Base Camp New York

We pulled into Webster park at 8:30 PM and since it was after dark we decided to set up camp tomorrow.  We just had a quick snack and called it a night.  Bo and I had Castle burgers we had scored on the road and Peg had a sandwich with her celiac safe bread.
The next morning we got started with...you guessed it breakfast.  In the old black iron pot I sauteed down some onions in a spoon of bacon drippings from breakfast past.
As the onions browned and the coffee perked I chopped some peppers.
I added the peppers and some left over rice from our gumbo night.
While that heated through Peg beat up 6 eggs and we poured that in and stirred it up.
Turn off the fire slam on the lid 10 minutes later waa-laa:
WE just call it rice and eggs, but call it what you will we called it breakfast, lunch and delicious.
After breakfast with Bo buddy looking on, I set up the awning, strung out party lights, ran an extension cord and put up "pinky" our flamingo mascot.

Peggy laced up her hiking boots and helped me tacky the place up a bit.

We finally got it looking like "Our camp site" and settled down to enjoy a nice afternoon of camping and cooking.  Tacky you may say and you would be right but that's the way we roll.
Sadly internet service sux and it took all morning to post this, but I'll try to keep up and share our adventure when I can.
Till then the happy camping adventure continues.
Later that afternoon I fired up the ole black iron pot, and in a spoon fill of bacon drippings I seared half a dozen chicken thighs seasoned with our Cajun seasoning.
When I took the chicken out I dumped some onion into the now well seasoned pot.
Once that cooked down some, I added some finely diced potato.

The potato cooks down and breaks up thickening the stew.  Once cooked I put the chicken back in with some bell pepper and green onion and left it on a low simmer for a while.
Son, Joe came by for supper and bonded with his new fuzzy brother Bo.
 I was having so much fun visiting, I forgot to take a plated picture of the chicken, potato stew, so you just gonna hafta take my word on it.  It was so good you would swear it was cooked in the woods.



