Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Just like Veterans day, every day is Thanksgiving. Every day we take a breath of air is something to be thankful for. Crazy world we are living in but many amazing things and celebrating with family and friends giving thanks for all the gifts we have is good.

We celebrated at Maplelag once again with a nice blend of family and friends, a few that haven't joined us before.

Jonell and Judy making flatbread day before.

We had 2-3" of snow five days before Thanksgiving that I groomed out on 10km than stuck around until Thanksgiving. Thankful to get out for a Thanksgiving morning ski.Yes, the coverage was thin but as the above photo show, the skis were gliding and no face plants. All good.
Moments before meal serving socializing.
Grandma Judy with her grandchildren minus Jake.
All the kids minus a couple that couldn't be round up. Hey, watch were you're putting those hands!!

Jake wasn't able to join us again as he was in Canmore/Banff/Lake Louise Alberta, Canada enjoying incredible snow for a training camp with his St Scholastica ski team. Check out this link for some great photos. (Sorry if I offended anyone by forcing you to go to Facebook)
Friday night socializing.
Kid games post meal.
Life size Jenga.
What is that? Why its bacon smothered duck simmering slowly.
Rommegrot making a first time presence. Pretty much a gut bomb but worth every spoon full.

Post meal socializing.

Our friends the Johnson's from St Paul were able to join us minus Matt who was tied up with work unfortunately but time of year he makes hay. Got out with Jack and Cole for a fun ride. I was on a fat bike, Jack on a "half fat" and Cole on a regular 2.0 mountain bike. All worked well, beautiful crisp and cold morning.

Thanksgiving weekend wrapped up with some pond and lake skating thanks to a few single digit mornings setting up some nice ice. 

Lake skating days are few and far between. We only had five days for it but thankful for those five days considering many lakes in MN are still open water.
Fun times. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Mexico Fall 2015

The other week Jonell and I snuck down to Puerto Vallarta Mexico for four days. It has been super crazy busy since the middle of August and we really needed a break to re-charge. 

I first went to PV back in the early 70's when my parents used to drive down there from MN. I was 3 I think and I don't really remember much other than sleeping on the floor board of the car and getting my hair cut which was a scream fest and I am sure the guy gutting my hair wasn't having much fun either. Since then, we have been going down there the last 40 years, missing a few years here and there. Over the years we have checked out a couple different places such as Sayulita and Lo De Marcos to the north when we brought all the kids down and more recently south near Tomatlan and Mismaloya when just Jonell and I, as we did this year and seen from near area we stayed south. 

PV was in the headline news middle of October with the monster hurricane Patricia. But all that happened in PV was some mist and a little wind. Since then the locals report weather being humid. The general thinking that PV still got hit by a hurricane resulted in slightly lower airfare and cheaper hotel fare when using one of the many online options. Also was pretty quiet. Not sure of the hotel zone which has all the inclusive resorts and we stay away from those.
Like the past 20 years, I brought a bike down. The taxi drivers aren't as laid back as they used to be and get a bit more uptight when they see a bike after I negotiated a price with the middle man in the hotel lobby. Always works out and when I tell them they need to take some shots of tequila they laugh and carry on.
Morning spin near the bay of Tomatlan south of PV.
Heading up into the mountains.
The hurricane did hit farther south, which was devastating to the smaller communities. The rivers were also running like I have never seen before.
We discovered a new hot sauce made locally and had a hard time finding it. Once we did, we cleared them out.
Multiple date nights in a row. Thumbs up!!
Down from the mountains to sell to local vendors.
Checking out a local spice shop for salsa. Came out with cinnamon and locally harvested and roasted coffee.
Riding up in to the mountains near Junta Veranos. The roads are a bit better than they were 20 years ago and now the workers clearing in the jungle use orange cones.
And orange vests. Took a while to get this guy the message I wanted a photo of him and his machete but once he did, he obliged nicely.

We have found a handful of restaurants that are fantastic. Since it was such a short trip, we go to them all four nights. An Italian place, Dolce Vita, the first and last night and a Asian place, Archie Wok, the other two nights. Dolce Vita serves the best wood fired pizza we have eaten. Sounds maybe a bit crazy to go to Mexico to have good pizza but they nail it every time.

 Both places the majority of the serving staff has been there since we can remember Walk in and they remember you right away. Always some good laughs.

Outside Archie's Wok with Archie's daughter. The staff here are very chill and even though they can get very busy, they stay calm and relaxed. Something to emulate.

Click to enlarge. Great story on Archie's Wok.

