Friday, March 31, 2017

A Visit To Queen Mary

The Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA
  It may be hard to believe for some kiddies out there but there was a time that airplanes were not the major form of transportation that it is today. If someone wanted to cross the country you either had to do it by horse, stagecoach, or by rails. If you needed to get overseas you would have to book a trip on a ship and cross your fingers. As time passed the ships grew and the materials got stronger and before long the ocean liner was born.
  When you hear the words "ocean liner" the classic image of a black and white hull fill most people's minds. Most famous ships were met with tragedy such as Lusitania or Titanic but there were plenty of other ships with rich histories that have survived even to this day. Such as RMS Queen Mary.
  The Queen Mary was in service from 1936 until 1967 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. But why? What made this ship so special? We decided to visit the old girl and find out.
  On the surface the Queen Mary looks like any other old ship. Small spots of rust dot her riveted steel plates here and there. The floor boards are uneven but maintained and there is some renovation occurring behind plastic covered scaffold. We took the self guided tour for this trip although you will typically have a choice of an audio tour or a guided tour. The audio tour was down due to the renovations but that's okay, we like to roam. We dropped into the engine room first to see what it took to move this 81 ton beast. While I like anything with a motor on it I would be lying if I told you how anything in that room works. There are steam pipes and chambers separated by narrow catwalks; long drive shafts lead to propellers and are attached to some of the largest gears that I've ever come across in my life. It is definitely not a one man job to keep a ship like this moving.
  We then moved upstairs to the promenade deck which, compared to today's cruise ships, pales in comparison but at the time would have been top notch. Part of the ship is filled with large scale models of other ships that go into great detail to show how these ships are constructed. The Titanic model is cut in half to reveal the interior levels as they were constructed. You can actually see how the Grand Staircase led to the different floors and you can follow the corridors to individual state rooms throughout the ship. This was cool for my daughter because she, much like myself, has been fascinated with Titanic's story.
Queen Mary's engine room
  On deck, in the shadows of the large exhaust stacks we could look across the harbor to Long Beach. Shoreline Village and the Aquarium of the Pacific are easily visible from the Queen Mary and Carnival Cruises happened to have a ship in port behind her as they prepared to accept another round of vacationers heading off to somewhere fun. There happened to be a wedding on Queen Mary the day we visited so some areas were closed down for the event but you could still get to most places around the deck.
  Queen Mary was a favorite among Hollywood's elite back in the day. People like Walt Disney, Lou Costello, and even Elizabeth Taylor were known to sail aboard the Queen Mary. This history alone could make the ship special to some but what she's really known for was for her service during World War II. With the ability to carry thousands of troops and the quickness to avoid German U-boats, Queen Mary and her sister ship Queen Elizabeth were drafted into the war. Their luxury interiors were gutted and converted to carry the soldiers and the hulls were painted grey. This paint scheme helped to keep the ships invisible against the horizon and helped Queen Mary receive the nickname, the "Grey Ghost." In 1942 she set the record for the most people transported by ship with 16,683 (according to the sign hanging below deck) troops crammed into her frame. That remains a record to this day.
  After the war she returned to service as an ocean liner. However, all things must come to an end they say and soon airplanes would take over the international transportation world. Queen Mary would be retired in 1967 and sold to the city of Long Beach, California with plans to make it a hotel. Once again the ship was renovated for different restaurants, museums, and attractions with varying degrees of success. For the most part if you look through the ship's history in Long Beach it's been rough to say the least. But she's still there waiting for you to visit. Maybe you will even spend the night and make your own history. We talked about getting a room here just to say that we did it but now isn't the time. Perhaps in the near future we'll take advantage of her hotel services; perhaps we'll stay sometime in October, near Halloween. You see, the Queen Mary is rumored to be haunted and we're open to exploring creepy places as much as we like exploring history. But that's for another time. If you would like to learn more about the Queen Mary or are interested in visiting on your own you can check out their web site here. See you next week.

