Winter Desert Weekend, Part 1

Right after Christmas, Josh contacted me to see if I would be interested in joining Ofa, Prajit, and himself in for some slot canyon adventuring. I decided since it was such a long drive that it might be fun to invite a friend along for the ride especially since I had a long weekend and Josh and his crew had to get back to SLC on Sunday. Fortunately, Kelly decided that she and her pup Petey would join Sprocket and I on our adventure.

We pulled out of Ridgway right after school on Friday and headed out over Lizard Head Pass. Sprocket insisted we stop at the top of the pass for a quick stretch break and photo opportunity. (He actually whined all the way from the Telluride round-about to Lizard Head and just wanted to frolic in the snow.) We pushed through a long dark drive across the Navajo Reservation, experienced some desert fog, and talked about skinwalkers and eventually made camp at Whitehouse Campground between Page, Arizona and Kanab, Utah. We were both exhaused and I hardly registered it when Josh, Prajit and Ofa drove in and were setting up their tents.

Lizard Head Pass

The next morning, we made a quick run to Kanab to try for obtain day-of permits for The Wave, however, during the winter all the permits for the weekend are given away on Friday so we settled for breakfast in town before heading out to hike Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch.

Happy Dogs

It was a gorgeous winter day for hiking:

Wire Pass trailhead

After a short ramble through the wash, we dropped into Wire Pass.

Sprocket in Wire Pass

Beth and Sprocket, Wire Pass

Wire Pass

I tried to help Sprocket over the following chockstone and he basically decided to jump over my shoulder. This is my Class 3+ doggy:

Sprocket doesn't mind chockstones

Sprocket on Wire Pass Trail

Beth, Wire Pass, Utah

Wire Pass, Utah

Wire Pass

Eventually we emerged at the junction of Buckskin Gulch and Wire Pass:

Buckskin Gulch

Unfortunately, there was a lot of water going both directions. Sprocket was the only one who thought continuing was a good idea. Instead, we enjoyed the views and enjoyed the majestic canyon junction before heading back out of the canyon.

Petroglyphs, Buckskin Gulch

Sandstone Art

The Wave trail, Utah

Some of Ofa and Prajit’s friends were headed to the Horseshoe of the Colorado River just south of Paige to watch sunset so Kelly and I hopped in Prajit’s car and joined them. The Horseshoe is majestic but it was so crowded (although it did inspire our trip to the Goosenecks of the San Juan on the way home).

Horseshoe Bend, Colorado River

The sunset colors were pretty sweet though:

Horseshoe Bend Sunset

Back at camp, we had a beer and then headed for our warm sleeping bags. (Well, Prajit and Josh decided to make some awesome art first.) Sprocket had spent a good chunk of Friday night shivering so I decided to cozy him up in my Turbodown. At first, he wasn’t really sure how he felt about it:

Unsure about this. Sprocket

I pulled the hood up and he suddenly understood and immediately fell asleep in his cozy coat.

Warm puppy

TurboDown Pup. #omnidog

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Beer Tasting: Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.

As my mom and I were headed out of downtown Tacoma we noticed Pacific Brewing & Malting Co., a new brewery on Pacific Avenue. The brewery’s name came from a pre-Prohibition brewery in Tacoma. I looked up their beer list online and learned that they make a “Griswold’s Winter Warmer”…and the description was one of my most favorite quotes from Christmas Vacation:

Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I’d like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?

Mom decided since there was a Christmas Vacation inspired name on the menu that we really had to go and check it out. I’m so glad we did! The beer was all pretty darn good and their use of a vintage Tacoma brewing brand and it’s logo was excellent!

Pacific Brewing and Malting Co. logo

I did a tasting tray (which I did feel was a tad expensive at $14 for six tastes) to get a sense of what the brewery was all about

1897 Pale Lager: I was really skeptical about the chances of me liking this beer but I was told that it’s their flagship brew so I had to give it a shot. Surprisingly, I really liked it. The brewery needs to work on getting it on tap at the Rainiers because although I don’t think I’d sit down on a cold winter evening with this, it would be the perfect craft beer accompaniment to a summer baseball game. The original Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. was founded in 1897 which is honored in the name of this beer. Even better than this name, however, are all the vintage advertisements found throughout the tasting room. I found this one in the ladies bathroom pretty much awesome:

Pacific Beer ad

Moon Yard Ale: This amber was pretty solid. I used to really really dig ambers and browns but my tastes have definitely migrated to the hoppy and bitter. (Give me a Cascadian dark any day though!!) I enjoyed this but since the taster made up for being expensive with it’s generous pours this one probably got a little less love than it deserved.

