Friday, May 27, 2016

Boondocking: A list of resources

Boondocking along the Pacific coast of Crescent City,

      I am sometimes asked as to the entire process of 'boondocking' and how to find information on it.  I have made plenty of blog entries as to places we've stayed, but maybe not provided as much information via online resources to this point.  I'm going to attempt to fix that.
  Snyder Hill (10 miles west of Tucson) FREE

      Let's get one thing straight:  BOONDOCKING IS CAMPING AT OFF THE GRID LOCATIONS OR PLACES WHERE THERE IS MINIMAL SERVICES AT MINIMUM PRICES......AND OFTEN FREE.  Because my wife and I qualify for Golden Access Passes we do get half off US National Parks and recreation areas, but for my purposes I qualify boondocking as any camping spot that is either free or no more than $7 per night.  You must be able to accept the fact that these places will not be fancy RV parks.  Often they are just open, leveled places in the forest, desert, or river bottoms.  Sometimes it's a Wal Mart or Cabelas Parking lot, sometimes it's a beautiful leveled off gravel area next to Kachemak Bay, AK or the Yellowstone River, MT.  I use so many of these resources on a regular basis to take advantage of other's experiences and try to update any posted or new information that I may find useful to others in the future.  The bottom line is that Barb and I save several thousand dollars a year taking advantage of such opportunities when available.

Tillamook Airport, OR.......4 nights for $10

      In order to fully take advantage of such an adventure you must be capable of providing your own power via solar, wind turbine, or a sufficient battery bank.  You must also provide your own water or have a source close by, either by transporting it by container or pumping it from local waterways with a means to purify it.  I would refer you to some of my earliest blog entries (2013) to view my set up.  Realize that I developed, modified, or copied my entire camping setup via information and advice I found from the following sources:

      This is the current list of resources I have to date, but I'm sure that through your own research you can find even more.  Please feel free to 'share back' with me.  Isn't that what this blog is all about? 

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find how far one can go"
                                                                            T.S. Elliot

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wild Boar Ribs

Yep, that's my big ole wood pit smoker, but it only gets used in the summer these days

      I used this recipe last year with my first hog and it turned out very well.  Thanks again to my sister, Debby for being my 'Guinea Pig' (unintended pun) for this recipe.  As I have said before I have found wild boar to be good meat as long as it seasoned, brined, or injected correctly.  This is a two step process consisting of a slow simmer of the ribs in a brine consisting of apple cider vinegar and chicken broth that significantly tenderizes the ribs before the rub. The second day consists of finishing off the ribs either on the smoker or in the oven before serving.  Notice that the rub can be prepared the day before cooking and let stand overnight.  I only used the half the boar ribs and did cut the rack of ribs in half horizontally which resulted in more of a baby back size. 

 1/3 brown Sugar
 1 tablespoon Hungarian Paprika
 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
 1 T Crushed Red Pepper Flakes(through Coffee Grinder)
 1 teaspoon Table Grind Black Pepper
 1 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
 1 tablespoon Garlic Salt
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 Combine all Dry Rub Ingredients & Mix Well. Let stand overnight.
Ribs cut to desired length and rub ingredients ready to mix

 1 Gallon Low Sodium Chicken Stock
 2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
 1/2 Onion cut in 1/2
 3 stalks Celery
 2 Jumbo Carrots Cut in Three Pieces
Prepare brine ingredients in large stock pot and bring to a boil.  Place ribs in pot, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1.5 hours.  Ribs should be done, but NOT FALLING OFF THE BONE. 
Remove Ribs from stock & cool to room temperature then strain left over liquid, reserve.

After ribs cool, rub with oil/seasoning mixture on both sides.  Stack ribs on top of each other.  Wrap tight with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Place ribs either in oven @ 250 or smoker for 60-90 minutes just to rewarm.  If you choose a smoker I would recommend apple wood for about 2 hours.  It makes a nice finish. 
Serve with your choice of sides, but ribs are NEVER BAD with Cole Slaw and Baked Beans and a side dollop of my BBQ sauce.

