Saturday, June 14, 2014

Will you........

The tribe was up bright and early this morning for a leisurely breakfast and coffee before trekking off for a group hike in Bryce Canyon.  The weather was gorgeous and spirits were high.  The camp emptied out and Jack and I got cleaned up, packed up and headed back down to Panguitch.

 I did have to take the opportunity to share a full bag of mixed nuts (not salt or fat added) with the two REALLY CUTE chipmunks that had been checking us out all morning.  We sat for about a half an hour laughing at their antics.  One chubby little fellow had a hiding spot close to where we were and was able to stuff his little cheeks full and make many many trips back and forth.  The other poor little guy couldn't quite match the quantity as Chubby and he had much further to go: he would run over to a split rail fence, scurry up, run one length on the bottom rail, one length on the middle rail, and then about 8 more lengths on the top rail till he reached his stash.  He would repeat the route in reverse, the exact same number of rails at each level each way.  I could have sat there every day.

We finally made our way to Panguitch and found the quilt show.  I spent an hour wandering in awe viewing all of the amazing quilts.  People came from as far as Las Vegas to show their works.

After the show we made our way to the camp ground to set up for the night.  I have not stayed at this camp ground in a few years and was happy to find it much improved and almost full! The previous owner wasn't a customer service kind of guy and for the last few years I have been on this tour we stayed elsewhere and the campground always looked empty.  One of the big changes are these really cool canvas yurt kind of things that we have never seen before and were itching to find out what the story is!  I mentioned to Daryl how great things looked and he told me the new owner was doing a great job, a real people person, and from Washington State.  I had to find out more!

I met the owner a few minutes later and introduced myself and asked him where in Washington he was from.  He said that he retired four years ago and moved down front the town of Sedro Wooley.  Interesting, I said.  My family lives near there in the little community of Bow.  Names?  Yes, he knew my sister and her husband well.  Small world!

What we did find out about the Yurt looking things are that they are owned by a European company that rents the space from the KOA.  They have 3 rooms: a sitting/kitchen room with a microwave, cook stove & refrigerator: then two bed rooms.  One size sleeps 8, one 6, and one 4.  The company that owns them puts together package deals for people to fly into San Francisco, have a rental car, and tour the canyons staying in these lodgings.  When they are not full the KOA can rent them out to their guests.  They are less expensive than a hotel room and they are really cool!

The tribe started coasting in, (it's almost all downhill from Bryce), and we started getting ready for dinner.  Pasta night.  Except I forgot to order the pesto from my supplier.  Strike two this week:  menu change once again.  Pasta was still on but I had to figure out another sauce for the vegimites.  We went from a light pesto sauce to a really delicious, rich and creamy, super alfredo sauce with three cheeses and mega veggies.  Pair that with a meat filled red sauce, tossed green salad, garlic bread and raspberry shortcake for dessert.  Yumm.

Daryl had asked me earlier if I could get a cake for a special occasion for tonight.  I held back a laugh.  We are in Panguitch.  One grocery store. They don't even have a watermelon.  I could get ho ho's or twinkies.  And why do we need a cake?

While on the hike in Bryce one young rider surprised his girlfriend by proposing.  He said that if she could put up with him for three years and three bike trips together he'd better ask.  Congrats you two!

The tribe headed to bed early as tomorrow is the big climb and screaming downhill.  Everyone is hoping the wind is their friend.  Not looking too good with the forecast.  Wait and see.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Day One, Day Two.....

Yes, I'm getting sunburned.......and working.  Pics of Zion.  The mad scramble to find the right dishes.

I think I left off getting this tribe on the road in Saint George to head up to Springdale, the entrance to Zion National Park? Not that Springdale is in question, just my ability to now keep day one and day two separate in my little brain.

We did see them off. We headed to Costco to pick up a few odds and ends. Then we, too, headed up the canyon.  What a beautiful day!  HOT HOT HOT.  I know a few tribe members that will be chillin in the river this afternoon.

Before we pulled into the camp ground Jack was kind and loving enough to pull off in Springdale so I could "browse" at a gallery that I love.  They feature the work of a local potter that I love and have a couple of pieces from.  Every other year we have been here I have "allowed myself" to "invest" or "indulge" in a  piece.  I thought I was safe this year.  There were only two of her pieces on show and they were too similar to what I own.  Whew.  But then the curator said, "Oh, I have a whole collection of her work in the back room."  Oh, my, yes she did.  What to do, what to do?  Invest, of course.  I now have a lovely, really cool, indescribable piece being shipped home.  And Jack said Happy Birthday.  My birthday isn't until October, but I so am happy.

