Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Change in Plans…

We thought we had our winter all figured out.  The rig would bounce back and forth between a couple of state parks (that we love) along the gorgeous scenic Highway 30A area of the Florida Panhandle.  Our reservations were made 11 months out so the plan was laid out to a “T” (all thanks to Betsy’s diligence clicking on ReserveAmerica at just the right time). 

Not so fast RV-A-GOGO!

This year when we arrived we were informed by the rangers at one of the state parks that a directive from the powers high up in Tallahassee were being strict on rules and regulations that in the past were not always enforced.  One particular rule that did not bode in our favor is that you (meaning a “camping unit”) cannot stay in a Florida State Park more than 56 days in a six-month period.  Therefore, our reservations after 56 days were voided by the park.  Ouch!  And back-to-back reservations, those longer than 14 days on one site, by using one name and then a partner’s name, is also being eliminated by the parks. 

We scrambled to find other reservations and discovered that our other park of choice (Topsail Hill Preserve and Gregory E. Moore RV Park) has long-term sites available for 60 days.  This is something we had never heard of before and never saw on their website, but were delighted to hear.  The campground used to be a private RV park before the state park system acquired it so some of the rules are different. 

Our intention here is not to express personal opinions about the rules.  They are what they are, and unquestionably, we will abide by them.  Instead, this post is to serve as an informational platter for those of you who like to spend extended periods of time in Florida State Parks.  Just because ReserveAmerica lets you book a reservation does not mean that it is in compliance with a particular park’s rules and regulations.  It is best to check with the park first and then book your site and we’re sure this goes for other state parks across the country.

What our change in plans has done for us is kept us moving around and provided a new work camping opportunity-all of which we’re looking forward to and might not have happened if we had not gotten booted!  We will head to the national park in Pensacola Beach for a week, then to a Panama City Beach state park (which we have never been to), and a one-month work camping gig in January. 

Happy camping!


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

If you think RV’ers hanging out in campgrounds over the holidays are missing out on festivities you are wrong.  Last night we took a stroll around the RV park which was all a buzz with lights and decorations.  Remember when you spent hours hanging lights on the house only to run out of extension cords or find bulbs burned out?  That’s why decorating a small house (i.e. RV) is not quite the frustrating, time consuming right of holiday passage.

Inflatables?  Check!  They can be in front, on top, or inside….

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Wreaths?  Check!  Two look much better than one….

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How about a whole holiday scene….
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And, of course, LIGHTS….

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As for us, we are going old school with simple luminaries.  We send best wishes to everyone for a happy and safe holiday season.  Merry Christmas!

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Walk in the Woods

The pine forest across the street beckons us.  Crisp, sunny winter mornings are the perfect time to enjoy the early morning sunlight as it shines majestically through the tall trees.  The forest is a mix of state park and state forest that spans miles and encompasses thousands of acres in some of Florida’s most prime real estate. 

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The protected land ensures that we can walk in tranquil silence hearing only the melodic sounds of rustling grasses and winter migrants. The sandy soil and shed pine needles offer a pillow-like feeling married with a soft crunch under foot.

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The myriad of trails bisect one of our favorite ecosystems – the pine flatwoods.  What historically was a longleaf pine habitat has been transformed by man’s desire for timber.  Longleaf pine forests are one of the most endangered ecosystems in the United States.  The slow-growing longleaf has been replaced by faster growing species such as slash and loblolly pines.

The forest bears the charred scars of fire.  Fire is as vital to the trees as water and sunlight.  Pine flatwoods ecosystems more than just tolerate fire they are highly dependent on itLightning and fire excite the forest and bring about change and natural progression. 

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Fire stimulates growth of young trees, releases seeds from pine cones, encourages herbaceous (grassy) vegetation and a plethora of other benefits that rejuvenate the ecosystem.  Fire also sets the stage for longleaf restoration.

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It’s clear to us why protection of this ecosystem is so important.  Habitat destruction has plagued millions of acres and transformed the landscape forever.  It is a hard fight back but persistence will pay off.   Evidence of regeneration is scattered throughout the forest and young longleaf have a fighting chance.  

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We joy in having the forest in our backyard.  It is where we go to exercise, admire, rejuvenate, and appreciate.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Chocolate Munchkins



No, I did not just post a picture of homemade donuts! Oh yes I did! Who says camping food has to be just hobo packets and wieners and beans (all of which I do love)?

Munchkins brings back childhood memories of walking the few short blocks from Grandma's house down to the local Dunkin' Donuts. When I saw this recipe on Food 52 (by far one of my favorite food blogs) it was only a few minutes later that I was rooting through the RV to see if I had the necessary ingredients to bring memories to life in my mouth. Buttermilk was all I was lacking so I squeezed some lemon into milk and voila! A buttermilk substitute was had.

This recipe is easy and straightforward. The only problem I found was keeping my oil at 350°-360° F. If the oil is too hot and they taste burnt, too low and they get greasy. Other than that, I found them moist, delicious, and rich - so you may want to find a neighbor to share with. 

So here is how it looks:   

Not very appetizing looking at this stage.
On their way to chocolate yumness.
Glaze makes everything better.
Little balls of yum.

Yield: approximately 2 1/2 dozen

Donuts

  •  2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  1 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  •  1 cup all-purpose flour
  •  ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  •  ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
  •  ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  •  ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  •  ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  •  ¼ cup buttermilk
  •  1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  •  1 large egg
  •  Vegetable oil, for frying

Glaze

  •  2 cups confectioners' sugar
  •  2 tablespoons milk
  •  2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •  Water, if necessary


  1. Prepare the dough: In a medium heatproof bowl, melt the butter and the chocolate together over a pot of barely simmering water. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add the buttermilk and vanilla to the melted butter mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture is combined. Wrap the dough in a piece of plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. In a heavy pot heat 3 inches of oil to 360° F. Meanwhile, scoop the dough into 1-tablespoon balls. Roll each ball into a neat circle between the palms of your hands. 
  4. Use a slotted spoon, gently place the dough balls into the oil, 4 at a time. You can add a few more balls depending on the size of your pot, but don’t crowd them. Adjust the flame to maintain the temperature between 350° F and 360° F at all times. Cook the dough until puffed and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. (Cooking time may vary depending on the size and oil temperature so take one out and test that the center is cooked through.) Use a slotted spoon to transfer the donuts to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  5. Prepare the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. The glaze should be about the consistency of heavy cream. Add a little bit of water if necessary. 
  6. Dip each donut into the glaze with a fork and coat. Let excess glaze drip off and transfer to a rack set on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining donuts. Let the donuts stand until the glaze is no longer wet.  Then EAT!  They keep well so don't be afraid to make them ahead of time, even overnight.