Saturday, March 29, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

At least it seems like we've been busy, but I sure don't know what we've been doing!

Mainly, we've been socializing and making bread . . .

In a future blog I'll be sharing a great recipe for Chili Colorado, but that's not for today.

We're still here at Rockhound. The weather has been just lovely so we spend a lot of time outside, talking, reading and just beholding the grandeur that is southern New Mexico in the spring.

So that you might better understand my spring fever, here's the view out our back window (remember you can always click to enlarge).

The other day we took a hike up the hill (but not too far up) and I liked this view of Cholula Red.

A bit farther up the hill, we were able to get this shot, three Red Lazy Daze, all in one place!

Lately, we seem to be attracting Lazy Daze. So far there have been nine Lazy Daze, although the most at one time is five (people come and go while we stay in one place).

So now that I think about it, we've really been busy having a good time!

Remember me mentioning the Adobe Deli? It has shot to the top of the list of our favorite restaurants. As I told you before, the onion soup is just spectacular. It's so good, I took a picture!

If you aren't a meat eater, you might want to skip this next photo, but I just couldn't resist. I ordered spare ribs and this is what they brought to the table . . .

Pretty impressive, don't you think? What's so great is that you get your dinner and you're pretty much guaranteed at least one other meal for the same price! With so many Lazy Daze coming in, we feel it's our obligation to share this fine easting institution, so we're all going there again tomorrow!

As you can see, we really are busy having a great time.

Life is good.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Watching and Reading

I am a lover of a well turned phrase and most of my life, I've preferred fiction, mysteries, spy stories, techno thrillers or any story that just struck my fancy.

For some reason lately, I've been lured over to nonfiction. I believe some of it has to do with our traveling and my desire to learn more about the areas we are currently inhabiting. But I also find myself more interested in actual people and events. While that may change, right now, I find myself on an historical nonfiction journey.

That said, I've always been interested in Elizabeth I, with Henry VIII and the whole eight wives affair a close second.

I've always enjoyed the films about this period with Glenda Jackson, in my opinion, being the quintessential Elizabeth. If you have never seen the Masterpiece Theatre production of Elizabeth R, you are missing a stunning performance by a gifted actress at the top of her game. Granted, looking at the series today, the production values leave a bit to be desired, but the acting and presentation of a supremely intelligent woman of power ruling at a time when men held all the strings is a revelation.

I can also recommend the Elizabeth movies starring Cate Blanchett and the more modern series starring Helen Mirren. And while the Bette Davis portrayals are extremely theatrical, she shines as Elizabeth, as she does in most of her roles (and let me throw in here that if you've never seen All About Eve, you've missed one of THE finest combination of dialogue and acting ever put on film, but I digress . . .)

Back to the Tudors in general and Anne Boleyn in particular.

Is there a more exciting story in history than that of Anne Boleyn? Here you have a woman who truly wielded power in a decidedly mans world. The film Anne of the Thousand Days boasts beautiful production values as well as fine performances from both Richard Burton as Henry and Genevieve Bujold as Anne. I really love the chemistry between these two on film

Currently there is a lot of interest in this period with the Tudors on Showtime and the Other Boleyn Girl at the multiplex. I've read the novel (the Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory) and found it interesting, especially the pull of family duty as seen at this time, but haven't yet had a chance to see the film.

As for the Tudors, we watched the first season, and I have to admit I'm on the fence. While I think it's an interesting take, I find the casting a bit odd. I have followed the career of Jonathon Rhys Meyers since I first saw him in Bend It Like Beckham and think he is a fine and magnetic screen actor, but I just can't help but feel he is miscast here. And I won't even go into Natalie Dormer, who has such a modern face that she truly sticks out like a sore thumb amid the pageantry of Henry's court.

I wanted to like the Tudors but just can't recommend it!

And now I'm reading the accurately researched the Six Wives of Henry VIII by Allison Weir and it is truly illuminating.

For instance, Catherine of Aragon is usually referred to as being "so much older" than Henry, but in reality she was a mere six years his senior. I assume that in that time six years meant a lot more than now, but still, not a HUGE age difference. And both Catherine and her daughter Mary are generally portrayed as raven haired Spaniards, when in reality, Catherine was fair and Mary had red hair just like her father.

