Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Pumpkin Ale

Thunderstruck Pumpkin Ale. I used this as a model, did all-grain and used BeerSmith2 to scale it down, I then rounded the grains to 1/4 of ounces. I also did not use pumpkin, cause I didn't want to deal with it.

Got to use my JSP MaltMill for the first time. And I forgot some basic physics whilst doing so. I turned my drill on and then poured grains into the hopper, got about 1 lb in and since I was not holding onto the drill, the friction from the grain resulted in the drill spinning around and around until the cord stopped it from turning. My brain took awhile to catch up to the situation and after forgetting to disengage the lock switch on the drill trigger, I plugged it back in and the grain mill hopped off the bucket and spilled an ounce or so of grains. Then my stupid brain caught up and all was good after that. Got a great crush and my efficiency is over 80% with this batch.

Brewed 9/24

7 lb Rahr 2-row malt
1.5 lb 60L crystal malt
1 lb biscuit malt
.5 lb wheat, flaked
1 oz Fuggles for 60 min
1 pack Saf-05

Single infusion mash with 3.75 gallons water at 154° F for 45 min
Mash out at 168°F for 15 min (added ~2 gallons at 205°)
Sparge with 3.75 gallons of 170°F water (pulled off 6.75 or so gallons due to larger than expected boil off in last 2 brews)
Boil 60 mins

BeerSmith est. OG: 1.049
Measured OG: 1.060

I pulled off a little too much wort and ended up with a batch size of about 5.5 gallons in the primary, maybe even 6. I didn't get near the boil off that I've been getting recently.

It's been very active in fermentation and took off like crazy after less than a day. Tuesday (9/27) I saw the krausen came out of the bubble lock, so had to replace that. Wasn't a bad spill, stayed contained on the lid. Still bubbling as of last night every few seconds.

At transfer to secondary, I will add 1 tsp of a pumpkin pie spice soaked in brandy or vodka overnight.

Updates to follow.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Simple Apfelwein recipe...or hooch, which is kinda what it is. The original recipe is from a homebrew forum, which will be the first or second result in a google search for Apfelwein.

5 gallons apple juice, non-pasteurized, 100% juice
4 lbs dextrose

Mix those however you see fit and put it in a carboy. Add a packet of champagne yeast, or any wine or beer yeast that will handle upwards of 15% alcohol. The champagne yeast lends a drier end product.

Now, this is nice and all, but I wanted something a little more cider like and sweeter. So I did the following for the second batch.

5 gallons apple juice
1 lb dark brown sugar
4 lbs dextrose
2 cinnamon sticks
Capful of whole cloves

I took 3 gallons of the juice and added everything else to it. Brought it to a boil and went 15-20 minutes. Cooled it and tossed it into a carboy with the rest of the juice. Added a pack of champagne yeast and let it go.

About 1 month in, I tried it and tested the SG. Went from 1.100ish to 1.030 in that time and was a little too sweet. Tested again a week later and the same. So, I added another pack of yeast and have let it sit since. This addition saw noticeable activity in the airlock for a few days.

It has since been allowed to sit until cleared and has not been tested. Will bottle once the yeast has appeared to all settle out again, which should be soon. I'll bottle by end of September.

Each taste has been good. Spices come through and the brown sugar definitely added a nice sweetness to it. Definitely more pleasing than the 2 cases of hooch I brewed with the original recipe.

Double Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Stout

Also Known As: Hagrid's Stout

Yup, I'm that kinda nerd. Anyway, here's the recipe.

Lafayette, IN city water was used

Grain Bill:
9.5 lbs. 2-row Malt, this one was from Canada
18 oz. Quaker quick oats
.75 lbs 120L crystal malt
.75 lbs chocolate malt
.25 lbs Carafa III
1 tbsp 5.2 pH stabilizer

1 oz. Northern Brewer hops 60 min
.75 oz EKG hops 15 min
.25 oz EKG hops 5 min

Danstar Nottingham yeast in primary
Danstar Windsor yeast in secondary

1 can of Hershey's Special Dark powdered cocoa
5 lbs pie cherries in secondary

Mash grains using 15.5 qt water at 153-158 F for 60 min. Strike water about 168 F.
Mash out with 6.25 qt at 168 F for 20 min. Strike water about 202 F.
Fly sparge with 2.75 gal at 168 F.

