Adelita’s Mexican Cafe, Wilburton, OK

19 April 2014

Adelita's Cafe on Urbanspoon

After a great hike in nearby Robbers Cave State Park a week ago Friday, I was quite hungry. I texted my friend Karren, a Wilburton native, for a restaurant recommendation, and Adelita’s was her recommendation. It was great!

I had the pork chile verde; the pork was tender, flavorful, and just the right amount of heat. The rice and beans were a perfect complement. The iced tea was great, and service very friendly. A perfect dining experience.

My check was $11.48. I can say good things about the chips (thin and crunchy) and salsa (thick and tasty) also. I look forward to a return visit.

Fontana Italian Restaurant, Moore, OK

19 April 2014

Fontana Italian Resturant on Urbanspoon

I ran over here for lunch Wednesday; it was very good.

The meal started with warm, very textured bread, and a side of EVOO with garlic, great stuff. The meal came with a very basic salad with very good ranch dressing. I ordered fettuccine al fredo with chicken, and it was simply great. The al fredo had that light cream and butter flavor, and wasn’t terribly heavy. The noodles were perfect. The chicken was sauteed into the meal.

Service was spot on and friendly. My check was $9.19. This is close enough to Tinker to be a real threat!

Red Horse Grill, Norman, OK

19 April 2014

Red Horse Grill on Urbanspoon

This place was good! I had some extra time in this week, so I drove down to Norman for lunch Thursday. I was in the mood for cheeseburger.

I got a double cheeseburger with bacon. I added a couple pickles and mayo from the fixings bar. That was one darn fine burger. Great flavor, nice crust for texture, and perfect, nicely crispy bacon. Mmmmm, bacon. I got some chili cheese fries with the meal, and they were a very good accompaniment to the burger.

The iced tea was serve yourself and very good. My check was $15.34. It would be difficult to go to Norman for lunch very often, but if I was in the area, I’d have zero problem going back to Red Horse.

MG’s Restaurant, Sherman, TX

19 April 2014

M G's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

A week ago Friday, we had worked through the lunch hour in Richardson, and I headed north to meet Troop 15 at Robbers Cave State Park, OK. I was hungry, and I hit up Google Maps for the Dennison/Sherman area. A new feature: MG’s was highlighted. I decided to check it out, and drove up there.

I got the chicken fried steak with mashers. Good stuff! The CFS was clearly hand breaded, and had decent beef flavor. The gravy was pretty good, as were the mashers.

The iced tea was very good, and refilled by servers. My check was $9.73. I’ve really only been in Sherman three times: to visit the Eisenhower birth house (circa 1970), to get hitched (1980), and to have lunch! I would gladly stop at MGs again.

Hilton Hotels Is A Tracker Online

19 April 2014

I’ve noticed more and more targeted ads on some sites. Just now I was adding reviews to Urbanspoon, and the two ads that were included with the web page were for hotels in the Hilton chain that I have accessed via the Hilton HHonors website.

Now, I know that marketing types are obsesses with “impressions” or whatever voodoo they call it. I wonder what exactly they are trying to accomplish by throwing multiple ads at me on the same page for a hotel I have booked in the past. Are they trying to induce me to take an unscheduled trip to Council Bluffs?

So, marketeers… I am really your nightmare. I don’t pay attention to ads in general. Sure, I notice them, but I will go back to the HGI in the Bluffs not because of the ad(s), but because I found out own on my that it’s a fine hotel with a good rate.

I also have seen Facebook targeted ads as well. Just now I saw one from Sportsmans Warehouse for Yak Traks, which I had been looking for before we went to the Grand Canyon in February.

Hiking Robbers Cave State Park, OK

14 April 2014

Hike Summary: 6.7 miles through beautiful Ozarks terrain, and a 10-mile weekend.

I posted the pictures from this hike at my Google+ site:

https://plus.google.com/photos/105156699699052376728/albums/6002117905448460353

Our Scout Troop 15 had our monthly camp at Robbers Cave this past weekend. I got there early since I came in directly from a business trip to Dallas, and had a chance to hike a beautiful trail.

I love Robbers Cave State Park. I grew up in Muskogee, and so our family made many trips to Robbers Cave. The trails in the park have been added since those days, when we would hike around Lake Carleton by bushwhacking. I got to hike the Mountain Trail at Robbers Cave when our Troop had Winter Camp there in 2012.

I got to our Eagles Nest campsite around 1645 and set up my tent, and then headed off. The blue-blazed trail extends north from the Mountain Trail just west of our campsite; I walked a short distance on a yellow-blazed trail to get to the intersection.

The yellow-blazed trail is an equestrian trail.

The trail winds generally north to Cattail Pond. The dam on the east side of the pond was torn up. I found out from a Ranger later that a primitive campsite is being built on the west side (we did a night hike to Cattail Saturday night, and sat at the under-construction camp for telling ghost stories). On the way, you get to walk along the side of Rough Canyon, which is really a Rough Ravine, that has a very nice stream running through it.

From Cattail, you swing east and go up and down until you get to Lost Lake. That is such a beautiful area. The Lake has a great-looking primitive camp area, and would be a good swimming area.

The next landmark is the Cave area. I had not realized it, but the trail goes right in front of another huge bouldering area that is a couple hundred yards west of the Cave area. That is on the list for exploring next time I’m there.

There are no trail signs to lead you there, but the trail ends up in the parking area below the Cave area. It continues on from the west side of the parking lot, and follows Fourche Maline Creek for a while. Fourche Maline is French, and means “bad fork” in English. I wonder why?

As the trail veers away from Fourche Maline, it heads up. I managed to miss the fork in the trail, and followed a social trail for a couple hundred yards until I realized I had not seen any blazes in a while. I backtracked a little, and soon saw blazes higher up, and bushwhacked up to them.

The trail goes up and over a ridge, and is flattish until you get near Rough Canyon again. There is a beautiful creek crossing, then it’s back up and out of the Canyon, and then pretty much all downhill back to camp.

This trail was lovely. It’s quite rocky. You are shaded most of the time. If you want to pump water, there are a number of creeks that were flowing in April (Rough Canyon in particular had quite a bit) and of course Cattail and Lost Lake had lots of water.

Here are the topo and altitude profiles:

Saturday I talked to a Venture Crew that was getting in shape for Philmont. They were doing a loop from the base area, to the Cave area, to Lost Lake to camp, and then on around to the Mountain Trail to finish off. That sounds like a great loop.

The Troop had a 2.8 mile night hike from Eagles Nest to Cattail Pond using a road (maps below). This gave me 9.5 hiking miles for the weekend, and certainly over 10 once you count all the walks up and around the Cave area.

I talked to a Ranger Saturday evening about the trails. I had seen several references to a Yellow trail. Turns out that is an equestrian trail – network! The Ranger said there were about *90* miles of trails! I found this map online. I also got a paper map from the park office that I will scan and post. The Ranger said that while the trails were meant for horse riders, they had no problem with hikers or backpackers using them, as long as it wasn’t the same time as an equestrian event, and as long as the use is coordinated with the Rangers. Some these trails are in the Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to the east, but others are on the far north side, and some very nice trails on the far west side up in the mountains. Lots of terrain there to be explored.

Mooyah, Plano, TX (Ave K)

11 April 2014

Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes on Urbanspoon

I was out running errands last evening, and knew I was near the Five Guys in north Plano. I noticed a Mooyah across the street, and liked the other one I had been in, so I headed there instead.

I got a double cheeseburger on a wheat bun (yes, WHEAT!!!!), with (too much) mayo. That was a fine, fine burger. The beef had great flavor, a good crust for texture, and was just the right amount of juicy. I also had a small order of fries (pretty darn good), and I used a couple of those to get the excess mayo off the burger, yum (sorry, Ian! :) ).

I also had a vanilla shake and a large drink. The drink was good. The shake, I didn’t like so much. I think that it was made with soft serve. It had an odd aftertaste. Service was very friendly and fast. My check was $15.36. A very good experience.

I just went back and read my review of the Mooyah in Richardson, TX. I didn’t much like the shake there. I probably ought to read my previous reviews more often :).

I.Gemelli Italian Ristorante, Richardson, TX

10 April 2014

I.Gemelli Italian Ristorante on Urbanspoon

A group of us ate lunch here today at the suggestion of my friend Gayle. It was pretty good!

We started off with slices of warm bread, not bad. It came with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and I asked for some marinara, which was very good. I got fettuccine al fredo with chicken. The noodles were al dente, and the al fredo was decent, although not very rich. The chicken was grilled and sliced; next time I will ask that it be diced and sauteed.

Service was one guy, moving very fast, and doing a great job as the place got more full. The iced tea was good, and kept refilled. My check was $12.94. This place was pretty good, I look forward to another visit.

Dylan’s Burger House, Richardson, TX

10 April 2014

Dylan's Burger House on Urbanspoon

I found this place using Google; I had just played tennis and had a committee meeting telecon, and wanted quick and easy food.

I got a double cheeseburger, it was very good. Kind of peppery, and the beef had better flavor than most. I got an order of chili cheese fries; EXCELLENT. Too much for me to finish, even! For drinks I got iced tea (excellent) and a vanilla milkshake (very good).

Overall, a better than average burger place. Next time, I might ask for a little less pepper on the burger. Service was prompt and friendly. My check was $15.72. A bit expensive, the a good part was the extra drink (the milkshake) and the huge order of chili fries.

I gather this place used to be called just “Burger House”. There are Burger House locations in the metro area, and now they must be checked out.

