Rafting Westwater Canyon, Utah

 

This summer I rafted Westwater Canyon with some co-workers. Unfortunately, I haven't had the time until recently to put together the video.

Westwater Canyon is on the Colorado River east of Cisco, Utah. Since the canyon sits near Canyonlands and Arches National Parks the scenery is a plethora of red, orange, green, and black. Taking a look around between rapid fights is breathtaking.

The class III and class IV rapids made sure we had a great time, but also requires the use of a river guide. You must also have a permit to raft the river so keep that in mind. The best bet is to head over to one of the adventure centers, and plan a trip there. 

Thanks to Ryan and The Cadence Group for taking us out. Here's the video I finally got around to putting together:

Thanks!

How to Brew Beer Quickstart

When I make beer I like to follow a set of steps to make sure that I don't forget anything. I put this list together as a reference while I'm brewing. This article assumes that you have all the ingredients and tools to brew. Usually the ingredients are put together in a kit. Let's get started.

Sanitation

Any imperfections or bacteria will destroy the taste of beer, and you'll probably will not know it for the duration of the brew. Make sure anything that touches the non-boiling beer is sanitized. This cannot be stressed enough. I use Star San, but there are others. They don't require rinsing off, and actually discourage it so follow the instructions. Sanitizing the brew pot is unnecessary, as the boiling water creates the sanitation needed. What I like to do is make the sanitizing solution in my fermenter and then fill up a spray bottle with it. Lay out some aluminum foil and place the tools on it. Spray them down with the sanitizing solution and let them dry out.

Water Setup

Beer is as good as the water it is made in. If tap water is used to make beer then it should be boiled for 20 minutes or so to remove the chlorine and soften the water a bit. Generally, distilled or RO water shouldn't be used because the minerals in the water can be important. 

Steep

Sometimes specialty grains are used to create the base flavor. If you don't have specialty grains then move on to the boil step. Otherwise, put the grains into a steeping bag, and heat the water to 155 degrees. Place the grains into the water, and keep them there for 30-45 minutes just like making a tea. Don't squeeze the bag because unwanted tannins will be released from the bag. While the grains are steeping prep the remaining ingredients. Once the 30-45 minutes is up take out the bag. Take it off the heat in order to prevent a boil over when putting in the malt and also burning the malt on the bottom of the pot.

The Boil

Now slowly add the malt extract to the pot. Sometimes the malt is liquid, and sometimes it is in a powder form. If it is liquid it's helpful to run the container under warm water first so it pours easier. Now put it back on the heat and bring it to a boil. BE CAREFUL. As it comes to a boil it will foam up and try to boil over creating a huge mess. Fanning the pot and reducing the heat once boiling helps as well.

Now set a timer for 60 minutes. This is where the bittering hops is added. The packages usually have a time on them (60 minutes, 15 minutes, etc). Hops get added at the time LEFT on the timer. So if the package says 15 minutes that means add 15 minutes until the boil is done. At the end of the timer, take the pot off the heat.

Cooling

Generally, the wort should be cooled as soon as possible. If you have a wort chiller put it in the boiling pot about 10 to 15 minutes before it is done. If you don't have one put ice in the bathtub with water to help cool the wort quickly. Right when the boil finishes turn on the wort chiller or place the pot in the ice tub. Once your beer reaches room temperature it's time for the fermenting step.

Fermenting

This is the only time that you want oxygen mixed into the beer is when you first start the ferment. Pour the beer into your sanitized fermenting bucket or carboy. Top off the bucket with water to get it to the five gallons. Sprinkle the yeast into the container. Give it the final shake mixing the yeast all up and add oxygen to it. Now insert the fermenting cab and place it in a cool dark place.

Kegging

I keg instead of bottling simply because I keep a tap in the dining room. Make up some more sanitizer to sanitize the keg. Then pressurize the keg, and run some sanitizer through the lines as well. 

Good Luck!

Sand Hollow Scuba Diving

 

Of all the Utah dives I think Sand Hollow is my favorite. The water is usually warm, the visibility is good, and for a local dive there is a lot to see.

Location

Diving is done in Sand Hollow Reservoir a few miles south of Hurricane, Utah. On I-15 take exit 27 towards Hurricane. At the south end of the town turn left at the signs for Sand Hollow State Park. Follow the road, and the reservoir is on the left side across the street from Sand Hollow Resort.

What to Expect

Sand Hollow State Park requires a use fee so be prepared. Pay the fee, skip past the paved road on the right, and there is a little dirt road on the right leading down to the shore where diving is done.

Last time I dove it was in September, and the water was a wonderful 84 degrees. Entry is done on the shore, and there are guidelines straight out from the buoy shown i the picture. The guidelines can take you to the various planted attractions including: 

  • A toilet
  • Platfoms
  • Swim-throughs
  • A VW van
  • A missile
  • A plane

The fish are also super friendly. I put together a video of a dive I did last year:

Good luck on your next adventure!

RC Rock Crawling in Little Moab, Utah

 

Jake and I went to Little Moab to watch an Ultra4 race. For those who don't know Ultra4 racing is an RC rock crawling competition. At first slow RC cars trying to climb rocks seems incredibly boring, but it is surprisingly interesting to watch.

The competition consists of two hundred cone "gates" setup across the rocks creating a track. If you hit a cone then you get points. If you have to touch your vehicle for anything other than changing batteries than you get points for "the hand of God." At the end of the race the driver with the least amount of points wins.

While this was going on there were also people in a second type of race. The same general rules apply except this time you are timed. Watching the competitors run behind their cars while negotiating obstacles is very entertaining.

All in all it was a great experience. I'm looking forward to picking up a crawler so I can join the next competition. Jake was nice enough to film everything and put together a video. I posted it here so you can check it out.