Boil 60 min with hop additions as noted above. Added chocolate at 5 minutes left in boil.

Primary for 1-2 weeks.

After about 3-4 days, fermentation stuck at about 1.030. This is where Windsor yeast comes in.

For cherries, I brought to 165 F +/- 5 F for 15 minutes. Cooled and put into secondary vessel. Racked beer on top.

Let sit for a day. Then added Windsor yeast. After seeing no bubbler activity for 2 days, checked gravity. Then checked next day. They were the same at about 1.022.

Decided to go ahead and bottle. Probably should have left in secondary another week, but didn't.

Smelled of chocolate at bottling. Tasted like ass. But taste was reticent of Hairy Porter I made, so just needs time in bottle to age. Will update in a couple weeks for results, as that will be about a month in the bottle.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


I brewed up an IPA modeled after a Stone IPA clone recipe from the Clone Brews book by the Szamatulskis. Had another blow-out with this brew sometime between Sunday afternoon and Monday afternoon when I went to check on it and my brew had bubbled over some and there was no sanitizing solution left in the bubbler. No beer made it to the floor this time.

I also converted a cooler to a mash tun, but I'm not enamored with it's performance as I did need to add water multiple times. It was my first time and I don't think I added hot enough water on my initial strike, so we'll try again and see how it works. I do need to get or make a z fitting (or maybe a single elbow will work) to get the line lower on the drain side of the cooler. Also made a wort chiller with 30' of 3/8" copper tubing and some washing machine hosing.

3 lbs. 2-row malt
6 oz. 20L

The grains were mashed in my new cooler mash tun at 145 to 150 F for 90 minutes with 2 gallons of water to start and 1 tbsp of 5.2 pH stabilizer. I added around 3 quarts of boiling water at various times. I added 2 gallons of ~200 F water and let it sit for ~30 minutes. (I will not spend this much time with the next one, but this book calls for 90 minute mashes which is just unnecessary)

Poured off to my boiling pot and began heating. Added the following extracts:
3.3 lbs light LME
3.7 lbs light DME

Brought to a boil, added 1 oz Northern Brewer (this is where my recipe differs, Chinook are called for) and 1/2 oz Magnum. At 45 minutes added 1 oz Columbus and 1 tsp of Irish Moss. At 55 minutes I added 1 oz. of Centennial. Cooled with the new wort chiller, poured into the fermenter, pitched yeast and aerated for about 15 minutes before foaming too much. Put in basement to ferment for 1 week. Will transfer and dry hop this weekend and should bottle 10-12 days from now.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

If you care, please absorb and repeat ad nauseum

The recently passed GOP budget requires a $6 trillion increase in the debt we take on. The GOP is now refusing to raise the debt ceiling for the very budget they agreed to. This is a perfect example of hypocrisy and counting on you, the American voter, to be too stupid to realize it. Don't let them get away with it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Robust Porter - Brewed May 29

Extract with specialty grains.

1/2 lb chocolate malt
1/2 lb black patent malt
1 lb 60L crystal malt

6 lb amber extract

1 oz Chinook, bittering
1 oz Cascade, flavoring
1 oz Fuggles, aroma

Bring 1 to 1.5 gallons of water to 160 degrees Fahrenheit then add all specialty grains. Keep at 150 to 155 degrees for 45 minutes. Strain the grains from the pot (or just remove the grain bag) and give the wort the heat and begin to bring to a boil. Add the extract while stirring when near boiling.

Once boiling, add the first hops, in this case 1 oz of Chinook. At 45 minutes add the flavoring hops. At 55 minutes add the aroma hops. Kill the heat at 60 minutes and preferably use a wort chiller to bring wort down to less than 80 degrees. Transfer to your primary fermentation vessel.

