Phannie

Phannie
Photo taken at Winchester Bay, Oregon

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Fulltiming Food Prep: What Works for Us

At Sunset Shores RV Park, Willis, Texas...

When we went fulltime, there were many things about which we had to "get our mind right." Perhaps the main one was optimizing our drastically reduced living space. Every square foot was precious, including the space allotted for food preparation. Gone were the full-sized appliances in our stick and brick house, except for the residential refrigerator we installed in Phannie, which I have already characterized as one of the few absolute essentials for us to do this gig.  Gone were things like the six-burner cooktop, the extra-wide Viking oven, the warming oven, the Kitchen Aid dishwasher and mixer and the large Cuisinart food processor, etc.

As it turned out, we certainly didn't need these things in their oversized form since there are just the two of us here in the bus 99 percent of the time. We found we didn't even need Phannie's three-burner propane cooktop. With our induction plate, Breville oven, electric skillet, crockpot and microwave oven, we just leave the propane cooktop covered, putting the extra counter space to good use. We don't miss the dishwasher because we use paper plates most of the time. Yes, we can set a nice table when needed, but why do that for everyday dining? Doesn't make much sense to us. Washing the few pieces of cookware and utensils we use takes only a few minutes and, oddly, Sandy says she enjoys it--her reasoning for such known only to her and the good Lord, I guess. It might have something to do with the fact that I do most of the cooking, which she doesn't enjoy as much as I do. And, since I abhor washing dishes, I think both of us see it as a fair tradeoff.

Why an electric skillet, you may ask; doesn't that take up some of the valuable space I'm talking about? Well, not really; when not in use, it tucks away nicely above the Breville oven. And, if you have a skillet that's well designed, there's nothing better for controlling temperature over a large cooking surface. I learned through experience to avoid buying an inferior electric skillet that has a cooking element like the one on the bottom of this cheap model:


This type doesn't heat evenly in the middle of the skillet. I spent a little more dough on this Nu-Wave model that has a much better heating element design:



The main reason for using the electric skillet, I guess, is that you tend to acquire that to which you are accustomed. My mother, in her later years, was an avid user of an ancient electric skillet almost exclusively, and she turned out many memorable meals with that thing.

We also upgraded our induction cookplate to this Nu-Wave model:


This is a big improvement over the Fagor brand we had previously. It's much more powerful and has really accurate temperature control, too. If you can't have gas, this has to be the next best thing. We use it when we don't need the large surface of the electric skillet. Amazing technology, this. It will heat a pan to blazing hot in no time, yet the cooking surface stays cool.

We've found we do need a food processor now and then, but the big Cuisinart we had just took up too much space, and we certainly didn't need anything with a capacity that large. I found a really neat little Ninja version that seems perfect for our small needs. I even made a short demonstration video (that was made, I confess, mostly just for the novelty of doing a video; besides, you get to see, well, me! What could be more enjoyable?) Click below to take a look: 

https://youtu.be/SNKjiFqB4kA

Well, what do you think? Do I have a future in films? (One of the nice things about getting older is that I can make a fool of myself like this and people don't think much about it, not that I care one way or the other.)

We also use our small Weber Q grill fairly often when the weather permits. And I've posted previously about this and the Breville oven, which must be the best small countertop oven ever made.

So, there you have it. It's what works for us, cooking-wise. But we acknowledge that it may not work for others. I think fulltimers settle into their own system after a while, and all that matters is that they like it.

Another thing we upgraded recently was the light over the dining table. The small factory-installed version has always given off too little light, and I finally became tired of squinting over my food. I'm sure it has nothing to do with my aging eyeballs, does it?


I got this one off eBay, and it works much better:


As you can see, we've been staying busy here on the shore of Lake Conroe. It's been a fine holiday time with the kids and, in a couple of weeks, we'll be making our way down to the Rio Grande Valley, where we'll spend our last month of winter before heading north again. Here's hoping your holidays were enjoyable, healthy and safe.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Approaching One Year of Fulltiming: Still Getting Rid of Stuff

At Sunset Shores RV Park, Willis, Texas...

