Saturday, December 22, 2012

December 2012 Blizzard Cleanup

It took me about 9 hours of shoveling over the last 3 days and I still have the roof to rake.  This blizzard was not as bad as the one in February 2011.  Click here if you want to compare.  Enjoy the pictures and be happy your not digging out.

I had a 3 foot drift just under the roof line that was just a little to close to the furnace inlet and outlet, so I opened up the area.

The roof needs to be raked tomorrow.  The roof vents are on the snow covered side.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2012 Winter's First Blizzard

I woke up to this at my back door at 4 AM.  I can walk out my front door without shoveling it until I walk off the porch.  We still have more snow coming with 45 mile/hr winds in the afternoon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Banff National Park: Continental Divide to Lake Louise

Visita Lake
After leaving Kootenay National Park, I started looking for a camping site while taking pictures. The Canadian’s Parks do mark their campgrounds but I had trouble finding them.  My first stop was about 2 kilometers into Banff at Visita Lake Stop Viewpoint.  The lake is a beautiful greenish blue from the glacier's silt.  I shot many pictures of mountains with glaciers but I could not identify any of them.

Visita Lake Stop: View of the Mountains along the Continental Divide
I then drove on to Castle Junction, found a place to stop and take close up of Castle Mountain (I also saw them referenced as Castle Cliffs).  For a short period after World War II the Canadian government renamed Castle Mountain after General Eisenhower in honor of his service during the War.  The names was changed back but the first peak on the mountain is still named after General Eisenhower.

South end of Castle Mountain: Eisenhower Peak is to the left and named after General Eisenhower.
Castle Mountain peaks right to left: Eisenhower peak on right edge, Brewer Buttress peak, Base Buttress, Cairn Summit and the dip is called Descent Gully.
I kept moving north toward Lake Louis with no luck in finding a campsite.  Storm Mountain Viewpoint was the next stop. 

Storm Mountain and Bow River in the lower left corner.
Storm Mountain Outlook: Another beautiful view of more mountains with the Bow River in the foreground.
There was one campsite between Storm Mountain and Lake Louis but I must have missed the signed.  I stopped at Outlet Creek Viewpoint and admired the view.  If you are a railroad buff you can get a good view of Morant's Curve.  This S-shaped curve was made famous by Photographer Nicholas Morant for his pictures of trains on this curve.

Outlet Creek Outlook:  You can see a small section of Morant's Curve in the right corner.  Fairview Mountain on right edge.  Saddle Mountain is the closes.  Mount Whyte between Fairmount and Saddle.  Mount Arberdeen the large one in the center.  I am not sure about the mountain on the left, it might be Mount Temple.
After taking more pictures I was hoping to end my trip in Lake Louise campgrounds but was flagged down by people standing outside their cars watching a grizzly on the roadside.  I stop and got a very poor picture of the bear.  There was no way I was getting out of my car for a better shot. In an email I wrote my brother and sister about the bear and people below: 
  • I know you asked me to take pictures of the animals in the Park. So far I seen two eagles in a dead tree, a deer (I think), and a grizzly bear. The first two were scared away before I could take any pictures. I did get some grizzly bear shoots but none you want to paint. The real pictures I should have taken were of the people and how they behave when try to get a picture of the bear. People were getting out of their cars walking too close to the bear and the cars were blocking the highway so no one could get through. The bear was only interested in eating what he found in the grass and just wanted to put the fat on before winter. He finally reared up warning the people to back off. I am surprise no one got hurt since they were acting so stupid. Soon after that the car that was blocking me in moved so I could keep moving toward Lake Louis.

A Grizzly Bear: The large hump on its back identifies this bear as a grizzly.

Finally the people and cars moved out of my way so I could keep traveling to the campsite.  I turned into Lake Louise Village not long after seeing the bear and try to find the campsite.  I pasted the campsite entrance and ended up at the lake's parking lot and walked around thinking the campsite might be nearby.  The lake is very crowded late the evening.  I turn around heading back toward the village and then made a wrong turn in the Valley of the Ten Peak.  I found a section wide enough to make a u-turn but would not recommend anyone else doing it.  When I finally found the campground it was filled and needed to find a motel room for the night. 