And now let's talk about Anne Boleyn. While she is generally portrayed as young and vibrant on the screen, in reality she was 26 when she and Henry first started courting and 32 when they finally wed. She died when she was only 36.

In a time when women were often married at 14, she was a veritable spinster!

I find the division between history as entertainment and scholarly journals based on solid research almost as fascinating as the subjects they study!

If, like me, you find this era an interesting study, you might want to check out the Allison Weir books. And if you would rather have your history in video format, I recommend either the Masterpiece theater Elizabeth R or Anne of the Thousand Days.

You know, for years, I was interested in all of this, but just never had the time to truly delve into all of it. Now that I'm retired, I have to say I relish every day.

Life is good.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


You must know that with all this bread baking, sooner or later garlic would HAVE to come up.

I've been adding a lot of different things to the bread, and in researching adding whole cloves of garlic, came across the amazing recipe for Garlic Soup (you have to scroll down about half the page).

Now this doesn't come out at all like you'd think, it's nice and creamy and slightly sweet, a real taste treat. When you add some home made bread and a nice salad, this makes a wonderful meal. Good Eats!!

I've discovered that the tortilla warmers that they sell at the Dollar Store are great places to keep fresh bread. These cost just a buck or two, they have an insulated lining and a fresh round loaf fits inside perfectly. If you get into this whole bread thing, they're a great addition to the kitchen (and they don't take up much space).

We had an exceptionally windy night last night, but today was a stunner. I do love this park. The birds are out and we must have seen a dozen or more bunnies, maybe because it's Easter?

It looks like we're in for a beautiful spring, the hills are greening up and I'm sure the cactus will start to bud soon. I can't wait for the ocotillo to bud up, I promise lots of pictures when the blooms begin.

I hate to be repetitive, but the truth is that life is good.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

More Bread and More Lazy Daze

It seems like we're having a mini convention here at Rockhound, we're now up to five Lazy Daze! We we're joined yesterday by Dave and Nola in yet another mid bath! What a great time we're having.

It has become my habit to make a batch of bread around 3:00 in the afternoon, then set it by the kitchen window to rise for the next mornings baking. I LOVE getting up early in the in the morning and watching the sun rise over the valley. This morning I looked out the window and saw this.

I quickly threw on my clothes and got the camera and went outside. The air was crisp and clean and the birds were just beginning to stir, it was magic. I took one more shot and caught this tiny bird sitting in the ocotillo in our campsite.

You might want to click it to enlarge, the bird is pretty small.

After the sun rose, I came back inside and baked today's loaf, which came out beautifully.

Every day it seems like I'm learning more about baking bread, especially how to do it in the motorhome oven. This whole bread thing is certainly an adventure I'm enjoying.

And I just have to mention this. You all know hat I love silly toys, as does my friend Andy. Yesterday in town I found a set of play gold teeth and knew that they would be perfect for him. He was a good enough sport to let me take this picture.

We are silly, but we do have a good time.

And I can't close this post without wishing our friend Norm a Happy Birthday. I'm SO sorry we can't come to the party, but know that we are with you in spirit.

Life is good.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bird Rocks, More Bread and More Lazy Daze!

We have discovered some unusual rocks here at Rockhound that have us a bit puzzled. Our friend John Coxon found the first one and gave it to me. So what's so unusual about these rocks?

For one thing, when you put them in your hand and close your fist around them, they fit perfectly. I mean PERFECTLY, like they had been made when someone took wet clay and squeezed it in their fist and then fired it in a kiln. It doesn't seem to matter who puts them in their hand, they seem to fit everyone's fist.

The other thing that's kind of cool is that they look like birds! We have found quite a few of these and no one seems to know what they are. But we like them a lot.

We have a little family of three of them that we now have as part of the decorations in Cholula Red. Here's a photo.

Pretty cool, huh?