Brandan

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Celebrating 50 years of Pirates in Disneyland.

Happy 50th birthday Pirates of the Caribbean.  This ride is special in so many ways.  If you are wiped out from a day of fun in the park then you know the magic of the sweet 13 minutes this smooth sailing ride can offer you.  It inspired a handful of hit movies and a song we all love to sing.  The thing that makes this ride the most special though is how it started.  This was the very last ride in Disneyland park that Walt Disney himself participated in designing.  Originally planned to be a wax walk through attraction, it was switched over to a boat ride after seeing the success of the ride Its a Small World.  The ride opened on March 18th, 1967, just three months after Walt's death.   Many of us of have passed through the same wooden doors, walked the same wooden floor boards and stepped into the small boats visible only because of the low lit lanterns hanging above. The eerie site of the dark bayou and the distant screams of those that passed before you make your stomach flutter a little as you sit down. Despite being here before, the anticipation has you squirming a bit in your seat. You can smell the dampness and hear the splashes of the water as you enter the building but at the same time aromas of Monte Cristo's and other delectable dishes tease your nose and remind you that you are actually in a safe place. Someone on the dock waves a hand and the boat heaves forward and you and twenty of your closest friends are off for a thirteen minute adventure into the darkness. What lies ahead is a swashbuckling pirate adventure that has been repeated day after day for what has now been 50 years.  You hear a faint banjo plucking away in the distance.  As you round the bend in the serine room you hear the eerie words.

Psst, Avast there.  It be to late to alter course, matey's.  And there be plundering pirates lurkin' in every cove, waitin to board.  Sit closer together and keep your ruddy hands in board.  That be the best way to repel boarders.  And mark well me words, mateys: Dead men tell no tales!  Ye come seekin adventure and salty old pirates, eh? Sure, you come to the proper place.  But keep a weather eye open, mates, and hold on tight with both hands if you please.  There be squalls ahead! And Davy Jones waiting for them what don't obey. 

The skull is done talking but its too late to heed his warning.  The music begins and you drop down the waterfall into your buccaneer adventure.  You float past visions of a pirates end.  A ghostly pirate skeleton still stands at the helm of his pirate vessel.  A treasure room teases your richest desires.  A warning pours out from a ghostly fog.  Davy Jones him self utters a chilling warning "if ye be brave or fool enough to face a pirates curse, proceed".  You are carried through the mist and you enter a world of pirates.



You know the story.  Treasure, rum and a little old time fun.  Now Jack Sparrow hides through the adventure but it wasn't always this way.  Staying true to the classic story line his character was added shortly after the huge success of the ride inspired movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl . Jack is just one of the latest characters to be added to an already stellar group of pirates. His predecessors include an auctioneer that has spent his years trying to sell off his portly prized woman, a man passed out with the pigs, and three imprisoned souls pleading with a fluffy dog holding the cell's key in his teeth. While some things change, others will remain the same I suppose.  



Of course to celebrate Disneyland has added new items to purchase.  Lost Treasure Beignets flavored with just a touch of lemon and gold dusted churro's tempt your sweet tooth.  Caribbean Breakfast Burritos and Buccaneer Pulled Pork Sandwiches will fill you up.  At the Mint Julep Bar a Jolly Roger Punch, featuring a tropical blend of juices, will wet your whistle.  You can also purchase a Pirates of the Caribbean themed stein.  All of these are very limited editions so if you are seeking these treasures you had better hurry.

Disneyland is a place of details.  Everywhere you look there are new things to discover.  In the line to Pirates of the Caribbean there is a plaque.  This plaque has a spout that pours into a fountain placed in the center of the line queue area.  I have walked by it a hundred times or more and never stopped to read the words.  30th anniversary, Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean.  1967 - 1997.  Honoring Walt Disney's Buccaneer Crew.  The names are listed and covered with time.  

Time keeps tickling away.  I wonder how we will celebrate the next big milestone of this beloved ride?  I am excited to see the day.  Until then make the memories in the moments you're given.  

