Wednesday, January 31, 2018

TC-Home Portable 6L

We got the new outdoor water heater today. If you missed why we need a new one and info on the previous one, here's the story: HERE.

We chose to order a very similar water heater, the TC-Home Portable 6L, but this one has what appears to be heat stabilizing controls. It hooked up exactly the same as the old one which is very good news.
Out of the box, I can say that the shower head and hose for the head are really cheap and pretty crappy (no on/off switch on the head and the hose is super short), but that's ok because the old ones I have still work just fine.

First shower experience? First thing I noticed was the temperature screen is in Centigrade... This unit is from Canada. It's more important to gauge the consistency of the temperature and I'll get used to knowing what temp reading is good or too hot.

Really, the temperature was MUCH MORE consistent than the Eccotemp L5. It was really nice to have a consistently hot shower without the sudden blasts of hot or the drops in temperature.  This unit was only $75... and so far, I say it's a total winner!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Stoli comes home

Anne and I have many errands to accomplish today. The biggest one: bring home the cat!

We got up early enough to grab breakfast at the Kountry Bakery (We both hate that they use a K to spell Country, but it is a lovely little local place, so whatever). We got our kolaches and coffee and headed north to Georgetown and Austin.

We visited the grocery store and the bank and the post office to check Anne's mailbox. We were due to collect Stoli around one or two and it was only 11, so we stopped in for pizza and a beer at 600 Degrees, one of our favorite tap rooms in Georgetown. We got our usual cook's choice pizza slice with "no fruit and no seafood." As usual, it was a delicious surprise, this time with chicken and chorizo amongst other goodies. Then, because we became wine club members at Grape Creek, we stopped in for our half glass of wine and sat in their upstairs members-only lounge.

Stoli has been at his Auntie Pat's for a month. The house has been filled with her kids and grandkids. Stoli is one of the family there. I arrive and he pays no attention. He is a cat. Pat finally went into her room and carried him out into the living room. He almost immediately decided to go into a guest room and hide under the trundle bed. I made friends with him, stuffed him into his carrier, and brought him home.

I love this cat, but with these trips and his dislike of the travel back and forth, I consider giving him up to Pat or someone else. He certainly enjoys his time back here on the ranch when we get back and settled, but I think he is truly confused. He obviously loves and trusts Pat and he certainly enjoys being the only animal there.

I'll take him back to Pat's for our spring trip and again for the Alaska trip of three months travel. He really won't know me by the end of that one.... Poor cat. I really do not like dragging him back and forth. Really. It hurts me.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Post Travel Doldrums

When I did weekend festivals on a regular basis, Mondays were known to be "coma days." I knew that the day after a weekend of performing, talking to people, entertaining non-stop would drain me. I knew that there was no need to fight the need to recover. Mondays were a recovery day, a day for which it was ok to remain in a coma all day if I so desired. These post-gig days were also frequently met with depression including doubt about what I was doing and who I am. Sometimes, simply breathing and holding on for these dips in energy and mood was all I could stand to do.

Coming home from a long trip is very similar. There are so many things to do, and it's good to do them if you can, but it's also good to honor your mind and body. I always cringe when a friend will tell me of her plans to travel and the plan to go to work the very next day after returning from the trip. For me, that is absolute disaster waiting to happen. I must recover. I must rest. I must reset all of my things and wash my clothes. Then, life can continue.

And so, this is my day. Recovery or doldrums, or self-imposed coma... whatever. Time to rest.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Water Heater

Showerhouse with open roof.
We have an outdoor shower. I thought it might freeze while we were on our tour so I drained the outdoor water heater and turned off the water. Apparently, it froze super hard and the small amounts of water in the unit busted the fragile internal tubes. This particular water heater survived a snake curling up in it for warmth only to die when the flames roasted the poor creature. It also survived a full year of use for myself and a whole bunch of guests in all sorts of weather. All in all, I have been very happy with its performance.

