Saturday, December 31, 2016

Trailer Cooking

I read a lot, A LOT, about using the oven in the trailer before we got it. So much of what I read centered around the oven being difficult to use because of uneven heating. I was going to buy unglazed ceramic tiles to help, as a lot of people recommend, but I never got around to it. Not yet, anyway, and I may not. I did notice a hot spot when I was trying to toast bagels, but nothing horrible. I did move the rack up to the next highest position, so it wasn't sitting so close to the heat source, and I've found that to be quite helpful.

I do need to cook things for longer than I do when I'm in a house. Sometimes a lot longer. Maybe 30% longer. But the awesome thing is, we can have oven baked things. The dutch ovens are nice, but I appreciate being able to toast my bagels (which we could do over the fire), cook up some frozen appetizers (I do so love me some fried cheese!), and make brownies (easy enough to do in the dutch oven, though not in my pan with a lid for keeping leftovers). Today I also made pound cake, which I haven't done since we sold our house.


These sweet babies are supposed to take 65 minutes in my home oven, today they took almost an hour and a half in the trailer oven. But I have pound cake. Homemade pound cake. NB came into the trailer after they came out of the oven (Bill took them all to Home Depot today for organization materials), looked at them, and just grinned. He informed me that he loves pound cake. Yeah!

Oh, and just because it's that kind of day, I injured myself repeatedly in the kitchen. I burned my fingers on the pan I made alfredo sauce in, I got hot pepper powder in my eye (OUCH!!!!), and I way overate. Oish.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Remember the Alamo!

During our stay at Canyon Lake, we had wanted to visit the Alamo and the other San Antonio missions. Since we were there really only one day, and I was exhausted, we didn't get to do that until the day we headed to Padre Island. At that point, they said there was no real parking for large vehicles and RVs and such. So we skipped it, with much sorrow. Now that we're in Kerrville, only an hour away from San Antonio (in the other direction from Canyon Lake), we tried again, without our trailer in tow. The missions are gorgeous. I'm so glad we made it.

Tree at San Jose
Bill at the San Jose Mission

The visitor's center is at the San Jose mission, so that was our first stop. We took the loop through the museum to read up on what we were visiting, and then headed out in the cold blast that Texas is experiencing right now. We spent about an hour and a half at the first mission, which left us with little time to spend at the other missions. After lunch, we headed to Mission Concepcion, which is a great one to check out since so much of it is the original work. San Jose is mostly restored, Concepcion is mostly original.

Stairs at Concepcion

I really loved the ironwork at Concepcion. It really is just beautiful. And the churches at the missions are still used today as diocesan churches. Which led, for me, to the awkwardness of taking a touristy approach to a sacred spot. But I'm glad we got to visit and that the missions are a part of the National Park Service.

The Alamo

The Alamo, for me, was the least exciting. Anticlimactic, in fact. It's in the heart of San Antonio, surrounded by the Ripley's tourist attractions, hotels, and other such establishments. There was a long line to get in, because they only let a certain number in at a time, so we missed out on the interior. We did get to walk around San Antonio, though, and check out some of the stores along the way.

While at the campground, we've been working on organization. I've re-done the kitchen/pantry, a couple of kids have added organization to their closet shelf, and Bill's got some better organization going on in the van. We'll have all the kinks worked out by the time this trip ends!

Love Me Some Piggy

When camping and having to deal with the wash water, it's super important to get as much of the food gunk out of the water as is possible. I just don't like dealing with gunky water. During the tent camping portion of our trip, we required everyone to pretty much clean their dishes with a paper towel (or 10) prior to putting them in the wash buckets. I can no longer support the deforestation process just to make sure my wash water isn't nasty. In comes the piggy.

Food Scraper Extraordinaire

I loves me the piggy. Piggy saved my life. He hacked my kitchen. He restored my faith in humanity. My mind was blown. All of those ridiculous phrases you see all over the internet and cause your brain to seize, they apply in this situation. He scrapes the crap out of my dried on eggs in the pan. Holy cow, I loves me the piggy. Seriously, try him out. He'll save your marriage. He'll renew your outlook on life. He'll at least get you cleaner pans. With less work. It's a Christmas miracle.


I have been so blessed on this trip. Very rarely have I had allergy issues, and my allergies are HUGE. Look for the song, Allergies, by the Barenaked Ladies. What a wonderful tune that is!

