Friday, February 27, 2009

What a Day

This trip is gearing up to be on the bottom of my list of favorites! It has been rush, rush, gotta go from the moment we got the dispatch. We were late before we even got started on this one since we were playing clean up for someone else.

I have been telling my husband for days that the front end of the truck was riding rough and wasn't stearing as smooth as usual. He of course didn't feel anything was different so business went on as usual. After bouncing across Missouri I had had enough and shot the front shocks with the IR Gun. Sure enough cold as ice and completely DEAD! We were just outside of Kansas City so we made a stop at the Kenworth Dealer and picked up two new shocks for a cheap $60. We have a 14600# front axle on this beast so the only place we could get the shocks locally was from the dealer. We were pleasantly suprised by the sticker for a change.

The pleasant feelings didn't last long though because when we got to Kenworth the whole area smelled like a sesspool! The parts guy told us there was a sewage treatment plant on the next block. He went on to say this wasn't bad at all, we should come back in the summer when it really smelled! Needless to say we didn't stick around for a second longer than was necessary. Instead we hightailed it down the highway to the next rest area. We figured it wouldn't be a big deal to change out the shocks there. After all it should only take 15-20 minutes...

We pulled in, got out the wrenchs, overalls went on and the first shock was changed in under 5 minutes. The second one was not so easy. It took all 6' 4" and 245 pounds of my husband balanced on the steer tire on one foot and using the other to force the bottom nut loose. The top one wouldn't budge. We kicked and pryed on it for about 10 more aminutes before I got the bright idea of getting a bigger hammer. Literally, we got out the sledge hammer. A little creative placement of the wrench, a few taps by me and then a few good hits from my husband and VIOLA! Stupid mechanics and their impact wrenchs was the topic the whole time we were wagging war on the nut. I didn't get any pictures of the actual battle, but I did get several after our victory!

All in all I think it took us just over 30 minutes to get the job done and back on the road. The difference was immediatly noticable. SOOOOO SMOOOOOTH!!!!!

It sure made for a nice smooth ride to fall asleep to......

Thursday, February 26, 2009


That was our mpg for the our last tank of fuel! We have never broken over 7.2 mpg before. We are light, but are heading into a head wind, covering hills and cresting mountains. I am excited to see what mpg the next couple of fill ups yield.

This is the first tank we have run through completely while driving down the road since installing the Turbo3000D. Looks good so far, lets see where it goes from here.

Oh Deer!

I was driving along listening to Fox News on XM, the cruise was set at 63 mph and the road was all mine. So far a good night. I was just passing the end of an on ramp to my right when I caught a gleam arching over the guard rail on my right. Good thing I had just checked my left mirror seconds before to be sure I was clear to get out of the way in case some idiot came flying down the on ramp (a regular occurrence on my shift). I quickly swerved to the left as a VERY LARGE DOE cleared the guard rail heading straight for the side of my tractor. I swear I don't know who's eyes where bigger or heart was beating faster, hers or mine. I could see her in my passenger side mirror trying to reverse direction before she even landed! As I saw her twisting in midair I thought she was going to slide underneath my trailer when she landed as I watched it in seaming slow motion. I was pulling away from her as she was literally spinning her hooves on the moist blacktop trying to get traction. I thought it was too late, but somehow she just managed to miss the trailer tires. The last I saw of her she was sailing right back over that same guard rail. I don't think 3 seconds passed, but it seemed like an eternity.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ME AGS System

This system is so awesome.  It has cut our generator run time considerably!  I can run both inverters, the TV, surround sound system, overhead fan and laptop without running the generator.  I also don't have to worry about over stressing the batteries since this system monitors them and then turns on the generator only when its needed.  So far that has been about every 8-11 hours.

