Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Week, our recipes and more....

Well, the world didn't end on the 21st of December.  Damn Mayans.  They should be dug up and held on the charges of mass panic.

We spent a nice Christmas Eve with the guests in the park.  They do a Chinese Gift Exchange.  Everyone brings a $10 gift, gets a "random" number.  The first number is drawn, they open a present in front of everyone.  Person holding the second number drawn can either "take" their gift or open another one in front of everyone.  Process keeps repeating until everyone has been drawn.  That last person has the knowledge of every one's gifts, so they can "take" one unless it's frozen (been held by 3 owners).  The person who got drawn first ends it by having the choice of everything in the room.  We noticed that, just as last year, one person came in very late to get a last number and went looking for booze.  Some people get a little bent out of shape over people "taking" their gift.  It's a way to kill an evening.

Christmas Day, we called everyone and did a carry in with the camp.  Added a few recipes to the repertoire this year.  First is peanut butter fudge.  Couldn't be easier:


Peanut Butter Fudge Recipe:

1 (18oz) jar of smooth peanut butter
1 (16oz) jar or can of vanilla or cream cheese icing

Put ingredients in pan using wooden spoon and spatula.  Melt together both ingredients on low, stirring occasionally. When all melted like a thick gravy, pour into dish and refrigerate overnight

Variation:  use Chocolate icing instead of vanilla/cream cheese or try crunchy peanut butter instead of smooth

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Also added our daughter's sweet potato casserole:

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (I've used the canned its easier/quicker to mash them)
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter

Topping:
 1/2 cup brown sugar
 1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup melted butter
 1 cup chopped pecans

Combine first 6 ingredients. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 to 2-quart casserole dish. Mix remaining ingredients together and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes, until hot and browned.

Serves 6 to 8

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Christmas decorations are down.  The basement has been reorganized for the third time (at least) and it's time to start the week of watching College Football.

Not sure what the New Year will bring, but it will be fun! 

 

 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone enjoys their Christmas and is looking forward to a prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Getting into a Winter groove....

Starting to get into our winter groove here at Sea Breeze RV Park.

The sunsets here are the best (with Tucson a very close second).

Drove over to Aransas Pass Lowe's to get some "stuff" for a more permanent set up.  We like putting concrete blocks under our rear stabilizers.  Our sewage set up here is very close to being straight level, if not a quarter bubble up hill which isn't good.  Last year, we ran a 2x12, this year we went a little different and ran a piece of plastic gutter which is seeming to work.

Tuesday was a part work, part rest day. 

Wednesday, we met with some other Heartland Owners over at Moby Dick's in Port Aransas.  Really neatly themed restaurant that had some good lunch specials.  The group we met with were very good company.  They do this often, so we'll look forward to seeing them again. 

Also on Wednesday, was our first run at "Card Bingo" in the park.  Each table of four kicks in $5pp, and deals out all the cards in a deck.  A "caller" draws cards and each of the four at a table places the card called into a pile.  Once you have one card, you call out "One Card".  Once you have no cards, you yell "Bingo" and get all or split the pot with whomever else has Bingo'd.  Total of ten hands with the 1 - 4 and the 6 - 9 pots the same, while the 5th hand is larger and the 10th hand is the largest.  Fun game.  Bob won one hand and Connie split the 5th hand.

Not much planned for the weekend.  Christmas shopping (via Amazon.com) is all done and shipped.  Park hosts a Christmas Eve party and a Christmas Day Carry in that should be fun.  (Unless the world ends on Friday, then we won't be posting any more!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

After a weekend in Schulenburg......

Loved our weekend in Schulenburg, TX at the Schulenburg RV Park.  Not so much the park, but the chance to meet up again with our RV'ing buddies, Fred and Vickie.  Typical evenings of laughing, cooking and conversations each night.



We used Friday as our "tour the area" time.  We went to Shiner, TX to see the Spoetzl Brewery makers of Shiner Beer.  The whole area is influenced by Eastern Europeans who migrated to the area after the Civil War.  A group of them founded together to build a brewery and make beer the way they did in the "old country".


Another part of that culture showed in their painted churches.  We went to the High Hill Church, which was "the one to go to" if you were only going to one.  Fascinating.  In the back of the church was a cemetery with headstones dating back to the 1880's.  The detail of the stained glass, the architecture, the upkeep was outstanding.


We wanted to see the Sengelmann Hall, which was a Dance Hall from the turn of the century.  Didn't open till 5:00p and it was 4:30p.  Right next door was a little bar, we thought we'd go in.  Upstairs was the scurviest, nastiest pool room we've ever seen.  The pool tables were littered with dead bugs.  The shuffleboard table was missing varnish by the points part.  There was a sign in Spanish that we'll let you translate.  It was so nasty, it was hilarious.



