Friday, September 23, 2011


Bike storage: Tufas: Thursday's menu.  Pictured below is the guard rail coming down to Mono Lake.

A what? A tufa!  On our way out to Mammoth Lakes we swung by the south end of Mono Lake and explored the tufas.  These are calcium carbonate formations created by spring water bubbling up into the very salty lake water.  They are really cool looking: they were all underwater until about the 1940's when LA diverted water to the city.  The lake level dropped significantly and exposed the tufas.  There are now regulations requiring the city to restore the lake level to a certain point to ensure the habitat of alkali flies and brine shrimp that are an important food source for migrating birds.  This is a must see if you are driving by!

Another fun must see while in Lee Vining is the upside down house.  It is adjacent to the old School  House Museum.  It was built as a tourist attraction in the early 1900's and has been moved and restored.  It's awesome!

The tribe had a great off day, riding, hiking, resting, eating ice cream! We had a full dinner, the menu pictured above!  Friday started off early with breakfast and the ride to Mammoth Lakes.  The ride took a turn and did the June Lake Loop off of the main highway: it is a beautiful ride.  Everyone has tents set up and most are lounging the afternoon away, waiting for dinner!  Yumm.  Bourbon Salmon, basmati rice, tossed green salad, pea salad, steamed veggies, and a birthday cake for dessert.  Happy birthday Sandy!

Tomorrow is another layover day.  There is a ride out to the Pie in the Sky Cafe.  I will have to find out more about that one for you. There is also a ride to Devil's Post Pile.  Great rock formations that are worth the trip.  I went out a couple of years ago and will try to find a picture to post.

I am getting ready to head to the airport and drop Jack off for his flight home.  He starts his Canada to Mexico trip on Sunday!  I am going to drive this big yellow truck home and hopefully meet up with his group at Deception Pass and cook them crab cakes for dinner.  YUMM!  I'll let you know how it all goes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sierra Sampler

Signs along the way: feeding the tribe as well as the critters: Arlen & the campfire: At the top of Monitor Pass: the tribe at Mono Lake.

It's been a couple of years since ACA ran the Sierra Sampler; they sure picked a gorgeous time to run this one!  We arrived in Truckee, CA to sunshine and 70's, and it's supposed to stay that way all week.  We took 3 days to make the trip from Seattle, it was nice to not have to push the miles everyday.  We spent Saturday night in Reno: had a great time.  Can you imagine us pulling up to the valet at the El Dorado and asking where they wanted to put the big yellow truck?  Heeheee.

We met up with the ACA staff at the Donner State Park just outside of Truckee on Sunday, and set up for the ride.  I was a little nervous: this is a whole new staff that we have never worked with, as well a new leader. Who happens to be the Tours Director for ACA.  Who happens to be my new boss.  Who hasn't a clue as to who I am.  Poor him.  Seriously, Arlan has turned out to be a great leader, very good communicator  and has a great sense of humor.  The staff is all really nice as well, so it's going to be a good week.

The tribe assembled on Sunday afternoon, registered, had map meeting #1 and their first meal.  We kept it easy for the first night: Green salad with herbed vinaigrette, spiced pork chops, cucumber & taziki salad, red potatoes, Indian vegetable stew, and peanut butter chocolate chip bars for dessert.  The dinner was a hit.  A few riders asked what I was going to do with the leftover potatoes, so I filled them in on rule #2: if you don't eat it for dinner you will probably see it again one day!  Rule #1, by the way, is: I control the quality, not the quantity of what you eat.  If you gain weight, it's not my fault.

Monday morning we were up early cooking in the dark.  Fried those leftover potatoes! Had to fuel the tribe for a challenging ride to South Lake Tahoe.  The first year we did this ride Marker Bob made a point of reminding me about every 1/2 hour to be careful on the drive to SLT.  He managed to scare the bejebies out of me, and rightfully so.  After a beautiful drive along the lake you start a short, maybe 4-5mile, climb above the lake, then across a hogs back, then DOWN a steep, narrow, winding, curvy, narrow, did I say narrow and steep? descent to the South end of the lake.  It was my introduction into more than one occasion to cry on this trip.  (If you're not familiar with a hogs back, it is a NARROW piece of road, usually at the top of a climb, that has a drop off on both sides.  A big drop off.  This one's not as bad as the one in Escalante, but it's bad enough.)

