Friday, May 26, 2006

Land of a Thousand Gravel Bars

For planning purposes I usually figure on traveling an average of 2.5 miles per hour which allows for leisurely paddling and occasional stops. On the Piney we traveled 6 miles in exactly 6 hours (see if you can calculate the MPH yourself). We stopped at every good looking gravel bar and there were lots of them....

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Member In the News

The RRCC gets on-stage with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. (and click on "On-Demand Web Cast).

Start the video at 30:00 and watch "the foremost expert on search engine marketing" put on a Rebel Rivers hat as he walks off stage after his speech.

Acting like the celebrity that he is.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Data Dump

Okay, sorry for the technical difficulties. Tim must have forgot to pay the Con-Ed bill. We're still not out of the woods yet, in fact we're broadcasting on pirate radio right now so this will just be quick information sharing. No pictures, no El Vez, no bare asses.

First, the weather is....odd. So far it has mostly stormed without raining, if that's possible. Too soon to tell from the gauges what is happening up on the Kentucky border, but we picked out the alternate river at JJ's this morning so we will be paddling no matter what. Watch this space on Friday.

Rob is traveling and was distraught to learn that we might have un-cured the oven by leaving it out in the rain. I can't upload a picture which is bad timing because he wanted to Bill Frist the patient all the way from his business trip in Texas. Maybe I'll get one up tomorrow, Rob, but everything's cool. Rusty on the outside, smooth and slick on the inside, just like you hoped. It looks better than ever actually.

Assuming we make it onto the Red, I need to disclose to everyone that the put-in is a bastard. The float, the gravel bar, the scenery....all make it worth it. But the launch itself is a vertical mud bank. Just needed to get that out there. The strategy will be to get all the crap into the boats, not care whose crap or whose boats, and then redistribute at the first nice gravel bar.

We need an extra sleeping bag and pad for Billy. Who has one?

Rob, I'm bringing the Jerry Can (Gerry Can? What is the origin?) that we used for Kirly's radiator at the Derby. I think it holds six or eight gallons of water. I also have everything for coffee. So as long as Jim-Bob bring enough beer, I figure nothing really bad can happen. At least from a packing perspective.

I am not going to have time to go get more rope and cut and burn the lengths for tying down all the boats. So we're going to use the black rubber hook-straps that are built onto the trailer. If you are a canoe owner and you have a problem with that, bring your own rope. I am and I don't have a problem with that.

The General Counsel wants me to tell you that you technically need a fishing license if you plan to do any of that. If you really want to be technical you need two licenses for the thirty minutes we'll paddle in and out of Kentucky. The General Counsel also wants you to know there is no chance of seeing a game warden on this river. But the previously mentioned Suzanne caught a bigger fish on this river than any of you jessies ever will so you might as well not try. And she caught it right in the place I told her she wouldn't catch anything.

Does everyone understand that we're camping about two river miles upstream from the Bell Witch cave? Maybe that should have been disclosed earlier, too. On a possibly related note, check the "Sun and Moon Tables" link in the upper right.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Oven, Cure Thyself

The pre-trip dutch oven curing ritual took place yesterday. After measuring the depths of conventional ovens all over town, we figured only Mike would have one big enough and hot enough to do the job.

First, the Grand Masters talk cast iron. They are not happy the new pot isn't a Lodge, but they're happy it's a Big Motherfucker.

Ready for transport.

Wrasslin' a pot.

All lubed up and ready for the oven.

How deep is your love?

Not deep enough! Had to move to the outdoor smoker.

Hotter than hell. A few hours later, after careful monitoring by several members with ritualistic beverages, Mike predicted the pot "must be fucking bloody orange in there". He was right, and it was so hot the wooden handle on the grill combusted spontaneously (true story). Keep your receipt, Mike.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Report From the Tiki Bar

This is the picture of a man who knows how to throw an organizational meeting.

Rob checked the pressure on the lantern.
Bluebell checked the pressure on Rob.

The only thing we'll say here is "don't Google this drink".
What a great surprise.

And we got lots of business done, believe it or not....

First, the river's still hanging tight at just under 6 feet after peaking at 7.5.

We reserved the Vanderbilt trailer. There was some debate about the canoe capacity. This picture from a previous trip shows that it's six.

Plus cargo...

It looks like the final head count is going to be 14 members. We will need at least eight canoes, probably nine, to carry all of our gear. Paging Dr. do need to bring a canoe instead of a kayak. That way we can have a couple of solos to create extra space and maybe pull one mule canoe. Which we'll need because the 3-Gallon Big Mother Oven only held the record for 10 days. Yesterday, just before the meeting, we found the new 5-Gallon, Who-Knows-How-Much-It-Weighs Big Motherfucker Dutch Oven at Friedman's just by accident. If we can't find a stove big enough to cure the Big M'rF'r (a real possibility) we'll submerge it for an artificial reef habitat.