It's been delightful here in Deming. We now have four Lazy Daze here at Rockhound. In addition to us, there's Andy (in Skylark a 2003 Mid Bath), Debbie (In her brand new 2007 Rear Kitchen) and Ron and Jan in a 1996 Mid Bath. What fun to have all these rigs in one spot and be able to compare notes and see what everyone has done to personalize their rigs.

And what else are we up to? Well, my bread making is continuing, and to my surprise, every loaf is better than the last.

Regular readers will remember that I recently discovered No Knead Bread (you can read about it here), and every day I've been making a new loaf. I've been playing with several variations on the two basic recipes, adding different ingredients and varying the rising and cooking times.

So far, I have to say my very favorite addition is 1/4 to 1/2 cup of steel cut oats. Just this little bit of whole grain adds something so special, I now add it to all my breads. I'm thinking of playing around with other grains and will let you know the results (all suggestions welcome).

Another change is I've been adding a bit of yogurt to the liquid, looking for a somewhat more sour flavor. To that end, I'm also working on a sourdough starter so I can make sourdough bread.

I found a great site where you can get a starter that has been going since 1847 (no kidding!) and will play with that, but I have high hopes for my own starter. I'll let you know how that turns out. I did have a home made sourdough starter years ago, but haven't used it in so long I feel like a beginner.

I can tell you that I made French Toast this morning with homemade bread and it was sublime. Tonight we're trying pizza with homemade crust. I'm going to try it with a white sauce, garlic, chicken and smokey provolone. Yum!

Andy decided to try some of the No Knead Bread, but he's going to bake it in a closed container (like the instructions suggest). This way, we'll be able to see the difference between actually following the instructions and my work around method (water in a pie pan in the bottom of the oven, cooking the bread on an open pan).

Retirement is grand, giving all of us enough time to play with such foolishness.

Okay, enough food talk.

Yesterday I promised some bird pictures, so here they are. These were all taken, by Terry from inside the rig (through our darkly tinted windows) so I apologize if they're not as sharp and bright as I would hope (my Photoshop skills are somewhat limited).

Here's one of our House Finches. We have dozens of these little red birds. They are really colorful and active. Terry puts a bit of bird seed on the retaining wall outside our rig, so we have a perfect spot from which to observe them without scaring the little guys.

This guy is considering taking a bath. We had to put this rock in the dish so it doesn't blow away, but the birds seem to love it. It's like the community swimming hole.

This guy starts by just dipping the tiniest bit of his toe in the water,

then decides the temperature is just perfect for a bath.

This is one of a flock of Scaled Quail that liver here at Rockhound. We have never seen these birds here before, but they seem quite proud of the flock at the Visitors Center.

These guys are unlike any quails we've ever seen. I particularly like their little white top knots. Remember you can always click on any photo to see a larger version.

And here's a Pyrrhuloxia or Silver Cardinal. There are lots of these guys here at Rockhound, but we still get excited every time we see one.

Ah yes, Life is Good.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


We're back at Rockhound, and we're in our favorite spot!

We have a wonderful view of the Little Floridas (pronounced flow-REED-ahs) and all our birds are back. I swear, we have hundreds of birds at our site, a testament to the power of black sunflower seeds.

In fact, we didn't plan properly and it looks like we'll have to go into town to get more bird food. I'll try to take pictures later today and post them here.

I do love my life.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Dust and Wind (Part 2)

Today we spent most of the day trying to clean up from the hellacious dust storm we experienced yesterday, WHEW!

We were really surprised when we finally got outside and saw how totally filthy the motorhome was. This storm carried such fine dirt, it was almost like talcum powder. In the two and one half years we've had Cholula, she has never been as dirty as she was today!

Everyone in the park was out trying to clean their rigs. Most were using water, but we decided to try something else.

A while back out friend Andy recommended a California Duster which we've been carrying around, but only used sparingly. So today we decided to put it to the test, and I'll tell you right now, this is a blatant plug for this product, it REALLY works.

We were just blown away by how well this little puppy worked. To show you, I've included some pictures.

Believe me, our rig has never been this dirty before, so please don't judge us, In this picture, I've already cleaned the bright red on the top and half of the maroon on the bottom.

Pretty impressive huh? Remember this was done with NO water.

