Catsup? Ketchup? Catch-up? It’s all sauce.

Crap everywhere syndrome is what I call it when my children get out multiple categories of things out and never put them back. It’s a curse that every parent is blessed with. Sometimes, amongst the chaos, we find the most wonderful keepsakes:

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She’s a master wordsmith.

It’s mostly word-for-word from a book she was reading at the time. I’m fairly certain the poop part was improv. After we found it and had thoroughly chortled, we helped her come up with some new similes that were not so crappy.

Remember when I told you we needed a new control board for the jacks? The control board came in, and guess what? THAT WAS NOT THE PROBLEM. It ended up being a jack motor, and thankfully General RV was able to get it ordered and installed in a miserable but timely manor. They also dented the camper twice, ripped off a corner, and lost a trim piece but I can’t with that. I had to let it go to be able to function as a semi-normal human and not have an aneurysm.

November 16th we FINALLY GOT TO LEAVE MICHIGAN! It’s not that we don’t love all of our wonderful family and friends, it’s that we were COLD. We headed straight down I-75 and spent a whirlwind few days in our Old Kentucky Home! Whispering Hills RV park in Georgetown was our base of operations again.

We had a WONDERFUL time in Kentucky! We spent an afternoon at the Explorium with Wesson’s friend Harlie and her family. Horses to ride, dinosaur eggs to hatch, a bubble room, and good company! What’s not to love?

And we went to Monkey Joe’s with the always wonderful Nalleys! No one took any photos! We were too busy chatting, and the kids were all over the place. I think Melissa tried to take a picture at the end but the kids protested and that was it. That’s ok, we know what we all look like, and how could we ever forget them, anyway?

I also spent some time at the Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary Fall Bazaar catching up with a few police friends. Again, no photos. Way to go!

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You got it, G-Town!

Our next home was a Bass Pro Shops parking lot in Chattanooga. It’s perfectly fine to stay in a parking lot once in a while, and lots of people choose Walmart or Sam’s Club. I prefer a good Bass Pro, though. For some reason it feels less gross. Maybe it’s the clientele…

On our way through Georgia the next day we stopped to pee at Confederate Air Force Pad #1.

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I mean, we used our own bathroom while parked next to the missile. No one peed on any relics from the 60’s.

Can we talk about a rooster that needs to be battered and fried? The campground we stayed at in Georgia had the “best” rooster. Instead of a gentle wake up call when the sun came up he sounded as if he’d been a 40 year smoker. CAW-HOOOORK! CAW-HOOOORK! Please, Georgia, put it out of our misery.

You know what comes after Georgia: FLORIDA!!! We had finally made it! The sun was hot, and the air was hot, and the ground was hot…Maybe there are regrets? Nah. The first Florida campground we graced with our presence was covered in Michigangsters. The retired University of Michigan professor in the Airstream behind us was from Lansing (go figure), the couple next to us were from Kalamazoo and Silver Lake, and the young family on the other side of them were from Auburn Hills! We couldn’t have planned it, honestly.

Justin ended up saving the couple from K-Zoo almost immediately. Their jacks were broken and he found a way to fix it without too much labor, and then we noticed that they were leaking propane like crazy! They were thankful for his help and as much as we protested they insisted on giving him a little something in the form of a visa gift card. We immediately put it towards a fancy new microscope for the kids (ROOOOAD SCHOOOOL) and made sure everyone thanked them profusely. They were great people, and hopefully we’ll see them again down the road.

Oh, and my non-socialized homeschool children made friends immediately. Huh, who’d have thunk it.

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Real Thanksgiving went off without incident. I take that back, I burnt the ever loving crap out of the pie. I made pie crust from scratch – which was fantastic, by the way – and then I realized that I didn’t have a pie pan. In the spirit of improvise, adapt, overcome I made tiny pies with the muffin tins. I stuck my petite homemade delicacies on the grill and not so promptly made them inedible. Live and learn.

November 28th we went to Manatee beach! Yay! We needed a Christmas card photo and we really just needed to play on the beach.

Look at those pretty little beach babies! The sun was hot and the water was crystal clear. Many sandcastles were made. Wesson’s wish for the day was to “sit back, relax, and float” and he certainly made his dreams come true.

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We even got a somewhat decent family photo out of the day as well! Success!

