Shrimp boil!

LOCATION:  Our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Overcast.  Spotty rain.  High 85

While we sipped our coffee on the driveway this morning, a Border Patrol helicopter went round and round above us.  They must have spotted some illegals.  When they see someone from the air, they radio to their counterparts on the ground who round up the illegals by truck, horseback, or bicycle.  I can’t imagine the billions of dollars our government is spending on this. 

I spent several hours reserving campgrounds and RV parks for our trip this summer.  Usually we do not like to reserve ahead of time, but this year we are thinking that it is necessary.   I  made reservations for almost every night from mid-June to late-August.  The first two weeks will be a slow trip from our house here in South Texas to southern Minnesota.  I have booked one commercial park, one state park, and three Army Corps of Engineers parks for that leg of the trip so far.  I also booked three RV parks in Montana for August. 

This Facebook memory popped up today from one year ago.  We were at the Airstream Rally called Aluminapalooza at its factory in central Ohio.  Here I am showing off my new flamingo purse.  Flamingos are a symbol of Airstreamers.  After the Aluminapalooza rally, we headed to Winnipeg where we joined our Nova Scotia friends for a summer of RVing in central Canada. 

The highlight of the day was joining our friends for a shrimp boil under their new covered patio.  We were the 4 couples who have reservations for the Canal du Midi boat trip in southern France in early October.  We kept our 6-feet social distance and ate outside with plenty of fresh air and space between us.

Besides enjoying the food, we discussed our plans.  It was decided that we will try to get the boat company to postpone our trip until September 2021.  If our flight does not get cancelled, and if Europe will allow us in, George and I will probably keep our flight and do some housesitting assignments in Italy or Spain.  We will just wait and see.

DINNER:  We have never had a shrimp boil before, but it is similar to a Louisiana crawfish boil or the fish boil done in northern Wisconsin.  A big pot of hot water with seafood seasoning was used to cook the shrimp, corn-on-the-cob, and small potatoes.  We each ate it from big cake pans on our laps so we wouldn’t  have to sit at tables.  We lucked out with the weather – the rain held off and it cooled down. A lovely evening!

Making road-trip plans!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  A bit cooler and overcast.  High 88

Every morning, George walks around our yard, making sure everything is OK.  Today he found big holes around some of our shrubs…a sign that javalinas had been digging.  Javalinas look like pigs, but are peccaries.  We have seen some in our neighborhood – often moms with their babies.  We didn’t actually see this one, but this is what they look like.

I spent most of the day happily researching campgrounds and RV parks with a possible route to Minnesota in a few weeks.  We are going to try to stay in state parks (those that are open), a few Harvest Host sites, and Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) parks.  The ACOE parks are not yet open, but may open up next week for reservations.  We like them as they are always top-notch, generally with full hook-ups, are located on beautiful lakes, and are inexpensive.  With our National Park Senior Pass, we get 50% off, so most are about $12-$15.

DINNER:  We had a package of frozen seafood mix (shrimp, mussels, calamari, octopus) to use up.  The package said it was assembled in Spain with the seafood coming from Peru, Morocco, and India.  We like to buy these packages, as they are healthy and inexpensive.  The package had a good-looking recipe on it that I thought I would try.  I soon realized that the English was goofy and that the instructions did not match up with the recipe’s ingredients.  Funny!  So, I improvised.  I made some rice, starting first with onion and garlic, then added chicken broth.  I sauteed the bag of seafood, and mixed it in with the rice.  I topped it with oregano and parmesan.  Quite good.  Salad was another caprese salad….I want to use up all my basil within the next 2 weeks. 

BOOK:. “Look Alive, Twenty-five” by Janet Evanovich.  I have read most of her books, and found this one tiresome….too much like her others.  It is a series about a female New Jersey bounty-hunter that finds herself in all kinds of dangerous/funny situations.  2 stars out of 5

Getting out to run errands

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Overcast.  Some rain.  High 88

We weren’t sure we could do water aerobics today as storms were predicted, but they held off until later in the afternoon.

