Buffalo Burger Cheese Burger Fries

In the valley below you would not even know that it’s fall. It’s over a hundred degrees most October days.

Any sweaters and scarves and gloves to be seen?

No way here in sunny So Cal; you can find a Pumpkin Spice Latte on the menu at Starbucks, but that is the only real way to tell it is fall in the Inland Empire of Southern California.

I love the changing seasons. That is why I feel so blessed to be here in California, so close to Los Angeles, Hollywood and the beaches, but I get to drive home every night on winding mountain highways, though fog so dense sometimes I can not see past my hood. I don’t even mind when I have to slam on my brakes as I pass at the local ski resort when a brazen pack of deer decide to slowly scamper across the highway ahead of me!

    I love everything about the mountain life and I love everything about autumn; the rolling fog, making turkey and sweet potato chili, enjoying cool evenings with pinot grigio and a fire roaring in the fire-place. I love the crisp cool days when I can see Catalina Island and sail boats on the Pacific Ocean two hundred miles away, from the west-facing rim of the mountain side.
It’s autumn here in Southern California and every where I go on my morning run I see forests of bright orange and yellow poison oak. I feel like it is mocking me, saying,
“Hey you! Remember when you got drunk this summer on Creek-o-ritas and fell in the poison oak you could not see? Well, guess what! I’m here now! And I’m neon yellow!”
Every morning when I run through the forest right now my views are just gorgeous absolutely every where.  This morning I hiked slash ran to the top of Craft’s Peak on this chilly October day.
When I woke up this morning it was a grey foggy morning.  I was in heaven. I love foggy days. It feels okay to be lazy on foggy days and just make a fire and make broccoli cheese soup and watch Always Sunny in Philadelphia all day.

Or go for a run slash hike.

The tall oak tree in my back yard had shed most of it’s leaves over night and I knew I should really get out there and rake up the mess but going for a run up a mountain side sounded way more fun.

Plus I made Brownie Sundaes the night before, so sweating out the chocolate was the way to go!

By the time I was heading out the door the fog had rolled down in altitude a bit to about four thousand feet. This made my hike slash run so gorgeous because I was just above the fog line.

I drove winding mountain roads to the little hamlet of Green Valley Lake and then took an old logging road about two miles into the forest. I parked my SUV in the dirt and began my morning adventure up the dirt road that leads to Craft’s Peak.
I was lagging behind my friend a little bit, adjusting my pack I used for running, when I noticed she was talking to some one but there was no one around. Is my kooky friend talking to herself, I wondered?

That is when I realized there was a hunter, fully camouflaged, leaning against some trees watching us. I wish I had taken a picture of him. He so blended in, we did not even see him until my friend noticed him and we were literally standing right next to the guy. Damn, those deer have no chance! I thought to myself. I usually choose to run in this Green Valley Lake area because there are so few hunters over in this area of the mountain; a much safer route during deer season. This guy completely surprised us.

I’m so glad we were talking about bowel movements right at that moment.
He was really nice though and didn’t seem perturbed that he ran into two sweaty girls in the forest who were talking about poo, when all he REALLY wanted to see was Bambi.

With a wave goodbye we were heading up the trail… and up and up and up. It’s only about a six-mile round trip hike but the top of the peak is at about 8,400 feet. That would be over a thousand feet of elevation gain in our morning journey. The mountains are so gorgeous once you get to about eight thousand feet. Lodge Pole Pines grow at these altitudes. They need the severe cold and wind to survive. It looks a lot like the Sierras when you get up this high. I would guess it was only about forty-five degrees when we finally reached the summit, but the morning air was so crisp and clean. We had amazing views of the fog coming in right above Lake Arrowhead to the North and a clear view of Big Bear Lake to the East.

What a gorgeous invigorating autumn morning!

And now I can justify eating Buffalo Burger Cheese Fries?!

Buffalo Cheese Burger Fries

1 package garlic fries ( I buy Trader Joes brand)

1 pound Buffalo meat
1/2 cup shredded Colby jack cheese
1 cup onion rings
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
2 tab mayonnaise
In a saucepan cook the buffalo.
Set aside.
Bake the garlic fries.
Remove the fries from the oven.
Drain the fat from the buffalo.
Layer the buffalo on top of the fries.
Mix the mayo and the BBQ sauce.
With a tablespoon top the buffalo with the BBQ sauce.
Layer the cheese on top and the onion rings on top of that.
Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

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