Monday, May 25, 2015

Just Go....

Happy Memorial Day everyone!!  It's Rob here today, just Rob.  I'll be blogging a little differently today.  I'll be using the first person, singular voice for all of you grammar peeps out there.  

Today is the day I remember all of our fellow Americans who never got the opportunity to take off the uniform of our Armed Forces.  Be it here or abroad, I will never forget their sacrifice.  In fact, I believe it is this sacrifice that allows me the freedom to "Just GO..."

This morning, after leaving Raccoon Holler Campground, Trisha and I stopped at a favorite overlook to have some breakfast and enjoy the view.  As I was walking around taking a few pictures, I snapped this picture kinda quick.  I didn't really frame it, or even think about it, but when I saw it I just knew I had a blog post.

You see, both Trisha and I have elderly parents whom we spend a part of each day looking after.  In fact, we both have parents who are facing serious end of life issues.  This means we have to plan even more than normal to just go out to dinner, not to mention a trip out of town.  This extra work we don't mind, but we do hold the time away dear.  

It's this time away I want to speak to each of my readers about today.  That is to say, "Just GO...."  Don't worry about the money, just make it work, don't worry about the time, just find it.  But get out there and go.  Have an adventure, see the state, the country, heck even the world.  Meet people, see the sights, and most importantly make memories.  And do this now, while your young, or like us, still relatively young.  

The day will come, when you can't travel.  When your health, body, eyes, etc, fail you.  When you sit in your chair and dream dreams of the ancient Roman ruins of North Africa, villas hundreds of years old in Spain with gardens full of fresh fruit, even the pyramids of Egypt.  Not to mention cruises to exotic destinations, standing in the streets of London England wearing the bed sheets because of a fire in your hotel and your luggage happens to be touring France.  

And when you travel, own the trip.  Make it yours.  Do what sounds fun to you, and not what someone else says you can, can't, should or shouldn't do.  It is your time, your money, and the memories you make will be yours too!

All four of our parents were travelers in their own right.  This is most certainly where Trisha and I got the urge to go.  Remember, when you do go, you may have a unplanned, unexpected, even unannounced detour....

So don't worry, fret, or sweat a little detour.  It's no telling what you might see and a very good chance you'll find that "road less travelled"  if not by everyone else, then by yourself.

Oh and about that breakfast stop.  Yes, it was a wonderful view as both Trisha and I sat there in the warm morning sun eating our cereal and thinking about our next adventure.

So that is about it for this post.  As always I appreciate each and everyone who stops by and reads about our adventures.  We have only 11 more days with the school kiddos, and a very full summer on tap.  

And as always.....

Until next time, stay safe out there.....- Just Rob.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

An Evening Drive.....

Happy Sunday evening everyone.  It's been a beautiful day here in the mountains of North Carolina.  We've had a most lazy day, even sleeping in late.  Everything up here is in full bloom all at once and we're on pollen overload.  Ugh!

Anyway, after a light breakfast we were out and about about 11:30 this morning.  We rode over to West Jefferson to make a grocery store stop, a fuel stop, and a stop by Mountain Outfitters.  Trisha wanted a Southern Fried Cotton t-shirt, and of course Rob needed a sticker or three plus a t-shirt.

Then it was back to Glendale Springs, for lunch at the Mountain Aire Restaurant.  Then back to the camper for a much needed afternoon nap.  This camping stuff is hard work!!!

After supper (we'll come back to that in a minute), we loaded up in truck for one of our favorite things to do when camping in this area.  We went for an evening drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  There is usually very little traffic, we always see deer, turkey, etc., and on a day like today, the sunset views are stunning.

This evening did not disappoint.  In fact, there is a small very old cemetery right on the Parkway that Rob has always wanted to photograph so that's what he did this evening.

It was so peaceful and quite there, that we just didn't want to leave to drive back to the campground.  

Now about tonight's supper.  Since we had eaten a huge lunch, we decided on a treat for supper.  Rob made a quick apple pie in his Dutch Oven.  Trisha when to the camp store for vanilla ice cream to top the pie.  

