Monday, December 22, 2008

Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza

The Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza is a benefit concert that Curtis Stigers has been putting on for the last three years. This year it was held at the majestic Egyptian Theatre in downtown Boise. The show sold out in no time. It was fun to see so many people turn out to support a good cause and lots of great talent. I had a blast playing drums for Andy Byron and the Lost River Band, as well as the Moody Jews. Naturally, I couldn't resist mingling with the other performers who were genuine, cool and, of course, talented. Check out some photos from the show.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Our First Loose Tooth

The loose tooth is out! Funny enough, she lost it at the dentist's office. And it wasn't at Rachael's regular dentist. See, Rachael had a play date scheduled today with one of her girlfriends. The hosting parents realized that the play date was scheduled the same day as their daughter's regular dentist visit, but they wanted Rachael to tag along. 

While there, Rachael showed the dentist her tooth and the dentist didn't give the tooth a day before it fell out. Within 30 minutes it fell out! The dentist was cool -- she gave Rachael a plastic tooth necklace so Rachael could store her first lost tooth. The tooth fairy will be paying a visit tonight. And it's a proud moment for mom and dad. Check out the photos.

Earlier Today 
Play this video only if you've got a strong stomach for loose/wiggling teeth. Rachael's tooth is hanging on by a thread. I captured this will my cell phone. Crappy quality, but you get the idea. Stay tuned since this bugger could fall out any day now.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Check out photos from our second Thanksgiving at Paul and Susie Frank's house. They had Susie's sister's family, as well as several friends of the clan's, celebrate the holiday over a huge turkey.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Halloween 2008

Halloween 2008 was spent with our friends, the Willerups, at their house on Harrison Blvd. For those of you not familiar with Boise, Harrison Blvd. and Warm Springs Rd. are two streets on which the Treasure Valley converges for tricks or treats (and they're awesome streets for viewing holiday decorations). Both streets feature the grand old homes of the early 20th century. 
I didn't do a great job getting many photos. It was total mayhem trying to keep track of 8 kids and my cocktail. The paper reported that 2,200 kids did their trick or treating on Harrison Blvd. that night. Regardless, everyone had fun and it was great seeing some friends along the way.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Preparations

The girls have been looking forward to Halloween this year for quite some time. Costumes were purchased weeks ago (Rachael the Russian princess; Rebecca as Wonder Woman). 
Rachael, the Russian princess, cast aside all stereotypes and got her hands dirty to dig out the guts of of the pumpkin. Rebecca, aka Wonder Woman, couldn't be bothered to get dirty so she put the golden lariat around her dad and made him do it.

We'll post post-Halloween photos over the weekend.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sawtooths Backpacking Trip -- Day 6

Several items worth noting about gear on this trip that were a total waste of space and weigh for a 5-day trip. Gloves, hat and scarf (a ranger recommendation for the summit), swimsuit and an extra hat. 

Things to trim down include bringing one set of spare batteries for the GPS while conserving GPS use; get Rx sunglasses instead of using contacts to eliminate solution space; fewer cold meds (kids had a cold when I left); and just wear one set of clothing with extra pair of underwear and socks/liners. Maybe add glove liners and lite ski cap for summit trips.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Sawtooths Backpacking Trip -- Day 5

Aug. 1 -- The last day of backpacking for us. Will spend the day full of steep descents toward Redfish Lake. There, we'll rendezvous with our wives at the lodge, and spend a weekend in Stanley. Right now, I want a burger and IPA but will settle for my breakfast of instant milk and

We set off at 8:30 in the morning. Bryan's an excellent backpacking companion. He patiently waits for me to tape up my blisters and fool with my gear (note to self, leave the Themarest portable camp chair at home. No time for lounging when the mosquitoes find a warm-blooded,
albeit sweaty creature, trying to give the dogs a rest.) And don't get Bryan wrong. He'll dish out the shit when he's right.

Hiked 6 miles to Redfish Inlet to catch the boat ride over to the lodge. Caught the eyes of many curious tourists. Can't blame them with the way we looked.

