2023 Travel Plans Thus Far

It’s time to look at the big board!

2023 Travel Map

After the turn of the year our first stop will be Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Our good friend is getting married and I’m part of the wedding party.

Then we’re back home for a few days before heading west to Reno for building materials as well as medical appointments. Living in a small town means that for certain types of medical care, we need to travel to one of the larger cities around us. It’s not a problem as living in a small town also means access to hardware stores and building materials is limited as well. So the second week of January we’re off to Reno for doctors visits and additional building materials.

After Reno we’re heading south to Las Vegas, Nevada to visit friends, then across to Tucson, Arizona to take Interstate 10 all the way to Orlando, Florida for the afore mentioned wedding. Along the way we plan on stopping in Austin, Texas for a few days to visit co-workers, New Orleans, Louisiana, because we can, and then to the wedding.

Once the bridge and groom have left for their honeymoon, we’re going to point the compass northwest and head to Saint Louis, Missouri to visit friends and slowly make our way across the planes states homeward bound.

Back home we will deep clean the Airstream, correct any problems that need correcting, turn on the sprinkler system for the trees, and get ready for our trip to Goldfield for a camping event, more than likely via Seattle, Washington, for fun.

Then we’re off to Canada for camp before heading to Austin for work.

Anything after August next year is nebulous except for Chicago in December.

Land Project: Scope Creep…

When we purchased the land our plan was to have a place to park the Airstream while traveling, but then things got out of hand…

We knew at the very least we would need electrical service installed, a well for drinking water, and someplace to stay that wasn’t the Airstream which we could attache a septic system.

Electrical Service:

Electrical services started with trenching and laying the underground conduit for the wires to be run, then setting the meter box and running the circuits to the garage. Our utility wouldn’t activate the power until we had passed several inspections including depth and quality of the trench, the conduit itself, and the meter box and circuits. All of this took about four weeks.

We saved a lot of money on the project by doing all the work ourselves.

Cottage Construction:

As the garage and backhoe were looking kinda lonely, we ordered up a cottage that we would eventually build out as an office and place to clean up and sleep.

Over the next year and a quarter we will install electrical, insulation, walls, ceilings, and floors. I’ll make a longer post about that project sometime in the future.

Well:

The final thing we did during the six months covered by this post was have a water well installed.

Like I’ve said, it’s been a busy couple of years…

Where have we been the last two years?

Busy…We have Been Busy!

In August of 2020 we purchased about ten acres outside of Winnemucca, Nevada in upper Pershing County Nevada. It certainly didn’t look like much, but it was ours. The goal was to clear some land and have a place to park the Airstream that didn’t cost over $200.00 a month. Our plans were to bring water, power, and a septic system to the land.

Backhoe Purchase:

In order to clear the land, build roads, and dig the ditches and trenches necessary to achieve our goals we needed to acquire a backhoe loader. This gem was found in Las Vegas and transported up over Thanksgiving 2020.

Land Clearing:

Over the next eight weeks we lived in the Airstream, traveling for work and pleasure, but spending every free day clearing the land and laying our internal roads. Lots of diesel and grease were used. In January of 2021 we made an epic road trip to bring our Ford Focus Electric to the land – details here.

Garage:

In February of 2021 we had a garage delivered.

The next big projects were bringing electric to the land via Mobile Solar Generator (story here) and digging up for NV Energy to lay power lines.

More on that in our next post. Not bad four our first six months…

2022 Travel Recap

It’s been a busy year of travel for us. By the time the year is over we’ll have visited twenty of the United States and one Canadian Provence.

Unlike the last two years this year we’ve done some travel by airplane!

Our big trips this year included a visit to Palm Springs where we drank too much, made new friends, and had a good time. Second big trip was to Seattle where we saw friends, ate good food, and bought a new truck in Bend, OR on our drive home. Then it was off to points California for work and play before heading to Canada for two weeks of camping in the woods. Our last big Airstream trip was to Wisconsin to visit friends and camp for another two weeks.

