Sunday, December 17, 2017

Week 16 at Amazon!

For most of y'all following this blog, you can probably guess what that means - this is The Biker's final week at Amazon this year. Wahoo! Oh, and winter has also arrived, as evidenced above. It's definitely time to head south!

This also means it's time to put this blog on a teeny tiny hiatus until the first week of January. 

What are we doing until then? Our current plan is to pack a little bit every day, so we can hit the road next weekend. We will then amble down to Summerdale, Alabama, where we have reservations for a (hopefully warmer!) spot for January and February. At least, that's the plan now. Being from Texas, we know the two things that can't be trusted is the weather - and the weatherman! 

We want to take a quick moment to tackle and hug each and every one of y'all. We really appreciate all the love and encouragement, and hope everyone has an awesome holiday.  Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Staying At Louisville North

We stayed at Louisville North Campground while The Biker worked for Amazon (it's hard to believe, but we are almost done and will be leaving in two weeks!). Amazon paid for our lot, but the daily price is $45. Let's clear up some confusion about this campground. This park was a KOA until 2016, and you may still find some maps and reviews list it as a KOA. The only KOA in the area is now in Sheperdsville (30 minutes south of Louisville). Second, this park is not in Louisville. This campground is in Clarksville. Three small cities, New Albany, Clarksville, and Jeffersonsville sit side by side, and across the river from Louisville. 

Address: 900 Marriot Drive, Clarksville, IN 47129


Dog Friendly: There is a city park next door to the RV park called Colgate Park, and Falls of Ohio State Park is an easy 1.7 mile walk away. There are no unleashed areas in either park.
Motorcycle Friendly: The road surfaces were OK in this park, but there are some pretty uneven surfaces. While all the roads are one way, about 25% of the spots are permanent residents, and they don't seem to pay much attention to the rules!
Cell Service/Wifi: Verizon was 3-4 bars, without a booster. The park has Wifi and it's decent, although expect the signal to slow in the evening when everyone is home. The park used to have cable, but it's our understanding they no longer offer this service.
Amenities: The park has washers and dryers, and bathrooms with showers. It is an older park, but the facilities are clean; and the washers and dryers are decent size. The park also has gas pumps, a small convenience store, and propane.  Tom Stinnett Camper's Inn is next door, and has an RV store.

Getting There: The park is just off Hwy 65. Be very careful putting this park's address in your GPS. There is a low bridge (10 feet clearance) on E Montgomery, just a few feet east of Marriot Drive. You will want to approach this park from Marriot, and avoid E Montgomery!
Know Before You Go: All bridges, except I-64 ,have tolls. If you intend to visit Louisville often, it's a good idea to register with  Spots can be tight and you may be asked to park your car and/or trailer in the field across from the park. The park is both in the flight path of a major airport (and a hub for UPS) and bordered by a train track. The trains frequently brake before going over the nearby bridge, so expect a lot of noise at night. 
Local Stuff: While most people stop here to visit Louisville, there is quite a lot to do in Jeffersonville, which is only a few blocks from the park.  We also highly recommend checking out New Albany and Southern Indiana, and the Big 4 Bridge. There is a Kroger's 2.6 miles away and a Walmart 4 miles away. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Cave Hill Cemetery - Free!

Last week, the Biker got an extra day off for Turkey-day and the weather finally decided to co-operate. (Ok, it was in the 50s, but sunny) He asked me if there was anything I wanted to do, and I immediately said, "Cave Hill Cemetery." He programmed it into the GPS and off we zoomed  - after he pointed out that 'normal' people would probably want to do something related to either the Derby or Bourbon. You know, cuz we're in Louisville.

