Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1,076 Miles of Adventure

In the past five days, I've logged 1,076 miles just in quick road trips. This doesn't count all my running around from football practice to work to grocery store to work to football practice (you get the idea).

My long weekend of road trips began with a phone call from Rob on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. asking if I'd drive to Cedarville with him that night. Cedarville is a little over 100 miles from here. I've never been there and I looked forward to a few hours in the car with Rob so we headed out around 5 p.m. The drive was beautiful and the fairgrounds were well-maintained, quaint, and quite pretty. I found this building interesting in a "I bet it's haunted" kind of way.

Desert Rose Casino, Alturas CA
 A warning about Cedarville and its neighboring town of Alturas: If you wait until 9 p.m. to search for dinner, you'll get a romantic evening of burgers, fries, and Jersey Shore while the sound of slot machines serenade you in the background. You see, everything closes at 9 p.m. and your choice for dinner will be either A) a burger from the Casino or B) cheetos and jerky from the gas station. We ventured out to the Desert Rose Casino. After traveling down a dirt road we arrived at a triple wide trailer. The "cafe" was open and consisted of a closet that had been converted to a kitchen with one of those half-doors through which you order your burgers. Tables are in the bar where Jersey Shore has captured the attention of the only other occupant in the bar. While the atmosphere wasn't five star, the burger was decent, the food was made to order, and the service was friendly (and the drinks in the bar were cheap!).

Welcome to Christmas Valley!
 On Thursday, Rob had to "repay" the favor and travel with me to Christmas Valley, Oregon (roughly 124 miles one way). We were dropping my kids off with my sister for a camping trip. Christmas Valley is remote - it's often referred to as the Oregon Outback and I've heard the population is around 150. I drive through Christmas Valley often and I never, ever think of Christmas! The roads in town are aptly named Jingle Bell Lane, Candy Cane Street, or Elf Way. You can shop at Santa's Hardware and Santa's General Store.

Cowboy Dinner Tree, Silver Lake Oregon

After dropping off the kids, we ventured to the Cowboy Dinner Tree, a restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Reservations are required and portions are generous. This was my favorite part of the trip. Rob ordered the steak and I ordered the chicken. The meal starts with salad (I was pleasantly surprised to have a delicious salad with lots of different veggies instead of just iceberg lettuce). Your pink lemonade is served in a quart size canning jar. The silverware and plates do not match. For the second course, we were served the best beans I've ever eaten with the best homemade dinner rolls ever (don't tell her but they put my grandma's to shame). You then receive your entree. Rob's steak was 32 oz and served with a baked potato. My plate arrived with a WHOLE roasted chicken and a baked potato. They follow it up with apple crisp for dessert. Simply delicious. And we have enough leftovers to last a week. I definitely recommend it if you're in the area and looking for something fun and different to do.
Cowboy Dinner Tree Dining Room

On Friday I was in charge of our 8th Annual Hula-Palooza Putting Challenge, a fun team-building event that we put on each year for our members.

Rob and his son Zach serve bbq to the cyclists.
Which brings me to Saturday and my next road trip. I offered to help Rob with a catering job he had up near Crater Lake, actually at Fort Klamath. It was the day of the big Crater Lake Century Ride - a bike ride that brought in over 300 cyclists from around the world. We fed the cyclists, their families, and the volunteers. It was fun to talk to people from Germany, Iowa, Illinois and many other places. We served food from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Rob does catering for a local barbecue place - ribs, pork, chicken, and beef - delish. For this event, he had to offer a vegetarian option and so he smoked tofu and made a quinoa salad. The smoked tofu was surprisingly delicious and the quinoa salad is going to become a staple in my household - so refreshing! Crater Lake is breathtaking and I can imagine the bike ride was beautiful - luckily I don't have to imagine because my friend Brian took photos at the event. Just look at the beautiful ride the cyclists had!

On Sunday, I got up and headed to Burns, Oregon to pick up my boys. They had spent the weekend camping with Aunt Tara and the grandkids. Burns is about 240 miles one way. I get to travel back through Christmas Valley. It's a beautiful drive the first time you do it but I've now been through it 10 times a year for the past seven years. About 100 miles from Burns, you lose most radio stations and your only option will be talk radio (which I happen to enjoy sometimes) or Retro Country (Baby's got her blue jeans on). I chose Retro Country, rolled down the windows, and sang my little heart out while remembering dancing with my dad.

We took some time to visit my mom at the airport. She drives fuel truck for the helicopters on wildfires. Here are a few photos:

The Grandkids in front of Grandma's truck

The helicopter landing (with the fire in the background)

 On the way back home, we traveled across the Klamath Marsh at sunset and it was the most beautiful I've ever seen it. I stopped to take this photo:

As we came across the last part of the marsh, Marcus (my oldest) asked if he could take a photo. He captured this image (good eye kid!):

I enjoyed my crazy beautiful hectic weekend but I'm so glad to be home!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Perfect Sunday

Sundays have always been one of my favorite days of the week. Sundays done right always feel like love. If I took a minute to describe the perfect Sunday, you'd hear the words family and home repeated often. I'd describe a dining room full of people I love, their smiling faces anticipating the delicious, mouth-watering home cooked meal spread out on the table before them. The table would be set with my colorful Fiesta dishes. The food would be placed on platters, in nice bowls, and serving dishes rather than the pots and pans. It'd be loud from conversation and laughter and you'd hear "pass me the mashed potatoes" or "does anyone want this last piece of bread?"