When we did get into Sengelmann Hall, it was wonderful.  The upstairs, which was the hall, had that old wood smell that really added to the ambiance.  The bar was a recreation of what the bar would have been like in the 1890's.  The menu didn't quite fit the surroundings.  We learned that for 25 years it was an auto parts store!  Pictures didn't turn out great because of the darkness, but it was a great stop.

Saturday was a hang around day enjoying each other's company.  Sunday was splitsville as we made the 3 hour journey south to our winter home, Sea Breeze RV Park, and Fred and Vickie made their 4 hour journey north back to Dallas.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Almost there!

A lot of driving got us to Schulenburg RV Park from the Gulf Coast Elks RV Park.  

We had hoped to go to the Houston Elks Lodge and park there for a few nights, see some sights in Houston, etc. but the Inn was full.  All 10 sites were tapped with one RV dry camping in the wings waiting for a spot to open.  Really surprised (and disappointed) as its the first time we've been shut out.

We were going to meet our friends Fred and Vickie in Houston, but with the tenuous situation, we decided to move Plan A to Schulenburg which was a little further down I-10 for us and about the same distance for them.

Thankfully, it was an uneventful ride.  Enjoyed our one night at the Cajun Palms RV Resort.  We'll have to revisit this park.  It's a destination unto itself.  Not sure what all is around the area, but will be worth a re-visit some day.

Got through Houston fairly easily, hitting it around noon.  Got here around 2:30p, while Fred and Vickie came in around 5p.  Had another (of our many) enjoyable evenings last night.  We're heading to the Spoetzel Brewery today for a brewery tour.

Sunday will be getaway day and we'll be back to Sea Breeze RV Resort in Portland Texas for the winter.

Just did the calculations.  Since we left in May, we've done a smidge over 4,000 miles.  Whew!  We're ready to put it in park for awhile.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's Been Sooooo Long.....

Slow internet is a terrible thing.  Awful.

New Smyrna Beach RV Park was BY FAR the slowest our Verizon Mi-Fi has been.  Because of that, there was just no motivation to keep waiting, and waiting, and waiting to upload pictures, blog, actually much internetting (is that a word yet?) of any kind.

Not that there wasn't a lot to blog about, my goodness.

 First, we had a wonderful short cruise on the U.S. inaugural of the Carnival Breeze.  That review will be here when we are finished with it.  Had dinner one night with our friend and VP at Carnival Mike Julius, along with senior cruise director John Heald who writes a terrific blog for Carnival Cruise Lines.  Thanksgiving Night on a cruise ship was wonderful -- no preparation time, and no dishes/cleanup afterward!  Eating on a cruise is a main factor.

 Also on this sailing was our friend Ron Pass in the piano bar.  He's a terrific entertainer, and by far, the best in Carnival's fleet.




We spent Saturday with the Ohio State Broward County Alumni Club to watch the Ohio State/Michigan game.  We were there a few years ago (during another inaugural for another cruise line) and met some great folks from Jefferson, OH.  We've kept in touch and sat with them this year.  Great time, great win!



Sunday through Wednesday we spent at Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter at the Walt Disney World Resort.  Disney is magical this time of year.  Not all the decorations were up, but enough to give a great holiday kickoff.  Loved the theming of the French Quarter Resort, did some good recon on some things that had been updated or added since the last time we were at Disney.

The eating from the cruise continued at Disney with the Disney Dining Plan.  Some great dining experiences and a great value.

Returning back to New Smyrna Beach, we got the girls from their vacay (they were exhausted!) and pretty much hung out till getaway day.  We did get an opportunity to go to Toni & Joe's, our favorite place we've been to have a beer and watch the ocean.

We returned to Tallahassee on December 8th to the Elks Lodge for a quick overnight.  When we got up the next morning, we noticed a drip coming from the basement of our Fifth Wheel.  Not good since it hadn't rained.  Crawled inside, took off a panel and found out that the check valve from our hot water heater was leaking.  That took the morning, we got a piece to work without a check valve and got on our way since the system wouldn't be pressurized while we rolled.  I hate plumbing.  Hate it.



Got to Foley, Alabama and the Gulf Coast Elks Lodge which has a campground.  Yesterday was a run to Lulu's at Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores.  Lulu's is owned by Jimmy Buffet's sister, Lucy.  Enjoyed their Honey Ale "Crazy Sista" as we sat along the Intercoastal Waterway, then headed to the beach for a drive.

