Changing Relationships

So here I am on Monday morning, awake at 3am…not sure why I can’t sleep…I’m not upset or anything, but I woke up with a thought and I felt I wanted to use the time to write about it.  The thought was that you could take your current relationship and plop it into an RV and live your life or you could use this lifestyle as a catalyst for change.  Any couple that is solid and stable enough to stay the same through this process, more power to you, but we are finding that the change in scenery is  also changing our relationship. The thought doesn’t upset me, and despite the evidence to the contrary it doesn’t keep me up at night, because as Lee says, the change is an organic one and at least for us it’s part of this whole process.  We started all of this by recognizing that being empty nesters was barreling down on us and we needed to make some changes as a couple to survive that.  I’m serious about that…despite being married for 25 years, knowing each other since we were 14 and 16, and truly liking each other, we both saw the handwriting on the wall so to speak that because we had drifted apart if we didn’t take steps to remedy that we would eventually be in trouble.  Neither of us are people who settle in life.  We both want and even demand high levels of quality in our relationships, each other, our work situations, our children etc.  It doesn’t make us easy people and we certainly weren’t easy parents, but I think that this desire for excellence comes from the right place.   We want to be better and have always demanded as much from ourselves as we have from others.

So we knew we would never be the couple that stay married and just sort of tolerate each other.  I can see how people drift into that, though.  Once the kids are gone and financial pressure lessens, and life in general gets easier, it’s nice, and you don’t want to rock the boat.  You relax a bit, get complacent, and then next thing you know you stop working at your relationship.  As all things without change, the marriage gets stagnant and ultimately the people themselves get stagnant or they go looking outside the marriage for what they are not finding within it.  We’ve all seen it and many of us have experienced it, so Lee and I were acutely aware of what could happen and decided in advance we wanted to do what we could to head it off at the pass. There are lots of reasons people start full-time RVing.  The desire for adventure, wanting to live with less rules, the need for simplicity in their life, there are a myriad of reasons.  But for me the absolute number one reason was a desire to strengthen my marriage.  Let me be absolutely clear here…we were not in trouble.  Things were good, probably better than they have ever been for us, but as I said I could see down the path of what could be and since absolutely nothing is more important to me than my relationship with my husband, I wanted to do everything I could to give us the best chance possible.

It’s interesting because this lifestyle was a huge risk.  It has put levels of pressure on our marriage that we haven’t felt since we were very young adults with babies, but that pressure feels to me like the pressure needed to make a diamond.  For those of you going through it, you’ll get it, but let me try to explain: You take two people who love each other, are friends, and have known each other for a long time.  You take most of their stuff away from them, put them in a 400 square foot box, and make them live together while changing their exterior environment frequently.  Wow. Put that way it sounds like a reality show.  But stripped down to its basics that is really what we are doing here.  Yes, we get to see amazing places, yes we are checking bucket list items off left and right, but when those things aren’t happening we are living our regular day-to-day life and the rules above apply. So the rewards are amazing but it can be extremely hard.  But as Lee and I often remind ourselves, nothing in our life that was ever worth anything came without a cost.  To quote Tom Hanks from the movie A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard.  If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

It has been hard on our relationship these last few months but it’s also been great for our relationship.  We are talking more to each other than we have since we were young together and trying to figure it all out.  We are challenging each other to be better. And most importantly we are loving each other more deeply. So respectfully, for those couples who have taken their old relationship and plopped it into this new life intact,  you might be missing out on a great opportunity here.  It’s scary to mess with something that matters so much and tough to meddle, especially when it isn’t broken, but the reward in this case (in my opinion) is well worth the risk.

Day 2 of the Black and White Photography Challenge

I am participating in the Black and White Blog photography challenge where every post for 5 posts I am showing a black and white photo along with nominating a friend to also participate.  Today I nominate Cori Young, my very good friend who has a new camera and a new blog to take up the challenge.

I'm really enjoying taking these black and white photos

I’m really enjoying taking these black and white photos.  Lee said this was his favorite because it told a story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipes

Stir Fry Rice Noodles with Pork

Since my trip to the Asian Market I have been trying different recipes.  We tried three different recipes with rice-stick noodles and this was definitely the winner.  It’s not that difficult (as these recipes go) and the flavor was super yummy.

  • 8 oz rice-stick noodles
  • 4 TBL vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 pound thinly slice lean pork
  • 4 TBL soy sauce (separate)
  • 1 (10 0z) can chicken broth
  • 16 oz shredded cabbage (you can use the bags in the grocery store pre-cut for cole slaw)
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded carrot
  • 4 green onions (finely chopped with greens separated from white part)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  1.  Soak rice stick in a bowl fully covered with water for 30 minutes then drain well
  2. Heat a wok over high heat; Add oil and heat until lightly bubbling
  3. Add garlic, then pork and stir-fry for two minutes moving pork frequently
  4. Add 2 TBL soy sauce and stir fry two minutes longer or until pork absorbs most of sauce
  5. Add broth and 2 TBL soy sauce
  6. Stir in chopped cabbage, shredded carrot, and chopped green onion bottoms; Cover and cook for two minutes
  7. Add noodles and pepper; cook stirring for two minutes or until noodles absorb most of liquid
  8. Spoon onto platter and sprinkle with the white part of the chopped green onions
Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Pork

Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Pork

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First Time Paddling on the Connecticut River

