Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Home Cooking On The Road In Your RV

Cheese Omelet with Mushrooms and Onions
Is your voyage marked by the ever growing pile of receipts from McDonalds? If it is I bet your health is a whole lot worse than mine. I know of a number of people living in smaller RV's and vans who, taking the opposite extreme, seem to live on a diet of nuts and twigs.

For me, it's a healthy varied diet of home cooked meals that anyone who makes a little effort can create in any standard RV. Whether you're set up in a campground with all the normal hookups and
Salmon patty on tomatoes and lettuce with onions and mushrooms
amenities, or stopped for a couple hours in a wayside rest on the highway. For me it's often a Walmart parking lot, but no matter, the point is there is no reason you can't eat healthy and enjoyable meals while you travel.

I'm not a fancy cook, most of what I learned came from watching the Food Channel. I do like to eat, and I like a varied menu. Martha Stewart is responsible for my being able to make a decent white sauce and flavorful gravy.
Porketta roast with fried potatoes and onion gravy with corn on the cob
Mac and cheese need not come from a blue box. Making it from scratch adds so much character to that southern staple that I have no idea how anyone can stand to make it any other way.

It's no secret that anything that comes as a pre-made meal will contain enough preservatives and salt to make a heart attack later in life most likely a sure thing.

Chicken Pot Pie with Cottage Cheese
After my first divorce I withered away losing a good 50 lbs in no time. My cooking abilities amounted to Hamburger Helper. True my budget was in the area of Ramon Noodles, but life was not good depending on my own cooking skills.

When my second marriage ended I vowed to remain single for at least 5 years. Since I didn't feel like starving, I took on the basics. The crock pot became my friend.

Now, after a third marriage wrapped up, I live
Chicken Cabbage Stir Fry with Peanuts and Oyster Sauce
alone by choice. I spent a good amount of time during the last 10 years expanding my understanding of cooking. Now I can adapt to most anything that is left in the refrigerator and come up with something fresh, from scratch, and pretty darn tasty.

I often download recipes off the internet to use as general guidelines. I've gotten pretty good at just winging it and combining different flavors and textures in my cooking.

BBQ Pork Ribs Spaghetti Squash and Mashed Potatoes
There is no big mystery to being a good cook. I'm not a gourmet, just a guy that likes comfort food.

I'm also Diabetic, so sometimes I have to take a bit of the comfort out of the food. I cheat, everybody does. But I've found the body is way more forgiving when you use fresh produce, meat, and make your own breads from staples that have been around for centuries.

All it takes is a little practice and you can be whipping up some really good grub in no time.
Sliced Ham, Asparagus, and Mashed Potatoes
Doing it in an RV is really no different that doing it in your kitchen at home.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Life Of A Bachelor, And A Neat One At That!

Lately the sky's have been bright blue, and the temperatures mild and comfortable. My day trip down to the shores of Lake Superior showed me a bright blue, crisp, and clean lake that really looked it's best.

Funny thing, it reminded me of how I choose to live. I try to keep my home, small as it is, clean and tidy and looking cozy and comfortable.

This morning the first signs of fall showed through with the temps dropping just low enough to feel a slight chill as I got out of bed to start my day.

Max agreed, so I flipped the switch on the new electric fireplace in the living room, and immediately felt the warmth of the heater. Better yet, the ambiance of the rather realistic, but thoroughly imitation flame made the setting real cozy.

Once I realized how pleasant the setting was, and how calm and comfortable just sitting and enjoying the morning had become, I thought about my Tiny House Movement. 
transition to living in a small space. This is really close to what qualifies as equivalent to the

I had just finished my daily routine. Got up, made breakfast, lit the water heater so it would heat the tank of water once, then I shut it off to conserve propane. That's enough to take care of my daily needs. Shower and shave, and wash the previous days dishes.
Any cleaning that requires water is taken care of
then, as I only heat the water once a day. I made the bed, picked up the rest of my little house, and made sure everything had a place and was in its place.

The bathroom was spotless, my little home was organized to the point I was completely satisfied and could just kick back and relax.

In such a small space, being unorganized or not keeping ahead of the mess would very quickly make
conditions out of control.  I just couldn't be happy living like that.

I need things to look nice. Not just for my own satisfaction, but heaven forbid should I get company.

Unlike the clan living in the next space, I don't like a mess. They have managed to squeeze a 25' motorhome, a fishing boat, a tent trailer, set up and occupied, a large pickup and camper combination,
and a Polaris side by side UTV all surrounded with enough junk to indicate they have spent the summer living here in there own mess.

I have no idea what their story is.... Unfortunately I may never find out. They keep to them self and I only see them when they walk their dogs..... Three small ones and two large retrievers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Checking Out Some Free Campsites

Way down south of here on hwy 23, about 25 from Duluth is a state forest road leading to a little place called Perch Lake. The Corp. of Engineers campground there is aimed at the ATV crowd and gives access to many miles of neat trails.

