Thursday, June 25, 2015

Greetings from the Surface of the Sun!

Aside from the insufferable heat, there’s little to blog about.  As usual, we've been doing a lot of this.

And this.  

A perfect Happy Hour calls for a Perfect Manhattan.  Don't forget the cherry!

We anticipate that this wicked heat wave will pass soon so the usual stifling swamp conditions can return. Staying inside with the doors firmly sealed and the A/C blasting is the only solution. Here, I'm doing a welfare-check on the poor hibiscus from the climate-controlled comfort of the living room. 

Be afraid.  Very afraid.

On a positive note, there is one good thing about summer in the Deep South. The best tomatoes on planet Earth!

Last week John discovered Asian ground bean sauce.  

Holy Moly, is it good!  Add it to stir fry for a depth of flavor that will blow your mind.  We've tried it with both beef and chicken so far.

My favorite chef.

In an effort to keep the house cool, I made cowboy potatoes for our weekend grill. Remember this old camping recipe?  

Place sliced spuds and onion on a sheet of aluminum foil.  Top with some thin slices of butter, salt, pepper, and rosemary.  

Wrap tightly in the foil and cook on the grill for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Great with a side of stir-fried garlic beans and grilled rib-eye.  

BTW, for new folks who come here to read a blog about a girl who travels the U.S. in her camper van …. stay tuned.  I’ll be leaving in less than 3 weeks for a grand Summer/Fall adventure. 

Ahhhh, it feels 20 degrees cooler just looking at that web photo!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Summer Fun

Trip Planning

Sometimes I get a bit distracted. 

Produce Section

Whenever I photograph vegetables, I always think of the Sandy Dennis character in The Four Seasons. It's a little disturbing.

Staying Cool

Nothing much to report other than just striving to beat the heat as wicked Summer has her way with us. On this day, the heat index was 112.  Oy.

This helps.

Even in this inhospitable climate, life IS good!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Looking Forward

Plans are coming together for summer in The Rockies and fall in the National Parks of southern Utah.

Here's one possible boondocking spot:

Every time I begin an online exploration about the towns we want to visit, I end up with a best-burger scouting report.  Yep, my research doctorate is really paying off now!

Speaking of food, all is well here – fat + happy pretty much covers it. John made these insanely delicious bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapenos yesterday.  

The secret, I think, is using pineapple cream cheese.  The sweet is a nice contrast for the heat of the peppers. 

Sweet and spicy - just like Doris!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Slow News Week

Greeting from the Swampy Southeast.  It’s 97 degrees.  With 40% humidity, that translates to 105.

But it's only for 5 more months!

"I want the air-conditioner!!!"

Time Capsule

My friend, Leslie, sent me an envelope full of blasts from the past.  Like this bumper-sticker.

And this note from me to her.  The kind of thing we used to do in junior high and high school; you know, instead of paying attention in class.

President Nixon is announcing that the crime rate in Washington DC has decreased significantly since all the politicians have resigned from office. 

Not a bad likeness of Richard Nixon if I do say so myself – right down to the jowls and shifty eyes. Thanks Leslie!


Good friend Liz has been visiting this week from Wyoming.  We’ve had a lot of fun with good wine, good people, and good food.  

Daughter Elle and fiance Phill

John and Liz go waaaay back to Liz's freshman year here at Auburn.  This evening, they are discussing either old times or John’s most recent golf round. 

Doris, who loves company, looks on. 

Here’s an odd still-life arrangement on our kitchen counter. Gotta love the weird juxtaposition of produce, vinegar, and sunscreen.  


Of course, no post would be complete without a food foto.  This time the salmon was grilled. 

I’m happy to say this week should be the least hectic one since I got back from the last trip – a welcome development. I have a few more must-dos to tackle before heading west sometime in July.

Stay tuned!

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?