Monday, May 30, 2011

BBQ Pulled Pork and Trip Plans

Since I'm spending so much time on the computer researching my Grand Canyon Trip, I decided much needed sustenance could be cooking while I study all the maps.  When at BBQ City in Los Banos, the owner showed me how he BBQ's his meat, so I think I'll give it a try.  Two large bone in pork shoulders, lots of dry rub and high heat to set the "bark".  Then low and slow .....

I just received the advice of good friends Patty and Dan (there is nothing in Kingman, LOL) Laughlin would be a better home base for a couple days of exploration.  Riverside RV Park has full hookups including 30 amp electrical connections, which should keep my baby puppies cool while I'm gone.  Just might even hit a big jackpot!!

One day will be a trip to Keepers of the Wild in Valentine Arizona.  Apparently they rescue wild animals from many unfortunate fates so they can live out their lives in peace and comfort.  Right up my alley!!

Once on the barbeque for 8 hours, take the pork off, wrap them in foil and place in a 165 degree oven   overnight.

Next day will be a trip to Oatman, an old west gold mining town on Route 66.  Nearly abandoned, it is seeing an increase in tourism.  Known for its burros that roam the streets, I can't wait for these photographic encounters.

From there, it will be off to Seligman and Williams for Route 66 pics on the way to the Grand Canyon.  Should be a short trip with lots of time to get checked in and parked at the Canyon, where I will stay for about 10 days.

Okay, so I keep smelling his wonderful pork and can't stand it.  After 6 hours I take it off the barbeque, wrap it in foil and put it in a 200 degree over for faster cooking.  Four hours later I took it out, shredded the meat and smothered it in BBQ sauce.  OMGosh!!!!  It is WONDERFUL!!!!  Course I have enough meat to last for 6 months in case I get snowed in, but that's okay.  I hear it freezes well!!!  Bon Appetit ..

Friday, May 27, 2011

Trip Planning

I've often wondered how everyone plans their long trips.  Not having the luxury of a long time RV'er living down the street, I've set off on my own to plan a trip to the Grand Canyon.  MUCH easier said than done.  At least with the internet access we have nowadays, information is available if you have 3 or 4 days to sit at your desk!!  But really, how hard can it be.  There is relatively nothing between here and there but sand, right?  However, after 12 hours on the computer, I have found that not to be quite true.  The questions that arise, besides what can I see, are where do I get fuel .. how far can I go on a tank .. what roads can I travel with a 30' RV attached to me .. what roads are safe for a single woman traveler .. where can I spend the night in a safe environment??

The answers so far:

Friends have told me Flying J (and Pilot) have discounts for frequent users and are all across the U.S.  Not only do they provide fuel, but a place to park and rest.  If you follow the big trucks, you can't miss.

Never trust your GPS altogether seems to be the word of the day.  This said, I purchased a Truckers GPS so I can track my time driving and fuel useage.  A little overkill, but at least I won't go down any roads with low overpasses or dead ends where I can't turn around.  It will also show me where all the nearest diesel stations are.

On my last trip to Yuma, I discovered I can go 250-300 miles on a tank of fuel, assuming it's not all uphill.

I joined the Escapees group and Passport America for one year.  They both have a travel guide that lists all the parks where you can spend the night at discounted rates, some even free.  I am aware that you can spend the night at any Walmart for free, which is great for just driving through.  My plan however, is to stop at a couple places for 2 or 3 nights in order to investigate the historic surroundings for photo ops.  Unfortunately the Escapees group does not have a sub-group interested in steam trains or railroad adventures!!

So with maps and notebooks scattered all over, I'm spending a couple hours a day on the computer finding interesting places to stop and mapping out my course.  So far I have Boron (who stops in Boron?) but they do have a museum there that I have never seen.  Since the highway follows old Route 66, I plan on taking a couple side trips along the way.  Fort Mojave above Needles sounds interesting .. then I'm up to Kingman where I will spend two nights at Blake Ranch RV, however that depends on the temperature since I have two small dogs.

That's it for now ... it's a long process.  I figure once I have traveled that direction, I'll know all the places NOT to stop.  This will be a learning by doing trip!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Annie Oakley and Foxtails

I am again surprised by the city of Los Banos.  Seems even the schools do things differently.  Yesterday we were walking the Rail Trail to Henry Miller Square.  Center of the square is a nice statue of him on a horse with a couple cattle drinking from a pond.

