Friday, November 17, 2017

GA State Parks

Always amaze! Red Top Mountain.

Cooking at Camp

The pressure cooker is an invaluable tool in the van's galley. Steel cut oatmeal, risotto, brown rice and stone ground grits are ready within minutes. With Bill on the barbie, we pull together some easy, great meals at camp. It's helps having a freezer, too. After our day at the service center, we enjoyed grilled salmon tacos with rice, beans and homemade guacamole. Simple and delish. I may have to write a camp cookbook!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Jackson Center OH

Early to bed and early to rise... We were up way before the crack of dawn, returned the rental car and left greater Chicago as planned Thursday morning. Instead of starting the trip for home, we took a detour to the Airstream factory in Jackson Center Ohio for service.

It was actually a very pleasant ride down rural routes for four of the five hours.

While our van was being serviced, we took a two hour factory tour. It was fascinating to see how the classic and iconic trailers are made.

Airstream even has campsites for service customers. It's great to be retired!!

Laughs and Lamb

Only weeks in their new home and they're already decorated for the season! Maggie and Kev treated us to a delicious home-cooked meal at their new place Wednesday night. Kevin expertly prepared racks of lamb and we chatted around the dinner table for a couple of hours. Plenty of good 'ol belly laughs, too!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Getting it Done!

Oh boy! The eating fest continues with the last of our Chicago comfort food cravings. Christmas shopping in Long Grove followed by pizza. Yes!

West Side

After our journey down memory lane and sneaking around the now-terrifying old stomping grounds, I felt a little melancholy. It's been 43 years since we lived on the west side of Chicago. So many memories! And so sad to see the destruction and decline of a neighborhood.

It was the perfect evening for a family reunion. Sister Nancy and bro-in-law Terry met us in Elmhurst for dinner at a newly opened restaurant on York Rd. The meal at Victory Meat and Seafood was good but the visit was better. Nance and Terr lifted my spirits and so did these silly napkins in the shop next door.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Throwback Tuesday

We did it! Heart racing through my old neighborhood and old house now blue! More comfort food at an old time fave: Russell's.

Time Out

The Kia Soul just may be my next car. We arranged for a rental during our stay at Camp Reinburg and this spunky car has been perfect.

Monday was a business day for us. We spent five hours at the Mercedes-Benz dealer in Hoffman Estates troubleshooting a Florida service appointment gone awry.

For all the joy we get traveling in our Airstream Sprinter, there are plenty of frustrating moments with complicated electronics and temperamental components. Our dinner date with Irene was cancelled as a result. Sadly, we are now considering options for further service at the Airstream Jackson Center in Ohio.

While our camper woes grounded us on Monday, we had an enjoyable evening at camp with brats from the freezer, a nice wine and Fannie Mae candy for dessert.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Go Bears Beat the Packers

These cold temps have us loving a lazy Sunday in and around camp. Lingering at the breakfast table with our devices and tea, day-drinking and splurge-eating at Durty Nellies with football fans, shopping for warm slippers at the Deer Park mall and a cozy evening with TV in the van. Cold weather camping is pretty nice, too!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Pazzi Di Pizza and Palatine Snow

After picking up a rental car on Golf Rd., we set up camp, showered and enjoyed a Saturday night martini before heading to Elmhurst for pizza with Irene and John.

It's always fun to see those two. The restaurant was really good and had a great selection of meat and seafood in addition to pizza and pasta.

While hanging around camp Sunday morning, I made a little video of the snow in Palatine. Amazing what one can do on an iPhone these days. Click here to see my video.

The Bears vs. Packers are playing at 1pm. This may call for a visit to Durty Nellies today!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Frost on the Fields

Frost on the fields in the southern prairie state, a chubby Yellow Lab stuffed into the back of a tiny car, an empty highway...more beauty on the road.

It is the fourth anniversary of our life in FL. We rolled over the Marco bridge in a three-car caravan from the northeast on Veterans Day 2013. American flags mounted all along the median on Collier Blvd. welcomed us like we were grand marshals of the parade. What a fun journey it has been in FL!

It's 85 degrees in Marco today and we had lunch in Crestwood IL where it was 35 degrees at Portillo's. Yes Portillo's!!! First stop for comfort food. We couldn't decide between beefs and chop salad so we got one of each to share. Delish!

Finding Beauty in all Things on the Road

We absolutely love our camper van. Driving from point A to Point B can be rather mundane but trying to find beauty in even the mundane is a fun and uplifting challenge while traveling the Interstate. For instance, I-75 is much friendlier than I-95, that's for sure. It must be the wholesomeness of midwesterners. 😉

After nine-plus hours of driving, we pulled into Fern Lake Campground (err parking lot) in Paducah KY. It's a shame there isn't a universal rating standard for campgrounds but, I've ranted about that before. With near freezing temps we really weren't planning on doing much around camp anyway, just hanging indoors with the heater cranked up.

A nice, easy dinner of chicken on the barbie, left-over orzo and white bean bruschetta, avocado tomato salad with blue cheese crumbles and a nice Chardonnay left us full on life and gratitude. The beauty of self-sufficiency in cold-weather camping.✔️

If I had pics of the beautiful fall colors, I post them, but instead...another selfie.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Late Fall Midwest Adventure

Pastoral scenes of sheep and cows grazing together in the cool of the morning. Cotton fields dotting the horizon looking like freshly fallen snow. And so we begin our day out of Reed-Bingham State Park in Sparks, GA. It has been over a year since we embarked on trip to Chicago. The time has come for some cool weather camping and anti-freeze in the water tanks. Another adventure looms! And yes, I woke up like this.

