A little recipe challenge.

I’ve seen a recipe for a “one pot pasta” dish that seems to have everyone excited. I’ve seen it recently but it appears Martha Stewart published it first in her magazine quite a while ago. But hey, better late than never! I found the recipe here on Food52.com.

I shared the link to the recipe on Facebook and had several people comment that they wanted me to let them know how it turned out. They had seen the recipe before but were too chicken to give it a whirl. Although one friend had tried it, said it was “pretty darn good”. And she’s a food blogger!!

Living in a teeny weenie camper… I would be dumb not to try it.

So here is my review.

The directions tell you to make this dish in a flat sided pot. I happen to have one of those – so far so good. However, they tell you to lay the linguine flat in the pan. My pot is just slightly smaller than the noodles so I had to break them in half. I really hated doing this but….

The other awkward thing about the recipe it that it calls for 12 oz of pasta. But my box of pasta was 16 oz. So I cooked the whole box anyway and added a bit more water. More on that later.

The rest of the recipe is pretty self-explanatory. I added about 1/2 cup extra water to compensate for the extra pasta as well as extra tomatoes and basil. I knew from the beginning that there was no way this would cook in 9 minutes, as claimed, on my camper propane stovetop. I didn’t time it but it wasn’t too much longer once the water started to boil. You are supposed to toss the pasta and other ingredients as it cooks but this was a bit difficult since my pot was already so full.

Here is my finished product. I does make it’s own “sauce” but I think mine is a bit too much because I may have added too much extra water. (At least compared to the picture posted with the original recipe.)

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Overall it was a winner, although we all agreed it could use some kind of meat. Some garlic shrimp tossed in would make this spectacular. (But now you’re dealing with 2 pots…) Next time I’ll probably make it in my stock pot which is the closest thing I have that will give me enough room to comfortably toss the dish as it cooks. I’ve also read there are several other one pot pasta and sauce suggestions posted somewhere. I’m going to look for that! Because a one pot recipe is a winner in this camper!

Summer Relaxation

Relaxation… Maybe just slacking! I haven’t blogged in months! Sorry folks! But I’m here to give you the scoop!

This summer’s biggest project was doing some work on the camper. Specifically replacing the floor of our bedroom slide that had water damage and installing “wood” floors (vinyl “planks”) throughout the camper and getting rid of the carpet! I started a post on this a while back but wanted before and after pictures. But the post sat and sat… and I still don’t have the pictures all together so I’ll just tell you that we made the upgrades and post specifically about it later.

Mike’s three kids couldn’t coordinate schedules for us to take all to the beach at the same time – an annual event. So darn it all – Mike and I had to “endure” the beach on two separate occasions! We took the youngest two to Edisto Beach State Park in South Carolina. This island is a treasure! South of Charleston, it’s a quiet haven covered in live oaks and drapey spanish moss. Small town feel, nothing at all like the popular Myrtle Beach. I was worried the kids would get bored because they are used to going to Myrtle Beach with lots of other kids around and lots to do and see. But I think we kept them occupied.

The state park has two campgrounds, one on the beach and one set in a live oak forest, about a mile up the road. (And when I say “the road” I mean the road, the only one leading in and out of town.) If you’re camped at the live oak campground you get free admission into the SP beach area. At first everyone was groaning because they are used to renting a golf cart at Ocean Lakes in Myrtle Beach and jetting to and from the beach on it with all their gear. But they quickly realized that our 8 foot truck bed holds a heck of a lot more stuff than just trying to hold on to a few things on a golf cart! They got over their disappointment of not having the cart.

When I booked the spot about 6 months before our trip there were no available spots big enough for us in the beach campground. (Of course if you’re in the that campground you just walk out to the beach.) Which is how we ended up in the Live Oaks. However we agree the Live Oaks campground is much prettier than the beach. Plus there is access to all kinds of trails in Live Oaks. We ran on the trails a few times and also crabbed off some of the low bridges that connects the trail through the marshland!

Crabbing lesson: go to the grocery store. Ask for crabbing lines and a net and don’t forget to pick up some chicken or turkey necks. Other “throw away” parts are acceptable too. (like chicken backs we used this time.) Find yourself a little bridge or dock in a saltwater marsh at high tide. Attach a poultry piece to the end of the line (a cotton line with a triangular hook on the end and a weight) and throw it over the side.