Surrounding the square several people were setting up tables with projects. Apparently the entire Junior Class each picked a person of historical interest, made a project board with facts and pictures, then dressed up as that individual.  Each table had a bell of some sort.  We were required to ring the bell for them to tell us who they were.  Ring the bell again and they would tell you about an event in their life.  Ring the bell again and they would tell you more.  You get the picture .... I was fascinated.  Their outfits were sooo creative.  From Davy Crockett and Annie Oakley to June Carter Cash (who sang her responses), Orphan Annie, the first ever female General, Clara Barton, Harriet Beecher Stowe, etc. This picture is of Albert Einstein.  Although not the best costume, it was the only picture I could get due to the crowds.  EVERY high school should do this!!!

From there we were off to the Wool Growers Restaurant.  If you are ever in this area, you must stop in for some of the best Basque food in the country .. at the very least, you won't go away hungry.  Food is served family style from an entree only menu and went something like this:   bread, soup, salad, wine, beans, potatoe salad, lamb stew with potatoes and carrots, french fries and your choice of prime rib, steak, pork chops (which I had and were so big that out of two, I brought one and a half home) tri tip or chicken.  As long as you can eat it, they keep bringing it.  I have been to this restaurant many times over the last 40 years.  The food is just as good now as then!

On the schedule today is of course more food.  A Basque Festival is being held here at the fairgrounds.  For $18.00 you could purchase lunch ... the entertainment and dancing to accordion music were free.  We opted for the entertainment.
After the dancing they had wood chopping contests.  I thought this was only at logger jamborees ... but here is the evidence.

I have to say they performed pretty much in slow motion compared to what I have seen, but since they chopped through THREE logs the size of the one this guy is standing on, I finally decided they were biding their time.  The top guy won ... his prize you ask?  They passed around a red beret and your donations were it.  To end the day, I took the Nikon out and took a few quick images of things I would never normally photograph.  I mean really???  Foxtails????  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Escapees Los Banos Rally

So here I am in the big city of Los Banos.  It has actually changed quite a bit since I was here last.  The entire railroad from one end to the other has been removed and replaced with a Rail Trail asphalt path with workout stations.  Very nice!!  First night was a two hour social hour with all the margueritas you could drink ... I had pepsi!!  Turns out they are a very nice group of people.  I spent the entire time making new friends, especially with the dog and cat people.  Yup, there is a gentleman here with two cats that he lets out every morning ... (he says they never roam far) ... they come back every evening for dinner, no matter where he travels.  Jessie met up with one the first day.  I'm not sure who would have won that fight!!!  I had to drag her off barking and screaming (literally ... she went nutso!)!!!
Dinner was provided by the club and it was delicious.  This morning they had fresh hot pancakes for everyone, but I was still so full from last night that I had to pass.  I did hook up with a lady who takes long (fast) walks every morning and night ... my kind of girl ... so I hope that negates the eating!!  At least until tonight when we hit the Wool Growers Restaurant.

Lunch was a mass exodus to a small BBQ joint called Hot City BBQ.   Now THIS is the place to go in Los Banos.  He cooks all the meat about 17 hours in front of the small building and is only open Friday thru Sunday.  THE best BBQ pulled pork I have ever eaten in my life ... bar none.
This sandwich was at least 4 inches tall and on the best home baked bread .. YUM YUM!  The cole slaw was not too goopy and not too sweet ... served with Carolina BBQ sauce, Habanero BBQ sauce and something else I decided not to even try since breathing fire is not pleasant.  AND he caters.  Expect a BBQ at my house soon, and I see many trips to Los Banos in my future, even with the gas prices.
Three of us women walked back and discovered several really neat furniture/antique/chachky stores that you would expect to see in Berkeley!  A truly surprising side of Los Banos.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Newbies!!!!! (Big sigh)

In case you didn't notice the top of the blog, I have added my parrot Jonathan.  I raised Jon from an egg  and he has been with me about 35 years.  One of these days I will figure his exact age, but I have lots of time.  They usually live to be 75 years old.  A real ham who calls the Kitty, discos and does a Stevie Wonder impression, I have decided he might as well join me on the road.

Miss Caitlan would like to go too, but at 13 yrs old and 65 pounds, she's a little too big for the RV.  

Here are the two hay burners ... Remy and Showby ... At 23 and 24 they are cutting horses both too old to cut.  Every trip I have to make arrangements for someone to feed them.

