Sunday, April 29, 2012


Words by Greg
Photos by Greg and Trina

It's late afternoon on what may be the hottest spring day ever. We drive to the river. This is the river? Stinky sluggish flow. Not much to it this year. Just what is left after being sucked out to water crops, wash cars, promote industry, maybe even to drink. We float away, bikes, packs, dogs stacked on top of rafts. Float across a threshold. Out of the familiar rush and bustle and into a kind of quiet.

Canyon walls rise. Sky burns. Birds call out not to us. The dirty water slides to the lowest point and we slide with it. Narrow channels through gravel bars. Roller waves in the funnel. We point and shoot. Dogs cling. We float across a threshold. Out of the afternoon and into evening.

We stop on a mudbank. Rafts pulled from the wet. Walk in shadow past spring cottonwood trees. Jump rocks. Follow the small dry path where water flow sometimes, not now. Then back to rafts. The river. Floating. Chasing the sunlight that runs up the canyon walls ahead. We do not catch it.

On a stumble-rock bank we roll up rafts. Load up bikes. Hike and push. Then ride. Familiar trail feels new with our unfamiliar loads. Familiar flow is sluggish. But not stinky. Trail and tumble. Rock and ledge. Dogs romp. Wheels roll. We ride across a threshold. Out of evening and into night.

Planets, stars, a slice of moon in a sky going blue to black. The air is summer with dust and sage. So warm on the skin it feels like home. Like there is nowhere else to be. We remain where we are but where we are keeps changing as we roll slowly through darkness. Tires draw a line of sound from gravel. Small paws punctuate. We are nearly invisible now and exist mostly in our own ears. We cross a threshold.

The sound of our motion recedes. Diesel growls in metal cages. Petrol power purrs. The noise of motor-driven tires grows until we are small. The slice and spit of gravel beneath us is nothing and lost in the familiar rush and bustle. We find the truck in the dark. Rafts, bikes, dogs stowed. Our own motor joins the rush. We bustle toward home. Unsure of where we are going. Most of us remains where we have been.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April Garden Fare

Text by Trina
Photos by Trina and Greg

As April draws to a close, we find ourselves simultaneously enjoying the tail end of last year’s garden – leeks which I overwintered with a deep layer of autumn leaf mulch – and the very beginnings of this year’s garden – chives, green onions and chard.

Potato and Leek Gratin:

Eggs baked in garden chard

In this version of this recipe, chard replaces the zucchini/squash, and the whole thing is put together like the country-grandma dish called Eggs in a Nest. We've had this with zucchini, according to the recipe, and it's great that way too!

It's better with a little goat cheese crumbled on top near the end of the baking time.

And, of course, even better with bacon.

Savory Swiss Chard Pancakes, with yogurt and chard and chives from the garden

Future garden fare, awaiting transplant:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hike-a-Float Day

Words by Greg
Photos by Greg and Trina

One fine day last weekend we started out with a hike along a cold green river, up the wide canyon through cool air under warm sunshine. Not far, really. Just to where the creek from side canyon spilled warm red water into the flow. We left our little rafts and our paddles there. Then we humans tromped and dogs romped in and out of the red water, following the little creek through its sharp little canyon.

Springtime seems to be rampant in the irrigated urban space where we live. But out in the wilder places, the natural vegetation seems to be somewhat more hesitant to stick its head out -- knowing from experience, perhaps, that April may still bring cold and snow. Or knowing from the dryness of this year, that waiting this one out might provide the best chance of survival.

Still, there were springtime sights to see. Some blossoms. Bright leaves on trees. A few bugs and bees. Shiny red-tinged leaves of poison ivy just emerging.

We followed the red creek and the little canyon through winding turns until we emerged in a broader valley. We walked to where we could see the dark gash of the canyon heading back the way we'd come. There was a high trail that aimed back that way. But a dry trail on an afternoon that had become almost hot. We dropped back into the canyon and wound our way back.

At the big river we inflated our packrafts and prepared to float. First section was our toughest rapid. Big waves against a wall that charged into an undercut rock. All of which we intended to avoid by dodging through a rocky inside line. The dogs and I waited onshore while Trina ran it safely. Then the dogs and Trina waited while I dodged and scraped my way down to them.

Then we all floated onward together, dogs alert atop our packs. We slid through some small rapids and soon -- too soon -- we were back at the trailhead and the truck. We wanted to float more. There was daylight remaining. But not enough to float 10 more miles to where we'd left my bike. We did a quick-load, as in, threw half deflated rafts into the back, then drove downriver a few miles. Re-inflated, we put in above another rapid. Then slid down through a few more as the bright afternoon turned to a grey evening. Then took out at a wide ramp.

I was shy about taking any photos while we were floating -- due to a recent experience wherein my camera flipped into a river. But soon I expect to regain much of my former gallantry-under-foolish-conditions --and some new protective gear for the new camera.

After our float I blasted up the gravel road on my bicycle and retrieved the truck. We cooked our dinner on the tailgate near the quiet ramp as the sun pulled out from under the evening clouds and lit everything in a golden glow. A pleasant finish to our small adventure.

Frog eggs

Red stream meets green river.

Dirty and Doggy.

Zeek, Sprocket and I wait -- some of us less patiently than others -- while Trina runs the day's biggest rapid.