Archive | September, 2010

Chillin’ on Flagler Beach

25 Sep

After 3 days of watching the tide come in and go out, we have gotten into a lovely rhythm of rest and recreation on Flagler Beach. My sister Kate has joined us here and is also taking a much needed break.

It was raining on Thursday morning so we went to the village for manis and pedis and by the time we returned the sun was out. So we put our camp chairs in the surf, filled our sippie cups with wine and just let the water roll over us. We were still there when the tide turned and a big wave rolled over us….and our sippie cups. Taking her next drink Kate remarked, “Now that’s a rather briny brew.”

Kate and I sat in the surf and watched the tide go out and come in.

Yesterday we drove into St. Augustine for the trolley tour of the old city and visited Villa Zorayda, a replica of one of the small villas within Spain’s Alhambra Castle. This scale model re-creation of the Torre de las Infantas is chock full of artifacts from around the world, collected mostly in the 1800s by the architect and subsequent owners. If you visit St. Augustine it is worthy of at least a one hour tour.

The "harem window" of Villa Zorayda

Last time I visited Kate I wrote a blog about St. Augustine. If you’d like to know more about the city’s history click here. I also posted photos from that trip, including our visit to the World Golf Hall of Fame, which you can view here. Best viewed as full screen slide show.

After that we stopped by Kate’s house, which she has almost finished remodeling/restoring. Built in 1959, it is classic Florida and she has done all she can to retain its “mid-century modern” style. She just completed a new patio and “outdoor room” in the back yard, and I’m sure it will become “party central”. Beautiful!

Backyard view of Kate's new "outdoor room".

Last night Kate and her fella, Mike, took us to a restaurant on Flagler Beach, where we ate alligator tail, grouper, scallops, shrimp and prime rib. The portions were HUGE, so we all left with to-go plates. Absolutely fabulous!

We’ll be pulling out on Monday and heading north to Atlanta, Georgia and then to Knoxville, Tennessee, where once again we’ll sit still for a week or so, but we’ve still got two days to play, so I’m going out for a walk on the beach now. 

I’ve posted an album of our last few days here, which you can see by clicking here.

Hasta pronto!

From Sea to Shining Sea!

21 Sep

 

 

We’ve had a great time getting here, but the best part is always reaching our destination, especially when the destination is SMACK DAB in front of the Atlantic Ocean! Driving across the Intracoastal Waterway to Flagler Beach, we breathed a mutual sigh of relief after 8 days of one-nighters, and the hooking and unhooking, stowing, and battening down of doors, drawers, fridge, etc. that must be done every time you pull in or pull out.

Today we are all hooked up at the Beverly Beach Camptown RV Park and looking forward to sitting still for six nights. Tomorrow I have some work projects, Eddie has some fiddle-faddling to do around the rig, and La Casita will get a wash and wax. Tomorrow evening my sister Kate, who lives in St. Augustine, will arrive and we will commence our long weekend visit with her.

The view from our rig...watching the tide roll in!

When I returned from wading in the warm ocean water I told Eddie that next fall I’d love to come and stay here for a month. This park is one of the few RV resorts in the U.S. that is situated directly on the beach and the view out our front window is truly breathtaking! We are literally on the edge of the breakwater and the sound of the surf  will help us sleep like babies tonight. We’ve been watching the gulls and para-surfers wing by in front of us, thanking the Universe for our good fortune, and thanking La Casita for being such a trouper in this coast-to-coast journey.

Eddie and I taking in the sea breezes next to La Casita's big ole wheel hub. She's definitely a ROCK STAR bus!

Hasta pronto!

Cajun or Creole?

20 Sep

 

While Eddie and I were scarfing down our crawfish, andouille and boudin feast in Baton Rouge yesterday, he asked me between bites, “Do you know the difference between Creole and Cajun food?”

Based on my quotidian understanding of the terms Creole (in Spanish criollo…a person of European descent born in the West Indies or Spanish America) and Cajun (a derivative of Acadian), I told him that it was the difference between fancy and plain, or city and country. Well, boy howdy, the Internet proved me right.

The Creoles came from the affluent, aristocratic families of Paris, Madrid and other European cultural centers and brought their haute cuisine, and even their chefs, to New Orleans. A singular French contribution, bouillabaisse from Provence, evolved into gumbo. Spanish paella became the foundation of jambalaya, and the Germans, knowledgeable in all forms of charcuterie, adapted their skills to the making of andouille and other forms of sausage and cured meats. 

Boudin, a sausage stuffed with meat, rice and seasonings, is one of mankinds earliest convenience foods. Served with spicy mustard...sublime!

The Acadians, or Cajuns as they came to be known, originally left France for Nova Scotia, but when the British flag was raised over Canada the French speaking Catholics were exiled from the country and found a new home compatible with their religion in southern Louisiana. Accustomed to roughing it, and having had established good relationships with the Mic-Mac Indians when they were isolated in the woods of Canada, they quickly befriended the native Americans in Louisiana and learned how to forage for the abundant wild game, seafood, vegetation and herbs in the area, and then convert that bounty into “one pot dinners” or etoufees.

Etoufee comes from the French word for “smother”. Here, crawfish is smothered in a tangy tomato sauce and served over rice.

