Sunday, August 29, 2010

Broken Truck

We said our goodbyes to the tribe this morning and sent them off for a long day of riding. We loaded up and headed home, or tried to. As soon as Jack started the truck we knew there was a problem. Why, on the last day of a long run of bike tours does the truck have to break? Couldn't it wait one day until we got home? No, it had to break on the day I want to be home. We were able to limp it into Eugene and fortunately were able to get it into Penske to be fixed. Set us back 5 hours, guess it could have been worse! We did make it home and it feels good to be here!

A note of congratulations to Pete for a great tour! This was the first one that he led and he did a great job! We hope that you do this again next year! And, we hope to see all of you tribe members on a tour this next season, if not on Farm Fresh! I WILL let you know what's for dinner in the Napa Valley....if you're there I hope we can share a great bottle of wine.

Trading Up!

Trading with the tribe: Devil's Cove

The "off day" today was a ton of fun for all of the tribe. The kayaking was awesome, hiking the dunes more difficult than imagined. Our fearless leader had a great ride and watched a baby black bear run across the road in front of them! The town of Florence was invaded by the tribe: great restaurants and shopping! Mo's has pretty good chowder, they claim it is world famous!

I spent the day nursing my wounds and whining. Jack has the patience of a saint to put up with me! We did go into town for lunch and shopping, then spent the afternoon getting ready for dinner. RIB NIGHT! BBQ chicken and ribs, green salad, potatoes, cowboy beans, and dessert assortment, (all that is left in the truck!). The tribe did an amazing job of eating tonight!

A special thank you to Kent for interrupting his dinner to doctor my finger. Well, for looking at my finger and telling me that I'm having an allergic reaction to the bee sting, and yes, I'm being a baby. Waaa. It's taking my attention away from my burned foot!

The tribe had a final camp fire tonight, complete with smores! The pow wow was joined just after dinner by two really cute young men. They approached the tribe with a jar of spaghetti sauce and a mischievous grin. They explained that they were going through camp "trading up". They started with a small bag of chocolate and wanted to see what they could end up with if they traded their way through the camp ground. I was more than happy to participate: I traded a large jar of peanut butter for their sauce. I wonder what they ended up with! What fun.

Tomorrow is a long ride back to the start for this roaming tribe. It was the first ACA tour for many and we hope we will see them again! On that note: NEXT YEARS TOURS HAVE BEEN POSTED!!! The first three supported tours and the van supported tours. Time to start planning for you next ride! Of course there is still space on Farm Fresh this fall! First on the calendar is what is now being billed as the California Kick Off, formerly Winter Warmer. It is a great ride early in the season. The first day is a long climb, but three days in Borrego Springs makes it worth it! You can go back to my first blogs and see what you don't want to miss. Next on the roster is Southern Arizona. There will be some changes in the overnights that will make this fabulous tour even better. Follow this ride with the Hill Country in Texas. A favorite to say the least. So keep on peddling this winter and join us early next year! Jack has signed up for the "border to border" ride in September. Van supported Canadian border to Mexican border along the west coast! There will be more tours to come.....can't wait!

We will be heading home for 4 weeks off. I don't look forward to unloading the truck, but am looking forward to some time at home. Aaron will be heading out next week to ride the coast to meet up with us in California for Farm Fresh. What a great experience for him!

I would love some feed back from our tribes: if you have any ideas for new menu items, if there was something you really loved or even really didn't like! Email me and let me know....and I promise to post the peanut yam recipe this week!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Salmon Burgers

Riding along the coast...sunset on the beach.

I have stumbled upon a new tribe favorite. Salmon Burgers! (This tribe is showing their true ability to consume mass quantities of food: they shall be renamed the flock, seagulls and vultures to be precise!) SALMON BURGERS! I made them from scratch and they loved them. Tonight's dinner was Nana's BBQ beef, salmon burgers, broccoli salad, cucumber and tomato salad and steamed potatoes. The tribe had a stressful day of riding; maybe that's what contributed to the mass consumption that took place.

The scenery along the coast is breath taking to say the least. But for those on bikes it comes with a catch. Narrow shoulders and really big RV's. Many of which are piloted by really inconsiderate drivers. The theme for the day was, let's not be patient with the bicycles. Those tribe members that aren't really comfortable with tight spaces had a rough time. There were no crashes, thankfully, just some stressed out riders. It's a good idea when you do this ride to get out and ride with traffic for awhile and you'll feel much more at ease. Fortunately tomorrow is an off day with an optional ride.