Up next is a multi-state flight affair from Vegas to Chicago to Orlando to Boston and back…

It’s Been a While…

We’ve been very busy building out our homestead in northern Nevada between traveling cross the country. Sadly, this means that I’ve not had as much time to update our website. That changes today. Over the coming weeks I’ll add posts about our land progress, travel in 2022, and future plans.

Happy Hanukkah

But what is Hanukkah you may ask?

Hanukkah is also known as The Festival of Lights and **The Festival of Rededication. Hanukkah is the eight-day celebration that starts on the 25th day of Kislev; which may be in December, late November, or early January (as was the case last season). The festival is observed by the kindling of lights on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah; one on the first night, two on the second, three on the third, four on the fourth, five on the fifth, six on the sixth, seven on the seventh, and finally all eight on the final evening of the holiday.

There are several historical accounts of the birth of Hanukkah. Wikipedia has a nice write up – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah

** The holiday was called Hanukkah meaning “dedication” because it marks the re-dedication of the Temple after its desecration under Antiochus IV. Spiritually, Hanukkah commemorates the Miracle of the Oil. According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days – which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate new oil.

However, non-Talmudic sources include no reference to the eight days of oil that has come to be a popular understanding and modern practice of Hanukkah. The Hebrew deuterocanonical books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees record different reasons as the origin of the eight days of Hanukkah. 1 Maccabees reads that, “For eight days they celebrated the rededication of the altar. Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the rededication…should be observed…every year…for eight days. (1 Mac.4:56-59)”

2 Maccabees says, “The Jews celebrated joyfully for eight days as on the feast of Booths.”

Another interpretation for the 8 day ceremony is that it commemorates the story of Hannah and her 7 sons. The story depicted in the Talmud and in the Book of Maccabees accounts how Hannah’s 7 sons were tortured and executed according to Antiochus’ policy when they refused to bow to a statue and to taste pork. Hannah herself committed suicide after the death of her sons.**

Happy Hanukkah to all my friends in cyberspace!

Andrew

Fall Fun Facts Part 2: recipe Edition

In our last installment we spoke about Apple Picking, Folk Lore, and The Do’s and Don’ts of Leaf Peeping. This time we shall explore my favorite recipes of the season starting with something to drink – Spiced Apple Cider, something to eat – Beef Stew in a Pumpkin and something for dessert Apple Pie.

Hot Spiced Apple Cider:

  • Ingredients:
    • 6 cups fresh apple cider
    • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (more or less, to taste)
    • 2 cinnamon sticks
    • 6 whole cloves
    • 6 whole allspice berries
    • 6 strips orange peel
    • 6 strips lemon peel

Procedure:

Pour the apple cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel saucepan. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange peel and lemon peel in the center of a washed square of cheesecloth; fold up the sides of the cheesecloth to enclose the bundle, then tie it up with a length of kitchen string. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture.

Place the saucepan over moderate heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cider is very hot but not boiling.

Remove the cider from the heat. Discard the spice bundle. Ladle the cider into big cups or mugs, adding a fresh cinnamon stick to each serving, if you like.

Beef Stew in a Pumpkin

Ingredients:

  • A plump, very fresh, 10 – 12 lb pumpkin with a wide, steady base
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef, cut in 1″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 3 large minced garlic cloves
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup madeira or dry sherry
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 lb zucchini, slices about 1/4″ thick
  • 1 cup corn
  • 12-14 dried apricots
  • 12-14 pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • Pinch ground cloves

Procedure:

Scrub pumpkin well.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in 5 quart casserole over medium heat. Add beef in batches to brown on all sides. Warm brandy, ignite and pour over beef. Transfer meat to platter and set aside. In same casserole pot, combine oil, onion, green pepper and garlic, cooking over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add stock and madeira and bring to boil. Scrape sides and return meat and juices to pot.