And wait.

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Some people prefer to crab with traps. But if you’re with kids or someone who has never crabbed before using the lines are more fun. A trap you throw in, leave and come back for it later. But the lines are more like fishing. Once you feel a tug you have to pull up your line very slowly or else the crab will notice and let go. Right before you pull it out of the water you scoop it up with your net and drop him in the bucket you brought along.

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Then it’s off to make Low Country Boil! Potatoes, corn, sausage, shrimp, tons of seasonings and, of course, your crabs!!! And if you’re as lucky as we were you get Justin, my chef-y little brother, to make it for you!!

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The crabs are small and you have to do a lot of work for a little bit of meat. But it’s the experience, right??

Our next beach adventure was about two weeks later with Mike’s oldest daughter. We took her to the eastern shore of Virginia, specifically, Kiptopeke State Park. This is another gorgeous park! Lots of trails, boat dock and private beach! They even have concrete ships out in the bay for a reef! It’s just over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel from Virginia Beach. We did drive over on two occasions. But be warned – the toll for the bridge is expensive!!!

But this was a great excuse to get the jetskis out and use them for the first time since we picked them up earlier in the summer.

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After the beach we headed to Long Island! But that’s another story.. stay tuned!

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A Race Across Central US

When you’re new to full-time RV livin’ you have many things to learn. Like when to be and where. What parts of the country are best what times of the year and where to avoid driving (or definitely go) during certain times of the year. For example, it’s probably best to try NOT to go over the Rocky Mountains in January or February. You can try hauling your ginormous camper through snowy, slushy roads, but wouldn’t it just be easier to plan to wait until late spring or summer?? If you have the ability, why not?

Mike and I had decided a long time ago to spend the summer back on the east coast. We were already late. Memorial Day weekend we were supposed to fly Mike’s son, Z, to Charlotte to take him to look at southern colleges. But we hadn’t made it that far so we flew him to Denver instead. Luckily he’s only a sophomore so we still have time. One of the reasons we were still out west was the rain and tornadoes across the central plains. No one wants to drive camper through that if they can help it.

After hanging out in Santa Fe a bit the weather across I-40 seemed to be opening up and we decided to follow the clear skies. But that also meant driving days and days to get to my relatives in West-By-God Virginia! We have now been driving three days since Santa Fe. Currently we are outside of Knoxville, Tennessee at Melton Hills Dam, a TVA campsite. Last night we were in Memphis at the Agricenter¬†and I got to meet up with some good family friends, camping buddies of my dad and me, and the dad and sister of one of my BFF’s if high school. (if you didn’t follow that, it’s ok. It’s kinda complicated…) How fun to drink a beer with your friend’s dad… Here I am, almost 40, but I was never old enough to share a beer with Dave growing up. I hope to meet up with his son (my HS BFF) and his wife and kids later this summer. It really is extraordinary catching up with friend’s, living this lifestyle. I doubt I would have ever had the opportunity otherwise. (although how I got away without taking a picture of all us is beyond me! Next time!!) But I will recommend the Flying Saucer in Memphis! A bazillion beers, great food… I can’t say enough!

We have to make a stop at Camping World tomorrow to get a tire and brakes checked. I don’t have high hopes. Speaking with my MBA cap on, I think Camping World has the market so cornered that they’ve ruined it. I’ve come to expect less-than-stellar service, especially being a full-timer. Then again, the local mom-and-pop shops are a bit scary to those of us that travel ALL THE TIME and don’t know them. You never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s excellent service, sometimes it’s questionable… so to be safe we go with a national company so at least we feel we have some sort of recourse when it all goes down the drain. I challenge someone with the know-how and wherewithal to start a national competitor to CW, maybe just for service. It would make me feel better crusin’ around the US!

Next stop (after Camping World) WEST VIRGINIA!!!!!

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Lewis Weber, Lewis Webster, are you UP,Shur?? (inside joke for anyone who had Coach Sauro Sr. for WV Civics in 8th grade…)

A Slight Detour

Sitting in rain reminded us why we live in a camper in the first place. We can go ANYWHERE we want WHENEVER we want. Specifically to avoid unpleasant weather. Once we had decided to leave Denver early and head east we thought it prudent to check the forecasts around our intended path across the US. If you recall a week or so ago, most of the entire US was covered in rain.