As we approach the end of our first year of fulltiming, we find ourselves still in a paring down mode. Getting rid of possessions accumulated over 40 years has not been easy. The reason, I suppose, is that we spent most of that time acquiring the stuff and only a small fraction of that time getting rid of it. Oh, if only we had had the wisdom of old age when we were young!  

I'm not sure why we thought it necessary to buy or build huge houses, since there were only the three of us. The obvious and uncomfortable answer was that it was an ego thing, I guess. Over time, we began to realize that acquiring things wasn't ultimately satisfying and that big houses require big attention and big expense to keep up, inside and out.  

We eventually built a relatively modest RV port home, an experience well documented earlier in this blog, that was to be our retirement home base while we wandered the country, and that's what it became. However, we found ourselves enjoying RV travel and living so much that we began to resent having to return home and take care of the required upkeep on the house before being able to leave again. We were also in a state of constant apprehension, worrying over the security of the place after a burglary that resulted in a painful emotional and financial loss for us. The security alarm that was installed was obviously no deterrent, so our much desired freedom to travel was not really free, clouded with worry and resentment as it was for us. 

We eventually decided that the only way to be truly free was to get rid of the things that were enslaving us; that meant the house and the stuff inside it had to go. Once we made the decision, things happened quickly, and the jettisoning of the rest of our stuff became brutal. That experience was also fully described about a year ago in this blog and yes, it was so worth the effort.

My point in including this brief version of our downsizing for fulltiming is to provide evidence of how very far we've come in terms of getting rid of our bondage. And yes, I'm using the term bondage on purpose, because that's what the tentacles of our materialism felt like when we were desperately struggling to be free. To that end, take a look at what is left after our efforts over the past years--from 3,500 square feet a decade ago to this:




This storage unit area occupies about 120 square feet and, as you can see, there is room to spare. Most of what is left is memorabilia and photos that we are slowly going through toward a goal of digitizing things to the extent possible. There are also a few clothes left after having donated hundreds of garments to charity, and we're still working on these.  These things will continue to dwindle as we go forward, for we experience a greater sense of freedom with everything we discard. And you know what? We've missed none of it! Besides our huge increase in freedom--and did I mention spendable income?--not missing our "stuff" is perhaps the most remarkable thing about this experience.

Now, is this draconian offloading experience for everyone? Of course not. Most younger families need the stability that a house brings in a permanent location. Some empty nester couples would perhaps not fare so well with so much togetherness. Some would prefer the stability of their community and relationships, and some just need more room, period. And that's all fine; if a lot more folks got into fulltiming, we would probably have an RV parking crisis out here. For those who might be contemplating such a move, however, this is just something for your consideration. For us, it is nirvana. If only we could have done it sooner!


Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Proud Parents of a new R. N. and Other (Far Less Important) Things

At Sunset Shores RV Park, Willis, Texas...

Many of you saw this on Facebook, but you'll just have to bear with us again, as it isn't every day that parents can gush over an offspring's accomplishment like this one. Our Mindy just graduated first in her nursing school class, all the while raising two boys under seven years of age and home schooling them, too boot. She said it was the hardest thing she ever did, and the amount of sleep she lost to be at the top of her class must have been epic. She had the unwavering support of our son-in-law, Tyler, and we helped when we could, along with others, but it was mostly her sheer determination to excel that resulted in her finish at the top. She has informed us that she will be pursuing her B.S.N. right away. From the perspective of fulltime RVers, it was nice that we were able to swoop in from time to time and provide some help and yet not be underfoot. We are, as you can imagine, incredibly proud of her.


Now, on to really trivial matters:

Blasting through our location near Houston was the same strong Arctic cold that froze the rest of the nation. Fortunately, we didn't suffer a hard freeze this far south. But since we won't be leaving for the Rio Grande Valley until after the holidays, we were going to have to endure temps in the low thirties, so how did we prepare for it? Why, I did what any good Texan would do--cook a pot of chili!


