Saturday, May 30, 2015

Thoughts on Some-Timing

One surprising development in this semi-nomadic life of mine is realizing how much work there is to do when I'm home (a total of 5 months in the past 12). 

It makes sense. After all, when you pack a year's worth of to-do lists into 4-5 months, time contracts.  In other words, you are busy. That possibility never occurred to me until it happened.  


Crap! It's almost time to leave again!

When I’m on the road, there is little I have to do aside from routine chores like filling and dumping tanks and re-provisioning. Occasionally I’ll need to wash the GDB, maybe air up the tires, or get a propane refill.  

But mostly ... it's a lot of this.

On a typical non-travel day, I get up, make breakfast, check in with my students, work the crossword, and then set out for adventure – maybe hiking, shopping, sightseeing, or researching a new burger joint.  

Then it’s time for Happy Hour, a call home, then dinner.  I spend the evenings completing classroom work, blogging, and reading.  

But when I’m home, it’s wall-to-wall busy.  For example, this week, I had 3 appointments and we also traded cars. 

And then there is child-care. 

"What have you done for me lately?"

It’s a completely schizophrenic way to live. 

And I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

BTW, we are no longer a 2-convertible family.  Here’s the new conveyance - an exceedingly practical RAV4.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Fix, Foot, Food

The Fix
On Monday, I took the Good Deal Bus out of the stable for a 30-mile trek to meet my friend, Debra, for lunch.  Within a 20-minute period, I experienced 3 mishaps.  I scraped the ground effects on a severely inclined roadway entrance.  

Web Photo showing the location of the contact.

Imagine the sound of the iceberg ripping the Titanic open along its steel hull  Fortunately, the only damage was cosmetic and not a mangled battery compartment as I had feared.   

Next this warning light came on.  

I had done my usual pre-flight check before leaving home and the tire pressures were good.  Now the read-out on the left rear tire is not operational.  It took me a minute to figure out it was an instrumentation problem and not a blow-out waiting to happen.

Then I got lost. 

An eventful 20-minutes, but still waaay better than a good Monday at the office!

After lunch I found a nearby Chevy dealer that got the poor GDB right into the exam room.  

The diagnosis: the tire sensor battery was dead.  The dealer had a replacement in stock and an hour and $157 later, the GDB was rolling again.  With a passenger car, I wouldn’t have bothered replacing the sensor but the GDB weighs 9,000 pounds so tire pressure is much more critical. 

The Foot

I woke up one morning last week and couldn’t walk due to intense pain with weight-bearing in the ball of the right foot.  It feels like trodding barefoot over rocks. Ouch.  Right there.  

A visit to a specialist revealed a diagnosis of a neuroma – an benign enlargement of the nerve, something that occurs with age.  Unfortunately, it’s a chronic condition but can be alleviated by cushions and anesthetic cream.  Does anyone else have this? Any advice? 

My biggest fear is that my ability to hike may be affected. The MD reassured me that with the right cushioning and a little luck, hiking shouldn’t be a problem. I haven’t tried walking in my hiking boots yet, but am choosing to be optimistic that I can still scale some mountains this summer.

The Food

We are continuing with our string of new recipe successes! John found this one for Ribs with BlackVinegar Sauce. 

Oh my. 

The ribs turned out sticky and luscious – similar to what you hope for with Korean BBQ.  I developed a special love for Korean BBQ in NYC – a love that remained unrequited, until now. 

I knew we were meant to be together!


Sunday, May 17, 2015


Not much to report this past week.  I’m just staying busy with chores and routine medical appointments.  Getting older is just soooo very interesting.

Speaking of aging. Doris is.  

Her hearing is fading and she is struggling to adjust. Our sweet, gentle little girl is very clingy these days. At least, when she's awake.  It’s a good thing we love her so much and she doesn’t stink too bad! 

The good news is that she feels good otherwise, isn’t in pain, has good vision, and gets around great. 

We aren’t really sure how old she is.  The estimate when we adopted her was 6-7 years. That was 6 years ago.

Doris always participates in the traditional weekend grill.  Even when we don’t grill.  Last night we had stir-fry instead but .... Big D always gets her bone.  (We grill a bunch of beef bones and keep them in the freezer so she is never deprived).  


Well, maybe just a little.  

Speaking of stir-fry, we love our wok!  

This yummy dish is London Broil, sliced and marinated in soy, fish sauce, sesame oil, garlic, rice wine, and brown sugar.   The addition of the snow peas, carrots, white onion, and my favorite - chow mein noodles - provides just the right crunch.  Oyster sauce and chili oil are added at the end of cooking.

IMO, you just can't beat a light, slightly fruity red wine- like this Beaujolais - with beef stir-fry.

This week, rather than grilling salmon, John decided to bake it.  We usually marinate the salmon but didn’t this time, just added salt and pepper, and it was still brilliant.  

Co-starring John’s garlic mashed potatoes and my roasted asparagus.  

This is my favorite Pinot Noir – with salmon, truly a match made in heaven. 

