A New Year’s Update

I took a long and sorely needed break for Christmas at the end of the year. I drove I70 across Kansas to the Kansas City area the week before Christmas and stopped for two nights at my aunt and uncle’s in the charming little town of Weston, Missouri. The big snowstorm happened the night before I drove, and although I had no trouble getting to KC, Weston had a few inches of bright white snow. The last 15 miles on the way up to the town were the slowest and slipperiest.

Weston and Kansas City

I got to stop by and see my cousin Greg’s family the first night. His little girl is 3 now, and his infant son, who never seems to stop smiling, is growing quickly. When I got to their house the first thing Posy wanted to do was show me “around the house” which meant following her to her play room and playing with her toys.

On the second day I walked around town in the snow for a while, then headed down to Kansas City. I visited some old haunts and did some reminiscing. Lunch at Grinder’s, an hour or two at Union Station and Liberty Memorial. Touring the model train display at the station. Coffee and photo review at the Broadway Cafe. The train display is always fun, and I took a mess of photos.

Train

Saturday was my last morning before heading to Iowa, and I met Greg at his house and we walked down to the brewery. We got a short informal tour and a beer together before I had to hit the road.

Weston Brewing Company

Christmas in Iowa

After a couple of days the highways in Iowa were in better shape (initially they were very bad, and I would have had to wait to go to Iowa) and I drove north to Ames. I made it safely home and began a nearly two-week break there. There’s no need to go into detail on everything, but we got the whole family together for Christmas, and did our traditional gift exchange. I got several books I’m looking forward to read, and my older sister got me one of my favorite prints that I need to frame. My little sister got me the Bike Snob’s first book. She didn’t even know that I was a huge Bike Snob fan, just thought I would like it.

My parents got me a number of things, the best of which may have been the bright red stand mixer. I’ve made bread twice since I got home, and I’ll make pizza soon (I need a stone, first). Until the novelty wears off I’m going to end up eating a lot of bread.

I got a number of other things, including a second 5 gallon fermenter. Now I can have 2 or 3 batches of beer going at once. I have a 6 pack of Bell’s Two Hearted and I may try to harvest the yeast and brew a version of that fantastic beer myself. The yeast harvest, if successful, will probably be its own post.

Polar BBQ

Andy can correct me here, but I believe this was our third polar BBQ ever. The first was held in Brookside Park when we were still in college, and was freezing cold. We drank beer and hung around a shelter late at night in the winter, and felt manly.

The second was held a few years later during Christmas break, at the Janke’s house in Ames. We grilled steaks outside and drank fancy beer, but we essentially punted on the polar aspect by spending most of our time inside.

This third time, we did it properly. We held it at Andy’s house in Des Moines, and the whole town was still deeply snowed in and peacefully quiet. When Andy and I started, it was gently snowing big flakes. Although it was biting cold, we built a large fire in his fire pit, and this was the key to a successful polar BBQ. We spent hours outside, pausing to eat delicious pulled pork and chicken drumsticks indoors, before returning to the fire for the rest of the night. We burned a good chunk of the old wet wood in Andy’s wood pile.

Gentle snow and brown liquor

Wood pile before

Wood pile after

The fire

The next morning I went for a walk alone on the bike path down from Andy’s house, by the river. It was gently snowing again, and very peaceful.

The river in snow

A lonely bridge

New Year’s

I drove to Des Moines again a few nights later for a small and fun New Year’s celebration. We met at Erik’s house, and he made a number of really awesome pizzas. I’m not sure which was my favorite, but they were all good. We drank a few beers and some Cava, and rang in the new year like the dorks we are by beating the 4 player Super Mario for the Wii.

Amy and Lindsey joined us initially, but they both went to bed early, and it was just a boy’s night in the end.

Everything else

I wasn’t terribly exciting in general, but we managed to fit in a visit to CHC, which is still fantastic. Ben and I also went to West Street Deli one day, and drove over to Boone on Jess’s recommendation to try out the Boone Valley Brewing Company. I went over to the big house in Nevada a couple times, and met my dad for lunch a couple of times as well. And although it was terribly cold the whole time, the trip was refreshing and the break did me good.

— Steve

Posted on 07 January 2013