Jan 31, 2009

A history of Avalon and my plans for the "Isle of the Blessed"


In Arthurian legend, the fabled island where the sword Caliburn (later renamed Excalibur) was forged. This is also where King Arthur was taken to recover from his wounds after his epic battle with Mordred, his inbred-bastardized son. Arthurian legend also makes specific reference to the quality apples on this island. Even the word Avalon itself derives from the Celtic word Abal, meaning apple.

We now change course and bring ourselves back to the current world. I chose not to say “real” world as there are some, I am sure, who believe that every legend has its roots in reality. So to those who choose this particular direction in thought, I do not slight you.

Avalon, whatever form it may take, is an “Isle of the Blessed.” It is desirable and being there is rejuvenating and healthy. Sounds pretty good to me.

Now lets look at our own, real-time Avalon. It has its own zip code. As far as I can tell, if the United States Postal Service (a federal agency) recognizes Avalon as a real and tangible place, it must be real. So armed with this information, I have done a little research in preparation for my arrival.
As far as I can tell, Avalon is a beautiful place. It’s a small town, located on the Southeastern side of Santa Catalina Island. Catalina is part of the chain of islands known as the Channel Islands, which are all part of California. There are two main areas inhabited on the Island, Avalon and Two Harbors (which as far as I can tell only has one harbor, so I don’t know why they call it that). Generally, the rest of the island is uninhabitable. It’s also all protected. There are very few cars on the island, and main modes of transportation are walking or golf cart.

Activities: a little sight seeing (I hear renting a golf cart for an hour is a decent thing to do), shopping, eating and diving.

It’s the last two I plan to take advantage of. First off, diving. My good friend Iver got me into the sport. I have to say, I am addicted. There is a whole different world underwater. The normal sounds of general life don’t go under the surface of the ocean. Instead, there is ambient sound from the ocean, something you don’t hear on the topside world. The sound of your breathing is amplified, as well as the exhale through your SCUBA unit as the bubble start getting bigger as pressure reduces on the airs ascent to the surface. Kelp forests and Garibaldi fish. Star fish and grouper fish. Its another world, and its worth every effort to see it.

Now, on to food. The way I see it, there is no point in going to a exotic location and going to McDonald’s for lunch. No way. I enjoy good food. I love to try new things in different places. I enjoy food that is native to the surrounding area. So my choice, after several recommendations from others, is Steve’s Steakhouse. If there is one thing I know, diving builds an appetite. So I posted to a SCUBA forum and the response was generally unanimous, Steve’s. So off to Steve’s Wife and I go.

This adventure begins on Sunday when we fly to Southern Cal. The boat itself sets sail Monday evening. While on Catalina, I don't exactly plan to eat any apples. I do however, plan to take advantage of whatever else is there.

We’ll be posting more as the opportunity arises.

Thanks for tuning in.

Jan 29, 2009

Rehashing the week.

It seems as though I have not managed to post something a very long time. In actuality, its been about a week. So I think a little recap is in order.