Also on this week’s menu was the tasty Roasted Roma Tomato Soup we recently discovered.  Accompanied by a homemade grill cheese and bacon sandwich.  Another heavenly pairing!  

And what would a week at home be without a hearty serving of Irish Nachos? 

Monday, May 11, 2015

399 Days and Nights

That’s how much time I’ve spent in the GDB in the past 2.5 years.  And I was concerned I wouldn’t use an RV enough to justify the purchase!  That means I’ve saved about $40,000 in hotel rooms.  But having one’s own bed, food, and drink …. Priceless.


I managed 2 modest mods to the van this week.  I ordered a Dock Boss adapter (background) so I can hook-up my MP3 player (foreground) to the van's surround-sound system.  

The factory built-in connection supported iPods only.  What an improvement it will be to have hands-free availability of podcasts, music, and audiobooks. 

Also added some much-needed storage space for those little items that lead to clutter – remotes, charging cables, tools, playing cards, flashlights, etc ...

The idea of using the shoe organizer came from the indispensable Roadtrek Facebook page.  The width was ideal but I had to trim the last section to make the length work.  


I want to share this ridiculously easy recipe that should work well in a tiny RV kitchen - Southwestern Burrito.  

Web Photo

The beauty is that only 3 ingredients are required.  (Although I will add cumin to the mix next time).  

To make clean-up even easier, you could probably dump the cheese in the Steamers bag to avoid using a mixing bowl.  I’ll try that next time.  

While we are on the subject, I’m reading Food: A Love Story by comedian Jim Gaffigan. 


Around the House

My father-in-law planted this rose bush.  What a wonderful gift to leave behind as we think of him every time we see the beautiful blooms.

The herb garden is coming along.  L to R: basil, chives, parsley, thyme.  We also have the essential rosemary bush.  

Here are the daylilies that Doris often waters.

Meanwhile, Stunning Spring is sadly on its way out to be followed by Swampy Summer.  Almost time to crank up the A/C!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New Recipes

Nothing much going on here other than working away on the to-do list (not so fun) and the recipe file (way fun).  One of the items on the not-so-fun list was to repair a windshield chip sustained on I-10 W outside Fort Stockton, TX.  Or so I thought.

(Who knew there are so many classifications for windshield chips)?

The technician who arrived at the appointed hour discovered that, what I thought is a new rock chip, is actually an old repair.  Yay!  This marks the first time the GDB windshield has survived undamaged on a long trip. 

Doris on Canvas

A while back, at a Humane Society fundraiser, we won a raffle for a pet portrait.  Here’s the original photo.  Followed by the completed work of Dodo's are we ever going to the park? look.

Thanks to Molly McDonald of Darling Dog Portraits!

Recipes for Success

I love making pies – especially those made with fresh fruit.  Years ago, when I was deep into my dissertation and working full-time, pie-baking was my therapy.  

Suddenly one day, John confessed that he was concerned about the effect of my hobby on his waistline.  At his suggestion, I switched to making savory pies.

Here’s a new keeper - Sausage and Spinach Ricotta Pie - right out of the oven. 

So tasty with a crisp side salad!  

The last of our 2014 Beaujolais Nouveau was the ideal complement for the slightly spicy sausage. 

Over the weekend, John made this delectable but super-easy Roasted Roma TomatoSoup in the slow-cooker.

As always, with soups and stews, we like to make ahead, giving the flavors time to marry.  And a successful union it was!  So fresh-tasting.  The asiago cheese is lovely but, considering the cost differential, we will likely substitute parmesan next time.

I'm trying another new recipe tonight.  Stay tuned.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Back in the Stable, Back at the Table

I've been home for about 2 weeks now.

It always takes time to settle in after the GDB is unpacked and put away in the stable.  

There is no time to lose as, over the next few months, I'll stay busy cramming 6 months worth of chores and projects into 3 months of time.  Including getting ready for the next trip!

This go-round, I'd like to continue blogging while at home.  I didn’t do this for years because it’s a travel blog after all.  And, admittedly, blog-worthy events are harder to come by when stationary. But I do miss my blog and, though understandable, I regret losing readers in between trips. 

One of the primary activities at my house is eating well.  So expect a lot of food-related posts. 


While away, I really miss our weekend grill sessions.  And John knows what he's doing. He worked his way through college manning the grill at a local BBQ joint.  I always say he got his PhD in ribs.

 The man can grill

Of course, Doris is always close by.

She ain't stupid.

We just love a charcoal-grilled T-bone along with our favorite Zinfandel.  Sides include ciabatta rolls and oven-baked rosemary potatoes.  

Most weekends, John makes one of my favorite dishes of his own creation - fried potatoes topped with onion, cheese, bacon, and fresh chives.  He calls them 'Irish Nachos'.  

The first step is to slice the peeled baking potatoes with a mandolin 

then rinse and pat the slices dry to eliminate some of the starch - makes 'em extra crispy - 

fry ‘em up golden brown

and add toppings.

Oh my!  The texture is both crispy and gooey at the same time.  Heavenly!      

Maybe I should start another blog to chronicle my weight gain.