This is a simple recipe.  The recipe Rob found was for a 14" Dutch Oven, he reduced it for our 10" Dutch Oven although there was plenty of room to have made a larger batch.

Here is an ingredients listing....

1 to 3 cans of pie filling (we used apple and only one can for this batch)
1 can of 8 of whop cinnamon rolls. (Add a second can for a larger Dutch Oven)

Add the pie filling to the Dutch Oven, quarter the cinnamon rolls and place on top of the pie filling.  Bake as normal for your size of Dutch Oven for about 25 minutes.  The recipe we used tonight would easily feed four although the two of us seemed to finish every last bit of it!

The results were fantastic.  This is definitely a keeper recipe.  It is quick, easy, and yummy too!

Well that's about it for this evening.  Thanks for coming along with us for our evening drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It is back home tomorrow, and back to school Tuesday.  We have only 11 more days of classes but who's counting?

Until next time, stay safe out there.....-R,T,&J.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cookin' Nekkid.....

Good evening everyone, if you're lucky enough to be camping this Memorial Day weekend, then you're lucky enough.  Here's hoping everyone is having a great weekend no matter what they are doing or where they are.  

Now for the title of tonight's blog post.  As we told you last post, Rob was cooking supper in his new Cast Iron Dutch Oven.  He was fixing a beef pot pie dish, and NOT using a liner.  Now this sounds scary to most people, but Rob said everything would be fine.  

Oh before we get started, here's a quick picture of Trisha and Jackson at one of our favorite overlooks along this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway this evening after supper......

So to start our supper, Rob set up his cooking station and got some charcoal started.....

Next, here is an ingredients list for tonight's meal:

1 - 1.5 lbs of stew beef.  Rob likes to cut his even smaller that it normally is from the grocery story.
1 med onion chopped.  Coarse to fine as you desire
1 cup or so of frozen mixed veggies.  Again, add as little or as much as you like or need to.
3 or 4 small (new) red potatoes cut up.  Rob left the skins on.  
1 pack of AuJus seasoning mix.  Rob used two in tonights supper, and we both though one would be just right.
Enough water to just cover all the ingredients at the beginning of the cooking process.
1 can of whop biscuits for later.

Rob used just enough oil to cover the bottom of the Dutch Oven and all his coals underneath it to sear the meat and wilt the onions.

He then redistributed the coals in the normal cooking pattern, added the rest of the ingredients (except the biscuits) to the Dutch Oven, stirred everything well, and let the cooking begin.  

At the one hour mark, Rob added a fresh set of coals.  At the 1.5 hour mark, Rob added the biscuits and about 25 minutes later, supper was ready.

Our Beef Pot pie was great, and smelled wonderful while cooking.  

Now to the fun part.  The clean up.  See, the title "Cookin' Nekkid.."  referred to the fact that no liner, was used to minimize the possibility of food sticking to the Dutch Oven.  Rob did this on purpose for several reasons, the main one being to show the clean up was really no big issue at all.

First thing to clean up the Dutch Oven was to scrape/wipe out as much food residue as possible.  Then, using hot tap water from Pod, and a small kitchen scrub brush from Pod, he was able to clean out the rest of the residue.  Next step was to dry everything real good.  Finally he used Crisco cooking oil on a paper towel to oil the inside of the Dutch Oven and sides.

Then he simply repeated all the steps he used for the body of the Dutch Oven on the lid.

Here you can see, all clean, oiled, and ready for next time.  That's the neat thing about cooking with cast iron, the more you use it, the better it gets.  So if you have some at home, dig it out, oil it up, and get cooking (that is if you're not already)!  

Note:  Rob stores his Dutch Oven in the covered can with the body sitting on the lid.  If you keep you lid on the top of the Dutch Oven, be sure to use a couple folded paper towels or something to allow the Dutch Oven to "breath".

Here are a few observations about this afternoons meal:

1.  From start to finish, took about three hours.  It required two sets of coals.  Don't let this scare you off.  Getting up to light the second set of coals is a good excuse to use the potty and get something else to drink.

