Trail Report: Steelbender [Utah]

October 14, 2013

We started out pretty early, arriving at the trailhead about 8:00AM.

Quick group photo. Yours truly is taking the picture.

The team posed for a quick photo at the trailhead and we met up with a couple that asked if they could run the trail with us in their Cherokee.

We drove in about 2 miles of pretty easy gravel road with a minor creek crossing, and took a break for a quick driver’s meeting.  This was also a great opportunity to meet our new friends.

Minor creek crossing.
Quick driver’s meeting.

The area we stopped at was a “Driver’s Choice” section with many different lines of attack.  I chose what I thought was a challenging ledge and was able to get up reasonably easy, even though the rock surface had some damp sand.

My challenging line.

The trail continued to have a series of ledges and stairs peppered throughout its length.

Me trying to get Frank up a slick ledge.

Eventually, the trail opened up with a long ledge essentially splitting the trail into an upper and lower section.  Mark led the pack up through a narrow “V” which seemed to be the best line, with the least potential for tippyness.

Mark leading the charge.

After this section, the trail turns to the left and climbs up for some elevation gain.  There is a great spot for pictures on the ledge above.

From this section on, we navigated some different ledges and couple of tight sections.

Jesse navigating a tight spot. That’s what SHE said!

The trail also opened up and followed a very narrow ridgeline of slickrock.  Any missteps here would be a rollover.

The narrow ridgeline.

We broke for a quick lunch spot when the trail settled down and opened up, to allow for others to pass us as needed.

After lunch, we made our way toward the fabled “Fall.”  The Fall is a 6-7 foot near vertical drop.  At the base of this drop, the driver must turn an immediate left, as there is a ravine to the right.  Maintaining full control of the vehicle is critical, especially since once gravity takes over, it will slide down the face of the Fall with little control.

Richard taking on the Fall, with Frank the Tank on his 6.

After the Fall was behind us, we were able to appreciate the scenery of the area.  The desert floor opened up to some amazing vistas and rock formations.

Jesse posing.
Desert scenery.

At this point, the trail began to descend back to the creek drainage we crossed earlier in the day.

The ground became more sand than rock and presented more tree growth which added to the scenery.

The creek drainage scenery.

Once over the creek, we decided to check out some ancient petroglyphs/hieroglyphs on a wall.  The natural and human history of this area amazes me.

Native art scene.

Once on the road, we stopped at a local pub on our way home for a cold, malted beverage.

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WHAT CAME IN HANDY:

WHAT WOULD HAVE MADE IT BETTER:

Pretty amazing stuff coming from the nut-milk cheese front

Here is the link from Food + Wine.

Some highlights:

Days later, Ronnen was in Boston promising to put his life savings into the project. He and Brown convinced Casino to move to California and lined up investment from Khosla Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm specializing in green technology. Jean Prevot, director of operations for Laura Chenel’s Chèvre, also joined Kite Hill to help them design and build a production facility in Hayward, California, just a few hundred yards from the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay.

Cathy Strange, the global cheese buyer for Whole Foods Market, tasted the Kite Hill lineup earlier this year. “I loved it instantly,” she says. “I could taste the culture, the rind. I’ve never, ever seen this kind of texture in an alternative milk product.” As a result of that tasting, Kite Hill reached a deal to retail exclusively through Whole Foods.

Shut the front door: A New Menu at Veggie Grill!?

Veggie Grill is a vegan’s dream come true.  Relatively healthy, reasonably priced, consistent quality vegan food.  It is so great to have an entire menu to choose from.

I am especially excited with their new menu just released today!

The mini-wraps look awesome (I prefer Buffalo), and Yukon Gold french fries!?  Yes please.

Check it out for yourself (PDF)!

Veggie Grill's new menu.
Veggie Grill’s new menu.

Food Review: Field Roast Frankfurters

When I was a kid, I never really liked hot dogs.  Even then, I knew what they were made of and it really grossed me out.