I don't know about you, but I like spicy chili, and I also see this as an opportunity to toss in some surplus ingredients that may need to be used from the fridge or pantry; I don't really use a recipe. In this case, I browned about a pound and a half of chili meat, tossed in a lot of chopped onion and garlic, some chopped fresh jalapeno and serrano peppers, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, black pepper, cajun seasoning, a good bit of chili powder and cumin, some leftover homemade salsa, a can of beef broth, a can of green chiles, and a couple of aging cans of storebought chili. Then I simmered the whole thing for about 45 minutes. Yes indeed, it was spicy; but boy, was it good! Did I use beans, you ask? Well, no self-respecting Texan would put beans in chili. That was something brought here by carpetbaggers after the civil war, and I think we hanged most of those folks.

Now, before you call the chili police about the horror of my using canned chili, you shouldn't mock something you haven't tried. Canned chili, which is something Texans should really only use as targets on a shooting range, provides not only some extra flavor, but it also provides the emulsification that would normally be required for good chili by adding masa flour to the chili, as the purists would do. The neat thing is, no one will ever know of your sacrilege; it will just taste like really good homemade chili. I only revealed this secret because when someone gets old, like me, he really doesn't give a rip what people think. And when the chili police come after me, I won't go quietly.

Here's something I found amusing. I was checking out at Wal-Mart the other day, and I saw this taken out of the basket of the customer in front of me:


Really?, I thought to myself. I can only assume this was a gag gift, but it may not have been. The chia pet and its variations have been around for a long time, so I suppose there's a market for these things. I just have trouble understanding how watching little chia plants grow on a pig--or a zombie's hand--is compelling enough to pay money for it. But then, I haven't understood some of our culture for a long time. Apparently though, Wal-Mart knows something I don't know, and that's why the Waltons are zillionaires. 

Having devolved this narrative from Mindy's exciting news to a discussion about a chia zombie (sometimes I worry about myself), I'll leave you with this equally useless tidbit regarding the origin of common sayings:

"The Whole Nine Yards"

During WWII, U.S. airplanes were armed with belts  of ammo, which they would shoot during dogfights and on strafing runs.  These were 27 feet long and contained hundreds of cartridges that fed their machine guns. The belts were carefully folded into wing compartments that were adjacent to the guns. Often, pilots would return from their missions having expended all of their bullets on various targets. They  would say that they gave the enemy "the whole nine yards," meaning they used up all of their ammunition.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Healthcare Concerns as Fulltimers; A Lighting Project and a Favorite Recipe

At The Vineyards Campground, Grapevine, Texas...

We had to take a short trip back to the DFW area for a doctor visit. We really like the Vineyards RV park, which is probably one of the nicest in the state. It is owned by the city of Grapevine, and it is hardly typical of municipal RV parks in general. First of all, it rests on a large lakefront property whose value is probably incalculable, given its location in the middle of the DFW Metroplex. Secondly, it is a first class development with hard surfaced roads and sites, many of which front on Lake Grapevine itself. Thirdly, the city fathers--fully aware of its attractiveness to RVers--exact a steep price from its users. Unlike most municipal parks, you don't get to stay here at a loss to the city so RVers will go into town and spend money. Instead, you dole out plenty of moolah for your site, and then you still go into the quaint town and spend more. As you can imagine, there's plenty to do in the area, and the park is almost always full. The price? Think around $50 per night or between $1100 and $1800 a month, depending on the site you choose. Normally, this would be a little pricey for us, but the park is very close to our doctors' offices. We only stay a few days at these prices.

The Vineyards suffered devastating damage from a 100-year flood a couple of years ago. Every single site in the park was flooded, some covered by more than 20 feet of water. It took a long time to rebuild, but they have done a superb job of bringing it back.

Here's our site right on the shore of Lake Grapevine: 



If you've read this rag for a while, you might think that we are hypochondriacs, judging by how often we visit doctors and dentists. Well, we are not fortunate enough to have escaped medical problems as have a number of our disgustingly healthy friends. We both have some fake joints and other conditions that need medication and monitoring from time to time. Fortunately, these are controllable, and they don't cause us any physical limitations at the moment. I also have the good fortune to be married to Sandy, who watches me like an owl who has spotted a fat field mouse. If I so much as hiccup, she will drag me to the doctor. 