The big event last week was fishing Ruth Lake. Now Ruth is actually a reservoir, and certainly not all that big. An example, from the South end to the North end, in a boat, only takes a couple of minutes. The good thing about Ruth are the large trout in there.
Its a little hard to tell from this angle, but this nice Rainbow Trout is almost 13 inches long. And as far as trout go, that's a darn nice fish. We left Eureka at about 0500, Cody wanted to be the first on lake, not missing any portion of the morning bite. As it turned out, we arrived at Ruth before Dawn and were he only people on the lake the entire day. We caught 7 fish. I landed my limit of 5. Cody, well, he landed 2 and actually lost 4. Its a sad story, really, and I suggest not bringing it up to him as he is fragile and sensitive. We saw 4 bald eagles as well. Our national bird is certainly beautiful, and as far as California Bald Eagles go, 2 of these birds of prey were actually quite large (Alaskan Eagles are huge in comparsison). Unfortunately as we got closer to them they became rather camera shy. The only picture I got is completely unrecognizable.
If, I were hunting the Sasquatch, Big Foot, I might get famous with a picture of this quality (since any and all pictures that involve the mythical beast look much like this one, completely out of focus). But since I simply wanted to show a picture of a California Bald Eagle, a creature that actually exists, I will simply tell you there are 2 large nests on the west side of the lake near the middle. And since Bald Eagles are firm believers in monogamy, you can venture out to this site and see any of the four at any given time.
In the end, all I can say is I out fished Cosy, which is always worth saying. Also, as a side note to this story: Cody hates mayonnaise. I forgot this as I slathered two turkey sandwiches with the heavenly (or hateful, depending on your point of view) condiment. It should suffice to say I felt guilty as I ate both sandwiches.
Later in the week, while at work, Wife gave me the green light to purchase and smoke some pork shoulders. As far as I am concerned, she might as well have told me to go Best Buy and purchase some of my most wanted electronics. So, off to Costco where I purchased 14.4 pounds of pork.
Oh, glorious meat. Err, pork. Anyway, I love pulled pork. after cooking for nearly 12 hours over indirect heat, it takes on a completely different look.
But first, I smoked the living crap out of it. That's hickory (for lack of any other wood chips at the time). I smoked it pretty heavily for the first 2 hours. Smoking adds a nice flavor to the pork. When you cut it later, it actually has a pink to red color where the smoke has penetrated it. While it doesn't get to the center, after shredding it. the smoky flavor is mixed in with the rest of the pork and simply tastes amazing. After about 2 hours the pork gets a nice seared look, and at this point smoking is really pointless to continue as the searing prevents the smoke from getting into the meat. But oh its looks tasty.
This was taken near the end of my smoking session. After that it was about 9 hours of cooking over low heat. And I will say we ate pork sandwiches last night and they were tasty.
One of the best things about cooking pork shoulders is that it takes all day. So I make coffee in the early morning and set out to simply make a full day of it. And its worth every minutes.
And finally, we are going on a cruise in 3 days. We won a 5 day cruise from Carnival in a raffle. So on Sunday we travel to Southern California, we board the boat on Monday. We will be visiting Catalina Island, Ensenada (that's in Mexico people), and spending a full day sailing the pacific before returning to American soil. Its going to be a good time.
I'll work on something of a more meaningful post in the near future, but for now this is what I have.

Jan 13, 2009

A road trip, a few sights to see, and I almost get eaten by an elk.

Today I was supposed to go to the gym. However, I had a hard enough time dragging my butt out of bed, let alone getting enough energy to go to the gym.

I did, however, take a little road trip with Cody. And of course, I took my camera. We started by going to Crescent City. Cody, from an eBay auction, bought about 100 mason jars for 40 bucks (a real deal according to him). So we started our day by going to pick these up. Afterwards, we decided to go to Brookings (only another 20 minutes) and have lunch at the Chetco River Harbor.

