Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sweet Potato Pizza
Diabolical Dunkleweizen
(brewed Nov 11, bottled Dec. 10)
Baylee the Beagle's homemade dog treats

Friday, December 19, 2008

This is the route that Katie and I followed on our roadtrip.
Day 1: Missoula to Boise via Hwy 12
Day 2: Boise to SLC to visit MattDay 3. SLC to Capital Reef National Park

Day 4: CRNP to Bryce Canyon National Park
Day 5: BCNP to St. George/Larry via Zion National Park and Angel's Landing

Day 6: Snow Canyon State Park
Day 7: St. George to Death Valley via Las Vegas, Hoover Dam and the Mojave Desert
Day 8: Death Valley to Mammoth Lakes/Sarah Patrick via Scotty's Castle
Day 10: Mammoth Lakes to Nowhere Nevada via Carson City and South Lake Tahoe.

Day 11: Nevada to Boise in the snow and ice
Day 13: Boise to Missoula via Hwy 20, I-15 and I-90

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Anasazi pueblo near a desert spring

Hoover Dam on the Colorado River

Road trips reveal many things...about the land, the country, yourself, your traveling companion...the nature of things. On my recent adventure around the great basin, I have discovered the desert and the so-called winter. The desert, as Katie and I have so narrowly concluded, "is a nice place to visit, not to live." In fact, my constant and over-riding thought about the desert has been "how do people live here?" In Death Valley National Park, I discovered that it was possible for a multi-millionaire to set up a mansion household in the desert because of his money. But first of all, how did the native people live here? With no roads and little to no food and water? Native plants probably provided ample, if not unconventional food such as prickly pear cactus and pinyon pine nuts. But water, their whole lives must have been consumed by the search for a steady water source. Yes, there are rivers, springs and even lakes in the desert and yes it rains but I can't imagine people (and I actually saw ancient settlements far from water) were able to stay near water and still find enough food to survive.

I read about how some people built dams to capture flash flood runoff. Ingenious, sure, but uncertain, almost certainly. A friend, who works 8 days at a time in the desert with a wilderness therapy group must make camp within a certain distance of a road to facilitate daily water drop offs from vehicles. In the summer temperatures are reported to reach 120 degrees F.

For a couple of years now, I have been pondering water... how it affects the ecology and geography of the land, where people settle or camp, how forests are managed or how trails are built. In a Natural Resources Policy class we discussed the importance of water in the arid west and what laws and doctrines have shaped water use today. This is a summary of what I learned, the bolded parts are, well, more pertinent:

To understand the current situation and conflicts of water in the West, one must first understand the circumstances under which water policy has evolved and the relationship between public policy and social values. In the mid 1800s and early 1900s, the United States government focused on passing policy that dealt with populating the empty Western frontier. The mission to spread democracy and freedom, expand and populate was called Manifest Destiny. Laws accomplished this end by aiding, promoting and facilitating the settlement and development of Western resources. Laws passed from this time period which are still on the books today are referred to as the “Lords of Yesterday,” “a battery of nineteenth century laws, politics and ideas that arose under wholly different social and economic considerations but that remain in effect due to inertia, powerful lobbying forces and lack of public awareness.” One such law is the 1902 Reclamation Act. This federal law funded irrigation projects for arid lands and set aside money from sales of semi-arid public lands for the construction and maintenance of irrigation projects. Much of the West could not have been settled by the original miners, ranchers and farmers without the water provided by the act.

The prior appropriations doctrine is a set of principles that evolved during the same time period to address water scarcity and embraced the Manifest Destiny ethos of use, consume and extract. The prior appropriations doctrine, itself, is not a law, but is the basis on which Western water law has formed. The fledgling doctrine began in the mines where miners freely diverted water from streams and rivers and solidified with farmers and ranchers who diverted water for crops and stock. Eventually, most Western states created laws and statutes that addressed water use rights based on the prior appropriations doctrine.

The prior appropriations doctrine’s tenets are the the fundamentals on which each Western states based their water laws. These features include the following: An individual does not own the water, the state does, and an individual only has the right to use the water. These rights are not bound to the land and can be bought, sold or inherited independently of land. Senior appropriators have the first right to the water. This is important because, in most cases, the water in a stream is either completely appropriated or over-appropriated, which means that during years of drought or low flow, junior appropriators (people who started using water from the stream later in time) might not get their full allotment, even if they are upstream. The prior appropriations doctrine calls for the beneficial use of water. Early settlers defined this as consuming and using the water in an out of stream manner. Little thought was given to the benefits of water left in the stream and if appropriators did not use all of their appropriated water, they lost their water right. The idea of “use or lose it” typifies the early utilitarian mentality on which the West was built; Unused resources are wasted resources and do not have any value in that form.

