August 15, 2018

None of the Above

Yesterday evening, got a phone call from some political polling group, asking me for my views of assorted candidates, how good of a job I felt so and so had done, etc.

When it came time to ask me if I would be voting for Polis or Stapleton in the Colorado Governor race, I answered "Neither".

Apparently, that's not an acceptable option.  "Sir, you have to pick one or the other" was the reply.

"No, I do not.  I will not vote for either of those two choices, so picking one or the other for your poll would be tantamount to lying, and I won't do that."

That ended his questions, as his software would not let him continue without a check mark for Stapleton or Polis.  

That's how they silence third party voices, folks.  

Bastards. 

August 8, 2018

What. The. Actual. F%$k?

Seriously, though, what sort of sick person thinks like this?


August 2, 2018

Curry lentils

This past week, I was milling about on a Saturday, bored to tears, and the rain made any ideas of going out for a walk or hike in the hills a non-starter.  I decided to do some cooking, and as I've written about before, cooking for one is challenging, but cooking a meal for four and storing the leftovers for future use is easy. 

Digging around in the pantry, I found a bag of lentils and some tomato sauce, and decided to experiment a bit.

Curried Lentils and Rice

Rinse your lentils in a strainer, pick out any debris or obviously bad lentils.  Drain and pop them into the crock pot. 

Dice a medium onion and two or three normal carrots, then saute in a bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil with a spoonful or more of minced garlic.  Once the onions and carrots are just starting to soften up, add a couple tablespoons of curry powder (hot or mild, your call.)  Saute another minute, then dump them into the crock pot with the lentils, along with a regular can of tomato sauce.  Cover the whole mess with water, and turn the heat on low. 

About 5-6 hours later, the lentils should be plenty soft.  Add any additional curry powder to your personal taste, along with salt if you wish (I did, so I did...just a scant teaspoon was enough.)

Serve on rice.




July 24, 2018

Heartland

A nice story out of Nebraska:

“We couldn’t believe what we saw when we pulled up,” Col. Jaskolski said. As each bus arrived over a two-day period, the soldiers stepped out to be greeted by lines of cheering people holding signs of thanks. They weren’t at a fast-food restaurant: They were at North Platte’s events center, which had been opened and decorated especially for them.
“People just started calling our office when they heard the soldiers were on their way,” said Lisa Burke, the director of the visitors’ bureau. “Hundreds of people, who wanted to help.”

Having lived in "Fly Over Country", this doesn't surprise me in the slightest. 

Good for you, North Platte. 

July 23, 2018

Smokin'!

This weekend, an old climbing pal of mine from back in the day invited me and another friend over to smoke some fish.

Tony and Micah went up to Joe Wright Reservoir early Sunday morning to take advantage of the Arctic Grayling run.  This time of year, the Grayling are spawning, and catching them is a simple matter of wading out as far as you can, putting a cadis fly on your fly rod, and casting it out into the water.  Sadly, I could not join them, as I had some work to do on a client system Sunday morning (the perils of IT work... Sometimes you work on the weekend because that's when the customer is closed.)

They got back down the hill and I headed over with a half dozen Sockeye filets that had had been soaking in brine since Friday evening.  Three cups warm water, 1 cup Soy sauce (don't use the low sodium type, get the real stuff), 1/2 cup brown sugar, and a tablespoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, and ginger. 

I also brought along a bottle of Monk's Mistress from Midnight Sun Brewing that I picked up during my Alaska trip.  This was my payment to Tony for his expertise with the smoker.  Tony is an engineer, and takes a very precise and scientific approach to everything he does.  Every variable is considered, from the mixture of the wood to the placement of the racks to the way he filets a fish. 

Beers were consumed, fish was smoked, stories and jokes were told, and a great time was had by all.


July 16, 2018

Lake Mac

Once a year, our company takes a three day weekend and we all head to Lake McConaughy near Ogallala, Nebraska, for some time on the water, sleeping in the tent, and enjoying each other's company outside of the office.  It's a nice break away from the 9-5 grind. 

The drive there is right about 200 miles from Chateau JBro, and an easy drive at that.  Run east on Co 14, take a left in Sterling to get on I-76, go north-east and merge to I-80 East, then take exit 126.  Couple miles and a stop for beer and ice later, and you're there.

I was rather surprised to find that the beach on the lake was of such fine and soft sand.  My Midwest roots have always known inland beaches to be of a coarser grain sand, but this stuff was really quite fine and soft.  It was so soft, in fact, that I witnessed several vehicles get stuck in the sand on the beach, and needed a tow truck.  Well, it's actually a tow-tractor, and the fee for a tow, according to the guy driving it, "depends on how much of a jerk the stuck driver is being..." 

This lake, being in the middle of the Nebraska Sandhill region, is very much a testament to earth engineering.  The Kingsley Dam gives the lake form, stopping the North Platte River and creating the lake.  The dam also provides hydroelectric power, and during dry spells it can be opened further to provide additional down-stream water. 

We arrived Friday, and my boss had arranged boats for us all weekend long.  We started off taking the pontoon boat for a leisurely ride, jumping into the cooler water out towards the center of the lake, and enjoying the sun on our shoulders.  I was the only person there who was solo, as everyone else had brought spouses, significant others, and children.  My dogs had a swell time, being doted on by the kids, playing fetch, and splashing in the shallow waters.  Saturday, we took a speed boat out for some tubing, and eventually migrated to Wave Runners. 

