Sunday, July 15, 2012

37.5 hours spent with friends

My good buddy Charles and his lovely wife Hyunjin arrived at YB Near, where I work, on Thursday, a bit before 7PM. Charles had the chance to meet and shake hands with two of my coworkers and my supervisor; Hyunjin popped in moments later and gave me a hug. We talked a bit, then headed out for stromboli at the pizzeria next door to my center. That night, we watched "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," a movie that bored the travel-worn Hyunjin (she and Charles had driven straight westward from Delaware) to the point of sleepiness. Charles also admitted defeat, saying he'd had a hard time keeping track of the characters. I joked, later on, that it was a bit like keeping track of the names in a Russian play.

Before everyone sacked out, we made plans to drive the length of Skyline Drive the following day: a 105-mile car trek at a stately 35 miles per hour. What follows are some pics from that trip.

The first image, below, shows a closeup of Charles's hand as he coaxes a dying butterfly onto it. I guess that this was a male, having shot its wad during mating season and now having outlived its usefulness. The butterfly was originally on the asphalt of an overlook at which we'd stopped; Charles placed the insect on the low stone wall at the overlook's edge.

Below, Charles gives the butterfly some sex advice:

Much farther along the Drive, we stopped at an overlook with a rocky outcropping. Charles and Hyunjin moved atop the rocks as agilely as mountain goats, while I did my lumbering best to keep up.

At another overlook (or was it the same one?), I saw a dead tree that made an impression:

Around Mile 50, we stopped at Dark Hollow Falls, a 1.5-mile round-trip hike that goes way downhill, then way uphill. At the bottom of the hike are the modest-sized falls. Below, Charles and Hyunjin see the sights and take pictures of nature at its most natural.

We were all distracted by bracket fungi:

At last, the falls themselves (next two photos):

Completely unafraid of slippery rocks, Hyunjin poses:

I needed at least one pretentious photo of me aping zazen, so...

The climb back to the trailhead was nothing for Charles and his wife, but I had to stop and rest at several points. By the time I neared the top, all I could think about was the roll of paper towels in my car, with which to wipe off my sweat. And man, did I sweat. I sweated enough water to slake the thirst of an entire African village. I sweated enough to compete with Dark Hollow Falls itself.

We saw several deer along the way, but the highlight of our trip was near the end, when I almost ran over a bear cub that crossed the road in front of my car. "It's a bear!" I shouted unnecessarily as the cub ran left to right, across our field of view. We were all too surprised to get any pictures of the animal, but I think we all felt that that bear sighting had made the trip worth it. Despite our wonderment, I got the hell out of there, reasoning that, if we had seen a cub, then Mama Bear couldn't be far behind. For a full-grown bear, my Honda Fit would have been like a toy made of aluminum foil, with three healthy dollops of meat inside it. No sense in provoking Mom.

When we got back to my place, I saw that the fence around our communal garbage dumpster had been completely replaced, and that a new warning sign had been tacked onto it. The sign's English was awful, so I had to take a picture of it:

How awful. Unnecessary use of quotation marks, the word "unexceptable" instead of "unacceptable"... oy gevalt.

We had thought about hitting a particular hamburger joint on the way back from Skyline Drive, but we got home too late. So I fed Charles and Hyunjin my budae-jjigae instead. I think they enjoyed it:

We were all too tired to screen "Inglourious Basterds," and since Charles and Hyunjin had to shove off by about 8AM the following morning, we called it a night around 11:30PM. I got up at 6AM to prep breakfast for the dynamic duo. What follows are pictures of the egg/sausage/cheese concoction I'd made.

The photos below aren't actually from yesterday; they're from the previous month. I haven't named this dish, which is quiche-like in nature, but I suppose that, were I to give it a name, I'd call it a Breakfast Frittata or Kevin's Crustless Quiche (which has the advantage of being alliterative in a vaguely racist, "k-k-k" sort of way).


6 large eggs
heavy cream
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 pound breakfast sausage
maple syrup
red chili pepper flakes


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut sausage into eight discs and place in microwavable Pyrex container, heatproof cover on. Zap for 7.5 minutes on high to cook sausage thoroughly. Drain fat from sausage and pull pieces apart with two forks, creating small chunks and crumbles.

3. Scramble eggs with a dollop of heavy cream.

4. Mix eggs and shredded cheddar with the sausage. Add some red pepper for a kick and a few tablespoons of maple syrup for sweetness. Remix.

5. Bake uncovered in 9" x 9" square Pyrex baking dish (the same one used for microwaving) for 25-30 minutes.

The results are below, in the next three pictures:

I served the above with fresh fruit, waffles (slightly burned!-- Charles has a hilarious photo of me burning my hand on the oven door, with the waffles bouncing crazily off the tray), and homemade fruit syrup.

Saying goodbye to Charles and Hyunjin was bittersweet for me. They're on their way back to Korea early next week. Charles says he'll need some time to recover from this vacation, during which he did a lot, traveled a lot, and met a lot of people. But he also says he has no regrets, even though he didn't have much chance to just chill. All the same, I hope he and the Missus came close to chilling while at my place. I'd like to think that the Kevinschloß is a place where weary travelers can find rest, scratch their butts relaxedly, and belch freely. As Charles did. Repeatedly. The man is gastrically talented.



Kevin Kim said...

To Brat:

You wrote a very nice, long comment, and in my stupidity, I accidentally deleted it with a twitch of my thumb on my cell phone. I'm very sorry about that. Me and my clumsy fingers.


Kevin Kim said...

If you care to rewrite your comment, I can remind you of some of the topics you covered:

1. Sheldon and superheroes

2. Your own bear experience

3. Bracket fungi and painting

4. A different national park

Surprises Aplenty said...

I am nearly as big as you and I gotta say, I am impressed with your flexibility: I haven't been able to cross my legs like that in fifteen years or more.

I guess being overweight and being flexible can be two different things but for me they are not.

Kevin Kim said...


I think it helps to get flexible when you're young, and then you can retain that flexibility as you age. I did taekwondo as an elementary schooler, and can still kick (albeit weakly) at head level.

Elisson said...

Great post... I loved the photos (food! waterfalls!), and the recipe was a bonus.

Re butterflies, remember this important fact: They may be beautiful, but they're still flies.

Charles said...

We had a great time at your place and on Skyline Drive. The visit itself was relaxing, but unfortunately was bracketed by lots and lots of driving, which is not relaxing at all (the trip home was rather hellish, thanks to traffic and a torrential downpour outside Philly). It was still well worth it, though.

I'm loading the photos onto my computer as I type this--I'll have to find that shot of you versus the oven and pass it along.