Apr 27, 2014

A Boundary Waters Adventure - 4, Blueberries and Basswood Base Camp

Day three, we needed to polish off a 7 miler to reach base camp at Bassword Lake.

We loaded up our three canoes, I knotted on a 5-of-diamonds spinner spoon and we steamed northward.

Our Kevlar fleet passed beside an oval islet.  Blue wood smoke wafted from a camp pitched beneath coniferous pines.

A lone white-tail eyed us.  As she turned to bound, her brood sprang from behind the spruce and followed pursuit.

Apr 13, 2014


What food do you munch on that's common in your area, but not in other parts of the country?

Tenderloins are popular in Iowa, where pigs outnumber humans 5-to-1.  Pound a pork loin flat, bread it with spiced cornmeal and fry till tender.  Top with red onion and mustard, crown with toasted buns and chow down.

My folks were in town this weekend for Pigtails' first track meet.  Dad's bucket list includes hitting all the shops that are on Iowa Pork Producers top 5 'loin list.  So yesterday we drove an hour north to Paton, IA to check out 209 Main's pork. They're #2 on the list and population 236, I cracked up at their city office.

Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwiches

What plate of food, if placed in front of you now, would transport you back to your childhood?  For me, it's peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

I mentioned to someone at work that mom made us PB&Nana sandwiches growing up, loved those things.  They made an oh gross, that's a weird combination face.  This got me thinking about what else we ate as a kid that maybe not everyone else did.

Let's see, there was beans-n-franks...chopped weenies cooked in a can of Van Camp's pork and beans, with added ketchup and onion.  Maybe every kid ate that combo, it was yum at the time but now sounds gross.

Mac&Cheese with a can of tuna added for protein.  SpaghettiOs or egg sandwiches if mom was in a hurry.

The worst was a school meal called "perky noodle bake."  I think perky was an exaggeration.  It was always served on Fridays at James Madison Middle School.  Lunch ladies with their hairnets and plastic gloves would mix all the leftovers from the week, add noodles, top with cheese and bake.  Always a surprise inside, one week it could be a mix of carrots, fried chicken, lima beans and sour cream.  Next week it was taco meat, broccoli, leftover chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes, all cooked together.  Looked like barf, no wonder I was scrawny.

What did you eat growing up, good or bad, that brings back being a kid?


First 1500

5th grade means Pigtails is old enough to join her school's track team.

I invited her to run with me earlier this spring to log a few training miles so the races would go smoother.  She said it's too cold outside (30 degrees).  I responded, "Well, do what you want, but a minute into your first race you'll wish you'd trained more."

Offering her advice, but letting her choose, learn along the way and let competition be the teacher.

Her first meet was on Friday, coach marked her down for the 1500, sprint medley, 800 and high jump.  She started crying when she learned about the high jump, as she hasn't had a chance to practice it yet.  "What if I hit the bar on the first jump and people laugh at me?"  I told her all the kids were new at it, and being afraid to try something isn't a good reason to tap out.  She got the last laugh and talked coach into swapping high jump for long jump.

The 1500 is just under 4 laps and a tad less than one mile.  She's logged a total of 5 miles in practice before her first meet, so I kept it simple and gave her three bits of advice:

Don't go out too fast, try to be in the middle of the pack on the first lap.
Finish strong the last 200 meters and pass at least one person.
Have fun.

Apr 7, 2014

New Ears and Other Stuff

Now With Improved Hearing
Last year, I encouraged readers to help Quincy raise money for upgrading his hearing processors.  He was born deaf, but hears pretty well now with cochlear implants.

After several months of fundraising, his mom received enough moola to replace one processor.  Quincy was able to get a new device last September, old processor on the left, new on the right:

He said the new one "doesn't sound fuzzy like the old one."

A couple Sundays ago, we head over to pick up Quincy.  His mom asked if we noticed anything new.  She started to cry happy tears...Q smiled and showed us his new processor on the left side!  So now both ears are upgraded, his hearing is no longer fuzzy and the new devices stay on better when we shoot hoops.  FYI, the little dude's skilled at bball and rattles out Kevin Durant stats faster than a fat guy ordering a 6-pack and a pound on Taco Tuesday.  

I told Quincy now he can't use the excuse that he didn't hear his mom when she asks him to clean his room.

Thanks everyone who chipped in to help out.  He and his mom really appreciate it!

Apr 4, 2014

A Boundary Waters Adventure - 3, Bourbon and Blue Sky

Last big fish I caught was 30 years ago.
Latched a rainbow trout on vacation in Colorado with my family.
It was probably only 3", but it sure seemed massive when you're 7 years old.

In the Boundary Waters, you don't bring enough food to survive.  Instead, we'd rely on catching pike, bass and walleye to fill our gut.  

My fishing equipment consists of a 24" My Little Pony pole Pigtails got years ago.  I was pretty sure a tail slap from a small-mouth bass would snap my rod, so before the trip picked up a $25 rig from Wal*Mart.  Cork handled composite shaft and aluminum reel with the Made in China sticker still attached.  That'll work.

I sure hoped someone in the group knew how to fish.  It's one thing to play around on the spillway with stink bait and a line Sunday after church.  Another when you need catch and live on walleye for a week.

When do you rig a jig vs. knot on a 5-of-diamonds spoon?
Spinnerbait or live leeches?

We needed to hook 2 large pike or 6 medium walleye/bass a day to keep our stomachs from growling.  We had a few packets of dried Cajun rice-and-beans mix, 9 lbs of raw bacon, 2 gallons of bourbon and beef jerkey in case our poles went limp.  A water filter and iodine tablets allowed for unlimited amounts of treated glacier drink.  Iron ore leaches into the Boundary Waters lakes, which tints the water.  We'd drink yellow toilet water for the next week.