The tribe made the journey with no mis-haps and settled into Camp Richardson across the street from the lake.  Many took the opportunity for a dip in the water, and then feasted on a dinner of Nicoisse salad, curried carrot salad, spaghetti w/ homemade meat sauce, orzo with pesto cream & artichoke hearts, grilled herbed tomatoes, and Nana's rum cakes for dessert.  We had a few visitors at this camp sight.  I spent the better part of the day shooing the chipmunks and squirrels out of the truck.  They were pretty used to people and new where the food was!  I compromised and gave them a big bowl of peanuts to keep them busy.  That lasted for a short while and they were back at it again.  The chipmunks would even climb up Jack's legs!  They were really cute.

Tuesday morning the tribe was up for the challenge of riding over Monitor Pass to Topaz Lake.  This is one of the toughest days on the trip.  Monitor Pass tops out at just over 8300 feet.  The day starts at about 6200 feet, climbs Luther Pass first at 7800 feet, then back down below 6000ft and then up Monitor.  Some of the climb is about 12%.  The downhill from Monitor is steep and winding.  My second reason to cry on this trip.  I don't do well with heights.  Marker Bob psyched me out on this one too.  If you miss the turn to go up Monitor, the signs warn you of a 24% grade.  Do they really make roads that steep?  AHHH!  Everyone made it down and into camp at Topaz Lake.  We had a lighter dinner tonight: Greek vegetable salad, lemon chicken, quinoa stuffed portabellos for the veggies, steamed asparagus, sprouted beans & basmati rice and pound cake with strawberries for dessert.  Everyone was well fed and tucked in early.

Wednesday's ride was not as tough a climb as Tuesdays, but a long 80 mile day.  The tribe left camp and circled East over Sweetwater Summit and down into the little town of Bridgeport.  Sweetwater Summit is over 7000 feet, so lots of climbing again!  From Bridgeport they climbed over Conway Summit, 8100 feet, then down a screaming stretch into Mono Lake and the town of Lee Vining.  Some of the tribe got caught at the top as a thunderstorm rolled in.  The downdrafts kept us hopping in camp: trying to keep the easy up from blowing away!  We settled in for a dinner of spicy cabbage salad, curried chicken, peanut yam tofu, yakisoba noodles, more rice & beans, and brownies for dessert.

Thursday, today, is a layover day in Lee Vining.  A few opted for ride up Tioga Pass to the entrance of Yosemeti, many hitched a ride with Arlen and his crew to go into the park and sightsee, and a few went to Bodi; a popular historic ghost town. I don't know if anyone went to the lake to see the mineral formations that stand tall above the water, but they are really cool too.

Tomorrow we will be heading to Mammoth Lakes for the next 2 days.  Jack will be flying home tomorrow to begin his ACA ride from Canada to Mexico!  What a trip!  I will catch up on the blog when I get home. This is a great group and a great tour for the last one for me for the season.  I can't wait to see what's in store for next year!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Rest of the Ride

Isabelle enjoying a roasted marshmallow: a view of the Pacific Beach: tribe members gathered around the campfire: Jack's t-shirt of the day: Fajitas at Beachside State Park, a favorite dinner of the tribe: I don't think this tent's going back to ACA: we have to stay "plugged in"! : Cycle Oregon road mark: Isabelle's water stop mascot (I have no idea where she found this!): the Oregon Coast Bike Route.

Remember the phrase, "better late than never?" I'm making the most of it with this posting.  I tend to procrastinate once in awhile, but I have hit new records with this one!  After being absorbed in rest of the ride in Oregon, I headed home a day early to cater a wedding on Saturday that I had committed to over a year ago.  I left Jack and the boys to finish up Friday and Saturday, and I heard they did a great job.  Following the wedding I got caught up in everyday life of unloading the truck, canning my head off 'cause the garden is in full swing, helping my mom as she "tipped over" and broke her wrist, driving to Montana to get Aaron settled in his apartment for grad school, and getting prepared for the Sierra Sampler tour that we are now on.  So, let's finish up with Oregon!

The tribe left Lincoln City bright and early on Wednesday morning to ride a gorgeous day on their bikes along the Pacific Coast.  Lot's of ups and downs, through Depoe Bay, Devils Punch Bowl, the town of Newport where many of the tribe took time off to tour the Oregon Coast Aquarium, then down through Waldport to Beachside State Park where we camped for the night.  This camp ground is right on the beach, so much beach combing took place.  We took Miss Ruby Dew for a romp in the surf.  She found a piece of  bull kelp and we played fetch for a half an hour.

