Friday, February 20, 2009


We're going to need to have a special, emergency pre-trip meeting at Brown's next week to decide how we're going to get our Cubs tickets. We got shut out trying to buy tickets the honest way, even with several RRCC members manning the phone lines and

Who set this thing up anyway?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Better let us know ASAP if you want a Cubs ticket. Buying them tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, our man in Chicago has already had a pre-trip meeting....with Ralph Frese!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rebel Stimulus Package

Single game tickets for the Cubs go on sale next Friday, February 20. Since they will sell out the same day, we're going to have to get some kind of head count for the Spring Trip by then. If you can't commit yet, that's fine, but you'll have to find your own ticket to the game later.

Although this trip sounds exotic, we are implementing some cost saving measures to make it affordable:

1. Instead of paying the usual per trip dues, we'll only collect based on actual costs for the fixed price items and then it will be every man for himself on food and drink.

2. We'll sit General Admission in the bleacher seats at the Cubs game.

3. General Admission means Old Style, not Heineken.

4. We're taking the trailer because that's what we bought a trailer for, not to cut costs. However, the savings will be significant. No airfare, no canoe rental, no shuttle, no cabs.

5. Instead of multiple hotel rooms, we'll just bring along the fart sacks and sleep on the floor of one room (although we may splurge and get snoring and non-snoring rooms depending on who's going).

So here is a best estimate of cost per person (based on an arbitary number of 8 members):

Gas: $18 ($150 total)
Hotel: $50 ($400 one suite/two nights)
Cubs: $25 (each)

Other costs:

- Food will be more pizza-and-beer-at-Lou-Malnati's than steak-and-merlot-at-The-Palm. In fact, dinner Saturday night may be at the ballpark. Estimate: $100 each

- "Depends" Adult Diapers (part of a proven seat saving strategy in the bleacher section at Wrigley - more details later). Estimate: $5 each

- Ready-rolls: $2 each


Total estimated cost per member including travel, Cubs game, Chicago River trip, lodging, food and drink for three days: $200


Thursday, February 05, 2009


On the Spring Trip, not only do we get to paddle the Chicago River, we'll also be visiting one of the most unique and historic outdoor sports venues in the world. A place on the north side of Chicago whose ivy covered walls draw fans from all over the world.

And we're not talking about Wrigley Field.

What makes the Chicagoland Canoe Base so special?

For one thing, it is...

Not just because they say so.

What if you broke the rubber mast grommet on your 1947 Grumman sailing canoe while sailing around Dale Hollow Lake? Where would you look for one?

Or let's say you needed a 12' spruce canoe pole with a brass setting shoe so you could float down the shallow Middle Tennessee rivers the traditional way (and pole upstream when you don't have a shuttle). Where would you get one of those if you don't live in Maine or New Hampshire?

(Notice they even correspond about canoe transactions the traditional way, just like this)

Or maybe you discovered that those simple foam block canoe carriers you got at Wal-Mart don't fit plastic gunwales and aluminum gunwales and wood gunwales all the same way . Who would carry all the specialty foam blocks you need to solve that problem? Who even knew that was a problem?

But C.C.B. is much more than a store. They have over 100 rare and unusual canoes in the "Not For Sale" collection including dugouts from Florida, pirogues from Louisiana, a Caribou Eskimo kayak, outriggers, folding kayaks, a knock-down sectional rowboat found stashed at the top of Chilkoot Pass during the gold rush, a Russian folding baidarka, and many, many many beautiful wood-and-canvas, lapstrake, cedar strip, and rib-and-batten canoes.


The only thing with more character than the Chicagoland Canoe Base is its owner, Ralph Frese.

Ralph is a blacksmith, a canoe designer, a paddle sport historian, and probably the most famous flatwater canoe personality in the world since Verlen Kruger died.

Even though we will be arriving after business hours on Friday, Ralph is going to meet the RRCC at the store Friday night, show us his famous workshop and the canoe collection, and then, as we always like to do with paddling celebrities, join us for a few (Polish) beers around the corner at The Jolly Inn.


It ought to be enough just to say that the section of the Chicago River we are floating has been designated the "Ralph C. Frese Canoe Trail" by Illinois Resolution #07-R-01-10-04.

But, since you are going to meet him, you should also read this: Urban Voyageur and watch this: The Canoe Guru. Just don't call him a farrier.

More great Ralph Frese facts:

He is the designer of the classic hull shape called the Canadienne, which is a model used by many canoe manufacturers like Bell and Old Town. The RRCC once came close to owning one.

He was the driving force behind the 3,000 mile reenactment of the LaSalle expedition from Montreal to New Orleans on its 300th anniversary.

He makes reproduction birchbark war canoes. Some of which are currently for sale in his shop:

That is Ralph in the bow on Lake Michigan (and we are going to need a bigger canoe trailer).

So all of you jessies who are thinking about going to some damn college reunion or something instead of Chicago, this is a rare opportunity to meet someone truly important in our hobby. Ralph is 80 and about to retire. Chicagoland is for sale. It is probably your last chance.

And if our Friday night with Ralph is even half as much fun as this one was it will be well worth it.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Smokin' a Fattie

Looks like we're going to have to take Ol' Smoky to Chicago. So watch out for Mrs. O'Leary's cow.


From the New York Times, Jan. 28, 2009:

The Bacon Explosion was born shortly before Christmas in Roeland Park, Kan., in Jason Day’s kitchen. He and Aaron Chronister, who anchor a barbecue team called Burnt Finger BBQ, were discussing a challenge from a bacon lover they received on their Twitter text-messaging service:

What could the barbecuers do with bacon?