And so I begin a little photo essay of my day.
First of all, after raining and being generally miserable for the last 3 weeks, it was amazingly beautiful. It was a warm 76 degrees in Brookings, Oregon. This picture was taken at the mouth of the Chetco Harbor. All around us, on the pier, people were fishing and crabbing. Short sleeve shirts were abundant, and I even saw one person wearing shorts. Had I known the weather would be so nice I would have skipped the sweatshirt today. Over all, one would be absolutely amazed at the fact that it is mid-January.
Even in January, people can find a good excuse to outside and do something worthwhile. This fellow, taking advantage of the exceptionally calm water was found kayaking near the main marina and Coast Guard Station. For those who find the swell reports of interest, it should be noted that the Pacific Ocean (outside the harbor) appeared to be about as flat and calm as the waters seen here. It would have made for an exceptional fishing environment. I love nothing more than standing next to my friend on his boat while we fly across an ocean that resembles the pictures seen here while the sun slowly climbs over the surrounding hills and mountains. I can't wait for summer. Hopefully as he is reading this he is thinking the same thing.
Any time I can find something that has an even half way suggestive theme to it, my crazy mind usually defaults to that of a 15 year old who finds such things insanely funny. In this case, The Hungry Clam caught my eye and I had to have a picture of it. On the flip side, there were not a lot of people eating there. This, in my own mind which I believe to be a decent critic of food, showed there might be better places to eat. A little down the way we found a place with about 6 cars outside of it, all with Oregon plates. Being trained observers, Cody and I deduced that the locals like to eat here. Hence, the food must be desirable. Our initial impression of the place was only heightened when I discovered they smoke their own meats for sandwiches. The smoked pork sandwich was killer. The pork was juicy, tender and overall just right. The fries, although they tout their fried fish, had no hint of a fishy taste (its always a turn off when a restaurant fries fish in the same fryer as the rest of their foods). Sadly, I didn't even think to see what the name of this place was. This is my bad. But if you find yourself heading to Brookings for lunch, let me know and I can tell you how to get there.
One of the other happy reasons for making this trip, Cody wanted to go to Wal-Mart. Now, love it or hate it, Wal-Mart has some really good prices. Cody recently purchased a gas camp stove. The fuel for this type of stove is not exactly cheap. Apparently he had it in his head that camp fuel was priced at a far better rate at Wal-Mart than it is anywhere else around home. To this, I can only say that he also believes in Big Foot. Poor man. After discovering that the camp fuel was absolutely no cheaper at Sam Wal's blessed mart, than anywhere else, he nearly exploded. We then wandered around aimlessly while he cursed his luck, soon leaving with nothing more than camping lighter and a funnel that would be of no use at all unless you were funneling salt into a shaker. But thank you Wal-Mart for the experience that it was.
This is whats called an elk. Specifically a bull. Now, while it may look fairly unassuming here sticking its tongue out at me, rest assured this is a cold blooded killer. About a second after I took this picture it made a move that looked like it was going to charge the truck. I am from the city. Since moving here to the north coast, I have seen herds of elk like this on many occasions. I have also always thought people are idiots for getting to close to them. This particular elk was only about 8 feet from the truck, thanks to Cody who thought this particular close encounter was about as good as finding gold. At any rate, this animal weighs several hundred pounds, and is extremely strong. Those antlers could have skewered me. So yes, when it looked like the bull might come closer, I panicked. I wanted to move away, right then. I have never been that close to animal that large. For good or for bad, I was looking for a gas pedal that simply was not on the passenger side of the truck. Cody laughed. I called him a few things that my mother would not appreciate hearing. But, looking back at it now, how many people have a picture of a bull elk sticking its tongue out at you?
Our trip ended with us returning to Eureka. And what did we find next to us? A man driving a car with its entire back seat filled with fast food wrappers and cups. I don't know what possesses a person to allow this to happen. Is it a desire to not litter a land fill with cups that will never biodegrade? This is Humboldt after all. Perhaps he is a bit if a hippy? Although I don't know what, if this is indeed the case, he plans to do with all this trash. We were both completely stunned by the amount of trash. It was the whole back seat. Not just one side. It didn't look like it had been set there for the purposes of disposal (especially since he was going the opposite direction of the city dump). It was simply astounding, and I HAD to have a picture of it.
So this was my day. Tomorrow I teach at the Core Academy. Afterwards, I am going to the Gym to make good on my challenge, even if it kills me.

Gym Challenge goes afoul....

This sucks.

Gym challenge was slated to begin Monday. Saturday night I was throwing up and now I am fighting a horrendous head cold (which apparently has been going around at work).

I wish I had more to say on the subject. Simply put, I am hoping with a little rest I can still get in the 4 workouts before Saturday comes to a close.

As for today, Cody is looking for some company to make a little road trip up to Crescent City and back. I figure that can't be too bad as long as he doesn't mind me being sick. Then I have to finalize my presentations to teach at the Core Academy (training for new recruits) tomorrow and Thursday, before I go back to work on Friday.

I'm taking my camera today. At least I'll be able to post something a little more interesting than this sorry lump of a blog.

Jan 10, 2009

Time to get my lazy carcass in gear.

Anyone who has ever held to some sort of fitness regimen knows that one of the most challenging things to do is actually hold to it.

About 8 months before Wife and I were married I actually held to my regimen. I was at the gym about 5 times a week. I had a few things going for me then. First, I was working night shift, which meant I would go in the morning when I got home from work. This in turn brought about the second benefit for me, I was home alone in the mornings, and not tempted by the company of Wife in favor of going to the gym.

Now, well over a year later, I haven't been the gym for quite some time. I have been working the day shift for quite some time, so the second benefit has been gone. Wife and I are home at night together, therefor negating the first benefit.

So all the progress I had made is now gone. I'm out of shape, and motivation is hard to come by. So recently I was reading my sister's lamentations about her gym attendance, and simply took it as chance to put a friendly competition between siblings on the table.

So here and now I will commit to gym attendance 4 times a week. I figure this is a realistic goal, after all I wouldn't want to set my self up for failure by setting unrealistically lofty goals which will end with me aiming high and simply hitting the dirt below.

So, there it is. She and I have already set Monday as a day to begin. So after work on Monday, I will begin by hitting the treadmill and walking for half an hour. It seems like a rather dull beginning, but hey, it has been over year since I have been there. I don't want to kill myself on the first day.

So the gauntlet has been thrown down sis. If we were in older days I would slap you across the face with a white glove. Fortunately for us, a few hundred years worth of civility and manners have moved us past this old tradition of challenging an opponent (not to mention a few hundred miles of actual distance) make this more of a symbolic way to say, "A challenge? You're on!"

