Wednesday, August 27, 2008


A few weeks ago I read the Sunday edition of the Anchorage Daily News and was caught by an article on Geoff Roes' record-busting run in the Resurrection Pass 100-Miler; he beat the course record by nearly four hours. I know all the Alaska races are tough: Mount Marathon, the brutal jump-fest run up and back by Bill Spencer in 1981 in 43:11 and Nancy Pease in 1990 in 50:30; Crow Pass, a marathon over mountains and through a glacial river; the Alaska Wilderness Challenge, the multi-day race that only the "Alaska Crazies" enter. So it was with great interest that I noticed how Roes had smashed the 100-mile race record. I recommend you read the whole inspiring article at:

Near the end, Roes points to his training regimen and mentions that he uses a website for his training log, and anyone can look it up:
This inspired me to train a bit harder and actually use the same orienteering training site to log my activity. The book "Cycling Past 50" recommends cycling at least 5 days a week, however I also love to hike, so I've interspersed the hiking and cycling. Those are just about the only two activities I've done this summer, with a dislocated shoulder. The site has a slight motivational factor for me, so I could actually wear a heart monitor, start setting goals, and be a bit more professional about the training. However, I've never been big on regular exercise, not a routine person, but rather a free spirit who loves to follow his whims.

If you are interested, you can read my embarrassingly short entries at:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The gorgeous old Legnano, my first great road bike, bought in 1970 from Bob Stout at Transition Sports in Salt Lake City, UT. I handed him three $100 bills for it, full Campagnolo equipped, 57cm. In spite of current trends, I tossed the old leather "Italia" seat and have a more comfortable Terry on it. It has hand painted aluminum fenders, the chrome is spalling off the front fork because I ride it in the rain so much. It still performs beautifully.

The 54cm French Stella is very light...possibly the lightest steel bike I've ridden. It has poor workmanship, crummy looking lugs, the paint is a little old, components are all bolt on with actual hex-bolts, Stronglight crank, Weinemann brakes, Huret derailleurs...all English/French threads, so it's impossible to get new parts for it. I love to ride it on errands.

I got the 54cm Ciocc at a garage sale for $25; it had never been ridden, still had the original tape, and not a speck of dust. Even though I have newer and faster bikes, it is a fantastic ride!! The lug work is amazing, but the pink and white paint job is tough for an Alaska guy.

The 54cm Cervelo is the epitome of a road bike, way too much for a geezer like myself, but riding it is a joy. It's so light it responds instantly. Whenever I ride, I can't make myself go slowly, so it's always a workout!!

When I got the Bianchi "Pista" track bike, with a fixed gear, everyone thought I was crazy, until they gave it a spin. I ride it every day. It just flies, and my legs get a super workout. The geometry is very different from a road bike, and it has a totally different feel from the others.

A great light-weight 29er, single speed: the Gary Fisher "Rig", my newest bike, and the only one with a shock. Never knew mountain biking could be so fun!

The old Novara mountain bike. No shocks, no frills, no clips, just a great bike to leave at a trailhead or bridge for the return trip on a hike or river run. Only weighs 50 pounds or so...not a one handed lift, for sure. It's seen a lot of miles over the past 20 years.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cast Iron Cookery

Over the years the scullery has filled with a large number of heavy pieces of cast iron cookwear. Either I'm obsessive/compulsive, or the stuff just works, because I use all of it for cooking; none of it's for show. Most of the pieces are fairly old, ranging back from now to the 70's, 60's, 50's, 40's, 30's, and even the 20's. None of the pieces are older, although fine cast iron was made well before the turn of the last century.

Some is very modern, like the contemporary Lodge red enameled dutch oven. Easy to use and clean; and it's beautiful!

Lange is a Danish company that made the beautiful red enameled stove in the Denali Park house. This little Fondue Pot is a green enamel on the outside, white in the middle. Lots of Swiss Cheese has melted in this pot. I bought it in about 1978,

Hibbard must have been a forge somewhere, but I have yet to find any information on this old dutch oven lid.