So enough of that nonsense.  We got into camp and set up for dinner.  I am amazed at the places that I get to cook.  Look to the East and look the the West and what more could you ask for than the majestic cliffs of Zion as your back yard?  And tomorrow the back yard will change!

While we were slaving away in some pretty good heat the tribe was headed up river to explore the park.  Hiking, biking, walking, they did it all.  A few were able to make it to the Virgin River and walk up the canyon in the river.  I was fortunate enough to hike this with a friends daughter a few years back.  It was amazing.  So were the chipmunks at the entrance to the hike.  They were so amazing they could zip open your backpack, dig out whatever food item you may have stored and claim it as their own.  Chipmunks are so cute.

When the tribe returned to camp we had the feast ready for them.  They enjoyed a marinated vegetable salad with rice and quinuoa, greek lemon chicken, steamed red potatoes and yams, pan roasted cauliflower with garlic and cherry tomatoes, (YUMMMM! This was a new one and it was awesome!) and pound cake for dessert.

 We hit the hay early to get up for an early start today.  Speaking of early starts.  I get up at 4:20 to get the coffee going and breakfast on the roll.  The new deal is that coffee is at 5:30, breakfast at 6.  Yeah right.  Like who ever is up at 5:30 for coffee isn't going to want breakfast too.  And those that get up before 5:30 would like their coffee early.. ..trying to be optimistic but not seeing too clearly on this one.  Especially that early in the morning.  I'm still in my pi's for goodness sakes.  Yes, I cook in my pi's.  The first morning in Saint George it went well.  Ok, maybe I did lock everyone out of the building.  Just until 5:30.  Ish.  But this morning?  Camp fire at the catering truck.  5:13 and I have requests for breakfast.  Sorry, Ain't going to happen.  The results weren't ugly, I took my deep breath and tried to use the right response.  But I think the message got sent.  No camp fire at the catering truck until the doors are open.

So the tribe did get their french toast and scrambled eggs ON TIME and headed out to ride the switch backs up the canyon to catch the shuttle through the Zion tunnel.  Dropped off at the other side they had a tough but spectacular ride to the quaint, (and I use that term loosely) little hamlet of Hatch.

Jack and I took the alternate route to Hatch.  Tomorrow, when I have more time, I will give you the tunnel story with the big yellow truck.  We headed up to Cedar City, picked up ice and then drove up the route the tribe will be riding down in a couple of days.  Amazing the scenery when you go the opposite way that you have been driving for so many years!  We did not turn to finish the top of Cedar Breaks, but stayed on 14 through Duck Creek Pond to head out to Hatch.  I have driven this a couple of times, but this time we stopped at the visitors center.  WOW.  I had no idea that all this was there.  Campgrounds, Trails, Falls, Caves, Ice Caves, Lava Beds, Lakes, Lava Tubes.  You could spend a month exploring.  And, the ladies at the visitors center said that right now all the deer and antelope were dropping their young (this is a good thing) and there are babies everywhere.  We shall be back.

In Hatch we got set up for dinner and got dinner going early.  The winds were awful and I can tell you a story about cooking a pot of rice here and one side got done and the other didn't.  Fun stuff.  We prepared a tossed green salad, spicy cabbage salad, curried chicken, tofu with a peanut yam sauce, grilled tomatoes and home made cookies for this very weary tribe when they got in.

Tomorrow is a short ride up to Bryce Canyon and then the exploring begins!

Monday, June 9, 2014

I'm back!!!!!....

AWE KEVIN!!!! It's so good to have you back......I just LOVE watching you guys work.  YUMM, breakfast casserole with sausage and mushrooms.  Thank you Cousin Charlotte for the recipe!

Hopefully that's a good thing!  I kind of fell off of the grid last summer: we experienced major technical difficulties on the Oregon tour and I never quite got caught up.  Well, I didn't get caught up at all!

Last summers tours all went really well: Oregon Gorge was quite wet for most of the trip: Oregon Coast was awesome: Wine Country went well: Sierra Sampler had it's challenges due to wild fires, but we made it through.  It's now time to start 2014's tours and I promise to do a better job of keeping you informed of the tours!

