Thursday, October 27, 2011

Archery Hunting

Fall for me is archery hunting, this little 3x4 I let go tonight, this was only my 3rd time out this year. I'm looking for the big guy. As I sat in my stand, at least 16' up, this guy came within 13 yards of me. He grazed, moved in front of me and I let him go.

Why do I hunt deer? It's tradition for me, and memory's. I hunted deer 1 year with my grandfather. I shot my first deer with his gun, a 30-30 Marlin lever action, I still own that gun. I hunted deer with my father. I remember as a boy that he would go up north to the hunting camp every November for the opener on the 15th of the month. He finally talked mom into taking me with, when I was I think 13. The next year I went and I could hunt. I hunted deer with dad for 10 years.(Actually more, as every time I go out I think of him and he is with me.) Now I hunt mostly alone, sometimes though, I get a license with my boys, I saw both of them get their first deer. Also, I was with my wife Abby when she shot her first deer. She no longer hunts, we don't need more than 1 deer a year. I keep saying, I don't care if I shot another deer, but when they come close to me, the blood starts flowing and I get excited, and I'll try to take it. It's my heritage.

As I sat in my tree stand tonight, the call of the crow could be heard, the splash of the carp, a slow moving muskrat went in front of me, also a mink, the wings of a hawk was heard, a doe and a fawn walked by, geese honked nearby, the wheels of the 18 wheeled grain trucks could be heard in the distance, the whining of the grain bins. These are the reasons I really enjoy my hunting.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall time and family.

Well, yet another fall is upon us, so far so good with the weather and all.

Late summer brought us a trip to visit our youngest Josh, golf, good food and all. These made the trip, a treat for Josh since he can't get these every week.

Talking of ribs, I got a new grill this last summer, it's a wood pellet grill. If you like smoked food, check these out. I absolutely love it.

After, visiting Josh, we headed home and stopped in Madison, WI. 9 holes of golf, lunch with Buck and Deb at a A&W, and sight seeing in Madison. We had a wonderful evening with Doug and Karen Wahl, drinks in their beautiful backyard and then supper a local brew pub.

All in all we're very blessed, we have good friends, a roof over our head, and a few toys to play with. One of my favorite toys is my 08 Kawasaki Nomad, I just had her face lifted.

Pretty soon I'll have to park it for the winter, the leaves are mostly off of the trees now, the docks and boat lifts are out of the lakes, the geese are flying south, the hummingbirds have left, the air conditioner has been covered, my brother texted me today saying there was 6" of snow in his drive way, lucky him, I've started my winter beard, been out deer hunting a couple of times. These are the signs that winter will soon be upon us. I miss summer already. I'll be getting my cross country ski's out soon.

Until next you all.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Late Spring 2011

It's been awhile since my last post. Cold, wet, weather has been the norm here. We've had 2 hot days this spring, where a hint of summer came through, but then the wet, cold, came back. Oh well, it may be that kind of year.

I did get down to this years art walk in downtown Watertown. I painted Plein Air, well kind of. I painted m y normal mountain lake scene outside, which I'll get posted soon, along with other recent works.

I also picked up a used "Shopsmith Mark V" over in Minnesota. I'm looking forward to working with it, and have also turned a bowl which I'll also post. Whether it's painting, woodworking, riding motorcycle, golfing, fishing, it's all good therapy.

I also picked up a Green Mountain Grill. This is a wood pellet, smoker grill. I'm having a lot of fun with that, smoking the meat first, then finishing it off with the grilling. Since I've got this grill, I haven't used my gas grill. I'll share some of my favorite recipes soon.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February Blizzard!

Last week we enjoyed temps in the 30's and 40's, boy was that nice! Then comes the weekend, temp was down to 8*F yesterday morning, and today we wake up to a blizzard, we're expecting 8" to 15" of the fresh stuff. The lord taketh and he giveth, we probably lost that much of our snow cap during the warm up.