Dinner was cooked and consumed.  We had burgers and hot dogs, beans, potato salad, chips, the usual stuff one associates with a cook out.  I lopped the top off a green bell pepper, stuffed it with a chicken and rice mixture I'd made up earlier that week, wrapped the whole thing in foil, and let it heat up over the grill.  Quite pleasant, actually.

Sleeping arrangements on this trip were a new to me tent that fits into the bed of my Tacoma.  It took a bit of effort to set up alone, being new to me and all, and quite a few adjustments before I was satisfied with the sturdiness of the tent, but once done, it worked well.  Really the only problem I had was when I was packing up: It was somewhat difficult to get the sand shaken out of the tent.  I'm not sure I prefer this to my normal "on the ground" tent, but it was a good trial run anyway.

Came home Sunday, and I certainly noticed that I hadn't used enough sun screen over the weekend, as my shoulders, neck, back, chest, and feet are rather toasted.  I'm slathering on the aloe lotion frequently, and it's tender but not painful.  I've survived worse.

All in all, a fun weekend on the water at a unique lake.  I'll likely make a return trip there for some camping, kayaking, etc.


July 2, 2018

Epic Fishing Trip 1 -- AAR

I'd like to say I'm sorry for no blogging activity the past week, but, well, I'm NOT sorry.

Not at all.

See, I spent the week fishing.

But not just fishing.  No, I was fishing with three of my closest friends, paramedics from back in my EMS days.

And I wasn't just fishing with friends from back in my EMS days.  No, I was fishing with friends from my EMS days in Soldotna, Alaska.

I mentioned before that I started putting this trip together back in September or so, and it finally came to fruition.  Saturday morning, I kicked loose at 0300, got a shower and coffee, let the dogs out, gave them a final ear scritching, and hit the road to DEN.  Checked in my bags with my sidearm, no problems at all (that will be important later) and got on my 0700 flight, DEN-SEA.  Uneventful flight, as the best ones always are, and had just enough time in Seattle to make the connecting flight and grab a breakfast burrito in the concourse.  The SEA-ANC leg was 3 hours of boredom, and I've somehow lost the ability to sleep on a plane, but I landed soon enough and it was time for vacation to start.

(Pictures and links after the break...)


June 21, 2018

Son. Of. A.

From the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

(Soldotna) – In favor of protecting returning king salmon and increased fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is implementing the following sport fishing regulation restriction on the Kenai River effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, June 13 through 11:59 p.m., Friday, July 15, 2018:
June 13 – June 30, 2018:
Anglers may not harvest a king salmon of any size in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G regulatory marker at the outlet of Skilak Lake. Anglers may fish for king salmon with one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure but may not remove a king salmon from the water before releasing it.


Damn it.  Guess I won't be fishing for king salmon after all.


June 18, 2018

Home Stretch

A few months ago, I reached out to a few friends to see if they'd be interested in a little adventure.

Since the divorce back in June 2016, I have moved to Colorado, bought a new (used) vehicle, and have been focusing on being a bit frugal and getting my finances back in order.  For the most part, I've done well with that, and have a cushion again (albeit not as BIG of a cushion as I'd like, but baby steps, right?).  Also, during the period from Sept 2012 to June 2016, I'd not really done anything that could be considered a vacation save for our honeymoon in December 2012.

Now don't get me wrong: I recreate quite a bit, living as I do in the beautiful outdoor playground that is Colorado.  I'm able to spend three day weekends in the mountains, hiking or fishing.  I can take the guns to the range anytime I wish, I went to Blogorado in '16 and '17 and will do so again this year unless something goes terribly awry.  I went back home to Indiana in '17 for a week for Christmas.

So back in January, I reached out to a couple pals.  Eric is an old friend from back when I was a paramedic in Atlanta, GA.  Brian and I used to work on the helicopter when I was a flight paramedic.  And Kelly is my friend and hunting partner, got me into the Blogorado Tribe, and a very important part of my life.

"Guys, would y'all be interested in a 4 day Salmon and Halibut fishing trip to Alaska in the end of June?"

The responses were all in the affirmative, ranging from "Sure, sounds like fun" to "Oh, HELL YES!"

A couple months of planning, research, and coordinating has the four of us flying to Anchorage on Saturday, a drive to Soldotna on Sunday, and three guided days of fishing and one day of self-guided fishing this coming week.  We'll be going for halibut on the Cook Inlet on Monday, then King Salmon on the Kenai River Tuesday and Thursday.  Wednesday we'll either do some sightseeing or borrow the guide service gear and go after Sockeye salmon on our own. 

It's surprisingly affordable, too: The guide service we're using has a four day package including lodging for $860/person, plus discounts on rental cars, fish processing, etc.  Adding in airfare, licenses, and the assorted and sundry costs, and we're coming in right about $1500/person. 

My flight is this Saturday, 23 June, at 0700 from DEN.  Fly to Seattle, a short layover, and then to Anchorage.  Return to DEN is the 30th. 

I just need to get through the next 5 days, then I'm turning on the "Out Of Office" replies on my email, turning off the mail sync to my phone, and checking out for a week. 

I can't wait for Friday 5:00 pm to get here....