The Indians taught the Cajuns how to use file powder, the ground sassafrass leaf which is a distinctive element of Louisiana cuisine. Enslaved Africans also brought with them the “gumbo” or okra plant from their native soil, which gave name to the soup. And then there’s the muffaletta…Italian, French, African? I got ALL mixed up on that search.

Talk about a melting pot? Small wonder it’s hard to distinguish between Creole and Cajun when you are chowing down on this mélange of flavors that bites, soothes and connects you to the swamps, bayous, lakes, rivers and woods of the Gulf Coast.

I doubt that my extended French family will be able to understand this tune, but nevertheless I share it.  Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Flash Flood!

16 Sep

About 50 miles from Amarillo we saw the rain clouds forming ahead..

When we left Albuquerque, New Mexico this morning I googled the weather forecast for Amarillo, Texas. It looked promising…highs in the 80’s and a 20% chance of thunderstorms, but as we got closer to the city the sky looked pretty ominous.

Before we arrived at the exit for Cadillac Ranch, which we planned to visit, we ran into steady rain and lightning, and decided to drive on to the RV park. Good thing! A few miles later, as we got into the city, the sky grew dark and then just opened up. The rain and hail storm lasted only about 10 minutes, but cars were pulling off to the side of the highway and we could hardly see the road.

Eddie got behind a semi and we buggered on for a mile or so, until suddenly all traffic came to a stop just before we reached an underpass. Uh-oh! An emergency vehicle appeared and set up lights and a crew at the edge of the LAKE that was just in front of us.

After an hour and a half the water level had decreased dramatically.

Once again, I googled weather for Amarillo and they had now issued Flash Flood Warnings for the city and surrounding area. DOH! So, nothing to do but wait until the storm drains caught up and the water level receded. Since it looked like a bit of a wait and it was almost 5:00, it seemed like a good time for a beer, cheese and crackers.

I wish I had taken a video of the storm…it was pretty incredible. I did take this one of our exit, though, an hour and a half later, as we exited the area. It was certainly an adventure, but I am happy to be settled in for the night at a sweet little KOA park, where I am gazing out at a pasture filled with happy, pasture-raised cows…in the great state of Texas.

A Grand Experience

15 Sep

That's a nervous smile on my face and a teasing one on Eddie's!

We arrived in Williams, Arizona around noon today and, according to plan, were able to visit two locations on our “touring agenda”…the Grand Canyon and one of the Route 66 towns that is enjoying a revival. This was my first sight of the Grand Canyon and I took some pictures, but most of the time I walked, gingerly, as close to the edge as I could without feeling nauseous or sweaty palmed. My adoring husband made jokes at my expense (and other visitors’ amusement) by suggesting that I stand on the edge and let him take my picture. “Now, just back up a bit, Sweetie.” Very funny!

We have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow to Albuquerque, New Mexico, so rather than ramble on the blog, I just posted a few pictures of  the majestic Grand Canyon and some signage from Williams in this album.  If you ever get the chance, I would recommend a visit to both of these American landmarks.

Mascot of Twisters Soda Shop in Williams, Arizona

Albuquerque to Amarillo

14 Sep

Enchanted Trails RV Park on Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico

We are, in fact, once again driving Route 66. Our RV park for the night is on the Mother Road at Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Enchanted Trails RV Park. The accomodations are fine and it also has a few classic cars and early travel trailers on exhibit. I wish I had time and opportunity to ask the proprietress to let me take a look inside!

Tomorrow we are leaving early again for a 6 hour drive to Amarillo, Texas, where we will overnight before we head to Dallas/Fort Worth. I would love to see something besides oil fields and tank farms in Texas, so I googled and found the Cadillac Ranch is just off I-40 just outside Amarillo! YAAAY!

I’ve always wanted to see this and can’t believe its on our route. Eddie is a bit indifferent, and even indignant, since he owned a couple of Coupe de Villes back in the day and thinks its a sacrilege that somebody BURIED them in a pasture. Nevertheless, he has agreed to exit the interstate and let me see them. As he just remarked, “I’m just driving Miss Lisa.” He’s a prince!

Hasta pronto!

The Mother Road

13 Sep

Passing through Barstow and through the Mojave Desert we saw a sign for Route 66 and drove beside it for several miles. We didn’t see a single vehicle on it, though, so this stretch of beat up highway is probably treacherous. However, as we get closer to Arizona and New Mexico we hope we’ll be able to drive some of it.

Route 66 is the National Old Trails Highway and was opened in 1926. It followed the trails laid out by early explorers, the railroad and the Gold Rush immigrants to California. It also provided hope to the farmers of the Dust Bowl era who were seeking a new life in the west, and was called the Mother Road by John Steinbeck. This iconic strip of highway still embodies the American spirit, conjuring up thoughts of freedom, adventure, opportunity, and the open road.

California's Route 66 in 1940

Route 66 joins the interstate outside of Needles, so we actually drove on what was once part of the original road. A few miles later you can exit I-40 and enter the city on Front Street, but we don’t venture down unknown byways in the motorhome.

Tomorrow we’ll arrive early in Williams, Arizona, the last town to be bypassed by the Interstate. Williams not only survived but is at the heart of a Route 66 revival. So we’ll unhook the tow car, visit the Grand Canyon, and then explore Williams, check out the souvenir shops, and get our kicks on Route 66.

Route 66 runs parallel to I-40 through parts of the Mojave Desert