Friday, January 31, 2014

Quiet time

I know my posts have been far and few between, and not very interesting.  Please keep checking on us.  This is just a quite time.

Today we are breaking out of a winter rut.  We plan on going for a hike in a nearby state park.  Something to post about!

Oh, and we will probably go out for dinner if we aren't too tired when we get back.  It is our XLVIII (48th) wedding anniversary.  Wow, life sure goes by fast.

Monday, January 27, 2014


If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.

If dreams come true, then we will be fulltimers someday.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Craig's Multiburgers

[From Craig]  We don't have much current stuff to post right now, so I thought we'd show you an old recipe of mine.


Equal parts of as many as possible of:
Ground Beef
Ground Lamb
Ground Pork
Ground Chicken
Ground Turkey (light, dark, or combined, per your preference)
Ground Buffalo
Ground Ostrich
Ground Venison
Soy Protein Burger (e.g., original Boca Burgers)

plus any other ground meat available.

Onions, fairly finely chopped, about 1/4th of the total meat volume
Capers, drained, about 5% of the total meat volume
Seasonings (I used Accent, Adolph's Meat Tenderizer, and garlic salt)

(It's hard to order less than half a pound of anything at a butcher counter, so I ended up with between 4 and 5 pounds of ground stuff, from which I made 19 burgers.  I didn't include ground veal because it's like ground beef, plus some people are anti-veal.)

Thaw any of the ground stuff that's frozen.  For us, this was the ground venison and the soy burger.

Set up a food processor with its food processor blade.  Put approximately equal amounts of each ground item in the food processor, plus the seasonings.  If you want the onions and capers to lose their texture, add them into the mix as well.  The total of each batch should be within what your food processor can handle.

(If you don't have a food processor, just chop/mince the meats, onions, capers, and spices together.)

Run the food processor just long enough to mix everything up.  2 to 4 batches may be necessary.

If you didn't run the onions and capers through the food processor, add them now and mix well.

Form the result into hamburger patties of your favorite size.  Don't compress more than necessary. Grill or fry as you like.  Serve with your favorite buns and toppings.  Mine turned out surprisingly delicate and tender.

From Merikay: Craig has made the above recipe exactly one time. 
He claims it was wonderful, I don't remember.

He also enjoyed clipping recipes from the Wednesday food section of the newspaper when we were still getting them delivered.  I would cook some, save some, in a binder for future consideration, marking a few as "Next Wife."  I knew I would never prepare any of the "Next Wife" recipes.

Looking forward to some travel posts in the future.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


I am writing this post as a "public service" to other RVers. Newbies, Old-timers, Full timers, or Any-timers. 

We have been having an unpleasant problem in the RV lately, and I think I have finally figured it out. 

The problem was an ever increasing stink in the coach. 

Since it seemed to be coming from the bathroom, I assumed it was a potty smell.

We have been keeping the Fantastic Fan going almost all of the time, and I have tried several different air fresheners, but nothing seemed to help very much.

"Stinking" up the bathroom is a delicate subject. I just assumed it was something I would have to get used to living in such close quarters.

But, today, when we had not been in the coach for several hours, and we both came back at the same time, I noticed the odor was as strong as ever.  Yuck! 

Knowing neither of us had been in the bathroom for several hours, I knew the source of the smell could no longer be attributed to normal body functions of a member of the crew.

The stink has been gradually increasing over the last few weeks.  

Yesterday, I almost emptied the bays doing some more reorganization, but I also keep a sharp look out for the remains of some small critter.  No bodies were found, and the bay areas smelled fine.


Then it dawned on me. RV plumbing works just like house plumbing. What keeps the bad smells from coming back up the drains are the P-traps. Water creates a seal. If the P-trap dries out, gas from the waste tank come back up.

It turned out the source of the smell was the gray tank by way of the shower P-trap.  Because we are dry camping in the driveway of our house, we have not been taking showers in the Alfa. We think the P-trap dried out, especially after one of our trips down to the dump site may have shook some of its water down into the gray tank.  

This afternoon I put a dose of black tank treatment and a couple of cups of water down the shower drain.

No more stink!  What a relief. 