RIP snake
Each time I have to replace the outdoor water heater, I shop around looking for anything that is new to the global market. Amazon is a major help in this quest. With a quick search I can find models and reviews of products available all over the world. This time, I chose to go with a model I have not seen before, one with what appears to be better temperature controls.

The Eccotemp L5 - I have had 4 units over the last 6 years.
The one I have had for years is the Eccotemp L5 Portable. It has been a great unit, easy to set up and operate, but the temperature is rather wide ranged. During one shower, I must adjust it multiple times. When the well-water-pump kicks in drawing up the colder ground water, the water heater is cooler, then the pump kicks off and you nearly burn. It's still, overall a great unit, but maybe this other one will solve the temperature problem.

I'll let you know what I think of the new one when it arrives.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Rings

We special ordered our rings from an artist in Chicago. We liked her designs based on nature and we liked the options she had, a variety of rings and ring sets that weren't identical but complimented each other.

We got our fingers sized at James Avery. We are both coincidentally size 4.5 for narrow bands and 5 for thick bands. We placed our order and waited.

When we received the rings, we chose to wear the rings with stones in them. We had white sapphires placed in the settings rather than diamonds. The single band was too big, but we figured they were sized to be placed with their pair and therefor made at the wider band size, 5. We fit "snuggies" behind our engagement rings, but the plastic snuggies would come off or twist and they were not very comfortable. We moved the single ring to our middle fingers and they felt just perfect. Being people of a non-traditional sort, we decided that we were ok with them fitting a non-traditional finger. They were still our special rings.

When we got married and added the second band, they still did not fit our ring fingers. Anne wears hers on the middle finger, but mine, with both bands cuts into the pudgy part of my middle finger. I now wear the set on the ring finger of my right hand which is just a wee bit bigger than my left hand.

Sometimes, I feel a bit annoyed that our specially ordered rings don't fit properly... or even on the same alternative finger for both of us. But really, I still like them and the symbolism is still there and possibly even more now. We ARE individuals and we ARE making our own rules as we go.

Maybe in five years, we will go in search of something in person. That seems like the way to go.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Home

We promised to make today a stay-in-bed-all-day recovery day, but we couldn't manage to stay still. We have laundry to deal with, a truck full of miscellaneous stuff, a few dishes to wash. We have things to do! I have several emails to write, and a gig coming up next week - I should probably at least glance at the music.

We are glad to be home. Glad to have slept in our own bed. Glad to make breakfast in our own kitchen. Life is good.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Southwest Tour Complete

Seriously long drive from Ruidoso through San Antonio and on to home south of Hallettsville. We didn't stop much. Dad sent us on the road with coffee and little egg muffins he made yesterday. The wind blew directly at us giving us bad gas mileage, but we were fed and safe and on our way home.

We listened to a couple of audio books, the second was about Lincoln's Assassination. I kept checking in with Anne to see if the long drive coupled with this stressful topic was ok. We both seemed ok with the pairing. By the time I traveled south of Interstate 10, I had to keep noting the speedometer and reminding myself to "step on it!" I seemed to have lost steam. Ready to be home and fall into our own bed.

It's been a hell of a first tour. So many good foods and breweries, hikes, scenes, and people. Next trip is supposed to be a springtime loop of the midwest. Right now, it feels impossible to even consider. I bet we feel better by morning!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Pistachios!

Mom and I went to Alamogordo for some things that could not be found in Ruidoso. On the way, there is a place called "PistachioLand." It's hard to miss because of the giant pistachio statue out front. Anne loves pistachios... I like them well, too. We've never managed to stop here, but today, Mom thought it would be nice to grab Anne and Dad a present.

The shop is huge with a sample bar so that you can taste all of the flavored pistachios and candy they make. We got a bag of roasted pistachios and a package of pistachio brittle. Both are delicious, but the pistachio brittle is more than delicious. I've never cared much for peanut brittle and other nuts are no better. Pistachios, however, are just perfect! Now we have great snacks for our road trip home.

