Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga Wyoming. Wednesday September 9, 2015

More from our 6500 cross country road trip in 2015. Enjoy!

Breakfast with a view. The main lodge at the ranch has music going through their sound system every morning. This is my favorite set!

Breakfast. A little of this, and a little of that.

Breakfast is served on the patio outside. The heat lamps are nice in case it gets cold.

I went for fishing lessons with Trey. Steve had fished several times with Trey before and found him to be a great guide. Steve and I agreed that it would be good that instead of his trying to teach me someone else should try to help me with my casting. After I got the hang of it Trey went to another part of the pond to try and catch some fish himself. After noticing that he was getting no action whatsoever I told him that we should go back to the lodge. I figured that if he was not catching anything, then surely I would not also! Nil for the morning. I am hoping that shooting will be easier. Just aim at the target and fire!

Back at the lodge I had lunch by myself.

Meanwhile Steve was out with his guide. He caught one beautiful fish.

He had lunch here.

There are tee-pees for kids to play in when there are group dinners.

It is a pretty spot to visit.

Here is another large fish that he caught after lunch. Steve ended up catching 18 fish for the day. The two largest fish were 17 inches.

After lunch I went riding.

Later we had cocktails at Falcon Peak. This duo plays at many Brush Creek evenings. They are married and have great voices. Singing together a long time they harmonize well.

Don’t we make a cute couple? The answer is “Yes!”

There were lots of shrimp and crab legs to eat.

A sundown picture.

This one is a little better.

Back at the lodge we had a lovely dinner. Dinner included fried polenta and smoked prime rib. It was served buffet style.

The good-watermelon, the bad-fried bananas, with caramel sauce and whipped cream which looked a little bit ugly.

I scraped my plate clean.

Then it was to the campfire for some s’mores.

If I worked outside the house I could have this picture on my desk!

Perhaps Steve would want this picture on his desk.

Did you recognize the song in the video?

How do you like shrimp, boiled or fried?

Do you think my breasts look deformed?

Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga Wyoming. Tuesday September 8, 2015

Steve went down to breakfast and it seemed that my email was received after all! Everything was “How are you Steve? I have your fishing all set up!”

Steve had originally arranged all his fishing before we had arrived at Brush Creek. When we were at the activities barn yesterday all his requests were missing, and we were not sure that he was going to be able to fish the water that he had wanted to fish. I had mentioned this in the email yesterday to the VP also, complaining that Steve was having problems with scheduling the week’s fishing. Well, today it was all a different story! The fishing schedule was all rearranged, and Steve was going to be able to fish when and where he wanted to.

In fact, although we were not going to be moved into a cabin, a king size bed was going to be moved across the hall and we would be moved there and have quiet Mountain views. I don’t often complain, Steve and I have a tendency to vote with our feet. However in this case, I was pretty riled up and did complain. I thought that if we were moved across the hall I would be happier.

If I don’t see that an accommodation can be made, I decide to vote with my feet and also warn others about the type of service that they might get. I don’t feel that I owe any business my review. I only let businesses that I like hear about how they might make changes. I think the perfect job for me would be a paid luxury hotel consultant who is a secret stayer. Instead I am a luxury hotel consultant who pays to stay at hotels and gives the hotels my free advice!

This is one of the reasons we keep coming back. A 20 inch brown on the Encampment.

This is Cheyenne the horse that I rode today. There is so much to remember! Shoulders back, chest open, seat firm, hold reins like an ice cream cone, let the horse know who is boss, don’t let him eat grass, lean forward going up hills, lean back going down hills, when you post go up and down faster. If you are hitting the saddle hard it is because you are too slow for the beat, look ahead, not down, sit up like a girl, not slumping like a guy-they are protecting their equipment! Too much too remember but having fun anyway.

This was where I hung out before lunch. Can you believe I got a little sun burn? It’s the high elevation and poorly applied sunscreen!

Dessert from lunch today. I forgot to take pictures of the buffet. Oh well.

Steve came back from fishing on the Encampment to spend lunch with me. He caught three rainbow trout and a 20 inch brown trout. A good morning for him.

After lunch he spent the rest of the afternoon on Brush Creek fishing. He caught 16 brown trout ranging from seven to sixteen inches. All in all a good day.

Once again, I forgot to take dinner pictures.

Dessert. Bread pudding with coffee ice cream and some other stuff. I showed restraint.

Was today’s post too short?