We spent the winter at home keeping things pretty quiet: well as quiet as I am able to!  Jack did well with his surgery and chemo and the prognosis is good: Aaron has graduated with his doctorate in physical therapy and has landed an amazing job in Portland: Matt is coaching and finished his AA and is on track for his education degree: Scott.......oh Scott.  There is a long story behind Scott, he's quite the unique young man as most of you know.  He finished his training in Mississippi for the Marine Corps and got stationed in Okinawa.  With his wife.  Whom he didn't inform us was his wife until a week after they got married.  Actually, he didn't inform US. He told Jack and asked HIM to tell me. Oh yes I had a few choice words.  But, they seem happy and we hope to meet her this December when we visit Okinawa.

Today we are on the first ride day of Cycle Utah.  OH MY GOSH it's good to be back here!  I really missed coming down here the last two years.  This has always been one of my favorite tours!  We have a great staff with Daryl Patten leading the tribe.  Kevin and Jack are back on the tours as well as Bill.  We have 3 more great staff in addition to these three. Daryl's brother, Doug joined us at the last minute and I shall name him BD for remainder of the tour.  (Bad Dad put his lab Lexi in puppy camp for the week....I will be without puppy kisses for 6 days.  Bad Dad.)  I will have a great time this week photographing the staff as they work hard.....most of the time it's in a chair with an adult beverage in their hand :).  There is no escape you guys!

Our tribe checked in at 36 members last night.  We had the unfortunate news the Leo and Sue, who have worked many many ACA tours had to drop: we hope you are well Leo and we will miss you!
First impressions are that this is a great group and I am looking forward to feeding this tribe, even if it is 102* out!  It will cool down as we gain elevation.

After check in and our first map meeting last night, the tribe feasted on a dinner consisting of : Spring greens with fresh strawberries and toasted almonds with a maple vinegar dressing, Mediterranean baked cod (cod with tomatoes and capers  on a bed of roasted leeks and fennel), stuffed green peppers for the vegimites, steamed basmati rice & quinuoa, fresh asparagus, watermelon slices,  and brownies for dessert.  Yummmm, it was good.

The tribe was up and out early this morning trying to beat the heat as they peddle up the hill to Zion Canyon.  It's a nice ride and once they get up the hill and make the turn to Zion the scenery is breathtaking.

Breakfast this morning was pastries, fresh fruit with cottage cheese, hot 7 grain cereal, baked egg casserole with sausage and mushrooms, cereals and juice and OF COURSE, coffee.  Must have coffee.  And must have coffee early.

I will give you and update tomorrow of the ride and any antics that happen along the way.  It's good to be back and I hope you follow along.

PS: hi to my kiddos at school!  And the staff in room 120 too!  I miss you guys.  Remember: 5 more days!

Saturday, June 22, 2013


We are packed up and heading to Oregon for the Gorge Tour: many great days of riding, fabulous scenery, and really good eats.  And, really good eats. So sorry you're not here!  

I was quite surprised that this ride did not fill!  The Oregon Gorge is a fabulous tour!  We are looking at a week of good weather, great riding, great ACA staff and a small group of cyclists that will be spoiled rotten. 

Jack and I are looking forward to feeding this tribe and hopefully getting some ride time in for ourselves  as well!  

We will have limited internet access on this tour, but I hope to keep you up to date the best I can.  We are going to kick off the event tonight at Oxbow State Park just East of Portland with our first map meeting and dinner.  We are hosting a salad buffet with a tossed green salad with all the trimmings, a honey chicken salad, tuna salad, Orzo pasta salad, an amazing Quinoa salad with fava beans and fresh asparagus in a spicy fresh lemon dressing, and home made cookies for dessert.

We have some surprises along the way this trip:  YUMMM!  We will celebrate the Pacific Northwest one evening with a happy hour consisting of smoked salmon pate & crackers, (Jack caught and smoked the salmon!), grilled Olympic oysters on the half shell, Bourbon salmon as an entree and chilled dungeness crab to set off the meal.  I am so so sorry that you are not one of the lucky 27 that will be feasting on this meal!  (The rest of the week should be pretty good, too.)

So we're off on another adventure!  We will keep you posted the best we can.  Happy trails!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Last Three Days, Y'all!

Snacks!  They love the dates!
Scary electronics.
Our water stop guru giving directions to the "restroom", of sorts.
Our circus tent at Pedernales....where are the clowns?  Send in the clowns!
What a plate of food!
Jack's new apron....he has an attitude.
Our fearless leader, Greg, ready to take on the last map meeting.
The staff leading the sing along...and the words to the tune of "Let's go to Luckenbach Texas..."
A field of bluebonnets.
Pres. Johnson's boyhood school house.
Cool trees.
The goat on Johnson's farm wanted to eat my shoelaces.