I know some of you dry camp all of the time. Has anyone else had this problem? 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Getting Rid of Stuff

When I think back on listing and selling the other houses we have owned, I remind myself that each situation was unique, and each took a lot longer than I would have wanted.

After living in our first little Milwaukee home for eight years we were out for a Sunday drive, came upon some open house signs, toured a neat house, made an offer, and bought it a few days later. It was a quick closing, and we did a "bridge loan" for the down payment.  We moved, cleaned up the little house, and listed it empty.  It took about six months to sell.

Several years later Craig took a new job in Texas, moved there by himself, and the kids and I stayed in Wisconsin until the house finally sold, about six months later.

When he was offered a job in California, I did not want to repeat the separation, so we again emptied the house, put it on the market, moved to California, and used a bridge loan to buy our next house.

The Texas house took about eight months to sell.

Selling our first California house presented no problems because it was in the path of a new freeway, and the state bought it from us.

So here we are again. Technically, we moved out of the house about five months ago. The furniture and a lot of our personal things stayed, but we've been living in the Alfa either on trips or up the hill in the driveway.

When we returned from our Christmas trip, we knew we would never be moving back into it, and it was time to get rid of everything.  We decided on not having a storage unit a long time ago.

I can honestly say that we have worked very hard every day since our return and are almost finished. It has been a bit emotional and very stressful at times. Although I've been trying to get rid of things for the last three years, there were still lots of little collections to sort through.  
  • The big junk drawer in the kitchen, 
  • The three little junk drawers in the kitchen that I had emptied, but had somehow refilled themselves.  
  • Top dresser drawers.  
  • Closet shelves. 
  • Boxes in the attic. 
  • The closet in my former studio, which once emptied of art materials became a deposit place for many other things.
  • The huge mound of stuff I had gotten rid of by putting it into boxes in one of the five garage spaces on the property. 
  • Craig's tool and workshop garage. 
  • Drawers, drawers, and more drawers! 

Craig had his work cut out for him as well. He had to make final decisions about his tools, and sell his high end audio system.

Considering our location, and the unpredictability of the weather, we rejected going to the flea market or having yard sales or an estate sale.  Craigslist and Ebay are a crapshoot, and not a good way to get rid of all the small stuff, and the worn out furniture.

So we decided to use John, an "estate liquidator", which is a fancy name for John the junk man! He is sort of a wholesaler to antique shops, a flea market vendor, and a cleanup man all in one.  He came, looked things over and listened to our list of the few things we wanted, and gave us a price on the whole lot. 

It was very little, but we had to keep in mind that it was the wholesale price on anything salable, minus the cost to remove it, minus the cost to remove and dump all the unsalable stuff.

 He and a helper have been working for three days.  All that is left are a few collections of things Craig and I have to look thru, some boxes of things we are storing in our daughter's attic: family pictures and tax records. (We're taking two years of tax forms along in the Alfa in case we need them.)

Personally I find this month has been very stressful, very sad, and very exciting, at different times and in different ways.

As he packed up my dishes, flatware, cutting boards, and pots and pans, I felt a bit of panic.  I need those things! No, I don't.  I have all I need in the Alfa and haven't wanted any of it for five months. Seeing my favorite comfy recliner loaded up on a trailer made me want to say: "Stop, I need that to sit in front of the fire on a cold winter 's night." Nonsense! I will be in Arizona, Texas, or Florida by next winter, and the only fire I will be sitting by will be a campfire with new friends.

Seeing the patio furniture being removed from the upper deck reminded me of the many summer dinners we have had up there. Now we will share our BBQs on a picnic table in a National Park.

The barstools in the kitchen are gone, the microwave is gone, the dining room table is gone, our bed is gone.  The rooms are empty.
The house seems so big now that it's empty.

Next week we will be doing some heavy cleaning. 

It is disgusting to see the dust that was behind the heavy furniture. I have a vacuum up in the Alfa that I can use.

But when it's done, the house will be ready and waiting for the next owner. We will be free to leave any time and not come back. Which is exactly what we want to do.

Four weeks at Camp Driveway has been long enough.  Hitch-itch is developing.

Since we do not get very good TV reception here we have decided to drive down to San Diego again so we can enjoy a Super Bowl get together.

