Some times the best hikes are not the smartest hikes and
sometimes these become the best adventures.
Next Exit Gas Food Laughter is a journey of my adventures
through the trails and streams of Southern california. Some times I trail run,
some times I hike mountains and some times I just relax with a fishing pole in
my hand.
One way or another adventures always seem to happen and they
are quite constantly hilarious.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Curried Fish Tacos with Feta and Serrano Chilis

     Well let's just say if our third day of our Palm Springs getaway starts like this our vacation may be exciting...
     Well hello from Palm Springs.
     I saw this sign today while we explored the hallways of the medical facility at the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert.
    No wolf balls were altered in the writing of this blog.
    I did however see a goat with balls on his face. ( no seriously, it looked like he had balls growing under his chin)
     But I was to busy taking pictures of my boyfriend exchanging meaningful glances with the head of the goat herd to take pictures of the goat who was, well, balls deep in balls.
     No really, this blog is about curry fish taco goodness and not balls.
     Yes,I realize I have gone completely off topic.
     I just spent four days riding a bike in ninety degree heat.
    And I complained surprisingly little about the heat.
    Because at the end of every bike ride there was always a crystal clear pool just outside the doors of our two bedroom condo.
    Also there was vodka.
    And lemonade.
    With blackberries.
    And one day there were Curried Fish Tacos with Feta and Serrano's,an amazing Indian inspired fish fusion my boyfriend and I invented together combing all our food skills.

Curried Fish Tacos with Feta and Serrano Chili's

2 ahi tuna steaks
1 tab curry powder
1/2 a yellow onion
2 tab ginger, diced 
1 tab garlic, diced
2 Serrano chilis, roasted and diced
1/2 tsp garlic salt
4 tab coconut oil
Red cabbage
Corn and wheat tortillas
Feta cheese, crumbled
Shredded carrots
Greek yogurt

Heat two tab of coconut oil. Cook the onion in this until brown and caramelized. Add the garlic, ginger and roasted diced chilies. Add the curry powder and the chunks of bite size ahi. 
Add garlic salt to season. Cook the ahi thoroughly.
Brown the tortillas, both sides in the remaining two teaspoons coconut oil.
Top each tortillas with Greek yogurt, feta, the fish, cabbage, carrots and cilantro.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pumpkin and Chicken Pizza with Pancetta and Sage

     There is nothing like peeing in a alpine lake in October.
     Wait. No.
     There is nothing like peeing in an alpine lake in October while a pirate ship full of tourists pass you and they all smoke and wave.
      It's the second week in October and yes, last weekend I was fully submerged in an alpine lake and really not that cold.
     How does that work, you may ask?
     Vodka may be the answer.
     Or maybe global warming?
     I suppose both may be involved.
     When we set out on Big Bear Lake last Saturday the trees were already changing from green to orange to hold all over the lake shore. Oktoberfest has bed ragging the last two weekends and fun lake days should be left far behind us back near Labor Day weekend over a month ago.
     Maybe I'm just a mountain bad ass jumping in the lake today ( or maybe I just had a very full bladder and we didn't want to lose our optimal buoy by the dam by taking a visit to the SS Relief Porta Potty) but I was literally the only person swimming in the lake not wearing a wetsuit ( well until my boyfriend jumped in to join me) 
     One thing is for sure; there is nothing like chilly lake water to make you feel alive!
      Or maybe it was Big Bears tourist trap pirate ship that seriously made a beeline for me as I hung on to the ladder on the end of the boat.
       My boyfriend laughed gleefully at my situation, yelling to me as I bobbed in the cold water
     " Here comes the pirate ship!" And I looked up at all the flat landers on the deck of the ship just in time to hear a little girl say
    " is that girl peeing?!"
     I'm so glad that I could make the tourists trip to Big Bear more memorable as I squatted on a ladder in a chilly alpine lake, now please pass the vodka.

     I'm really declaring it this time and yes, I know I've said this about six times this summer but yes, today was the last day of summer!