I get so frustrated with technology...or the lack there of.  The wireless at the campground failed and I wasn't able to update my blog until Jack got home with the laptop and the big yellow truck.  ARGHH.

So, I need to catch you up on the last few days of our ride.  What a great time it was!
Wednesday was another layover day in Fredericksburg.  This was to be our ride day too....but the weather did not cooperate.  It was mega windy and the riders that headed out early to Enchanted Rock weren't quite so happy they did.  It is a tough ride to begin with, but with the wind it made it not too enjoyable.  Many chose to hang around town and explore the museums and  restaurants, or just hang out at camp.  We went in search of chicken fried steak and quilt shops.  I know, what a combination, but I have a weakness for both!  I have challenged myself to find the best chicken fried steak in Texas.  And LORD they have some good chicken fried steaks.  AND I found a chicken fried pork chop that was even better!  Oh I should weigh 300 pounds.  Jack says I am lucky to have the metabolism that I do.  YUMMMMM.  

Wednesday nights dinner was pasta with meat sauce, a pesto & artichoke sauce, baked polenta (this tribe is polenta happy) and salads.  

Thursday the weather shifted back to gorgeous and the tribe had the most beautiful ride day on the trip. Rolling hills and incredible fields of wild flowers.  We followed the tribe, with no off road mishaps this year, and enjoyed the flowers!  We stopped at the water stop to view the dent in the pavement that we left last year and catch up with the tribe.  Our water stop guru instructed me that if I needed the facilities I was to walk under the overpass on the main road.  On a rock was a roll of toilet paper.  If it was not there, someone was at the other side of the underpass visiting mother nature.  If it was there, it was my turn.  I passed. 

We headed into Pedernales State Park to set up for the last supper.  Greg had rented a circus tent and tables and chairs for the tribe to sit under and on.  We were blown away that the tent crew had that thing up in less than 1/2 an hour!  Some locals walked by and asked when the clowns would be arriving.  Someone commented, "look around, they're on bikes!"

We prepared the final dinner of honey spiced pork chops, salads and such and watched the tribe over indulge!  This was a tribe that could put away the chow.  The staff put together a great final map meeting, reviewing the local slang and teaching us all that y'all means everyone and all y'all means everyone plus some.  Then they presented awards and led the tribe in a rousing rendition of "let's go to Luckenbach Texas....but with a biker twist."  Our leader, Greg, donned his cowboy gear and spun a big yarn about bikers in Texas.  It was great fun.

Friday morning we bid farewell to our tribe...many new friends were made this week.  The tribe headed back to New Braunfels to find their way home.  We spent the day with our dishwasher/attorney friend Jim searching for a new chicken fried steak and exploring the Lynden B Johnson Ranch.  What an interesting piece of the six years that I have been working this tour it is the first time I was able to make time to visit.  If you're there, it's a must.  Just beware....the goats like tennis shoe laces.  

Well, another wonderful tour is over.  I can't believe how quickly they fly by.  And speaking of fly....I made my way back to Austin and flew home.  Yes, I abandoned Jack and made him drive the big yellow truck 4 days home.  Bad me.  I don't think I will get away with that ever again.

SOOOOOO:  those of you that have not signed up for a ride: the Gorge in June needs a pick me up in participants.  It is a great ride.  Leader Pete has made a couple of changes to ease it up a bit...and the weather should be awesome.  That said, hope to see you on another ride!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Buzzards In My Tent

Truck wars between the ACA staff.
Bikes in Blanco.
A house in the trees on the Blanco river.
A serious beer drinking cyclist.
Hillary and Marty.
A few of the tribe in Blanco. 
My kitchen window in Blanco.  Yes, I'm sunburned.
A Texas gate pole.
Hans and his styling helmet.  Yes, it's a helmet.
The tribe in Fredericksburg.

The first ride morning of the Hill Country Tour broke with overcast skies and a cool breeze.  The day looked promising for a great ride, with the haze burning off early afternoon and moderate temperatures during the day.  The tribe migrated out of their tents and circled for a hearty breakfast, loaded up their gear and got on the road.  The local buzzards, on the other hand, decided it was time for nappy nappy.  In my tent.  Jack, laughing, told me to look at my tent.  The brazen buzzards were on their way in.  Guess I found reason number 432 to not leave the tent open.

