Tuckerman's Ravine @ Mount Washington, NH

Marina and I at the beginning of the hike

Several weeks back, my uncle called me and mentioned he was coming out to New England to visit.  As part of the visit, he planned to hike to Mount Washington's Tuckerman's Ravine.  This natural structure is near the summit of the tallest mountain in the Northeastern United States.  He told me that the four and a half mile hike is fairly easy, but it is a constant struggle, not much flat area.  He also mentioned that he would like my wife to come along as well.  I had no problem making the hike, but Marina, who is originally from Brazil, was a little more skeptical about hiking up the massive mountain in wintery conditions, as she is an inexperienced hiker.  Nevertheless, we decided it would be worth the trip, and met up with my uncle, father, and brother on a cold Saturday morning to make the hike.

approaching the bowl

My brother, who is an avid snowboarder, had decided to bring along his board, so that he could ride the ravine.  As well pulled in we learned that the trail was pretty icey.  Marina was able to use my fathers Microspikes to maintain traction, while the rest of us used poles.  The Microspikes worked spectacularly, and Marina was able to traverse up ice covered terrain with almost no delay or caution, I definitely need to look into getting a pair for each of us.  The hike took about 2 hours to reach the top, with several small breaks to catch our wind and admire the beautiful views around us.

L to R (Brother, Me, Marina, Uncle)

We reached the top of the bowl and were treated to a glorious view of the summit, Tuckerman's Ravine, the neighboring Wildcat mountain, and a bunch of other hikers and skiiers enjoying the lovely day.  It was incredibly sunny, and I quickly realized a sunburn was forming.  Luckily, I was drinking beers and was not about to allow a little sunburn to ruin a great afternoon.  After watching some great ski runs and hanging out with the locals, our beer supply was depleted and we decided to head back down.  It only took us an hour and a half on the way back, and a good amount of snow had melted.  The weather was absolutely perfect for a winter hike, roughly 40 degrees and not windy nor a cloud in the sky.

We were pretty wiped out at the end of the day, and my legs and hips were certainly sore the next day, a desk job and hiking are two mutually exclusive professions!  We drank a couple more beers back at my other aunt and uncle's condo at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, NH and crashed around 10pm.  We drove back to CT the next day, but the hike was awesome, and we are considering going back in the warm months.

This was the best run we viewed all day:

my father going nuts in the white.

my brother, marina and myself in the top right small group, just chillin


Mad Men and Game of Thrones

The past couple weeks of television viewing have been simply amazing. Two of my favorite shoes on the air are in stride; Game of Thrones and Mad Men. These two shows could not be more different, but they both are spectacularly well-produced and the acting is terrific. The fact that both shows are on Sunday evenings is icing on the cake to a great weekend.

Game of Thrones has had a number of exciting new developments. King Renly is toast after dismissing the offer of his brother Stannis and his red priestess, more on her later. Mrs. Stark seems likely to offer up the Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister, in exchange for what she believes to be her two daughters. Although, unbeknownst to everyone, Arya has just been selected as Tywin Lannister’s newest assistant. Joffrey is developing into the cruelest character of the season, ordering the brutal treatment of women all around him. Cersei has taken a new lover, another relative, whodathunkit? Tyrion is just being an all around boss and is quickly becoming my favorite character. The Red Priestess birth scene of a shadow beast was the most disturbing scene of the series so far, and spells bad news for Mr. Renly Baratheon.

Mad Men’s episode was quite “trippy” in more ways than one. The most striking aspect of the show is the disjointed flow of time, that tracks the day through the eyes of three characters; Roger, Don, and Peggy. Roger takes LSD with his wife with the famous Professor Leary, and ultimately ends in their divorce. Great scene with the Stoli vodka bottle and the cigarette, I really enjoyed the woman crawling over the place. Don and Megan have another tumultuous day, involving 6 hour drives to Lake Placid and a fight that ends in Don chasing her around their Manhattan apartment. Peggy is strung out from work, and is quickly morphing into Don, only that she is a woman, and will never be able to act like Don can in this Madison Avenue world. I enjoyed the episode, and think it sets up nicely for the second half of the season, as Don realizes he needs to get his focus back at work, which was always my favorite aspect of the series.


Book Review: The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

I purchased the Omnivore's Dilemma at a thrift store for $2.00 a few months ago, and it had been sitting on my shelf for awhile.  I delved into it one lazy weekend, and although it took me the better part of a month to read, it was very eye-opening and enjoyable.  I first heard about the book, through the film Food Inc, which I highly recommend as well.  Both works cover the modern food industry, which is very different from the rest of human history's food, and the resulting effects on our planet and our bodies.