Hello everyone…it’s been a busy week, but for those who are just interested in the paddling, scroll down and it’s one of the last things we did 🙂  As of this week we are living in the RV all of the time. No, unfortunately the house hasn’t sold, but we’d much rather be here than at the house, and since we paid for a seasonal site, this is where we are staying.  I traveled on Wednesday this week to Philadelphia but other than that worked from home base on Thursday and Friday.  Thursday was OK, but there were many, many large banging sounds from nuts falling on the camper. It’s startling,  really, and so loud.  Lee explained Thursday night that a squirrel is climbing a tree high above our camper and eating nuts there so a bunch of shells are banging the top of the camper from very high heights.  I asked if we could “wing it” with a pellet gun or something and Lee looked horrified.  Seriously, I love animals but it was distracting and that squirrel can eat somewhere else!   I also cooked during the week, which is a huge benefit of working from the camper.  I am not a huge fan of pork, but Lee loves it, so I made some pork with a maple syrup and balsamic vinegar glaze on the campfire and some rice.  It was very easy and Lee gave it an enthusiastic two thumbs up.  (To be fair, it was really two thumbs up one at a time, in order that I could eat uninterrupted. – Lee) The recipes for this week are all listed below.     The best part of Thursday was 9pm when we got a phone call from Kay.  I was so sure the call would come on Wednesday night when I was flying home, or otherwise unable to answer the phone, but thank heavens we were both together and in our camper.  Kay cried for a minute or two but then pulled herself together and said although the first week was rough she had “gotten her shit together” and they made her an element leader.  She seemed a bit bewildered that they would have chosen her for that but felt honored by it.  I can already hear the difference in her voice.  Say what you want about the process but it is life changing for everyone who has gone through it.    We both breathed a big sigh of relief that she was OK and I immediately booked our tickets and hotel for her graduation in October.

Friday there were much fewer “nut bombs” hitting the camper.  Maybe he heard my  evil thoughts and decided to move on, but Jill, our resident chipmunk was out in force and seemed happy to see me.  I tend to feed her throughout the day and she was super cute climbing in and out of our wood pile.  We knew the quiet was coming to an end though because it was Labor Day weekend.  I have to say our neighbors behind us  have been MUCH better.  Sometimes they visit and I barely know they are here.  Unfortunately, the site across from us is now occupied and their dog is a barker.  I understand how difficult it is to stop a dog from barking, but it does bug me when the dog barks and they make no attempt to correct it.  Seeing how much time our friends Jo and Ben spend correcting their dog’s behavior I think it’s really laziness to let a dog behave like that. Another issue that we dealt with is that while we’re here, someone has been parking in our sticks and bricks driveway.  Yes, you read that right, and the nerve it takes to just park in someone’s driveway astounds me.  Lee has been coming home sometimes in the morning, and for lunch every day, and has seen the car numerous times.  Needless to say at first it freaked him out but then he finally got annoyed enough to call the police.  At first they didn’t want to do anything, but he was adamant and they agreed to run the plate and contact the person parking there and tell them to stop.    Despite the barking dog , overall, Friday night was good and not nearly as noisy as I expected.  I was pretty tired from a long work week so we ate some leftovers and went to bed.

Saturday we decided to get up and hit the sales.  Last year we stocked up on several “seasonal” items such as bug spray, tiki fuel, and other camping stuff and saved a ton of money and I was excited to go again.  Plus we have run out of kindling and were looking for a new bag of it.  We drove north and stopped at several little feed stores, hardware stores,  lumber yards, etc.  Didn’t have a lot of luck finding anything but the day was beautiful and we had a good time.  Finally we made it to Mr G’s Liquidation Center and hit the mother load.   When the kids were small and we were broke we went there semi-regularly to stock up on canned goods and unusual items.  They have what they have, but prices are 30% -60% off what you find elsewhere.  Plus it’s like a treasure hunt and super fun.  We stopped going once the kids got older and we started to make a little more money, but now that we are trying to live on a budget thought it would be a great time to revise the tradition.   It was awesome!!  First of all, I felt great about what I got for the $150 I spent versus always feeling slightly ripped off when I go to a regular grocery store. In addition, they have items that are difficult to get here in the northeast anywhere else.  I bought two Plochman’s mustard (my absolutely favorite) and numerous cans of Pennsylvania Dutch mushrooms which I love and haven’t seen for years up here.  After all that shopping I was tired, so we headed back to the camper to meet the cable guy.  One of the necessities for spending the next couple of months in the camper was getting our cable box out here.  It was more complicated than I would have thought, so they sent out a cable guy and he and Lee tinkered until they got it to work.  If we were in a new place with things to explore TV would not be such a big deal, but since we’ve seen most everything in this area TV will continue to be a staple of our entertainment ..at least in the short-term.   After the cable guy left Lee took the trash down and ran into our sticks and bricks neighbor, his dad, and the former owner of our house.  Turns out the new S&B neighbors two doors down have been parking in our drive way and our S&B neighbor across the street did tell him we had not moved, but he continued to park there.  Well now we have a name with the car and I will be addressing it if it happens again.  Also it was nice for Lee to talk to Steve, the former owner of the house.  They raised three kids in the house and then moved when the last one graduated, and now we are doing the same.  Steve felt it was priced right and knows there is nothing wrong with the house, it’s just a lousy market right now.   We know that as well, but it was nice to get some validation.   They were all staying in the group site at the front of the campground, and I thought it was nice that they  were still friends and got together.