3rd Floor view from my room at Lake Louise Inn.  Mountain names left to right: Mount Temple, Saddle Mountain, Sheol Mountain behind and to the right of Saddle, and Fairview Mountain.
Lake Louis Inn View
I pulled into a motel expecting to be told they were all filled up but I got lucky the person at the desk could not believe the 3rd floor in one of the buildings was empty.  That night I slay at Lake Louise Inn.  The building I slay in had no elevator but I was happy just to have a place to sleep.  The views from the 3rd floor were just something else and what a bonus.

Mount Hector from Lake Louise Inn

The next day, July 6, was a busy and wonderful day.  I made the decision that I was going to stop and hike some short trails.  I took way too many pictures of mountains, waterfalls and many different types of animals.  I only traveling from Lake Louise to Jasper and that will be the next adventure to write about.

Victoria Glacier from the 3rd floor of Lake Louise Inn

Closeup of Saddle Mountain (left), Sheol Mountain and Fairview Mountain (right edge) from Lake Louise Inn.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Craigslist find: 3/4 oak bed

Here is the bed.  The other pillow was being washed.
For a week I was admiring this bed on Craigslist and trying to figure out where I could find room to put it.  The last few months I have been wanting to change back the front bedroom from a TV/sitting room to a bedroom.  The problem was my small house is stuffed with furniture and I need to decide what I am willing to depart with and I am still finding that hard to do.  I finely made the decision to ask if it was still available after Thanksgiving and made an appointment to see it on November 30th after work.  The bed was in good shape and the 3/4 bed is large enough for a visitor to sleep on.  I also have a queen size sleeper sofa in the living room which my brother has been sleeping on during his visits.  The gentleman who showed me the bed offer to deliver it on Sunday for an extra $45 which I accepted since I was trying to figure out how I was going to tie the mattress and frame to the roof rack.  The extra money was worth it so I would not have to move it on my own.

I spent the all Saturday moving furniture around to find room for the bed.  I finely found a configuration I liked for the living room.  It feels cozier and there is a lot more sitting area when family comes to visit. 

The new living room arrangement.
I moved the desk into the guest bedroom and just had enough room for the bed.  The hope chest was moved from the living room into my room.  Maestro love sitting on it looking out the window.  There used to be a wicker plant in front of that window I found a place for it in the living room behind the round end table.  The stand in front of the living room windows moved to where I had the hope chest and the second gold wing chair in the bedroom got moved to the basement waiting for me to decide what to do it.  Mom got first call on the chairs since she ask me to remember her if I wanted to part with one of them.

Maestro enjoying the outside.
Sunday morning all I needed to do was to setup the bed frame and help move the mattress and its frame on it.  The finishing touch was to made the bed.  I also got a mattress pad and one set of sheets for the 3/4 bed.  Now I would like to find more 3/4 sheet and maybe a nice green goose down comforter for it.

Canadian Rockies: Kootenay National Park

Kootenay Valley Outlook

Sinclair Canyon

I reached Kootenay National Park at 2 PM. The entrance park starts at in a city call Radium Hot Springs.  There is a fee costing $9.80 in Canadian dollars.  It was only a day pass for all the Canadian Rockies Mountains parks.  This includes Kootenay, Banff, Jasper and Yoho since the borders of each park are against each other.  Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine and Hamber provincial parks are also located in the system.  The combined parks have been declared a UNESCO site.  I spent two days in the area exploring Kootenay, Banff, Jasper and Mount Robson parks.

The road I will be traveling is call Banff-Windermere Highway (Hwy 93 south).  The road ends at Castle Junction where it meets the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A).  Once you pass the park entrance you enter a narrow passage called Sinclair Canyon.  This canyon was original to narrow for wagons and the first owner of the hot spring used dynamite to enlarge the opening for wagons and tourist easy access to the springs.  Settlers Road was the main route used to enter Kootenay Valley before Sinclair Canyon was widened.  The road still can be traveled today but it is not paved. 

Lake Cobb Trail Parking Lot heading toward Kootenay Valley Outlook
Next stop is the park’s bathing pools fill from Radium Hot Spring waters. The spring is covered over with cement pools.  I stopped in the hot spring parking lot but decided that I would rather visit a natural hot spring than a paved over one.  This hot spring does have a small concentration of radium in it but the concentration is safe too bath in and the sulfur concentration is low enough not to smell like a rotten egg.

