Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What's for Dinner?

I meant to link to Russell's post in my trip report but forgot, he took over the What's for Dinner post temporarily and made some good lasagna. Go check it out!

Sprained Ankle

My ankle is all messed up today. I think I sprained it last night when my foot went into a small hole I didn't see. It was dark that's why I didn't see the hole. Anyway, my ankle hurts and is swollen today. Hopefully I won't have to miss out on any hiking this weekend. I'll probably have to take it slow.

Cool News

I've been contacted by a senior at Georgia College and State University asking me permission to use one of my photos in their college paper. He happened upon my "Mysterious Forest and the LST" post and liked the photo titled "Fallen Giant". I'll get a copy of the article when it comes out. Cool huh?

HCSNA 2008 Pics

These three above pictures are from Sat night by my campsite. The pictures below are from Sunday's hike. There are so many pictures from Sunday that I'm going to break it down and put the rest up tomorrow.

I love broken down barns. I like to think about who they belonged to, and how old they are.

I bet this is really spooky at night!

I can't figure out what this washed out area is. Looks man made.

Where there is a will there is a way

nice little up hill jaunt

Whoops! This was toward the end of my hike. I don't know the details of what happened but they said they had a small train wreck. That vehicle wasn't far from tumbling down a steep hill.

When I got to the table for dinner, this was waiting for me! My husband did it all by himself.

And he didn't forget the flowers!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Solo again Hill Country State Natural Area

I woke up Saturday morning with no plan to go anywhere, much less camping or hiking, but the weather was shaping up so beautifully I couldn't see myself wasting it doing nothing. I decided to go back to HCSNA because it's so beautiful there and I felt it would be another great place to practice my solo skills.

I called the park to find out if the primitive camping area was filling up yet(it was getting close to noon after all), and they told me a big boy scout troop was out there. I was a little disappointed but settled for my old stomping sight 121. If one is to car camp, that is a decent spot for it. There was only one other person camping but I barely caught a glimpse of him here and there and he was quiet as a mouse.

I arrived at my campsite around 4:30 in the afternoon and had time to set up camp and go for a short walk, but soon it became dark and I retired to my tent for the night. A couple of times I got out and had to walk to the car for a forgotten item here and there and both times I saw a cute little cotton tail rabbit.

I wasn't tired so I read for an hour or so and then the coyotes started singing. It sounded like a pack of 15 very noisy individuals, but who knows a few could sound like many. Then other packs way off in the distance started calling back. Soon the chorus died down and all was dead quiet. I slept well only to wake up now and then to more sounds of coyote music surprisingly closer to the area I was camped in. I loved it! Hope Mr. Cotton tail was hidden well away...

The next morning I took my time fooling around in camp because there were so many birds just hanging around. I counted at least 10 different species right there and was amazed at how close to me they got. One almost flew in my tent while I was in it. It was a gray bird, smallish, with a tufted crest and a neon bright orange beak. It wanted to get a closer look at either me or my tent and got a little closer than I think it meant to...we came eye to eye and the bird seemed quite startled! What a cool encounter that was. A wood pecker visited my camp site too but I couldn't get a good enough look to know what kind. It just pecked around in birdie bliss as I broke camp.

Finally I was packed up and at the main trail head by 11am. I quickly got my day pack ready and studied the route I previously chose that would give me about a 6 to 7 mile walk. The day couldn't have been nicer and I was so glad for a window of great weather. The route I picked turned out to be a lot of fun and I didn't see another person until almost the end of my hike, but I did have a few little companions show up here and there....honey bees.

They liked me for some reason and anytime I would stop moving, one would find me and buzz around checking me out. At one point I was looking at the map and a honey bee landed right on the tip of my thumb as if to check out the map too. It was so cute. Actually it was after the salt on my skin because it's little tongue was constantly tasting me. I felt such a great peace of mind right then and was reminded of all the hours and hours I spent studying honey bees when I was a kid. They are amazing insects and I've had a lifelong interest in them. I've thought about keeping them but don't think I have the time to commit to it.

