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, April 25, 2018

Penne Pasta with Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce

Oh, for the love of pasta!  When I get a craving for pasta it comes on hard.  I try to resist the so-called "evil" carbs but some times that desire to bite into a tender resistance of al dente egg noodles merrily swimming in creamy tomato goodness is unbearable.  Yes, the desire overwhelms me and I succumb – to the stove we go.  The beauty of this recipe is that there is not an extensive list of ingredients and it all comes together in about 30 minutes. Want protein? Add sautéed shrimp or chicken. Want veggies? Add spinach or peas. And by all means, have a salad. There, less guilt!

This recipe (which is adapted from one of my favorite food blogs Half Baked Harvest) combines the smoky sweetness of sun-dried tomatoes with the acidic tang of tomatoes and silkiness of cream.  Half Baked Harvest adds vodka for a bite.  But when I had the vodka bottle in my hand I was more inclined to pour vodka into my martini glass than in the saucepan.  I searched out some olives and self-validated my decision that vodka would serve me better in the glass than diluted in pasta sauce.  But I'll leave that tough decision up to you.

Sun-dried tomatoes are ripe tomatoes that lose most of their water content after spending a majority of their drying time in the sun which gives them a distinctive flavor. Historically, tomatoes were salted so the moisture would evaporate out thus delaying the process of decomposition so they could be enjoyed later in the winter when it was difficult or impossible to grow fresh produce. Today, we get tomatoes year-round; albeit, they really don’t taste like a tomato. Now if you want to get all gangster and Martha Stewart this recipe, you could make your own sun-dried tomatoes but I prefer to grab a jar off the shelf in the grocery store.

This recipe made enough for the two of us with a bit leftover for lunch. And, by the way, it tasted just as good four days later when I heated it up for lunch as it did the first day. (I know you’re thinking I should probably clean out the fridge a little more often.)


2 tablespoons olive oil
½ sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (use more or less depending on the amount of heat you like)
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 - 28 ounce can whole tomatoes; crush them by hand before adding
¼ cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
½ cup heavy cream
½ pound penne pasta (or your favorite pasta)
garnish with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese


Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes until they are translucent. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, tomatoes (and the juice), sun-dried tomatoes and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Let cool for five minutes before pureeing in a blender or with an immersion blender. Return mixture to the pan, add the cream and simmer for five minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. (You can save some of the pasta water to use for thinning the sauce if you want to use less cream.)

Now that everything is ready (and you have poured yourself a glass of wine) combine all the ingredients and top with parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Enjoy!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Workcamping – In Our Opinions!

One thing we have learned over the seven years of full-time traveling is that we like to slow down our travels and stay awhile.  No more acting like whirlwinds and moving campsites every three or four days all year for us.  In fact, the pendulum has swung pretty far to the other side by having some years when we are stationary for nearly eight months out of the year.  It's all about finding out what works for you.
Our first two years were very typical of how newbies travel.  We hit the road excited with our new found freedom and wanted to go everywhere and see everything. We envisioned the duration of our RV life to be a couple of years, maybe three at the most.  During that time we could see everything in the good ol' U. S. of A.  As we reflect on that thought after seven years, we can emphatically say “boy were we wrong!”  

One aspect of travel that keeps us in places so long and makes our travel more enjoyable and fulfilling is workcamping.  Being in one place and working provides a sense of community and led to lasting friendships in what some might think is an isolated lifestyle.  And, we have spent more time getting to know the area and meeting locals.  It also doesn’t hurt that workcamping helps put a little money in our pockets and saves on annual expenses. When comparing years when we have not workcamped versus when we have our nightly camping cost dropped from $30/night down to $10/night.  Don’t forget that sitting for extended periods of time means you are not filling up the RV with fuel on a regular basis which also helps lower annual expenses.  

Average nightly camping costs for Years 4, 5, and 6 were so low because we workcamped eight
months out of the year.  In Years 1 and 2 we did not work at all and Year 7 we only worked four months.

"Workcamping" conjures up the images of campground jobs where you might be escorting someone to their site in a yellow shirt or working in the office checking road weary campers into their site. But, the term actually describes any job performed while living in an RV – and does not necessarily mean you are working at a campground. Our experiences are widely varied and make for some pretty scattered resumes. This nomadic lifestyle allows us to embrace many different jobs that have included working as a stern man on a lobster boat, driving a tram in a state park, operating the fee booth at an US Army Corps of Engineers campground, cooking as an event chef for a catering company, and shopping and delivering groceries for Shipt.

So how do we find our "jobs?" There are many great free resources that advertise a litmus of job opportunities from working in green houses (and yes, marijuana farms are springing up on that list) to being a caretaker for someone’s property and pets while they are away, and don’t forget campground jobs. Here are some sites that we use to find opportunities:

Another resource with an interesting and eclectic myriad of jobs is CoolWorks. Some of their job categories include environmental stewardship, food and beverage service, ranch, horses, driving and transportation and many, many more. Another big employer of RVers is Amazon. Every year through their Camperforce Program, Amazon bulks up their employee work force during the holidays to fulfill the enormous volume of holiday orders.

Some things to consider regarding work camping are to be sure you are in an area where you want to be for the period of time the job requires. Do you want to get paid or just get your site for free?  If you are retired, you might want to check with your CPA and see how drawing a salary with affect your tax bracket. It is also important when considering a workamping position if the compensation is worth the hours you put in.  Other thoughts for people who don't worry about compensation either in a salary or free campsite but just want something meaningful to do, check the local newspapers or Craig's List for volunteer programs in animal shelters, Habitat for Humanity, church programs, hospitals, etc.

We loved volunteering at Dent Acres Campground in Idaho where thousands of acres of woods kept
us busy hiking and the 54-mile long reservoir was perfect for kayaking and fishing.  But, the closest town (population
3,000 people) was 45 minutes away which may be too remote for some people. 

So what's next for us? This summer I will be working part-time at 
Savage Oakes Vineyard and Winery in Union, Maine while Betsy and Spirit enjoy a break from working and enjoy all that coastal Maine offers. Next December, we will return to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park for four months and resume our tram driving duties and many other opportunities.