Monday, January 15, 2018

More Food

San Diego is known for its well mannered weather, active people, and plentiful fresh foods. These three go together because if you are NOT active but you eat all the amazing foods and beers you won't be able to enjoy the beautiful weather.

Today's highlight is, again, food. We were directed to visit Liberty Public Market. This park looking place has larger shops and restaurants and Stone Brewing is also in this park area, but nestled in one corner is a section of 30 food spaces plus a Bottlecraft that serves 50 plus different beers and wines on tap. This place is like my personal heaven. We wandered and inspected the whole place before choosing roast beef with beans and rice and roast pork with kale salad and roasted potatoes. The meats were absolutely sinfully delicious. The side dishes were very tasty too, but completely outshined by the well prepared meats. We enjoyed a half-pour of beer each while we ate.

We then visited the cheese shop, Venissimo, where Paul introduced us to some of his favorites and treated us to small bites of toasted brie on baguette pieces. We bought a trio of cheeses to share with our hosts.

(Just a wee side note: I'm in Starbucks using their free internet which is super lovely... except, their connection BLOCKS me from looking at the Venissimo website with an Ecommerce warning that I promised not to visit such sites. Really??? I can look at beer websites, but cheese places seem to offend Starbuck's??? OK.)

We enjoyed Stone Brewery. The beers were delicious and they allowed half-pours so that you could try more beers without needing to call a cab. The building was insane. I sat there looking at all of the details that an architect and artistic designer had to consider.

After leaving Liberty Station, the weather shifted. It went from sunny and warm to windy and on the edge of cold. We decided to go to Ballast Point which we didn't even know was in San Diego. They make some of Anne's favorites. I had a tasting of three of their "Victory at Sea" while Anne enjoyed something you'll have to ask her about.

We got home before traffic got too crazy. Our hosts made an amazing grilled chicken taco salad and we fell asleep full and satisfied from an amazing food and beers day.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Farmer's Market

It's Sunday in San Diego on a gorgeous winter day. It's Farmer's Market day, or Festival of All the Foods as I like to call it. We went to the one in Hillcrest. Parking is, yet again, insane in this city, but just as our hostess gave up and decided we just weren't meant to see the farmer's market, a spot opened up. We parked in a median with dozens of other cars packed in as tight as they could.

The place was packed with fresh vegetables and fruits, flowers, and natural type products from pickled garlic to soap. And then....

We walked across a street into an entire block of rows of foods for eating NOW. Indian, East African, Cajun, seafood to vegan. Most vendors were offering samples with such enthusiasm it was almost forceful. After walking this row at least six times, I decided on Indian. Chicken Korma. Anne had a samosa with lamb and eggplant from the same place. Mariah chose Korean BBQ with kimchi. It was all delicious. For dessert, Mariah and I had Chili Mango limeades (intensely delicious). Anne had a small cup of bone broth.

The thing about these places is I honestly want to eat EVERYTHING. I want to bring it all home. If I lived near, I would pace myself and eat one choice per week, but being a guest, I just want it all now. I feel almost heartbroken passing up all the good foods and vendors offering samples and explanations of their amazing fresh ingredients.

Dear Farmer's Market Vendors,
If you are reading this, know I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!  I want all of your foods and products. I am absolutely sure that nearly everyone there feels the same...  so if you have a bad day or sales are down, I hope you have a prosperous experience next time. Sometimes the energy is so overwhelming that I have to step back and sometimes buy nothing until my mind can settle a bit. I know this doesn't help your sales today, but you made my day by existing in this energetic generous space. Thank you for everything you brought and shared!
Love, Abby

Saturday, January 13, 2018

San Diego

1. Take dog for quick walk.
2. Dump dog in truck so she doesn't wake up our host while we go for coffee.
3. Walk three blocks to the Starbuck's where i get "free" coffee with the five Starbuck's cards I have been accidentally hoarding for this moment.
4. Walk back to the house, collect dog and go for an urban-nature hike just down the road.
5. Return home for coffee and yogurt with fruit and granola whipped up by our hostess - YUM!
6. Set off to Coronado (Mariah drives - YAY!), eat lunch, walk the beach which sparkles with gold, find a PERFECT sand dollar, explore the Del...
7. Set off to La Jolla ("La Hoy-uh") for gelato. The number of humans here is insane, but just as we give up on parking and decide to drive away, THERE is a parking spot! We enjoy our gelato as we watch the seals and colony of pelicans on the cliffs.
8. Return home for showers and a simple but DELICIOUS spaghetti and salad dinner.
9. Watch several episodes of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."
10. Crash in bed for a good night's sleep.

