Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day Picnic

I love, love, love Valentine's Day! This year, we actually celebrated a day early because I had back-to-back Pilates clients on the "actual day." I ran by the store after work and picked up some favorites: three pounds of king crab legs, a par-baked baguette, a bottle of wine, and a couple of gorgeous chocolate covered strawberries. I mean, looking at these beauties in the display case, could you pass them up? Mmm....

While my husband was at the gym, I started a huge pot of water to boil and clicked the oven on. As soon as he got home, the crab went in the pot and the baguette in the oven. By the time he'd showered, we had a nice little picnic all set out on the floor (the better for just lying around and cuddling). Other may have fun going out in the cold, teetering in their heels in ankle-deep slush and snow, dealing with impatient waiters trying to hurry you out before the next table arrives? Pas du tout!
My darling husband sent me a bouquet of roses on Monday, since we will be leaving for a wonderful Yellowstone weekend on Thursday morning and he wanted me to enjoy them. I gave him a ski joring set so that he and our doggie can drag each other around in the snow. Seems to be the hardest part so far is getting the durn thing on the dog! We'll see how that progresses.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Tea and Toast

"With just a little extra effort, something as simple as bread and water becomes tea and toast."

Mmmm....simple pleasures, eh? And making a little seemingly heaven out of seemingly hell, as one of my marketing profs would say. Although there's hardly any hell in homemade bread and fresh springwater, but the point of this post is that with just a little bit of trying, we can make our lives exponentially better, nicer, more elegant.

This little nugget of wisdom isn't my own necessarily, but the thoughts came to me when a friend of mine (yes, even though we've only "met" over the Internet, I'd consider her wonderful enough to be someone with whom I love to be friends) said something recently on a chat group. It was a quotation, although I liked her version of it better than the original quote, which was attributed to "anonymous," I think, and so I'll attribute it to her instead. Check her other stuff out here:

Friday, February 02, 2007

Gold Bug

One of my favorite things to do is relax in a hot bath. The warm water, the peace, the splashy sounds...and the fact that you usually get to be all alone (unless you get a dog--then for some reason your bath time turns into a hysterical event with lots of bath water-drinking, barking, freaking out, and frantically running from the bathroom to the kitchen to the den and back again).

Anyway, soaking in hot water is even better outdoors, of course. But not in a hot tub (unless it's the Boat Box, but I'll get to that another time), in a natural hot springs. Yeah, comercial hot springs are nice for the therapeutic effect of naturally hot mineral water, but they were only created so that tourists would have a place to pay for such a treat. I'm lucky to live in an area rich in sub-surface volcanic activity, the kind of place that just breeds hot springs.

One of our favorite places to go is called Gold Bug, and on a sub-zero, gorgeously sunny day like today, it's a little piece of heaven on earth. You hike about 45 minutes or so in--although starting at the trail head and looking up to the mountains you're about to climb, you'd probably never guess that heaven is less than an hour away. First of all, it's friggin' cold. Walking up the switchbacks that lead the trail, your nose starts to hurt--but just for a minute or so until it goes numb from cold. Then your lips go numb, so forget about trying to whistle for the dog. You start thinking that you don't care how warm the water looks when you get there, you're not taking your clothes off for one second in this frozen wilderness.

Then, just when you think you can't take the frigid cold anymore, you start the hill climb. This is where you earn your treat, but it's also where your body starts warming up enough that you begin thinking that yes, you could take your long undies-winter hiking pants-three pair of socks-two jackets-parka-heavy boots-hat-hood-and both pair of gloves off long enough to get in the water.

The steam starts rolling over the rocks and you know you're almost there. There's a strange juxatoposition that starts taking place along the stream you've been following: instead of cold looking rocks and frozen trees, you start seeing green plants with steamy water lapping over them, along with frosty-white branches where the steam rises over the water, coating the plants and trees above for just an instant before the frozen air kisses it. It's a gorgeous place, and today, it was almost all ours.

A couple of guys and their dogs got there first, and of course, got "the good pool," as it's known. Gold Bug is a system of several pools, all fed by hot water falls, each linking to the other. Some pools are hotter than others, some deeper, some bigger. There's usually enough room for everyone who makes the hike, but weekends are always busiest, because a lot of college students come to de-stress.

The guys left after a half hour or so of our sitting in a smaller, though much hotter (a bit too hot?) pool and we immediately packed up, heading for "the good pool" before anyone else could come up. We had it all to ourselves for a little while, until a local guy came up with his dog. Kodi was so excited to have a friend to run around with, and we continued soaking for another three or so hours until hunger started to get the best of me.

We made a little dinner, and between the three of us, had more than enough for everyone. Some hot sandwiches, smoked gouda and ham jerky, a little booze...and the doggies got to have special doggie power bars. After a bit more soaking, we finally got out and headed back down to civilization.

The drive home was beautiful. If the moon wasn't full, it sure looked it. Doggie and hubby fell fast asleep while I drove. The moonlit landscape looked almost sunny it was so bright, but everything was so calm and peaceful. I felt a little like Isabella Bird might have, cruising along and feeling like the only person on earth. I even got to see a small herd of deer, a couple of bunnies zooming across the road, and an owl. The perfect beginning of a perfect weekend.