Thursday, October 30, 2014

Virgin Snowbirds

     Here we are, on our first journey south away from the rigors of winter in the upper Midwest.  We were home 5 weeks after our adventure to Alaska.  2 days and 700 miles out of Michigan and we arrived in Barb's 'stomping grounds' of SE Missouri.  The trip was smooth; our truck getting better mileage each and every trip as it ages more gracefully than it's owners. Although this is not our first trip to the area we always enjoy looking around for new things to do and see.

     We camped at the Malden Regional Airport and Industrial Park RV Park.  Part of a community renewal, this area is undergoing a renovation of sorts with housing, businesses, and a golf course. This complex was for years known as Malden Air Force Base back in the 40s and 50s.  This base was a result of the U.S. gearing up shortly after going to war with Germany and Japan.  It was a vital training base for bomber crews during WW II and then general pilot training during the Korean Conflict.  At one time this facility housed 3000 airmen.  You can view the incredible history at:  Now the area belongs to the local community as is used by several companies, a golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool, soccer fields, RV park, general aviation, and provides housing as well.  Full camping hookups here cost $90 for the week. 

Photos courtesy of Malden Air Museum


      We had never visited during this time of year and although knew it was a major agricultural region I did not realize the impact of growing cotton here.  Although there are numerous fields of milo, rice, and soybeans there are also miles of fields dedicated to growing the fluffy, white crop.  Unlike the stories of the old south, modern harvesting techniques allow for machinery to harvest and bale the crop in very large round bales for relocating to the many local cotton gins in the area.  These bales are approximately 6' in diameter!


       We took one day out to do some geocaching with Barb's niece, finding 7 new caches and having a nice lunch out as well.  We started geocaching a little several years ago, but are trying to get back into it more since retirement.  It is a nice activity combining exercise, technology, and a sense of adventure; sometimes even history!  Surprisingly, we found several agates, jasper, and chert in the local road gravel.  Upon investigation we learned the gravel is trucked in from far away and it is often not surprising to find several different types of minerals not indigenous to the area. 

    During our stay I prepared Venison Tenderloin with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce over Fusilli, Fish Tacos, Bratwurst Casserole, Ham n Bean Soup, and Cordon Bleu for the family.  We also shared some of our extra venison and halibut before we left (still cleaning out that freezer).  The family did prepare an early Thanksgiving Feast for us midweek as we would miss them for this years holidays....delicious!         
       Our visit lasted for about a week before moving on.  We had a great time.  It also gave me a chance to scrub/wash the road grime off the RV, perform some minor maintenance, and rearrange the truck storage.  I did spend a couple days horizontal with bronchitis and Dharma didn't appreciate battling the ever present sand burrs, but all in all it was a nice visit.  Next up for us.......who knows? 
Upload courtesy of our Verizon Hot Spot.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Great Lakes Muffuletta

     We've been home about 3 weeks now, getting things 'turned around' for our departure to the South this winter.  Meal preparation has been a balance between cleaning out the house freezer and sparing what we want to take with south with us.  Suffice it to say we're still eating lots of fish which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I have been nothing short of creative. 
     This recipe combines two of our recent needs:  using up our excess fish and our love of cajun cuisine.    The only substitution to this recipe is a total lack of Focaccia bread in our town whereas we used round loaf Sourdough.  Also, we did not wrap, compress, and chill our sandwiches overnight, but served them fresh.  The melding of flavors from the pesto, artichokes, roasted red peppers, onion, capers, and red wine vinegar was delicious.  Serve with choice of chips on the side and a chilled Barley Pop.