On the road again…just can’t wait to get on the road again

June 5, 2014 § 8 Comments

Hey folks…for the last year, we’ve been living in two different places.  I (Libby) has been in Eugene, Oregon, and Dave has been in Texas.  It has been tough.  We tried to make it work, but we missed each other (yup…we’ve been married a bunch of years, and we still love each other hugely).  Dave tried to find work in Oregon, but discovered that no one is hiring space station simulator engineers….imagine that.  Meanwhile, I wrestled with a very cool job, but missed my husband, and I missed human spaceflight.  There’s nothing like launching people into space for giving one a sense of perspective.  While I loved Eugene, I kept wondering about that huge bigger-than-myself-goal.  It just wasn’t there. That’s not to say that Eugene isn’t the BEST PLACE EVER, because I love it here.  Truly.   I probably shouldn’t even say that, because now everyone will move to Eugene, and it will turn into Chicago or something, which would be terrible (Chicago is cool, so calm down, all my friends from Evanston…it’s just not Eugene).

So, bottom line:  I’m moving back to Texas.  I asked Dave to come and get me, and he (such a sweetie-pie), is driving out to Eugene to help me with the transition.  He and I will load up a truck and a car with stuff and dogs, and then begin the week-long journey back to Texas.  I’ll never be through with this place.  Eugene is lovely, and I’ll be returning.  Actually, I’ll be back in July, and later in the fall…probably next spring, too.

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Deviled ham spread: A favorite with “menfolk”

January 8, 2014 § 10 Comments

Last weekend, I found a vintage cookbook from the 1970’s.  It’s from a Junior League in Alabama, and the recipes are marvelous.  It’s fun seeing what people ate back then, but I especially like the regional and family names for recipes…concoctions like “Carol’s Confetti French Dressing,” and “Aunt Mary’s Whiskey Cake” make me think about my own family traditions.  I can’t wait to try “Vera’s Blizzard Balls,” which turns out to be ordinary dinner rolls…still, with a cool name like that, don’t you think there’s a really fabulous story in there somewhere?  Speaking of balls, there are also “Brickle Balls,”  “Fruity Balls,” and “Aunt Cissy’s Balls.”

In the Appetizer section, along with such offerings as “Crabmeat Mould” (mould spelled with a “u” just to make it extra special) and “Brantley’s Crabmeat Spread”  I happened upon a recipe with canned deviled ham as an ingredient.  Canned deviled ham is what Dave and I keep in the pantry for camping trips, or when we’re starving, or when we run out of catfood (yes, Underwood canned deviled ham is really that awful).  It’s very salty and pretty blah.  It’s what you eat when there literally is nothing else in the house.  At all.

Since we actually have a couple of cans of deviled ham leftover from our camping trip to Oregon, I thought I’d try making the “Deviled Ham Spread” from my vintage cookbook.   I made some modifications, adding extra seasoning mostly.  With my changes, this stuff is pretty good…actually, more than pretty good; I really liked it.  It would be great for an appetizer at a party.  Even though it starts out with off the shelf ingredient basic like canned deviled ham, it’s actually delicious…just don’t tell your guests what’s in it.

Also, just to let you know, according to my cookbook, this is a “favorite with the menfolk,” but I liked it too, being a girl and all.

Ham spread from the 1970’s: For menfolk

1 4.25-ounce can Underwood deviled ham spread (or 1/2 cup of liverwurst)

8-ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Place all ingredients in a bowl, and use a fork to mix well.  Serve to menfolk with crackers or sliced vegetables.  If you use liverwurst, act like it’s a secret ingredient, and your Aunt Cissy (the one with “the balls”) will disown you for giving away the recipe.

Day 3: Colorado Springs

July 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

There were extensive wildfires when we drove through Colorado.  The smoke was so heavy, there were several times that I worried that we probably should have chosen a different route.

7_29_2013c

Nevertheless we prevailed, and pulled in to the Colorado Springs KOA campgrounds before sundown.  Here’s the cabin that was waiting for us when we arrived:

GPP 7_29_2013a

Our KOA cabin was so cute, I could hardly stand it.  We had a cute little front porch with a porch swing, and a front “yard” with a picnic table.  In the back, there was a cute little sitting area where we grilled our dinner.  The cuteness outside was not to be surpassed by the inside of the cabin, where we had a bunkroom, main bedroom, and a bathroom.  The cabins had actual beds, which was a welcome treat after sleeping in a tent (not to knock tent-camping, which was so totally great).

I cracked open a teeny-tiny bottle of wine (more cuteness…who knew you could buy an 8-ounce bottle of wine?) while Dave cooked dinner.   We had filet mignon steaks and instant mashed potatoes.  The “Idahoan” brand of instant mashed potatoes is so delicious, it’ll knock your socks off, and is perfect for camping…especially the “Loaded baked potato,” which we are now addicted to.

