Sunday, May 29, 2011


Char and I were at the store the other day and bought a platter of sushi. I really like sushi. While I have eaten sushi made with tuna and other type of fish, the spicy crab rolls and the California (vegetable) rolls are probably my favorites.

The other night I was eating a couple sushi rolls and remembered my first and only experience with homemade sashimi. Both sushi and sashimi are Japanese foods. The main difference is sushi is a rice roll which may contain fish. Sashimi contains no rice and is fresh, raw fish, sliced and occasionally served with a dipping sauce.

In the 1970’s my good friend Alan and I worked on the same district for the Colorado State Forest Service. Our district consisted of four highly populated counties. Alan and I were in charge of crews spraying for mountain pine beetle. Alan oversaw the crews working in the northern portion of the district; I was in charge of the crews working the southern part.

Back then at the end of the summer, just before the crews were released, we had an end of the year party. It was always held during the week, so we wouldn’t disturb the weekend campers.

A lot of ‘logger’ games were involved; things like the pole toss, the hatchet toss, and the ax throw. And yes, alcohol was involved - usually, a lot of alcohol. Surprisingly even with the amount of alcohol consumed, the games we were doing, and the sharp instruments we were using, no one ever got hurt.

When the 1975 spray season came to an end Alan and I had the crews doing some cleanup items and repairs on the trucks. They would meet us at Jefferson Lake later that day for the party. Alan and I had the task of going up to the lake securing a camping spot and most importantly tapping a keg of beer. The keg had to be tapped early so the foam could settle before the crews arrived. It was a difficult task but someone had to do it.

Arriving at the lake we found the ideal site for our camp and the games. It had a nice little meadow with a small stream running through it. Alan and I unloaded the keg and tapped it. Then one of us grabbed a glass to test it. Yeah, it had a lot of foam and we agreed it was a good thing we gotten there early otherwise the crews would pour themselves a glass of beer and then have to wait for the foam to settle. Not wanting to waste the beer in our test glass we drank it.

We proceed to set things up for the logger games. We found poles for the pole toss, we found targets for the ax throw and the hatchet toss, all the time checking the keg about every 20 minutes or so. Always feeling compelled to drink what we took out of the keg.

Around mid day Alan and I realized a couple of things. First, we had not brought any food with us. The crews would be bringing it up later. Secondly, the alcohol from testing the keg was starting to take its toll. Yet, it was our job and whether we liked it or not it had to be done.

Everything was ready for the party, the keg was iced up and the foam starting to settle, then one of us decided we should go fishing. Throwing a fishing line into the small little stream we were both surprised by the fact we started catching small little brook trout almost immediately. Then one of us, I’m pretty sure it was Alan, thought we should clean the fish, start a fire, and cook them for lunch. At the time it seemed like a great idea. Looking back on it two drunken foresters starting a fire in the middle of nowhere may not have been the best idea.

The fire was roaring and the fish were cleaned. We wove them onto a couple of willow sticks and cooked them. I held my stick slightly above the flame until, after about thirty seconds, I hear it sizzle. Turning them over I cooked the other side for another thirty seconds. There was no way those fish were done but as I stated earlier – alcohol was involved. So there we sat eating our raw brook trout talking about how good fresh caught fish were. Following ‘lunch’ we proceed with our task of checking the keg.

I can’t speak for Alan but I vaguely remember the crews arriving. I do remember a couple of the guys helping me to the tent telling me I ought to rest for a while as I babbled about how great the fishing was in that little stream.

If a state agency was to do that today, one if not several people would lose their job and others would most likely end up in jail. But, in the ‘70’s we worked hard and were allowed to play hard. Back then I had no idea our trout lunch was a Japanese delicacy; I would find that out thirty years later. That foreign word, sashimi, now brings a smile to my face.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome read.Sounds like it was a great time. Terrible being in charge of the keg. LOL

4:33 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Well Ralph it sounds like you had a blast "checking the keg." Since alcohol was involved I'm real glad this story had a happy ending!!

I'm also real glad to see a post up again too! :)

10:03 PM  
Blogger Cliff said...

I know you've learned a lot over the years Ralph. Next time take a fry pan. Otherwise...

6:36 AM  
Blogger Peruby said...

I was going to say "And you didn't even have sauce with your sashimi" but then I realized, you WERE sauced!

2:18 PM  
Blogger Cheyenne said...

I love a story about the great outdoors...and alcohol. Good deal. Yeah, things have really changed in this world since way back then. Sometimes I wish we could go back to those times.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Granny Annie said...

Ralph, I am shocked. But now I might have to tell about the time I didn't know my hair was on fire ....and alcohol was involved.

I must say that I loved Peruby's comment.

4:45 AM  
Blogger Lanny said...

What an amazing story, you were ahead of your time and alcohol was involved. Maybe that is why it took so long for the trend to spread. Makes you wonder what other moments of genuis go undiscovered.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Lynne Eve Grossman said...

Hi Ralph,

What an interesting story. I mentioned on Cliffers blog that our youngest daughter just graduated college. Her major was theatre, then ended up being sociology. However, she is interested in pursuing a masters in forestry and I thought of you. I have a new blog w/ my real name, even *gasp* a photo of me. Hope you'll come visit for a spell.

1:06 AM  
Blogger Paul Nichols said...

Terrific story, Ralph. You know how to tell a good tale.

I had a similar story (without the alcohol). When I was a kid I ate nearly Three Dozen Chocolate Chip Cookies before Mom found out. My mom is in heaven now, but I think she's still upset with me.

7:53 AM  
Blogger possum said...

Tsk, tsk...

6:09 AM  
Blogger Mountain Mama said...

Thought I left a comment but don't see it. It sounds like you had a lot of fun. I don't eat raw fish myself but the vegetable sushi is nice. The beer? Never liked the stuff myself.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Good idea, Ralph, for you to go rest for a bit. You guys had fun and thank goodness you can still remember your outing!
The only seafood I like raw is oysters. Some people need alcohol being involved to swallow those, let alone chew.

Life has gone to H*ll in a handbasket, hasn't it Ralph? Back in the 'go to the moon' days we worked hard and played hard also.
Now 'they' want to give it to private industry. I say at least sell it to help our debt. But sadly there would be no buyers. Next will be our forest service, then the armed forces. I do believe government is better suited for some tasks.

9:47 AM  

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