Homemade Lactose-Free Yogurt – Instant Pot Method

Scoops of creamy, unsweetened yogurt with a hefty drizzle of honey

We love yogurt.  Sadly, both of us have some stomach issues when we eat regular yogurt from the store.  Apparently that is true of a lot of people.  If you are interested, here is some general information from romper.com about what happens to the body when eating lactose: https://www.romper.com/p/6-things-that-happen-to-your-body-when-you-eat-dairy-lactose-intolerant-not-13021983

And if you’re even more interested than that, here is some pretty science-based information from the Denver Naturopathic Clinic about lactose free yogurt, and lactose in general.  http://www.denvernaturopathic.com/lactosefreeyogurt.html

We have tried some yummy yogurt made out of milk that didn’t come from cows. We’ve tried cashew milk yogurt, almond milk yogurt, coconut milk yogurt, goats milk yogurt, soy milk yogurt, and anything else we have discovered. These were fine. they tasted okay, the texture was okay and our stomachs did not get upset.  Yesss!  But there were two issues with virtually all of these. First,  the texture just wasn’t that great.  While it might have appeared thick and creamy, it tasted just creamy. Not thick and creamy. And yogurt that is thick and creamy is just better. Second, all of these yogurts we tried were expensive. 

 

Cost Per Ounce of Dairy Free Yogurt at 3 Supermarkets

So dairy free yogurt that tasted good but not great and isn’t creamy ranges from 25 cents per ounce (with a brand we were not fans of) to 38 cents per ounce for the brand we liked best.  When we made the yogurt ourselves it was thick, creamy, tasty, lactose free AND cheaper.

To make it, we used Fairlife Ultra-Filtered whole milk, which is lactose free.  It was $4.29 for 52 ounces, or 8.2 cents per ounce.  We also used Horizon Organic  Half and Half, which cost $2.29 for 16 ounces, or 14 cents per ounce, and Lifeway Plain Unsweetened Organic Kefir , which cost $4.29 for 32 ounces, or  13.4 cents per ounce.  Using the recipe below, the whole batch of yogurt cost $5.96, for 64 ounces  ($4.29 milk, $1.40 half and half, $0.27 kefir)…that’s 9.3 cents per ounce! And a bonus that is not to be ignored, it tastes FANTASTIC.

So to make this yogurt lactose free, we started with a lactose free milk.  The Fairlife yogurt is lactose free to start with, and has some other fine qualities too. It comes in fat free and 2% but whole milk is what makes this incredibly yummy, creamy yogurt.  It is 160 calories for a cup (20 calories per ounce) and well worth it. Cut back somewhere else.

Details of Fairlife Yogurt
Fairlife® Ultra-Filtered Milk Whole.
50% Less sugar than regular milk.
High quality 13g protein per serving.
9 Essential nutrients.
From cows not treated with rBST†.
Lactose free.
Ingredients
Ultra-Filtered Milk, Lactase Enzyme, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D3.

 

If you’re interested in total calories, the half and half is 40 calories per ounce and the kefir is 20 calories per ounce.  So 64 ounces is 1,480 calories total or 23.13 calories per ounce.   A 6 ounce serving (the largest a single serve cup in the supermarket would be) would be less than 140 calories. Yup.  

A view into the instant pot full of yogurt

 Yogurt after it’s come out of the refrigerator and been stirred up. Ready to eat!

 We topped it off with fresh raspberries and diced green apples, along with a healthy drizzle of raw honey and some homemade granola. 

You can also use this plain, unsweetened yogurt as a savory base for recipes. Any place you would use sour cream, in fact, like in dips or cheesecake!

Homemade Lactose Free Yogurt

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

52 ounces of Fairlife Organic Whole Milk Yogurt

1 1/4 cups Organic Half and Half

2 Tablespoons Organic, unsweetened Kefir with life cultures (remember to shake it before pouring)

  1. Ensure your Instant Pot is clean. If you are not sure it is 100% clear and free of soap or food residue, clean it again.
  2. Pour the milk into the Instant Pot.
  3. Add the half and half.
  4. Add the kefir.
  5. Whisk well.
  6. Put the top on the Instant Pot and seal.
  7. Select the “yogurt” setting and set the timer to 12 hours.  You could probably do less time but if you want it creamy and tangy, try 12 hours the first time.
  8. After 12 hours, open the top and remove the pot. WITHOUT DISTURBING the yogurt (meaning do not store, shake etc.) put a cover on it. We use plastic wrap to seal it. Move the covered pot to the refrigerator for four hours.  You can leave it longer than that if you want to but leave it at least that long.
  9. After at least four hours, stir the yogurt and you’re ready to go!  We store it in a covered glass or plastic container and it will keep for 10 days or so, though it doesn’t usually last that long in our house.  As the days pass some of the liquid may begin to separate, which is perfectly normal and happens with store-bought yogurt too.  You can either strain it when that happens or just serve it with a slotted spoon.