Today will be tear down day, then getaway day will be Wednesday.  We'll be off for an overnight in Louisiana before a few nights in Houston at the Houston Elks Lodge.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

We'll be working this holiday.  We're on the road to Miami for the Carnival Breeze inaugural.
Saturday, we'll take the day off and watch the Buckeyes with the Broward Co Alumni Club.
Sunday, we'll drive back to Orlando and spend 3 nights at Walt Disney World.  Lots has happened since we were last there and we need to put some eyeballs on them.
Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Our first week in New Smyrna Beach and we were busy...

Veteran's Day, we were happy to go over to Altamonte Springs (north of Orlando) and meet with Bob's cousins (Greg and Kaye), and Bob's Uncle (Harlan) along with Greg's daughter and Kaye's son.  We toured Lake Brantley HS (where Greg has worked since the 80's) and then went out to dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse.  Bob's Uncle Harlan is a decorated WWII veteran who was in town for a reunion in Florida.  He was a member of the Navy's group that would later become the Navy Seals.  Great time catching up and a lot of laughs.

Finally got down to the beach and did some walking along Flagler Avenue on Tuesday.  We were going to have a beer at Toni and Joe's, but they were cash only and we didn't have any (which isn't unusual).  Ended up at the Breaker's which had windows looking out on the ocean which was OK for the type of day it was.  Connie picked up some knicks for the rig, and Bob got some T's and tanks.


Friday, we got the girls a section of 24" X-Pen to go under the new rig.  Works terrific!  Will break down and travel easily and allows us to make the big portion of the X-Pen into a U.  It will give us plenty of flexibility.

Saturday, we did what we do best:  sit and watch college football and, in particular, the Buckeyes take on Wisconsin.  It was a great day for sitting out and the game was "big enough" to warrant the projector coming out.  Also got extensive use out of our propane heater which was perfect for the evening once the sun went down.  To make it all perfect, the Buckeyes win and people in the park were yelling "O-H" after the win.




Connie made a new dip for our "tailgate", and it was delish!  The recipe is here:




This coming week, we'll get ready for our upcoming cruise on Thanksgiving Day and our trip to DisneyWorld.  Work, work, work.  :-)

Monday, November 12, 2012

We arrive in New Smyrna Beach...

Wednesday, we toured the lodge room at the Tallahassee Elks which features the original furniture from Elks Lodge #1 in New York.  Pictures just don't do it justice.  The furniture is so ornate, the cushions, the stained glass look pristine.  The furniture included "pews" for everyone, not just the officers.  It was tremendous.

Thursday, we arrived at the New Smyrna Beach RV Campground.  We stayed here before for our first extended place in December 2010 through January 2011.  Love the area and the campground.  New Smyrna Beach has such an "old" Florida feel, just an area that hasn't really bit on the tourist bullet.

Today is Veteran's Day, and we're headed over to see Bob's cousins Greg and Kaye in a suburb of Orlando about an hour away, along with his Uncle Harlan who was a WWII hero and was recently inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame.

Our favorite place is....

#1 question we get asked without a close second (although "how do you get your mail" is up there) is "where's the favorite place you've been?"  Usually irritates people when we don't directly answer them.

Love it here in New Smyrna Beach.  But we love it in Portland (TX), too.  And we loved Tucson.  NSB is different than Corpus, Corpus is different than Tucson, Tucson is different than NSB.

Maybe we're not old enough yet to be in such a routine where we ALWAYS come back to one spot for the winter.  It will probably happen, but right now the three winter spot rotation suits us just fine.  Each one has its plusses and minuses, but the positives FAR outweigh the negatives for each location.

NSB and Portland have beaches, Tucson has the desert.  Each of the parks have a close knit, "family" feel and great weather.

Sorry not to answer, but we don't have a favorite place there's something about each of them we love.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

From Memphis to Tallahasse....

Sunday was getaway day for us.  We really enjoyed Tom Sawyer's Mississippi River RV Park.  Electric and laundry were included, making it a great value for a month stay.  We'll miss our walks to the river and just there and watch barges go by.

Sunday, we left at our typical 10:30a and was a pretty uneventful ride to a suburb of Birmingham, AL (Bessemer) where we stayed at an Elks Lodge.  Road was surprisingly good, spare a few miles that looked like they were the last to be repaved.  When we entered B'ham, we noticed some storm damage from the April 2011 tornado that really raked some damage on this area.  Parking at the lodge was one of our first challenges with the new rig.

Monday morning, we took off with the girls to Tuscaloosa to see the home of the Crimson Tide.  Again, before reaching campus, we saw the devastation that they really haven't recovered from with that awful storm.  Very hurricane-ish the way there was just a swath of nothing where the storm touched down.

