Friday, August 11, 2017

Home!


Ninety days, 18 states, 9,785 miles, 4 national parks, one presidential library, 2 farm stays, 2 casino parks, 11 Walmart parking lots, 2 county fairgrounds; through desserts, mountains, forests, prairies and cities, our epic 2017 western adventure has come to an end. The Wanderer is parked in the drive waiting to be emptied and cleaned before going to storage. Roger (aka the pick-up) is in great need of a bath. We won’t talk about what needs to be done in the garden.



It's worse than we imagined!



 As for ABN and Captain, well we are headed to Dry Ground to see if we can catch up with some friends. 



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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fun on Dick and Janie’s little farm

in northern New Mexico.


Janie is Captain’s cousin. She and her husband, Dick, have created a most wonderful home outside the small town of Dixon. Their home is built in the traditional New Mexico style with thick (like 12-18 inch) adobe walls.

Nods to their extensive international travels and glimpses of Janie’s beautiful oil paintings can be seen throughout.

Their little farm provides fresh vegetables from the garden as well as lamb, turkey and chickens.

An accomplished culinarian, Janie delighted us with outstanding authentic New Mexico cuisine and the best mustard crusted roast lamb that we have ever tasted (all fresh with no preservatives.)  

Located on the farm is Vivac Winery, owned and operated by their sons.
Jesse explains the process to Captain. Notice the notebook on the bench, it is contains the notes about their various wines and processes since the beginning of Vivac in 1998.. 
Loving California wine and most recently experiencing the delicious wines of Washington and Oregon we were a bit skeptical about New Mexico wine. Were we surprised! Chris and Jesse have successfully created some spectacular wines. Our palates favored their MALBEC and 2014 AGLIANICO (an Italian varietal new to us.) Their award winning GR√úNER VELTLINER, a crisp white, is one of their most popular and is delightful to sip on a warm day on the patio.

Vivac Tasting Room is located at the junction of Hwy. 68 and 75. Weekends will find Dick playing with his band or backing up another band.
That's Dick in the colorful shirt.

Leaving The Wanderer parked on the farm, we took Roger

for a day trip to Santa Fe mostly to visit the Georgia O’Keefe Art Museum; a truly fascinating artist and individual.
Georgia O'Keefe Art Museum




With Dick and Janie we took in the Home and Garden Show in Taos which proved to be an excellent way to explore the adobe architecture and life styles of Taos. Of course, ABN’s favorite was the Rosarita Compound of older casitas (little houses) tastefully furnished with finds from yard sales and consignment shops. The best parts were the lovely courtyards.





















Cousin Janie and Captain

Located not far from Taos is an Earthship Compound.



Constructed with earth packed tires and recycled materials, these dwellings are independent of the grid. Power is generated by wind and solar. Water is collected from rain and snow; grey water is used to flush the toilets. Treated black water is used to irrigate plants in the gardens and greenhouses.

Apparently Earthship Communities can be found throughout the US and other countries of the world. Truly an interesting concept.

With a consistent, year-round temperature of 58°, this concept would make a pretty neat wine cellar, hmm….we’ll have to think about that. 




And then there is the Rio Grande passing through the area.

About 800 feet down is the river.

It just happened that our good friends, Kathy and Jesse from North Carolina were also in Taos and we were able to get together and catch up.

Do you notice a bit of glow on their faces? They are in Taos to welcome a brand new grandson.

Inspired with wholesome food, art, a lifestyle of adventure over acquisitions, ideas for reclaiming and re-purposing, we leave New Mexico with memories for a lifetime, a half case of Vivac wine and Janie’s instructions for making enchilada sauce. 

After a quick stop in Tulsa to visit Captain’s Aunt Vivian and Uncle Keith
in their beautiful retirement center; 


and with Cousin Kathy and husband Mark,



we continue to make our way toward home. 

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Indescribable

If you have been to the Grand Canyon then you understand when we say words and photos cannot begin to describe the formations,


the vastness, 

and the colors.

If you haven’t visited the Grand Canyon, you must go and see for yourself.

Having visited here twice before, Captain explained to ABN, you really can’t get a good perspective unless you hike down into the canyon. So we did; two miles down Bright Angel Trail

Two Mile Switchback
and two miles back up to the rim, stepping aside to let the mule train pass.

Sunday we set the alarm so we could watch the sun rise over the rim.

and attend worship service provided by three college students from A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (ACMNP)
View at Sunday Morning Worship Service
Even though the two of us made up the entire congregation, it was still a beautiful experience.

The Wanderer was parked at Mather Campground inside the park for 3 days and 4 nights with no electricity, water or sewage hook-up. With the solar panel upgrade, we did just fine. We were pleased to share the campground with a lot of young folks (most folks our age must have been in the full service campground or perhaps at one of the lodges.) And, of course, we had the company of many squirrels, ravens,

 mule deer and some elk.