There is a bridge in Ruidoso that leads to the "upper canyon" where many homes and cabins are. This bridge is under construction and the detour is absolutely insane with one turn in particular that is going to cause problems if there is any real emergency up in those neighborhoods. Dad hooked up the EggCamper and drove over the crazy detour to a safe place in a parking lot. We hooked up our truck and left it there for the night. Dad will bring us over in the morning, and away we will go home.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Simple Day

I definitely have a cold. It was very hard to sleep last night. I woke up wanting nothing but to cry a little while being held. Anne is good at obliging me in this. I got moving and of course felt at least a little better just moving and enjoying a little coffee. We don't have a big agenda for today. It's supposed to be sunny and warm enough to run over to the car wash. The truck is so dirty I could LITERALLY not see out the back or sides well enough to back into a parking space when we got here. Snow, slush, and ice driving will dirty a car worse than anything.

We took the dog for a walk in the sunshine. We washed the nasty truck. I took a nap. And Dad grilled elk steaks for dinner. Delicious end to a much needed day of rest.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Ruidoso, NM

We arrived at my parents' home later than planned last night. In this blog, I skipped over parts of the snowy icy drive. You can read more of that in this post on the Eggcellence blog.

Mom and Dad treated us to some drinks and foods at Farley's, a casual sports bar type place. Perfect for the end of our stressful cold drive. I had a mango margarita that was the special. The bottom of my glass was full of mango - that's a good thing to me. I love a little dessert with my drink!

Ruidoso is a beautiful mountain town, an oasis in the otherwise desert New Mexico landscape. There are cabins upon cabins owned by Texans who come here to get away from the heat. Very few people have air conditioning. Mom and Dad have a window unit that they install just for the hottest month of the year, June, but last year they never needed it at all.

I did not grow up here. They moved here some years ago as their retirement home. They have a lovely home on the river. The Christmas hay-rides travel down their road. It's a picturesque charmed town and life to be living.

I grew up all over Texas finally graduating high school in Amarillo, Texas. This town has its charm if you look hard enough, but for me, Ruidoso with its trees and lack of brutal heat is an enormous step up from the cattle-yard odors and treeless sandy terrain of north Texas.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Road Less Traveled... for a REASON!

Anne and I had a discussion which went a little something like this:
Anne: GPS is horrible because you miss the interesting roads - it just takes you on interstates and you miss cool stuff.
Me: Having the GPS means both of us can look for cool and interesting things on whatever road we are ON instead of being buried in a paper map. GPS means I can pay attention to traffic and the beauty of the road and not worry about missing a turn.
Anne: Sometimes, missing a turn means you see cool things you would have never seen.
Me: Turning a trailer around after going the wrong way for an hour is stressful. Also it helps me avoid traffic. And the GPS tells me far in advance if an exit is on the left or right... in traffic, so helpful.
Anne: We never had GPS back in the day, and we did just fine.

In an effort to compromise, but because she doesn't have a map, we chose a route using Google maps on the computer that stayed off the interstate. In good weather, the route claimed to be about as long and about the same amount of time, so it really wasn't much of a compromise, it seemed like the perfect idea.

We left our camp early and made it up and over our side of the mountain only to find this new route covered in ice and snow. The GPS didn't pick up on the slower traffic because traffic was non-existent. We drove 30 miles per hour for hours. Up and down mountains around corners in ice and snow. For hours.

Was she wrong? Was I wrong? Would it have been better on the GPS suggested interstate? No one was wrong and there is NO WAY to know if another route would ever be better. In this case, it probably would have been better traveled, better cleared, BUT there could have been a huge truck accident or something else that we would have no way of knowing until we got there.

For me, this experience exemplifies my reasons for using GPS even with a human-chosen route. I was much better off knowing that I had 13.6 miles until my next turn. I could focus on the driving. And she was a steady extra pair of eyes. If she had been looking down at a map to see where the next turn was or I didn't know if we had 30 miles or three, we both would have an extra layer of navigation to consider. I don't think anything will convince her of how nice it is to let a third party take over one of the jobs of travel. Travel is stressful enough... let go of just ONE job and things feel a little lighter to me. If she wants to navigate in the future, that will be totally fine, but she'll have to bring the paper map or otherwise prepare ahead of our journey in the future.