ROAD TRIP!!! 2014

It started with a phone call.  Right in the middle of saying Good-bye to my beloved Uncle LeRoy, son Dan calls asking that we come up to western NY, to help with the grandbabies while he undergoes surgery.  Bad timing to say the least, but right away, we started planning on hitching up the camper and heading north. 
   After a very stressful week culminating with the tear-filled funeral of our "Uncle Bird", we got home hurriedly, threw some gear in the camper, packed the fridge and cabinets, and set sail for New York.  NO travel plans, no schedule, no itinerary, we just went.  We left home at 5 p.m., and 11:30 p.m. found us a little east of Meridian Mississippi.  We rolled into a KOA campground, plugged in and went to sleep. 
     It was a struggle, but we were back on the road by 9 a.m. and then sailing along, we began to realize we had been full blast for a week now with precious little sleep and were fast 'hitting the wall'. Driving along that morning we decided that  we were not gonna drive late into the night again, but that we were gonna stop early and get a full night sleep.
    About 2:30 that afternoon we were driving through Tennessee when we heard a "pop" out side and Peggy said, "What was that?!" We both looked out our windows and saw that the camper tires looked okay from where we sat, so we kept going.  A mile or so down the road we stopped for gas, and while filling up, a friendly, bearded country-boy pointed out that we were getting a flat on one of the rear trailer tires.  We both looked closely and found what appeared to be a nail in the tire, so this nice local guy, told me that the place to get the tire repaired was 10 miles up the road. I thanked him and stuck a can of fix-a-flat in the tire, aired it up and we headed up the road to the next exit.
  The tire held and we pulled into a truck stop, hoping for a GOOD, permanent quick fix.  We do have a good spare tire but the jack was in the SUV, buried under a mountain of camping gear, so I figured no use changing it if I can get someone to plug it right on the trailer.  
   We found a truck stop with a repair shop for the place, so we headed there. The mechanic there at that truck stop said he couldn't do a car sized tire, so directed me to go back under the interstate, past the Shell gas station to Libby's.  He said, "She has a big sign. They'll take care of you; it's a big blue building; you can't miss it." 
   Well, we easily found Libby's big sign and a big blue building with a HUGE sign stating something akin to (but not) "NAKED DANCING GIRLS" and another sign with a painting of a woman with her bare backside showing. (WHAT?) 
   Back at that truck stop, where the guy recommended "Libby", there amongst the trucks and truckers, we had seen a very beautiful woman in shorts and long hair approach and flag down what appeared to be a trucker, who had gotten out of his truck, who was minding his own business, just sauntering along toward the truck stop restaurant. Peggy said,"Wow! She's beautiful!" Apparently the trucker did too, 'cuz he stopped dead in his tracks as she shoved her hands down into the back pockets of her tight blue jean cut-off shorts, stuck her extremely large chest out at him and gave him the biggest smile. Peggy said again that the woman was sure beautiful, but I just muttered, "No need to be impressed, Peg, she's a Truck Stop 'something-or-other'" and had to explain a few things to her about truck stops that she didn't know. 
   So, it was with that frame of mind, upon finding, "Libby's" and the huge "naked dancing girls" sign, on the big blue building, we were like, "We don't want a naked dancing girl, no matter how experienced she may be, blowing up our tire." Further back up the long driveway, we saw on the hill a big couple of  blue buildings, so up there we went averting our eyes as we passed our "original" Libby's, the gal with the bare butt in the painting still smiling over her shoulder at us.   
  The office lady in Libby's truck and trailor repair shop was very nice and sweet. We had a pleasant conversation. Now the young grissled, "old crab" changed the tire in less than 10 minutes. At first he growled, "Whadda ya want?" and it never got better, although, by now, you must know me; I tried joking with him and he only got more scowling and grumping around so I left him alone in his misery, doing his job. When he finished, I was so thankful I handed the man $2 and told him to have a beer on the way home on me.  He grabbed it, turned his back and stormed away, so I called after him...the poor guy needed a good word, "Thank you, and God Bless you, Dude." Nothing. We feel kinda sorry for folks like that. I hope he's not like that all the time and that he was just having a bad day. You just never know.  So with that and a ten dollar repair bill, we were back on the road.   The other local folks were very friendly and 2 old boys after 'ironing it out between themselves' decideded we should continue north a few miles and check out Henry Horton State Park.  
   We rolled into the park around 5 p.m. and the charming camp host got us checked in and parked in no time.  The man and his wife, who worked the office were so nice and so was the park, and we were so exhausted that we decided right then and there to stay 2 nights, in order to recuperate.  We were in bed asleep for before 8 p.m. and didn't get up till 7 this morning; it was then that we remembered the camera.  This is the trip so far.
We didn't start the map till we got up on the interstate, not wanting to show the trail to or from our front door.  We left out the trip through the beautiful swamps of South Louisiana .  This morning found me drinking coffee before 7 a.m., finally fully rested and able to enjoy the trip.
It wasn't long before I got the ole black iron pot going, and breakfast cooking.
Aint nuffin like a ole peculator full of coffee to wash down a bacon and egg breakfast.
Slap that on a slice of toast.
Camping breakfast at its best.
With the dishes done nothing, left but to rest, 'decompress' and get ready for the next leg of this 1,500 mile road trip.  In the mean time the park is beautiful and our new camping buddy Bo is having as much fun as we are.
Worse than a kid, but having a ball anyways.  This road trip is truly starting to be fun.  
While typing yesterday's post.
Deer peacefully walked by.

When I looked down after the deer walked by I saw an inch worm had inched his way along my key board.
While Peggy put together a coleslaw in the camper, Bo and I enjoyed the great outdoors.
Before we left home Peggy had made and canned a pot of smoked chicken, sausage and okra gumbo.  I put some heating and a pot of rice on.