A right on paper does not necessarily translate into wet water, especially in low flow years. This is especially true of interstate water use. One way the federal government dealt with scarcity was by having the Bureau of Reclamation, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Tennessee Valley Association engage in an era building dams, reservoirs and other water projects from the 1930s to the 1960s. Marc Reisner, the author of Cadellac Desert, points out that in the arid West “everything depends on the manipulation of water - on capturing it behind dams, storing it, rerouting it in concrete rivers over distances of hundreds of miles” (708). He also points out that some rivers have been siphoned, tunneled and manipulated to the point that they flow backwards, through mountains, in other rivers’ beds and have made lakes out of deserts or deserts out of lakes (710). The Yellowstone River is the only major Western river that has not been dammed. In defense of all these projects, which supply water to over twenty percent of all irrigated acreage in the West as well as to twenty million domestic users (712), former director of the Bureau of Reclamation, Floyd Dominy, pointed out the need for reservoir water over stream habitat when he said that humans can live without fish but they cannot live without beans and wheat.

Historically, the conflicts surrounding Western water have been between upstream appropriators versus downstream appropriators, senior versus junior and powerful versus powerless. These conflicts have begun to shift as more and more environmental concerns surface. The Colorado River is a contentious issue from both a conservation and an appropriations standpoint. It highlights the contrast between American mentality during the frontier era and the beginning of prior appropriations and evolving current goals. The river is dammed and diverted to the extent that, in some years, it does not even reach the sea. Indeed, the arid West relies on dams and reservoirs to supply water for megalithic cities with green lawns and fountains and for subsidized agriculture in areas that, were it not for the access to water, would be desert. In the early days of Los Angeles, Mulholland, the director of water resources, rerouted the Owens River for its water needs and left an arid dry river valley in its place. Other places like Mono Lake (which I visited) and the Salt Sea are suffering negative environmental effects because of rerouting and damming, as well.

Beginning with Jimmy Carter, in the 1970s, environmental concerns and legislation on both a federal and state level continued to change the face of water law. Over the years, prior appropriations has become somewhat of a shadow doctrine, being preempted by state laws and federal statutes such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environment Protection Act (NEPA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). In addition, some states have moved away from the traditional definition of beneficial use by making provisions for in stream appropriations. In Montana, the Montana Water Use Act of 1973 installed a permit process for new or changed water rights, established water judges, and also allowed the state to set aside water for existing beneficial uses and for maintaining minimal flows and minimal quality of water. It is important to note, that not all new legislation is conservation oriented and despite the efforts of or special interest groups to change the paradigm of use, consume and extract, we are still attempting to turn the desert green.

So with all this information roiling around in my head, I traipsed through the desert of Utah to the Hoover dam on the great Colorado River. Dams...another technology made possible by a lot of money and a lot of "need." The Hoover and Glen Canyon dams make it possible for Las Vegas and Los Angeles to not only exist but to be cities with green golf courses and cool fountains. Before the arid desert communities sucked up the Colorado and reduced it to a trickle that doesn't even reach the Gulf of California, they sucked up innocent lakes like Lake Mono. People taking valuable resources from other people. Sounds familiar and we have all heard it before; there will be wars fought over water just as they are being fought over oil now, just as they are/were fought over land. People have no business building golf courses and sustaining fountains in the desert. Live there...fine. As far as I can see, natives did it sustainably for years. But don't expect to drain waterways as you see fit. I have heard tell of pipes through mountains and pipes flowing from Montana lakes to quench the thirst of big arid towns trying to make wet wonderlands and I won't have it. As Edward Abbey said, "The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders."

I have also discovered on this trip that perhaps people can be characterized by a triangular spectrum of mountain, water and desert or prairie...a generalization for sure, thus the word spectrum. Many of us are not blue or yellow but somewhere in between in a nice teal or kelly green.

