Oktoberfest!

The day was spent doing more of the same as yesterday…..George waxing the Airstream and trying to get the TV antenna to be strong enough for us to watch PBS. Both chores are taking longer than expected…..

I can’t stop watching the beautiful butterflies. This is the view from the front side of our house. Beyond the butterflies, you can see our palm tree (which looks much healthier than it did this past summer) and two tiny houses (just like ours) across the street. One is sold and the other is used for “stay and play” – where prospective buyers stay free for 2-4 nights as they consider buying here.

Here is George “pretending” to spray the butterflies. We hate driving fast on the highway as we hit so many!

I don’t usually mention lunch, but I will today. We try to stay away from sandwiches, as we do not need the empty calories of white bread. I try to make soups, both cold and hot, and various salads. Today I made a crabmeat/avocado salad that can be used to top a salad, or could be used as a party dip. I used surimi, (fake crabmeat) and a mashed avocado to start. Then, I added some Greek yogurt and mayonnaise. I flavored it with jalapeños, fresh basil, and salt and pepper. I served it over lettuce. I think it was fairly lo-cal and it was certainly tasty.

Then in the afternoon, I prepared a dish for a German-themed potluck dinner we are having at the clubhouse this evening. One thing I don’t like about these potlucks is the hour. Way too early for us. Happy hour starts at 4:00 and dinner at 5:15 tonight!

The potluck was a real success. Tons of food – brats, ribs, lots of different kinds of potatoes and cabbage/sauerkraut. It was nice enough to sit outside on the patio to eat.

Day of the Dead

We had a busy morning doing odd jobs around the house and trailer…..George waxed the trailer and tried to fix the house’s TV antenna (as we are trying to get TV over the air instead of wasting money on cable). I did some cleaning, then did laundry, including pillows and things out of the trailer.

Then, I participated in a water aerobics class. It was a really good workout. Now that the weather is nice, there are two classes a day. I’m going to try to make as many as possible.

After all that “work” around the house, we wanted to get out and about. First, we washed the truck, then went to the liquor store to buy tequila for margaritas for our upcoming houseguests. Then, on to a new microbrewery that just opened in Mission. Very friendly owners and nice atmosphere.

Then, we went to the town of Mission’s museum for a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Family Festival.

In Mexico, they celebrate this on November 1-2. Some people think it is just Mexico’s version of Halloween, but it is not. It is a time to celebrate with those people who have died. They build huge alters to honor their dead loved ones.

The alters include water so that the dead ones can quench their thirst for their journey back.

These also have figurines of skeletons, to symbolize that we can laugh at death itself.

There was lots of music by locals. Everything was in Spanish.

There were food stands where we bought dinner.

Some of the women and children were dressed beautifully in typical Dia de Los Muertos clothes and masks. There were people face-paining the little girl so they would have the traditional Dia de Los Muertos look. A fun evening!

The butterflies are back!

After several days of rain and clouds, the sun came out brilliantly today. With the sun came the butterflies. Here are some feasting on a bush in our front yard…

We are on a migratory path for butterflies and birds from far northern Canada as they fly to Mexico in the winter. Tragically, the nearby National Butterfly Center and the National Birding Center are right in the path of “The Wall” and will be decimated if that is built. As you can see, we are right on the border. See red dot….

We went to George’s doctor in the morning to get his leg checked out. There is so much Mexican influence here. Most Latinos switch between English and Spanish easily, sometimes starting a sentence in one language and ending in the other. The doctors’ office waiting room was made up of mostly Spanish-speaking people. Some of the older men were attired in cowboy hats and boots. Even though there was a “no solicitation” sign, it was just like Mexico…..a man came in offering a tray of cookies and cakes for sale. Then, another one came in passing out religious leaflets. It was quite a show.

We stopped in this really nice restaurant for lunch. It has an international bistro feel, with Mexican touches. We shared an order of Korean tacos. We want to come back one day, and sit in their patio.

