We are out cruising around the country again. I’ll probably keep things brief for myriad reasons. For one, I’m typing on my iPad which is a pain. For another, we’re hunkered down in a Costco parking lot in our motor home and I’m afraid of missing out on some action. Not sure what action happens in a Costco parking lot but I don’t want to miss it when it does. I just hope we don’t get rousted in the middle of the night by The Man, telling us to move on. I’m not entirely clear on the rules of motorhome slumming yet.

The weekend was relatively tame. Saturday I fired up my smoker and did a few pork shoulders for the trip we’re on this week. I got a new toy for the cooker, so I was pretty excited to try it out. It’s one of those fancy temp controllers; basically a fan that hooks up to the intake of your smoker, then cycles off and on to maintain whatever temperature you program. Overall, I call it a success. Hit a few snags, but it’ll go better next time. The biggest problem was when the battery died and the fire went out. No bueno. That cost me a few hours. Note to self, make sure batteries are charged when starting.

Sunday we hosted a brunch at the house. I feel like we’re really hitting our stride on the brunch front. We had biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, and bacon with not much effort or mess another couple brought some great corned beef hash so we fried some more eggs for that. Way too much food as always, but it was darn tasty. If I’d have been on my game I would have thrown together some kind of green Chile with the pork I cooked Saturday but I didn’t really think of it until everybody was gone. Oh well I’ve got several pounds in the freezer, next time.

And I’m back

And so ends my longest hiatus ever on this site. I’m sure dozens of my readers have stopped coming by and checking. I’m OK with that. Honestly I sort of thought I was just done with it. Hey, this thing has been running a long time though, it seemed a shame. Plus I just paid for three more years of domain registration. In retrospect, maybe I should have gone with the one year option. Oh well, hind sight and all that.

It would of course be impractical, if not impossible, to cover all our amazing adventures since Float Trip. Or “both of them,” or whatever. We had a few highlights; Our annual Bottlerock music festival, a few nice camping trips in our motorhome, a big BBQ party to officially unveil my new smoker… That is what comes to mind right off. I also very nearly, and very permanently, screwed up my website. I was “fixing it,” (not that it was broken, naturally,) and all of a sudden it was just gone. Quite gone. Just a blank white page where years and years of typing had been. Luckily, I have been very good about taking backups. The problem was, I didn’t really know how the backups worked… I just turned it on and left it, several years ago. Well, after some reading, I figured out how to do a restore. I picked a date in mid-May, clicked the button, and boom it was magically back. Whew. Back until I fix it again, I imagine.

I s’pose that’s about it. Another good thing, I have a lot of pictures to post. Hey, content is content. I think I’ll post a few this week, and a few next week, until I’m all caught up. I don’t want to overwhelm everybody with information overload.

Float Trip, Easter, etc etc

I have been quite busy, so if this is a typically brief entry it is not for a lack of subject matter. My adventures kicked off a few weeks ago with a flight to KC. I tend to divide all my trips up into segments, so the first leg was a full day of travel to Kansas City, where I then picked up a rental car and headed over to pick up some camping gear from Donette’s mom, who was nice enough to fix me up. One of the things preventing my Float Trip attendance the last several years is the sheer logistical aspect; How do you take a bunch of camping gear on a six hour flight? Well, after evaluating my last two dozen floats, I decided I could survive with a few blankets and a cooler. Todd had rented a cabin, so that took care of lodging. After picking all that up, I headed over to Munkirs house to spend the night. We enjoyed a late dinner, then headed out to experience the Johnson County club scene. I had no idea there were so many all-night dance clubs in OP, it was quite a time. Or, we may have watched SportsCenter in silence… I can’t remember.

The next day, I got up ready to roll down south to the Float. Due to a minor miscommunication or a total lack of attention, it turned out Munkirs wasn’t actually leaving until Thursday. Huh, interesting. This was a small setback; I had my own car, so I just headed off by myself after first having breakfast at First Watch. I only mention breakfast because of my menu choice. I was dead set on biscuits & gravy, as they just don’t do it right in CA. Imagine my surprise (shock? horror? disappointment?) to find that all they had was gravy made with turkey sausage. Well, that’s what I wanted so that’s what I ordered. Please, midwesterners, never make fun of the admittedly sketchy NorCal food again. All my bragging about how superior the food back home is, all my whining about “this was so much better in KC,” the 1,000’s of statements about “If you want some REAL food…” undone with one unfortunate menu entry.

OK I’m tired of typing, let’s wrap this up. Float Trip was good, if a little muddy and cold. After that I got to spend a few days with my mom, including a road-trip to my sister’s house in Emporia for a fantastic Easter dinner. I considered that “leg two” of the journey, then after that I headed back to my old midtown stomping grounds to see my buddies around there. Our friend Susan was nice enough to get everybody together so I got to see them all in one fun evening. My closing leg was Tuesday, when for some reason I had scheduled a 7:30 PM flight back to Sacramento. I really have no recollection of why I made my flight so late. Historically I am more than ready to get back home after a week of traveling, so I know I wasn’t trying to stretch things out. It must have been $10 cheaper or something, who knows. At any rate, Brice came through with an offer to throw some ribs on his smoker and kill the day. That ended my trip on a high note, not to mention the ribs came out fantastic.