(clicking on any photo will open it up to full size)
Cave Hill Cemetery was opened in 1848. The City had no plans for a garden-style cemetery, but the designer quickly realized it was the easiest way to work with the old farm's hills and ditches. The cemetery's entrance was built in 1892 and features a bell tower with a 2,000 bell. 
Cave Hill is a very large cemetery. It has 296 acres, five lakes, and a natural spring that comes from its namesake cave. The cemetery also contains 600 species of plants.
This is the Eastin grave - a wife's loving memorial to her husband. Since it was winter and we wanted to get home before dark, we were only able to walk through a few sections. There are many more graves we would have liked to have seen if we had more time; especially Sam's swingBarney Bright's grave and nude sculpture, the Wilder monument, and the Heffner grave
When I went back to look at the photos later, I spotted what might be a white bronze monument in this picture. I wished I'd noticed at the time - I could have checked to see if the monument was hollow or not!
The cemetery contains sixteen miles of winding roads. The vistas and beauty of the place are breathtaking.
There are 195,000 people buried here. The cemetery is still in use, and sees around 500-600 burials a year. There is also a scatter garden by one lake, for those who prefer cremation.
There are angels and birds everywhere, many of them exquisitely carved.
The grounds are beautifully kept, and the cemetery has a system where families can ensure regular upkeep of both the graves and the plants.
Another forest of obelisks, just beyond the Cave Hill National Cemetery, which in the northwest corner. 
There are a few Woodsmen graves at Cave Hill, but this is not one of them. In the background is the Thompson family grave site, marked by a large tree stump monument The family members graves are marked with log-shaped headstones.
An elaborately carved Celtic cross marks the Strater gravesite.
There are many modern sculptures, too,
including favorite pets.
A mother and her young son were feeding the swans and ducks. We couldn't resist snapping a picture of this little guy, waddling around in mid-molt.
This imposing obelisk marks D.C. Parr's grave. His parrot, Pretty Polly, is buried behind his grave.
The cemetery does have several mausoleums, in a rather bewildering range of styles.
I believe this gothic one is the Gheens Masoleum.
One of the most heartbreaking memorials we saw. These three small angels mark the graves of a family's three children.
The cemetery also contains the graves of 200 Confederate soldiers, and a small memorial. As somebody proud to have family members who fought in the Union army, I find myself torn by the controversy. It's all to easy to forget that most of these graves and memorials were paid for by grieving women, who had lost sons, brothers, and husbands. 
Over 5,500 soldiers are buried in the National Cemetery section.
Eleven soldiers of the 32nd Indiana Infantry were the first soldiers interred here. They died in 1861, and were later moved to Cave Hill.
The 32nd Indiana Infantry Monument is the nation's oldest Civil War monument. This is a replica of the original monument, which has been removed for conservation. Because the 32nd were German-Americans, the monument has inscriptions in both English and German.
The cemetery staff is active in not just caring for the cemetery, but making it a place that honors and remembers its dead. One recent project was to find the names of the 200 children buried in this plot and then create a suitable memorial. The statue's base has plaques with the children's names.
I think it's fitting we close this post with Muhammad Ali's grave site. He personally picked the site himself, and asked that it be open to the public and filled with lots of color. The cemetery has honored his request, and added a quote by him, "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room in Heaven." RIP, Ali.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Hope everyone had a wonderful turkey day last week! It's now officially winter in Indiana - even our husky is trying to stay warm! Fortunately, the blower motor came in, and Brian from B&S got it installed just before temperatures started plummeting into the 30s at night.

Since we're all thinking about food...
I tried a new recipe last week, and it was soo goood. It all started with an email recipe (I may subscribe to a 'few' cooking newsletters) for a slow cooker curry with sweet potatoes. What? Two of my favorite things cooked in my other favorite thing - a slow cooker? Sign me up - except the recipe was suspiciously short on ingredients. 

Since I already had turkey breast and sweet potatoes on hand (bought on sale, of course), I went looking for a better recipe and found this: Slow cooker curry chicken & sweet potato. Being a good Texan, I did add cayenne pepper and a handful of diced jalepenos to turn up the heat. Oh and  just between us? I was out of cardamon, so I substituted dill and tarragon. This was delicious, cheap, and easy on the hips. (by the way, most grocery stores do carry coconut milk - just look for the Asian section. The coconut milk can generally be found lurking around the soy sauce and rice noodles )
We also went to the Texas Roadhouse to celebrate my birthday - and found out that Roadhouse in Clarksville, Indiana? Is the original Roadhouse. So, it's really the Hooiser Roadhouse. Since the salmon, ribs, and rolls were excellent as always, I guess we'll just have to let the false advertisement slide. (Do you think the Biker's shirt was a bit apropos for the occasion?)
And more food! Two weeks ago, we walked over to Jeffersonville and tried the Parlour Pizza. I ordered the Veggie (yes, with jalepenos) and the Biker went for the Hawaiian. Both pizzas were very good - and as you can see, they are very generous with their ingredients.  