This is shy Boo ... found beside the road one Halloween 

So I'm off on my second RV trip ... well almost.  I had forgotten to fill the water tank and check the air in the tires.  I think a card with a  "pre-trip" routine is in order so I don't forget something.  It was a short trip, taking all of an hour to arrive at the Los Banos Fairgrounds where one of the Escapees RV Club groups that my friends belong to,  is having a Rally.  Of course, being a Newbie, I have no idea where to  park and know nothing about hookups (which I really don't need).  My friends and another camper told me where to park.  Unfortunately no one, including me, took into account my dish antenna  (which I really wanted to try out) ... well it is directly under a short tree!!  Since I really only need electrical hookups, no one noticed either that I'm parked over the water valve.  Even so, all was well until the next RV came in and proceeded to chew me out because I parked the wrong way ... he wanted MY water and MY sewer ... and I'll never get out if it rains because I have to back up ... etc etc.  On that note, I went with my friend into town for lunch.  Upon my return, here is what I found.  He parked directly behind me, about 6 feet from the back of my trailer.

And I can't pull forward cuz I'm pulled up to a tree.  I'm not worried about it raining cuz if I get stuck, I'll either put it in 4-wheel drive (believe me I have a diesel truck that will dig a ditch a mile wide if I have to) or I'll just go home and come back in a couple days when it dries out!!  After much wrangling, they set up a permanent sewer hookup for themselves and took two of the three water hookups under my trailer.  It is so nice to know that RV people are all so friendly and willing to help you out.  The original camper that helped me park was very nice however ... he came by and said I could hook into his water if I needed, and if I wanted sewer he would set it up for me.   Guess they can't all be nice, but REALLY!!!   Hoping the rest of the week goes better ... and hoping my usually quiet dogs will bark, keeping them up all night!!  LOL

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gearing Up

I'm getting ready to attend an Escapee Rally with my friends from Dixon.  Although not a long drive .. Los Banos, about 35 miles from here ... the preparation for travel is the same.  Check all the tires, time for an oil change in the truck, refill water tanks, call friends to help lift the hitch into the truck, etc.

Thank goodness I remembered that the screen door needs a secure latch at the top to be extra sure the dogs can't get out if they jump up on the door.  There will be lots of dogs at this Rally.  I would normally  count on someone else to do things of this sort, but being single, not only do I need to be self sufficient, but enjoy showing other women that "we CAN do it".  Although I don't hold a candle to Miss Terry from the Gypsy Journal, who can install cabinets, I like to think I will be there one day!!!   I got a measuring tape and took pictures with my phone so when I got to the store, I would be able to see what would work.
Of course nothing would fit exactly, so I picked two possibilities and headed home.  While gathering the tools necessary to do this minor project, I decided it would be a good idea to have some extra tools in my RV toolbox ... like the drill, extra screws, a tape measure and a level.  You never know when you will need them (this learned from Dan at the last rally I attended in Yuma).  Seems nothing goes perfect, but I did get it installed.  The second set of screws were too long, so next trip to town, I will pick up some shorter ones just to make it stronger.  It works great!!
At any rate, the dogs can't accidentally open the screen and get out.  I always knew you had to "child-proof" your home, but "dog-proof" your RV????  And while I was doing all the work, you can see what the dogs were doing .....

Lastly, one of the things that has irritated me most is the bedspread.  Although it matched everything, it was a regular spread but had a funny top where you pull the spread all the way to the top of the bed, then slide the pillows under a flap.  In order to make the bed, you needed to stuff the spread down into the sides next to the closets.  Stuffing two inches of fabric into a quarter inch space just wasn't working.  Who designs these things???   I contemplated cutting a chunk out of it, but instead purchased a comforter ($25.00) that matches nicely and is so easy to make ... pull it up and fold the top down.  No stuffing required.
Those things done, it's time to head to the store for food.  Looking forward to meeting new friends and seeing new RV inventions that I can adapt to mine.    Happy Trails .............

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Chair

After weeks of stressing, I've finally finished my latest photography project.  I apologize for the name on each print, but unfortunately people copy and download images for their own use.  These are all owned by the photographer (me) and so as distracting as it is, I have to put my name on each image.  I warn you, this is a long set ... it is in the form of a movie story board, but the "gist" of the story at the bottom of each image.

I'm not sure how this story actually came about ... it kind of evolved from an image I saw of a burlesque star on stage.  Hoping I get a good grade!!!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The joys of home ownership, or why I hate being single!!