Homemade Chicken Sausage with Sage and Apple

I love breakfast sausage. I would eat it every day if I could.  Well, I suppose I could but that would be a LOT of pork!  I like chicken sausage but the recipes I have tried for it are very dry and I really do not enjoy them as a result.  I bought some ground chicken and literally dreamed that night of a way to make a moist sausage. How convenient!

The raw ingredients…except for almond flour, which I added later on. Nothing but good stuff here.

My theory was that if I added apple sauce instead of egg there would be not just the taste of apple but also moisture instead of dryness. And I wanted to add some veggies so I added grated zucchini, grated onion (both moisture ingredients also) and grated carrot.  I also felt like FRESH sage was important. Have you ever noticed that SAGE is included in the word sauSAGE? Beyond that I included crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, sea salt, fennel and thyme.

Throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix

I literally did just dump all the ingredients into a bowl and mixed it up with my hands. I even remembered to take my wedding ring off first!  After I mixed it up I realized that it was even more moist than I had expected. I added in a tablespoon of almond flour to take up some of that moisture. Coconut flout absorbs moisture and I did consider that (and will probably test that out) but almond flour seemed like a better choice for texture. 

 

Adding almond flour to adjust the texture

 

After combining the ingredients I covered the bowl and put it in the fridge for about half an hour. Again, this was to try to firm them up a bit. I wanted to EAT moist sausage patties but cooking wet patties was not my original idea.

I formed the patties with an ice cream scoop to keep them roughly the same size and dropped them right into a hot cast iron skillet. I added avocado oil to the skillet first because chicken is not a meat that was going to release much, if any, of its own fat and I did not want them to stick.

I cooked the patties 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through.  They browned up pretty dark because of the almond flour but that was okay by me!

We had these for breakfast with a piece of my Peach Blueberry Paleo Dutch Baby pancake and coffee and we thought it was really good!  I think more crushed red pepper would be appropriate next time so I am giving you a range in the recipe!  Enjoy!

Homemade Chicken Apple Sausage

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1/4 cup grated carrot

1/4 cup grated zucchini, liquid squeezed out

1/2 onion, grated, liquid squeezed out

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tsp fresh minced sage

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/8 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes depending on how much heat you like

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp crushed fennel seed

1 pound ground chicken

1 Tbl ground almond flour

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Mixing with your hands works well.  Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Heat a skillet coated with your cooking oil of choice (avocado oil, olive oil, ghee, bacon fat etc.). Drop spoonfuls of the sausage mixture directly into the hot pan. Cook 3 – 4 minutes per side until cooked all the way through.  Remove to a paper-towel lined plate and keep warm until serving.  Makes 14 – 16 patties.

Transition From Zero Adaptive Devices and Life Modifications to Many

Byline: Martha


I don’t remember a time when my back did not hurt. I know there was such a time, but I do not have an active memory of it.  In my early twenties I played a joke on my boss and moved his very heavy oak desk by myself to rearrange his whole office.  I ended up with a back injury that put me down for several weeks and I had to wear something called a “trochanter belt”. In those days I don’t think they made them nice and smooth and sleek and held with velcro, like they seem to now. Mine was canvas and you laced it on each side with hooks and eyes, but it did help.  After recovering from that injury I was still able to do hiking, aerobics etc. and I do not remember feeling limited, or having to adapt my life to my physical capabilities, but I think that was the beginning.