Anyway, after 3 and a half hours of walking, I was done. At the car I checked my gps and it tracked a total of 6.59 miles. I stretched out a little, took a long drink of water, and said goodbye for now to HCSNA. I took the back country roads home and enjoyed every bit of the gorgeous scenery. The drive home was pleasant and I felt perfectly calm and relaxed.

I had a great time at HCSNA and am finding out that going solo is so far quite enjoyable. I don't think I NEED a partner anymore, but it sure would be nice to have others go along from time to time. With that said, there will be places I want to go where I will probably need a partner. My navigational skills are still somewhat green, so for now I need to stick with places that are smallish or have very easy to follow trails until I master using a compass and topo maps.

I'll probably have no choice but to stick to places that I've already been to for a while, unless I'm with a group or partnered with someone who knows what they are doing. So far the hiking/camping groups that I've joined are quite large and they are not doing things I want to do. I'm hoping something will turn up soon though that will take me somewhere I've never been. It would also be great to meet a few other women who would like to partner up and do some more adventurous stuff.

One last thing before I post pictures. When I got home, the first thing I did was give my husband a quick peck, my kiddo a hug, then off to the tub I went. A little soreness had settled in during the long drive home and I wanted to soak a bit before dinner. Russell had made a wonderful lasagna and it smelled heavenly. I couldn't wait to get cleaned up and stuff my face. I was HUNGRY! My hubby not only made a fabulous dinner, he cleaned up afterwards! I must be doing something right. :)

About a minute after I was in the tub I started hoping that Russell thought to buy a bottle of wine to go with dinner. As soon as the thought was in my head, I heard a clink on the side of the tub. I opened my eyes and a glass of wine was sitting there! I was very grateful and blown away by my husband's thoughtfulness and his timing. Even though I'm a bit of a tomboy, I still like to be pampered and enjoy the girly girl things in life. Romantic men are a plus in my book. Keep it up honey!

Enough of that...trip pictures will be up sometime later today. So check back!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ok, I'm Really Tired of This Weather

I want the rain to stop. I know it's good and we need it and all that stuff, but seriously. All this drizzle is not a good thing, especially combined with the cold. I wouldn't mind some dry cold, I can camp out in that no problem. But wet cold? Another matter entirely.

Winter has finally hit Austin.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What's for Dinner?

I haven't done a what's for dinner post in ages. So I'm just going to spout off a bunch of stuff that I've been cooking. One of these days I am going to put together a cook book for friends and family that will include all of my recipes plus some of our old family recipes.

So let's see, what's been on the menu in the Glasser household...

I made a pasta dish last night. I used fresh three cheese tortellini and combined it with baby bellas, chicken, garlic, diced cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, shredded Parmesean, and a good italian dressing. It was pretty good and can be eaten hot or cold. I myself prefer to eat it cold the next day after the flavors have married. I also made fresh bruschetta to go with it.

A few nights ago I made chicken with a creamy white wine sauce and mushrooms that turned out well and got rave reviews. But most nights have been fairly ordinary meals like pot roasts, stews, enchiladas, casseroles, etc... Pork tenderloin made several different ways has been on the menu also. I'm not sure what is my favorite way to eat Pork tenderloin. It's so good and versatile. I've stuffed it, marinated it, roasted it, and have used it in Panang. It's also great in stews!

I'm getting a craving for good indian food and might make some soon. I love saag paneer, vegetable korma, naan, and different meat dishes, so I'm going to have to plan something special soon. Indian food takes a long time and is a bit involved but so worth it when made in your own kitchen.

