Best Christmas Ever

The Fry Family Quartet just wrapped up a week in Grafton, Vermont, with the family with whom we’ve made the most memories over the years. Brian, Jesse, JoJo and Becca were amazing hosts, tour guides and playmates. We went hiking, skiing, swimming, and made snow forts. We made cookies, tenderloin, ham and ginger bread houses. We watched James Bond, Harry Potter, Rudolph and Elf. We shopped, played board games and lit fires. We told stories, laughed and cried. And, despite my speeding ticket in Felchville, we all agreed it was the best Christmas vacation on record. We love you BE, Jess, JoJo and Becca. Can’t wait to do it all again in Bellingham.

Advertisements

Oysterfest

Having house guests is a major motivator to do things you’ve never done or things you rarely do. Visiting Taylor Shellfish Farm, hiking to Teddy Bear Cove, roasting marshmallows in the backyard and cleaning the house made the list this weekend as a result of a visit from our good friends, the Kielys.

There are many positive aspects of a Kiely family visit. One thing we always look forward to is letting Paul have his way with our kitchen. This weekend Paul outdid himself. Saturday’s dinner involved oysters and two amazing salads. Sunday’s lunch: oyster poboys.

Teddy Bear Cove band photo

We thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. Kielys are welcome back to Fry Lodge anytime.

Beer Relations 

I spent three days in San Antonio, TX this week at the National Rural Economic Developers Association conference. While there, I took a great tour of the old Pearl Brewery, which became Pabst Brewing Company (PBC) for the last 15 years of operation, until it closed in 2001. This is where they brewed PBR, Pearl, Old English 800, Olympia Beer. You know, quality American beers. Kristine’s cousin Aaron lives in Austin, so he drove down to meet me for dinner before my flight home to Seattle. We decided to meet at the old Pearl Brewery, now known as The Pearl District. 

When Aaron arrived, he told me something I never knew: he used to be the chief microbiologist for PBC in the 1990s. He proceeded to give me my 2nd tour of the old brewery in two days. I learned more about the brewing process in a few hours with Aaron than I’ve learned after decades of beer drinking. Part of the old brewery has been converted into the very cool Hotel Emma, which has a reading library for guests. On a shelf on the 2nd floor of that library are the old, handwritten brewer’s journals where Aaron, in pen, would record the tests of every batch of beer that came out of the brewery between 1993 and 1997. He taught me about the acceptable levels of  bacteria and what his  “TMTC”  notations meant (Too Many To Count).  It is likely that Aaron tested almost every can of PBR I consumed as a young man. If I knew then what I know now…

Aaron, former PBC Chief Microbiologist, reviewing his handwritten notes from nearly 25 years ago. 

Almost Home 

After 4000 miles, 12 campsites, 7 states, 3 provinces, 2 rodeos, 100s of bison and probably 3 gallons of ice cream, our 2017 summer RV trip is almost complete. Currently in Winthrop, our last stop, only one mountain pass and a 3-hour drive stands between us and our own beds. 

We sped through the Big Sky state so we could have a nice 2-day visit in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where Grandma and Grandpa Fry hosted us for a much needed pit stop. We had Grandpa’s famous ribs, Grandma’s delicious scones, and, of course, more ice cream. 

Having spent the past three weeks driving through forests, grasslands and corn fields, it was nice to spend some time on the water. This weekend we took two boat rides on beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene. Grandpa gave the kids driving lessons, which made the excursions pretty interesting. 

We packed a lot into three weeks. Though we’re happy to get back to Fry Lodge, some of us are already planning the next road trip. And ice cream cone. 

Romance and Sex Life of the Date 

The headline worked on us, too. This is what the sign says in front of Shields Date Garden on Highway 111 in Indio, CA. After a four year hiatus, we’re back in the Coachella Valley to visit my mom and dad for spring break. We’d been craving a date shake ever since hearing about them, so Carl and Kaye took us to Shields today for some date education. The roadside attraction’s short film, Romance and Sex Life of the Date, taught us about this fruit’s unlikely existence. Apparently, there exist no insects to pollinate date palm trees, so date farmers must perform that process. Also, dates are of course not native to the desert, so growing them is quite a natural resource and labor intensive endeavor. Which is probably why no other place is likely to replace Coachella Valley as the date capitol of the world anytime soon. Ninety five percent of the dates grown in the U.S. come from the Valley. 

After learning about the sex life of the date, we paid $5.00 a piece to stroll through the garden behind the date souvenir shop, where the owners have constructed 14 scenes from the life of Jesus Christ.