There is one problem though.  I was just sitting here in bed reading an online book about companion gardening, the lights are off, the TV is quietly on in the background  and then VROOOM, the generator starts itself.  I swear I must have jumped a foot!!!  I was so startled I almost dropped the laptop.  It is definitely going to take some time to get used to it starting itself.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Crazy Mini-Van

I was heading North on I-75 and at this point there were 4 lanes to travel in.  I am the only vehicle in sight (its 2:45  am) when I see another vehicle's lights come over a hill behind me.  I am in the far right lane and they are one lane to my left.  As they come up to pass me I see them brake suddenly and pull in within 10' behind my trailer.  I know they are this close because I can see the glow from their lights, but can no longer see the vehicle itself.  Since I see an exit is coming up and I don't like to be tail gated I simply move one lane to the left leaving the right lane open for them.  This idiot mashes on the gas and passes me on the right, which I expected, but then he didn't take the exit!  Instead they continued on down the road, except now they are weaving from one side of their lane to the other.  

4 lanes of open road, we are the only two vehicles in sight and they HAVE to tailgate then pass me on the right?  I just don't get some people's stupidity!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cleanup Day

Today was spent working on the truck.  First my husband installed a Turbo3000D.  He has been trying to pick one up for a few months and finally found a shop that had one on hand.  Install kits are available specific to your engine make and model (ours is the Cat C-15 550 hp).  The kit comes with all the fittings and hoses necessary to complete the install yourself.  With the aid of the kit the install was quick and easy, only taking about an hour to install.  Most of this time was taken up by my husband doing his best impersonation of a contortionist since ours needed to be installed behind the steering pump reservoir.

We have heard many good reports about how well these perform.  The manufacturer guarantees a minimum 10% increase in your mpg or your money back.  When asked if anyone had every returned one, the shop where we purchased the Turbo3000D said that one guy had.  Apparently he had said the 1 mpg increase in mileage he had realized wasn't good enough!  The shop said that he was just one of those people that you just can't please.  Nothing would have made him happy.

The Turbo3000D.

It is installed on the outlet side of the fuel pump.
 The simple explanation of how this works is this:
  It acts as restrictor valve and equalizes
 the fuel pressure across all the injectors. 

Since it lengthened the fuel line and placed it in an odd position, a guard 
needed to be put in place to keep a hole from being rubbed in the line.

Next we gave the truck a bath to get all the salt off from the last storm we ran through up north.  This was a headache as usual.  We had to have them rewash it twice the first time thru and then back the truck into another bay for them to get all the stuff they missed the first two times.  The trailer rails needed to be acid washed twice because they are diluting the brightener so much anymore it doesn't work for crap.  Then as usual they completely skipped the back of the sleeper, catwalk  and rear fenders/frame area.

When we finally called it good at the wash bays we still had to use polish to hand rub the fuel tanks, wheels, boxes, handles, exhaust covers, exhaust stacks and catwalk to get all the stuff the wash had missed.  Then after the truck was done drip drying we had to go back and wipe off the side fairings.  The rinse hadn't quite gotten all the salt off and some had dripped down and dried while we were working on other things.

Since it was such a nice day and we had only been hit up by 3 panhandlers/businessmen selling services and wares, along with only a handful of admirers, we decided to go ahead and touch up the few paint chips we had received from an ice storm we ran in a month ago.  It never seems like there is that much to do, but we were out there doing it all for over 7 hours.   It was the gnats buzzing around our heads that finally drove us in for the night.

Since I weigh less than half what my husband does, 
I always get the roof work!

At least it's always warm up there!

When working on the truck I  wear these 
old overalls of my husbands!  Aren't they sexy? :-D

This collapsible ladder is one my husband's favorite toys,
even though it seems I am the one always climbing it!
After two severely bruised thumbs I absolutely refuse
to set it up or collapse it anymore.

Since I had so much to do up top today, 
he graciously volunteered to do the tires.  
This is a huge sacrifice for him,  since its
 hard for him to get his 6'4" down to this level.

Yes the cocoa mat is VERY uncomfortable to sit on, 
even for short periods of time!!!!

Our Weekend Run

This weekend was crazy!  We were dispatched on a load Thursday evening that wasn't to pick up till Saturday morning and it was tentatively scheduled to delivery straight thru.  We were told at the time of dispatch that they expected us to babysit the load over the weekend as they didn't think that the customer really wanted it till Monday morning.  That was ok with us so once the repairs were done on the sleeper we headed down to the pickup town.  We knew we could spend the night just outside the main gate where we could get a quiet nights rest.