Many riders stopped at the Sea Lion Caves, and most all went into old town Florence for some great clam chowder! After dinner was camp fires and plans for tomorrow. A big group is kayaking the river. Many are heading into town and a few are going to ride. The park we are at is at the edge of the sand dunes. A few brave warriors are going to "hike" the dunes.

Me? I was going to ride. A big, mean, nasty yellow jacket put an end to that. He wanted into my salmon burgers and fought for his space. A really painful sting to my left middle finger was a warning to leave him alone. It has swollen up three times its normal size and hurts like heck. I can't bend it to brake or shift on the bike. :( I'm really grumpy too. We'll see how it is tomorrow.

I See All!!!!

By the sea.....LUNCH!

Ok vegetarians. You should know that I am watching you. You all have your individual special needs and I truly do try to accommodate them. I have learned how to prepare vegan, keep the cheese out of your salad, which ones of you will eat eggs, who won't eat pork or beef but chicken and fish is ok(???), actually not cringed, visibly, when all you want for lunch is peanut butter and cheese sandwiches......I have seen it all. I also see when you "CHEAT!!!!" You thought I wasn't looking when you slipped that bacon on your plate. Eating chicken salad for lunch, you feigned innocence : of course you thought it was the best tuna you ever ate. I have had more than one of you, on steak night, give in to the temptation of red meat. "I haven't eaten a steak in 7 years!".
Yeah, right. Kevin, it is a known fact you enjoy a steak a year. But that's ok! It keeps my job interesting and gives me something to laugh about!

Today was a fabulous ride day. 46 miles of up and down along the sea shore. Through Depoe Bay, the smallest harbor in the world, a stop at Devil's Punch Bowl, a visit to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and onto Beachside State Park. The tribe road around the town of Newport, but Jack and I had to stop in at the Newport Cafe for his birthday breakfast. They are open 24 hours and serve a mean seafood omelet.

One our tribe from the East Coast was overheard on his cell phone today: "the ride was fabulous, but they've got hills on this coast!" Yes, it is a roller coaster. All the more fun.

Tonight was fish tacos and shrimp quessadilas with mango salsa. It was if a flock of seagulls converged on the dinner table! They weren't shy about consuming two sheet cakes, either.

Tomorrow is another day along the coast. The breeze at their back, the sound of pounding surf, the sweet ocean air..... Does it get any better than this?

Over to Lincoln city

Good morning Isabel!! The table at Corvalis. Squash chickens...aren't they cute???

So....I was a little bored!! The pasta dinner last night fueled the tribe over the hill and onto the coast. The ride was tough on a few of the tribe members...73.2 miles with quite a bit of climb: all the way up to almost 800 feet in elevation! What a switch from Colorado. The tribe encountered a pretty good headwind and lots of traffic once they got onto Hwy 101. There was about a mile of gravel at the beginning of the descent. We did have one rider go down in the gravel but no serious injuries. Many comments on the gorgeous country: So many Christmas trees!

Jack and I drove around and stopped for lunch at McMinniman's in Lincoln City. Great brews, good halibut and chips: a little pricey. (Note to Aaron: when you're rind the coast in two weeks you'll want to stop!) There is also a restaurant that we ate at last year at the North end of Lincoln City: Szabo's. It has great nightly specials: Tuesday night is New York steak & potatoes for $9.95. (Another note to Aaron if you're staying in Lincoln City!)

We stayed the night at Devils Lake State Park. The parks in Oregon are really nice: lush camp sights, good restrooms and showers and yurts if you please! Dinner tonight was Asian noodle salad with curried chicken and peanut yam tofu. The tribe is looking forward to some beautiful riding tomorrow: down 101 to Beachside State Park just South of Waldport.

Tomorrow is Jack's birthday. I won't tell how many, but I will need to find a cake!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oregon and OUCH!!

New yard art for the tent: covered bridge in Corvallis: the new fearless leader, Pete, and his tribe.

The first night of Oregon Coastal Odyssey kicked off fairly uneventful. The tribe members arrived at Richardson County Park just west of Eugene, registered, set up tents and gathered for the map meeting. A great many repeat riders that we have not seen for a couple of years, and many first timers. We'll break them in!

