Saturday, November 23, 2019

Sanctified Saturdays: Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley

I love those "God Moments" that happen unexpectedly. In Mosaic Canyon, I had one of those when I was between a slower and faster group and I had a few minutes with a section of the canyon all to myself. It was one of those moments when the clamor of the crowd disappears and in the quietness, the presence of the Creator is very near. As I slowly walked along drinking in both His presence and the beauty of this canyon, trailing my hand along the amazing marble sides, I was struck with such awe at His creativity and imagination! I'm so humbled that He thought up this amazing planet for us to live on just because He loves us so much! He didn't have to make it beautiful, but He did because that's Who He is! The unimaginable power it took to crush these rocks together, to carve out the canyon, to form all of this causes me to stand in awe of Him, because as huge as all that is, He is so much bigger! He is not a distant God as many suppose, but as near as our breath, longing to be in relationship with us. As I’ve drawn closer to Him and learned more of His character and of His vast love, I see Him in all kinds of unexpected places. As I felt the rock wall, I thought of how He is called my Strong Tower, and the solidness of the rock was but a hint of His strength.
"He alone is my rock and my salvation, my defense and my strong tower; I will not be shaken or disheartened." Psalms 62:2 The Passion Translation
 I think of His faithfulness, of His mercy, of His kindness. When the vastness of creation overwhelms me, I think of how He has chosen me. Out of this enormous planet, solar system, and galaxy. He chose me. Wow. And to think that He loves me enough to not only create this amazing planet I call home, but He made a way for me to be restored. Restored not only to a right relationship with Him, but restored in my heart through healing and forgiveness and letting things go. Restored in my body as He touches places that need His healing touch. Restored relationships that had gotten broken. Restored sense of purpose that had been trampled and left behind somewhere. Abundantly restored! When He goes to do something, I’ve discovered that He doesn’t just do almost enough or barely enough, but more than enough! This is an extravagant God! He loves with more than enough, with abundance of goodness and resources. He brings order from chaos not just in the universe, but in our lives. His power is beyond what I can imagine, but I get a glimpse here and there, like in that canyon, and it gives me hope. This hope does not disappoint because He has promised and He is faithful.
"And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!" Romans 5:5 The Passion Translation 
Perhaps to some who have never experienced His goodness, it might seem a bit too good to be true. In this world which is fairly cynical, it seems crazy to have such hope, to know such love. Satan has been very busy defaming God so that people won’t see how good He is. Once you have tasted of His goodness, you totally get it! Not only that, you don’t want anything else because you discover how much He satisfies every longing of your heart. He is more than enough! There is such rest in that. Such rest in knowing that I don’t have to strive to please some angry God waiting to strike with lightning if I blow it. Rather, I can rest in His goodness, rest in the work that Jesus did by dying on the cross and then coming back to life to make a way for me to be friends with God. He did all the work. I just have to believe and trust.

 How amazing is that? I get to believe and accept and rest. I get to trade my sin, sadness, brokenness for His forgiveness, joy and restoration. It’s pretty clear to me that I’m getting the best part of this trade! Clearly I'm His favorite. But then, you can be His favorite, too!
"Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to Me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis." Matthew 11:28 The Passion Translation.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Travel Tuesdays: Death Valley

Little Hebe at Ubehebe Crater.
   After we left Death Valley, I was faced with the daunting task of going through over 500 photos to decide what I would use for a blog post. Since I usually only use a handful here, I created a link to a photo album with more here, the Best of Death Valley 2019.
At the salt flats, the lowest pace at -283 feet. With Ines.
  Death Valley was unexpected from the time we entered to the time we left. We sure didn't expect the 16 miles of downhill grade that we needed to take very slowly so we didn't burn up our brakes! And we didn't expect the amazing beauty and variety of this huge place. It will definitely require another visit or two to cover all that we would like to see. Thankfully, we had an experienced person in our group who served as tour guide and took us to many of the must-see places.
   We met up with the Christian Fellowship BOF group, and also saw several from the Boomers BOF group there as well at the Sunset Campground. We arrived more than a week before the 49er Days events and spent the time sight-seeing, interspersed with times for worship and devotions and many potlucks. I stepped up and lead the worship time on my keyboard with Nancy helping out on her guitar. It was lots of fun and a good experience. We weren't able to use any amplification in the National Park where we were, but everyone seemed to be able to hear me OK.
At dawn, I turned around...
  Potlucks are always a challenge, but there were several people who contributed things we could eat and for that we were very thankful. It took a wee bit of planning, but it worked out very well and several people wanted the recipe for the Curtido that I made and shared. (I posted the link for it on the Favorite Recipes page.)
Zabriskie Point just before dawn.

Getting up before dawn is not something I do very often, but it was worth it to watch the sunrise spill color and light, first behind and then hitting the tip of Zabriskie Point. Besides our group of about 10 people, there were probably another 50 or so, cameras in hand from all over the world, waiting for that special moment.
     Mosaic Canyon was another favorite place with amazing rock formations and the conglomerate rock filled with chunks of marble and pebbles right up against huge sections of marble. The forces of nature required to do that boggle the mind! We were instructed to bring spray bottles and extra water for them so we could spray the sections to bring out the colors. It was really fun to watch the colors deepen and I soon had to beg more water from someone! I took so many pictures, but this is my favorite.
Amazing rocks in Mosaic Canyon.