While we were deadheading down Friday we received several calls from the delivery location saying they really did need the delivery Sunday morning.  So we would head straight out after pickup and meet them at the main gate at 0700 Sunday.  OK, we could do that.  It was better than spending the weekend babysitting in safehaven.

Everything went as we expected Saturday morning at the pickup.  Smooth.  Then just after we left we started getting calls again about the delivery.  They had decided to keep someone available to unload us as soon as we could get there.  Just call when we were 30 minutes out and "whoever" would meet us at the gate to escort us.  OK, we could do that too.

We kept getting calls all day and into the evening.  When would we be there?  How many pieces did we pick up?  What did they each weigh?  What did the load gross?  Don't go to that gate, go to this one.  So and so will meet you, call this number.  No, this person will meet you, call this number.....and so on.  Finally around 2130 they got it all figured out.  We arived at 0015!

We dutifully called when we were 30 minutes out.  Our contact said he would be waiting for us at the gate.  When we got there we waited for 30 minutes at the gate (over an hour since we had talked to him) before we called him again.  He cheerfully informed us he was at the waterfront and oh yes, he could come to front gate.  GRRRRRR  We kept smiling the whole time.

Then we got to the truck inspection area.  We had to remain in the cab while they walked around the whole truck several times with mirrors looking for who knows what at this point.  Then get out and get this....walk ONLY clockwise around the truck!  If you were on the passenger's side you had to walk all the way around the rear of the vehicle to get to the hood latch on the driver's side!  This made the inspection of all the boxes and comparments (by no less than 2 different gaurds doing completely seperate inspections) all the more interesting.  Even the gaurds seemed on edge and were following their "book" to the letter.  As the inspection was nearing its end one of them confided to me very discreatly that their comander was just over there (he covertly pointed close to his chest while covering his actions with his body) by the main gate watching.  While all this was great fun :-P at least everyone was in good spirits and we all made the best of it.

Finally, we were let go to follow our escort.  When we got to the unloading area we were told to bypass the dock and he would just bring the forklift out to the trailer since they were going to transfer the freight to another truck that wasn't dock height.  A few minutes later out he comes in one of the largest forklifts we have ever seen.  We just stood there and looked at him.  He got off and walked over to break the seal asking what was wrong.  I asked him if he thought his lift would be big enough?  He looked at me and honestly said he hoped so.  I knew that we had had numerous phone calls that day about the size and weight of the load, because they were worried about having a truck big enough to transfer it to its final location.  We had repeatedly told them that there were 4 pieces weighing in at 3000 pounds each and 1 at 1500 pounds, grossing 15000 including shipping matterials.  All were palletized and approx 4'x4' squares.  Apparently they had told this guy that each piece weighed 15000 pounds!  Talk about to many cooks in the kitchen.  As soon as we opened the doors he got it.  He just stood there laughing and said well I guess my regular 5 ton truck and lift would have been fine after all.

We went ahead and off loaded the pallets with the big lift which worried me at first, because most people don't know how to operate them smoothly and constantly bump the back of the trailer.  Not to mention try to drop the frieght as they take it off the rear of the trailer because their movements are so jerky.  This guy followed directions well and handled his lift with smooth, sure motions.  In no time at all we were empty!

When he came back to sign our paperwork I told him how nice it was to see such a "smooth operator."  He and my husband both just looked at me for a second and then had a good laugh. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sometimes You Have to Spend Money to Make Money

As I have mentioned previously our generator died on us about a month ago.  The generator end burned out and we have been patiently waiting for the new one ($2500) to arrive at ICT (Indiana Custom Trucks)  so we could get it fixed.   We have been surviving without it, but we never truly realized just how much easier it has made our lives and how much money it saves us.  The generator we have is a Kubota diesel engine with an 8kw Powertech Generator End (yes, I know the cover says 7000, be we upgraded it 4 years ago).  It only burns about 1 gallon of diesel every 10-11 hours.  Where as the main engine goes thru a gallon of diesel about every hour!  Since diesel is running us around 1.90 per gallon, it costs us about $4.35 a day to run the generator vs $45.60 to idle the main engine.  Since we have been idling that frigging main engine for the past month, almost continuously in this frigid weather, we figure we have burned thru approximately $1276.80 of diesel (I have the receipts to back this up!). Usually we would have only spent around $121.80 with the generator!  Big difference huh?  The generator is also considerably quieter and smoother running.  We have been steadily in the 7.1-7.2 mpg range recently.  But with all the idling over the last month included, the mpg is now showing 1.2!  With numbers like this popping up we kept a close eye on what we burned when we were actually running down the road to rule out engine problems.  So we have every confidence we're still in the same range and will see those numbers rebound quickly now that the generator is fixed.

