Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mom in town and Rockbridge Trout Ranch

My mom came into town last Thursday night and stayed with us till Sunday evening. We had a nearly perfect weekend for her visit, with temps in the 60s and 70s for much of it.

Mom in town, April 2014

Friday, I took a day off of work and my mom and my daughter Gwen and I rode the Galloway Greenway trail from my house to Sequiota Park and Galloway Grill for lunch. We had a blast, but I think I wore my mom out. She hadn't been on a bicycle in a long time and my wife's bike isn't set up to her normal comfort level.

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Saturday, we took Gwen to her school's Easter party at Phelps Grove Park in the morning, then headed out of town about an hour and a half away to Rockbridge Trout Ranch for lunch.

Mom in town, April 2014

Rockbridge Trout Ranch is really pretty cool. With it's old buildings and lodge-like atmosphere, it's something of a throwback to another time. We couldn't even get cell service within half an hour of the place. The food was awesome and the scenery, as well. You can sit in the restaurant and watch hummingbirds hit the feeder just outside the window with a big red mill and flowing creek in the background. The stream is stocked and we saw huge rainbow trout after huge rainbow trout pulled from the pool just below the millpond waterfall. We also saw bald eagles trying their hand at trout fishing, a little downstream of the hatchery area.

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

We definitely want to book a weekend down there sometime. Maybe in the fall. I'd love to get away from it all for a couple of days and with the lack of cell service, I'd be forced to put my phone down for anything other than photos. I might need a heavier trout rod though, not sure my light Tenkara rod could handle the giant fish in their stream.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Busier than a...

You fill in the blank, I've been busier than it. Between my daughter's day to day stuff like singing lessons, birthday parties and what-not to my wife's involvement in charities and our house trying to crumble out from under us, we've had a lot going on.

Saturday, my daughter and I walked in the 3-mile MS Walk. A charity event benefiting multiple sclerosis research and cure. My wife has been on the the committee for months, organizing, fundraising and working the event. Afterwords, I made a pot of chili and we had some friends over for a bonfire in the backyard fire pit.

MS Walk

MS Walk Sunday, I went to paint the 15-window wall of our living room and back porch and wound up doing some improvised carpentry. The lowest board, being 63 years old, had rotted along the entire upper surface. I had to chisel it out and find a way to replace it and trim it without everything sliding out of place. It took me about eleven hours on Sunday and another three or so Monday morning before I came into work. I had to get it done before the rain kicked in. I'll be painting and staining this evening.

window repair

window repair

I am no carpenter. This was really beyond my normal ability. I also have very little money, so I had to think of something.

window repair

window repair

Last night was the kick-off party for the Bike MS150 event. I have committed myself to ride in this year's charity fundraiser in September. It starts in Crane, Missouri and goes to Joplin, Missouri and back again. 75 miles Saturday, 75 miles Sunday. I haven't done a lot of bike riding since my daughter was born about five and half years ago. Even then, I've never done anything of this length. Just the 30 mile Red Ribbon and Pink Ribbon rides, one for AIDS research, the other for cancer. This should be an adventure just getting in shape to handle the trip, let alone doing it.

BikeMS -MS150 kick-off party

Expect a lot of cycling-related posts here this summer, starting with this one. It was so nice out when I went home for lunch, I pumped up the tires on my Marin beach cruiser and rode it back to the office. I've got a lot of "training" to do over the next six months.

It's so nice out, when I went home for lunch, I rode the Marin beach cruiser back to the office.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cast Iron 2.0

I picked up another 8" cast iron skillet/pan on Monday, seasoned it beyond the preseasoning that night. That night I cooked up a batch of ham and bean soup, we ate it with homemade cornbread last night. It was awesome! Pretty much any food you cook for three or more hours is gonna be great. Looking forward to leftovers for lunch.

Cast iron cooking - ham and beans and cornbread.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Peasant Bread

Yesterday I made a loaf of peasant bread in Dutch oven mode of the new cast iron cooker I picked up this week. It was pretty darn good. This morning, it's nearly gone. My family and I devoured it.

Untitled

Since Wednesday, I've made pancakes, French toast, bacon and eggs in a basket and this loaf of bread, using the cast iron. I am greatly pleased with the purchase. Tonight will likely be a chili or ham and beans recipe. I'm also planning to pick up a dedicated 5-quart Dutch oven in the next day or so.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cast Iron

After kicking 'round the idea of fazing-out my non-stick cookware for a couple of years, I've finally gotten off my arse about it and punted the ball into motion. I picked up a combo cooker by Lodge, it combines a couple of 10.25" skillets, one deep (3"), one shallow, into a 3-quart Dutch oven. I like that the two pieces pull double-duty.

