Saturday, October 16, 2021

Super busy playing catch-up at home

 A lot has been happening in the last couple of weeks what with the mandatory cleaning after being gone for 4 months and the (sometimes) big efforts of restocking the freezer with our favorite "easy" meals. These are the time-consuming, many ingredient dishes that take most of the day to prep and cook, like lasagna or elaborate main dish casseroles, or fancy side dishes. I don't always feel like cooking from scratch -every- night! 

More on this Lasagna later

When you are seasonal, whether to-and-from a house, an RV or a boat you can be faced with big problems or issues once you arrive back at it. Guess what kids, this is true going in both directions - double the fun, haha 😁. With any luck you may only be faced with smaller inconveniences like a build up of dust, some sporadic (hopefully non-persistent) mildew smells, some weeds in the yard and just lots of laundry, lol.  

Time for a change to the fall regalia inside and out.

We are pretty practiced in the art of "seasonal" after the several years of back and forth between the house and sailboat. We do a lot of things to try to bulletproof against major issues while we're gone, such as draining the hot water heater, shutting off the water at the street, plastic sheeting over the entertainment center, flipping off most of the breakers in the fuse box and making good use of our hurricane shutters.  However, over the years we have still encountered a few non-ideal issues such as a small roof leak in the florida room after a tropical storm has passed through the area. Oh well, into every life a little rain must fall.

We consider all these efforts to be a fair trade-off to getting to enjoy a nice change of scene once a year, rather like paying a toll to that Troll under the bridge.

So, that's what's been happening around here; vacuuming, dusting, lemon polishing, floor mopping, garage cleaning/organizing, leaf blowing and weed pulling and cooking - did I mention cooking??

One of our favorite casseroles is King Ranch Chicken. I talked about that in the last blog I guess. Another favorite is Spinach Lasagna with meat. That one is a big deal to make as well. There used to be a cooking show on TV that epitomized my style called "Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee". I do that all the time to save time, which means for this recipe I am using jarred spaghetti sauce as a base. Into that I will add canned diced tomatoes, sautéed onions, mushrooms and bell pepper, priana tomato pesto, red wine, herbs & seasonings, browned ground beef and italian sausage. Let me tell you, in my book that's homemade! And that's just the sauce. 

BTW, I made plenty of extra sauce so that; a) I don't run short while building the lasagna, and b) I end up with a couple of freezer containers of spaghetti sauce I can draw upon for easy meals.

 So you can imagine all the additional steps for the filling, and building the layers. Like I said, all day job. I finally broke down and bought a new Anchor Hocking deep 9 x 13 casserole dish so I can get 3 layers and no spillover.

Thing of beauty - mellows well in the freezer too!

Having a dedicated sewing/crafting room means I can leave a jigsaw puzzle on the table, no problem. I prefer 500 pieces or less as I can knock them out pretty quickly, and they are readily available at either the thrifts or Ollies etc. I use a poster board as a base for the puzzle while under construction, and use the plastic chopping mats ($1 @ Dollar Tree) for the pieces. That way if I need to use the table for something else I can easily put the mats on top of the poster board and move the whole kit and caboodle somewhere else.

It seems like I only get about 5 hours of solid sleep a night, so sometimes I'll get up in the middle of the night and work on the puzzle as a way to lull me back into snooze mode.

Well, that's about all for now. Thanks for taking the time to read this.  I'll leave by saying  "sleep tight (over the winter) Rustic, we'll see you next year." 

Final evening scene next to the Poudre River @ Rustic, Colorado

Leave a comment if you have a minute.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Cross country trip home, King Ranch Chicken, Meatloaf and Meatballs w/Spag Sauce

Well we got things all wrapped up at Rocky, including the last hour or two in the rain - 😒  - oh well, it all got done and things are ship-shape until the next time. Here's a shot of the buttoned-up rig.

The trip home was the usual combination of dread, boredom plus the unexpected highlights. A few shots from a fairly standard route through Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee then Georgia to Florida.

Here are some shots taken along the way.

A lot of flat to start with, a lot of grains, corn and cattle.


