Flowerless Wisteria on front porch of the Bush House, Salem, Oregon, April 2017

Saturday, May 20, 2017


The Miracle of Cauliflower

Cauliflower is often considered one of the healthiest foods on earth, and there is good reason why. With its rich supply of health-promoting phytochemicals, high level of anti-inflammatory compounds, and ability to ward off cancer, heart disease, brain disease, and even weight gain, it seems there isn’t much cauliflower can’t do. From the Web

As a child, I had to eat cauliflower, but never liked the soggy boiled version my mother served. Now I'm getting to be a real fan of this readily available vegetable.

The following is an easy, but really good recipe I found in a magazine.

Baked Cauliflower Steaks
1 medium cauliflower head
2 eggs
splash of milk or water
1 1/2 cup panko
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper

parchment lined baking sheet

Trim leaves and stem off cauliflower, but do not core
with core side down, cut from top to bottom 1 inch "planks"
Cut the larger planks in half thru the core. Trim any medium size sections that come off so they are 1 inch in thickness.

Whisk eggs and water or milk together.

In a larger pan or bowl mix panko, cheese, paprika, salt and pepper together.

Dip cauliflower into egg mixture and then into panko mix. Coat both sides.

Place on parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake in pre-heated 400° oven for about 25-30 minutes.

I turned them after 10 minutes, and at 20 minutes turned the oven down to 300° because they were getting done before I was ready to serve.

I didn't take a picture, but this one off the Web looks pretty much like what I ended up with.

I liked it as a great substitute for potatoes and/or other vegetables. 

I have also made it on the grill. I put just a splash of olive oil and minced garlic and chunked cauliflower in a plastic bag, and shook it before roasting the it on a grill pan. (I took it out of the plastic bag 😜)

Happy cooking! 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Mice, Tires, and other RV things

We have been very lucky in our RV travels, to not have been plagued by invasions of mice. But Tuesday we seemed to have picked up a hitch-hiker. I know the large drawer where I keep pots and pans was mouse-free on Monday when I put the dishes away, but when I opened it on Tuesday evening to get a pan, I saw lots of little mouse droppings.  UGG!

Except for the fact that I will have to wash and sanitize everything in there, plus two adjacent drawers, I was not really disturbed. It comes with RVing and parking on grassy fields. 

I found our VICTOR Electronic Rat zappers, armed them with new batteries and put one in the drawer and one on the floor. This morning, the little gray critter was a stiff in the drawer trap. The one on the floor was empty, but then there had been no droppings on the floor.

After emptying the zapper, I put it back in the drawer with the pans and left everything undisturbed for a second night. The amount of droppings suggested that there might be more than one mouse! We were planning on going out for dinner that night anyway. 

Over the years I have read about many mice remedies. Some claim peppermint oil, Irish Spring soap, or dryer sheets are wonderful repellents. Some mice ignore the oil, eat the soap, and use the dryer sheets as nesting material. Some try to plug every possible entry, but I have heard of gnawed or pushed-aside steel wool. If they want to get in, they will!

Putting out poison may work, but the mouse is likely to crawl into some hidden place and smell bad.

Some might ask if using a rat trap is overkill for just a little mouse. I have the rat traps because we have run into some wood rats, and heard of pack rats getting into RVs. I don't know if there is a smaller electronic trap for mice.  

While on the subject, TOM CAT snap traps are pretty good too. The only problem I have had with them is sometimes the mouse is only caught by a leg and is still alive in the trap when checked. Not good. 

I used them a lot when we lived in a house surrounded by forest and meadows. At $4-5 each, they were inexpensive enough to replace if they got yucky or the spring stopped working. No batteries needed!

If you are thinking about buying an RV, you should be sure you also think about the expense of maintenance and repair. Our Alfa is getting older, but we continue to try to keep her in tip-top shape. We replaced the front tires in 2012, and the back in 2014. We figured we were good for a few years yet, but when we had the windows worked on last month, the glass guy pointed out that the tires didn't look good.  Because we were on our way to Alaska, we decided to have them looked at, and ended up replacing the front tires. The tire guy said he thought we might get a rebate from the warranty, but it would take some time.  Not what we wanted to spend our money on  this month! We got a second opinion on the rear tires, and decided not to replace them at this time. 

