Adventure Racing

We are very amateur adventure racers, and have no goal or expectation of joining the professional circuit like the pro-team (fka Yoga Slackers) that first taught us about adventure racing.  But, we have participated enough to appreciate how much work it takes to really excel at the multi-disciplinary sport, and, how, at the same time, it can be accessible to most anyone who is willing to push their bodies and their minds, and spend a few months in hard training.   Being the unique sport that it is, it’s one of the few where amateurs and elites can race side by side on the same course.

Sort of like a triathlon, the races involve elements of mountain biking, paddling (anything from a blow-up raft you carry in your pack to a kayak or canoe), and trekking/running, all within a framework or orienteering and navigating a route.

Racers compete on teams and, using strategy, teamwork, and navigation skills, move as fast as possible over the varied terrain, in an effort to check off various way-points. Races can be as short as 4-6 hours (like most that we have done), or they can extend for multiple days.

I had worked with a girl during my tenure as an attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine who was active in the sport, and in secret I was totally awed and intimidated by what I surmised must be her athleticism and endurance.  As much as I liked to imagine participating in the sport, I never imagined that I actually would have the guts, much less the ability, to do it.  Enter my husband, Al, who I met several years after my first introduction to the notion of adventure racing.

Al and I had bonded over running and mountain biking, hiking, and, to a lesser extent road cycling, during our “dating” period.  Al is always reading the latest blogs and magazines on everything from gardening, to gadgets, to…adventure racing.  He suggested we try out adventure racing and, to get us started, proposed doing the Spring Sting in Bend, Oregon, and attending a “training camp” sponsored by Bend Racing and one of the world’s top adventure racing teams, then known as the Yoga Slackers. (For those who don’t know–as we didn’t–yoga “slacking” is really a “thing” involving balance and yoga on slack lines).

We drove down to Bend, Oregon for the spring training camp, which involved training on navigation, and a number of drills–including night mountain bike rides and paddling through icy cold water in blow-up rafts that we could carry in our packs, along with rides up steep hills and timed runs.  We bonded with a few people who also were new to the sport and teamed up with one of them for our three-man team at the Spring Sting.

We’ve done a handful of other adventure races together since Bend, with most of them being in the 4-6 hour range.  We had a delightful experience at the Island Quest Adventure Race on Orcas Island (where, to our surprise, we managed to come in first–just showing that so many crazy factors and circumstances are involved in adventure racing), some events through Krank Events, and a lovely little mini-adventure race in Winthrop through Recreation Northwest.

The race was one of those experiences–like so many–where during the event you never want to do it again, and then, after you’ve finished, you can’t wait to choose the next event.


Nothing and nobody compares to a rescue dog…possibly to any dog, but especially to a rescue dog.  Atticus is now almost eight (or so we surmise), and has been with us for the past seven years.  We found Atticus, like our prior dog Maizy, on,  Coincidentally, Atticus shares many characteristics of Maizy:  he was emaciated and had dry skin when we got him, he loves food and is an absolutely Houdini when it comes to making food disappear from the counters, he loves his barn-mates, and (unlike Maizy) he can run like the wind.  Words–at least my words-can’t do Atticus justice.  Anyone who has ever had a dog or loved a dog knows what I mean.


Reading many books and attending Beekeeping 101 and 201 from Tilth seem to have prepared us (Al) quite well for keeping bees.   Al suits up to tend to the bees, and Atticus and I take the pictures (we go “suitless,” but for reasons evident from the below, Atticus has requested a suit for next season).  We started with two queens  (one Carniolan and one Italian) and two containers of 10,000 bees each.  (Thanks, Mom, for picking those “mystery packages” up for us, no questions asked).

 The bees arrive in a buzzing box.  They must be transferred to the hive, then the Queen carefully inserted.  We put a marshmallow in the Queen’s temporary capsule, locking her in for a few days (as the bees gradually eat away) for protection and adjustment to the hive.

We had one hive (Paddington) die out, but only after, or in conjunction with, a swarm.  We managed to capture the swarm and start a new hive (Yogi), which made it through the summer, and still seems to be doing just fine (although we didn’t extract any honey from it).  The other hive (Pooh) has been thriving since day one, and even as winter is wrapping up, it seems to be alive.

In upcoming weeks, Al may provide some insight on the challenges and intricacies of keeping bees, along with product recommendations.  For now, here’s a few photos of what, so far has been, a pretty successful first year of keeping bees.

How To Make Simple Syrup (and Variations)

Here in Seattle, there are scads of bars, restaurants and speakeasies, each serving up an amazing list of craft cocktails. We love exploring our city and trying out their fares, but we also love making our own craft cocktails at home, where we can enjoy our farm and animals, and imbibe at a fraction of the cost. And no drive home, to boot!

You don’t need a giant stockpile of mixers and liquors to have a legit home bar. But having some simple syrup on hand is one of the easiest things you can do to up your cocktail game. Any number of classic cocktails use simple syrup as one of balancing bases, from Mojitos to Gimlets to Sours.

Making Simple Syrup

Basic Simple Syrup is easy: combine equal parts water and syrup in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar completely dissolves – but don’t let it come to a full boil. Once all the sugar has dissolved, set the pan aside and let cool to room temperature, and then store.

This makes a general-purpose base for most cocktails, and works as a sweetener without being too thick or cloying. Of course, you can adjust the proportions to your taste.

Most classic cocktails use 1/2 to 1 1/2 ounces of simple syrup in their recipes, so each cup of syrup should make, on average, 8 cocktails. Think about your planned consumption, and work backward to figure out how much you want to make. I usually make 16 ounces, as that is the size of my preferred storage container (more below).

Preservation & Storage

You can safely store your syrup as is, in your fridge, for up to a month. One trick I use is to add a bit of cheap vodka to the solution to further discourage any nasties.

For storage, I recommend these plastic squeeze bottles to make storage and dispensing easy. I use a Sharpie and a strip of blue painter’s tape to make easy-to-remove labels to find what’s what in the fridge. What’s great about these bottles – as well as being very affordable – is that they can be used for any number of other kitchen or craft purposes, from sauces to paint. When you’re done, you can even run them through the dishwasher to get ‘em good and clean.


Now that you have the basics, let’s look a few of my favorite variations.

Rosemary Simple Syrup

This variation is pretty simple. Simply place several large sprigs of rosemary directly into the mixture as you heat it, then let it steep for an hour or more while it cools. Then simply remove the rosemary, and you are good to go. Most herb & spices work well with this technique.

Basil Simple Syrup

This variation is slightly different. After the solution has cooled, add about a 1/2 cup of basil leaves to it, then pulse with your blnder until the basil is quite pulverized. Then strain it through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove the bits, leaving a green infusion behind.

Honey Syrup

In this variation, you’ll swap out the sugar for honey at the same ratio. You can’t add honey directly easily to cocktails (it’s too thick) so this is how you can get that delectable flavor into your cocktails.

More Ideas

We’re just barely scratching the surface here. There are literally hundreds of variations you can make, limited only by your pantry and imagination. To get your juices flowing before your next happy hour, take a look at this wonderful list at Imbibe Magazine or this Pinterest Board.

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