Adventures beyond time

Adventures beyond time

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Festival of Cheeses, Mt. Rainier's Longmire and Paradise Trails

The Festival of Cheeses was amazing as always. We went to the awards ceremony this year…the first time for us. It was held in the Symphony Hall in Seattle and the Festival followed in the lobby areas. I especially enjoyed seeing the awards announced after having volunteered during the judging. The crowd applauded robustly. One of our favorites from The Summer of a Thousand Cheeses…Kunik, from Nettle Meadows Goat Farm and Creamery…won in its category. The Best in Show was won by Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve, made by a cheesemaker couple everyone admires. It was touching to see them receive the plaudits.

Off to the Wilderness
Now that the conference is over, we are off to the wilderness. The drive was not too hard, about 3 hours. The last hour was rural, although the rest was through suburbia.

We stayed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning at the National Park Inn in Mt. Rainier National Park. There are no cell towers, so we will be delayed in posting this until we emerge again into civilization. The lodge was built in the 1930s and has not changed much. There is a lovely living room with a big fireplace. Our room is modest in size and amenities…but large enough for two happy campers to sip some wine and chill out before our dinner downstairs.  The bathrooms are shared…both the men’s and women’s are down the hall with a couple of stalls each. There are only 2 showers for all the rooms. They did give us big plush robes to wear and slippers too. We will probably tolerate being a bit dirtier than usual. Russ is recording a description which I’ll post if I can figure out how to do that with our new laptop.

Our lodge is about 10 miles into the park. On Sunday, when we arrived via rental car that we picked up at the Seattle airport, we had lunch here and then drove in about 15 more miles to another area with a lodge, Paradise Inn. That lodge is much larger and we are happy with our cozy one. We took a great hike in the Paradise area. It was in the 40s and cloudy…quite high elevation. The wildflowers are spectacular. We also saw an elk, a fox, a Clark’s nuthatch (big as a jay), a family of quail-like birds (Ptarmigans?) we haven’t yet identified, and a marmot. I’ll post a few photos. We got our hiking feet under us, with about a 4 mile up and down…good practice for Florida flatlanders. We hope to hike a lot Monday and Tuesday, but rain is threatened. 

Monday at Mt Rainier
Despite promised clouds and showers, the morning was spectacular. We awoke to a view of the volcano out our window. The shared showers had no waiting line and we hit the trails pretty early. Unlike Sunday afternoon, we had our backpacks and walking sticks this time, thank goodness because we picked another steep trail. No meadows today, huge tall trees climbing straight up a mountain side with us. Really beautiful. The sun stayed with us. Temperatures was in the low 50s. We hiked about 2 miles up in about 2 hours and then back down in about 1.5 more. Going up we sweated and breathed a lot; going down we wore jackets against hypothermia and our knees complained a bit. All in all, it was great. We were back only a short while before the clouds came in and showers started.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Meeting Cheese Lovers in Seattle

At the Pier for the Opening Reception
We have met some great cheese people. I volunteered to help with the judging of the cheeses and was assigned to the "verification" team. I worked with a French woman and got to practice my French all day! We reviewed all the scoring to be sure the numbers were in the right places and to correct any errors flagged by the computer data entry system. the best part was being in the room where a dozen or so teams of two technical and the other aesthetic...judged over 1,000 cheeses. Seeing how the process worked and just seeing and smelling all that cheeses was a great experience. There were about 40 volunteers in addition to all the judges. A smooth and lovely process leading to wonderful feedback for the cheese makers who submitted their cheeses to be judged. Tomorrow night we'll learn which cheeses got 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each of the 100+ categories of cheeses and which was Best in Show.

After a "How To Taste" Session

Before a "How to Taste" Session
The sessions have been informative, and filling. I have been to far too many "tastings." We've seen people we knew through the book research and many new folks too. Tonight we are off to a party and tomorrow, after a day of more sessions, is the grand finale...the Festival of Cheeses. We'll post photos of that for sure.

The Summer of a Thousand Cheeses At the Book Event

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Star Lake in Retrospect, Fixing the Mustang, The New Plan for Getting to Seattle and the Cheese Conference

I cannot resist posting a final couple of Star Lake photos from the Reunion and one taken on Patsy's deck looking over the lake on one of our last evenings. The wine was good. The sky was clear. The air was warm. The loons were calling.

We had a grueling trip home, with road work stoppages that lasted as long as an hour, and heavy awful rains off and on for two days. Luckily, we had a great evening and another great sushi meal with Meg and Steve in Lexington. But on the second day of the trip we got sideswiped by a hit and run driver in SC. The new little Mustang got the worst of it. We pulled off and examined ourselves and the car. Finding no blood nor any damage that interfered with driving, we drove on and called our USAA insurance agent from the road.

We were glad to get home and to get the car inspected the next day. We had only three days home before our scheduled departure for the big road trip to Seattle for the American cheese Society Conference and three weeks of hiking in the Pacific Northwest. 

I took the Mustang in to the dealer service folks to change oil before the long drive. The air bag light came on in Star Lake & stayed asked them to check it. SIX DAYS later we got the car back! That was 3 days after we needed to I bought plane tix. Seems the module that tells the 2 passenger air bags to deploy in a crash had an "open circuit" in it. Had to take out seat & carpeting to fix + they didn't have the part! 