Tonight I'm making a simple down home pot roast with roasted veggies. I'll probably make a cobbler for dessert. Tomorrow night I'll make chicken crepes with bechamel sauce. YUMMY!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mom is still in town

I've not been doing much over the past couple of days. Mom is still here and leaves Friday. I'm thinking about going camping this weekend again and might see if one of my new girl friends would like to join me, or perhaps other friends I've been with before. I'm not sure at this point if I want to backpack or car camp. Decisions decisions...

In any case I hope the weather improves. I hate cold wet days and am ready for some dry weather. I don't care if it's cold or not...just want it to be dry for the weekend at least!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

And Now for the PIcs of the Outside of Mom's Motor Home

Now for the Backpacking Pictures of My Solo Trip

Nice day

Right after setting up my tent and looking out

My home away from home. This tent is heavy but I really do like it otherwise

I loved my camp site

Getting dark
Just some scenery around my campsite

Standing on the bluff looking down.

I climbed down , not here, but at another area and walked around down there. It was nice. Forgot to take pictures though.

Just some of my gear.

This is my food re-heating the next day. I couldn't eat it all at dinner time, so since it was cold out, I knew it would be okay to eat for breakfast. It wasn't very good though...way too salty, I ended up packing most of it out.

I don't remember if I took this on the way to the campsite or at the start of my hike the next day. I could consult my map but I'm too lazy right now. I think this was the start though.

This was definitely on the second day.

Here is the actual spring, it's off trail a tiny ways

My steri pen. The water in the spring was crystal clear, no need for filtering

An old settler's place. I've taken pictures of this before but still find it fascinating

Some of the artifacts found in the area

Heading back to the car now

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I've Been Begged to Post These Pictures First for Family

Ok, the reason why I've been so tied up is because my mother is in town. I've been helping her get her 40 foot RV ready for the road. She has never had one of these before and we've been trying to figure things out, etc. There is a ton of stuff one has to know to run one of these bohemeths properly.

I took pictures of the RV on the inside and my brother and sister are having a fit to see. So before I post any camp pictures, here is what has been keeping me occupied. Enjoy. :)

Mom is thrilled
looking out from the bedroom

The bedroom

Sitting in the front passenger seat looking towards living area, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom.

More pictures to follow in the next day or so. I want to get some pics of this thing parked in my drive way. Ara if you are reading you should now know you can park your rig here next time you are in town. :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

First Solo Trip of Many I'm Sure

Here is the long awaited trip report. When deciding where to go for the first time on a solo trip, there were certain things I needed to consider, like how far from the trail to the campsite, terrain, miles, ease of following a trail and not getting lost, such as a loop vs an out and back, or getting on a trail with many turns and having to pay close attention to the map, etc...

Obviously since I'm new to this sort of thing, I need to start off slow and not push my limits too much while working out the kinks of backpacking alone. I haven't had a full pack on in months so knew that I needed to select an area that offered a not too strenuous walk to the primitive campsites, since I don't really know what kind of shape I'm still in. Oh and believe it or not, I had new shoes on! One would think I learned a lesson the last time I pulled a stunt like that, but I was determined that no matter how painful it was going to be, that I was going to break in a pair of boots first time out or maybe second time out, and then be done with the shoe dilemma for hopefully a while. I've had my share of shoe problems.

Anyway, I decided it would be easy to walk almost three miles the first day and then do 4 or 5 the next. I wanted a loop as well, so chose Pedernales SP again. The trails there are not so exciting really, but back in the woods a little bit off trail and in the primitive camping area it gets pretty and interesting. So with a destination in mind, I prepared myself for my trip and headed out Saturday morning around 10am.

The weather was nice that day but expected to be 30 degrees or so at night. I wasn't concerned about the cold because I already had experience with my equipment and felt it would keep me alive and reasonably warm through the night. I was so happy to be on my way and eager to try out my new gear. I bought a park pass when I was car camping last, so was happy to be using that for the first time too. I arrived in plenty of time to have a nice hike and take some time exploring around after arriving in the primitive area. The campsite is on top of a bluff under the trees and is pretty nice.