❤ Misty

Friday, March 24, 2017

Disneyland's Food and Wine Festival


In all honesty Disneyland's Food and Wine Festival wasn't something that had me too excited.  I think in my mind I was picturing tiny plates with cheese and grapes and a million different colors of wines all around.  I didn't give it more thought than that.  One of the tiny blessings of living so close to Disneyland is getting to see our friends and family when they come into town to see the park.  When I went to the park to see some friends that had come in from Utah to see the magic of Disneyland, the festival happened to be in full swing.  I learned then that this festival was so much more.  

The Food and Wine Festival, held in Disney's California Adventure park, runs from March 10th to April 16th, 2017.  So far I have only witnessed a few short hours of fun at the park but it was incredible how much they packed in.  They had a stage built in the water area in the front of Mickey's Fun Wheel.  This stage had three live bands playing there that day.  While Disney always awes us with moving street performances the musically performing chefs accompanied by chefs Chip and Dale were a new treat.  Between the Golden Zephyr and Hollywood Land sits a line of Kiosks for every taste.  It was fun to see some items being sold along with all the treats. From glass wear to flavored olive oils and even a place to get bath and body products.  These were tucked in near the garage sized kiosks of various food and drink offerings.  Classic Disney style, if your going to do it then you might as well do it big.  This was a surprise of a treat they hit out of the park.  

Most of my friends and family know that I consider garlic to be the most perfect food ever.  My bucket list dream has a trip to the Gilroy Garlic Festival.  I love garlic in all forms.  I was so excited to see a little shack dedicated to the best food ever. They also had one with a bacon theme.  Yes, a full booth dedicated to the candy of meat.  Each booth has its own special theme and flavor to it.  If you didn't see something you liked you could walk a few feet and find a whole new assortment of options.  They offer wine tasting and seminars with reservations required and a variety of culinary demonstrations. They even offered kids a cooking experience.  If you have little's between the ages of 3 to 11 they can join the fun with a hands on experience that gives them a sweet treat. Of course they offer craft beers and wines from all over for the big kids in your group too.  Annual Pass holders can get a bonus treat by getting a lanyard with some special coupons tucked inside, buttons and a photo opportunity.  




While the food was the star here it still had the extra touches that Disney is so well known for.  The Onion Lair is one example.  It is a kiosk with onion themed treats but along with it you can find plaque telling about California's contribution to the onion market and facts about Americans taste of them.  They even tossed in a little humor for those who take the time to stop and read it all.  


There is a lot to see and experience here so I would suggest you start your journey here at the welcome center.  It is located at he start of the path just past the Carthay Circle. They can guide you to what ever it is you might love.  You can get a sneak peek of the treats here on Disneyland's website as well.   For us were going to sneak back to the park and find our favorite tasty treats soon.  It will only be here until April 16th and that will be here sooner than we know it.


The joy is in the journey.