Thursday morning the tribe headed South again along the coast, some stopping to visit the Sea Lion Caves.  Another fabulous day for a ride!  We stopped at the water stop, about a quarter mile off of the highway down a steep hill to the beach.  I thought it would be fun to run up the hill; need some training!  We stopped in Florence for a couple of quilt shops and some clam chowder, then headed to Honeyman State Park for the night.  Jack hopped on the bike while I prepared dinner, the boys explored the sand dunes.  Following a great night of curry the tribe lit a big bon fire and roasted marshmallows till the wee hours.  This has been a great group that has bonded really well!

Friday morning was the off day, and I believe only one rider opted to ride the optional out and back.  The majority of the tribe headed off to paddle kayaks down the river.  One was even treated to a surprise dip in the water.  Dumped the kayak I think.  Scott and Marquis tagged along and I guess it was quite the comedy show.  They paddled in circles for about the first hour!  I headed home on Friday and left Jack and the boys to fare for themselves with preparing a dinner of bbq pulled pork, cowboy beans, Opa's smoked sausages & Knockwurst.  We are almost through the cases of sausages that I brought home from Texas.  Time to head down South and refill the freezer.

This was a great trip.  Pete did a really good job of organizing the tour and finding great extras for the tribe.  The staff went all out and were a lot of fun.  Thank you all for a great time!  I think the last day went well, as everyone headed up over the mountain and back to Eugene.  Hopefully to be seen on an ACA tour in the future!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oregon Coastal Odyssey

My "hired help"; t-shirt of the day; two views from our campground at Fern Ridge Lake; enjoying the yummy cinnamon rolls at the Sweet Spot Bakery, Monroe Oregon

OK, I wrote this blog once already, posted it, checked it, then my sister called to tell me there were no new blogs.  Darn.  So, here I try again.
We are now into ride day 3 of the Oregon tour, and it's been a great three days of riding.  The tribe gathered at the camp ground on Fern Ridge Lake for their first map meeting of the week.  It's a small group: 24 people: so they will get lots of attention!  Quite a few repeat riders as well as a couple new to the world of touring.  After a dinner of spring green salad w/ fresh strawberries and home made raspberry vinaigrette, broccoli salad (you're welcome Linda!), spiced pork chops, red potatoes, Italian zucchini, and chocolate brownie cake for dessert, the tribe turned in for a good nights sleep. (The cake was supposed to be just brownies, but my dear Zanna whom I am trying to teach to cook lost count of the eggs.  So we got cake.)  Home made will be a little bit of a theme for this ride.  We spent the last couple weeks at home and I canned zucchini relish, apricot jam, (FIVE batches!) raspberry jam &  pickles.  I baked zucchini bread, banana bread and carrot cake. (Zucchini seems to be a theme, too!) Mom made more rum cakes, and supplied us with a coveted jar of chocolate covered ritz crackers filled with peanut butter.  Yummm, if you like chocolate.

Ride day one started on Monday with a rolling path through the Willamette Valley.  Fields of corn, strawberries, blueberries and wheat lined the roads, as did acres of Christmas trees, grapes and nut trees.  The first water stop was in the town on Monroe at the Sweet Spot Bakery.  Most everyone enjoyed the huge cinnamon rolls pictured above.  The day ended in Corvallis at the county fairgrounds.  After the map meeting the tribe enjoyed a dinner of spicy noodle salad, curried chicken, peanut yam tofu, basmati rice, and vanilla ice cream with fresh apricot rhubarb sauce. 

Ride day two found the tribe rolling along a couple of good climbs on roads such as Summit Hwy and West Hills Road. It was a long day, 74 miles.  A personal best for a couple of the riders!  Congrats!  The day ended at Devils Lake State Park in Lincoln City.  Lincoln city is the home of D River, the world's shortest river.  So they say.  We are now on highway 101 where we will be for the next couple days of riding.  There are a lot  of self contained riders on the road!  I love that the State Parks have the hiker biker camps.  You can roll in and are guaranteed a spot to camp for just $6.00.  I fueled the tribe for this ride with fresh blueberry pancakes, the blueberries right out of the field up the street from camp!

