Thursday, January 31, 2013

Palm Desert, California Travels...

We've been home over a week now - I think it's actually taken me that long to recover! Trips to see family are always exhausting, everyone knows this, and I will never call them "vacations". Actually, our life right now, is the closest thing I'd call to a vacation for us! Of course I can say this as it's the end of January and I have only received tax info from one client, so far.

My brother's youngest son was being Bar Mitzvahed in Palm Desert, CA and it was a command performance for me. We had decided earlier in the year to not stay on the west coast and make the trek across country in late January (like we had done the prior year), it was too cold and we were really anxious to get back to Cedar Key. So this meant we would be flying back to California for the event. We were going for a week, though, so it wasn't going to be that difficult.

A perfect martini at Trio after a
grueling 3 hour mammogram!
As most of you know, I am a bit of a "planner" and I was going to put our time in the desert to good use, meaning, doctor appointments, lab work and of course hair and nail appointments as well. All of this really reduced the time we had to spend with family, but I wasn't able to get my doctor appointments taken care of when we were in South Lake Tahoe in October, so I had to do it now. Getting one's medical and dental care taken care of while on the road is a common topic among full-time rvers. We've been quite creative with some of it - our last dental appointments were with Bill's friend, whom we've recently connected with, (from the 80's in the Philippine's) in Hamlin, Texas - and I think the time before that was when we crossed the border in Yuma, AZ and had our teeth cleaned in Mexico! But there are some things that you shouldn't compromise on and one of those for me is a good radiologist to read your mammogram. I happen to have a fabulous one in Palm Desert, where my parents live, and lately I have had to go every 3-4 months so this was a perfect opportunity. (They're just watching some particular spots closely, nothing more than that.) I also went for my annual women's check-up with a new doctor down there - I figured we go to visit my parents at least once or twice a year and in a retirement community, like they live in, the doctors are really superb, so I'm going to try and set everything up there.
A stop was in order to visit our favorite tequila
Clase Azul

Along with my personal agenda we were really there for a celebration! And celebrate we did - my nephew Izak is the cutest kid with a huge personality. He's smart, confident, athletic and has style - what can I say, I'm a little biased. He did an awesome job and my brother and his wife know how to throw a party. He even made sure we had plenty to eat, plant-based.

My brother and sister-in-law with their friend, Eric the chef (center).

The best thing we did on this trip was, after five days with my parents, all the running around and celebrating, we booked a couples massage at our favorite little hideaway in Desert Hot Springs where we could unwind and relax. From there we drove into Ontario, CA where I had a tax class the following day before we flew back "home".  Needless to say we were pretty exhausted by the time we got back to Tampa and the 2+ hour drive to Cedar Key. We were both anxious for our own bed and specifically, our own pillows!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

NuRVer's Crowd Sourced Meals...

One of the hallmarks of any gathering of NuRVers seems to be crowd-sourced meals, or as you may know it, pot-lucks! Chris and Cherie started us off with a "salsa-off" and when Pace and Kylie arrived the four of us were bantering back and forth about who makes the best vegan chili, so of course you must realize what happened next - a chili and movie night!

Sam and Tracy were situated perfectly to host this event as they opened up to an empty spot directly behind us. Tracy had rigged a very elaborate pvc chandelier and we put together a bunch of tables for everyone's chili concoctions. Bill has a projector that he brought along on our travels and when we were in Slab City for New Year's last year we had an outdoor movie night. The weather was supposed to be beautiful so we thought, why not, let's do it again!
Tracy and Sam's place! I think this was before the crazy rain storm that soaked everything for about 30 minutes.
Me want PVC light fixture!!

So many choices!

Bill's projector, Sam's movie and an old white sheet we have attached to Sam & Tracy's awning. We watched Looper.
I have stolen these photos from Chris and Cherie of Technomadia, because I didn't have my phone/camera on me that evening - thanks, guys!

Next there was an Asian night, but we had a conflict with a friend visiting and missed that one, but tonight was Tex-Mex and I had found an awesome recipe for vegan "cheese" and it turned out fabulously.  There is one other vegan couple here in our group, but they were not feeling well so I didn't expect them to attend. I mentioned to Bill that since most every Mexican dish has cheese we would most likely just be eating what we brought tonight, but to my delightful surprise many people had gone out of their way to bring something that we could eat! We said goodbye to Forrest and Mary, who have been here for the last month, and we were lucky enough to have a lovely meal before the weather turned.

