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.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beaver Cheese


      "What the hell is Beaver Cheese?"     
       Before Trav can even answer me I move on to my next and completely logical question        
     "And who the hell milks the beavers?"
        " And how the hell do you milk a beaver?!"
      If we were still at sea level maybe his comment about Gouda cheese would have been easier to digest.
      But we are at over nine thousand feet.
     Almost on top of a freaking mountain.
     I'm wheezing so hard I can barely get any air in my poor lungs and my ears have not popped yet at the altitude.
     I may have more of a hearing problem than usual.     And I would like to know what kind of sick fuck milks beavers!
     Also that seems highly unsafe; have you seen their teeth?
     I don't think a beaver would enjoy being milked.
     This was just one of many conversation that took place on the  treacherous hike up San Gorgonio.
     It was one of the few conversations that did not begin with
     "Good god Amber, what did you eat?!"
     And
    "What happened to fresh mountain air!?"
     So I just thought I would share it.
     Just one more instance of me not being able to hear, well pretty much ever.
    Maybe I could not hear over my constant wheezing as we raced up switch backs, me setting a murderous pace as we traversed over mountain sides and up ridge lines. I wanted to summit by noon, I'd read online that a summit can be made in four and a half hours.
I'm a fast hiker and figured four and a half hours no prob.
      I did not take into account snowy trails and taking the time to fall off of snowy trails and than recover from said fall. ( Especially  when it felt like my hand was broken for a while but I just think it was insane snow burn from sliding down a icy twenty foot mountain)
       I recovered and we carried on up San Gorgonio and asked such interesting questions like where the hell would you possibly come across a pizza with a beaver cheese garnish?
       Trav would like me to get my hearing checked as soon as we get off this mountain.

To be continued...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Day San G made me her Bitch





     "Be careful, it's icy"
     The words had barely left Trav's mouth and I'd already lost balance on the slippery icy ledge.
      I was sliding down the icy mountain fast and my calves, in short yoga pants burned as they scraped down the left hands side of my body.
      I felt like I was leaving a trail of blood on the sharp snow as my left hand fought to try to get a grip of something, anything.
      It felt like I was sliding down a sheet of painful glass and I could hear Trav gasping on the mountain above me, shocked I had fallen down the ravine. ( I honestly wasn't panicked like he was, I saw the prickly manzanita bush twenty feet below where I had fallen from; I knew it's rust colored limbs and pink berries would stop my slide down wards at some point.)
It felt like I slid down the ravine for ten minutes and it was actually mere seconds
       Later Trav would quote such things on FB as
Snowy spring time trails. I witnessed a good friend slide down a ravine out of control with complete calmness and stop herself from becoming seriously injured or dead. One of the sketchiest moments in my hiking experiences.

       Honestly I have taken good falls hiking before and I will again, it's just something that comes with hiking. I feel like a expert at falling at this point and I just knew not to panic.
        It sounds logical and came in handy thirty seconds later when I came to rest next to the manzanita patch.
       First reaction would be oh shit did that just happen and above me I hear Trav asking oh my god are you alright.

       He went from taking a scenic picture of me on a snowy trail to thinking damn this hike is over and I am carrying my friend out six miles back to the car!
       Before I could tell him I was okay, Rosco his incredibly happy go lucky dog came sliding down the same path I had just fallen down in terror. 
       Only Rosco did it sliding down the mountain on his butt, front paws raised with this huge doggie grin on his face!
       It was like something out of a cartoon!
       I couldn't help but laugh at the little white dog even as I was hobbling to my feet, checking out the damage, grasping my battered left hand ( wondering if it was broken?)
       It hurt so badly at the moment as I slowly made my way back up the mountain side to Trav.
       My calves were bleeding and my left hand was aching really bad and at that moment I was so tempted to turn around and once again not summit San Gorgonio but a little voice in side told me to keep going...




      To be continued...



Friday, April 11, 2014

Meanwhile in Alaska....





    A summer day in Alaska means fishing for fresh salmon on the Copper River.



    It means fishing ALL DAY on the Copper River.


    It means really feeling that we are Californians and not local Alaskans at all when we do not catch anything.  (even though we had been vacationing in the forty ninth state for two weeks at this point, shopping at Fred Meyers and paying ten dollars for a package of Oreos. We had felt like we were becoming locals until today)
    Our third day of our Alaska adventure in 2004, we took a river boat sightseeing trip down the Susitna River. The river trip was really fun. Our two tour guides were about our age and they both seemed like really fun people. After the tour we all agreed we should have seen if they wanted to get a beer with us in town that night. But I guess we are all too shy. We did take an awesome picture with one of the tour guides welding her shotgun; ya know in case of bear attacks.