Friday, January 12, 2018

More Travel

Today we set off to San Diego! We do not wake up at four AM, but 6AM when the alarm goes off. How refreshing!

We continue doing well with gas mileage even though people are passing me constantly, I refuse to go over 70MPH any more. It's hard for me to believe this doubles my gas mileage, but it does.

We cooked brussel sprouts and meats yesterday that we had bought in Patagonia. Today, I made tacos of the left over meats and scraps of cheese... basically everything we had left in the fridge. We ate breakfast and I rolled up extra tacos for the car ride.

We stopped about noon at a road side park to eat our tacos. We stopped a couple of times for gas, but otherwise drive, drive, drive.

We arrived in San Diego about 3:30 and the traffic was crazy, as one would expect, but the traffic was insane in the opposite direction, so all in all, coulda been worse! We got to the house, dropped off the trailer and went to a brewery for a beer while we waited for our host to get home from work. Societe Brewery had many offerings and a really cool big open brewery space for hanging out. Other people had dogs. We left Macy in the car because she is not nice in that environment. Between being blind and being protective, this would be a recipe for a bite.

We met back at the house with Mariah who chose another place for our dinner.... I forgot the mane of the place, but I'll try to remember to ask later. Asked! It was Draft Republic. All three of us had a beer from a list of fifty some beers and a different salad - mine with ahi tuna, Anne's had peppered steak. Nothing terribly fancy but hit the spot for sure.

Back at home, we shared a bottle of wine and caught up on life and stories. This will be the first night we get to spend under a real roof with a real bed since the first of the year!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Blogging with Others

I've never had a blog with another person. It's a funny thing. We both enjoy writing, but she has this thing where she is "not in the mood" to write when it is actually convenient to write. There's always something in the way of her mood. I have decided that I will absolutely positively not push her. It wouldn't help if I did and we'd just end up fighting about it. She wrote this week's blog post a few days ago in the middle of the night under the bed in our camper... seriously. It's a LOOOOOOOONG post. We are now at a bar in Tucson where she is revising and adding to this post. Don't get me wrong, it's a lovely post, but it is so far away from my own process that it takes actual effort for me to not be annoyed or even severely annoyed/angry. I am observing my own reactions here, not judging her. We have our own paths, our own methods. The work will get done, it always does. And so, I am not annoyed. I am drinking my beer and writing my own thoughts which is EXACTLY how our relationship started. These thoughts and observations of my own reactions are MINE. Her methods and writing is HERS. We have always had this separation and I think it's good. It's also good to write about how my mind works with how she operates. I'm now laughing because she has moved from editing her blog post to checking facebook. Ha. We are all the same aren't we??

This bar that we sat and wrote above, this was the same place we started our day together in April when we decided a more personal face to face relationship just might work - We call this day "The Best Day of Anne's Life." We call it that because that's what she told my mother the very next day. In April, we drove back to my parent's home from Tucson and Anne told them this day had been "the best day of my life." My mothers sort of chuckled. There was something in Anne's voice that spoke volumes, and yet, we didn't even know what we would decide to do quite yet... but it didn't take long to figure out.

Illegal Pete's. We sat there for hours in April. This time only to finish up some blogging. We met with Anne's uncle for lunch at Guadalajara. As we parked the truck, I noticed on my GPS that Murphy's Irish Pub was highlighted. This was also part of "The Best Day." We had gone to the Irish session in April and on to this 50's diner place for a late dinner after the session. After lunch today, we drove over to Murphy's for a pint. Without the music, it was a bit bland, but fun to be in the same place, and our bar tender Brandy was a fabulous bar tender and source of entertainment, in a good way.

Time to go back to camp and pack up to leave in the morning!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Birds and Patagonia

Burrrrrrrrrr! Chilly morning with frozen dew all over the truck. We took Macy for our obligatory walk and then set off sans dog on a birding trail. People frown on dogs in designated birding areas. Sorry Macy - more walking later. This trail in Patagonia Lake State Park was gorgeous and indeed full of bird life. I bet closer to spring, this is the place to be. We saw a darling Black Phoebe and many many other birds, but turned around to head back to camp when we felt a couple of sprinkles that the sky spat down at us.