Broadly speaking, there are mountain people who prefer to see their horizons above them and feel inspired by the peaks above them, comforted by their shelter yet challenged by their snowy passes and distant lakes. Mountain people work hard and play hard-ski, hike, mountain bike, log and ranch. We like to feel cozy and able to quantify our surroundings while also knowing we could go for days in the expansive wilderness. I like to be surrounded in my bed and I can't sleep uncovered or on my back, symptoms of being a mountain person, I'm sure. Mountain people like to know where they are going, fixate on it and push towards it. Mountain people must be goal oriented. We know the value of the warming sun and the cooling lakes. We like variety, diversity, adrenaline rushes. We are strong, we are calm, we are stoic, we are explosive and gentle. We like the stars close and we like the animals big and furry. Mountain people expect great change.

Broadly speaking, there are ocean people too, or maybe water people. They like the purgatory between solid and liquid. Thrive on salt water and all the recreation it affords. Ocean people ebb and flow, follow the moon, follow the gravity. They know two worlds, two natures and feel moisturized by the salty sea breeze. They delight in the patterns of nature and bounty of the sea. I sometimes with to be an ocean person but can't fully understand or explain them.

Broadly speaking, there are desert or prairie people. I expect, they like the freeness that the open horizon explores. They are the slow and steady who win the race. They are fearless, love adversity and to problem solve. They like extremes and then again, they like predictable evenness. Desert people are difficult to read but open and seductive. Desert people must be tough on the outside. Desert people are a mystery and there other qualities are unknown to me.

"Each thing in its way, when true to its own character, is equally beautiful." -Edward Abbey

Katie and I just returned from an epic road trip around the great basin. I have many thoughts and accounts to shared and document. This is the first: Along the way, which was long, over 2000 miles, I found many beautiful places. I did not expect the desert or the flat of the great basin to be beautiful or interesting or captivating. Generally, I expected an expanse of sand and perhaps snow, pricked with cactus and occasional oases. Actually, I expected to see some amazing things, given that Utah is home to some of the most visited national parks. In fact, I have briefly visited Moab and Canyon Lands. As the quote so eloquently describes, a desert is beautiful when it is allowed to be a desert. One cannot expect a desert to be breathtaking in the same way as a mountain range. In turn, one cannot expect a craggy mountain range to stun with the same force as a fjord-coastline. I have found much subtle and profound beauty in the desert and many things of interest in the great basin. The places that I passed through were, as Katie and I said so often, "nice to visit, but not to live."

However, the parts of Nevada that I visited were not even a nice place to visit, unless by moonlight;

Nevada by Moonlight

The landscape of Nevada is moonlit, quiet, cold,
salted by snow and peppered by starlight.
Our car follows the highway which cuts a straight
line through the sagebrush moors.

Years ago, I passed along I-80 and saw Nevada
in the sun...dirty grey, garish and and hostile,
littered with high security prisons, casino-run towns,
weapons test sites, toxic waste dumps and too much of not enough.

But tonight, in the moonlight, the light of the full
moon, under a curtain of stars, Nevada's wasteland
looks like a wonderland. The highway is lined
by haunting craggy mountain silhouettes, casting
moon shadows on valleys blanketed with silvery
sagebrush and dotted by lonely dark towns.

See Nevada by moonlight. See Nevada painted
by a pallet of shades of grey and violet, shadows
and stars, cool satin moonshine. See Nevada
as an outline, a hint or clue, a mystery
to be left unsolved under the falling snow.

Katie and I make camp in in Nevada

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Old Crow Medicine Show
Busking for tickets
Bread from spent grains

FOD steam roller print

Carving pumkins
Camel on my bikeride
Fishing on Flathead Lake with Dad and Isabella
Fall in Missoula is about to wind down. But it has been nothing but sunshine for the past month...glorious. I attempted fishing Montana style with my dad and half-sister. We got skunked but Isabella and I got in a good skinny dip and we feasted on smoked salmon that I caught in Ak.

I made my way to Seattle to visit Sarah Patrick and went on several really cool and really long bike rides. I saw a couple of camels, yes camels and figured that they must be rotting away in the wet and rainy pacific northwest climate. I spent Halloween there and had several different pumpkin ales from several different local breweries and found them all to be wonderful. My favorite was the Great Pumpkin, an imperial pumpkin ale for the Elysian. Sarah and I carved pumpkins and then later carved them up again for a pumpkin soup. It may or may not have been a hit with her family.

