Sunday, February 25, 2007

Winter.....better late than never!

The week started with plans to travel back to Cedar Falls, IA for some obligations and to visit family. Enter, winter storm 2007. Minnesota got blasted by a pretty good storm leaving about 12 inches in my yard over the weekend. That killed the driving plans on friday and left an open weekend at home. It's refreshing to know that it actually does snow still in the great state of Minnesota, as the past few months have been pretty discouraging. I love the snow, and really feel that if you are going to live somewhere with winter that it should be embraced. It's hard to see the skis, snowshoes and ice climbing gear sit in the closet while I stare aimlessly at the dead grass in my yard. I was happy to shovel the snow and even made a huge pile in the yard to dig a snow shelter. I thought it might be fun to dig a snow cave and sleep in it one night.......I will keep you posted on those plans.

On the bad news front: I went into work to set some bouldering routes on the climbing wall in my office saturday. While climbing, I seem to have suffered a significant tendon injury to my left ring finger. I have injured fingers before, but this one was accompanied by a pop, a sign that is not good from what I have read. The problem with tendon injuries is that they take a long time to heal. In my case, I also get tortured by people climbing all around me every day while I hang out with my gimp hand and talk to them. I will probably make a trip to the doctor on this one as the pain seems to be significant. Grrrr.

Back to good news! The wife and I headed out today to enjoy the fresh snow at a nature preserve near our house. The Dodge Nature Center is a great natural area right in the middle of West Saint Paul....(WSP to the local homies). They have a lot of trails through wetlands, woods and prairie that make you feel like you are a lot farther from the city than you actually are. We enjoyed a great snowshoe hike enjoying making fresh tracks on the trail and enjoying the trees dusted with last nights snow. We were even treated to several deer running through the woods.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Climbing Competiton

This past Saturday I hosted the annual climbing competition at the U of MN. It's a lot of work but always in the end extremely rewarding. It's great to get to spend time with all of the climbing wall staff and work together to put on a great event that all of the climbers we see everyday get to enjoy. I guess it really is the reason why climbing creeps into you and never leaves. Is it the people that are fun to be around, or the activity that keeps you wanting more? Probably a little of both, but climbing is only as fun as the people you are doing it with. In my case, those are almost always good people. Jevidon, as always, was Johnny on the spot with the camera, so click to link to his gallery from the competition.

Climbing seems to breed some type of pack animal mentality. As long as we are together, we feel pretty normal. Put one of us out in the open and we are just obsessed weirdos covered in chalk with abnormally strong hands, good balance and absolutely no fashion sense (my wife dresses me). In the spirit of climbing, some observations I have made in my years enjoying the sport. You might be a climber if:
  • You know how to open a beer bottle with a carabiner.
  • You don't twist the cap off of beer in fear of damaging the skin on your fingertips for tomorrow's bouldering session
  • You own belts, or other clothing accessories, made of retired climbing gear.
  • You trim your nails more often than your wife, girlfriend or mother
  • You don't have any money for new climbing shoes, but always drink micro brew
  • You can name 5 buildings in your neighborhood that would be great to climb
  • You've climbed a building before
  • You've contemplated how you could build a climbing wall in your rental apartment
  • You regularly feel the need to hang from door frames
  • You've been asked if Cliffhanger is a good movie more than ten times
  • You hate the movie Cliffhanger
  • You could kick an eagle scouts ass in a knot tying contest
In other news, we seem to have broken the twenty some days without the temperature getting above freezing, and now it looks like warm weather that will ruin the skiing and ice climbing. Yeah for global warming (smell the sarcasm, please).

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Great Wisconsin Adventure

This weekends journey led me to the great state of Wisconsin. In true Wisconsin fashion there was a lot of beer, meat and cheese (hell yeah). We went to a Gaelic Storm concert on friday night for a fun show as always, even though it was in a theatre. If you haven't heard them, get on it because they're awesome. I was given a Bret Favre doll made of cheddar cheese, and made a trip to the Miller Brewing company. For those of you who know me, this was a major pilgrimage, as well as an educational adventure. When the video shown at the beginning of the tour ended and I was moved to start clapping. Nobody else did, but they might not be as dedicated.

Over there at the joint founded by Fred Miller in 1855, they are currently cranking out 2,000 cans of golden delicious beer per minute on two lines (that's 4,000 cans a minute for the not so little Einsteins out there). 500,000 cases of beer each year are sent out into the world from the hard working folks of Miller....amen. It's a free tour, with a little bit of sampling afterwards, beers that I have had probably a million times, but they always taste better coming straight from the source.

On the way back from the brewery we stopped at Whistling Striats golf course(it was home to the 2004 PGA Championship). It's absolutely incredible, even covered with snow. The clubhouse and locker rooms are clearly for people living on a whole different planet than most of us.

Kudos to the Gottsacker clan that hosted us for the weekend. Those Wisconsin folks can host a major throwdown! To sum up the weekend in one visual: Think about soaking some cheese in beer, wrapping it with sausage, frying it, and then eating it with Brett Favre at a dive bar on the corner you arrived at on a snowmobile while trying to hunt something! On Wisconsin! Schweet!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Super Boulder I

It was a cold weekend with a high of 3 degrees and a low of -14. Most of the weekend was spent in the negative numbers. It wasn't too cold to cancel the Super Boulder! I had about 10 friends over for some friendly competition on the climbing wall in my garage (which is heated.) We ate, drank and climbed while watching the big game. A great combination, except for maybe the eating and climbing, which we found don't go well together. We were lucky enough to have some of Luke's homebrewed IPA which was great. Eric N (climbing left) took home the bragging rights and much fun was had by all. Justin took some sweet photos, as always, and you can see more of Super Boulder by clicking the images on the left to link to Justin's photo gallery.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

poop coffee

We all have those things we feel are "must try." Our friend Jessica told us of a small little coffee roaster in Minneapolis where they have the world's most expensive and exotic coffee: Kopi Luwak. It costs $420 per pound of beans or $10 for an 8 ounce cup. I would never pay $10 for a cup of coffee, but then I heard the story behind it all.

The coffee is grown in Indonesia. The fruit is eaten off the plant by a marcupial creature called a "luwak," then partially digested and the beans are harvested from it's feces and roasted. Whallah! Poop coffee.

The coffee was really smooth. The four of us shared a cup and then tried some of the other coffee. I had some Jamaican Blue Mountain that costs $59 a pound, but only $2 for a custom ground and brewed 12 ounce cup that I would take any day over my favorite starbucks bean. It was a great experience and a great place. If your in the Linden Hills area stop by Coffee & Tea ltd. for your own cup of poop coffee. Warning: Do not try harvesting coffee beans from your own feces.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

.....the beginning

In an extremely unsuccessful effort to start a website (mainly because I am lazy) I have decided to start a blog. I can post photos and random thoughts that likely nobody will read. Mainly I hope to make this a place where folks can see what I've been up to melded with my own candid thoughts and photos. I'm gearing up for an exciting weekend as I will be hosting the "Super Boulder." This unique event will be a climbing competition on my garage climbing wall. Features include homemade beer, great climbing, and of course, watching the super bowl.