Please remember as you view these pictures that we had just run thru an ice and snow storm to get here this morning so the truck is covered in salt residue.

Pulled the stainless box top off to get to the generator.

Removed the access panels.

Prying the old gen end off.
Now they need to get the engine out to work on.

Engine completely out of box.
New gen end (rotor and coil) ready to be installed.

Tightening down the rotor.

Now the Coil.

Finally all the new wiring is connected.

Since we were going to be in the shop to fix the generator anyway, we decided to add a few upgrades while we were at it to help save even more on our fuel bills!  So we went with a new Discover gel battery and a generator power management system.  These two will allow us to cut down considerably on our generator running time.  

The Discover Battery is very efficient, durable, safe and green.  Their batteries are non-hazardous, maintenance-free and non-spillable.  Their higher active material to electrolyte ratios provide longer battery life and are designed for tough applications and repeated deep discharging.  The thicker plates used by Discover protect against deep discharge damage.   They also have a faster and more efficient recharging rate than standard flooded technology.  With 99.9% gas recombination there is no off gassing.  Some we have talked to about these new batteries complain about the price being to high at $725.  Keep in mind these are the same individuals who may or may not have a generator and are still using the older RV style 8D batteries.  We were replacing  4 Optima Bluetop Marine Batteries we bought 3 years ago and cost us about the same as this new battery.  Considering the older flooded style 8D batteries run around $350 they are a little cheaper initially.  However, there is a huge difference in longevity.  Typically the 8D's need to be changed out every 12 months and considering we got 3 1/2 years from the Optimas, we still came out way ahead.  We are told to expect the same or better life from the Discover Battery as we got from the Optimas, as well as longer periods between recharging and shorter recharging times!  Sounds like a win-win to us.  

So with this information in mind we set out to find a power management system for our generator.  We accomplished this by calling our friendly ICT Service Dept Manager, John "Woody" Wood, who always knows what is on the cutting edge in sleeper power systems. (He turned us on to the Discover Batteries too)  Woody recommended the Magnum Energy "ME AGS" or Auto Gen Start Stand-alone System for coach generators.  He said it has been a very reliable system that is priced competitively ($425).  Basically what this system does is start the generator based on the inside temperature of the sleeper or low battery condition.  It also allows you to specify "quiet time" so you can comply with park and rally rules or to enjoy a quiet nights sleep.  This system is completely customizable based on what ever variable the operator wants to set and allows for more efficient use of generator run time.  It also lets us leave the sleeper for long periods of time without worrying about the coach batteries.

We told him we could put the bed up. But apparently he was comfortable.  

I still can't believe he fit in there!

On the right is the Wizard Monitor & Converter which charges the chassis and coach batteries when the generator is running or we are plugged into shore power.  In the middle is the controller module for the ME AGS.  Those six very little gray turn knobs at the top are how you set it.  Its a good thing you only have to set this thing once!  Those little buggers are hard to turn with only your fingers!  On the left is the controller switch.  Up is on/standby mode for when you want the system to monitor the coach and batteries.  The middle position is off for when you want to run the generator full time and down is for test mode.

Combining the Kubota Engine with the Powertech Generator, Discover Battery and ME AGS we will be reducing our environmental footprint considerably and giving ourselves that warm, fuzzy feeling that we are doing something.  While we are enjoying those warm, fuzzy feelings we also will be laughing all the way to the bank at all the money we saved by reducing the amount of diesel we burn through.

Lets take a moment to look at the numbers, considering the life expectancy of each of these 3 items, and compare their cost vs idling the main engine.

