Some photos from our whirlwind trip to New York for Dan and Kelly’s wedding. We couldn’t be happier for our dear friend Dan. He has found a beautiful and caring woman to spend his days with. Thanks again for an amazing weekend cheers guys!
I really can’t say enough about spring in Hailey. It’s a fairyland. Colorful tulips line the sidewalks and fragile wildflowers pop up in the sneakiest of spots. Light lingers long into the evening and the sweet smells of nature tickle the senses. Thunderstorms come and go. Mornings are crisp and beautiful. It’s truly a lovely time of year.
We’ve certainly enjoyed every bit of it, too. We kicked off a wondrous weekend barbequing goodies with Poppa S and our good friend, Dave. Excellent chatter and homebrews lasted well into the evening.
Gardening and bus work were our main objectives for the sunny weekend. While the Davis dudes tinkered with Vincent, Dave and I tilled and planted bits of our garden. Bok choy and rainbow chard will be growing out of our ears in no time!
Tasty elk burgs and sweet cinnamon rolls capped off the night.
A most excellent spring weekend spent with the best kind of people.
Back to school? Na. Well… kind of.
For as long as I can remember, we’ve been dreaming about opening a brewery to share the amazing craft with others. Unfortunately, sharing such happiness, even on a small scale, can amount to thousands of dollars; a huge investment that neither one of us has much experience in. If things go awry, finances could get scary. Even ugly. So, instead of taking a huge financial leap, we’ve discovered another option: online business classes specifically for craft brewing.
Portland State School of Extended Studies is to blame for this awesome opportunity. They offer a Business of Craft Brewing Certificate option for folks like us, who love beer and have fuzzy plans to make it a career. Just to be sure this is an investment we want to invest in, we registered E for the first online class: Basic Business for Craft Beverages.
I am psyched and the class sounds awesome -
“This non-credit course provides an overview of the craft brewery business – from grower to glass. You will be introduced to the various players and processes that go into making and selling craft beer, from growing grains and hops to malting, brewing, distribution, and retail environments. You’ll also cover the different strategies and associated costs of creating a craft beer along with the different types of business models for selling craft beverage products. Business models for Distilleries and Alcoholic Cider facilities will be included.”
- An overview of the craft brewing industry, competitive dynamics, trends, and opportunities
- The process of getting from the field to the end consumer and the associated costs
- The regulatory environment in specific regions, associated taxes and licenses, and constraints on the different business models
- Strategies for differentiating product
- Creation a basic business plan for a new or existing business
The certificate program lasts about five months. There is an online class offered each month and an optional beer immersion course in Portland. For the immersion portion of the program, students will get to travel from brewery to brewery, sample some frosty beverages, and listen to various speakers on their love for the craft brewery industry. Cool, right!?
As we continue to brew our own beer, we will get to explore our business options without burying ourselves in loans and other financial obligations. What a deal!
I can hardly believe it. Time has flown by. It’s been an entire year since we left Alaska. Can you believe it?
I feel like I need to bake a slew of chocolate chip cookies or simmer a hearty stew on the stove with little Carter boys at my feet, being helpful kitchen mates.
Such wonderful memories; an incredible way to spend two years.
There’s certainly no shortage of fond memories or photos to share from our time in Alaska. We reminisce about our Alaskan adventures daily. I can picture it so clearly, so detailed.. like it was yesterday. We’re gathered around the wood stove, chatting candidly with the Carter family, a fresh pot of coffee on.. or a frosty adult beverage in hand.
Such a warm, beautiful journey. Thank you, Alaska. Cheers to you, friends.
I’ve been doing a lot of flight searches lately, in hopes of finding something somewhat affordable for our Mexico trip. The past few weeks, flights have been horrendously expensive. Up until today, I worried that we would have to pay an arm and a leg to travel there and back. This afternoon, luck was on our side. I found flights for $600 each. That is a bargain compared to any other price I’ve come across. And, so it goes. I hit the ‘booked’ button! We are going to Mexico!
One last item on the good ol’ to-do list: reserve the lovely casita we will be staying in – Quinta Adriana. I have an email out to Magic Ed containing precious details of our reservation. I am hoping to hear a reply from him soon.
It sure looks like an incredible place. Friends, climbing, Mexico. We are psyched!