Stir in tomatoes, salt, oregano, pepper, bay leaf, and cloves. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes. Add potatoes and cook 15 minutes more. Stir in zucchini and cook 10 minutes more. Add corn, apricots and prunes and cook another 5 minutes. Keep stew warm on low heat while preparing pumpkin.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut pumpkin about 3 or 4 inches from top to form a lid and do not remove stem! Scrape out seeds and string fibers from lid and base. Brush melted butter inside pumpkin and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Replace lid and bake pumpkin in roasting pan about 40 minutes.

Pour juices from pumpkin into stew and stir well. Place stew into pumpkin and bake about 15 minutes longer.

Apple Pie

Ingredients

  • For crust
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 6 to 7 tablespoons chilled orange juice
  • For filling
    • 2 generous tablespoons coarsely chopped dried tart cherries
    • 2 generous tablespoons finely chopped dried apricots
    • 2 generous tablespoons finely chopped dried peaches
    • 2 tablespoons orange juice
    • 2 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
    • 3 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel

Procedure:

Make crust:

Combine flour, sugar and salt in large bowl; add butter. Using fingertips, rub in butter until pieces range in size from rice grains to peas. Add shortening; rub in until pieces are size of small peas. Sprinkle 5 tablespoons juice over, tossing gently with fork to blend. Continue adding enough juice 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork, to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; divide into 2 parts, 1 slightly larger than the other. Flatten dough onto disks. Wrap in plastic; chill 1 1/2 hours or up to 1 day.

Make filling:

Mix cherries, apricots, peaches and orange juice in large bowl. Let stand 30 minutes. Mix in apples, flour, cinnamon and cardamom; then mix in honey, butter and orange peel.

Position rack in bottom third of oven, and preheat to 425°F. Roll out larger dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim overhand to 1/2 inch. Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Using fluted pastry wheel or knife, cut dough into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Spoon filling into bottom crust. {Step Two} Arrange 6 pastry strips evenly atop filling. Arrange 6 more strips at right angles, forming lattice. Fold under ends of strips with overhanging dough. {Step Three} Crimp crust edge decoratively.

Bake pie 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until apples are tender and juices bubble thickly around edge, about 1 hour 10 minutes longer. Transfer pie to rack. Cool 1 hour.

Andrew’s Fall Fun Facts

Updated annually from a project George started back in 2003.

I share these Fall Fun Facts with you because we are on the cusp of my favorite season. How do I know that fall is right around the corner? For starters the temperature in the Boston area has fallen below sixty-five degrees during the overnight hours – ideal weather for sleeping. I received a message from my grandmother telling me that she has started to can her veggies, meaning that her harvest is done, and I will be making a stop in Tiverton for sauces and marmalades. But the real indication to me that the season is about to change is that the colleges and schools are gearing up for full sessions.

With this in mind I share some Fall Fun Facts as shared with me by my former temporary employee George.

Apple Picking

What better way to celebrate the fall harvest than to get out there in the crisp, afternoon autumn air and do a little of your own harvesting?  Take a couple of bushels home and make some pie, bring one to work for lunch, throw a couple at school buses.  Use the big pointy-ended basket on a stick to get the good ones up top, eat the ones that have fallen to the ground. Be sure to eat so many you throw up in between a couple of the big trees at the back of the orchard…the possibilities are endless.

There are over 22 orchards in Rhode Island that allow you to ‘pick from their bounty’ (for a small fee) and many of those actually make cider on the premises.  Generally the ‘pick your own season begins on Labor day and runs through the middle of October, but with the warmer weather this summer it’s best to call ahead.  As an aside, Smithfield has long been known as “Apple Country” to Rhode Islanders and still has a strong agricultural base due to the numerous apple orchards located here.

How nice!