Here's one more shot, with the dirt removed on both sides, but the dust still present in the middle. Can you believe how much dust there is on the rig?

In case you've never heard of this product, here's a picture of the Duster.

Okay, the advertisement is over, the dust is gone and Cholula Red is once again here bright and shiny self.

Tomorrow, we'll be moving back up to Rockhound State Park, where we will have a lovely view.

Life is good!

Happy Saint Patricks Day

Apologies in advance, but I just couldn't resist . . .

I try REALLY hard not to link to YouTube videos on this blog, but I felt this was exceptional.

Just a note, if you're not a Muppets fan, don't bother, but I just love Beaker (I'm so so with Professor Bunson). Along with Camilla and Janis, Beaker my favorite Muppet.

Of course there will be Corned Beef and Cabbage for dinner.

Life is Good.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wind and Dust !!!!

WOW, is it ever windy and dusty today!

The roads are closed and they say the visibility is near zero. I've taken several pictures from the same vantage point so you can see what I'm talking about.

This was around 9:00AM

Around noon, it hadn't improved one tiny bit. The rig was rockin and rollin and dust seemed to be everywhere. When we walked across the linoleum the grit was palpable, and every surface seemed to have a fine layer of dust.

Finally, around 6;00 it finally started to subside. It was still quite windy, but at least the dust had died down a bit.

When I walked into the bedroom, I took a look at one of our window sills and was surprised to find this!

Motorhome windows have weep holes to allow condensation to escape, but apparently they can also allow this incredibly fine grit into the rig!

Here's a photo of a somewhat clean sill so you can compare.

And finally, here's a photo of the mesh boot we put over our windshield. Like everything else, this was just serving as a trap for the dust. Usually we can see right through it, but not today!

Pretty awesome, huh?

So what did I do to pass the time today while we were inside during this storm?

Well, of course, I cooked!

I'm still on the homemade bread kick, we may never buy store made bread again, this is so easy. I've been playing with different ingredients, adding steel cut oats to one recipe and flax seed to another. I've also got one recipe that needs to be baked the day you make it and another that lasts up to two weeks in the fridge.

All are a bit different, but they're all super easy and extra yummy.

I also made a batch of Chicken Picata, YUM!

So even with the terrible dust storms, we had a great day, and we continue to be thankful that Life is Good.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

38 and Counting . . .

Wow, today is Terry and my 38th anniversary!

Well, technically the 11th was our 8th anniversary but, who's counting!

I just wanted to share with all of you how fortunate and lucky I feel to have this wonderful man in my life.

He supports me no matter what hare brained scheme I come up with (and over the years there have been many). He loves me as I am, warts and all. He rarely complains (I say rarely because, after all, no one is perfect, but he comes dang close). I just really can't imagine my life without him.

He is just one amazing guy.

That said, I guess I should try to take a better picture of him!

While this doesn't show him off to the best physically, it captures a part of his spirit that makes me love him all the more.
It had just started raining and he took his good friend Hunter (who is 3 years old) out to catch raindrops in their mouths. Is this a great guy or what? I will try hard to get a picture that shows his face a bit more, Promise!

And now we're off to the fabulous Adobe Deli for our Anniversary Dinner.

Boy, life is really, really good.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What a Swell Day!

Today, went for a LONG drive. We decided it was time to go and look at some campgrounds that we've been hearing about,

First, we went up to City of Rocks, where we camped last year. It was a gorgeous day, and we felt we needed a refresher, just to see if we wanted to return (and we probably will).

Then we headed up towards Lake Roberts. Several friends have recommended this campground and while it was indeed lovely, it was a bit remote. We may camp there, but we'll just have to see.

A bit farther on this road are the Gila Cliff Dwellings. We visited them last year and loved the area, so if we decide to camp somewhere in the area, it will probably be at the dwellings.

The drive we were following is known as the Trail of the Mountain Spirits and it is truly magical.

One of the things I love about New Mexico is the constant change. Today, we went from the sparse desert into rolling hills that had me singing cowboy songs. I've got to tell you, I wouldn't have been surprised to see Roy and Trigger come galloping over one of the many rolling hills. In a matter of minutes we found ourselves in towering pines, WOW!

