October 2009November 2009 December 2009

11/27 - Repairs on the Spruce Railroad Trail

The little board bridges near the start of the Spruce Railroad Trail have been repaired and reinforced. We aren't sure who does these things, but thanks for keeping the trail in good shape.

Keywords: spruce railroad

11/24 - Wild Weather on the Morse Creek Trail

The Morse Creek Trail is that section of the Olympic Discovery Trail that runs from Morse Creek west to the town of Port Angeles. It should be a relatively mild trail. It is paved, and it runs through Port Angeles proper and the unincorporated area to the east. In fact, it is a surprisingly wild and open trail since it runs along the Strait of San Juan de Fuca at the base of the bluffs, and there is little access to the trail between where it meets the strait and Hollywood Beach in town.

The recent rains that left much of Clallam County without power for the better part of a week, and claimed the life of one of the brave folks trying to repair things, left their mark on the Morse Creek Trail as well. To start, the creek was swollen and high on its banks. There were twigs and branches all over the trail. More seriously, parts of the bluffs had collapsed sending mud across the trail. There were trees down across the trail in places, and the trail had officially been marked as closed,

Morse Creek - That L shaped branch on the left is covered with water. usually the creek flows well under that branch.

One of the little waterfalls at the top of the bluffs

The trail blocked

The ominous trail

More trees on the trail

Wild waves and great views

An expedition ship searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

Keywords: morse creek, port angeles, waterfall

11/22 - Wild Waters on the Spruce Railroad Trail

Lake Crescent is as high as we've ever seen it. Despite this, we decided to take the Spruce Railroad Trail out a bit and see how far we could get. It wasn't too bad at first. There was a lot of mud and standing water on the slope up to the first tunnel, but otherwise it was easy going to the Punchbowl. The little bridge was a little flooded, but it was just a giant step over the waters separating the trail from the bridge. On the far side of the bridge, however, the entire trail was flooded for a ways. There were actually breakers there. With a bit of timing, we managed to follow the rocky ledge and leap back onto the trail at the far end.

The trail was dry for a bit, though there were a few trees down. Still, there was nothing we couldn't crawl under, clamber over or slink around, but then we got to the little creek. Usually, we can just step over the little creek, but today was different. To start with, there was a little river running down the trail as a warning. We skirted this and made our way to the creek. It was a torrent with quite a waterfall. It was also fast, deep and wide, filling its channel and overflowing a bit. We puttered around deciding if it was worth fording, for there was no way to leap it, and no visible rocks mid-stream. In the end, we decided that we had had enough water for the day. It was time to turn back.

We'll be keeping our eyes on the Spruce Railroad Trail. The high waters can't last forever, and aside from some muds, logs and high water, it is still quite hikable.

A piece of the trail underwater - That's the bridge down around the corner.

More flooded trail - We hugged the rocks and timed the waves.

The "little" creek

The little creek has overflowed a bit.

A lovely waterfall

Someone put this mushroom up here in a niche in the rocks.

A fish caught high and dry

The bridge - That gap is leapable, even by us.

One of several fallen trees

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, trails, waterfall, little river

11/20 - Beef Daube

Beef daube is a wonderful, hearty winter dish. We make a version from Andre Daugin's cookbook. He ran the wonderful Hotel d'France in Auch, the heart of d'Artagnan country. Not only does beef daube, a French beef stew, taste wonderful, it is fun to make. One of the steps is flaming the browned chunks of beef in armagnac, an underappreciated strong spirit. To get a sense of how strong, check out the flames. For a better sense, click on the picture and play the movie.

Click the image for flaming action

Keywords: food

11/18 - Out Of Whiskey Bend

We had the Whiskey Bend trailhead to ourselves. The road was wet, but otherwise in good shape. As we headed out on the trail, we could see the snow covered mountains across the valley, but the trail itself was below the snow line. So on we tromped, past the little seasonal streams, now burbling briskly and the water running in the drainage channels at the side of the trail.

Most of the decidious trees have lost their leaves, though a few still glowed brightly yellow. We made our way down to the river canyon, but not to the river bottom. This was not the summer Elwha. This was the Elwha in full roar, though not in flood. After a dry summer, the fall rains have come.

Down towards the river

The river bends

Passing the buck

Hume's Ranch

Michael's Cabin, or is it the other way around?

The Elwha from above

An open view

That little creek about a mile from the trailhead.

A touch of snow

Keywords: elwha, autumn

11/14 - If The Moon Was Cheese

Mount Townsend Creamery has a new cheese made from Dungeness Valley Creamery milk called New Moon. You can see a slice from one of the wheels in the picture on the right. We grabbed ours at Good To Go, and gave it a taste. It's a great Monterey Jack like cheese with a good tang and rich under flavor. We're looking forward to melting on something Mexican style. Thanks to our great local milk, we have another great local cheese.