$17.26/mth battery (3.5 yrs)
$11.81/mth ME AGS (3.5 yrs probably longer, but I decided to keep it in line with the others)
$69.44/mth Gen (3 yrs)

All three total $98.51 + $121.80 in fuel = $220.31 vs $1276.80 a month.  A savings of $1155 a month!  Plus we don't know for sure yet how large an effect the new battery and AGS will have on these numbers.  I think that is money well spent.  What is the old saying?  "Sometimes you have to spend money to make money."

PS-OK I know alot of you out there that drive are going to look at these numbers and ask what about all the time you are driving down the road.  Well, we spend more time sitting than driving with this job.  It can be boring, but hey, if they want to pay me to sit and watch or wait for something who am I to argue?

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Some of you have asked me why "wanderlusttimes2?" Well I guess the best answer is the definition of wanderlust:

"Wanderlust is a loanword from German to English that designates a strong desire for or impulse to wander[1], or, in modern usage, to travel and to explore the world"

We like to travel. We can't see a road, trail or path without wanting to follow it to see where it will lead. Our job is driving back and forth across the country. Our main shared hobby, jeeping, also allows us to wander but off the beaten path for a little variety.

CHOO CHOO All Aboard...


Where else do you get an ever changing panoramic view from your office and go to work to find out you get to play in the train yard!  Alright we worked our patutties off to get the load in the trailer.  We used over 100 shipping blankets to wrap the freight, 14 logistic bars and 60 some ratchet straps of varing lengths to secure it.  At least we were inside under the building, because it was so hot outside.  We were backed up to an old hydrolic lift style dock which needed to be raised and lowered repeatedly to put each piece in the trailer.  I was on the ground unpacking blankets and straps from the belly boxes for the crew helping my husband inside the trailer.  So I was the lucky one who got sprayed from head to toe with hydrolic oil when the lift sprang a leak.   EEK!!!  I got it in my hair, eyes, mouth and it stained my uniform.  Even simple green couldn't get that junk out.  It took Dawn and alot of scrubbing to get if off my person.

But none of this took away from the enjoyment we got at being where we were.  Union Station in Kanas City!  We had visisted this very location 2 years ago when we were in Kansas City for my Birthday.  We had spent a wonderful day going to thru the museum and when we got to the end we met a retired conductor who was sitting in one of the trains talking to people as they went thru.  We must have sat and talked with him for almost 3 hours.  He was the neatest guy and the stories he told!  We exchanged stories with him about areas of the country and Canada we both had traveled.  He on the rails, we on the roads!  He was more interested in our job and we of course were enthralled by what he was telling us about his.  It is so nice when you meet others who truly share your wanderlust.

Being able to return to Union Station once again and this time to be able to take our truck "behind the scenes" was such a treat.  While we were loading we explained to some of the people there about what a great time we had had on our previous visit.  They in turn insisted that when we were done loading we pose the truck and take pictures!  One of the ladies even took several dozen pictures of us with the truck and trains!  She asked us what photos we had taken on our previous visit and suggested that we take some of the same shots, but this time with the truck.  It was a great idea!  Now when I get around to doing scap books I can put those pictures side by side.

We have 6 train horns on our truck.  Three on each side behind the side fairings underneath the cab doors.  What better place to play with them than in a train yard.  Everyone got a great kick out of it, but I don't think they enjoyed it half as much as we did!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Grocery Shopping

Now, most of you when you need to go to the store get in your car and drive to whatever store you know you can get what you want.  Then you drive around the parking lot looking for the parking spot that is closest to the door.  Finally you run in, get what you need and then leave.

When we need to go shopping we usually have to get online first to try and find what ever type of store we think we might need.  Then we need to LiveSearch the location to be sure we can get our truck into the parking lot and there will be room to park.  Next we have to determine if we can take our trailer with us or if the parking looks too tight, where we can drop the trailer and leave it while on our shopping trip.  Then we head out to find the store in person.  We have about a 50/50 chance after all of this of ariving and finding the place posted with signs "NO Tractor-Trailers" or "No Truck Parking."  We have found at most of these places if we park way out in no man's land, out of everyone else's way (which protects us as well from all those crazy driver's out there) and speak with the store's manager explaining who we are and why we are there, we are allowed to stay and are treated with respect.  Remember you have to give respect to get it.  Leave a place as clean as you found it, ask respectfully and if they aren't happy to have your business, leave and take your money elsewhere!