Here's a few more.

Ms. Google Maps treated to this route bypass on
a "nice" gravel road through this beautiful rural area. 
I was slow on the uptake on the picture front (I was driving at the time)
and missed another glory shot along the way. this one's pretty good though.

Here's a great shot from somewhere else (Missouri?) 

And a selfie, the first I've ever taken, that I suckered the Boss into..

Yes, he's driving - The camera made it look reversed, Confounding, lol.

We ran into a lot of fog in Tennessee in the Smokies.  

Luckily it burned off pretty quickly. It was pretty ethereal I must admit.

We made it back to our home and got started unpacking, getting settled  and getting things squared away.  Next up starts the whole shopping, cleaning and cooking delicious meals that will fill up our freezer.

First up, I made King Ranch Chicken which netted us 7 two-person delicious dinners. So good, we love that recipe.

Ingredients for our version of King Ranch chicken, not including
all the rotisserie chicken, a can of Rotel tomatoes & chilies
 and a few sprinkles of frozen sweet corn.

Here's the end results; YUM!

So I couldn't stop there, I had to make something out of all the ground beef and Italian sausage I had shopped-up, so it was going to be meatballs, meatloaf and spaghetti sauce. Lots of mincing up of celery, carrots, onions, mushrooms, green olives and garlic, but it all came together in one wonderful, hardworking day. I'm excited about actually getting the freezer stocked up on easy meals!!

Well, onward to the next set of chores, challenges and the daily business.

Hope y'all are doing fine, and thanks for tuning in for this missive.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Last hurrah for auto-touring and upcoming departure

 Well, it's quickly approaching our departure date and we better hop-to-it to get our chores completed. That means cleaning, organizing and eventually winterizing Rocky for the upcoming snow season. We will go through our clothes collection, and pack up the remaining dry goods, cans and jars of food stuffs to bring back home (between the bears and potential freezing temp's it's good just to do a clean sweep). We've started to get busy.  Last night it got down to 34° and I'll bet there was a light dusting of snow in the higher elevations, we're at 7200'.

A few days ago we made a big loop up towards Mt. Evelyn and saw some truly diverse and beautiful landscape. We packed up our sandwiches and fritos, cold drinks too and headed out around 10am. Here are a few shots of this area north of Red Feather Lakes.

We knew it was going to be a great day of sights.

Cherokee Range Wildlife Area

It's kind of hard to see but we're following 
the road you see in the middle of the shot.

Talk about a little bit of everything, butte's, lunarscapes
and lush tree'd slopes too.

A pretty pond in the middle of nowhere

Same pond, looking the other way - so pretty!

A bit blurry, but we've got horses!

Aspens changing color

Getting into ranching country

These folks have some wonderful views 

Talk about layers upon layers - a long view for sure!

Bumper crop of hay, not a bad office is it??

Thanks for bearing with me, lots of shots I know, but I couldn't resist.  Our route was mostly on dirt roads and took us 6 hours. A long day for sure, but we wouldn't have passed it up.  We were astounded that there was that much diversity in the landscape, all within ~60 miles of Rustic.

A great way to burn in the Colorado scenery to tide us over until next year. Thanks for checking it out, and feel free to leave a comment. Next blog might be from the road - stay tuned.

Monday, September 13, 2021

"Big Boy" - UP No. 4014, Snowy Mtns drive through and fresh veggies.

Union Pacific's No. 4014 - Big Boy

The other day the famous Union Pacific "Big Boy" engine made it's appearance in Greeley, Colorado, about an hour away, and Ed decided to make his way down the canyon and over to check it out. Ed's maternal Grandad, after serving in WWI, was a railroad man his whole career so there was some early exposure and instant fascination for trains during Ed's pre-teen days, and even now.

In case you don't know about it, here's a snippet from the Union Pacific website:


Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad, the first of which was delivered in 1941. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds. Because of their great length, the frames of the Big Boys were "hinged," or articulated, to allow them to negotiate curves. They had a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement, which meant they had four wheels on the leading set of "pilot" wheels which guided the engine, eight drivers, another set of eight drivers, and four wheels following which supported the rear of the locomotive. The massive engines normally operated between Ogden, Utah, and Cheyenne, Wyo.