I obviously care about food a great deal, as I believe what you eat is literally what you are.  If you constantly eat crappy fast food and sweets, then thats what you become.  Food expenditures in the US these days are at the lowest percentage of family income of all time, and the plethora of options available at the supermarkets has never been bigger.  The Omnivore's Dilemma helps us to navigate this new situation, and helps us to understand how the food gets to our table, and the answers are surprising.

I do not want to give the book away, but Pollan discusses the world's most plentiful crop corn, which is in nearly everything we eat.  He discusses how this organism has evolved to be perfect for human needs and allowed it to take over vast amounts of land.  He also discusses the organic food system, and how at its ideal, this is an excellent way of thinking about food, but in practice mirrors many of the less tasteful things about the rest of the industry.  Next he lives with Joel Salatin (pictured above), owner/farmer of Polyface Farm, which is my favorite section of the book.  Finally he examines hunting and foraging, which is how human ancestors ate for centuries, before agriculture.

The book is great, and is a good read, as Pollan is able to make the topic very readable.  It is also enlightening, especially about something that we spend a good portion of every day doing, but maybe do not think about enough...


Red Sox Start the Season...Slowly...

Boston Red Sox nation has a lot to fear in 2012.  What with last year's 2-10 start, and the collapse in September, the horrifying disappointment of $175 million dollars being wasted without even tasting the playoffs.  This year brings a lot of questions, most of them regarding pitching, as our commanding offense is set to be one of the stalwarts of the year.  A new manager, who has not exactly been welcomed into the fold, Bobby Valentine is very different from Terry Francona.

Personally, I am excited and hopeful for the season, and I eagerly awaited the first series against the Detroit Tigers.  However, the series did not go as planned, with 2 heart-breaking losses where save opportunities were blown, both by named closer, Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon. The other game was just a brutal beat down where our co-ace Josh Beckett gave up five homerun balls.

Luckily, we were able to salvage a win Monday night in Toronto against the Blue Jays who many believe are going to have a solid campaign this year.  Our enemies in New York also started 0-3 against division rivals Tampa Bay.  This means 4 solid teams in the American League East, not the best place to call home.

I predict that the offensive firepower will carry the Red Sox to the playoffs and 90 regular season wins.  I like Bobby V so far, and I think he will do just fine.  As long as the pitching situation doesn't completely unravel, the Sox should be OK in 2012.


Dogfish Head: Palo Santo Marron

This incredibly heavy brown ale, aged on Palo Santo Marron wood by Dogfish Head is a definite sipper.  This beer weighs in at 12% ABV, so it is no slouch.  Although very complex and a ton of different flavors going on, I do not love the beer.  It is , but I would rather something a little more drinkable.


Celtics Embarrass the Heat, Continue to Win

I am a huge NBA fan, basketball is awesome, and while I have enjoyed the NCAA College Basketball Tournament, the Celtics are my true passion.  I have been stressfully following this lockout shortened season, and may have even overreacted about the Celtics in February.  However, they have turned it around in a big way, capped off by beating the Miami Heat in Boston Sunday afternoon.  They have been without Ray Allen for the past few weeks, but my boy Avery Bradley has stepped in and really delivered.

The Celtics win was the largest point differential loss that the Heat have faced this year.  Rajon Rondo went absolutely nuts, achieving his 18th triple double, and making the Heat PGs, Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers look like mannequins.  Pierce and Garnett both had great games, with Garnett absolutely shutting down Chris Bosh, and playing physical and angry as usual.  However, I was most impressed with Avery Bradley.  He was able to completely shut down former NBA Finals MVP, Dwyane Wade, blocking him in the dunk below.  This is a pretty impressive achievement for the youngster, who has really come into his own with Ray on the sidelines.

The Celtics have been 10-1 without Ray, which is pretty scary, if he is able to come back soon and keep up his hot shooting from the beginning of the season.  I think Ray should start, but he is a bit of a liability on defense, but his offense makes up for it.  Playing Kevin Garnett at center is a risk that Doc Rivers has taken to try and get more active and allow the offense to not be bogged down by a slow big like the useless Jermaine O'Neal or Shaq.  Greg Stiemsma is still raw, but he is playing with heart!  Pierce is still playing solid, and if he is on, then he is going to draw the best defensive player, leaving the other Celtics open to score baskets.

I am not saying they are going to win the NBA championship this year, but the Celtics are looking great.  My only fear is that they are peaking too soon, theres still 3 weeks until the playoffs start.