“It’s a damn good thing I know Japanese”, Lee exclaimed as he hoped back in the driver seat of our tow truck. The truck sat saddled on a curb dangling into a lane and a half of traffic in a way that only delivery, trucks and moving vans seem to get away with.
Somewhere in the middle of his tale of handcuffing himself to his teenager for a week of classes to teach him a lesson about skipping class I caught myself drifting. I was tired. The night before I sat in the bus watching nervously through our curtains as a guy screamed at his telephone as if it was a noise meter on the jumbo-tron at Cowboys Stadium. Broken down in a Walmart parking lot in Orem, UT we had little choice but to crack a Mirror Pond and laugh at our citation.
A week later and we are headed back to Salt Lake City in a rental car. Wayne at “Wayne’s Vee Double U Repair” (no joke) took a look and determined that Vincent “ran beautifully!” I’m not so sure if that is good news or not but regardless we are headed back to the beehive state for the second time in as many weeks.
One of the great perks of working for the school district are the built in week long vacations. Last week Robyn and I took advantage of spring break and drove Vincent all the way to St. George, UT in one long 10 hour push, arriving delirious at a windy camp on the edge of town. When we awoke, palm trees lined manicured retirement communities and red rock cliffs speckled the surrounding hillsides.
Ben, Jeremy and Dana combined with us and several other SLC affiliated crews to descend upon the Turtle Wall, a short walk past the ever-popular Chuckawalla Wall. At one point it felt as if someone we knew was on every route the small wall had to offer, a great feeling after a long and lonely 2 years of climbing in Alaska. Jeremy and Matt pushed each other on The Actual Parchments (5.13a) making impressive progress, as Robyn redpointed Director of Human Affairs (5.11a) and Ben sent a wildly overhanging route called Banana Dance (5.11d). Toward the end of the day we were even treated to a tortoise sighting, a first for both Robyn and I.
After a full day on soft red sandstone we made the stunning drive through the Virgin River Gorge (worth a weekend of exploring in its own right) to Mesquite, NV and out a long gravel climb back into the desert wilderness of Arizona. Here we circled the crew (now also including Steve who met us from Red Rocks) and had a late dinner and fire that lasted till early morning. As the sun rose over the hills to our east, a rugged limestone mountainside appeared, breakfast was made, and we carpooled to the trailhead of The Grail. The approach was lined with cactus and blooming desert flowers, and our first view of the crag after a steep winding trail was breathtaking. The valley before us was lined with towering limestone walls streaked yellow and grey up to 600 feet tall. For the next two days and nights we explored, climbed, camped, and laughed over hearty meals and around blazing campfires.
By Tuesday we were looking to rest, refuel and find a new camp for the remainder of the week. Since we got to St. George we had loosely followed Ben’s recommended tick list of areas and climbs with growing confidence and excitement. One place he always raved about was Sunset Alley, and it looked like the weather for Wednesday would be perfect.
Leaving St. George through the quaint main street of Santa Clara, Steve, Apollo, Robyn and I climbed through a beautiful canyon lined with blocky basalt cliffs and a lazy river dotted with ruins of Mormon homesteads. On the horizon red rock blazed in the late afternoon sun and we wound our way up a gravel road via a hand drawn map supplied by Ben. With little effort we found our camp, ample firewood and a flat place for the bus overlooking a juniper lined wash. The next two days we spent ticking line after line of incredibly high quality limestone. Each route seemed better than the last and it led Steve into a euphoric state of giggling as he ascended what he described upon lowering as the “best 5.10 I’ve ever done”.
Our finger tips seeping and pink we were determined to make one last stop on the finger friendly sandstone cliffs near town before heading back north. Chuckawalla Wall is home to Ben’s first 5.12a send Second Coming, a must do route that moves through some slopey crimps down low before launching into a raucous jug haul up an overhanging prow. Chasing shade we wasted little time warming up before Steve hoped on to give it a go. It’s fun climbing routes that are meaningful to your climbing buddies, and sending Second Coming felt kinda like re-watching a movie you’ve seen a hundred times just to see the reaction of your friends. As I pulled the final move I wasn’t just excited for me. I felt like I shared the ascent with the hundreds of other climbers that fought their way to the top and stood proud, huffing and puffing as they clipped the chains.
