First Week in Susanville

Our first week in Susanville was a bit of a mixed bag.  The spot was great and we got to do some cool things, but both Lee and I got a stomach virus on Saturday which lingered into late Thursday.  It’s been so long since we’ve been sick we weren’t very prepared for it, but we muddled through and managed to end the week on a high note.  On Saturday, Jo and Ben, fellow Class of 2014 Dreamers, came to see us with their beautiful husky Peyton.  Jo and Ben are traveling nurses and took their very first contract job in Maine back when we were still trying to sell our house.  Then we got to see them again when we were both in Florida last winter.  It’s been 6 months though since we’ve been together and it was very nice that they made the trip from Reno to say hi.  A lot can happen in 6 months of this lifestyle, so we had things to talk about and it was good to get reconnected.  I was a little ambitious on the menu though, making three new menu items, and spent more time cooking than visiting which was kind of a bummer.  It was very nice seeing them though, but Lee and I both got more tired as the day went on.  After they left it was clear something was going on physically with both Lee and I.  I know you don’t need the details, but there are times when the small space and one bathroom can be a little difficult.

Despite not feeling well we still needed to get acquainted with the town and complete some grocery shopping.  Plus we made a firm commitment to ourselves that for the next several months we would commit to a new approach to the food budget.  After discussion we decided we would work on four major areas and hopefully would not only eat better, but would spend less money.

  1. Have food for travel days to ensure eating out is not necessary
    • There is a big difference between choosing to eat out on travel days and having to because you don’t have anything that can be made easily.  We have several meals that can be pre-made and are easily heated up so we have hot, filling food for travel day lunches and dinners.  The only challenging part is that you must plan ahead.  Some of our travel day meals that we prepare and freeze in advance are sloppy Joe’s, hamburgers, spaghetti, chili, leftover fried chicken, and pulled pork.  None of them are fancy, but they are definitely hot and filling, which is a good thing.  
  2. Create a weekly menu plan that includes enough meals and leftovers for most of the week.
    • Eating full meals is actually more expensive than eating “catch as catch can” throughout the week, BUT eating full meals with leftovers, if planned carefully, can actually be less expensive and certainly eliminates waste.
  3. Minimize food waste
    • First and foremost use what you have, especially any item that can expire.  Take notice of what you are throwing away and start meal planning accordingly.  For example: hamburger buns come in a pack of 8 and it’s difficult for two of us to eat 8 buns in a week.  So if I am going to buy buns I try to plan at least two meals that require them.  Better chance I can use them before they go bad.  It does lead to some restrictions on what we can eat and when, but since food waste makes Lee nuts, and the money waste makes me crazy, it is something we are willing to do.
  4. Create a shopping list that directly relates to the weekly menu plan.
    • Since we are trying to incorporate more fresh foods into our diet along with doing some bargain shopping, sometimes the ingredients come before the menu plan.  We discovered a Grocery Outlet Bargain Market here in Susanville and went to check it out prior to making our weekly meal plan.  They also have a fantastic farmer’s market here on Saturdays so again we bought fresh food first and then filled in the rest with items from the standard grocery store.

Just to be clear, we do buy name some brand items, and at this point I am unwilling to stop trying new recipes which often require more expensive ingredients.  We are just being more purposeful with our purchasing decisions and meal planning.  We are better organized, better fed, and hopefully will save on our budget. Either way since food is one of the highest variable costs we have it is important to us that we have a game plan on how we are dealing with it.