Williams Chicken, Plano, TX

9 April 2014

Williams Chicken on Urbanspoon

I drove past this place after having dinner last evening. I got a 3-piece all white, mashers with cream gravy, and slaw. The slaw was OK, it was vinegary. The mashers were OK. The chicken was a mixed bag. It was crispy enough, and the pieces were nice sized, and moist enough, but it was not overly flavorful. Maybe the breading was just plain, or something. So the meal was not bad, but it was not something to make me lust for going back tomorrow.

The iced tea was pretty good, and service was fast and very friendly. My check was $10.96. If I were driving past and just had to have some fried chicken, I wouldn’t mind stopping. But I wouldn’t drive out of my way.

Online Food Ordering, Potbelly’s

8 April 2014

I’ve been buying stuff online for a long time, but yesterday was the first time I’ve bought food online. It was a good experience.

I’m working this week in Richardson, TX, and we were trying to keep our testing moving along. We decided to order in food from a Potbelly’s Sandwich Shop which is about two blocks from here.

I really liked the user interface. Click on a menu type (sandwich, sides, etc.) then select an item (a sandwich). You get another menu with options (toppings, etc.), and at the bottom is a text field and a pulldown, for entering a name, or adding the item to a name already entered. This was all intuitive and easy to do.

Once done, the order total is presented, along with the subtotal for each person (a nice touch that made collecting money for lunch easy).

At checkout, you could log in using an existing account, create a new account, or just give them a credit card (or pay at the store) and then checkout. I like those, BTW. I don’t like having to create an account for each place I do business at. My though here is that if you can routinely go in an pay with cash or credit and walk out, then you should be able to do that online. And it was even so here; I put my credit card on the SSL link and we were off.

The website informed me to pick up the order at noon (they deliver also), and Gayle and I drove over there at 1155, and walked back in the building at 1205. The order was right on.

So this was a good experience, fast and accurate. I liked it.

Just Some Random Butchery By OG&E

8 April 2014

So, I am fully in the knowledge that tree limbs can affect power and phone lines that are on poles. Given that, power companies like OG&E have to trim tree limbs periodically. They have done it by our house a couple times since we moved there in 1997. Then, they sent a couple guys with pole saws, and they knocked some limbs down that were within a couple feet of the lines.

But this was quite different. An OG&E crew (who, when asked, pleaded that they were just contractors doing what they were told) not only trimmed trees, but they randomly took other trees completely down under the lines. They also clearcut a huge area away from the overhead lines. Here are the clearcut areas:

Looking North

DSC03810

This used to be a very heavily wooded area. You can clearly see that the destructo-crew took everything down to ground level.

I estimate that OG&E destroyed more than three acres of vegetation, here alone. You would think they are training for clearing the Amazon.

This is a view from my back yard looking towards the clearcutting.

More Random Destruction

The thing about this: there are a number of trees along the fence line that reach maybe halfway to the power lines. There *were* four or five other trees of the same height that were selected for elimination by the OG&E crew. Why those, and not the others? The trees that were clearcut were about the same height. You can see that from the picture looking south.

It’s the randomness of the destruction here that worries me the most. It was done with no consistency.

I sent a gripe to OG&E (two+ weeks ago), and today a guy called me and said that they had the permission of the property owners to do that.

I would call BS on that. Who would allow the power company to cut essentially a road along their fence line?

And again, why would OG&E even feel the need to do this amount of destruction? The trees UNDER THE LINES were years and years away from being a threat to the lines. The trees that were 5 feet to the east of the lines, much less the trees 30 feet away.

This is another example of corporate tyranny. No reason, and no recourse. Shameful.

Chubby’s, Plano, TX

8 April 2014

Chubby's Family on Urbanspoon

I had dinner here last night for no better reason than it was on the corner opposite where I was having a haircut. It was pretty good!

I got a chopped steak, medium. It comes with brown gravy, grilled onions, and mushrooms. It was perfect. The sides were mashers with more brown gravy (excellent), and some thin-cut green beans with some onion cooked in (OK). Nothing was left on my plate.

Service was right on the money, and the iced tea was great. My check was $8.90. Fast and good.

Hideaway Pizza, Oklahoma City, OK (Midtown)

8 April 2014

Hideaway Pizza on Urbanspoon

This is a bit of a catch-up. I had lunch at this location with my friend Martha 24 March. We split a lunch special, which is a 12-in pizza. I had pepperoni, sausage, and hamburger on mine, I think Martha had CB and mushrooms on hers. It was a great pizza, as expected of Hideaway. We had iced tea. Service was very good. Our check was about $15.

Good experience, but I have to say I was quite hungry by the time dinner came around; those pizzas are small for two. But very good…

Mcloud’s Country Cafe, Mcloud, OK

5 April 2014

McLoud's Country Cafe on Urbanspoon

We drove all the way to Mcloud to have dinner at Jim’s Fried Chicken, but the place was closed (permanently, it looks like), so we drove on into town, and ran across the Country Cafe. It was great!

Erin got a bacon cheeseburger, and she ate every bit of it. Raegan and I both got fried chicken. We ate every bit of both of our meals. The meal is four smallish pieces. Mine was a touch overcooked, but that didn’t stop me from eating all of it. She got okra (and said it was PERFECT) and corn, and I got mashers with gravy (I said these were PERFECT) and pintos. We also got some great blackberry cobbler for dessert.

The iced tea was great and kept refilled, and service was outstanding and very friendly. Our check was $35.12; I think pretty darn good value. I look forward to a return visit.

Los Vaqueros Mexican, Midwest City, OK (Reblog)

5 April 2014

Los Vaqueros on Urbanspoon

This is only the second reblog I have done for a restaurant. I stopped at Los Vaqueros Tuesday for lunch. This time, I noticed guisos on the menu. I asked for pork, and verde.

It was a mixed bag. The rice and beans were good. For the main course, the pork was a little on the less-than-tender side. The verde was sort of hard to describe. It had a very sharp taste when you first put some in your mouth, and then it overwhelmed the pork for a bit. It wasn’t overly spicy; sharp is the best word I can come up with to describe it.

The iced tea was good and service was great. I didn’t dislike the guisos at all. I am trying to decide if I liked it. I probably will go back in a couple weeks and repeat the meal. My check, BTW, was $13.54.

Great Wall, Oklahoma City, OK (63rd)

4 April 2014

Great Wall on Urbanspoon

Erin has wanted some sweet and soup chicken for a couple days, so today we decided to head up Great Wall at 63rd and May for dinner.

So the menus didn’t have a lot of detail. We ordered two orders of sweet and sour chicken, and two orders of chicken fried rice, along with a large and a small egg drop soup.

When the food got there, it came with two big plates of rice. Now, if I were taking orders, and someone ordered what we did, I might have mentioned that we had just hooked up with FOUR plates of rice. And maybe I would have offered a substitution, maybe with a bit of an upcharge.

The unfried rice was OK. The chicken fried rice was OK. Next time, I might get pork fried rice instead. The sweet and sour chicken was excellent, really good. The egg drop soup was excellent as well (one thing, you could eat the stuff as delivered, instead of waiting for it to cool down from near boiling). The large size, BTW, was LARGE, probably 16 oz.

So we ate until we were stuffed, having bought too much food. They have no drinks except for a cooler with some water and big bottles of soft drinks (we bought two bottles of water, and a 2-liter Coke). There are two 3-person tables there; I gather the place does most of its sales through takeaway and delivery.

I would not mind going back again, this time armed with the knowledge to negotiate the rice issue. Our check was $42.00 or so.

Woo-Hoo #1 in OKC!

4 April 2014

I just noticed that I had moved up a notch to the #1 Urbanspoon food blog for Oklahoma City!

Thanks to everyone on Urbanspoon who reads my posts, and to everyone who reads my little blog directly.

Bad Brad’s BBQ, Stillwater, OK

30 March 2014

Bad Brad's B-B-Q on Urbanspoon

We ate dinner at Bad Brad’s at least 10 years ago, when we met my Mom and Grandmother at Stillwater for the day. We liked it, but hadn’t been back until today.

We started off with some cheese fries, “dirty”, or with brisket chopped up over them. That was probably the best loaded fries I have had. The fries were thick cut and had amazing flavor (Ian said that they were the same fries used at Eskimo Joe’s). Some I ate straight, some I dipped in BBQ sauce, and some in ranch dressing. YUM. YUM. YUM. We also got cornbread and beans. The cornbread was OK (it was huge piece, and a little dry), and the pinto beans were pretty darn good.

We each got a two-meat special, except me, I got three. We had the following:

Sliced brisket: Tender, but it had an odd aftertaste that I flat didn’t like. After the third piece, the aftertaste was strong and unpleasant enough that I actually spit it out.

Ribs: Pretty good. About an 8 on a scale of 1 to JTs.

Smoked chicken: Good flavor, but on the dry side.

Turkey: Outstanding.

Pork roast: Really, really good.

The green beans were pretty good, as were the baked beans. Raegan got okra and corn on the cob, both of which she liked.

The iced tea was pretty good, and service was decent. When we got there at 1715, the place was almost empty, but it quickly filled up and was very busy. Our check for four, with the two large appetizers, was $79.29, which I don’t think is too bad for all the food we got.

From The Department Of Not Finishing Websites…

29 March 2014

We are going to Stillwater for dinner, and I decided to check out the menu at a good Mexican restaurant.

Check out the caption of the picture of the food.

"Shrimp Something With Something"?

“Shrimp Something With Something”?

The other seven photos have no caption at all.

Now, the interesting thing about this was I noticed the button for other locations on the bottom. I clicked it, and found this website is for a chainlet in Ohio, not related to the Stillwater restaurant. I found the correct website very quickly, and updated the UrbanSpoon listing.