When I got back to Missoula, I jumped into the Festival of the Dead activities and stayed dry in the pouring rain with my new rain jacket. Some friends of mine got so cold during the pre parade performance and the parade that they ducked out before the dancing in Caras park. I stayed warm and dry in my jacket!!!! If you know me at all, you know that this is quite the anomaly. I am the "reptile," the one who is always cold. On another note, for the first time, I was a spectator instead of a dancer in the FOD. It was fun but a bit sad. Later, I won my first silent auction bid and I won about 12 postcard size skeleton steam roller prints. I was more than happy to win them as well as support next year's FOD.

I brewed a dunkleweizen with a recipe that I formulated myself!!! I put a lot of stress and worry into the concoction. There is a lot to think about such as water pH and mineral content, types of grains used and at what temperature you mash them and what hops to use and when to add them as well as what yeast to use as whether or not you should prime them...and the list goes on and on. I finally settled on

Diabolical Dunkleweizen
7 lbs dark wheat malt extract
1lb Chocolate malt
1lb Belgian Pale
1lb Munich Malt
2 oz Hallertaur hops
wheat beer yeast

Then I made bread, flour and granola from the spent grains. The bread with spent grains and spent grains flour was awful. The bread with white flour and spent grains was great as was the granola. A friend of mine brought over about 25 lbs of spent grains from his wee heavy Scottish ale and I made three more batches of granola: Cinnamon, chai and pumpkin.

Perhaps the most notable occurence in the past couple of weeks was last Saturday when the Old Crow Medicine Show came to town. Their tickets sold out months and months ago and second hand tickets have been impossible to find. So Crazy Lisa and I spent half the day with signs around our necks that said "will pay and sing for OCMS tickets." We planned to camp out in front of the Wilma two hours before the show and play Wagon Wheel with her mandolin and my guitar until someone sold us a ticket. We started the evening at the Top Hat, however, because a friend had tipped me off that the band had hung out there before their previous show in Missoula. We sat around the Top Hat with our signs and instruments and had a lot of sympathizers, some looking for tickets others who had tickets and still others who thought we were brave as can be to offer to play for a ticket. They bought us beer. No tickets though. At around 5:30 we went to a friend's bon fire to practice and while there Joy's roommate sold us two tickets. We were so happy and relieved to have tickets. However, I still wanted to follow through with our plan just for memories and perhaps to get a tickets for friends who were still looking for them. It was really cold but we set up in front of the Wilma and played Wagon Wheel over and over. The folks lining up to enter had a grand time listening to us and singing along. No one seemed to catch on to the fact that we were looking for tickets and we saw many tickets exchange hands but no one approached us, the cute girls actually showing what big of fans we really were. Finally, we were overcome with cold and excitement and we entered the show. We missed a couple of songs but had a great time nonetheless. They only played for about 2 and half hours and so we had a lot of evening to kill after the show. While filling up our water glasses at the Old Post, I spotted two members of the band having dinner. I grabbed Crazy and we thanked them for coming to Missoula. They thanked us without even looking up. Wow, way to foster good fan relations. While on the way back to our table we ran into a third member and we thanked him as well. He greeted us with sarcasm and then ducked into the bathroom. But no matter, I still love them!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Concord grapes, swiss chard and garlic and squash and carrot soup with cilantro...all missoula grown!
K.C, my cat
enough pears to produce a gallon of juice
from left to right: pear, apple, grape

one of the PEAS farm pigs, my dad's pigs' sibling

My cats, K.C. and Tunes
I have been home for a week or so now and have collected quite a bit of fruit and veggies from my various and sundry hot spots. I spent and evening canning pickled beets and salsa. I have been experimenting with different grape jellys. I pressed 3 gallons of apple juice, one gallon of grape juice and one gallon of pear juice. I made cyser, a sweet apple honey wine, with some of the apple juice.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We brave the wind...

My sign with a plea for a ride
Kimberly, who met everyone on the ferry!

Matt dropped me off at the Skagway ferry terminal Friday evening in the rain. I had to call him back because my water bottle had escaped into his truck. When I finally had all my belongings and my boarding pass, I got on the ferry and quickly found the solarium, a covered, heated area on the top deck of the ferry where the young, or at least the restless, camp out. The solarium has windowed walls on three sides and is open to the rear. It is water-tight, for the most part and their are lots of chairs and reclining deck chairs to sleep on. I set up a place right under a heat lamp. From Skagway to Juneau there were only 5 of us in the solarium. One person had set up a tent on the deck in the open and it was getting pummeled with rain and wind. There were a lot of folks that got on in Skagway and Haines that were ferrying to Juneau to fly the rest of the way home. I explored the ferry and took in the views. However, I had boarded the ferry in the dark and their wasn't much of a view to be had, plus it was raining hard. I cozied up in my sleeping bag fairly early.