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The items they have are extremely well priced and the people who run the place were very nice

Great farmer's market for such a small town

Great farmer’s market for such a small town

We grow what we sell is what you want to see

We grow what we sell is what you want to see

So, shopping and menu planning was the primary focus of the early week along with Lee organizing the Day Camp and me getting caught up on work.  The illness just kept getting worse though until Wednesday when I actually took a sick day and slept about 10 hours.  I can’t remember the last time I took a sick day, but I felt majorly yucky.  Thankfully that seemed to mostly kick it for me, and Thursday afternoon, I decided I just needed to get out and explore a bit.  We decided to go and visit the Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corral .  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for the Wild Horses and Burros that are on federal land.  Since the horses have few natural predators, they monitor the population levels and occasionally round-up the horses when they surpass the estimated 22,000 that the land can handle.  Those they bring in are treated for illness and malnutrition, gelded,  and eventually  put up for adoption.  According to the locals it is a controversial program, because many people feel the horses should just be left alone.  I was curious so Lee and I drove over to Litchfield to check it out.  I didn’t have many expectations , but was really impressed by what I saw.  The horses are divided into large roomy pens by sex, and in the case of males, age.  They were very well cared for and many of the animals were beautiful.  They were obviously wild though as few approached us and only once got close enough for a pat on the nose.  The employee at the office was happy to let us wander and see and then afterwards she spent some time answering out questions.  After seeing it for myself I am sold on the program.  These horses are adopted out for around $125 and they live on a trial basis with the family for 1 year prior to the adoption becoming permanent and the ownership papers being transferred. In those cases where the horses cannot be adopted and over crowding becomes an issue, they are released back into the wilderness area from which they are taken.  Speaking of which, BLM never takes all the horses in an area, they just reduce the populations. According to Program Assistant Viddel, “It is not our intention to eliminate the wild horses. Simply to control the population.”  I liked her, I liked the setup, and the horses were absolutely beautiful.  Well worth a visit if you happen to be near one of the facilities in the west.

BLM Horse Corral Office

BLM Horse Corral Office

Burros

Burros

 

Lee walking down the center between the corrals

Lee walking down the center between the corrals

Look at the muscles on this horse. Amazing

Look at the muscles on this horse. Amazing

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Map showing all the areas where wild horse live

Map showing all the areas where wild horse live.  Marked in black

The mares and babies were in a separate pen...the babies were more curious but the moms were having none of it. MAkes sense since they are the most vulnerable in a wilderness situation

The mares and babies were in a separate pen…the babies were more curious but the moms were having none of it. Makes sense since they are the most vulnerable in a wilderness situation

The visit was very interesting and totally free.  If you would be interested in adopting one of these horses please keep in mind you need to arrange transport and they require a rest period after every 24 hours of travel.  They also obviously need to be gentled, but wow, what beautiful animals.

Friday was a busy work day for both of us so we really focused on work throughout the day.  Lee spent the week looking at all of Howard’s  RV-Dreams pictures so he can use some of them in the videos he is creating.  Since Howard takes more pictures than I do and has been collecting them for 10 years this is a bit of a monumental task, but important for the creative process.  He made it through 2011 this week, so hopefully by the end of next week, he will have copied all the ones he needs. Subsequently we didn’t get to do our walk through until around 5:30pm and we saw that a huge tree had fallen and blocked the bike path.  This was weird.  I mean what are the odds since it obviously wasn’t tampered with in any way.  The situation was complicated by the fact that Stan was out of the office with minor surgery and it was after hours for the maintenance man.  Lee did call Stan because we were concerned it would be dangerous, but the chainsaw on site he pointed us to didn’t work.  Finally Lee got creative, love that about him, and used a hand saw to partially cut the limb and then an axe and a rock to get it all the way.  The path was cleared and we both felt quite a bit better about the safety aspect, plus it’s nice to provide a valuable service since this is such a great site.