The bathrooms and grounds of this park are incredibly well maintained. It is more like a high priced KOA in a gorgeous natural setting than what you expect of state parks. We decided to take a look in their nature center, camp store, and I also went to check in with the front gate since we arrived just after closing the evening before. The nature center was a lovely gift shop combined with information center. The volunteers were enthusiastic. Even though the weather did not look good for hiking, we went ahead and got a pass for hiking in an adjacent-to-the-park wilderness area. The camp store had all the basic food and camping essentials... all those things you forget, they had 'em.

Our return home trip through Northern AZ was still unsettled. This place was such a positive statement for AZ State Parks that when I went to check in at the front office, I told them how impressed we were and asked if they might recommend something in the Northern AZ area, somewhere somewhat close to IH40. One ranger was very enthusiastic about a particular park. Exactly the sort of recommendation I like to hear.

Because of weather, and because we had driven through the delightful town of Patagonia the day before, we hopped in the truck and went to Patagonia. This is the cutest little hippy town. The main road is lined with locally owned shops, farmer's market grocery, and park. We parked and wandered. We visited the Wagon Wheel for a beer and lunch. It's an old cowboy hangout and when we arrived, a group from a nearby dude-ranch was swaggering in to the place. We sat at the bar surrounded by real life cow-folk in an old western saloon.

We made friends with Jan at the tourist center. We found a house that would be our perfect home if we were in the position to buy right now. We found a used dictionary for sale at the library. Between crossword puzzles and authors using obscure vocabulary, we are in constant need of a dictionary. We also found fresh vegetables at the farmer's market type grocery store. This place was gorgeous and had that amazing aroma of natural foods and products. I could have lived in that market. Finally, we had ice cream in a coffee shop cafe. The girl looked at us a little oddly for ordering ice cream, but she loaded up those cones.... probably because no one else wanted ice cream in the dreary days of winter.

A lovely day in this adorable town... It was the type of place a person could stay a while and just let your mind rest. We'll be back.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Desert Travel

'Desert' should be spelled "deSSert" and 'dessert' should be spelled "deSert." There, I said it. Our language is ridiculous, and this pair of words has given me hell my entire life! Here we are in the DESERT. If I use the wrong one of these words in my writing by accident here, I beg your forgiveness and will remind myself, this is why you pay the big bucks to editors.

Today, we leave Davis Mountains State Park in Texas, stop in Las Cruces, NM for lunch with my parents, and go on to Patagonia Lake State Park in Arizona. This loop originally included the Grand Canyon. That's probably not going to happen this time around between weather and first-come-first-serve policies for the South Rim (North is closed in winter), it just sounds like a lot of risk and trouble when we could most certainly make the Grand Canyon its own destination some other time. Because we originally planned to go there, and there is no electricity in the Grad Canyon campground, we asked my parents if we could borrow their Yeti. No so much a need now, but lunch was already planned and who doesn't like a lunch break?

Once again we were both wide awake at 4AM and decided to punch the coffee pot button. We were on the road by 6:15 AGAIN (exactly like our travel out of Georgetown). I'm not sure we need to make this a THING, but it's kind of fun to get moving at coincidentally the same time simply because it feels right. I sent Mom a message to suggest we meet at 11 if possible - no problem, she says.

This time, I took my time and carefully navigated the hills and speed limits much much more carefully. In fact, I channeled every 70+ traveler driving RVs at 30 MPH. I was rewarded with gas mileage of 13 - 16 MPG. THANK GAWWWWWDDDDDD.... That was a huge relief. 7.5 mpg was terrifying to me. It felt really good to feel a bit more in control and to know we weren't going to run out of gas every 120 miles.

Lunch was lovely. Mom brought Anne and me hats that coincidentally MATCHED what we were wearing. Mine, lime green, Anne's navy blue with coral accents... literally exactly what we were wearing. Dad was bursting to talk about plans for Alaska. We stop back through to stay at their house after San Diego. I'm pretty sure all the main details of the trip will be settled then.

With a nice lunch and uneventful driving, we made it to Patagonia Lake which was full of lively people - ah, snow birds! We are directly across from the bathroom - hooray!