The Lighthouse, Wickes, AR

29 March 2014

Lighthouse Drive-In on Urbanspoon

While we were on our Cossatot backpacking adventure, our base campers Christi and Lauren saw The Lighthouse and stopped in, and liked it. I did to. After leaving Cossatot, we stopped here to get the Scouts ice cream, of which The Lighthouse 24+ varieties. Erin backed into a decision to have watermelon flavor, and I got vanilla. I also got a bacon cheeseburger that was excellent, along with the iced tea I got with it.

My check was $6.50, and service was lightning fast, as I ordered it while ice cream was being had, received it and was able to eat it before we headed back to OKC. Good stuff.

Cruizzer’s Drive In, Mena, AR

29 March 2014

Myers Cruizzers Drive-In on Urbanspoon

We stopped here for lunch on the way to our Cossatot River backpacking trip last week. It was great!

Erin got a cheeseburger and fries, and I got a double bacon cheeseburger and chili cheese tater tots (hey, we needed our protein!). It was all great. The burgers were thick and juicy and had great beef flavor, the bacon on mine was crunchy. The chili on the tots was very good as well, and there was quite a bit of it. We got Cokes to drink, and they were very good.

The check for Erin and I was around $15. In spite of the fact that about 15 Girl Scouts descended on the place with no warning, service was fast, from order taking to food delivery. We all sat on the tables in the center of the drive in. After the meal, about half of us had soft-serve ice cream that was a nice end to the meal.

One note: Cruizzer’s is cash only. Christi and I walked over to an ATM on the parking lot to the east to get the cash.

If you are in Mena, Cruizzer’s is recommended.

Imperial Palace, Bellevue, NE

28 March 2014

Imperial Palace Express on Urbanspoon

I was looking for fast lunch food close to Offutt, and decided to hit Imperial Palace. I haven’t been here in years. It was extra pleasant since I ran into a buddy of mine there.

I got #13, the chicken fried rice. It had a goodly amount of chicken, was perfectly tossed, and just the right amount for lunch. It tasted very good. I got excellent iced tea with it.

My check was $8.03, excellent value. Recommended.

Sam and Louie’s Pizza, Bellevue, NE

28 March 2014

Sam & Louie's New York Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

I had lunch here yesterday. It’s not bad. I got a small (12″) pizza with pepperoni, sausage, and hamburger. And then I ate all of it. It wasn’t the best I’ve had, but it was pretty darn good.

The iced tea was Gold Peak and not very good, so I switched to Coke. My check was only $6.39. In and out pretty fast, and decent pizza.

Backpacking Cossatot River Corridor Trail, Arkansas

26 March 2014

Summary

8.6 miles and 800 ft of altitude gain over two days of backpacking on a beautiful trail along a stunning river.

I posted the photos from the trip on my Google+ site here.

The Trip

The Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma (GS-WEST) High Adventure Team (HAT) backpacked part of the Cossatot River Corridor Trail in Arkansas 20 – 23 March 2014.

The Cossatot River flows from the Ouachita Mountains southeast of Mena, AR south into southwest Arkansas. The river flows between two ridges in the trail area, is narrow in places, and has a decent drop in altitude, making it a fine kayaking and canoeing river.

The crew left Oklahoma City at 0900 Wednesday and traveled to Mena for lunch. From there, we went south to the Cossatot River Visitor Center. The Center is a very nice nature center, a small shop, and an excellent staff.

There are four campsites below the Visitor Center right on the river. Each site has a raised platform filled with shale chips (for drainage, I imagine), a picnic table, and a fire pit. There is tons of decent firewood laying around the site – there area is obviously flooded frequently (see later in the post) and lots of wood gets carried in. What the sites do not have is water or trash cans. The trash part is easy, carry your trash out. But the water adds a logistics issue – you have to bring it in or take it from the river and filter or treat it. By the time we had camp set up and were thinking about dinner, it was close to 1700. We took everything we had that would hold water (including pack bladders) and the center staff allowed us to fill them up in the janitors closet.

There is no cost to use the campsites below the Visitor Center.

Dinner was spaghetti and salad – excellent! We had brought a couple Coleman stoves for this purpose.

We had pitched tents all over the place at the campsite. One of the Rangers let us know the next morning that tents were only supposed to be pitched on the shale surfaces. Some of the tents were on flattish surfaces above the camp area, and that wasn’t cool. Note this also applies to the Cossatot Falls area.

The next morning we got up in a most leisurely fashion, had pancakes, did a final pack, and loaded up. We stopped by the Visitor Center and topped off water bottles using the water fountains there, and drove in our three cars to the north trailhead at the Brushy Creek Day Use area (there are composting toilets there, but no water). Two of our leaders were staying in camp as a base, and they shuttled the cars back to the south end of the trail.

We hit the trail and headed south. You very quickly head away from the river and up a decent distance. We had the usual pack adjustments as we walked which necessitated stop and go. We found a nice place up on a ridge and had lunch on a long fallen tree.

Our plan had been to hike all the way (7 miles) to the Cossatot Falls area for our overnight stop. We got started about 1220, though, and we were taking it easy, so we decided to change our plan and stop at Ed Banks, which was about 5 miles in.

We got there about 1700 and got camp set up quickly. This was a beautiful camp, a lot of tall trees with lots of open space around them, and nice soft ground. We found two fire rings. It actually took a bit to find the camp; we had to recon west and south a bit to triangulate on the site.

We all went out on a rock bar to wade and skip rocks in the river; it’s a very nice place. Camp was about 150 meters from water, and down a bit of a hill, but NBD. Dinner was a mix of dehydrated beef stew, noodles, and rice. We made a nice fire. Again, there was a lot of dead wood around. This area has a lot of evidence of flooding, so that’s something you would want to keep an eye on.

We had a decent rain overnight, maybe a half inch. The ground soaked all of it up. Breakfast the next morning was mainly oatmeal. We got out of camp at 1100 and headed south. The foot bridge across the river at Ed Banks was high and dry.

On the east side of the river now, you wind to and away from the river, and mainly stay pretty high. As we had seen the day before, about 1 of every 3 creeks we crossed had water that you could filter.

Crossing creeks: all but about three of the crossings have really nice bridges over them. Many of the creeks had nice waterfalls.

At one point we passed by a group of Boy Scouts from Texas; they were doing a yo-yo of the trail.

We got to Cossatot Falls area about 1400 and had lunch. There is a composting toilet here also, but no water other than the river. They have four campsites; one south of the parking lot and the rest north. There is also a picnic area just south of the first campsite.

After lunch, we decided to go climb the rocks in the Falls. It looked from the map like the trail was right down on the river, but no, we climbed about 150 ft before deciding to go back. We dropped our packs and headed down again. It was starting to get a little dark, so we took our rain gear.

The Falls are a set of uplifted rocks that the river rushes around, making a series of stairsteps all the way across the river. We climbed down and up and out into the river for a while, at which point we realized it was 1500, and we had five more miles to go. We decided to head back to our packs.

At this point the sky opened up and a steady rain began that turned into a deluge that lasted the next five hours!

We were now reversing on the suddenly very slick rocks; we had one of our girls slip 15 or so feet right off the rock, but she landed in river rock. While not soft, it beats solid rock. By the time we got to our packs, it was pushing 1600, and we were reconsidering the wisdom of hiking five miles in the rain with no campsites. The rain continued, with steady downpours, and near constant lightning and thunder. The lightning also made us reconsider hiking, as the first couple miles are on a ridge.

So we quickly decided that we were spending the night at the Falls area. We took two campsites; the larger one was for the Scouts, and the smaller one for the adults. We got out our Kelty backpacking tarp and had the girls hold it up over their heads, and we lashed the thing up to trees, the rail around the campsite, and trees. Pretty soon we had it up and keeping the rain off. We sent some of the girls up to the composting toilet as it had a roof, and others started putting their tents together under the tarp, moving out from under the tarp as the flys were put on. This kept the majority of rain out of the tents.

Everyone got in their tents to put on dry clothes, and we fired up a couple stoves and started making hot cider, cocoa, and soup for everyone to drink. We also inventoried the dry food, and distributed it to the Scouts for an inside-the-tents dryish dinner. By the time all this was done, it was 1900, and we were done for the evening/night. The rain continued. We had 4+” by the time it was done, sometime around 2300.

Our plan had been to send everyone down to set up camp, and then Blair and I were going to power-hike the five miles to the baser camp to let them know our situation and coordinate the next day. We were helping with setting up camp, and it was getting dark, and we were not enthusiastic about hiking in the rain, in the dark, on a ridge in a thunderstorm. About this time, the Boy Scouts we had seen on the trail came back through, and mentioned they were heading on to the base camp area. They very graciously agreed to take our message to base camp, and did so in spite of having to go out of their way to do so.

So THANKS to the Scouts and leaders for doing us a huge Good Turn that rainy evening. I tried to look up the Troop in Palestine TX using what I thought was their unit number of Troop 110, but couldn’t find a Troop with that number. If you are from that group and reading this, please contact me so I can thank you properly.

A Ranger came by several times to check on us. I also asked him to pass the same message to our base camp crew, and he did.

The next morning, we woke up to mainly clear skies, warm temperatures, and a river that was way high. We strung rope for clotheslines, got stuff started drying, and the Scouts cooked the dinner we skipped the night before, for breakfast. It was great!

We also got a good look at how far the river rose with the rain. These two photos give some perspective on how far up the river rose:


Before


After

We found out that the base camp crew had been evacuated the night before as the river was up into and through the base camp area.

The base camp crew showed up at the Falls area around 0930. We did the car collection while the camp dried out. Eventually, we loaded up and headed out, leaving the last five miles for a future hike.