The ferry docked in Haines at 9pm Monday night and left around 11 pm. We reached Juneau at 3 am and left at around 5 am Tuesday morning. I wasn't really too awake but the next morning, there were a lot more people and tents on the upper deck. I wandered the ferry, drank a lot of tea, walked laps, looked at the scenery, read and chatted with fellow passengers. By the time we reached Sitka at around 2:30 pm, I had met several interesting people. Ferry passengers who were interested in going to Sitka could pay 10 bucks for a round trip shuttle bus. So most of us did and were given a fairly good bang for our buck; 24 miles and a lively driver who filled us in on all the local gossip and history. My friend Chris and I found a run down bar with black and white photos of boats on the wall and hung out there for an hour before we had to shuttle back to the ferry.
The ferry ride to and from Sitka was really pretty. The channel was fairly narrow. As you can see on the map, the ferry must go three hours out of its way to get to Sitka so we spent most of Tuesday just getting to Sitka and back to the main route. I hung out at the bar that evening with William and Jen, the bar tenders and a couple who had worked as fishing guides in Cooper Landing. William had the latest Journey video so we watched that for a good while. Sunday morning was beautiful and I spent most of the day wandering about the ferry. By evening, I had met a good contingent of folks on the ferry and we were all in the same boat, literally. We had just finished up a season of summer work and were headed to the next thing; gypsies and wanderers all, we came together easily and freely and opened ourselves more truly and genuinely and for those remaining hours on the ferry, we were the best of friends. About 10 of us ran wild on the ferry, playing music and singing, dancing and laughing, flying kites and playing hackey sack. We were all near each other in the solarium and shared our food and spirits. We were all traveling alone, we had all just said good bye and were turning our heads to the new horizon and wanted one last way to commemorate our summers, one last epic hurrah before moving on. Transitions are subtly taxing. Saying goodbye is never easy, nor is saying hello. But the emotions are masked by the elation and excitement of leaving; leaving behind the stuff you didn't like and leaving for something new while everyone else continues with the old. The excitement of having had a great time and knowing that you made it that way.
The ferry made stops in Wrangall and Petersburg during the night. I did get up and make a call to Sarah at Petersburg because she spent her own epic summer working at a cannery there. We arrived in Ketchikan Wednesday afternoon and were able to get off the ferry and explore town. My posse and I headed for the nearest bar because at this time of the year, after the last cruise ship has left port, nothing else is open. I felt a little stir crazy and so left my pals at the bar to walk furiously around the town and stretch my legs. The company on the ferry was sure great but the lack of space to move around was a little difficult to deal with. Back on the ferry and moving, the wind picked up and the waves swelled. We were going through open sea and we walked around the outside of the ferry and tried to fly in the wind at the prow. Someone flew a rainbow colored kite and it flashed festively in the setting sun. That evening I danced my heart out.
After leaving Ketchikan, we made no stops until Bellingham;36 hours straight. I had made a sign that said I needed a ride from Bellingham to Missoula that I wore around. A logger from Florence offered me a ride. As the ferry approached Bellingham Friday morning we were scattered...packing up, trying to close up business, say goodbye, organize rides. And as quickly and as easily as it had started, so it ended. We all went our separate directions. Harvey the innovator and thinker...on to a new documentary. Mark and his Port Townsend and then what? Chris to Utah to do some ski patrol and Kimberly to Arizona to woo m ore men and just be awesome. Darren, Mary, Bear and the to do their thing and then there is the banjo player who taught me Wagon Wheel on both the banjo and guitar. I hope he realizes what a gift he has given me. I hope all of my ferry folk realize how wonderful it was to not be alone, how wonderful it was to sing and dance and chat and how wonderful it was to be with a gypsy band once again!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Kassiks Brewery

Kenai River Brewery

A finished mural from a past festival.

This year's mural in progress

Seward, Anchorage, Tok, Haines Junction, Whitehorse, Skagway

Matinuska Glacier

I own the empty town of Skagway

Skagway Brewery