Barrel Aged Cocktails

This week I've been reading a little about barrel aged cocktails.  That's cocktails  you mix and  put in a barrel for a desired amount of time.  The results vary, obviously, but some are saying you can get a lot more depth and character. From what I've read, a bartender in Portland named Jeffrey Morgenthaler helped bring this latest trend to the U.S.  A blog about his discoveries can be read here.

And a video I liked by Jamie Boudreau is below.  If I ever get the chance (read $$) to do this I will post on this blog how it turns out.

Montana Roadside Attractions

I was astonished to discover on a recent road trip that my friend Bryon had never been to the Rock Creek Lodge.  Home to the famous Rock Creek Testicle Festival, the bar/restaurant/gift shop in rural Montana is a treasure trove of weird and sometimes inappropriate gifts.  In college, I frequently stopped to purchase a magnate that pictured a cartoon bull with steam coming out of his nostrils and read “I had a ball at the Rock Creek Testicle Festival.”  Several of my close friend’s moms have that magnate hanging on their fridge as a gift for letting me stay with them. You're welcome. Bryon was likewise surprised to learn I’d never stopped at the 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar in Haugan, Montana.  Both stops are between Bozeman and Coeur d’Alene on I-90, a route we’d traveled more than thirty times.  We pledged when our ski trip was over we’d stop at both locations on the way back to Idaho.  Below are some pictures and the highlights of each stop.

Rock Creek is right off the interstate and besides a large parking lot and stage for the festival, it feels abandoned.  Not pictured are men's and women's g-strings, a life size wood bull with large testicles that almost touch the floor, and racy post cards.  My wife and I caught the tale end of the festival two years ago and had the opportunity to try a Rocky Mountain Oyster.  They taste like chicken.  The party had died down when we were there but from what I've heard it's a pretty rowdy four days.


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Pictures: Bryon stands outside the $50,000 Silver Dollar Bar in Haugan, Montana.  Second picture, there are plenty of cheesy items to purchase.  Third picture, inset in all those pieces of wood are silver dollars, many with an accompanying signature.  Above the door there's a current total count, 58,390 silver dollars.  Last picture is of Bryon, I really think he should have bought that hat.


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Cheep knives, air soft guns, cross bows, t-shirts with wolves on them, gaudy jewelry.  Within the Silver Dollar Bar is everything you could ever want to bring home and throw away two years later.  While Bryon and I were checking out the weapons a man accidentally shoved a knife through its holder and cut himself on the hand, bleeding everywhere.

Both locations were quite the experience for us.  I can confidently say we will never go to both again.  At least not on the same day.


Year End Wrap Up: 2011

I traveled more in 2011 than any previous year.  After quitting my job as on optometric technician in July I’ve tried to spend as much time on the road as possible.  I traveled to places that were new (Turkey), places I visit every year (Bozeman, Orlando, Portland) and places I haven’t been to in years (Sidney, B.C., Madison, WI) I swam in the Aegean Sea, saw the biggest hockey stick in the world, skied in July, rode Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride at Universal, and flew in my first float plane.  I look forward to the adventures that are to come in 2012.

Here are some of 2011 stats along with a couple of pictures.

Beds I’ve slept in: 23

Hottest Temperature: 100 degrees in Izmir, Turkey

Coldest Temperature: 7 degrees in Montana during weekend of Cat/Griz game

Best Delicacy: fried fish in Bergama, Turkey

Best Burger: Dotty Dumplings Dowry in Madison, WI and Burgatroyd food truck in Portland, OR

Plastic 16.9 oz bottles consumed by Pamela and me during 2 weeks in Turkey: 109

Pictures are of Pamela and me at the Stadium in Ephesus, watching a Sounders game on my laptop in an airport, and mimicking a kissing sand sculpture in Parksville, British Columbia.

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Seahawks Christmas Poem

 I don't normally write poetry but one afternoon while thinking of my beloved Seahawks and Seattle, the city I love, I was inspired. Twas the night before Christmas

There’s no snow in the Emerald City

Lights are up at the Public Market

Westlake always looks pretty


Pioneer Square is rockin

To play San Francisco

If we beat the division leaders

C-Link will party like a disco


Christmas khakis is what

Coach Carol has on

This defense has improved

Cam Chancellor is the bomb


Clemmons storms around the center

Earl Thomas is everywhere

Bryant causes havoc in the middle

Offenses you’d better beware


Going 67 yards

Into the end zone Lynch strode

That’s what Seattle

Likes to call Beast Mode


Next year will be great

Our performance will go up

Thank you Santa for the Seahawks

Twelfth man what up!


Backcountry Skiing Essentials

My latest article on the 'Essential packing list for backcountry skiing' was published on the Matador Network.  Researching the article got me stoked to hit the backcountry. Here's the article:

And here's a video I recently found of  a group of skiers chasing pow in Washington

Nimbus Independent: En Route to Cascadia


Yellowstone National Park--July

I know this is a little late but what can you do?  After skiing the Beartooth Highway in July, Tanner and I dropped down the south side of the pass and headed toward Yellowstone.  This is my favorite way to enter the Park because there aren't as many people and you've a better chance of seeing a wolf in Lamar Valley, since they were reintroduced in 1995.  We didn't see a wolf this trip but before hitting the Tower-Roosevelt junction we did see a black bear.  Tanner saw the bear first and here's the conversation that ensued. "There's a bear." Tanner says, pointing to the side of the road.


"Right there." Pointing at the same spot.


"Right there." Still pointing.


"It's right there!" Still pointing and now shaking his finger.

