Friday, May 23, 2008

Hyatt Ridge

The hike begins on Beech Gap Trail off Straight Fork Road and ascends to Hyatt Ridge before descending back down on a different drainage. In all it's a tidy 8 mike hike. I took Beth. It was unusual because I almost never hike with anyone. I had gotten used to the solitary nature of the hikes. Beth talked a lot, and it was nice company. The highlight of the hike is that on the far side of Hyatt Ridge the trail enters virgin forest. It's a striking departure from the normal second growth, which is all hardwood. The old growth is a dense mix of hardwoods and evergreens, mostly balsams. Beautiful day.

Beth on Hyatt Ridge

Monday, May 19, 2008

Stepen Vincent 2005 Crimson California

Have had lots of luck with these low-priced blends out of California (and Michigan, Texas and North Carolina, for that matter). This one does not disappoint. $11 gets you a big, rich wine with smoke, chocolate, licorice and blackberry. Nice.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Bend in the River, by V.S. Naipaul

My vote for most perfect novel ever. Of course, I'm biased, having a great affinity for Africa.

"Out of this staggering idea of his own importance, he had reduced Africa to himself; and the future of Africa was nothing more than the job he might do later on."

"She was a pharmacist. That was partly Nazruddin's doing. With his experience of change and sudden upheaval, he had long ago lost faith in the power of property and business to protect people; and he had pushed his children into acquiring skills that could be turned to account anywhere."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Noland Creek

Was going to hike with Beth yesterday, but she called the night before and canceled. I had been saving an 8-mile loop for her, and still am, so I had to look for another hike -- not easy, as there are few doable loops on the North Carolina side of the Smokies I have yet to do. Did find this little gem, though -- 17 miles on Noland Creek, Springhouse Branch and Forney Creek.

Noland Creek

Take a left on Noland to Springhouse Branch. Lots of bears, wild boars, butterflies, seeps, springs and mud. A fantastic velvety green canopy overhead. Less like a forest and more like a cathedral.


Saw this guy jump across the trail on the way down.


The tunnel lets you know your hike is over.

Lakeshore Trail

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

At no time is it more important to sleep ...

... than the moment you realize you have to be poolside in 15 minutes.

Wake up at 5:15. Get this at 5:28.


And this a few minutes later.


"Working on our starts" to me has always meant easy time.


Hey look -- the sun came up!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Tres de Mayo

Last week was our FOURTH annual Cinco de Mayo ... held on the Tres de Mayo because the fifth was the night before the election and Laura and Lauren were both poll workers and had to be at the old armory at like 6 a.m.

Best party ever. Got better when Coach Kile pulled out the Patron. Here he is pre-Patron with Janelle:


And here's Lauren, Blair, Steve and Steffie:


Things went well until the Patron got going. Here's Laura mid-shot, with Lauren, Liz, Steve (just barely shown) and Blair:


Good times!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

More fun than you should be allowed to have at 5:30 a.m.

Mornings used to start with a 6 a.m. trip to the gym. No more -- it's now 5:30, and all swimming, thanks to Coach Kile.


It's hard to jump in the pool at 5:30 a.m. no matter how fun the set is.


Sometimes, when he thinks they are going to swim away, Coach Kile makes the kids tie themselves to the wall using big rubber bands. Hey look -- the sun came up!


Sunday, May 4, 2008

End of a beginning of a new beginning

Or something like that ... but last night was the combined Cinco de Mayo (held on the tres) and a sort of going away party for us.

Lots of people came by and lots of alcohol was consumed:

Three Alarm Cellars California Red Wine

$3.99 from Grocery Outlet. Came out of the bottle like a can of whup-ass ... but after being open for a while drank nicely. Certainly worth $4 ... even though a trip to Grocery Outlet on a Saturday morning is not a fun experience.

Licia Albarino 2006 Rias Baixas

So when I invited Chris and Michelle to the party we were sort of joking around and I challenged him to pair something with tortillas and salsa. He oneupped me by bringing shrimp ceviche and this gorgeous white from Galicia. Tight with minerals and lemon ... a superb wine and perfectly paired with almost everything last night.

Here's a photo of Stella which is so absolutely precious I had no choice but to steal it from


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cold Mountain

Made my third and perhaps final trek up Cold Mountain yesterday. Decided to do it different this time, via a long-distance traverse I'd been pondering for a while. Trail started at the Daniel Boone Scout camp and ended where the Art Loeb crosses Black Balsam Mountain Road, solving the age old hiker's question when it comes to climbing Cold Mountain -- do you take the long very hard route or the very long hard route? -- by combining both options into one day-long death march.

Here's Cold Mountain from The Narrows:

Cold Mountain from The Narrows, 4/30/08

And here's the view south from the summit of Cold Mountain (6,030 feet):

View from Cold Mountain, April 30, 2008

And here's a photo of the Middle Prong I managed to snap as I stumbled through Ivestor Gap:


A pretty day, with a hard freeze in the morning and bright sunny skies in the afternoon. Finished the day with a 20-mile (mostly) downhill bike ride back to the truck.