I remember my first allergy attacks pretty well. I had two cases of hives when my dad was stationed in MD, and then in TX when my mom and I went out to buy a guitar for me. That night was pretty non-memorable otherwise, but I had an intense allergic reaction to something. The air was thick with whatever pollen I reacted to--I remember being able to see the air.

Fast forward another 30+ years, we're back in TX, and I can't breathe again. My eyes are running, I'm sneezing big time, my ears itch, my throat itches, and I'm just not enjoying whatever is in the air. We're in Kerrville, surrounded by beautiful trees. I'm guessing they're the kind of trees trying to do me in. But I came armed with my Zyrtec and my Flonase. They help me out so very much. Not as much as Rhinocort Dry used to, but they stopped making that.

We're staying here through the New Year, cuz it's someplace to stay and get our chores done during a busy camping time down here. I'm hoping Big Bend National Park does not have whatever it is I'm reacting to so strongly. I guess we'll find out....

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Leaving CO again was a bit traumatic for some of us. Especially so close to the holidays, I think we were all wanting just a bit of home, rest, and familiarity. Having a place to stay for several days on end helped out quite a bit. Though our time in Canyon Lake was more idyllic than our time in Padre Island National Seashore!

Walking in the Fog
Beachfront Camping

We were a short walk from the beach, which was magnificent. When it was, that is. Much of our time was spent in deep fog, for which we paid heavily in the loss of power because our solar panels just weren't collecting enough. Blech. We were perpetually damp, our stuff started rusting, and our food was soggy. We did have good times, though. We got to Padre Island on Wednesday before Christmas, and my parents came in the next morning. We checked out my mom's hometown of Kingsville, TX. We got to learn about the King Ranch, check out the cute stores, and eat at a counter-style diner in a pharmacy. We also drove around and saw the parking lot that had been their home, the school my mom went to in Kindergarten, and the church the family went to shortly before leaving Texas for the north.

Visiting the Lexington

We all headed out to the Lexington on Christmas Eve day. My dad had actually landed on the Lexington at one point in his training, but the rest of us were seeing it for the first time. It was very impressive. I did decide that I would not have made a good sailor. I just did not like the tight quarters. Especially the bunks that are stacked three high. Then my dad had to one up that one and tell us about bunks that were stacked five high. Uh, no thanks. We spent about four hours aboard, and we could have spent more time, but I had to get back to the trailer to make our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of gumbo.

Christmas Eve Present Game

My mom loves to play present games at Christmas. It took some growing pains, but now it's a Christmas-must. My mom has a right-left story that someone reads, and this year we did the rotating, instead of rotating the presents. We had stellar gifts, such as: bacon brittle (not a hit), ninja erasers (a huge hit), and a fidget buster (a hit that broke quickly). The kids are getting so much better sports about this game, too, which makes the evening so much more pleasant!

St Andrews at the Sea

We attended mass on Christmas day, which we typically do not do. We're Christmas Eve mass people, typically. But I gotta say, I liked the smaller crowd, mass in the middle of the chaos, and just a healthy reminder the day of the event of why we're celebrating at all. We may be done with the kids' mass! My mom told us to meet them at St. Ann's by the Sea. Except that it's St. Andrew's by the Sea. It met all the rest of my mom's description when we looked it up, so we took a chance, and were right to go there. Instead of having mass outside, we were inside the family life center because the pews were wet from all the not-rain we were having. It was a 10am mass, so we did our stockings ahead, along with breakfast, and then after mass we had lunch and opened the wrapped gifts. After the hullabaloo, most of us went to see Rogue One. My mom opted to stay back at their hotel and just rest. I'm jealous, but I liked the movie, so I guess my choice was a good one.

Mikus Family

The day after Christmas we headed out to my mom's cousin's place. We got to spend the day with family I only see once in a very long while. The last time I saw them was for my grandma's funeral in 2012, and I can't remember when I saw them before that. We had a good time chatting, eating, and watching the kids play with the cats.