Now, being less than fond of visits to the doctor or dentist, I usually protest vigorously, so we compromise and I do what I'm told. My initial pushback is usually more symbolic than real; I already know how it will end when she gives me "the look." However, I have learned to trust Sandy's instinct without making too much noise, as I am positive that her prodding very likely saved me from colon cancer some 30 years ago.

As relatively new fulltimers, we are still working through healthcare concerns that we likely share with others of our ilk. We had established great relationships with and confidence in our local doctors and dentists over decades here in the DFW area, and we haven't yet found all the new ones we'll need at The Woodlands near Houston, where the kids and grandkids are and where we will likely be spending most of our downtime. We're getting there, however, having found a dentist and ob-gyn who will fill the bill, but we have more healthcare providers whom we have to test-drive, if you will.

I read in my friend Richard's blog that he recently upgraded the bulbs in the light underneath microwave in his motorhome. That got me to thinking that we have the same problem with too-dim lighting above our kitchen range, so I decided to do him one better and install some extra lights, which I did all by myself, and nothing blew up, and no one was electrocuted. Amazing!  

Here's the pitiful little light we had:




So, I picked up this three-light LED kit from Home Depot:



A quick install underneath the microwave:



And voila'!



Went from this...



To this...!



I really didn't realize how much this little upgrade was needed; but now we might be able to follow recipes a little better!

Speaking of recipes, I recently made a batch of my favorite spicy tuna salad:



Now if you're like us and are a fan of tuna salad, and you also like spicy food, as we do, this one is for you. But be warned: It is not for sissies; there are no fewer than six kinds of spicy peppers and seasonings in this concoction! You can, of course, modify the recipe to your level of tolerance but, if you are fearless, you'll make it like in the recipe below. And while we're talking about tuna, please don't buy some cheap canned tuna like Star Kist or worse, some store brand. You may need to go to an upscale store to buy solid pack albacore tuna cooked in its own juices or do like we do and order it from a private cannery in Oregon like Sportsmen's or Chuck's. The difference is not to be believed. In fact, when we were in Oregon two summers ago, we made a point to visit Chuck's store and pick up a case of the good stuff. It's easy to order online too, and you won't be sorry. And yes, it's a little pricey, but aren't you worth it? I think so. 

Okay, here we go:


Mike's Hotter than the Hinges of Hell Tuna Salad

1 8 oz. can albacore tuna (Use the good stuff; I'll be watching.)
1 small stalk celery, chopped
1/3 cup fresh chopped carrots
1/3 cup fresh chopped onion
1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped (you can use jalapeno, but that's for weaklings)
1/4 cup chopped hot garlic dill pickles
1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
1/4 cup drained and chopped Mama Lil's Goathorn Peppers (see comment below)
1 teaspoon Los Chileros Salsa Mix (see comment below)
1 boiled egg, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Black pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise (If you don't use Hellman's, you're not serious about cooking.)

Directions:

1. Break up the chunk tuna in a bowl and then mix in all the remaining ingredients. Don't overmix; you don't want it to get mushy.

2. Eat. (A beverage should be nearby.)

Notes:  Mama Lil's Goathorn Peppers:  These are spicy and slightly tart Hungarian peppers in oil, hand packed in Oregon, and I use them in many dishes to add a unique flavor. They're also good in Italian antipasto. Easily obtained by mailorder.




Yes, I know--all the expensive specialty products just for a tuna salad? Well, yes! It's just not the same without them, and it's not like you can't use them in other dishes, right? While we're at it, let's talk about the Los Chileros Christmas Salsa Mix. This can be ordered from Los Chileros in New Mexico where they have lots of great New Mexican seasonings. I use it in fresh salsa, breakfast burritos, juevos rancheros and anything else that's spicy. It's good stuff.

By the way, we usually don't make sandwiches out of this tuna. We eat it with crackers, but not just any crackers--



Yes, this is our favorite cracker--Trader Joe's Everything Crackers. If we should ever run out of these, a call to 911 is in order.

Obviously, you can adjust the recipe as desired, but you should know that Sandy can eat this with no problem. It hasn't always been so, however. Living with a spicy food nut like me for 40 years, she has had to make some major adjustments to her palate. When we were dating, I remember well her timidly dipping the corner of a tostada in a tiny bit of mild salsa and then shaking off the excess, lest she might taste a little heat. 