As with all the beers on the menu, its name was derived from something T-town related. Half Moon Yard was the name of the rail yard located along the Thea Foss Waterway just below the brewery’s Pacific Avenue location.

Dirty Skoog IPA: I was a fan of this double IPA. It wasn’t overly bitter but had a good nose and was really drinkable. Besides, who wouldn’t be a fan of an IPA named after a semi-mythological blind pig speakeasy that operated in Tacoma during Prohibition. Someone please open something in Tacoma named The Skoog Saloon. I promise I’ll frequent it every time I’m back in the Northwest.

Donkey Puncher ESB: I am not a huge ESB fan but this was sort of a standout (for its style) on the tasting fleet to me. Deliciousness. I’m going to have a hard time deciding between the Dirty Skoog and the Donkey Puncher on return trips. A “donkey puncher” is another name for a steam powered logging winch (more commonly known as a “steam donkey” around here).

Griswold’s Winter Warmer: Pacific’s winter offering was a hit with both my mom and I. Mom doesn’t much like beer but she’s gaining a taste for “the darker ones.” I only got a few sips of this delicious malty Christmas beer because Suzy Snowflake was getting sort of possessive of Griswold but what I did taste was awesome.

Suzy Snowflake and Griswold's Winter Warmer

Grit City Porter: Compared to the brewery’s other offerings this one was pretty weak. I’m also not a huge porter fan so you probably shouldn’t take my word for it if this is the style that falls into your wheelhouse. It’s name is derived from a loving but slightly self-deprecating nickname for Tacoma—forever the less glamorous sister to Seattle.

I had a blast tasting with my mom and giving her my tasting notes as we went (and trying to steal sips of the winter warmer). I was so enchanted with the history, the naming, and of course the beer I even bought something to represent Grit City in beer loving Colorado. The sweet trucker hat only set me back $10. I totally give Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. status worth a visit…it’s going to get another visit from me sometime for sure.

Pacific Brewing and Malting Co. hat

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Ouray Ice Festival

Like many Ridgway and Ouray residents, I had a house full of company during Ice Festival weekend. There were no complaints from Sprocket and me: Dave, Aleya, and Jillian were awesome company. There was much merriment, catching up, and laughter but our common ground is adventure so we did our best do get out and enjoy Colorado especially since Jillian was all the way out west from New Hampshire!

Aleya was actually the only ice climber in the bunch but when we met up with some of her friends, us newbies grabbed some demo boots and took our turns being lowered into the Uncompaghre Gorge for our first ice experiences. It’s a little nerve wracking being lowered onto your climb and knowing you need to make it out.

Beth Lakin, Ouray Ice ParkPhoto: Jason Gebauer Photography

Ice Climbing, Ouray Ice Park Photo: Jillian of Tenders And Trails

Ice Climbing, Ouray Ice ParkPhoto: Jillian of Tenders And Trails

I had a blast trying it out and am so happy that Jason and Jillian grabbed those sweet shots of me on my very first ice climb! On top of climbing, though, it was great to play tourist a bit. The Ice Park’s scenery is definitely not tough on the eyes:

Ouray Ice Park

Ouray Ice Park

By the end of the day we were tired, a bit cold, and hungry. We grabbed hot chocolates to enjoy while watching the tail end of the mixed climbing competition.

Competiton wall. Ouray Ice Festival

Beth and Aleya

After we refueled with burgers at O’Briens, Dave, Jillian and I lost steam to go to the Prom party up in Ouray but we were re-energized enough to take a drive up to Red Mountain Pass for a short moonlight snowshoe adventure.

The next day, we took the ’77 Cherokee out for her inaugural 3Up cruise and explored Telluride poking into stores, sipping coffee, and enjoying the day.

I hope my guests all had fun, it was a blast to have a houseful for the weekend!!

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