We didn’t have many choices. So we went chasing sun and warm temperatures. Because we can. ūüėČ

That led us to the southeastern corner of Colorado. And a reservoir out in the middle of cow towns. (See what happens when you don’t immediate blog? I can’t find one reference to where we were!! Sorry!) Not the first time, we essentially had the campground to ourselves since the Memorial Day crowd had already rolled out.

We kept watching the weather. Texas was getting clobbered. Our good friends, Tim and Rebecca (The Nouveaux Honkies) had been in Austin recording their latest album. They were trying to make their way west while we were trying to make it east. As it worked out we met up in Santa Fe for a few days!!

Although one big party, it was not meant to be. Tim had a terrible stomach bug – potentially from drinking contaminated water before leaving Texas. And Rebecca wasn’t feeling 100% either. But we girls made the best of it! We parked side-by-side at the Santa Fe Skies RV Park, a quaint park on the south side of town. It’s a great campground, especially if you have dogs! They have a fenced-in dog park area as well as a 3/4 mile trail that loops around the property. Although meant for the dogs, many people walk and jog it too. Out here, everyone gets along!

While Tim slept off his terrible sickness and Michael was in serious programmer “coding mode” (aka: needs complete silence to concentrate. I do not comprehend “complete silence”…) Rebecca and I headed out to explore Santa Fe. Two afternoons we spent going through clothing boutiques (Rebecca is a clothes shopper. She has to have cool threads to wear on stage!!) kitchy souvenir shops (just because you have to if you’re a tourist, jewelry stores (southwestern¬†opals are¬†amazing! I had no idea all the colors!! The turquoise is phenomenal too!! The craftsmanship….), olive oil and balsamic vinegar shops (because I can seriously shop for food items!), and second-hand stores (because NO ONE can resist inexpensive, used clothes. Even me! ).

The clothing stores we both found to be a bit outrageous in price. But that’s because I’m cheap. I don’t know Rebecca’s excuse. ūüėČ The clothing stores downtown (in the historic area) cater to affluent, money-dropping tourists.¬†Neither of us¬†fit that bill. (and even if I did I subscribe more to Warren Buffet’s way of living. I might have money and splurge on a few things, food!, but seriously, I ain’t got time to be showin’ off and all…) Also, many of the stores we first went into we geared towards women of a certain age and style – which didn’t fit either of us. Eventually we found the cute, edgy stores that really fit Rebecca. I loved looking at clothes and was even actually tempted to purchase a cute dress! But alas, no need to bother when I live in an RV. :-/ I have a few sundresses that suffice. A sacrifice to my way of living… haha!

But I do have to call out one particular store that had BOTH of us wandering around for hours! We first walked into the store because the sign outside said “Vintage Clothes” or something of that nature. It was a second hand store trying to be fancy, I suppose. Rebecca started looking at clothes, then price tags. Tank top, $90. AT A SECOND HAND STORE?!?!? I guess that’s what you pay for “vintage”? It took me all of 2 seconds to ascertain this was not my scene. As cute as the clothes were I did not need to drop that kind of money nor did I have anywhere to wear such “expensive” clothes.

Side note – funny how your perspective changes. I wouldn’t have blinked to drop $90 for a nice tank to go under a suit for work. But y’all, I live and work out of an RV. I don’t need threads like that anymore.

While Rebecca was still sorting through the vintage clothes I walked around the corner to kill time. I saw there was a pottery shop in the same building. But around the corner was not pottery but a WALL of COWBOY BOOTS!!! New and used!!! Mens and Womens!

By now you’re probably wondering, “what is this store?” It’s called Double Take and you must go! Walls and walls of cowboy boots! and further around the corner…. a true THRIFT STORE! ¬†A HUGE ONE! Clothes for all, shoes, jewelry, bags, games, you name it! (at reasonable prices you and I are accustomed to.) Holy Moly!

Rebecca is a clothes shopper and I’m not, really. So she was really lagging behind me. I had already gone through the whole store and she was still in the boots. I saw an upstairs sign that said “Furniture”. Turns out, neither Rebecca nor I need furniture – we both live in RVs. But I happen to LOVE looking at furniture. (figures…) So I head upstairs to kill time.