2.  Cooking in a Dutch Oven really reduces the amount of charcoal used to cook this amount of food.

3.  This particular recipe can be adjusted to "stretch" it by adding more veggies, etc.

4.  Rob really doesn't use exact recipes most times, in fact he says any recipe that calls for more than 5 ingredients is just too complicated.  Therefore, don't be afraid to improvise or just make up your own recipe.

5.  It was great having a "one-pot" supper.  Much less clean up.

6.  Speaking of clean-up.  The clean-up was really easy and don't let not using a liner in your Dutch Oven scare you away from certain recipes.  

Well that's about it for this evening.  We did see some wild turkey and some deer on our Parkway drive this evening too.

Until next time, stay safe out there.....-R,T,&J

Memorial Day Weekend at the Holler......

Greetings from the Holler!  Raccoon Holler Campground in Glendale Springs, NC that is.  We're camping here this weekend.  This is a great campground only about 100 miles from home.  We enjoy coming up here several times a camping season.  

Today's blog post is early because we plan on eating an late afternoon meal, then going for a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway afterwards to enjoy the evening on the Parkway and miss the traffic if any.  

We've got a great campsite, 95A here at the Holler.  For $28 a night we've got electric, water, and cable.  Plus it is a very short walk up the hill to the new bathhouse which is very nice.  

Since returning from the Blue Ridge Rally, Rob's been following along with a group of BRR peeps who've been having fun cooking with Dutch Ovens.   He decided to get a 10" oven so after doing some checking he found the best price on a Lodge brand at Academy Sports.  He also picked up some gloves there too.  

He then went to Tractor Supply for a seed bucket, and pan, he found a pair of tongs and parchment paper at Food Lion.  He needs a small scrub brush, and a cheap pair of pliers for the Dutch Oven kit and he'll be all set.  

So, after getting up about seven this morning to walk Jackson, Rob got the charcoal going to fix a batch of whop cinnamon rolls for breakfast in his new Dutch Oven.  

While the coals were getting ready, he then got Dutch Oven ready for cooking.  

This included getting the parchment paper ready......

Putting the cinnamon rolls in on the paper......

Well actually something more like this......

He also took his kitchen shears and trimmed the top of the parchment paper.  Next was to add the coals to both the bottom and top of the Dutch oven and let everything get cooking.....

It wasn't but just a few minutes the smell of hot cinnamon rolls was floating through the air.  Here you can see the finished rolls ready for breakfast.....

The bottoms were a little crispy, but Rob says he generally has the same result at home in a regular oven.  

After breakfast, Rob put everything back together.  First he wiped out and oiled the Dutch Oven......

Then inside the seed bucket, the lid went first......

Next, the Dutch Oven.....

Into the oven went his gloves.  Next the seed pan to hold the smaller items.....

Then the lid on the seed bucket and all is ready for the next Dutch Oven meal.....

Rob has plans to fix an apple pie (with liner), and a beef pot pie (without liner) topped with biscuits also this weekend.

This is a long blog post, but there is a reason for that too.  That's a subject of another blog post.  Before we go though, Rob wants to share some of the things he learned with this Dutch Oven breakfast.

1.  While he has cooked many meals in Dutch Ovens while in the Scouts, cooking in a Dutch Oven many years later is still just as much fun.

2.  When you use the newspaper to light the charcoal before Trisha has read it, be sure to use the sports section first!!!

3.  He used on our 10" Dutch Oven 13 coals on top (which was perfect) and 7 coals on the bottom (which was a little too hot for whop cinnamon rolls.)

4.  The seed bucket, pan, etc. is a wonderful idea for keeping everything all together.  

5.  We can't wait for our next Dutch Oven dish.

Well that's it for today.  This will be a very lazy day for us.  We do have a few plans for tomorrow.  So you'll have to just check back by and read all about it.

Until next time, stay safe out there.....-R,T,&J.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Power to the Pod.....

Happy Saturday everyone.  It's Pod here today, and I'm excited to be making today's blog post.  It's all about an upgrade to my Pod-Port that got installed today.

