Monday, June 21, 2010

The last supper

It's over, it's finished, you could say it's done! One more bike trip: wasn't it fun? Yes, all in all, it was. The ride over Cedar Breaks complete, we whipped up a big pasta dinner for the tribe: a pretty worn out tribe: held the final map meeting: served an early breakfast and headed for home.
Pictures are of the last map meeting at Willow Glenn, Cedar City Utah. The first picture if Ranger Tommy awarding the prize to our oldest lady rider.
Cudos to each and every rider on this tour. Cedar Breaks is a tough ride, and you did it! Special recognition should go to the two youngest riders: Carl 12, and Zach 13. Also to our oldest lady rider, climbing the climb at almost 80 years old. We can all hope to be so active and healthy! It is always interesting to see the age of our riders. Though the median is probably around 50, we have those riders in their 70's and 80's that completely astonish me. Every trip that Ranger Tommy does the youngest and oldest riders at the final map meeting I am continually amazed! It is also fun to see where everyone comes from. This trip we had a rider from France; a first for our tours!

The Willow Glenn B&B was a great place for the last night of the trip. The grounds are gorgeous, the showers hot, the Jacuzzi tub amazing. Thank you Ranger Tommy for the use of the Tree Room!
The menu the last night: marinated vegetable salad, fettucini with chicken & peppers in alfredo sauce, linguini with sundried tomatoes, pesto, greek olives & feta cheese, buttered noodles w/ parmesan cheese, fresh french bread, and gooey brownies for dessert. They ate ALOT! As well as eating record amounts of food, this group set new records for consumption of brewskies. 12 cases of beer lasted all of 3 1/2 nights. We had to resort to Utah beer: yuck at 3.2%. I was about to auction off the last bottle at dinner when a tribe member with that desperate, I need carbs and I want them in the form of a beer deer in the headlights look approached me. I gave in to compassion instead of cold hard cash. Makes for better fuel mileage not having to haul the beer home!

I look forward to this trip again next year. If you haven't ridden it: by all means do. If you have: it's worth riding again. Now, on to craziness starting in 3 weeks. Cycle Washington, Idaho Relaxed, Idaho Family & Colorado all back to back. Then on to Oregon, a few weeks, off, then Farm Fresh & Wine Country Special. Many days on the road, in a tent, feeding the tribe. I hope to see you there!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Over to the other side

Another great shot of Bryce Canyon!

Dinner last night, though late (the first time in the history of my bike tours), was a favorite for many of the tribe members. It is funny how comfort foods win out over gourmet creations most every time. Roast pork, mushroom gravy & potatoes. Yummmmm. But it seems that I can never have enough desserts! I thought the brownies we were baking for tonight would not see the light of day!

The tribe feasted on stuffed croissant french toast and scrambled eggs. Had to fuel them up for the long haul over Cedar Breaks. I think a few were pretty concerned about the ride. But, they have great weather compared to many past rides. It is sunny and the winds from the south west are predicted to ONLY be 25 mph. The will be a head wind going up and a cross wind going down. I am sure they will do fine. As I have said before: if I could ride it anyone can.

We have some very interesting people on this ride. I wish we had more time to get to know them! We have one lady that is a glass blower/artist from Sante Fe. It is such a small world: she studied at the Pilchuck glass studio not far from where I grew up. I would have been 14 at the time! Another woman rider is from Bellingham and just competed in the same sea to ski race that my son, Aaron, was in! It is a small world.

We are off to Cedar City: going around not over the Breaks. Too big a truck to be dodging riders. I will miss this part of the ride: it is a gorgeous route. The view from the top is stunning. We will be staying at a really cool bed & breakfast: Willow Glenn. It is an old horse ranch that has been converted to a B&B and a wedding facility. Beautiful gardens, all of the out buildings have been renovated into guest rooms. One suite has been built around a tree! If you plan a trip through the area I highly recommend Willow Glenn. (The tree house suite has a fabulous jacuzzi tub!)

