Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Monday Mouthfuls: Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad at Bennett’s Fish Shack in Ocean Shores

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Talk about a super salad! The salmon Caesar salad at Bennett’s Fish Shack in Ocean Shores is over the top!

While on vacation in Ocean Shores, Washington, we followed the suggestion of our hotel desk help and walked to Bennett’s to eat dinner. What a tasty mouthful!

Blackened (Cajun) salmon (a generous serving), romaine lettuce, plenty of parmesan cheese, delicious dressing, croutons, AND tomatoes, pepperoncinis, avocado slices, and lemon! I loved the addition of a few extras to the salad. Just thinking about it is making me hungry.

This salad is one we will go back for on our next trip. Or maybe we will try some of the other tasty looking meals. Popular hang-out!

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The Station Wagon #ThrowbackThursday

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The Hill kids, Mark (blue suit), me (tallest), Tracy (white knee socks), and James (bib), next to the family roadster!

Station wagons and me, we go way back.

In the late 80s, my husband accepted employment with a new company, one benefit being a company car. “Anything would be cool, but please don’t come home with a station wagon. And especially not one with fake wood details.”

Ahem. Yes. He came with a station wagon. Adornment of imitation wood panels? Whew. Dodged that faux grained bullet.

Even earlier than the 80s & 90s version of the station wagon work vehicle was the early 70s family models owned by my parents. We had at least 2 different family touring vehicles, blue and white. Those wagons could really hold people and belongings. And pets, groceries, camping equipment, children, toys. Nothing like the little trunks in modern cars.

 

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The family station wagon, mid-trip exploring the Arizona desert.

Some of my fondest memories are the days we spent exploring the southwest. We’d load up 2 parents, 4 kids, and 1 collie dog. The first mandatory stop would be a mini-mart so we could purchase the required bologna, cheese, white bread, and soda for our snacking pleasure. Sometimes we ate hot dogs (always cold) instead of bologna, but either one was a treat. Then we would hit the road.

The Arizona desert is a wondrous place for questing. Forests, rivers, desert lands, mountains, ghost towns, dirt roads, historical sites. My parents loved to haul us around seeing what we could see. I have vivid pictures in my mind of those trips, but I can’t help but wonder if we didn’t drive mom and dad the slightest bit crazy. 4 kids and a dog in a station wagon? Even if we did use the fold-up seats in the way back to separate us.

Horned toads, tarantulas, snakes, spiders, scorpions, cacti, sagebrush, thorns, stickers, heat mirages, dust. Treasure is all in the eyes and heart of the explorer.

What about you? What memories do you have about a vehicle or early days with your family? I’d love to hear your tales on this #ThrowbackThursday.


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Hiking: Selah Cliffs Natural Area Preserves

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We ‘hiked’ the trail at Selah Cliffs Natural Area Preserves on Saturday.

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Where: Seven miles north of Selah, just south of mile post 3 on SR 821, or as locals know it, the Yakima Canyon Road (slightly northeast of Selah)

Distance: RT about 2.5 miles, if you go all the way to the cattle guard and fence that signals the Military Firing Center boundaries

Discovery Pass Required: Yes, though many parked beyond the nature preserve lot on the old canyon road

Tips: No toilet facilities and not much shade; Bring binoculars, bug spray, water, and hat

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This is a local, easy hike with the hardest parts being concern for ticks, rattlesnakes, and heat. The views of the Selah Cliffs are gorgeous. As per signed instructions, we didn’t traipse off the path, which means we also didn’t see the basalt daisies for which the area is known. Judging by the trails leading up to the basalt cliffs, I’m sure some disregard rules. OR they could be game trails. Yes, I’ll go with that.

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The hike/walk leads along a gravelled path for most of the distance. Towards the far end (headed east), hikers must go through a barbed-wire gate. After that, the gravel disappears and more clambering is required. During the entire hike east, we watched the Fred G. Redmon bridge loom ever larger and closer. Soon enough, we stood beneath the massive structure and listened to vehicles boom overhead. It was fascinating to look, listen, and call aloud. If you stand in just the right spot, your voice will echo back. I tried recording the echo, but there was too much interference.

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We saw and heard a waterfall, but couldn’t get through the underbrush to get close. Plentiful birds, spiders, insects, lizards, and evidence of other wildlife kept us searching and entertained. The scenery was gorgeous, the basalt columns beautiful, and amazingly, the traffic overhead was negligible.