And as it turns out the bear was "right there."  I just didn't see him.  He walked across the road and headed down a hill.  At the time there were only seven cars (including ours) so we drove up twenty yards, pulled the car over, and grabbed our cameras.  Within five minutes there were over a hundred people and the bear disappeared down the valley.  Whether or not you see animals, a drive through Yellowstone is always a good way to end a ski day.

The first two pictures are bison in Lamar Valley.  The first bear picture is a little hazy because it was shot through my window as I was trying to put the car in park and not scare him.  And the last picture is right before the bear headed down into the valley.

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Acropolis of Ancient Pergamum

The ancient theater, sits high above modern day Bergama, inviting you to imagine how beautiful it must have been to watch a performance here over fifteen hundred years ago.  It’s the steepest theater in the ancient world and offers great views of the Bakircay Valley.  Pergamum was the first ancient city we visited on our travels through Turkey and my favorite with the exception of Ephesus.

The area has a rich history.  According to Greek mythology Telephus, son of Hercules, founded the city.  Alexander the Great conquered Pergamum, along with many other cities during his path through Asia Minor.  It was an important cultural center in the Mediterranean world and was said to have the second largest library, behind Alexandria.  Legend says Marc Antony gave the entire contents, some 200,000 volumes, to Cleopatra for a wedding present, then moved it to Alexandria.

Tradition holds Antipas, one of the first Christian martyrs, was killed in Pergamum by being placed in a brass container (shaped like a bull) and slow roasted to death.  The foundation of the Temple of Zeus can still be seen.  The majority of the temple resides in a museum in Berlin.  Some speculate this is the “temple of Satan” mentioned in the last book of the Bible.  Hitler’s architect may have used the model for this temple to build a pulpit where Hitler preached to the masses.


Rooftop Access

The tall stone buildings surrounding the Tayhan Hotel were faded and cracked. From our three hundred and sixty degree view on the roof we could see multiple mosques, including the Blue Mosque to the east.  Almost everyone had roof top access where people hung clothes and stored belongings.  Plastic chairs were scattered among toys.  The roof must serve as a place to sit and socialize.  Stained TV satellites hung by windows or were grouped together on top.

Two boys slept sprawled out on a mattress, presumably to escape the heat inside.  I wondered if they slept through the call to prayer that woke us up once last night and once this morning.  Roosters crowed in the building next door.  The air smelled of fish and was humid and warm.  At five-thirty in the morning it was already in the high seventies.  A gray haze made it difficult to view the Asian side of Istanbul or too far out into the Sea of Marmara.  Seeing the expanse of the city on our first full morning increases our excitement to explore.


Skiing the Beartooths

Tanner and I spent Independence Day skiing corn snow on the Beartooth Highway.  Located in south central Montana, it’s three hours from my hometown of Bozeman, where I’ve spent the last week.  The highway winds through the mountains from Red Lodge to Cooke City before topping out at 10,947 feet and descending into Yellowstone National Park.  This was my sixth time skiing the pass, which usually opens on Memorial Day, but was delayed to June tenth this year after receiving more than twenty-five feet of snow.

Hiking to the top of Gardiner Head Wall

Skiing the Top of Gardiner Head Wall

We skied a couple runs on the Gardiner Head Wall and found the conditions to be perfect.  Met some nice people on top as well.  The beauty of skiing the highway is you hitchhike to the top, decreasing the amount of hiking with skis on your back.  At the Rock Creek Head Wall you can ski right back to the road.  At the Gardiner Head Wall you hike back up to the road from the bottom of the bowl.

A gentleman and a scholar, Mr. Tanner Claridge

Loaded up hitch hiking in a truck.  We were told the wall of snow was about five feet higher just two weeks earlier.

Tanner rippin' tele turns

Skiing down the Gardiner Head Wall with Gardiner Lake in the background

Hiking back up to the road

 All in all, it was an excellent day of summer skiing.

Friday Harbor & Orca Whales

“It’s like a four hour boat ride.  You didn’t bring anything to do or read?”  I said with shock as I powered on my Kindle thirty minutes north of Seattle. As soon as I spoke those words to my wife and mother it immediately dawned on me I hadn’t told them it was a four-hour boat ride.  I hadn’t told them it might be cold on the boat.  In fact, I hadn’t told them anything except when we needed to be at Top Pot Donuts and when we needed to be at the ferry that would take us north from Seattle to Friday Harbor.  They were clearly annoyed. The awe of the city skyline was gone and they were looking for something to do.  I apologized for my mistake and sheepishly turned back to my book.

The plan was to take the Victoria Clipper to Friday Harbor for shopping and whale watching.  My mom and her husband were in town for a week and this was the “big event” for their vacation.  I found great deals on the tickets through Living Social but then booked the trip too late, having to pay an additional forty dollars per ticket.

When we got to Friday Harbor we dropped off some of the passengers and went in search of wildlife.  Our captain received word from a whale watching network that there were orca whales off the west side of San Juan Island.  We headed in that direction before intersecting them on the north tip of the island.  Six orcas were moving close to the shore and we kept some distance before getting closer to another group of five.  The naturalist on our ship believed we were with two of the J, K, or L pods.

Our boat got as close as fifty yards to one whale for a couple minutes but mostly stayed around a hundred yards away.  The experience was amazing for my family.  We’d never seen orcas before and were completely blown away by their size, beauty, and the way they come out of the water. The photos below are one orca who breached twice.

photocrati galleryI was hooked by the experience and would love to go back on a sunny day with a bigger lens.  If any of you own a boat and would like to do some “whale photo hunting” let me know.