Not only is the pizza good, but the owners of the Parlour did a fabulous job renovating the 1836 building without losing the building's character. We made sure to take some pizza 'bones' home to Crockett, and he also gives this place an enthusiastic two paws up!
We passed The Fishery last month, on our way to a local grocery store, Rainbow Blossom. We finally found both the time, and some nice riding weather, to zoom back over to Louisville and check it out. We're glad we did.  We both ordered the cod plate, and the pieces of cod were big, hot, and well battered. The potato salad was a little heavy on the mayonnaise, and needed a bit more celery and egg, but the hush puppies were fresh, hot, and had great flavor. We can see why this is a Louisville institution!
Let's not forget dessert! The Pie Kitchen is directly across from Rainbow Blossom, and how could we resist? The Biker choose a caramel-covered chocolate cupcake, and I decided on Lemon Meringue. Both desserts were very good, although I have a minor quibble. The Pie Kitchen strains out the zest for their Lemon Meringue, and I prefer the zest to be left in. This is a very minor quibble, because the Pie Kitchen is one of those rare places that actually piles on as much meringue as they can possibly get away with. (Other bakeries, I'm looking at you and your chintzy ways) I just wish we'd had room to try their home made ice cream. Oh, and in case you're wondering, neither of us have lost any weight this month...

Monday, November 13, 2017

RV Kitchen: Thirty Minute Biscuits!

Let's talk biscuits! 
We're eating a lot of stew and chili to stay warm, and that means biscuits. I just spoke to somebody who confessed her biscuits never, ever turn out right. I shared the secret of great biscuits with her, and I thought I'd share that secret, along with my 30-minute-start-to-finish-never-fail biscuit recipe. And if you're wondering, yes, she now makes great biscuits. 
First, you need to turn on your oven. You absolutely must have a hot oven.  Most recipes call for an oven that is 450 degrees, but I find most ovens run hot and 425 degrees works better.  

Ingredients are super simple. You only need six and one ingredient is water (does water even count as an ingredient?):

 2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of almond/whole milk

Secret One. I strongly recommend using cheap flour for biscuits, instead of a name brand. The cheap flour brand at the grocery store is almost always milled just down the road. (flour will have the location of the mill printed somewhere on the bag). Locally milled flour will be fresher and fluffier, and give you better results. There is a super cheap brand here in Louisville that's milled a few hours away in Tennessee and it's wonderfully light, fresh, and fluffy.
Secret Two. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, then whisk while counting to 60.  We need to introduce air and break up any flour clumps. 

Secret Three. Once the flour is whisked, you will cut in one stick of butter. But more importantly, you need to know why you are cutting in butter. When each little bit of butter melts in the oven, it will create a pocket of air in the biscuit. This is what makes the biscuit flaky, and helps it rise correctly.

There is a lot of ways to cut in butter. Some people use a pastry cutter, and others use a food processor. I'm too lazy to drag out equipment, so I just use two butter knives and keep cutting the flour again and again,until it is the size of peas. Make sure to take a minute once the butter is in teeny, tiny pieces and double-check for any too big bits you might've missed.
Secret Four.  I have no idea why this works, but it does. I learned this from a friend's grandma and it's THE secret to making the best biscuits. Once the butter is cut in, you need to make a volcano. Heap the butter-flour mix into a mountain in your bowl, then make a hole in the top.
Now mix the milk and the water together. Pour about a third of the milk/water into the hole you just made, and mix with a wooden spoon. Keep adding a little bit more milk/water until the batter is just sticky. You will not use all the milk/water, and you don't want to overmix, because that could break down the butter pieces. (You can see how much milk/water I had left over in the above picture)

Using a tablespoon, drop the biscuits onto a cookie sheet (just like you would if you were making drop cookies).  This recipe makes 12 regular biscuits or 16 small biscuits. Cook for 15 minutes until the tops turn golden brown. Eat!

Variation: If you'd rather have garlic cheddar biscuits, just add a 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar, after stirring in the milk.

RV trick: Since there is only two of us, we typically bake 4 to 6 biscuits in the toaster oven, and tuck the rest of the mix into the fridge (we put it in a ziplock baggie to save room in our tiny teeny fridge). It will keep fup to a week - just let the mix warm up a little before cooking the next batch of biscuits.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Fall Colors in Indiana

Notice something different?
We've moved! Yes, it's just another spot in the same park, but we're no longer stuck under a tree. A tree that was dropping all kinds of yucky stuff on the RV. 
Talking about the RV, the blower to the furnace has developed a very annoying squeal. A mobile tech was going to be in the RV park anyway, so he stopped by. The verdict? The blower's engine is dying a slow and noisy death.
 We're currently waiting to have a new one delivered. The temperatures next week will be mostly in the 50s, so we should be OK (we also have a portable electric heater) until the tech can install it.
Meanwhile, the Biker's steadily working six days a week now, so his one day off has turned into our catch-up day. Laundry, groceries, chores - all that boring adult stuff.
The rest of the week, we squeeze in walks around his work schedule. 
 There isn't much time for sightseeing, but that's OK.
 As you can see in these pictures, fall colors here are glorious! Now let's hope the blower motor comes in before the temperatures start to drop any lower!