Jack and I set up the kitchen and prepared a dinner of Apple and Cabbage slaw, spiced pork chops, Indian vegetable stew, Russian Fingerling potatoes & cappuccino nanaimo bars for dessert. All went well until I poured boiling potato water on my foot. OWEEEE! I am missing a few layers of skin. Jack doctored it with saline solution and covered it with tagaderm. It's kind of like a second skin; stops the hurt and keeps the burn sterile.

This is not the first burned foot to happen on the tours. 3 years ago I did the same thing on the Oregon Gorge tour. The burn was worse than this one. Jack was mechanic on the tour and fixed that one too. About nine years ago my BF Susan was filling in for me on Cycle Washington. Once again, potato water on the ankle and foot. She experienced a pretty major burn. I burned my hand on Cycle Washington one year. By the time we got to Montana Divide it looked like an alien was going to hatch. That's what I told the ER doc was wrong with me. He said it was the second alien that day. One of the job hazards that I would like to avoid!

The tribe was up and on the road this morning to cover 42 miles of rolling hills heading towards the Coastal Range of mountains. Local agriculture includes acres of Christmas trees, hazelnut orchards, corn fields and wineries. Oregon produces some great wines! Water stop was set up at a great little bakery, The Sweet Spot, in Monroe. The tribe munched down on Pecan Caramel rolls and chocolate eclairs. It's a must stop when you are headed this way! Wildlife spotting today included wild turkeys AND their babies, a flock of vultures and a grey squirrel.. Don't think we'll find any moose here.

Tonight we are camped at the Benton County Fairgrounds in Corvallis. The picnic table that we are eating at is made from a single tree: it is about 64 feet long! Just across the road a bit is the covered bridge pictured above. Oregon has, if I remember correctly from last year, about 13 covered bridges in this area. We will get to see a couple of them. We were able to ride for about an hour: my foot is a little too tender for much more right now. Tonight is pasta night to fuel up for a long 73 miles tomorrow. It will be worth every crank of the pedal: we will be on the coast in Lincoln City.

I am working on the menu for Farm Fresh you guys! It's going to be great.........

Friday, August 20, 2010

On to Oregon

Fresh zucchini and crook neck squash for the tribe from Mom's garden! Jack and a gorgeous Dungeness Crab fresh from Washington waters! (Sorry tribe, not for you!)

Pheww....5 days off and it's time to head out again. We had just enough time to offload, gear up, spend some time with the boys, go crabbing with my dad, do laundry and get ready to go again!

Oregon Coastal Odyssey begins tomorrow: a full crew of 64 riders. The weather is scheduled to be great and the ride is going to be awesome. If you are looking for a new ride to do next year, I would recommend this one! So...I will fill you in on the ride as we go this next week. Then it's 4 weeks off until Farm Fresh. If you are looking for a final ride this season: Farm Fresh is for you! It's a great ride and the food is so good: a completely different menu featuring the best that we can find in the Napa Valley. We will also be suggesting wines as we shortage of wines there! Follow us in Oregon and hopefully join us in California!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Home and Hot Sauce Heaven

On the trail to Aspen: the tribe getting ready to hit the road the last day.

The last breakfast! Everyone was up and at 'em bright and early to head up the trail to Aspen. Once there they catch a bus back to Silverthorne and then home. I am really looking forward to home. We have been on the road for six weeks! I miss my chickens and garden and dogs and offense tribe members!

The final breakfast was a hash brown scramble with ham, eggs, salsa & cheese. I know that I mentioned earlier that I collect salsas and hot sauces along the way and send them home to my son Matt. It's a tradition I started when he came home from Iraq. He loves hot sauce: you have to be careful if you want to sample his cooking. Matt called one day on this trip to share a funny hot sauce story. It goes like this: I sent him a box of sauces that we picked up on our week off in Colorado. One of the sauces was labeled, "Nucking Futs". It warned that one drop should be used at a time as it is over the edge hot. Matt failed to read the label. He got home from work, tossed together a large taco salad and smothered it in sauce. Those of you that know Matt know that he is not too dainty when he is hungry. After shoveling in a good portion of the salad he suddenly realized that his mouth was on fire, his throat was swelling up! For two days he felt the after affects of the sauce. Montezuma's revenge was how he put it. Read the label, Matt.