Let the fun begin. See you on the treadmill.

Jan 9, 2009

A clarification on the importance of friends.

So, after such a gushing, sappy, somewhat corny vow of thanks to my friends, they have proven themselves to be nothing but jackasses.

I called friend #1 at his office the other day. He answered the phone and identified himself. I then identified myself and asked how he was doing. To which he replied, "Well, number 1 is doing just fine."

It took me a few seconds to catch on to his meaning. Then it all became clear.

My friends. Those who I have put my confidence in. Those who I rely on. Those who I can count on to be there for me.

They simply took my little bit of gratitude and turned it into a popularity contest.

So I say to my friends, "You guys suck."

#1 now feels he has something to hang over the heads of #2 and #3. #3 now feels he is the bottom of the barrel, and consoles himself by saying, "He must have saved the best for last." #2 has been strangely quiet, perhaps happy with his unintentionally labeled station in life.

So to these 3 idiots I say this: You guys are idiots. I still love ya, but you are idiots.

Thanks for tuning in.

Jan 7, 2009

A few words on friends (grab a tissue or two if you find yourself emotional)

I have a few things to say about friends.

But first, let me preface with a little bit if background.

When I was younger, I never went out of my way to be very social. I wouldn't say I was recluse, I think that would be overstating the fact. But simply said, all through junior high and high school I think I could count my close friends on 10 fingers or less. We did everything together and I never really felt a need to branch out. I was happy.

Now, 12 years after high school, I couldn't tell you where any of those friends are. We all went our separate ways when high school ended, and that was that. However, something have not changed one bit.

I still don't consider myself a very social person. I have a core group of close friends, and again I can count them on 10 fingers or less. And yet again, I am perfectly content with my friends and feel very little need to branch out in search of more.

Ok, preface complete lets move on to today. I recently have come to grips with some rather serious emotions and problems that I have with a certain aspect of my life (don't worry mom, things here at home are perfectly fine). I don't plan to get into detail here about this, that's not the point of my little diatribe here.

The point is this: I started dealing with this a long time ago. I've been bottling these emotions for a quite some time, and I think its slowly been festering inside me like some sort of fuzzy fungus. So I finally did something I should have done a while ago. I confided in my wife and my closest of friends.

So to these people I have to say the following:

Wife: You are amazing, and wonderful. I can't say enough how much I love you, and appreciate the fact that you put with me and all of my shenanigans. You know when to listen, and you are certainly wiser than I am at times, and provide some much needed common sense in my life.

Friend #1: I appreciate your open door policy. I know I can always come to you with an issue and find the door open long enough for me to barge in and close it. Always you have been there for me as a friend, and I can't say enough how important that is to me. I hope that you understand, I don't plan to offer devotions in your name, nor do I plan to write him a sappy letter. I would, though, offer the man a very manly hug, complete with back slapping and grunting.

Friend #2: Always a good listener, sage advice (most of the time, there was this "soak it in hot water thing....). Clearly, of the friends acquired here since I relocated to this area, one of the most unexpected and certainly valuable.

Friend #3: I have known you the longest of those that I list here. And I have to say, you and I are stuck together for what appears to be a very long time. And I consider myself lucky for it. However, I am taking this moment, here on the world wide web, to let the world know you won by luck, and you know it.

So, having said all that, I will simply end by saying I am grateful to be surrounded by such quality people.

Jan 2, 2009

I got a spoiled brat for Christmas, and I couldn't be happier.

Nobody likes a spoiled brat.  Nobody cares for someone who always gets their way.

When Christmas rolls around, though, and you haven't seen your child for about a month, well, suddenly it gets a little more tough to say, "No."

I try, as a general whole, to not spoil the little guy.  I try to make sure he practices patience and exercises good manners.  I don't let him always have his way and he firmly believes my favorite word is , "No."  As a rule of thumb, he thinks a good way to impersonate me is to say the following: "Put your hands in your pockets.  No you can't have that.  Don't interrupt."  

This Christmas, although we are celebrating it a little late, is all about getting him what he wants. He wanted the dog to join us for Christmas, and Bear is laying down close by.  It seems his every wish is simply my command.  

I am not completely powerless, however.  I still was able to say, "No, you can't have another cookie."  I'm rather proud of myself for that one.  On the flip side, I have been here for only a day and I have done my best to spoil the little guy rotten.  

And I'm dang proud of it.  
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