I blame my dad. My dad loves to cook and entertain and he loves big Sunday family dinners. I don't remember that growing up but I do remember it while I was in college. Sometimes it was the only real meal I ate all week. After spending my money on parties, I'd eat ramen noodles all week long. Or the manager at the Burger King would make me a "veggie whopper" for only 25 cents. . . it was everything on a whopper except the patty. Bun, mayo, mustard, ketchup, onion, tomato lettuce sandwich - and I wonder where my weight gain came from!

This past Sunday was darn near perfect! My dining room was filled with the sounds of people talking, laughing, and sharing their week. The table was loaded with homemade lasagna, salad, and garlic bread. The tink of silverware and glasses mingled amongst the rest of the sounds. "Pass me the bread, please." "Does anyone want this last piece?"

It was the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend full of things I love. Here are a few photos from my weekend. . .

My youngest son Nate and I went to the local farmer's market and picked up tomatoes, green beans, and lemon cucumbers. Yum!

There is nothing like a tomato grown locally in a garden. The ones in the grocery store just aren't the same. I cut up 6 of these tomatoes and added 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, plus salt and pepper to taste. I had about 1 tbsp of sundried tomatoes in olive oil that I added to the mix. It made a delicious bruschetta that I added to some pasta for the best pasta salad I've had in a while.

And these lemon cucumbers are one of my favorite garden treats. Sprinkled with a little salt and pepper and it's delicious and refreshing. Of course, cucumbers are wonderful paired with the fresh tomatoes too, add a little feta cheese and yum!!

I also bought some fresh peaches with the thought of making fresh peach cobbler. I got the peaches home, bit into one, and decided they were too yummy fresh to put into a cobbler.

So I sliced up these peaches and added them to watermelon and grapes for a fresh fruit salad.

I had my heart set on peach cobbler though so I called my dad for his super-easy, best-ever recipe which I'll share with you now.

Papa Bill's Easy, Super Yummy Peach Cobbler

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Take an 8x8 baking pan and put a 1/4 cup of melted butter in the pan.

Mix together 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 cup of flour, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a tsp of baking powder, and 1 cup milk. Pour this mixture into the pan with the butter.

Open one can of sliced canned peaches. Pour the peaches (including the syrup) on top of the batter in the pan. Do not stir. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Trust me when I say it's delicious and you should try it.

I also took Nate to get his own library card. He's my kid that shares my love for reading. We spent a good 45 minutes picking out his library books. We ended up with Diary of a Wimpy Kid and a couple of Roald Dahl's books. I tried to get him to choose BFG which was one of my favorites growing up but he set his eyes on a series with dragons and there was no turning back.

We went back to the house that afternoon and spent an hour on the couches reading next to eachother. I'm finishing up The Big Burn and he started Dragonblood.

All in all it was a great weekend.

Friday, August 5, 2011


"Oh God, thank you Mom. I'm so glad you found that shirt," Nate exclaimed.

Wow, my seven year old is very excited over this t-shirt.

"Dad said I have to bring it back or I'll be in trouble," he says.

Say what???

"Dad says he bought it and so it's his and it has to stay at his house," he says matter-of-factly.

Um, again, say what???

In the latest move of selfishness and stupidity, the boys' things must be marked or somehow identified as to which parent purchased them.

The rule apparently is: If Dad bought it, it's not allowed at mom's.

Now I understand this for certain items. Like a PS3 or a WII or an Xbox. I'll even agree with the bikes and those sort of items. But clothes??

So that begs me to ask what the proper protocol is for swapping the kids. Under his way of thinking, it would work like this:

Meet at designated location. The parent picking up the child will have a set of clothing purchased by them. The child can go into a private place, change into the clothing (returning the other set of clothing to the parent who purchased them) and then the child can go with the designated parent in the appropriate (alas purchased by said parent) clothing. Oh, and don't forget, this rule pertains to shoes as well.

And I have to ask, what about the clothing we purchased together? I'm assuming those should be marked somehow so we know those are the ones that can go back and forth.

And do underwear and socks count or are those the exception to this new rule? It might be embarassing for the oldest in the gym locker room to have underwear that say Mom or Dad written in black sharpie.

Are watches and jewelry and accessories part of this deal?

Oh, and you want two backpacks for school? So when you pick up the boys, we'll transfer everything out of the backpack I purchased into your backpack and switch back when we swap kids. So what about their luggage? Do I pack their clothes in MY luggage and then at the pick-up/drop off location we switch into YOUR luggage?

I want to ask my ex if this rule serves any purpose. I'd like him to take a step back and ask if this is really in the best interest of the kids or if he's just looking for yet one more way to make things difficult.

Absurd, I say. My advice to everyone (including my ex) is that the way to best deal with divorce and a broken home is to love your kids more than you hate your ex.