We said our goodbyes to a happy tribe. There were many personal accomplishments made on this tour. So, Hillary, Mary, Jan, Catherine and crew, we'll see you on another ride!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Last Supper

Today was such a great day for the tribe! Up early for a day of r&r for some, riding for some, river rafting for some! The weather is gorgeous, going to be hot!

After a breakfast of sausage and mushroom scramble & hash browns, the tribe went in their separate directions. The mood was relaxed and jovial. No agenda! Gotta love it! Well, except for one fine gentleman. Jack was hanging out by the dish wash station and overheard this man's plans for the day: "I am going to find the biggest, greasiest cheeseburger there is to find!". He proceeded to describe some of the best burgers that he has ever eaten. When he turned around and saw Jack he looked a little sheepish and said, "no offense! The food has been great!". Maybe a little TOO healthy for some!.

Isabel offered to camp sit for us. Jack and I got to ride the route the tribe is taking tomorrow. What a great ride! Almost all on trail, a gradual 1-2% grade up toward Aspen. When the trail peeled off to the left at Carbondale we found ourselves riding along a beautiful river for miles and miles. We stopped at mile marker 21 for a granola bar and were immediately swarmed by hordes of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are another topic for a whole blog. We jumped back on the bikes and headed back toward camp. In Carbondale we left the trail to explore the town. HOW CUTE! It is a must see if you are in the area. We found the Village Smithy Restaurant that is extremely bike friendly, (they have a tire pump out front for those who need one! TOM?????)
We ordered a late breakfast and were surprised to be joined by Suzanne, the massage therapist that Spike arranged for the two day layover, and her partner. The food was great, (grilled veggie salad for me, heuvos rancheros for Jack). A must do when you are in Carbondale.

Jack and I took advantage of the downhill from there and hauled back to camp. About 8 miles from the jump off on the trail we passed our luggage guy, Tom. He was pulled off with a flat. We hollered to him and kept on riding. Jack asked me if we should stop, and I almost said no: he's experienced and of course has tubes and a pump: but I said, sure, let's check on him..No tube....No pump...8 foot elk fences along the trail: no hitch hiking back to camp! Glad we stopped.

We got back to camp and started dinner. I had to do a twist on the peanut yam tofu. I was out of tofu! No tofu for you, veggie people! So the menu for the last supper was:
Spicy Asian noodle salad: peanut yam sauce w/ fresh spinach: curried chicken & vegetables: basmati rice. I was really surprised how well everyone liked the curries! Another hit to add to the collection.

After dinner Bill had the award ceremony: oldest rider, repeat lady rider over 70: youngest rider, Tom's son at 15. Good job all! Then the tribe headed to the hot springs for a good soak. We cleaned up and are getting ready to head home. 6 weeks on the road is a long time away from home. I can't wait to hug my Ruby Dew!

Glennwood Canyon & Ribs!!!

Today the tribe was up bright and early to ride their longest day (@ 62 miles) from Avon to Glennwood Springs. The first few miles of the ride was pretty uneventful: dry & arid, on Highway 6 until they jumped onto the bike trail and started through Glennwood Canyon. Jack and I had hoped to go back and ride the route the next day and get pictures: but we chose another ride. You can not believe how gorgeous this canyon is! It narrows as you get deeper into it: the cliffs get higher and higher. The rock formations look like a giant tetras game...the river runs along the floor of the canyon; the bike trail along the river; the highway along the bike trail. The highway was built in the 1970's and was dubbed the million dollar a mile highway. It cost a million dollars a mile to complete the road: the road had to have the least amount of environmental impact as possible. A better part of the road is elevated. If you get a chance to ride or drive this: do.

We got into the school that we were stationed at in Glennwood Springs and set up camp. The tribe was set up at a campground around the corner and across the street. The real estate in a greater part of Colorado is so expensive that camp grounds don't exist. The camp ground that the tribe was at was not the worst we have ever seen: there were hot showers and a laundry! I will give a dissertation on camp grounds one day in the future!