Add yeast, I used British Ale yeast from Wyeast and made a starter, and close it all up. Primary fermentation for 1 week. Secondary fermentation + dry hopping with ~0.5 oz of Amarillo hops for 1-2 weeks.

Had a nice hoppy, bitter flavor at transfer. Had a blow out on my 6 gallon carboy fermenter at some point in the first night. The yeast really took off on this brew, hopefully the gravity doesn't go too low where I lose body. Had an original gravity of 17 Brix (1.070 SG) and this should ferment down to a final gravity of about 1.010. Beersmith says an IBU of about 47 at bottling.

This particular brew was different than the first robust porter I did (which I also added coffee at bottling) with Chinook rather than Northern Brewer hops due to a mix-up at the brew store when I purchased this and a Stone IPA clone recipe (not a kit) from Great Fermentations. So the Stone will receive Northern Brewer instead of Chinook and I decided to try Chinook in the Robust Porter instead.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thoughts and Miscellany from Kenya

This was an incredibly rewarding and fun trip. We learned a ton and had an experience that will give us lasting memories and possibly change how we live our lives. It’s one thing to read or see pictures about how people in developing worlds live, it’s quite another to see it in person. Some of the things we take for granted here, such as working plumbing and reliable electricity, are available only to those with money or sometimes not even then as far as reliability. I’ve long known how good I’ve got it, despite my relative poorness as a student I’ve never had to go without and have a strong support system with my family, but seeing rural Africa hit me hard on how well off I am comparatively. A lot of the people we saw live on less than a dollar a day and they first have to deal with how they’re going to get through the day before they can focus on education and improving their standing. This is something I believe many people here in the US fail to understand. These people are fighting for survival, and that holds true for our poorest as well, and don’t have the time or resources available to get the education and healthcare they need to do well. I will do what I can to help change this and hope to start my own business like Aqua Clara in the future. Bring them clean cheap water, improve their health and thereby give them the time and resources to improve their standing.

The smart culture book turned out to be very accurate and a great resource. Thanks Jen, you're the best!

I watched, I think, at least two movies on each of the long plane rides. I've been loving the VOD systems since they've come out, but getting them on planes like this is one of the best applications possible. No way my portable DVD player lasts through even one of the rides, and there were a plethora of options available for viewing. I watched the following: Sherlock Holmes, The Blind Side (really liked this, much more so than I thought I would), Inglorious Basterds, Avatar, Precious (fantastic), some of the TV shows they had, and The Invention of Lying (loved this).

Kenyans have a very different attitude towards work and time than we in the US have. The Moi students did help, but definitely took more breaks and were slower/more deliberate in their work. That's just the way they do things, and I kinda wish we were more like that in some ways as we are definitely a heavy working society here and are not as relaxed as many European and African countries. The Kenyans mentioned that they were impressed by our calm demeanor on that last day to finish up after we heard how crunched for time we were. We calmly and quickly solved all problems that were thrown our way and I think really gave Purdue a great name. I'm quite proud to have been a part of this group of seniors; those in ABE have been described by multiple professors as being the best group they've ever had.

Being a car nut, I kept an eye out for the vehicles there and observed the differences between what we get and what's available there. They're a former British colony, so they have right-hand drive cars and drive on the opposite side of the road than us. By far the most common make was Toyota, which seemingly was half the cars I saw and ranged from late 70s to brand new. The newer cars were better looking than the ones we get here, had different names, and were smaller. I don't recall seeing a new Toyota there the size of a Camry, aside from wagons. I was fortunate to see a Hilux up close and personal a few times. Those things are incredible and I cannot believe we don't get those here as they are indestructible as seen on Top Gear and can drive through anything.

A Hilux in the wild:
From Kenya 2010

They had no trouble going through stuff like this where other vehicles spun their wheels:
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010

Overall, the Japanese makes made up nearly all of the vehicles. I don't recall seeing any American makes, which would make sense as we don't produce much in the way of right-hand drive. I saw a couple Peugeots and Renaults. Nissan was well represented in the mini-van (matatus) arena. The only luxury mark I saw was Mercedes-Benz.