By my count we have at least six canoes just among the members going (Skip 2 or 3, Tim 1, Jim M. 1, Josh 1 Chris 1). We could rent more from Vanderbilt with the trailer, but an alert Member observed that for the price of renting two canoes we could buy a Club mandolin. We'll scrape up a few more ourselves.

Also established at the meeting...

Departure time: 6:30 am.

Breakfast: Keysburg Store.

Lunch: Tim.

Beer: Jim, Bob.

Coffee: Skip.

Fags: Josh.

Magic Wand: Mike.

Dinner & Sunday Breakfast: Rob.

Guitars: Rob, Roy....

.....Rob Roy was the name of the canoe (and now a style of canoe) used by John MacGregor who wrote the classic "A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe Through the Rivers and Lakes of Europe" in 1866. MacGregor was a lawyer, with a degree in mathematics and a passion for canoeing. He basically invented recreational paddling, especially canoe trekking. The RRCC still draws inspiration from his style: "After taking on supplies at Gravesend, I shoved off into the tide, and lit a cigar, and now I felt we had fairly started."

MacGregor was a man who appreciated his canoe:

At Lagny, where we meant to breakfast, I left the Rob Roy with a nice old gentleman, who was fishing in a nightcap and spectacles, and he assured me he would stop there two hours. But when I scrambled back to it through the mill (startling the miller's men among their wholesome dusty sacks), the disconsolate canoe was found all alone, the first time she had been left in a town an "unprotected female."

He also knew why a canoe is the best way to travel:

As the canoe voyager sits in his little bark, he looks forward, and not backward. He sees all his course, and the scenery besides. With one sweep of his paddle he can turn aside when only a foot from destruction. He can steer within an inch in a narrow place, and can easily pass through reeds and weeds, or branches and grass; can work his sail without changing his seat; can shove with his paddle when aground, and can jump out in good time to prevent a bad smash. He can wade and haul his craft over shallows, or drag it on dry ground, through fields and hedges, over dykes, barriers, and walls; can carry it by hand up ladders and stairs, and can transport his canoe over high mountains and broad plains in a cart drawn by a man, a horse, or a cow.

ou can lie at full length in the canoe, with a sail as an awning for the sun, or a shelter for rain, and you can sleep at night under its cover, or inside it when made for that purpose, with at least as much room for turning in your bed as sufficed for the great Duke of Wellington; or, if you are tired of the water for a time, you can leave your boat at an inn--where it will not he "eating its head off," like a horse; or you can send it home, or sell it, and take to the road yourself, or sink back again into the lazy cushions of a first-class carriage, and dream you are seeing the world.

it may well be asked from one who thus praises the paddle, "Has he travelled in other ways, so as to know their several pleasures? Has he climbed glaciers and volcanoes, dived into caves and catacombs, trotted in the Norway carriole, ambled on an Arab, and galloped on the Russian steppes? Does he know the charms of a Nile boat, or a Trinity Eight, or a Yankee steamer, or a sail in the Ægean, or a mule in Spain? Has he swung upon a camel, or glided in a sleigh, or sailed a yacht, or trundled in a Bantoone?"

Yes, he has thoroughly enjoyed these and other modes of locomotion, fast and slow. And now having used the canoe in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, he finds the pleasure of the paddle is the best of them all.

such advantages, then, and with good weather and good health, the canoe voyage about to be described was truly delightful.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Camp Cookie: "Mai Tai Suggest a Drink?"

From The Tennessean

Make a Mai Tai Like It Was Meant to be Made


Staff Writer

January 27, 2006

I've been on a tiki bender this week with the review of Omni Hut and another story on the enduring fascination of retro-tiki culture, so we might as well go ahead and make it a tiki trifecta.
The undisputed heavyweight of tiki drinks is the mai tai. Just exactly who invented it remains a friendly point of cocktail contention.

Some believe the mai tai was invented more than 60 years ago by Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, who later changed his name to Donn Beach to match his popular Don the Beachcomber bars and restaurants. As the father of the modern tiki craze, Beach claimed to have come up with the recipe in Hollywood in 1933.

That story sticks in the craw of a certain Victor J. Bergeron, later known as Trader Vic and founder of the restaurants that still bear his nickname.

As legend, and the Trader Vic Web site, have it, Bergeron was fooling around with a new rum-based concoction when he shared the drink with friends from Tahiti, Ham and Carrie Guild. Overcome with happiness, Carrie Guild exclaimed, ''Mai Tai, Roa Ae!'' which apparently means ''Out of this world -- the best.'' Who could pass up a segue like that? That year was 1944, and the mai tai birthday claimed by Trader Vic.