Furniture, knick-knacks, linens, the pottery! What did I find in the this deceptively huge store? I bought a set of queen sheets for the extra bed – for $25. I told the guy I would have bought them even if they were Hello Kitty or had outrageously tacky 1970’s flowers all over them. But as it turns out they were just common ‘ol khaki-colored. Matched our interior perfectly! Not bad for $25!

I don’t have any great pictures to post. I have a few on my Canon but until I can figure out how to upload, back-up-not-necessarily-sync my files they are being held hostage on the memory card. And Mike, Rebecca, Tim and I didn’t take a picture together because who wants their picture taken when they’re suffering from bad water??

I’ll leave you with this – the Nouveaux Honkies recently replenished their merchandise and I was able to finally get my hands on some t’s. They have different artwork, but this design is one of their new ones, and one of my favs. It’s got an RV on it!!!

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I hate rain

I used to live in Colorado. I loved it! The mountains, the sunshine, the people.

Did I mention the sunshine?

How about the beautiful snow-capped mountains??

I have been going on and on to Mike about how awesome Colorado and Denver are. I couldn’t wait to get from California, back across the Rockies, to introduce him to this amazing part of the country. We timed it just right, too. The snow appeared to be finished for the season as we worked our way through the high-walled gorges and then through the ski resort towns. Arapahoe Basin seemed to still have some snow on her surface – I could make out the moguls on the slopes – but the ground was clear. The Eisenhower Tunnel was clear and open. These are the things you consider when crossing the Rockies, especially when towing a 16,000 camper!

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Colorado does a great job of keeping motorists informed of road conditions! If you’re heading through the area I highly recommend this site to see if the roads are clear. You can choose your interstate and it gives you the conditions by mileage section. Very helpful on long hauls!

I had us booked to stay with friends for a few days then on to Chief Hosa Campground in Golden. I could hardly contain myself! Finally getting back to Colorado, seeing friends, knowing I was spending Memorial Day weekend in Golden AND we had tickets to a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater! This couldn’t get any better!

As we rounded the edge of the pass the sky started looking cloudy. Then rainy.

We drove into Denver in rain. ¬†Denver boasts 300 days of sunshine, more than San Diego and Miami Beach! And we arrive in rain. But not worry – just hang around a day or so¬†and it’ll clear up, right??

WRONG!

Our plans had us in the front range and Golden for seven days. IT RAINED the first FOUR DAYS! Turns out, it’s been one the wettest Mays Colorado has seen in quite a while. Rivers were flooded, farmer’s fields were swampy messes, some people living on old farm houses on rivers evacuated. It was not a normal time to be in Colorado.

To make matters worse, we flew Mike’s son, Z, out to Denver for Memorial Day weekend. He flew three quarters across the country to sit in a camper and watch movies. At least for the first two days of his three days with us. Whoopee :-/

Finally, on Z’s last, full day, it started to clear up. We did a little hiking, headed into the town of Golden and prepared for the concert at Red Rocks that night. The forecast was predicting heavy rain but we figured we’d go, stay as long as we could and leave when the rain got too bad.

Hiking above Golden:

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Side note – If you’re in the Denver area check out Red Rocks and see who’s playing. If it’s someone/a band your even marginally interested in GO! This is, by far, hands down, the best music venue! It’s a natural, rock amphitheater. The acoustics are unbelievable, the scenery of the sandstone monoliths framing the panoramic view of Denver is breathtaking. Just go.

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We ended up staying for most of the concert! The rain never came! (at least while we were there!) We had to head out since we had to get up at *ahem* 4am the next morning in order to get Z up, ready and to the airport for an early morning flight home.

Even though the rain had let up we were getting tired of the “wet” and we needed to start heading east for the summer. We decided to skip town a day earlier than planned. Mike promised me we’ll be back to Denver!! (preferably with drier conditions!)

Long Lost Friends

One of the greatest things about RVing? Catching up with old friends!

I lived in Ohio until I was 14. Aarthi and Meera moved in across the street when I was 5, Aarthi was 4 and Meera was 1. I was an only child until I was almost 11 so growing up they seemed liked little sisters to me. I moved when I was 14 and we kept in touch sporadically. Facebook made it easier to know what they were up to but we had lost touch with what was really going on in each other’s lives.