Four little cast iron kettles for beans, puddings, soup, or what not. They have a trivet leg set underneath. No markings of origin.

How about this old Griswold 10 1/2 inch Chicken Fryer, not made by Griswold because it doesn't say Erie PA. But, it's a fun old piece. It probably dates from the late 50's or early 60's.

The Platt Pan was made by Jotul. I cook the little unleavened pancakes like I did in Finland 45 years ago. In fact, I own two of them, so I can get a bunch of lettuja going at once, so they are ready at the same time for breakfast. Cooked in lots of butter, sprinkled with powdered sugar and a squirt of lemon, they are a treat.

I've used the old Norwegian Jotul waffle iron for over 30 years. The little heart shaped waffles are my favorite. It sits over a gas stove on a ring with a ball to swivel on. Spring steel handles allow the sides to be squeezed for a bit.

Three 6" pans I paid $2 each at a thrift stores over the years. They are great for one-person meat dishes.

The bottoms of the three pans are all different: the first one has a heat ring and the words: 'No. 3 - 6 5/8 inch' , the second has no marks, and the third the first one says '6 1/2" Skillet - Made in U S A'.

Although modern, the little 8" pan is very useful for making cornbread in the oven and dinner for one. It's a contemporary Lodge piece.

Last weekend I found this old Griswold No.7 Cast Iron Skillet at Sis's Antique store in Wasilla, AK. It was slightly rusty and a bit the worse for wear, but after cleaning and seasoning, it's a beauty!!!

Through the old rust, I could see the italicized "Griswold" in the large cross with the words "ERIE" below, and 701 with a "0" below it. This piece probably dates from 1895-1020.

My old 10 5/8:" frying pan is my favorite. I've cooked on it for over 35 years. I'm not sure who made it or where I got it, but it has the "heat ring" for use on a wood stove, so it may be fairly old. No company logo to be seen anywhere on the pan

My largest frying pan, a new Lodge 12" with the signs of lots of cooking in it.

The old frying pan is 11 1/8" with the small Griswold logo on the bottom. The small logo means it was likely made after 1957 by the Wagner company which bought the Griswold rights.

This piece is a Griswold dutch oven. The first photo is of the oven with the lid on and the wire handle up. The second photo shows the underside of the lid which has a ceramic dove gray coating, The third photo shows the underside of the oven with the large GRISWOLD cross and ERIE PA and the words, "Tite-Top" Dutch Oven. It likely dates from the 1940's when the logo still said Erie, PA, but the Griswold was not italicized anymore. Its a beauty, with a golden tone to the seasoning.

Snowbird Hut

The American Alpine Club recently purchased the Snowbird Hut adjacent to the Snowbird Glacier in the Talkeetna Mountains north-east of the Hatcher Pass area. It was built about 30 years ago as a ski hut, probably when the glacier was higher and closer. It forms a link on traverses through the range. Close by are the Bomber Glacier and the Mint Glacier.

Harry Hunt, the current AAC Alaska section chair, James Brady, and I teamed up with two architects, Mike Thompson, and Bill ?, to hike to the hut and evaluate the possibility of replacing it on a better foundation adjacent to the current structure. It was a rainy morning, cool and wet, but we headed up into the mist and clouds, turning left at the Snowbird mine cabin following the narrow vertical trail leading alongside the old mine cables to the snowbird mine. The route has a faint trail all the way, easy to lose in some spots, but it follows the obvious line up the bottom of the valley to a pass on the north side. We hiked up a prominent ridge to the right of the valley, and the views were spectacular. My poor camera was totally wet, so I didn't turn it on for photos...bummer! We toped over the pass where the glacier pours north, then hiked down the neve to the large red arrow on the right side of the lower glacier, hiked up the talus to the hut.

