Archive for November, 2015

Peanut Butter Balls for Dogs

Posted on November 30, 2015. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Peanut Butter Balls and Charlie

We’ve gone gluten-free at our house, even the dogs!  Here is an easy treat recipe that they gobble up like no tomorrow.

Peanut Butter Balls for Dogs

16 oz. jar smooth natural or organic peanut butter (no sweeteners or other ingredients, just peanuts and salt perhaps.)
1/4 C. wheatgrass powder
3/8 C. coconut flour (or so, you can add more or less to make a stiff dough)
3/8 C. ground flaxseed

Mix all together in a bowl either by hand or with electric stand mixer.  Keep in the refrigerator.  Make balls as necessary.  (You can taste them and even eat them with your dog; all human food-grade ingredients.)

If these ingredients seem odd-ball to you, just look on, you can find them all.  And, yes, peanut butter,  coconut flour, wheatgrass, and flaxseed are all good for dogs!


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La Sage to Cabane de Moiry

Posted on November 29, 2015. Filed under: Switzerland, Travel | Tags: , , , , , |


This was a crazy day!  We hiked from La Sage, Switzerland to the Cabane de Moiry.  It was a total of 8.12 miles in very difficult altitude and elevation gains and losses.  One of the hardest days of the Haute Route, we jumped right in and made this our first day.  Not so smart in retrospect.  We were not adequately adapted to the altitude yet which made it more difficult physically and added to the estimated hiking time.  A 6.5 hour trip took us 8 hours.  To make things worse there were no views almost all day.  We were in some of the most beautiful mountains in the world and we couldn’t see a thing.

By the time we got to the Cabane we were wet, cold, and exhausted.  It was wonderful to come into the dining room, though, which was warm and welcoming and flooded with light from the huge windows.  Mind you, no views of the extraordinary glacier right outside were available with all the fog, but we were going to be more comfortable soon, at least.


We got checked in and got our own room even though the room could hold 4 people.  We bought our shower tokens (about $5 for a 5 minute shower.)  Got settled and then headed back to the dining room for dinner.  It was so good!  Lentil stew, lasagna, salad, dessert.  Really, really satisfying.  But just as we were starting to enjoy that physical buzz you get after a tough day, it began to snow.  Very soon 6 inches were evidently piled up.

Bill and I both lost sleep that night worrying about our descent in the morning.  The rocks at the end right before the cabane were tricky without snow, I was wondering how we would manage with 6 inches covering everything.  We decided, though, we would just figure it out and in the worst case we could turn around and stay another night.

By morning, though, the snow was melting and very slushy.  We worked with our poles and managed the rocks fairly easily.  Those rocks, fresh in the morning, after some rest, were a lot easier than tackling them in ascent at the end of the long day before.

We even got some stunning views of the mountain, glacier and barrage in the morning with some sun poking out.  It didn’t last long, but at least we got to see it!



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Arches National Park

Posted on November 28, 2015. Filed under: American Southwest, Travel | Tags: , , , , |


We took on some of the stenuous trails at Arches National Park last month.  These involved some scrambling over enormous rocks, balancing on top of very tall ridges, and squeezing through some narrow spots.  It was so much fun!


The rewards for our efforts were that we got to see a lot of the arches which are only visible by hiking to them and we escaped a lot of the other visitors.  It’s a popular park, easy to get to and full of amazing structures so any time of the year there are quite a few visitors.  We were happy that late October had greatly thinned the crowding of summer, but it is still nice to feel you’ve gotten into the wilderness somewhat.

Hiking at Arches was a great warm up for the big Grand Canyon hike we were about to tackle but it was equally awesome in its sights.





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Antelope Canyon

Posted on November 27, 2015. Filed under: American Southwest, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , |


Swift as an antelope
I’d want to be
When the mighty waters
Rush these walls.

How can such utter
Leave breath-catching

Lines of light
Reflect the sun
In surprising ways;
Colors the eyes can’t even see.

Quiet canyon now;
Stop and listen
As the mind searches for sound.
Still silence, moving walls.

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Big John’s Texas Barbecue, Page, AZ

Posted on November 26, 2015. Filed under: American Southwest, Restaurants Worth the Visit | Tags: , , , , |

Arizona, Page, Bill @ Big John'sWe wandered into Page, Arizona recently for the Antelope Canyon slot canyons and Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge, Horseshoe Bend, whew!  There is a lot going on in this little corner of Arizona.  The food scene, however, left much to be desired.  We drove past this place several times and noticed the smokers out in front of what looked like an old gas station.  Big John’s Texas Barbecue, 153 S Lake Powell Blvd, Page, AZ 86040, proved to be a delicious find!