Because we are FMCA members, we were able to buy Michelins at almost half price. The $50 membership fee is more than made up for by the Advantage discount. Read about it under Benefits on the FMCA page. But half price or not, it took a bite out of this months budget!

As we have traveled up the West Coast, we have been surprised 
by how full many of the RV parks are. It is still "off season", but on several occasions we have been told the park is full when calling a day or two ahead.  I admit, I usually start by calling the lower-priced places, but have also found at least one high end resort without a vacancy. 

When we look around, we see that there are many older rigs in the parks that have not moved for months at a time. More and more people are living in them, including younger working folks. As the cost of rent goes up in the cities, the RV life style is not just for vacationing or retired older folks traveling around the country for a few years. When we were at the library in La Pine, Oregon, I saw a notice addressed to "families living in cars or RV parks" about their children's eligibility to enroll in public school. 

Now that we live full-time in a motorhome, I find I have a different view than when I was among the housebound.

We are not poor, we are not rich, we are probably not middle class. Having sold the house, we have money enough to not be strapped by bills, and if we wanted we could afford a small home in most places other than California.  

But for now we will continue to travel and live among the:

In other words, I no longer judge anyone for where or how they live. 

After a month of travel plagued by rain and cold nights, it seems we are finally in the right place weather-wise.

Yup, Washington is sunny and temps are in the 70°s. We will be here for another week before crossing into Canada.

Life is Good!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mt.St. Helen

Mt. St. Helen is a volcano. I remember when it last exploded 36 or 37 years ago. It seemed so unlikely that there was an active volcano in the continental United States. But then, I still had my midwest mindset about our country.

The image above is a "before" picture that was on display at the Visitor's Center. 

This was taken of her now from the view point at the VC. The top is gone!

On Wednesday we drove Hwy 504 as far east as we were allowed to go. This is into the blast area, but far from the volcano itself. 

There were numerous pullouts that allowed us to view the valley below. It was much deeper before the eruption, and you can still see large amounts of mud and ash. The green forest in the foreground is a Weyerhauser tree farm planted within three years of the blast.

We always take the time to read the informative signs and posters. This one told us how life returns after the total destruction caused by the eruption. 

This one told the story of how tiny spiders are carried into an area by the wind. Small plant seeds are trapped by their webs and are watered by the morning dew that condenses on them. Life is a very strong force.

All of the views were beautiful. 

Lakes were totally destroyed by the blast, but new lakes were also created by the mudflow blocking streams. In the first two years after the blast they did an intense salvage operation to remove usable dead trees. Enough lumber was brought out of the area to construct 65,000 three bedroom homes!  And yet, even all these years later the wreckage seems to be everywhere.

We had our picnic lunch at a table near this lake. I noticed a single fruit tree among the new growth. I wonder if its seed was from an apple tossed by some other picnicker, or from a bird.

Just for fun we tossed our date pits into the woods, but we doubt a palm tree will grow from them. 

The day was just perfect. Not hot, not cold, just sunny with a slight breeze. There were only a few other people on the roads or at the view points. I don't mind crowds, but this was really nice.

We saw this colorful Class C at the lake parking lot. It had a European license plate and this fun EU decal on the side. Most American RVs are so boring by comparison with their generic  neutral colors. Repaints and wraps are usually more colorful, but if you want to retain "resale" value you have to stick with blah! 

Personally I love the dog in the windows of the Cruise America rigs, but then I wear silly, colorful socks.

If you are an RVer, would you choose a more colorful motif if it was available, or would you stick to the standard swooshes?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Vancouver, Washington

(Catching up after a few days at a park with weak internet access.)

On one of the days we spent in Vancouver Washington, we went on a three mile loop walk. The route was one of several shown on a city tour map I picked up in the RV park office.

We parked quite near where there was a Farmer's Market going on. We had done a big shop the day before and knew our fridge was full, so we just browsed the craft booths.

I took a picture of the wood vases above for my grandson, Dylan. He and his father have been learning to turn items on the lathe they got for Christmas. Dylan had turned his first bowl in his woodworking class in school, and thought his Dad would also enjoy it.

