Saturday, November 12, 2011

Canyon Carving without a Motorcycle? (Eaton Canyon, Haven Gastropub, Stone Brewing Company)

Wow, my quads are really sore…


Yes, that’s me, demonstrating truly exquisite novice form: awkward, tense, and really slow.  But I’m still standing and I had fun doing it, so I consider my day in Lower Eaton Canyon a smashing success.

Here my host and his GoPro helmet camera provide a glimpse into what it feels like to rappel down (and through) a waterfall.

I found myself in Orange County earlier this month in early September, graciously hosted by the Ducati Instigator aka my Most Excellent Tour Guide.  The trip was mostly a work thing (i.e. failed job search) along with a quick trip to Motorport* to have some adjustments made to my motorcycle jacket, but I was able to reserve one day for an adventure.  Naturally, I imagined that day would involve a motorcycle.   Naturally, I was wrong.

The motorcycle gear I had packed would not serve for this escapade.  With borrowed clown shoes (at least two sizes too big), borrowed wetsuit (also way too big), borrowed bicycle helmet, gloves, backpack, and harness, and borrowed waterproof camera that malfunctioned in the first hour, I was about as well suited as I was on my first motorcycle tour.

Eaton Canyon Rappel Gear

Fear is such a funny, irrational thing.  Although I had a few successful practice rappels off my host’s porch the night before, I had no idea how I would react when staring down a 60 foot waterfall.  And once you’re in, there’s no going back.  I have no idea why, but my heart pounds a lot harder when I’m riding on gravel or loading my motorcycle on its trailer.  Go figure.

Oh glorious Nature!  It’s a good thing I was up to the task, because it’s the only way one can experience the daisy chain of magical intimate pools of crystal water, the water slides, and the waterfalls that make up this beautiful (and dangerous**) canyon.  How wonderful it would be to go back with a quality camera, tripod, and some more time on my hands.

Notable Food Finds in the area:

I met my host in Old Towne Orange for lunch and touristy wanderings. 

Haven Gastropub Pork Sandwich
Pork Sandwich and Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse at the Haven Gastropub.

O'Keefe and Merritt Stove Antique Station
Just up the street, a windowful of restored vintage stoves at Antique Station.

As we went our separate ways, my host found the helmet latch on his Goldwing had broken. Broken locked, that is.  The options?  I ride it home for him (I happened to have my gear in my car), he wears my helmet, or we both go home in my boring Toyota.  Someone else's 800 lb motorcycle I'd never ridden before in SoCal rush hour?  I really did laugh aloud.  I think his head still hurts from cramming it into my leeetle helmet.

The next day, after our ride to Motoport (I guess I did get on a motorcycle that weekend!), we dined at the nearby Stone Brewing World Bistro.

Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens 005
Mac n' Beer Cheese, with Smoked Porter Sausage tossed in for some real excess.  Yeah, it was fantastical.  I can't remember which beer I opted for, but it sure looks like another hefe-weisse.  Love a good hefe in the summer.

Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens 043
Chocolate pate surfeit Medjool Date dessert.  Beautifully presented, every component delicious - candied kumquats, currant coulis, cocoa nibs - yum! - but I'm not sure the cocoa pate is the best match for the dates.  At home, I stuff 'em with mascarpone cheese, and I see no reason to change that now.

And, notable for another reason, the pasta dinner I prepared for my host.  In what could easily be one of my top three kitchen failures of all time, I ended up throwing out my pasta dough and acquiring “fresh pappardelle” from the corner Trader Joe’s.   Either I shouldn’t talk and knead at the same time, or the flour I used was gluten-free***.  No matter how much I kneaded (it typically takes 5-10 minutes), the eggs and flour refused to become that smooth elastic mass that allows itself to be rolled and stretched into those silky satiny sheets you wish you could sleep in.  I’ve made pasta more times than I can count, but this time the dough simply tore into pieces if I flattened it any thinner than my Ducati owner’s manual.  I even toted my 32” pasta rolling pin to California for the occasion.  Go figure.  At least the wine (provided by my host) was good.

Funny.  Sometimes you are tossing a no-brainer dinner into the trash and other times you are Jane Bond, rappelling down a towering foot waterfall into a string of secret grottos glimmering with sparkling cool water.  You just never know.

* I’m even more impressed with this company after my visit.  Every single point of design of their gear (even those that I had, at first, questioned) is so thoroughly thought out, they spent a generous amount time with me discussing the alterations on my jacket, and charged me nothing for this service.
** Two deaths and 48 rescue operations for the year at the time of my transit.
***The flour on hand was Gold Medal brand.  It has lower protein content that other brands which makes it an excellent choice for some things (a delicate butter cookie, perhaps), but is less than ideal for recipes that require the formation of a strong web of gluten (say, bread or… pasta)  Still and all, that was just weird, especially given that the Italian “doppio zero” flour traditional used for fresh pasta is not all that high in gluten.   I did manage to make maccheroni alla chitarra  when I got home a few days later without drama.  Clearly it was an astrological phenomenon.


motorcycle gear said...

Awesome post, and great pictures. Thanks for sharing.

Paula said...

And thanks for reading! It was a fun and new experience for sure!