New Lodge cast iron combo cooker. It works as two individual skillets or as a 3-quart Dutch oven.

Even though the skillets are pre-seasoned, I lightly washed them in water, then baked on another coat of oil last night. This morning I test-drove the shallow skillet. It makes absolutely perfect pancakes. The kind I've been complaining about my non-stick stuff not making for years. I was honestly surprised by the difference.

How to make a perfect pancake, test driving the cast iron skillet.

I'll be picking up more pieces, soon. I'd like an eight-inch skillet for cornbread and a 5-quart Dutch oven for large batch soups, chili, stews, roasts, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, you name it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bryant Creek

gear/kit

Friday, after work, Brian D. and I took out of town, vehicles laden with floating and fishing gear and headed an hour and half southeast of Springfield for Rippee Conservation Area, our night's stay. We hit up a little mom 'n' pop BBQ joint in Ave, Missouri on the way. The food was good. Could have done with a dry bun on the sammy, instead of a buttered one, but otherwise pretty good stuff. Lots of taxidermy lined the walls. Everything from fish to foxes to deer and elk. No matter how civilized people get through the ages, we still like to decorate our stuff with dead things. Peculiar…

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

With the cloud cover it was very dark and since it's still pretty cold out and there's no real hunting being done, we had the place nearly to ourselves. Owls hooting and small critters rustling in the leaves outside the range of the firelight were our only company.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek

Bryant Creek

Up early Saturday morning, messed around in camp a bit and fished below our campsite. Bacon and biscuits for breakfast. With Hank Sr. in the CD player, it was off to Hwy 181 bridge to drop off our shuttle vehicle and check out Hodgson Mill.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

We walked around the mill a while, dropped off the shuttle truck and headed across the hills and hallers to the put-in at Hwy 95 bridge. We lost GPS signal down in the sticks and as we were driving through a creek bed and low water crossing, we stopped and asked a wiry-looking local boy for directions. You never know how you're going to be received by hill folk, but more often than not, they're honest and helpful. He gave us a rundown of how to get out of where we were and where we wanted to be, also asking if we were fishing for "trout" since it was still March. He said trout like it meant more than that, since some other fish in Ozarks streams can't actually be kept till May. He also told us that the creek that ran past his cattle and donkey, which we were sitting in while talking to him, could've floated us to Bryant Creek a few weeks earlier, having been well flooded.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek was swift moving and full of downed trees. We frequently had to navigate through and around root balls and deadfalls. Sometimes portaging completely or tying on a couple of lines, walking the banks and kiting the canoe through danger.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

We did manage to catch a bunch of smallmouth and I caught a couple of lunker common shiners. Too bad it wasn't smallmouth season or we'd have had a fish fry in camp Saturday and would have taken some home on Sunday.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

The creek had more springs flowing into it than we could count. We explored the mouth of a couple of them.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Where we decided to camp, there were tons of small animal tracks. We'd seen a river otter earlier in the day and we were awoken by them calling just outside our camp multiple times throughout the night. Also, we found a spot on the ground where a twig or grass had been blown over and in a circle, gouging a perfect little sphere into the sand around it. Like a tiny alien crop circle.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Brian brought his tent, I went the more open and paranoia inducing camping route under a tarp. I wimped out last summer camping like this, due to molestation by ticks and spiders, but since it was colder this time of year, I tried sleeping out again. Still had a few large spiders and the otters in camp had me awake much of the night, but I managed to get some rest in the near freezing temps. Before turning in, we hung around the caveman TV, dined on gourmet hotdogs from Horrmann Meat Company, drank a couple of Smithwick's (Smit'k's) Pale Ales and played a game of checkers on my homemade checker board. We also had some barred owls asking "Who cooks for you?" from the darkness.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

This is what little sleep on a gravel bar looks like at 7am in 32 degrees. A gust took out half my tarp shelter at 6am, it had me cussing and scrambling to fix things in the dark. Luckily Brian made bacon for breakfast (also from Horrmann Meat Co.) and after some coffee and oatmeal, things were quickly remedied and spirits were lifted.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Camp was packed and we were back on the creek fishing by late morning.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

It was a more strenuous float than either of us are used to making. The cold air, swift moving water and downed trees made for some hairy situations. We found ourselves in the water a lot more than we wanted to be in order to save our gear from going over and under. Bryant Creek is a beautiful and rugged stream. We had it nearly to ourselves, there were a couple of local bank fishermen, but no one on the water with us.

Noteworthy items seen or heard on the trip: owls, blue herons in a rookery of a dozen nests or more, kingfishers, otters, red fox squirrels, deer, pileated woodpeckers and more tracks along the banks then we could possibly identify or list.