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!