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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas 2017

     There are no grand children or great grands within a thousand miles, but we did get to share Christmas with Cindy. As a matter of record, it is the 57th consecutive Christmas she has spent with us. We had an assortment of rather pedestrian and practical gifts wrapped under the tree, but there was one spectacular framed photo from Jackie Fare.
     For many years the traditional meal on Christmas Eve has been lasagna. Here's Durelle nearly ready to put it in the oven.

     One of Cindy's gifts was a white Poinsettia.

     The lasagna was as good as it looks.

     When I went out to get the paper on Christmas morning, the sun was doing a nice job of illuminating the big holly bush in the front yard. It'll soon be a tree rather than a bush..

     Of course, calendars are a popular gift at Christmastime; and, of course, in our house they will feature pictures of golden retrievers.

          It was another fine Christmas. We hope yours was equally enjoyable.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

We are hanging up the keys

     Well, I guess, after that title, I don't have to write a blog. We started RVing in Alaska (Elmendorf AFB) with a tiny Apache pop up in 1964. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture from those days, but I do have a picture of the Coleman pop-up we used in Colorado around 1970.

         This was taken at 11,000 feet in the ghost town of Animas Forks in southwest Colorado. Note that it does have a propane bottle. The Apache didn't even have that. This combination made several memorable excursions into the Colorado high country including a few with chains on all four corners.
     Just before leaving USAFA in '74, I sold both the Jeep and the Coleman, and bought a used, iconic 1972 Winnebago Brave. It was an 18 footer with a small Chrysler V-8. We put 120,000 miles on it, finally selling it in NH ten years later. I even commuted in it. From then until '96 we did without as I was immersed in my civilian career with several companies. In '96 we went to an RV show in Boston and bought a 36 foot Bounder at the show. I then retired for the second time in March 1997. We put a lot of miles on it until we traded up to  a 2003 Allegro Bus. It was our first diesel pusher, and I loved it. Here it is in a friends backyard ("We have plenty of room."). I found a spot where the two passenger side slides straddled a tree.

     In December of 2006 we traded up again to our current and final rig, a 2007 forty foot Allegro Bus with all the bells and whistles that were available ten years ago.

          We used 2007 to be sure it was broken in and that any bugs were resolved. Then, in 2008, we did our lap around America. It was a wonderful 11,000 mile adventure that also prompted the start of a travel blog so that family and friends could tell where we were. That was 760 posts ago. The blog was a piece of cake in the early days with land mark sites occurring on a regular and frequent basis. As travel slowed, so did the blogs. Blog writing came to be like making gravy with nothing more than a cup of water and a bay leaf. What follows are some of the more memorable pictures.

The Badlands near the Black Hills


Caption not required

Devil's Tower

Little Bighorn

Caption not Required

Up Close and Personal

Crater Lake

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs


Decisions, Decisions

          Obviously, the logistics of this blog do not permit an endless array of "What I did on my vacation" pictures. These were all just from 2008. Although there were many more travels (We accumulated over 350,000 miles on four motorhomes.), we gradually transitioned to spending the entire summer comfortably ensconced on the shore of Penobscot Bay at the Moorings RV Resort. Here there were day trips galore and many photo-ops. But the iconic institution here was the daily "Happy Hour" at five-o-clock.

"What do those folks talk about for all that time?"

     So, what do you think we are going to miss most; Mt. Rushmore or that little afternoon circle of chairs on the edge of the bay? You're right, and it isn't even close. The camaraderie and sense of close-knit community engendered there will always be the most pleasant and most important memory in our half century of RVing.
     I choose not to go into an "organ recital" of all the medical factors that drove the decision to hang up the keys. I'd rather not, however, hang up the keyboard with the keys. It remains to be seen what the transition will be like. That said, I hope you have enjoyed the decade documented here.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Another "Treager" Thanksgiving

     For the past several years the Thanksgiving turkey is done to a turn on our Treager wood pellet grill. I ordered a fresh, twelve pound turkey from Publix. I cleaned and vacuumed the Treager and filled the hopper with a new charge of apple pellets. On Tuesday I picked up the turkey and prepared to brine it overnight. This year I had a super-sized ziplock bag in which to brine it. I brewed up the brine and put the turkey a-soak. You'll note that the brine did not initially cover the turkey.

     By putting the bag in a large stockpot and wedging the bag together with a container of oatmeal and a similarly sized container of grits, the brine was squeezed together enough to completely cover the bird.

     You'll note that the pot occupied most of the top shelf of the refrigerator. You'll also note that the six pack of Shiner Bock and a can of Guinness were not displaced. Actually, there were two cans of Guinness in the brine. 
     On Thanksgiving morning I removed the turkey and dumped out the brine. I rinsed and dried the bird, rubbed it with oil and then rubbed in a dry rub on the surface and interior of the turkey. 