This area is known as the Mimbres Valley, for the ancient people who lived here ages ago and made the astounding Mimbres Pottery. We see mention of this everywhere we go here, and this area is the heart of the Mimbres culture.

Just a few miles down the road, we came up on this (and remember you can click on the photo for a larger version).

While I am perfectly aware that waterfalls abound in the west, we haven't seen all that many, and to come on this, right by the side of the road was an unexpected and delightful treat.

We then proceeded on to an incredibly windy road (Highway 15)
that led to Silver City.

Silver City has a reputation as a real up and coming city. An artistic community in the hills, sort of waiting to be discovered. While many folks in this area really love it, we find it to be a bit large and citified (or maybe we've just spent too long in small towns?).

On the way back to Deming, we stopped at a rest area and I had to take a picture of their topiary.

Last but not least, I wanted to share something I shot a few days ago.

While perusing the internet (again!) I found a site where a fellow had taken a collection of shots of the New York sky.

The idea intrigued me so I stepped outside and shot a series of sky shots in a matter of five minutes.

Then I put them together in what I like to call the New Mexico Sky Quilt.

Life is good.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fresh Bread

Oh My Gawd . . .

Cruising through the internet I came across a recipe for No Knead Bread. Now I used to bake bread all the time, but haven't even tried it since we've been in the rig. I know several folks who travel with bread machines and get excellent results, but I never could seem to get the loaf I really wanted with a machine.

So we've been on store bought for quite a while, but that just might change.

Suffice it to say that we had bread for dinner.

So here's the basics.

6 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 Tblsp quick yeast
1 1/2 Tblsp salt (I like kosher)
3 cups of lukewarm water

Never being happy to leave well enough alone, I substituted about 1/2 cup of beer and a bit of white vinegar for some of the water, but that's a personal decision you'll have to make. Feel free to try the original recipe.

Basically you just mix everything together till you have a big sticky goopy ball. This should only take a minute or two, no need to over mix. Then cover it loosely (a clean towel or some loose plastic wrap (not air tight) will do). Then you just let it sit for anywhere from two to five hours.

Being my usual patient self, I barely made two hours, but the good news is that this makes such a lot that I put half of it in the fridge for tomorrow. The various recipes swear this is all right, so I'll let you know.

If you've ever made bread, you'll see that this is a LOT of water, and I believe this is part of the secret to this method. The other difference is in the cooking.

The original recipe calls for this.

About thirty minutes before you're ready to bake, heat the oven to 450 degrees. You'll need a heavy covered pot, cast iron is recommended, and you'll want to heat this along with your oven.

I had to improvise here because I certainly don't have any cast iron in the motor home. With a little research, I learned that the original method calls for a heated, covered cast iron pot so you can trap the moisture and give the bread a wonderful crust like you find at your favorite bakery.

Since I had no cast iron, I put my air bake cookie sheet in the oven and let it get nice and hot. Then I took a silicone muffin tin and filled the 6 cups with water and carefully slid it in the oven under the burner. Remember I'm making allowances for a smaller oven here. This was to provide a nice steamy atmosphere for my bread

After the dough had risen and my oven was heated, I lightly shaped the dough into a loaf, and because I wanted it to look nice, I made a few slashes in the top. Then into the hot oven it went for thirty minutes.

Boy Howdy, was this bread wonderful! The crust was nice and crusty, almost hard to the knife, but when you cut into it, the inside was steamy and light, lots of nice yeasty holes surrounded by this amazing crust.

I just had to share this with all of you, and if you try it, I'd sure like to hear the results. If you Google No Knead Bread, you'll get a lot of hits, but the one I've provided here is a simple start. Next time, I might try a few additions, but at least I have the basics down

Next time I see some of you at a potluck, I just might bring fresh bread.

Life is good.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Bost Family Tradition

Longtime readers of this blog might remember last year about this time, we went into Deming and saw a WONDERFUL show presented by the Bost Family.

And for those of you who haven't been with me this long, you can read about it here.

Today we had the pleasure of attending another concert by these fine folks, and once again, we were just blown away. These people are HOT, a great band and a wonderful afternoon. If you ever get the chance to hear them perform, run don't walk!

