June 2008July 2008 August 2008

07/28 - Luau 2008

We should have posted sooner, but we were busy with our nearly annual Hawaiian luau. This year we built a cupcake heiau, incredibly loosely modeled after an old Hawaiian temple. As usual, we had lau lau, which is actually Hawaiian, and ahi tuna sushi, which is more Japanese. We also explored a new part of the Pacific Rim with a Balinese dish, chicken cooked in banana leaves. It was a surprise hit and a great way to use up all that turmeric root and galangal we had lying around.

You can find out more about the mechanics of the feast on our luau page.

The Cupcake Heiau with icings and toppings

Luau fixings: ahi tuna sushi, edamame, lau lau and Balinese chicken in banana leaves

Served in a skull

Keywords: hawaii, luau

07/26 - Trampoline Tower

Here it is, the latest addition to our K'Nex menagerie. We've finally built the last of the great "big builds", the Trampoline Tower. The balls ride up the chain in the center and come down along the various pathways, including a few leaps into one of the two hoppers. The eponymous action involves the two symmetric trampolines above the middle hopper. The balls take a big bounce right in the middle of things. We've been busy, what with the Hawaiian Luau and all, but we should have video at some point.

Keywords: science, art, k'nex

07/23 - Another OED Failure

We had another Oxford English Dictionary failure today. Not only does the supposedly most comprehensive dictionary of the English language have words it has no definitions for, but it also lacks definitions for perfecty reasonable words. For example, everyone has heard of ships being "clinker built", meaning that their boards overlap in construction. What is another method of construction? That's obvious; it's "cravel built". Ask any seaman. What does cravel mean? Well, don't ask the OED. It doesn't have a definition, nor does our Funk and Wagnall's. (That's a real dictionary, not just a Rowan and Martin's Laugh In punch line). What's even worse is that the jack craven are a type of game fish, though good luck finding them in any dictionary. You're more likely to find them off the coast of Guatemala. So, what's the word of the day? It's "cravel", and good luck finding out what it means.

Keywords: science, art, kale

07/22 - Lake Angeles, At Last

We never made it all the way up to Lake Angeles in 2007, so we were determined to do so this year. Our early attempts were blocked by fallen trees, particularly a long stretch just after the stream crossing. Now that those trees have been cleared by our noble park service, we can report success. The Kalebergs have landed, or something.

The climb was 2380' from the parking lot to the camp site by the lake. There were a few downed trees in the camp site, but we managed to get to the lake. The lake is in a deep bowl surrounded by mountains, so the views of the high ridges above were spectacular. These photos do not do it justice. We waded into the lake a bit. The water was quite cold which was not surprising for a lake fed by melting snow. Though most of the snow has melted, we could still see patches of it, and waterfalls of icy water making their way lakeward.

Downed trees at the Lake Angeles camp site

Indian pipes

Keywords: lake angeles, flowers, kale, waterfall

07/18 - Hurricane Hill Update

This is just a quick update on Hurricane Hill. It has been a spectacular year for flowers. The phlox is passing, but the roses are out and the corn lilies are getting ready. As for the trail, the snow is gone, and the views are amazing.

There is no more snow on the trail. Just two weeks ago there was over a foot of snow here.

The hanging gardens are near their peak.

You can't get away from the lupines.

Even more lupines

We aren't sure what these are, but they are pretty.

The roses are out.

The corn lilies are not blooming yet, but they show promise.

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill

07/15 - Seen In Seattle

We aren't really sure of what to say about this sign. We didn't see any squirrels, but clearly someone has a squirrel problem.

Drivers Stop for squirrels

Keywords: seattle

07/15 - Klahane Ridge

The Klahane Ridge hike is one of the most spectacular in Olympic National Park. From the ridge there are views north of the Dungeness Spit, the San Juan Islands, Mount Baker and points beyond, and views south of the Olympic Mountains, including Mount Olympus with its Blue Glacier. It is a 1450' climb through hanging gardens and alpine meadows and, while exhausting, every step is rewarding.

