lake in Dallas while eating Uncle Julio's TexMex and floating around on floats.

3. staying with good friends on Dauphin Island in Alabama, eating Teddy's amazing smoked meats, fishing and playing hours of fetch on the beach and even going to the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo... yep that is right - a Fishing Rodeo? yeah, never heard of one before either.

4. Getting back to my roots while driving through the Redneck Riviera otherwise known as Panama City Beach. Git-R-Done!

Thanks for stopping by and look forward to more posts. Some will be "Flashbacks" from my journey as I think back on some funny stories or odd happenings.
Tim-Out

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lobo Peak 12,115’


Cousteau and I decided to bite off a bit more than we could chew Tuesday morning. On the way up to Taos Ski Valley there is a hiking trail that I have wanted to try for some time. It takes you up to Lobo Peak, which you can actually see from my sister and brother-in-law’s house. Well, let me tell you, it was a bit harder than I had expected. The beginning is quite fun with lots of traversing a small stream that flows into the Arroyo Hondo. C had a blast bounding across areas that I wished I could jump and running through the shallow areas trying to help me find the right rocks to jump. He even came across some kind of game bird and went into the most rigid point that I have ever seen. Finally with too much excitement built up, he chased them for a bit and then we headed on.
hiking and a lot of “UP”, we finally reached a beautiful alpine meadow. From here I could see the top of The trail then went through several different environments and ecosystems, some quite lush and dense with thick green, flowering plants while others dry and rocky. This mostly seemed to relate to the amount of sun that reached the spot and how close to the stream we were. We hiked up through the shade pine forest and wandered underneath aspen trees shimmering in the breeze. After 2 hours ofthe peak some 800 ft – 1000 ft higher. Since my legs were already shot, I decided it better to rest in the meadow and then return back down the mountain. All in all, it was a fun hike and C had a great time. My legs have been very sore even after a soak in the hot tub!

Taos Sky

Though not quite yet the vibrant and luscious colors used by Georgia O’Keefe to paint the southwest skies, we were able to enjoy some beautiful and continuously changing weather with a hint of sunset peaking through the thunder clouds. This morning it is perfectly clear so hopefully we will be entertained with a beautiful, classic Taos sunset later this evening.

Enchanted Circle

So this morning, my mom, dad, Cousteau and I headed out to do the Enchanted Circle route around Taos with a detour to Cimarron. The first part of our ride took us through Questa and Red River, over Bobcat Pass, through Eagle Nest (where you take a LFT to head east) then finally on to Cimarron. This is a mine tailings dumping area in the putting our "land of many uses" to good work. - owned by Chevron.

The second half was back from Cimarron, through Angel Fire and then up and over the Sangre de Cristo range back to Taos. The Enchanted Circle is literally a circle around the highest peak in the area, Wheeler Peak which tops out at13,161 feet above sea level.

Features along the way included tremendous views of Baldy Peak, the very scenic Palisades Cliffs and Eagle Nest Lake created by a dam on the Cimarron River in 1920. The terrain we saw included dense pine forest, shear rocky cliffs, and vast pastures.


For any of you who were in the boy scouts, we also saw / drove through Philmont Scout Ranch, which for many scouts is an epoch hiking and camping adventure up along Cimarron Range peaks and down next to the Cimarron River.

Cowboys… yeah “real” ones!!

Saw some real life cowboys today moving cattle along the highway. Got a good shot of him giving a “Yaaa-Haw!” and using his lasso to move the bovine creatures along.

Signs…they don’t make ‘em like they used to.

This is an old sign in Cimarron for the St. James Hotel. You know… where history happens! Apparently the hotel was started by a former chef of Abraham Lincoln in the 1870’s and is rumored to have been the location of at least 26 murders during those crazy wild wild west days.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Family Time!!!

The arrival of my sister, brother in law, and niece and nephew was the usual tornado of activity. They also brought with them a new puppy, Archer, which made things even more excited. He is about 3 1/2 months old and a ball of energy. Cousteau had his hands full, but they got along beautifully and enjoyed playing with one another!
I won't bore you with the details of our first night and instead move on to Saturday's hike to Williams Lake, above the Taos Ski Valley. It was spectacular. The hike is a 2 mile, lightly strenuous walk to a beautiful alpine lake, called Williams Lake. We got the whole family up to the lake and enjoyed the view. Of course all that is fun usually has something happen. This time it was a fall from some boulders for my sister. She ended up needed 4 stitches on her knee after a stop at the Taos emergency room. She is doing much better, if a bit uncomfortable and stiff.
Tired and hungry, we all headed to a local fine dining establishment in Arroyo Secco where my brother-in-law knows the owner and the head chef. It was a good meal, yet had some surprising lapses in service and not all of our meals were near spectacular. I think we will try it again sometime, but lets hope for a better experience.

The next few days I hope to relax some more and get some reading done. David Sedaris' new book is waiting to be read!