To turn a wonderful evening into a perfect one our camp ground hosts, Kerry and Donald stopped by for a nice visit and a bowl of gumbo truly wonderful folks.
I typed this update in a Walmart parking lot as Peggy picked up a few supplies.  So it's back on the road with more later.  We drove to Wilmington Ohio, and stopped at Caesar's creak camp ground at 7 pm.  The weekend crowd was out in full force, but they didn't bother us any all 3 of us went right to sleep and wish we would have had the time to investigate the park.  The campground was plain and really just a grassy field with hook ups.  That is always a very good sign that the happy campers weren't there for the campground but the fishing.  I itched to join them but now fully rested we needed to get to our base camp..
We left Caeser's park at 9:30 having forgotten about the time change, and came rolling into Webster, NY camp ground at 8:30pm.  There a nice couple out on a moon light stroll helped us back up between the trees to our dark secluded spot.  With that done this ends the road trip to NY.  Here it it.
 Just like the beginning, I cut the end off a little short for some paranoid reason or such.  1533 miles from my house to here this ends the trip and begins the base camp adventure.  It was a great trip, sure some "bumps along the way"  but that's road tripping.



Our "Long Horn" Okra

This year's crop of long horn okra, got off to a late start, but are now off to the races.  We planted them late, after harvesting our Spring crop of snap beans.  Okra do well in the Summer heat, and give our little square foot garden something to do till it's time to plant our winter garden.  The okra has, in the past, continued making pods all the way to Christmas and beyond, as long as we get no frost.  
They are making around 5 to 10 okra a day, which gets cut up (sliced like thick pennies) and put in the freezer until we have enough to make something with it.
Growing in stages, some plants are already over my head, while others are still only 1 ft. or so tall.  Staggered like that insures a longer growing season.  
We leave 2 pods on the healthiest plant for our seeds for the next year and too, later, if anyone wants some seeds we will let more dry.  Over ten years ago I lost my beloved batch of seeds, so we put out some feelers out online here and an elderly Cajun man was nice enough to send us a small package of seeds in the mail.  I never met the man but thank him and say a lil prayer for him every time I walk out and see the beautiful okra flowers smiling at us.
The good news:  We currently have a gallon bag full in the freezer and I can hardly wait for the first batch of smothered okra. Keep smiling you long "horned" beauty; you are music to our eyes!  



Strawberry Figs

Well, while we were in a fig preserving mood we decided to try another of my mother's fig tricks and make some strawberry figs.  We dug another bag of frozen figs out of the freezer.
We poured them into a dishpan and rinsed them good.

After rinsing, we snipped the stems off them.
Placed them in a colander to drain then weighed them.
To seven pounds of figs we added 6 cups of sugar, and a splash of lemon juice.
While the figs were slowly thawing and warming, we put our jelly jars in a 212 degree oven. We also put the canning lids, rings, a soup ladle, a food funnel, and a pair of tongs into a pot of water that we brought to a boil. All THREE things need to be at the same (boiling) 212 degrees temperature for us to be able to can:
1. the jars in the oven, 2. the lids and utensils, 3. the figs. (or whatever we are fixin' to can)
After an hour or so of slowly warming the frost from them, the figs made their syrup and began cooking.
Once the figs were cooked, we took them out of the pot with a large wire mesh ladle, reserving the syrup.
Then we mashed them with a tater masher.
Since we had 9 cups of smashed figs, when we added them back to their syrup we added three 3 oz boxes of (dry, not dissolved) Wild Strawberry Jello.
  Stirring in the Jello, we let it come to a boil and cook for 7 minutes or so, then went to canning them.  Peggy has canned so many jars of things, she has become a well-oiled canning "machine". I do the lifting, stirring and mashing, but when it comes to canning I just stand back and watch my sweet wife do her thang.
Man, this stuff is good.  No joking, you would swear it's real strawberries right down to the small seeds. 
 A couple helpful tips: 
 1.  Use the Wild Strawberry Jello if you can find it because the strawberry flavor is stronger and more intense.  2: the recipe calls for One 3 oz. box of Jello for every 3 to 4 cups of figs.  After cooking and smashing our figs, they measured out at 9 cups, so we used 3 boxes which probably would have been good for 11 or so cups of figs, before adding any more Jello.  This stuff is well worth a try and we highly recommend it to those of you who have more figs than fig eaters.  It's a wonderful way to turn 1 fruit into 2 different jellies. Peggy, not knowing any better, this being the first time she's ever had this, she thinks it tastes just like strawberry jam, Bless her heart.
Believe it or not, though, it actually tastes as good as it looks.