"You don't need a silver fork to eat good food"
                                           Paul Prudhomme

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Alligator Sausage Sliders

      Well, here we go with what I'm sure will not be the last of some of this summer's meals from Casa Hilts.  It is no secret that my favorite cuisine to prepare is Cajun and so of course one of the many varieties of meat I brought back from this past winter's journey south was several pounds of alligator.  We've been eating it for years now and thoroughly enjoy it.  Alligator meat is usually sold in packs of tail meat fillets, tender and tasty.  If you haven't tried it I would have to say that this type of gator meat has the texture somewhere between a firm cod or pike and shrimp.  I have had gator sausage once and thought it was under seasoned.  So I modified this recipe by combining a pound of gator meat with 1/2 pound of Italian Cudighi Sausage.  I could have used only gator tail meat, but the additional seasonings from the pork would contribute even more flavor.  In addition I used a commercial Louisiana Brand remoulade sauce and topped the meal with bread and butter stacker pickles.  This is quite a simple recipe to prepare, but results in a delicious mini-sandwich.
NOTE:  If you use a commercial product the Louisiana Brand offers a very good line of products from Remoulade to Fish Fry Mix to Gumbo and Jambalaya mixes that are versatile and tasty.  I also have a penchant for the Tony Chacheres line of seasonings, mixes, instant Roux, and injectable marinades. 


  • 24 ounces alligator sausage (or 1 pound gator, 1/2 pound pork sausage) diced fine
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasonings (I love Tony Chacheres)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Toasted buns for serving (I used large Hawaiian dinner rolls)
  •  Sliced onion (optional)
  •  Remoulade Sauce
  •  Bread and Butter Stacker Pickles

  •       First of all either dice the gator meat finely or coarsely chop in Cuisinart, then mix together the meats, onion, pepper, garlic, egg, and panko. 

    Then form into about 8 small balls to form 'slider size' burgers.

    Heat oil in skillet (I love cast iron) and then heat over medium heat.  Place burgers into pan; do not over flatten.  Season with Tony Chacheres, salt and pepper.

    Drain burgers well on paper towels before assembly.  Place bottom of toasted bun on plate, then in order place Remoulade Sauce, burger, cilantro, pickles, onion if you wish, and top with the finished desired amount of Remoulade Sauce. 

    This makes about 8-10 sliders, depending on how size.  Serve with whatever sides rock your world. 

    This meal dedicated to Carl Stinson........Jackson, MO.  May you rest in peace my friend.  Your work on Earth is done. 

    "If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” -Cesar Chavez

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    Sunday, May 1, 2016

    The Dharma Bums: Retrospective 2013-2016

    Donjek River Boondocking, Yukon Territory
          Looking back on the 3+ years this blog has been in existence I have to say I am fairly satisfied.  It has been a combined collection of travel, cooking, and restaurant reviews.  Barb and I have very much enjoyed the travel, especially to the areas on our 'Bucket List'.   We have also spent many days  visiting old high school friends, Air Force friends, and family.  We have been across borders to both the north and the south.  We have pretty much had it all.  Although Barb and I continue to acclimate ourselves to the new 24/7 fully together lifestyle I realize that I am the luckiest man on the planet to have such a strong, wonderful (and yes incredibly patient) woman at my side.  She is my 'touchstone', but at times I am sure she wants to beat me severely with her 'wailing wall'.  This winter we do have to give a BIG SHOUT OUT to the wonderful folks at Billy Navarre Chevrolet in Lake Charles, LA as they seemed to have FINALLY found the origin of our 'Check Engine' light issues.  We have had no further issues for many miles now and "Rakka Klakka" (as I love to call her) is running strong and true as ever.  I love my truck. 