Do you like to ride?

Do you ride Western or English? Are there more differences than shinier boots when you ride English?

Spearfish South Dakota to Sheridan Wyoming. Saturday 6, September 2015

Why do I have a picture of a Ford Mustang car as my first picture? Well, there was a car rally this weekend in Sturgis, South Dakota. This is from the parking lot of our hotel. The guy driving the red Mustang wasn’t really trying to make much noise. I wish I would have gotten his real vroom vroom sound. Steve wouldn’t have been. It was bad enough I was questioning theses strangers at 7:30 in the morning! Sturgis is famous for their annual motorcycle rally’s. Hundreds of thousands of people attend.

Here is a little of a vroom vroom. I asked the driver what they did at the Mustang Rally. It is basically a bunch of people showing off their cars and all the modifications that they do to the cars to make loud noises!

Due to the Labor Day holiday we have problems finding someplace to eat. After trying two recommended breakfast places from Trip Advisor that only served coffee and granola we settled on a Perkin’s. I warned Steve about his future heart attack with his breakfast. Mine was bad enough with the fried egg and sausage.

Steve had the scrambled eggs, sausage hash browns and gravy covered biscuit!

After advice from my cousin Larry who lives in the Denver area we decided that we might have time after all to explore Spearfish Canyon on our way to Devil’s Tower. We got Steve his fishing license in less than five minutes at the Minit Man gas station. We passed a pretty waterfall and then Steven picked a spot to try. Success! Steve got his first trout in South Dakota. No pictures though, you will just have to believe him!

Then it was on to Devil’s Tower Wyoming. Remember Close Encounters of the Third Kind? People actually climb Devil’s Tower. Over 100,000 people have climbed DT and there have been only five fatalities. I think that is because they only let people climb it who are well vetted.

Look how buff this couple is!

We didn’t climb DT of course, we just strolled around the base!

If you zoom in on this picture you can see some of the people climbing!

Then it was onto Sheridan Wyoming. We wanted to see the DaVinci horse sculpture that our friend G was involved with.

Steve is going to get in trouble for touching the horse’s hoof.

But since M, G’s wife only reads my current blog post and totally skips the old posts G will never know!

Here is K , who was the impetus for the sculpture garden in Sheridan.

We had dinner with K and his wife M. They had just bought a new house and we had dinner there. They had lots of light switches along with lots of lights and I had fun helping M figure out what switch went with what light fixture!

Would you have been as accommodating as I was and let Steve try to catch a fish in South Dakota?

Can you hear the music from Close Encounters in your head now?

Do you read all my blog posts both old and new?

Copal Tree Lodge, Punta Gorda Belize. Wednesday January 8, 2020

Good morning! Today you and I will learn all about making chocolate!

Let’s have some watermelon juice first!

Pancakes with chocolate, banana and toasted coconut! That is butter and not scrambled eggs on top of the pancakes!

This couple was going to go on a zip line. She was having an alcoholic drink while we waited for the Land Rover to arrive! Like me, she does not like heights. She was very much afraid to go on the zip line, but she told her partner that she would do it!

I was dropped off at the chocolate building where I met my guide for the cocoa growing steps. I needed no alcohol to learn about making chocolate!

First we see the flowers and the beginning of the cocoa pod on the cocoa tree.

The pod continues to grow.

Eventually the pod reaches a stage where it is ready to be picked.

The full grown pod is quite large.

What’s the inside of a cocoa pod like? The cocoa pod is split open to show us.

The cocoa beans have a very slimy coating. The beans and the slimy coating will ferment during the cocoa making process and then the beans are put on racks to dry in a shed.

I put one of the seeds in my mouth, the bean was quite sweet. I am not dead yet, so you can tell that it is safe to eat! It was gooey though!

These big leaves cover the cocoa pods in the drying sheds.

I also learned about grafting. Grafting is done because sometimes you have a very flavorful bean, but the tree itself is subject to disease. By grafting you put the desirable plant on a root stock that is stronger and more resistant to disease and insects.

A branch from a tree that you want to use for the growth of beans is taken from the mother tree. The leaves are then snipped off.

A small piece is then cut off where the bud was and then inserted into tree that is very hearty. This heartier tree is the root stock.

The bud is then wrapped to prevent harm to the plant.

An alternate method is to use a v like graft.

This is a more successful method.

That is all the lessons about cocoa tree growing.

Now for a pretty picture. I am sure that many weddings are held here!