Kootenay Valley with Mitchell Range Mountains
Driving down the road going east you travel through Sinclair Pass.  I pulled over twice to take pictures everyone should stop at Kootenay Valley Viewpoint.  You can get a great look at the valley and the Mitchell Range.  After leaving the viewpoint I descended into Kootenay River Valley and stopped at one of the picnic areas along the river.  The river water was filled with glacier silt giving the water a grayish color.
Kootenay River Picnic Area

Another view of the Kootenay River
I made several stop in the valley Dolly Varden picnic area, Hector Gorge and Sir George Simpson Marker.  The scenery is breathtaking at every turn which is most likely why I love traveling in the mountains. 

Entrance to Dolly Varden Picnic Area

Hector Gorge

The view from Sir George Simpson Marker
I did not have much time to explore this park since it was late in the day but I did do to little exploring at Numa Creek Picnic Area.  Just a short walk from the parking area is Numa Falls. 
Numa Falls

Numa Falls


Numa Falls

Numa Falls

The last stop I made before leaving the park was at Stanley Glacier parking lot to photograph more mountains.

Stanley Glacier Trail Parking Lot

Note the post will not let me put any picture in it.  I will finish this in Canadian Rockies: Kootenay National Park II.  

Canadian Rockies: Kootenay National Park II

Mt Whymper from Stanley Glacier Trail Parking Lot
 I reached the Continental Divide at 4:45 PM which marks the end of Kootenay and the start of Banff.  Here is where I will stop the next part of my trip will be about Banff National Park from the Continental Divide to Lake Louis.

Continental Divide: Looking back at Kootenay National Park

Continental Divide: Look toward Banff National Park.  I think the mountain is called Castle Mountain.

Continental Divide is the end of Kootenay Park and the beginning of Banff
Note: Sorry it took so long to write about Kootenay but I first want to read more about the park.  The best book I found is Kootenay National Park by Bob Hahn.  The author worked at Kootenay as a naturalist and it an excellent story teller.  The book written is in four sections the first is about the history of the park, the second about the road traveling through the park, third section is on wildlife and the fourth about the Columbia Valley.  The second section is just great is given an in depth description and mileage marker (or a should say kilometer) of trails, lookouts, picnic and camping area in the park.

Here a list of things I wish I knew about before traveling there and someday hope to see: Paint Pots, Marble Canyon, Rockwall trail, Floe Lake, Olive Lake, Redwall Fault and many others.

The book was hard to find but worth it!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Little of This and a Little of That

In between posting I have been working on crossing things off my winter preparation list.  Examples are:
  • Changing out the wooden screen to storm windows
  • Cleaning out gutters after the white pine sheds all it pine needles.  Every year in the first half of October my White Pines have anywhere from a third of its needles turn yellow and fall off the tree and clog my gutters.  This year I filled five 5-gallon buckets of pine needles from the gutters.
  • Putting a tarp over the air conditioner unit.  I have central air and most people do not need to cover this unit but I do.  The reason I cover my unit  if I need to rake the snow off the roof this winter, the air conditioner unit is located near enough to the roof edge that snow falling of the roof into the unit could cause the fan blades to bend.  That could cause a problem on the motor and destroy it.  So I cover it to void any repair cost.
  • In an earlier posting “Living Room Curtains”, I show on set of curtains I finished putting a hem in.   I finished the second set in upholstery class except for hanging them and putting in the hem.   The unfinished curtains have been sitting in the dining since June and I finally found time to hem and hang them before Thanksgiving.   Having guests for the holiday always moves items up on the “TO DO LIST”.  Here is the finished project.