Both the beef brisket and the pork were smoky and tender and loaded with flavor.  The barbecue sauce was exceptional and complimented the meat perfectly.  A one-pound serving fed two of us and even provided leftovers.  The coleslaw was a surprise too.  It was really good, obviously fresh house-made.  We were so impressed we got another order to go for the next days lunch on Lake Powell.

The remodeled old gas station provided a cool, retro vibe to the place.  We knew it would be great by this alone!  Service was friendly and excellent.  We were wisely counseled out of 2 orders of the meat as it would have been too much (how refreshing, this has only ever happened to us in Italy).  The only mistake we made was going to the Mexican restaurant down the road for our next dinner which was horrible.  I could have eaten at Big John’s every night as it was real food cooked with real care.  If you get to Page, Arizona go there!

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Grand Canyon Ascent

Posted on November 24, 2015. Filed under: American Southwest, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Grand Canyon AscentAfter a good nights sleep at Phantom Ranch and a hearty breakfast we set off in the cloudy morning past mule stalls and across the mighty Colorado River.  I was happy to find a few small streams to cross as well since I always like to put my Keen hiking boots to the test again.  It really does amaze me how they do not leak even one drop.

The day progressed fairly quickly and easily.  I find ascending tiring which I tolerate much better than descending which can produce pain for me.  We clipped along for most of the morning enjoying how the bands of rock changed color.  Several times we were convinced we were getting close only to be chastised by the next turn.  After about 4.5 hours we could see people at the top so we knew we were getting there.  The last hour was interesting because we heard so many different languages of all the day hikers on the trail.  I was amused by the Eastern European ladies in all their finery getting down into the canyon.  I was also disheartened, however, to realize that I heard very little English spoken.  It seems few of my fellow Americans venture below the rim.  At Phantom Ranch rangers told us only 1% of all visitors hike into the canyon.

That’s a shame.  We have this world-famous geological wonder right here in our backyard.  I felt I had gotten acquainted with it having spent these two days in the canyon.  I also felt very accomplished to have completed the 5 hours of hiking down and 6.5 hours up!

Grand Canyon Completed

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Hiking the Grand Canyon

Posted on November 23, 2015. Filed under: American Southwest, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

DSC04008The Grand Canyon has been on my hiking bucket list for some time now.  My husband hiked it years ago and I’ve been a little jealous ever since hearing the story.  So this was the year!

We decided on October to avoid the heat and crowds.  I knew I had to call very early for reservations at Phantom Ranch at the bottom.  The Park Service website confused me when it said I had to call on the first of the month, 13 months prior to my desired reservation.  I started calling  September 1, 2015 where I found out I should call on October 1 for any date in the following October.  So, October 1, 2015 I started again.  In this age of technology, I was dismayed at the arcane process one must go through to obtain a reservation.  It is a matter of starting the calling when they open, which one must determine and which is tricky due to time changes and whether or not the call center observes daylight savings!  At 8:00 a.m. my time I started the repetitive calling and calling and calling.  I received busy signals for 90 minutes and I was just about to give up when my call was answered.  I got the last 4 spots for my desired date (full moon night) and the last 4 reservations for beef stew for dinner.  It was very irritating.  I cannot understand why it must be such a painful process.  An electronic queue would make so much more sense.

My group and I were happy to finally have the secured spots, however, and we booked everything else around the Grand Canyon hike.  We did the South Kaibab Trail down to the bottom.  The picture above is me on this trail.  It was breathtakingly beautiful, of course.  We had perfect weather, sunny and about 60°F.  With rain predicted later in the week this was such a blessing.  The trail is wide and easy to follow.  The 5 hours of almost constant downhill steps was a challenge, though, and I was again very thankful for my trekking poles.  Sometimes people wonder if they create more work than they are worth, but the answer is no.  They help provide stability and extra support especially going downhill.  I would never want to do a hike like this without them.  Anytime we have significant elevation gains and losses I want my poles!

Nevertheless my knees and hips were talking to me by the end and I was ever so glad to reach Phantom Ranch.  Our dormitory was clean and comfortable considering it housed 8 women for the night.  That’s another oddity:  no co-ed dorms.  In European mountain refuges this wouldn’t be a requirement, but we had no choice.  We missed out on the private cabin reservations so this is what we had.  I must say it was better than I expected.

That stew was fabulous too.  I was glad it was all-you-can-eat because I was ready for a serious refuel before the next days haul up the canyon to the rim again.



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