Thursday, December 8, 2011

1924 - 2011



My adored father-in-law died yesterday.  He was a wise, gentle, and kind soul  We miss him already.

For any family and friends or anyone who feels moved to do so, the family is requesting that donations be made in the memory of John V. Raines to the local animal rescue foundation: For Paws Rescue.  This is a wonderful group of volunteers who have found homes for over 500 homeless pets. 


Thanks so much for your warm support.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Update

Hi All.

TexCyn has requested an update, so here it is. 

We are doing OK.  The roof should be finished by the end of the week.  Rain and the Thanksgiving holiday have delayed progress. 

It makes me deeply unhappy that the dream of jumping in my RV and taking off for the desert southwest for a few months was, in fact, just a dream.  This experience has taught me much about the importance of living one's life rather than planning it.   Although the dream did get me through some stressful times in the last year of my doctoral program. 

But the house and the cancelled travel plans are the least of our concerns now. 

My wonderful father-in-law has been in ICU since last week after having bowel surgery.  The pain of the damaged house is nothing compared to seeing him struggle. 

Thanks to you all for your very supportive comments.  I knew you would understand - we have a lot in common. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Imprisoned

Warning: unbridled bitterness ahead .....

This is what my house looked like this AM. 



To those of you who have wisely divested yourselves of your particular money pits, I commend you.

Why am I so bitter?  This is the simply the latest occurence in a long line of such instances when homeownership has prevented me from traveling. 

And not only are the costs out of proportion to any satisfaction one might receive from owning, but I keep fixing things that don't stay fixed.  For example, I just had the stone porch repaired and now it is in much disrepair once again, as you can see.  In 11 years, I've had to redo the porch 3 times.  The same porch, I might add, that gives me absolutely no pleasure. 

For me the oft-touted "financial advantages of home ownership" do not in any way compensate for the missed opportunities.   I now think the entire notion is a complete scam perpetuated by the following: landscapers, pest controllers, revenuers, and insurance companies.  I know there are many others to add to that list.   

My long-awaited trip is postponed indefinitely now.  The one I planned and saved for over the last 14 months.  I'll have to see if there is enough a) time or b) money to salvage any part of it when this is all over.  To say I am disappointed doesn't really cover it.   

I am way behind in following your blogs. It may be some time before I get back to them. I'll be honest with you - at this point it is just too painful.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tornado

We got hit.  This is the view out of our front door. 



It happened about 12:30 yesterday.  Neither John nor I were home but stuck in seperate buildings on campus until the all-clear sounded.  We thought everything was OK.  Then I went home for lunch as planned and saw this. 


Good news: the interior looks good, all things considered.  Best news: Doris, who was home alone, was unhurt.  Just shaken up. 

Other good news: We have had a tremendous outpourings of help.  Everyone we know has offered us housing.  And finally, no one was killed in this terrible storm though 84 houses were severely damaged and a few destroyed. 

The 3 of us are comfortably housed at my father-in-law's condo.  We have everything we need and clean-up has begun.  There is a tree crew there now and we will know more when they complete their work. 

Needless to say, all my travel plans are on hold for now.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Task for Today

Called the dealer and ask why this Winnebago Minnie is so cheap.  Looks like it is priced at one-half the NADA value. 



Maybe because it's been sitting around a long time?   

The internet is a powerful RV shopping tool, but it's like seeing with just one eye - you miss alot. 

I'm still hoping to find a rig close to home (like this one is) but time is running out .....

I'll let you know.   

UPDATE: Just got off the phone with the salesperson.  According to him, there are no defects etc .... etc....  I'm wondering now if maybe it's a typo.  I may drive down there on Friday - it's only 50 minutes from home. 

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dog Haikus

I ran across this the other day and thought I would share since so many of your are dog lovers.  Aplogies to the unattributed author.


My human is home!
I am so ecstatic I have
Made a puddle



I Hate my choke chain-
Look, world, they strangle me!
Ack  Ack Ack Ack Ack Ack!