I think, but I am not sure but these might be peppercorns!

This is part of a turmeric root. You can see it growing in the soil.

I was told that you should take this seed also when you take your turmeric for better healing. Of course I have no clue what plant it was from!

All I remember was that it was red!

Here are the cocoa beans that have gone though the fermenting and drying process. Maynard will be showing us the rest of the chocolate making process. Maynard will put cocoa beans into a large roaster where the beans will be roasted for a short while.

This is Maynard. See Maynard roast beans.

Here are some of the beans before they are placed in the grinder.

The roasted beans ready to go into the grinder.

The roasted cocoa beans are placed into the grinder and the heavier cocoa falls into the bin. I will help by evenly scraping the cocoa as it comes out. But you won’t see that part!

A vacuum sucks out the light ground shells from the heavier cocoa grounds through the green tubes.

The finished cocoa nibs, fresh out of the grinder.

We have moved in to an air conditioned room for this part of the process. This makes me very happy as the heat and humidity is very bothersome to me.

Maynard with the maniacal mad doctor expression is telling me that now I will make chocolate! There are already some of the ground cocoa nibs in the machine. The other ingredients are sugar and cocoa butter.

On the white board is the mathematics of chocolate making. Just like wine making and whisky, a percentage is lost as the “Angel’s share”.

All the ground cocoa is in the grinder.

Here I am scraping the chocolate off the grinding wheels. At this point I still hadn’t splattered chocolate all over me! The best is yet to come!

I am seriously concentrating!

Hmm. No hairnet. That wouldn’t pass muster with the USDA!

Next ingredient is white sugar.

The white sugar is added to the mixture slowly in batches.

Here are samples of chocolate that was made by other guests. Can you believe that I only ate two?

The final step was the addition of cocoa butter.

I never really understood where the cocoa butter came from. The cocoa beans had been roasted and then ground. Then I put them into the mixer to be ground further into a liquid and then the sugar was added.So where does cocoa butter come from? I forgot to ask.

Everything was all mixed together and my chocolate was ready to be tempered.

My chocolate was added to chocolate that had already been warmed.

Maynard poured the chocolate onto the counter.

The chocolate was spread over the table into a thick sheet.

Maynard scraped the chocolate over the granite table.

The chocolate was smooshed together.

The chocolate gradually became thicker as it was exposed to the cooler air and the cold granite countertop.

The chocolate had to be added back into the warming pan, stirred around again to reach the right temperature and consistency.

The chocolate has reached the appropriate consistency to be placed in the molds.

Maynard pours the chocolate into the tray and then spreads it out.

Maynard is thumping the chocolate trays to get the air out.

I will be next!

Here are my molds that are ready for the chocolate.

A short video of my thumping the chocolate to get out any air bubbles.

Here I am doing my last thump!

The air conditioned room where we made the chocolates.

Goodbye Assistant helper!

A phone call to arrange my pickup to bring me back to the main lodge.

This is the rum distillery across from the cocoa factory.

That is another adventure that you can do. I think part of the rum distillery is learning about making rum drinks also. Perhaps next time. Yesterday Steve and I saw a number of guests sitting at the bar around 5 in the afternoon with many glasses holding booze. I think they had gone on the tour. Either that or they were having a wonderful time on vacation!

This garden was across from the rum distillery and the cocoa factory. Much of the food comes from the many acres that the lodge owns.

More pretty flowers and plants.

While I was waiting for the Land Rover to bring me back to the lodge the gentleman who did the first part of the tour showed me Copal berries and seeds.

The Land Rover picked me and up and I was soon back at the lodge.

Last night we had a big group arrive.I overheard that they are doing a photo shoot for Orvis. The pictures will appear in the summer 2020 catalogs. I am going to have to find out more information. I hope I will get more information over the next few days, but you never know…

I came back from my chocolate adventure at 10:30 and decided that I would have a drink. After all if the young couple could have a drink to get courage for the zip line at 9 am I could have a drink after I was hot and sweaty.

I have decided that I will drink early and often today.

I told Tim that I would like to have the drink that he made for the zip liners. He graciously accepted my request. I shall document the drink for you in pictures and some words.

Here is Tim with one of the bottles of booze in this drink.

One of the ingredients is an egg white.

Tim must have watched Bar Rescue. They are always telling staff that they need to smile and make eye contact.

So all I know was that the drink had rum and an egg white in it, with a flower garnish. I think it had more stuff in it, but “Who knows? Tim knows!”

