Sunday, January 31, 2016

Echo's in the air from Donna

I'll admit it... I'm a creature of habit. I'll latch on to one food or one exercise until whomever I am living with nudges me out of it, of course that was always Donna. I walk the same 5 mile route in the morning, same 3 mile route in the afternoon...both on the same time schedule.  I pretty much eat the same foods too.
My BFF told me yesterday to change things up. Walk a different route at varying speeds and times. Eat some other foods because your body stops responding if you don't push it in different ways.
It was like Donna was talking to me from the hereafter because these were the same words she often spoke to me.

So today, rather than walking on the highway for 2 1/2 miles out and then walking back... I headed for the hills.

At the beginning of a trail is this huge stack of rocks. I figured that in lieu of payment to walk here, you are supposed to add a stone onto the pile...which I did.

The skeletal remains of a Cholla cactus was of interest to me, because no one has disturbed it.

Anyone can stack rocks on the ground, few will do it on top of a Barrel cactus. (yes, I did take them down after the photo)

This the correct way to build a cairn. Cairn, is a Gaelic word meaning, "a mound of stones, built as a memorial or landmark". Donna and I done many in Mexico, but have had our wrist slapped by rangers for doing it on federal lands. They said they have to knock all of them down when time is available. Not sure what the harm is in the building of a cairn and it's my way of saying hi to someone I love and miss.

You need to be part mountain goat, to get up to the top of many of the hills, here in the desert. 

This small hill is too insignificant for a cartographer to name, so I proclaimed it "Mount Moonstruck", in memory of Donna.

From Mount Moonstruck I noticed another small hill to climb...this one will be named after my BFF, who kicked my ass out of a rut...:-)

Looking down at the wash below, and the incoming threat from storm clouds, gives me a reason to be cautious. 

A panorama photo of the valley and approaching storm.

Thanks again to my friend for pushing me out of a routine. Now I have three girls looking out for my health...two of them, I can talk to and one, who just whispers sweet nothings in my ear from a galaxy...far, far away.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Chocolate nut snack. Blog # 376

I'm either on a roll or just bored...who knows, but here is my second blog of the night.
Some of my good RV friends, gave me a sample of Doug's chocolate covered nuts and said it was a no brainer, even for the likes of me. Obviously Doug and Kimberly know nothing of my culinary skills.

Just use some bitter, unsweetened, baking chocolate.

Mix in an equal amount of chocolate chips. Put the mixture in a bowl in the microwave and melt the chocolate. One problem, it seemed like one chocolate wanted to melt before the other and by the time I got them both to melt, one started burning a bit.

I wouldn't exactly call this a "picture perfect" moment, but I proceeded regardless.

Next I lightly crushed some nuts, from a Costco assorted mix nuts jar, and poured the chalky, not quite melted chocolate on top. The chocolate was not what I'd call a smooth liquid, more of a wet mud with clumps and spooned it onto a paper plate:-(

This is after having been in the freezer for an hour. It didn't taste all that bad, but not as smooth or sweet as Doug's treats. I bagged them into three bags, one each day, and yes...there is an uneven amount for the bags. I remedied that situation right away!

Well here are my snacks for the next three nights. I'll keep trying to perfect the recipe in the future.
Thanks to Doug and Kimberly.

Kombucha 2.0

I was introduced to Kombucha by a good friend, who also gave me a starter kit and demonstrated how to keep producing a nonstop flow of the fermented tea. The first kit I received was left at home when I came south. I am hoping the cold weather at home will slow the process down enough so as not to evaporate the tea.
The tea is considered by many to be a probiotic, although if you google it you will see there is a considerable amount of discussion about its benefits and the same amount of folks calling it, hogwash. As long as I do it correctly, whether there is a benefit or not, it is steering me to a healthier lifestyle.

This SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) in my hand was the starter and as you can see, the tea developed its own SCOBY in the jar so this one will be put out to pasture. I have already drawn down some of the tea into an empty vodka bottle. I could of been filling bottles weeks ago, but to tell you the truth, based on my cooking skills, I was nervous about my first brew.

The first step to refill the tea brew is to steep some black tea (my choice) along with about 1/2 cup of sugar.

After my tea cools to room temperature, I add it to the "mother" batch to replace the Kombucha I took out.

The brewed tea and sugar are a little too strong on their own, so I dilute it with some clean, fresh water.

After refilling my host jar, it will only take a week or two before I can start draining more Kombucha into an assortment of containers.

One of the containers I used was a Popov bottle, and was empty. Besides teaching me how to make Kombucha, my friend also showed me how not to throw anything away that could be useful in the future...I mean anything! :-)

I first added the Kombucha mixture to the discarded vodka bottle that was infused with blackberries and blueberries. I squeezed a couple of the berries just to better start the fusion a little quicker. The fruit gives the yeast something to eat and after a few days on the counter, it is ready for the refrigerator and then as a refreshment.