One more dinner, breakfast and lunch and we head for home. It has been a fast and furious trip. Cycle Washington is coming up next: looking forward to seeing Kevin again, as well as Bob & Linda, Ranger Tommy & Sophia. The food will be the best! Peaches, apricots, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries are all at the peak of their season. Grilled oysters, steamed Penn Cove mussels, and manila clams will be on the menu at Bay View State Park. Fresh salmon from the Puget Sound as well. You don't want to miss this one!

Kevin will be leading Farm Fresh this year: if you want a great ride check it out! I am working on some amazing menus & wine parings. Tempting? For sure!

Will try to blog again before we head North. See you on the other side!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Melt down

Bryce Canyon is one of the greatest creations in the US. The hoo doo's are created by erosion: water, wind, snow. The softer minerals go away first and leave behind valleys of spheres: Queen's Court, Wall Street, Fairy Land. The hiking is incredible. If you haven't been here: it's a must see. Above are pictures of the canyon. To the right, chow line.

We arrived at Ruby's Inn, the camp ground that we stay at and got set up for the night. Yeah! The lift gate was working again. Got dinner started after we had lunch. Then, the wind began. Remember I earlier commented that we would talk about weather another time? Here in Bryce we have experienced it all. Hot, rain, torrential rain, sleet, hail, lighting, snow, ice, more rain, more sun, a little wind. Not today. We got 35-45 mph constant wind from about 1:00 on. Cooking outdoors is so great when the weather is good. When it's bad, yuck. I swear I have had hypothermia more than once. The weather is almost the only thing that causes me to melt down, and ask Jack, it's not pretty.

My last melt down was in South Dakota. 6 days of pouring rain. 2 1/2 of those days we were set up in a mud pit. I had to buy boots just for that trip. The 2cnd morning I woke to the same downpour, and I started crying. Every slosh in the mud made me cry worse. I cried for about 6 hours. Not pretty.

We were able to set up the 3 burner stove and my prep table in the back of the truck and be out of the wind for awhile. But, and there is always a but, I had to cook dinner. Fish tacos, vegetarian fajitas, spanish style rice, lime & cilantro coleslaw, pasta salad. Try frying fish for 65 people on a flat grill with 40 mile an hour winds blowing hot oil at you. I have new freckles all over my face, blisters actually, my hands, anywhere that wasn't covered. Plus, the wind wears you out. Those of you that cycle in the wind know how discouraging it is. You peddle like hell and don't go very far very fast. That's how I felt. Plus, the wind blows the dust all over everything. The equipment, the food, the drinks, inside the truck, all over me. So, I'm splattered with grease and covered in red dirt. I didn't melt down until after dinner and we're washing dishes, rather, swilling them in muck and trying to put things away. I'd had it. I wanted everything clean, me clean, the wind to stop, to go home, to hug my puppies, and it got worse. Jack was able to defuse me, head me to the shower, and into the tent. I like sleeping in the tent when it's windy! It's kind of like natures evil lullaby.

Dinner was a success, nobody that I know of wore their dinner, and I prefer the rock fish that I used this trip verses the tilapia that I have used in the past.

That whining complete, we got up this morning to a beautiful day. Fed the tribe pancakes and scrambled eggs, took a trip up to the canyon, and headed down here to Panguitch to prepare roast pork with mushroom gravy, indian vegetable curried stew, steamed red potatoes, green salad with dates and oranges in an orange vinaigrette, and more rum cake for dessert. The building Tom rented was locked. The pork was supposed to be in the oven at 12:00 to be done by six. No, not another melt down, but I'll let you know how it turns out in the morning. My potatoes won't boil. Dinner is now at 7. Drats.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Left: dining arrangements at Hatch!

I was not exaggerating when I said someone may have moved into town! We were extremely surprised to see a Harley Cafe! A new business in Hatch! Can you believe it!

The morning shuttle went well. Jack and I drove around over to Long Island Junction to meet up with the crew. Jack drove, I slept. Normal. The weather has been great, and the ride today was well recieved. I will have pictures added to the blog when we get where we have internet: using the public expensive system at Bryce.