Sat at the picnic benches lakeside (wind kept this bastard mosquitoes away) and ordered up some burgers and beer. Heaven. Also watched a stoned staffer spend two hours drawing up the menu on the chalk board. Funny!

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sawtooths Backpacking Trip -- Day 4

July 31 -- Note to self: bring lots of Beano. Less for the gas but more for Bryan behind on the trail.

Left Edna Lake and set off for Cramer Lakes. So far I've had to replace my GPS and camera batteries. My small 4 oz bottle of Pocket Rocket fuel has held out well. Envious of Bryan's JetBoil system, but still happy with mine.

We had two massive climbs ahead of us. First, it was up to Hidden Lake (great camping lakeside on the western shore) and then a push over Cramer Pass at 9,500 ft. The view at the pass was epic. For the first 10 minutes, the only words out of my mouth were "awesome!"

Duct tape on my blisters was effective. Not fun, but grateful to have brought it along. Got in at 2:15 and set up at the falls between Big and Middle Cramer lakes. Swam, cleaned up and washed some clothes. Lots of bugs here, but we learned to tolerate them to some degree. After the trip I discovered that my friend Lewis Hall had passesd our site while we were there. Too bad we didn't look out for each other.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sawtooths Backpacking Trip -- Day 3

July 30 -- I got up early and walked around Rock Slide Lake, taking photos as the sun rose. It was refreshing to be bug-free for a few hours. We left Rock Slide Lake at 8:15 a.m. taking an optional route out to Ardeth Lake. It was a steep descent to the lake and a steep one out, but the vistas were beautiful. From there we proceeded on to Edna Lake. We found a much better site than the last.

My heel blisters bugged me a bit and my creative taping lasted 4 hours. It was as if my legs showered my feet with sweat. Foot powder was useless. The scenery was overwhelming, which was a welcome distraction to my blisters. Note to self: try sock liners on the next trip.

Vernon Lake was idyllic. Wooded. Quiet. But we noticed more people on the trail like a Boy

Scout troop out of Nampa (good kids we kept running into along the trail. Not so isolated but relatively alone compared to California trails. One pair of bikers were headed in the

opposite direction and they were kitted out with ice axes and picks. Must have been disappointing to carry that gear with little ice to be found.

I managed to perform a graceful face plant on an egg-shaped rock. Bryan got a hell of a good laugh at my expense. The dirt in my mouth resulted in a full mouth rinse since the trail was littered with pack animal shit.

Set up camp at 3:15 and ate in relative peace due to a cool breeze that kept the mosquitoes at bay. We dipped in the cool lake, fished to little success, checked out the area and hit the sack 

by 9 p.m.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Sawtooths Backpacking Trip -- Day 1

July 28 -- Bryan talked his dad, a mining hobbyist, into driving us up to the trailhead in Atlanta early in the morning. Atlanta's a former mining town with a population of something like 21 people, but rich in mining history. And it's a three-hour drive from Boise, with two of those hours on a winding dirt road into Atlanta. Bryan's dad was into it since he'd have the expensive gas paid for and a day to kill putzing around the small wooden buildings of what's called "town."

At 9:30 a.m. we arrived at Power Station campground. After firing up my GPS, we discovered that the official trailhead was 2.35 miles further down the trail (my only GPS error of the trip) which meant that we'd have to do 10 miles our first day out. We said our farewells, hitched our packs and headed up the trail. 

We saw lots of ponderosa pine, fir trees and ferns. Very green and lush. Despite the bear warnings posted at the trailhead, we saw little evidence of animals big or small. Just birds. And we ran into freshly cut deadfall, which meant that someone had just come through to do some trail maintenance. How far we'd get on a cleared trail, we didn't know. 

We followed the Middle Fork of the Boise River all of the way. After three cold river crossings, I got tired of switching between my boots and Keen water sandals and did the last three miles of the day in my sandals. The river water was higher than normal due to the late-season snow melt. While it was cold going, it was refreshing to my hot feet. 