Monday, September 18, 2017

My Space

Happy to be home. Gratitude and solitude. Doggie at my feet.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Final Tour in Alabama

We finally made it to the Orange Beach Wharf on Thursday. It was a treacherous couple attempts on unfriendly bike routes, but certainly worth seeing. We had the best shrimp and grits ever for lunch along the marina.

We then rode the bikes back to Gulf Shores and enjoyed some pampering with a mani/pedi. A nice stress reliever.

Back at camp we took in another beautiful setting sun. The sky has been remarkable both morning and night from our camp each day. Grilled chicken Caesar salads for camp dinner and early to bed completed another enjoyable day in exile.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bitch Irma

Will's friend stop by the house Wednesday and snapped these pictures. A mess but we feel lucky!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Still Waiting

The Irma winds settled down on Tuesday and we were able to get back on the bikes. Where did we go? The Flying Harpoon, of course. They make the best, newly discovered Bushwacker drink and Bill's fave: the Hurricane.

Back to camp for steak on the grill with our gator barking. Yes. Barking. Mating season.

Wednesday morning brought beautiful clear skies. Breakfast at camp was simple and delicious. Today marks a week in exile, so it was time to do laundry; with a pleasant place to kill time.

Still no power at home. Will's power returned at noon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Waiting and Wondering

To think I let 9/11 pass by without a mere mention of the momentous anniversary of death and destruction of 2001. I must be caught up in my own moment of destruction brought about by Hurricane Irma. Shame on me. RIP to all the souls of 9/11/01.

Winds were strong in Gulf Shores, AL Monday as Irma blew her way up the coast of Florida. There is virtually no news coming out of Marco Island. So, we wait to hear about power and water and try to enjoy this beautiful area on the Gulf.

There's a gator who stops by now and then to see if Solo is out. The birds and vista soothes our soul while going about in our survival mode at camp. We are blessed.

Monday, September 11, 2017

What a Long Day!

Glued to our devices and camp TV, we followed Hurricane Irma's path from the Florida Keys while juggling calls and texts from loved ones. It was a busy and stressful morning.

At noon, we hopped on the bikes and took our Mario Cart-like wooden path 2.5 miles to our favorite bar: The Flying Harpoon in Orange Beach. Luckily, football was the main attraction on TV and we drowned our sorrows as Irma drowned SWFL.

I watched Irma smack down Marco Island from my most informative Twitter feed. The rest of the day all the FL refugees in the bar wondered about their property and future. We all ordered fruity Hurricane drinks to ease the pain.

I was reluctant to impose on the neighbors who stayed in Marco for information on our home. Appreciating the ordeal they must have gone through during a Category 3 storm pounding their space and nerves, I would sit tight and be respectful. That was non-essential information. Timing is everything. I'll find out soon enough.

Meanwhile, all is calm at Gulf State Park camp.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Gulf Shores Alabama

After driving 677 miles in the state of Florida (crazy big state) we crossed into Alabama on Thursday afternoon. Gulf State Park had plenty of sites.

With news of Hurricane Irma getting more dire by the hour for our sweet community in SWFL, we'll stay put on the Gulf coast until after the storm. No longer are we in the mood for fun and adventure. Our friends and family could be in for suffering and loss. We'll need to get back home ASAP after the wrath of Irma.

We are finding cute little spots with amazing oysters, brews and bayou views. This is the perfect spot for the bikes with an extensive trail system all around. Exercise is lifting the mood, but not by much. Ugh.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Evacuation Season

Our original travel plans called for a 9/7 departure to start a two week getaway in the van. With the development of Hurricane Irma in the Atlantic, on track for landfall in South FL, we hit the road on 9/6. So did everyone else. We covered 291 miles in 8 hours. That's 37 mph on average. Ugh. Stressful and annoying heavy traffic.

Unable to at least get out of FL, we pulled off short of the state line near Gainesville. In fact, our fave State Forest, Paynes Prairie, off of I-75 had plenty of sites available for the night. We were set up before 5pm with a well-deserved cocktail and hot shower. Grilled salmon, quinoa, asparagus and coleslaw was served at camp for dinner. Love our tiny home and almost forgot the woes of the day.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Diamond Ring

This picture was taken in St. Louis by the granddaughter of a Marco friend, Gentry. Gentry gave us our only pair of solar glasses to take on our trip. (Our first lucky break, which I failed to mention in my day's recap below.)

Lucky in so Many Ways

Monday morning we were up and out of Savannah early in search of a clear path of totality. We did book a second night, just in case. But we had no idea where we were going or where we would be sleeping later.

After some deliberation, Anderson SC was picked out for the best odds on the weather map. Once in Anderson, we couldn't decide between the airport or state park for our eclipse viewing pleasure. We figured no way in hell would we get a campsite within 100 miles of the totality path, so we focused on a good spot for sky watching. Feeling optimistic, we headed to the state park. The "no vacancy" sign and ranger station confirmed our thinking, so we paid for a day pass and parked at the baseball field as instructed. After a little marital spat, we ditched the confines of the baseball field and settled on open sky and water near the boat launch. It was perfect. So lucky to have explored our options.

A sweet couple from SC had their camper parked in the shade and were setting up camera equipment as we observed possible clouds moving into the area. We started a conversation and before you know it, they offered us their campsite for the night as they were taking off after the show. Lucky again!

The clouds stayed away and it was an amazing experience to witness such heavenly glory! A total eclipse of the sun! The light, the dark, the quiet, the cool, the gasps of awe, the spectacle. So lucky!

There was such a sense of togetherness; a special and peaceful connection among the people around the boat launch. We shared something so incredible. One by one people left and we found our way to the campsite. It was on a lake. So beautiful! So lucky. There was loads of firewood, too!

A heavenly day and night. So lucky!