“And you hope to hell they don’t swallow 100 gallons of water after you shoot em or they weigh about 1,200 pounds when you’re trying to haul them in the boat.” “What do you bait them with?” I asked. “Whole chickens, gators only feed at night, so I’d go out there in my boat, pull em up with one hand and shoot em in the head. I can make $90,000 in three months.” Lee said. “Anyway, here is your stop.” Robyn and I got out at the front of the car rental section at the Salt Lake City International Airport and walked in to pick up our rental, immediately aware of how dirty we were after a week of camping. It didn’t help that the chipper young suited chap showing us the features of our Nissan Versa appeared to be wearing eye liner…
Some people ask if having Vincent is worth the effort. Even my folks were nervous gifting him back to Robyn and I at our wedding, knowing that trips with him can take some sharp unexpected turns. But in a way there is something enticing about the unexpected twists and turns of travel with Vince that adds excitement. Do I want to spend another night at Walmart in Orem, UT – hell no. I am certain that I can live without charging my phone next to the bathroom in Del Taco while the power tripping night manager rips into his new employee for not having slip resistant rubber on his shoes. And what about the cost? Isn’t it expensive? Tow trucks, rental cars, low gas mileage.. Well the answer is yes but hey, there’s always gator huntin’.
Let it be known that Robyn and I will be traveling to El Potrero Chico during the Christmas holiday of 2013-2014 and we want you to come with us. We are very serious about making this trip happen so I will spare you the back story and get right down to details.
Who? You! Climber? Hiker? Adventurer? Lets do it.
Where? “El Potrero Chico (“little coral”) is the world famous big wall sport climbing paradise in northern Mexico. It is an amazing climbing experience of a lifetime of well-bolted, multi-pitch sport routes with ratings from 5.7 to 5.14 and routes with up to 23 pitches. Most of the climbs have a crazy easy approach about a 5 minute walk from most campgrounds, eliminating any need for a car. The cost of living is very low and the friendly people wonderful. Welcome to our little coral.”
When? We plan to fly out of Boise or Salt Lake City to span the dates of December 20th, 2013 and January 5th, 2014.
How much? Flights from Boise have been fluctuating between $600-$1,000 round trip and likely a lot cheaper from other airports.
- Food in Mexico as with other essentials is fairly cheap. I can imagine paying no more than $50 a week while living high on the hog with ample celebratory post climbing cervezas.
- Taxi/ Air Shuttle? From: Monterrey International Airport Rates: $50.00 USD for 1 or 2 passengers $15.00 USD for each additional passenger
- Housing? This depends on how many of you join us! We are looking to go big and just get a house for our time down there. Here are some options ranging from $40-$120 per night: http://magicedspotrerochico.com/?page_id=21
At this price with 4 people we could all be in a bed every night in our OWN HOUSE for $200 each over 10 days.
Totals? A rough estimate is ~$1,200 each for 10 days of adventure and climbing in Mexico with our own plush casita within 10 minutes of the main climbing.
LET US KNOW! We are looking to book a casita by this weekend (April 6-7). I have batted around dreams and trips with many of you around campfires, grinning ear to ear with the thought of an adventurous getaway to a cool location. Well dream no more folks – let’s do it. Put away $150 a month till Christmas and cash in on a lifetime of good memories.
It’s hard to believe the best skiing of the year is happening in Valdez right now.. Last year we racked up double and triple-digits on skis by early March and climbing was some weird distant memory of West Virginia canyons carpeted with deciduous trees and inhabited by people who cared about things like “The National Football League” and “Nascar”. A wild twist of events has brought us back south, albeit much closer to home, and our pent up climbing-stoke propelled us to 4 months of non-stop climbing. Settling in Idaho with its incredible diversity of rock and climates provided us a selection of climbing areas that kept on giving long into November and early December. A trip to Red Rocks, Nevada capped off the most adventurous and prolific climbing season to date and despite fat early season snow in the Sawtooth’s our minds were geared toward an early start to 2013 climbing.
Upon return from Red Rocks the months of January and February were primarily spent in the snow. But the idea of hitting next climbing season full stride, with just enough break to let our muscles and tendons repair themselves, and not SO long as to lose all climbing strength, was appealing. We set goals for 2013, started a training log and hit the gym on the first of February with our goals in mind. Now nearly 2 months in we are feeling fit and motivated after a dry snow year and warm temps has gotten us out for several early season trips.