Pumpkin and Chicken Pizza with Pancetta and Sage

1 Pizza crust
1/2 cup pecorino Romano
1 Package chopped pancetta
6 Sage leaves
2 Tab pumpkin butter
2 Tab heavy cream
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded poached chicken

Heat the pancetta in a saucepan until crispy. Add the Sage leaves for two minutes. Stir in the pumpkin butter and heavy cream. Add the Pecorino Romano.
Too the pizza crust with this, than the mozzarella and than shredded chicken.
Bake at 375 for 12 minutes.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Buffalo Burger Cheese Burger Fries

    In the valley below you would not even know that it's fall. It's over a hundred degrees most October days. Any sweaters and scarves and gloves to be seen? No way here in sunny So Cal; you can find a Pumpkin Spice Latte on the menu at Starbucks, but that is the only real way to tell it is fall in the Inland Empire of Southern California.
     I love the changing seasons. That is why I feel so blessed to be here in California, so close to Los Angeles, Hollywood and the beaches, but I get to drive home every night on winding mountain highways, though fog so dense sometimes I can not see past my hood. I don't even mind when I have to slam on my brakes as I pass at the local ski resort when a brazen pack if deer decide to slowly scamper across the highway ahead of me!
    I love everything about the mountain life and I love everything about autumn; the rolling fog, making turkey and sweet potato chili, enjoying cool evenings with pinot grigio and a fire roaring in the fire place. I love the crisp cool days when I can see Catalina Island and sail boats on the Pacific Ocean two hundred miles away, from the west facing rim of the mountain side.
     It's autumn here in Southern California and every where I go on my morning run I see forests of bright orange and yellow poison oak. I feel like it is mocking me, saying,
     "Hey you! Remember when you got drunk this summer on Creek-o-ritas and fell in the poison oak you could not see? Well, guess what! I'm here now! And I'm neon yellow!"
   Every morning when I run through the forest right now my views are just gorgeous absolutely every where.  This morning I hiked slash ran to the top of Craft's Peak on this chilly October day.
    When I woke up this morning it was a grey foggy morning.  I was in heaven. I love foggy days. It feels okay to be lazy on foggy days and just make a fire and make broccoli cheese soup and watch Always Sunny in Philadelphia all day.
     Or go for a run slash hike.       The tall oak tree in my back yard had shed most of it's leaves over night and I knew I should really get out there and rake up the mess but going for a run up a mountain side sounded way more fun. Plus I made Brownie Sundaes at work the night before, so sweating out the chocolate was the way to go!
    By the time I was heading out the door the fog had rolled down in altitude a bit to about four thousand feet. This made my hike slash run so gorgeous because i was just above the fog line.  
    I drove winding mountain roads to the little hamlet of Green Valley Lake and than took an old logging road about two miles into the forest. I parked my SUV in the dirt and began my morning adventure up the dirt road that leads to Craft's Peak.
   I was lagging behind My friend a little bit, adjusting my pack I used for running, when I noticed she was talking to some one but there was no one around. Is my kooky friend talking to herself, I wondered?
    That is when I realized there was a hunter, fully camouflaged, leaning against some trees watching us. I wish I had taken a picture of him. He so blended in, we did not even see him until My friend noticed him and we were literally standing right next to the guy. Damn, those deer have no chance! I thought to myself. I usually choose to run in this Green Valley Lake area because there are so few hunters over in this area of the mountain; a much safer route during deer season. This guy completely surprised us. I'm so glad we were talking about bowel movements right at that moment.
      He was really nice though and didn't seem perturbed that he ran into two sweaty girls in the forest who were talking about poo, when all he REALLY wanted to see was Bambi.

   With a wave goodbye we were heading up the trail... and up and up and up. It's only about a six mile round trip hike but the top of the peak is at about 8,400 feet. That would be over a thousand feet of elevation gain in our morning journey. The mountains are so gorgeous once you get to about eight thousand feet. Lodge Pole Pines grow at these altitudes. They need the severe cold and wind to survive. It looks a lot like the Sierras when you get up this high. I would guess it was only about forty five degrees when we finally reached the summit, but the morning air was so crisp and clean. We had amazing views of the fog coming in right above Lake Arrowhead to the North and a clear view of Big Bear Lake to the East.