The people are great in PV. Can't but love the guy riding to work with the bucket.
Riding along the Rio Cuale one morning.
There have been some springs that the river is just a trickle. Stopping on a bridge that was just built in recent years.
Stopping at a high point. One year I rode a few more hours back to a mountain village tucked away in the mountains I hope to get back to some day. The riding is endless. Beautiful scenes. The heat index was near 100 so I didn't push it too much and never wanted to be out more than 2 hours. The year after I had Lyme we came down here and I couldn't handle more than 15 minutes. Being able to do what I can now makes me appreciate health all that much more.
Most of the days were cloudy but the weather was still nice.
Back in from the morning ride, meeting Jonell poolside.
Do you need a taxi?

Awesome trip! Went by to fast. Hope to be lucky enough to return again soon!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fall Duck Hunting 2015

The past duck hunting season was one of the best ones I can remember. It wasn't the amount ducks we shot which made it good, personally that doesn't matter, but the number of times we were able to get out. As far as hunting goes, it is top of the list for me personally. We are fortunate to be an a location we can go out if the conditions are good and if we only have 45min to a hour, typically the best time to hunt anyways.  If the kids miss first hour, we can call and say they were hunting and be excused instead of making up an excuse!  Also, the weather this fall has made it very nice to be out. Maybe too nice for duck hunting but the days the wind was right, a northwest flow, cloudy and some weather (rain or even a little bit of snow), it was pretty good. The favorite part I like is paddling out in the dark, setting up in the blind and watching the sun rise over the horizon. We had many different combinations this fall of hunters, from friends to family and was good to see all four boys get out at some point. 

The first morning I got out was the coldest to start out fall. The moon was setting to the right as the sun was rising to the east. Usually the winter months when I am grooming I enjoying this nature occurrence. 

Fog rising from the lake from the cool morning. The temp actually dropped, which is typical, as the sun cracked the horizon.


Paddling along.

Heading back in through the fog.
The low areas were free of frost when we left but the trademark dip at dawn with clear skies set a coating of frost on the low lying areas.

Camo coverage.

Taking a photo of ducks inside the kitchen breaks code but these pair of wood ducks were unique. Jens and his friend Reed with a pair of woodies from the morning hunt.

One of them had a band. Ever time we are out, my dad asks if there were every any banded birds. He was pretty excited and even more so after he logged in the number online.

When I was Jens age, if we shot a banded bird, we would mail in the band. Now you go online and record the number than they send you a pdf to print off. All good. Pretty interesting the duck was banded in Hampshire County, Mass. Probably migrated south for the winter, hooked up with some Midwest birds and decided to go back north with them. 

The boys like to eat duck. Myself included. We immediately clean the ducks when we return and freeze them. Usually we save a few for consumption for lunch or that evening. 

I've got a few different ways to cook them, this time just a simple pan fry with some seasonings for a quick lunch.

Nice variety one morning during MEA. Jens and his friends got out every morning except once. 

Drew and Jens with a ruffed grouse after duck hunting earlier.

My good friend Bruce Adelsman came up for a few days to duck hunt for the firs time. We went out two mornings. The weather wasn't the best, wrong wind and timing but nice to take him out.
Wind in the face not good for birds.

View from the lake towards the blind.

Lunch time! Your duck is ready boys!

Probably the highlight of the season was the night Jon, Jens and family friend Drew and I went out the night before to camp out in the open under the stars. We couldn't of had a better night.  The paddle out was slow as we were in no rush to get to the blind. We stopped multiple times taking in the still night, observing the incredibly bright stars above and the glow from the city lights of Fargo Moorhead to the west.
After we set up, we got a nice fire going for a evening snack and lively conversation.
Tucked inside the sleeping bags as the day was ready to break.
The day would turn out to be too nice again for duck hunting but a exploration on the island where  plans remain for a future outpost cabin to spend the night before and to ski out to in the winter.
Morning fire and coffee.

Morning harvest.

Included in were two beautiful red heads. One of the neat things about duck hunting is the variety of waterfowl species.

Whatever color meat you want to call it, doesn't get much better.

Paddling back in.

Another great morning.

Paddling back in after the morning hunt with Ryan and Ripley.
Back at the landing with Uncle Ryan and Ripley.
Jens and Drew after a wet morning but great duck hunting weather.
Jake has been super busy his final year of college, being a student, working and captain of the Nordic ski team. Got home one weekend to get out bagged a few nice ones.
Jens got his first deer the morning of deer hunting opener. Few hours later, he was in the duck blind.

Jens with the last duck shot for the year. We were set to head in for a hockey game but he noticed some ducks on the lake managed to shoot one. Went out in the kayak to get it and got a little wet in the process requiring a change in the dress clothes.

What a great season!