We start the hike from Hurricane Ridge Road a mile or two before the lodge at Hurricane Ridge. A part of the road collapsed near the trailhead, so there is a bit of construction and a bit less parking there. The little stream near the road is now hidden behind a mound of road material, but it is still there, as is the umbrella tree forest and the meadows and gardens above.

This year there was more moisture, so the flowers are spectacular with great spikes of lupine, arrays of turk's cap lilies, gauntlets of cow parsnips, fields of indian paintbrush and great swathes of richly scented phlox. Summer has come to the high country. The snow has vanished, and the hanging gardens are in bloom. We can tell already that this is going to be a great year for the mountain flowers.

Melting snow, Dungeness Spit, the San Juan Islands and points north

A field of phlox

The Olympic Mountains as seen from Klahane Ridge

Lush alpine meadows

A glorious year for the flowers

The hanging gardens

Some lupines by the trail

Keywords: flowers, high country, hurricane ridge, klahane ridge, mount baker

07/09 - Second Beach: To The Seastack

We've been visiting Second Beach for a number of years now, so we've been tantalized by the big seastack that lurks offshore just a bit south of the trailhead inland. Since we usually visit Second Beach at low tide, it often seems as if we could just walk right out to this seastack. Of course, every time we have approached we have found a channel of water blocking us. Sometimes it is fairly wide, but other times we are thwarted by a mere ten feet of choppy water of uncertain depth and current.

This July 9th was different. This time no confounding body of water appeared as we approached the seastack. Yes, the sand was wet, but we were able to approach the base of the seastack dryshod. The low tide was 0.8 feet, but we had been to Second Beach with lower tides. It took a combination of low tide and sand flow to create the miraculous sandbar we traversed.

The base of the seastack was a jewel box of mussles and barnicles and lesser shells, here and there decorated with dazzling star fish. There were little caves, some worn into the stone and plain, others decorated like the seastack base. We made our way around the seastack, away from the beach. By carefully timing the waves we made it to the small beach between the large landward seastack and the smaller seastack behind it. We explored a bit, admiring our own adventurousness, our good fortune, and the wonderful scenery.

Not ones to press our luck, we made our way back after a brief sojourn, and explored the beachward face of the seastack. We have seen people climbing seastacks, and we considered climbing this one, but we Kalebergs have more the grace of gazebos than gazelles, so we settled for a sea level tour.

Our return to the beach along the sandbar was straightforward. This is just as well. We always like to be able to retrace our steps. We then explored Second Beach to the south, wandering about the Pirate Cave and gawking at anemones in the various tidepools. When we returned to the sandbar that led to the seastack the tide had risen. A fair bit of the sandbar was already submerged. We had seized our opportunity. Time and tide, we knew, wait for no man.

Our miraculous sandbar

Seastacks are each a little world, isolated from our own. High above us grow forests, grasses, vines and, so we have been told, wild strawberries.

Our treacherous passage to the seaward seastack showing the mosaic of shells lining the base of the seastack.

A mysterious cave

A decorated cave

The surface is studded with shells and adorned with starfish.

More starfish waiting out the tide

Keywords: beaches, second beach, tides, kale

07/06 - The Official Olympic National Park Trail Status Page

No, it's not at our site; it's maintained by the government at http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/wilderness-trail-conditions.htm. If you are serious about hiking the high country, or just curious, that's the go to page.

Keywords: high country

07/06 - Lake Angeles Trail Update

We hadn't been making much headway on the Lake Angeles Trail. A huge swath of the forest had been knocked down by the winter winds shortly after the river crossing, and the trail was impassable. We'd clamber under and over a few of the great logs, but eventually, we gave up.

This time was different. The National Park Service has come through armed with chain saws and who knows what else. The trail is clear. We didn't make it all the way up to the lake, but we did get a good start. Other hikers, in better shape than we are, informed us that the lake is clear of snow. Several others were heading up with fishing rods in hand, and one group, heading down, reported swimming. Watch this page for the Kaleberg ascent.