Once we are done with our shopping and have checked out, we trek out to no man's land with our cart.  Next we have to unload the cart into the sleeper, a two person job.  My husband pulls the bags from the cart and hands them thru the back door to me.  I in turn toss them all on the bed.  While he returns the cart I start sorting thru and emptying the bags so when he returns we can get all this junk put away.  He puts everything away that is either heavy or goes in the overhead cabinets.  I put away everything that goes in the fridge/freezer (if he does it I can never find anything afterwards because he always says there isn't going to be enough room and just shoves everything in on top of each other) and the lower cabinets.  This system works, but it is a very delicate ballet of sorts with the two of us trying to move around each other and reach where we need to reach.  This is why the pre-sorting on the bed is so important.  All the things he needs to put away are put to the front of the truck and mine go towards to rear.  

Today was grocery shopping time.   We are in a familiar area in Maryland so we knew where we were headed to.  We decided to hit the grocery store first and then Walmart.

The grocery store we went to is usually a great place with fresh produce, low prices and a large health food section.  It is on its last leg if you ask me.  Their fresh produce was awful!  It was mostly either wilted or under ripe.  Their prices...WHOA!  We did score a few things we had been on the lookout for: $3.29/# Honey Crisp Apples, $4.81/4 oz jar Capers, $5.83/jar IM Healthy (soynut butter), etc  We walked out with two small plastic bags for over $50!!  

Now I know there are alot of Walmart haters out there, but trust me when you travel as much as we do they are a beautiful thing.  We do our best to locate Local Food Coops and frequent them, but in some areas we can't get to them without renting a car and that just isn't always practical.  So back to Walmart.  I have to admit that depending on the area of the country, you never know what you will find.  However, if you are willing to be flexible and buy what they have in that is fresh you can do OK.  Today it was about 70/30.  The fruit was in excellent condition with a large variety, but about half of the produce was really bad off.  Frankly a good part of the produce section looked like a compost pile in the early stages of decay, not produce on display for sale.  They also had little to no offering of organic veggies.  Our last shopping trip had netted several bunches of Bok Choy and Nappa Cabbage which were keeping in the bottom of the fridge nicely.  But the Mung Bean Sprouts we hadn't eaten fast enough, had gone bad in 3 days.  I was able to get fresh Mung Bean Sprouts, celery, red bell peppers & shredded carrots for steamed veggies.  I also scored the last three bags of Saifun (bean threads/noodles) in the store!  (Check out this link to a great recipe for these lovely noodles ) I was able to get most of what I would need to make delicious and healthy meals for at least a few more days including BOTH clover and mixed spicy sprouts, cucumbers, avocados, roma tomatoes, shallots, and red/yellow onions.  But no kale or leeks and I had to buy bagged salad mix yet again.

One big find was made while I looking for ground cumin and stumbled on a new recipe!  Cumin Hummus! (If you aren't familiar with Hummus check out this link A very simple recipe and since we just made a batch tonight, I can say, DELICIOUS!! 

1 can Chick/Garbanzo Beans
3-4 tbsp olive oil (I used safflower since I am out of macadamia and am allergic to olives)
pinch of seasalt and black pepper
2 tsp of ground cumin (We decided after testing it needed about double this amount)
1/2 tsp ground cayenne/red pepper (I left this out for our first try, because Randy has been complaining that I have been using it too often again, but NEXT time it will be in for sure)
Mix all ingredients in a food processor and enjoy!  I had to shut off everything else in the sleeper to use my mini-chopper (the generator being down and all) but it worked!

We use these types of dips for dipping whole wheat chips and sliced veggies into.  It also makes a really great fresh sandwich spread onto bread with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh sprouts!  If you use a hardy whole grain bread it is a meal that will stick to your bones and your husband won't complain about "sandwiches."

Ooops, back to the cumin.  I couldn't believe the prices on the ground cumin in the spice isle.  I mean $3.98 to almost $6. What are they smoking?  I lucked out in the ethnic isle and found a bag of ground cumin for $.84!  And before you say it, it was the same oz weight as the more expensive stuff, just in a plain bag.  I just took it back to the truck and poured it into the empty spice jar that fits my spice racks and VOILA!