     It was a great day to be out on the water. We saw a bald eagle in her nest, although the picture just turned out blurry. Most bald eagles die in Alaska, not at the hands of poachers but they actually drown. They hook their talons into salmon, and their talons can’t detach and if it’s a big fish, forty pounds or so, the salmon will actually pull them under; pretty incredible.  All this talk of forty pound salmon made me want to catch one. So the next day we would fish for about twelve hours straight. We did take a pizza break, of course at Mile High Pizza Pie. It was the best pizza in Alaska, how could we not go back again?

We picked up our fishing gear in the early morning our fourth day in Alaska and found a great spot on the riverbed. We were ready to catch some Copper River King Salmon. You’re only allowed to catch three in a year and when we first threw our hooks in, we thought for sure we would catch our limit that day. All around us people had salmon on their lines, and the red fish were huge! We fished for almost twelve hours, and the closest we got was when Ryan was almost pulled into the river by what must have been a huge King Salmon. Luckily he was wearing board shorts, and believe me we got a ton of weird looks from the locals because of it. We seemed to get weird looks wherever we went actually. At the end of the day, we did not have any salmon to flash freeze and mail home.  I guess my Alaska souvenirs would just be post cards, lupine seeds, cool belt buckles and lots of sourdough starter.


This week I am linking up once again with fellow bloggers over at Yeahwrite.me for a weekends worth of moonshine blogging good times!




















Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Palm Springs Escapades

     I've got a little confession.

     I can't swim.
     At ten p.m. on a Saturday night after way to many Caribbean Mules ( like a Moscow one but w rum) and my boyfriend decided to teach me how to swim in a Jacuzzi at the resort we were staying in at Palm Springs.
    This did not go over well.
    It's hard to learn to swim when you are giggling uncontrollably and oh yes also coughing out of control.
     My asthma has been rechid the last few weeks and I have been coughing a lot.
     Every time he tells me to keep my lungs full of air I have a coughing fit, yeah it's ridiculous I can't keep air in my lungs; I just cough it all out!
     Even on days when I am not coughing up a storm I have this ridicules problem that no one else seems to have;
     Why the fuck can I not float?
     He keeps trying to get my body to float and I just keep laughing hilariously, trying not to drink pool water and inadvertently almost kicking him in his man parts.
     And you wonder why no one can teach me how to swim.
     And most men are afraid too.
     He says my body feels like it's full of rocks (not in a mean way, just in a why the fuck won't you float kind of way)
     Is it because I run and hike a ton and am all muscle?
     I mean, Jesus I am so full of gas all the time, I should float, right?
    Our one and a half day Palm Springs vaca has been epic despite still not swimming with the fishes.

    Last night we chilled at the pool, had a few Long Island ice teas than taxied downtown to my favorite pizza place, Sammy's and had some delicious rum filled girly drinks (okay maybe that was just me, he had a IPA blah) after dinner of deep fried goat cheese filled artichoke hearts and a five cheese pizza loaded with among other delicious cheese, the King of the moldy penicillin filled cheeses, Gorgonzola (have I mentioned cheese is my favorite food group?) we returned to the Jacuzzi at our resort where I took this great picture of me not following the rules  ( authority! Rebel! ) and using the elderly people mover to lower my rum soaked body into the Jacuzzi ( I really am 8  percent disabled and I would have giggled and yelled this fact at any one if any one else had been at the pool with us at the in godly hour of nine p.m. (lesson learned, if you pay over three hundred dollars for a room in Palm Springs it will be full of the elderly)
      Our palms Springs vacation was truly epic and relaxing, even if we did not quite make it to the highest peak of nearby San Jacinto as originally planned.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Carrot Ginger Jalapeno Juice Shot

   I wouldn't drink a cup of this, I mean unless you enjoy sitting on the toilet and crying.
   As a shot (and come on! Who doesn't take shots at ten a.m!?) this is a great little breakfast drink.
   I don't actually shoot it; I sip this tasty breakfast beverage.
   This is a great immune booster breakfast shot and wow the jalapeno juice will wake you up!
    I seriously am ready to climb mountains after a little carrot ginger jalapeno juice pumping through my veins!


Carrot Ginger Jalapeno Shot

4 carrots
1 quarter size chunk ginger
1 jalapeno
1 lemon

Combine all in your juicer

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Beans on Toast... An Adventure in England a Healthier California Version of an English Breakfast Classic

                I think I got the travel bug with my first trip to Mexico. That first amazing warm corn tortilla and cabbage filled fish taco had me  hooked.

                I  Wanted to travel, and I wanted to eat. 