 

At this stage of my life (I am 52) I have had to incorporate a walker, a wheelchair when traveling, crutches, a series of braces, a handicap sticker and currently the use of a motorized scooter at big stores.  I don’t have to use all these things at once and some days I use none of them, but they are all part of the arsenal of daily living.  (note, these are not affiliate links to follow, they are just to show you what these items are.) I have at least 8 grabber/reachers in my home and office and car http://Link: http://a.co/d/9VOpqDk.   I cannot bend over. I cannot pick things up that are more than about ten pounds. I have to wear flats…most of the time sneakers with adaptive laces in them because I cannot get down there to tie them  http://Link: http://a.co/d/e3uivgL, and I slip them on using a long-handled shoe-horn http://Link: http://a.co/d/7oEWYqu. I put my socks on with the help of a sock-assist. http://Link: http://a.co/d/bJZe8F9 I need a stool or a curb to climb into my husband’s truck.  I can drive, but only in my own car with some adaptive equipment that allows me to see what would otherwise be a blind spot, and only if the pain is not so bad that I need a narcotic. We re-did our master bathroom, closet, laundry room and now kitchen so I can utilize them alone and safely and I feel VERY fortunate to have been able to do that. I am not complaining, I am just telling you how my life is.  If you just look at me, I look fine. That’s true of many people with chronic pain or illness.  But I am not “fine.” I am literally in pain 100% of the time. Sometimes the pain is low-level (meaning a 2 or 3 on my own pain scale) and sometimes it is so hard to bear that I consider going to the hospital (which I have only done if the pain is a 9+ on my own pain scale). I’ve learned that my pain scale is different than other people’s and apparently I have borne a lot more than most people, mostly without complaint and still working.  Again, not bragging, just telling you how my life is.  I do not judge others with chronic pain or chronic illness because I have not walked (or ridden) in their shoes, but I have seen how often that happens and how frustrating it is.

My family’s life is different than it might have been without these issues. My husband has had to leave his career as a massage therapist because of my five surgeries in two years, and he has to do a lot of the work in our house (or has had to prior to modifying parts of our home), including taking the dogs for walks because they are too strong for me, getting things that are upstairs or downstairs, unloading groceries, getting anything at all that is even slightly heavy, Sometimes he has to help me in or out of clothes. He worries if I am driving and often drives me to work and picks me up.  He currently does not go long distances away from home (like more than several hours)  in case I need him. I have not been able to keep commitments to my kids or visit them when they are gone…I have a daughter studying in Amsterdam I cannot currently visit. My youngest daughter has her last dance show at school and I cannot fly there currently because my pelvis may be fractured yet again. Again, I am not complaining, I am just telling you about life.

So here is the longer version of “what happened.” 

As I moved into my 30’s, my neck was more of a pain point than my back, but my back continued to hurt, and I also had migraines all the time…literally for weeks at a time. I ended up in the hospital for 4 days at one point when I was 39 and at that time they thought I had experienced a small stroke.  Eventually it was determined to have been a particularly bad migraine, which left me with some damage. That whole thing led to a diagnosis of “chronic cluster migraines,” which led me to a very persistent doctor who helped me with those, and also led me to a neurosurgeon for the first time.  The migraine doctor helped me find a way to treat the migraines and they were pretty well controlled eventually with medication. The  neurosurgeon told me I needed to have two discs removed/fused.  At 39 I simply was not prepared to hear that and told him no. 

So, that was when I began trying almost everything else. I did physical therapy for years.   I went to a chiropractor for a while I did cortisone injections. I worked with a personal trainer. I tried another physical therapist, and traction. I had breast reduction surgery to remove the very heavy weight hanging on my shoulders and neck (and removed about 5 pounds of tissue then). Eventually I landed at Dartmouth Hitchcock medical and found a fantastic team there, who gave me some relief in my neck via radio frequency ablation. https://www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/pain_mgt/radiofrequency_ablation.html  That was a scary procedure because they go right into your spine but it made me feel SO much better!  It felt so much better for about six months each time I did it, but it didn’t last and did not solve the underlying issue.  By that point both my neck and back hurt and my life activities were getting limited. I couldn’t hike, couldn’t stand for long periods and couldn’t even go shopping with my kids at the mall without needing to lie on a bench crying.  

Work was my main activity, because as the primary breadwinner for the family, my work was a very important thing for the whole family. Everyone else ultimately had to make plans around whether my back or neck or both could handle it. I missed stuff a lot.  And I couldn’t exercise effectively so I gained weight, which did not help my back or neck,. At this stage I was in my mid-40;s and my activities were limited but I adapted with rest, and help from my family. I didn’t need any other help at that point.