And to catch up....
Our friend, Brian's siblings came to visit and it was fun getting to know them.
Maria and Brian with Ernie and Buddha
We had another movie night with Sam and Tracy and watched Teddy before they left...both our good friends Sam and Tracy, and Maria and Brian are now gone, we miss them but know we'll catch them ....down the road, a piece!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Unexpected visitors!

Facebook is the bomb! Between that and our blog people have found us on the road and we've arranged some meet-ups in totally random places. Bill has A LOT of friends out there from his Air Force days and just when I think I've met them all up pops another one I've never even heard about! We got a FB post a few weeks ago from Rod who was traveling down to Key West from Nashville on a motorcycle with a friend and passing right by us. Unfortunately when he was traveling south we were in California for a Bar Mitzvah, but we would be back on his travels north which was last night. We had plans for a NuRVer Asian Buffet and Bill was making a fabulous recipe I found for Avocado Green Curry, when we got the call that Rod and his friend Eugenio were on their way and would be here around 7. Well, we knew they had been on the road all day and would be in need of a hot meal so we switched our plans and bowed out of the pot-luck, built a campfire and cleared some space for our friends and their tents.

Now Bill and I are right at the beginning of Bill's annual "on the wagon" no drinking 7 week event, so not only were we no meat, no dairy, we were also no booze! How boring is that, especially when entertaining?! Oh well, we are who we are and we cooked up an amazing meal and served our visitors beers and had a great time getting to know each other around the campfire. And did I mention it was a beautiful evening in the mid-50's with no wind! They loved our meal and were very interested in checking out the documentary that changed our eating habits, Forks Over Knives, especially once I whipped up a wonderful fruit salad sprinkled with unsweetened coconut for breakfast, followed by lettuce wraps with Florida avocados, sweet onion, tomatoes and balsamic!

We made plans to keep in touch through FB and see them in Nashville - Rod's going to go home and measure his driveway! Eugenio is quite enamored with our way of life and we gave him some tips on how to bring his lovely bride around to the idea.

They took off around noon today and Bill and I are so happy we could host them!

My award-winning salsa!

From Friday 1/4/13

Ha! The first salsa I have ever made on my own - not counting making Bill's salsa, this was my own. I had purchased some dried chipotle peppers while we were in New Mexico last October and had been waiting to  make something wonderful with them. Before I get too far into this you need to know that before I met Bill, when I was Debby Bland, I used to comment when people asked about how to pronounce my last name, that it was bland, as in how I like my food. Well, let me just say that I have come a long way baby! Bill likes his food heavily spiced and over the years not only have I gotten used to it but I actually really like things spicy now, good thing I changed my name, eh?!

Anyway, I digress, last night Chris and Cherie, of Technomadia fame hosted a "Salsa Off" for the NuRVers that are hanging out in Cedar Key this month. There are actually quite a few of us here and more arriving every day. Then there are all of those newbies that seem to be floating around the island here that are ever so excited to meet others like themselves - it seems that every time we gather there is another couple that hunts us down. I do attribute a lot of this to Chris and Cherie as they have a huge presence on the web and quite a following. We have found a few of our own "stalkers" out there (people that we don't know that follow our blog) but the Technomads have dozens, even hundreds, I am sure. They are a wealth of information for those needing help with technology on the road and before we even hit the road I got a lot of information from them on how to set up our mobile office. And so I digress again!

A Salsa Off is the absolute best way to host a gathering of random people. It's the one food that can be made in so many different ways and also the one food that just about anyone can eat. Gluten-free, vegan, freegan, vegetarian, carnivore, etc., etc., etc... So we gathered for salsa, chips, margaritas, craft beer, tequila shots, guacamole, black bean couscous and some fabulous corn cakes - quite the smorgasbord! We all had to rate our own salsa as to it's spiciness and then everyone else voted on all the salsas as well. There were winners for best fresh, best roasted, spiciest and best non-salsa - I took home the best roasted (I was the only one in that category!) and SPICIEST, which I am most proud of! Everyone that participated was treated to the cutest little solar sunflower. I had actually been coveting one of these for quite some time.