Sleeping here, my chin
On your foot -no greater bliss-well,
Maybe catching rats



Look in my eyes and
Deny it.
No human could
Love you as much I do



The cat is not all
Bad-she fills the litter box
With Tootsie Rolls



Dig under fence-why?
Because it's there.
Because it's
There. Because it's there.



I am your best friend,
Now, always, and especially
When you are eating.



My owners' mood is
Romantic-I lie near their
Feet. I fart a big one.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pie!

I intended to check out that 24ft. Winnebago at the Atlanta Camping World today but I got all wrapped up in my day off.  Here’s what I did instead: took Doris on a morning and afternoon outing, went to the gym and the bank, did the grocery shopping, sent some cards to family, watered the plants, did the laundry, and worked 2 crosswords.  All before 3:30!  And I baked a pie for the first time in a couple of years!  A fulfilling day for sure.   

I used to bake pies on the weekends.  Then I started my doctoral studies and had to eliminate all the (quite literally) extra-curricular activities.  

But today I returned to Pietown!  We had some leftover blueberry canned pie filling from a brie recipe that didn’t quite work out that was my inspiration.  I tried a new, much easier crust recipe that Ewell Gibbons was fond of.  Remember him from the '70s?  Mr. Wild Hickory Nuts?  It looks too simple to be true: 

2 c. flour
2 T. sugar
¼ c. milk
½ c. vegetable oil


The Laboratory

The Results


I’m skeptical about this “shortcut” pie crust (and the canned pie filling) but just wanted to have a fun throw-together for my first attempt after the long layoff.  And I figure a hefty scoop of Haagen-Dazs on top will make up for a lot of mistakes.   

 I’ll call this one Rusty Pie (cause I am).  Or maybe Murphy Pie (plenty went wrong, mostly pilot error).  I hope the crust does work because it is one heck of a lot easier than the butter-based one I’ve made in the past.  I won’t stick with the canned filling though – to me the fun part is picking out the fresh fruit and mixing and matching the various flavors.  

 Back to the RV shopping report.  I plan to go to Gainesville, FL the week of Thanksgiving to check out a seller who deals exclusively in Class Bs.  They’ve got over 30 units so I’m bound to find something.  I’m waiting for a confirmation email that they will, in fact, be open the first of the week.  That would be a week from Monday.

 I’ll let you know how whether the pie passes the ultimate test.  It’ll be desert tonight following John's pecan-crusted tilapia served with bacon grits and homemade yeast rolls.   

Update: the pie crust was pretty good.  John says he likes it as well as the time-intensive version.  I'm thinking cranberry next time.  Any pie recipes you want to share? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

More Shopping

Liked it, didn’t love it.  But the main achievement today was driving a Class C.  It’s been awhile since I’ve done that.  It was easy!  We (me and the salesman) drove city streets, a state highway, and did some interstate miles.  I’m sure backing up will prove to be a bit of a challenge but I’ll think about that later.

Pluses: a clean and relatively new (2009) unit, good layout, with a roomy feel despite the absence of a slide.  Minuses: questionable build quality, missing TV, and a rather large crack in the windshield.  The crack ran about 10 inches along the driver’s side left hand corner.  It’s a consignment unit and it looks like the crack started as a chip from a road rock. 





After a bite of lunch, we talked money.  He suggested I have the windshield repaired at a Ford dealer.  I suggested they have the windshield repaired at a Ford dealer.  He said he would check around for a repair estimate.  When he showed me an itemized price sheet, they added $1,100 to the price for the windshield repair!  I politely told him that instead of adding, he should subtract.  We left it at that.  I mean – come on!!!  

And how much do flat screens cost these days?  I’m figuring that’s at least a $300 for a 15-incher which would be an additional purchase on top of the rig.  Not a deal-breaker but a little, well, annoying.     

Also had fun looking at this 2002 Safari Trek with 66K miles on it.  I’ve never seen one before.  It’s unique.  The queen-size bed is lowered electronically.  Pretty cool. 



They also had a 2007 Gulf Stream BT Cruiser.  I didn’t care for the interior at all and I see why people complain about the fit and finish.  And compare them to Winnebagos.  Didn’t drive it. 