Although the campground had a pot luck event on Saturday we stayed at our site.  It’s time to sign up for next year and they had a band, potluck, and fireworks.  I have to say I have been very disappointed with the lack of events this summer and Lee and I have never really connected with the community (such as it is).  Although I like the couple who run the campground, I thought it was a little transparent that they scheduled an event just when it was time to sign up again.  Lee has asked me about it, but I said no.  My main problem is we cannot easily get our camper in and out of the site it’s in…which is not their problem, but also I feel their security is very lax which is.  With everyone up at the party we were looking forward to some quiet time, but the people across from us had gone up and left their dog in the camper.  That dog barked constantly for over four hours.  We had dinner, baked potatoes with chili and cheese  (which Lee loved; recipe is below), and finally I couldn’t take it anymore and asked him to go talk to the owners.  As soon as he walked up to them they looked upset and said “Barking Dog?”  On the one hand it’s nice to not be the only complainer, on the other hand if they knew it was an issue why didn’t they take care of it sooner?? Jill told Bill to go find them down listening to the music and make them take care of it.  Again, I understand how tough it is camping with dogs, but either buy that dog a bark collar or don’t go off to party and leave it alone.  Eventually, they came back and the dog barking stopped and we settled in to watch a movie.  Don’t get me wrong, we expect some noise on weekends, especially holiday weekends, but there is some camper courtesy that needs to be shown.

Sunday was a lazy day…well lazy for me, but Lee was bound and determined to fix a sound problem with the TV.  It involved two trips to Radio Shack and some grumbling, but he eventually hooked the TV up through the camper stereo. In the process he discovered that the radio was never hooked up to the antenna and he was pissed.  Overall our Open Range experience has been a good one, but when he runs across a situation where the builders cut a corner he gets mad.  I recommended he call the manufacturer and complain and we will see, but now we know why we can only get one radio station at the campground.  (Seriously, this is not at all cool. They just didn’t run a line from the antenna to the stereo, and now, to correct, a line has to be run through a finished, insulated camper. That should have been done when it was constructed. I really like listening to the radio, and if I’m not going to be able to, then I should have paid a few hundred less for the camper.- Lee) For dinner tonight we had some chicken on the campfire…just so-so, the recipe didn’t make the cut, but I also made (for the first time) Potato-Pepperoni Hash.  I thought I would try it because I liked all the individual ingredients (those who cook know that doesn’t always work out) but it was fantastic.  Definitely adding it to my new favorites and the recipe is listed below.  (She’s not kidding, she loved it. She ate all of it. Normally she leaves some food on her plate, and I get a  little bonus extra dinner, but this time she scarfed it all up, and now I feel faint from lack of nourishment. – Lee) Super super muggy at night so we turned on the air.  I have to say the AC in the camper is amazing even thought we are only on 30amp.  VERY pleased.  Oh one other thing about Sunday; I have read in blogs (and our friend Greg confirmed) that when the weekend campers leave you can scavenge their wood.  Been wanting to try this and finally the tent site near ours left a huge pile.  Lee and I went and got it and although I felt great about the free wood, felt vaguely guilty as well as if I was doing something wrong.  I know it makes no sense as the owners of the campground would just pick it up and resell it, but like I said felt weird.  That being said we go through a lot of wood and I don’t think we can pass the leftovers up.  (I really can’t make up my mind about this. On the one hand, if someone leaves wood behind, obviously they are doing that because they don’t want to take it with them, and they’re leaving it for “the next guy”. On the other hand, we’re not “the next guy”. On the other hand, the campground is just going to scoop that wood up and then resell it, so it’s not like the “next guy” is even going to get it anyway. So, overall, I feel like it’s OK to take it, but I’m afraid someone will say something. It just feels weird, and not just because it sounds like I have three hands. – Lee) 

Monday I slept in late (9am is not late. That’s half the day gone, and practically time for second breakfast. – Lee) and we scurried out the door to go paddling.  We went to North Star Canoe Rental in Cornish, NH and the guys there were really terrific.  It only costs $15 per boat to drive you 4 miles up the river and the guys were very nice and personable.  (To be clear, that price doesn’t include a canoe or kayak rental, that’s just what they charge you if you have your own boat. I have no idea what they would charge to rent one, but I bet it’s on their website. I also don’t know how much they would charge you to take someone else 4 miles up the river and just leave them there without a boat, but I bet that’s not on the website. – Lee) We weren’t sure how to handle the inflatable, but decided we would leave it in the bag and then blow it up onsite.  (Inflate, not detonate. I just like to be clear. – Lee)

North Star Canoe based out of a barn :)

North Star Canoe based out of a barn 🙂

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The two young men were fascinated with the Sea Eagle and asked Lee tons of questions as he was setting it up.  (Sadly, one of those questions was not “Hey dude, would you like to sit in the shade while I pump up your wicked rad inflatable for you?” – Lee) Our Sea Eagle 385  never fails to get attention, but I was surprised that two people who ran a canoe livery had never seen one.  Once we got it set up we started to put it into the water.  Lee wore his tennis shoes, not sure what he was thinking there, and took them off then we got into the boat.  (I was thinking there would be a dock. Also, shut up. – Lee) The river level was a little low starting off and we had to get out and pull the boat.  This is where the bare feet were NOT helpful as the rocks were very sharp.  I did have shoes though, and found a great new rock for my rock collection 🙂

The Canoe puller we put the Sea Eagle in the back of the bus

The Canoe puller we put the Sea Eagle in the back of the bus

Beautiful view from the livery

Beautiful view from the livery

The paddling was beautiful and there were only a few people on the river.  We got to see the Cornish Wooden bridge  longest covered wooden bridge that carries automobiles and that was neat but it really was hot.  Not muggy, just sun burning hot, and Lee doesn’t do so well in the heat.  (It wasn’t “hot”, it was “Jesus H Christ, we must be a mile from the sun” hot. It was end of days hot. -Lee)  I got out once and got completely wet…the water was so clear, but Lee was happiest in the shade or when the sun went behind a cloud.  (That’s pretty generous revisionist history usage of “happiest”. It would be more accurate to say that in the shade I was somewhat less likely to cheerfully beat someone to death with my paddle so I could skin them and use them as an umbrella. I do not like the heat. – Lee)

Cornish Wooden Brideg

Cornish Wooden Brideg

Longest single covered span wooden bridge that carries automobile traffic

Longest single covered span wooden bridge that carries automobile traffic

 

The views were amazing though.  The water was so still in places I got some great shots with reflections.  Pretty happy with how they turned out.

