Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Western RV Trip Days 10 – Spearfish Canyon, Lead, and Deadwood

On Wednesday, we drove up Spearfish Canyon and while it could be impressive, the lack of water in the creek and the smoky haze made it less so – the smoke moved back in after our first two days.  Angel Falls was just a trickle but there were a few dammed areas providing fishing holes.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Western RV Trip Day 9 Devil’s Tower & Steak

We started Tuesday off the with a BLT plus egg using Benton’s bacon and, as always, the sandwich was delicious – I was too busy eating to take a picture but since we fried up three pounds of bacon, I may get another chance.

After breakfast we headed out on our day trip starting with a drive though Bell Fourche (bel foosh) – not much there for us tourists.  We headed west across MT-34/WY-24 to Devil’s Tower National Monument.  These shots are from the east side as we approached - the group shot is to send into the back home newspaper for a series they are doing..

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Western RV Trip Days 7- 8 Bike Rides, Deadwood, & Sturgis

Our neighbors from home are bike riders and brought theirs on this trip so they could ride the 109 mile long Mickelson Trail which is the old roadbed for the Burlington Northern railroad that ran from Edgemont to Deadwood, SD.  After talking with a local, they decided to begin at the Dumont trail head and ride to Deadwood, which is mostly downhill.  Here they are ready to mount up for this 16 mile leg.

After dropping them off at the trail head, I returned to the RV, picked up the girls, and we headed for Deadwood (about 8 miles) for some exploring.  We started on the lower end of town which was the rough area (or likely rougher area) back in the day and called the Badlands. 

The first stop was the Wild Bill Bar  which was said to be located on the same site as the place in which Wild Bill was killed - the saloon number 10 later reopened further up town after a fire.   

I have been watching the HBO series Deadwood and it had me wanting to explore more of the places in town than we had during two previous quick visits.  This is a shot up the street.

After a few other stops in town, Pat and Steve showed up from their ride and on the advice of a local, we headed  just down the street to the Eagle Bar for lunch.  Their menu is mostly burgers with a couple of other items – Steve and I had a burger, my girls split a huge codfish sandwich and Pat L had a grilled cheese.  My meal and a group shot thanks to a nice lady.

While it turned out to have some low ratings on Trip Advisor, my garlic-something-or-other burger was great.  This half pound burger was cooked over charcoal or open flame and it was all a mere mortal could eat.  And to make the meal even better, their hand cut fries were some of the best I’ve eaten.  While I would never order a fish in serious red meat country, Bev said their sandwich was good.

After lunch, the bikers decided to tackle some more of the trail and they rode the section from Dumont to Mystic (another 18 miles) where we picked them up a little late after getting lost on the back country gravel roads.

Monday was Sturgis day and so it consisted of a little shopping and a good lunch.  Since we were a month past the Sturgis Rally date, many of the businesses had shut down for the season, but there were still a few clothes shops open – Bev bought me a couple of shirts.  

For comparison, this is a shot from rally week.

Not many cars and only a couple of motorcycles on the street this day but they are getting ready for their next event.

Will someone please tell me what is a motorcyle attorney.

For lunch, the Knuckle Saloon was recommended by a local and it turned out to be a good one.  Like several other places, the Knuckle is huge and a full city block long.  They are known for their beef tips and I had a bowl of salad with fried tips and they were very good.

After lunch we headed to Spearfish for a visit to The Butcher Shop to check out their steaks and sausages and ended up buying a couple of nice steaks and some summer sausage.  I'm pretty sure all of their beef comes from local herds.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them and blue words are links.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


9/10 - 9/11/17 Event Date

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Let’s Head West Again – RV Trip Days 4-6

After our rest day in Platte City, MO (I can only drive two days in a row without getting tired and ornery) we headed further north and a little west to Salem, SD on day four.  It was another 375 mile drive mostly north on I-29 from Platte City, MO to Sioux Falls, SD then about 35 miles west on I-90 to our campground near Salem, SD.  I-29 in MO was okay but IA had some new concrete sections and some really bad sections, especially just north of Council Bluffs.  As always the SD roads were good.

