Where the Wild Things Are

September 13, 2009 at 12:26 pm

In Vedauwoo!!!

Mark warms up a kate-made pretzl for breakfast

The summer was getting late, and Doug and Liz wanted one last weekend romp through the rocks and woods of Vedauwoo. Doug drove up early on Friday morning to grab the best campsite in the area: a huge area of cleared ground below tall lodgepole pines just south of the Beehive Buttress.

Sleeping on a soft bed of needles

Mark, Liz and I arrived late on Friday night, to find Sean and Doug enjoying a roaring fire and the quiet of a Vedauwoo night. Liz had filled our heads with stories of coyotes, bears, and deadly moose in Vedauwoo. Our night was spent looking anxiously out into the darkness around us.

There were tents popping up all over the woods like mushrooms

Saturday morning, we moved slowly, waiting for more friends to arrive and watching van after van of climbers arrive and head out to the Beehive. When we finally arrived ourselves, a CMS school was practicing leading on one side, and a boyscout troupe had set top-ropes all over the other.

We had never seen the buttress so busy! Often, we are the only group there.

On Saturday, I led an easy route with one awkward move, and Mark and Doug both led a pair of burlier routes in the middle of the wall. We all got in trips on each route, and then packed up as the crowds grew larger.

The rest of the day was spent playing cards, playing with fire, snacking, and hanging out at camp as people came and left. In the evening, we waited until the other climbers left for the day, and then made another run at the Beehive.

Sunday morning pretzls on the fire

Clouds had blown in, and a bitterly cold wind scoured the granite buttress. I led an interesting route up the far right side, racing Doug’s lead just to my left, and the chilly wind. A couple brave people climbed our routes on TR, but complained of cold rock and numb hands.

A mist filled in as the climbers were working up the routes. The white clouds billowed by below and around them, making the view from the belay weird and ethereal. I have never seen anything like that before, or again.

First brushes of fall colors

Saturday night was chilly and misty. Rain drizzled and the fire roared. Liv dashed off into the darkness after some animal, which made an eerie and unearthly squeal. Eventually, Liv came back and we spotted the big fox, watching us from just beyond the firelight.

On Sunday morning, Liz made blueberry pancakes for the whole camp, and we hung our tents and flys between trees, waiting for everything to dry out in the sun. It seemed the mountains of Vedauwoo had risen above the clouds into the sun that morning. As we drove home, we watched the clouds washing up on the Front Range, and slowly descended back into the fog of the real world.

The tastiest pancakes in the world.  Liz is a magician!

Eating the fruits (and veggies) of our labors

September 8, 2009 at 6:18 pm

It’s been a summer of bounty from the gardens and our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Every day something else is ripening on the vines and every week we get a new big box of fruit and veggies.

Each summer is a learning experience for us, both in learning how and what we can grow in our own gardens as well as how and what we can eat from the CSA! One of the hardest parts of our summer food bounty is researching and finding interesting ways to eat all of these veggies. Here are some of the big hits of the 2009 Summer season!

Mango, Peach and Pineapple SalsaUses peaches, tomatoes, onion, peppers and cilantro
2 mangos, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 peaches, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar, or to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a big bowl. Refrigerate at least one hour. The longer the ingredients mingle, the better the salsa!

Thai pepper chicken with basilUses basil, onions, peppers, tomatillos and lettuce
1 bunch of thinly sliced basil
1/4 cups veggie oil
6 large coarsely chopped shallots or onions
5 cloves of minced garlic
1 piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 pound ground chicken or turkey
2 fresh Thai chili peppers or jalapeño peppers and/or tomatillos or other peppers to taste, thinly sliced
2 tsp brown sugar
lettuce leaves

1. Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a wok over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add shallots, garlic and ginger; cook and stir 1 minute. Add chicken and stir-fry about 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Push the chicken up the sides of the wok, letting the juice remain in the bottom.

2. Continue to cook about 5 to 7 minutes or until all liquid evaporates. Stir in chili pepper slices, brown sugar and salt; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.

3. Lay lettuce leaves out on plates, serve chicken on top.

Garbage PastaUses almost anything you need to get rid of.
1/2 onion
1 or 2 tomatoes
1 small summer squash
1 small zucchini
1 bunch kale
1 bunch basil
1 cup of peas
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
a large handful of spaghetti
(optional other veggies include carrots, broccoli, egg plant, mushrooms, green onions, spinach, etc)
a pile of Parmesan cheese

1. Boil spaghetti in salty water until done. Drain, toss with a little olive oil, and set aside.

2. Saute all veggies in olive oil with garlic, except tomatoes and basil. Steam veggies if preferred (as for carrots, broccoli, spinach or peas).

3. Combine cooked veggies, garlic, raw tomatoes and basil, salt and pepper with spaghetti and just enough of the cooking olive oil to coat. Sprinkle liberally with cheese. Enjoy!

And this is just the tip of the iceburg. I think it’s very interesting to see the traditional food cultures that our local produce seems to fit best with. With all of the root veggies and dark green leafies, I think we could fill a Tuscan or Northern Italian table without any problem. But also, our peppers, onions, peas, beans and cabbage make some darn tasty Thai food. I never would have thought, but local food grown in Colorado meshes very well with the tropical cuisine of Southeastern Asia! Now I just need to start growing our own coconut trees!

Bouldering in Vedauwoo

September 7, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Just wanted to post a few pics from a pretty day of bouldering on Labor Day. Supposedly, it was the unofficial last day of summer. We decided to try something new. Rather than pack the rack and rope in the car, we grabbed our bouldering pads and headed to a remote area in Vedauwoo called Coyote Rocks.

Coyote Crack (5.14+), one of the hardest cracks in the US

This little island of rocks and woods sits on the extreme northwest edge of Vedauwoo. Yes, further north and further west than the Beehive Buttress. While there are a few interesting looking crack climbs in the area (notably Home on the Range 5.14-), most of the climbing in this area has been on tricky little boulders, scattered through the woods.

Mark pulls the mantle move on this fun V1

Mark and I spent our whole day in the midst of these beautiful trees and rocks, and never saw a single other person.

We attempted several fun problems, some with more success than others. Camp Trick (V2-) was our “warm-up.” We played around on this one for most of an hour, I think.

Our warmup for the day was surprisingly tough

A slab route just behind Camp Trick made for a fun little romp.

Already bleeding, two problems in to the day

We both enjoyed a lovely little finger crack (rated 5.9 in our book) in the shape of a Y.

Mark Goes Bouldering

Mark spent some time trying the start to Black Tea (V4), but only once or twice made it off the ground.

Mark working the start of a V4 in the quiet afternoon

Just as we went around to climb Dead Wood (V1), it started to rain. We napped under the overhanging boulder for half an hour or so, and then as the drizzle refused to let up, we hiked out.

Hanging out on our awesome Organic bouldering pad