Dinner Tuesday night was a favorite of many.  Spinach salad with apples, mandarin oranges & pineapple in a honey mustard dressing, blue cheese & green pea salad, bourbon salmon, steamed rice with sprouted beans, fresh asparagus and strawberry shortcake for dessert.  The strawberries are from the fields in the Skagit Valley in Washington.  They are the yummiest around!  Jack and I headed into town after dinner for an early birthday dinner for him. (NO, I did not eat two dinners!) Had a great Oregon shrimp salad and sat and watched the sun set over the ocean.  We also took the boys to lunch today.  If you are in Lincoln City the best fish and chips has to be at J's Fish & Chip restaurant at the south end of town.  He coats his fish with Panko, so no heavy batter here.  

So we are almost caught up.  Ride day 3 is on Wednesday and I'll report on that later!  Hope this makes the blog.  Rum cakes tonight? or Carrot cake.  Too many decisions.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Warm Showers

We belong to a group called "Warm Showers".  Essentially we make our home available to cyclists that are coming through the area and need a tent sight and shower, or floor space and a shower.  Our first guests arrived last week while cycling around the world.  Jack and Cliff are from England.  The crossing of the US is their last leg in their adventure.  We were privileged to have them stay for two nights as they kicked off their ride.  We provided floor space and showers, and of course I had to cook.  Had to cause it's what I do!  We treated them to a bbq of steaks and fresh corn, and the second night curried chicken & vegetables. Jack rode with them the first day to the little town of Darrington.  The second day of their ride we decided to catch back up with them and take them lunch.  We had a heck of a time finding them.  They were to ride to the top of Washington Pass that day, but detoured into the visitor center in New Halem for a few hours. They were quite surprised to see us! They have a great gps system that tracks their where a bouts every ten minutes, so we get to follow them across the states.  They are roughly following the Northern Tier Route, so if you're along the route keep an eye out for them!  Good luck guys!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Last Two Days

The Pig of Trout Lake.  The last supper of Fajitas. Camping on the Columbia. Getting ready for the last ride.  The Bridge of the Gods.

So: what's with the pig?  We found, thanks to one our tribe, the best thing to see in Trout Lake.  The pig.  We don't know her name, but boy is she cute!  When in Trout Lake, go to the Post Office and turn left.  Follow the road for about 1/4 of a mile and look to the left.  As you slow down the Little Pig will run from the barn to greet you at the fence.  Attached to the fence is a cooler with a sign that say, "open me". Inside you will find doggie treats for the Little Pig.  Watch your fingers!  She knows the routine: pigs are smart! What better to do than feed critters!

Ok, Ok.  I took awhile to update this post.  Been busy!  And procrastinated a whole bunch.  
The tribe had a great last night together, then got up early and headed out across the Bridge of the Gods back to the Oregon side of things.  I rode this day a couple of years ago, but made the boys shuttle me across the bridge.  It has a grated deck and I don't do well with the whole high up thing.  Congrats to everyone who rode it!  The ride on this day is great.  You hop on a bike trail after the bridge, through the town of Cascade Locks, up a stairwell equipped with bike wheel-groove, then ride the scenic Columbia River Highway for miles.  It wanders along the forest and passes a few water falls.  The most impressive of these is the Multnomah Falls.  After the falls they ride up switch backs to the Vista House Crown Point for a gorgeous overview of the Columbia River.  Then, down to the town of Corbett.  Corbett is renowned with cyclists for their dislike of bicycles.  There is a man there that tacks the roads whenever a ride is coming through.  It is said that Cycle Oregon sent him on a fully paid vacation for the week that the Oregon ride came through.  The last year that we rode this we had 17 flats going through the town.  Really nice place.  The ride ended back in Gresham with lunch and final goodbye's.  It was a great ride! Good job to everyone for completing a difficult, yet beautiful week of riding! We hope to see you next year!

The Washington Side of Things

Bright and early, Zach!  (our youngest rider at 14) The staff meditating after a long day:  Jack: where did you park the luggage truck?  Mt. Adams, a view from our camp.  The new kind of laundry line.

Well, the shuttle across the Hood River Bridge went well, and our tribe was off to another gorgeous day of riding.  After yet another early breakfast, the tribe meandered down to the bridge, shuttled across, and started again from White Salmon.  (There really is a salmon that has white flesh: they are superior to the pink salmon: rare to catch!) They rode up Hwy 141 to BZ Corners where they made the choice to short cut into Trout Lake, or take the long way around.  Most took the long way, riding through the Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge to the town of Glenwood for an amazing cinnamon roll or fresh peach pie at the local diner. One brave soul admitted to a cinnamon roll, a piece of pie, and a huckleberry smoothy upon arriving in Trout Lake.  I rode this loop a couple of years ago on the Mt. Adams ride.  It is very scenic with a couple of long climbs.  Fortunately the weather was cool today: when I rode it it was in the 90's!  