While looking for a spot to make camp, Bryan spotted an established camp site across the river. It was located in an ideal spot, and they had pack horses. It had to be the maintenance crew. We made camp two miles further upriver, around 7,400 ft, just before our fifth river crossing. Finding a level spot was challenging, but we were ready to chow down on something other than trail food. 

I ran down to the river to fetch some cooking water, and on the way back I ran into a couple of people from the trail maintenance crew. Sure enough, they were there for the week and confirmed our trail was clear for the next five miles. I was relieved.

There were mosquitos, which are to be expected at this time of year. Their peskiness was minimal, but to get worse. 

Gear notes: Avoid using the Nuun elixir tablets used to fortify your Camelbak water with electrolytes and some flavor. They taste like shit!

Starting Altitude: 5,200 ft
Ending Altitude: 6,800 ft

Jump to the following entries:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sawtooths Backpacking Trip -- Preparation

Naturally, a trip of this length and altitude required a bit of preparation. 

First, we picked a few people to join us. Despite our candidate criteria (cool, in shape, into backpacking and up for a trip like this), every one of them flaked. One even bailed the weekend before heading out. 

Second, we planned a few joint day hikes throughout the spring and summer. We'd start with the foothills around Boise (3,000 to 6,000 ft) and get in some higher elevation hikes over the summer. I surprised Bryan one day by showing up with a 45-lb pack, which turned a three-hour hike into six hours. Bryan is a patient man. It was a hot day. Two lessons learned there -- drop some serious pack weight (and er, reduce my love handles) and plan hiking around the cooler parts of the day.

Third, we talked weight, gear and reviewed our trip plans almost weekly. I made frequent trips to Idaho Mountain Touring and the Boise REI stores to chat with the staff, get input and look over gear.

Fourth, I read a lot of backpacking articles for tips, tricks and insights. By coincidence I began receiving complimentary copies of Backpacker Magazine (a promo effort on their part) and the timing couldn't have been more ideal. 

Fifth, we had to sell it to the wives (and find a way back home). Since we were ending our trip at Redfish Lake we thought the wives would enjoy meeting us in Stanley for a short, romantic weekend getaway. Better yet, we could cap off the trip with a delicious and infamous Black & Blue Steak at the Kasino Club, as well as get in some whitewater rafting with The River Company.

A week before the trip, I called the ranger station in Stanley. Two things had me concerned. Since we were heading out of Atlanta, the ranger said that the trail hadn't been officially cleared in more than eight years and to expect lots of deadfall. They didn't have any current data on trail condition. That could mean logs the size of a truck lying across the trail. The other concern was Cramer Divide (the highest point of our trip at 9,500 ft). A ranger had gone up the previous week and said there was lots of ice and snow on the trail. Given that we were still a week+ away from getting to the divide and that the area was finally thawing, we figured we'd have less ice and snow to deal with.

Our wives said we were obsessed. We were. But when you're in the middle of nowhere and a good day's hike from anyone, we wanted to be mentally and physically prepared for almost anything.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sawtooths Backpacking Trip -- Planning

Back in April, my friend and frequent hiking/snowshoeing partner, Bryan Oakes, told me that he'd always wanted to backpack across the Sawtooth Mountains. He had his eye on a route that took us from Atlanta, heading generally due northeast over the Sawtooth range, and ending up at Redfish Lake. We'd start around 5,000 feet, peak around 9,600 feet, returning to 5,000 by the end of the trip. Estimated distance was 40 miles over five days -- giving us the flexibility to pull off a few long days with some short ones in between to relax by some remote and beautiful lakes. I was into it since I was entering my MBA and knew my long-trip days were over for a year. To both of us, it was also the trip of a lifetime. 

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ridin' the Rickshaw

Last night I went out with my friend Brock for a ride on his rickshaw ( I feel a little guilty having a friend pedal while I enjoy the breeze and view. So, I try to make up for it by buying the beer and capturing the event on camera (albeit poor video this time).

After a chat with curious neighbors, we set off for downtown Boise. We stopped in Hyde Park (at the place formerly known as Lucky 13), and then moved on to Bittercreek on 8th, and then closed the night at Bar Gernika in the Basque block.

