Pin It Crippen Creek Chronicles: September 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Play Time

It doesn't happen often enough but once in awhile we manage to get in some play time.
Skamokawa is home to some of the best kayaking in the country so we recently treated ourselves to a day of instruction from a world-class instructor, Ginni Callahan. Ginni is one of nine kayakers that own and operate Columbia River Kayaking and one of only 3 US women to achieve the British Canoe Union's highest skill rating, the 5-star award. She is certified as a BCU level 4 Sea Coach and by the American Canoe Association as an Advanced Open Water Instructor. They have tours and instruction for all skill levels.
We were paddling past Twin Gables when friend, neighbor and fellow innkeeper, Stevan Morgain snapped these pictures for us.

Ginni Callahan

If you are considering a kayak adventure in Skamokawa The Inn At Crippen Creek Farm can provide you with a picnic lunch and a nourishing dinner after a vigorous day on the river. Then retire to your room and let the sounds of Crippen Creek lull you to sleep.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Bridge to Nowhere?

Alaska may have it's "bridge to nowhere," but Crippen Creek now has a bridge to somewhere. And that somewhere is the other side of the creek where 7 acres of our land has been sitting fallow for years. The bridge is courtesy of Wahkiakum County Conservation District through a grant from U.S Fish and Wildlife. It is one component of a large conservation program on our land that has been developing for 2 years. It all started shortly after we acquired the land and realized that we knew nothing about managing 15 acres with a creek that has a mind of its own and can become a raging river after a few days of heavy rainfall. With the intent of becoming good stewards of the land, we contacted the Conservation District to see if they could guide us. It turns out they were eager to work with us and all of our neighbors that live on the creek. Their goal was to improve the water quality of the streams and improve the habitat for fish and wildlife. Crippen Creek is a spawning creek for salmon and steelhead so it was a perfect candidate for their program. They chose our property to be a demonstration site since it lent itself to using so many components of their program. They peeled back the banks to a 3 to 1 slope, planted willow and grass and placed large woody structures in the creek to divert the water and dissipate its energy.

Here's a before picture of the creek bank during a heavy rain.

The creek bank after peeling it back

And why a bridge? So we can move livestock without crossing them through the creek and so we can manage several acres of trees that will be planted as part of the conservation program. Anyone want to come to a work party? We'll feed you and give you B&B Bucks.

It should be an interesting winter to see if the plan works as intended. Some people have a knee-jerk reaction to letting the government get involved with their land but our experience so far has been very positive. It's a shining example of a local government agency working for the taxpayers.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Guest Chef

One of the highlights of this summer was a visit from my nephew Michael Speranza. Mike, a professional chef with Custom Culinary was in Seattle on business and managed to get away to Crippen Creek for a couple of nights. Besides just having a great visit, we got a cooking lesson from Mike using some of our great local food that we are always bragging about. But first Mike got a first hand look at where our food comes from.

Chef Michael Sloppin the Hogs
Then we barbecued some baby back ribs from Crippen Creek Farm and beef short ribs from
Zimmerman Beef.

Barbecued ribs with bourbon molasses glaze

Then Mike gave us a lesson in preparing my all time favorite...rack of lamb from Greyfields Farm.

Start with a great piece of meat

Remove fat and silverskin
Sear it

Coat it with Dijon mustard

Cover with seasoned bread crumbs

Roast it

Carve it

And serve it.

Rack of Lamb with demiglaze and acini
This was truly the most incredible lamb I have ever eaten.

And for dessert...Creme Brulee

A Gathering Place

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. ~John Lubbock

I can tell you we spent more time cutting the grass than lying on it. But when we could find moments of idleness, it was the screened porch that quickly became our retreat. With its walls of knotty cedar, its squeak-bang door, (it opens with a squeak and closes with a bang), and its view of the creek, it has easily become our favorite gathering place. A place to gather with friends but especially a place to gather our thoughts, a place to rest, reflect and be renewed.
We were indulging in such a moment one morning with our morning coffee when our reverie was interrupted by what sounded like a woman screaming somewhere downstream. It was a blood chilling scream of a cougar, serving as a potent reminder of who really owns the real estate around here. It was a moment that inspired awe, respect and reverence. We are so grateful to be living here.