I call this drink the “Give me courage to ride the zip line!” I think it will be on the drink list next time we come! Everyone liked that name. Or at least they pretended to!

This is my new friend Palma. She was born on Palm Sunday so her Mom named her Palma. Her brother couldn’t pronounce Palma so he called her Bunny. Being of a certain age, she feels Bunny is not quite appropriate so I told her I would call her Palma. She likes Palma, but everyone calls her Bunny.

Bunny was drinking a delicious looking drink. I told Ducky the bartender that I wanted him to make me one after lunch. Bunny was having problems with her phone and was worrying about all the roaming charges she was going to have. I put her phone on airplane mode and showed Bunny how to get on the lodge’s wifi network.

Bunny was on her second of these drinks. I think it was called the drunken money, or it could have been called a dirty monkey. I can’t remember which. You all know that I have a terrible memory for names, so the drink could even have been called something completely different! Bunny said the drink was good, but not quite as good as when she originally had it someplace else. I told Bunny that if she had the drink three times it would have to be called a horny monkey. Bunny at 76, thought that was very amusing. As did her 80 year old husband!

The weather was very overcast and showery. Not much of a view of the ocean today. Nor were the hummingbirds out this afternoon.

I don’t believe this one bit. The straw did not seem biodegradable at all.

My glass of iced tea. Would you believe me if I told you there was no alcohol in this drink?

Here is my cheeseburger and fries that I ordered for lunch.

I told you already about the couple from Oklahoma that I met before lunch. She was drinking something that looked like a chocolate milkshake. I told Ducky that I would like one after lunch. As I skipped dessert I figured it was time for my drink.

There is lots of booze and lots of bananas in this drink. There is also a lot of chocolate sauce. A scoop of ice is added to the blender before it is blenderized.

Inside the cabinet is the blender, so it’s not too noisy.

Here is Ducky presenting me my drink.

Doesn’t it look good?

The Orvis group came back after lunch and saw my drink. They all wanted one so Ducky made more.

This is where I will be sitting the rest of the afternoon.

I had to get more ice added to my drink as I was starting to feel too loopy. There is something not quite right about being drunk in the afternoon.

The weather didn’t clear all afternoon. I don’t think that Steve will catch any fish this afternoon.

The howlers were making some noises in the late afternoon so I tried to take a video. They were unhappy with the gardener.

Well? Will Steve catch some permit like he did last year? These were some pictures that they had in the lodge.

I was wrong! Steve did catch a fish, and here it is!

This is a picture of a bonefish. It was very dark compared to the fish that he catches at Delphi. Steve was very wet and cold all day as it was a cold and rainy day!

Here is a picture of a tarpon from an ad in one of Steve’s fishing magazines.

Steve’s fish was nowhere near this big, but Steve said that the fish do jump like crazy!

I introduced Bunny and Si to Steve and suggested that we all have dinner together. They even agreed! What nice people. They didn’t even have a chance to google me and find out if I was an axe murderer! Perhaps they will look me up before they issue invitations to invite me to see them in Oklahoma! I told Bunny about my blog and she read it and thought it was wonderful and that I am so funny! I think I will have to continue to send her texts of my web page as her email kept blocking my requests for her to join the blog. Perhaps her email knows something the rest of us don’t know?

So take that all you people who don’t click like on my blog! (Ha Ha, meant to be funny!)

Here is Steve with tonight’s napkin art. I think I should have taken more pictures of the napkins !Next time!

The amuse bouche from the chef. We had it the other night. I think the rotation is based on every third night!

My cocktail of the evening was a Jaguar Pizz. Not to be confused with Jaguar Piss! It was made from rum, cinnamon syrup and Angostura bitters.

Doesn’t that drink look good? My mouth is watering just looking at it!

For my starter I had the tomato bisque.

I wasn’t sure if that was a face or not!

Steve had the salad.

I had the hangar steak for my main. It came with mash yampi, tomatoes, chimichurri and long beans. A yampi is a tropical yam.

Steve had the pork tenderloin medallions, charred salsa, corn tortillas, and garden greens.

Steve had the cake. It might have been spice cake.

I had the pecan pie with coconut ice cream. I just found out the it was not pineapple coconut pie that I had the other day. It was pineapple pie with coconut ice cream!

Si had the cream puff for dessert. I wasn’t comfortable enough to start taking many pictures of Bunny and Si’s food! Next vacation!

