Friday, June 27, 2008

I Love New York Chocolates - Thursday 6/27/2008


Peachy stopped by with some goodies she plundered in NYC. She's still on vacation, but brought us these and souvenir magnetic bottle openers.

Mmm. Chocolate.

Belated Birthday Lunch - Wednesday 6/25/2008

Yes, it was six months and 9 days late, but I've never been one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Our boss took us to lunch to celebrate the birthdays of Gifted, Weens and me.

We decided to try out this newish place, The Granville, in Burbank that Gifted had been to a few times. Really good food, especially the herbed sweet potato fries.

Their "quick service" plan for lunches doesn't work very well for large groups like ours (9 people.) In a place like this, which isn't inexpensive for lunch, you expect table service. We had to stand in line at the cash register and place our orders, take a number to a table, and then have it delivered without much finesse or accuracy.

I can't imagine it saves them enough in server wages as it costs them in customer satisfaction.

I'd go back in a smaller group, or for happy hour--which is how Gifted had been there before.

I had yummy pepita-encrusted trout.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This is the Way We Bake a Pie - Tuesday 6/24/2008

Okay, so I still haven't perfected rolling out the dough and getting it onto the pie, but at least I figured out what I did wrong last time when the top crust didn't cook right. (Covered the whole thing with foil when I was only supposed to cover the rim.)

Remember I picked all the peaches last week? Well, by today they'd spent enough time ripening in a paper bag in the pantry and needed to be dealt with.

Tomorrow we're celebrating my birthday at work. It was in January but we were on strike, so it was postponed. Two others are celebrating their birthdays, too. We'll go out for lunch on the company and we'll each get a gift card that our coworkers all contribute to. It's a nice tradition.

I decided to make a fresh peach pie rather than us buying something. Hydra pitched right in and cut up peaches while I made the dough (from a boxed mix) and cut up a watermelon so we could fit it in the fridge.

He continued cutting up the extra 10 cups of peaches that we froze while I put about 4 1/2 cups into the pie. His pieces are so nice and uniform. Mine tend to be kind of wonky.

It overflowed a little while cooking, which set off the smoke alarm. Which set off the parrot.

He does love a loud noise.

Pie's in the oven. Kitchen's cleaned up. Dishwasher gurgles in the background. Smoke alarm has been subdued.

We're watching season 2 of Weeds on DVD and enjoying dessert: red raspberries in Sauvignon Blanc for me and watermelon for Hydra.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Hydra Tempts Fate - Monday 6/23/2008

Dodger likes to stand on the tallest thing around. Sometimes it's the box on the end of the counter. Sometimes it's a watermelon.

Tonight it was a Trader Joe's bag I'd just emptied.

As you can imagine, the paper didn't hold his weight very long, and he tumbled down inside of it.
Was he freaked out? No!

He started digging his way out. And defending his right to do so. See the beak coming through the hole?

Corned beef, broccoli and potatoes. We bought an extra corned beef brisket around St. Patrick's Day and since I worked from home today I was able to cook it up. Didn't have any cabbage, though, so I added broccoli to my dish.

It's pretty, tasty and as it turns out, broccoli's in the cabbage family!

Hysteric Route 66 - Sunday 6/22/2008

If we had turned around right here, we would have saved ourselves about an hour and a half.

If we had really looked at the map, we would have known that we didn't want to go through Oro Grande again to get home.

[This photo was actually taken yesterday, when I was in the passenger seat, but it's just the right illustration for today.]

Well, we saw a lot more of Historic Route 66 than we planned to! Isn’t that great? Yeah!

We merrily headed out of Victorville, CA at 10 o’clock this morning, feeling like we were getting away with something. We’d gone out for breakfast and packed up and I was excited about pulling the trailer. This is a step up from my usual mildly-frightened-but-determined attitude.

I guess we got cocky and didn’t check the map. It was a crummy map with gaps in crucial places, but it would have helped. We’d driven about 40 miles in the wrong direction before we figured it out. Even the abandoned gas stations had thinned out when I pulled over and we checked the few listed landmarks.

We had passed Silver Lakes (ha!), Helendale and Hodge [< Honestly, click on the map to fully appreciate!] before Hydra mentioned that we should really be seeing the San Gabriel mountains by now. He was so right.

Instead of turning around, we went on in the direction we were headed, which ended up adding almost 100 miles to our trip home! (Going to Victorville from Acton on Friday was only about 60!) This is about 37 miles further than if we'd turned around, but like I said we were working from truly crummy partial Google maps.

It did cross my mind that I was taking the lives of my dear spouse, our whole flock and myself in my hands as I turned off of old 66 onto lonely Hinkly Road to cut across to the 58. It was 107 on the Tahoe’s external thermometer and we were pulling a 27 foot trailer, to boot!