It was a fantastic trip and I wish we'd had more time to finish the filter and allow for a little bit of sight-seeing. We wanted to go to a national park, but due to the struggles of getting there for the 12 who flew through Detroit we were unable to. I'd love to go back again, and I plan to keep in touch with Scott and Claire and could use a vacation next year or even this year and volunteer my time to help them do what they do. I look forward to hearing how this filter works as it could be another way Aqua Clara can help the people of East Africa.

May 14, 2010 - Friday

On the plane from Nairobi to Amsterdam. I ended up sleeping a good portion of this ride. We got to Amsterdam and then Detroit with no issues. We landed about 30 minutes later than scheduled and booked it through customs but were unable to make our original connecting flight. We all were able to get onto the next flight to Indy and safely made it back to Purdue a little after 4 pm. Even though I was plenty tired, I wrote out some journal entries, blogs, and got all my photos uploaded to the webernets.

May 13, 2010 - Thursday

We again woke up at 5:30 am, this time arriving on site at about 7:45 am. We walked down the same path as Wednesday but didn't see any scary dogs. We set to work straight away with me joining Steven, Mark, and Phil on the cement mixer.

We had decided that an operation filter was necessary and without one the trip would be a failure, so we were really working quickly to finish. To ensure we got done, we had decided that we'd sift as much as possible, wash as much as possible, and set a time to stop everything and set up a bucket brigade to get the sand into the filter, washed or not. At the cement mixer, we got all the fine sand pre-washed, then started to wash bulk sand.

Around 10 am, Dr. Blatchley comes to tell us that our flight from Eldoret to Nairobi was canceled and that we had arranged to drive to the airport and thus our day was going to be cut even shorter. The plan was to leave the site by noon to give us time to quickly clean up, pack, and get on the road by 1 pm. Strangely, none of us batted an eye at this and just kept working while Scott and Dr. Blatchley formulated a plan to finish up on time. Amazingly, the airline had called Susan Chebet to tell her the flight was canceled. Had that not happened, we would not have made it home on time and we're very fortunate for that.

From Kenya 2010

The tank needed to be reinforced prior to filling, and we finished that up by about 11:30 and set to filling the tank with sand. We set up a bucket brigade and tossed sand in while adding water and smoothing out the surface. We had it filled rather quickly and set to getting all the holes drilled in it that we needed.

From Kenya 2010

While some finished up with the tank, others were packing up. Once Bruce got that final bushing in with the valve, we posed for a group photo and then headed out. We gave Scott and Claire all of our sieves, extra materials, and a lot of sunscreen and insect repellent. We got back, quickly cleaned up, packed up, ate lunch, and hit the road to Nairobi. The trip to Nairobi was quite adventuresome.

From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010

Road behavior is a sight to behold in Kenya; it is one of utter chaos. People walk across at random, drivers are incredibly aggressive with passing (we had multiple near head-on collisions), there are random speed bumps on open roads, and more. Nairobi's traffic was incredible, with people just driving wherever there was room and forcing their way all over the place. While in Nairobi, there was a portion of road that had around 6" of water from the rains that everyone was driving through. Our driver nearly, or actually did, hit a pedestrian with the side mirror at one point and was fairly aggressive in town to ensure we got to the airport on time. We spent at least an hour in traffic to go only about 30 km, if that far.

My van got to the airport about 45 minutes prior to the other van, which got lost at one point. Their drivers wouldn't listen to our driver and wouldn't answer many of his calls. This is apparently rather common in Kenya to not trust those you don't know, even if there is a common goal. Our driver was from Nairobi and had a route planned out, however the drivers of the other van also had a route in mind. They eventually had to stop and ask a guy on the side of the road how to get to the airport.