Random Notes

Cell service along the river is iffy. Erin had service on her iPhone 4S at Cossatot Falls, and there was some service next to the Visitor Center. I was annoyed that Erin had 2G and intermittent 4G service, while my Galaxy SIII had squat. The Center has pretty good Wi-Fi.

The staff and Rangers at Cossatot ROCK.

Lessons Learned

Those camp sites with shale chips are tough on tent bottoms. I have a bathtub bottom on mine, but I wish I had brought a tarp to protect the tent.

There is NO water at any of the campsites except for the river. If you car camp, make sure you bring enough water, or you can purify enough. The center staff was kind enough to allow us to fill our bottles, but they close at 1700, and there is no guarantee you would be allowed to do the same.

We were super happy to have brought our lightweight fly; using it to pitch the tents under and provide shelter for our campers made a huge difference in comfort.

There are no established campsites between the Falls and the south trailhead at the Visitor Center. I think there are some areas it would be possible to camp, but water might be an issue, and I don’t know that the Park management would necessarily approve.

Suggestions

Some signage is needed at the Ed Banks campground. There is one of the platforms with shale chips near the river, but the actual campsite is farther along the trail, about 300 meters south of the that platform. It looks like there are two campsites there from the fire pits we found.

The web pages for the trail should be explicit in mentioning that you have to bring water to the Falls and Visitor Center campsites. I also think the situation with the parking tags needs to be explained. It would suck to drive up to Brushy Creek and start hiking, and get your car towed or locked in there.

The Brushy Creek area at the north end of the trail (no water there) is really nice. I think the park should consider letting backpackers camp in the area. My suggestion would be to open the “delta” between Brushy Creek and the Cossatot to camping. That would be out of sight of the day use areas. If crowd control is an issue, a capacity permit system is no-cost.

Closing Thoughts

This was a perfect first “serious” backpacking trip for our HAT Scouts. While we didn’t complete the trail, the distance was on the money, I think. It is a beautiful trail, with a mix of hardwood and softwood. The river is an amazing companion as you hike along. There was plenty of water.

I would be happy to go back and hike this trail again.

Sherri’s Diner, Oklahoma City, OK

14 March 2014

Sherri's Diner on Urbanspoon

I had lunch here today, it was pretty good. I had the chicken fried steak. The CFS was nicely breaded. It was pretty much fork tender. It covered most of the platter. But… the meat in the CFS was only about half of the entire CFS. The meatless breading extended all around the meat. Sort of a drag. But what was there was pretty good.

The CFS came with mashers and gravy (both very good), corn (decent), and pinto beans (excellent!). The iced tea was great, and service was great. My meal was delivered very quickly, and that allowed me to get back to work fast. My check was $12.22.

Sherri’s is on the southside, but it’s close to where I work, so I wouldn’t mind going there again.

Four Experiences Buying Online

14 March 2014

I’ve had four online buying experiences over the past couple weeks. This doesn’t include about a dozen eBay transactions, all of which went very smoothly.

I bought some equipment from newegg.com and tigerdirect.com, and I bought a replacement door handle from carparts.com. In the Newegg transaction, what I bought came all the way from Hong Kong, in about four days. The stuff from Tiger Direct, it came from a warehouse in California, four days. The door handle, I think came from California also, six days.

From the time I selected the stuff I bought until the time I completed the sale, in all cases, was less than five minutes.

The fourth transaction was not nearly as good. I bought a new laptop for Raegan from Best Buy, using one of their trusted vendors, buy.com (which changed it’s name to or was bought by Rakuten). While the buying process was fast here as well, there were a couple glitches. The laptop was coming via FedEx.

The FedEx driver tried to deliver Thursday evening, but we weren’t home; they left a door tag. I tried to get FedEx to requeue, since we had missed them by less than 10 minutes, but FedEx couldn’t. I asked them to let me pick it up at their local office, but they said that Buy.com had disallowed that. They would only deliver the next day. We were home the next day at 1600, and waiting in the living room. I was checking fedex.com, and at 1750, suddenly the status showed an attempted delivery. No truck came near our house; no door tag. I got on with FedEx and got a human. This person told me that leaving a door tag was a courtesy, and not a requirement for the driver. I asked if stopping the truck, walking up to the door, and ringing or knocking was a requirement, and she said no.

WHAT THE HELL?

A delivery service is not required to walk up to the delivery location? Side note: I called FedEx and lodged a complaint, and sent a feedback message, but NO response. Pretty crappy service.

Also, FedEx would not redeliver on Saturday, they would not let me pick it up, they had no way to contact the driver. I personally think all of this was bullshit. They would let it be delivered for pickup to a FedEx Kinkos, and only at the nearest location in Edmond. I wasn’t going to take a chance that they would fail to try to deliver (three was the limit), so I had to drive all the way to downtown Edmond the next day.

We got home and excitedly opened the box. The computer wouldn’t power up. I thought the battery might be shot, so I plugged it in to let it charge a bit. The front light that indicated charging didn’t light up. I was not encouraged. A lot of troubleshooting followed, but the bottom line was the laptop was DOA.

Buy/Rakuten had no way to get in touch with a live person via telephone. I used an email form to report the issue as a defective product. Surprisingly, I had a response in about an hour. The person wanted to know the UPC and serial number. After getting them, I got a link to a site to print a UPS shipping tag. I reboxed the laptop, taped the sticker, and hauled it to UPS, dropped it off, and got a receipt.

I immediately send the tracking number to Buy/Rakuten with a request to ship my replacement NOW. I got an email saying that it would be received and inspected and a replacement sent after six or seven days. I shot an immediate demand to ship a replacement NOW. Silence. I send several other emails, once a day, and at day three, upped it to demand an instant refund.

To me it was easy. I’d already paid for junk. I sent it back, and they still had my money, and I had no laptop. They had the tracking number, and the weight matched. It was their fault. They should have shipped a replacement immediately.

After a week, I got a reply, saying that no laptops were in stock, and refund would be made in 1-2 days. I immediately got on buy.com and found that they did have the same laptops in stock. So Buy/Rakuten lied to me.

The only good news was that the refund showed the next day.

I sure would not deal with Buy/Rakuten.

FedEx also has a black eye in this with their fracked up delivery.

Four online transactions, three went smoothly, one was bad. I don’t have an issue with a computer showing up bad. I don’t really think that it was well packed, so was probably damaged by shipping. But I do have a problem with the company not being responsive, especially for what was 100% their mistake.

KFC, Del City, OK

13 March 2014

KFC on Urbanspoon

OK, so I’ve gone back and forth on KFC. I love the taste, but the cost and quality really went downhill a couple years ago. I looked at the cost part, and if you buy this stuff by the bucket, and make your own veggies, it’s not a bad value. The cost of the meals has dropped in the past six months as well. All this means I occasionally hit KFC for lunch.

It was even so Monday. I was in a bit of hurry for lunch, and drove past this KFC in Del City, and decided to give it a try.

This KFC really went a looooooong way to putting me off KFC. Service here for years was *terrible*. Part of this was basic preparation; I think out of five visits over a period of a couple months, for four of the visits, they were out of chicken. At lunch! WTH? The upshot is I haven’t been to this location in something like six years.

This visit was different. I got a two-piece original all white (my standard meal for years was a three-piece, but I’m aiming to lose 15 lbs before a backpacking trip, and you have to look at both volume and caloric content). It was excellent. But the service was even better; I personally interacted with three staff members, and they were wonderful!

One visit isn’t a trend, but it is far better than how it was. I’m not going to rush right back, but I also won’t avoid the place, as I have for a long time.

An Interesting Video Push

8 March 2014

Someone donated a Vizio smart TV to St. John’s. It got installed, I ran network and cable to it, and it’s working pretty well.

One of the church members tried using his iPhone and iPad to push video to the display wirelessly; it didn’t work. He asked me about it, and I did a little research that (1) taught me a little about the Apple AirShow function, and (2) showed the Vizio didn’t support AirShow. I got this info back to the church patron, and mentioned that cables could be bought that would connect the iThings to the TV via the HDMI port.

I was at St. John’s Thursday evening, and noticed that the Vizio had a new HDMI cable, connected to a plain box labeled Apple TV. Hmmm, I thought. I remembered reading about these boxes. I also remembered that Android machines could push to them.

I did a quick Google search for “airplay for android”, and there were a LOT of hits for the “ZappoTV” app. It looked fairly safe, so I downloaded it.

It took about 3 minutes, but that app connected my Galaxy S3 to the Apple TV box, and my S3 display was being replicated to the big Vizio! It was amazingly easy. The only thing was that I needed to restart both devices.

I tried video and still photos. I guess that the app works by using your authenticators to get pages like Google+ or YouTube as a proxy, then sending that data to the AirPlay, which takes the streaming video and dumps it to the Vizio.

So this was a cool example of cross-platform data sharing, and works pretty nice.

An Example of Lousy Photojournalism

5 March 2014

I saw a number of references over the past couple days to a photo taken of members of Trail Life USA. The kids seem to be using the Nazi hand salute.

For those that don’t know (it’s of great interest to me since I’m a Boy Scout leader), Trail Life USA is a group formed as a Boy Scout-like group, with ranks and camping and the like. The group was formed specifically due to the policy change by the Boy Scouts to no longer exclude gay Scouts.

We won’t ask why the group is OK with atheists, and other sinners, but just frown on this one sin that offends them.

Regardless, the Associated Press was doing a story on the Trail Life people, and the photographer took the picture. You can see the picture here, along with a discussion.