In 2014 we moved to Colorado.  About a year and a half into my new job, at a work retreat with our entire leadership team, my left arm went totally numb. It was scary.  I ended up i the emergency room the team there did an MRI and the ER doc came to tell me “your neck is totally jacked.”  That was the exact phrase.  And so began a journey to figure out the problem and the solution. I went first to a very good neurologist, in hopes that there was something to do for me that was non-surgical.  He took one look at the MRI and referred me to a neurosurgeon who he respects very much and is well respected in the Denver area.. When the neurosurgeon saw me he said that I had very advanced osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease needed a three level cervical fusion and was at risk of paralysis if I did not do it, not by just standing around but if I fell, was bumped or was in a car accident. That was sobering so I finally agreed to do it.

 In June of 2016 I had my first spine surgery….an 8+ hour procedure done in two parts to do what turned out to be a 4+ level fusion.  They went in through the front of my neck to fuse levels C3-C4  (an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion), http://bit.ly/ACDF2018 then turned me over and went in through the back to fuse levels C4-C5, C5-C6, C6-C7 and stabilize the whole thing with titanium rods and screws down to T2.  https://www.spinemd.com/treatments/posterior-cervical-fusionThis was a very difficult recovery, and I was terrified throughout most of it because my neck felt so unstable, and also because I choked on food and pills and water (because my trachea was moved out of the way for several hours during the surgery and took a while to recover). There was also a lot of shoulder pain after this surgery because the shoulder muscles are pushed out of the way to get to the spine and take a lonnnngg time to heal. I wore a hard cervical collar for 12 weeks, including while I slept, and by the time that was over that collar was a friend.  When all was said and done, even after 6 months of physical therapy, I have very limited range of motion of my neck, particularly up and down but also side to side.  

Side and front view of Martha’s cervical fusion
It took a very long time to heal from that surgery and I thank heaven that I was young enough and strong enough to get through it more easily than a lot of people apparently do.  Then the back pain amped up.  Back to the surgeon and lots more imaging and discussions.  My advanced arthritis and degenerative disc disease were very evident and the surgeon felt that my best chance was fusing the entire lumbar area.  But we also discovered that I had an old, undiagnosed and un-repaired compassion fracture in my thoracic region. This posed a difficulty because the areas above and below a fusion need to be strong to hold the fusion and mine were not. This led to a more aggressive plan.  The surgeon fused 8 levels…T10 all the way down to S1, in two different procedures on two different days (one through my stomach and one through my back).  
Side view of one part of Martha’s spinal fusion

This started out as a tough initial recovery and a very slow return to work, but steady progress was happening.  Eventually I was able to get back to work full-time, walk, cook, start traveling again  etc.  And then something started feeling weird. To spare you a longer story…my pelvis fractured in two places (once on each side) and two of the bottom screws loosened.  This was exceedingly painful.  They put me on bed-rest and then did surgical procedure number four to fix the fractures, replace the loose screws AND insert bolts into my pelvis to help hold up the weight of my now very heavy spine (the original weight of my body plus about three pounds of titanium). I felt a LOT better almost immediately, despite being battered by so much pain and so many surgeries in a short time span. And then…my pelvis fractured again, in a new location.

It took a while to diagnose and I was in excruciating pain, on bedrest at home and then in the hospital while insurance and my surgeon decided what to do.  Ultimately I had to have another surgery to fix that fracture, which complicated the whole existing recovery. I have seen a bone health specialist and added her to my team, and now do a daily injection of a drug that helps harden and grown bone more quickly. http://forteo.com

Which brings us to now. I was doing fantastically well, or at least I thought so, and was walking unassisted about 3 miles a day, working just about full time at my office (instead of mostly at home) etc. and then YET AGAIN something felt weird in a different spot in my pelvis. Which is where we are now, working through figuring out if I have yet another pelvic insufficency fracture (which is what it feels like to me but the CT scan shows nothing…which also happened the last time), or instability of my SI joint.  https://www.verywellhealth.com/pelvic-insufficiency-fracture-2549686?utm_source=emailshare&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=shareurlbuttons

So, my life is great and I am grateful for a fantastic family, a wonderful job, the availability of superb health insurance, the care of great providers, good friends and the means to make our house work for my needs.  None of this is a pity party. It is to give you a glimpse into the life of someone with chronic pain and degenerative illness…nothing more and nothing less.  If you have questions, ask away. I’m a pretty open book.