If I were serious about the Four Winds Chateau, I’m sure we could work something out regarding the purchase price.  But I’ll go in search for a better-quality rig.  Sometimes I think since it’s my “starter home”, I don’t deserve better materials and build.  

But I’ve still got a couple of months to shop.  My next stop will most likely be a dealer in Atlanta that has a Winnebago Aspect on the lot.  It’s another 4-hour round trip so I’m not sure when I’ll get there.  Soon, I hope. 




Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Holloween Everyone!


We carved our very first pumpkin ever yesterday.  We didn't want to be too ambitious our first time out.  I think we did pretty well. 






We usually have a good size crowd of ghouls and goblins show up on our porch. 

Got the candy. 

We are ready!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Slide Ups? Slide Downs?

Looks like I’ll be making a 2 hour trip to a dealer on Monday.  They have 2 small used units.  One is a 2009 21 ft. Four Winds Chateau Sport with no slide and 10K miles on the odometer.  The other a 2007 24 ft. Vista Cruiser with a slide and 13K miles on it.  I just spoke with the salesman and will plan on seeing/driving both (provided they don’t sell before Monday).  

Four Winds Chateau Sport 21 RB Floorplan

2007 Gulf Stream Vista Cruiser with Mercedes diesel engine


Just curious – I know about the biggest advantage of having a slide i.e. more room.  Are there others?  What are the disadvantages?  Keep in mind that I won't be full-timing and most of my trips will be solo journeys.  And I'm more of a "tourer" than a camper, if that makes sense.

 I’m about to jump on my bike and ride to campus where football game tailgating is in full swing.  It’s a good opportunity to check out rigs - although the majority are large Class As.  Maybe I can meet the owners of the 24 foot Sunseeker I spied yesterday – the same rig owned by the most excellent full-timer blogger Me and My Dog.  If you’ve never visited this blog, check it out.  She and little Katie are currently enjoying Zion  National Park.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shopping Report

Goose egg. Nada. Three stops - three strikes. It was fun looking though.  And a beautiful day to be out on the road in the bug! 

As I was forewarned, the used inventory at Bankston is piteously low. Even the new rig numbers are at low ebb. It turns out that the lady who promised to contact the older couple with the "um, Dynamax, maybe?" did contact them (but not me). They have decided not to sell, apparently. She promised to call them again yesterday and let me know. I haven't heard from her and expect I won’t ever again. The salesman proper wasn't interested in talking with me at all - not even in a cursory hey-how-ya-doin'-type way. Not even after I uttered the words: "I'm ready to buy". Geez, I thought, if that's how they treat you before they get your money....    

Second stop: Camping World in Calera, AL.

There was hope in my heart when I got out of the car and saw this:



But then I saw the sign reading “EMPLOYEES ONLY” and realized I had stumbled upon the rigs waiting to be worked on – not waiting to be purchased.  (That Concord in front looked just the ticket too).

I expected a dazzling showroom like the one in Dothan but it was just a normal sort of a store.  Had a good time browsing though.  As I suspected from the website, there is no used inventory (1 rig, I think) but it was fun to look at the new small Cs.  I got my fill of new car smell, for sure. 

Third stop (unless you count Milo’s for lunch) was Burton Campers.  I’ve been there several times – most recently to test drive the RoadTreks which I blogged about in January.  They had a 2011 Conquest with 54,000 miles (!) on it, but it had that dedicated bed in the back that makes everything so cramped.  IMO, that bed is a waste of space – I prefer the jackknife sofa that translates to a larger living area.  Most Cs are designed to sleep a family of 8, not for solo travelers. 

There was a RoadTrek 210 on the lot that was much less claustrophobic than the 190 that we drove in January.  In fact, it was downright roomy and a dream to drive/park.  Alas, it was new and priced accordingly.  There was also a very fetching Jayco GreyHawk but, at 26 feet, just too massive.  And it was new too so I didn’t even ask the price.  I left my card and wish-list with the nice lady.  What do they do with that contact info anyway?  I’ve never had any salesperson follow up.    

Here's what I’ve learned – no matter the specs, year, model, make, or mileage, you don’t know until you walk in the door.  I’ll know it when I find it. 