So what did we do when it warmed up last weekend? Cross country skiing and snow shoeing.  This is Abby's first time this year on the shoe's. Her first complaint was that I took her snow that was way to deep. As I calmly told her, with all the snow we had on the ground, the snow pack was about 24" to 30" deep, and further more, that is why she had on the snow shoes! She still didn't appreciate where she was at.
This day for me at this time was a leisure ski, as I had gone out earlier in the morning for my physical workout. The temp was warm, with no breeze, but the snow was a little sticky due to the melt.

This brings us up to today. We awake with threats of another blizzard. So what do you do when these come? Make chili! Watch hockey! Surf to Nascar! Paint! Which I did last night. My art work is coming along, I enjoy all mediums, but I prefer working with the oils. My paintings are landscapes. I try to paint from pictures, but that isn't always the easiest. I like to paint scenes of places I'd like to be at or at places I would have enjoyed in a previous life. I'll continue to practice to perfect and below is my latest. Enjoy, and hope you all have a wonderful day.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. Wrapping this up.

Now where are we?
Our last day in Barcelona, and like I've always said, when visiting a location you've never been to before, take the city tour. Becca, Abby, and I did exactly that, we bought a day pass on the double decker. Now I would suggest that when riding the double decker you should either, do it on a warm day or have warm cloths on. Our day found us not doing either of my suggestion. So in the morning, although it was chilly we road up top, after lunch, it was all down stairs. Barcelona, being an old city has hosted many things for the world in the past. To name a couple the Worlds Fair and Olympics. We saw both of these complexes.

1992 Olympic Stadium.

Like I said yesterday, old equals spectacular architecture! Old school to modern. Great finishing touches with unbelievable attention to detail.

Statues galore. 
Sagrada Familia.

As we travel through the streets, we come across familiar sights, a bingo hall, yes even in Spain they have Bingo!

One of the most famous designers in the world is Gaudi. His work is truly amazing, as I have posted 2 of his works.

Saturday night in Barcelona is crazy. People all over the place. Vendors keep their stores open to at least 9pm. We walked into a knife shop, it was elbow to &%*($#, we looked around and started to walk out when a little old lady sitting next to the door pointed at something, I looked a little closer and it was a ticket machine, you know something you might find in a meat shop, next customer ticket. We laughed and walked out.

Gaudi's Place.
 We finished out our night by getting a light supper, more topas, wine, beer, a stew, muscles, sausage, it was all good. We were taking off early in the morning so we needed to get back to pack and rest.

The following morning we're up early to catch the bus to the airport. Upon arrival we find our airplane needs repair so they offer to reroute us, we take them up on that so instead of flying to JFK then MN, we take a flight to Atlanta, then Mn, but get in to late to catch our connection to Watertown, so Delta puts us up in a motel for our last night out.

Over all we had a pleasant trip. It was very relaxing and we really enjoyed the special attention our tour guide gave us. Now comes my bias, you all know our tour guide was our daughter and her special friend, but I really have to endorse them highly. Was the trip perfect? Of course not. Do they have a lot of work to make it better? Of course they do! The real questions is, are they capable of doing all of this? My answer is of course. They're young, energetic, and most of all have a passion for what they do! You can tell that with how they get along with people and we wish the best for them.

Check them out for a trip, at ........until my next blog...John

John, Becca, Abby, & Jesper. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. Midnight cruise and Barcelona

Ship's cabin.
The photo to the left shows our cabin for the night. Four bunks, bathroom, and enough room for our luggage. While on board we did go to the main dining room for a late supper. We kept it light, and of course we concluded the meal with Raki. I was also surprised with a birthday cake as this day was my 57th birthday. We got back to the cabin around 11:30pm, we were due into Athens by 7am. The ship was lightly rocking as we headed out to sea, just enough that it rocked me to sleep and I had one of my best night of sleep since on the trip.

