Friday, July 30, 2010

Morning Adventure

This brief blog is dedicated to Danielle Magnuson! Thanks for reminding me I need to keep this update. I love reading your blog ( I hope that I too can write like you!

I love going on morning adventures. The sun here is awake far before most of us even think about setting an alarm. This past month or so I have been trying to get up earlier & make the most our of my days here. My favorite thing to do in the early morning is to paddle on the glacier fed waters of the White Salmon river. Sounds exciting... right!??! For those of you less adventurous folks, you can experiment by filling a bath tube with ice cubes & splash around it in the morning. ;)

On this particular morning I went on a different kind of adventure, a little hike. Lindsay was the brave trooper to wake up early & go. We decided to check out Rattlesnake Falls.

It was an easy hike to a deep little canyon. Check it out! This little journey is about 15 minutes from my tent. And... for my mother, I made sure to put some people in the photos ;)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Learning about a whole new kitchen…

From the kitchens of Minnesota to the tent life of the Pacific Northwest, my diet has surely changed. No more milk & cereal for breakfast but instead yogurt & granola (from Trader Joe’s preferably) or oatmeal. The option of running to McDonalds, Burger King or KFC for a quick lunch is no longer an option. I now indulge in leftovers, chicken sausage (which I had never heard of before moving here) or some other simple meal option. Snacks now consist of avocado on toasted whole grain bread, locally made tortilla chips, or Cheerios & Dr. Pepper. I found that I couldn’t give up on my lifelong combination of Cheerios & Dr. Pepper. This will probably always be my favorite snack.

When meals are cooked at camp, items no longer come pre-manufactured or from a can (with the exception of beans). Instead, fresh veggies are chopped and sautéed in extra virgin olive oil & typically served over white or brown rice. I also took part in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where we get a batch of fruits, veggies & greens delivered every week. This is extremely interesting for me as I haven’t heard of most of the veggies & greens before. At times it feels like a weed in Minnesota is a cherished source of nutrition out here. Recently we had “lambs ear” which is a green that I swear up & down that my mother used to always pick as weeds.

I really had to laugh when we made our first salad. We didn’t have any dressing so, the Midwestern in me, thinks about going to the store to pick some up. Oh no… we make our own here! It really caught me off guard that after adding the extra virgin olive oil, fresh ginger, organic honey & fresh garlic that we were still missing an ingredient. Brian & Nicki made the dressing and, after tasting it, came to the conclusion it was missing rice vinegar. Rice Vinegar? Never before had I heard of rice vinegar! This is just ONE of the many examples of how life in the kitchen has changed. Fresh ginger & garlic are now common “household” items.

One of the funniest moments was when I volunteered to cook family dinner. Every Saturday night someone from Wet Planet offers to cook supper for everyone & Wet Planet buys the groceries. I thought sauerkraut & dumplings or tater-tot hotdish would be perfect for my night of cooking. Ryan called & volunteered to help… perfect! The only catch was instead of making my tater-tot hotdish (which, by the way, no one out here had heard of) we were going to use up some Japanese noodles instead. After searching in Todd & Jaco’s cupboards for 20 minutes looking for these noodles, Nicki came to my rescue & found them in less than 2 minutes. What was going to be a Midwest meal now turned into a huge learning experience for me, Asian cooking. It was off the grocery store with Ryan & Jaco where I would continue my education in foreign cooking. After lots of team work, chopping of fresh veggies & adding a little “zest” (graded parts of lemon, lime & orange peels) another successful family dinner came together.

This little story doesn’t do justice to how many things I’ve learned in the kitchen. I practically learn something new every day and it’s awesome. Before I left Minnesota Jodi, Drew, Emily & I were having a gourmet co
oking competition. (Drew & I always have to make things a competition) I’m getting more confident that I will be able to return this winter & make a meal that they won’t forget. The best part is I probably won’t even need a recipe because out here I’m learning about a whole new kitchen...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Curious Gorge...

I have officially been in the State of Washington for two months now and finally starting to expand my horizons. Since I arrived in May, my focus has been on work and paddling as much as possible. I know there are many other things to explore in the Columbia River Gorge aside from the awesome whitewater. So, with a little motivation from a group of friends from Minnesota, I began to explore some of the hikes & waterfalls that I have heard so much about.

Eagle Creek is a well-known hike whose reputation far exceeds the Gorge. As you can see from the photo, it's breathtaking canyon walls are one of the many reasons this hike is so famous. If the mossy green walls aren't enough to lure you onto this hike, perhaps the notorious Punch Bowl Falls will! This is just one of the many waterfalls that you will see if you complete the 6+ mile hike through Eagle Creek.

Another famous waterfall, Falls Creek Falls, got the best of my curiosity as well. This 3 tier, 220+ foot waterfall provided quite the adventure trying to arrive at it. After dropping some friends off to paddle a nearby river, Nora, Chris & I started our journey to explore this phenomenal waterfall.

We started up the trail (supposed to be 2 miles) around 5:30 pm. We thought we would surely beat the crew off the river, little did we know what we were in for! We were all caught up in the tall, mossy tree scenery which followed along the creek. Seeing as we all love whitewater, we were imagining what it would be like if you were able to kayak it. After walking for over an hour, we started to wonder if we took a wrong turn. We turned back to go on another trail we had seen a short while back. After hiking an intense trail up the side of a mountain we were wondering if we would actually reach our destination. Just when we were about to give up, Chris wandered off to find a scenic overlook which gave us a sneak peak of the waterfall. We decided it was time to indulge in a well-deserved beverage and enjoy the view.

As the darkness started to set in, we decided to keep hiking until our drinks were gone and then we would turn back. I think we all will be forever thankful of this decision. Just as we finished our drinks, we stumbled upon the most gorgeous waterfall ever, Falls Creek Falls. We got to stand 6 inches away from the top of the 1st tier of the 220+foot waterfall. Words cannot describe an experience like this. After recomposing ourselves, we started our glorious hike down, right next to the waterfall on a root ladder stopping at each tier to take photos.

With the sun already set behind the horizon, it was time to hike out... and quick! We ended up running about 2 miles in the semi-dark trying to make it out on time. I strategically chose a nice soft dirt spot on the trail to trip on a rock and take a HUGE digger. I felt like a kid sliding head first into home plate. Nora arrived just in time to see me completely laid out on the ground. No injuries, just a little bruised knee as a friendly reminder of what happens when rocks jump up and trip you!

If you plan to visit the Columbia River Gorge, I would highly recommend a book by Scott Cook, Curious Gorge.