I hope it doesn't leak. 

My next move is to squeeze in some time over the coming weeks to travel to the Camping World in Woodstock, GA (a little over 2 hours away).  You people who live in RV-concentrated environments probably take it for granted, don't you?  Yeah, I’m talking about you – Orlando and Houston.  And Elkhart, Indiana.

CW/Woodstock currently has 3 pre-owned units that fit my requirements:

2005 Chinook Glacier LE
2005 Winnebago Aspect 23D
2006 Gulfstream BT Cruiser 5231

Stay tuned!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Monday Shopping

On Monday, I plan to travel to Birmingham to visit one of our clinical sites and will also make a day of it RV shopping-wise.

First stop is Bankston Motorhomes in Montgomery.  This is a dealership I have visited several times but now, I'm ready to buy.  The salesman I was working with (who never took me seriously) is no longer there.  That's OK because some say that a chummy seller-buyer relationship always costs the buyer money. 

I spoke with someone else at Bankston last week and was told that their inventory is down at the moment due to the appearance of the 2012 models.  BUT .... there is an elderly couple with a 2002 B+ that are considering a consignment sale.  She had little information beyond that ("um, a Dynamax .... maybe?") but promised to call the couple for details.  She also promised a follow-up call the next day but I never heard back. 

Next, I plan to stop at Camping World followed by another dealer visit in the same neighborhood.  Although neither place has much available at the moment. 

Here's an example of the size/floorplan I'm looking for.  Small enough for one, big enough for two.





I'm scouring the internet, of course, and am still hoping to find something suitable nearby. Any purchase would necessitate at least 2 trips: one look-see and one pick-up.  Of course, I'll have plenty of time for that sort of thing come December. 

Not sure if it's my imagination but everyone's used inventory seems low right now - even Ebay's.

I remain optimistic.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Travel Aids

I've obtained a few items that will be helpful for road trips. 

The priority was a proper car seat for Doris the Exploress.  She's never liked my bug because the sides are high and precluded her from seeing out.  Kinda like a bathtub.  We've experimented with a couple of unsuccessful homemade solutions.  Last week, I found this car seat at PetSmart for about $35.  It seems to do the trick though she is still getting accustomed to it.  She should have a great view from whatever RV we decide to buy. 


The buffalo are roaming!!!  The antelope are playing!!!

The other acquisition occurred a few weeks ago.  Oh how I love it!  I just knew it would turn into one of those "how did I ever live without it" gadgets.  And it has.


Garmin Nuvi 660  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

RV Update: Ongoing Process

First, I want to thank everyone for your touching comments and heartfelt congratulations on my last post.  What a great bunch of folks!


Now for the RV news.  After much deliberation, I cancelled my Casita order.  I just couldn’t get past the distasteful prospect of buying a vehicle just for towing.  It finally dawned on me: a trailer is a great choice ..... for someone who has a tow vehicle!!!  


It wasn’t a fear of learning to tow or hitch/unhitch etc .... by myself.  I could learn.  I just don’t want to. 


Furthermore, a trailer would alter my preferred travel style.  The tail began to wag the dog.  See, I camp to travel, not the other way around.  I like to keep moving and I want to be able to zip in and out of locations with minimal fuss.  I also want to stealth camp when needed.  As much as I love the Casitas, they don’t exactly blend.

Sometimes it takes a while to sort this stuff out in your head.  Maybe my cranium's gotten too full to make a big decision.  As I say, it's a process.   

Soooo .... back to my original plan of obtaining a B+ or small C.  Now that I have time to breathe, I will resume my search in earnest.  Naturally, I hope to find a good used unit for a great price close to home.  It may not work out quite that way but I think it’s a buyer’s market for sure.  However, I don’t want to get attached to any particular make or model since ultimately my choice will depend upon what’s available in the next couple of months.  

What an exciting time!  And thanks for sharing it with me!    

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Successful Defense!

It finally happened yesterday.  I presented my research and, 40 minutes later, was informed that I had earned my doctorate.  Just a few minor edits to the final manuscript and that's that.


