Archive for May, 2011

Show Low Chamber of Commerce Rich In History

Today, we went to town and dropped off my car at the tire shop so that they could tell us if the tires are “road worthy” enough for a trip to California from here. They said they’d be able to tell us within a 2 hour window, so we had some time on our hands.

We decided to drop into the local Chamber of Commerce and see what’s up there. We were greeted by two very helpful and professional people, the owner and the assistant. I saw that they had a large map of the state of Arizona on the wall, so I was discussing a probable route to my California destination. The assistant gave me some great advice about avoiding Las Vegas and the accompanying traffic. Then the owner recommended the route that he often takes to that part of California, as he has family in the same part of Northern California as we do.

They answered our questions about joining The Chamber and explained that if we join the Chamber of Commerce, the fee includes a quarter page advertisement in the local news paper, including a picture of us, and a ribbon cutting ceremony including all the other members. We liked the sound of that. They also explained that the location of The Chamber doubles as the location for this communities’ Visitors’ Center, which increases our exposure to all the newcomers in town.

Eventually, he told us that this area is home to many eco-friendly power sources such as Geo-Thermal power as well as a huge Windmill Farm with enormous windmills, in the nearby town of Hollbrook. The windmill blades look like they would be from a giant ships’ propeller. He also shared stories of other alternative sources of energy that this part of Arizona is pioneering, such as natural gas being stored in giant underground salt caverns somewhere on the other side of the White Mountains.

Then we asked him if this area has a history of an ancient dormant volcano, as we have seen an abundance of lava rock everywhere in this mountain top valley. We asked him about these giant mounds dotting the landscape, of what appear to be black and red lava rock. He told us that these are most likely ancient volcanic gas vents. They look like giant ant hills. We had been wondering what could explain these six to ten story mounds of dark rock scattered around the area. It appears that they are now sights of excavation.

He confirmed that this area does have an industry of agricultural lava rocks that are used for landscape as well as for road construction. There is history of volcanic activity, though now dormant.  It also explains the Geo-Thermal resource of energy.

This area is fascinating, and keeps revealing interesting details about itself. We love a mystery, especially when it is solved.

P.S. Good news, the tires are in great shape, ready for a road trip. Can’t wait to get on the road, even though “There’s no place like home!!”

We hope you’re having happy adventures in your RV…
Steve and Trisha, lovin’ the RV life

California’s Central Valley Provides Backdrop For Our Son’s Wedding

Did I tell you that our only son is getting married in about 3 weeks?  Since, both our family and the brides’ family are in California, we are traveling back to California’s Central Valley for the ceremony, to be held in my sister’s garden. She has about 2 acres in the country, and the bride and groom had their hearts set on an elegant, country garden wedding, so my sister has generously agreed to have it in her garden. The wedding guests will be mostly family. My sister and her husband are frequently the gracious hosts for any number of family functions, but this is going to be more than double the usual number of in-laws and out-laws. So, we send many thanks, in advance, to my sister and her husband. The bride is already in California.

I am heading to my sisters’ this week and my husband and our son, the groom, will follow a few days before the wedding. There is a bridal shower this Saturday and I wouldn’t miss it for anything.  It is to be an English High Tea themed event, with all the traditional elements.  Most of us will wear large brimmed summer hats, and we will enjoy all variety of English finger-foods, as well as Custard Trifle, along with the mandatory English tea, both hot and cold.

My sister and her hubby have been planting and preparing their land to be photo-shoot-ready, since they bought it in run-down condition, several years ago. All this because they love to entertain.  Now, WE get to reap the benefit of all their hard work. They have a gazebo with hanging pots full of overflowing flowers, and arbors with vines of roses growing over them. She has been collecting garden structures and whimsical amenities for years that now call her garden home.

Fortunately, my sister has been grooming the garden for the last year, specifically to make sure her abundant collection of both heritage and long stemmed rose gardens will be in full bloom just at the right time to coincide with the wedding.  She has also planted Daffodils, Daisies and Iris’s along with a variety of other flowers great for bouquets. She has cultivated the perfect cutting garden. We are going to be able to harvest the needed fresh cut flowers, for the table bouquets, from her amazing garden.