 

 

We have been living through a kitchen remodel.  We are not complaining about the overall remodel…we feel super fortunate to be able to do it, despite the home equity loan, and will love having a kitchen that is perfect for us once we are done. But for people who are used to cooking from scratch at least twice a day, and frequently 3 times, plus baking treats and desserts, not having a kitchen has been trying.

ZjqdHPIsQliN12FM2iRk1A.jpg

Morning of demolition

The primary reason why we undertook the remodel of the kitchen is that Martha has undergone a number of spine surgeries and is now living with a need for physical accommodation and accessibility in order to be able to work alone in the kitchen. She cannot bend, cannot reach up high and cannot lift more than a few pounds. This means she can no longer reach low cabinets, can only reach somewhat higher shelves with a reacher or a stool, cannot lift up things like a mixer or a pot full of water and in what we hope is the unlikely event of Martha being in a wheelchair for any length of time, the kitchen would not be easily navigable for her.   Anyway, the kitchen looked lovely, but was no longer safe or effective for solitary Martha utilization.

Before
Before!

As a general rule, we eat pretty healthy.  We eat tons of vegetables, cook things from scratch, do not eat processed foods usually and enjoy foods that are varied.  In addition, Kevin has to eat gluten free and primarily lactose free. Both of us feel a lot better when we are avoiding refined sugar, wheat, and most dairy and eating legumes only occasionally.  This way of eating is pretty close to a Paleo diet but closer to “Primal” (which is Paleo plus high quality dairy) and we are not zealots about it but have honestly found that we feel better.  So long story shorter, both of us enjoy cooking, both of us feel better when we eat lots of veggies and a variety of other fresh foods, and both of are better off avoiding certain foods.

So, we hoped to be able to stick to a pretty health diet without an actual kitchen. Our initial plan was to set up an outdoor kitchen on our deck and use the grill, a steel table, and our instant pot or slow cooker out there.  The first thing we learned is that the outlets on the deck were turned off when the electricity to the kitchen was turned off. So much for that plan.  What ended up happening is we used a mixture of rooms and spaces.  Microwave in the living room (yup. On the marble topped table from Kevin’s late mother), above the white carpet. Dishes in the laundry room sink, which was okay except the counter in the laundry room is virtually non-existent and there are not enough outlets in there to plug in the appliances we wanted to use, which were the electric kettle, the coffee maker and the blender. Refrigerator in the garage. The grill, which is propane, did work still on the deck but it turned out grilling every day was not as fun as we thought and was not as effective for breakfast.  The Instant Pot idea was still reasonable but to Martha’s distress, the best counter space and outlet turned out to be in the guest bathroom. With contractors in and out of the house every day, shutting down that bathroom was not an option and cooking IN the bathroom made Martha squeamish.

Bacon.
Bacon cooking in the great outdoors. You’re welcome neighbors.
camp kitchen
Camp stove on a piece of plywood on top of a saw horses.

So…how did healthy eating go? Not that well to be honest.  We did a steel cut oatmeal in the instant pot, an Instant Pot chili, and Instant Pot stew, quite a few grilled meats, many smoothies…and a bunch of “rip apart a rotisserie chicken and add some baby carrots” type of meals, and a bunch of take out.  Kevin created a “camp kitchen” in the garage and made a few yummy dinners and some breakfast eggs there but the “counter space” arrangement involved here was not ideal, it was not close to a sink, could not be really left unattended for long for safety reasons, and of course still no oven. We did some healthy takeout, but honestly it got old and expensive very quickly.  Even healthy takeout gets cold, and old quickly.  We had much more food that we would usually avoid as the kitchen renovation timeline went on. And we really missed our oven, and our counter space, and our sink with disposal.  These are “first world problems” to be sure and we totally understand that we are lucky to have these problems to complain about.  But boy, we are looking forward to “after!”

Guest bathroom Instant Pot
Guest bathroom Instant Pot…the only time Martha could stand doing this.
Kitchen demolished
Kitchen interrupted

 

   Camping, Finally…Fall in the Colorado Mountains

We finally have gotten around to camping this year. While we would have liked to go much more, Martha’s surgeries this year made that impossible. We do try to get out and camp at least every Columbus Day weekend, and we were happy that we were able to do that. . We stayed at Spruce Grove Campground in western Sedalia, Colorado, near Tarryall  Resevoir. This campground is part of the Pike National Forest and it is really just stunning.