What an impressive beast! There was quite a crowd of enthusiasts present.

The next day I encouraged Ed to take a long exploratory drive up to Wyoming to check out the Snowy Mountains area. I had plans to continue with the deep cleaning chores I had started the day before in preparation for our winterization/departure later in the month.

Trusty Steed

Snowy Mntns view

Another view

Chillin' out after dinner (had to use the flash, boo).

It was a very enjoyable day for us both. Again, it was quite hazy so you may be better served by googling the Snowy Mountains for better pics.

It's been a great weekend for fresh produce as my neighbors on both sides shared some of their garden goodies with us. Cherry tomatoes, luscious orange tomatoes, bell peppers and a cucumber! Yum!

I *love* my neighbors!

Getting started making stuffed bell peppers. Onions, zucchini, 
celery, cherry tom's and orange tom's chopped up, then fried up with
 the italian sausage, add the black beans and green salsa, taco
seasoning,  garlic & herbs powder, and onion powder prior to
adding the rice and stuffing the parboiled bell peppers. Topped
with sharp cheddar and bake for 30 minutes @ 325.

Finished product with a scatter of fresh sweet onion and
cilantro and a squeeze of sour cream - YUM!

That's how the last week or 2 shaped-up for us, thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Auto-touring northwest from Rustic along Deadman Rd then down the Laramie River Rd

 It was a great day to make up a sandwich and take a ride north to Deadman Road, up to Deadman Lookout at the top Deadman Hill, elevation 10,600', then down the beautiful Laramie River Road (county road 103) which runs south through the North Middle Mountain area.

Up at the Lookout there was plenty of logging work going on and it sure made a mess of things looks wise. 😦 There were some pretty sweet views but it was a hazy day.

Deadman Lookout logging activity.

During our lunch break the Boss spotted a golden eagle - cool! Couldn't get a pic though.  Leaving the area we came across a very pretty area, a small creek and meadow with a gorgeous mountain view!! (At least it would be without the haze/smoke.)

Too bad it was so hazy, but what lovely views.

A great leg-stretching opportunity for us both.

I wouldn't have minded a summer cabin around there but the grocery shopping would probably be harder (or at least lengthier) than it is here in Rustic. Did I mention we were on a dirt road most of the day?

We lollygagged around there for a few more minutes then headed onward to the Laramie River road area.  Wow! Another really pretty area, a long, high valley with mountains and hills on both sides.  

This is my kind of scenery, long views with mountains bracketing both sides.

We saw 2 herds of game animals; one herd of 7 pronghorn antelope and another smallish herd of deer? pronghorns? not sure.  It was exciting to see game in the wild. Also there were horses along and in the road - open range or escapees??

They blend in pretty well but you can see them if you squint.

South end of a northbound horse anyone? 
BTW, they didn't pay any attention to us as we drove by!

Further down the road we passed a couple of large spreads. I liked the look of the corrals, the yellow flowers and, of course, the mountains (with small patches of snow on a few).

Another cool visual was this view of a partially mown hayfield. Too bad the haze makes it look so washed out and flat.

Finally we crossed a moderately-sized creek and another large pasture with horses(!) out and about.

Half Mile Creek, runs out of the mountains
to the east and into the Laramie River.

This really gives you the scope of the landscape.  Just  B_R_E_A_T_H_E  - Aaah.

Finally, to wrap up this "getting pretty long" post, one shot of a yummy dinner; meatball & veggie alfredo. It was a long day and we were pretty tuckered by the time we got home. Having a heat 'n eat meal ready to serve was a lifesaver. Did you know you can easily reheat pasta in either the microwave or in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil - YES!

Meatloaf-style meatballs and sautéed veggies in alfredo sauce
over thin spaghetti with 9 grain bread and Kalamata olives. 

Happy end to a great day.

Well, thanks for taking a few minutes to catch-up, and I hope you enjoyed it.