I did know that Aarthi did her residency at Stanford and Meera went to Berkley. Aarthi, Meera, their mom and I actually went to Egypt for vacation when I had just graduated from graduate school and Aarthi was in medical school. But not long after that trip we sort of scattered. I hear med school is pretty demanding… ūüėČ

Eventually their parents moved to the Bay area too. Their whole family had relocated out west. So when I knew I’d be in Napa I reached out. They each have 2 1/2 year olds and Meera was pregnant with her second child.

So on Mother’s Day Michael and I drove to San Francisco and ran a 5K at one of the parks below the bridge.

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After a little superhero change-a-roo (and a deodorant shower) in the truck – what? You don’t just meet up with friends you haven’t seen in a decade after a run and a swipe of deodorant?? – we had a little reunion of sorts!

This is trying to recreate a picture from when we were little.

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Did I mention Meera was pregnant? Did I mention she was due the previous Tuesday?? She finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy the following Saturday.

I was even able to see their mom and dad! I have such fond memories of her mom’s Indian cooking growing up. Even though she was my pediatrician…. Food makes better memories than doctor visits. It’s a bummer I left without getting a picture of all of us!

It’s great to see old friends! And I’m very excited to stop by and my way through the Bay area the next time because their mom said she’d cook for me!!!!

Wine and Bikes

What do you get when you mix wine and bicycles?

Some shaky cycling! (on a bike path!)

To belatedly wrap up our Calistoga adventure I must relay our wonderful wine tasting experience in Napa Valley’s newest AVA (American Viticultural Area). As best as I remember it…

Calistoga is very small as compared to the town of Napa. I thought the best way to enjoy the wineries were via bike. And I wasn’t wrong! We stopped at the local bike shop, Calistoga Bikeshop,¬†to inquire about their thoughts on the matter, a bike specific map, etc and was enlightened to the bike trail that runs through town. A nice, paved bike/walking trail that connects roads north and south of the main street of Calistoga. This is the recommended way to get to the wineries on either end of town rather than the way the cars go, Route 128/29, since there is no true bike lane on that road. Route 29 is narrow and people driving on that road have been wine tasting all day….

We only had one true day to go tasting and therefore could only feasibly hit up a few wineries anyway. This seemed the way to go. I grabbed a small backpack to hold my camera and small purse and we headed out on our mountain bikes. Sure enough the path was flat and paved. We passed a few families with strollers but that was it. We went about a mile south of town before we intersected with a road with three wineries.

My cousin had recommended we go to Sterling, if only because you take a ski gondola up the side of the hill to the winery. As it happened, the bike path spit us out right in front of Sterling, very convenient!

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There seemed to be many cars coming and going through their grand entrance so we headed to Clos Pegase, right down the lane.

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They had beautiful gardens and interior grounds, although this picture doesn’t really capture it.

We headed to the almost deserted tasting room – we had hit the wineries at a good time! – and started through their tasting menu. My original plan was to buy a bunch of wine and carry it back to my dad’s in SC and store it there. Once I realized I could have a case of wine shipped to him for a penny (from this winery, not all do this) I was sold! And once our pourer knew I was buying she kept pouring! And I kept tasting!

Where was Mike during all this? Right beside me, tasting, But as he puts it, after our pourer figured out who was in charge of buying the wine she kept my glass full and just gave him a few drops here and there for show. And when I realized I could save 20% on my case if I joined the wine club?? YES PLEASE!

So that’s the story of how we stumbled out of Clos Pegase as wine club members, a few bottles in my backpack and a case being shipped to my dad. (Presumably for safe keeping. I guess I’ll find out in a month or so…) And four bottles being shipped to my dad once a quarter.

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You may be wondering, we did stop at Sterling, but the queue was so long for the ski lift we didn’t bother. Oh well!

And now I know why the shirt I bought at the cycling shop says on the back “I Spit and Cycled Through Napa Valley”. No I didn’t. I “Sipped and Cycled”. But maybe I should have spit a few times….

Where we capture our shenanigans as we work and play, traveling the US, living out of our camper!

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