Monday, August 31, 2015

Rocky Mountain Preparations

We returned from two weeks in the redwoods with two weeks to get ready for our first Caravan and our longest trip to date.

Here we are parked in the Redwoods.  It's Santa Cruz RV redwood park and one of our favorites.  We have family, friends and grandchildren in Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz so it's a frequent destination for us.   This park feels like coming home and I love being in among the tall trees.

Mark plotted out our Rocky Mountain trip including stops, distances and driving times.  It's a caravan with 25 other air streamers and a first for us.  We had tried to join last year only to be told it was full.  When an  unexpected cancellation came up in May of this year we were asked if we were still interested.  It coincided well with my retirement plans and we had nothing on  Septembers schedule so we said yes.  I have never been to Yellowstone, Grand Junction or  Estes park but I know each will be incredibly beautiful.

Not having done this kind of trip before and not entirely knowing what to expect we've been busy planning.  For me that means comforts and food!  I keep everything in Evernote so I created a menu plan in Word, saved it as a pdf and sent it to Evernote.  I then took photos of the recipes I wanted to use and sent them to Evernote as well.  The menu plan notes if the meal is to be made on the airstream or ahead of time and saved in food saver bags in the freezer for easy meals.  It also notes which fresh foods will be required so we can look for them when we are able to.  My ratio is about 1/2 and 1/2 so on longer travel days we can just thaw and heat and on leisurely days we will make a meal.  I've also left lots of holes in the menu plan for eating out when the opportunity presents itself.  This is vacation after all.

Onto create comforts……and bedding.  Airstream beds are oddly shaped due to the rounded corners.  We opted for the front twin beds which afford you three extra storage units, and a large space between the beds creates essentially a room where it's easy to stand to get dressed instead of the small space a walk around queen allows for.  I also love that visually one can see down the length of the airstream making it appear roomier.  

This all means I have two sets of twin sheets that don't fit well.  All the wrinkles and untucking made me crazy so I decided on a solution.  I went off to the local fabric notions store and purchased several garters and a heavy flat elastic.  I wrapped the mattress in the sheets and pulled them taut and measured the length across the opening.  I then cut the elastic and stitched each of the ends to hold the garters.  I used three per bed and it works perfectly.  Sheet is taut and stays in place.  Brilliant right?  Well apparently I could have gone to a store and purchased this solution!  There is a product called sheet garters.  Who knew?  Certainly not me.  I'm still happy with mine as they are custom fit.

So today is for cooking and freezing.  Tomorrow is fine tuning the storage solutions and checking our list.  We will experience a variety of climates during the month long trip so we need to plan accordingly.  We're also trying to fit in some extra walking to make sure we're ready for all the exploring we'll be doing.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Learning to cook Airstream style.

With our move to a bigger airstream which afforded us more fridge/freezer and storage space, and a move towards longer trips, we are learning what food works well.

On our trip from San Diego to Santa Cruz we spent one overnight with friends in Paso Robles.  Gardening friends......that was a good plan!  They had been harvesting some of their crops for days and had more than they could use so they shared their hard work and beautiful fruit and vegetables with us.

Here are two overflowing bowls of fresh figs and table grapes, both the best I've eaten. We also have wonderful peaches and plums.  There is no way to buy a peach in a store that comes close to these.

Here a  yellow squash and poblano pepper are sautéed.  These were stirred into a penne pasta and put in a shallow pan with a marina sauce and topped with small slices of fresh mozzarella.  I thought it was wonderful, Mark thought it was a bit too spicy.  I thought I was cutting up a sweet pepper and may not have been as diligent in scraping out all the seeds.  I suspect he got some seedy bites because I thought it was just perfect.

We'll be entertaining on Saturday.  My plan is for a Salmon Nicoise salad.  That way I can do all the work in the morning and visit with friends instead of cooking.  Dinner prep will then just take some arranging on plates.

We still have a lot of learning to see what works best.  Easy cleanup is kind of a key factor, as well as the smallest number of pans, and a good balance of fresh ingredients that work together with non perishables.  I really like the trader joe stuffed grape leaves (dolmas) which come in a can.  One cucumber, some tomatoes, a little feta cheese and some kalmata olives and dinner is served!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Santa Cruz and Baby Watch

When we heard we would be grandparents for the fourth time in mid August we decided that we would spend two weeks on either side of the due date.  We also decided that we would try a new campground.  There are not a lot of choices near Santa Cruz.  One a beautiful beach state park is only available six months in advance and generally sells out immediately as the date that was out.

There is the harbor where we've stayed before and it does have great beach access, but it's a parking lot.  Granted a parking lot with a view of boats, electric, water and sewer but no other amenities.  Given my husband's packrat nature, he had a key to the restrooms from when we moored a boat there 14 or so years still worked.  This time we decided not to go with a parking lot though.

A KOA in Watsonville seemed at first glance to be worth exploring and we booked it for the two weeks.  Arriving on Sunday night I was not enamored of the aesthetic, and while kid friendly, which was good for my grand children was also kind of frenetic with bike riding and enthusiastic mid schoolers everywhere.  I didn't want to be the naysayer so I quietly settled in and then, no internet access, no cell service at all.  Remember that we were waiting on a grand baby, no cell service was just not going to work.  The front office was less than empathetic and we decided it was not going to be a fit.  When we woke up in the morning, already having made the decision, we were in fog so thick as to be almost rain, and really damp and grey.

We went off in search of cell service to a starbucks a few miles away and made calls to a few that we had looked up.  First one to answer was RV redwood park where we've stayed before....yes they could accommodate us!  Yay....we would have to move within park a couple of times but they got creative and found us space.  We pulled into to brilliant sunshine and the cool shade of the redwoods.  Heaven.

Just in time....we got moved Monday morning and Monday evening we got THE text, baby Isabella was on her way.  Off we went, arriving at 4:00 a.m. and waiting through the hours until she arrived!

Here is our new spot in the redwoods.

Here's my rocket surgeon

and baby Isabella with her sister Sam our first grandchild!

This is where I spent the day beading.....

I think in the future this will be our Santa Cruz park of choice!