As all of my readers know, I have my very own Pod-Port to hang out in between trips and during those couple winter months when the weather is just too yucky to camp.  

I'm lucky that years ago, Rob's dad ran an underground power line to the back of the property for a future shop.  Year's later, there is a shop, but not anywhere close to the power line.  But, this power line is just perfect for my needs.  When the power line was installed, Rob's dad installed a lamp post at the end of the power line.

Fast forward nearly 40 years, and this was the point for my power outlet.  The lamp part of the post has been disconnected, and in fact, is nearly covered by dogwoods and azaleas.  Rob has been wanting to put in my very own campground style power pedestal for quite sometime now, and has been collecting all the parts to perform this install.  

He started with setting a post for the new power pedestal.  He used a treated 4x4 as a post.  

Next after setting the post, Rob had to dig a trench to run the underground power cable.  He said this was the worst part of this job due to the all the roots in the ground he had to cut through.

The next step was to mount my new power box on the post.  Rob used plastic conduit to over the wire from the power box to the ground.

Here's a closer picture of the box with the power cable waiting to be connected.

The old lamppost was still very solid, so Rob used it to make the tie in from the new cable to the existing cable.  This locates the splice above ground, so it will have much less chance of failure due the the elements. 

And finally you can see the new power box all wired and ready to used.

Rob even searched online and found my very own "Camp Host" sign to decorate my new power post.  

After Rob finished this job, he even gave me a bath.  I sure was dirty after all this pollen yuck and my trip to the BRR last week.   Yes, I'm a lucky Pod for sure.  

Well I best be finished this up for now.  Thanks for checking by today.

Until next time, stay safe out there.....-Pod.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Blue Ridge Rally Wrap-Up or How Plans Can Change......

Happy Monday everyone.  We got home from the 2015 Blue Ridge Rally Sunday afternoon about 1:30.  At this point, most of the laundry is done and put away, Truck is washed,  Big Yeti is cleaned out, and we're back in our normal workday routine.

Rob started working on the Saturday BRR update around lunchtime that day thinking he'd get a head start.  Next thing he knew, here came Tink for a visit, then we made phone calls to other camping friends, then Trisha, Mary, and Suzanne returned from Pigeon Forge.  It wasn't long until plans were changed, reservations were made, and it was time to start supper to get ready to go over to Pod Pub to watch the Kentucky Derby.  

Next thing we knew, it was 10:30 and way past bed time.  So instead of a bunch of pictures,  we'll leave with the official group photo of "The Big Visit at Big Meadow."  We did have a ball and want to think Cousin Sharon, Cousin Becky, and everyone else who had a part in making this a great adventure.  If you want to read more and see lots more pictures of the rally, hop over to Cousin Sharon's Postcards blog.  

Have a great week everyone!!  Thanks for following along on all of our adventures.  

Until next time, stay safe out there.....-R,T,&J.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Oh The Places You Will Go.....

Good evening all.  It's been a banner day here at The Big Visit at Big Meadow.  After getting ourselves together this morning, we spent several hours just walking around the campground, visiting and taking pictures of all the signs.  We have to say, this is for certain a creative bunch of sign makers we have here.  

We also have to say that our favorite sign of all the ones we saw (except for ours of course) won the sign contest.  The grand prize was a Little Red Campfire.  

Our second favorite sign, was actually Cousin Sharon's sign.  We really hope to see it again.

While today was a lazy day for us for the most part, we did have the pot luck supper this evening.  Here's a "selfie" Rob took of our group.  

And it seems Trisha and Mike were having a bit too much fun maybe??

After supper, it was time for the group picture.  And while we don't have a copy of it yet to share, Rob did take this picture of the photographers hard at work.

After the group picture was taken, we loaded into Truck and took a ride over to Cades Cove.  It took almost an hour to ride around the scenic loop, but the views were worth it.

Well that's about all for this evening.   Tomorrow is supposed to be a great day weather wise, and at this point we have no definite plans.  Just check back tomorrow evening to see what the day held in store for us.  

Until next time, stay safe out there.....-R,T,&J.