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.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hockey in between Hockey

Last week took Jens down to the state hockey tourney for the opening class AA games on Thursday and semi-final games on Friday. I haven't missed many tourneys since 1984, the first year my dad took me. That year it was in the St Paul Civic center with the clear glass boards all the way to the ice. Always great hockey and fun atmosphere. 
One session met up with Jon and nephews Grant, Garrett and Ripley. With 6 cousins playing at different levels for three different schools, will be interesting to see if one of  them makes it to the tourney one day with their team!!
I skied both mornings down there to keep the 30 days of skiing streak going. Hit up Lebanon Hills for the first time (skiing), and the Valleywood Golf Course the second day.
Pulling Grant and Garrett out of school. First time in Rosemount middle school.
First year we went to the expo. Tons of people, and tons of different booths with the latest and greatest in hockey.
Like all sports, everything has changed and advanced with training methods, opportunities and even the technical aspect going all out. TJ getting the run down from the Sylvan Advantage rep on the video analysis software.
Synthetic ice has become a bit more affordable and more common in families basements.
Goalie training tools. As a scout said to me the other week, you can have all the best training opportunities in the world but nothing teaches kids how to get a fire in their belly to take it to the next level!

 The Friday evening first game went in to OT which made for a late start for the second game. Stayed for one period than had to hit the road to get back to groom for Saturday morning and the last weekend of the season, Moosejaw old time music and dance weekend. Always fun ending the season with this weekend. They pretty much go all night with music, clogging and old time dance filling the halls and rooms

 Got home about 230 than up to groom at 6am in another morning of subzero temps but longer days and spring sun making it feel warmer. Couldn't help but think about the change from being surrounded by 19,000 hockey fans to 19,000 trees. All good.
Jake was home for the weekend. Able to log three different skis with him. Froze down hard enough for a crust cruise Monday morning, skiing on lakes and using bootleg snomo trails to link Sugarbush and Bullhead lakes. Some of the best skiing of the year.
Skate skiing Sunday morning.

Jake jibbing near the switchyard at Maplelag. Always good having Jake home and fun to mix up the skiing.
Friday we found out Jon was invited to play in the Section 8 hockey classic which had players from both AA and A. We trekked up to Warroad Monday afternoon, taking some back roads not traveled before to bypass TRF and Roseau making the drive short !?!?
Most of the Roseau and EGF players weren't there being state had just wrapped up but still some excellent hockey in a top notch arena.
Warroad Gardens has done a great job displaying the history of Warroad hockey with newspaper articles of hs state championships, the Olympic and Pro players and of course all the trophies. Good stuff. Jens checking out the puck collection. 
Jonell got tickets for the Wild game vs Edmonton back in the fall for my birthday before we knew our schedule this week so back down to the cities for a 7pm start on Tuesday. Jake met up with us and we brought our foreign worker from the year, Nairia, who as I mentioned before has become a big hockey fan. Nairia was also on the crazy schedule, having been asked to go to a Miley Cyrus concert, in the Xcel, the night before. Jon did homework all the way home, helping me stay awake until we got home at 230. Keep the wheels moving!