Monday, September 17, 2012

2012 Vacation: Pecos Wilderness

After leaving Lake Katherine, we headed for another alpine lake: Stuart.  Wildflowers lined the trail attracting many butterflies and curious hummingbirds.  The red hat might have helped a bit too....look closely above my sleeping pad.

The source of water for all the resident wildlife was a whimsical mountain stream.

Look closely at the flower - a bumblebee is finding some good nectar!


Purplish Copper

Lake Stuart!

Wow, this feels nice after a hot day of hiking....

might as well take a swim!

Meadow Fritillary hanging around...

Of course Steve can't resist either!

A meadow proved an excellent camp spot...

with fantastic views!

A little fire is always nice to abate the evening chill.

Steve working to calm down.

There's just something about fire, isn't there?

Our water system for easy washing.  Our water bladder plus bear bag makes for a good working combo.

On to Spirit Lake!

Food time = happy Jennifer.

Tiger salamanders!  Yes, Steve said - "Jen, there's fish with legs!" Ha!  Lots of these metamorphosing larval salamanders milled around the shallow depths searching for tasty invertebrates.

Heading out of the Pecos...two very happy campers. Thanks Pecos - we love you!

Up next: last stop of the trip - Bandelier National Monument.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tomatoes and squash and bats!

We still have some super cool pics to share from our trip, but wanted to share all that's happening right now.  The garden is going gangbusters despite the drier than toast summer we've had.  We've enjoyed some great recent rains and cooler temps, which makes harvesting a real treat.  Our kitchen table is filled every few days with produce, which is then processed and newly harvested produce added.  

We've frozen and canned so many chopped tomatoes, that we stopped and started making sauce.  Now, we have so much sauce we are on to paste and I think this is where we will finish all the tomatoes.  The process uses tons of produce and concentrates the flavors in such a delicious way.  It will be usable in soups, pizza sauce, Indian curries, etc.

We don't mind seeds and skin so I rough cut the tomatoes and put them in a large dutch oven.  After the tomatoes reach boiling I turn down the heat to maintain a good simmer.  We need lots of water to evaporate!

While waiting for the tomatoes to produce some good liquid, I processed our current haul of delicata and sweet dumpling squash.  (The butternut is from last summer!)  The delicata is absolutely delicious, plain - straight from the oven.  I picked 20 more delicata after this processing event, with more than that still in the garden!  After the squash cool I scrape out the seeds, then scoop out the tender flesh and use.  Winter squash keep a long time in their hardened skins which is a great time saver.  (That zucchini hid from's our biggest I think.  Bread or cookies is the only option for a giant such as this one.)

After the tomatoes soften and produce a good amount of liquid I use our immersion blender to puree the whole pot.  This kitchen tool is one of my most favorite.  Can you imagine my mess if I had to put all this in the food processor?

After the tomatoes reduced in volume by about 2/3, I canned the paste for 45 minutes in a hot water bath.  Not bad for a day!  Amongst which included gardening and.....

the hanging of Steve's handmade bat houses!  More on that later.  Happy end of summer gardening!

Monday, September 3, 2012

2012 Vacation: Lake Katherine

This is part II. Here's part I.

Upon reaching an alpine lake (in this case, Lake Katherine) one must....

...take a serious moment to contemplate 1) its inherent ecological value and 2) your fortune for witnessing it:

The rays are great at 11,742 Feet:

Steve, for scale:

We had the "campground" to ourselves. Seriously, nobody else (human) showed up during our stay here!

Cotton candy clouds:

Clear water, rocky bottom:

Our alpine botany is rusty so just enjoy the colors and textures!

We could not capture on film the frenzied pack-of-coyotes and the kill they made nearby or the nighthawks and bats that came in at dusk to feed on insects over the water. So many cool nature must go visit!

The next morning was crisp in the shade of the trees so we took our breakfast stuff and scrambled across the rocky talus to find a sunny spot near the lake.

This is a SERIOUS thumbs-up:

Filtering seemed a little silly given the apparent pristine water but one never knows about microbes and such...

A few final and wistful looks back as we return to the Winsor Trail.

Next: Day 3 of hiking in the Pecos Wilderness!