          I have worked very hard to keep personal feelings, religion, and politics out of my writing.  There is way too much animosity in the world anymore.  I even took a recent (albeit temporary) hiatus from Facebook as my soul needed some much needed rehab.  You would be surprised how much more time you have when you aren't on the computer 'Facebooking' every day.  I do still spend a bit of time online with chess as it is my personal mental exercise and preventative maintenance for early Alzheimer's.
          The 'restaurant reviews' have been a personal passion of mine.  It gives me a chance to try something new locally or regionally from many of the areas we have visited.  Some have been as good as advertised, some not so good.  Most of the times my selection process on where to eat is random, but I will sometimes try the local favorites.  I have learned that listening to 'the locals' is advice often worth it's weight in gold.  Barb and I rarely eat at the upscale dining places as we have always been more comfortable in the more 'down to Earth' local spots.

    Catfish Charlies Corpus Christi, TX
    Cioppino's San Francisco, CA
    Kreuz Market Lockhart, TX
    Crazy Norwegian Port Orford, OR

    Gwennie's Old Alaska, Anchorage, AK

    El Charro CafĂ©  Tucson, AZ
         I do strive to occasionally post some of my own meals, showing the ability to still enjoy the best of dining even on the road in the RV. 
    Moroccan Braised Chicken
    Auspit Cook's Ham
    Our grandson, Brock, enjoying Reindeer Casserole
    Fresh crab feast ala RV
          I especially loved stopping for a week moochdocking with my sister in Salem, OR and the chance to do a bit of cooking with her.  Her oldest son, Andrew (a local microbrewer) is also becoming the accomplished 'Kitchen Meister' as well.  His brew is quite famous throughout the region.

           This winter has been one long shakedown cruise for all of us, including the new furbabies, Roux the Repuplican and Bones the Democat.  They were both less than 6 months old when we left home.  We also have given our new RV quite the workout, traveling another 15,000 miles this trip.  I have tried to post relevant as well as the more important info (websites and URLs) about the regions we visited, where we stayed, the costs, and most importantly the new boondocking spots we discovered along the way.   This is in the hope that some of what I write will help those on the road or about to be.  This can also include maintenance cures, costs, and tips.  Barb's rooftop leak patch job has worked out very well!  I started out reading the MANY blogs online from other travelers and used much of the information they have provided myself.  I designed my approach to solar, battery storage, water recycling, food preservation, and the many other ways to cut a few $$$ along the way from what I have read.  There are some pretty smart folks out there.  I am just lucky enough to learn from them.  I have to say that I am very happy with the comments and responses I have received regarding my posts.  I have too learned as much from them as anything I have written myself at times.  My hope is to pass on much of what I have learned in an attempt to help others on their own journeys. 
    COMPLETE solar setup........San Felipe, Baja, Mexico
           It is always good to get back home as well, spending our summers on our farm in NW Michigan.  It is especially beautiful there during the summers when there is no snow to contend with!  It gives us time to tend to the yard and gardens as well as plant some fresh vegees for next winter's adventure.  Inevitably there are also some repairs to tend to as winters are fairly harsh on the homestead when there is no one home.  We always make time for a trip or two to the Upper Peninsula for some summer camping fun with the furbabies.   Retirement has been very good to Barb and I.  I have been able to spend more time reacquainting myself with photography and have even published my first photo essay book last summer.  I am already working on my next project.  It isn't a cheap proposition when starting out paying to publish your own material.  Barb has enjoyed reading, visiting grandchildren and family, rockhounding, geocaching, and partying in both Mexico and Mardi Gras (yeah, I kept her clothed and out of jail in New Orleans). 
    Krewe of Selene Mardi Gras Parade
          This post coincides with our eventual and inevitable arrival home, but we are already in the process of planning where we want to go this coming winter.  We are committed to staying mostly to the south, hunting, fishing, saving a few $$$, and stocking up on our favorite foods.  2017's forecast includes another trip to Alaska.  If you've been to the 49th state you'll certainly understand sometimes once isn't enough.  I plan to continue on my current novice journalistic path, sharing some of the best life has to offer both on the road and, food, recreation, and just plain Joie de Vivre! 

    "Focus on the journey, not the destination.  Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it." 
                                                                      Greg Anderson

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