It was a welcome break from the internet and television (hope we didn’t miss anything that was truly important.)
Refreshed, we said good-bye to one of God’s beautiful masterpieces


and are continuing our journey toward home.
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Friday, July 28, 2017

What happens when an engineer is elected president?

From the Sierra Nevada Foothills, through the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains,

through miles and miles of high desert

Campground in Tonopah, Nevada
No, not a wildfire; this is a sunset we saw from the campground in Tonopah, Nevada. 
through the Amargosa Desert,
through Las Vegas
We didn't stop in Vegas (spent most of our discretionary budget on wine.) 

we arrive at Boulder City and Hoover Dam.


Captain will be driving The Wanderer over this bridge tomorrow (while ABN is trying to take photos.)
And this is what you get when you elect an engineer as president. Having visited the Hoover Library earlier in the trip made the visit to Hoover Dam more interesting.

Leaving the desert dry heat, hoping for cooler temperatures, we are continuing east; we will stop for a few days at the Grand Canyon. Since we will be dry camping in Mather Campground inside the park it is very likely we will be off the grid for a few days.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Revisits and New Gems

Our search for good zinfandels took us back to the Dry Creek region of Sonoma County California.

Parking The Wanderer at Alexander Valley RV Park in Healdsburg, we set out to do some tastings. First we revisited a couple of our longtime favorites, St. Anne’s Crossing,
and Pezzi King from the Wilson Family Wineries as well as Foppiano’s. At the suggestion of a friend, we checked out some other vineyards and came away with a couple of gems, Limerick Lane (especially their Old Vine, Block 1910) and Martinelli for good zins and a fun tasting room.


Of course we couldn’t be in Sonoma County and not visit our good friend, Trudee

who lives on a farm and is a locksmith in Sonoma.

With The Wanderer pretty much loaded with zinfandels from Sonoma and pinot noirs from Washington and Oregon, it was time to revisit our dear friend and excellent winemaker, Bill, in Eldorado County.
Bill and Randy go way back, like all the way to their high school days at A&M Consolidated. Not only does he make exceptionally good wine for Jodar Winery, Bill is a very talented musician. We always have a grand time listening to Bill and Wayne at The Wine Smith in Placerville.


Over the years of visiting Bill, we have become acquainted with a lot of folks, some we now call friends. Wayne, with the help of his wife, Isabell, barbecued some amazing ribs and fixings. and invited us as well as Bill and Zachrie, to their home for dinner. 

Another gem, Zacharie is the new owner at The Wine Smith.
Such a fun gal!

Yep, made of wine corks.

With friends,

we braved the near 100° temperatures
to listen to Bill andWayne’s Excellent Adventure at Skinner Winery on Sunday afternoon.

With more great memories in our bank, we left the Eldorado County Fairgrounds where we were camped for four days.
(Not exactly a pretty site, water and electricity but no sewer and certainly no Wi-Fi, we were one of three RVs, the showers were clean and spacious; at $35 a night in California, we were pleased. Actually we liked it better than our previous stay at the KOA which was $65 and it is closer to The Wine Smith. )

Next we headed over to Amador County and the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort RV Park.
For an extra $10 (that would be $45) a night, we had full hook-up, concrete slab, high speed internet, laundry facility and a beautiful walking path. 
The staff was very friendly; we couldn’t find anything we didn’t like here. I’d say we found a gem!

Many of you have been a recipient of a glass and maybe a bottle of Borjon Zinfandel or Barbera, so you know it is a favorite of ours from Amador County  
(and, yes we stopped in to say hello and to pick up our wine club shipment.)

We had planned to do a bit of tasting in other Amador wineries, but many were closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Good thing as we were just about to the end of our wine budget.) However, we did wander into Sutter Creek (a gem in itself)
So love the small towns!
and found the Scott Harvey tasting room. The wine was good but the real treasure was the tasting room host.  Enthusiastic about Sutter Creek and Amador County, he sent us down the street to taste some sparkling wine at Le Mulet Rouge. (After a taste of the California Sparkling Wine, ABN was hooked! Even though there was no almond flavoring it had an almond taste.)

He strongly recommended we make a visit to the Union Inn over in Volcano. So we did. 
It was obviously a popular place with the locals as folks greeted one another on the comfortable patio. The food was good, especially the heirloom tomato salad, but what really got our attention was the smooth stout on nitro. (Does anyone see a theme here? We do like our zins and dark brews.)


Sadly, our time in wine country has come to an end, but we will return!  

Some of you have inquired about the wildfires, fortunately we have not seen any. There has been some haze but no smoke. Temperatures have hovered in the high nineties, reaching 100+ at times. With lack of high humidity, it cools to a very comfortable temperature in the evenings.

The Wanderer is pointed east; next stop, Hoover Dam.

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