                The first time I stood on a sandy beach in the early morning chill and gazed at the Pacific Ocean from a foreign country I felt it.  I traveled to Mexico maybe eight times when I was between eighteen and twenty five. Every trip was an adventure. Back then you didn’t need a passport to go across the border. You just needed a reliable car full of American fuel and some money in your pocket.  My first trip to Europe I would need a little more cash and a passport.
              
                I was very lucky when I was in my early twenties that my best friend, Mimi, was living in Mildenhall, England for four years. This meant traveling to Europe was very easy when I had a free place to stay.

               I am very lucky to not get jet lagged so I awoke from my first night of sleep in Europe refreshed and ready for the first official day of my two week holiday. My other BFF Ryan was flying out to meet us at Heathrow my first full day in the U.K. He lives in Pismo Beach, so he flew up via San Fran. Ryan met Mimi and I  one cold morning in the international terminal of Heathrow airport. I think it was 2006. It was definitely winter. Britain is way colder then sunny So Cal. I love the cold, I didn’t mind at all. 
                At the time Mimi and her husband John were living in Mildenhall, which is over an hour North of  London. It takes awhile to commute to London from the outskirts. Motorways in England are all kind of based on roundabouts. You have to drive around everything to get from point a to point b. The M25, the main highway,  goes in a circle around London, and you have to pay a steep toll to go into central London or just take the tube, way easier. All the motorways in this area of Britain come out of the M25 like tentacles, and to go between them you mainly take country highways and roads.  It’s very convoluted. Motorways in Britain are just ridiculous. If there is an accident they close the whole road all day.
                And then you wait.
                Mildenhall is kind of what Mimi describes as white trash hick England.  She makes it sound like the Arkansas of Britain.  My first impression of England? Cold, overcast, but green everywhere, kind of pretty as we sped along the motorway. Mildenhall is the town that hosts the air force bass that John worked at. It’s about twenty minutes from the college town of Cambridge, which is where all their friends live and has pubs, shops, a huge Marks and Spencer’s, clubs, a movie theater and just way more to do than Mildenhall.  Mildenhall was to me, a tourist who doesn’t live there cute and quaint. We passed a exceptionally old church. Mimi told me,
              “That’s the oldest building you have ever seen,” Wow.
                Luckily for Ryan and I we were not jet lagged at all. We went back, unpacked and headed out to Cambridge to go to our first pub.

               Welcome to England! My first experience at a English pub I’d like to say I ordered a Guinness but I prefer a lighter beer that is not a meal itself. So I ordered a Pimm’s. Its like the wine cooler of England, a fruity girly malt beverage. I think I prefer England's “Frisky Bison” apple juice and vodka.   I ordered a lamb burger to go with my Pimm’s. I normally really like lamb but in England they cook all the meat with beer and I didn’t really care for it. My burger was extremely dry also, and I like my meat still bleeding. So my first pub food experience was not so good but it was just so nice to be with my two best friends in the world, we could have been at a carrot buffet and I wouldn’t care!  (I hate carrots.)
 
The next morning we got up and headed out for a real British breakfast. We went to a pub of course. This was 2006 (I think) and you could still smoke EVERYWHERE in Europe, so part of our breakfast consisted of the taste of everyone else in Mildenhall’s Cigarettes. Gross.  It’s amazing to walk into this pub at nine a.m. and a bunch of old men are at the bar drinking pints. It makes you feel like you’re in another world;  A world full of nicotine and old man smell. This was  the perfect place for a traditional English breakfast.  The first time I tried beans on toast I was hooked. A Traditional  English Breakfast consists of fried toast, fried eggs, a side of Heinz beans, English sausage, English bacon, tea of course and a fried tomato. It’s amazing! How can it not be with all that grease? I have been eating beans on toast ever since! Okay maybe I cook the toast in coconut oil and use whole grain bread.  English sausage and bacon weren’t really my thing. The bacon is more like ham and the sausage has kind of a bread crumb like filling. I mean its okay, I would eat it again but I like my meat products… Porkier? Is that a word? After our delicious artery clogging breakfast we hit the road to check out nearby New Market.

King's College
                In New Market the horse is the King, the Thoroughbred that is. New Market is the racing capitol of Britain. Everywhere you go you see beautiful horse flesh galloping in the crisp winter dew.  As Mimi explained as we waited for a group of horses to pass across the road
                “Horses have the right away here” On a future trip to Europe we would spend an afternoon checking out the National  Horse Racing Museum. The best part was they had a horse and jockey simulator you could ride for two minutes. This is how long it takes for the Kentucky Derby to be run. Wow, it was really hard to stay on that fake horse for two minutes. It doesn’t seem like it would be, but my muscles hurt for days after that! Props to jockeys, I don’t know how those little guys do it!
                As the afternoon continued we made our way back to Cambridge, checking out the local market in downtown Cambridge and exploring Cambridge University and beautiful old King's College. The old buildings were really astonishing, so different from all the new architecture we see in the States.   This was just a taste of all the amazing sights we would see the next day when we ventured into London for the day.  Of course we picked up some scones and clotted cream at Marks and Spencer’s for an early morning breakfast.