The entire property is surrounded by tall trees, with lots of lovely flowering bushes growing under these trees.  As you drive up to the front of the property, it looks like a fruit tree ranch, with a variety of peach, apricot, nectarine and plum trees in staggered pattern, running the width of the property, giving us lots of privacy from the street. Not that there will be any people watching from the street, as the gentleman who owns the property across the street is a horse trainer. He boards and trains horses for marching in parades. Since we don’t actually know the name of the style he uses to train these horses, we call it the “Spanish style”.

When performing in parades, the horses appear to prance down the street with costumed riders precariously perched on each horse, bouncing down the street in rhythm with their horses.  On rare occasions, we have been delighted to see this neighbor bring his horses out onto the paved country road in front of my sisters’ house while training, and the horses seem to “dance” down the street.

I don’t really expect that our guests will be treated to this performance on wedding day, but one can hope, right?   Truth be told, I’m sure the wedding and reception will be enough to keep us all happy. We’ll take lots of pictures of our special day, and I’ll post some of the pictures once we have them.

As nice as California is, we’ll be eager to return to our place in the high mountains of Arizona, with our “little” 5th wheel. You know what we always say… “There’s no place like home!!”

Happy adventures in your RV…
Steve and Trisha, lovin’ the RV life

The Best Spaghetti Sauce Recipe Save The Day When Unexpected Guests Arrive

So, yesterday we were helping a couple move into a new place, and I offered to make dinner for us all. When I got to my kitchen, I put on the noodles and I knew they would be finished in about 12 minutes. I figured that was enough time to get the bottled premade spaghetti sauce heated and get the ground round cooked up. However, to my disappointment, I realized I couldn’t find the 5 or 6 bottles of Ragu that I knew were somewhere in the boxes of food that I had yet to unpack since our move here.

So now what do I do? I knew running to the store would take too much time. Sooo… I came up with a new concoction that we now call “the best Spaghetti sauce I have ever made”

(Note) Be sure to bring the sauce to a boil for at least 3 minutes, as it destroys any bacteria, and be careful to keep stirring to avoid burning the bottom of the sauce)

RECIPE:

1 can Wolf Chili (the Chili has no beans and gives it a nice spicy bite)
1 large jar Salsa (mild) (the chunky kind with black beans and corn)
2 cans Stewed Tomatoes chopped (dump entire can – liquid and all)
1 can Tomato Soup (Campbell’s’, because that was what I had on hand)
1 can Tomato Paste Add a little water to thin to preferred consistency

Add as much hamburger as you like – lightly sautéed – no spices added (A good friend taught me; if I leave the Hamburger meat sort of chunky and pink in the center of the chunks, it will continue to cook in the sauce and will be very tender and tasty once ready to serve, and now it is our favorite way to serve it)

A teaspoon each of Cinnamon and unsweetened Cocoa (to taste) it gives it an African exotic flair (A few years ago we had a couple friends who returned to the states after spending many years living in Africa, and they taught us to add these 2 spices to a tomato based sauce. Now, every time I add this to Spaghetti sauce, people tell us that is so great but they can’t identify the mystery spices.
You want to add enough that you can taste it, however, be careful not to overdo it.)

If I had some onion and bell peppers on hand I would have pre-sautéed them and added them too, but I didn’t have any on hand, plus I was in a hurry to get the food on the table.

This makes a thick, rich sauce, to serve over cooked Spaghetti noodles. I think I’d love it over cooked rice too.

Anyway, the dinner was saved, and needless to say, a great success. Naturally, the next day I found the bottles of precooked Spaghetti hidden in the boxes of food. So, don’t be afraid to try experimenting with new combinations. I don’t recommend you try experimenting with a new recipe for the first time on guests, but fortunately, this time it all worked out.

Hope you like it as well as my guests and my family did.

Happy adventures in cooking in your RV…
Steve and Trisha, lovin’ the RV life

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