Breakfast this morning was hashbrowns and veggie scramble. We made record time out of the camp. I was able to do the necessary shopping at the local pottery store that I love so well. Katie: hope you enjoy you vase. It is by one of my favorite potters: she has a series of muses that intrigue me! This may have been on of the highlights of my trip. Been plotting this for months!

Dinner tonight was Honey spiced pork chops, eggplant & zucchini strata, bleau cheese chop salad, ranch style beans, stir fried zucchini and Nana's world famous rum cakes. Can you beleive that Mom is 87 and still baking up a storm? Awesome. Had requests for the pork chop recipe and the salad recipe. You can find the chop recipe under the Utah blogs, and I will post the salad recipe when I get home.

Today's glitch: the lift gate on the truck quit. Great. Penske step arobics at it's fullest. I will be sore tomorrow. But, how many years didn't we have a lift gate? Am I spoiled now? No, just out of shape. Sure it'll work tomorrow!?!

I got to feed the resident horses apples. Filled my "feed the critter craving" for a day or two. There must be a prarie dog somewhere! I'll find em.

On to Bryce Canyon and fish tacos. The riders don't know what they're in for. Oh, maybe they do.


Monday morning saw us up bright and early. Actually, I didn't sleep much so I wasn't very bright and it was really early! We have a great number of new riders to the tours with us, as well as a few oldies but goodies! Hi Hillary! No, you're not an oldie! We love you!

This pictures above is the view from our camp ground in Springdale!

Homemade scones w/ raspberry jam for breakfast, on to Costco, then the beautiful drive up to Springdaly. OOPS: a glitch for Ranger Tommy tomorrow. The tunnel through Zion is only open for 2 hours in the morning due to construction. Makes for a tight schedule: a bus charter, load bikes Monday night for transport Tuesday am. He will make it happen. He has a great crew: hi Sophia! It's good to see you back. And yes, Jack and I are OLD news. Daryl and Kim: yeah you made it! I have lots of hummus to share.

Dinner in Springdale was Greek lemon chicken, peanut yam tofu, basmati rice, steamed carrots, caprese salad with yummie mixed cherry tomatoes, blueberry rhubarb sauce over pound cake with fresh whipped cream. It was a hit. Already recieving requests for recipes: if you would like one just comment on the blog and tell me which one: I'd be glad to post it.

It is so good to be back in Southern Utah. This is trip number 16 for me: I have had so many of my dear friends and family work this tour. I am thankful that I could share it with them. They have all gone really well. Ok, Barb did leave her purse in Panguitch and had an almost major melt down. And Jeff, a little less tequila on work nights. Jake, please tell me when you go golfing next time. I hate it when I don't have the help I had counted on. And, when you say you'll be back from hiking at 4:30, 6:00 just doesn't cut it. Over all, alot of fun. My boys have all worked the trip, as did my step daughter, Katie, my parents, my niece, my nephew the tequila expert Jeff. My friends Kim, Karl, Hal, Erin and Wally have all had the pleasure of scrubbing dishes in wind, rain, shine & snow. More on the weather here later.

Tomorrow we are in the lovely town on Hatch. I'll fill you in on the going ons: who knows, someone may have moved into town. Or out of town. See you soon.

Road trip with Ranger Tommy

The trip to St. George was quite the fiasco. I was really taking a chance flying out the same day as the tour started, with only 1/2 hour between connecting flights in Salt Lake. So was Ranger Tommy. He was on the same flight as I was. I knew there would be a problem when I signed in at the Delta kiosk and it said, "your flight is overbooked. Would you like to rebook and recieve a travel voucher?" NONONO! I had to be in St. George by 12:30 to prepare for dinner. Tom had to be there to start the tour. Of course, we were delayed leaving Seattle. Of course, I got seated next to the screaming two year old. Of course, we sat on the tarmac in Salt Lake waiting for our gate to clear. 24 minutes to make the connection. Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, we will be moving to a different gate. 23 minutes and counting. Of course, the different gate is further away from our connection. When we did unload we had 15 minutes to make our flight. I sprinted the length of the airport to have them hold the door for Tom. Of course, the flight was closed. We could not board! But we had 8 minutes to spare. Sorry, you can rebook for later today! NO! The flight would not get in until 5:00. Well, you could rent a car and drive: it's only 298 miles. Much faster that waiting for a later flight. I smelled a conspiracy. I know why we sat on the tarmac, why we had to change gates. They oversold the flight and didn't want us on it. Humph. So, Tom rented a car and of we went. Road trip with Ranger Tommy.