A good afternoon for some r&r.  All in all an uneventful day, just another day of great riding.  We dined on BBQ'd pulled pork, Opa's sausages w/ sauerkraut, Curried carrot & raisin salad, apple & pecan coleslaw, baked Orzo w/ mushrooms, Quinoa stuffed tomatoes for the vegimites, green salad and dessert.  Somewhere along the way this week we had Angel Food Cake with home canned Colorado Peaches....can't remember when!  The week has gone by in kind of a blur!  It has been fun having Scott along with us this trip.  I really miss having my boys with us.  Matt is somewhere at 29 Palms, or better known as 29 Stumps, and Aaron is finishing up in Bellingham getting ready for his move to Missoula. 

Tomorrow's ride is a long one: 81.8 miles from Trout Lake to Stevenson, situated on the Columbia River.  They will leave camp, cross the Pacific Crest Trail two times, wind through the Mt. Adams Wilderness along the Lewis River and the Wind River.  The road is pretty desolate, very few cars.  It will be a great day of riding and then we will settle into camp at the fairgrounds in Stevenson.  The section of the Columbia River that we are on has the most constant winds in the United States.  It is a wind surfers paradise.  We will be sharing the camp ground with a paddling school: you can not believe the size of some of the boats!  8 man paddle boats.  There is a great brew pub: the Walking Man Brewery: in Stevenson that the tribe can hang out at, as well as a cute little quilt shop.  Ok, I'll hang out at the quilt shop.  There is a quilt fair here next month if you're interested! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mac & Cheese: REALLY?

Rolling through the wheat fields of Eastern Oregon. Water stop in Dufer. The infamous laundry line in a bike camp.  Jack, where did you park the truck?  Bikes tucked in for the night.  Scott on dishes.

Oh, what a day.  75.2 miles from Maupin to the the Hood River Fairgrounds.  A three mile climb in your face right out of the gate.  Then another long climb, about 1800 feet up and 7 miles long.  Then down to Dufer, down to Rowena, then up and down into Hood River.  You think you're done climbing until the last turn on the Odell Highway, and it's a steep up to the fairgrounds.  It was a late arrival for most of the tribe.  We did not see a rider into camp until after 2:30.  Most of them came in between 4 and 6.  Long day.

It is a beautiful ride, though.  Golden wheat fields as far as you can see until you break the last hill and head down into the Gorge. ( The town of Dufer has thrashing days in August if anyone is interested!)  The tribe rolled along the mighty Columbia River on the Riverfront Trail at the Dalles, then along the historic Columbia River Highway, the Columbia River Highway State Trail, until they climbed back up into the orchards of the Hood River Valley.  Hood River is the nations leading producer of pears.  Primarily D'anjou pears.  But apples, cherries and raspberries are grown here too.  A great smoothy stand with fresh berry smoothies took the edge off of the day for many of the tribe.  A cold beer in camp greeted the weary!  

We prepared a pasta dinner to refuel the group.  Linguini with an Italian sausage red sauce, Orzo with fresh Chantrelle mushrooms in a white wine cream sauce, a blue cheese salad, sauteed zucchini, fresh scones with local berries for dessert.  Wait a minute: who asked if the Orzo with $150.00 worth of fresh Chantrelle mushrooms was MACARONI AND CHEESE???  You're kidding, right? Oh, I get it .  You're past the point of tired and your brain isn't quite kicking on all cylinders.  Macaroni and cheese.  Yeah right.  

The tribe did an amazing job emptying the beer cooler tonight.  They followed dinner with the map meeting and a guest speaker; the Director of the Board for ACA, Carol Stevens.  (She and her husband live across river in White Salmon. )  Logistics were put into place for the shuttle across the Hood River Bridge, (no bikes allowed), and the tribe turned in early.  Tomorrow's ride is another long 59.6 miles with a couple of good climbs.  Climbing seems to be a common denominator of this ride.  Those who did not train for this level of a ride were really feeling it tonight.  But, they shall recover and peddle on!