My Heart, our Stomachs… Ohio

While I’m sitting in this car, I’m going to backtrack a bit to our stay in Ohio. We stayed just a little over 3 weeks. Mostly to visit family, spend time with dear friends and of course indulge in our favorite gastric treats. Since all of our kids were born in Cincinnati, it only seems fitting that they’ve been feasting on nearly all their favorite establishments. Graeters, Skyline Chili, Buffalo Wings and Rings and the list goes on!
We came in on a rainy day. Actually, we went through a blinding rainstorm. It was a white knuckle trip for about 150 miles. I was a mess because we discovered our Arizona native trailer has never really seen rain. Yeah, she’s got a few leaks that we would have never known about. I guess we do now 😉 and I suppose that’s our next project for Silvia to replace some of the failing seals around the vents and windows.

Ahh… lets see, what else? Oh! We drove up to the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, Ohio and took a tour. What a cool piece of history! Definitely worth a day trip to see it. The kids even got a shot with the one and only “Gold” airstream.

I tell you, three weeks seemed like a long stay when planning but it went by so fast. We spent time with family in Cleveland, enjoyed the Clermont County Fair and Fireman’s Parade and had a great time at a good old Catholic Summer Festival.

Yeah… Life is Good! So grateful to be living it!


Road Trip planning requires Coffee

After almost a year of short trips close to home, we’re going to do it! We’re hitching Silvia up and taking a trip back to the Midwest to see family and explore the country. We’ll leave at the end of June and return just before school starts at the end of August. Last time we did this trip was on our move out West. Having not explored much of the US, the changing terrain was amazing. I can’t wait to do it again now that we’ll have time to actually stop and explore. As a type A personality, I am fighting the urge to over plan. We have a few definite must stops: Kansas City, MO for our eldest daughter’s gymnastic competition, Cincinnati/ Cleveland to visit family, the Airstream Jackson Center, Chicago, Duluth, MN to see more family and Yellowstone. As far as all the places in between, I’m keep a list so that we have them handy for impromptu stopovers.

Looking forward to the trip with nervous anticipation 🙂 4 kids, hubs and I plus 3 little ‘keets along for the ride! Peanut our BCC (Black Capped Conure) won’t make this trip this time, she already saw the countryside on the first ride out. Instead she’ll have a wonderful resort stay at her favorite “birdie hotel”. With about 5000 miles of open road I’m sure we’ll engage in some entertaining adventures, interesting food finds and learn quite a bit along the way! Cheers to Summer!



Treasures of Tombstone

20130607-232206.jpgTombstone? What’s in Tombstone? Groans can be heard from the kids… doesn’t sound really exciting. Our response, “we moved to the Southwest, so we’re going to see what the Wild West is all about!”.

Famously known for the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the BirdCage Theatre, we discovered that it was AZ most prosperous silver mining town and home to the famous outlaw characters of Doc Holliday, his brothers, Big Nose Kate and so on.

This town is a step back in time to horse drawn carriages and wagons, men in western wear and women in long dresses and corsets. The kids were delighted as it seems as though nearly everyone in this town is always in character. You could ask anyone a question about the town and they wouldn’t hesitate to go on in full historical detail to answer your question. It was like a live history lesson! The best part is that kids remember nearly every detail of it! But then again who could forget a saloon nicknamed Bucket of Blood or that ghosts reside in the Bird Cage Theatre!

We stayed the weekend at the Stampede RV Park. It is one of two RV parks we found within walking distance of the main street. Nothing fancy, but hospitable and a bit quirky. It was surprising to us at first to see cowboys and cowgirls walking through the park, but then we realized the whole town pretty much lived and dressed this way. In the two days we were there we saw gunfights, witnessed a bank robbery, ate homemade fudge, toured the famous silver mines and took a trolley ride around town. You can find more information about Tombstone here. It’s an interesting place, a gem filled with rich history about the outlawing days of the Wild West. They weren’t just stories from that Hollywood movie,Tombstone, starring Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer and Sam Elliott. While there is certainly embellishment, the basic inspiration comes from this old world town in the desert that is just “too tough to die”.










The Advantages of the Traveling Pantry


The beauty of having a pantry on wheels is that you can grocery shop at home prior to taking off. And when you come back from a trip, the home store has an incredibly friendly return policy. For years, we would rent a lovely beach house that slept 10-12 in Holden Beach, NC. They’d have great names like “A Million Dollar View”, “Stepping Stones” or “Lobster Mobster”. For 10 years we went every July for a week. It was and still is one of our favorite beaches in the country. If you haven’t been, it’s a definite must see especially if you just want a quiet, family-oriented beach town that is nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercoastal Waterway. Check out Alan Holden Vacations or Hobbs if you want to rent out a house. It was a 13 hour drive from Ohio to the shore and the very first task that needed to be done when we arrived was to shop for food and toiletries. Afterall, you can only pack so much in the car and in the overhead storage turtle. So my sister and I would immediately go Walmarting while the rest of the family would unpack and get settled in the house. We pretty much bought everything food related that we’d need for the week… meat, condiments, frozen pizzas, veggies, eggs, and so on. If I was a really good planner that year, we had very little left overall, but in general, we did ALWAYS end up with ketchup, mayonnaise, eggs, cooking oils, yada-yada-yada, that we didn’t finish and that we simply didn’t want to somehow load up in our now sandy, tetris-style packed mode of transportation. I always felt guilty that last morning as most items that were opened went in the trash since nothing could be left behind at the house and the donation kitchen couldn’t take “open” items.