💗 Misty.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Drive

  A person's need for freedom is born into them. From the time one can crawl instinct drives us to explore our surroundings and research what is unknown to us. Of course it's the job of the parents to guide children in the right directions and to keep them safe despite our best efforts to to tempt fate. Before long our interests turn to automobiles, the ultimate freedom. 
  Being blessed with height and a great family I got my first driving lesson at twelve years old. After that I couldn't wait to take my next spin behind the wheel. Once I got my license I took advantage of this new freedom and drove everywhere my Jeep would take me. Each time I left it was a new adventure and I didn't care where the roads took me. Heck, I wanted to see as many new roads as I could. I was free to roam at my leisure- as long as I could find gas money that is. At that time in life driving was my therapy.
  I wouldn't have believed that driving would lose it's fun, though. Driving went from being the ultimate freedom to just a way to get to work and the grocery store. Sure I still went on adventures but they became few and far between as the real world took over my life. Traffic became something to dread (especially here in California, sheesh) and the act of commuting became a chore. Every once in awhile though, I find myself feeling like my youthful self and the urge to just drive claws it's way to the surface. 
  A couple of days ago that is exactly what happened. I had replaced the battery in my current Jeep and I decided that it was time for an overdue adventure. I really haven't allowed myself time to just drive around town here in Valencia. Like I said, I've been a commuter. I haven't spent the time getting to know my temporary home and it was high time I did. The front sections of the top came off and we hit the road with nowhere in particular to be. I learned new roads and discovered more about the town I live in and found myself very relaxed with the wind blowing through my hair. Just like the good old days. 
  So what's the point? Simple. You don't always need to travel to exotic locations to find adventure. It can be found just around the corner. It doesn't have to take days or even hours. My Sunday drive only lasted about forty five minutes but it was fun and long enough that I got a little too much sun on my lily white skin. If you're a lover of cars and driving like I am then you owe it to yourself to try and rediscover the joy and intimate atmosphere of the car ride. If you open your mind and push the real world aside for a little while you might just find that inner teenager taking the wheel to nowhere in particular again.

Brandan

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day

It's another holiday that we all either love or hate.  If you hate to wear green then you are probably on the haters team.  Yes, I'm talking about St Patrick's day, the day we all get to be Irish even if were not.  As a kid I remember my biggest concern was making sure I had visible green so I didn't get pinched.  It was a simple concept.  My kids used to leave pennies out for the magical leprechauns.  I guess if you leave them pennies they will take the pennies and leave a prize.  Guess what, our leprechauns never got the memo.  Turns out you need to get the parents involved as well.  Wink wink.

Photo courtesy of Erin Rowley
Photo courtesy of Erin Rowley
We all celebrate the holiday a little bit different.  My brother and his wife live in the windy city of Chicago.  Chicago has a rich Irish history they celebrate every year. On the Saturday before St Patrick's day they continue a tradition 50 years in the making.  They dye the Chicago River green using 40 pounds of powdered vegetable dye.  Its quite a site to see and one I would love to see my self someday.  For now I can read all about it on my brothers blog.  You can read it yourself here using this link.  Along with the river dying they also have a huge parade and a day full of festivities.  No worries guys, the environmentalists believe the green dye to be safe and are okay with the fun.


Here at our house we are playing it low key.  Of course we will have our green on so the kids don't pinch us.  We will be eating Irish all day.  For breakfast we will be having Boxty.  Boxty's are savory pancakes made with a base of potatoes.  Its a little bit like eating a hash brown pancake.  Lunch will be packed in a cooler and taken to work so there I will have a corned beef sandwich.  Dinner will be our feast.  We will be having Shepard's Pie, Colcannon, Irish Soda Bread and Leprechaun Punch.  Colcannon is a blend of mashed potatoes, cabbage, garlic and leeks.  This will be a first time treat for us.  Leprechaun punch is lime sherbet and a lemon lime soda combination.

What are we really celebrating?  St Patrick's day, or the Feast of St Patrick, is celebrated every March 17th, on the anniversary of his death.  This falls during the Christian season of Lent.  Historically Lent prohibited eating meat, but on this celebratory day it was waved and a traditional Irish feast was had. St Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. When he was about 16, he was captured by Irish raiders from his home in Britain.  He was held as a slave for six years until he escaped. He later returned and was credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish people.  The most well known legend is how he explained the Holy Trinity using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the Shamrock.

  So what does all of that have to do with wearing green and pinching people? Absolutely nothing. You're supposed to wear green to hide from pinch happy leprechauns who like to sneak up and pinch people. I just want to catch one of the little buggers for his pot o gold but so far there's been no luck on that prospect.

  No matter how you spend your St Patrick's day make sure to make it fun and safe. Don't over do it on the pints and watch your back, you never know where those green wearing little pinchers may be hiding. See you next week.