Clarke and Elaine had brought over their very awesome fire pit filled with wood and we had a great night drinking and munching and meeting quite a few new people. Maria and Brian took off to go back to the Tiki Bar and knowing that there were only two nights left there before the owners, Pat and Cindy, went on vacation for a week, we decided to join them. We received a grand welcome as we walked in and we had a great time hanging out there, except for one teeny, weeny thing....the god damn smoke! The Hideaway Tiki Bar has been quite the work-in progress for Pat and Cindy and returning after seven months the changes are really fabulous. They finally got their liquor license, but along with that came the necessity to put in actual doors and windows and when it's cold and the smokers start lighting up it is quite unbearable for those of us who do not like to breathe in tobacco....can't wait for the weather to warm up when we can open up everything!

Bill always dressed for the occasion, thanks to Slider Magazine for yet another,great pic!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Year’s Trailer Trash (TiTi) Hash #4 2013

posted by Bill

Unfortunately, the end of the world hash scheduled for December 22, 2012, the day after the Mayans thought the world would end, had to be cancelled due to a lack of hashers. Fortunately, the Mayans were wrong and the world didn’t end, so we rescheduled the hash for December 29th, hoping for a better turnout. Unfortunately, this hash, too, was cancelled due to a lack of interest and some bad attitude. Nonetheless, the TiTi’s persevered and finally got a hash organized for New Year’s Day with one of the biggest turnouts yet for a TiTi hash.

Missy Pissy showing Just Sam, our Beermeister
 a good place to hide the beer wagon.

Our hares were Lycktonite and Missy Pissy. This was the virgin lay for Missy Pissy and Lycktonite’s first time haring without an experienced co-hare. Since Missy Pissy had to work most of the time the week before the hash, Lycktonite did the majority of the planning, and from what I could tell when she got home from scouting, she was really enjoying the experience.

Rock Cock (St Patty's Day) and Missy Pissy (4th of July) getting ready for Chalk Talk
Hashers like to dress up and themed hashes have become the norm for the Trailer Trash hash. there was an overwhelming plea for a "Dress as your Favorite Holiday Hash." We had some very interesting holidays represented from Arbor Day to Halloween and even a Talk Like a Pirate Day!

eXceSs (Pirate), Just Tracy (May Day), Just Erica (Halloween)

Just Shaun (Arbor Day)
Cedar Key is a tough place to hash, as the island is small, narrow and it’s hard not to double back on your trail, so our hares decided to go with an A to B trail that started at the museum on the northern tip of the island. The trail took us out to a really cool dilapidated (and somewhat sketchy) boardwalk that led to a pier where a bottle of Mudslides awaited. We all sat in a circle and enjoyed the moment and the shots. We brought the bottle with us the rest of the way and had frequent stops to replenish our energy.

Co-hare Missy Pissy leading trail
We soon found ourselves at another back check that took us back to the previous check. From there things got a bit confusing for the pack and we wound up running down the main road off the island and missing all the delicious shiggy that the hares had planned for us. We all fell for the false trail at the airport and were rewarded with a beer check on our way back set up by our beer angel, Just Sam. The hares were there waiting for us too and after finishing our beers they directed us back toward the high school, where we picked up the last section of trail that took us to the On In at a beach near downtown Cedar Key. Rock Cock, Just Shaun and I played a bit of soccer while running down the road with a golf ball we found on trail.

After some cajoling by the pack, I was persuaded to run an actual circle rather than the half-assed circle I was trying to get away with. We had lost Just Lucy and Just Porky before the end due to some whinging excuse about a broken leg or something, so for circle we had the hares, Rock Cock, virgins Just Shaun and Just Erica, Just Sam, Just Tracy, and me. After introductions, we ran through normal down downs, including the choice for the virgins to sing a song, tell a joke, or show an intimate body part. I can’t remember what Shaun did, but I can tell you that Erica has a piercing somewhere very interesting.

After circle we loaded up in Sam’s car and went back to the start to pick up our cars and head home. Lycktonite and I took the canoe out for a spin to top off a gorgeous day, the first one we’d had in a long time.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Year's Eve in Cedar Key

Since we have been full-timing we have had some pretty epic New Year's Eve experiences. Within our first six months on the road we were meeting the people of for a month in Quartzite, commencing with New Year's Eve. Little did we know at the time the effect these people and that month would have on our travels. That night certainly set the bar high for informal gatherings of like-minded people and our second New Year's Eve in Slab City raised it even further. I'm not sure if it's the people, or the place, or maybe even a little bit of each that have made those events so epic. This year things were a bit different as we were at an rv park, not out in the open desert, but we tried to rekindle that same feeling.