Though I'm no longer a member of the ATV world, my Jeep can certainly take me to some out of the way places. I took the drive down there both to see where I can legally go with my 4x4 and to see if my 37' Pace Arrow has any hope of fitting into any of the campsites.
I've been there many times in the past, both with a 4
wheeler and just to spend a nice weekend in the woods.

This time around it was just a day trip with my dog Max.

Once around the two camping loops told me I could get the Pace in there and yes it would fit in a quite a few of the spots. Of course a drive through isn't going to happen, but my confidence backing this thing into a tight spot is unbeatable.

Normally firewood is a rare commodity, even with
this being a state forest. This time around there were stacks of birch and other good firewood stacked in most of the spaces. The reason for this generosity is the serious logging going on in the near by area.

Just outside the camping area the waste from a recent logging  operation left a plentiful supply of kindling and assorted reject wood enough to keep campfires stoked for months or years to come.

I was intending to drive down the minimum maintenance forest road toward an area that had campsites well away from the $12 per night campground. As like BLM land, you can came there for free for so many days. I believe it's 14 days, but don't hold me to that.

Unfortunately after passing the first two campsites, both of which were empty, the road narrowed and was posted for various off road vehicles. I could have gone ahead with my Jeep, but unfortunately I didn't have the $30 sticker required to make use of these state funded Off Road Vehicle trials.

It was still an excellent day for a ride, and it did satisfy my curiosity about fitting in with my large motorhome. Maybe next summer, for now I stay parked and plugged in.  Probably not moving until it's time to head south for the winter.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Cabin Is Someone Else's Problem Now!

One last walk through on our way to closing in Siren WI, Tangent Lodge is now the proud domain of a young couple from the Web Lake area.

Yes, we closed on the sale of the cabin yesterday afternoon. Was it a moment of reflection? Maybe a bit of sorrow? Oh heck no, it was happy dance time all around!

It had served it's purpose. We enjoyed it while we had it. It was a lot of work to repair the damage left by the previous owners, but in the end it was a terrific savings account for us.

After you count all the material we put into the place, our profit was modest. I'm not a professional contractor so the workmanship in the repairs was good enough. I only had to satisfy myself, and as long as you look through squinted eyes it looks darn near perfect.

I know the final results sure looked a lot better than the way it was left when it was foreclosed on back 3-1/2 years ago.

At least now it is a comfortable clean home that a
young couple will be raising their new baby in. Kind of what a home should be.

For us it was an investment, a weekend getaway. In time it just became a chore to take care of it.

Worrying about snow load on the roof, always concerned about vandalism.
It was broken into once. Luckily the damage was minimal, but it could have just as easy been trashed again.

Even in a depressed market, many cabins have been
sitting for years without hope of sale. We managed to sell for almost 2-1/2 times what we paid for it. After you deduct material, furnishings, and mileage, the profit was minimal... but we got every penny back! In our minds that makes it a successful venture.

It's a good thing it was a young couple that bought the place. Come next winter, while I'm soaking up the sun in Quatzsite AZ, they can take care of removing the snow off the roof. Something that last winter was back breaking for me.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Exploring An Old Tradition, One More Time

Today came with nothing on my immediate to do list. Should I just let it slip away, not making any effort to enjoy blue skies, or should I get my lazy butt out there and make use of it. Pretty  obvious which route I chose. When the skies are blue, and the weather mild, only a fool would let it go to waste.

I hopped in the Jeep with my old dog Max, and we just drove down the road not knowing where we were headed. Before we knew it we were downtown,  headed toward Park Point again.

I knew I would find some things to take pictures of,
and hoped they would be something different than what I've captured in past visits. I wasn't disappointed.

The first stop was in the parking lot of a new hotel next to the marina. I didn't think they would mind me parking for a few minutes while I took advantage of the open view of the Coast Guard Cutter Alder. These are my boys, I served in the CG for 4 years long ago. Never made it on a boat, my specialty was cargo planes. Spent my time in the air instead. The rest of the marina was just coming to life, the morning mist had just cleared and the harbor was
I drove the length of the point choosing Sky Harbor Airport as my next place to park. There was a DeHavilland Beaver getting ready for tours at the end of the dock.

$50 will get you a ride in one of these, and give you a view you won't  soon forget. The Duluth/Superior harbor is a very active harbor with a lot going on. The best seat in the house is from up above.

While I was at this end of the point I walked up the walkway over the sand toward the beach. You
would have thought I prearranged the artist and children that were enjoying the warm summer day. This is the kind of scene a photographer just hopes to stumble on, and today was my lucky day.

I finished up my excursion and headed back to the main street of the city. It was lunch time so it was an easy choice to visit an old familiar lunch counter.