Brock's got his rig tricked out. Lights front and back, as well as tiny red lights around the top's perimeter. All is battery powered and thanks to LED technology, he doesn't have to replace them often. Lastly, it's powered by strong legs conditioned by frequent rides.

Good times. Talked music, work, our MBA programs and politics. We did this last year and realized that we need to do it more often than once a year. As long as Brock's willing to pedal, I'm willing to buy the beer and ride!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Indian Cooking Lesson

It all began with a fund raiser for our daughters' school. Suzanne and I spied the entry -- a lesson on how to cook an Indian dinner -- hosted by a student's father, Jigish. Being Indian food/curry fans, we were sold. Auction night rolled around and we plotted how to score the winning bid without drawing too much attention. We recruited some interested parties and won the bid!

Two months later, we gathered at the Worsley house to get our cooking lesson. Weeks in advance, Jigish sent us notes on the history of curry (spice trade routes), local dish styles, etc. I also brewed a special batch of German pilsner to complement the food's rich spices. And we all did our part in shopping.

No Power Upon our arrival, the power grid in the neighborhood promptly went out. It's just warming up here in Boise, and with everyone switching from heat to A/C, the older parts of the power grid were taxed. Jigish didn't flinch and said in his own Zen-like way, "It's OK -- we still have the grill." I replied, "And we have cold beer."

Fired Up
Without power, we pushed ahead. About an hour later, and after a few mango/vodka martinis, Idaho Power showed up and got the block back in business.

Great Company
Jigish set the tone for the night with lots of history and background. And he had everyone running in different directions prepping the food, from grilling the salmon and chicken to cutting up the veg and spices. Of course, we were in great company with the Worsleys, Metzgars and Renees.

After four hours, we sat down for a large and delicious meal while the sun was setting in the foothills behind us. The kitchen was a disaster, the beer keg was half-full (nice job) and we were fat and happy. Then it was time for dessert.

The End
I think we all walked away with some valuable cooking tips. And thanks to Jigish's approach to cooking, some of us felt more confident about tossing in the spices we think would go with the dish, vs. following the exact steps and measuring everything in precise amounts.

Of course, I could go on and on about the food preparation, but you'll have to see and hear for yourselves. I posted some photos and videos from the session.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hungover in Reno

It's 7:30 a.m. and I'm in the Reno airport waiting for my flight home to Boise. My head is foggy, my lips are chapped, and after brushing my teeth, my mouth still tastes like a sweaty sock. How else would you conclude a surprise, 18-hour hit-and-run trip for an old friend's 40th birthday party?

Jay Watson and I have been friends since high school. To our best recollection after a few beers, we've been in five bands together -- he on guitar, me on drums. And we've been camping buddies for just as long -- frequently haunting Joshua Tree to hike, climb and chill in the "G 'n T" spot (inside story). Twenty-plus years later, we live in different parts of the West, have families, jobs, businesses to run, etc., but still manage to stay in touch.

Thanks to Laura for inviting me. I got some decent photos, but now realize that I didn't take enough. It was fun catching up with the Watson family, seeing Jay's girls (wow, they're so big!), Todd, Pablo, and finally seeing Jay's new restaurant. Very cool. After such a quick flight between Boise and Reno (45 minutes) I begin to wonder why we don't see each other more often. That will have to change.

The flight's been called and I need to shut down the PC. I'm looking forward to a bottle of water, a 45-minute nap (sorry about the snoring folks) and hope I'm in shape to hit the ground running when I get home.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Family Visitors from Florida

We spent the weekend with my mom, sister and her two kids, Hayden and Cole (the most recent addition to the family in Feb.). It was a nice time spent together. We headed over to Kathryn Albertson park to do a photo shoot of the kids together, which was a little better than our first attempt two years ago (which ended up with the kids crying, chaos, dogs and cats living together, etc.). You can see the rest of the photo album here.