I was surprised how many people were on the trails and how many were setting up camp in the area. It wasn't a problem though, I just walked all the way down to the very end and pitched my tent a few feet away from the edge of a bluff. I felt like I had the best spot in the park and had a great view of the leaf carpeted floor below and the ridge across the gorge. The sunset was beautiful.

Before I settled in to organize myself and get my stove working, I walked around a bit and snapped a few pictures. I ended up meeting a woman around my age on the trail who had been car camping the night before. She was really nice and we seemed to have some things in common. She admired my bravery for back packing solo in the primitive areas and said I was an inspiration to her. She now wants to give it a try...prior to this she has been doing a lot of car camping. We exchanged information and decided to partner up when we can.

We talked until almost dark. She had a night hike ahead of her back to her car and I was happy to get my dinner going and relaxing to the soothing sounds of the impending night. I felt really good about the whole thing and didn't worry about anyone bothering me. I didn't go to sleep immediately but read a bit and sometimes just lay quietly listening to coyotes in the distance. They sound so woeful but eerily beautiful to me and I love hearing them.

I don't know what time it was, but at some point someone hiked in during the dark hours and pitched a tent somewhere close enough that I could hear them unpacking and setting up. And while they were setting up I heard someone else snoring. So I wasn't as far away from everyone else as I would have liked to have been, but that's the way it goes. They soon settled down and I didn't hear another peep out of them save an occasional zipper being undone etc...

Much later, I'm still awake listening to night sounds, and all of a sudden I hear a bone chilling crying out and frantic screaming type screeches that sounds like either an animal is being killed by another animal, or two animals are fighting. It was so difficult to tell what exactly it was I was hearing. At one point I thought it might have been two bobcats or raccoons going after each other. In either case it was very exciting and gave me something to ponder for a while.

When I finally decided to get some sleep I drifted off fast and the next thing I knew it was 6am and still very dark. It was also COLD! I was a little chilled but not terribly. I pulled my sleeping bag liner off of my sleeping pad and got in it then draped my open bag over me. I quickly warmed up after that point and was thinking about getting out and walking about, but my bag beckoned me to stay. I fell asleep again and woke up around 10am! I couldn't believe how late I slept. I felt great and slept great.

I took my time packing up, eating a bite, and getting ready for the hike ahead. My feet had some sore spots so I duck taped them before putting my socks and shoes on. It wasn't long after that I was on the trail and happily hiking back to the car. I didn't see anyone for a while, but the closer to the car I got, there were plenty of people.

Oh yeah, I made a point to stop at Jones Spring and try out my steri pen. I'm happy to report that I drank a liter of Spring water from Jones Spring and am still alive to talk about it. :) The steri pen is a great tool! Of course the drawback to it is that it doesn't filter, so if I'm in a situation where there is no clear spring water I might have to have a system to pre filter. I'll worry about that later though.

The last mile back to the car was hard on my feet and my back was starting to hurt a little. When I got home and my muscles got cold, the soreness set in. The next day I was only slightly sore, so that isn't too bad. I hope I can get out and do this again very soon.

Pics will be up at some point in the next 24 hours. Sorry to make everyone wait. I've been quite busy and was lucky to find time to write all this down.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sorry No Trip Report Yet!

Hi all, things have been hectic since I got back home from my first solo overnight backpacking trip, but I have tales to tell and hope to post all about it soon. My mom came into town last night unexpectedly and I've been helping her out with some things and it's kept me quite busy and away from the computer.

But the short of it is that I had a wonderful time and feel good about how it went. I'll write later and post pictures!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I'm Heading to the Great Outdoors!

Well I'm all packed and ready to go. The only thing I need to get on my way out is some denatured alcohol for my camp stove. I can't wait to get out on the trails and am so excited about my first solo trip! There isn't anything I'll need tonight as I'm packed to the gills. My pack weighs 30lbs even but it feels about 50 since I've not done this in a while!