After a quick lunch, we drove to town for some errands.  It is nice to get out once in a while.  The first stop was Home Depot, where George needed to get a part for the Airstream hook-up.  I stayed in the truck;  no need to have more people interaction than necessary.  Speaking of necessary….the next stop was the liquor store.  We stocked up on regular stuff, and I bought a bottle of campari for a new drink recipe (below).  Next stop was a restaurant/bar we like, as they have the best beer selection in the entire Rio Grande Valley.  They also have a nice patio area that is covered, so no need to be concerned about the rain.  As we were the only customers on the patio, we felt pretty safe from Covid, too.

I had an IPA from a Texas brewery and George had an unusual stout – aged in a bourbon barrel.  The resident cat was taking it easy….

BREAKING NEWS:  While at the restaurant, we got a telephone call from Mayo Clinic about an appointment we were hoping to get.  They are cautiously starting to see a few patients other than Covid victims.  We have been waiting to hear from them so we can plan our summer trip.  They told us the appointment is early July, so we will probably leave here mid-June.  Now I can start making a route and camping reservations.  We plan to make a loop – from here to Minnesota, then up to Montana, followed by Colorado.  From there, we will mosey back here.  If our trip to Europe is still on, we will need to be back by mid-September.  If that is off, then we will stay on the road longer. 

When I was watching a cooking show on TV the other day, they demonstrated how to make some different cocktails.  One looked good – a Negroni. With the new bottle of campari, I tried it this evening:  One  jigger each of gin, campari, and sweet vermouth.  Add a bit of orange or lemon zest.  Yum!

DINNER:  Now that we have a departure date, I need to start depleting the freezer some in order for everything to fit in the Airstream freezer.  So, tonight I asked George to cook up some chicken, brats,  and hamburgers on the grill for future recipes.  And, he warmed up pork chops for tonight’s dinner:  porkchops, cabbage, and tator tots.  Unfortunately the skies opened up while he was grilling and the fire went out! 

Another project completed

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot and sunny.  High 98

I did a yoga class using Zoom.  It was good, except the instructor’s dog yapped the entire time in the background….hard to get into the zen with that noise going on!

Then, 2 classes of water aerobics.  We rotate CDs/routines.  Today’s was the more strenuous one.  I always feel virtuous when that one is over  ūüôā

Our neighbor caught their 11th opposum last night.  “Trapper Man”, our helpful animal rescue man,  took it out of its trap and relocated it far away.  More rattlesnakes have been found, and a lot of huge tarantulas have been spotted.  If that is not enough, now we have gigantic cane toads.  Their skin has a toxin on it and if a dog licks it, dead or alive, the dog could die.

Another Facebook memory popped up today – this one from 2 years ago when we were house-sitting in Bordeaux.  We drove around in the country, getting quite lost, looking for this castle which we finally found.  It was the home of Josephine Baker, the famous burlesque dancer/singer.  The day was capped off with the most scrumptious lunch ever.  We stumbled upon a modest restaurant where they served us seared fois gras in tagliatelle in a morel sauce.  Out of this world!!!

George finished his project of the enclosure for the unsightly utility box.   He stained the wood and it looks quite nice. 

George got the wood free, from a friend redoing his fence.  We invited that couple over for cocktail and to show them the finished product.   They are fun. 

DINNER:  Chicken chimichangas.  I made this recipe a few weeks ago with fajita meat, and this time switched it out with chicken.  Very good.  They are baked, not fried, so not so sinful.

Trying to Get Fit!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot, hot – 100 and sunny

We moved our outdoor seating to the front of the house so we can enjoy morning coffee (and so I won’t run over the chairs with the truck!)  I moved the basil and mint so they wouldn’t get so much afternoon sun – they add some color to the front, too.

I was feeling energetic today —  I did a chair yoga class followed by THREE water aerobics classes!  I didn’t have much else to do, so thought I would get as much exercise as I could.

It gets quieter and quieter around here.  I saw another RV pull out today.  Some neighbors are leaving next week.  They had an elaborate RV trip planned for Alaska, but that is off.  I think they are going to Montana instead.  We are still “on hold” with our plans. 