Misty and Brandan





Tuesday, March 14, 2017

America's Dutch Capital

  Have you ever woke up and just had to get out of bed and seek out some Dutch heritage? Neither had I, until now that is and I think that if you were to visit the city of Solvang in Santa Barbara County, California you might agree. With a handful of windmills scattered through town and the charming Danish style architecture helps you to feel like you've been transported away from the hustle and bustle of L.A. However, the crowds will remind you that you really aren't that far from the big city.
  We arrived just after 1 pm on a Saturday which happened to coincide with the Solvang Century bike ride. Lucky us. Okay it wasn't horrible but it was busy. We walked half the town just peaking into windows of different restaurants before finally strolling into one that didn't have a hundred people sitting in the lobby waiting to be seated. In fact the only person in the place was standing at the register paying for her meal. We were seated and my nerves started to change into real concern on whether we had made the right decision. There were people in every nook and crevice of this town except in this particular establishment. I had a feeling it was going to be a long, uncomfortable ride home. The owner mentioned that we arrived at a good time because the place had been packed not long before our arrival. That's exactly what I would have said to my next victims when they came in with concerned looks on their faces. Yes. Gain their trust. I took a chance on Danish sausage and meatballs (go big or go home) and to my relief the food was good. I was also relieved to see more victims-I mean patrons, enter the establishment to share in the future misery. By the way, the food was fine, the restaurant is fine, and everyone had a good time.
  After lunch we hit the town and took in the multitude of shops. Yes, Solvang is definitely a tourist trap designed to separate you from your money. The smells of baked goods tease your senses as you pass by bakeries, fudge shops, and restaurants. Wooden shoes and coo coo clocks seem to try to convince you that they would make great souvenirs. That's why our group brought home two clocks. What did I tell you? They are good at taking your money here. So good in fact that despite just eating lunch we somehow walked away with fresh baked cinnamon bread, fresh fudge, and a tub of cookies. All of which were yummy. I can't lie. 
 From the windmills to statues, the town pays homage to it's heritage. Hans Christian Anderson has a bronze bust in town as well as a replica of the famed Little Mermaid. But like most historical places in California there is a spanish mission in town. A reminder of who was here first. Mission Santa Ines was created in 1804 and the mission is a California and National Historic site. Unfortunately we were unable to make it into the mission because, here comes the tip of the day, Solvang goes to bed early. The mission closes to the public at 4:30 pm and the rest of the town shuts down by 6 pm. Had we known that we may have gotten there a little earlier. Oh, well. That gives us a reason to visit again I suppose.
   Overall it was a fun half day that was worth the drive. If you want to learn more about the town and decide if it's worth your time check it out here.
  With that I say vaarwel, which is Dutch for goodbye. We hope to see you back on Friday for our next adventure. 

Brandan
  

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sunny Santa Monica's Farmers Market.

The weather has been showing off lately.  After a very wet California winter the sun has peeked out and the thermometer has been calling us outside.  I wont lie, I may have skipped a day of dishes and left them for tomorrow so I could use that time to take a nap in the sunshine.  Its been that perfect.  Its also coming up on one of our most favorite times of the year and this year we have a sad side of it.  The Easter Jeep Safari is quickly coming and we don't think were going to make it.  There are only so many days of vacation to go around and we have our cruise to Alaska and trip to Vancouver to think about.

The Easter Jeep Safari, put on by the Red Rock 4wheelers, should be on everyone's bucket list.  The quiet little town of Moab Utah buzzes with the excitement of the most incredible off road meetings in the world.  No matter what your off road experience or your taste for trails is they will have something for you.  They even have a vendor show where you can get amazing deals on the latest and greatest off road gear.  Don't fear if your choice of vehicle isn't a Jeep.  They are welcoming to any off road vehicle but you might get a little heckled, if you are near me anyway.  Did I mention that Brandan is thinking about buying a Toyota 4 runner?  That is a story for a different day but you should know that he is in a little bit of a dog house on that one.  I have gone way off course here.  We will gush about the wonders of Moab and the Easter Jeep Safari soon, but for today we want to tell you about the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