To capture the sights and smells of Idaho, we also spent a day up in Idaho City (an old mining town with lots of original structures from the 1850's). The weather was clear and breezy, and we got in time to throw rocks into a small pond, have lunch and head home the back way through Robie Creek. Near the top of Aldape Summit, Hayden touched snow for the first time. At first, she wasn't sure what to make of it. But in five minutes she was chasing her cousin Rachael around the snow banks.

We also got together with the Frank family (my in-laws) for several dinners. One thing is for certain with the Metzgars and Franks -- when we meet, we eat. I think the last time everyone was together was for Rachael's birth, five years ago.

While we missed not having my dad or brother-in-law, Patrick (both of whom were tending shop at the Reserve Cigar and Wine Bar) we had a memorable time together.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Celebrating Suzanne's Birthday with Scary Larry

Suzanne turned, err, 26. Yeah, that's it!

Indian Style
We celebrated Suzanne's birthday with a weekend full of festivities. Thanks to Paul and Susie (Suzanne's parents) we went out with friends for dinner Saturday night while the kids stayed home. It was a late night affair at our favorite restaurant, Taj Mahal -- Indian food combined with one of the best selections of beer in Boise. We got a little wild, so it was a good idea that we were seated in a private room. Here are some photos.

Scary Larry
The following day, nursing some minor hangovers, we started the day with gift and Suz getting in some gardening. Out of nowhere, our neighborhood's infamous ice cream man, Scary Larry came by. Long story short, for the last two years we heard his truck in our old neighborhood, but we somehow missed him. It was maddening -- I tried hunting him down online and in the phone book, to no avail. However, Scary Larry turned out to be a great guy as we chatted with him. He'll be by every weekend and I'm not sure I'll make it another week without another Choco Taco.

Later in the day we had the family over for a BBQ. Grilled salmon and asparagus with salad and fruit. We were keeping things Kosher for Passover. I recommend matzoh with humus for an appetizer. The weather was great for appetizers, but got a little windy for dinner, so we went inside. I'll link to photos as soon as I get those uploaded.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Doug's Race To Robie Creek

Billed as the toughest half marathon in the Northwest, the Race to Robie Creek is one of many fun events here in Boise. It's 13.1 miles from Boise to Robie Creek, along Rocky Canyon Road -- 8.45 miles uphill to Aldape Summit, and then 4.65 miles downhill.

The challenge not only lies in enduring the extremes of the race route, but actually getting into the race. The organizers, once again, partnered with a lame online service provider that can't keep up with the thousands of people around the world trying to get one of 2,400 slots. On registration day, I wasted six hours facing timed out browsers and site crashes. I didn't get in, but I did score a bib three weeks later, thanks to a drawing at Shu's Idaho Running Company.

On the morning of the race, I met my friends, Tim and Lewis, at one of the parking areas near the end of the marathon. It was a cool 39 degrees, the sky was overcast, and I hit snow flurries on the way up. Weather forecasters were predicting snow and above-freezing temps at Aldape Summit, and the paper reported lots of mud at the top. Nothing new for this race. Each race is framed by the random weather. Three years ago it was blazing hot at the noon start and they had people passing out along the route to the top.

From the parking area, we rode back to Boise in Tim's truck. I managed to keep my Camelback's hydration mouthpiece out of the pool of God-knows-what liquid and feathers from Tim's long-forgotten duck hunt (and recently thawed ducks). Back in Boise, it was overcast and windy. At the race start, we had an hour and a half to kill after registration and getting our timing chips -- we spent the time catching up with other runners, listening to the band play cheesy rock, and keeping warm.

Just before the start of the race, the Scottish-themed, kilt-wearing Rocky Canyon Sail Toad gods blessed us with a back wind and a parting of clouds that provided warm, sunny weather for the entire race. I'll spare the details of my miles, and let you check out some of the photos I took along the way.

While I was going solo, I met some cool people on the way up and down. The highlight was Temptation Station. Just as you near the summit at mile 8, the trail feels steeper -- you're within sight of Aldape Summit (elev. 4,600 ft), your legs are looking forward to getting in some downhill miles, and it's the moment when some racers wonder if the race is really worth all this effort.