Everything worked out fine, but this is a vista I would just as well have missed. I love a new road, but I was kind of over it by the time Hydra took over.

But you know, we did put a positive spin on it, reminding ourselves that we wouldn’t have seen this if we hadn’t come this way, and that we’d gotten an early start.

Getting all bent out of shape over stuff like this is really more exhausting than it’s worth.

Another thing we wouldn't have seen if we hadn't been entering Mojave on the west bound 58 for the first time ever: this cool airplane graveyard. Which maybe made the whole detour worthwhile for a certain aircraft enthusiast in the car. [Hint: Not me; not Dodger.]

And yet: Number One on To Do list before next trip there: Get a decent map of San Bernardino County!

Victor Valley Visit - Saturday 6/21/2008

Here we are! It always cool to wake up some place new. I sat in the dinette in the trailer and wrote, and then went out to see if I could walk around the lake.

This was taken across from our campsite. There are quite a few people scattered around the lake fishing for the stocked trout and catfish.

This body of water is a natural oasis (which may have been enhanced with damming) formed by the Mojave River. The Mojave is completely dry and sandy above ground in some places, but apparently still flows below the surface.

Click here for an aerial view.

This was taken looking north from the northern end of the park. Those are cattle in the background. I have some closer shots, but I liked this posts, too.

It was really too hot to think about sitting on a fiberglass seat in my denim shorts, but the boats look nice, huh? It was 98 degrees when I started my walk at 10 a.m.!

This guy asked if I was trying to get a picture of the ducks. He'd just seen a mother duck and her babies disappear into the reeds. He asked if they were catching all the fish at the other end of the lake. I told him that's what they asked me about his end when I was up there!

He said one time he was here and he saw a whole flock of white water birds on the lake. They swam around in pinwheel circles, then go butt-up all at once! Then resurface and slowly spin until they dipped again. He said it was beautiful and kind of funny, too.

There are horses--which you can hire to ride--and camels at the other end of the park (though this shot was taken later, from the window of the Tahoe.)

We visited the California Route 66 Museum in Old Town Victorville. It's a really nice little museum. Very well maintained, and chock-full of interesting memorabilia from Route 66 itself, and about the businesses and desert characters that were once in the area.

Interesting fact: Sammy Davis, Jr. almost died and did lose one eye in an automobile accident in Victorville on November 19, 1954, on his way from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.

Inside the museum. That sign for Mahan's Half Acre used to advertise a folk art construction of glass bottles out in the desert.

For my tastes, this is the weirdest display in the museum. False fingernails painted with Route 66 scenes! Brought to you by Lissa Anderson.

This rather grim sign is a reminder of just what it meant to travel Route 66 back in the day!

Luckily for us, it was only a few minutes to Johnny Reb's for lunch. We split catfish and a hamburger. The burger was way over done, but the catfish was crunchy and wonderful. And hush puppies! Hydra is not impressed with a fried ball of corn meal dough, no matter what you call it, but I was transported back to vacations in South Carolina as a kid, and that was just fine.

Passed this very expressive Vietnam War Memorial in Old Town, near Johnny Reb's.

We could have bought this cool coin-operated Uncle Sam riding chicken at The Antique Station in Oro Grande. But noooooo.

Whatever you think Soylent Green might be, we're pretty sure they make it in Victorville.

Took this on the way to the hoot, which was the main excuse we had for going to the area for the weekend. Met a bunch of friendly desert Songmakers we'd never met before and stayed out realllly late.

No, really late for us. Like 1 o'clock.

Which leads us to the last adventure of the day. Or the first adventure for tomorrow... Whatever.

When we got back to the campground, the gate was locked! And it had been since 10pm.

So I held the tire-gouging strip on the exit down with one foot while Hydra drove slowly into the park. I don't think I could have actually stood there with the Tahoe coming so close to me and the headlights shining into my eyes if Hydra hadn't gotten out a big flashlight so I could hold it and see that the tire wasn't going to go over my foot.

Still that was less scary than the thought of driving over the thing myself! Whew!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

On the Road Again - Friday 6/20/2008

The view from campsite #2 at Mojave Narrows Regional Park. Our front yard for the next couple of nights.

We've been meaning to go to a hoot (kind of an acoustic jam session) out this way for a while, and we've been wanting to camp more, so we combined the two.

This park is in Apple Valley, CA which is in the Mojave Desert. Make no mistake, it was hot! The hottest weekend so far, I think. Around 105 on Friday, but it cooled down enough that we didn't even use the air conditioner over night.

Looking toward the lake. A couple of Songmakers friends who live out this way (Victorville-Apple Valley-Hesperia) came over and we sat at the table outside for a while.

When the mosquitoes found their way to my legs, we moved inside and sang and talked till after midnight. If you know us, you know that's really late! But it was fun.

Down the center of the full hook up campground. There's a lot of room between campsites here, which is very nice.