Overall, it was a great yet somewhat terrifying trip through the Kenyan countryside and we got a real taste of what people deal with daily in rural and urban areas. In Nairobi, I noticed a lot of newer apartment buildings, a sign of a growing middle class, with clothes hanging off the balcony to dry, even in the pouring rain. I also noticed that almost all of the property in Nairobi was fenced in as was also the case in the rich part of Eldoret.

May 12, 2010 - Wednesday

We got up at 5:30 am and walked down to the main guest house for breakfast, scheduled for 6 am. We didn't actually eat until after 6:30 as it was difficult for the guest house staff to arrive so early. We arrived at Cheptiret a little after 7 am and the roads were too bad for the bus to attempt to drive down, so we walked. We were told of a short-cut...not so much, but it was much less muddy. We went back through part of the village of Cheptiret and along some paths, through a small part of a farm field and to the main entrance to St. Catherine's with a teacher leading the way. On the way we saw multiple dogs and I was very surprised at how seemingly domesticated they were. Since being knocked over by a large dog when I was a kid, I've been fairly nervous around strange dogs, especially those roaming around wherever, so multiple times I was really trying to avoid random dogs and using my classmates as protection so I wasn't the one who got bit (sorry guys!). One pair we saw was pretty menacing looking and appeared to be stuck together at the butt. Scott said when he was walking past them they were going at it when another dog showed up to fight with the male over the female and in the course of that, the two got stuck together. So no one got bit and we got to see more picturesque views before getting to the job site about 7:30 am.

From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010

Tank with the gravel layer in:
From Kenya 2010

We got to work immediately again, this time focusing on sieving of sand. I quickly learned it would kill my back and make me completely useless the rest of the trip so I switched to washing coarse sand once there was enough to do so. We also had the help of several Moi students, of whom I can only remember a few names. We worked until at least 10, maybe even 11 before tea and a snack arrived. The following are the only pics I've got remaining from Wednesday as I was focused on working.

From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010

The rains came around 2 pm, but we worked through them by having everyone washing sand. The Kenyans, as is their custom, stopped working in the rain unless they had an umbrella. We asked them about that and they just said that's what they do. We definitely wanted to join them in a break, but we were determined to have an operational filter before we left so we kept plugging along. Late in the afternoon, a cement mixer showed up and several guys started using it to pre-wash the fine sand. It helped immensely, cutting the hand washing time significantly. To wash the sand by hand, we put a little sand in a bucket then added water. Swirled it around, let sit for a 5 second count, then poured off the supernatant that was full of clay and silt. We did this until the water being poured off was only slightly cloudy, with non-pre-washed sand needing at least 8 washes in this manner. This work continued until it was time to leave. Again, we had to walk back to the bus. One of our members was wearing sandals and was walking much slower than the rest of us.

We got back to the bus but Eugenia was not behind the last to show up and we definitely became concerned that we had accidentally walked past her and she was out there by herself. Bruce and Jeff, along with one of the Moi students, went back along the path we came. I gave Scott a call after they hadn't come back in a while. Fortunately, right after I called Scott we saw Eugenia and a Moi student walking from up the road as they had taken a different path. Bruce and Jeff returned only minutes later and we all hopped on the bus and headed back to campus for dinner. We arrived early enough that we had an opportunity to clean up. We definitely took advantage, and at our house had hot water too.

After dinner, we had a meeting/discussion with four gentlemen from Africa who had spent the last few weeks with Megan Sapp-Nelson of Purdue. Three of them were native Kenyans and one from Rwanda. Timothy, a professor of history, gave us a brief overview of Kenyan history and politics. Kaka, a professor of film, also contributed to the history and asked us questions on popular films. Jonathan, a lecturer of sociology and the youngest, contributed to the history and offered his opinions on politics. The gentleman from Rwanda, whose name I cannot recall, didn't speak all that much but did offer a comparison to Rwanda and Kenya in regards to politics and corruption.