You will learn after following my blog for a while that we love to eat and used to eat out a lot at unique places as we traveled.  This love was seriously endangered a few years ago when I developed severe food allergies.  It has taken alot of reading, along with alot of trial and error to get back to where we are now.  As a result we eat very healthy.  Almost no meat (the occasionally chicken or fish), no dairy, no eggs and mostly fresh ingredients.  I love to share healthy cooking ideas with others, particularly other drivers as I know first hand how hard it is to eat a restricted and healthy diet while on the road.  I am of course blessed with the sleeper we have, but even with the generator out there are still lots of very healthy options.  When we first started struggling with all the things I can't eat (eggs, dairy, peanuts, olives,  garlic & sulfites to name just a few)  and all the things Randy needs to avoid to keep his sugar levels down, everything seemed so bland and tasteless.  Since it is almost impossible for us to eat anything prepackaged I prepare everything from scratch.  So it has been our mission over the last 3 years to eat fresh and healthy, but to keep the food tasting good.  After all what's the point of eating healthy and living longer if you are miserable the whole time?  

I know that there are a lot of you out there who are just like my husband used to be.  Pizza, cheeseburgers and pop, please.  He certainly never thought he would be a health food junkie.  Now he will eat and even request all sorts of vegetables (spinach, leeks, kale...) that 2 years ago he barely knew what they were, much less ate.  It is all in finding the right recipe.

Almost any recipe can be altered to fit around food allergies, diet restrictions or just taste preferences.  Go to your grocery store and make a list of what is in season and on sale.  Then google those ingredients one by one and start reading through recipes till you find one that sounds good and just try it!  

I substitute another oil for the olive oil and fresh chopped roma tomatoes for the canned.  I completely leave out the garlic, anchovies, black olives and cheese.  We have had it over different rices and pastas, as well as by itself.  It is an awesome recipe.  Spicy with a hint of salty and full of robust flavor!  Try it and see for yourself.  It takes me less then 20 minutes to cook when I don't do pasta or rice with it and has very little clean up since it can be a one skillet meal.

I almost forgot the best part.  Remember those two itty bitty bags we paid $50 for.  Well, we walked out of Walmart with an overflowing cart load full for $102!

Valentine's Day Weekend

I haven't mentioned it on here yet, but both Randy and I caught walking pneumonia just after Christmas.  We were down for 3 weeks at home with it and it still has us tuckered out.  Usually after a long and hard push to cross the country in record time (only stopping to fuel) we will crash and sleep for 12-16 hours.  Lately, however, we are crashing after short 800 mile runs for 6-8 hours.  Getting up for supper and then sleeping thru the night.  So how do you celebrate Valentine's Day on the road when you both are dead tired?   We picked out our favorite romantic comedies from our DVD stash (Hitch, Failure to Launch, Wedding Date, The Cutting Edge, Bride & Prejudice, Fools Rush In, Sex and Death 1o1).  Then we went out and picked up Subway and Cokes.  We left the bed down, piled up all the pillows and snuggled in for a relaxing day of doing nothing.  It was great!  We didn't have to cook or clean anything, when we were done eating we just wrapped up the paper and threw it in the trash can.  We watched videos, snacked and napped our way thru the day.

Sunday it was in the low 30's outside, damp and overcast.  So to pass the time we watched the rest of our DVD picks.  I did make dinner today (Kale Puttanesca), but the dishes are still in the sink waiting for tomorrow.  Oh yeah, I also forgot to mention that our generator died so I am doing all our cooking on a single hot plate!  This was the #1 reason we got Subway yesterday.  No crock pot, rice cooker, food processor, microwave/convection oven or stove top.  It is a challenge to try and cook a meal on one small burner, but I must say I am getting better at it all the time.  Not to mention how annoying all the noise & vibration from idling the main engine all the time is.  I can't wait till the parts come in and we can get the generator fixed.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Ok, I know it would be better if I had gotten a picture of the actual event.  But hey, I know my readers have an imagination AND know how to use it.  So concentrate on the picture... 