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Connecticut River

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Connecticut River

 

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Connecticut River

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Connecticut River

 

After paddling, we stopped at a corn stand and bought a dozen ears directly from the farm.  I wanted to try freezing fresh corn and thought at that price, I couldn’t lose.  I bought a dozen ears for $5 and when we got home I went to Pickyourown.org to get directions on how to freeze them.  Basically you boil the corn for 9 minutes then put in ice water for 9 minutes.  Afterwards you gently cut down the cob about 2/3 into the kernel, then put into a freezer bag removing as much air as possible then freeze.  It was fun but a lot of work.  I’ll let you know if the taste was worth the work.

It’s been a great week…going to Atlanta again next week, so Lee will get some quiet time alone at the camper.  I can tell he’s devastated :). (I am. I don’t know how I will get through the week. Probably rib-eyes, bourbon, and pie. – Lee)

 

Lessons Learned

  • Always wear water shoes when going kayaking (Did you not hear me when I said shut up?)

Recipes

 Grilled Rice Packet

  • 2  (10 oz) packages of Green Giant Frozen Rice
  1. Remove contents from package and place on large piece of heavy-duty Reynolds wrap
  2. Seal edges using double-fold seals
  3. Place packet on grill for 30 minutes; turn over once at the 15 minute mark
  4. To serve open packet and stir gently

 

Grilled Rice Packet

Grilled Rice Packet

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Chili-Cheese Baked Potatoes

  • Chili; whichever kind you prefer (I use  one McCormick Chili packets with 1# hamburger, and 1 can each of Light kidney beans and dark kidney beans)
  • 4 Idaho potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Butter
  • 2 scallions chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Pierce potatoes with a knife once and place into oven unwrapped
  3. Cook potatoes for 1 hour
  4. Remove potatoes and open
  5. Add butter, sour cream, and chili to taste
  6. Sprinkler with cheddar cheese and pop into the microwave for 2 minutes until cheese melts
  7. Add scallions to top of potatoes and serve
Chili-Cheese Baked Potatoes

Chili-Cheese Baked Potatoes

Potato-Pepperoni Hash

  • 3 -4 medium sized Idaho potatoes (diced)
  • 3 oz  pepperoni (diced)
  • 3 scallions (chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced) or 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 TBL vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Also, make some other food for yourself, because you won’t get to eat the potatoes. Tracy will scarf them all down.
  1. Simmer diced potatoes in salted water until tender; about 12 minutes
  2. Drain and pat dry
  3. Heat vegetable oil in large skillet
  4. Add potatoes and cook, stirring, until crisp; about 8 minutes (add salt and pepper to taste while cooking)
  5. Add pepperoni and sprinkle lightly with garlic; cook 1-2 minutes mixing well
  6. Remove from heat and stir in scallions
  7. Take whatever you made for yourself out of the microwave.
Potato - Pepperoni Hash

Potato – Pepperoni Hash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  Search Amazon.com here

First Time Staying a Week in the Fifth Wheel

Well, my work travel plans changed (the Go Live date for the project I am working on got pushed out two weeks) so I was able to stay full-time in the camper from Thursday to Wednesday.  I was excited about spending the whole week working  in the camper because the two-day work experiment didn’t go as well as I had hoped.   With what I learned from the two days I wanted to tackle a whole week.   The first thing I did was make a complete weekly dinner menu and grocery list.  It took around an hour, but the time will be well worth it as almost every night our entrée will be something I’ve never made before.  I’ve been collecting up these recipes but with only the weekends to cook and such a crazy travel schedule my opportunities have been somewhat limited.  As usual, I’ll only post the “winners” so you can see how the week went by how many recipes I saved at the bottom.   I am also planning to blog as I go, since a full week is too much to remember.  So the format will break events out by days and we will see what happens.  Hope you like it!

Thursday and Friday

The heat broke and the weather was absolutely gorgeous on Thursday and Friday.   For the first time we slept with the windows open and it was wonderful.  It was also super quiet at the campground with none of our  neighbors being here.  I love love the birdsong in the morning and we have a pair of chipmunks (named Jack and Jill) who have sort of taken over our campsite which is great.  We’ve been feeding them peanuts and the cheeky little buggers have gotten very brazen, even coming out and staring at us when there are no peanuts to be found.

I’ve found there are several advantages to working out of the camper.  Since it’s such a small space, you can comfortably move around while on the phone without worrying about losing cell signal, and during one conference call I was able to sit the phone down and do the dishes.    There are conference calls you are actively running and there are conference calls you just need to pay attention to, and I can certainly pay attention and wash dishes at the same time.  Working from the camper was also super relaxing.  Yes I have work to do, but when things got a little stressful the bird song and cavorting chipmunks certainly helped lighten the mood.  I also can’t say enough about being done at 5-5:30pm and not having to deal with Friday traffic of any kind.  That rocks!!  Lee also brought my desk chair from home..it works better from a height perspective, but I can’t really get close enough to the laptop.  Much much better but I need to keep looking for a solution.  Overall everything was great until the weekenders started showing up.  It didn’t get terrible or anything but man are people loud.   Lee says he’ll have no problem getting me to stay in remote areas and I think he’s right.  I was really enjoying my nature sounds.