I'm mostly numb still, but happy.  Deeply happy.   

I'm so fortunate.  For many reasons ... but mainly to have had so many fine people on my side.  Especially John, my wonderful husband, who made the journey every step of the way.  I also received much support from my in-laws, colleagues, my committee members, and friends (including all of you - my cyber buds who left encouraging comments and best wishes).

I'm beginning to feel the possibilities.  As Whitman said, soon I will be "done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms".  At least for a while.  I'll trust in the "long brown path before me" to provide perspective.  I'll rely upon the open road to figure out what's next.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blogger Comment Fix

Levonne from A Camp Host's Meanderings posted Rick's tip yesterday about steps to repair the comment issue that have been plagueing Blogger readers for a while now.  Pass it on....

Thanks Rick & Levonne!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Up In The Air

Quick post as life is coming at me pretty rapidly here.  I have a defense date: October 15 at 2 PM – two short weeks from today!!! 

RV news:  we took a day off yesterday and drove over 2 hours to the nearest Camping World.  Time precludes me from writing much more than to say “WOW”!!!  I’ve never been to CW before and had a fabulous time running from model to model inside and out.  In fact, I was so busy window shopping the rigs I didn’t buy one thing on my list.  But I learned a lot yesterday. 

Prior to visiting CW, we checked out a 2007 Casitafor for sale by a consignment dealer.  It was the same model as I have ordered, good condition, & reasonably priced.  However, it doesn’t have a furnace, outside shower, or high-lift axle.  Also the owners had done some mods I didn’t care for – the worst of which was replacing the mini-blinds with dark green blackout curtains that roll back in a way that, at best, cuts out about 60% of the window views.  Not a good move in such a small space. Yes, I could fix that, but decided ultimately I don’t want to. 

I’m also having trouble shopping for a tow vehicle and it’s not all due to time issues.  The TV would be used only for towing as we both have cars that we love and want to drive till they take our licenses away.  Who knew that it’s NO FUN shopping for a car you don’t really want. 

At CW, I looked at a 2007 B+ (the very RV I started out wanting in the floor plan I adore – rear kitchen).  The Holiday Rambler Augusta was a really clean unit reasonably priced and would be perfect for 1 and sometimes 2.  It is pretty much perfect.  I probably would have made an offer on it except for one insurmountable issue – the only bed (a jackknife sofa) is a measly 68” long.  That size will just fit someone 5’8”.  And even then it would be a squeeze.  We calculated you would have to be 5’6” to be able to stretch out to sleep.  What were the designers thinking?  The dinette bed had the same dimensions.  I’m 5’10”, John is 6’0.  Sigh.    

2007 Holiday Rambler Augusta 235S with 21,000 miles

The Microscopic Sofa/Bed

So the RV search continues to evolve.  No one is more surprised than I am as I thought it was all settled with the Casita.  I'm not usually this indecisive.  But it's a bit of a relief to know that I don’t have to rush to leave for the Casita factory the day after graduation and make the long trek home by myself as I take that crash course in towing/hitching/backing etc…

Anyway, there is a lot going on right now and I’ll have to rethink all my travel plans.  But not for a couple of weeks. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

More Bacon Bits

Is the world ready for another bacon post?  Let's see. 

You know, they say that keeping a personal journal promotes reflection.  In this way we gain insight into our very souls. 

Apparently my soul is preoccupied with bacon.  More specifically, my soul wants to find a convenient, non-messy, simple solution for bacon access on the road.  The last documented experiment was with the Hormel Microwavable Bacon.  But thanks to a comment on that post by Anonymous, I decided to give the Hormel Fully-Cooked bacon a go. 


Winner! 

 

The biggest advantage: it's about 1/2 the cost of the microwavable version.  It's also more economical for 1 because you can remove as many pieces as you need rather than the 4 slices-or-nothing packaging of the microwavable.  I placed 2 slices between 2 paper towels and nuked them for 20 seconds. 

Result?

BLT. Extra mayo, please!

Another big advantage is that if you don't have shore power, you can heat it and crisp it up in a skillet.  And, should you have no self-control whatsoever, you can eat it right out of the package!  Both versions were equally tasty.   Thanks Anonymous!