So you own your home, something a lot of people strive for.  Nice!!  However, home ownership comes with a lot of maintenance items.  Its more difficult if you are female and single.  Simply put, handymen never return phone calls.  So over the years, I've learned to become HANDY ... well, kind of!!!  When I returned from vacation, 5 pickets from the fence were on the ground.  Upon closer inspection, LOTS of nails were coming out.  Can someone explain to me how this happens???
I can't tell you how many times I have gotten out my aggression by hammering these nails in.  And low and behold, they come out again!!!  So I got out my handy dandy drill and charged the battery while I went off to the store for screws.  Two boxes and 30 minutes later, the battery died.  I got maybe 40 feet done and only have 400 feet to go.  While at the store, I purchased 5 new pickets to replace the broken ones.   Did you know new fence boards need to be "sealed"--what color do you want?  Color??  Umm do you have old fence??  And by the way, the pickets don't come in the size I need. No problem ... I can do this.  I'm sure most women would like jewelry for Christmas, but I asked for a chop saw!  Best gift I ever got!!!
Unfortunately, I didn't know WHAT kind of wood my fence was or what color.  So I got the cedar pickets and the easiest to apply sealer and went to town.  They are gorgeous ... but no way do they match the existing fence!  Maybe after 4 or 5 years (which is when they will need to be replaced!).
While waiting for the pickets to dry and the battery to charge, I continued on with the next project.  When the builder painted the garage trim, he did not use primer and it peeled badly.  Two hours of scraping and $80 dollars of paint later, I'm ready to repaint the trim but it's noon and too hot .... so since the weeds need to be sprayed and hot sun helps, I dig out my backpack sprayer.
Yes, it is huge and is very heavy when full of water ... but who else will do it????  So I mix up the roundup in the back yard and see that the sprayer leaks.  No, I'm not fixing it, but am afraid to let the dogs out with roundup on the patio.  Grabbing a water hose, I wash off the patio, only to realize that I just washed that roundup on to the grass!!!  $#%$!!#@  So while I'm contemplating how to reseed the lawn, the sun tanning Miss Jessie brought a smile to my face ...
Battery is charged and pickets dry on one side ... so it's back to work for me!!!!!  I think I need another vacation.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Photo Projects and Motorcycles

Back from Hawaii, it's time I start working on my class photo project.  I have been enrolled in Independent Studies at Merced College in order to tap my creativity (hahahahaha) .... mostly just to give me an excuse to practice my photography.  Every semester so far I have chosen really hard subjects (like discrimination) that include lots of people!  VERY big mistake.  People are hard to work with and everyone isn't on MY time table!!  LOL  At least this project only had ONE person, but my next will have NONE!!

At any rate, here's the story ... a very proper victorian lady finds a chair in an alley.  The chair "sets her free" ... so she takes it home.  It makes her lose her inhibitions and leads her to the stage ... the burlesque stage that is.  Here are three of the eleven images.

My friend Patty will recognize the oil lamp ..... The clothes I have collected over the years.

I'm submitting this project in "story board" form, so I still have lots to do.  Each pic will have a full description on the bottom, as if done for a movie.  It is due May 18th!  So I need to get in gear.  The stage?  It's in my garage.  I made it from an old table, my old drapes and a black backdrop.

On the other hand ... my biker chick nurse photographer friend asked me to go riding with her ... which I haven't done in maybe 5 months????  With probably only 20 hours in total on this bike, I decided I would go for a spin.  Uh oh ... dead battery!  Okay, I can hook up a battery charger (after three phone calls to some "male" biker friends!)

Battery charged, I took off last night.  Uh oh ... forgot my helmet!!  Duh!!!!!  Went once around the block, kind of shaky, but I can do this!!!!!  Up to the point that my neighbor let her three goats run wild in the front yard ... I can't shift down fast enough ... Oh No I'm shifting up not down, coast and brake, it will be okay ... can't find neutral ... don't know what gear I'm in (quit laughing DAN!!!) and as I coast into my driveway it died.  Well at least I made it that far.  Uh oh ... big red oil light came on.  So is that why it quit?  Still can't find neutral so I can't get it in the garage.  Geez ... my first trip out and I'm on the phone to my friends AGAIN trying to find out what's wrong.  Luckily for Patty and Dan, it's late and I know they are in bed!!!  Come to find out, the oil light comes on when it dies, just like in a car.  Hop on bike, start it, light goes out and I walk it back to the garage where I FINALLY found neutral.  WHEW!!!  So here's my baby back where she's safe ...
After this first outing, I'm hoping the rest of the summer will be a piece of cake!  I'm determined to ride every day, even if just around the neighborhood.  Funny thing is I don't remember it being this hot when I rode before.  Probably due to the leather jacket that I'm afraid to ride without.  I definitely need to come up with something cooler.

Don't know if I ever posted the Judd logo painted on the fuel tank.  I love it!!!  Next up ... I need the same "guy" friends to show me how to fuel it without getting gas all over the tank (which I have succeeded in doing BOTH times I put fuel in).  The hole is the size of your thumb!!!  Who designed these things anyway???????