Update: We seem to be compromising toward our next trip. I have mapped out the bee-line routes and from there we are going to specifically look for breweries or points of interest that will give us off the beaten path destinations and stops, but we will likely pop those destinations into the GPS for sake of simplicity. Both ideas are good and right, both ideas can shine positively.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Train!

We debated this day. It looked like it might be colder and rainy and then freeze hard over night leaving us an icy Sunday morning which is no good for travel.  We thought about heading out a day early, THIS day, but decided that we really wanted to check out the Verde Canyon Railroad. The train leaves at 1, so we have time to go into town and eat a lovely brunch, and we did just that!

We thought we remembered that Crema had bagel and lox, so that's where we went. We sat at the bar, and I highly recommend sitting at just about any bar in any restaurant. Bar tenders are awesome...  and this guy, Jacob, was awesome. We looked over the menu and immediately realized that we had remembered wrong, but not to worry. Jacob was already selling us on the idea of an amazing Old-Fashioned and an over the top Bloody Mary. I got the first and Anne got the other. Fantastic. We ordered Crema's version of Eggs Benedict. Wonderful. And then..... We decided to finish it all off with vanilla gelato with espresso poured over. Absolutely delicious. What a morning!

Onward to the train. They recommended an early arrival, so we arrived even earlier, picked up our tickets, and sat around listening to really bad elevator music. Finally we got to board. The ticket taker was also the man who pointed out the sites on the open car. He was friendly and enthusiastic, exactly as he should be. We chose first class. This gave us a bartender and a few snacks. I chose a bottle of wine (one glass was 8 dollars, a bottle, which you can cork and take home is 16... simple math choice).

We had a drizzly chilly departure but as soon as the train rounded a bend or two, the sky cleared and we had beautiful views, laughs with our bartender and guide, and I really enjoyed the house wine.

INSERT PHOTOS!

Back at camp it had hardly rained meaning even a hard freeze would not leave us with ice in the morning. Good gamble! We win!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Potty Emergency

Today, we walk to town from camp. Cottonwood has a lovely "old town" that's just a few block long. Perfect for a little tourist adventure. We plan to keep our eyes opened for good food and beer, our usual mission.

The State Bar is an open garage looking place with a whole row of local beers on tap and a knowledgeable friendly bar tender. We chose a beer and sat in the sunshine in the front patio area. We closed out our tab thinking we might go find food and maybe return. Adrianna's was only around the corner. We started looking around and before we knew it, we realized we should have visited the little girls' room before we left the bar! The more we looked, the more we noticed so many restaurants closed for the season, and the further we walked the more we realized how desperately we should have planned this better. And then, around the corner, we saw Hog Wild BBQ which seemed to be opened and doing plenty of business. The bathroom is located outside, HOORAY! The menu was intriguing enough to keep us there. We chose to split a "Barbeque INFERNO sandwich" with garlic fries. Delicious, hot, interesting and satisfying. Emergency averted!

We relaxed and cooked over a campfire for the evening.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Sedona

Today begins the way we always begin a camping day. "Is it time to press the button?" One of us will ask this as it appears we both might be awake. The button is above Anne's head. If she stretches her arm she can reach the button without sitting up! The button activates our percolator coffee pot. Press button, coffee starts. In nine minutes, coffee is ready. One of us has to stand up to pour the coffee, but then we get back in bed to enjoy some time waking up to the world.

We decided to hike the park to an old cemetery, along the river, and over toward the lagoons. It really was a lovely hike and wore Macy out quite well.

Oak Creek Brewery in Sedona was our main destination for the day. The reviews mentioned food, tamales specifically. Beer and tamales sounded like a great combo. The brewery was a small warehouse style with a beautiful back patio area. The beer was delicious. The tamales were sold by an independent restaurant presence, Tamaliza. There is a small window to a kitchen area. The tamales, I ordered only one, were served with salsa and were very very good.