A beautiful pool with rare little fish.
 Another place we went was Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge. It is an unexpected oasis of pools, streams and green. In one of the pools, there are rare, blue Pupfish about 1-1/2" long that dart around here and there. It's a fun thing to see this unique area and this is the only place in the world they are found. Back in the day there were farms here, but much of it has been returned to original habitat, an ongoing process of restoring the land and removing invasive species of plants.
   The Death Valley 49ers are a group who gather yearly to commemorate the wagon trains that first stumbled across Death Valley in 1849 looking for a shortcut the the gold field of the California Gold Rush. Most of them made it out with their lives and little else. Remarkably there were a few families that survived it. Reading about it made me even more thankful for the comfort and conveniences with which we travel and stay in this very arid area. The celebrations included demonstrations of gold panning and blacksmithing, a costume contest of clothing from the 1800s, an Art Show and various vendors. I got to participate in the "Come Paint" area where an artist has a basic outline that he helps you paint by teaching techniques, helping mix colors and showing how it's done and then handing over the brush. More fun than paint by number, for sure! I enjoyed the Cowboy music in the evening, the old kind. There were some really great musicians! One night before the actual opening there was a kind of Talent Show called Coyote Howl and Nancy roped me into singing with her and playing my baritone ukulele (that I inherited from Dad). We sang an old cowboy song from a book she found circa 1940s. It was great fun and Dad would have appreciated me playing his bari-uke in this setting! He would have loved all of this so much. When one of the groups started in with a harmonica, it brought back such a flood of memories of watching Dad in fascination make such beautiful sounds out of something that had me totally stumped! I might have leaked a little bit....
Selfie with the 20 mule team. 
    One of the most fun things was watching the 20 Mule Team pulling replica wagons of those used to haul boron out of the valley in the later 1800s. (See video in photo album, link above) They were followed by people who came in covered wagons pulled by mules, dressed in period clothing. It was fun to talk to them and see their various setups once they pulled into the parking lot. Some of them had taken a week to pull their wagons 100 miles. This is truly reenacting! The mule train went on past, and then returned a couple of hours later and stopped so we could get pictures and even pet them!
The fury of the flames were awe inspiring!
     After 12 days, we took off toward Indio, CA hoping to make good time. But when we came up behind an RV with flames coming up from the towed vehicle, I was unwilling to drive past due to risk of explosions. We parked and had a front row seat to this unfolding drama. All I could do was pray. So shocking to watch this. Thankfully, the lady and her dog got out safely. She had grabbed her purse so she had ID, but her phone and laptop and all her other possessions went up in smoke. It's unclear what started the fire with the CRV she was towing, but there was something causing resistance. She stopped several times trying to figure out what was wrong. Then she saw smoke and by the time she pulled off the road and got out, it was beyond what a fire extinguisher could do. Thankfully she had a friend and fellow RVer that was in the line up of vehicles stopped behind us, so she had help.
    An hour and a half into this, it was still burning. The fire truck had run out of water and it would some time before a water truck could get filled and get to the site. So when a park ranger told us the road would be closed another couple of hours more, we turned and left by Badwater Rd. There were sections of that road that were rough enough that I could only do 20 mph, but we made it out. I don't intend to take that road again unless it's the only way out! It took about 7-1/2 hours of driving to get to our destination, not counting the delay. Maybe it would have been quicker to just wait it out?! Who knows, we're just thankful and counting our many blessings.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Foodie Fridays: My favorite Breakfast

     One of the big changes that comes with eating more healthfully is the change of breakfast choices. It's such an important meal, but the typical American diet is full of highly processed, high sugar, low nutrient "Franken-foods". Cold cereal, donuts, bagels, etc. Foods that many of us were raised on. Foods that are so normal to eat we often don't even think about it. There is so much I could say about how hard these are on the body, but instead I'm going to focus on what can replace these. (You can check out resources in my Class Notes page for more information.) 
     I've been eating this porridge for breakfast for several years and I'm a bit surprised that I haven't posted about this recipe before! Since going grain free several years ago, I've gone through many different ideas for breakfast.This has become a staple and Hubby even likes it. With the gelatin added, it creates a great snack if we're traveling and want something simple to eat at a stop (it sets up a bit, so won't spill!) Plus gelatin is so good for you. We both noticed a difference when I ran out and we went for a couple of months without it. 
     I found that adding hot porridge to frozen berries in a pint mason jar can be hard on my jars, so after I mix the porridge first in the jar, I add it to the fruit in a bowl. If we're going to travel with it, I transfer it to a mason jar with a lid after I've mixed the hot and cold together. I make my serving a little larger than the 1/4 cup because I'm using rounded TBSP measures (because I have extras, so I can leave it in the container). Then I just add the amount of water I want to my pint jar; I just eye-ball it! It's pretty forgiving.
Left is with the hot water added & stirred, right are frozen berries ready to be covered, at the back it's all stirred up & sitting for about 10 minutes or so to let the berries thaw.I usually top it with nuts for some crunch.

Linda's Grain Free Breakfast Porridge

     Here is my version of a grain free hot porridge. Below I have the original which I changed from someone else's recipe. It's packed full of fiber and nutrients, with few carbs unless you add the fruit. 
     I find 'units' and 'ratios' an easy way to do mixes; I can make up whatever amount I'd like and it simplifies the math for increasing or decreasing. If I'm going to use the 1/2c measure, I'll scoop 3 times for the first four ingredients, once for the next and approximately 1/2 for the others. If I want to do a really big batch, I can use a 1 c measure and use the same method. Here I've written the list with a couple of different units to make it easier.