Temptation Station is hosted by the Boise Hash House Harriers ("We're really more of a drinking club with a running problem!"), they set out an "aid station" that features booze, cigars, Zingers and lots of loud music. For being near the end of the race, the party at Temptation Station was just getting started. It was packed. Last year, I politely passed on these folks. This year, I gave my dogs a rest and graciously enjoyed a couple of beers, Zingers, and shots of tequila (yes, they had Patron Silver!). They urged me to stay, but I had last year's time to beat, so I thanked my new friends and hit the dusty trail to Robie Creek.

On the way down the backside, I passed several runners/walkers hanging out at the real aid stations, getting oxygen and seeking treatment for other injuries. My heart rate was good, I was breathing easy and my legs felt solid. My training paid off after countless hours getting up to (or close to) Aldape Summit in three feet of snow, 19-degree temps, and sometimes freezing wind and snow.

At the end of the race, I crossed the finish, grabbed my new Race To Robie Creek shirt, and headed straight to the beer station. They were serving sweet Sierra Nevada. Ahhhh!

Let me be clear, I'm not much of a runner (and I like my knees), so unlike most racers, I walked this thing. I wasn't alone. Despite my final time, there were lots of people behind me (some way behind me). I beat my previous year's time by 15 minutes. It might not sound like much, but I'm damn proud of it. Join me next year and get bragging rights to completing the toughest half marathon in the Northwest. It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rebecca's 4th Birthday

As you might know, Rebecca's birthday is on 3/17. Yep, St. Patrick's day. While I'm sure she'll find plenty of creative ways to spend her birthday, like, in college, we're still planning the kid-oriented parties. Last year's theme was Tinkerbell, this year it's My Little Pony.

She did the birthday thing in class, but left the real party for afterwards. Rebecca invited all of her classmates, and a few other friends, to Elm Grove park for an after-school lunch party. Everyone showed up and the parents stayed around chatting, snacking, etc. Then the pinata game was started. That thing worked like a champ and stood up to everyone's pummeling at least once (15 kids).

Of course, our planning was a little off. The pinata goodies were tiny My Little Pony rubber thingies and Tootsie Pops. After the scramble for goodies, we found that the kids could have cared less about the ponies. So, after everyone consumed their Tootsie Pops, it was time to boost our sugar intake with cupcakes. Plenty of energy left for everyone to hit the playground equipment for 15 minutes before going home.

Check out our photos.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Rachael's First Solo Bike Ride

Last Friday, Rachael did it! After weeks of practicing in the schoolyard, Rachael brought her bike-riding experience home and performed her first solo journey without training wheels. In the beginning, at school, she'd ask Mom to watch her bomb down the curved brick path -- crashing or taking out anyone in her way. Dad even got the chance to witness her tenacity.

So, today, she asked (for the 100th time) for Dad to remove her training wheels. Dad agreed, broke out the socket set and pulled the wheels off for good.

Here's the raw, uncut footage of Rachael's first bike ride without training wheels. We shot this in the alley behind our house. About 20 minutes following this video, Rachael and Dad did a glory ride around the block. Now she's got to learn to use the brakes instead of her feet!

We're excited (and a little terrified), to say the least.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Weekend in McCall, ID

Despite some severe snowstorms prior to our planned trip to McCall, ID, we made the trip. Throughout the week, we closely watched the weather and traffic reports and even phoned the resort to find out if anyone else was coming in from Boise. People were coming in, but the resort was getting lots of cancellations.

On Saturday, after one more scan of the weather and traffic reports, we packed up the car with our gear (and a solid emergency supply kit) and headed out around noon. The drive was smooth, finally hitting some solid snowfall once we got above 5,000 feet. After a stop to top off the gas tank and get more wiper fluid (man, that stuff can really flow with all of the road grime that builds up in the course of a two-hour drive), we headed into the snow with lots of drifts coming across the road. However, we got into McCall fairly quickly -- faster than expected.

When we got into the Whitetail, I noticed a van -- it was a fellow musician I jammed with a few months back. While checking in, I tracked him and band down. They were looking a little disappointed -- they were to play for 300 people for a fundraiser, and only 40 were going to show (due to the weather). It was good to catch up with the guys.