    What a gorgeous invigorating autumn morning!

 Buffalo Cheese Burger Fries

1 package garlic fries ( I buy trader joes brand)
1 pound Buffalo meat
1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese
1 cup onion rings
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
2 tab mayonnaise

In a saucepan cook the Buffalo.
Set aside.
Bake the garlic fries.
Remove the fries from the oven.
Drain the fat from the buffalo.
Layer the buffalo on top of the fries. 
Mix the mayo and the bbq sauce.
With a tablespoon top the buffalo with the BBQ sauce.
Layer the cheese on top and the onion rings on top of that.
Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sour Dough Pancakes ( Breakfast in Alaska)

    I had these Sourdough Pancakes in Talkeetna Alaska in 2003. They were the best pancakes I had ever had and I had been dying for years to make them myself but could never figure out how to get my hands on sour dough starter. I found sour dough on EBay last year and my prayers were answered.
   In June of 2003 I enjoyed these Sour Dough Pancakes on an eighty degree Alaska morning soaking up the midnight sun's rays in a little country town called Talkeetna.
  Talkeetna felt like home to me. 
  It's a pine tree surrounded hamlet in between the metro hub of Anchorage and still a big town, but with a little sleepy small town feel, Fairbanks. 
   Talkeetna is a town of about six hundred people just on the outskirts of Denali National Park. It is also the small town that sits at the base of Mt McKinley. It also has an amazing selection of restaurants. Seriously, the four days we stayed in Talkeetna we ate at every restaurant in town and they were all extraordinary. 
    I've always been a huge sour dough bread fan and never dreamed that a sour dough pancake existed before Alaska. I didn't even know that sour dough was a product of Alaska!
   To make this breakfast authentic, you must serve these with reindeer sausage of course.

Sour Dough Pancakes

2 cups sour dough starter
2 tab sugar
1 egg
4 tab vegetable oil
1/8 tab salt
1 tsp baking soda

Make the starter ahead of time, according to the directions. Mix the baking soda with just a bit of water with your fingers. Mix the baking soda mixture, the sugar, the egg, oil and salt. Fry each pancake up in butter and serve with warm syrup or elderberry preserves.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Dirty Hippie ( for a day)

      On our drive to the Sierras five days ago we stopped for lunches, quick and delicious home made sandwiches with names like The Mule Kick, at Schatt's Bakery. As we stood in line for our roast beef sandwiches with hot peppers we starred and pinched our noses at the smelly people in front of us.
      They smelled like dirty campers; like camp fire and sweat and old socks.
      They were pretty gross and yes we were judgemental.
      Fast forward five days to us; we are both wearing sweats. I have not shaved my legs in two days. We decided we would rather fish a extra hour last night than take showers ( and in that hour when we could have made ourselves smell slightly more clean and less like camp fire, we managed to catch one pathetic little trout and one angry craw dad) 
     I just brushed my teeth in a diners bathroom while the "clean people" tried to wash their hands, like, you know, is completely normal in a restaurant bathroom, around me.
     I feel like a dirty hippie girl. All I need are dregs and a bong and I could pass for a liberal today.
      Five days ago we mocked the dirty campers as we waited in a sandwich line behind them and inhaled their camp fire smell. 
      As much as I really do love camping, you know what I really love?
      Showering in my shower at home with my fancy soaps from Lush and my tea tree shampoo from Trader Joe's.
      I'm just not a pro at this dirty hippie business and I'm home sick for my nice clean shower at home that I don't need to wear flip flops in.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Did a Small Dog Just Fly By the Tent?