Arriving to Athens on time, we disembarked, found the bus going to the airport, and in about 1 hour arrived for our flight to Barcelona, Spain. After a light breakfast, we stuck with the yogurt and honey, juice, we boarded our flight and 3 hours later we're landing in Barcelona. A very modern airport. Another nice item was that because we're within the European Union, there is no need to go through customs.

Unloading in central Barcelona.
We get our luggage and head to the bus for a 30 minute ride to central Barcelona. Now we're going to the see a big difference from rural Crete to metropolitan Barcelona. The first thing I notice is the number of people. As you can see in the back ground, although light at this time, that this is a city and there is lots of people. Not only people, but vehicles. Now I thought Tokyo had lots of motorcycles and mopeds, but I think Barcelona is right up with them!

Central Barcelona.

Barcelona is an old city which is obvious by the lovely architecture. Our stay in Barcelona is going to be a short stay, about 1 1/2 days and 2 nights. So on Friday night we elect to do some walking. We're viewing the shops, harbor, architecture and it's all very beautiful. One of the things we're looking for this night is that a lot of the bars serve topas. Topas are small portions of food. From bar to bar this becomes a big variety of food. There is also lots of people doing the same thing as we are. We find out that Barcelona is no different than any other large city in the world, it's a 24 hour city.

Shops of all kinds.
Great Architecture!
As we walk there is lots to see.
Beautiful Harbour!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. Last Day on Crete.

One of Crete's Gorges.
Tunnel near the edge of the gorge.
Our time on Crete was winding down, after our breakfast at Milia, it was bags on, and hike back to the car, loading it up and onto the gravel road back. Once on the pavement, we don't go real far and we find one of Crete's Gorges. These gorges offer great views and hiking trails if you choose.
The gorge gets so steep that a tunnel was warranted, and of course, it's a one lane tunnel, but controlled by stop lights.

Road side vender.
Two friendly Greeks.
Our final destination is to the city of Chania where we'll board the midnight fairy to Athens. Prior to there our host and hostess has been wanting us to stop at a road side kantina, but on previous days we was closed. So we take one more drive by and he's open today. Upon arrival, this table behind the kantina is full of people, but they invite us to join them anyways. Out comes the wine glasses, and the toast's begin. Only one knows English, and his first words to me is, "what took you so long my friend to come visit us?" One of the couples have to leave, but prior to leaving he tells the vender to wine and dine us and that he'll stop by later to pay. This behavior was always present, very friendly people on Crete. So toasted bread, fresh tomatoes, cheese, chicken on a stick, fish, and of course wine starts to head to the table. The man on the right was our translator, and he told us that the gentleman on his right was dressed in black and had facial hair because he was in mourning for the loss of a grandson.

Fishing lady.
After our light lunch it was off to a beach for a little relaxation. We ran into Rose, who was born in Greece, had lived in the US for awhile, but had returned home to take care of her elderly parents. She was on the beach fishing and we had a nice visit.

Our short stay found us shortly back in the car and off to Chania, which is a port city and where we flew into 5 days ago. Our ship is sailing at 9pm so we have about 3 hours to walk around the Venetian Harbour. Shops and waterfront restaurants are in abundance. Again, the tourism is at a low right now, it being January, so some of the shops are closed. Like all tourist areas, there are lots of jewelry stores, t-shirt shops, boot shops(a note for all the woman reading this blog, the European fashion is wearing knee high boots), and clothing stores. Abby and I stop at a restaurant for a cocktail and some horderves. We have a sampler platter, tomatoes, cheese, olives, sausage, meat balls, to name a few of the items. Of course, we even end this with a shot of Raki.

Lighthouse in Chania.

As the sun begins to set, we gaze over the harbour, to the the light house, out to the sea and begin to reflect on what just happened over the last 5 days of our lives. One of the selling points of this trip was to learn about the healty ways of the people in the Mediterranean region. Being diabetic, I have to say I was real pleased with my glucose this week. Usually I go on vacations and my glucose goes up and down like a yo-yo trying to jump the string. That didn't happen this trip, so just maybe their life style is better. What foods stood out to me, fresh yogurt, fresh honey, greek salad,  tomatoes, the use of olive oil, the meats, cheese's, and of course the wine and Raki. We also did get a lot of walking in. So good food and exercise is the way to go.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. The Milia Experience..