We checked in, chilled in the room for a while and then headed out for the ice rink. I haven't skated for more than 20 years. It quickly came back to Suz from her days in Denver. It was a first for the girls and they had a blast. After an hour or so, we were ready for dinner and checked out the McCall Inn. Good food, but slow service at the end of the town's Winter Festival.

On Sunday we went tubing. Rebecca wanted the slow lane, but gained an appreciation for speed and we finally got in a few fast runs. Rachael paired up with Suz and they were quickly kicking our butts in speedy runs. After hot chocolate, mom and dad got in another run each. The girls were cold and Rachael was showing signs of a return of her cold. That afternoon, we grabbed some chow at a great burger joint called My Father's Hamburgers. To date, their burgers are the best in Idaho.

Rachael began to show a fever that night, so we dosed her up and made it a mellow night in with movies. Worried she wouldn't rally we chose to cut Monday's plans short to get home and get Rachael to the doctor.

Monday morning, Rachael was still dragging. We showered, packed and glumly checked out. Overall though, a great trip. Next time, we're looking up Blue Moon Adventures -- they have a yurt on some park land that requires a mile hike, snowshoe or ski to get there. Once you get there, you're treated to a gourmet dinner and beautiful views of the lake.

Check out our photos.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Doug Goes Snow Camping

I had to try it. We Metzgars love camping, but doing it in the snow hasn't been done -- yet. We've been snowcurious, but with young kids, anything overnight might be miserable for them.

Thanks to my friend Bryan Oakes, a regular winter camper, I asked to join him on a winter camping trip. By coincidence, a local usergroup posted a snowshoe/winter camping trip for beginners. I was all over it. The plan: We'd snowshoe out on a mellow fire road to a campsite, set up camp, eat, hang out and then snowshoe back to the car the next day.

Things didn't quite happen as planned. We set off on a decent ascent (after I discovered what happens when you fall down in snow that's 3-4 feet deep -- thankfully, your face stops you) but soon found ourselves on top of a ridge with no trail in sight. We pushed on in the general direction of our GPS coordinates, hiking up and down several canyons (yes, sliding on my ass became an option at some points) before connecting with a forest service road. Leaving the navigation up to the group leaders, I assumed we were on the right (and per the map outlining the trip, the level path we should have been on). But fear not, we couldn't resist another draw -- heading straight down to the river where our campsite lay.

I imagined taking photos of that part of the journey, but was a little tired, covered with lots of snow, and reluctant to lose my camera down some canyon drop-off.

However, we made it to camp safety, albeit tired. Had a good time digging in for the night, getting to know the guys and swapping tips and tricks (I should have had a notebook for all of that information).

The next morning, we ate breakfast and just as we started to tear down, the wind and snow began to kick in. We hiked the remainder of the way on a decent trail, even though it was uphill until the parking lot;- ) The snow blew into our faces a lot. We were wet under our raingear, but kept up our core temperatures by hiking hard, eating and drinking lots of water.

Got back to the parking lot. Tossed off all the wet gear and warmed up in the car with more water and M&Ms. The rest of the group soon followed and we got everyone packed up and on our way to Idaho City for some chocolate malts and burgers.

Good times. Cold, wet, but fun as heck. I'm doing it again.

During the hike back and making the pace (you know, you get into a groove of the sound of your snowshoes shushing at a particular rhythm) and I thought about my girls. Would they like something like this? Nope -- Not wind and snow in your face. Maybe an easy hike and camp in the snow? Nope -- I imagined Rebecca, the one who likes to stay warm, crying 15 minutes into the hike, then crying all day in the tent, trying to get warm. Then I realized that a snowshoeing adventure would just have to be an hour-long hike (or less) around the snow, then home for hot chocolate. That's OK. I'll settle for that until they're a little older.

Here are some photos for your perusal:
Crooked River (My Shots)
Crooked River (Owen's Shots)
Crooked River (Steve's Shots)