Saturday, June 25, 2016


On our way home from Sequoia National Forest we drove along Lake Isabella and the scenic Kern River Canyon Road (Hwy 178).

Today those same areas are routes of evacuation as a massive wind-driven wildfire spreads nearby. The Erskine Fire, which started on Thursday, has already caused loss of life and the destruction of many homes and structures.

It's been five days since the summer solstice. It's going to be a long, long, long summer.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Shakedown Cruise: Part 2

It was a slow drive out and I sighed with relief when we touched the blacktop road. 

We headed east and climbed up higher into the Sierras.

The Man stopped at the USFS Hotshot station and one of the firemen confirmed the road to Rhymes campground was easily accessible. He was surprised that we spent the night at Alder Creek campground since the campground had been abandoned by the US Forest Service and the road was no longer being maintained.

Rhymes campground was marked with a sign but technically it was just a pull-off spot on the side of the road with a nice fire pit. The Man offloaded his motorcycle and headed down a forest road. I discovered the day before that bumpy dirt roads were not enjoyable to my physical well-being; I found it too jarring to my back (and other body parts) so instead I built a nice fire and resumed knitting on my Sockhead hat.

Except for a few off-road motorcyclists and a fifth wheel RV there wasn't much traffic. I imagine the area sees much more activity during the summer months as the Central Valley heats up. The cool mountain air and the many dirt roads snaking through the forests would certainly be enticing and worth exploring. The road The Man took was another route back to Alder Creek Campground. Amazingly our cell phones worked, he called to check in. He could see our previous camping spot but a fallen pine tree across the roadway made it impassable and he said he'd be heading back soon.

We spent a chilly night camping at 6000+ feet and the next morning drove through a light dusting of snow as we climbed back up the summit on our way out. The travel trailer's furnace worked well. The Man said the hot shower worked great too. I wouldn't know, my shower was very cold and very quick.
Heading down from the summit we passed Lake Isabella and traveled along the Kern River Canyon Road.

We pulled off the highway and turned around because I noticed an area where people were fishing from the shore. The Man had brought his fishing gear and had bought a license for this trip.

He grabbed his pole and I grabbed my knitting.

The California fish were not biting his shiny sparkly (Colorado) metal lures. The Man declined my offer to use bread balls for bait though I'm pretty sure that would've worked.

On the way back we passed Lost Hills,

hills of Cholame,

 and then we were home.

On this two-night trip we learned:

1) Don't forget to bring a jacket, even if it is 80° when you leave home. You never know when it'll snow.

2) Always remember to fold and store the metal step of the travel trailer.

3) A Mountain Dew and a Snickers candy bar makes us very happy.

4) The general consensus of Dodge truck owners say a 2001 Dodge Ram diesel truck's transmission will only last about 100,000 miles (but the engine will run forever).

5) A 20 oz. Mountain Dew and a full-size Snickers candy bar makes us very very happy.
  • Shakedown Cruise: check.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Ode to Cauliflower

Oh, Little Cauliflower, where have you been?

Yeah, right, so anyway, the white cruciferous veggie finally made a reappearance in our Talley Farms Fresh Harvest CSA box. My preferred method of cooking cauliflower is to skillet-roast by sauteing in my cast iron skillet - with a little olive oil, a sprinkle of Hawaiian sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, a squeeze of fresh lemon, and a few snips of garlic chives for color. Oh, joy.
But this week I was going to make the Crispy Cauliflower-Carrot Fritters again and I would be doubling the recipe. Yes, it was that good.

Our weekly produce box has been bountiful with orange carrots (last year we had purple carrots). It seems as though the sweet carrots go straight from the fields into our box as evidenced by the occasional clods of dirt.