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I really like this cute photo of Mara, but she was, of course, being sassy at the time. I had made them perfectly good hamburgers for lunch, and she stopped mid-burger to say:

Mara: Where do they sell brisket?

Me: Texas

Mara: Next time we move, move us STRAIGHT to Texas.

WELL! SOMEbody knows what she wants. I don’t blame her, I could use a brisket burger right about now too.

 

 

Justin and I had been collecting beer and tiny liquor bottles up until this point so that we could make each other adult advent calendars!

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That’s Justin’s collection. My tiny accumulation of bottles ended up as ornaments on the Christmas tree.

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We’re currently down to the last two and have only poured out two a piece. That’s a pretty darn good track record. Some may say that you never pour out a beer. We are of the party that says life is too short for shitty alcohol. Pour it out and move on to something better! That’s how you can tell that we aren’t alcoholics. *wink*

New destinations mean new places to ride our bicycles. Justin had been out a few times before I decided to head out myself and see what the area offered. I ended up in a nature preserve surrounded by vultures. I know, I know. That escalated quickly. One of the key features of this area is ALL OF THE BUZZARDS. Wauchula, Florida must be where all the good carrion is rotting. These bastards, however, were not moving out of my way when I wanted to ride my bike down the path.

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It’s not that I was necessarily scared of them, it’s that 1) I thought that if they all took off at once I’d be collateral damage and take a wing to the face or something or B) I would scare them and then they would projectile vomit on me. Yes, that’s a thing. No, I do not want to experience it first hand. I sacrificed this man to them and waited to see if he’d make it through unscathed.

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Thank you, random walker!

While I was waiting I saw this sign next to the alligator infested lake:

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I bet the buzzards did it.

Good news! He lived! He cleared the path and I triumphantly rode my bicycle through the area and beyond. On the way back the vultures were having some sort of meeting with a (live) cat – in the middle of the path AGAIN. I did what I should have done the first time and made a lot of noise, and everybody begrudgingly trotted away.

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Note to self: put an air horn on your Amazon Wish List.

It’s, like, three sleeps ’til Christmas right now and I’m missing all of December on the ol’ blog so you know that you’ll be hearing from me again tomorrow.

I’ll leave you with this found masterpiece, fresh from the depths of Florida:

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Ruff, indeed.

You’re welcome.

The Alamo and a crap ton of deer

Two weeks in the same park, can you believe it? We left Medina Lake today well rested and ready for another adventure! It was a quiet park in the woods, covered in wildlife. There were so many white tail deer that they blocked the road at times. The ground all around us was 41% gravel, 26% dirt, and 79% deer poop. The park residents feed the deer all day every day so they are less wild animals and more like puppies full of pestilence.

There was no escape from the skittish deer puppies. I tried to sit outside one night and the one in the above/right photo would not stop trying to eat my hand. She kept pacing around me and snarfing. I finally had to institute a ‘legs length away’ ban and she still stood there staring at me, licking her nose.

And if we tried to do math? They were all over that.

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Hey kid, got any corn?

San Antonio was a twisty, hilly 50 minutes away from the campground so we’d be remiss if we didn’t go visit the Alamo. Remember the Alamo? Of course you do. I LIVE for places like this. I want to read all the plaques and learn all the facts! The kids were not as enthusiastic but willing to let me give them the Readers Digest version of events as long as they got to pretend to blow Santa Anna away with the cannons.

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Wesson’s favorite piece of history was the ‘line’ that Lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis supposedly drew in the dirt with his sword, spurring the last bit of umph from his small, tired force.

Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to be present for the inspiring bits of our past and how it feels like we’ve missed out on the excitement. This, however, is one speech that I’m glad that I missed.

On our way back to the truck we walked right by the San Antonio Fire Fighters Museum, housed in one of the old fire stations. We got a private tour from one of the volunteers, who happened to be retired from the department and served in that particular station. He was full of excellent tidbits about all of the equipment. The personal experiences he shared were a fantastic addition to an already great collection. To be honest, we all loved this place!

They got to ‘drive’ the fire engines, run the siren, ring the bell, put on kid-sized turnout gear, and play with fire hoses, valves, and sprinklers. The best part? It was FREE! They had fun and learned a few things in the process, and for that I’m grateful to our wonderful guide. I sometimes forget that tactile learning is their jam. It was the perfect after party for us.