Two thumbs up!

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Don’t Need to Go Camping

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Funny how life choices change your thinking.

While on a motorcycle ride over Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I saw numerous (read: hundreds) of campers heading to the mountains and other recreational locations around the northwest. Roads were more crowded than usual, grocery stores were packed with shoppers filling up ice chests and RV refrigerators, and every campground we passed had RVs and tents slotted side by side.

I’m not sure how much fun all of those cozy camp sites were, but I was not interested in the slightest.

BECAUSE. We are camping. All. The. Time.

We live in our RV. Not permanently (please, God, not permanently), but while we research, plan, and build our small home.

Our family used to love camping at the beach. We’d use the old Prowler, load it with supplies, and drive five hours to our favorite beach locations in Ocean Shores. Those were the good old days. Dog, kids, junk food, sand, toys, rain, shells, campfires, …

Now?

No. Since we are camping 365 days a year, give or take an overnight visit with family or friends, hooking up the RV in which we stay all the time and heading to a different place to stay in the same RV does not sound appealing.

Plus. We LIVE in the RV. Full-time. There are many extra things in our RV that do not relate to travel and camping. And as we are not retired, we can’t hit the road for months at a time.

For now, we shall enjoy motorcycle trips and staying at hotels (which include HUGE showers and sometimes even bathtubs). After we move into our future home, we’ll strip the RV clean and load it up with camping supplies.

Then we will need to go camping.

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Auto Repeat (I Wish)

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Three car seats. Three preschoolers. Three strong-minded individuals. Three precious grands. Three songs.

Over and over. In equal quantities, or else. Even the 1 year-old can tell when it’s time for HER song.

Auto repeat would make life much easier in the car as we commute to preschool, the store, the post office, the library. But no. The Nana Bus has only the old-fashioned CD player. One CD at a time.

Nana has become a master at switching.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, complete with unsynchronized clapping. (Pentatonix)

Bananaphone. With hand motions. (Raffi)

Baby Beluga, formerly known as Baby Beguda and Baby Deguba. (Raffi)

Switch on, clap on, sing on. Repeat.


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STORYSTORM 2018 Day 8: Annie Silvestro Mindlessly Multi-Tasks

Mindlessly multi-tasking is my choice-du-jour for allowing my creative side to enjoy some free play time (and hopefully toss out a few story idea sparks).

One of our hobbies (hubby and I) is taking motorcycle trips. I ride behind him, so my hands are empty and we don’t have a way to talk to each other, so I have all that talk-to-myself time. I’m working on one story right now that came directly from daydreaming and wondering on the back of the Honda Shadow.

I’ve also learned that wherever I go I need paper and pen. This goes for motorcycle trips as well. Other motorists often see me hunched over behind his back, jotting down ideas on my paper, fighting for control as the wind gleefully tries to steal my notes. Alas, it’s January, foggy, cold, and in Washington state, not a good time for motorcycle rides. Otherwise I’d say, “Pony up, honey, we need to take a ride!”

Guess I’ll do the dishes. Or sweep. Or bake something. And let those ideas flow.

Thanks, Annie! Thanks, Tara!

via STORYSTORM 2018 Day 8: Annie Silvestro Mindlessly Multi-Tasks


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Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

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It’s been a rough year for my family, so we decided to switch things up. This year, we went off the charts for Thanksgiving.

We chose to:

-travel to the beach (off-season is awesome)

-cook our own little turkey breast

-decorate for Christmas

-begin our annual Christmas movie countdown

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What really happened:

-beach plans were cancelled due to health issues

-went on a drive to the mountains to collect pine cones for art projects

-soaked by pounding rain

-did a little off-roading to travel up a steep, rocky, bumpy, muddy path

-met a wolf

-the wolf turned into a Husky, lost VERY far from civilization

-he loved us. And jumped eagerly into the pickup

-had to figure out what to do with a huge lost dog (wearing a collar, but no tags)

-Did you know everything is closed (pretty much) on Thanksgiving? Unless you are shopping.