Next week we will be camping with Vincent in Saint George Utah with good friends from near and far for a solid week of climbing that for me at least represents the kick-off to true climbing season. I can’t say I have ever come into April feeling this motivated or fit, and both Robyn and I are excited to push our climbing abilities again as we head into the 2013 season!
These photos are from two nearby cool-weather areas Murtaugh, ID and Dierkes Lake, ID. We had a great weekend with Jeremy, Dana and Ben who made the trip up to camp with us and we get to climb with them again this weekend down in Utah!
The beach is dramatic and often a bit intense. It’s beautiful and difficult to describe. It’s breathtaking and hypnotizing. I could get lost with emotion and feeling there. It’s the edge of what I know, the edge of the earth.
A few weeks ago now, we traveled to Pacific City. We met up with good family and loyal four-legged friends. Gusty waves and wind didn’t stop us from sharing beach fires, sandy strolls, and soft-clam treasure hunts. It was a sweet, sweet visit. We certainly overindulged. Lots of food and beverages, and humid-salty air. It was dreamy. On several occasions, we imagined owning shore-side property to call our own.
The sunsets were remarkable and laughter filled each day. Oh, the beach. It was a sweet, sweet visit.
We’ve been here and there. Roamers and loungers. A nice mix for us. A little bit of home and a little bit of away for the day. Then usually home by dinner. The days are getting longer, brighter, and warmer. These are the days, really good days.
Small patches of weathered grass have begun to appear along sidewalks and alleyways. Magpies and Robins are making their way back to the valley. People are bustling about, sporting shorts already. With days like these, I long for late summer nights, picnic parties, long bike rides and climbing. Soon, those days will be among us. Soon, we too, will be wearing shorts.
For now, our weeks have been long and busy. Incredibly busy. We often look forward to free and relaxing Fridays. This past Friday was no different. We generously poured ourselves two new brews: The Pike Auld Acquaintance Hoppy Holiday Ale and Anderson Valley’s Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout; both heavenly and delicious. Snow was in the weekend forecast. Dramatic clouds and intense hues of grey filled the night sky. Relaxation and big beers was a must.
Saturday was surprising. What was supposed to be windy and snowy turned out to be a cloudless, bright, and brisk day. The combination was still too cold to go rope up or boulder, however, it was more than perfect for spending some time around Hailey. I can’t remember a cozier, nicer, more pajama-clad morning: sipping on coffee, perusing the web-o-sphere for brewing supplies. I’d say our day was a success. We enjoyed a lazy morning and purchased an all-grain brewing setup. Whaaa?!
This lingering idea has become a reality. We are psyched to brew again! The valley will benefit, too. For now, our garage brewery, The Big Wood Brewing Company, will need committed folks to sample our homemade adult beverages.
Meanwhile, the first craft brews on our Big Wood Menu will consist of a hearty Imperial IPA and a re-creation of our tastiest Alaskan beer, POW. Plans to ferment a semi-sweet batch of mead with local honey from Idaho are also brewing.
This glorious occasion warranted a casual bike ride over to Old Cutter’s Park. We nervously watched on as the skijoring festivities and fun commenced. If you’ve ever seen skijoring, you know this hobby is fast and dangerous! Those folks and horses are brave. They will certainly need a frosty beverage after the race. Maybe some artisan bread, too. A group effort in artisan bread making with our friend, Dave, took us late in to Saturday evening. These crackling beauties were delicious. This recipe will be one we use again and often.
Sunday morning greeted us with more clear skies and sunshine. In keeping with the Big Wood theme, we tailored our morning around a long, healthy 13.1 mile run. We mapped out our run along a well-worn foothill trail. It led us to the tiny town of Bellevue (about three miles south of Hailey). It zipped in and out of Bellevue. Crossing Main Street, we hit Bradford Road, a quiet back road that travels from Bellevue to Hailey. Rounding the bend in to Hailey, we were achy and tired. We ran up River Street and over to Second Avenue. From here, we cooled down by walking the last quarter mile home. The first annual Big Wood Brewing Company Half Marathon will most likely take place again in six months, or so. All runners are welcome.
Showers and a pot of coffee soothed our aching bodies. We quietly chatted about the events that transpired this past weekend. With his big-bright-goofy grin, Ethan looked at me and said, ‘Go big or go home’, right?
And just like that, our adventurous weekend gave rise to the slogan for our garage brewery: The Big Wood Brewing Company: Go Big or Go Home.