The boys in the picture are actually doing a hand sign where they lower their hands during “Taps”. I have seen a number of very similar closings in Boy Scouts, where Scouts make the hand sign, and lower it slowly during a closing song.

But my question is all this, where in the world did the photographer, or most likely editor, have their head? Was it so far up their butt that they had fecal material in their eyes? Anybody with an IQ higher than their collar size would know that publishing a photo that appeared to be boys repeating the Nazi salute would be incendiary. Regardless of what I think about why the Trail Life formed, using a picture that implies they are even slightly Nazi-influenced is just flat wrong.

I’ve been around professional photogs. When those guys take a photo, they shoot a string of them. I can’t believe that in this case, the photographer took a single picture at just the wrong moment. I can’t believe that an editor had only that photo to choose from, and didn’t say “no freakin’ way!”.

Whoever decided to use that photo in the article about Trail Life is incompetent, or biased against the group for some reason. Regardless, firing would be an appropriate response by the AP.

Furr’s, Moore, OK

3 March 2014

Furr's Fresh Buffet on Urbanspoon

This is a slightly delayed post; I found the receipt buried in a drawer while I was looking for something else.

We have occasionally eaten at Furr’s Cafeterias, as Raegans parents were fond of them. This is a Furr’s Fresh Buffet in Moore, and it was pretty crappy. We ate here back on 29 Nov 2013.

The concept here is that you order your drink and get charged, then hit the buffet.

I will just say that off all the things I tried, the only think that was really worth anything was the hamburger steak. And it wasn’t all that impressive. I didn’t actively like anything, and remember that several items tasted bad, the mashed potatoes in particular.

Service was not good. I ran out of iced tea repeatedly (in fact, the entire table had dry drinks at one point).

Our check was $50.59 for six of us. It was wholly unsatisfying. Not recommended.

Too Black and White

27 February 2014

Couple bad examples in the news over the past couple days of Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS).

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal sort of lost his mind after a function of the governors meeting in Washington. As soon as a microphone was in front of him, he said the Obama Administration was “waving the white flag of surrender” where trying to increase job growth was concerned.

Now, if you look at the classic jobs created graph, any non-crazy person can see that jobs growth (which was negative due to Republican policies under Bush) reversed and corrected under Obama, and is still increasing. So his implication that Obama and company are not trying to encourage job growth is BS. Using the “white flag” comment makes his statement pretty deranged.

On another front, I have been listening to SecDef Hagel talk about the Obama Administration budget concepts for the DoD over the past couple days. There is a lot of talk about retiring the A-10 and the TR-2 and reshaping service member levels.

So, in a sadly predictable way, some conservatives started frothing at the mouth. I’ve seen all over discussions and forums comments about how this is part of the Obama Evil Plan to destroy/dismantle/neuter our armed services. It’s black and white to them. Cut or reshape anything, and you destroy it.

We have a sadly uneducated, unthinking part of the electorate. They have been fed BS by conservatives, and being the followers they are, don’t think about it, but just get pissed. Symptoms are endlessly reposting proven-wrong screeds, or mindlessly applauding conservative points such as drug testing for welfare recipients.

There are real problems in the country, and just obstructing possible solutions isn’t governing.

Good News on Health, But Dumb Conservative Response

27 February 2014

A report out yesterday showed that childhood obesity has dropped significantly over the past 10 years.

This can be nothing but good news for the country.

When the story was reported this morning on CNN, I guess in the interest of “balance”, they interviewed some drone from the Heritage Foundation, who lamented the “fact” that it really was an erosion of family control in favor of Big Government.

What a fool.  I’m guessing that conservative people and organizations are so full of blind hatred of Obama that there is No Good News unless it cannot be connected back to Obama and/or Democrats.

For the record, I’ve not seen any Administration forced PE.  Maybe kids are eating healthier through the guidance of their parents.

Conservatives can be pretty pathetic.

CNN should not even have had that moron from Heritage on; it added nothing to the news report.

Jaramillos, Oklahoma City, OK

26 February 2014

Jaramillo's on Urbanspoon

This place was great! I picked it from Google and Urbanspoon reviews. I went there over lunch, and I was the only customer, which is a shame.

I started with a plate of nachos with taco beef. It was large, and had generous helpings of taco beef and cheese. The beef bears comment, it had a very nice touch of seasoning (at a lot of places, the ground beef does not seem to have a lot of flavor; this place is an exception, the ground beef has excellent seasoning).

The queso and salsa were excellent. The salsa had a fresh tomato flavor and just a touch of spiciness. The queso was great, it had a slight smoky flavor. Mix both queso and salsa on the same chip, YUM!

For lunch, I had guisado puerco chili verde. Regular readers will note that I have been eating a lot of this recently. This came as a huge plate with rice and refried beans; these were great! The pork was in biggish chunks, and was very tender and flavorful. The chili verde also had wonderful taste. The spiciness of the guisado puerco chili verde was right at the upper limit of Bills spiciness tolerance. So great flavor, and almost to spicy for me to eat. It reminded me a bit of the same dish I had at Casa de los Milagros a couple months ago, but this variety was another step up spice-wise.

I know this sounds like of odd, but I might get a side of sour cream next time, and stir a spoon into the guisado to tone down the spice a bit.

Service was outstanding and super friendly. The iced tea was great. My check was $21.90. That’s a bit high, I know, but fully $10 of that was my lunch, and the nachos was a full order, and probably $6-7. This place was very good, and I look forward to another visit, soon.

More Attempts at Gay Discrimination

26 February 2014

The Republican Robots are at it, somebody programmed them to introduce gay discrimination bills. These horrid proposed laws are reported to be introduced in Georgia, Nevada, and sadly, Oklahoma.

In every case I’ve heard, it is Republicans doing this. Small-minded Republicans, to my way of thinking.

The bill in Arizona is on the Governors desk for signature or veto. It will be interesting to see if some sanity is applied.

Why the huge numbers of Republicans think that they can ride a wave of anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-hispanic, and anti-black legislation, while ignoring job creation, income inequality, environmental issues, and other real concerns of the country, to power, is beyond me.

This is the very thing that swung me from being a longtime Republican, to an independent, to a left-leaning independent. One party wrapped their candidate in the flag, and refused to take questions. The other took positions, proposed fixes, and ran on the slogan “It’s the economy”. I looked at a do-nothing party, and a party that had ideas to fix real problems (and the solutions seemed to be valid), and the choice was easy. I hope the rest of American that currently votes Republican takes a look at this and comes to their senses.

Pickles, Moore, OK

26 February 2014

Pickles on Urbanspoon

I’ve driven by Pickles a couple hundred times, but never tried it until today. I drove by headed back to work this afternoon.

I had the deluxe double, which is a two-thirds pound burger with bacon and cheese; double everything. It was on an unusual bread, I think an egg bun? There was a lot of cheese, and there were five slices of bacon (cooked to a perfect crispness). The burger was pretty darn good. It was cooked with a nice crust on it, and it had decent flavor. But… the flavor had an odd (but not unpleasant) taste. I wonder if it had some unusual seasoning salt or something similar.

I had fries with the burger, and they were very good. The iced tea was excellent. Service was perfect. My check was $10.24. I wouldn’t mind going back.

BTW, the restaurant is in a former BK or something similar. I don’t usually comment on interiors (unless it’s nasty), but the restaurant was nicely appointed in wood and (I think) brass. The booth I sat in had plenty of room.

Venezia Italian Ristorante, Oklahoma City, OK

24 February 2014

Venezia Italian Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Had lunch here today with Raegan and Erin, it was great!

I had spaghetti the works. Simply outstanding. The meat sauce was just the right thickness, and it was the right amount for the mass of noodles, and the meat balls were excellent. Raegan and Erin had chicken parm, and it was also very good. We all had salads with caesar dressing that was very good (the dressing was on the side instead of being tossed with the lettuce), and the bread was hot and went well with the marinara and al fredo we ordered.

Service was pretty good, and our check was $62.75 (that might seem high for three people, but the marinara and al fredo for the bread was an extra $6 [oh so worth it, yum!], Erin got some fried cheese for another $7, and Raegan got a piece of cake for $5).

I also asked the manager if this place was related to Napolis and all the other places that are characterized by the “spaghetti the works” item, and he denied any relation except the location in Del City, and one in El Reno or Yukon that his sister ran.

We only had one issue; Raegan asked for manicotti. She likes her manicotti like this: one with al fredo, and the other with marinara. To us, this seems very simple. Roll the manicottis up, place them on the baking pan, then ladle some al fredo over one, and some marinara over the other. Yes, there will be some mixing of the two sauces, but this is no big deal to her.

In this case, the restaurant refused to even try. The only reason given was that the sauces would mix. Hmmm, I wonder what happened to the customer being right?

We’ve seen other restaurants (even those that are in the famous secret “spaghetti the works” chain that is not a chain) do the manicotti just as asked, we’ve seen them do the two manicottis on separate plates, we’ve seen a horrid pink mixture of al fredo and marinara dumped across both (very odd), and a couple like here refuse to even try. It’s not that difficult.

Bobs Steak and Catfish Barn, Oklahoma City, OK

23 February 2014

Steak & Catfish Barn on Urbanspoon

This place used to be at I-35 and Waterloo Road north of Edmond, but the owners closed it down, and some new owners bought the recipes and such, and reopened in a building at I-35 and Hefner in northeast OKC.

Raegan and Erin and I had dinner here the first week they were open, on 21 January. I waited to post my review, as the listing on Urbanspoon has some errors.