There is a huge space of land right behind our rig that is used for storage during the spring and summer months when the snowbirds fly home and leave their rigs here. Sam and Tracy are parked right next to that and staged their rv backwards so they open up to us and the open storage area. Our Nu friends, Clarke and Elaine, have this awesome firepit (an old washtub) which they brought over and, along with Chris and Cherie, they filled it with wood for our evening under the stars. It sits high and has numerous holes in it for superb heat distribution.

We headed over to the Tiki Bar to begin our celebrating there. People were bringing snacks to share so I roasted a ton of red potatoes with garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes and brought them along. They are an easy vegan snack that others seem to enjoy as well. We meandered back to the "Nu" party and settled in for some chill fire-dancing by Cherie and Sam and Tracy's cool huge sparklers that we played with for hours. Bill made his yummy key-lime bars and I think if Marie and Brian hadn't showed up when they did we would have all missed midnight we were having such a good time! We toasted with several bottles of champagne and hung out for just a bit ...most of us left around 1-ish but a bunch of the boys hung out for some bonding time. One of the super cool things about getting together with our rv-ing friends every now and again is that you are able to bond with other people who are having similar experiences to yours. Most of us spend a lot of time as "couples," which we all love, but there is something special about hanging out with those of the same sex and having the opportunity to have different types of conversations.
Nu friend, Jay, who also takes all those great pics from Slider Magazine

Maria and Brian's friend's Shaun and Erica came to visit from Austin

Brian on the right and Pat tending bar

Tracy and Elaine getting their party on!

Maria and I always having fun...
Jay and Bill - watch out Jay's going to pull out the bar dice!

Shaun and Erica again

Russ, who's staying at our park for the winter and Tina, a visitor to the Low-Key from the SF Bay area.

Maria, always happy to play with fire!

Maria sporting her awesome mask from the Tiki Bar

I just love it when Bill is outside working on the rig and Sammy wanders over to see what he's working on, and's getting to pick your neighbors, one of the great perks of rv-ing...if you don't like yours, well, just find a new one!

2012 ended and 2013 started with no great fanfare but a mellow continuation of a life that I am getting better at living each day, what about you?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Christmas with Doano and Scott 2012

One of the reasons we are spending the winter in Florida is because Bill's mom, Doano, lives in the Clearwater area, just under 3 hours from Cedar Key. Bill's brother, Scott, lives in Richmond, Virginia, and usually comes down to Florida to spend Christmas with his mom and this year we were going to be in Florida early enough to join them. It was perfect timing as we had about 10 days to get settled into our site and greet our friends - especially perfect because we had someone around to check on Bebe while we were gone.

We had an easy drive into Tampa and stopped for lunch on our way. Scott had made a reservation for us at their "usual" Christmas spot but we had no idea where that was or what kind of plant-based options we would have, so we brought a lot of stuff from "home" and stopped to pick up more to get us through a couple of days - and what a good idea that turned out to be!

We started out Christmas day with a lovely walk across the bridge, which is just a few steps from Doano's house, over the intercoastal waterway to Belleair Beach and after opening a few fun gifts we settled in for a lazy day of reading, napping, noshing, and tv watching.

For some unknown reason Scott and Doano had cancelled the restaurant reservation and ordered a holiday turkey dinner from Publix. They had eaten one of these meals before and thought it was great. Bill and Scott headed over to the market around 6 to pick up our (as advertised) "ready to eat' meal only to find the dinner for 4-6 people was not available and only the 8-10 person meal was available and that meal was FROZEN!! Hmmm....not so good, but we didn't care because there really wasn't anything we would eat anyway and as luck would have it we had brought a delicious navy bean soup, that Bill had made the night before, down with us and a bunch of greens and vegetables for a lovely salad. So a very healthy Christmas meal was had by all and I don't think any of us were one bit upset about the "upset"!!

I had done a little vegan-friendly Christmas day restaurant scouting and had found a Thai restaurant, with good reviews, that was open. We over ordered, as we usually do, to provide for some yummy leftovers and we all had a great time!
Yummy Thai food!
Scott left early the next morning and after doing a few loads of laundry we set out for Costco and Whole Foods and while I was there Bill went to MacDill AFB to exchange some shoes at the BX and (unfortunately) get his hair cut! When he came back to get me I barely recognized him - but he got quite a few comments from friends about how "dapper" he looked, so I guess it wasn't all bad! We stocked up on all the little necessities you can't find on a little island of 700 people, did a little shopping for some friends there too and off we went back to our little nest which was quickly filling up with many NuRVers.