In a smaller bottle, I infused it with frozen mango. I was told no pineapple because it was too acidic, so I assume my daily appetite for oranges would fall under the same parameters as the pineapple does.

Now the "mother" brew is back in its accustomed spot in the motorhome and her new babies are alongside for a few days, until they taste... just right.
There were a few things Donna and I talked about in her last hours and one of them was for me to lead a healthier lifestyle... I realize at 67 years old it, may be a touch late to worry about that, but a promise is a promise.

 Again, thanks to my friend...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Third time is the charm. I had tried twice before to go up the tram, only to be turned away because of time restraints. 

I drove the 4 mile private road up to the tram and found that there were no waits...finally! It's a steep road and you see many people hiking or biking up to the tram. I hope before I leave the area I can make a hiking pilgrimage. 

Here we leave the desert floor at 2600' in elevation, for a ten minute ride up to 8500'. The tram was conceived in the 1930's, but because of WWII and the Korean war, it was on the back burner until 1963. These new gondolas, added in 2000, are the largest in the world. The floor rotates twice during the trip so everyone has a beautiful view. 

It's an awesome sight, leaving the station and not a worried bone in my body...loved it.

As we traveled up the cables, our first view is of one of the wind generating farms. There are a total of 3800 of these wind turbans.

Our shadow followed us up the tram. The aerial tram is the worlds second steepest tram. Most of the equipment was designed and built in Switzerland.

 As we pull into the upper station, at an elevation of 8500' feet, we encountered snow.

When you do reach the summit there is a sign to remind you that you are indeed in a wilderness area. The San Jacinto Wilderness is an area that encompasses 14,000 acres, that is protected from any development.

My first order of business was to complete a promise I made to Donna about three years ago. We stayed in this valley and Donna wanted to go up the Tram to San Jacinto. Things just didn't work out on that trip and I told Donna that we'd do the Tram next time in the valley. Well, of course we didn't make it back together, but I still needed to fulfill my promise.

At the risk of the forestry service cuffing me for littering, I left a small part of Donna on the mountain, that she so wanted to ascend. Afterward, I did cover her with some snow so as to melt into the landscape...forever.

I'm viewing this through both of our eyes babe, so you can see whatever I see.

The view from up here was so awesome. It took a bit of luck and planning to be able to come up here on a clear and a cloud free day. They say on a day like today, you can see Mt Charleston, near Las Vegas, 175 miles away, but I did not have my binoculars to prove this point.

I couldn't leave without toasting Donna with a substandard $11 Bloody Mary... Ha-ha

As I was going down, I thought of the beautiful woman who occupied my life for more than 39 years and the hell did I get so lucky!

I love you sweetie!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My visitors.

This January I received a couple of visitors to the Motorhome.

My sister Teri traveled from Colorado who first stopped in Southern California at our younger sisters home. I went to Orange County to pick up Teri for three days of sun, fun and spa relaxation. 

On Saturday Teri and I headed to our Aunt Bonnies 90th birthday party in Bishop. It has been many years since I last traveled on this portion of Rte 395. Besides the joy of seeing the Sierra's with a nice blanket of snow (rare lately) I mentioned to Teri that if we just keep going, another 1300 miles, I would be home. Rte 395 goes through the center of my home town of Colville.

I think Teri now has an idea of how beautiful she will also be at  90. Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Joe spent many years on the slopes of Mammoth, skiing...starting way back in the 1950's. This must be the secret to not only a long life, but looking stunning, while doing it.

Three more of the beautiful Zwart girls. Cindy Zwart, Teri Zwart and Haleigh Waitman...who Is Steve and Jani Zwart's daughter. Obviously we have some great Dutch genes and, marry well.

It was a good turnout at the party. Brother Jack, Joe and wife Cindy, with daughter Megan, are talking to our cousin Ronda who lives very near Mammoth. It was a great birthday party and fun to reconnect with many cousins that I had not seen in recent years.

No sooner did I drop Teri off at Ontario Airport for her trip back to Denver, did my best friend come to visit with his family. Duane brought the family down to take advantage of Sam's Family Spa services, the pools, Jacuzzis, steam room and park like grounds.

Daune's son Jed, wife Tas and daughter Tiara relaxing by the pool.

Lucia is a visiting teen from South Korea, who is staying at Duane and Tas's home, also enjoyed the pool.

This is a happy group, enjoying the 104.4 degree hot tub which, is the hottest of the four tubs. These tubs are filled with natural mineral water pumped up from the depths below the park. No chlorine is ever added to these tubs, which are emptied and cleaned every night.

There is a small lake on the back of the property where you can feed the talapia fish, turtle and ducks. 

This large black swan was also a visitor at the lake.

A toast with my BFF after a wonderful day at the pool, steam room, lake, Jacuzzi, lunch and a great walk... love you guys.