After that who knows ...  Jello time!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Memorial to a long-gone cat

[From Craig] We've had several really good cats over the years, but my favorite was our black one.  It was a present from one of our neighbors on the wild side of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  A cat that our neighbor thought had been abandoned in the wild by some "flatlanders" got pregnant on the mountain and snuck her litter into our neighbor's garage.  All of them were black, but one little male was a bit fluffy. Merikay met her friend at the vet and had the kitten tested for feline leukemia before getting attached. He was fine.

Upon arriving home, Merikay and the kitten were "rushed" by our two large greeting dogs. The kitten shot out of her arms like a bullet and disappeared somewhere into the garage. We put out food, but after two days no kitten reappeared. Merikay's friend came over and called him. Recognizing her voice he mewed from behind a large set of shelves, and the ladies managed to get him out.

At first he was a real "scaredy cat." Then one day he almost drowned by falling into Craig's bathtub, and when Merikay hauled him out from under a bed and comforted him by wrapping him in a dry towel, he relaxed and became a family cat.

We called him Spook because, even though he become more social and civil, he remained the most nervous and "hyper" cat we've had.  Early in his life with us, our son changed his life direction after graduating from college, and gifted us with the cat and dog he had had in San Diego.  

His cat Kali was pure white, which made it easy to tell our new cats apart.  They quickly settled into curling up across from each other in a kind of "yin and yang" or perhaps "paisley" relationship.  We never saw them hunt together, perhaps because Kali was more of an indoor cat and Spook was mostly an outdoor cat.

He was a very good hunter, for a male, and worked hard at keeping the mice, rats, and gophers at bay.

After several years, the white cat died suddenly when it jumped off a chair in front of the fireplace, and its heart gave out.  

As our only cat thereafter, Spook became more affectionate as he got older.  One of my favorite memories of my whole life was how, every morning for his last few years with us, he would come in in the morning, eat, and then come perch on my chest as I lay in bed waking up.  He would sit so that, with my head tilted forward by a pillow, we were eye-to-eye with our noses a couple of inches apart.  We'd lay there sharing our breath, winter and summer, until Merikay brought the coffee and she and I would start reading the newspaper, at which time he'd go off to his place at my feet, where he'd sleep most of the day.

The other keen memory was in the night as I was coming back to bed in the dark. Our house in the boondocks of the Santa Cruz Mountains was very dark, moon or no moon, and I would trail my hand along the bottom edge of the bed to track my way.  When Spook happened to be on the foot of the bed, he would see me coming with his superior night vision, and many times bat my hand with his paw as it went by.  I think this was in a playful way, but a few times he would have some claws extended!  We used the same bed until a few months ago, and years after he was gone, I would say in passing the spot at the foot of the bed: "no cat!"

Sunday, January 5, 2014

49ers vs. Packers

[From Craig]  First you have to understand that we lived the first 34 years of our lives in Wisconsin, that the first Super Bowl (won by the Packers) was in the same week as our first wedding anniversary, and that we've lived the last 30 years of our lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Given that, you might get the idea that a Packer vs. 49er playoff game would be important to us...

For this one, another exciting factor was the weather in Green Bay.  In the last few days, it looked like this might be the coldest football game in the 94-year history of the NFL.  It wasn't quite that cold, but it probably made the coldest 10.

We invited our relatives to our first football party for the Ice Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys on Dec 31, 1967.  (We had foolishly blown our most of our tiny net worth on an early color TV set.)  It looked a lot colder than this one.  

Several possible explanations spring to mind:

  1. People have learned a lot about how to deal with cold since 1967.  The 1967 players looked more like they were suffering than the 2014 players.  Hydration, nutrition, taking care of yourself in bad conditions...
  2. The relatively small amount of extra clothing allowed a pro football player has certainly gotten more protective.  Gore-Tex (which is probably not named for 49ers running back Frank Gore) and similar insulating materials that "breathe" are much better than in '67.
  3. Today's players get paid lots more than the 1967 players did, even after inflation.  This may make them more motivated (read "tougher") than their predecessors.
  4. We viewers are older and have faced more cold weather than when we watched at 22 in 1967.  That probably works backward for explaining why the wayback game looked colder.  Anyway this point sounded good as I typed it...