Fall folk tales

It is said that if you catch a falling leaf before it hits the ground you’ll have 1 month of good luck.  Catch 12 and the next year will be great…catch 492 and you’ll explode due to luckiness.  It’s also said that the luckiest leaf of all is the last one to fall from the tree…unless you’re trying to catch that one and miss it.  Then you die.

Just kidding.

You don’t die.

The Do’s and Don’t of Leaf Peeping:

    • Do get lost.
    • Do observe proper foliage etiquette. If you’re using the back roads to get from here to there as should be done, don’t turn everything into a Sunday drive of Ooh’s and Aah’s. Pull over and let the 46 locals behind you room to pass.
    • Do get out of your car to walk, smell and listen…
    • Do go to New Hampshire’s Franconia notch to see the spot where the Old Man in the Mountain used to be…don’t say hello to his vacated spot driving 13 miles per hour on route 93 north.
    • Do look for changing views from roads with hills and curves that meander through changing vista’s of woods and farms and small villages.
    • Don’t rush.
    • Don’t panic that ‘peak’ is passing by you. It’s constantly shifting in New England and is a continuum, not a moment fixed in time.
    • Moose crossing signs are there for a reason. Ever see a car that hit a moose? Ain’t much left.
    • Do wake up early. The colors are most vivid in morning light and dew.
    • Do linger to take in late afternoon light. The shadows in the hills are very, very deep.
    • Do look up once in a while. Mid-to-late September is when thousands of broad winged birds (raptors, falcons, hawks, etc.) ride the thermals south from the Northeast
    • Don’t be a color snob and ignore everything but bright red Do go beyond where everyone else goes. Vermonters have a saying. “When people die, they go to Vermont. When good Vermonters die, they go to the Northeast Kingdom.” (Northeast part of the state.)

Cabin Maintenance: HVAC Filters

One of the things we like to do every two weeks, depending on use, is clean the HVAC system air intake filters. These filters are located in the cabin and cycle the cabin air through our Dometic air handling units. As our Airstream has two rooftop HVAC appliances that act as both air cooling and a heat pump they are used year round so cleaning is a year round task. We believe that one should regularly clean these filters. Some units recommend cleaning AC filters once every thirty days, while others recommend to do it every other week, check with your appliance manual to confirm the cleaning schedule.

Our ceiling intake vents are easily cleaned by removing the four screws holding the decorative grate in place and then simply washing both the decorative grate and the plastic filter.

2019 Airstream Hop Inn Ceiling Air Intake Vent

While the intake is open, it’s a good idea to inspect the wiring, drain hoses, and general interior for anything that needs cleaning, adjustment, or service.

Two Parts: Plastic Filter Element (bottom) and Decorative Grate (top).

Cleaning is an easy task requiring only warm water and Dawn dish soap. There are very few things that can’t be cleaned with Dawn – it’s our go to cleaner of choice for all things inside the cabin and many things outside the cabin. The clean parts should be allowed to dry fully before reassembly and use of the HVAC system.

This process takes us about half an hour every two weeks. We have four inlet vents, two per roof top unit. Sixteen screws in total.

We are looking into something like replaceable RVAir filters, which would make the air inside the coach cleaner when sealed up and running the HVAC, but we tend to open the windows and door often and are concerned that these replaceable, non-washable, filters will gunk up faster and no longer be an economical alternative to the factory filters…but you never know, we could try them and like them…

Back on the road…

It’s been a heck of a pandemic all around, and it’s not over yet. Sean and I are fully vaccinated and many places are opening back up to near pre-pandemic capacities. We’ll be wearing masks in public places and avoiding large gatherings for the time being. Once the country reaches 75% fully vaccinated and international travel is possible I might ease up on mask wearing, but for now I feel better wearing a mask in public.

With the end in sight, more of my customers are opening their doors to vendor visitors, meaning back to traveling…

This week we’re in Tulare, California visiting some food quality labs. Next week we’re heading west to Gilroy, California for the heck of it. Week after we will be in the Bay Area visiting friends and working with clients. After that it’s back to construction before the next big thing…