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 27, 2017

RV Park Review–Poncho’s Pond (Ludington, Michigan)

This park is a very nice RV park.  All 257 sites are full hook-up (with cable), level, and have paved patios and for a $2 nightly up charge you can get a paved site.  Our site was super long (over 100’) and had a nice view of the large pond. 

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All of the sites are really nice and range from back-in to pull-thru and the park is definitely big-rig friendly.  Some are situated on the “pond” while others are tucked under large trees.  There is pretty good separation between sites and on one side of us were large bushes that added privacy from our neighbors and the adjacent pathway.  There are tent sites set off along one area of the park near the bathrooms. There are a few trees among the tent sites but they are not very private and located near the garbage dumpsters/recycle bins and on a main exit thoroughfare.  There are also three nice-looking “haciendas” for rent.

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One of our favorite features of the campground was the fitness center.  Poncho and his wife are triathletes so the facility is top notch with weight machines, free weights, cycles, treadmills, elliptical, medicine balls, and lots of resistence bands. There are three heated pools on the property – two outdoor and one indoor and two spas.  Since we were there in mid-October the outdoor pools were closed but the indoor hot tub and pool were open (albeit, super crowded on the weekend with kids).  There are two laundry rooms and three bathrooms that are very modern and clean.  One of the cable television stations displays security camera footage around the property which was nice because you can see how busy the laundry is before carrying all of your stuff there.  There is a game room for kids, playground, shuffleboard, a clubhouse and a stocked pond on the property but it is only for kids (17 and under) to fish in.  Cable television yielded 55 channels and WiFi was available at our site with a decent signal.  The campground is very well-maintained with nicely mowed grass and while the grounds crew was always working they were not annoying with constant loud machines.  There is a railroad track that runs behind the park but it does not get a lot of use so the noise was not too bad.  If you don’t want to be near the tracks, ask for a site away from the south side of the park.  There is an off-leash dog park but it really is too small and narrow for big dogs.

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The campground is very convenient to lots of shopping and restaurants and within walking distance of a McDonalds, fruit market, drug store and grocery.  Downtown Ludington is only about five minutes away which has a cute downtown with shopping, galleries, and restaurants.  Ludington State Park is about 15 minutes away and has miles and miles of hiking trails and beach access.  There is also a city park downtown which is along Lake Michigan with beach access and lots of room for a nice walk (but dogs are not allowed).  The office staff was super helpful pointed out places to hike and things to do for the weekend.  Also loved that they gave us a choice of sites and let us drive around the campground (in their golf cart) and pick out the one we wanted.

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We really couldn’t find anything we didn’t like about this park and even extended our stay.  New customers get a 10% discount and during our stay we fell into low season and nightly rates were discounted 50%.  So for $28/night we got a really nice site with lots of amenities in a great location.  If you are looking for a nice RV park at a great price near a nice coastal Michigan town, give this place a try.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Crab Cakes with Chipotle Remoulade

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I posted this picture on Facebook and Instagram and got a few requests for the recipe. Not that I wouldn’t want to share a recipe, the problem was I didn’t follow a recipe so the challenge was to make it again and write one down. Betsy put up no resistance to being the taste tester for the recipe challenge and volunteered to be the guinea pig.

Crab cake recipes are all over the board with lots of things thrown in like celery, parsley, onions, and red peppers. We prefer crab cakes where you really taste the crab and not pasty “filler.” But, if you like other ingredients, by all means add it.

These crab cakes are so moist (because there is little filler to dry them out) that you really don’t even need a sauce. But, I do like the combination of crab cakes and remoulade so I threw it together and used the left-over sauce for a dipping sauce with boiled shrimp. Remoulade is a sauce with its origins in France but we came to know it living in New Orleans. The Creole version has paprika or ketchup that gives it the distinguished pinkish-red color and is commonly served with shrimp, but it shows up as a condiment with pretty much any type of seafood. What goes in remoulade depends on who you ask. Derivations include adding hard boiled eggs, anchovies, celery, chopped pickles, horseradish, and more. I keep my remoulade pretty simple with the odd addition of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce which gives it a smoky spicy flavor.  A large crab cake, simple salad, and glass of white wine makes for a great dinner.  Another option is to make smaller size balls and serve them as appetizers.  In which case if you want to simplify the cooking process, place the mini crab cakes on a sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees F about 15-20 minutes until golden brown and warmed through.  

CRAB CAKES:

1 large egg
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ tablespoon chives, minced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
½ teaspoon Tabasco (or more if you like it spicy)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup panko (2 tablespoons reserved)
1 pound lump crab meat
Canola or vegetable oil (for frying)

Combine the egg, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, chives, Worcestershire, Old Bay, Tabasco, salt, pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Add the crab meat (be sure to check the meat for any hard and sharp cartilage) and panko. Gently fold mixture together until just combined, being careful not to shred the crab meat. Shape into four crab cakes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Just before frying coat each side with the remaining panko.
Preheat a large nonstick pan to medium heat and coat with oil. When the oil is hot, place crab cakes in pan and cook until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200° F. oven.

CHIPOTLE REMOULADE:

½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Creole or whole grain mustard
½ tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons capers, drained and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon chipotle chili mashed with adobo sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all items in a food processor and mix until combined (or place in a small bowl and mix with an immersion blender).

Happy eating!

Note: These can be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator or frozen (just don't coat with the crab cakes with the remaining panko until just before frying).

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Want a Platform Where You Can Learn about Full-time RVing by Experts?

Have you ever considered becoming a full-time RVer but are afraid to jump in? Or, are you a “newbee” and find you still have tons of questions? We’ve been in both those scenarios and after seven years on the road, believe it or not, we are still learning. But here is a way to bridge the learning gap and hit the road with confidence. Earlier this year, our friends, Brandon and Kerensa, launched a Facebook group called RV to Freedom – Learning to Live in an RV which helps guide you through the complex and unknown world of full-time RVing. The group quickly swelled to over 35,000 members indicating that there is a lot of information people crave about full-time RVing.



Kerensa and Brandon realized there was a need for more knowledge and insights to successfully transition into a full-time RV life and decided to launch a formal on-line course to delve into this subject. Roadmap to Full-time RVing is a comprehensive 8-module series that will cover everything you need to know from how to find a suitable RV that meets your needs, how will you get mail, what opportunities for work are available, understanding the financial side of full-time RVing, and so much more. Plus you will get access to live video Q and A sessions which means all the questions you have will be addressed and answered by experts who have lots of knowledge to share. Sometimes you don’t even know what questions to ask, but they have that part covered in this comprehensive course. Betsy and I know Kerensa and Brandon personally and consider them friends and are confident that they will do an amazing job navigating you through this process.



About nine years ago (when we were “wannabees”), we attended a week-long course called “Life on Wheels” and it 
15055810_10207656792126443_750236060193210663_nwas the best thing we did preparing for RV living. We didn’t even have an RV yet but learned so much and felt the course was so valuable to our planning process! The course we took was so valuable and we think this one will be too for new full-timers or those not yet there but considering full-time RVing. So we loudly applaud our friends for enthusiastically wanting to help others and launching this course.

The cost of the course is $297 and will open for registration this Sunday 12/17 and close on 12/23 (12:00 am eastern). And, there’s also a contest to give away a FREE seat which ends WEDNESDAY evening (12/14 at 12 am) so don’t delay. Here’s a great way to achieve your goal of full-timing with confidence.

Below is a short introductory video which provides more details and to see if this course is right for you.