Ratio  ½ c units   1/4c units    Ingredients
3        [1-1/2 c]    [3/4c]           Hemp protein powder (ground hemp only)
3        [1-1/2 c]    [3/4c]           Chia seeds whole
3        [1-1/2 c]    [3/4c]           Flax seeds ground
3        [1-1/2 c]    [3/4c]           Fine ground coconut, unsweetened
1        [1/2c]        [1/4c]           Plain gelatin, grass fed
0.5     [1/4c]        [1/8c*]         Ground psyllium husk   
0.5     [1/4c]        [1/8c*]         Powdered leaf stevia (the green stuff)
*(2 TBSP)

     Put all the ingredients into a bowl and stir them up to mix them well. Then transfer to a jar and keep it in the refrigerator. The flax seeds and hemp seeds can go rancid if not refrigerated. For short term it can stay out, like for a trip, but for long term it needs to be kept cold to protect the healthy oils.
What the mix looks like using 1/2 c measure 
     When you are ready to use it, take a rounded 1/4c scoop and put into a pint jar, add approximately 3/4 c hot water and stir for a minute or so until it begins to thicken. Then pour into a bowl with 1/4 c frozen fruit, stir and let sit about 5 – 10 min. You can eat it right away, but if you let it sit the fruit will thaw and it will cool and gel up a bit. I like to sprinkle soaked and dried nuts over the top. Enjoy!
     I love to put organic, frozen blueberries, mixed berries, sliced strawberries and sometimes sliced peaches in this (I'll add cinnamon when I use peaches. Yum!). I have found organic sliced frozen strawberries at Walmart only. I don't know why everyone else seems to think we want our organic, no sugar added strawberries whole! Dried fruit will also work--especially on trips and all you need is hot water! Since neither of us drinks milk and milk substitutes can get pricey, we just don't bother with it. Most porridge recipes call for it, but it's not really necessary and it's so much simpler to do without. I like simple!
     In case you're wondering, other things I eat for breakfast are eggs with veggies like onions, tomatoes, avocado, broccoli and sprouts, topped with sauerkraut and sometimes Curtido. I know it's no surprise that I try to eat some kind of fermented food several times a day: milk kefir, kombucha and water kefir, along with sauerkraut and Curtido. These amazing superfoods are such a boost to nutrition and health. The benefits we've received have been significant; happy gut, allergies virtually gone, healthy skin, calmer emotions to name a few that we attribute to these probiotic foods. When you remove negative foods and increase positive foods, the results can be quite amazing! That goes for thinking, too. Remove the negative thinking and speaking and turn it around to positive and it's amazing the things that can change.

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words."  Proverbs 18:21 Amplified Bible

Starting point recipe:
(I have not be able to find this website again. I try to link to webpages where I find good recipes)

Warm Grain Free Porridge
As I have been learning more about nutrition and balancing blood sugars, I have limited my grain intake and I feel so much better! One huge blessing has been the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, and I have learned so much vital information from reading their Trim Healthy Mama book. Below is a recipe I found online. I made some changes to use the ingredients I prefer - it has become a favorite and fits in with their plan!
·1 cup chia seeds 
·1 cup fine shred coconut
·1 cup flax meal or you can grind your own from the seeds
Mix this up and store in a quart jar. When you are ready for a delicious breakfast, take 1/4 to 1/3 cup, put in a small pot, and stir in the following:
·1/2 cup milk of your choice, I love coconut or hemp
·Sweeten to taste; I use THM Sweeteners
·1/2 tsp. vanilla
·1 scoop whey protein powder
Leave in the pot for about 10 minutes or put in the fridge overnight. Add more milk or cream if desired. When ready, gently warm- not too hot so that the ingredients stay raw. Finally, my favorite part is adding fresh or frozen berries (thawed) for the finishing touch. Mix and enjoy. It reminds me of the yummy childhood breakfasts I was raised on, yet even healthier!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Snowbird Migration #6

Slowly packing away the outdoor things in our Summer place, getting ready to leave. 

       The leaves are falling, turning fabulous colors of gold and red. The apples have all been picked, processed and given away. The tree has been pruned. Time to put the Summer place to bed, tucked up in winter protection. The van sleeps the winter through, snug in its tarp garage; dehydrators and mouse traps strategically placed. Chairs and other deck things put away in a shed, refrigerator emptied and cleaned. The Snowbird Migration Ritual of Preparation. Check lists and 'must dos'.
Apples picked, tree pruned.
Hope they winter over again!
     We left on Friday the 18th in the drizzling rain. Although we did get some dry pavement an hour later, we also got a huge downpour south of Portland which slowed everyone down to about 45 mph. Typical Fall weather for this area, and a major motivator for Jerry to head south! This year we left earlier, and Jerry is making plans to leave even earlier next year.
     We arrived in plenty of time to get set up before dark at our Son-in-law's parent's place in Corvallis. It was fun to see them again and to see what changes they've made since last time we visited. Every time we come to visit, we see all kinds of new projects that have been done. They are inspiring! They are renovating this farm and house that was originally settled by ancestors. Such a family heritage.
      After 5 days of visiting all the various family members that we could squeeze in to so short a time, we took off again on Wednesday. This next stretch is pretty short, only a little over 100 miles to Canyonville (Seven Feathers Casino) south of Roseburg, but it's a great jumping off point for taking on the Siskiyou Mountain range. It's a bit over 200 miles to Redding from there, but in a motorhome and over those mountains, it's slower going and more tiring. The weather started out foggy, but eventually cleared to blue skies and warm. We didn't quite have to put on the A/C, but it was close!
The first stop, wet and rainy; oddly appropriate for our journey.
     I see the Geese flying overhead now and feel a kinship. I love to hear them honking their encouragement to each other and it reminds me of how thankful I am to be doing this with Jerry. Not only do we share this Snowbird Journey, but our shared spiritual journey is a great source of joy, conversational topics and "iron sharpening iron". This time the trip over the mountains seemed to go so smoothly and so quickly we were surprised! As we traveled, we listened to Kevin Zadai on YouTube whose story encourages us to see Jesus more clearly, to understand His ways more, to seek Him more diligently. We felt His presence with us the whole way and it made the trip so much fun! As we press in to learn more of Him and to experience His presence more, we are finding more joy, more peace, and a sense of purpose. Some would find what Kevin has to say difficult to accept. But we've been stepping away from the trappings of religious traditions (that don't agree with the Bible) and more into the clarity and freshness and Life of Jesus, God the Father and Holy Spirit. The Bible has come alive to us more than ever before, its relevance more acute. How can I not talk about the freedom, the joy, the peace, the love that we walk in more and more? God is so GOOD!