Have you ever thought about going up into the mountains just to get away from it all? There are places that will fill the bill and Milia is one of those places. May I suggest you check out their web site, of course after you read what I have to say about it.

Becca & Abby on top of the World
It's our last night on Crete, and we leave our glorious Villa's with good thoughts. We have one more time the flavor of local yogurt, fresh thyme honey, and fresh orange juice. We pack for our final destination on Crete, Milia, but before we get there we stop in Kampos for a light lunch with Amelia. Prior to lunch however, we climb to the top of local peak to take in the views, and what a beautiful day we have.

Amelia and Becca.
Amelia was quite the lady, and not a word of English did she know. Our stay there was for about 1 1/2 hours, she would bring fresh bread, tomatoes, cheese, olives, cucumbers, some meat(which she said was pork, but I'm thinking it was goat) and of course Raki. Again this Raki was produced right out her back door, it's the left overs from the wine making, distilled. Becca through what Greek she knew and good sign language communicated very well. Upon departure, we bought our 2 jugs of Raki and some sea salt from her. She gets the sea salt locally and all you need is just a pinch to flavor your food.

Narrow roads & switch backs.
Left Door Becca & Jesper's room,
Right Door Abby & John's room.
Off to Milia now, narrow roads, switch backs takes us to the eventual gravel road taking us "up" to Milia. Upon arrival the first thing you think is where's Milia? From the parking lot, it's about 1/8 of mile walk to the settlement. So we all grab a bag and start our hike. There are 13 units for lodging in Milia, and the central lodge which is used for meals, meetings, and buying product that they produce locally. Preserves, wine, soaps, olives, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, etc. This soap is made out of olive oil, and it comes in various scents.

Getting away from it all is exactly what you're getting in Milia. The rooms have limited lights, and a fire place for heat. They do have modern bathrooms and running water.

Supper that night was excellant! A variety of horderves were offered, I had sausage, Jesper had lentil soap, Becca had a cabbage salad and Abby had a Greek salad. For supper Jesper went with the vegetarian dish and the rest of us had the goat prepared with garlic and fennel. Now, before you get squemish about the goat, we will all swear that it was very good! I would order it again! Of course, we had wine and beer and of course Raki.

Milia from across the valley.
Mornings breakfast came with our rooms. Tea, coffee, fresh yogurt & juice, honey, russian tea biscuit, other pastries, fresh orange marmalade.

The photo on the left is Milia from across the valley. The main lodge is on the left with the guest rooms on the right.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. Olive Oil Tuesday.

Olive Orchards doting the
Tuesday at home is Taco Tuesday, for us on Crete it was Olive Oil Tuesday. Olive oil is probably the biggest industry on Crete. Driving around the Island you'll see Olive orchards doting the hill sides. It's really an amazing sight. So, Becca & Jesper through the villa's owner set up a day of following the olive from the tree to becoming oil.

Abby harvesting the Olives.
We started this day walking from the villa's up into an Orchard meeting a local farmer. He and one Albanian laborer was harvesting his olives. The season for olive harvesting runs from mid-November through February.

The actual process starts with the farmer putting nets on the ground so that they may gather the olives once they're knocked off of the tree. The picture on the left shows Abby actually using the equipment to knock the olives from the tree.
Olives in the netting, the
local farmer separates the
leaves from the olives.

Abby bagging the Olives.

On the right, the local farmer rolls the olives to the middle of the nets, then rakes the broken twigs and leaves out of the pile. Then they load the burlap bags, just like Abby is doing on the left. They fill the bags up, probably having close to 50 to 70 lbs. Then they load them onto transportation and it's off to the mill.