The new cheese

Keywords: good to go, food, mount townsend creamery

11/14 - From The Annals of Film Editing

From an article on the usefulness of subtitles in learning accents in foreign languages published by the journal Science:
"For the study, Dutch students who were fluent in English watched either a 25-minute episode of the Australian sitcom Kath & Kim, whose characters speak in broad accents from the Melbourne suburbs, or a version of Trainspotting, which was edited down to the same length by taking out the offensive parts."

According to the IMDB, Trainspotting has a 94 minute running time, so they cut out 69 minutes. That's pretty impressive.

Keywords: art, science, australia

11/13 - Second Beach and Winter

We took advantage of a brief break in the clouds and a good afternoon tide to visit Second Beach, one of our favorite West End beaches and well under a 90 minute drive from Port Angeles. We made our muddy way through the woods and encountered our first surprise at the beach. We had been expecting the usual clamber from the trail access to the beach proper, but all but a few of the logs were gone. Just as they had been mysteriously washed ashore some years back, they had been washed out to sea some time since our last visit in July.

We arrived to mixed cloudy skies and a falling tide, but to the west we could see the clouds and pillars of rain closing. We sat on a log and ate our tuna salad sandwiches from Good To Go. A fellow visitor warned us the weather was changing. Then we headed south along the beach. The sky grew grayer and darker. The water was a bit high to make it to the sea cave and the wind was rising from the south. We turned about and headed back. The drizzle started, then turned to rain. At least we didn't have a monkey playground of wet logs to clamber over. We dodged to the muddy safety of the woods and made our way home.

A real weather sky

You can see the rain showers coming in.

The sky was mixed when we arrived.

The sky turned gray as we explored.

More gray skies.

How the trail access looks now - just a few logs

How it looked before - lots of logs

Keywords: beaches, good to go, second beach, weather

11/09 - Return to Striped Peak

We hadn't been up Striped Peak in years. For some reason, we remembered the trail having been turned into a hard packed lumbering road, and with our tender feet we avoided it. Well, there has been some lumbering, but it doesn't seem to have affected the trail much. Yes, they have paved the little parking lot and put in a new sign. Yes, the Scotch broom along the main incline seems bigger and sturdier than ever. Otherwise, the trail is not much changed, and that goes for the mud, and for the spectacular views.

The new sign at the trailhead

The same wonderful views

North to Victoria

The trail

Rain forest wall

Keywords: striped peak, trails

11/08 - More Snow on the Mountains

Storm King on the south shore of Lake Crescent got its first dusting of snow recently. The sky wasn't sure if it wanted to be blue or gray. That's typical in the autumn. The snow line on the mountain adds to the drama.

Storm King

The trail
The Spruce Railroad Trail itself is covered with leaves, and in places, it is turning into mud. It is as beautiful as ever, but expect muddy shoes and cuffs. That again is typical for this time of year.

Keywords: autumn, lake crescent, spruce railroad, storm king

11/06 - When French Women Cook We had been neglecting one of our favorite cookbooks, Madeleine Kamman's When French Women Cook: A Gastronomic Memoir . Some of this is because a lot of the dishes call for a full cup of heavy cream. For example, the pizza like dish to the right is the Alsation version of pissaladiere. That's 3 lbs of onions in the topping along with a half a stick of butter, a full cup of heavy cream, and two ounces of prunier d'agen to give it a little kick. Those are bacon bits on top. Needless to say, one slice went a long way.


Noisette of Pork with Prunes
The dish to the left is a bit lighter. It is from Touraine. We sliced up a seven pound pork loin from Heritage Foods into slices and seared them in butter. That part was simple. We soaked 30 or 40 prunes overnight in a bottle of red wine, then cooked that wine down, without the prunes, to a mere cup or two. Then, in the typical French manner, we made the sauce in the pan we used for cooking the pork so we got all the cooked meat flavor. We added a cup of heavy cream, then a cup or two of veal stock and the cup or two that was left of the prune wine. Then, we cooked that down to a cup or two. Nearly six cups of liquid were cooked down to perhaps one and a half. That's why they call it a reduction, and it was a wonderful reduction with the pork and prunes.

Keywords: food, kale

11/05 - Dungeness Bluffs on the Move

The Dungeness Bluffs are on the march again. A modest section of the bluff trail was closed. We took a detour inland through the campground not wanting to experience the bluff collapse first hand. Yet another good argument against high bluff waterfront property.

Keywords: dungeness spit, trails

11/04 - Snowy Mountains

The Elwha trails out of Whiskey Bend are still wide open, and they offer great views of the snowy mountains across the river. We had to push on to the overlook just for a peek.

Keywords: elwha, winter

October 2009November 2009 December 2009