Our walk took us along the officers' row at Fort Vancouver.

These beautifully maintained and restored homes were the residences of Commanders and Generals when Fort Vancouver was a military base. Craig's favorite was the Marshall House. General George Marshall lived here for several years.

My favorite was the Grant House. Ulysses Grant was posted to Fort Vancouver two years after the house was built, but he never lived in the house. It is now a restaurant.

The lawns and other landscaping were incredible. This was one of the biggest Horse Chestnut trees I have ever seen. When I was a child, one of our neighbors had a much smaller Horse Chestnut tree. The kids would collect the nuts, which were inedible, because they looked like buck eyes.

I am standing at the base of this tree to give you an idea of how big it is.
Our walk took us along a path that went along the edge of the Fort grounds. I think this tree is a Giant Sequoia.  We have seen some spectacular trees during our time in Oregon and Washington.

Speaking of big old trees, the one above is a very old apple tree. It dates from the late 1800's and is among those that started the first apple orchards in Washington. Hopefully the fencing will continue to protect it from vandals for many years to come.

The path took us along the river, and we had a good view of the lower part of one of the big bridges.

This large sculpture caught our imaginations. Does it represent a boat or a fish?

The last bridge we went under as we approached our car, had a very colorful mural on it. I enjoy public murals. I imagine the fun it must be to participate in the design and execution of them. There was no information (easily seen) about this one. The images are of things having to do with the river, and the Vancouver area. 

Although the walk was only three miles, it tired us out. But it was a good tiredness. We really have to do more walks like this to get back into shape.  

My next post is about our drive to Mount St. Helens. Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Fort Dalles Museum, and Memaloose State ParkThursday was a quiet rest day.

Thursday was a quiet rest day for us. We just hung out at the park and relaxed. Our old bodies needed some down time from hiking the falls, the travel day that followed, and the drive around to see the fruit trees blossoming.

But, Friday we were all set to be tourists again.

The Dalles is a town located about 85 miles east of Portland Oregon on the Columbia River. It grew up in the second half of the 1800s, around Fort Dalles. The fort itself was never a stockade, but it was a military outpost for protection from Indians and a stopover point for pioneers who had traveled the Oregon Trail. 

Note: The Oregon Trail is a 2,170-mile historic east–west, large-wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon.

This was the fort surgeon's house. It is the only building, other than a gardeners shed, that remains intact. The office and some historic collections are kept there.

This collection of arrow heads attests to the long use of these lands by Native Americans. Craig is looking at a poster that shows the locations and the original names of many of the Native American tribes.

The Anderson Homestead house and barn, also from the 1800's, have been moved from their original location to a lot across the street from the fort, and are  open to the public with paid admission ($5 for seniors) to the fort.

Mary was our guide, and did a wonderful job of showing us the buildings and collections.

The Anderson house had two large upstairs bedrooms. One was for their two sons, and the other for their daughters.

These handmade dolls were on display, but I doubt they were ever played with. They were far too clean.

On the fort grounds there was an open barn/shed building that housed many modes of transportation including old buggies, an electric car, a Model T, and two hearses. 

Next to the hearse were several coffins. Unused I assume. I found it interesting that they had glass windows. Perhaps that was because they did not embalm the bodies and this allowed them to be viewed.

We next went up to the War Memorial Lookout at Sorosis Park, which was not far from the fort museum.  Mary suggested it. What a fantastic view!  Thank you Mary.

We stayed at  Memaloose State Park for three nights. It seemed to be a logical place to camp since I wanted to go to both Hood River and the Dalles. It is located five miles from one and eleven miles from the other. TripAdvisor and Google gave it 4 1/2 stars. Had I looked down the listings I would have noticed the 2 star rating from Yelp. It is in close proximity to I-84, a very busy highway. Our coach was only about 100 feet from it. Some spots on the other side of the park may be somewhat buffered from the noise, but didn't have full hook ups. We had no buffer, but the road noise didn't keep us awake. On the plus side, we had great satellite, internet and Verizon signals. I choose this spot so that Craig could watch the Warriors basketball game Wednesday night, and that worked out fine.