Back in the wooded wonderland, the washer/dryer project was finally completed! HOORAY! We’ve only been hauling it around for several weeks now like a giant paperweight or a terrible microwave. Justin had to drill a giant four inch hole in the side of the camper (in the dark) to run the vent and a much smaller hole out the bottom in case the thing decided to flood our boat. Cutting into the outside was both a living nightmare and a giant relief. The camper is a 2017, it technically should not have been built yet. Our clothes were better for it, though, and we are no longer swimming in dirty drawers.

This is so much easier than going to the gross laundromat once a week. Dreams can come true.

Random tidbits:

Thanksgiving was a creative cooking challenge and I think I got a strong B+ on my work. I wrote it all down so I can remember what worked and didn’t, that is here: https://roadschoolnotoldschool.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/thanksgiving-in-a-box/

One of the things we use on a pretty regular basis is our membership to the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, MN. Makes sense, right? The membership was $75 for the whole family and it gives us reciprocal membership to hundreds of science centers, museums, and zoos around the country. We’ve used it so many times it has paid for itself tenfold. This week we used it to visit the DoSeum in San Antonio. Among all of their ridiculously awesome hands-on exhibit they have something called the Spy Academy. The kid runs around talking about his top secret agency all the time. Being in a spy academy is literally his dream.

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We had to go around solving clues, crawling though ceiling vents, and  writing down the secret numbers so we could get our official spy badges and further missions. We’ll be back to San Antonio in a few weeks and you can bet we’ll be in the DoSeum at least once or twice more.

Right now we are in Goose Island State Park on a tiny island that is a puddle away from the Gulf of Mexico. There are oil platforms in the far distance. I walked over to the beach tonight to see the water but there is no moon out and it was so dark that it was like shining my flashlight into a black hole. Tomorrow we’ll hopefully get to play in the sand and catch some fish. How did we get so lucky?

Thanksgiving in a box

How does one cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner while living in a 5th wheel RV? My relationship status with dinner this year reads “It’s complicated.” I’m determined, though, and I’m documenting for posterity. I’ll forget all of this by next year.
Roasted sweet potatoes and apples in a honey bourbon glaze: http://www.myrecipes.com/m/recipe/roasted-apples-sweet-potatoes-honey-bourbon-glaze

I cooked the sweet potatoes on the grill ahead of time, then on turkey day I made the glaze on the rv stove, combined everything with the apples on the bottom so they’d cook faster, and roasted it on the grill in a 9×13 pan.

Baked beans:

The charcoal grill took point again! I cooked the bacon and hamburger in the electric frying pan, combined everything in the Dutch oven, and put it on the grill without the lid for an hour and a half.

Justin went out to buy charcoal the other night and came home with lump oak. I’d never used lump charcoal before, my go-to was Kingsford briquettes. I’m never going back! The lump oak has such a nice smoke to it, not overpowering like I anticipated, and burns HOT.

Stove Top stuffing: *womp womp* Something had to give, and honestly I do that every year. Maybe next year I’ll make the stuffing from scratch. Or not.

Mashed potatoes: This one was the same as usual. Boil potatoes on the stove, hand over the smushy taters to the kitchenaid mixer (pre-loaded with the rest of the good stuff) and let them whip.

Gravy: From a jar, like an animal. A smart, lazy animal.

Pumpkin pie: I’ll admit, this one stumped me for a little while. I decided at one point that I’d use the smoker but it only goes up to 275 degrees. Two days beforehand I ended up plopping the whole pie crust – in the aluminum pie tin – in the Dutch oven, filling it, and putting the lid on top. I put it directly on the hot lump charcoal, loaded the top with coals, and baked for 45 minutes. The edges were toast but the rest of it was great! We’re eating it, dammit.

I made four little pies with the leftover filling to tide us over until Thanksgiving. I baked them in the oven and it took FOREVER. I’m desperately glad that I decided not to use the oven for anything else. Propane cooking leaves a lot to be desired.

Rolls: Store bought, and I’m pretty sure I bought the wrong ones. We’ll find out in a minute. When I went to H.E.B. for groceries it was ridiculously busy. All of us chumps were trying to beat the crowd by going on Monday. I grabbed the first thing that looked like bread in small sections.

Turkey: 

It was brined overnight in a mixture of salt water, garlic, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. I rinsed it this afternoon and rubbed it with sage, thyme, garlic, and rosemary, and added butter pads all over.

OK, me. I hope you did a good job. If you didn’t, well… there’s always Christmas.