Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fluff & Fudge

In September, my friend Megan married a charming man named Chris...
...and promptly moved to Rhode Island! Apparently it's a pretty big transition for a German farm-girl from Oregon to move in with a good Italian guy from Westerly. Megan's stories about life on the east coast have been entertaining and laden with references to lamé and leopard-print.

This week I received a surprise package from Little Italy's newest resident - full of items she considers distinctively Rhode Island.
Tasty Italian biscuits:

Coffee Syrup:
Apparently the coffee situation has been the toughest part of the transition. "Regular" coffee automatically comes with cream and sugar, and a strong black cup can't be found. But this coffee syrup is a hot ticket! Megan says it's used the way we Left Coasters use our chocolate syrup - mixed in milk. So, rather than dashing some milk into your coffee, folks add coffee syrup to their milk...go figure.

And finally, Fluff:
"Fluff & Butter" sandwiches are made by smearing this marshmallow goo and Peanut Butter on your bread. Health food it ain't.

While I loved the novelty of these little treats, Megan couldn't have known how perfectly timed her gift of Fluff would be. Marshmallow creme is an essential ingredient in my Dad's (practically famous) fudge recipe, which I was planning to make this weekend. As I whipped up a batch of fudge today I was awash in the nostalgia that process and those smells bring to me. As this is my first Christmas to make it without my Dad, that Fluff was probably the nicest gift I could have received.

The jury's still out on the Coffee Syrup.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mary's Peak

Today, Sugar and I went on our first Adventure together. Being that it was a beautiful December day...60 degrees with a light drizzle...we headed out to Mary's Peak to explore what we might find. Not knowing what to expect, seeing that neither Sugar or I had ever been to Mary's Peak, we packed up all the necessities; Hi-lift Jack, Shovel, Ax, Flashlight, Dog Toys (including the chuck-it and squirrel), water for Sugar, water and snacks for Jim, camera, gloves and a pocket knife.

This of course would be the first chance to get the Jeep into any mud. Sugar was incredibly excited to see how the Rubicon would fare knowing there was a good chance there might be a trail or two up on the mountain. We loaded up and headed out stopping to top off the gas tank before heading the short 15+ miles to Mary's Peak Road. According to internet research it looked like the road would be left open all winter accept the short access to the very top.

Sure enough we found ourselves winding up OR34 till we reached Mary's Peak Road. We were a little let down when (in contrast to the signs) the road was in good condition and fully paved. We wound ourselves to a high point and parked in a parking lot. Finding a trail to walk we ended up in a rather dumpy area where clearly people had enjoyed shooting their guns a little too much. The ground was riddled with remanence of TV's and propane tanks, plastic and metal objects that could no longer be identified and a slew of shells from 22's to shot guns. Regardless Sugar bounded up a gravel pile to the top and raced down a sheer face before I could even reach the top. Being concerned she might take off somewhere I couldn't see, I called her, trying to make my way back down quickly only to find that she had raced back up the sheer face and tried to meet me at the top from which I had previously called her. Crazy girl.

We headed back to the Jeep excited to head back down and explore some of the dirt trails we had noticed on our way up. We came upon a little gravel road that lead us to an even more exciting trail. The trail drove straight up one of the hills and lead us to a series of moguls that many a 4x4 before had clearly attempted to mount. About 50' above was a 60 degree rock face that posed a clear and exciting obstacle. We hit the moguls in 4 high and rocked about as we made our way up, spinning a few tires here and there. Putting it in 4 low we bounded over the second series of moguls with incredible ease.

Sugar was excited at this point so we jumped out and checked things out. She headed up the trail looking at where we might go and pointed out that this might be a little more than we had intended to find. Sure, with a friend or another rig along this would be easily surmounted but we decided to shy off and put the Jeep to the test later. Today was just exploring.
We backed our way back down the trail and headed back to the road to see what else we might find. About a mile back we found a clearly well used path off the road and bounced over puddles and through the trees till we came to a little clearing obviously used regularly for camping. Off to one side of the trail was a very small mound that had been driven over many a time leaving decent moguls that would cause anything smaller than a truck to get stuck.

We popped it back into 4 High and bounded up and over the mound with ease, spinning the tires a little as you clearly could feel the jeep teater on two wheels! Sugar was a little let down that it was that easy so we spun around for another go, pulling out all the stops. 4 Wheel Low, Anti-Sway Bar disconnected, finger on the locker button. We crawled over the little obstacle and reached the point where we had teatered on two wheels previously. The rear end spun a little so I hit the locker locking the rear end and rolling with ease once again over the hill.

A little let down at how easy it really is to get over anything in this jeep, we rolled back to the highest point and jumped out to snag some pictures. That anti-sway bar disconnect is awesome. It really does increase the travel drastically.

Even with two tires almost completely jammed into the wheel wells and the other two barely making contact with the ground this Jeep holds its own and then some. I can't wait to truly find a real trail to test it out on.

We made it home and I was quite embarrassed at how little mud we had managed to fling on the Jeep. For a lazy Sunday afternoon Adventure, we did ok though. Sugar, the Jeep and I did get muddy and had a little fun doing it. Sadly it was too foggy to get any pictures of the view but I think we had some fun. Sugar agrees and is now sleeping soundly on her pillow getting ready for the next big adventure.