The longer we live here in Sunny SoCal the more I hear the call of the ocean.  I never did understand it.  Sand is a beast to clean up and those waves are powerful.  I'm still not quite over the ocean claiming my Oakley's in a past post when we were still learning the ocean lessons.  There is no denying that the ocean is beautiful though.  From frothy waves to huge swells, every beach and every day can bring something completely new in its own way.  We still haven't traveled the PCH but we will and in an open top Jeep if I can get my way.  Maybe we will compromise and rent a sporty convertible.  Time will tell but an open top seems like the right way to travel with a view like that.  Wednesday we traveled down to Santa Monica to see the farmers market.

On the corner of Ocean and Arizona you can see a sneak peek of what lies ahead.  Parking here is $2.00 for 12 minutes or $20 for the day.  We didn't choose to park here though.  A few streets down is the Santa Monica Pier.  The pier has parking for $6 a day and its well lit with a view like no other.  As we were walking the path from the pier to the market we saw people having a blast.  There were the water lovers splashing in the ocean, the rollerbladers who were going up the stairs when we saw them (I cant even stay standing on those but these guys can do stairs?), the people on Segways and flocks of people on bikes.  It all looked like so much fun.  You can rent the bikes and Segways from local shops and kiosks if you decide to join the fun but don't come prepared.  After a few minutes of walking we rounded the corner to see a huge farmers market.  There was a good amount of foot traffic there but the streets were blocked off to cars and the tents were side by side for a few blocks, also running down the side streets.


The market went on for ever.  We were able to see it all but plan on spending some time there.  Quite a few of the people there had rolling baskets similar to the wagons I dragged my kids in when they were younger but with tall fabric sides.  This was a big deal for them and I am guessing where they did a majority of their food shopping.

In 1981 Santa Monica established a weekly farmers market to connect the farmers to the community.  It has since grown to twice a week and prides it self in being mostly certified organic. Its a hot spot for local restaurants to pick up items and make connections for their supplies.  While we were there we saw two different chefs in their white chef attire making deals with the vendors.  This isnt fast food were talking about here.  The variety is crazy.  Of course you can get your normal local oranges off the trees you see while driving through the town.  I wasn't prepared though for the hundreds of options in greens and the heirloom variety's you cant find in a local market.  We picked up two sized of oranges in 10 pound bags.  The small ones were $5 a bag and the large were $8.  These weren't organic which is a rare thing here.  I saw people passing these up who were fully dedicated to a 100% organic diet.  We also picked up a variety of carrots ($2.50 a pound) in different colors.  We are having those for dinner tonight so I cant tell you how they taste but the purple ones will be a first for me.  We picked up some fresh rosemary ($1 which will go with the carrots tonight) and dill (that I have no idea what we are going to use it with but it smelled so great that for $1 I couldn't pass up).  We got sungold cherry tomatoes ($4.50 a container) and kumquats ($3.50) to snack on.  We got a block of goats milk cheese ($7) and my adventurous boy and I got some raw milk and milk kefir($2 a single serving bottle).  The kefir packed a punch.  It was like extra tart greek yogurt but thinned out to drinkable.  We had a cold in our house a bit ago and I though the natural probiotics would be a great bonus.  I think next time Ill just pop a probiotic pill.  

(Here is your trigger warning: I have opinions).  Overall the farmers market was cool.   I will be back for sure.  Id love to try each of the cabbage varieties in our weekly menu.  I wont be doing all of my shopping here though.  Firstly because it was a 2 hour drive due to the 405 always being a mess and secondly I'm just not sure how people work these costs into their food budget.   I get that its a priority to eat healthy and that if we take care of our bodies they will take care of us.  I spent a little over $40 for a few snacks and a side dish.  I feel like I could fill half a cart at Sprouts or Aldi and still stay with the organic standards of the market.  The local thing is a definite plus but probably not enough to get me to do all my shopping there.  Id rather save the money and take my family to Hawaii.  That felt super critical but I promise I don't mean it with any malice.  We are all different and have different ideas about things in life.  If we were all the same then this would be a pretty dull place.  I'm so thankful for the chance to have the choices I get to make in life.  I am so grateful for the freedoms we enjoy everyday that we don't give a second thought to.  And I'm grateful that I can rant on this blog about an amazing day I had and the blessings I get to enjoy every day.