4 1/1 hours of driving and we made it to St. George. It was 4 1/2 hours of reminiscing over the last 15 years of bike trips: people, places, situations; funny, sad, can you believe we did that? It was fun. And, Tom only told one joke. Can you believe it?

Jack had dinner under control when I got there. Daryl had Tom's back covered. So, let the trip begin. We enjoyed a great dinner of lasagnas and home made cookies, and set up for morning. The weather was rainy all day: during the drive from Salt Lake I don't remember ever seeing the hills so green or the Indian Paint Brush so brilliant. Hoping tomorrow would bring sunshine and great riding.

So: on to breakfast and then to Zion National Park.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Seared Scallop Salad & Graduation

What a day! My son Aaron (hi Aaron!) graduated today from WWU with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a Psychology minor w/ Pre-Physical Therapy concentration. Wheew. What a mouthfull. We are so proud of him!

Jack drove to St. George w/ the big yellow truck on his lonesome so I could stay home for graduation. Thank you so much, Jack! It was worth every second having you drive the big yellow truck for two days without me snoring on the sideline.

So: we start Cycle Utah tomorrow. I have a 7:00 am flight to Salt Lake and then on to St. George. HI RANGER TOMMY! I understand he is on the same flight! We will both be in great shape when we get there. Anyway: The weather here went from weeks of dumping buckets of cats and dogs to the most gorgeous blue skies and pristine mountains you could ever dream of. Of course: the weather in Southern Utah went from 90-100* to all hell breaks loose rain storms. It should warm up the next couple of days, but in Bryce Canyon it will be around 35* F at night. Bring your blankies, campers!

If you are fortunate enough to be in St. George now, or in the future, make sure you ride up through Snow Canyon. It is such a great ride: there is a pull off where the terain turns to sand dunes that you can hike through, then a few more miles up the road pull off to the right and walk in to see the names of settlers written in wagon wheel grease from the late 1800's on the cliff side. The bike path from the top of the canyon back into St. George is really fun! The other really cool thing to see is the Johnson Dinasaur Farm. It is on the East side of St. G, and the museum is built around the dig sight. As you travel through the canyons try and imagine those huge dinasaurs migrating across the canyons.

So: what's new on the menu? Well, I catered an in-home cooking lesson last week and have this fabulous recipe for you to try: Seared Shrimp and Scallop Salad with Feta Chees and Canied Garlic.

Make the candied garlic: 1/3 cup garlic cloves: 1 cup white wine: 1/2 cup sugar: 2 Tblsp butter: Place all in a small saucepan and cook slowliy over low heat until the liquid becomes syrupy. The garlic should be tender but not mushy: Keep warm.

Dressing: cheat and use a good quality balsamic dressing.

Shrimp & Scallops: as many as you want to eat each of large shrimp, peeled & devained & good quality sea scallops: salt and freashly ground white pepper: canola oil: season the shrimp and scallops with salt and pepper and coat with the canola oil. Heat a saute pan over medium high heat: sear the shrimp and scallops about a minute on each side: longer if you want them well done but I don't recommend it: remove from pan and set aside.

Gently toss about 4 cups mixed greens with the balsamic vinaigrette and feta cheese. Divide among serving plate and arange shrimp and scallops around the egde. Toss on a few kalamata olives and some cherry tomato halves, scatter with candied garlic and drizzle the warm syrup over all. Sounds really complicated,, but is so easy and SO GOOD>..

Tomorrow nights menu? Tossed spring greens with raspberry chipotle dressing, smoked chicken & spinach lasagna, vegetarian lasagana, steamed veggies, french bread & dessert to be decided. I will fill you in on the lasagan recipes later. Time to sleep. Must be up early.

By the way: Cycle Washington lost a couple of riders: there is room if you really want a great ride and fabulous food! See you in St. George.