-which was good, since we needed dog food

-by the time we got home, it was very late when our little turkey breast went in the oven

-spent all afternoon taking photos, hanging out, searching for lost dogs, and contacting friends and social media groups in efforts to find this handsome boy his family

-nowhere to keep a large, very large dog in the RV

-our daugther and family took Mr. Handsome home to sleep

-Mr. Sweetie (SO good with kids, pets, noises, crowds) hunkered down in exhaustion

-turkey dinner became our traditional leftovers meal: turkey, cranberry sauce, cream cheese, sliced red onion sandwich (I had a salad)

-actually had a six-course meal. That’s what I told Kevin as we ate and drank different courses while waiting for the turkey to get done

-nearly sugar-free crustless pumpkin pie is delicious!

-decorated the RV. Put up our tree in less than 5 minutes. Done.

-put up the outdoor tree. Less than 5 minutes. Done.

-finished the Harry Potter movie marathon. Next, Christmas.

 

Our day was totally nontraditional. But we liked it.

Who knows? Next year we might go back for pinecones.

Or another lost dog.

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P.S. More about our Mr. Handsome later.


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Food Time Machine – One Bite Whisked Me Back to a Favorite Place & Time

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Do you ever taste something and it takes you right back to a specific time and place?

That just happened to me. Tummy rumblings broke my concentration from a writing task, so I grabbed a slice of Swiss cheese from the fridge. At the first bite, I was instantly transported to France. Such delicious memories!

My husband and I were on a short-term missions trip in Paris. Near our motel was a wonderfully fascinating store, Auchan. Auchan had pretty much anything one could want or need at reasonable prices. The chocolate aisle and cheese cases kept us returning nearly every day for meal items. Yes. Chocolate and cheese do make a meal.

Today’s bite of Swiss cheese took me right to the cheese counter. The gentleman who worked the cheese aisle was so very kind and cut us off a chunk of Swiss from the large wheel. With our garbled French and hand gestures, he whacked off the hard rind and sliced the rest for us – perfect. He even gave us a bit to taste, just to make sure it was what we wanted. We wanted.

Fresh baguette, sliced Swiss, some fruit and veg, all the makings of a perfect meal. Thank you, Mr. Auchan cheese guy. You made our day.

How about you? What have you eaten that transported you back to particular event or location? I’d love to hear about it. Just so I know I’m not the only one who is consumed with love for food.

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Let’s not forget the crepes! Be still my hungry mouth…


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One Year in RV: Survival!

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August 20 was our one year anniversary of moving into the RV. And guess what? We made it!

I haven’t taken him (my honey) out, though I’ve sent him out when I need to clean (or write, cook, organize, read . . .).

He still loves me even if the heat factor in an RV – during summer – is higher than my happy tolerance level.

He survived record-breaking snowfall and freezing winter temps regardless of how close I came to helping him build his own snow igloo far far from the RV.

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I managed not to throw out the superfluous (not for him) heating items – throw, bed blanket, heat lamps, floor heater – and we were both able to speak in civil tones. Most of the time.

Long-time RV living is not for the faint of heart, but definitely for the adventurous!

Let’s pretend you just arrived for a fancy cooked-mostly-by-BBQ meal. We’ll fill you in on some observations and interesting events that came about from our inaugural RV year.

– It is possible! One can live without piles of stuff – and survive!

– Storage? Premium. If we don’t use it, it has to go. To storage, to someone, to the thrift store…

– Less is more. Truly. The less we have inside the RV, the more space we have to move about.

– Cooking is a bit tricky. Too hot in the summer for the stove. Very humid in the winter.

– Humidity is an issue. One chore I never dreamed of having? Wiping down windows on a daily basis.

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– Electrical circuits can and will be blown. Until you figure out which items can be used at the same time.

– The electric skillet will most likely blow the fuse if anything else is plugged in and going. Anything.

– Do not use the skillet and the AC at the same time.

– Splurge on the skirting. We only experienced one tiny freeze in a waterline. That’s saying something when we were below zero several times and hovered in the frozen zone for months.

– Cats. Litter. Fur. Toys. Cat tree. A bit crowded. Now that they are free to roam, we are all much happier. The catio is disassembled.

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– Mice. Peek before letting cats back inside. Trust me on this.

– Company. Things will be different when guests arrive. Say, for instance, seating. Or standing. Finding room to maneuver. But that’s what makes entertaining exciting.

