Monday, August 31, 2015

Wilson, Kansas

In Wilson, Kansas one will find the Heinzes, the Jannes, the Hanzliceks, the Dolezals, as well as bierocks (a filled sandwich of cabbage, potatoes, onions and beef) and kolaches (a Czech filled
pastry.) You will also find the largest Czech egg in the world. You probably have guessed, Wilson is a community settled by Germans and Czechs. Captain has deep roots in Wilson where he spent time in the summers with his grandparents.

We attended the family church home, Immanuel

Since it is harvest time the windows and alter are decorated with beautiful woven wheat adornments.

Located a few miles outside of town is Wilson Lake where we camped at a Corps of Engineers campground. It was very quiet and peaceful. There was a large group camping nearby which we thought was probably a family reunion. We were wrong, they were a church group that had gathered for a baptismal service in the lake.

Like many small towns in the mid-west, Wilson is on the decline. Once a thriving community, it now has empty storefronts. The children and grandchildren of the farmers have moved to the city. Crop farms are being subsidized with windmill farms.

The best thing we found in Wilson is Cousin Wilma. She is in her late 80's and is a joy to visit.

While driving the pick-up, unknown to us a a bungee cord broke. We left a very nice front bicycle wheel some where on a rural Kansas country road. With luck our friend, Tim, at Cycology in Maryville, TN will be able to build a new one and ship it to us.

On Saturday, we back-tracked to Abilene to visit the Eisenhower Museum. We did three museums in three days; we have had our history fix for now.

This evening we are celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary in a Walmart parking lot in Goodland, Kansas.

Friday, August 28, 2015

And so it begins.

As we started this adventure we did so with the attitude: problems will arise but we can handle them. And so they have begun.

Having read David McCullough's biography of Harry S. Truman twice, ABN  (Anyone But Navigator)
has been looking forward to visiting the Truman Library. She was not disappointed. Yesterday we spent 2-3 hours exploring a very important part of our country's history and the life of a president that was thrust into leading this country to the end of a world war. Not having been kept informed by President Roosevelt, he had to learn quickly and make monumental decisions like dropping the atomic bomb. Was it necessary? The answer depends on the scholar you ask.

We learned more than history during this visit. The temperatures in museums and presidential libraries are kept very cool cold, so dress accordingly.

Doing the routine check before leaving Independence, Missouri this morning we discovered the turn signals on the tow vehicle were not working. Captain ran through all the possible reasons to no avail. After a Google search and a couple of phone calls, we located a shop that could take a  look at it. It was determined there was a short in the RV connection for the electrical cable. While he did the repair, the technician suggested we get a bite to eat and recommended a cafe just down the street.

Since one of our goals for this adventure is to eat at local establishments instead of chain restaurants, this would be just fine. However this particular time there was a bit of a conflict with our mantra of
preferring quality food over quantity. Fortunately we elected to split the salmon patty special. Let's just say, it wasn't ABN's mama's salmon patties. But the sweet tea was good. And obviously it is a favorite spot for the local lunch crowd.

Not having heard from the repair shop and being only 10-minutes from the World War I memorial and museum, we decided "Why not?" What a serendipitous turn of events! The architecture alone is worth the price of admission. One enters the museum by crossing over a glass bridge. Beneath the
bridge are 9000 red, silk poppies, one for 1000 combatant deaths during World War I, which totaled 9 million. We were surprised to hear a person (and she wasn't that young) ask the significance or the poppies.

View from the top of the WWI Memorial

While at the museum we got the call that the RV was ready. We headed back, hooked up the tow, did another check and headed to Wilson, Kansas.

The plan was to stop at the Eisenhower Museum in Abilene today but with the unscheduled delay, we could not make it before it closed. So, on to Wilson where we will be for the next three nights. What's in Wilson, you say? Check back in a few days and we will tell you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It's Tuesday

and you know what that means!

At a really nice campground, Lazy Day, in Danville, MO
Our travel adventure has begun. If you want to keep up with our travel, you can subscribe to this blog by putting your email address in that little box on the right. If you are not at all interested in where we are and what we are doing, well we will never know that you didn't subscribe. Oh, don't worry, we have no plans to sell your email addresses (at least not yet, hopefully the market will rebound.)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Almost D-time!

It is almost D-time (departure) for our first extended trip.

Captain has completed his to-do list of minor house maintenance and repairs; he has installed a satellite dish on The Wanderer, taken the vehicles for their check-ups, mapped out the route, and programmed the GPS.

ABN has the garden prepared (well almost,) given the house a thorough cleaning (kind of,) put together some to-go craft kits, handed off Master Gardener duties, and thought a lot about what clothes and food to take. 
With plans for a stop at the Truman Library, she is half-way through her 2nd read of Truman by David McCullough. (first read was several years ago.)

The neighborhood watch has been alerted, friends and family on the travel route have been contacted and arrangements made for the care of our home.

Only one small regret, our figs are just now ripening and the trees are loaded. I do hope friends and neighbors will not let them go to waste. On the bright side, we should be able to get our fill of figs in California!

Now, on to the packing!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Texas Barbecue

Captain is from Texas where barbecue is synonymous with brisket. Living in the pulled pork region of the country, we throw a Texas barbecue each year to introduce our friends to the Texas style. Our souls are largely fed with meeting new people and making new friends, so our guest lists tends to increase each year. This year we served barbecue brisket, macaroni and cheese, Jean’s beans, watermelon and pecan pie to 55 people on our patio and carport. And, of course, there was an ample supply of Shiner Bock beer and Educated Guess wine.

Captain makes a special Shiner Bock barbecue sauce which he pours over precooked brisket (from Sam’s); ABN makes the macaroni and cheese as well as Jean’s beans. Traditionally we serve a variety of Blue Bell ice cream which most Texans will swear is the only real ice cream. Sadly Blue Bell was not an option this year due to the listeria invasion. (Good news, Texans, Blue Bell has resumed production at its Sylacauga, Alabama plant!)

At this year’s barbecue we celebrated Captains retirement as of August 1! Let the travel begin!!!

Recipes for Captain’s Shiner Bock Barbecue sauce and Jean’s Beans can be found here

Here is ABN’s recipe for Mac & Cheese, from a cooking class at Kitchen on the Square in Savannah, Georgia.

Luscious Mac & Cheese
Serves 8
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked al dente
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons paprika (optional)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
 Preheat oven to 400° F. In a large saucepan, sauté onions in butter and olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.  Add flour to pan and stir until mixture is thick. Do not let it stick to bottom of pan. Slowly add cream, stirring to avoid lumps. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer.
3.    Continue simmering, stirring often to keep the bottom from burning, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and add all of the yellow cheddar and one cup of the white cheddar. Stir to combine.  
4.    Fold in the cooked macaroni, coating each noodle. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Spread remaining cup of white cheddar over top of macaroni. Toss together the bread crumbs, paprika, a bit more salt and pepper (if desired) and drizzle of olive oil. Spread over the top layer of cheddar.
5.    Bake until top layer of cheese is bubbly and bread crumbs are golden brown, about 15 minutes.