Our camper is a 2016 Lance  model 1995 /w 4seasons package. This package includes better insulation and heated tanks. Last year we ran out of propane and woke up very cold…multiple times, actually. This year we made sure the tanks were both full. As the camper has spent the last year sitting, Kevin double-checked all the systems were working properly. He would do this anyway, even with regular use.

              

The trip to the campground takes, generally, 2 – 21/2 hours, depending on traffic. We left early Friday afternoon. The entrance is easy to drive by. Spruce grove is small but scenic. The sites are mostly level. Setting up our camper takes about 20 – 30 minutes. We were set up by 4.

After we set up we went for a short ride to see the foliage. We stopped at the out flow of the dam the creates the Tarryall Reservoir. We let the dogs wander a bit and took a few photos.

The aspen were quite something. On the way back to camp, Kevin took mental note of the dirt roads, off the main road, for future exploration. Back at the camp site, Kevin took the dogs for a walk and to see who was there. There were not many people that night. We had a nice meal of sausage, onions and peppers with Shiratake noodles. It was very tasty and the noodles  added good texture to the meal. It also rained and was in the 30’s in the morning.

There next day we slept in a bit, because there was no reason not to. Kevin did take the pups out during the night and at first light. After  a hearty breakfast of hash, eggs and bacon and some chatting, we headed out to Buena Vista, to the Brown Dog for snacks and beverages. There is a dog walk area near the regional airport nearby and it was uncrowned, which was nice for the dogs.

After a walk with the dogs we headed back up 24 to 285 towards FairPlay, where we filled up with gas.  We  drove up to Jefferson and turned onto 77 to head back to camp. Back at camp we made a fire and sat by it for a bit, before we added some things to the prior night’s supper, made a salad and settled in for the night. . 

We rented a Honda generator for this trip. The generator was quite quiet and welcome as the heater was run in the evening, and to charge the batteries.

Sunday morning we lazily packed up, hitched up and went home, smelling like the campfire. We can think of a lot worse things.

  • Apple Picking
  • Hiking
  • Ukeleles by Snowshoe Ukulele
(Byline: Kevin)
I had a chance to visit the beautiful rolling hills of Western Massachusetts, and more
importantly, my oldest daughter Emily. I flew into Albany and drove to the Berkshires.
Driving Rt 7 was like driving a well known road. Having lived most of my life in Western
New England, these rural highways feel like that to me.
Emily had a day off and we went hiking in the morning just the two of us. The hike was a
short out-and-back to a small waterfall and the weather was damp with a little rain
falling. In Colorado there is very little humidity, and it was hot, dry summer there. It was

a nice change to hike in the damp, green woods.

Emily walking in the Cascades
Emily’s boyfriend Chris joined us in the afternoon and we went to an apple orchard and
picked half a bushel of Cortland, Honeycrisp, Empire and Macoun apples. Coloradans
do not like to hear it, but the apples in Colorado are, at best, okay. Apples in
Massachusetts are phenomenal, and there is nothing like a ripe, fresh-off-the-tree
apple. I would have thought perhaps it was a case of “absence makes the heart grow
fonder” but Emily also thought they were phenomenal. I wish I could have brought

home a bushel to make applesauce and pie at home.

The apples we did not eat off the trees
The apple orchard
We had some very good barbecue from A-Ok Barbecue. They haven’t been open long
but Emily and Chris are regulars already, and if I lived closer I would be too.
Saturday we drove up Mount Greylock, which is really gorgeous, but the clouds were
low. Then we had a chance to go to the gallery where Emily works, and I got to meet
her boss and gallery owner, XTina Parks. Of “ROAM.” The photos, and the gallery are
absolutely stunning. The gallery is part of the MassMOCA gallery complex, and after
that we went on to some other galleries. I was actually part of a “Living Art” exhibit…it is
ice, with a hole so the participant can jump into icy water. A polar plunge in the gallery.
No, I am not kidding and yes, it is in a gallery space with lighting and a glass for gallery

attendees to watch. It was fun. And cold.

View from Mount Greylock
Chris and Emily in front of an exhibit at MassMOCA
After a dinner at Pho Saigon, in Springfield, with Emily, Chris and Chris’s parents,  I
headed to Chicopee to hang out with my friend Steve, of Snowshoe Ukelele. His ukes

are handcrafted, custom built and have the best sound of any Ukelele I’ve heard.