Can you imagine the joy of discovering that I didn’t have to buy a second jar of mayonnaise or yet another bottle of ketchup, only to have to discard it at the end of our trip? I suppose I could have packed a little cooler for the car trip home to take back some of the condiments or perishables, but then I’d come home with duplicates… all open and half-way consumed. And after a long drive home, no one really wanted to eat any if the food that is now swimming in melted ice. not sorth packing and taking up valuable interior car space. But now… the question comes up, “What about that half-eaten box of Coco Crispi cereal”? With Silvia, it’s no problem! I just dump it back into my cereal bin when I get home. 🙂 Another added benefit is that we truly do have meals on wheels! The fridge stays charged as we’re driving, so all the food stays cold and available. Instead of pulling off to eat at a fast food joint or better yet eating a bag of chips or Ted’s beef jerky from the gas station, we park our traveling kitchen and have a home made meal at a scenic rest stop, or parking lot of our choice. Either place it’s comfortable and lovely in my book!

As far as Silvia’s pantry, the previous owner must have had in mind that we’d need a lot of cupboard space. Afterall, if the travel trailer sleeps 6, it’s got to feed six, right? I’ve designated several bins in my home pantry just for Silvia. In them, I keep the staples that won’t necessarily go bad in containers until my next trip. Examples of these would be sugar, flour, olive oil, vinegar, cooking spray. I’ve got containers to hold my coffee and tea bags; and another container that holds pre-packaged spices and dry rubs. These “Silvia bins” as I call them simply slide into her pantry prior to a trip, and slide back onto their designated shelves when we return. For other items, I have empty containers that I simply fill with what I need for the week. A favorite of the kids is the cookie bin. That one is usually empty upon our return. 😉 Of course, we do still hit the grocery when we arrive to get perishable items. But the trip is less expensive and doesn’t take nearly as long. Not to mention, if we get in really late, we can still survive until morning without having to do a store run.

During our adventures we will be scouting for another quiet beach town, similar to Holden Beach out on the West Coast. I’m told that we won’t find it – at least not one that has the same sleepy beach town feel, but I look forward to looking for one. So far, we’ve been to Oceanside, CA. Great little town and nice place for us to park our silver bullet. See my earlier post New Year, New Beginnings & Adventures. I hear Malibu has a nice little spot on the ocean… so maybe we’ll head up there in the near future!

Below are pictures of our pantry and kitchen starting out. Very basic. Clean slate as I say. As I learn more and as we travel more, I’m excited to find new ways to organize our belongings. My ultimate goal is to make our pantry functional and comfortable. While I’d love to glam it out, it may not be entirely practical with 4 active children. Plus I’ve got the extra challenge of how I pack and unpack Silvia between trips and during towing. Unfortunately I have found that can’t leave too many things inside the trailer when she’s parked at home since we regularly hit temperatures of over 100F. Exploding cans and melting plastic… not so desirable. Excessive heat really does funny things to all your stuff! Anyway, I did find a great set of blog posts on a wonderful “Glamping” blog by Monica Bennett called Just 5 More Minutes. You can see some of her colorful creative ways in this post here. Her trailer is in my dreams of what Silvia could be. She has some great visual suggestions for making the most of the space. It definitely gives me some ideas… Maybe it will be food for fodder for you too! 🙂


Dining on the Road: Scottsdale

On a recent trip to Scottsdale, Arizona I found myself without my camera. Oh no! Not to worry, I figure I’ll try out the camera on my iPhone. Now I still have the iPhone 3GS version. Still a pretty good camera though – impressive.  I’ve heard the iPhone 4 camera is amazing.  Anyway, we found this cute little cafe in Old Towne Scottsdale across from Nordstroms. What a treat! First off, love that there are soooo many non-chain restauranteurs in Scottsdale. Not that McDonalds, Chipotle or Five Guy Burgers aren’t any good.  Those are some of my staples when I’m on the run.  I just enjoy dining at unique little eateries to see what local chefs and bakers are coming up with these days. For lunch, I ordered a curry chicken salad with golden plump sun raisins. Very fresh, very good – nice blend of sweetness and curry spice. Great texture! Tender chicken coupled with the crisp crunch of greens and toasted almond slivers.  And of course, I had to wash it down with a Mexican Coca-cola. My hubby ordered a chicken panini. I would have taken a pic, but by the time I remembered, he’d already scarfed down most of it. He did save me a bite. Tender grilled chicken, melted cheese, roasted red peppers and onions with some kind of aoili sauce all on a toasted, grill marks and all, sourdough bread. Now I know why it was gone so fast. To finish our meal, we split a coconut caramel cookie bar with the biggest dark chocolate chips I’d ever seen, nestled throughout. Quite the treat!

Chicken Curry Salad, Golden Sun Raisins and Toasted Almonds