We had an outstanding conversation for over 2 hours ranging from history to politics to Avatar. The first part consisted of Timothy providing a short history lesson with the other gentlemen chiming in with their thoughts and other tidbits of history and politics. Questions arose from this, mostly the political side with them having recent election violence, an upcoming major election with a change to their constitution on the table and the corruption that pervades much of Africa. They then asked us our impressions of Africa, agriculture comparisons, and about Avatar.

We got fairly passionate about the Avatar question. Kaka wanted our perspective on why it made so much money. From the way he asked, it was clear to me that he thought it was a crap movie and he was really curious to know why we thought such a badly written movie could make so much money. We answered that it was the visuals, and it certainly is worth seeing for that. Avatar is a visually stunning work, but the screenplay is just awful, trite, one-dimensional, unoriginal and wooden. Katie, who like many of us, is passionate about conservation was slightly upset with others' characterizations of the movie (I said it was awful) and expressed that the message was important. We do agree that that is important, however we don't agree on the quality of how that message was delivered.

We wrapped up the discussion a little after 10 pm and headed off to our rooms. We walked back to the house with four people from Moi. They again stayed the night to ensure we were ok and nothing happened to us, which was great and yet still disconcerting. We stayed up a little while talking about the plan for Thursday, which was going to be a shorter day and we still had some coarse sand to get into the filter and all of the fine sand. Little did we know just how short that day was going to actually be and how fortunate we would be mid-morning.

May 11, 2010 - Tuesday

Woke up early as we were going to pick up the class at the airport which is about 45 minutes away due to the roads. Stuff around Eldoret isn't that far, however due to the random speed bumps and poor quality of roads, it's fairly slow going. We meet downstairs for breakfast, which is a buffet with cereal, bread, tea, instant coffee, omelets, and porridge. Being cautious of my food, I opted to not try the milk in case it came straight from a cow and was unpasteurized. I decided to try the porridge and ate maybe two bites. It had a thin jelly consistency, a complete lack of flavor and was just overall awful. The omelet guy showed up, so I polished off breakfast with one of those and another glass of juice.

Off to the airport we went, with the class supposedly booked on a flight to land at 8:30 am. We meet the Moi representatives, Susan Chebet and Emmanuel Kipkorir, and await the arrival of the rest of the class. One plane arrives and no one from the class is on board. Scott and Claire needed to head back to town to talk to the police some more, so they took off and we await the next flight. Another plane came in, but still no class. However, the representatives from IU and IUPUI were on board. They were in town for a peace conference and I met Ian, one of Jen's co-workers, who is an incredibly nice guy. Shortly after they arrived, we got a call from Scott to tell us where the class was. The flights out of Nairobi could only get 7 of them, so they rented a couple vans and drove from Nairobi to Eldoret and were expected to arrive between 12 and 1 pm. So I joined the Moi folks on the bus to go back to the University.

From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010

The ride was pretty miserable and it was coupled with my body getting used to the climate and extra water I was drinking to ensure hydration. It took in total about 90 minutes to get back to campus, with us stopping in the rich people area to wait for Susan and Diane Henshel from IU SPEA. The IU Guest House is in the rich people area and they had dropped off the other IUPUI folks there.

Mama Mia's, expensive restaurant:
From Kenya 2010

We finally arrived at Moi around 11:30 am. We dropped Susan and Diane off at the administration building whose appearance surprised me quite a bit. From a distance, it looks relatively modern and nicely kept. Up close, you can see very old windows, the cracks in the building's facade and the general worse for wear condition of the outside. Comparing to Purdue, the closest buildings to give an adequate comparison would be married student housing. It just had the appearance of not being well-maintained when you were up close.

The rest of the class finally arrived at about 12:15 and we checked into our rooms. Bruce, Steven, Mark, Tiago, and I were bunking in a house down the road from everyone else that gave us a taste of what life in the projects/ghetto or as squatters may be. The house was being used mainly as storage, it appeared, and had a mildewy smell to it. As keeping with Kenyan tradition, the beds were hard as a rock yet somewhat form fitting. I'm curious to know what MOC the mattresses there are. We go back to the main guest house and eat lunch before setting out to the job site.