      If there is one thing that pisses me off it's when my sleep is interrupted.
     Last night as I lay in an incredibly comfortable tent in a super warm sleeping bag I felt like our brand new super fancy tent was going to go flying into the high sierras lake nearby.
      I have never been in an area this windy ever in my life, let alone camped in it!
     Our first two nights camping were awesome. Actually every moment of our five day sierras trip was epic until 12:30 last night when a horrible wretched wind whipped through the Silver Lake camp ground.
      I have camped at Silver Lake many times and I always notice that it seems to be full of Rvs and I'm the only individual tent camping.
     Last night we learned why.
     This tent camping expierence was definitely glamping. We had a propane heater in the tent and the Teton sleeping pads we used were seriously more comfortable than the first two nights of the trip when we stayed at the Westin!      
      So last night when the wind began to howl and scream at midnight I was, quite literally, not a happy camper.
      The forcast, when I had checked it before going to bed, had said breezy. 
      Sixty or seventy mile wind gusts do not qualify as breezy!
      Our tent, which was brand new before this trip, felt like it was literally going to shake apart!  I gave up completely on sleep at six a.m. as the sun rose and we noticed that our camp ground was almost empty. Our neighbors had gave up on sleep and left at three in the morning after their satellite digs went crashing to the pavement. 
As I poked my head out of the tent I could feel that the high winds had pulled out most of our tent stakes. Before I crawled out of my some what safe sleeping bag and decided to face nature I heard a dog whimpering and told my boyfriend
     " I think a small dog just flew by our tent!"
     Outside the tent was not a safe place.
     When a gust blew up I could not even walk, the gusts were just that strong and our tent was acting like a sail in the wind as we tried desperately to start the horrible chore of taking it down.
    Silver Lake had been so beautiful and glorious the last few days, this was like a different world!
    I gave up the thought of getting water for coffee, it was a effort to even walk against the wind to the water spigot. There was no way I could put my contact lenses in, there was so much dirt and dust flying through the air and into my eye balls behind my glasses. I couldn't even imagine brushing my hair so I threw on a big bandana.
      As we forced ourselves to tear down camp in this terrible wind storm the wind was blowing so damn hard that the water was blowing off the lake and getting us wet. Yes, that was the closest thing to a shower we had.
      I tried to help him take the tent down and one of the supporting legs slapped me on the back from a strong forty miles per hour gust. That hurt like a bitch but I just kind of sucked it up, we were just so desperate to pack camp and go to a restaurant in nearby Bishop for coffee and breakfast and to brush our teeth in their bathroom like the dirty hippies we felt like.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Virginia Lakes to Summit Pass

     I'm going to need to enjoy a beer while my toes sink into a brisk alpine lake after we finally finish ascending this mountain pass, I was thinking.We were trying to make it to the top of Summit Pass at over 10,000 feet. We had been sweating and hiking fast up hill for what seemed like forever but what would turn out to be only three miles. Three miles up hill with 2,000 feet altitude gain in the hot sun in the middle of the day is a rough journey.

     Thank god at the end of that journey there would be beer and sandwiches.

     The top of the pass was totally worth the killer hike as we rested at the top, staring at the red jagged mountain peaks in the distance and inhaling sriracha bacon jerky. ( Is there a better snack on a mountain top!? I think not!)

      After the bacon snack we slowly made our way down the long twisting rocky trail; day three of vacation and we had hardly done any fishing yet!

     It was time to fish Virginia Lakes!

     We had hopes that even though it was mid afternoon the fish at over nine thousand feet would be a little hungry. They were jumping none stop as we cracked the first beers, inhaled sandwiches and set up our fishing lines.

     It should have been the perfect situation to fish but try as I might I kept getting my line stuck in weeds or tangled in the deep rocks or breaking off in the depths of the lake!

     I was getting so frustrated and felt like my line would never stop getting caught in the weeds ringing the bottom of this pretty alpine lake!

     All around me the fish were jumping like crazy but all I managed to do that afternoon was lose a ton of tackle in a gorgeous lake.

     I  think I set a new record for snapping fishing line and destroying my whole set up.

     Maybe I was just tired. I did hike to over 11,000 feet that afternoon, plus that was the second mountain pass I conquered in three days. I may not be back in the shape I was four months ago but my calves are getting more muscular by the day, feeling the burn of hiking in the high sierras.

      Now if only my horrible asthma would just calm down a bit and I could stop coughing for a few minutes. It's hard enough to hike at high elevations over nine thousand feet, it's really hard when you are coughing none stop!