Saturday 

Saturday we woke up early because we had lots of errands to run.  I’ve been wanting to incorporate farmer’s market items into our menu plans for a while, but things have been so nuts I haven’t really had the chance.  So we woke up early and went down to the Keene Farmers Market.

Keene Farmer's Market

Keene Farmer’s Market

 

Really nice selection and I bought radishes, green onions, mushrooms (from Dave Wichland the local mushroom guy who raises his own mushrooms), and we got some garlic scapes for free.  Because I want to try new things I also bought some Collard greens. I have no idea how to cook them, but luckily I have a wonderful brother-in-law who not only was born and raised in the south but is also an excellent chef.  So you know who I’ll be reaching out to.

 

 

 

I didn’t like the tomatoes (they weren’t ripe enough) so we stopped at Green Wagon Farm right around the corner from our sticks and bricks house and picked up some tomatoes and fresh lettuce.  They have amazing lettuce this year and I love being so close to such a great farm stand…although farm stand is an understatement.  It is a working farm that sells its own produce.

Green Wagon Farm

Green Wagon Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the farm stand we went to Tree Hugger farms to replenish our firewood.  They have eco-friendly kiln dried wood that we have been using for our campfires.  It’s a very cool setup; you drive into their covered bay and load however much you want into your vehicle.  They have two prices; one for stacked and one for loose wood, and when you are done they come out and measure the height and width to  determine a price.  For a truck load of loose wood we paid $106 which was well worth the price.  Plus the people are super nice and because the wood is kiln dried it is completely bug free and can be taken across state lines.

 

Tree Hugger Farm covered area where you can pick your own wood

Tree Hugger Farm covered area where you can pick your own wood

Machines stacking cut and kiln dried wood

Machines stacking cut and kiln dried wood

 

After Tree Hugger, we went to Target to look for baskets.  With all this fresh produce we have started running out of counter space and wanted to try using some baskets as a container.  I didn’t like anything at Target, but Pier One had just the thing and once we got home Lee zip tied (black zip ties 12 for $2) the baskets to our railing.    It looks great and I like the solution because these baskets are open which will allow the vegetables to breathe. The only drawback is I will need to cut them down when we have to put the refrigerator slide in, but  what a great solution when we are stationary for any length of time.  We all know Lee is the king of the creative idea, but this one was actually mine….he must be rubbing off on me a bit.  He does get credit for figuring  out how to hang them though.

Baskets from Pier 1 to hold our fresh fruit and vegetables

Baskets from Pier One to hold our fresh fruit and vegetables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of being stationary, the campground had lots of tent campers this weekend.  As a general rule these folks are on the quiet side, but a big group took over all the spots and they were pretty loud.   I guess I was spoiled the last couple of days but really not the noise. In the end we went inside and watched a movie.  Double pane windows are WELL WORTH the investment.   Turn on the AC and you can’t hear a thing.  I feel bad because they were nice people…  one of them came over and complimented us on the rig and truck.  As a side note, Lee gets a lot of compliments on the  truck .   That’s still funny for us because we are not truck people and for us the truck is simply a means to an end (ie: pulling the 5th wheel) .  Neither Lee or I would ever have one (especially not this big) if we weren’t camping.  But guys sure like the TRUCK.   TRUCK in capitals because it’s a monster Ford F350 Dualy. (But it’s pronounced CHRUCK. – Lee)  The point is I can’t blame them…technically they aren’t breaking any rules and they are having a good time, but it bugs me that we can’t just move.  For me this is one of the most serious drawbacks to having a seasonal site.  Now if we picked one with quieter neighbors and no drop in sites near us, it would be better, but unless you have friends staying in the same campground, you don’t really know what a particular site will be like until after you have committed.   I also wish the campground owners would do a later drive by on the weekends.  The last time I saw our security was 9:30 pm on Saturday night.  Obviously a later after hours sweep is called for.   We have found a solution…windows closed and fan on…but its a bummer we can’t sleep with our windows open because of the noise.  I have decided though to take matters into my own hands a bit.  Turns out we have outside speakers and my blue tooth on my phone syncs to the radio in the camper.  Now under normal circumstances I would never play my music outside, but I may have to send some Celine Dion into the air if these folks don’t calm down a bit.

Oh I can’t forget; I finally made Sue’s Rally dip.  We met Sue at the RV-Dreams rally and she made this dip that Lee was over the moon for.  It has more ingredients than I usually use, but it freezes well and the look on his face was certainly worth the extra effort.  See below for the recipe.  This one I definitely recommend, especially for parties.  We made the full-sized batch and froze 4 portions and Lee ate the fifth.  After cooking the dip I didn’t feel  like making a big dinner ( the dip is very filling), so I made a snack that my Aunt Susie recommends: Olives and Celery marinaded in her special Italian dressing.  It was yummy.   I also  took some leftover chicken and found a simple chicken salad recipe online and made it.  Lee liked it ok…it was filling, although he would have preferred the chicken shredded than in chunks as the recipe called for.  I have included the recipe below because it is quick and easy, but you can dice or shred the chicken as you prefer.

Sunday

We got up early and had a big breakfast and then went on a long paddle on the Ashuelot River.  We wanted to try using two cars, so we left the truck at the covered bridge and drove into Keene to Ashuelot Park.  There is a dam there and you can launch a kayak right after the dam.   It’s cool because you can paddle pretty close to the waterfall and then make your way down the river.