"Keep trusting in the Lord and do what is right in His eyes. Fix your heart on the promises of God and you will be secure, feasting on His faithfulness. Make God the utmost delight and pleasure of your life, and He will provide for you what you desire the most. Give God the right to direct your life, and as you trust Him along the way, you'll find He pulled it off perfectly!" Psalm 37:3-5 The Passion Translation.

Parked at the Farm, a beautiful and quiet place to spend a few days. 

A quick shot of Mount Shasta while driving. We're getting closer to the warmth and sunshine!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Living Life and Moving on...

Restful river time at the cabin.
       I'm so glad we have that wonderful memory of seeing my Dad, along with all my siblings, on the way home in April. A few weeks after that he fell and broke his hip, and with one thing following another, his health rapidly declined and he passed peacefully into the arms of his Savior on June 6th. My predominant thoughts following this were thankfulness for so many things. Thankful that he's no longer in pain, that his passing was calm, and that one day I'll see him again. I'm also very thankful that I have family to help process this loss, to share the grief, to celebrate his life and what he taught us, and to let him go and move on.
      The Memorial we had in July was really good; very satisfying and a good closure. All four kids were there, all eleven grand kids, and many great grand kids were there. The service was honoring in a healthy way. He wasn't perfect, but he had a Perfect Savior whom he loved and trusted and is now in His presence. That gives us all hope. We don't have to be perfect to be loved or used by God. Dad taught us many things, some not so good, some great. I choose to focus on the good stuff learned and trust in the Lord to help unlearn the others. Even in the unlearning, there are such good lessons! One of them is learning to grab the wisdom from the experiences and move on.
Holding my new granddaughter Bethany Grace.
     The very next day after he passed, my 5th grandchild arrived, 16 days past her due day, but apparently right on time. Bethany Grace arrived on June 7th, 7 minutes before the 11th hour. So very interesting! What an amazing cycle of life to lose someone of one generation while gaining one of another! Those six days I stayed with them went by way too fast, keeping the older kids busy with cooking, crafting with felt and taking walks.
     I had expected to stay a little longer with them, but I learned my sisters needed to get Dad's room cleared out and I wanted to be there. We were able to stay in the Guest Rooms at Turner Retirement Home for a few days while we worked on that project. These rooms were part of the original building built in the late 1880s. What a charming Bed & Breakfast stay, and a relief to be so close so I could work in spurts. Sorting through the last of his stuff was both meaningful and difficult. But I was thankful for the opportunity as it helped me to process through the loss. There were a few special things I was able to bring back with me. One of which was his baritone ukulele. I plan to take it with me South this winter and learn how to play it. It's a lovely instrument that Dad used when he played with the Oldtime Fiddlers group. Closing this chapter and moving on.
     We had a few more days of visiting relatives, then we headed farther south to the family cabin for the Annual Meeting. The memories of grandparents and parents was very strong there, but it was still restful and refreshing there. I think much of that has to do with the river and the constant, soothing background sound of the water over the rocks. The Club very kindly gave us a Rhododendron in honor of Dad and shared fond memories of his involvement there. It was touching.
      I was very glad to finally return home after sleeping in four different beds over the 10 day period. There's nothing like being away to help you really appreciate being back home! You might wonder why we didn't take the motorhome so we could have our home with us. There are a few reasons, but most of all, it's just simpler and less expensive to leave it parked. The minivan that stays here in the winter, is a great travel vehicle for summers to visit family and the cabin where we can sleep inside.
     All of a sudden, we realized that our departure date is barely 2 months away! So we are switching gears, trying to figure out how to fit everything in that we want and need to do before we leave again mid October. More moving on, although there will be a return.
    Life is full of moving on. So we live each day as it comes, learning to walk more in step with Jesus, getting filled up with His love and giving it out to others. Life is good.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tuesday Travel: Home Base