The ride Sunday morning was a lazy 39.4 miles into the little town of Blanco.  We camped on the banks of the river at Blanco State Park and had use of the breezy pavilion for our meals.  Fortunately there were no creepy crawly red headed centipedes to welcome us!  We dined on a fabulous meal, if I do say myself, of blue cheese wedge salad, coleslaw, mesquite smoked brisket, grilled red fish, yellow potatoes and homemade brownies.  The red fish was a huge hit!

About that red fish!  I learned my lesson last year about buying the scaly little devils.  Red fish filets, boneless, NO SCALES!! I swear there  are still red fish scales on the ceiling of the pavilion from last year

Ride day #2 was 40.2 miles from Blanco to Fredericksburg.  The tribe wandered through the hill country to Lyndon B. Johnson Historical Park , through Stonewall and into camp on the edge of Fredericksburg.  The route the tribe takes is different from the one we take.  They showed me pictures of gorgeous blue bonnets, a fabulous old church, Spanish moss balls in bloom, and centipedes with green spots and evil horns.  I swear they grow the scariest critters I have ever seen here in Texas.  And, they're big.

Dinner this night was a fajita bar with beef, chicken and tofu, with all the trimmings.  The tribe did a great job of consuming massive quantities of fajita!  As well, they finished off a record number of cookies for dessert.  They are also setting a new record for beer consumption!  It's a tribe of records! Speaking of beer, I found a great t-shirt for our dishwasher/lawyer who excels at beer consumption.  It reads: In dog beers I've only had three.

Tonights map meeting was quite fun with our leader, Gary, running a road booty competition.  The goal is to see who can find the most unique piece of booty that they find as they are riding along.  I hope they are watching where they are going!  The winner tonight was the finder of a deer skull.  Other entries were a Texas license plate, a Texas A&M banner and a red French beret.  Can't wait to see what they found today!

Today's ride was the Little Switzerland Loop consisting of 38.2 miles of up and down.  I think there was 2300 feet of up and down.  They all got in around lunch time and shuttled in to town to explore the brew pub and shops in Fredericksburg.  Jack and I took off and trucked into Kerrville to visit one of my favorite quilt shops. Good Jack.  We then headed to Opa's Sausage Factory to procure the yummy sausages for tonights dinner.  They will be accompanied by homemade potato salad, broccoli salad, sauerkraut, creamy polenta, bbq'd pulled pork and ice cream for dessert.

This seems to be a happy tribe: they are all getting along well and are into exploring everywhere they go!  We'll see where they end up tomorrow.

Sunday, April 7, 2013



So here we are...another bike trip in Texas!  After a week on the road Jack made his way to San Antonio and I flew back in on Wednesday.  We spent to crazy days re- outfitting the truck and getting ready for a great week of feeding the tribe!  During our stay in San Antonio I got to visit the Bistro on Broadway, a great venue if you get the chance, and sought out some great sushi.  On Friday we made a final run to Costco and head to Sysco for a HUGE order!  This tribe is going to have to have an appetite.  The weather is looking to be good for the week, not too hot, not too cold!

So I have to fess up to a little boo boo on my part.  Jack had booked a rental car for me as I flew into Austin and wanted to have a car for the week to be able to run around, pick up Jim, and get back to the airport.  All went well, I got into Austin, found the Hertz desk and picked up the phone as you don't get to talk face to face with a real person anymore.  I finalized the details and said sure to the question posed, "Do you want insurance on the car?"  Mistake.  They hit me with every possible piece of coverage available.  When I got into San Antonio I told Jack that with the insurance the car was expensive: twice what I though it was going to be.  No, he said.  The car is already paid for.  UhOh
The insurance was twice the price of the car.  I think we need to dent it to get our moneys worth.  It's the last time Jack lets me get a car.

Our leader and staff on this trip, all but one, are new to us.  So, it will be an Adventure for us as well as them!  We have a pretty large percentage of new riders to us as well, but our dear friend Hillary is riding!  Yeah Hillary!  Our friend Jim, from Baltimore, has joined us for a week of dishwashing....I don't know many people that would take a week of vacation to wash dishes!

On our way to set up at the Lazy L&L campground we stopped at a little corner burger joint...oh my gosh the burgers were good!  The signs above were on the outside wall... I thought they were cute!  We met up with our new leader Greg and his staff and got the truck ready to roll.  The trip started on Saturday with the first map meeting and introductions all around.  Our first ride day is Sunday and I will post more when we get into Fredericksburg on Monday!