Fast forward a shit ton of years, and I am loving them all over again. Why?  Because now I know what is in my hot dog…but more importantly I know what is NOT.

Vegan hot dogs are plagued with balancing two distinct needs of people: make your product as close as a match to the meat version (for the ex-meatheads like me) but not so close as to freak out people that don’t like meat.

Many of the brands out there are rubbery analogs that do the job, but not well.

Enter Field Roast’s Frankfurters.

Don’t hate on my mustard and ketchup application skills: It’s actually performance art and you are missing the point.

These are a “drier” dog, that I prefer to grill or boil while in the plastic “skin.”  These dogs will not have a ton of water in them like traditional franks.  They have a wonderful flavor and texture that perfectly balances the like-meat-but-not-too-much scale.

These travel incredibly well (keep them refrigerated) are easy clean up, and deliver plenty of protein and food to your gut on those long days of wheelin.

These grill up amazingly well.

Bar Review: Bye & Bye [Portland]

Personally, I have a top 5 list of places in Portland that I simply could not live without.

The Bye & Bye is in that group’s top 3.

The drinks tend to be on the fruitier side than their sister bar (The Sweet Hereafter).  Their Mojito is decent, the Stockholm is a popular choice for Melanie.  I prefer the Three Liars, with mint and cucumber infused gin.  Especially on a hot Portland day.

The bar is beautiful and bright.

Their beer list is ever changing and okay.  They could stand to get a few more taps and expand the variety a little more.  That being said, they do a good job with the taps they have.  Their IPAs are usually top shelf.

The ambiance is nice and chill.  You never know who you may see while at the Bye and Bye – I have seen small families, older folks, the typical hipster, and all people in between.

Food wise?  Phenom like penh.

The Eastern Bowl and their new sammy loaded with buffalo soy curls and amazing candied almonds are both amazing and make me want to get all Touretty.  Notice how I forgot the name of the damn sandwich?  That’s because it was named after something abstract and cool.  It doesn’t matter, just get it and love it. (EDIT: The sammy is called “Frank’s Wild Years” and I assume there is some backstory there).  It is the yin to the Sweet Hereafter’s Buffalo Soldier’s Yang, and I would say it is a tie for the best sammich.

Another thing to grab is their new(ish) pretzels.  It’s good these come 2 on a plate, as I think I could eat an entire platter of these damn things.  Skip the mustard and plunge that puppy right into their homemade cheesy dip.  They come out warm, and with just the right amount of salt on them to make them addictive.

The biggest (albeit the only) complaint I have with them is that they are too damn cool to answer the phone.  I’d love to place a quick to go order and grab an Eastern to go.  But they never answer.  Ah well, such is the price for awesomeness, I suppose.

You would be perfect to me if you just picked this up.  It's even vintage!
You would be perfect to me if you just picked this up. It’s even vintage!

The pros far outweigh the cons (I only counted one con) for the B&B though.  Great ambiance, awesome service, beautiful atmosphere.  Combine that with great vegan bar food, and good drinks and we have a Portland establishment.

Every night I pray to the vegan Gods that the B&B is here forever.

Music Review: City and Colour

City and Colour (Dallas Green) is one of those rare finds that soon become woven into the soundtrack of your life.

But it happens not like a binge-watched season of Breaking Bad, or a sudden obsession with orange juice that soon leaves you craving that next big high, but more like that crazy singer at the bar that is so fantastic, the place is silent, jaws agape.

Taken from his website, all rights reserved.
Dallas Green

The music is just a fantastic combination of organic, gritty lyricism combined with a very simple analog guitar folk flavor that is at home accompanying a starlit Jeep drive, a road trip to the coast, or passing some time at a coffee shop.

The guitar leaves an aftertaste of blues or jazz, I really can’t tell – it’s just a taste.  But there is some residual twang at the end of some chords that leaves you wondering if they were deliberate or a natural extension of the inherent flexibility in this music.