As a bonus, here is a photo of two tiny squirrels racing around the grass under a tree overlooking the beautiful blue ocean on a blue sky kinda day.   Get out there and make some memories guys!


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Camp Dining

  Typically when March arrives each year I'm itching to get outside. Despite it's best efforts Winter will eventually yield to the coming Spring and the warmer weather brings thoughts of the annual Easter Jeep Safari front and center in my mind. Being in California has eased that cabin fever feeling this year ever so slightly because, well, there is no snow here. We have been able to explore small areas of SoCal as you have seen if you've been following the blog. As fun as California has been I still find myself wanting to hit the trails in Moab, Utah. Sadly this isn't going to happen for us this year and our camping adventures for 2017 will be a little different then what we're used to. The one thing that has always remained constant regardless of where we've been camping is good food.
  Part of what makes our camping experiences so great is the food that we have. Yes we seem to be the kings and queens of gourmet camp food. From deep fried turkeys and rock salt prime rib to countless dutch oven cobblers we seem to make it a point to eat better in the outdoors then we ever would at home. Heck, we tossed two tri-tips on my portable grill while we were out on the Rubicon trail. Who does that? We do and I would would recommend it any day. With all the different tools and stoves at our disposal nowadays why would you limit yourself? 
  Our camping trips  usually involve some form of exploration which means we're out on the trail with our Jeeps and ATV's. Because of this we have to be versatile when it comes to our food and meal time. There are times when we don't get back until well after dark while on other days we get back with enough sun left to get in a few card games before dinner. So here's how we make it work for our camping trips that makes the most sense to us and has served us well over the years.
  As a general rule we treat breakfast and lunch as fend for yourselves. There are usually six to ten of us for our big camping trips and on some occasions we number closer to twenty. Each of our individual groups takes a different length of time to get ready. Some of us have kids. Some of us like to sleep. And others need their coffee in the mornings. This is why we do breakfast "on the run." Lunch is similar because we all have different tastes but we're always together on the trail. Our lunches are typically of sandwiches of all kinds with various chips and cookies to go along with them. Sodas and waters are used to wash down the meals with a heavy emphasis on the water throughout the day. I would be doing you an injustice if I didn't admit that eating while out on the trail is one of my favorite parts of exploration. The food just seems to taste better out there in the dirt.
  Dinner is where we shine. Pot luck is the name of the game for supper. Months before we leave for our trip we will sit down and have a meeting and plan our meals. Once the meals are decided we can then divvy up the main dishes and the sides which gives us all the opportunity to contribute to each meal. It creates a kind of bond for all of us involved and brings everyone together to enjoy good food and great company. 
  These are simple tips that have served us well through the years and they work in almost any situation. We've yet to plan all of our 2017 trips but I know that wherever we end up we'll have some good eats along with us. If you have any favorite camp foods please feel free to share them with us on our facebook page, Twitter, or in the comments section. See you on Friday. 