I got the chicken fried steak. It’s breaded on premises, and was pretty good. I would give it an 8 out of 10. The gravy was OK. I had green beans and mashers as my sides; the green beans were OK, but the mashers were kind of bland. Erin had fish and chips for dinner. She called it average. Raegan had catfish, and liked it OK, but she was not enthusiastic about it.

Service was very friendly. The iced tea was OK. Our check was $43.41. I liked it OK, and I’m kind of glad to have a decent restaurant so close to our house. Raegan thought the experience was “meh”, which can be interpreted a number of ways.

I have read some comments about the place being dirty or service being bad. For the record, neither was the case during our visit.

“How Much Does My Backpack Weigh???!!!”

22 February 2014

My friend Dave brought a portable scale to our Grand Canyon backpacking trip (he left it in the car and didn’t carry it on the trail). Right before we headed down from the trailhead, we weighed our backpacks. Mine started at 46 lbs. If you had asked me before we used the scale, I would have guessed that I was carrying about 35 lbs, so I was more than a little startled.

The generally accepted ratio of pack weight to body weight is around 25%. So for 215 lb Bill, 46 lbs is well within that guideline. But there is a lot of difference from the perception of 35 lbs and 46 lbs. I determined that I was going to find out where the weight was.

None of this includes the stuff I carry on my person, like boots and clothes, the multitool on my belt, and the like.

When we got off the trail, I basically put my pack and everything (including trash I packed out) I was carrying directly into my travel duffel bag that I use to check the pack on the airline. First, I weighed the pack using Daves scale. It clocked in at 37 lbs, so I had lost 9 lbs of pack weight during the trip. I also noted the weight of the duffel when I checked in at PHX. It was 37.8 lbs, which accounts for the weight of the duffel. I also noted everything I had taken out, namely, the amount of leftover water at the top of the South Rim, and a couple things like my phone, which I carried on the trip in my backpack, and my trusty Kelty daypack.

Back at home, I checked the duffel weight again using our backroom scale: 37.5. Close enough. I got our food scale out (it’s a 5 lb scale), and checked it against a couple cans of food to make sure that if the can was 18 oz, so was the scale. Finally, I proceeded to take everything out of the pack and duffel one at a time and weighed it.

Here is what I came up with. I divided up the stuff I carried into several groups.

Must-Carry Stuff

This list of stuff was 26 lbs. The biggest items were:

Pack, 5.25 lbs
0F Sleeping Bad, 4.8 lbs
Tent, 5 lbs

I carry a Cabela’s Shasta 98 pack; it’s a big pack, 6000 cu in (and I just noticed that the Cabelas website claims the pack has a convertible hydration pocket/day pack; I did a quick look and don’t see how that it possible, but I will look again later). It may be that I could shave a couple pounds with a smaller pack.

I realized while putting my tent up that I had way too many tent stakes. It turns out I brought twice as many as needed (!), and on top of that, I had several tent stakes in there which were much thinner than the others. I carried 1 lb of tent stakes. If I had carried just the 12 I needed, that would have been about 0.65 lb, and if I just carried 12 of the thinner version, it would have been about 0.56 lb. So that’s a good savings right there.

I probably could have just used my tent fly for cover on this trip. That fly is just 24 oz and only requires eight stakes. That would have reduced the tent weight to 3 lbs. You don’t want to do this if there are bugs about, but it was certainly feasible on this trip.

Given the weather conditions, I probably should have brought my 20F bag (only 2.5 lbs). I don’t think we got much under 40F.

The next heaviest stuff was personal electronics at 1.8 lbs. I carried my GPS, phone, a wallet, my SPOT, and a charger. The phone was the heaviest thing, but it also serves as a backup GPS and camera. I don’t know that I would lose any of this.

I carried a cooking pot and stove, didn’t use either. We had three guys with stoves, and I shared with Chuck. I should have left the 1.5 lbs behind. Lesson: coordinate better next time.

My closed-cell pad weighs 1.1 lbs (which I find surprising, it seems lighter). I have heard that some people cut the lower third of their pad off so that it ends below the hips. If I did that, I would save 0.3 lb. Maybe.

The rest of the things are not conducive to being reduced (a 0.5 lb t-shirt can’t be reduced; maybe changed to another kind of fabric?), or they are inherently very light (a travel toothpaste). The total weight of those items is 6.6 lbs. One thing: a Sudoku book, with about 200 puzzles, is 0.43 lb; I probably could just bring 10 pages.

Food and Consumables

I started with 8.98 lbs of food, and ate about 2/3rds of it. I didn’t eat 10 of the snack bars I brought (0.5 lbs) and never opened up a 0.5 lb bag of M&Ms (not the first time I’ve done that, argh). The biggest mistake here was bringing along too much PB&J; that stuff is dense and heavy.

Winter/Cold-Related Stuff

I carried 3.0 lbs of winter-weight stuff, to include some heavy gloves If it’s going to be cold, you really need that stuff, but in this case, I didn’t wear the gloves once, so I probably could have left them behind (I used some very light fleece gloves a lot).

Special Items

3.0 lbs

These were my Kelty daypack and a fleece blanket. I carried the Kelty as we were going to be dayhiking on the third day, and I needed something to put my water bottle and other dayhiking stuff in. The Kelty weighed in at 40 oz, which is a lot of weight for a single-use item. The other item, the blanket, was a mistake on my part. I had brought the blanket off my flight from OKC-DFW, put it in the middle pocket of the Kelty, and never removed it, so I carried it uselessly on the entire backpacking trip. It was only 8 oz, but the 48 oz total is 3 lbs, or 6.5% of my total weight.

Summary

I need to find a less weighty daypack, or some alternative. 2.5 lbs is a lot of weight for a single-use item. I need to be able to carry a water bottle or two, a water filter if needed, lunch/snacks, and my GPS and SPOT. I don’t think a WalMart sack tied to my belt is the answer, I need something a little more substantial.

I carried a total of 5.72 lbs of completely useless stuff. This is the fleece blanket (0.5 lb), twice as many tent stakes as I needed (0.5 lb), uneaten food (2.6 lb), and the pot and stove (1.5 lb). So the action here is to calibrate the food a bit better, to specifically include the heavy stuff like peanut butter and jam. I think it would make sense to make a couple PB&J tortillas at home, then mix the required amount of PB&J into a bottle that holds just enough for the trip.

The trash was a little heavier than expected at 20 oz. The heaviest part was the remains of the applesauce squeeze pouches, and surprisingly enough, the used teabags. So I need to squeeze those out better, and maybe hang them up overnight after use to let them dry out.

I switched to the squeeze bottles of applesauce after having a cup split a top open in my pack. It was inside a WalMart sack, so there wasn’t a huge mess, but I don’t want rouge applesauce roaming around.

So getting rid of the useless stuff would have immediately brought my pack weight down to 40.2 lbs. A couple of the smarter packing ideas (lighter sleeping bag, less winter weight stuff) would drop the weight down to the 33 lb range, which is pretty reasonable.

My next backpacking trip is in Arkansas in March. I expect to put these to use for that trip.

The Latest Hatred-of-Gays Gambit

22 February 2014

Several states have passed or tried to pass so-called “religious liberty” protection bills that would allow businesses to discriminate against gay customers. This follows several instances where a bakery owner or similar business would refuse service to gay customers.

So laws like this are inherently unconstitutional. The same sort of laws that allowed discrimination against blacks were finally struck down. That period of United States history is one of the worst for our country, and even today our black and brown citizens still don’t have full equality. The discrimination laws were the antithesis of the very concept of American pluralism, and were a disgusting example of bigotry.

The gay discrimination laws that are being considered are yet another example of bigotry. There are any number of arguments as to why the laws are not Constitutional, starting with the concept of public accommodation.

But a better question is, why are people so focused on gays. If your holy book tells you somehow that you are not supposed to bake cakes for gays, and it’s because there is some vague prohibition that labels homosexuality as sin, then by logical extension, you should not be baking cakes for any person who practices sin. No one has ever explained this to me.

I have had a couple explanations that homosexuality is one of the abominations, so that’s extra sinful, but again, there are a whole list of of those behaviors in the Bible, and yet I don’t see any laws being passed to allow discrimination based on that. How many bakers are asking people if they had sex as teenagers? Or how many ask if they have cotton clothes and silk underwear?

I’ve raised this question before in another context. If anti-gay crusaders like Oklahomas (to our shame) Sally Kern want to put anti-gay legislation on the books, then why don’t they put other biblically-based laws on. If the Bible says stone teenagers for having sex, isn’t that also worth getting put into law?

No, instead, I think that anti-gay fanatics are trying to satisfy their need to control behavior with what they perceive as an easy target. They draw false cause-and-effect (think “gay marriage degrades straight marriage”), and use it to whip up the easily led.

So. If you support discrimination, what’s your excuse?

Casa Perico, Oklahoma City, OK (Northside)

22 February 2014

Casa Perico Mexican Grille on Urbanspoon

A couple weeks ago, we hit Casa Perico on the west side of OKC, and had a wonderful meal. Thursday, we needed dinner, so we decided to hit the northside location, which is much closer to our house. Another wonderful meal.

We started the meal off with shredded beef nachos; that’s the way nachos should be made. The “chips” were taco shells, and there was a lot of cheese and beef. Next time, we will get them with some sour cream. For our dinner, again, I got puerco verde; pork in green chili sauce. It was simply excellent. I think this version was just a touch spicier then I got at the westside location, but the pork was tender, and the meat and green chili sauce had amazing flavor. There wasn’t a bit left when I was done. Raegan got a chicken chimi this time, and thought it was pretty good. Erin got chicken soft tacos and enjoyed them.

Service was outstanding. The iced tea was excellent. Our check was $52.50.