Dinner tonight consisted of : broccoli salad, BBQ chicken & baby back ribs, steamed new potatoes & green beans and fresh watermelon from the farmers market in Boulder. The dinner was well received and we didn't run out of ribs! I say that because:

The last time I did ribs was on the Cycle the Gorge Tour about 4 years ago. It had been a nasty day of riding: pouring down rain and fog. The tribe got into camp at the elementary school that we stayed at and had nothing to do but sit around and watch me cook. They were bored and hungry for a couple of hours. My day wasn't going so good either: I poured boiling water on my foot and had a pretty nasty burn. When dinner was ready: chicken & ribs, etc. etc.. the tribe was ravenous. I had planned for 4 ribs per person and didn't think there would be a problem. Yeah right. The first 5 or 6 men through the line took about 12 each. I panicked and had Jack, who was mechanic at the time, start rationing the ribs. By the time staff went through I was out of ribs......not a good place to be. I have not done ribs since. I was really taking a chance today: but it all worked out well and everyone was happy!

Tomorrow is a lay over day: hot springs, optional rides, river rafting. What a great ride!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Laughing Tribe

The Laughing Tribe: me at the top: sharing snacks, views from the ride.

Today's the big one! Up and over Copper Mountain & Vail Pass. 46.7 miles: about 21 miles of climb ranging from 2-10% grades. A few tribe members are hitching a ride to Copper Mountain to avoid part of the climb. Me: I'm jumping on the trail in Frisco and riding the 18 miles to the top. I hope.

We fueled the camp with pancakes & scrambled eggs and sent them on their way. Loaded up the truck and Jack dropped me off in Frisco and met up with me at the water stop at Copper Mountain. The ride to Copper was beautiful. Not too steep: maybe 6-7% for a good part of the climb. I passed Hillary & Mary on the trail and felt really good when I got into the water stop. Then on up to Vail. Another story! The scenery was amazing: the climbs pretty brutal. Well, not too brutal. Up to 10% on the switch backs: time to stand up on the bike! The last 1/2 mile was the toughest of the climbs: of course I had a pack of hard core path pounders passing me on the hills! The last 1/4 mile I was slowing down and one of the pack yelled at me that there was only 1/4 mile left to the top and keep on going! I made it! Yahoooo! Wheeled around the rest area and then screamed down to the lunch stop with a big grin on may face. I couldn't tell you my name at that point, but I could grin. I could also manage to share my snacks with the cutest little chipmunks that came out to great me!

I opted to not ride down: my mission was to make it to the top: 10,622 feet is the top! Jack and I headed down to Avon to prepare a huge pasta dinner for the tribe. At about 2:30 the wind came up and I felt sorry for whomever was left on the trail. Then the rain, then clear skies once again! The last tribe members made it into camp at just 6:00 in time for dinner. Isabel did a great job on the trail coaching the last of the riders up the climb...good job tribe!

Dinner tonight was a really yummy Italian sausage & mushroom fettuccine, linguine with pesto & artichoke hearts, Caesar salad, herbed breads, sauteed crook neck squash (squooshes?) & lemon cake. Lot's of beer.

I don't know if was the thrill of the ride or the beer, or the combination of the two: but I have named this tribe the laughing tribe. They have definitely bonded. I have never had a group that laughs and giggles as much as this one. It was great to hear!

Tomorrow we are on to Glennwood Springs for a layover day before the last day of the tour. They go by so quickly. This is #8. Eight down two to go........

Ride Day #2 & More Evil Geese!

Views from our ride: Jamie & Jack: Naughty Teens: the Tribe @ dinner.

The tribe woke to a gorgeous day! Bright sunny skies & the forecast of staying that way all day! Today's ride is back up the switchbacks then 16 miles into Breckenridge and the same back. A couple of concerned tribe members: worried that it is a long day and they won't do so well. They'll do fine! It's a relaxed ride & they have all day.

We dined on a breakfast of yummy veggie scramble & sides of bacon & fresh cantaloupe from the fields (once again) in Boulder. Packed their lunches & sent them off for the day! It's our day to ride, too. 9:45 am and two of the three Naught Teens showed up to work! The third took a sick day. I filled them in on their duties for the day: keep the screaming meanies out of the pop and lemonade and out of our truck and take turns napping.

Jack, Jamie & I hopped on our bikes and headed up to the top of the reservoir. I have not ridden with a youngster in quite awhile and really had to concentrate on not leaving her behind! We headed into Frisco (about 7 miles) to the first water stop for the tribe. On the way in we encountered a flock of Evil Geese. We had made a stop to take a phone call and the Evil Geese were on the field next to us. I assume they are pretty well in tune to the tourists and the tourists' snacks that are tossed to them. Once they spotted us they were on their way over. We ended the phone call & scampered back on our bikes. We headed up the trail with Evil Geese on our wheel....we made our escape.