You've come a long way, baby!


Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.










Monday, November 21, 2016

Friends, Food and Cool Nav Apps for your iPad. (Don't Miss This One!)

At Sunset Shores RV Park, Willis, Texas...

We wound up our visit to San Antonio much too soon, vowing that we would be back to see more. This could easily be a home base for us but, unlike the Rio Grande Valley, most of the RV parks are not particularly attractive for snowbirds. However, Travelers World is a nice park, friendly, close to everything and well maintained. For example, here is a photo of a groundskeeper tidying the gravel with a rake affixed to a golf cart. This is done after every guest's departure and afterward, the attendant sweeps up any gravel pebbles that may have crept onto the paved access road. Frankly, I don't think I've seen this done before, and I was pretty impressed. Normally, we prefer hard surfaced parking areas, but these gravel ones were very well done.



We were lucky to have longtime friends Bubba and LouAnn join us for a couple of nights. They drove down from Fort Worth in their Thor Tuscany motorhome, and we had a good time with lots of laughs.



Since the weather here was so perfect during our stay, we cooked outdoors on the Weber Q several times, adding to my experience with that versatile cooking machine. I had been inspired by blogger friend George, who seems to cook just about anything imaginable on his Weber Q. He was a former chef and includes a bunch of information, including recipes, on his blog, which you can see here. We saw a photo of George cooking something in a cast iron pan setting atop the grill grates, so we tried cooking a pot of chili like that a while back, and it turned out great. We also really liked grilled chicken marinated in Italian dressing. (Sorry, no photos of these; we forgot to take them.) We also got a grill mat like George's for those things that shouldn't have direct heat, like fish. That works really well, as does the shallow pan below that we picked up at Wal-Mart for about eight bucks. Here are a couple of photos, one where we were cooking German fried potatoes and another in which we added some cabbage, of which we're quite fond. These turned out great:




The reason we used the pan instead of the grill mat was to contain the oil, or in this case, bacon grease required for frying. (Okay, all you health fiends out there: You don't need to write me letters; It's not my fault; my parents and grandparents came from a rural background, and bacon grease was the mainstay of their cooking, which was without parallel in adding flavor. Besides, they all lived into their eighties and nineties, so give me a break.)

We also love grilled corn, as well as the zucchini and squash pictured below:



Oh, and did I mention that shishkebab, which we did some time ago, was also wonderful? 


Well, I guess I've let the Weber grill information get a little out of hand, haven't I? Let me pivot to our last day in San Antonio, where we added yet another restaurant to our favorites list--Henry's Puffy Tacos:





I'm not sure how they fry the tortillas to make them puffy, but we liked them a lot. And the stuff they put in them--in this case, beef and chicken fajita strips--were wonderfully tender and flavorful. This is another mom and pop joint where you can get really good food for a really cheap price, and that's why it goes on our favorites list.

After bidding adieu to Bubba and LouAnn, we pointed Phannie eastward toward Conroe. I was using my newly-positioned iPad as a mapping tool, and I wanted to include here a few photos of a new app I downloaded for this purpose. Now, for some of you who have newer coaches with the latest digital cockpits, this may seem a bit bush league to you. But, if you have an older coach like Phannie, and you're a gadget freak like me, this might be right up your alley. I mounted my iPad via an apparatus that fits in a cockpit cupholder, and here's what it looks like. The part that fits in the cupholder is adjustable and holds the iPad steadier than you would think. (I have another cupholder near my left armrest, so I'm not deprived of my drink.)



This is a view of the mapping I displayed during our arrival in San Antonio. It reminded me a bit of the approach charts I used when I was flying:



Keep in mind that this map can be expanded or shrunk with your fingertip gestures on the screen. You can go to a wider view to show your entire route if you wish. With that in mind, guess what I don't need any longer?  A paper map! If this weren't enough, it will also display weather, temperature, wind and elevation along your route. You can also use it as a GPS, but I prefer to leave the Garmin going and keep the map view on the iPad screen. 

This is the handiest thing I've seen in a long time, and I'm beginning to wonder how I lived without it! The app is called Inroute, and it's free, unless you want to get the added features like weather, wind, etc. 