I’m not a food expert by any means, but for me, getting away from the standard enchiladas and such has been a refreshing change. I still like enchiladas and fajitas, but the mexican stews seem to have the edge on flavor.

A Data Oddity

21 February 2014

As a result of the ice storm we had over the holidays, the drivers side door handle on my LaCrosse was broken. One oddity of this car is that it has exactly one lock in the four doors, instead of locks on both the driver and passenger front doors.

So since I can’t repair the door handle, I ordered a replacement. As expected, the GM price for the handle is about $80, and the various aftermarket sites charge around $16.

But here is the odd thing. Every site I visited, to include GM (the OEM), had some variation of this:

Replacement Door Handle
Location: Front, Passenger Side, Exterior
Material: Plastic
Type: Exterior
Door Lock Key Hole Provision: With keyhole

Since the keyhole is on the drivers side door handle, this description is wrong. The photo accompanying the description, and the left-to-right orientation of the photos, is in every case correct. It’s just the description as being on the passenger side.

Since this was at no less than six sites I visited, including GM, I would imagine that the source data from GM is wrong, and it has been replicated by the various aftermarketers.

It will be interesting to see what I actually receive.

Blue Ribbon BBQ, Newton, MA

20 February 2014

Blue Ribbon BBQ on Urbanspoon

OK, so I get behind a bit. This post is the last of a group of restaurants that I was in while on three weeks of travel.

I was driving to Boston Logan getting ready to head back home early, on 04 Feb, and it was dinnerish. My flight didn’t leave until 1945. I had just visited an Eastern Mountain Sports, and did a Google search for restaurants, and this place was right up the road, and on the Mass Turnpike (which goes right to the airport), so it worked.

I got a two-meat, with pulled pork and sliced brisket. Both were very good, smoked and tender. The BBQ sauce was thin and didn’t really have much flavor. The amount of food was pretty large. My sides were green beans (very good) and baked beans (OK). The meat was surprisingly good, better than I expected.

The iced tea was kind of odd but not bad. I tried the lemonade but didn’t like it; it had a sharp taste that was unpleasant. Service was a little slow; it seemed like the first time to built my meal failed, and it got tossed. But the Q was pretty good. My check was $20.84.

Sutter Street Steakhouse, Folsom, CA

20 February 2014

Sutter Street Grill on Urbanspoon

While on a business trip to the Sacramento area, my buddy Mark suggested this place for dinner after the first day of the meeting. We went there 29 January with a group of 10. While we were seated immediately at 1815, during the course of our meal, the place filled up completely. We left around 2015.

I got a ribeye, medium, with potato cakes and sauteed mushrooms. Simply put, all of this was excellent. The steak was grilled perfectly, had great flavor, and was nearly fork-tender in spite of being an inch thick. The potato cakes were essentially hashbrowns fried up densely like pancakes; they were great. The mushrooms were sauteed in a light wine glaze and were perfect as well.

The iced tea was really good. In spite of our large group, service was pretty darn good. My check was $46.17. I would not at all mind going again.

Esquire Grill, SMF Terminal B, Sacramento, CA

20 February 2014

Esquire Grill on Urbanspoon

I was traveling back to OKC last 31 Jan, and got to SMF early, so I had breakfast here. It was unexpectedly good!

I had the buttermilk pancakes with bacon and iced tea. The pancakes were unusual in that they had a lot of texture, like the pancakes Raegan makes by adding wheat germ. The bacon was cooked perfectly, tasty and just crunchy enough.

Service was prompt and friendly, and the iced tea was good and kept refilled. I liked this place. My check was $16.46.

Charleston’s, Oklahoma City, OK (I-240)

20 February 2014

Charleston's on Urbanspoon

We were in south OKC back on 25 January, and decided to hit this Charleston’s for dinner.

We started with a brace of their excellent croissants, and baked potato soup all around. For our meals, Erin had mac and cheese, Raegan had a chicken salad, and I had a house salad (with the excellent creamy garlic dressing). All of this was completely eaten and was very good.

Service was very attentive, and the iced tea was great and kept refilled. Our check was $54.19, a little expensive as usual, but the quality was right about that level.

If you are with Charleston’s, I would like to suggest that you consider expanding your menu just a bit. Charleston’s used to have excellent ribeye steaks, and an outstanding BBQ chicken, but these disappeared from the menu years ago. Bring them back, with the same quality as before.

Another Connectivity Option – Tethered

20 February 2014

My laptop wifi is not working for some reason. Windows 7 recognizes that there is a device there, but it’s greyed out, so I suspect it’s a configuration issue. I didn’t want to mess with it right now, so just for the heck of it, I remembered that my Galaxy S3 supports tethering. I connected a USB cable between the phone and laptop, navigated on the phone menu to tethering, turned it on, and just like that, I’m on the Internet.

That was just way too easy. W7 supported a Linux-based phone for an IP service. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

Popeyes, DFW, TX, Terminal D

18 February 2014

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen on Urbanspoon

I was headed to Boston last Monday morning, and wanted just a snack before my flight. There was Popeyes a couple gates over, and I decided to check it out. It was not the best first impression.

I ordered a two-piece chicken, mild. They didn’t have any (this was at 1130). None for another 20 minutes (this is a real bugaboo of mine, how does a chicken place run out of chicken, at lunch?). I got a six-piece nugget combo, with slaw. The biscuit was dry. The slaw wasn’t bad at all. The chicken was overcooked, so the nuggets were tough, and had little flavor.

The iced tea was OK. They wanted $1.00 for a refill. Are you kidding me? Service was OK. My check was $6.59.

This was a bad first visit. I don’t write any restaurant (or chain) off on one visit, so I will try again, and hope the next location is better.

Kennedy’s Public House, Norwood, MA (Hampton Inn)

18 February 2014

Kennedy's Public House on Urbanspoon

This restaurant is in the Hampton Inn at Norwood. A week ago Monday, my co-worker Dave and I had dinner here.

I got a porterhouse, which was the special of the day. It came with a baked potato and a salad. The potato and salad were great. The steak was not the best I have had, but it was pretty darn good, cooked just like I asked (medium), and nice and juicy.

The iced tea was pretty good, and kept refilled. Service was pretty much right on the money. My check was $37.18. Pretty good.

Backpacking Grand Canyon National Park, AZ, 07-12 Feb 2014

17 February 2014

A group of six went backpacking at the Grand Canyon 08-11 Feb 2014.

Hike Summary: Four days of backpacking from the South Rim to the River, 40+ miles, immense altitude change, perfect weather. A fantastic experience.

I posted the photos from the trip on my Google+ site here.

Getting There

Well, the trip didn’t get off to a good start. I was on a short-notice business trip to Boston. Was supposed to be gone Monday-Wednesday, returning in time to catch my flight to PHX Thursday morning. Instead, a snowstorm headed to Boston, and I booked out of town late Tuesday, getting into OKC at 0215 Wednesday morning. I went to work Wednesday, got packed that evening, and went to bed late.

I got up early Thursday and got to the OKC airport early, in spite of a sleet and snow mix. We were late out of OKC, but I had a five-hour layover at DFW, so I wasn’t worried. I was planning on having dinner with my friend Keith and his husband Ben in Phoenix, so I thought I had plenty of time. But the connecting flight into DFW was late, and the DFW-PHX flight was really late pushing back, and then we had to wait in a line for deice. At the end of deice, the flight crew gets on the PA and tells us that if they continue the flight, they would blow their duty day. So American canceled the flight, we returned to the gate, and I was left to reorder the trip over the phone. I got on another flight the next morning, got one of the last rooms at the Embassy Suites north of DFW, canceled my hotel in Phoenix, rewickered the rental car at PHX, and called Keith to let him know I wasn’t going to make it. Then it was a shuttle ride to the hotel. It was sort of a pain since I didn’t have any of my bathroom stuff (it turns out my bags made it to PHX that evening), but the hotel had some stuff for stranded travelers so that helped. I had dinner next to the hotel and called it good.

The next morning I got up early, made it to the airport, and got to PHX around 0930, met Chuck at the rental car area, then met our four partners, and we loaded up and headed out.

There was only one sort of funny glitch here: I had reserved an SUV at PHX, for carrying three big guys and backpacks. Avis upgraded me automatically to a Mustang; I don’t think I could fit our bags in that car, much less three of us and bags… I selected a Toyota SUV off of the “free change” line (first of those I’ve seen) to fix the issue, and off we went.

We stopped in Phoenix for supplies and lunch, and then made the drive up I-17 to Flagstaff, and up US180 to Grand Canyon National Park. I re-upped my National Parks Pass for another year coming in to the Park. We went straight to the Rim, and got there in time to see the setting sun illuminate the north part of the Canyon; a great way to start the trip!

We checked into Maswik Lodge for the night. Dinner was at Bright Angel Lodge. We walked over there, and back, just to admire the dark skies and stars.

The Lodge was a good lodging choice. Once back after dinner, we got our backpacks ready to go for the start tomorrow, and crashed.

Day 1

We got up and showered and had breakfast at Bright Angel Lodge again (wonderful!). We checked out of the Maswik, checked in at the backcountry office, and then headed out to the trailhead at Hermit’s Rest, drinking in the views of the Canyon from the Rim as we drove along, all thinking “we are going down there!”.

We got to the trailhead and dropped off our packs. Dave and I drove back to the backcountry office parking lot to drop off my car, and then drove back out to Hermit’s Rest again. On the way there, we saw some elk right next to the road, which I think was very cool.

At this point, we shouldered our packs (mine was 46 lbs, seems too much), took several deep breaths, and headed down the trail. We started out about 1000.