Newly cleared forest

More windfall

The Park Service at work- the trails must roll.

The Pacific dogwood is in bloom.

We aren't sure of what this is. We'll stay tuned.

Keywords: lake angeles, trails, kale

07/06 - Bones Diablo

Sunny Farms has some excellent beef sold under the name of Roger's. You never know what you'll find in their chiller, but it always pays to look. This time it was beef back ribs, which are basically the bones of a prime rib without the boring middle section. Unable to resist, we time warped back to the 1950s, or maybe even earlier, and cooked up some Bones Diablo, sometimes known as Deviled Bones.

This is a distinctly unfashionable dish. It is based on prime rib bones. It contains butter and more butter. It makes a Carnegie Deli pastrami sandwich look like a dietary treat. A small portion has enough fat to clog nearly 623,451 aortas. We love it. For safety reasons, you probably can't find a recipe for it in any modern cookbook. In fact, searching Google for "bones diablo" recipe gets you nothing.

We have an old James Beard party cookbook, so we're all good to go. We toasted up the bread crumbs, melted the butter, boiled the tarragon vinegar, roasted the bones and cooked down the veal stock. (Yeah, we have veal stock just sitting around). It didn't take all that long to make. We spiced up the sauce with mustard, worcester sauce, tabasco and lemon juice, and we were soon dining on breaded beef bones.

We are now in a fat induced stupor which will probably last for several weeks, or at least until we get hungry again which may be sooner. Bones Diablo is what beef is meant to be: rich, fatty, and flavorsome. The only known antidote is red wine. For reasons of public safety, we won't include the recipe here, but we may be persuaded to answer discreet inquiries.

An arterial nightmare

Keywords: food, recipe, good to go

07/05 - Expedition: Deer Lake - Fail!

With the success of our Hurricane Hill expedition, we were all set for further high country exploration. We sallied forth to Sol Duc Falls for an assault on Deer Lake, a rocky one thousand, six hundred and fifty feet APL (above parking lot). Our journey began well, particularly the 0.8 miles from the parking lot to the falls which were roaring with the enthusiasm of early summer and a lot of water.

Then, we began our climb, up towards Deer Lake. This trail, if you are unfamiliar with it, ascends slowly at first, and is notable for its rockiness which often leads to battered foot syndrome. Luckily, our running shoes were up to the challenge, so we rolled along nicely, climbing, climbing, ever climbing. It wasn't long before we reached the Canyon Creek crossing, a high bridge over a powerful stream and a great photo op.

We continued. We passed through the lone unrocky section of the trail among the tall trees, and still we ascended. We did not get far. About 200 feet above the bridge, the snow began. Snow may look harmless, but ask Robert Falcon Scott. Rather than suffer his fate, we turned tail, discretion being the better part of valor.

Our lesson learned was simple. The high country is opening, but at its own pace. We'll be back at Sol Duc soon, and in due course Deer Lake will be ours.

Snow: our nemesis

The canyon falls

A late season trillium

Sol Duc Falls

Pacific dogwood in bloom

Keywords: deer lake, high country, hurricane hill, sol duc, summer, trillium

07/01 - Expedition: Hurricane Hill

The Hurricane Hill Trail is not only open, but this may be the best year yet for alpine flowers. There are great banks of phlox, fields of glacier lilies, indian paintbrush, and great stands of lupine. The good snowpack this winter means more water, and the plants are making the most of it. This really looks like a spectacular season for exploring the high country.

As for the trail itself, it is largely clear of snow except for that section shaded by trees that runs from the open area near the Wind The Sculptor sign to The Hamper. (We call it that because it is full of dirty sock plant in the high season). Even that section, perhaps a few hundred feet long, is melting rapidly, and the snow is walkable if you take care.

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Flowers and more flowers

Is this some kind of plover?

Lots of glacier lilies

The north face melting has begun.

Fields of phlox

Keywords: flowers, high country, hurricane hill, summer

June 2008July 2008 August 2008