We are fortunate to have a Very Special Visitor in The Villages this week… Terri Horsmann, better known as Terri of the Frozen North (TOTFN). Terri is visiting from Coon Rapids, Minnesnowta (no, I am not making this town up; the town actually used to be called Coon Creek Rapids, and is best known for its Red River Ox Cart Trail, which remains one of the main thoroughfares and modes of transportation into the Greater Coon Rapids Metropolitan District. In fact, the photo at right shows the baggage handler at MSP airport in mid-July.)
Terri is here in warm and sunny (most of the time) Florida, ostensibly for a spiritual holiday, but I have inside intelligence that her trip south was really to thaw out during the long, bitterly cold months that run from the end of July until Memorial Day in the Perpetually Frozen Land of 10,000 Ice-Covered Lakes. When Terri left Coon Rapids, of which Minneapolis-St. Paul is a minor suburb, the temperatures were in the minus 20s or so; it’s hard to be accurate when mercury freezes for most of the year there. Here is Terri (the girl with the ghostly pallor) with Bev Garlipp and Suzanne, out for lunch in Sumter Landing. I thought it was going to be a Girls’ Lunch Out, but I was invited as well, and I didn’t even have to wear a skirt. (Don’t even go there!)
But speaking of fashion sense, in preparing for my upcoming annual backpacking trip (this year to the Superstition Wilderness), I was digging through our cold weather clothing bag, and found a great fleece hat that will be perfect for 30 degree nights in the high desert… “Suzanne, why are you laughing hysterically at my hat?”
Hysterical laughter can be shared, though; in this case, it was at My Lovely Bride’s expense when I gave her a couple of packs of Pilot ink pens. She was positively salivating over her new pens, which to her are almost as much fun as new high school textbooks. For me, the excitement peaks with a new tent and sleeping bag. (This can be A Very Strange House.)
Part of our training plan for the Camino in September is a weekly hike with full backpacks. Our hikes are also helping me get ready for my Superstitions trip; especially since I am now training with a 35 lb. pack, which is what I will carry in Arizona. Suzanne is carrying about 15 lbs., which is what she will carry on our Camino pilgrimage. Here she is standing in front of an unusual oak tree on a trail in the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross-Florida Greenway south of Ocala. The woods here are gorgeous, and the trails almost deserted on weekdays. We saw only a couple of mountain bikers on cross trails; our hiking trail, part of the Florida Trail, is for hikers only. MTBs and equestrians are segregated on their own separate trails. This cuts down spooking of horses by bicycles and also helps keep our boots clean (Lower Yuck-Factor!).
Suzanne likes me to lead while we are hiking. She claims that this is so I can better enjoy the beauty of nature, but I found out on our last hike that she has an ulterior motive. Since we were the only people on the trail that day, about every 50 yards or so I was wiping cobwebs off my face (when I didn’t see them in advance), or otherwise avoiding them. The center of this huge web was right at my eye level, and I only saw it about 2 feet from collision. In the middle of the web was a large yellow and blue spider, just waiting to eat some poor unsuspecting insect (or hiker) that trespassed on his “turf”. It’s a good thing that I don’t suffer from arachnophobia…
But quinoaphobia, on the other hand, is a much more serious matter. I will admit to having that affliction. No matter how protein-packed that pseudocereal (look it up) may be, my gastronomic experiences with quinoa have been uniformly disastrous. Well, at least until last night… Gayle Hancock joined Terri, Bob and Jan at our house for Ty’s World Famous Chicken Marsala (no laughter, please… I’ll have you know that an Italian restaurant even asked for my recipe).
Anyway, Gayle brought a bag of quinoa penne (who thinks this stuff up, anyway?) Cutting to the chase, while initially suspicious, I tasted some of it and found it… palatable… even, well, tasty. But that’s only because it tasted nothing like quinoa! It tasted no different than regular pasta. This was a win-win discovery, because Gayle was happy and I got to eat something healthy that didn’t taste like wood chips or cardboard.