In the afternoon, a group of Mexican guys came and washed our Airstream. They go from RV to RV in our village, and do the washing quite cheaply.

Then, in the late afternoon, we had our weekly potluck at the clubhouse. Everyone takes a side dish or dessert to share and something to grill for themselves. The clubhouse has two very nice kitchens – one inside and one outside. We took our already-roasted chicken wings and legs/thighs, charred them on the outside, and brushed them with a BBQ sauce. For my potluck contribution, I took deviled eggs.

A Busy Day in Retama Village

A good day in Retama Village…

I joined a yoga group and we had our first session in the Retama Village clubhouse this morning. We did a lot of stretching….I’m sure I will feel it tomorrow! I’ll be doing water aerobics soon, but it is still too cool.

Then, more cleaning of the Airstream – this time on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor. The small space really gets dirty while we are on the road – especially when our campsite is muddy.

After a quick lunch, I trotted up to the clubhouse for Wine Wednesdays. It was fun to meet and chat with other women….

Then, I rushed back to the house to host a couple whom we really like. We had a mostly “dry” happy hour with lots of conversation. They are from Minnesota too, and like us, have an Airstream – so we have lots in common.

DINNER: Vegetarian enchiladas, with black bean burgers crumbled up, poblano peppers, red peppers, onions and taco seasoning. Sprinkled with Mexican cheese and cilantro. I love to check out different vegetables in the grocery store. Huge bunches of cilantro are $.30. Perfectly ripened avocados for $.45 each. We get spoiled here!

Decorating the tiny house

Another busy day with cleaning and catching up. We spent about 4 hours in the clubhouse using internet – making airplane and rental car reservations for our December trip and doing financial things.

We brought this picture back from Michigan- where our daughter had been storing some of her furniture. It travelled in the back of the pick-up. Thanks to George’s great packing skills, it didn’t break! We lived in Japan in the 1970s. I taught English there in a private girls’ school. In the evenings, to supplement my income, I did private classes. One of my adult students was an artist. She drew this painting for me. She said it says, in a stylistic Japanese lettering…”In this house, a Buddha lives”. So, we can pray to it, if we would like! :-). We hung it over the dresser in our bedroom, which is quite small. The builders were quite ingenious when they built these tiny houses. The dresser fits perfectly in a built-in alcove. A queen bed JUST fits, with inches to spare.

I picked up a few herb plants, especially wanting to replace my basil that the US Customs absconded with a few months ago. We had previously bought these flower pots in Mexico, just across the border from us here. They look nice with our Mexican margarita glasses, on this outdoor stand.

So, little by little, our house is being decorated. It has a strange Japanese/Mexican/modern look to it. We like it!

DINNER: Mushroom risotto. I missed cooking risotto these last 5 months. I really can’t do it inside the trailer, as the steam coming off the rice for a long period probably would steam up the Airstream. Salad on the side. Really rich-tasting.

We voted!

Back in our tiny house, we are busy cleaning – both the Airstream after 5 months on the road and the house, dusty from having sat empty for this time period.

We also have many errands to run. One nice thing our city here does is to allow “Winter Texans” to put our electricity/sewer/garbage on vacation mode. The bill is about half the regular monthly rate while you are gone. So, we went to the Water Department to let them know we are back and to stop the vacation mode……until next time.

While we were there, at this public building, we voted. The Texas Senator race is very interesting, and currently quite tight.

From there, all around town trying to find an antenna booster for our TV. Since we don’t watch much TV, we don’t want to buy cable. We are trying to get the signal strong enough so we can at least watch the news inside the house, over the air. Happily, the TV tower with the local PBS station was restored in our absence, and we can now get PBS on the TV in the Airstream again.

We did computer work using our clubhouse’s wifi. We aren’t sure whether we will get internet for the house or not. It depends if they offer a “vacation mode” like the water department does. Meanwhile, we don’t mind walking to the clubhouse for internet.

