Category Archives: Life

Minor League Baseball: Grand Junction Rockies

I love baseball. I grew up in a family where baseball was the soundtrack to our summers. I’ve been reclaiming baseball in my life this summer first with a Tacoma Rainiers game and now with the Grand Junction Rockies.

Baseball field

I went to my first game right after coming back from Seattle. The Grand Junction team is a rookie affiliate of the Colorado Rockies that plays in the Pioneer League. All tickets were $9 and the food prices left no room for complaining ($3.50 beer for both micros and macros, $3 hotdogs, $4.50 cheeseburgers, etc.) and the field was gorgeous.

Baseball selfie

I got a good kick out of the “Beer Batter” promotion: an opposing batter is chosen as the beer batter and if he strikes out looking, Bud Lights are $2 for the next 10 minutes.

Baseball field

I had so much fun that when I realized I’d be spending the night in the Grand Junction area on Monday, the first thing I did was check to see if the ball club was in town. Since they were, I went in search of a scorebook. If I’m going to watch baseball, I love keeping score, especially if I’m solo.

Scoring

Baseball selfie

I had another amazing day at the ballpark; it’s a pretty great way to spend an evening and I look forward to going more often in August when I’m only living a half hour away.

Baseball field

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Fir Tip Simple Syrup

I’ve been fascinated with the idea of tree influenced cocktails since I heard about a restaurant in Seattle serving an “Evergreen Martini” with douglas fir sorbet years ago (I think I was in college?). Last spring, I read this post about making your own fir-tip simple syrup and it became only a matter of time and opportunity before I tried my hand.

Fir tips

While Daniel and I were hiking Mt. Washington, I noticed all the trees were still displaying beautiful spring growth. I picked a species (I think it’s the pacific silver fir) and started picking tips and dropping them into a baggie that had formerly held my bagel. Daniel was remarkably patient with me and over the course of our hike I filled one baggie and almost filled another.

Fir tipsWhile my mom was at work the next morning, I started on my project. First, I put the tips on a cutting board and tried to pick out any pinecone pieces or other “intruders” (there weren’t very many, careful picking was totally worth it). Next, I rinsed them off and left them to drain in the sink for awhile.

Fir tips

 

Next, I chopped the fir tips up. This step smelled totally divine. It was a little bit citrusy, a little bit woodsy, and really just made me super happy. I tried to not chop the tips too finely since they’d need to be strained out but I also wanted to make sure I was getting the full flavor complement. I was a little bit nervous about this step. It seemed so destructive and final! I followed the directions from Amy Pennington’s blog as best I could hoping for the best.

Making simple syrup

I combined two cups of fir tips with four cups of water, brought it and brought it to a boil and then reduced it to a simmer. They started out nice and green, but as they cooked, they blanched out a little bit as they simmered for 15 minutes.

Fir tip simple syrup

I was really excited to discover that my mom had a fine metal mesh strainer. I probably should have checked for this before I started but it all worked out just fine. I had about 3 and a half cups of fir-water so next I added 3 1/2 cups of sugar to the water and boiled it down to reduce it approximately by half.

Simple syrup making

I’d never made simple syrup of any kind before and had read many conflicting opinions of how long to boil it and how far to boil it down. I was terrified of going too far and ending up with an un-usable thick syrup but didn’t want to have to put it back in a pan to reduce it further. With a bit of trepidation, I poured the finished product into a jar and waited for it to cool.

Fir tip simple syrupSugar takes a long time to cool, my friends. When it was finally happy hour time, I mixed myself a drink using ManMade’s Coniferous Collins recipe as a guide:

  • 1 oz. fir tip simple syrup
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz. London dry gin
  • club soda

I eyeballed everything so there were no perfect proportions but it all seemed to turn out just fine. And by just fine, I mean, delicious:

Fir Tip Simple Syrup, coniferous collins

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Tacoma: Summer 2015

My trip to Tacoma was pretty brief but I managed to cram a whole lot in to a few days! After spending Sunday at the Rainiers, hiking in the Olympics on Monday, and a quiet Tuesday working on some projects at my mom’s house, Mom and I headed out Wednesday morning for an adventure: kayaking on the Thea Foss Waterway!