Here we all are after dinner. I am thinking about calling Si Jack now as Palma is known as Bunny. You know Bunny Rabbit and Jack Rabbit? That way no one will know about who my new friends really are. I mean, doesn’t everyone already know who Bunny and Si from Oklahoma are? They need some anonymity!

Linda is sitting in Steve’s lap and Jack has his arms around Bunny. Bunny looked at the picture and thought that I had a strange expression on my face. You can tell that she just met me today as I always have a strange expression on my face!

After our picture I picked up my chocolate. It was kept in a refrigerator at the bar.

We all laughed that the chocolate was from a secret stash, and just put into ziploc bags!

What time to you start drinking during the day?

Are you or have you ever been an Orvis model?

Do you have a strange expression on your face normally?

Copal Tree Lodge, Punta Gorda Belize. Tuesday January 7, 2020

Good morning to you! As I have been cranky about people not liking my posts I am suggesting that you go up to the beginning of the post and click on the blue heading of the post. That way you will be able to go directly to the blog website where you will see the like button on the bottom of the post. Then you take your little index finger put it over the like button and press “like”. If you are reading on a desk top, then you need to use your mouse. It is really quite simple. I could be really mean and make this post in two parts. Those that clicked the like button would be kept on the mailing list. Those that don’t would get scrubbed. But I am nice, and I am not going to do that. As you could just go directly to the website and read the posts that way.

Did you click the blue post heading yet?

Today I ordered scrambled eggs for breakfast. I was also given Ketchup and hot sauce on the side. I suspect it was hot sauce although I didn’t try it.

I had a plate of fruit on the side.

This morning I headed to the lower veranda to hang out. All the howler monkeys were asleep and I didn’t see many birds although I could hear them. On Trip Advisor many people had posted about the great number of birds that they saw on the bird watching expeditions here. One person mentioned that they saw over 175 different species over 4 days! That is a lot of birds! I can’t say that this is something I will try as the thought of wandering around in the jungle trying to locate birds is not my cup of tea. Especially with it being so humid out and there are lots of bugs in the jungle.

While I am sitting on the lower veranda I am overheard some guests inquire about kayaking on the river below. Not my cup of tea also. Jungle, bugs, steamy weather, activity, hips stuck in an uncomfortable position. No thank you!

Before I knew it lunch time had come and I climbed upstairs to eat again.

My lunch time view.

I ordered the beef quesadillas. They came with all the usual fixings.

Instead of having something highly caloric for dessert I asked for a fruit plate. Talk about a generous serving!

After lunch I decided to try to locate the gym. It was down by the river. I could take the tram down or walk. What is your prediction?

Fooled you! I decided that I would walk down, but wanted to push the button to call the tram to test it out.

I think there were over 300 steps to reach the gym and I did not want to end up walking down and not getting a ride back up and needing to walk 300 steps back up. Momma didn’t raise me to be a fool!

The tram sounded like it was moving, so off I went, as I was reasonably assured that I could ride back up the hill.

Last year when we were here we met some French people that worked in Manhattan. They were in tremendous shape and walked down and up the stairs. I am not French, so I am therefore not in tremendous shape.

I was happy to see that the tram was indeed on its way back up.

I didn’t need to rest on the bench on my way down, I would have needed a long rest if I tried to walk up the stairs.

Halfway point!

The gym. They did a lot of renovations since last year, extending the gym.

There was an exercise bike, a weight system and some other equipment. The gym was air conditioned, but I don’t think that it was ever turned on. So even if you wanted to work out, the gym would take forever to be at a comfortable temperature.

There was also a bathroom with kayak paddles and life preservers. There is something about those sinks that are mounted above the counter. I don’t really like them. I prefer my sink mounted into the counter.

The dock was completely renovated since last year. There had been a flood and it destroyed the dock.

Looks like the couple decided to go kayaking. Did I tell you yet today how much I hate kayaking?

I was going to sit in the chairs and read instead.

Of course it started to sprinkle as soon as I sat down. This is the view downstream. Eventually the stream hits the ocean.

So I headed back to the gym and to the tram.

I pushed the button and the tram started heading down the hill.

The tram! The tram! See these people on the left? They carried big sticks with them. We had such sticks in our room, but did not know what they were for. They were walking sticks!

I pushed the up button and off we went!

The view looking down to the river was not very good at all with the plexiglass being all dirty.