The lazy drums seem like an afterthought on many tracks – which is not necessarily a bad thing.  If this music had any more structure, it would be over processed and trying too hard.  Dallas has found the sweet spot here: dangling us between overly complicated instrumentation, and coffee-ground mucky lyrics so smoky, you can picture the Marlboro dangling from the singer’s lips as he sneaks sips of Maker’s between verses.

In the end, City and Colour’s complete picture of variety, lyrics, and instruments combines into a fantastic medley of catchy tunes.  It is versatile music at its best, with applicability in any situation yet it lacks a true identity.

Favorite tracks:

  • Body in a Box
  • Comin’ Home
  • Day Old Hate
  • The Girl
  • Hello, I’m in Delaware

Trail Report: Barlow Trail [Oregon]

Day 2 of our recent “Wheeling Extravaganza” had us headed to the Mt. Hood Wilderness to run the first section of Barlow Road.

This road is of significant historical value, as it part of the original Oregon Trail, and where landowners would setup toll booths to collect tolls from folks headed further West.

We aired down from the parking lot and were surprised to see about six inches of snow on the ground.  We started rolling about 3:00 PM.

Airing down in the parking lot. Is that an old 90s R&B track?
Initial descent.

The first section had quite a bit of snow, and it was a pretty good descent into the first valley.  As we progressed, the snow became thinner and thinner, eventually disappearing completely.

This is not really a Jeep trail per se, but I bet a car could get hung up in some spots if the driver was not careful.

Some of the water crossings were also very deep, so I am glad we left the Fiesta at home.

The snow all but disappeared at lower elevations.

Really cool mileposts lead the way and provide more historical relevancy as you make your way along the trail.

Old milepost.

We ended up pulling over and doing some shooting for about 30 minutes.

To be back home by dark, we turned off after the first section and made our way back to 26.

This trail has some amazing camping sites and I am really looking forward to coming back this Summer.

Trail Report: Archer’s Firebreak [Oregon]

November 16, 2013

The team met at the typical location – the Chevron station in North Plains around 9:00.

We were on the road by 9:30.

Arriving at the pull out to air down, we quickly let the air out and got on our way.

Getting to the start of Archer’s Fire Break is always long and boring, but the hill shortly after the trail begins is sure to get the grease moving in the gearbox.  This first climb through dense green forest and loose, gravelly mud is just a preview of what is to come.

Shortly after the first climb, the group found ourselves conquering an old foe – the “V Notch.”  This long, steady climb also has a very angled stance with the passenger often looking at the ground as it passes by.  The driver tries not to lose momentum even with their eyes closed.  The extreme angle seems like your Jeep is going to tip over at any moment.

Jeff tackling the top of the “V Notch.”

The rest of the trail is actually a bit on the  boring side.  It is a series of small segments that continually intersect with the main forest road.

Many of these segments are just long enough where you can get out of 4WL (or simply be in 6th gear at 4,000 RPMs) only to quickly have to re-engage.  Many of these trail segments also are pretty featureless, save for a few deep water fordings in the wet months, or some short rock gardens.

Jesse coming down one of the rock gardens along Archer’s Fire Break.

The real coup de gras waits at the end of the trail like a predator stalking its bored and tired prey.  The final stretch of this trail is called “Rocky Uphill” for, creatively, both the large  number of rocks that litter the path and the fact is in quite uphill.

There are two possible routes starting from the base of RH – the right and left – with the left side being rumored as the easier side.  On this trip however, they both seemed equally scaled.

The two options soon merge near the top, where the pitch of the hill steepens, the rocks increase in size, and the driver is again presented with two options: right or left.

Right seemed to be the easier choice.  The left side has seen vehicles roll over on previous days (granted it was a Toyota).

After Rocky Uphill, the trail continues with one last technical section, then meets up with the forest road for the drive back to air up and head home.

Frank, after a long and dirty day.

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WHAT CAME IN HANDY:

WHAT WOULD HAVE MADE IT BETTER:

FINE-PRINT-2

Not all vegans drive hybrids and wear skinny jeans.

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