Portuguese Man o War
Flip Flop
Cleanup Crew

Our last hurrah at Padre Island was to do a beach cleanup as part of their Jr. Ranger program. NS also needed service hours for his next BSA rank, and J needed a service project as the very last requirement for his Wolf rank. Yeah!!! In addition to the Jr. Ranger badge, K and NB also got a patch for the beach cleanup. Pretty cool. NS found a flip flop while were cleaning up that ended up as home to quite a few barnacles. It was neat to see. K identified objects we kept finding as Portuguese Man o Wars. We took pictures and showed them to the ranger, and she confirmed K's identification.

Right now we're in Kerrville, TX. We're not sure how long we're staying here. It's got full hookups, which is good for our depleted battery, but we're not crazy about the site. We're sitting right off the road, with lots of traffic, and the vibe of the place isn't what we enjoy. But it's got full hookups. We're going to Big Bend National Park next, which has NO hookups, so full hookups is a luxury we hate to give up. We'll see how long we last. We have chores to take care of, so we're here for some time during the day tomorrow, but will we stay tomorrow night? Stay tuned....

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Breaking It In

Camping your way across the US in Wal Mart parking lots is wonderful in many ways. It's free, there are groceries just a few feet away from you, along with a restroom.... What more could you need? We've spent the last couple days camping at another Army Corps of Engineers campground in Canyon Lake, TX. The kids have enjoyed being able to get out of the trailer and run around, something we seriously discouraged in the middle of a Wal Mart parking lot. We've also been hooked up to electricity and water, so we got to try out a few of the features of our trailer unexplored previously.

Living Large
Shower Time

I took our very first shower in our new home on wheels. What a fantastic experience!!!! I had beautifully hot water, the new shower head was amazing (we invested in an Oxygenics head that decreases your usage while maintaining good pressure), and I came out clean! I love it!!!

Fabulous View
Dining Area

We've also gotten to put up a bit more of our Christmas decorations, since we're not travelling every day. So while Canyon Lake is just a short stay, we've made it a bit more like home. We even spent a couple nights watching movies. Well, one movie. The kids are into the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it turns out that Return of the King is a hugely long movie. Which Bill and I know, we've watched it several times, but it just can't be watched all at once when you start at 8pm and want the kids to go to bed at a decent hour. We're still not finished with it. Hmm....

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Weather Game

Since picking up the trailer in the beginning of December, we've been trying to outrun the weather. We took a bit longer at my parents' than we wanted, just getting the trailer ready and making Christmas treats so the kids (and the adults) didn't feel as though our Christmas was not good. But it was imperative that we leave Colorado by the 16th. And a good thing we did, because the temperatures there dropped to the negatives and the snow fell in earnest. So we dodged that, but we're taking a most circuitous route to get to Padre Island for Christmas. My parents have reservations there, so it's not as if we can change our destination. Instead of heading straight to Texas, we've gone through Las Vegas, NM and Truth or Consequences, NM. May be my favorite town name. Ever. Or not. There are a lot of town names in the US that are quirky. Today we're headed for Ft. Stockton, TX, then on to San Antonio, TX, before reaching our final destination at Padre Island.

Padre Island National Seashore is a first come, first served campground. I had wanted to arrive by the 19th to make sure we got a site, but that ain't happenin'. We'll get there now by the 21st, I'm hopeful that's still early enough to get a site. Cross your fingers, say your prayers, we need a site! The bum deal is, those sites have no hookups. We can fill up on water on our way in, we have access to a dump station, but we need to rely on the power of the sun for the electricity part. The weather for the National Seashore is looking good, so we may be good to go with electricity, since we won't need to run the heater quite as much as night. Lows in the 20s are putting a hurting on our resources.

So sad to not have a white Christmas, but so very thankful to be with family, to be out of a tent, to have our tiny home, and to be on our adventure!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Oh Canada!

It's been a while since I posted, so let me try to catch you up. We left my aunt's house to head out to Niagra Falls the night before our trailer was ready so that we could be at the RV centre bright and early. I applaud our efforts, but the falls called us, so we spent a couple hours with them.

Niagra Falls

What a fabulous day to check out the falls! It was cold, it was late fall, it was pretty empty. There were other tourists there, but not many. Since we're not crowd-loving folk, this was a perfect opportunity for us. And my goodness, what a sight to see! And to hear! Those falls are LOUD!!! Very much so worth the $15 we paid in parking, plus whatever it cost us in souvenirs. We had a great time there and the kids enjoyed learning about the falls, how much the land is receding, how the city uses the falls for electricity, and just how powerful nature is. But we did have to leave and get our trailer. So exciting--it was actually ready a full day before we had been told it would be, so that was an early Christmas present. A huge thanks to everyone at Taylor Coach!