– Breezes in the bedroom. This is awesome. Open both windows and the wind just blows across our bed. As does dust, smoke from fires, and stinky skunk fragrance, but still!

– My office. A drawer. Half the dinette bench plus the table. That’s it. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I yearn for a bigger creative area.

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– All of outdoors. Right here.

– We have everything we need. Running water, electricity, internet, laundry facilities, bathroom, bed, fridge, grands in and out.

– Our home moves. We can hitch it up anytime we want and hit the road.

I’d say our inaugural year was pretty successful. So you’ve seen me wear the same clothes over and over again. I am dressed, right?

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Happy RV anniversary to us! Come on by, we’ll cozy up and share a seat. Maybe even throw in a meal or tour of the facilities. Feeling up to the challenge? Either the visit or the RV living? Love to hear about it.

 

 


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Glacier Lake Trail: Hiking Tips Discoveries

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Glacier Lake

Mosquitoes. There will be MOSQUITOES. And dirt. Sometimes horse and deer flies. Plan accordingly. Wear bug repellent (we are still out on this – both of us want something more organic and less toxic). We were hit hard when we got out of the car. After a quick rethink, we jumped back in the car, put on boots, covered up, and got back out to spray. Still managed to get 3 bites.

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Lovely shaded hiking trail

Long hair. If you have this, wear it down – hot or not! Mosquitoes loved the back of my neck, despite my hat and shirt. So I let my hair down and spread it through the sweat which glued it in place. Immediate relief!

Hats. Wear them. I wore my tightly woven sun protection hat with a wide brim. Shade and bug protection.

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Beautiful old guy

Long pants. Wish we had them. Still have a few scrapes from branches growing over the path. I’m sure this isn’t the only trail with opportunities for clambering over rocks and tree roots.

Water. Our hike wasn’t too long but was strenuous and the sweat flowed freely. We had 2 bottles each, which was enough for the short hike. Had we stayed longer at the lake, we would’ve needed more.

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The trail heading into the forest towards Glacier Lake

Snacks. Of course. Good stuff to chomp on is part of the fun of hiking! Nuts, whole grain crackers, jerky, trail mix, protein bars…I always underestimate how much my honey needs to eat. Me? I could outlast several weeks of restricted calories, but his high metabolism requires regular and high calorie fuel.

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Our first gaze of the lake – standing on the huge boulders

Maps. We had general directions from a flyer found at the Ranger station and we still managed to park in the wrong spot. It seems it was the correct location though, when I researched AFTER our hike, due to previous road washouts. Hint: The flyer suggested elevation gains, time estimations, distances, and trail popularity. Some of this was NOT true. For instance, family friendly. We did not find this trail to be safe for younger hikers. This was agreed upon by another family (with elementary children and an elderly chap). Maybe they should define family friendly. Take information like this with a grain of salt.

Snow. While we did not encounter snow, the lake was very full and there were no places to get close to the water unless one was IN the water or on floating logs. Take into account the previous winter. We had record snowfall. That means lakes will be full to overflowing. Snow may still be on the trails. Mud will be present.

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Wildflowers serenaded us with beauty

Do not give up! We passed few other hikers, so the Glacier Lake hike was perfect for solitude (I missed wearing a bear bell, though, and we constantly scanned for evidence and escape routes – many shredded snags convinced us that big claws had enjoyed plentiful grubs and bugs). Once we arrived at Glacier Lake, huge (bigger-than-my-car sized) boulders blocked the path. We made two different attempts to get over them to the water, but my legs were too short. In defeat, we headed back. Only a short while later we met a young family (baby in backpack, so backpacking with child in tow counts as family friendly). They discovered a trail to the lake edge and two rough camping spots. They filled us in and we headed back to the lake. Don’t be afraid to ask and share info with other hikers.

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Lovely stream we heard for a long time before the trail led us beside it; I wanted to take it home with me.

Glacier Lake Hint: When you get to the boulders, you will instinctively want to go straight through them to the water. Don’t. There are many false trails over the rocks. Instead, look LEFT and you will see the trail continuing around the edge of the boulders. LOL. It’s obvious once you know.

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Fairy lanterns

Hiking is our respite from crowds, technology, and stress. We learn something new on every hike. We can’t wait to get back out on the trails!

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Check out this granny hat!

Would you like your adventure now or should we have our tea first?

~ J.M. Barrie