The living room new curtain completed.  Forgive the antenna hanging off the
curtain rod but this is the only way I can get good reception.
  • The garden been through several frosts since I pulled most of my garden in September but I did leave the all the Brussels sprouts, broccoli, 2 cauliflowers and 1 cabbage in the garden.  The weekend before Thanksgiving I harvested all those plants.  The cauliflower did not do well this year because of the drought so the heads were small.  There was enough broccoli left for two serving and an 8-inch head of red cabbage.  I have a second one in the refrigerator so my mother was the beneficiary of this cabbage.  I planted 6 Brussels sprouts plants.  The two Long Island Improved plants did poorly and one plant never formed heads.  I harvested the smaller leaved off that plants and sauté them with caramelized onion for Thanksgiving, MMM.  The Falstaff Brussels sprout did fair only forming small heads.  Jade Cross variety did the best these plants were the best producing variety I ever planted for Brussels sprouts.  I am not going to plant any Long Island variety next year.  I will still plant Falstaff because of the beautiful purple color and they taste good.  I spent the weekend after Thanksgiving blanching and freezing the sprouts.
  • Since the weather is turning cold and we had several raining weekends I did a through cleaning of the house.  Pulled up the rugs and moving furniture to wash the floor and dust and molding before Thanksgiving.  I needed to look good since Mom was coming for Thanksgiving.  The rest of the family was working over the holiday or going to theirs partner’s family event.
Revised end of  year “HOUSE TO DO LIST”
  • Cover up the 3 season porch windows with plastic inside and out.  Outside is done but this weekend I will be straightening up the porch and working on the windows.
  • Finished painting the basement floor with waterproof paint.  YES that DAMN basement still, excuse my language but I am sick of working on it.  Is this the 5th or 6th year I been working it?  Who knows!  Now that we are in the holiday season I will not be able to finish this until next year but I do plan on beginning work again in December.
Those two items are enough to work on until my new 2013 TO DO IT LIST comes out.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Spicy Apple Upside Down Cake

I developed this recipe because I was not happy with the upside down cake recipes I tried for the Halloween Party at work.  I was not happy with it because the cake was just bland.  The people at work seems to like it but it did not meet my standards.  So I looked up several different types of Apple Upside Down Cake recipes and borrowed from them.  The most interesting was a recipe which used a boxed spice cake and that is the direction I took for the cake layer.  This cake is full of flavor and I also decide that I would be decadent by not going low fat or skipping on the sugar.  I recommend using Vietnamese Cinnamon because it is very flagrance and taste great in any recipe.


Spicy Apple Upside Down Cake


Apple Mixture

4 cups peeled and sliced apples; I used a mixture of Ginger Gold and Wolf River Apples.
1 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger


Bottom Layer

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 pound whole pecans
Apple Mix


Cake Mix

1-3/4 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup butter soften
1 cup sugar
1 egg beaten
1 cup unsweetened applesauce


1.  Peel and slice 4 cups of apples and place them in a heavy pot.  Add cider, cinnamon and ginger to the pot.  Cook the apples over medium heat until soften but try not to over cook where they are no longer slices.  If some break up that is OK it will still taste great.  Turn off the heat when soften and allow the liquid to absorb into the apples.
2.  Grease a 9"x13" pan, line with parchment paper and grease the paper.  Spread 1 cup brown sugar and the whole pecans evenly over bottom.  Pour cooled apple mixture into the cake pan and spread it evenly.
3.  Preheat the oven to 350F. 
4.  Sift together the first 7 ingredients from the Cake Mix and put to the side. 
5.  Cream sugar and butter together.  Add beaten egg and applesauce and mix it.  Add about 1/4 of the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix between each addition.  Once thoroughly mixed pour mixture into the cake pan and spread evenly.
6.  Place pan in oven for approximately 1 hour or until toothpick come out clean. 
Allow cake to cool.  The cake will be easy to turn out of the pan with the parchment.  Once cake is plated remove the paper. 
7.  Cut into pieces and serve with whipped cream.
Serves 16

This recipe was developed using the Culinary Art Institutes Encyclopedic Cookbook, 1974 Edition and a online recipe using a boxed spice cake.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cheddar-Tomato Pie

Here another recipe my Mother gave me.  It is unusual way to use tomatoes but the pie is very good.  The original recipe just use fresh sliced tomatoes but I decided to roast the tomatoes which I believed intensified the flavor.  I served this dish with any green vegetable (pea pods, broccoli, beans, or beet greens), a mixed leaf salad and cottage cheese.

Cheddar-Tomato Pie

2    12"pie shells
2    lbs plum tomatoes (about 11 medium) roasted and peeled.
1/4 cup snipped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil.
1    cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1/2 cup mayonnaise or low-fat salad dressing
2    tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is best)
1/2 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese (2 oz)

Slice the plum tomatoes in half and place cut side down in a lipped pan.  Turn on boiler and place pan with tomatoes under the burner.  Turn pan every few minutes until the skin begins to blacken.  Remove pan from boiler and pull skin off the tomato pulp.  Transfer pulp into a colander and allow the excess liquid to drain off.  The pie will have too much liquid if the pulp is not allow to drain.  I would save the liquid and add it to a stew or chili.