The Original Coney Island has been here since 1921. Back when it was a much younger establishment, between 1975  and 1979, I used to drop in at least once a week for lunch to go. Back
then 5 coneys with everything cost me $2.25 including tax. A bargain as far as lunch went, even then.
Look close, you can see the vertical sign behind my Jeep, which is hogging more than it's share of the picture.

Though the decor has changed, and the prices reflect the tourist industry that is now the mainstay of the area, the coney's are still the originals.  And the price? Well fortunately my appetite is a little smaller.  2 to go came to $5.00 this time around.

The quality was just as good as I remember, I'm sure the heart burn will be equally potent this time around too.No matter, they tasted good and I enjoyed them.

It was a good morning, not that many chances remain to just enjoy where I am. Tomorrow I close on the cabin and shortly will be solidifying plans for my next adventure.

Hometowns are a special place. Something to look back fondly on, somewhere you always feel comfortable.
Duluth is my hometown and in a few weeks I will be leaving her behind. Will I be coming  back? Sorry, my crystal ball is on the fritz. Nobody knows where this winter will lead me, least of all me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Eh? I Can't Hear You, There's A Jet Taking Off!

Now I'm  quickly getting spoiled again. This is almost like living in a house or apartment, all the amenities. In the morning, I'm back to watching Good Morning America, and in the evening it's the local news. The funny thing is while I was living at Walmart I never even missed not having the TV on all the time. The quiet was almost soothing.

Don't let this peaceful setting fool you. Yes from this angle it looks like I'm sitting in a picture perfect
location with lots of trees, and well manicured lawns surrounding me. From this exact spot I will spin around 180 degrees and take a shot of the view towards the highway. I'm standing just about in the middle between the two perspectives so you get an idea of the distance involved.

Disappointing isn't it. At least it is convenient to most everything and at night is is usually quiet. Except for the nights when the Air National Guard are doing
their night training.  F-16's do tend to raise a bit of a ruckus. They usually take off in tandem, side by side. With a second and third wave launching about 15 seconds apart. You can forget talking to yourself, there is no way you will hear it.

To give you an idea of how close they are this little road leads directly to the side of the runway. There is a fence where you see the blacktop end, and the runway is about 50' beyond that. The Fighter Jets are about 50 ft off the ground at this point and the roar is deafening.

Of course an alarm clock is not needed in the morning either. The 7:05 leaves on time headed for Minneapolis everyday without  fail.

Sadly none of this is a bother for me because years ago I lived just the other side of the runway. For ten years I enjoyed missing the punchline of most comedy shows on TV, and of course there was the occasional treasure hunt when some small plane missed the end of the runway and ended up in the woods just down the road a hundred yards or so.

There was an instance where a 12 yr old girl walked out of the woods to get help when her Dad clipped a few trees and ended upside down after shearing off a couple aspen trees with the wings of his private plane.

Back in the 50's and 60's a number of military planes managed to end their flight time off the other end of the runway too.  Growing up in this area in a large house with a practically flat roof, we often joked there was skid marks from the commercial airlines dragging their wheels as they came in for landings.

It wasn't so funny when I helped my dad re-roof the family homestead, only to  find directional arrows  fashioned from rolled roofing pointing towards the airport about 2 miles away tacked to the top of our two story house.

Now you have to ask yourself, "Is he putting us on?"  I'll never tell.

Friday, August 1, 2014

All Settled In For August

As interesting as the Walmart parking lot has been for the past couple weeks, what with only two to chose from I think I've seen it all. Due to circumstances beyond my control, even after closing on the sale of my cabin next Friday, I will need to remain in this area until the end of the month. That said it's time to pony up and get comfortable.

Yesterday afternoon I  relocated to an old standby location. The Park. A rather straight forward name for an RV park, but I have stayed here before. A small place, located right along the main highway, it's been a snowbird favorite for decades. Nothing special, but it's location is central to almost anything  you want to do or need to buy in this area.

It makes the perfect place for me to have full hookups, and yet be able to run around town easily to finish up my business before hitting the road for the winter. Now I can run my air conditioner when it's hot, and set out my awning and lawn chairs. I could get used to living like civilized folk.

Of course all this luxury comes at a price, $450 all inclusive for a month of convenience. I think it is money well spent.

The next improvement of the day was to buy a new laptop computer. I tried this once about a month ago only to have nothing but problems. It was an HP and was so pre-loaded with links to popup ads that it was absolutely impossible to work with. My new Toshiba is working out much better.

So say goodbye to my kitchen table being overcrowded with the workings of a writer. Today it all disappears and I can actually eat supper there. A simple laptop is all I really need to take care of my day to day writing needs.

Now it's time to head off to the V.A. for my final poke and probe before heading south until the snow of winter comes and goes. I don't even want to think about coming back until the grass is green and the leaves have come out on the trees.