Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Montana: Day 3 Part Deux

Boy, Glacier is a pretty place. Its almost impossible to shoot a bad picture. So many nice vistas.

I think this might be Avalanche...

In a pretty field, actually taken on horseback.

After riding we drove back through hoping to see some wildlife. We saw some commotion at the visitors center and decided to stop. Click on the picture below and what do you see?

Yes! Two big horn sheep and a mountain goat (whos not visable) were hanging out by the parking lot. The male seemed to be posing for pictures...must have liked the attention

Couldn't have asked for a nicer setting. Well, he finally got tired of us humans and decided he wanted to get in where we all were: the parking lot.

Running Big Horned Ram

Yup, so the ranger tried to chase him out, but he just ran around the parking lot.

A Dodge Ram and A Ram we are trying to dodge!

It was pretty funny, but I got alot of nice pictures of him-too bad they all have cars in them! Actually, I got quite a few keepers I need to develope properly.

After people chasing him and claping he just ambled around (close to our car, several times), finally a patrol car came up to him and tried to scare him off with sirens. That didn't seem to do much good either but he finally got tired of being harassed...i think. We left eventually. Who knows how determined a ram can get.

 So what did he want in the parking lot? Anti-freeze. It tastes sweet to the animals so they like to lick it up.
 And the goat? he just ambled off into the bushes.

So that was the lovely end to day 3 in Montana.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Montana: Day 3 part 1

Yay! We woke up in Montana today and got going. Took 82 out to Glacier which must have been the senic route. Lots of pretty little farms, but this one we blasted past and decided we had to turn around and photograph. Something like this would have caught Monet or Van Gogh's eye, don't you think?
Apperently the drive into Glacier is pretty long, but once we got there WOW! These pictures are just a small sampleing of the 300+ shots I took today. Be sure to click them and look at the larger image.

In West Glacier

Bird Woman Falls (these are pretty huge)

Lost Goose Island?

Once we got through Going-To-The-Sun Road we where in St.Marys. Actually, my very first jewelry teacher grew up just a few miles near there. I remeber all his stories of growing up right next to Glacier when I worked in his shop. So, I thought of him alot when I was out there.

We wanted to do a trail ride and decided we'd rather do it on the east side (on the reservation, less developed and more spectacular vistas) then with a big company on the west side. Well, it was worth it. The guide didn't give much information at first but quickly warmed up to us and gave us a great ride.
The view from the back of my horse

All three of us with a great view.

My niece on the way back

My horse, Duffy

Gary, our guide, was quite nice and had me lead. If you ever enter St.Marys from the park, where the road turns to a T there is a yellow sign that says, "trail rides" with a hitching post behind. Go there, they are great.

The light on the way back was great. more pictiures and rams tommorrow.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Montana: Day 1 and 2

So I have always wanted to go to Montana. After my niece studied Montana for a school project we all decided this summer to take off and finally visit Glacier National Park before all the glaciers melt. So come with me on a virtual journey to the state of Montana. Today we drive.
Eastern Oregon has some interesting rock formations. This is all basalt.

Beautiful beautiful light.

I like geology. I need to get more books on geology. This was all from one GIANT lava flow

Hello Thunderstorm! Thanks for washing the bugs off the car!

We made it to Washington!

Now we are in Idaho! Yaaaay! Almost there!

Paradise on Earth

THIS is what I imagined the Rockies to look like

Aw, picturesque!
I have lots more pictures, but not enough time to wait for the computer to load. We are spending the night in Kalispell right outside of the national park. Tommorrw expect beautiful pictures. and lots of them.

How to: Make Jam

At this point, I am an Oregonian. So when the end of spring rolls around I can't wait to get my summer on. One way to celbrate is with berries. Yes, fresh Oregon berries. Few places can compare to our strawberries that are full of flavor and have to be eaten as quick as possible because they will litterally disintegrate before your eyes. This spring was so horribly wet and cold that we didn't get any berries until July! All the while I was languishing think, worry, waiting about missing out on my fresh berries. Luckily I got let off work early one day and went out with my family to pick strawberries. Yup, u-pick farms are quite common in the Portland area, and its great! In half an hour three of us picked 14 lbs of beautiful, perfect strawberries and it only cost $16.75

So....what am I going to do with 14 lbs of strawberries? other than an orgy of strawberry related foodsits time for some fresh jam!

squish squish squish
I cleaned them and tossed a bunch in a big pot and gave my niece a chance to crush the bottom layer of berries. This year the berries were kinda sour because of all the rain. But its okay, because the high acid content make them store better and when they are a bit sour all the sugar in the jam balances out perfectly to make a not-to-sweet jam. I gently reduced the berries to inhance the flavor (normally you dont need to bother), then measured out the liquid once it was cooked (I had 5 cups). For this recipe it is equal parts sugar to equal parts berries so I poured in 5 cups sugar.

 Supposedly its better if you heat the sugar before pouring it in, I never have had trouble using my cold sugar.

Many recipes say to add a tsp. of lemon juice per cup of fruit to raise the acidity and stability of your jam. I added a dash because it seemed a pretty high acid content already.

After adding the sugar I cook it gently until it get hot enough to jel (if you boil too hard it will destroy the natural pectin). I never use a thermometer, I just look at how it drops off the spoon and then test it coolded down on a plate. When it is jelled it falls off the side of the spoon in two globs, not one stream. Additionally, I rarely ever use commertal pectin. If you can process you fruit within 24 hours of picking it usually retains some of the natural pectin in the fruit, and if you want to borrow some pectin from another fruit go ahead and use apple peals-they are chock full of pectin! Just dont forget to fish them out later... When using the natural pectin you jam wont be as solid as store-bought jam, but i think its a bit to gloppy anyway.

Once the jam has jelled drop it into sterilized jars and process in hot water for the right time period for your recipe. (Mine was 10 minutes)


Awe gee...what to do with all these strawberries....?

Maybe...fruit leather?

Recipe for fruit leather:

Put your fruit in a small pot and heat to 190 degrees. After it is heated transfer to a blender and puree. For 1  cups of liquid add 1 tsp lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar. Spread 1/4 inch thick on a lined sheet pan (don't use wax paper! it will stick to the leather. Use either a silicon pad or plactic wrap) and leave in a vented oven at 140 degress until dry.