            Two things to discover if you ever make it to the U.K.
1.       Scones with Clotted cream: You can’t get clotted cream like this in the states, it’s so good, and the scones are plain, but dotted with sultanas. I don’t even like raisins, but they are amazing.
 
2.        Marks and Spencer’s: I love this little shop! Every snack able little treat you could ever imagine! They have every ethnic snack and salad you could ever want!   Plus they have these Ploughman’s sandwiches that’s mainly just cheese and meat with a savory chutney, but man they are amazing.
 


Beans and Toast
An English favorite; the healthy version


1 can Heinz beans, microwaved
whole grain bread
1 egg, poached
coconut oil
sliced heirloom tomatoes


Toast the bread, top with coconut oil, and serve all this tasty healthiness together!
               

 

 
 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mt Baldy in March

     "I'm going to have to put my pants back on!"
       I shout the words behind me into sixty mile an hour winds completely unsure if my boyfriend Jeremy heard me or not.
       The wind is raging so fast and so hard I might as well be talking to myself, he may be just a few feet behind me on the Devils Back Bone section of the Mt Baldy Trail but the wind is howling so fierce it's been hard to hear each other speaking as we ascend against the winds up this deserted mountain trail.
        Just to be clear, this was not naked hiking.
        I had stripped off a few layers of clothing, sweat pants and fleece sweater at eight thousand feet just thirty minutes earlier.
        We had both been sick with the flu last week so I had hardly worked out at all in a week and we decided to take the "easy route" up Mt Baldy to the summit today. The easy route is 6.7 miles round trip with three thousand feet altitude gain to the summit, 10,400 feet above Los Angelus.
          As we rode the ski lift up to the Notch Restaurant in the Angelus National Forest this morning the icy morning wind froze me to my bones and I just wished for the five minute ride to be over and that was before I noticed my water bottle had leaked all over my pant leg!
         Once we reached the top of the lift, the starting point of our hike at 7,300 feet the wind died down a bit and it felt great in the sun light, probably in the low forties but at least we began the hike in the sunshine. As we began slowly making our way up the barren ski slopes in the direction of The Devils Back Bone and Mt Baldy in the distance I could not believe how quiet the mountain was for a Saturday morning. Sure it is late March but the weather has been great. I thought a lot more people would be doing this hike!
        As we slowly hiked our way past fir trees and manzanita bushes the wind began to howl roughly as we approached the edge of the mountain well known to mountaineers near and far as the Devils Back Bone. This is a tiny sliver of land and trail that goes across the spine of the mountain. It is one of the most beautiful sections of trail in Southern California and I would not recommend it if you are afraid of heights. The drop offs are severe and this is at nine thousand feet.
       At  this point the wind has picked up and I  was desperately trying to put my sweat pants on over my shorts even as the wind was trying to steal my favorite Mt Whitney I heart switch backs base ball cap off my head. I managed to get my layers back on and shove my hat in my pack before I lost it and than my ears begin to freeze as the wind hit them. The wind chill has to he something like ten degrees.
       At last Jeremy got tired of hearing me complain about my ears and he let me wear his wind breaker, hood up over my painful ears.


        "Were getting to the hard part now!" 
        I yelled behind me into the wind to Jeremy. He is a Mt Baldy virgin and I was trying to warn him the summit was just ahead.
        I fought and fought to make my way uphill against the howling March wind; it felt like we were in the Andes and not Southern California!
        Now I see why no one does this hike in March! 
        I looked down at my Merrill hiking boots biting into the sand and it is hard to imagine the girl who tried to run up this mountain two years ago and failed and now I am about to conquer this damn mountain at last, no problem.
         Hiking fifteen miles in a day is nothing these days. 

         As I approach the summit of Mt Baldy at last, all these years later I feel like a different person. I have new scratches and scars on my knees and arms, many brushes with manzanita bushes. I have torn ligaments in my ankle and still hiked on all summer long. I have hiked through bee stings, thorns under my nails five miles from the car and hoped over more rattle snakes than I can count.
          I have bagged peaks and bragged about it to people who don't care and don't understand ( and hike in tennis shoes, for gods sake!)
          It's funny how two years ago I thought bagging Mt Baldy would be the greatest thing I have ever done.
          These days it's just a typical morning before work.