Me and my siblings visiting Dad in Salem.
The view from my walk looking back at Michael's place hidden by the trees.
     On our way back to our Home Base in Olympia, we stopped for a few days in Albany, OR to visit family. We were able to gather all of my siblings to visit with Dad who is 92. It has been several years since we were all together, so it was pretty special for Dad to have us all there at the same time. I'm amazed at how my Dad just keeps going! We stayed at my nephew's place in North Albany where he has several acres and it was a very pleasant place to recharge from all the visiting. We made the most of our few days there visiting with as many people as we could fit in. There were so many more people we want to see, but there wasn't time. We plan to return for a more extended visit later in the summer.
My one blooming Iris!
Hellebore plants are happy.
Wild bleeding hearts, Columbine
     We were glad to get back to our lot and settle in after being on the move every week or two for 6 months. We had plenty of cleanup to do from winter storms, branches and leaves to clean up, weeds to kill and the snow damage to assess and repair. After weighing options, we decided to replace our Costco tarp garage with a new one. It didn't do very well with the 17" of snow they got here in February. We are so thankful for our neighbors who came and got the snow off and propped it up until we could get home and fix it. Jerry has added supports to the new one to give it a better chance of survival in the future. Most of these in the park failed under the weight of the snow. Thankfully, the Harbor Freight one that the van was stored in did fine. It had a large tree over it, cedars alongside of it and a wider base which helped quite a bit.
     Coming home to see so many flowers in bloom was fun for me. I loved the amazing flowers we saw this winter, but coming home to familiar ones is always lovely. To see my shy Hellebore blooming profusely, the Hostas beginning to unfurl, and buds on my Peonies made my heart happy. Now my wild Bleeding Hearts and Columbine are in full bloom as are my Irises. Well, one Iris that's in a pot, anyway. The dirt here isn't all the great, so the many Irises I brought with me from the house add greenery, but haven't bloomed. For the most part I do container gardening. Not that I'm that much of a gardener, but I do love having fresh herbs and a few flowers. The herbs I have are Anise Hyssop, Sage, Lemon Balm, Chives, Mint, Stevia, Basil, Oregano, Lavender, and Thyme in varying degrees of success. It very fun to go out and clip some herbs to add to a salad or something I'm cooking. I was also given a space in the Community Garden in a friend's plot, so I now have two cherry tomato plants. We'll see how that goes! My Mom had such a green thumb, and so does my son. I used to feel like it had skipped me, but I've found that I've been able to build on a few successes here and there and I do well enough to suit me.
My little herb garden. 

    We were able to meet the original owners of our RV this past weekend. Imagine our surprise last year when we discovered that not only were a couple of people in our park related to the original owners, but a few years ago this very Motorhome lived in this park just a couple of streets over! We purchased it from a small family RV dealer in Vancouver, WA who bought it at auction 6 years ago. The names of the owners meant nothing to us at the time; we were still living in our house in Renton and didn't even know that this park existed. Jerry made note of their names as a matter of course when we bought it. (He's very good about documentation.) Last summer he had reason to check back in his records. "Do you think the Malley we know might know the Malley who owned this rig before?" he asks. Sure enough--brothers! At one time, all four brothers lived here. So of course when there was a family birthday party this weekend, several people made sure we got to meet the original owners. It was fun to get a little history about the rig and share how much we enjoy it now. What a small world!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Travel Tuesday: Lake Havasu

Amazing field of wildflowers near where we parked. The smell was lovely and soft, mainly from the purple flowers.
During Spring Break, there were lots of boats lined up along the canal.

Standing in front of the famous London Bridge.
On the bridge, it's a "Thing" to leave your bike lock with your name. 
    Once the Boondocker BOF group heads off in different directions, we then have to decide where to go until it warms up enough to head home. This year I want to get home a bit earlier to be available for the arrival of my daughter's fourth child. So we didn't want to go very far eastward and decided to check out Lake Havasu. I know that lots of RV friends go there to the Winter Blast in February when they test out new fireworks and people in the area can watch them. But I'm not a huge fan of fireworks, so I'll pass. We hadn't been there since we took our kids years ago on an Arizona vacation. We couldn't remember exactly when that was, but they were likely early teens.
     We found a place to boondock on the north end of the lake on Arizona Trust Land and enjoyed exploring the area. It was fun to see that much was the same as it had been nearly two decades ago. I didn't remember driving across the bridge back then, but it was fun to drive over to the island and all around it. We went to the Visitor's Center and brushed up on the history of the bridge, how the town founder had bought it and brought it over from London, built supports under it out of cement, reassembled the bridge, then dug out the canal underneath. Not the usual way with bridges! Our first jaunt to the bridge was on Saturday, the last weekend of Spring Break. There was quite a lot of action, noise and young people about. Clearly Lake Havasu is a favorite place to go for Spring Break! I marveled at the amount of money represented by the many boats we saw; big, fast and loud. We walked from the bridge all the way down the south side of the canal to the park at the end and back.
Kayaking through the canal and under the bridge.
     We decided to go kayaking in the middle of the week when the crowds were less, which turned out to be a great plan. The day we went was quite overcast, but I was thankful since it kept us from getting sunburned. I was prepared with a long sleeve shirt, but was thankful that I didn't need it. We rented kayaks on the island, and paddled around to the canal and under the bridge and back. It's a lovely place to kayak. We could have gone the entire length of the canal before returning, but there were still enough boats with their stinky exhaust to make me turn around and head back out to the lake to enjoy some serenity. The canal is a no wake zone, so the big boats have to go very slow, but they're still loud and stinky! I much prefer the calm, quiet paddling of a kayak. I definitely want to kayak again! That's now on my "TO DO" list when I get back home.
One of the 27 Lighthouses around the lake, each unique.
    Around the lake there are replica lighthouses, each one unique, and we were able to paddle fairly close to two of them. There is one on each side of each opening to the canal, so we were able to see a total of four fairly close up. Quite a fun thing to see since I'm a fan of lighthouses.
    The place where we rented our kayaks was on the beach of a camping resort. I wonder how much it is per night to park an RV right there by the beach? That would be a lovely place to stay (if you can get in!) and it was fun being able to enjoy it from the water side. But the price of where we stayed is hard to beat! For a 14 day permit, we paid $21. 
    Where to go next? We tossed around several ideas, but some expected mail played a deciding role. I figured that Parker was close enough to Lake Havasu to have my mail sent there. However, they won't tell you by phone if there is anything waiting for you or not. So we took a gamble and went on Thursday to Parker, more than an hour's drive away. No mail. But we have friends who were staying nearby, so we visited them and took a tour of the park where they are members that's right on the Colorado River. That eased the disappointment. But left us with a dilemma. This was solved by Jerry's idea to go to Quartzsite for a few nights, try one more time to get my mail, then dump and fill all tanks before heading on to Indio, CA. I was delighted to get my mail and get back to Quarzsite before Jerry was done. Then we were off to Indio. I love it when a plan comes together!