The result is modestly called by its inventors “The BBQ Sausage Recipe of all Recipes.” The instructions for constructing this massive torpedo-shaped amalgamation of two pounds of bacon woven through and around two pounds of sausage and slathered in barbecue sauce first appeared last month on the Web site of a team of Kansas City competition barbecuers.

Mr. Day, a systems administrator who has been barbecuing since college, suggested doing something with a pile of sausage. “It’s a variation of what’s called a fattie in the barbecue community,” Mr. Day said. “But we took it to the extreme.”

He bought about $20 worth of bacon and Italian sausage from a local meat market. As it lay on the counter, he thought of weaving strips of raw bacon into a mat.

The two spackled the bacon mat with a layer of sausage, covered that with a crunchy layer of cooked bacon, and rolled it up tight.

They then stuck the roll — containing at least 5,000 calories and 500 grams of fat — in the Good-One Open Range backyard smoker that they use for practice. (In competitions, they use a custom-built smoker designed by the third member of the team, Bryant Gish, who was not present at the creation of the Bacon Explosion.)

Mr. Day said his wife laughed the whole time. “She’s very supportive of my hobby,” he said.

The two men posted their adventure on their Web site two days before Christmas. On Christmas Day, traffic on the site spiked to more than 27,000 visitors.
Mr. Chronister explained that the Bacon Explosion “got so much traction on the Web because it seems so over the top.”

The Bacon Explosion posting has since been viewed about 390,000 times. It first found a following among barbecue fans, but quickly spread to sites run by outdoor enthusiasts, off-roaders and hunters. (Several proposed venison-sausage versions.) It also got mentions on the Web site of Air America, the liberal radio network, and National Review, the conservative magazine. Jonah Goldberg at wrote, “There must be a reason one reader after another sends me this every couple hours.” linked, too.

So did regular people. A man from Wooster, Ohio, wrote that friends had served it at a bon voyage party before his 10-day trip to Israel, where he expected bacon to be in short supply. “It wasn’t planned as a send-off for me to Israel, but with all of the pork involved it sure seemed like it,” he wrote.

About 30 people sent in pictures of their Explosions. One sent
a video of the log catching fire on a grill.

Mr. Day said that whether it is cooked in an oven or in a smoker, the rendered fat from the bacon keeps the sausage juicy. But in the smoker, he said, the smoke heightens the flavor of the meats.

Nick Pummell, a barbecue hobbyist in Las Vegas, learned of the recipe from Mr. Chronister’s Twittering. He made his first Explosion on Christmas Day, when he and a group of friends also had a more traditional turkey. “This was kind of the dessert part,” he said. “You need to call 911 after you are done. It was awesome.”

But they do vigorously defend their method. When one commenter dared to suggest that the two hours in the smoker could be slashed to a mere 30 minutes if the roll was first cooked in a microwave oven, Mr. Chronister snapped back. “Microwave??? Seriously? First, the proteins in the meats will bind around 140 degrees, so putting it on the smoker after that is pointless as it won’t absorb any smoke flavor,” he responded on his site. “This requires patience and some attention. It’s not McDonald's.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Hang On, Shoupi. Shoupi, Hang On.

Passing along a PSA from Camp Cookie:

Dear Friends,

How many times have you washed your car in the driveway and thought nothing of it? Too many, if you're like us, never considering where all those bubbles and chemicals went or their impact on the local landscape.

We mention the car-washing example as a simple introduction to a project we're involved with that has the potential for tremendous local impact. This project encompasses everything from educating people on environmental awareness to helping save the habitat of a creature on the brink of extinction.

Meet Orconectes shoupi, better known as the Nashville Crayfish. Once a native of many of our city's creeks, stream and rivers, it's now found only in the waters of Mill Creek, a waterway that feeds directly into the Cumberland River.

This endangered crustacean is threatened in a number of ways, including a major marina project and the general degradation of water quality upstream.

The Nashville Crayfish project was created as an effort to educate folks about storm drains and sewers and why certain activities, like washing your car in your driveway, can send detergents directly into our waterways.

Simply put, this ambitious project plans to place 10,000 educational door-hangers in neighborhoods and spray paint the hundreds of storm drain inlets and covers in the Mill Creek area. Specifically, it targets the drains that lead directly into Mill Creek, where water is not treated before entering the creeks and streams.

We learned about this project from our friend John Robbins, an aquarist at the Nashville Zoo, who is spearheading this effort. John can mobilize dozens of volunteers through the zoo, but he needs help raising money to buy materials. That's why we wanted to help.

What we like about this project is the immediate effect it can have in thwarting an imminent danger. The Nashville Crayfish is on the Federal Endangered Species list, and is part of the biodiversity that makes our state and waterways unique. Tennessee boasts more endemic species of fish than all of Europe combined. Moreover, Tennessee's waterways are home to more endemic mussel, fish, and crayfish species than anywhere else in North America.

Thank you in advance for your consideration. Any help you can offer would be so helpful and appreciated.


Suzanne and Jim Myers

For more information, please contact John Robbins at 615-833-1534 x161 or

Tax deductible donations may be sent directly to the Nashville Zoo and earmarked for the Nashville Crayfish Project:

John Robbins
The Nashville Zoo
3777 Nolensville Road
Nashville, TN 37211
Attn: Nashville Crayfish Project