After dinner, we slept wonderfully (who wouldn’t sleep wonderfully in all of that KOA cabin cuteness?).  There was one little glitch, which commenced when Dave announced that the back bedroom should be for people, and the front bunkroom would be designated for the animals (I like how Dave makes pronouncements like this…as if by virtue of making a rule, everything will just fall into place).  I knew immediately that Dave’s rule would require some sort of wrestling on my part to keep the door closed between the two rooms, since Addie is pretty good at opening doors.  At bedtime, Dave closed the door between the two rooms, and then went to sleep.  Addie waited a respectable period of time (8 minutes), and then deftly opened the door between the two rooms, and made a place for herself on my side of the bed.

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Meanwhile, Otis, Doodle, and Alexander were completely happy sleeping in the bunkroom.

So, the three of us (me, Dave, and Addie) slept somewhat wonderfully in the KOA cabin cuteness, even though Addie managed to completely hog half of the bed, squishing me into about 8-inches of space.  I’d just like to say right now that Addie is about 5 pounds heavier than I am, and when it comes down to nighttime wrestling, she usually wins.

After waking up in the morning, I urged Dave to go and avail himself of the KOA pancake breakfast.  Meanwhile, I stayed behind and made sure that the animals did their business, and the cars were packed (don’t get any ideas that I’m the one who does all the tough work around here…later, in Day 4, my true laziness is revealed).

Day 3 loading the cars

Dave came back from the KOA pancake singalong (or whatever it was), bringing me a big plate of eggs and bacon.  After eating, I supervised the final loading of the vehicles.  This step consisted of me bossing Dave around and acting like I’m the only one who knows how to load Otis into the car (which may actually be true).

Finally, at about 9am, we pulled out of the campgrounds, with Dave leading the way.  Dave drove 30 feet, and then skidded to a stop right outside of the campgrounds.  His wheels had locked, rendering his vehicle completely useless (thanks Mercedes).  While Dave called Mercedes, I headed back into KOA, and registered for “another few days” until Dave’s SUV could be repaired.

The rest of the day consisted of me and Dave overseeing the transfer of the Mercedes and its attached trailer, to the KOA campground, and waiting for Mercedes to come out to “figure out” what possibly could have gone wrong.  The Colorado Springs KOA staff were the BEST.  Not only did they easily accommodate us for an additional (and unscheduled) few days of stay, but they hooked the trailer up to a tractor and hauled it back to the KOA campground (something that Mercedes couldn’t be bothered to do, since their warranty coverage only covers the vehicle and not things that are attached to the vehicle).

The KOA staff placed us in a cabin next to their dog park (how cool and nice was that, since they knew we had three large dogs?), and then we settled in to await Mercedes’ analysis of Dave’s wheel-locking problem.  When it became apparent that Mercedes was feeling no sense of urgency whatsoever, Dave headed to the local car rental place, and made arrangements for renting a large passenger van to help us get to Oregon.  Meanwhile, sometime in the afternoon, Mercedes rolled in to the KOA and collected Dave’s car and hauled it back to the dealership (where supposedly they were going to expeditiously make everything good, but it turns out that they actually didn’t do that at all…however, we’ll save that part of the story for later).

Late in the afternoon, Dave returned with a huge passenger van.  He and his friend Robert (who conveniently lives in Colorado Springs), removed the van’s seats, and then with only a tiny amount of help from me, managed to transfer about half of our belongings from the trailer to the van.

That evening, we cooked dinner at the campfire, opened another tiny bottle of wine, and toasted our good fortune that the wheel problem happened right outside of the KOA campground, and not on some desolate highway in the middle of nowhere.   We also toasted KOA Colorado Springs, who’d kindly offered up a few days of trailer space in their park, and who so eagerly lent their tractor to remove our vehicles from the road in front of the campground.

We can’t say it enough…KOA campgrounds are fabulous, but the Colorado Springs KOA is the best.

Day 2: Burkburnett, Texas to Colorado Springs, Colorado

July 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

There’s not a lot of exciting stuff between Texas and Colorado.  Most of Day 2 consisted of riveting scenery like this:

Day 2 highway excitement

Now, here’s something exciting:

Day 2 exciting scenery

Oh, look.  A road sign.  Interesting:

Day 2 really exciting sign

This is also very interesting (not):

Day 2_windmills

Look, a tree…two trees, actually:

Day 2 exciting scenery 1

Highway excitement.  Oh. My. Gosh.  It is just so overwhelming:

Day 2 exciting scenery 2

Meanwhile, Otis and Alexander could hardly contain their excitement:

Day 2 Otie

Dave and I kept each other awake by calling each other on our cellphones (hands-free bluetooth).

Libby:  Did you see THAT?!

Dave:  What?  That gravel pile?  The highway shoulder?  What?

Libby:  That windmill!  Wasn’t it EXCITING?

Dave:  No.

So, that was day 2. We saw a couple of windmills and two trees.  That is all.

Day 1: Houston, Texas to Burkburnett, Texas

July 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Our first day on the road was fairly uneventful.  Except for Doodle’s backseat driving in Dave’s car, and Alexander pooping in his crate in my car, the first day out was unexciting.  For our first night, we stayed at the KOA campground in Burkurnett Texas.  Burkburnett is near Wichita Falls, which was the site of an enormous supercell tornado back in the 70’s.  I remember hearing about this tornado when I was a kid.  The Wichita Falls tornado flattened entire neighborhoods, reducing homes to rubble and a few sticks.