The trail was REALLY fun to ride: could almost qualify as a roller coaster ride! Up and down and around and around. We passed a really cool beaver lodge and Jamie saw deer. She did a great job riding with us, considering her mountain bike really needs a tune up: it wouldn't shift off of the middle chain ring. She was a trooper to climb the hills stuck in the wrong gear!

We got back to camp and all was well with the Naughty Two. I paid them in cold hard cash and invited them back for dinner. They were all over the making money thing and begged for more work tomorrow. Unfortunately we are moving on tomorrow. Maybe next year.

Tonight's dinner was fish tacos, shrimp quesadillas, cilantro lime coleslaw & all the trimmings, refried beans & spanish rice. The tribe thinks the food just keeps getting better! The quesadillas were yummy. Everyone had a great day and are gearing up for a long day tomorrow.

Tomorrow's ride is up and over Copper Mountain and then Vail Pass. I really want to ride: probably kill myself, but it may be fun!

Day 2 & Naughty Teens

The view from the top of the reservoir, Jamie & friends!

The tribe woke this morning to an overcast day and experienced on and off rain showers all day long. A thunderous rain storm hit us for about 1/2 and hours late in the afternoon. (This is the routine for the weather here in Colorado!) Fortunately today is a short day! After a "heavy continental" breakfast, they spirited off to climb the switch backs to the top of the reservoir and coast on to the little town of Keystone, then back to camp for a swim in the pool and a soak in the hot tubs at the Rec. Center.

We chose to spend a quiet day picking up groceries & reading. Somewhat quiet. 50-75 screaming little children on the slides are not considered quiet. Annoying maybe. All right, completely annoying. We had to hide to pop cooler and the lemonade dispenser as it was considered community property. The big "Adventure Cycling Members Only" sign must have been written in a foreign language.

The skate park was equally as busy. All in all the teens that frequent here are pretty well behaved. Except for the "Naughty Three". Three young men about 15 years old were hanging out at the pavilion next to us. Isabel had stopped by for a visit and the Naughty Three came over and asked if we would like to buy a pair of "collectors bike shorts". I don't consider a 1970's pair of corduroy cut offs collector bike shorts. They hustled us for a little while, the oldest of the three sporting an evil glint in his eye. We joked with them and then they proceeded to face the shorts to us: hahahah.....anatomically correct art work sported the front of the shorts. So: being the great ISS teacher that I have been known to be, I informed them that they were really not too funny, rather annoying, and that their consequence for being such was to sweep the pavilion & then join us for dinner. They were a little shocked and then thought it was pretty cool: they swept the concrete and actually did show back up for dinner!
After they ate I told them that if they came back at 10:00 the next morning I would pay them to camp sit so we could ride! I hope they show up!

I feel a little sorry for these guys, if you can't tell. They're at the end of their summer, bored out of their minds, looking for things to do which usually means getting into mischief, and wanting attention. I will give them attention! And something to do.

Dinner tonight was a great fresh veggie salad with all the good stuff from Boulder, Greek Lemon chicken, basmati rice & sauteed patty pan & zucchini squash (or is it squashes? Don't get me started.....) fresh from the field. The tribe loved the food & are looking forward to a day without rain tomorrow!

Colorado Relaxed Day 1

Carla, Hillary & Mary enjoying dinner & friends & amazing eggplants!

Day #1 of Colorado Relaxed! The tribe arrived at the Recreation Center in Silverthorne to a mass of children, all shapes & sizes! The playground that we camp next to had been remodeled recently and it is THE place to bring your kids. I estimate that at dinner time there had to be 200 kids on the playground and another 40 skaters at the skate park! We're here for 3 patience may wear thin!

There are so many repeat riders on this tour! Hillary: her 3rd tour this year! We have 5 people on staff that rode or worked the "06 cross country tour: Jack, Marilynn, Spike, Bill & Isabel! Also gracing our presence are three staff members from the ACA office! I had better mind my manners!

Dinner tonight is honey glazed pork chops, Indian vegetable stew, (are the eggplants that we picked yesterday not gorgeous??), spinach & orange salad w/ honey mustard dressing and fresh corn on the cob. (Good job shucking that corn, Jamie!) The tribe ate well and did a pretty good job on the beer as well.