Ashuelot River dam near the Ashuelot Park in Keene

Ashuelot River dam near the Ashuelot Park in Keene

You can paddle pretty close to the damn

You can paddle pretty close to the dam

 

It was an absolutely wonderful paddle.  The weather was fantastic and it was all downstream!!  Unfortunately we didn’t see much in the way of wildlife but we did see tons of cool Neon Blue Dragonflies and some wonderful natural tree sculptures.  I love sculpture and my favorite is what is made in nature.  Here’s one of my favorites.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, the roots looked like pictures..very cool.

Look in the center of the picture for a neon blue dragonfly - Argia vivida They were everywhere throughout our paddle and even landed on my leg and on my paddle and stayed awhile so I could get a close look. Unfortunately they flew away when I tried to take a picture

Look in the center of the picture for a neon blue dragonfly – Argia vivida They were everywhere throughout our paddle and even landed on my leg and on my paddle and stayed awhile so I could get a close look. Unfortunately they flew away when I tried to take a picture

 

I love sculptures found in nature. This tree root system was amazing.

I love sculptures found in nature. This tree root system was amazing.

 

 

The only tough part was a section where a newly fallen tree had completely blocked our path and we had to stop and portage the kayak around the blockage.  I thought it was fun…Lee not so much, but we did manage.  I also took the opportunity to take my first outside pee break since I was a kid.  Lee was kind enough to keep a look out for me!!  There is no picture of that btw.

New tree fall blocked the stream on both sides

New tree fall blocked the stream on both sides

We had to portage across this stream bed. Not Lee's favorite thing but we made it

We had to portage across this stream bed. Not Lee’s favorite thing but we made it

The rest of the paddle was uneventful and totally relaxing.  I’ll admit it…I can get wound pretty tight, but there is something about paddling that goes straight to my core…better than a Xanax.

Ashuelot River

Ashuelot River

Ashuelot River

Ashuelot River

 

Beautiful and quiet paddle on Ashuelot river

Beautiful and quiet paddle on Ashuelot river

The only people we saw all day they were embarking as we were landing.

The only people we saw all day they were embarking as we were landing.

And just so you don’t think I am totally anti-social I went over and met the new seasonal couple that are in the lot next to ours.  They seem like a nice couple, and she has a delightful laugh,  so I went over and introduced myself and welcomed them to the neighborhood.  Their names are Tina and Reaum (pronounced Rhealm) and they have an older dog named Willow. Willow likes to bury her food, so they have her in a pet pen and put her food on a plastic dust pan so when she noses it around she doesn’t hurt her nose on the cage.  Ingenious.  Hopefully will get to know them better over the next few weekends, but since they were in the process of  packing up I just said a quick hi.

For dinner  Sunday night we went all out with some beautiful steaks we had bought.  I was going to make green beans almondine but the super market bought green beans were moldy so scrapped that plan and decided to steam the collard greens and put them with the almondine butter sauce.  No clue if this will work or not but the collards were only $1.99 a bunch so it’s a cheap experiment.  Josh’s recipe will need to wait until our next trip to the farmers market.   Lee is making his mushrooms we bought over the fire and we threw in some of the garlic scapes to see how they cooked over the fire.  Look at us trying new things.   The steak was great everything else was so-so.  Nothing made the recipe list below.  It’s funny how some meals everything new goes great and others not so much.  You’d think it would be more mixed, but usually its all good or all not so good.

Monday

Back to working in the RV for the week.  The desk chair has certainly helped but I still feel as if I am sitting too far away from the desk.  Not sure if there is a solution for that as we put the desk in the slide out and it’s raised, but I’ll keep thinking about it.  I was considering one of those balls people sit on (my dentist’s receptionist uses one and loves it), but they are on the big side, hard to store during transport, and frankly I am so uncoordinated I can’t imagine not falling off the thing half a dozen times a day.

Monday I woke up and it was very still outside.  I guess this is a good time to talk about claustrophobia as it is a cumulative problem for me and I have definitely seen it getting a little worse as the week has gone on.   It’s funny because sometimes I don’t even notice it.  When we looked at campers we were careful to pick our final selection that I felt totally comfortable in, but as we were looking throughout the day I could feel myself getting worse and worse.  Essentially, I can handle tight spaces for short periods of time (ie: elevators rarely bother me), but the more I am in those spaces the more difficult it becomes for me.  So spending the whole week in the camper, I can see a cumulative effect.  It’s subtle (which is part of the problem)  so I am doing fine and then suddenly I am not fine.   Always catches me off guard.  It happened last night while I was making dinner.  Things were not going well, I was rushing around, and Lee and I were both in and out of the same small space.  Plus he was doing the grilling, so I didn’t have the chance to step outside as much as I normally would.   Also it was really muggy and still.  If there is a nice breeze blowing and I have some airflow in the camper I am fine…even when all the windows are shut.  It’s the stillness that gets to me, and even turning the overhead fan on doesn’t help much when the weather is hot and muggy.   Also the rushing around doesn’t help.  If I am being deliberate with movements, it doesn’t seem to bother me as much, but as any of you who have cooked a meal knows, sometimes everything is done at once and you need to be doing 5 things at the same time.  That kind of harried movement in such a small space ..not so good for me.  The other thing is the mess two people accumulate.  Throughout the week, when it is just me during the day time,  I kept the place pretty clean, but two people equals 2x the clutter and since we were busy doing other stuff this weekend it just kept accumulating.  So the main point I think for me is slow down, control the temperature, reduce the clutter, and step outside more if it starts to get to me.  Although I haven’t discussed it a lot,  claustrophobia was my number one concern when we started camping.   It’s the reason I am not a big fan of cruises and rarely take them despite the many advantages they offer.  But camping is important enough to me that I need to find ways to cope and the best way to do that is to pay attention to how I am feeling and make adjustments earlier rather than waiting until its unbearable.