You can follow along on the Google+ site where I posted all the pictures from this trip.

It was pretty cold (high 30Fs) at the Rim, but we quickly lost outer layers as we hiked. I ended up in a t-shirt and shorts for most of the hike.

We had been worried about snow and ice on the trail, but we only had a couple hundred feet of it, and it was not even slippery, so that turned out to not be an issue. We didn’t even put on our Yak Traks.

The dry part of the trail was enough. It was slow going. There were all kinds of rocks on the trail, from gravel sized to fist or better, and you had to watch your footing at the risk of turning or rolling an ankle. It’s also steep (very steep), and so we made slow going. The first part of the trek, we dropped from about 6600ft to about 4800ft, about 1800ft, over about two miles!

The next not quite three miles are relatively ( :) ) flat, but you slowly but steadily lose another 800ft. There is a spring along this stretch, but unless it happens to be raining, there is no other water. The Spring features a nice little hut that provides protection from the elements.

Speaking of which, as you walk, you go in towards the cliff, then out, then in, then out, over and over again. These are small washes and subcanyons, and there are dozens of them.

We got to the top of Cathedral Stairs, which is a serious set of switchbacks, short and steep. I was glad we were going down. It was here we ran into the only people we saw on the trail this day; a party of three, and a solo hiker, all four of which were headed back up, late in the day. The drop down the Stairs is about 1300ft. Once at the bottom, we found the Tonto Trail junction, and headed east.

This was an interesting hike. Sticking out from the Stairs is a large, pointy ridge, and we had to walk around the point, contouring up a bit, but generally down, back into another subcanyon area. It’s around a couple hundred feet, mostly down.

The closeout of the days hike is a walk to one of the arms of an upside-down “Y” canyon, down into one of the arms to the bottom of the canyon, and then to the junction and back up the other arm to camp. At the junction is a very tall rock tower.

We got to camp about 1830, got set up quickly, and made dinner in the dark. Everyone was in their tents and asleep by around 2000.

Our campsite was Monument Creek, in a stand of scrubby trees. The campsites can hold one or two tents only. There are plenty of rocks for cooking and sitting. Water is a bit downstream from the camp area.

There was a newish composting toilet at the camp, which was kind of surprising.

Our first day hiking was 3600ft of altitude loss (probably closer to 4000ft once you count the pop-ups and back-downs), and 9.2 miles of hiking.

Day 2

We all woke up around 0700 or so on the second day. It was warm overnight, probably in the 40s.

After breakfast we headed out again, about 0820. Right out of camp, you zip up about 500 ft to get onto a plateau. From there it is a steady more-or-less level, but overall you have a steady up. There are several rises on the way there, and the now-expected drops into the heads of subcanyons.

We had company in camp overnight, they left shortly after we did, and passed us on that first climb. We caught up to them on the first major ridge and talked for a bit; the three of them were on a 90-mile trip along the Tonto Trail. They had hiked into the Canyon over a period of months and cached food. That’s serious backpacking.

We found water at Cedar Spring, but it took some doing. We search upstream first, then James noticed rock cairns going downstream, and we found a nice little area about a quarter mile down.

That spring flow was in an amazing almost-tunnel cut into the rock. It opens into a sheer drop of at least 500 ft. This would make a Yosemite-class waterfall in a heavy rain.

We had lunch just above Salt Creek camp. We kept on walking. The trail was a nice walk, with subcanyons and views of the Colorado occasionally.

We got into Indian Gardens around 1800. This camp has several composting toilets, but even more luxuriously, it has picnic tables and shelters in all campsites, with large ammo boxes to store food in. There are also pegs and t-bars to hang packs from to keep critters out.

After we got the tents set up, we walked back up the trail a little less than a half mile to watch the setting Sun illuminate the north part of the Canyon. It was beautiful.

We had a more leisurely dinner, and talked for a while before heading to bed.

Our second day hiking was net 900ft of altitude gain (probably over 1500ft once you count the pop-ups and back-downs), and 11.8 miles of hiking.

Day 3

This was a dayhike day. We left our tents up in Indian Gardens, to hike down to the Colorado River.

We got up around 0700 again, and after breakfast and a bit of clean up, we put on daypacks and headed out on the Bright Angel Trail. This follows Bright Angel Creek steadily downward, until the creek dives down a slot canyon, and we dive down what I called the “Death Spiral”. The trail goes down a series of steep drops and switchbacks around three sides of a what looks like a large shaft. The altitude drop is about 600 ft in about 400 ft of space: it’s steep!

At the bottom of that, it’s a decent slope down right to the river, in a series of narrow canyons. At the river, it pops up and down a couple times until you end up at the silver bridge.

We walked up to Phantom Ranch and had lunch. They have snacks and drinks. The guys got cold beer, lemonade, and iced tea! Talk about civilized. PR has cabins for people to stay in, and a real dinner (steak for $60 and stew for $25, IIRC) for people staying down there. And flush toilets!

After we had lunch, we walked down to the river to a sandy beach and felt how cold the water was, then we headed up the other bridge, and hiked along the south side of the river back to the other bridge, and then we traced our steps back to camp. It was a heck of a climb.

We had our only equipment casualty of the trip here. I was hiking along at a pretty good pace, and stumbled pretty good. My water bottle came right out of the mesh pocket of my daypack, and went right over the cliff. There was river access just in front of us, so while the guys went there, I backtracked on the shore to look for my bottle. I guess it got hung up somewhere up above.

We got back to camp well before dark, talked a bit, had dinner, talked a bit more, and crashed.

Our third day hiking was a net 0ft of altitude change, but in reality 1500ft of gain, from the river to Indian Gardens, and 12.2 miles of hiking.

Day 4

We got up around 0645, had breakfast and did some packing, and then did a side hike out to Plateau Point to our north. It has marvelous views of the river, and an interesting perspective on where we hiked yesterday.

We walked back to camp, finished packing, and headed out for the last time.

The highlight of the day is walking back up to the South Rim. There’s not a lot to say except it’s doable if you are in reasonable shape. The views are incredible.

One note: it was February, and it got colder as we climbed. There was ice and snow on the trail for the last 800 or so vertical feet, and the Yak-Traks we brought were invaluable. Don’t go without them for any winter-related trek.

We got to the top to find a bunch of Chinese tourists. There was a language barrier, but they made it clear that we were interesting, and they took a bunch of pictures of us, and then they all took pictures of themselves, with US! Kind of cool.

Our last day hiking was 3300ft of altitude gain, and 7.7 miles of hiking.

We went and had a snack at Bright Angel Lodge, then walked to Maswik and showered, did our reverse car shuffle at dusk, and then walked back to the Lodge for dinner. We walked around the Rim some more, checked out the lobby of El Tovar, and generally took it easy. We all slept really well that night.

Some Perspective

After breakfast Wednesday morning, we went back along the Rim to Hermit’s Rest.

It was way, way cool to look down, and be able to recognize the terrain, because we had walked it! I couldn’t get enough of the rock tower we had walked next two at Monument Creek. The top of it just peeks out from the vantage point of the Rim, but we saw the whole thing.

After the Rim drive, we headed back to PHX and went home. Definitely sad.

Things That Worked

Food

I was really happy about the food situation. I’ve pretty much decided to stay with dry breakfast, with the possible exception of hot tea or cocoa. My typical breakfast is a package of PopTarts (I like brown sugar cinnamon), a 3.2oz squeeze bottle of applesauce, and a Quaker Oats bar or two. I do two tea bags in my blue metal mug, and carry sugar and some sort of powered milk or creamer. At the REI in Phoenix, I found Backpackers Pantry dried WHOLE MILK! It was great in my tea. I have found packets of dried skim here, but that whole milk blows the skim away.

My lunches were usually PB&J on a tortilla, usually a couple. For this four-day trip, I packed a 15oz tub of PB (used about half) and a 20oz strawberry jam (used about 2/5th). So that’s a good chunk of weight that could have been eliminated. I usually also had another applesauce and a trail bar.

Dinners are dehydrated meals. I sometimes had another two-bag tea. My dinners this time were Backpackers Pantry Potatoes and Gravy with Beef (OK at best), Mountain House Chili Mac (outstanding as usual, recommended), and Backpackers Pantry Santa Fe Rice with Chicken (excellent, I liked this a lot!). The P&GwB was bland, very bland. The Chili Mac and Santa Fe meals were just spicy enough to be enjoyable, and both have strong flavor.

One thing I tell people: those dehydrated meals claim to feed two, but use them as single-serving. You need the calories.

I like flavoring my drinks while walking. Country Time lemonade comes in packets that are for 8 oz, and I usually double those up (as we called it at Philmont, “ranger strength”).

My snacks on the trail are “puppy chow”, which is wheat chex coated with powered sugar, peanut butter, and chocolate. Braum’s in OKC sells a very good variety.

Things That Could Be Improved

NOTHING! This trip was perfect. I can’t say anything about how strenuous it was; that comes with the territory. Our timing, teamwork, and training were right on.

Equipment Notes

Backpack Weight: I think my backpack was too heavy. I started with a 46lb load, and at the end of the trip it was 36lbs. I am going to weigh it all and see what can be pared down.

Yak Traks: this way my first time to use them. They will always go with me any time I go hiking in the winter.

Summary

Here are the overall trek path and altitude:

And here is one annotated with our major locations:

Trek Altitude Annotated

This was a perfect trip. The distances were long, but not unmanageable for us. If you wanted, you could have done an overnight at Salt Creek instead of the layover we did at Indian Gardens.

You need to watch the water situation along the trail.

Next time I do the Canyon, I think I would like to go down from the North Rim. We’ll see.


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