While at the brewery we searched for points of interest or maybe a short hike. We found "Nancy's Rock" on the map. That's my mom's name so we went for that location just up the road. The map showed it would be on the right, but we found no mention of it, but we did found a nice place to stop and take in the scene on the LEFT side of the road. We turned around and paused for photos and to read the signs. This is a particularly beautiful place... Sedona... it's known for beauty for a reason.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Day on the Road

Out of the house by 5:30 Pacific time or 6:30 Mountain time where we will arrive in Dead Horse State Park, Arizona. It's rewarding to leave a big city early in the morning because you actually get to drive without the masses seemingly swarming in an effort to thwart your departure. It was an easy exit from San Diego. Hours of driving east and the sort of north.

About noon, I decided we should try and stop somewhere if we found a cafe, somewhere with a beer. We did happen upon a cafe with a sign that said "beer." There was an old motel next to the place that looked closed and therefor had space for me to pull through and park. I ran over to the cafe to check things out while Anne took Macy for a tiny walk. The wee diner had a total of 6 booths all filled with people who looked like they visited this place on a regular basis. I waited for the one busy waitress to finish with a table and come my way. I asked her quickly if they served beer and she replied "no." I still thought we might like a stop at this cafe, but then one man had a lovely coughing fit and I decided a little fresh air picnic with the food we had in the camper was a better option. I made some small ham and cheese sandwiches. We took a small 15 minute break and got back on the road.

The drive was uneventful and became quite beautiful once we made it to the last hour on Interstate 17. We set up camp in a couple of minutes and decided it was truly time for a beer and a snack. This is my favorite use of Google Maps: search for "brewery."


THAT Brewery in Cottonwood was JUST up the road from camp, and so we went. I had to have the "Abby" and it was good. Then we decided to split a tasting. I wanted to try one with a high alcohol so we split the tasting with Anne getting 4 and me choosing 2. It worked quite well.


Our bartender was very nice and shared a good story. We asked for food recommendations. She told us that Adrianna's was a great locally owned place. The kind of place that if you told the owner what you wanted, she would get it for you even if it wasn't on the menu. The place gets a 4.8 out of 5 stars... that's really quite amazing!

Turns out, our bartender and the high reviews were correct. The owner waited on us. I ordered the special and Anne asked for three different street tacos that weren't on the menu. The food was wonderful, the owner was delightful. Her son sat a few customers and helped around the restaurant. As he sat a couple at the booth behind me, he asked the man, "Would you like a tip?" The man had the same reaction I did to the question....  what do you mean? So the boy asked again, "Would you like a tip?" The man cautiously accepted. "Your shirt is on backward." After some debate about whether the print at the top of his shirt should be on the back, the woman of the couple decided that yes, the shirt was on backward. It was a delightful end to our evening.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

San Diego last day

Today we attempted to hike at Torrey Pines. Alas, once again, parking was hell and we ended up parking in a neighborhood up the road. We walked along a path and watched surfers, but a fence stopped us from going to the real hiking area and the neighborhood was on a cliff that made it impossible to get down to the water.

We accepted the recommendation of the Shore Club... again, parking hell. We would have waked this beach, but we parked in the only parking we could find which was for the shore club. They have signs practically threatening people. Only park here as a customer. We enjoyed sitting on the upper back deck watching a variety of humanity walk along the beach, nap, or prep for rescue missions. I had a lovely fish taco and an insignificant lobster taco. I only ordered the lobster because it sounded unique. It really wasn't. The fish was very good. Anne had fish-n-chips and they were excellent. The breading was crisp and light and the fries were well seasoned.

Really, it was fine not staying long. We were growing tired and needed to pack up and hitch the camper up to the truck before our hosts come home. This would be our last evening and we planned to go enjoy ramen at Tajima... which we did and it was lovely.... the parking, again, not so much! People double parked in an already tight parking lot. As we waited for our seats we watched the parking show as if it was some sort of sport.

Home with full bellies of ramen, camper packed and ready... we slept fairly well and planned to get up early for our next drive!

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??

Later:
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

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.