I hope everyone has a great weekend...I know I will! :)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Weekend Can't Get Here Fast Enough!

I'm so excited about going backpacking! It has been a VERY long wait. I think the last time I went was with Thomas in June or July. I'm excited about going solo too. I'll have plenty along to read and hopefully the skies will hold clear for some great star gazing. I got out ALL of my gear tonight and organized everything and looked it over. Until I get a lighter shelter, my pack is still going to be heavier than I would like, but I'm not going to carry as much water since I think I'll have no problem finding it where I'm going. I hope I see lots of wildlife and plan on getting up very early Sunday morning for a dawn hike.

I'm Getting Better at Blokus!

I played Jen yesterday and I won three games and she won three games. I am feeling pretty good about that! I'm still hooked on this game!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Went Camping Saturday

Caitlin and I went car camping at Pedernales SP for a little mother/daughter get away. It was fun and very slumber party like. We watched movies, munched on junk food, and read scary books. We walked around in the dark for a little while and watched the sky.

The only down side to the trip was Caitlin's refusal to hike on Sunday but we were pressed for time anyway. I'm going back packing this weekend but haven't decided where yet. My sister thinks I should pack heat if I am going solo because of the female hiker that got murdered in GA. I'm on the fence about it though...I don't feel a pressing need to pack a weapon on me.

Being attacked while hiking is very rare and I've gotten good solo advice on some of the message boards I frequent from female back packers who solo all the time. Anyway, Lynn this is mainly for you so you can stop worrying about me going camping by myself. You know I'm the kind of female that would fight a nasty battle if I was forced into a life or death situation. But I know I'm not invincible, so might consider carrying bear spray. If it can ward off a grizzly, I'm sure it could ward off a two legged predator. I have a pretty good weapon already though when it comes down to it, my mind.

Friday, January 04, 2008

I'm Hooked!

My new favorite addiction is Blokus. Jen got a travel size for Christmas and we've been playing it like mad ever since. She used to have a four player version of the game and once upon a time ago we played that one like crazy. I always lost too which is humbling, but I still liked the game.

A couple of days ago I played Jen and I beat her three times which is unheard of for me. Most people who play with her end up losing. But the version we were playing was of course her new travel version, which is only for two players and I LOVED it this time around. Not just because I beat Jen a few times, but because it all clicked in my head and I understood better what was going on. So I finally presented a challenge for Jen. When we played in the past, she got tired of playing with me because I posed no threat and she didn't have to try as hard.

But last I went to her house so we could hang out and play games. Her friend Windy(yes that is how she spells it) showed up and we decided to have a Blokus tournament. I got my ass kicked a lot by everyone but I still presented a challenge at least in some of the games I played and I learned a lot. Part of the reason I lost so much is because I experimented in every game to see what would work and what wouldn't. I seem to learn the best when I find out what won't work first and I found out a lot of what won't work during last nights games.

Geez, talking about it is making me want to play again! I feel like a game fiend now and want to get my fix. Russell I think I understand your game addiction a little better now. Another great thing about the travel size Blokus is I can take it on camping trips! It's an entertaining way to pass some time in a tent with a camping buddy...or maybe even a lover. All kinds of interesting bets can be made. ;)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Latest Random Pics...Oh and Happy New Year!

Ben and Caitlin are about to roll out some cookie dough on this nicely floured surface

Ben shows us that his hands are clean and ready for working with food, and Caitlin is protesting me taking a picture of her because she hasn't been out of bed long and is worried about how she looks.

They rolled out choc chip cookie dough and cut out shapes. Please ignore my dirty stove! It's seen a lot of cooking lately.

This is some fruit salad I made for our potluck we had on New Year's Eve. It has pineapples, blueberries, apples, oranges, shredded coconut, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and a squeeze of lime juice. It was tasty but the next day it was amazing! So sweet!

This is the bruchetta I didn't last long. I made a vegan version too.

Some other cookies we cut out and decorated.