Friday, March 29, 2019

FOODIE FRIDAY: Fun with gelatin!

       In a discussion recently about gelatin and how good it is for you, I mentioned some of the different kinds that I had played with. Of course that brought a request for the recipe. Hmmm. You mean that scribble of notes I jotted down to try remember what I did? Clearly I had to make some recipes to see if I could duplicate what I did before; to see how well my notes captured it. Since I'm a "Little dab of this, and a splash of that" kind of cook, that's always an interesting challenge! So I made some Coffee Gigglers and shared them when we had a Taco Potluck while camping in the Bouse area. They were very well received, and I heard later they were even talked about at the fire that night! After making them again, I feel confident that I it got down. It's now in Official Recipe Form!
The squares on the left are the peanut butter ones, on the right the coffee. Not much difference by looks except the coffee ones are smoother in texture. I'm thinking that the peanut butter ones are just begging for some kind of chocolate layer.

The basic gelatin gigglers recipe is simple, and once you know the proportions you can make all kinds of flavors:
2 TBSP gelatin
2-3 cups total liquid (depending on how firm you want them)

   I like to put the gelatin in cold liquid first to keep it from clumping, then add it to the hot and stir for several minutes. You can also use a stick blender to make it smooth, but it will add a foamy top layer. I like that added texture and for the Coffee Gigglers, it's the best way to emulsify the fats.
    I like to play around with different combos of herbal tea, kombucha, flavored stevia and veggies or fruit. With the basic ratios of gelatin to liquid, I can pretty much make anything that sounds good! I've used hibiscus tea for color if I'm doing a fruit flavored one. Tulsi tea is great for a soft, refreshing mouthful. Chamomile tea for a before bed calming bite (great for kids). Peanut butter and bananas is a grandkid favorite. And why not coffee while we're at it?
     Why, you might ask, would I bother to make gelatin in the first place? Glad you asked! Gelatin is made of collagen (same thing, different forms) which is an important protein and it's the glue that holds your body together. It's necessary for skin, hair, nails, a healthy gut, joints, etc. For more great information on this, go here to Amy Myers MD website and read  up on it. I certainly noticed a difference when I ran out and couldn't find any for about a month in my travels. I didn't really want the Knox Gelatin because I'm not sure of the source (although it will do in a pinch), and I prefer it in bulk. I finally found some in Tucson in the Food Conspiracy Co-op in bulk and got a bunch, enough to get me home. Now that I'm eating it again, my nails are getting stronger and so is my hair. I don't really have joint issues, so I don't know by personal experience how that helps. But it's enough for me to know that my nails are better since they are a pretty clear indicator of body health. I usually add it to my morning porridge, but sometimes I just want to play around with it! Plus it's fun to share this healthy snack with others.

The brand of decaf coffee I use, truly decaf. I try to get organic cream. The brand and flavor of stevia used in both recipes. The Lakanto Monkfruit sweetener is something I've just started using. It has Monkfruit and erythritol in it. 
     I took my version of Bullet Proof Coffee and added the cream, extra stevia and gelatin. I can have it any time since it's decaf, and it makes a great, light dessert!  You can make it with whatever flavor combo floats your boat, just be aware that once it gets cold and gels, it will be milder in flavor and less sweet.

Coffee Gelatin Gigglers:
2 TBSP plain gelatin
1 cup cool water
Mix these together and set aside. This keeps the gelatin from clumping.

Mix together:
     1-1/4 c hot coffee to taste, strong enough to get diluted by the cup of water.
     1 TBSP butter (to make dairy free, use coconut butter or double coconut oil)
     1 TBSP coconut oil
     2-4 TBSP cream to taste (can also use coconut cream)
     2-3 droppers Chocolate flavored stevia to taste (a dropperful comes up about 1" approx 20 drops)
     1 tsp monk fruit/erythritol sweetener or honey (to mellow out the stevia)

Blend the coffee, fats, sweeteners and cream together in a blender or with a stick blender until somewhat frothy. Add the gelatin/water mix, blend until thoroughly mixed. Taste it. This mixture should taste a bit sweeter and stronger than you prefer. Pour into 8x8 pan and refrigerate until set. Cut into squares and enjoy! It will separate as it cools to form a top layer. You can also pour this into gelatin molds, individual cups or whatever you prefer.

Peanut Butter Gigglers: (a grandkid favorite, they ask for these!)
        2 TBSP plain gelatin
1 cup cool water
 Mix these together and set aside. This keeps the gelatin from clumping.

     1/4 c peanut butter
     3 droppers Chocolate flavored stevia (a dropperful comes up about 1", approx 20 drops)
     2 TBSP cream
     1 tsp Lakanto Monkfruit sweetener or honey or maple syrup (can use more of this, less of stevia)
     1-1/2 cups very hot water
     6-8 slices frozen banana or to taste

In a deep bowl, mix peanut butter, sweeteners, and cream. Add gelatin mixture and stir well. Add hot water and blend thoroughly. Add frozen bananas and blend. Chill until set up, cut and serve.
TIP: I like to have frozen banana slices on hand in the freezer. I take a real ripe banana, slice it about 1/4" or slightly thicker and take a gallon freezer ziplock bag and place them one layer thick in the freezer until frozen, then they can be used individually.