Rollin’ In The Janagy

Well we have a new toy out west. Just what I didn’t need. We partnered up with another couple and went in on a ’98 motorhome. Our friends are the James, we are the Kenagys… Hence Janagy. Clever huh. Personally, I have never had much use for a motorhome, but I finally caved to the peer pressure. And, if I’m going to be stuck with one, this was as good as any. Let’s just say, it was not a major investment by any stretch. With that low upfront cost comes a few caveats though, as I’m sure anyone who has ever owned one can attest. All-in-all it is a good deal so far; Let’s hope it stays that way.

So, we picked up this 31′ beast a few weeks ago, then took a little time to find a storage spot ($$) and take care of banalities such as taxes, license, registration, ($) and new tires all around ($$$). We then spent a little coin outfitting it. It came with a pretty solid assortment of necessities, but we picked up a coffee maker, cleaning supplies, linens, area rugs, etc. Not too bad. Then, this past weekend, we declared it ready for the maiden voyage. We studied on the US map for a few days, researching road conditions, traffic studies, bridge heights, and mountain passes. Based on all this input, we selected a fine campground in Coloma CA. It really is a very nice campground; Lots of amenities, very clean shower houses, and great camping spots right next to the American River. And the real selling point for me, it’s about 18 miles from our house. Yeah, didn’t have to burn a lot of gas on this trip.

I’m going to declare the weekend a success. Granted, that’s without soliciting input from anybody else in the group, but this is my website and they don’t read it anyway. Another bonus of the campground, it was within walking distance of a few restaurants so we just went out to eat for the most part. We fired up a grill and did some chicken Saturday night, and reheated some biscuits and gravy in the motorhome, but the rest of the meals we headed “into town.” Had some really good food as it happens, too. The motorhome performed admirably. We had a little trouble figuring out the heat the first night, but that was a minor setback as it wasn’t cold anyway. As far as mechanicals, the only problem happened Sunday. We were sitting around enjoying the fine afternoon, when the springs on one of the leveling jacks broke with a bang that had me grabbing my chest like Fred Sanford. Luckily with my extensive military background in wrenchin’, I was able to diagnose the problem and provide a temporary fix. OK, full disclosure, a friend of ours who was also staying in the campground, and is a seasoned RV’er, crawled under it and zip-tied it up. Thanks Cindy. For the record, I was about to do the same thing.


And suddenly, I’ve skipped an entire month of updates. Where does the time go? I swear it’s the rain, it is actually affecting my routine in general. Who even wants to go outside and get pummeled with water? Or, in more than one case, hail? We’ve even seen thunderstorms, which seem an extreme rarity to me since moving here. Between the weather and the necessary but wholly unenjoyable drudgery that is work, I just haven’t done a whole lot. But hey, now it is Spring and I’m ready to turn the corner. Still getting some lack of cooperation from the weather as far as that goes, but it’ll change. Won’t it? Please?!?!?!

What have I done in the month of absence? Well, precious little honestly. Our mothers both came out for a visit, which was fun. We went down to the Bay and did some sight-seeing, up to Placerville for some shopping, and other random activities. And, of course, I’ve taken a few opportunities to use my new smoker. Literally, a few. The rain doesn’t even come into play really; The outside of the cooker is like 3″ thick insulated steel, and it’s under the covered patio, so it does fine. But who wants to spend the afternoon huddled inside watching crappy tv, occasionally putting on a jacket to go outside and check the temps? It just ain’t the same. I’ve been so excited to use it I went ahead and fired it up a few times anyway. The first cook, honestly, was a challenge. It took me two hours to get it up to temp, then I spent the remainder of the day (literally, “the day,” a full 14 hours) messing with the air intake. I cooked a few slabs of ribs and two pork shoulders; The ribs were passable, but I didn’t really enjoy the pork that much. Setback, to be sure. I called the builder a few weeks later, lamented my troubles, and he spent a good 45 minutes (well past my attention span but I appreciated his time and the subject matter was interesting enough to keep me on) offering advice. Key points were his recommended start up procedures, and “quit messing with the temp.” OK, OK, I get it. I fidget. So, last week I gave it another go. I threw on a few small corned beefs I had left over, a turkey breast that was in the freezer, and a package of andouille sausage I’d picked up at a butcher shop a few weeks ago. Start-up went much better; Still took an hour but at least that cut the time in half. And, I actually just left it alone to do it’s thing. (I may have “tweaked it” just a few times. I actually cannot help myself.) What do you know, it ran fine without my help. The meat all came out very well too. The corned beef was, I think, the best I’ve ever done. The turkey was over salted (I left it in a brine too long, waiting for a sunny day that would never come,) but very juicy and just the right amount of smoke. I didn’t try the sausages as I’m saving them for gumbo, but eh, it’s just sausage. So, I feel that I’m back in the game. Ready for my first full brisket I think. I JUST NEED SOME SUN!!!!