Now I can move onto other issues such as finding a tow vehicle - which I hope to accomplish in the next six weeks or so. 

Dissertation progress - the modest yet monumental work of unparalleled genius is currently with the outside reader who will pass her judgment along to the graduate school sometime next week. 

Research in its dormant state

After that, a date will be set for the final defense.  I'm in the midst of preparing the presentation now. 

Speaking of which, I hope I put up a better defense than our Auburn Tigers are at the moment.  As I write this, I am watching us lose to Clemson in the 4th quarter 35-24.  It's been a long time since we lost a game.  Not that we will.  We seem to prefer dramatic tension-riddled come-from-behind wins.  

Oh well, War Eagle!!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Countdown Clock Hits A Wormhole!

And five days evaporated.  It would have been down to double-digits on Sunday; an event I was going to mark and celebrate. 

But events have taken a turn and suddenly I'm at 95 days .  The clock started at 400+ days in 2010.   

Here's what happened.  My original factory delivery date was 12/19, a week after graduation.  The factory ceases operation for 2 weeks for the Xmas holidays.  My salesperson, Carla, and I talked about this way back in June when I placed my order.  As it turns out, she had the dates wrong and the factory actually closes 1 week earlier.  I found this out yesterday by accident through a post on the Casita forum.  A quick call to the factory confirmed this was the case so I had to re-think my plans.

Deck the Halls and Stop Production!  Fa-La-La-La-La .....


Now I had 2 options 1) pick-up in December and miss my graduation ceremony or 2) wait until January 3rd to pick-up.  After discussing it with DH last night, I opted for #1.  I guess the ceremony is really not that big of a deal.  Plus those gowns make you look fat!!! 

See?  Even this Size 0 model looks rotund!

I also really want to be in Austin near Xmas to be with my buddy Sharon and her family.  And there is a gathering of about 30 Casitans around New Years Eve at Brazos Bend State Park in TX.  This park is home to the University of Houston's 3 observatories.  Nuff said!   

And as a bonus Larry, a celebrity in the Casita world, will be there.  Larry owns LittleHouse Customs and can hopefully accomplish a few mods to the trailer.  For example, I know I want to replace the factory faucet with a high-rise model.  It should be both fun and instructional to be surrounded by all those egg veterans.  I expect it will also be a good primer for my trip to Quartzsite in February. 

The high-rise faucet helps compensate for the itsy-bitsy sink.  I'm guessing that knife is from the Norman Bates Collection.

New pickup date = 12/14/11.  So my Texas trip is shaping up to last 3 weeks instead of 2 but ..... I've got time.  Ahhhhh, time.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Road Prep: The Hormel Bacon Edition


I got the idea for trying this product from the FiberglassRV forum.  It sounded like a great solution for on-the-road quick bacon with minimal clean-up.  It also sounded too good to be true.  There are 4 slices per plastic-wrapped package that you place in the microwave.  Then press the button just like Jane Jetson. 

We tried it this afternoon with BLTs.  Sorry, no photos - they went quick.  I don't think there is a shutter speed fast enough to have captured it. 

The end result was indeed quick, yummy, and surprisingly crispy.  Bonus: clean-up was non-existent.  Try that with your standard cast-iron-skillet approach.  With shore power, I'm set for the kind of hearty breakfast I love (indoors or out).

In other news, the Weber gas grill experiment continues. 

In my earlier post, I neglected to show how compactly the grill folds up for travel

Friday night I fired the Go-Anywhere up and cooked up some 1" thick pork chops (with Grillmaster John close at hand of course).  Getting the timing right was tricky but I think that's just the art and nature of successful grilling.  We both agree, however, that charcoal wins the taste category outright.  However, propane takes the blue ribbon for convenience



I have a whole new respect for food photographers.  This dish may not look very appetizing as photographed but you're just going to have to trust me - it was fabulous!  BTW, we really like Bogle Zinfandel with grilled pork.  And it's sensational with bar-b-que anything.  The price is right too at about $11 or $12 a bottle. 