Tomorrow's ride is an easy 18 miles: a good start to get the low landers acclimated to the altitude! I know it took me a couple of days!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

On to Colorado

Colorado relaxed begins today! Jack and I had a great week off preparing to do this all over again!

We kicked off our vacation week by riding the Gondola in Kellogg, Idaho to the top of the mountain. You have to understand that this was a big deal for me: I am kind of a scaredy cat when it comes to heights. Well, more than kind of. What I can say is that we made it to the top. I did not hyper-ventalate or cry. Well, almost. When we got to the top I told Jack there was no way in heck I was getting off and just turn this thing around and get me back down. It doesn't work that way. They made me get off!!! I cried. A little. We sat for awhile until my legs stopped shaking then boarded for the trip back down. Jack failed to tell me that I could arrange for a ride down with a park ranger. But, I am here to talk about it! Actually the ride down was gorgeous and not as scary as the trip up!

We took a couple of days to make our way to Colorado, then spent the week with friends Jack & Cori in Louisville. We got some riding in, a trip to Garden of the Gods, a long day up through Estes Park & the Rocky Mountain National Park, many visits to local brew pubs (there are a few!), and just hanging out. Recommended eats: the Old Louisville Inn, Oscar Blues in Lyons, Serious Texas Bar-B-Q in Loveland, and Marie's for breakfast in Boulder!

We spent yesterday out and about hunting for local produce. This area is huge on growing corn and organic vegetables. We found a farm outside of Boulder that supplied us with fresh picked corn, eggplants, (I got to hand pick them in the field!), patty pan, zucchini & crook neck squash, cucumbers & baby yellow potatoes. The farmers market in Louisville provided gorgeous organic fennel & watermelon to help feed the new tribe!

We are looking forward to a week on the trails in Colorado: the riding here is awesome as is the scenery. It takes a couple of days to acclimate to the altitude: I went out for a run the first morning here and thought I was going to die! But riding a couple of days later was no problem!
(While riding we encountered acres of prairie dogs: they are SO CUTE! I don't know why everyone calls them prairie rats!)

I will keep you posted on the tour: first three nights we'll be in Silverthorne for a couple of out and backs. Jack's granddaughter Jamie will be with us while we're here and we hope to spend some time riding with her! Then up and over Vail Pass.....we'll see you on the other side!

Idaho Family Tour

What can I say about this trip other than: it was great! We really did have a week of family fun!
The trip kicked off on a sunny day at the Community Center in Plummer with a dinner of Teriyaki chicken & peanut yam tofu. Up early the next morning for the ride to Catalgo: a pretty long day for the little campers! There were lots of moose sightings! Everyone made it into camp with a smile! Well, except Scott. He decided to be a hot shot and blew through water and lunch before they were even set up. No water, no food. Not a good recipe for being a happy camper. Tacos for dinner were a hit: these kiddos can sure eat! One hungry camper made off with 12 pieces of watermelon: I wouldn't want to have been in his tent! Maybe that's why he had his own tent...hmmm.

Day two was a short day into Kellogg with a stop for many tribe members at the Snake Pit for Huckleberry ice cream. The afternoon was spent playing at the indoor water slides and pool, trying to stay cool in the heat! Pork chops & Indian vegetable curry were a big hit for dinner: the kiddos have done a good job of enjoying the vegetarian options! Overall, the small tribe members were pretty easy to feed: kids can be a pain with the "I don't likes" and "I only eats", but we didn't have too much of that here!

Day three was a shuttle to ride the Hiawatha Trail. Everyone had a great time and hit the pool as soon as they were back. Scott was kept busy cleaning bikes! A pasta dinner was well recieved for another long day back to Heyburn State Park on day number four! This tribe of kiddos bonded quite well during the week: lots of friendships made & emails exchanged. What did we ever do before cell phones & email? I remember collecting addresses and having pen pals! I still love to write letters and send cards & little treasures I find along the way through the mail! It's so much fun to open the mail box & have a surprise waiting for you!

The last dinner was a big hit: simple but yummy! Nana's BBQ beef (ie: sloppy joe's) on a bun, beef hot dogs, veggie burgers, corn on the cob & salad. My little watermelon guy from night #2 tried to make a meal of just corn, but mom intervened! Tammy & crew did a farewell map meeting followed up with a camp fire & smores: yumm!