I also had a big project to work on Monday and miracle of miracles no conference calls.  I can’t remember the last time I had a completely conference call free work day.  Lee had shown me how to Bluetooth connect my phone to our camper radio and I listened to classical music on Pandora  for a good chunk of the day.  Around 1pm it was getting pretty hot,  so I turned on the air.  It’s much easier to stay focused when the environment is comfortable.  Because I was home I was able to make spare ribs which is something I have never been able to cook before.  The recipe required boiling the ribs in salt water for 1-1/2 hours which was no problem with me working in the camper.  I also made two types of cole slaw (split the head of cabbage and halved the recipes) to give Lee a choice.  He liked them both so I have included the recipe for ribs and cole slaw below.

In the afternoon, I received word that the husband of a very good friend of mine from work, died today from a massive heart attack.  I have been wondering whether or not to mention it, but Jim was a really good guy and I can’t imagine he would have any issue with it.  It is extremely difficult because he was our age, in relatively good health, and still had two younger kids.  My heart goes out to Kellie and his girls.  Kellie and I have been very good friends for the last 13 years and have spent many lunches talking about our respective husbands.  She truly loved him and losing him in such a sudden and unexpected way is devastating.  I write about what happened not only to pay tribute to Jim, who I considered a friend, but also to remind myself and others that life is short and we need to take advantage of the time that we have.  Jim you’ll be missed.

Monday night I really needed some light TV to take my mind off of things (The Bachlorette) , which is not really Lee’s speed so he and I watched two different shows in two rooms for the first time.  The bedroom TV worked great and I didn’t feel claustrophobic which was a good thing, but Lee’s war movie (Lone Survivor) was a bit on the loud side during the battle scenes.  The room divider we have is pretty but doesn’t do much for noise control.  Lee said he would bring in a pair of headphones from home so the person in the front can watch the movie as loud as they want.  Should solve the problem.  We watch separate TV at home all the time, so its nice to know this is an option if either of us needs some “alone” time.  That’s a big part of the reason we bought a model with two separate living spaces (living room and bedroom) because we knew sooner or later we would be stuck inside and need the space.   As we were narrowing down our choices, I knew I would end up in the smaller space and it was incredibly important to me that smaller space was doable.  I was a little concerned about the bedroom but turns out  it’s cozy not confining.  A big difference for me.

Tuesday and Wednesday

Much quieter here as the Monday holdovers have left.  The birds are once again chirping and the chipmunks ar scampering.  Seriously,  Jack and Jill have taken over the campsite.  They run everywhere and give us reproachful looks when there are no peanuts.  Lee found the opening to their den in a tree trunk behind the big rock on our site, so technically I guess it is their site since they live here and we are just renting the place.  It was super humid again though today.  I turned the AC on around 10:30.  I did get quite a bit of work done.  Had some productive calls and I could really focus because it was so quiet.  We had leftover ribs and slaw for dinner…even better the second day. Then Lee helped me organize the cabinets.  They were making me nuts because the things I needed the most were always on too high a shelf and we didn’t always know what we had.  He organized by frequency of use, placing the most used items on the lowest shelves so I could grab them without standing on a chair.  He did a fantastic job and but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.  I am open to hiring him out for a minor fee 🙂

 

Organized by frequency of use and customized to my reach

Organized by frequency of use and customized to my reach

All the coffee and tea stuff up top

All the coffee and tea stuff up top

 

 

Hi frequency items on the bottom and all top shelf items clearly visible from the ground

High frequency items on the bottom and all top shelf items clearly visible from the ground

Look how much space this opened up

Look how much space this opened up

 

 

Chips and snacks all together and organized

Chips and snacks all together and organized

So much better

So much better

 

After organizing we watched The Last Ship (really enjoying that show) and then headed to bed.  It started raining really hard around 9pm and didn’t let up all night.  I mean it was pounding and even though we had a fan, a white noise machine, and the AC on all we could hear was the rain on the slide out.  It took me awhile to fall asleep but once I did I was out.  Lee had a very restless night, which is unusual because he’s generally a sound sleeper.  In the morning, it was still raining very hard and I had an 8:30 conference call.  There really isn’t anywhere in the camper you can’t hear the rain noise and I was pretty self-conscious about it, but when I asked the folks on the call if they could hear it they said it sounded like typing.  That’s not good either, because it’s generally considered rude to type while on a call and unmuted.  I’ll have to think this one through.  It’s actually quieter outside under the canopy, but sometimes I need my computer in front of me.  I have seen other seasonal campers (who don’t have awnings) put a tarp over the slide out above it and tied to a tree.  This seems to me like it would work, because  the drops hit the tarp not the metal itself.   Lee is dubious, but I am interested in giving it a try…I’ll let you know.  I was impressed that during the day time,  the owners of the campground were actively patrolling the area.  They had a small bulldozer out and were checking all the sites for issues.  Good to know if we weren’t here someone would be watching out for our camper.   Our site has been great though.  It’s rocks then sand and the drainage is terrific.  We have had no standing pools of water on the site itself, although the roadway is pretty muddy.  I walked outside to thank Bill (the owner) for keeping an eye on things and I think he appreciated me not complaining about the rain.  I am truly grateful that he is on top of the situation.   When I walked back up the camper I looked into the door I had left open, saw furry movement, and screamed like a little girl.  Jill had run up the stairs and was IN THE HOUSE!!!!   Bill just laughed and said..”You gotta shut your screen door” (well no shit lol) and “Wait a minute he’ll come out.”  Right when he said that Jill scampered out and was up a tree lickety split.  Now I don’t mind the chipmunks having the run of the site, but I draw the line with having them inside the camper!!  Good thing Bill was standing there because I would probably have panicked.   Never a dull moment out here at the campsite.