That's the tank being rolled to the site, it's tough to see:
From Kenya 2010

Cutting the screen for the sieves:
From Kenya 2010

We got to St. Catherine's and immediately started to unpack and get to work. We spread out the sand a bit to facilitate drying and then groups formed to complete the various work. We needed to construct sieves, continue spreading out sand, get the plumbing squared away in the tank, get the tank itself and sieve sand once the sieves were completed. I paired up with Mark, Jeff, and Phil to get the sieves put together using my and Dr. Blatchley's drills. We drained both of his batteries, but my drill ended up lasting the entire week somehow with only one battery. Mark, Jeff, and Phil were fantastic to work with and we had a great time catching up about our different modes of getting to Kenya and busting on each other.

As we got the sieves together, they were put to use washing the gravel and really help got that done quickly. We got the first layer of gravel in and Steven and Adin started getting the plumbing in place. I also helped out with plumbing and whatever else, just as everyone did. We really did work well as a large team and I was pretty impressed with there being next to no conflict despite everyone being so tired. We definitely each had moments of wanting to yell out, but we were never really pushed over the edge.

Some pics of the site and working:
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010

We wrapped up sometime around 6-6:30 pm and due to the rain had to walk up to Cheptiret on a very muddy road. That walk was probably the most exhausting thing I did on the entire trip, and it didn't help that as we were walking it got darker and therefore much more difficult to tell where we were putting our feet. My steps got smaller and smaller so I wouldn't fall down; I was also carrying my drill and was slightly worried it might look like a gun as the light got less and less. We drove back to Moi and went straight to dinner. After dinner we went back to our respective houses/rooms to crash. At our house, we talked briefly but for the most part all went to bed immediately. The plan for Wednesday was to get there with the sunrise.

May 10, 2010 - Monday

Woke up today around 7 am, still with a headache from either the lack of caffeine or jet lag or both. The only thing I forgot that I really needed was my pain relievers. I met up with Scott and Claire at about 8:30 am and learn of the robbery last night. Turned out it was a guy who was staying in the Guest House who saw them leave and then went over there. Quite glad I didn't go, as we also discovered that any key unlocks any door and he would have probably rummaged through my stuff as well. He took Scott and Claire's computers, an HD video camera, and some other miscellaneous stuff. Scott and Claire are with the police all day and I'm just hanging out in my room. I finished reading the Culture Smart Kenya book and Bill Bryson's African Diary (thanks Jen!), eat breakfast, see my first mosquito, sleep, eat some snacks, and sleep some more.

At one point, I finally had to use the bathroom and as you can see from the previous post there was no seat on my toilet. In addition, the heavy rains and a cracked window lead to there being water surrounding the toilet. So, off came the pants and an attempt to squat over the toilet. Being exhausted I gave up with the squatting and just sat on the rim uncomfortably. Other bathrooms I saw had merely a hole in the ground to do your business. I was always happy to see a toilet seat. Yet another reminder of the little things we take for granted and how much better off we are than so much of the world.

We took off around 4 pm to go to a new hotel. Scott and Claire opted to go to the nicest hotel in Eldoret that cost 3500 Ksh a night (roughly $45). This hotel has a pool and you can buy a day pass to it, which Scott and Claire have done.

Pic of downtown Eldoret:
From Kenya 2010

We ate dinner at the hotel, which had quite an extensive menu. We all opted for a curry of some type, me going with chicken. Also had my first, and only while in Eldoret, beers at dinner. Had a Pilsner to start with and then a Tusker. Neither was particularly good and both were of the quality of our standard lawnmower beers. If you go to Kenya, you should try the local beers but don't expect them to be much different from our mass produced beers like Miller Lite and Budweiser.

My sleep schedule was pretty screwy at this point, having slept a lot trying to get used to the time change. I slept off and on through the night, waking up at 1 am and then just pseudosleeping the rest of the night.