Sunday, January 07, 2018

West Texas Towns

Today, we toured the city life of the Big Bend area. First, the wee town of Fort Davis. There is an old fashioned drugstore with soda fountain that I had seen mentioned more than once in social media. We made it there in time for lunch. We split a cheeseburger with onion rings and enjoyed a cream soda (me) and rootbeer (Anne). It was an adorable atmosphere and I enjoyed the flavors of junkfood.

Alpine is home to Big Bend Brewery. The brewery is a warehouse style pub with large tables offering a few games for their patrons. I had their porter which was very good. Anne had some IPA thing and we enjoyed trying our hand at Scrabble. Anne claims she won...  uh huh.

Finally, Marfa. We had read about a beergarden that was dog friendly. Macy, who had been in the car all day was most looking forward to this stop. Google maps claimed it would be open, but alas, that's only during seasonal seasons. We found our way back to what appears to be the only thing open during the winter: Hotel Saint George. The bartender was friendly and it was happy hour. A Founder's Breakfast Porter for me, and a classic margarita on the rocks for Anne. We chose a Wagyu Tartar and a macaroni and cheese with short ribs. Both were delicious even though on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Our city tour was rather quiet. Back to camp!

Saturday, January 06, 2018

A Party!

We have zero cell service here at Davis Mountain State Park, but there is an occasional breeze that brings a wifi connection. With patience we looked up McDonald Observatory to check hours and prices for tours and whatnot. There are two after-hours events. The second that starts at 7PM and lasts for approximately 2 hours includes telescope viewing. They recommend reserving your spots in advance, and now we can say, yes, this is a good idea. Here we are in January and there were about 70 people there with a capacity of about 100. We drove over to the observatory in the morning, purchased our tickets, then came back to camp for a nice hike of about 4 miles. Most of the hikes listed on the maps boast amazing views, and since most of them appear to take hikers up on high ridges, I would imagine this is probably true. The Skyline Drive hike definitely did.

I was excited to go to the PARTY. Anne just laughed at me. We arrived early instead of fashionably late. Finally, a woman directed all the meandering people to walk to the amphitheater. The speaker in the amphitheater first told us all the do's and don't's, specifically and most importantly, NO LIGHTS, even those LEDs on children's shoes. Later, we witnessed a child with these bright lights in the telescope area... It was truly annoying. If you ever get to go to this program, don't be that parent!

In the amphitheater, the speaker pointed out specific stars and constellations. He explained why even though we are IN the Milky Way, we can see it across the sky. He explained that everything we can see with the naked eye is also part of the Milky Way with the exception of a fuzzy blob that is the Andromeda Galaxy. He was funny and told a story and gave an explanation as to why the constellations often don't look anything like the objects for which they are named... except Orion, of course.

People were free to skip this portion and go directly to the telescopes, but we stayed as most people did and listened, laughed, and learned a lot. The two large telescopes we set to objects and we climbed a step ladder to look through the eyepiece. There were an additional three very large, but much smaller than the main permanent telescopes. Each station had a very knowledgeable guide to tell you all the factoids about the object you were seeing.

Overall, this was well worth the $12 ticket.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Travel day

In general, we are early risers. We are also insomniacs with similar 'wake at 2, 3, 4AM and stay awake for hours' patterns. Today is a travel day and we have the alarm set for 6AM. We plan to throw together some breakfast and coffee and be on the road by 7. However, our brains have synced up to wake us both at about 3:48. At 4, both of us are wide awake and I suggest we go ahead and get up. Anne is completely in agreement. I don't like to rush. I prefer to have a few hours to eat, drink coffee, pack up leisurely than to throw everything into the car and drive away like a crime scene getaway. We drive through the gates of the park at 6:15AM. First destination is Fredricksburg where I will get to meet Anne's father for the first time. Because of our early start, we will stop by the grocery store first.

A small very happy friendly dog greets us as we arrive. I expected a dog by the name of Shotzy to be fluffier or shaggier, but this dog is smooth and short haired, also a bit round. Dr. Walker holds court in the kitchen at an island that is well equipped with drawers and outlets that he installed. We chat and drink coffee and collect mail and travel brochures that he rounded up for us. He has news of the neighbors, and I get to visit the infamous organs (music, not kidneys) he has repaired and the antique sofa Anne intends to rescue as soon as we can find a place to put it. Then, with the promise to return on our way back home, we are off to Davis Mountain State Park.