The Snowbird was in good shape, but suffers from years of heavy snows. It is insulated with white styrofoam, covered with a metal shell. It sits on a lattice-work of old boards on top of the talus, a ladder leading to the front door. Inside it's cozy with an oil stove (broken), and a 3-burner Coleman stove for cooking. James and Harry pore over the maps in the hut.

The architects found a nice new spot for the gabion foundation, we fired up the stove by pouring fuel into the carburator, had a bite of lunch and headed home. Time up was 2hr 50min, time down was 2hr 20min. Great day in the mountains with fine friends.

Reed Lakes

Last weekend, my friend Rebecca and I hiked the five miles up to Reed Lakes in the Talkeetna Mountains, north of Anchorage and Wasilla, near the Hatcher Pass road. The blueberries were just starting to ripen, so we stopped from time to time to fuel up on the fresh ones loading the bushes and promising to come back soon to collect more. It was a steamy, cool, and almost rainy day. Water from the bushes brushed on our clothes. The hiking was perfect.

We passed a group of boy scouts at the large boulder field about 2 miles in, planning to camp at the lower of the two Reed Lakes. We saw several Hoary Marmots and ground squirrels chirping at us and warning the others. They were close enough for fun photos.

Trudging on, we reached the lower lake where we met Tina Hanke and her brothers from Wisconsin. They took photos of us at the lake and we reciprocated. The weather was beautiful, but the sky was full of clouds, so we hurried on to the upper lake. The waterfalls on the way was luring, so we looked over the edge, took more photos, and moved over the lip. On the way, we ran into Deborah Williams and Rance hiking back down. Again we shared photos, caught up on the latest news, and hurried on. At the lake we had a little snack on a rock before heading back. The trail was slick on the way down, and at one point I did the splits on a muddy section, pulling a hamstring!!! We ran into Kirsten Cramer and two friends from the East Coast. Tons of fun for the day. We reached the car just as the rain started, and on the way home we ran into a tremendous downpour.

To view the photos from the hike, click on the following link:

The Dahlias

Check out the Dahlias; they finally bloomed!!! I planted this first yellow one as a tiny seedling. It has only shown the one blossom.

The second plant Cathy Garner planted last year. I took it in for the winter, stored it in the basement, then in March brought it upstairs and began to water and care for it. Branches grew from old existing stems, but they didn't look too sturdy, however I planted it outside anyway. It flourished in a wild, wandering way, but this week, the ungainly plant started to open up.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Wild Pansy

Last summer I planted a small flower garden along the south side of the house in the 18 inch dirt space between the walk and the house foundation. Cathy Garner was staying with me, and she took over with gusto, planting a variety of beautiful Delphiniums, sunflowers, strawflowers, petunias, and geraniums. Under her dutiful administrations, the flowers flourished. Mid-summer I noticed a small pansy growing in a crack in the walkway between the shop and the house. It was a tiny crack, not large enough to nourish a beautiful flower. It bloomed a deep blue, with one or two tiny blossoms. As September came, the rest of the flowers lost their bloom, but the little wild pansy continued to flourish, in spite of being in the center of the footstep, the increasing cool weather, and the loss of daylight. Finally the freezing weather came, but the little flowers continued to blossom during the warm sunny mornings. I would venture out every morning to see if they had disappeared, but to my surprise more flowers appeared. Finally into cold October, the snow began to fall, and in the morning the temperature would be 20 degrees, the snow would be frozen to the blossoms, and I was sure the plant was dead. But, by noon, the flowers would have opened up, facing the sun. This crazy behavior lasted way into late October, before ice and snow finally covered the plants.

My only explanation is that the crack and the large mass of the cement sidewalk block would hold the heat of the day and keep the ground warm for the plant, so that even if the upper blossoms and leaves would freeze, the roots kept the plant alive and gave it nourishment during the morning hours.

Well, this summer the plant is back with a vengence. (Bottom photo) It has filled the crack, and small plants are spreading in the grass south of the crack. We'll see if it supplants the lawn, (We can always hope!)