Friday, May 14, 2010

May 9, 2010 - Sunday

Fly out to Eldoret and meet Scott and Claire. Uneventful trip. The views from the plane were incredible and amazingly green. From the air you could really see how many small subsistence farmers there were and how few larger scale farmers exist in Kenya.

Nairobi Airport Domestic Departures:
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010
From the plane:
From Kenya 2010
Eldoret Airport Complaint Box:
From Kenya 2010

We drive into town to the Reformed Church Guest House to drop off my stuff. This is my first exposure to life in rural Kenya, and I’m struck by the poverty and dirtiness. It reminded me of Mexico a bit with the small businesses lining the road ways, especially in the spots with the random speed bumps. But here, it seemed even poorer. About half of all Kenyans are below the poverty line and live on less than $1/day; how, I have no idea.

From Kenya 2010

Reformed Church Guest House:
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010

On the docket for today is to get our sand delivered to St. Catherine’s and we go into downtown Eldoret to meet the sand guy and arrange delivery. When we meet the guy, he tells us that it is 10 tons, as ordered; however, our driver says that the truck can only hold 8 tons and we arrange to weigh the truck before and after delivery at the Eldoret Steel Mill. On the before weigh, we notice a lot of water coming off the truck and wonder if the driver wetted down the sand right before coming in to inflate the weight.

From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010

We drive to Cheptiret and assess the road conditions as the last 1.5 km is unpaved. As we’re walking down the road, we’re hailed by a couple Moi University representatives and are told of another route which is apparently safe. This is good news as the attempt to go down the road the prior day resulted in Scott and Claire’s matatu getting stuck badly and the gravel being dumped in Cheptiret rather than at St. Catherine’s. We take this new route down to the site and off-load the sand. We have a couple Kenyans helping out for a price of about a dollar each, I believe it was 300 Ksh for 3 guys to split evenly. The sand is off-loaded and covered shortly before the afternoon rains arrived. We gave Solomon a ride home, and he had about 1.2 km from the road to his house. He took off sprinting to beat the rain, and upon asking him a day or two later we found he was successful. It was a pretty funny sight to see him take off like that, especially so fast.

From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010
Just Outside Steel Mill:
From Kenya 2010

Now it was time to weigh the empty truck back at the steel mill. We get the truck up there and find a weight difference of about 7.8 tons. While on our way, the sand guy directs our driver to various restaurants around town as Scott and Claire had asked where some good places to eat were. We went from downtown to the rich area (where the owner of the steel mill lives) to see 4-5 restaurants.

From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010

After dropping the sand guy off, we go to downtown Eldoret to eat lunch/dinner and on the way pass by the market place that was packed with people. We ate at an Indian restaurant in the late afternoon and when I get back to the hotel, I pass out. Scott and Claire go into town at 1930 to grab a quick dinner at the grocery store and while they’re gone are robbed by a guy in another room. I find out the next morning as I slept through the night.

More at Reformed Guest house:
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010
From Kenya 2010

Hear that class missed their flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi and will be another day late. Bad luck is hitting them pretty good.

May 8, 2010 - Saturday

Receive message from class while in Amsterdam that they missed their flight from Detroit to Amsterdam and will be at least one day late. Fortunately a professor from the Agronomy department was also traveling to Eldoret and happened to be on the same Amsterdam/Nairobi flight. I asked the flight attendants where Dr. Schulze was sitting and met up with him to continue my journey. After landing and getting our bags, we take a cab to the Methodist Guest House. The taxi driver was flying through downtown at speeds upwards of 140 kph (87 mph) and provided my first exposure to the lunacy that is driving in Kenya.

I check-in and eventually am able to send out some email to let folks know I was in Nairobi. Also received a call from Scott Rumpsa to see if I was still flying out to Eldoret since the rest of the class was behind. I decide to go ahead and go out there and Scott will pick me up and show me around. Exhausted, I go to sleep with my alarm set for 5:30 in the morning.

May 7, 2010 - Friday

Fly from Indy to Minneapolis to Amsterdam to Nairobi with no issues.

Nairobi Airport
From Kenya 2010