Roll out a 12" pie shell and transfer to pie pan.  Prepare a second pie shell for the top and set aside.  Spoon the tomato pulp into the pie pan and sprinkle with basil.  Top with 1-cup cheese.  In a small bowl stir mayonnaise and lemon juice.  Spoon over the tomatoes.  Top with the remaining cheese.

Place second pie shell on top and seal the edges by making a scallop edge.  Cut slits in pie top.  To prevent  over browning, cover edges of pie with foil.  Bake in a 375F oven 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for other 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Canada Here I Come!

The temperature was in the upper 30’s when I woke up early at Tully Lake Campgrounds.  I knew the temperature was going to be cold the night before so I went to bed wearing long underwear and flannel pajamas.  I was nice and warm in my down sleeping bag.  Only four nights ago I took off my tent fly for the night because it was too hot.  The weather in the mountains is much colder in July.

The Northern Edge of Canal Flats
I crossed the Canadian border around 9 AM north of Eureka, MT on Thursday, July 5th.  This was the first time I crossed into Canada since a passport was required to return back to US.  The border guard asked the usually questions, "What do you have to protect yourself with".  The guard did not seem happy with my answer, "Myself" and started listed all sorts of weapons which I answers, "NO".  The next question was where I was going to visit.  So here is my agenda for traveling through Canada up to Alaska.  Kootenay, Banff and Jasper National Parks then travel west on Canada's Yellowhead Highway, Hwy 16, to Stewart Cassiar Highway, Hwy 37, where it connects to the Alaska Highway just north of Watson Lake and up the Alaska Highway to the State of Alaska after that he finally flagged me through.

It was an interesting listening to Canadian CBC News programs while driving toward Kootenay National Park.  I knew the Midwest in the US was just in the beginnings of its worst drought since the 1930s but I was unaware that area west of the Rockies in Canada and Alaska were having record rainfall causing masses flooding.  I was aware that the Alaska Highway was shut down in mid-June due to a record rain fall on snow packed mountains which caused a flash flood but did not know that it was region wide.  The Alaska highway was closed for 5 days in June between Watson Lake and Whitehorse.  I consider myself lucky that I did not encounter any problems from the excess rains during my trip north.

Columbia Lake
My first stop was on the north edge of Canal Flats on Hwy 93/95.  The wetlands and mountains in the picture was the reason I stop.  I did not know that the Columbia River headwaters were located very near here and you can hike to it on a trail called "Source of the Columbia Greenway" located in Canal Flats.  The research I did on Canal Flats came up with some interesting information.  The Columbia and Kootenay Rivers are only a mile apart from this location.  Canal Flats is on a geographical high point where the Columbia flows north and the Kootenay flows south.  A canal was build between the two rivers just when rail was taking over and rivers were no longer the highway for commerce.

The Old Coach Trail runs betweeen Radium Hot Springs and Dry Gulch along Hwy 93/95.
I stopped for lunch at a rest stop a few miles north of Canal Flats with a great view of Columbia Lake.  After lunch I kept traveling north along Hwy 93/95 admiring the meadows that lay between the mountains and Columbia River.  I took a break from driving at turnout near Dry Gulch this is the southern trail head for the "Old Coach Trail".  I walk around a little to stretch my legs and take pictures.  The north trail head starts in Radium Hot Springs and is a 9 km (6 mile) walking or biking trail that runs along the Columbia River.  If I had the time it would have been fun to do a little hiking.  I found a pamphlet for anyone who might like to hike it one day.

Mountains from the Old Coach Trail
The Overlook above Radium Hot Springs with the
Columbia River flowing along side.
I left "Old Coach Trail" head and continue north on Hwy 93/95 to Radium Hot Springs.  Just before reaching Radium Hot Spring there is a large rest area which overlooks the Columbia River and the town below.  Looking down you can see great white cliffs along the river it makes for an interesting picture. Radium Hot Spring is where Kootenay National Park begins.  I reached the entrance at 2 PM and will tell my adventure through Kootenay Park in the next blog.

Another view from the Overlook above Radium Hot Springs