Emily’s handcrafted Snowshoe Ukulele
Sunday I visited with my Aunt and Uncle and saw my cousin and then had a chance to
see a close family friend. I also picked up an increasingly bad case of hay fever. That
was awesome and made for a delightful flight home.
Seeing good friends was a great bonus, but Emily was the highlight of the trip.
Next weekend: camping in the Pike National Forest as they close out the season

 

  • Breakfast in Georgetown, CO
  • Foliage through Leadville and Buena Vista
  • Where to find GREAT coffee in Buena Vista

Fall Foliage Foray Failure


A Foliage Ride Through Colorado That Did Not Go As Planned But Still Was  a Lot of Laughs

One of the things we really enjoy doing is getting into the truck with the dogs and heading out to enjoy the stunning scenery in Colorado.  If they think we might be going somewhere, both dogs will hang-out so near to us or the truck that they are a nuisance! The fun of herding dogs…they herd you so closely you cannot make a move without them.

We started out our day underprepared but excited. Normally we would have taken a little more time to get our act together but on this particular morning the crew renovating our kitchen showed up quite a bit earlier than we expected.  That meant we had no chance to cook breakfast and the dogs started freaking out about the noise.  So, we set off anyway and decided to grab some breakfast closer to our destination.

This ride was planned to be about 3 – 4 hours, because it was the first lengthy ride we were planning since Martha’s four spine related surgeries since October of 2017, two of which were in the prior 4 months.  We estimated 4 hours would be the max bearable, and that this ride would take about 3.

Setting out, thinking we are going to Guenella Pass

Our destination was Guanella Pass.  The Pass is  in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, west of Denver and south of Georgetown.  The pass links Highway 285 to the south and Interstate 70 to the north, and the whole thing is paved. We had heard from friends that the foliage was looking great and that the ride was gorgeous.

 

We had a really nice ride out to Georgetown.  There was some work-day traffic but it wasn’t too terrible.  As we began to get hungry, we saw the first sign for Guanella Pass and decided to stop in historic Georgetown for breakfast. We chose the top-Yelp-rated restaurant to eat breakfast.  We had seen a suspicious sign that stated the Pass was closed on weekdays but decided that couldn’t be true.  While at the restaurant, though, we learned it was indeed true. No Guanella Pass for us that day.

In Georgetown, laughing at ourselves for not checking if the pass was open

So, we ordered breakfast (which turned out to be a pretty disappointing experience) and Kevin did some replanning of our route, deciding to go down toward Pueblo and Buena Vista and then back up through Colorado Springs and home again Not our original plan, but who cares?

 We had a relatively pleasant ride to Leadville which is an elevation of 10,200 feet. Kevin thought the foliage and views along the way were beautiful but Martha unfortunately started a headache and nausea and “weird feeling” the higher we climbed and thus did not notice the foliage so much. That little bit of altitude sickness left as we descended a little bit until it disappeared entirely.

En Route to Leadville, CO

After stopping at rest area outside of Leadville for some exercise (necessary both us and the dogs) we continued on Route 24 to Buena Vista.  . There is a great coffee shop there called Brown Dog Coffee so obviously we stopped!  Martha’s time sitting was getting a little too extensive so instead of eating there we  took them along for our next exercise break. Pro tip: their coffee is excellent and they ship it anywhere in the U.S.  And if you’re interested, here’s our Yelp review.  

https://www.yelp.com/biz/brown-dog-coffee-buena-vista?hrid=eoSDS4qzGCFwDjFEPZWjDg&utm_campaign=www_review_share_popup&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=(direct)

Treats from Brown Dog Coffee!

We swung into the Antero Reservoir south shore, but it was actually pretty crowded and full of campers so we did not want to let the dogs out. It is gorgeous there, however, and we’ll return to camp at some point. We moved on to a wildlife vantage point for the snack (which was great!)  then next stop Weston Pass visitor center for a view and rest stop. 

View of Mount Massive from one of our stops

After that, smooth sailing all the way home, without traffic or incident, and the construction noise was over by the time we got home…bonus!  The only down side was the total length of the trip, which turned out to be about 6 hours instead of 3-4.  The good news? Martha lived through that.  But it wasn’t so pretty for the last hour and we’ll bear that in mind for next time.

Next trip together…camping at 8,400 feet in the Pike National Forest in two weeks. We’ll tell you how it goes! In the meantime, Kevin is visiting Massachusetts and there might be apples to talk about.