We’d gone kayaking a couple of times when I was a little kid and my mom wanted to share that experience with my nephew Andrew. She was a little worried about how much she’d be able to handle paddling the kayak so she recruited me for a practice run in a two man kayak. My job was to be a lazy paddler and see how it was for her to handle it for both of us and then to step up and paddle us back when she got tired. I was definitely up for some fun on the water in the sun and we headed down to the waterfront.

Murray Morgan Bridge

It’s been a long time since I was in a kayak and it took some time to figure out how to make it go in a straight line. Fortunately, the waterway was pretty quiet that morning so we didn’t have too much to dodge or worry about. This is my skeptical face about Mom powering the kayak on her own:

Kayaking with mom

I got a little wet but I was pretty impressed with how quickly my PFG pants dried out (review!).

Columbia Sportswear PFG

It really was a glorious day on the water. It’s not very often that I get a chance to look back on cities from the water and it really is the best. Tacoma has done so much work in the last 15 years to clean up downtown and it fairly sparkles from the water.

Murray Morgan Bridge

Beth and Mom

After our adventure, we had lunch at The Fish Peddler before taking a walk down at Point Ruston.

Lunch

Point Ruston

Our next stop was picking Andrew up at school! The one thing he asks for every time he sees me (and sometimes he calls me in Colorado) is to ask if we can go hiking. His excitement means that I make a very specific effort to get him outside when we’re together.

Hiking with Andrew

Hiking with Andrew

I think he’s learned that he can ask Aunty Beth all sorts of questions about how the canyon is made, what ants eat, and why there were no fish this time. We talked about what erosion is, what homo sapiens are, and how the decimals on the GPS watch I let him wear are just like dollars and cents (I guess that’s the only way that third graders see decimals!).

Wildflowers

Hiking Andrew

Hiking Andrew

Hiking Andrew

For the very first time, we reached the end of the trail. Instead of hiking out and calling my mom to pick us up, we continued up the canyon off trail. Andrew was totally tickled that we were able to scramble up to a road and then walk the rest of the way to Nana’s house to surprise her!

Hiking Andrew

Hiking Andrew

It might not be a high peak, but hiking with this little boy always makes me super happy:

Hiking Andrew

Sunset Tacoma

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Tacoma Rainiers

Just after I landed in Tacoma, my mom and my oldest nephew (Andrew) and I headed to Cheney Stadium to watch the Tacoma Rainiers game with some other family members. My entire family loves baseball. The Mariners were always on the radio in the background of family gatherings and going to Tacoma Rainiers games (the Mariner’s AAA affiliate team) happens quite often.

Tacoma Rainiers, Cheney Stadium

Cheney Stadium got a major renovation in 2011 but I haven’t been back to see a game since they were completed. The place has been way more spruced up than it was the last time I was there! Renovations or not, I always love baseball stadiums. There are very few things in the world as beautiful as a baseball diamond in the sun:

Cheney Stadium

Rainiers Game; Beth and Andrew

We spotted the sign for the “Summit Club” parking and I explained to Andrew what a “summit” is and we decided to take a picture:

Summit club, Andrew and Beth

This is his summit face or so he explained to me:

Andrew at Rainiers Game

We don’t get to hang out very much but I really like being with my nephew. I think the feeling is mutual:

Beth and Andrew

My dad taught me a lot about baseball. Lots of my favorite memories with him were either practicing softball or watching the Mariners and Rainiers. After I moved away, I’d always call him to tell him about my games or about the stadium I was at. Andrew never got to really watch baseball with his Papi so I had so much fun spending a half inning teaching him how to keep score.

Keeping score

Once Andrew had enough of score keeping (although he was a really quick learner!) and wanted to go hang out with his cousins, I got to watch the game with my uncle. Uncle Skip is one of my favorite people to watch baseball with. We got to talk strategy and baseball history for a couple of innings before we headed over to join my mom, Andrew, my aunt, my cousin, his wife, and their two daughters for the rest of the game.

Beth and Uncle Skip

Cheney Stadium

The Rainiers won, I got to hang out with my family, and watch some baseball. We even wrapped up the night by heading over to my grandmother’s house for dinner.It was an awesome way to be welcomed back to Washington!

Beth and Andrew

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