Did you make them? Did you try any variations? I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Travel Tuesday: Off Road Adventures

Spectacular views! The road looks good from a distance....
Unusual flowers I've not seen elsewhere
Some parts are better walked.
While we were camped outside of Bouse, AZ, I was invited to go to The Desert Bar with some off-roading enthusiasts. I've heard of the Desert Bar from many people who have gone, knew of its uniqueness and also of the somewhat bumpy road getting up there. So far we hadn't felt compelled to go, although we thought it might be interesting. And then along comes an opportunity I didn't want to pass up. Because I would have felt like a wuss if I had! I decided to go for the Adventure instead of comfort and safety. So off we went, and instead of the rather rough road going in, we took the back way. I'm not sure I would call it a road. Well, maybe: if you have 4-wheel drive and plan to use it--a lot!, if you have enough clearance to get over some big rocks, if you don't mind desert pinstripes (getting up close and personal with thorny bushes), if you don't mind dirt and bumpy rides that bounce your head off the window, then, yes, it's a road! Truly, going with enthusiasts made it fun. Jerry opted out and I almost did. It's enough that it's about an hour plus drive on the main road, but the sound of 3 or more hours taking the back way had me questioning the wisdom of this. I was concerned about sitting so long. I also was wondering if there would be any stops along the way, not only to stretch my legs, but to 'pick flowers' as my Grandmother called it. It was a relief to discover that due to the bouncing, movement side to side and having to keep my balance, I wasn't just sitting there and didn't have a chance to get stiff. Plus we stopped several times to get out, stretch legs, take pictures (while not in constant motion!), oooh and ahhh over the scenery, and, yes, 'pick flowers'.  We were rewarded by spectacular scenery, the comradery that happens when challenges are met, and the fun of arriving at this picturesque oasis in the desert.
     The Desert Bar is only open on the weekends and they do a hopping business in those two days. People come from all over the place to enjoy food, drinks and music at this remote place. It's hard to fathom the kind of vision needed to think up something like this, but it's really something to see. It's been built in stages and they are still building. It runs totally on solar and I got a peek at 2 of the battery banks. The smaller one had 48 linked together. The food there is typical fast food: hamburgers, specialty fries, etc. Since we were eating outside, I felt comfortable eating the lunch I had brought with me while the others supported the local economy. There was a band playing and quite a festive air about the place, and lots of people. 
First view of the Desert Bar. It was packed! Ahead of me are MP, Wendy and Dave.
      From the entrance of the 'back way' it took us about 2-1/2 hours to go the 5 miles to the bar. The scenery was spectacular. Some of the sections of road were pretty tricky, and at the very start was a part they called a 'gatekeeper'. If you could get up that section, you could probably make it the rest of the way, but it was not for the faint of heart! I was the first to hop out and walk up it, but in the end everyone got out and the drivers assessed it to figure out the best way to go up. The careful way they looked it over and planned it built confidence, and I was happy to hop back in once they made it up the hill. I took videos of 3 different vehicles making it up that climb. Since I was at the top, it didn't show very well how steep it actually was. There was only one other section I walked, and I was very quick to hop out when asked if I wanted to walk this part. Yessiree! Plus I could take more pictures, getting better shots from the outside. 
     Several times we pulled over to allow faster off-road vehicles pass us. Since we were in two Jeeps, we weren't trying to win any races. There were quite a few people along the way, some coming towards us, some passing us. Since it's a one-way road, either we or the other party pulled off onto a wide spot to allow passing with lots of hand waving, some sharing of "How's the road up ahead" and "You're almost there! Cold beers await!" After we reached the highest point where there was a memorial, we heard that the next little bit would be tricky, but since we made it this far, we'd do fine. I was reassured, but some sections felt much like whitewater rafting in a Jeep!

Clockwise from the top: The small church from the front, cement floor, stamped tin walls and ceiling.
Nice view while washing your hands.

      One intriguing addition to the Desert Bar is this tiny church. It's about 10 feet square, made all of steel and lined with stamped tin. It's beautiful inside. There's a plaque inside of all those who donated funds to make it. I wonder how many weddings have been done here?
     One of the first things one hears about whenever people talk about the Desert Bar is the Ladies Room. So of course I had to see it for myself. It's quite unique, with a very industrial look and a half wall in front of the sinks. Instead of windows, it's just open to the air with a great view since it's so high up. How many Ladies' rooms warrant pictures?
   All in all, it was a fun day and I'm glad I went. But everyone agreed that they can cross that road off their list. "Been there, done that" It wasn't exactly harrowing, but there were moments when I heard "Definitely getting a lift kit when I get home" muttered more than once. I think next time, I'll just go the more usual route. We left that way and it reminded me of the road in Monument Valley. Not exactly smooth, but much smoother than our first section!
Top: Me and MP, Bottom left: MP and Wendy, Bottom right: Vic, Dave, and Rick in the background.