All these years I've scrubbed my carrots with a veggie brush because it seemed too wasteful to peel them. As a result the bins in my fridge were stocked with shriveled, limp, unwashed carrots. (It was such a tedious chore to scrub them.) The Man finally started taking care of carrot duty by peeling them himself, sometimes right after helping me unpack the CSA box. Nowadays, I use my favorite Kuhn Rikon peeler and the goats and chickens are happy to receive the peels and The Man gets his carrot ("it's like candy") sticks. Win-win for everybody.

The cauliflower and carrot mixture with The Girls' bright yellow egg yolks.

Love the browned blackened bits.

The first time I made the fritters I made an easy aioli-type (no-garlic) sauce with mayo, olive oil, and lemon juice but this time around I made an even easier dressing with mayo and a little shoyu. The mayo-soy sauce dressing is pretty tasty with veggies. Must be that umami thing.

Definitely a recipe worth repeating. Oh, tasty joy.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Shakedown Cruise: Part 1

The Man and I went camping. Finally. It's always been at the top of our Want-To-Do list but we had to first figure out the critter sitter situation. Although we've had many generous offers from family and friends to house-sit and pet-sit we were looking for one person we could use frequently and on the spur of the moment - whenever the travel bug bit.

Sandee recommended the pet sitter she's been using for the past several years. We gave Karen a call and she promptly made an appointment to come over and check out our situation and needs. She listened carefully to our morning and evening routine, asked questions, took notes, and didn't seem daunted by the goats, dogs, and chickens parading after us. A couple of days after her visit Karen emailed us a detailed list of everything we had discussed, it was very thorough.

  • Pet Sitter: check.

The 19-ft travel trailer we found on Craigslist was outfitted and ready for traveling. We purchased it for two reasons: mobile work office for The Man (just in case) or an escape pod in the face of a wildfire evacuation (just in case). It had not gone anywhere in the two years that we've owned it. The Handy Man added a few upgrades - laminate flooring and a porcelain toilet - ahh, the comforts of home. My galley was fully operational and the RV was shipshape for traveling.

  •  RV: check.

The Man loaded up his KLR 650 and fishing gear; I brought along popcorn, my Kindle, three knitting projects, and an assortment of Tom Bihn bags and accessories.

  • Hobbies: check.

It took us a leisurely five-hour eastward drive to the southern Sierras plus an additional two hours of driving (and walking) the three miles of dirt road to the campground. It was a deeply rutted, narrow road and unfortunately we were committed to the process - no turnarounds - once we headed down the path.

After two miles of bumping along The Man did find a pasture he could back into so we parked and walked the last mile to make sure we could make it to the campground. If the road got any rougher we would not go any further. The Man was worried about getting stuck, I was more concerned about meeting another vehicle: Who has the right of way? Who has to back up? The road was no different than what we had already driven so we continued down to Alder Creek campground.

The campground was deserted. It seemed like no one had been camping there for quite awhile.

The Man unloaded his KLR on the new ramps he customized for transporting his motorcycle. (I found out he was taking the bike when I came home from work and found my helmet, jacket, and gear laid out.)

We took off for a late afternoon motorcycle ride and somewhere on the bumpy road I lost my pillow-stuffed laptop cover, aka my seat cushion. I tried not to wiggle around too much, sitting on the luggage rack, while The Man maneuvered the bike over the rutted and rocky road. We found my seat again on the way back to the campsite and The Man tied it down securely. (It's quite comfy by the way. Really.)

In the early evening another person showed up. He drove by while we were sitting by the campfire. He didn't make eye contact or wave at us until I waved first. The next morning flickering light woke me up. I peeked out the window and saw the neighbor standing next to a mini bonfire, wearing shorts only, pouring a bucket of water over his head. Soon thereafter we heard him leave. We didn't see a tent so he must have slept in his truck.

  • Creepy Campground Neighbor: check.

Rather than spend another night we decided to leave. The dirt road was marginal at best, if it rained, we'd be stuck and stranded. 

Road Less Traveled: check.

It was a slow drive out and I sighed with relief when we touched the blacktop road.

To be continued . . . .