Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Last week Jonell and I snuck down to Puerto Vallarta (PV) Mexico. Bottom line it was a fantastic trip. Out of the dozen or so times we have been down there, probably appreciated this trip the most.  The last time we were there 5 years ago, I was still dealing with the Lyme junk and the heat was not good. I pretty much hung low in the hotel room not doing much at all and we cut our trip a day short. 

The days this year were great, not much on the agenda other than relaxing, eating and taking in the scene. I did bring my mtb down and got out each morning for a couple of hours or so.

PV and Mexico from what we saw, hasn't changed much. Families still riding in the back of cars with kids riding on laps in the front. Folks work hard, are honest, everyone was super friendly and there isn't this sense of entitlement that seems to be filtering into America.

When we arrived on Sunday, the middle lane was closed down for a road crit! I couldn't believe it! With the busiest week of the year on tap with Holy week, this is a major thing to happen, especially during the middle of the day.

I split riding time between on the road to the south, enjoying the long climbs up into the mountains and heading north to PV and then up into the mountains on mountain roads.  

When I first started riding down here, there weren't any atv tours and the roads were a bit more rough, now there is more atv traffic (tours) which is fine other than the dust. All good, riding in the mountains. The singletrack is few and far between, mainly because the jungle keeps it difficult to maintain. The cycling app Strava is fun to see where people are riding. Flying in you can see all the mountain roads and there is some serious rides going down deep in the mountains.  

Video clips below of riding in the area.

Pool time.

The cathedral, just off the malecon, the mainstay of PV. PV has grown leaps and bounds. Mainly to the north and west. My parents used to drive down here in the 70's and there weren't many years missed. The character and "real feel" of the town is the malecon, old town or the romantic zone they say. The hotel zone is all inclusive resorts which we stay away from.

Holy week is pretty much a zoo in PV with action on the beaches from dawn until dusk. Jonell found a great spot 15-20 minutes that was relatively quiet and peaceful.

Fully loaded food stand on the malecon. Pretty much got the basis covered.

The taxi drivers are always fun to talk with. Some drive absolutely insane and others are tranquil. This kid was in his first year. Got us from point a to point b so no complaints.

Exploring a lesser traveled part of the area.

Fantastic local ethnicity on display beachfront.

Eggs in supermarket not refrigerated. The dairy reminds me of the dairy in Norway. Rich, creamy and "real" tasting.
In the states it seems like we have every piece of motorized equipment possible to do "work". The attachments for a Bobcat too numerous to mention. People wouldn't even think of walking a block let alone carry something that distance.

Trademark PV sunset. Awesome trip, thanks to the Granmas for helping with the kids and holding down the fort.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Maple Syrup Season

The maple syrup season is in full swing. It came a bit late with repeated shots of winter but recent warm days has the sap running nicely followed by freezing nights and a few fronts moving through to keep things flowing. Always hard to know how long the season will last but freezing nights and not too warm of days which causes the trees to bud, is the key.

When my parents first moved to Maplelag, they were in to maple syruping hard core. To be honest with, it was my least favorite time of year. It was hard work! My dad drilling holes in maple trees.

 My mom tapping in the taps.
 Sister and I following with buckets ready to be hung. This was the easy part.

Collecting sap. The above photo shows no snow on the ground. Some years the snow would be knee deep or higher which made carrying two five gallon buckets that much more challenging. Spilling buckets with nice clean sap was not good.
 Back in the day, we used metal buckets but today plastic bags are more common and some systems using tubing to eliminate the collecting.

During one of my 30 days of skiing outings, I met up with Dave Spidahl of Spidahl's Gaard and he had a few trees tapped with large containers. We no longer syrup here at Maplelag but still serve the real stuff, with most of the syrup coming from Kroll's.  Nice article in the paper about them with good information if curious...

After growing up with pure maple syrup and still using it today, it is hard to have anything else. Of course pancakes, waffles are the best but served over ice cream with granola sprinkled on top is quite tasty.

Looking back, it was a lot of hard work but always interesting to see how the season would play out since every year was different. We sold all the equipment used in the maple syrup process including the big evaporator when the ski business took off but always wanted to try and get a small operation going so the kids could experience the work involved and to enjoy fresh syrup right from the own back yard!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Red Lodge 2014

Another great trip to Red Lodge! We went out a bit earlier this year instead of over Easter usually. We were greeted with great snow and January like temps!! Typical of this winter.

Roads were great heading out until 20 miles out we ran into snow and wind a stuck behind a plow at 20mph. All good, as made it safe to the destination.
 Red Lodge Mountain is always busy the day after a big dump, with the locals getting out to hit the fresh.  10" new the night we arrived but the snow was great all four days we skied.
 Palisades area. All runs etc. were open and never any lift lines at Red Lodge.

 Jonell skiing through the trees!
 Jack carving it up!
 Getting to the hidden powder stashes!
 Jens keeping in control.

 Some of the best chute skiing I have ever experienced. No icy turns and plenty of powder to carve when needed.
 Jon going off a rock.
 Love the "snags".
 Didn't work to have Jake come along with his spring break earlier and we missed him!

 Top of Upper Bucking Chute run. One of our favorites. Skied 4-5 times and never saw one person.

 RLM has had one of their best snow years in recent years. Last year we were skiing under this log!
 The morning we left, Jon and I skied at the Red Lodge Nordic Center, cranking out a quick loop. Fresh snow, grooming and temps in single digits!!
 Meadow skiing with nice flow.

Hooking up with the Wenzel family minus Matt for some good laughs and fellowship.
 Brought the mountain bike along for the first few rides of the year. Cold riding!!
 Local buried nicely.
 The first place we stayed at wasn't avail our last night so we stayed at the Yodeler for the first time. Great place with lots of fun character.
Kids loved the steam bath!!

 Traditional last morning breakfast at the Red Lodge Cafe. Fantastic eats and love the huge paintings on the wall of area scenic spots.
 Biscuits and gravy with egg on top!
One of the best breakfast burritos I've eaten. Simple, fresh and tasty.