     Then I went out to start the Treager. It is powered by a thermostatically controlled auger which adds pellets as needed. There is a fan blowing air over the pellets to improve combustion and an electric probe to ignite them. Guess what? I had a temperature readout. I had a fan and the auger was working, but there was no electric igniter. Oh, well;there's no harm in using the inside, 120VAC oven with no smoke. 
     For sides we had butternut squash (outstanding), boiled onions, green bean casserole (thanks Cindy), stuffing, and gravy. This was our first Thanksgiving without a bowl of mashed potatoes. For dessert Cindy made a buttermilk pie!
     I did not take a picture of the finished turkey, but I would be remiss if I did not include an overhead shot of great-granddaughter, Brielle's, turkey. Back up in NH she made a veggie platter of a turkey that I think is extraordinary.

     What do you think?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Status report

    As is the case every year, the first few weeks back at home involves dozens of doctor's visits. Between us that is literally true. I'm wearing a heart monitor in order to rule out atrial fibrillation, and Durelle gets to make the acquaintance of my endodontist tomorrow. The heart monitor is a manageable nuisance EXCEPT...when the alarm goes of in the middle of the night and says, in effect, " We are trying to transmit data. Please move to where you have coverage. There are places in the house where Verizon's coverage is pretty marginal, and I guess the bedroom is one of them. The last time it happened I just shut it off. I think I have found a solution. A table in the front hall has a table in range of both Verizon and my wearable sensor. We'll see.
     I thought I was going to be able to get a great eagle picture the other day, but he was facing away. So I only got a good picture.

     I even had a chance to catch him in flight, but again, he was going away. Even in a mono-color profile the elegance is still there.

     The best I could do for photo ops were a couple of sunsets. There'll be no photo ops unless I get over to the bus and retrieve the charger for my Leica battery and the spare battery. Here's a couple of sunsets.

     All news is good; we are all well...including Mocha.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Back in the Land of Shrimp 'n Grits

     We've been "home" for a couple of weeks. It seems that most of the time has been spent catching up with medical appointments...five for me this week, and Durelle sees an endodontist tomorrow. I'm wearing a heart monitor for the next six weeks to see what we can see.
     When I did the "safe arrival" blog, I described the trip south, but I didn't do justice to the meal that Tim and Wendy prepared the night before we left. Many of you have partaken of their cooking when mass-produced for several dozen. How would you like to watch Tim prepare grilled sirloin strip for four? Those two particular pieces of cow came from his favorite butcher, and were at least two inches thick.

 That's a beautiful grill, by the way. 

Here's the finished product.

          This is also the time of year when I post a few "wildlife" pictures taken in the front yard.

     We are hoping you are enjoying the season as much as we are.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Southbound - 2017

     This should supplement yesterday's safe arrival" note with a few comments and pictures. I drove the bus from Belfast, ME to Deerfield, NH. We met with family that night, stayed two nights with the Boucher's, and headed south on Friday the 13th. Here's Tim behind the wheel for the first time.

     Leaving the Boucher estate.

     The first night was at Jonestown, PA where the campground was well decorated for Halloween.

     Here's our third string driver (I was second) ready to go.

     Here's a nice shot of our rig at a rest area.

Our second night was in Enfield, NC where the front row was empty when we checked in.

     Most of these pictures are from Tim's phone. It is hard to imagine the magnitude of his offer to take two days off work and driving a Motorhome (as opposed to a fifth wheel) for three long days. I really believe that the RV community is one rare place where you can find that level of kindness.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Thanks, Tim

     This will be just a brief note to let a few folks know that, thanks to Tim Boucher, we are safely and smoothly at home in Hanahan, SC. We didn't hit anything. We didn't break anything. The dishwasher slid open a couple of times, but nothing fell out. We made two campground stops and one fuel stop. Tim also served as dog walker and sous chef.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

On the Road Again

     On our last morning at the Moorings before leaving I got up to take some of those sunrise pictures that I had been putting off all summer. Of course, sunrise is a couple of hours later now than it was on 1 July. I just barely got there, and I had none of those soft pre-dawn pictures.

     After breakfast, Durelle made one last trip to the hair dresser, and I finished the tail end of packing up. When Durelle returned, we broke camp and said our goodbyes to a greatly diminished supply of RVers.
     As is usual on departure day, Durelle tries her hand at catching some pictures of fall colors through the windshield of the bus. It's not easy. There is the motion of both the bus and the camera, an incompletely cleaned windshield, intrusive power lines, etc.  She made 51 attempts, and I saved a dozen...not a bad ratio. Here's a few of the better ones.

          I was pleasantly surprised at how well the driving went. It was not enough to do a last minute decline of Tim Boucher's generous offer to drive us home, but it certainly means that I can help out with the driving along the way.
    We are parked in their driveway at their lovely home in Deerfield. There will be room to hook up the Jeep in the driveway so we'll be ready for an early departure tomorrow. We depart Deerfield NH on Friday the 13th. I'll let you know how the trip goes.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tomorrow We Leave Maine

     Today it is clear in the mid 70s. I think 11 Oct. is the latest we have ever stayed. Although there was one new arrival today, the place is emptying out.

     I took a seven mile run over to the Swan Lake grocery for some last minute stuff. There was a little color, but many trees shed their leaves before they reached full color.

     I found a few shots at the lake where the colors seemed more vibrant. The blue of the lake didn't hurt.

     Tomorrow should be an easy four hours to the Bouchers where we will spend two nights.