This week went by really quickly, I think more than one tribe member didn't want it to end! It is so good to see families spending time together: especially on their bikes! I was impressed by the number of grandparents with their grandchildren. What an amazing experience to share and priceless memories created. There were a couple of campers that were a little hesitant at the beginning of the trip, but they settled in really well and I believe everyone had a great time! Good job Tammy & crew!

Oh yes, speaking of Tammy's crew: Jack and I shared an inside joke with the tribe on the last morning. Once upon a time Tammy mentioned that she like to refer to her staff as her "peeps". We know she did this in a loving, caring manner. The t'shirts Jack & Kevin sported on the last morning were quite a surprise for her! Good job guys!

So: so long mini tribe members! Max, Ella, Liam, Jamison, Bronwyn & friends! It was fun: I will miss making toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch and cringing when you are on your fifth brownie. I hope you ate well and enjoyed your rides! We hope to see you on another tour next year! For us: on to Colorado!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Honey Spiced Pork Chops

I know that I have published this recipe before: but it is buried in one of the Texas blogs: so this should be easier to find. I have served this with a homemade apple chutney and also without. The chutney recipe is on a Texas blog if you would like it.
These pork chops are so yummy! The rub would be awesome on ribs as well.

4 center cut pork chops
1/4 cup honey (it helps to heat the honey a little: it;s easier to work with!)

1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients for the rub.

Rub the chops with the honey then dredge in the rub, covering the whole chop.
Cook over a medium-high heat on your grill until desired done-ness: 160*f internal temp is recommended. (But I prefer them not that done!) Enjoy!

More recipes anyone? I know there have been requests for the peanut yam tofu: it will have to wait until I'm home! I make it from memory for 60.

Smoked Chicken Lasagna

This is a great change from traditional lasagna. It is rich and bursting with the smoke flavor of the chicken. You can make the sauce that I suggest here: it is easy enough: or again you can cheat and use a commercial product.
At home we smoke our own chicken breasts over hickory chips on the BBQ: if you have a smoker that will work great. Do not overcook the breasts as they will get tough and chewy. You can find smoked chicken in the meat or deli departments of better grocery stores.

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
8 Roma tomatoes, cored and diced
1/4 cup Pinot Noir or red wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (in oil)
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic & celery leaves & cook @ 3minutes more. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer until very soft, 10-15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 1/2 hour. Set aside.


6 sheets fresh pasta, cooked in boiling water until just soft but still resilient: or cooked dried lasagna noodles to fit a 9X12 baking pan
olive oil, as needed
1/2 pound portobello or white mushrooms, sliced
2 bunches fresh spinach, stemmed
1 pound smoked chicken breast meat, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350*F. Saute the mushrooms in @ 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft. Set aside.

Oil a 9X12 inch baking pan. Spread a layer of sauce evenly over the bottom oft he pan. Set a ayer of lasagna noodles on top of the sauce, then cover with more sauce. Tops with layers of spinach, chicken, mushrooms and sliced cheese. Top with a layer of sauce, followed by a layer of pasta. Repeat the layers, finishing the top layer with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 1 hour or until the sauce is bubbling & hot.

Enjoy with a great Syrah!

Herbed burgers w/ mango salsa

OK: I have had a few requests for recipes. I will post each one separately so that you all can just look at the title to find the one that you want! When I get the 3 done that have been most recently requested I will do an overview of the Idaho Family Ride that went really well! Bon appetite!

Herbed burgers w/ mango salsa:

It is ok to cheat on some of the recipes that I do: makes life a whole lot easier and sometimes a commercial product is really good! For this recipe I use the Costco Mango Salsa instead of making my own on the tours. It is a great product and is good on chicken, chips, fish......If you want your burgers a little more spicy increase the amounts of herbs & Worcestershire: just be careful to not use too much sauce of the burgers won't hold together.

1 1/2 pounds lean chopped sirloin or ground beef
1 small yellow onion, grated
1 garlic clove, minced (I like to use a little more: love garlic!)
2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead until blended. Divide the mixture into eight portions and flatten into a patty. Sear the meat 2 minutes each side over a hot grill or fry pan: then move to a lower heat until internal temp of 165*f.
Serve on a good quality bun with fresh spring greens & mango salsa! Yummmmm.

Suggested wine: a great Cabernet Sauvignon.