Someone did a lot of work building this road! Check out the rock wall edge. This section stretched for about 300 feet.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Sanctified Saturdays: Oceans of Love

Soaking in the sound of the pounding surf, and the mesmerizing motion of the waves.
When I was a teen we often went to the ocean. I loved it because standing there on the beach, feeling the wind, listening to the surf pounding and seeing the magnitude of the ocean put my problems in perspective. I loved it when there was a storm because as the storm raged outside, my insides got quieter and more at peace.
I got a glimpse of how BIG God is, just a peek, but enough to bring the troubles in my life to a better perspective. That’s the place I see God most clearly, see His majesty and recognize that any problems I have are so small compared to Him. He is big enough to handle it, to help me. This is my happy place, the place I go in my mind when I really, really need to feel His presence and comfort. In my imagination I sit at His feet, hearing the surf, tucked away from the wind, telling Him what’s on my heart. And He listens and loves.
Last Fall I got to stop at a beach on our way home from the cabin. As I stood with my toes in the sand looking out across the wide Pacific Ocean, I felt the Lord whisper to me ‘Look at the vastness of the ocean. My love for you is bigger! Look at the grains of sand on the beach. My thoughts towards you are more! My thoughts towards you are good.’ Wow. How can I take that all in? How do I wrap my mind around that?
Psalm 139:17 in The Passion Version says, “Every single moment You are thinking of me! How precious and wonderful to consider that You cherish me constantly in Your every thought! O God, Your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on the very shore! When I awake each morning, You’re still with me.”
Jeremiah 29:11 in the Amplified says, “For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.”
As tears streamed down my face from the sheer wonder and magnitude of His love for me, I listened to the pounding surf. The Psalm came to mind of deep calling to deep. The deep voice of the ocean called to something deep inside of me, pulling my heart closer to His heart. “Come closer, feel the depth of My love.” Each wave seeming to wash away another pain from the past, smoothing away rough places. Restoring life and hope and joy. So very healing. What a Good, Good Father!
In Psalm 42:7a of the Amplified, “Deep calls to deep at the [thundering] sound of Your waterfalls;”
Lord, I hear You calling me deeper. Deep into the depths of Your vast love for me. Deeper into knowing You. Deeper into what You are calling me to become. Your love is irresistible!
I love getting sand between my toes.....!

NOTE: I also write for my church's blog. After it's published there, I can publish it here. If you'd like to check out other blog posts there, click here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Travel Tuesday: Big City Life

What a sight to fly into Seattle with it covered in snow!
Going to Phoenix to visit friends took some unexpected turns this year. For the last several years we have parked in front of my friend's house for about a week. This year, however, there was a complaint and so we discovered that parking big rigs on city streets is not allowed at all in Phoenix. Who knew? Often we can park for 3 days in different towns, but here, not at all. The very kind officer who showed up to let us know was sorry to bother us, but explained the rules. Since we were leaving the next day, he said he'd put in his report that he had contacted us and that we were leaving the next day. It was kind of him to not insist we move right away.
Did I mention all the shoveling I did?! This was before the additional 4".
After the second (3rd?) snow. A ruler wasn't long enough!     
        Jerry then moved over to a casino in the Peoria area for a week there while I flew back to Washington State to spend some time with my daughter and grandchildren.
      I didn't expect to get snowed in! It was fun, but I was disappointed that I didn't get to see anyone else while I was up there. Snow, more snow, even more snow....! And the run to Costco to prepare for said snow was an unexpected adventure. Who knew that store could hold so many people? Or that those amazing checkers could crank everyone through so fast?! Double lines reaching the back of the store and beyond, yet I was only there about an hour. It turned out to be worth it, since we did indeed get dumped on! We had some fun walks in the snow, making snow angels, playing in the snow and trying to make a snow man with snow that was drier than I ever remember it being. Until the rain started, that is! Then there were wet and cold hands and feet and sopping clothes. Ah, I remember that feeling from childhood of hands that burned and tingled as they warmed up!
  It was beautiful and I was glad to not have to try to go anywhere in all of it. I can't go so far as to say I've missed snow by spending my winters in the Southwest, but I did enjoy it while I was there.
    Since we weren't done in the Phoenix area, Jerry scouted around to find other options for the rest of our time there. He found a wonderful place at Lake Pleasant, right on the water. So we enjoyed our week there even though it rained several of the days. We had friends join us for lunch at the Marina Diner and then returned to our rig to play cards the rest of the afternoon which was fun.
Lake Pleasant Marina, the lake, our view, enjoying sunshine again.
  The next day we went to church with some friends we've known for years from our old church and it was great getting together with them, being blessed by the music, the good teaching and the presence of God we felt there. Then off to lunch at a great Mexican restaurant where I managed to find something I could eat without problems.
  Off we went the next day to Tucson, settling in to an RV Park for a change. It was the closest place to the friends we wanted to visit and for an unbeatable price. Since it was so cold that week, we were quite thankful to have electricity. I felt pretty pampered!
  We enjoyed the visits we had with our friends, eating at their homes, eating out. Getting together with old friends and even some new ones. We are blessed with such great friends!
   Not only was the weather very cold in Tucson (it got down to 24 one night) but we woke up one morning to snow on the truck! That was unexpected. It also rained there so much the dirt roads in the RV Park turned to lakes and mud. We were content to take a day off and rest up on the worst day. It started to dry out by the time we were on our way to our next location.
    I enjoy Tucson, not only to visit friends, but also to stock up on supplies and get to some of their specialty stores like the Food Conspiracy Co-op that sells things that I can't find in a Sprouts store. Meeting up with our new friends there made it even more fun.
  After all that Big City life, we were ready to head off to Yuma Foothills to meet up with the Boondocker group on the Arizona Trust Land, and to celebrate a 50th Wedding Anniversary of friends from our home park. That was a fun gathering and we were able to see many friends from home who winter in Yuma.