One last thing I’ll say about the weather is that in a sticks and bricks house weather during the week (major snow storm aside) is pretty inconsequential.  A long as it was nice on the weekends that is all we cared about, because that’s the only time we went outside.  Staying in the camper, the outside is a part of everyday life and the weather just matters more.  Extreme heat, humidity, lots of bugs, cold, rain they all have an impact on the day.  It’s not bad, just different and it really makes you appreciate those perfect weather days so much more.

So overall the week went really really well.  I am so glad I did it, because we learned a lot of things that didn’t come to light either during the rally trip  or just coming out on weekends.  I HIGHLY recommend the experience of staying the camper during a normal work week, whether you can work from it or not.  It’s a great way to learn about the space and yourselves in it, plus it’s a fun way to spend a week!!  We are taking next weekend off to spend time with Kay at the house, but will be back the following week to spend more time with our friend Jo.  What a great summer.

Lessons Learned

  • If your rug is getting wet during heavy rains, make sure it is pulled back enough to be completely under the awning.  Yeah I know this should have been self-evident but our rug got wet a lot before we figured this one out 🙂
  • Don’t leave your screen door open because chipmunks (or other animals) can and will run into the camper!!
  • Ways to help reduce feelings of claustrophobia
    • It’s all about the rig you buy.  Walk in them, sit in them.  If you feel the tightness in your chest, move on and find an RV that doesn’t feel that way. Don’t forget the bathroom.  Make sure you can handle the size of yours as you will be spending time in there :). I stood in the shower in the selection process to make sure I could handle it.
    • Reduce clutter.  Clutter makes the spaces feel smaller
    • Avoid quick movements in small space
    • Hot and Muggy makes it worse, try to control the temperature
    • Turn fans on for air flow
    • Two people in a small space can make this waaay worse.  If feeling claustrophobic go outside or have a way of quickly expressing to your partner that they need to backup and give you space.
    • Pay attention to how you are feeling and make adjustments before it becomes uncomfortable
    • Make the bed, makes the bedroom feel less small
    • Plan on treating your outside as an extension of your space.   Claustrophobia can be cumulative so the outside breaks reset the clock so to speak
    • Understand what triggers the claustrophobic  feeling (low ceiling height is a big one for me).   Be honest with yourself and your partner about what you can and cannot do
    • Windows and skylights are your friend.  The illusion of openness is sometimes all you need
    • My friend Jo who does not suffer from claustrophobia stated the more wooded the site the more closed in she feels.  This was a great point but surprised me because I love the super wooded sites,  but upon reflection the lack of sunshine and openness can be a bit oppressive at times.  So walking outside doesn’t always have the desired effect if your site is closed in. 

 

Sue’s Rally Dip 

This is way more ingredients than I generally go for but the look on Lee’s face was well worth it.  Plus it freezes well.  This will make a batch big enough for a potluck or 6 single person portions.  We saved two portions out and froze the rest in small Ziploc bags. 

  •  1 pound hamburger
  • 4 Hot Johnson Sausages (chopped fine or ground)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cans black beans (15oz)  (drained slightly)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 bag of frozen corn (16 oz) or can of corn (15oz )
  • 2 pkgs taco seasoning (do not add water)
  • 1 can jalapeno chilis (4oz)
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes (15 oz) you can double if you like more tomatoes or add fresh salsa at the end) 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded Jack and Cheddar cheese blend
  1. Blend hamburger and chopped Hot Johnson sausages and brown over medium heat
  2. Mix all other ingredients (except cheese) in a large bowl
  3. Mix in cooked hamburger/sausage mixture
  4. Portion out any parts you would like to freeze
  5. Place remaining in a covered glass casserole dish and microwave for 20 minutes (reduce microwave time to 10 minutes if you are heating a smaller batch
  6. Remove dish and sprinkler with cheese.
  7. Microwave for 1 more minute or until cheese is melted
  8. Serve with tortilla chips  Lee likes the scoops

 

Sue's Rally Dip

Sue’s Rally Dip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mississippi Spareribs

  • 3 pounds pork spareribs
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 TBL cider vinegar
  • 4 TBL Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp cayennne
  1. Simmer spareribs in a large pot of salted water until tender (around 1-1/2 hours)
  2. Drain and place ribs in a shallow baking dish; let cool
  3. In a separate bowl mix all other ingredients
  4. Spread generously over the meaty side of the ribs saving the rest for basting
  5. Grill, turning frequently and basting with reserved sauce; until ribs are brown and lightly crusty about 15 minutes
Mississippi Ribs (the sauce is good for anything)

Mississippi Ribs (the sauce is good for anything)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old-Fashioned Coleslaw

  • 1 head cabbage finely grated
  • 4 TBL sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 TBL cider vinegar
  • 2 TBL fresh chopped parsley (optional)
  1. Cut cabbage in quarters and remove core
  2. Finely chop the cabbage and place in large bowl
  3. Sprinkler with sugar and salt; toss to coat
  4. Add carrot and toss
  5. In a small bowl combine mayonnaise and vinegar
  6. Stir into cabbage mixture
  7. Cover and refrigerate until chilled
  8. Sprinkler with parsley before serving (optional)
Old-Fashioned Cole Slaw

Old-Fashioned Cole Slaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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