We moved on to Vancouver, Washington on Saturday. It was not a long drive, but it was a bit windy. Always a challenge. 

Life is good!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Going out of our way to see the Fruit Loop Blooming Orchards

On our first trip along the Columbia River some years ago, we stopped at the Bonneville Dam, the fish hatchery, and Multnomah Falls, all of which are on the Oregon side. This time we drove east on the Washington side, and I must say the highway was narrower and a bit more difficult.  We were glad to see the Hood River bridge, but it was a very narrow two lane bridge, and we actually scraped the side of the Alfa on its side guard rail while avoiding a very large truck coming the other way. We think it was over the yellow line! Good thing the rail was strong!

While doing my research of things to do and see, I became aware that we could be in Hood River during the spring blossoming of the orchards in the area. They call a 35 mile route around the valley the Fruit Loop. 

As soon as we settled the Alfa at our RV spot, we drove over to Hood River to the drive.

After many days of rain and gloomy skies, we were lucky to arrive on a beautifully sunny day. The blossoms don't last very long. Some were just beginning to open, some were past prime, but many were still in their full glory. 

I was surprised that I did not see lots of bee hive boxes. Perhaps they were just in places not visible from the roads. It sure looked like a big pollenation job.

I know they grow pears, apples and cherries, but I'm not sure which trees were which. We did see a few pink blossoms in addition to all these rows and rows of white.

In places the flowering orchards stretched far up the hillsides. Some of the best views weren't near good parking spots. 

I'm not sure what these crops are, but they were blooming too.

On our way back into town, we took a turn-out road up to a place called Panoramic Point. While we could not see any of the fruit orchards, we could see Mt. Hood in the distance. 

Mt. Hood
And finally, a sign for our times:

[From Craig]  People are wondering what became of harmony in the USA.

Next stop: 
                The Dalles.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

We left Salem, Oregon Monday morning and drove 38 miles to Silver Falls State Park. We stopped there on our very first RV trip, in a Cruise America rental, six or seven years ago. I was not disappointed by this revisit.

It's all about the waterfalls. Ten falls, plus dozens of side trickles and gushes, all on an eight mile loop trail.

Monday afternoon we walked two and a half miles on the south end of the gorge to see the South Falls and the Lower South Falls. The trail goes under an enormous rock outcropping behind the South Falls. The thunderous power of the water is amazing.

The trail was not hard, although I was glad I had my poles along to keep me steady going over the many rocks and roots. I am so glad to be able to hike again. We missed out on so many good walks last summer as the broken bones and tendonitis in my foot healed. But I feel I need to be extra careful, and slow down when I feel any discomfort.

The river canyon was unbelievably green. Heavy moss and ferns covered the trees and ground.

Craig kept checking the fern fiddleheads, looking for a perfect one. Most were either just starting or too far unfurled. He finally found a good one!

So much to take in!  The first image above is the remains of a large tree that was burned out. I wondered, how in such a wet place there could have been a fire, but since many of the trees tower above the sides of the canyon, I guess that they must have been struck by lightning.  

On Tuesday we hiked about six miles, seeing seven more falls. We started at the North Falls parking lot and took the Winter Falls trail, that allowed us to get back to our Jeep without going all the way to the South Falls, or turning back the way we came.

Yes, it was this green! 
Many side water flows joined the river below.

Two more!

Spring has got to be the best time to visit, for the sheer volume of water pounding down over the falls.

This tree is really fighting the forces to keep standing.

This one lost. 

There were a lot of flowers along the trail, but most of them were so tiny our cameras couldn't capture them. My next camera has to have a macro feature! I've had it before and it is fun to take pictures of the tiny things. But for now, the Trilliums were big enough to photograph.

It's hard to say which falls I like the best, but since the Winter Falls had such a nice bench overlooking the pool below, it was at the top of my list. Speaking of the "top." Our hike was not quite over. We had to take a switchback trail up to the top of this canyon wall, and then walk another mile to the Jeep.

It was a long day, but will always be a treasured memory. 

I'm so glad this is a State Park and not a National Monument. It will still be here for future generations to enjoy.