Since Vic seems to have the most documentation, and for me, the best recipe, let's stick with his story. Bergeron started with a 17-year-old Jamaican rum, certainly a luxury, but most aged rums will work. I'm partial to Zaya, a Guatemalan rum barrel-aged for 12 years. He continued with fresh-squeezed lime juice, orange Curaçao, orgeat (almond syrup) and rock-candy syrup.
If all that sounds way too strange and complicated, don't worry. All those ingredients are easy to find, or make at home, and it's worth every bit of the effort, especially when your friends take a moment to peer over the umbrella straw in the tiki mug and crack a knowing grin.
Sadly, most folks, including many bartenders, don't take the time to make them right. Mai tais have suffered the gooey, sticky indignity that too often happens to simple, classic cocktails. Things such as pineapple and orange juice get introduced, and then come the pre-mixes in bottles. Even Bergeron and the Trader Vic corporation bottle their own pale mix that can never replicate the original recipe. So, in the interest of proper cocktailing, I'm going to hold your hand and walk you through this one.

o Start with 2 ounces of aged rum in a cocktail shaker.
o Add 1/2 ounce of orgeat, an almond syrup found at coffee houses such as Fido in Hillsboro Village. It should look a little cloudy.
o Now add 1/2 ounce of orange Curacao, available at most liquor stores. The DeKuyper brand is most common.
o Add 1/4 ounce of ''rock candy syrup.'' This is a simple bar syrup, generally made by boiling equal parts sugar and water (by volume) until the sugar dissolves. Let it cool and keep it in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for a week at the most. To replicate the old-fashioned rock candy taste, just add a couple drops of vanilla extract to the syrup.
o Next, add the juice of one lime, reserving the lime shell.
o Now add cracked ice and give it a good, vigorous shake.
o Pour, unstrained, with ice into a tiki glass. Garnish with a mint sprig and half a lime shell.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tiki Meeting

Roy says be at his house around 7:00 tomorrow (Thursday, May 4).

Address is 4000 Crestridge. Here are the directions: from Hillsboro Rd, go east on Woodmont toward 100 Oaks and Crestridge is next to last street before Franklin Rd. Turn right, go to 4-way stop at Caldwell, and after stop it is the 4th house on the left .

Roy popped the question at his tiki bar. Too bad Tina has her eyes closed.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Watching the River Flow

Here is the information on how to read the gauges and specifically what the readings mean for our trip. This is also a complete re-post from November except I've modified the sentence "This is a tricky time of year to float the Red River". And the image of the water level graph is from today (May 2) instead of November.

It's always a tricky time of year to float the Red River. It hasn't rained in months, but it looks like it's about to and we'll need to keep an eye on the river level. Too much and it's dangerous, too little and it's a hike instead of a paddle. Especially with loaded canoes. Although as long as we're not hauling a bunch of cast iron cookware and beer, I'm sure we'll be fine...

There's a link on the right that shows the USGS gauges for Tennessee. Scroll down to Montgomery County and find the Port Royal gauge on the Red River. Ignore the first graph ("Discharge/cubic feet per second") and go to the second that shows gauge height in feet.

Here's what it looks like today

Here is the "What It Means To Us" scale for this section of the Red:

3.0 Anything with a 3 in front of it is very low. Upper 3's is passable but lots of dragging. Lower 3's is probably just not worth it and we'll go to a different river.

4.0 Low 4's is ok. Occasional dragging with an empty boat, more if heavy. Upper 4's and our section can be floated pretty much the whole way without dragging if you know how to find the deeper channels.

5.0 Ideal. When the Red is in the 5's it makes a perfect, lazy float trip.

6.0 Ditto. Except add adjectives like "fast" and "fun".

7.0 Getting pushy.

8.0+ Time to go to Knoxville for the big game.

Also, before praying for rain and a 6.5 next weekend, keep in mind that some (maybe most) of the best gravel bars may be underwater at that level. The RRCC archives say that the river was at 4.1 feet when the pictures of the campsite were taken (see below). We might float right over the top of that one if the river is two feet higher.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Red River Campsite (Reprint)

The following was posted in November when we were trying to go to the Red River for the fall trip. Since we're trying again for the same spot it's all still relevant, even if it sounds a little dated. I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.

The choice of campsites on the Red depends on water level to some extent, but I say we aim for the small, second island at the mouth of Sturgeon Creek. The big island is high and wooded, but the one just downstream has a nice, long bar with water on three sides (it's really an "island" only in flood).

The islands are about two-thirds of the way through the 16-mile trip. Probably four hours of paddling assuming low water.

Click on any of these to zoom in...

This is a photo looking upstream from below the islands. The two tall trees in the center background are on the large island...

From La Pavilion to La Penninsula! Standing on the gravel bar, looking downstream...

This shot is taken from the large island, looking downstream at the campsite:

Keep in mind, the scenery won't be quite the same in November. Stuart, can your guys superimpose a light dusting of snow on these images?