Our monthly mail package arrived today.  We use a mail-forwarding service based in Sioux Falls.  That is considered our permanent address.  Each month I instruct them where and when to send the mail.  It works out very well (except for that one horrible experience last year in Ohio).  The arrival always brings a flurry of excitement, but today’s “flurry” lasted only about 5 minutes as there was not much inside.  Maybe next month…

There has not been any activity on the lot behind us for several days.  They may need to wait until the soil dries, after our heavy rains. 

The afternoon was spent reading.  I finished one book, and am halfway through the second!

DINNER:  Healthy and tasty:  I sauteed some mahi mahi fillets, trying to sear the outsides and keep the insides fairly rare.  Sides were rice pilaf and creamy broccoli.  If we hit the road anytime soon, I have a lot of food in the freezer that needs to be dealt with – will not fit in the Airstream freezer. 

BOOK:. “Cold, Cold Heart” by Tami Hoag.  I have read some of her books before.  Her books are about solving some gruesome crime.  4 stars out of 5

Swimming in the Rain!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Overcast.  Off-and-on rain.  High 85

Just Swimming in the Rain…..not Singing in the Rain!!

It stormed during the night Рthe lightning put on quite a show!  We got some much-needed rain.

By mid-morning, the storms had stopped so I went to the swimming pool for water aerobics.  As we started our first class, the skies opened up and it poured!  We figured we were already wet, so continued swimming.  We watched the skies for lighting, and it seemed safe.  Kind of fun!

Wishful thinking, perhaps…..I spent some time this afternoon making fire-starters for campfires – hoping that we will hit the road soon.¬† All year, I save up used toilet paper cardboard rolls and laundry lint.¬† I stuff the lint into the rolls and dab in a little Vaseline.¬† They are great to get a campfire going.¬†

This pulmeria is growing in our neighbor’s yard, and is finally starting to bloom.  Our neighbor planted it on our border so we can both enjoy it.  It is also called frangipani.  It is the flower used to make leis in Hawaii.  We are about the same latitude as Hawaii, so it should do well here.

I saw this Facebook post which shows just how far South we are.  The red counties are considered “The Valley”, or “Rio Grande Valley” or “RGV”.  Texas is a BIG state!

Another photo popped up as a Facebook memory.¬† This was from 4 years ago.¬† This was during our Australia¬† housesitting trip.¬† We were in a town called Moolalah¬† (We liked saying that) –¬† It was in the mountains near the Sunshine Coast. This cat shed a lot, and George discovered she actually liked being vacuumed!¬†

Here is our route during the 5-month housesitting assignment trip. Australia is roughly the same size as the continental USA.

DINNER:¬† Two salads.¬† First was a caprese salad, to use some of our fresh basil.¬† The second was called a Lemon Grilled Chicken in Bulgher Salad, but it wasn’t really a salad.¬† But — it was really good.¬† A nice change of pace.¬† I saw the recipe in a magazine called “Clean Eating”.¬† It is simple to make:¬† For about 30 minutes, marinate boneless chicken breasts or thighs in a plastic bag with a lot of lemon juice, pizza peppers, and cumin.¬† Then, grill.¬† Meanwhile, make bulgher according to the package directions.¬† I boiled some vegetable broth, added the bulgher, and then let it sit for 7 minutes, fluffing it up.¬† To serve, add some lemon zest, slivered almonds, and the diced chicken.¬† Top with fresh mint, salt, and pepper

Happy Memorial Day!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:   Not quite as hot.  Overcast.  85

It was a pretty low-key Memorial Day.  Our neighbors decorated their front piece of landscape with flags and lights for the holiday weekend.

One couple in the village had an open house/BBQ, but we didn’t go…..a little leery about a grouping of 30+ people with potluck. 

Instead, I did chair yoga and water aerobics classes.  George started a new project.  We have a very ugly, leaning utility box in our backyard.  When we bought the lot, we tried to get them to at least level the thing, but the utility company would not do it.  We have planted oleanders around it to try to camouflage it, but it is still an eyesore.  So, George started making an enclosure for it.

The wood just sits on the cement, and is not permanent, as we need to allow access to the utility company.  He will stain the wood and add some decorative wood pieces on top.

Then, busy boy that he is, he made a nice charcoal fire.  He cooked some bacon and chicken for future recipes, and warmed up ribs for tonight.

DINNER:  BBQ’d ribs, sauteed cabbage, and tator tots.