We were concerned because someone riding a bike fast around that corner could have an accident

We were concerned because someone riding a bike fast around that corner could have an accident

The limbs are bigger than they look and heavy wood. I couldn't lift one. Lee could but there was no where to push it to

The limbs are bigger than they look and heavy wood. I couldn’t lift one. Lee could but there was nowhere to push it to

Lee split the wood with a rock and an axe

Lee split the wood with a rock and an axe

Then he trimmed up the edges

Then he trimmed up the edges

All clear and safe again :)

All clear and safe again 🙂

Saturday was the day we had been looking forward to.  Our youngest daughter Kay has been in the Air Force for just over a year and we have not seen her since last October when we went to San Antonio to see her at her basic training graduation.  She and her boyfriend, Jake, met us in Sacramento, which is roughly the half way point between Monterey, where they are stationed, and Susanville. I would love to say we saw Sacramento, but we mainly just hung out with Kay and Jake, catching up with her and getting to know him.  The only things we really did all day were eating lunch at Chipotle and buying some LUSH face scrub at a nearby mall.  On a side note, I have never been able to use any face scrub or moisturizer in my life until I discovered Lush in Las Vegas.  All products are all natural and hand-made, they even put a sticker with the bio of the person who prepared it, and my skin, which always breaks out, loves it.  I mention this because if you are going to hang out in more arid regions face cream is a must, and I HIGHLY recommend trying Angels on Bare Skin for the scrub and Celestial for the moisturizer.  Lush stores are only in upscale malls, but worth a trip as they will try numerous products on you for free, which is how I was convinced this stuff would work in the first place.  And yes, it’s expensive, but the product lasts me around 5 months and I can’t even express how well it works.  Anyway, I digress.  Lee, Kay, Jake, and I mostly  hung out in the mall food court and talked.  I would have loved to go outside somewhere but it was HOT.  It hit 99 degrees that day, which we were not prepared for having come from the high 70’s in Susanville, and air conditioning was a bit of a must.  It was really nice seeing her and nice seeing him, plus the drive each way was absolutely beautiful as we went to Sacramento through the Plumas National Forest and drove back through the Sierra Nevadas.  Lots of driving, but so worth it to see my girl. 

We stopped to see the other end of the Biz Johnson Trail in Westwood

We stopped to see the other end of the Biz Johnson Trail in Westwood

Love Paul Bunyon and Babe the Big Blue Ox . This wasn't to bad of a statue

Love Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox . This wasn’t to bad of a statue

Huge boulders in Plumas NAtional Forest

Huge boulders in Plumas NAtional Forest

Plumas NAtional Forewt had Feather River winding through it

Plumas National Forest had Feather River winding through it

The valley leading into Sacremtno

The valley leading into Sacramento

Jake and Kay walking to meet us

Jake and Kay walking to meet us

Loves her daddy

Loves her daddy

And he loves her back

And he loves her back

They are pretty cute together

They are pretty cute together

This was her are you going to keep taking pictures face :)

This was her are you going to keep taking pictures face 🙂

 Lessons Learned 

To reduce grocery costs try the following:

  • Have food for travel days to ensure eating out is not necessary
  • Create a weekly menu plan that includes enough meals and leftovers for most of the week.
  • Minimize food waste
  • Create a shopping list that directly relates to the weekly menu plan.

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7 thoughts on “First Week in Susanville

  1. Great post, Tracy! The horse program sounds interesting. It’s funny, as I was looking at the tree, thinking ‘That Lee is a regular Paul Bunyon’….and BAM! There is Paul Bunyon! Too hilarious. 🙂

    Jake and Kay appear to be smitten with each other. 😉

    I noticed you are close to Lassen Peak. Any plans to go there?

    Jim

  2. I give you so much credit with the whole menu/grocery shopping plan! Bill and I have tried that approach more than once (ok – lots of times!) and it never seems to last very long! I agree it would make cooking much easier b/c you would eliminate last minute run-out for last minute “we don’t have THAT” ingredients.
    Great pics of Kasey with Lee! Must warm your heart!
    One last thing – I read you reply to Explorvistas above – you are expecting SNOW?!

    • You might surprise yourself. An hour planning once a week is much better than the night “what are we having for dinner” Rigmarole. Efficient, cost effective, and less wasteful…it’s a win 😀

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