Chop, french bread, and John's most excellent risotto

Speaking of food, today John is trying out his new triple-loaf baguette pan from King Arthur Flour.  He is experimenting to find the best size and shape.  I'd say it's a successful start to a long and satisfying relationship.  And we haven't even bitten through that golden crunchy crust yet!



Must dash, it's cocktail hour. 

Happy Labor Day everyone! 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Road Prep: Learning to Grill

It's here!  My Coleman Go-Anywhere Gas Grill. 

It all folds up into a portable, light-weight, managable size.  It will never look this pristine again.  Good!

We used it last night to make cheeseburgers and it was a very simple operation - just what I'm looking for.

John does all the grilling in the family and his favorite medium is charcoal. I think the propane option makes more sense on the road though because there is no need to haul around charcoal and lighter fluid. The quick set-up, start-up, and take-down also appeals to me. 

Before

During

After


I'll continue to practice over the next few months.  I'll use it for simple meals on the road -a grilled entree alongside a grilled vegetable should do nicely weather permitting.  Add the right wine, a hunk of bread, and that certain appetite that only the outdoors provides.  Contentment ensues.    

The results were tasty but I'm eager to practice some more.


Dissertation update:  the whole enchilada is with the formatter who I will gladly pay to get it right much faster than I ever could.  After one more review, it goes to the graduate school.  Then to an outside reader.  More edits.  Then, the ultimate prize - a defense date! 

I'll close with this head shot of Doris the Exploress.

A rear view only a mother could love!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Memory Lane

Well, since I'm not traveling now - unless you count looking for a parking space at work - I thought I'd share some old photos.  These pics chronicle my journey from tent camping to RV trips to car/hotel travel.

At this point in my evolution, I want to hike, birdwatch, stargaze, sleep in my own bed, eat my own food, and drink my own wine.  That's not too much to ask is it?       

Land Between the Lakes, KY - en route to Minot, ND 
This was the trip of a lifetime!  I tent camped my way from AL to ND (and back) in order to meet up with my old chum - Sharon.  She and I became friends in first grade.  The best we can figure, since I don't remember not knowing her, is that we were in alphabetical order and she sat directly behind me.  We also lived right down the street from each other. 

Sharon and I lost touch when my dad retired from the Air Force in 1969.  But we found each other online in 2001 (32 years later!) and met up in Minot to spend 3 days touring our old neighborhood on base.  We had a blast!   And laughed just as much as ever - maybe more than in 2nd grade.  Only this time, instead of milk, she made beer come outta my nose!

Just a few weeks after our trip was over, 9/11 happened.  I'm so grateful we were able to revisit the base when we did.  We wouldn't have gotten another chance to do so for years to come, as it turned out. 

Desoto State Park, AL - Mother's Day 2002

Same tent as in the previous photo.  I still have that 8x8 Coleman - a great little shelter.  You can see John peeking out from behind it.  I wonder what he was cooking? 

Lakepoint State Park, AL - Summer 2002

This was a trip we took with my brother-in-law Vic and niece Lily.  The boys slept in the tent.  See Sparkle and Ellie in the middle looking for truffles.  They've been gone for 4 years now.  We sure miss 'em!

Leaaving for Lake Martin, AL - date unknown.  Judging by the foilage, I'd say it was Fall. 
Winter camping en la casita - Cheaha State Park

That's me after scarfing down a breakfast of pancakes and bacon.  Pure happiness!


(Sorry about the picture quality.  All of these were taken before I joined the digital revolution).

In 2003, it was back to the solo car-and-hotel mode of travel.  Hotels have their advantages, but lugging one's stuff from car to room (and back again) is not one of them.

The above photo was taken at the Hilton Garden Inn at the Outer Banks, NC.  I was there in December which explains the winter coat.  And the fact that I was the only guest in the entire hotel!  

Then I worked 3 travel nurse jobs over a 3-year period that took me from CA (2004), CO (2005) and New York City (2006).   A great way to travel and really get to know a place.  In 2007, I took the faculty job and then became a student myself in 2009.  Thus my traveling days came to a sudden painful grinding halt. 

I need to fix that! 

Onward.