Got it?  Good, now imagine you see a tractor trailer driving down the highway after dark (I mean no stars or moon dark).  Now put these sparks coming out from underneath and behind the trailer!!!!

Yup, we really just saw this.  Yes, everyone was trying to tell him on the CB about it.  I mean come on, should anyone have had to tell the driver?  It was like the Fourth of July exploding from his trailer!

Around the bend and over the next hill...

When we decided to stop at a small road side rest area in Veil, CO we had no idea what was literally just over the hill.  We had been twisting our way thru the canyons with some new friends of ours for hours and we all needed a rest so we could stretch our legs.  It didn't look like much, just a gravel parking area with outhouses, but then I found what looked like a path going down the side of the hill (well actually small mountain) thru the trees.  It was pretty steep and rough, but after going down a little ways I could see what looked like water down below.  I finally talked my husband into trying it.  So we all put on tennis shoes, got our cameras and off we went ready for some fresh air and a little adventure!

The climb down kept getting steeper and steeper.  Then about half way down the path disappeared!  But we could see the water clearer and were not about to be deterred at this point.  So we weaved our way back and forth looking for dry foot holds.  When we finally got to the bottom, to our surprise, there was a paved access road in front of us!  All we had to do was cross a deep ditch and we were there.  It was so beautiful and I was in a hurry to get down.  My husband of course was worried about me the whole way down and kept telling me to "take it slow" and "easy."  I just had to say, since I was home free after all, that I was fine.  I had made it down the whole way without any problems so far right?  So down into the slippery wet, grass lined ditch I went.  Without his helping hand of course.  WHAM, down I went onto my butt and slid a good 8' or more before I came to a stop.  I was so shocked I forgot to tell him I was OK fast enough, and before I knew it he was right beside me, beside himself!  Other than a sore bum and bruised ego, I was fine.  I, of course, had to suffer being felt all over so he could satisfy himself I wasn't telling a fib.  I wanted get on with my investigating and he knows me to well I am telling you ;-D  After he was satisfied I was OK, he helped me out of the ditch and we were off....

It didn't take long for me to find something else to climb to get a better view and try to find some more of those pretty sparkling rocks we saw at the water's edge.

 Who knew my new friend liked to collect rocks from around the country like I did.  She even managed to talk her husband into carting them all over the country till they got home and she could put them in her garden just like me (I always knew I wasn't as crazy as people kept telling me).

It was absolutely gorgeous down there.  We were the only four people around and it seemed like our own little world while we were down there.  There was so much to see.  A small water fall, fish, sparkling rocks with the prettiest flowers (nature's own natural rock garden), a pier out over the water and down at the end a small camping area.

Yes, I wanted to climb up to the top of the little waterfall. I lost that "discussion" though. If only I hadn't already fallen, I know I could have won.  It was such a beautiful site.  Whatever those rocks were with the silver/goldtone flecks in them (fools gold maybe?), they were amazing scattered all along the waterfall's path with the sun shining as it was.

It was an absolutely amazing afternoon we spent down there.  So much so that none of us wanted to leave, which had nothing to do with the steep pathless climb we had ahead of us, I am sure.  When we did decide it was time to head back to the trucks we debating following the access road back to the highway, but decided against it and headed back up the same way we came down.  "Was it really this steep on the way down," we kept gasping at the numerous rest stops on our way up.

When we finally made it back to the top, we all plopped down and just sat there for about 10 minutes to catch our breath.  Then, just as we were getting back into the trucks I made another find!  MARBLE!!!  Someone had thrown several large pieces (24" x 8') of cracked polished marble counter top material off of a truck.  The find of the century to two rock collectors such as ourselves.  So after a CONSIDERABLE amount of conjolling (I think I forgot to mention that both husbands had carted several must have rocks up the mountain for us already) we got the guys to "rescue" the precious material and put it in the trailer boxes for us.  Boy did we ever owe them after that afternoon outing!  Which I might add I have been reminded of a time or two since :-)  Like everytime we had to move "your rocks" (as they were dubbed) to get to the packing blankets and finally when we got home and had to unpack them.  Now I just know I am going to hear it all over again when I tell him I want to repack and move all these when we move this year!!!!  What do you think?