Brandan 

Friday, March 3, 2017

RV Life: Part Two, Full Timers

  Most people wake up, shower, have breakfast and head off to work everyday. They do it to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads and to raise a family. It's part of the "American Dream." But over 52% of us in the working class don't like our jobs. I understand not liking going to work. None of us want to go to work. We would much rather do things that are fun or benefit us in some way. However, we don't really have much choice in the matter. We can either suck it up and go to work or we can try to find something else to do with our lives. Most of us will continue to grind it out day after day until they can finally retire which is getting harder to do every year. But I want to recognize the few that go out on an extreme limb and split from the status quo.
  It has come to my attention that there are people out there that have ditched all the stuff that filled the closets and shelves of their homes, put the house up for sale, and have moved into an RV to live full time on the road. I know what your saying. Brandan those people are called retirees and they are seventy years old. For the most part that it true but there are a growing number of younger people that are exploring this kind of lifestyle and they are the ones we're focusing on for Part Two of our RV Life series of posts.
  My lovely wife stumbled upon a a YouTube channel that focuses on a family that has chosen to live life on the road with their two year old daughter. It's entertaining to watch their adventures as they visit different places across the U.S. They are now on their third RV in a year as they continue to minimize the amount of stuff in their lives. Their YouTube channel and blog are called Less Junk More Journey. Check them out to experience what my sweet wife finds so inspiring.
  They aren't the only ones out there trying this lifestyle and that is what's so surprising. The boom in internet and remote computer jobs is allowing people to break free from the regular nine to five and live life as free as possible in this day and age. I would be lying if I didn't say that I have a huge jealous streak of these folks. They get to wake up in a different place whenever they want and they get to see the most amazing places the world has to offer. If that doesn't make you jealous then you sir, are broken in the brain.
  Could this be the answer to so many of my problems? Maybe. It would create other problems for us like insurance, good paychecks, and security but let's set that aside for a moment. What if this could be a reality? Would you do it? If you had an opportunity to leave behind the job that causes you so much grief, so much pain, could you walk away to be free? It's kind of scary just to think about change at this point in life. I have a good paying job, a wife and two great kids. Thanks to the job we don't have a home. Okay I sold it because we're living in California for another year but still we're homeless. We have a pretty good life and it's taken us a long time to get here. But at what cost?
   I'm grateful for everything that I've been given in my life. I've been very blessed. But I find life lacking in many ways that I can't really put to words without getting too depressing. What I want to convey to you is that there is something out there that calls to every one of us. It may not be today, it may not be in five years from now but when you hear it, it's up to you to decide whether or not to listen to it. I'm hearing the call for change and while there are details and difficulties to overcome I think it's time to answer that call.
  The difficulty in answering the call seems to be actually hearing all the details. You see, when the call begins it's very faint. You can hear it but you only know that you need to follow it. It's up to you to figure out how to do it. That's where we're at right now. We feel that we want to take chances and live free. We've only got three years before our oldest turns eighteen and could run off to college. We feel that it's important for us to take the kids to as many places as we can before they are off on their own and if you haven't guessed, that's where the motor home comes into play.
  Yeah we're really entertaining living in an RV for a year or two. I know it may sound crazy and irresponsible but as the kid's say nowadays, you only live once. Of course course there is that chance that it wouldn't work out but how do you know if you don't take the chance? Not only that but how do I continue to bring you guys fun travel stories and videos if I can't get out and travel? By the way if you haven't seen our latest video I've put it at the end of the article for you to see.
  None of this is going to happen overnight and it may not pan out at all but as my wife likes to remind me that the chances we don't take now are the regrets we'll have later. There's a way to do this and we're going to figure it out. We owe it to ourselves and to our family to try to be as happy as we can be and it turns out that we're at our best when we travel. Change is never easy and it's usually always scary but there is another saying, something about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, you know the one? Well that's us in a nutshell. We're just pushing through day after day of the same thing and never really growing.
  Going back to what I was saying in the last post, these are all the factors that are going into our choice of a new RV. It needs to be reliable and tough enough to handle the four of us for a possible lengthy stay. It has to be affordable because let's face it, we won't have as much money living on the road. It also has to be comfortable. I've been in a lot of RV's lately that don't have the most comfortable furniture and over time I think that would be a big issue to us. Yeah, I'm finding the RV search to be just as frustrating as house hunting. Oh well, just part of the fun. Stay tuned for future updates into our RV search and of course our current adventures. Have a great weekend!

Brandan