The 8th was a cold and snowy day in Millgrove, Ontario. And the forecast to get back into the states was not pretty. Feet upon feet of snow in the Great Lakes areas. Hmmm.... We had planned on spending the night on their lot so that whatever questions popped up in our first day/night of using the trailer, we could get them answered in person. With that forecast, though, we busted through our orientation and headed out. It was a truly rough day for all involved. We did not do lunch before picking up the trailer, since it was only about 11, and I didn't want to get dinner until we were back in the States, but that meant that we didn't end up eating until about 9:30 that night. Unhappy campers. But we had a trailer!!!! The Wal-Mart we had planned on staying at overnight did not allow that, so we had to push on from there. Fortunately there was a Meijer just down the road that did allow us to stay. Yeah!!! We made the trip back to my parents' house in CO in just 4 driving days. We needed to drop off some tent camping items that we just wouldn't need any more. And it made for a great landing pad so that we could get our act together in the trailer.

Messy Messy Messy
Moving In

I know you haven't stuck with me this long for nothing. Here are some pics! I spent a couple days buying some organization stuff for the trailer and then using it. We've got a bunch of stuff! But the guys at Taylor Coach rock the llama's socks, and we've got places for everything! Oh, and we spent some really cold nights on the road, but the trailer kept us comfy and cozy. LOVING IT!!!!


Packed Up

Pantry Storage



For a look throughout the entire trailer, check out this video.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Steamtown Sign

The kids and Bill headed out one day to check out the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton. I stayed at Aunt Rita's and did a bit of cooking (and napping). But they enjoyed it so much, we all went back the next day. What a great museum, so many trains, a roundhouse, great videos explaining the history of railroading in the area. Just a fantastic trip. And free for us, since we have the annual pass.


There was a lot of work to be done for the Junior Ranger program. There is an amazing room that talks about the people of railroads that we hung out in for a while since the kids had to do some work in there for their program. My favorite sign was explaining the difference between hoboes, tramps, and bums.


These were just a few of the trains they have. There's also a train yard. Bill took the kids to walk around it, but my foot was being special, so I skipped that portion of the journey. Amazing how excited the kids get over the trains. NB came up to me at one point and said he bet he could build a steam engine of his own. So now we need to do a bit of research and work, and make that dream a reality!

Changes are a'Brewin'

Packing the Tent

The final pack of the tent. We've spent two weeks now at relatives' houses, and it feels a bit odd that our tenting days are over. We celebrated mightily the final takedown. NS was especially excited at the thought of ditching the tent lifestyle.

Pennsylvania Tree
West Virginia Tree

In our two weeks with relatives, we've gotten to decorate a few houses for Christmas, which was fantastic. We haven't spent any time with relatives other than my parents in so many years, this was truly a delight for me to spend time with family seeing what they do for their traditions. And because I do still miss some of our traditions, we went ahead and made some of our favorite cookies, along with a couple recipes of Chex Mix.


I've also gotten to spend a little bit of time preparing for Christmas in our trailer. The kids and I have been working on their stockings, and they're almost all finished. I still have to sew up NS' and then get to work on Bill's, but I think they're beginning to shape up nicely. Bill's mom went out with me to get some ornaments for our 18" artificial tree. We have a bunch of battery operated mini LEDs. I got candles that will hopefully make our trailer smell like Christmas, not just perfumey.

Hard at Work

Saint Nick brought us a train set for our trailer. Bill grew up with trains at Christmas time, and we've always enjoyed setting ours up, so it was great to get a set for the tree in the trailer. It's Lego, so the kids have enjoyed putting it together. And Aunt Rita oohed and aahed over it, which made the kids feel good. She's such a good aunt!

And now, the most exciting news of all. Our trailer is READY!!!! We got an email with pictures, and they said they'd see us Thursday. We had thought it would be ready Friday, so this is the best stinkin' news EVER!!!! So today we leave Pennsylvania to park ourselves in a hotel overnight in New York, in order to make the trip to the RV center in Ontario super short. They said we could arrive right after lunch, so that's the plan. YEAH!!!!!!

Finished Outside

The Inside
The Floor