Obviously today's game was a good one, about as closely-fought as can be  (49ers 23, Packers 20).

I must say that in the games this weekend, I saw more excellent quarterbacks
than in any other 4 games I can remember.  Alex Smith, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Colin Kaepernick, and Aaron Rodgers are almost as good a stable of 6 QBs as you can put together out of the rest of NFL history, at least if I can exclude Unitas, Tarkenton and Montana from the historical group.

We asked our relatives to compare this game with the '67 Ice Bowl. Merikay's brother Gil says "the Pack lost by a lot less than I expected... Weather not near as bad as '67.  '67 was a classic. This one was just another game to be forgotten."

My cousin John says "at least we can say we taught Colin well, while here in Cheese Land!".  (Colin Kaepernick was born in Milwaukee and raised in Wisconsin until age 4.  His Polish last name comes from his adoptive parents.)

Merikay says "it was a bit like watching your children play a game. You root for both, are happy for the winner, and feel bad for the loser."

I say the Packers (like past 49er teams) rely more on individual heroics than this years 49ers, who seem to be more team-oriented, minimizing heroes.  Maybe the 9ers were marked by last year's Super Bowl loss, and are laying low for another chance at the top prize.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Getting back to work on clearing out the house

Sunsets have been very nice here at Camp Driveway.  Perhaps it is because we are a bit higher and the trees are not blocking as much of the sky.

I  like the way the sunset is reflected on the Alfa slide. I did nothing to the color in this image. The rest of the coach was its normal white.

I vowed that as soon as we got back from San Diego I would get  back into getting rid of stuff, but was sidelined by a bad cold. 

However, after a couple of rest days I did get started on a new project.

Sorting our CDs.

Please don't tell me we should be just putting them on the computer.

I know that is a good option, but Craig is both the computer guy and the music guy and he has chosen not to do that yet.

We have well over 300 CDs.  Far too many to take along in the RV.  I had hoped Craig might sort through them, but that hasn't happened, so I started the project myself.  I packed them up and brought them into the Alfa.  

Until we sort them out we won't be able to use the couch!

Although I have no set number, I would like to get them down to about 100 of our favorites.  I started listening to them and making a pile of rejects several days ago. 

Craig is more of a music fan than I am, and he bought most of them, but I have my favorites too. 

After a couple of days, he joined me in the culling task and we have moved the project down to the house in the evenings so we can sit in front of a cozy fire while doing it.

We have rediscovered some CDs of artists we have always enjoyed [From Craig: Lynn Miles!!!], and listened to parts of many that we wondered why we had them in the first place!

Once we get them culled down to a manageable number we may transfer them to the computer, or not. The Alfa has a very nice sound system and two pretty good CD players.  We are just such old fashioned people.  Craig hasn't gotten into iTunes yet, but I'm sure he will once we are on the road.  He does read books on our Kindle and (since it broke) on the iPad using the Kindle App.  I think once he gets into making his own play list there will be no stopping him!

Craig has finally started to list his sound system equipment on a web marketplace called Audiogon. If anyone is interested in how it works, leave a comment and he will do a post or reply by email.

He sold all of his records last summer, and before we went to San Diego he took his turntable and related hardware to the same guy who bought the records.  He has the turntable and is working on selling the other stuff.  Little by little, we are dealing with the hard parts.

When we go down to the house now, it really feels different. We use the shower and the washing machine, and now have had a few evenings in front of the fire, but it no longer feels like home. The Alfa is our home! 

Our goal right now is to do everything we can to have it ready to  empty when the house does sell. We are not planning any trips for awhile.  

On that note, I must say the weather here has been fantastic.  Sunny and in the high sixties or low seventies most days. This is good for us because we are in the Alfa, but not really good for the mountains. It should be raining now. It is far too dry. But the rains came late last year too, so it's still possible that we won't have a drought year. When it rains here it is usually very intense and windy. That can be scary in an RV parked under big trees!

If you are in the East tonight (Jan. 3, 2014), keep warm and stay in. Sounds like you are really getting hit hard.