Bags full of Olives.
The mills they told us are running 24/7 to process the oil. Like the wheat farmers here, they to will get docked for various things, like to much acid in the oil. The laborers at the mill are usually Albanian's, they come over to work the Olive season and can make enough money in the season for their families to live 12 months.
Processing Mill.
Oil extracting tanks.

Fresh Olive Oil.
The beginning olives get washed on the machine to the right, then continue onto the machine on the lower left, which extracts the oil out of the olives. This machine churns the pulp for around 30 minutes before it is sent through 2 more high speed separators and that is when it becomes oil.

This was really an enjoyable adventure we had this Tuesday.

Pressed olives in the extractor. 
Swimming in the Med!
Afterwards it was off to more great Greek food, lamb chops, and I had sardines. The sardines were pan fried in oil and was very good. Side dishes included Greek salad, always good, a white wine, and of course Raki. After supper we drove over to the beach and some of them just had to get in the cold sea. I had to stay out to take the photo!

The sunset was also the most beautiful one on our trip. We took this photo at the ruins of Falasarna, which is believed to be the site of an ancient city built on the sea, but then a earth quake occurred and the city was raised up and away from the sea.

Sunset at Falasarna.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. Monday & Tuesday

Waves on the beach.
Crashing Seas!
The plans for the next two days depended on what the weather was going to do. We awoke to a overcast, windy Monday, so the plan was to head South to Paleohora. Prior to our rode trip we ate our usual breakfast, fresh juice, fresh yogurt, thyme honey, and fresh eggs. Oh yes, Abby had her fresh mint tea. After breakfast, some loose ends were worked on by Becca and Jesper, Abby and I took our usual walk down to the beach and took some photos of the wave action.

After our walk Becca and Jesper were ready to take off. Now the roads on Crete are interesting to say the least. If you don't like roads without center lines, with the occasional goat or sheep in your lane, with lots of switch backs, and drop offs without guardrails, well then you won't like the roads on Crete. Luckily, we were not in Crete during the tourism season, so the traffic was light.

Usual streets through the small villages.
Villages on Crete.
As we proceeded through the hills and valley's of Crete small villages like the one pictured here spot the hill sides. Many times these villages would have more than one cafe to stop in and eat. The buildings appear to have addition after addition added on them. At times it almost seemed like they would put on an addition on and abandon the old rooms. The architecture was extremely interesting to say the least.

Additions upon additions....

Abby and Becca on the beach.
Upon arrival in Paleohora we went directly to the beach. Wow, what a nice beach and with the wind out of the North, the waters were smooth, but still very chilly.


After the ride to Paleohora, we were all hungary so we walked to the business district to look for a place to eat. Pictured to the right was just what we were looking for and they had Gyro's. Now what is better than eating a Greek Gyro in Crete? Abby had the Gyro, I had a Gyro like sandwich but mine had sausage, which I found out later was veil and beef, very tasty it was. Of course, there was beer to be drank and after the meal the usual Raki. Only one employee in the shop and we requested that he have a shot of the Raki and he obliged. Our trip home brought us spectacular slights and great expectations of going to the Olive orchards tomorrow.
Rainbows over Crete.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days, Lunch in Afrata

Rabbit Stew
Cafe Kali Kardia
Sunday was a road trip to Afrata, Jesper and Becca befriended a family that ran a restaurant, and the only English speaking family member was the 15 year old son. The location is on the East coast of a peninsula of Kolpos Hania Bay. One thing about the small communities on Crete, it is not unusual to find 3 to 4 restaurants. The reason is that family's patronize these family spots. Today we had rabbit stew(taste just like chicken) and lamb chops. Momma made the stew in the kitchen, Papa made the chops in the wood stove outside on the deck. Uncle was passing the break around, but first toasting it at the fire place in the corner. Also Uncle was making sure we had the traditional drink with our meals, wine.
Toasting Homemade Wine.
Dry Docks.

As you might imagine, Crete being were it is, has a lot of boats, and me being partial to sail boats had to take a picture of these in dry dock. Doesn't that old big one on the right look like a good fixer upper? I think I could move right in.