DINNER: I roasted a whole chicken in a new Le Crueset pot I found. Strange that a whole raw chicken in the store was more expensive than a cooked rotisserie chicken. By cooking it myself, I could of course control the additives. I rubbed it with olive oil, rubbed a generous amount of salt and pepper on the bird, sprinkled on some Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar, and stuffed the insides with lemon quarters. Toward the end of the cooking, I added potatoes and carrots. It was really yummy. It also seemed very festive, like Thanksgiving. Of course, we now have chicken leftovers and chicken broth for future meals.

Back in our tiny house!

We just returned to Retama Village in Mission, Texas where we live 2-3 months during the winter – after a 5-month road trip. To recap…

We left Retama Village, in far south Texas the first week of June – getting out of Dodge when it started getting terribly hot. We travel in a 25’ Flying Cloud Airstream. Our first leg was spent mostly in Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds – always really nice and inexpensive, with our national park pass.

Leg #1 ended in Edenton, North Carolina, on the coast, where we completed a 2-week housesitting assignment through http://www.trustedhousesitters.com over the 4th of July. We really enjoyed this charming, southern, coastal town.

Then, leg #2 up through the eastern USA coast with quite a bit of time spent in our favorite place in the USA – New England. We loved Vermont’s Green Mountains and New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and then drop-dead gorgeous Maine. This trip culminated in a few days in Acadia National Park.

From there, we crossed into our friendly neighboring country Canada, where we met up with camping companions Jenny and Tony. We counted up, and we think this is the 14th time we have met up on the road, the first being in remote Newfoundland in 2013. We spent a few weeks with them in 3 national parks in New Brunswick. Absolutely smashing.

They returned to their home in Nova Scotia and we headed north to Quebec. We absolutely ADORE the Gaspe’ Peninsula of Quebec. We found a bit of paradise in a teeny town right on the Gulf of the St. Lawrence – Grande Vallee. And then……(drum roll here)…..George had a heart attack in the middle of the night. He ended up spending almost a month in various Quebec hospitals. Our memories of this period are those of the most generous, kindest people we have ever met. Everyone was so helpful, from the “911 lady” who helped us call an ambulance at the campground when it first occurred, to the Grande Vallee campground owners and fellow campers, to the hospital staffs, and to George’s hospital roommates and their spouses.

After a successful recovery, we headed south to Burlington, Vermont (with a little detour back to Gaspe’ to pick up the Airstream). From there, we headed south, hitting a few bucket list items – The Thousand Islands, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, and some famous hiking trails in Pennsylvania. We stayed in 8 different breweries and wineries (free) as part of the Harvest Host network (www.harvesthosts.com). We stopped at the Airstream factory in central Ohio to get some dents repaired that occurred in a windstorm when a tree limb fell on the top, somewhere in Maine, we think. Cosmetic damage only. Then, we moseyed on south back to Mission, Texas.

Here we have a “tiny house” which we will use as base for the next few months, until we hit the road (or skies) again.

Some highlights….

– 14,162 miles

– 5 months on the road

– 21 US states

– 2 Canadian provinces

– 1 heart attack

– 1 flat tire

– 1 housesitting assignment

– 8 Harvest Host overnights

….And lots of fun!!!!

DINNER: 2 things—-

Blog follower Bonkers asked about the quick vegetable/lentil curry from last night. Couldn’t be easier — I sautéed some onion, added chunks of a cooked sweet potato, green pepper, garlic, some chopped carrots, and some frozen vegetables. Meanwhile, I cooked the lentils – just simmered dry lentils in boiling water. I made a gravy by first making a roux = using some buttermilk (just because I had it – regular milk would have been ok).. To the gravy, I added lots of curry powder and a bit of cayenne pepper. Stirred it all together. I served all of this over rice.

Tonight’s dinner —- I desperately need to get to the local grocery store. Until then, will use leftovers….Pasta with a spaghetti sauce using onion, garlic, green pepper, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, and frozen meatballs. Sprinkle with shaved parmesan. I always make a double batch of spaghetti sauce, and freeze half for a future meal.