Here is another view where I briefly left the Inroute app page to check some emailed arrival instructions from our rally coordinator:



Here is another navigation app I have that many of you use, called Allstays:



I like this one because it shows RV parks, campgrounds, Wal-Marts, rest stops, some truck stops and a bunch of other things that are selectable, and it's free. This screen shows our current RV park on Lake Conroe via the orange dot.  The view can also be adjusted to show as large or small an area as you wish.  

And here is another app I like even better, called Trucker Path, where I can see all of the above and more, including a much greater number of truck stops and and truck service facilities--very important to big rig owners. And, it will also show you low overhead clearances. Not bad, huh? This one is also free.



Having all this information at my fingertips is amazing, but I'm very careful not to use it to the extent I get distracted from driving. Since it is not far from eye level, it only requires a glance every now and then, much like the GPS.

Now, you may be wondering what the constant use of this while enroute will do to your data plan. Well, it would probably be devastating unless you have unlimited data, which I do, via T-Mobile. Yes, I said T-Mobile. They do have such a plan now, and I have been astonished at the coverage it has, even in rural areas; I had thought it was pretty sparse until I tried their plan. They seem to have come a long way in their coverage reach but, even so, I still keep all my other devices, including a hotspot, with A T and T. I'm sure T-Mobile won't be able to match their coverage for a long time. If needed, I can fire up the hotspot and run the apps if I wish.

Well, that's a lot of information to absorb in one post, isn't it? That may have to suffice for a while, as we will be in this area for a couple of months during the holidays, and we will not be posting as often. But stay tuned anyway; who knows when something will pop into my feverish mind.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Lunch at Guenther House and Dinner with Travel Bug Susan and Bob

At Travelers World RV Park, San Antonio, Texas...

We rather enjoy touring historical homes that open their doors to the public so, after church, we were eager to have lunch at the Guenther House in downtown San Antonio. This lovely old house was built on the San Antonio River in the late 1800s by Carl Gilmar Guenther, a German immigrant who founded on the site a successful flour mill that later became Pioneer Flour Mills and still thrives today as the oldest family-owned business in the state. The mill originally used the flowing river water for power, hence its location on the riverbank. Guenther raised his seven children there, and the house continued to be used by the family until the 1940s. It was eventually opened to the public as a museum, gift shop and restaurant.



Here is a view of the patio seating in back of the house:



We ate inside, ordering an egg-bacon-sausage-biscuit breakfast for me and southwestern quiche for Sandy. Expectations for a good meal were high after several recommendations but, alas, not all was well on this visit. My breakfast was almost cold when it arrived, and nothing on the plate was memorable. Especially disappointing was the sausage, which was little more than a tasteless hockey puck, and the biscuit, a spongy and unidentifiable blob with not nearly enough shortening; this should have been an amateurish embarrassment for Pioneer Flour, whose name was lavishly mentioned on the menu. The chef should have trained under Sandy's mother and grandmother, who definitely knew how to make a proper biscuit.



On the other hand, the quiche was quite good, although slightly overcooked. The final nail in the coffin was the meal's wildly inflated forty-dollar cost. I tried vainly to justify having chosen to eat lunch here by telling myself that the tour of the house had been free. Perhaps another visit would provide a different experience, but I just don't think that's in the cards. However, it gives me just a tiny bit of comfort to ban the Guenther House Restaurant from being listed on my Favorite Restaurants page.

We had an experience that evening that made up many times for the unsatisfactory lunch. Inviting us for dinner were none other than Bob and Susan, the distaff member of the couple being better known to our RV blogging community as the author of "Travel Bug Susan." We had met these fine folks a few years ago at an RV Dreams rally in Kerrville and had been following their widely-read blog ever since. 

Bob and Susan had been fulltiming for a few years before discovering San Antonio and re-entering the workforce after settling in this RV park. Bob is an accountant and Susan works part time here at the park office. Susan served us some excellent turkey chili, and we enjoyed the fellowship immensely, learning a new board game in the process.