SO... thanks for tuning in. I probably will be offline until Wednesday so later until then.

Tim- Out!

From Red to Green











The drive from Chavez to Taos again took me over some more gorgeous terrain. The most significant change that happened on this portion of my travels was the change from Red Rock and dry hot conditions to lush green mountains and rolling cattle pastures. I stopped in the town of Durango to get some much needed caffeine and some breakfast. It is a quaint old town, originally established as a mining town in 1880. Some of the old main street is still intact, but as so many of the popular resorts these days, it has also fallen victim to chain stores and sprawl. I decided make my visit short and keep on heading out of town.










The portion of the drive over the next several hours was just beautiful, lush, green, mountains and streams. The road to Chama was full of old farm houses and many "open range" cattle. A significant feature of this area is the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Narrow-Gauge Railroad which still connects Chama and Durango I believe. It is an amazing ride through tons of different terrain and geological formations. I have done the out and back from Chama and would recommend this trip highly to anyone staying in the area.












Another significant change during this leg was the temperature. I went from the high 90's and low 100's to cool and cloudy. Both Cousteau and I found it amazingly refreshing!
Along the way from Chama to Taos you cross several significant sites. First is the Continental Divide, next the Brazos Moutains, and finally the Rio Grand Gorge near Taos. There were also significant portions of the drive that wound through Carson National Forest where one could spend a lot of time exploring from the looks of all of the turn off roads that lead the this lake or that river and so on. The Brazos Mtns were significantly cooler than anywhere I had been so far. Cousteau and I got out to check out some overlooks and he got his first "Southwest freedom" and was able to roam around. From mountains it was down to Taos where you must first cross the Rio Grande. What an amazing fissure in the earth. It is so deep and
narrow. Luckily I was late enough in the day to get some nice shadows. It was still too bright to get the best pics, but I always love walking out onto the bridge. You feel so little and fragile compared to the gorge, whittled out of the earth over millions of years.

I picked up some beer on the way to the house and enjoyed some QT with my mom and pop that evening before the rest of the crew arrived from Dallas.












Friday, July 11, 2008

Ended in Chavez

Too tired last night to make it to Durango, plus the hotels here are much cheaper. I also have not had time to add photos to map, but will hopefully do that this evening when I am settled in Taos. Cousteau is a happy camper. We found a great little park near the hotel and played a bunch of fetch. He is actually wound down a bit which is great. I think he will be more relaxed in the car than he usually is - which is actually pretty relaxed.

My route today takes me across US 160 and down 84 and 64. I will hit Durango on the way and then go through Chama. My brother in law says this is a nice drive, so I will take his word for it. I have about 5-6 hours to go today which will be a nice break. Here are couple other photos from yesterday that I did not get posted last night. I will get a link to a bunch more photos in the next day or two.

Enjoy.

Enjoy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Damn...



that is a big dam. This is the Glen Canyon Dam where the Colorado River is divided in 2. One side is Lake Powell, the other the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. Actually, even the place I was standing to take the pic is considered part of the Grand Canyon. Sort of sad to see Glen Canyon filled. I think it would have been better left alone. But who am I to think...

Those who were hear before us and 4 Corners.





















I decided to drive through the Navajo Nation, partly because there seemed to be stuff that I wanted to see and also because I was completely intrigued by the idea of traveling through a country within a country. Having never really been to a native american reservation for any length of time, I thought it was about time.
Though completely inhospitable in many ways, the scenery is just amazing! From Monument Valley, to the Navajo National Monument and then many places in between, the reservation is gorgeous. It is a shame that still within such beauty there are a whole group of people barely subsisting. The shacks are numerous and lack of money is obvious. I won't go into it any more here, but lets just say, C had a good time. Indian monuments are much more K-9 friendly.




The 4 Corners, really do come to a per
fect intersection. It is quite a surreal feeling knowing you are simultaneously in 4 states. C preferred the NM quadrant.


















July 10 - Zion...

Zion National Park is just amazing. The park service site does not give why it is named Zion, so if anyone, who is not super tired after a long day and has fast internets wants to elaborate in the comments, I would appreciate it.
At this point I will give my one and only soap box on traveling with dogs. Not Recommended if you want to see National Parks. The policies are basically "not allowed". Of course I understand the reasons - nature nature nature, but w
hen you see all the yahoos running around in the motor homes yucking up the place, I get kind of PO'ed. Cannot even take them on paved paths except the few that are designated and usually those are next to a road or having bikes whizzing by. So, if you want to ""really" see the National Park system definitely leave Fido at home. The weather has been too hot to leave C in the car (which you could do other times of the year) so I have decided to not risk it. We still have seen some great stuff, but usually the post card vistas are not accessible for the K-9.
Otherwise... It is just beautiful and the drive through the park (did not take the tram up to the best parts) and saw some amazing geographic features. The mile long tunnel, Zion Tunnel was pretty cool. completely black except for window cut out of the rock at certain points.