On our way to Fredricksburg, we encountered a detour that took us down a narrow road that had drop off jagged edges, I would speed up and drive more to the center of the road when I could, but I frequently had to drive along the edge and cringe as I felt the poor trailer jump up and down knowing our stuff was also bumping around and hanging on for dear life. In addition, I was watching the gas gauge plummet. I guessed that my sporadic speeding and slowing on this backroad was the cause. After Fredricksburg, I continued to see horrible gas mileage. Driving the hill country through wind and hills absolutely drained the tank. It's not so much the money or even the environmental issue, but sadly, the fact that gas stations out in this part of the world have a bit of distance between them. This became a new challenge and stressor that I had not been prepared to manage. Onward with crossed fingers!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Grape Creek Winery

More errands today before we leave our home-turf area tomorrow morning. One errand was to find a Texas gift for our hosts down the road. We looked through a few stores and wound up at a winery shop in downtown Georgetown, Grape Creek Winery. A tasting? SURE! I am generally skeptical of Texas wines. The ones I have known are way too sweet, and I am all about dry reds, buttery and spicy, mmmmm. I chose six of their reds for my tasting and did not hate any of them. Anne and I agreed on one as a gift because of the absolutely lovely fragrance. That fragrance carried well into the flavor, of course, but my very favorite was their Merlot. It was rich and buttery with a light peppery goodness. I like rich wines and beers like porters and stouts. In general, I like to practically chew my drinks... unless I'm mowing my ten acre property, and then give me a Shiner Ruby Red. We liked their wines so much that we joined their wine club! We feel so grown up :-)

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Cherry Sour Porter

There was a good deal of errands to run...  all checked off the list. Then we went to Whole Foods with Gwyndolyn to have a beer or two. On tap, they offered a cherry sour porter. I just googled that and found that more than one brewery has this in their repertoire and I can not remember which brewery was on tap, but I have a feeling my review of such a drink would likely hold true for any such concoction. I asked for a wee taste because I was just too curious. I'm glad I only got a taste... It tasted like dill pickles and porter combined. I don't know how they think there is any cherry taste at all... Flat out dill pickle and beer. I don't know, maybe with the right pretzels this might be lovely, but I'm afraid I'll pass on this.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Day 2

Today I worked for an organizing client taking down Christmas. Christmas is over in that house!

The highlight of the day was sitting down in 600 Degrees while it was 20 some degrees outside. We sit at the bar. They have many taps, many choices of beer and they make a pretty good pizza. Before five PM, you can order a single slice of whatever type of pizza you want. The single slices are huge. We like to get the "Baker's Choice" for the element of surprise. We tell them we like spicy but no fruit or seafood please. The pizza we got today was so hot I thought my ears were on fire. It was a lovely contrast from the freezing cold outside.

I enjoyed a Stone Brewery Xocoveza. This brewery is just north of San Diego, where we will soon be. A friend of mine (Gwyndolyn) had recently mentioned this specific beer as her all time favorite. It is like drinking the beer version of a Mexican hot cocoa. It has a wonderful rich flavor with a hint of cinnamon. Gwyndolyn has good taste in beer! One of my Irish beers might still be my favorite, but this beer is a serious contender for first place.

Monday, January 01, 2018


It's COLD! Here in Texas, cold is usually defined as any temperature under 70 degrees. But this is actually freezing cold down in the 20s for days plus wind! It is really seriously cold.

We finished packing this morning including packing up the cat. Got the humans, dog and cat into the truck, locked everything, and took off to Georgetown. We set up camp in about 10 minutes. I am so impressed at how quick and easy it is to set up our little EggCamper. I left Anne and dog along at camp and took Stoli to his Auntie Pat's.
Pat gave me a tshirt for Christmas! HAHAHAAAA!
Stoli is more and more used to visiting Pat. Every time we arrive he has to pretend to be nervous. It's only for show these days. He hid under the sofa for about five minutes and then walked the perimeter of the house in a half-slunk manner. Then another round in a 3/4 slunk manner. Then a third round in a completely upright and confident manner stopping by both Pat and myself for a couple of scritches.

Made it back to camp before Anne froze to death. We decided to make a quick trip to Dos Salsas for margaritas and brisket nachos...  but wait! It's New Year's Day! On New Year's Day, it is important to eat black eyed peas, cabbage, and pork. We ate pork in the calzones I made for breakfast. Black eyed peas are hard to come by, but cabbage is served on several dishes at this restaurant. We asked if they wouldn't mind substituting the lettuce with cabbage. It was a lovely addition as it turns out.