It was late as we pulled in to Burkburnett, Texas.  For our first night away from home, we were planning to sleep in a tent.  Purchased several weeks prior to the trip, we’d tested it in our backyard just before leaving Texas, and I was excited and looking forward to my first camping trip ever.  Dave, who camped a lot as a kid, thought I was crazy (turns out he was right, but I’ll still camp again, because that’s how I roll).

Meanwhile, at 11pm in Burkburnett, Texas, Dave set up our tent, and I walked the animals and made sure they had plenty to eat and drink.  Dave put some air into our inflatable mattresses, and then he and I had dinner (sandwiches, which was really about all we had the energy for).  After that, everyone hit the sack, whereupon the dogs decided that the inflatable mattresses were actually THEIR mattresses.  There was a little power struggle, which Dave and I won (score one for humans, yay).  However, at some point in the middle of the night, the dogs launched a surreptitious attack on the mattresses, and in the morning, Dave was surprised to find that he was sharing his bed with Doodle (score one for the dogs).

Day 1_Dave DoodleI can’t say that I did much better, since Addie and Otis surged onto my mattress, completely enveloping me (score another one for the dogs).

Day 1_Addie Otis

We woke up to ducks quacking (ducks?), and this view out the top of our tent.

Day 1_Tent in the morning

The dogs had a marvelous night, sleeping on air mattresses on top of a couple of oblivious humans.  Even the cat had a good night.  The cat had a special sleeping crate, which held a bed, litterbox, and a small living room (for relaxing, because cats evidently aren’t lazy enough).

 


Day 1_Otis and Alexander

In the morning, the KOA campground managers asked us a lot of questions about the dogs; evidently camping with Irish Wolfhounds is very uncommon, and only crazy people do it.  Probably they got the idea that we were crazy right about the time when Otis, Addie, and Doodle were demonstrating their special dog-trapeze maneuver (Doodle stands under Addie, who stands under Otis).  It looks very strange, and they did it right in front of the KOA managers’ office.

We loved the Burkburnett Texas KOA.

We moved…to Oregon!

July 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hello, and sorry for having been away for such a long time.  The reason for our silence is that we moved…to Oregon.  If you’ve been following us on Instagram, you’ve probably figured this out already.  Libby’s taken an assignment in Eugene, and Dave’s gone along for the ride.  Our trip was half a continent, and it was quite a ride.

Map

When you’re traveling with really big dogs, you can’t stay in a regular hotel.  Hotels, motels, and even the cheesiest establishments refuse to let you stay there (even the places that are supposedly “dog-friendly” set a weight limit on your pet’s size, and don’t even TRY to sneak in three HUGE dogs, and act like they weigh less than 35-pounds each).  So, we decided to get to Oregon via camping.  For our three huge dogs, this seemed like the most practical way to get from Point A (Houston, Texas) to Point B (Eugene, Oregon).

About a month prior to our trip, Libby mapped our route, and made reservations at the KOA campgrounds along the way.  KOA is Kampgrounds of America, and they are fabulous, by the way.  We figured it would be a 4-day expedition to travel from Texas to Oregon.  About 8 days prior to our Estimated Time of Arrival, Dave was able to get an additional day off from his employer.  So, we decided to leave one day earlier…this entailed a few hours on the internet for Libby to reschedule the KOA reservations for the trip, moving everything one day back to allow us to leave a day earlier than planned.

Our new, albeit slightly revised, itinerary had us leaving Texas at the end of June.  Dave had his Mercedes SUV filled with two dogs (Addie and Doodle), and he was pulling a trailer packed with possessions that we figured to be necessary.  Meanwhile, in a separate vehicle, Libby packed one dog (Otis) and a cat (Alexander…Chief-the-DIY-cat  didn’t come because he’d passed away several weeks prior).

With the exception of navigating a 3-hour traffic jam leaving Houston, our first day passed without incident.

GPP 7_25_2013

In Huntsville, Texas, we passed this HUGE statue of Sam Houston.  Texans love Sam Houston, and this statue is a beautiful rendition of him.  You can’t miss Sam, unless you’re driving with your eyes closed or something.

GPP 7_25_2013 b

The animals were mostly well-behaved, especially Otis.  Usually afraid of riding in the car, he seemed to enjoy the experience.  Otis spent the first day on the road eating dog biscuits and looking out the window, while Alexander pooped about a billion times in his crate (okay – NOT a billion.  Alexander pooped twice, and it was so stinky, it FELT like a billion).

GPP 7_25_2013d

Meanwhile, in Dave’s car, Addie and Doodle wrestled and took turns trying to back-seat drive.  The first day seemed slightly traumatic, but upon reflection it was actually very calm (note to self:  it is usually a bad idea to travel cross-continent with wrestling dogs and a pooping cat).

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