Bryant-Denny stadium was nice.  They've really done some nice work on the walk up with statues of all the coaches who have won national championships, plus brick work that includes the names of all the players on those teams.  Lots of reminders of Paul "Bear" Bryant


We took a quick run out to see the Sewell-Thomas baseball stadium and Coleman Coliseum.  Both were impressive, especially the basketball arena.  From the outside looks like a barn, but once inside they've done a great job with their facilities and looks like a wonderful place to watch a game.

After some work upon returning to Bessemer Elks Lodge, we went out to dinner with our old friend Dick Turner and his new wife Cathy at the Southern Legacy BBQ in Hoover, AL.  The food was fabulous, half price beers and appetizers through 7p.  We had some BBQ nachos that were splendid.


Catching up with our old friend was a treat.  It had probably been around 15 years since we've seen Dick.  We spent the night laughing, catching up on everyone we knew, our families, their new life in Birmingham and our business and RV'ing lifestyle.


Tuesday was an easy getaway day.  We came upon a wreck in Birmingham just after it happened, and was about a 45-50 delay getting out of town, so that up and going at 8a was wasted.  It's really one of the first long delays we've had which is pleasantly surprising.

We're in at the Tallahassee Elks, which has really secluded, wooded sites.  Not sure what tomorrow will bring, which is as it should be!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hanging with Buckeyes....

Been a pretty lazy week here in West Memphis.  Was warm through Thursday, then Friday it got really cold (for us).  Lows in the 30's all through next week.  Brrrrrr.



Last night, we ventured over to Dan McGuinness Irish Pub where the Memphis Chapter of the Ohio State Alumni gather for game watches.  Service sucked and the food was spicy, but the beers were cold, the TV's were on the game, and the people were great.  They were also all Buckeyes, which helps.

We try to always look for the Game watches where ever we are.   We struck out in Corpus Christi, but everywhere else, we've been able to find one (or two) places as options.  For us, it's a fun night out.

Was surprised by the interaction (or lack of it) at this particular meeting.  Wasn't a whole lot of "great to see you again", or "see you next weeks" involved.  Don't know if that's just because it's a very irregular crowd, a very transient crowd, or what.  I do know the couple we sat with (Bob and Linda) were wonderful to talk to over the course of the evening.

Buckeyes win.  Great time.  On to the week ahead.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ducks and Ribs in one day....

Wow!  Two posts in two days!  Not sure we can keep up this pace.

As we mentioned yesterday, our friends Fred and Vickie had left Memphis, and there were a couple of things we were going to do together.  Bob is anal about planning.  Connie just wants to know what time the bus is leaving.  She'll be on it.  Fred and Vickie are on the loose plan which works great for them.

One thing we've learned by coming to an area and staying for a month (or longer!) is it's so easy to say we're going to do this, this, and this.  Then put it off.  Until you're at the end of your time and you haven't done nearly what you'd like to.  For us, if we don't allocate a day to do this, a day to do that, we have found that we don't get things done.

So, looking at our last two weeks in Memphis, it was time to start allocating days to hit our targets.  One was the Ducks at the Peabody Hotel, and this morning was a great fit.  Pretty fascinating story you can read here.

We got to the Hotel at 10:25a for the 11:00a parade.  Very well heeled crowd.  Hotel "bouncers" were very good to say that there's no standing in the lobby and since they do it every day, twice a day, had the routine down.  We had great seats, everything was very calm until the last second.  Then it was bedlam.

5 minutes prior to the ducks,
and you'll notice the chair
to our left is empty.
5 minutes before it started, a woman took the chair to our left and asks if we can still see.  We could.  Then her husband/boyfriend, we'll call him "Dick" comes rolling in and kneels right in front of us with this huge, telephoto lens.  "Now, we can't."  He slid a little over towards Mrs. Dick.  We knew this guy was going to be trouble.  Sure enough, the elevator door opens, and "Dick" goes all paparazzi on the ducks in front of us and 'boom', it's over.  It was a little underwhelming.

You can see our video here.

The hotel itself was wonderful.  It's the essence of modernizing something while maintaining it's beauty of the time period.  The lobby phones were rotary dial, circa the 30's.  There was a piano built specifically for Francis Scott Key.  The ballrooms were terrific.  Beautifully preserved, but yet 2012 functional.


After the Peabody, we headed off to find Memphis' best ribs at Charles Vergos' Rendezvous.  It had a 2nd street address, but was basically in the alley behind 2nd street and the Holiday Inn that faced the Peabody.  They weren't 'open', which meant they weren't serving a full menu.  But, you could get a large or small order of ribs, baked beans and slaw (like we've never had!).  It was terrific, and probably had 10-15 tables full (with many of the people we saw over at the Peabody.)  Top 5 for rib places for us (Maybe Connie's #1).