As we flew over all the beauty of the Bad Lands, Custer Canyon, & mountains today I felt cheated by Ford & the Santa Fe Ford service folks. But it would have been a very long drive...that's the other side. Fate wins. 

So here we are in beautiful, warm, sunny Seattle. We visited Beechers Cheese and saw their cheddaring operations.

We just had a super delightful meal on the waterfront on an outdoor terrace at The Pink Door. They had a great picture on the wall of a dog like Pam's Mardi, except he was being angelic.

Great food. Great service. Now we're relaxing in our room on 29th floor. Nice view of Seattle. No travel glitches today. Happy campers. Conference starts tomorrow. I expect to volunteer in the judging of the 1000+ cheeses that have been entered into the competition this year. Russ will take the Cheeses of the Olympic Peninsula Field Trip.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

North Country 2010

Day 2 
After spending a nice evening on Friday in Lexington with Meg and Steve, and having a super sushi dinner with them, we had a second beautiful driving day.
  • VA - Done 
  • PA - Done
  • NY - Done 
  • Star Lake - Hurray 
The North Country held many and varied events this summer. Some were wonderful and some were really not. Tracy, the 30-year-old daughter of our friend and Star Lake neighbor Gary has become our friend too. She, her husband Aaron, and 3-year-old Kayla were driving north from TN as we were driving up from FL. We were texting about how Kayla hated the trip even more than our dog Jake. We arrived a few hours apart and had a lovely day at the lake the next day. But then Tracy, who had breast cancer last year and a brain tumor two months ago got vertigo. She soon was in the Star Lake hospital, then Syracuse hospital, then flown home to Vanderbilt hospital. They removed most of a new tumor 8 days after we all had happily arrived at the lake. Gary and Kayla flew to TN when Tracy got home on Thursday the 12th.  She will have radiation treatments. She is regularly posting updates on

The Lake
Our Star Lake camp was welcoming as always. Jake jumped up on the sofa and luxuriated in being allowed such comfort on vacation. He was very happy to be out of the back seat of the new Mustang. The weather was so warm that I actually swam in usual frigid Star Lake most days.

Donna and Larry, our PA friends, visited for several days. We spent every afternoon at the lake with all the neighbors, including Tracy, Aaron, and now-happy Kayla, Linda and Lenny, their daughters and 5 grandkids, Pat and her brother Don. We walked the 3.8 miles around the lake each day before our swimming and kayaking adventures. We had dinner with Pat and Don at her cottage a couple of times and she with us after he left for home.

One evening, Don and his Blue Grass music friends Eddy and Jewel invited us and all the other neighbors to a house concert. Three wonderful hours! Another evening Donna, Larry and Russ and I had dinner at the Cranberry Lake Inn, sitting by the windows overlooking the lake and watching the sunset.

Russ and I participated in the Save Our Schoolhouse 5K Walk/Run and Russ came in 2nd in the Men’s > 60 category. He got a cool plaque.

Russ’s sister Phyllis, husband Otis, and friends Carol and Rolfe came for a bit too. We entertained everyone at our camp while they were there. The mood was muted by Tracy’s pending surgery but it was good to all be together…friends who have known each other since junior high school supporting each other.

Pam and James also spent a few days visiting. They went to Russ’s High School Reunion with us. We kayaked and took the floating dock out around the lake. Unique to Star Lake, many camps have docks that detach and have motors. You can take your dock, including chairs, coolers, umbrellas, out and about. People motor in the afternoons to a sand bar, gathering to talk and share beer and snacks, seating on their docks or on their Adirondack chairs in the shallow water. This year the lake had many loons. I awoke to their calls the 1st night and heard them often in the early mornings and evenings. We watched their amazing walk-on-water displays several afternoons.

Cheese Talks 

We gave several presentations and got coverage in the Watertown Daily Times and 4 other local newspapers, plus an interview on North Country Public radio. At the St. Lawrence County Historical Society we talked about the history of cheese in the region. About 30 people attended, including Russ’s cousin Charlene. We went out afterwards with Charlene for coffee in Canton. The next talk was at the community library. Our 2nd Tuesday was a full day: Breakfast at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, interview at 10:00 with the Tupper Lake Free Press, a presentation at the Adirondack Museum on Adirondack Food Traditions: The Cheese Connection, and Adirondack Authors Night in Long Lake, then back home to Star Lake. Our last cheese talk was back at Tupper Lake’s Wild Center: The Natural History of the Adirondacks and Cheese.

The Trip Back
Day 1 Rain and a major slow-down in Hazelton, great dinner again with Meg and Steve.
  • NY - Done
  • PA - Done 
  • MD - Done 
  • WV - Done 
  • VA 
Day 2 More rain and sideswiped by a hit-and-run driver in SC. We’re fine but the new Mustang is badly in need of cosmetic surgery.
  • VA - Done 
  • NC - Done 
  • SC - Done 
  • GA - Done 
  • FL - Home Sweet Home 
Next Adventure
We leave Friday August 20 to drive to Seattle. It is all about the journey!