February 20, 2011
Saturday morning at the cabin before hittin' Sheltowee Trace towards Cloud Splitter.
On Presidents Day weeked, about 12 of us headed to the gorge for some cold camping. Planned, well in advance, everyone expected to be camping in the snow. But on the weekend of Feb. 19, our cold spell broke and we were given a sunny weekend for some awesome fun and awsome sights.
Some of us, including myself were a little disappointed we weren't able to do it in the snow, but after the time we had, and a few photos later, we're pretty sure we got our first glimpse of Spring. We had a great group of people ready for some trails, some camping and some good forest food.
On Friday, everyone met at the cabin to plan, talk some smack, eat and drink. After a good nights' rest, we packed up Saturday morning and headed for Cloud Splitter.
We're pretty sure if it had snowed, we may not have been able to hike on some of the trails we did, nor camp in the place we chose. Camp was made at about 1-200 feet from the peak of cloud splitter. There, we had the last rays of sun on Saturday and the first rays in the morning on Sunday.
Cloud splitter features a pretty laborius climb and some serious shimmying to get through a narrow crack and out to the over look. But once you're looking out the face of Cloud Splitter over the whole valley, you think it was worth the effort.
October 25, 2010
Nothing means more to me than quality... and I mean *truly* quality time with friends and family. Click here to view the whole gallery.
The head count of the 2nd annual smash grew tremendously and along with many new families, we saw most of the Muddy Portage crew in attendance. It was great to see faces we haven't seen in a while as well as several new friends we've met over the summer.
There were enough people who pitched in to make the process go. As you can see, there are parts to fill with such an operation and without diligent help, it can go slow. Those apples didn't stand a chance.
I had mentioned we try to put together a video so that we can look back at how our families grow over the years. People took the "dressing for the part" quite seriously so I think we'll have some good you-tube fodder real soon. I have to say that my hat looked rather dumb compared to all the straw and cowboy hats correctly sported by others.
The apples "smashed" more difficult than last year. They were pulpy and it took more effort to extract all the juice. We have a rough estimate of about 28 gallons compared to the 47 gallons last year. While we're sure the dry weather had an effect, I felt the apples were a little too ripe (along with the fact that we had only a Gala, Winesap and Winter Banana mix - Not completely ideal for cider) Still, everyone had cider to take home and Glenn and I had plenty left over to make sure our other loves ones got some.
Thanks so much to Glenn and Mary Burris for not only providing a great venue, but going above and beyond to make this look like an event coordinated by a committee. The hay rides were an exceptionally nice touch and the kids loved it. A little background... the smash wasn't going to happen this year just due to how busy everyone has been. Glenn and Mary stepped up and said they were planning a fall party of some sort anyway and this was just the thing.
The apple smash means a lot to me because as a kid, I attended a number of these with my dad, along with steam-engine shows, berry picks, you get the picture. My dad refurbished this press and made all the wood parts, painted it and got it all ready to use. But, he never got to use it before a stroke in 2001. So, last year was its maiden smash... and this year was its second run. I hope to keep this going so that our kids can remember such things. I truly believe that by instilling the spirit of our fathers in them will make them remember, and even aspire to push it further... ultimately to become better contributors to society. I can still see and remember my first apple smash, and my dad heading it up, all to only be sure there was enough cider for everyone to take home. So, my heartfelt thanks go to Glenn and Mary for making this happen.
We'll be shooting for the first or second week of October next year. If you liked it, you might mark your calendar. The food this year was stellar. Thanks to all who brought something. That really made the food easy! We'll be thinking of ideas to completely eliminate the monetary apple overhead for the next time. It might be nice to get everyone to bring a sack or two of apples so that the apple purchase doesn't lie on one or two people. Bring apples, take cider! We're open to ideas. I hope you enjoy these pictures and watch for the video soon.
Love Susan, Jason and family
October 18, 2009
The first annual "Apple Smash" yielded 47 gallons of cider and a few hours of great fun among our family and friends.
The word for this weekend is most certainly "extraction" - that is, getting the juice from what mother nature has given us. Gently pressing, or violently smashing, it's all good. On Saturday, I helped the Specters press their grapes in Dave's refurbished grape press. On Sunday, we did our "1st Annual Apple Smash" using the cider press my dad refurbished but never got to use. Many years later, it finally did it's maiden smash. Two truckloads of green, red and yellow apples, a dedicated cart, wash, cut and smash crew, and we have 47 gallons of liquid gold. Everyone took home more then enough, and I have enough left to make 20 gallons of apple wine... and 5 gallons of Apple Jack.
Thanks to Dave and Sara Specter, Mark and Tracy Webster, Libby, the kids and my wonderful wife Susan. Special thanks to the Kinkers for providing the beautiful venue, the means, and some mysteriously good coconut curry soup.
With a week of gloomy, dank, cold rainy weather a week before, and a frost the night before, it turned out to be a BEAUTIFUL day and a perfect end to a summer with a very strange crop cycle. I look forward to doing it again next year!
June 20, 2009
Pouring in the milk in the same ice cream maker we used when I was a kid. If you're serious about ice cream, go to a flea market or somewhere and locate an old hand-crank one with a heavy metal cannister inside. Avoid the modern, plug-in plastic crap.
On Sunday, we'll celebrate Hannah birthday a little early before we go on vacation. Strawberry ice cream was our test run Friday night. We'll do it again on Sunday with all the other kids and chocolate and butter pecan is on the menu.
We used this same ice cream maker when I was a kid. Yeah you have to hand crank it, but that's the point. The kids tend to tire out a little early, but when I take over to finish it off, I think back when my dad did this same thing with us. Our electric maker just collects dust. They make things so shitty now days. Plastic and thin metal for the canister. This ice cream maker has a solid, heavy metal canister with a lid. The point is so the ice and slat can cool it so cold, that the ice cream actually sets up. It gets harder to crank and you know, it's almost time. We added in the fresh cut strawberries and cranked it somemore.
Finally, on a sultry, sweaty hot night, the whole family about busted in to song as each of us felt the essence of summer.
Thinkin' this thing is going to come out a lot this year!
March 09, 2009
100+ year old beech tree.
Met up with the guys for a Sunday morning canoe and hike. The typical type. We get together as often as possible just to catch up and air out the brain once a week. They mentioned to me in the past about some local eagles, but you know how you never really think much into it until you actually see one? Sunday, I was not expecting to see one. Between it and the other really awesome features of this planet that you don't get to see on the beaten path each day, it was a pretty potent visual experience.
Of course, pics do it no liberty, but I was running on dying batteries and I can't complain. It was kind of windy when we put in. The idea was to canoe up a tributary and then hike around the ridge on foot. As we approached the bank we would start the hike, the guys in the kayaks up front spotted the eagles in the trees. One took off immediately.
We were pretty far up the river at this point. We were very quiet and let the water float us down stream. Being reasonably still and quiet, let the bird get used to our presence. I was certain it would take flight, but, it sat there and even allowed us to pass.
I caught some acceptable pics. Also on the hike, we saw some large trees that in relation to the rest of the forest, escaped the logging industry. To see these giants nestled between all the smaller trees around them was beautifully insane. All in all, just another journal entry for a Sunday outing, but this is the kind of stuff that makes you happy to be alive.
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