It's always a neat pleasure finally to interact with our fellow bloggers, whom we think we already know by having read so much about their travels and experiences. This gives us the benefit of a start in our relationship from a point way beyond that of being mere acquaintances but, indeed, friends. And thus it has been with all the bloggers whom we've met over the past ten years. In fact, I have been inspired to begin another blog page listing those that have transitioned from cyber friends to personal friends. I'll have it up and running pretty soon.


Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

San Antonio and a Rally

At Travelers World RV Park, San Antonio, Texas...

San Antonio is one of our favorite Texas cities, so we were delighted when our club, the Texas Bluebonnet Allegros, decided to hold the November rally there. An affiliate of the national Tiffin Allegro Club, this group meets eight times a year for fellowship, food and fun at various locations, usually in Texas. We had joined before we became fulltimers, but we keep attending, although it's not always easy in our current lifestyle. This is because the members are great people, and we share a common interest as Tiffin motorhome owners.

Since we have visited San Antonio many times and have already seen the shrines of Texas history located there, we decided just to relax and just take in some local flavor when not participating in rally events, one of which was to enjoy with some club members a Casa Rio dinner on one of the many barges that ply the beautiful San Antonio River downtown:


If you've never taken a boat tour of downtown San Antonio, it is a relaxing way to see one of the premier attractions of this or any other metropolitan area. Here's a photo of the Tower of the Americas taken from the boat:


We also visited a local farmers' market held on the grounds of the old Pearl brewery. Along with the fresh farm products, there were lots of crafty things to see: 


There was even a talented country and western band on hand to serenade us:


Our rally was based at Travelers' World RV Park near downtown San Antonio, which turned out to be a much nicer park than I expected. Although not exactly in the best area of town, it is nonetheless shaded, well-kept, relatively quiet, and the sites are level:


For one of the evening meals, we brought our own steaks to the clubhouse and cooked them over charcoal grills provided by the park management:


Ours turned out mighty tasty, if I say so myself!

Naturally, we are always exploring new-to-us restaurants wherever we go, so we did some of that, too.  Here is a list of those we've tried so far on this trip that will be included in our favorites page linked on this blog:


They don't get any more nondescript than this. Fishland (although the sign doesn't say that) is really less of a fish market than a tiny restaurant with about a dozen tables, where you order at the counter and put your paper goods in the trash when you leave. Making this a favorite is the expertly fried, ridiculously fresh seafood. The catfish and shrimp combo was enough to share; it was delicious and, best of all, dirt cheap! Where else could you get this for just under ten bucks?


We had to revisit an old mainstay, the Original Blanco Cafe downtown, where we shared the deluxe tex-mex combo. This place has the second-best enchiladas ever:



Yes, you read that right--the second best enchiladas. Where do you find the best enchiladas, you ask? Well, they are at El Palenque in Spring, Texas, near Houston. No need to doubt me on this.

Want a fix of excellent Thai food? Try Thai Dee here in San Antonio. Not much too look at from the outside, but very nice inside, and the food is excellent. (Isn't that often the case?):


One little hiccup here: Don't get the Tom Ka Gai soup; it's too sweet.

Loving to visit those eating joints that have stood the test of time, we stopped by the Original Donut Shop on Fredericksburg Road. It has been around since 1954, and for good reason. These people know how to cook a donut:


The donut shop shares a building with a Mexican restaurant that has good reviews, although we haven't tried it yet. 

I would show you a photo of the donuts, but something happened to them before I could snap the picture. Just can't figure it out. The donuts-even though several hours old when we arrived--were crazy good. Now I'm in a quandary, as I'm not so sure Krispy Kreme is the best any longer.

Here's a dish done very well at Pho Garden, a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant close to Travelers' World:


It's salt and pepper shrimp, loaded with fresh onion and jalapeno slices, just as I like them. I loved this dish, but then, I happen to really like onions a lot.   By the way, did you know that a fresh onion is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat? It is loaded with dietary fiber, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, manganese and vitamin C. Knowing this as you now do, it appears you have a choice: Nice smelling breath or long life. I would choose long life; you can always make new friends.

Well, there you have it. I think this is the first time that every single restaurant we tried made it onto the favorites list! I hope you find that list and the "Best of the Best RV Parks Page" useful.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.