It was such a beautiful afternoon, I wanted to share my joy with all of you.

Life is good.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Life is What You Make It (and Life is Good)

I've spent the morning reading a blog about a couple who joined an Adventure Caravans trip down to Central America. We've looked at these caravans, and would probably join one if we ever won the lottery.

Our good friends Mimi and Jonna have long been trying to get us down to Mexico, and we have that thought in our future plans, but back to that blog . . .

While down in Guatemala, the engine on these folks diesel pusher died, and they were left stranded. A nightmare scenario, no?

Well, just to prove that attitude is EVERYTHING, read this blog and see what a once in a lifetime experience these lucky folks got to enjoy; a journey only available to those with an open heart and an open mind.

The blog can be found here. I started at the very beginning, and for me, it was interesting to note that as the troubles began, it felt much more personal. At that point, their trip became more of a life altering phenomenon rather than the "tour" they had been enjoying previously.

Life is good, and I hope I get to meet these fine folks on the road sometime.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Cows & Birds & Sunsets

Did you miss me?

Well, I guess I should apologize, but all I can say is that I don't post for a couple of days, and before I know it weeks have gone by!

We left the Bosque and went down to Oliver Lee State Park, where you may remember I got all excited about the Lunar Eclipse. Unfortunately, we had a huge cloud invasion the afternoon of the eclipse and we couldn't see a thing!

What we have been seeing is a LOT of cows, which for some reason, fascinate me. Maybe it's because in many spots here in New Mexico, they are allowed to roam around free (also known as a free range area). So one day, we were coming back to Oliver Lee and there were all these cows! I liked this one in particular.

As we got closer, she seemed to show some slight interest in us (or maybe it was the car?)

And when we stopped the car, she just looked at us, as if to say "Yeah What do you want?

I liked this photo so much I played around with it in Photoshop, sort of pretending it was an old time hand colored print. Here's the result. Remember you can click on any image to see a larger version.

After we moved down to Rockhound State Park, outside Deming, we went up to Truth or Consequences to visit some friends. On the way back, we decided to try a new road. It seems that whenever we do this, we find something wonderful, and this day was no exception.

Somewhere between T or C and Hatch, we took an exit and found a delightful town named Hillsboro. A tiny burg, like so many here, it's a lovely mixture of ghost town and artist's colony, nestled far away from the beaten path, but maintaining a unique charm. We have decided we will look into places to park Cholula in the area and try to return.

As we continued down the road, the landscape changed from rolling desert into pure cowboy country. I just love this state, the geology changes constantly, an ongoing surprise.

And as we were rolling up and down the gently rolling hills, we came upon this sight. Once again, cows, just hanging by the side of the road. I wish I could say why they interest me so, I just know I can't seem to pass one up without getting off a few shots with the camera.

As we came closer to the main road, we were treated to this . . .

Unfortunately, it was closed, or we would have stopped to visit. I guess there just isn't a whole lot of traffic out in the Middle of Nowhere.

A bit farther down the road, we came upon a real ghost town, named Lake Valley. Home a a large silver strike in the 1800s, it was the home of the Bridal Chamber, a cave of almost pure silver. The ore from this strike was so pure that they built a railroad spur right to the strike and shipped the ore directly to the mint, no smelting necessary. Pretty cool, huh?

Here's a shot of Lizard Rock, which sits right outside Lake Valley. It really does look like a lizard climbing up the mountain, don't you think?

And here's the remains of what was the towns only gas station.

We had a delightful day and decided we are going to try even more back roads to see what we can discover.

Meanwhile, back at Rockhound, we decided to set out the birdfeeders, just t see what we could attract. There are tons of house finches, most a beautiful rosy pink. All of these shots were taken right outside our bedroom window.

I really love this park. Out of all the State Parks in New Mexico, it may be my favorite. It has all these wonderful birds (including a flock of scaled quail, adorable with their little white hats). And then there are the sweeping vistas taht are particular to this park.

But best of all are the sunsets . . .

And last of all, one evening, we saw this, which I like to think of a a sunbow.

Life is good.