We spent the night at Camp America Campground and after setting up realized we had been there before (in 2013), but I did not remember it when I was planning this trip – likely because we were having some new coach issues the last time.  It is a nice little place and obviously set up for overnight travelers as it is in the middle of nowhere.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Let’s Head West Again – RV Trip Days 1- 3

After a 10 day delay due to a tow car issue, we finally got all loaded up and began our Western trip.  The house sitter is all settled in to look after things and we think we have everything we need for a successful trip.

We were planning to make a leisurely 15 day drive through WI, MN, & ND to arrive at our primary location in the South Dakota Black Hills but with reservations already made there and plans to meet up with another couple, we had to take the more direct route and make the trip in 5 days (four driving and one rest).

For our first day, we drove 375 miles from home to Cape Girardeau, IL where we stayed at Cape Camping & RV Park located a little northwest of downtown and near I-55.  

Friday, August 25, 2017

RV Trip to Dale Hollow Lake

As I’ve traveled back and forth on I-40, I’ve noticed the signs for Dale Hollow Lake many times, but other than it was north, I knew nothing about it.  So when our FMCA chapter, planned a rally for the Corp Of Engineers campground just below the dam, I knew we had to go if we could fit into the campground.  After a little research about the sites, we quickly made our reservations.

Dale Hollow is an impoundment of the Obey River (of which I had never heard) and is shared between TN & KY.  The dam is located in Clay County, TN very near the county seat of Celina and the river below the dam is only 7 miles long before it dumps into the Cumberland River.  The lake is north and a little east of Cookeville, TN.

The dam was completed by the Army Corp of Engineers in 1943 for power and flood control at a cost of $28 million - I can't imagine what it would be today since we have military planes that cost about a billion for one plane.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Great Place To Watch The Eclipse

Our friend Russ spends the summers living on his 43’ cruiser that he keeps docked at a nearby marina and when he invited us to join him and his daughter to view the eclipse from the middle of the lake, we jumped at the chance.

Here we are boarding Miss Fit and departing the marina.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The 2017 Eclipse

Wow, what an event this is becoming.  People are driving long distances and filling up hotels and campgrounds to be in the “Totality Zone" - perhaps the most travel ever for a 2+ minute event. Twenty six towns and areas in East Tennessee are using it as a reason to have a public event and individuals are using it as a good excuse for a party – like we do the Super Bowl.

For this eclipse, we have the fortune of being about 15 miles off the center line and are well within the 70 mile wide totality path, so all we need now is clear weather, but it will get dark either way.  Our plan is to invite a few friends over and hang-out on either our neighbors dock or take a boat out in the middle of the lake, likely with some pre and post eclipse eats and a few adult beverages on hand.  I need to do some online research for the appropriate food and drink pairings for an eclipse.J

We are at the black spot right of the I-75 shield between Knoxville and Chattanooga.

Fortunately, we are now educated enough to not worry about this being the end of the world or a reason to sacrifice a virgin to please the angry gods, so we can just hope for clear skies, relax, and enjoy this unique event.  And if the skies are cloudy, we can all still enjoy our party-in-the-dark.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


8/18/17 Post Date

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lasagna-Like Baked Fusilli

Bev had purchased a 6 lb box of mixed pasta (she loves Sam’s Club) for us to use while our kids were here in July and we used none of it and with some ricotta cheese that needed to be used, we decided to make a lasagna-like dish using fusilli pasta. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Slow Cooker Asian Short Ribs

I’ve been freezer diving again and discovered a package of boneless short ribs needing to be cooked.  Since I was looking for easy and low mess, I went in search of slow cooker recipes and discovered just what I was looking for: easy, ingredients we had on hand, and tasty sounding.  We rarely cook Asian and I’m not sure why, as we always enjoy it when we do.

The recipe we used was from Damn Delicious and I followed the one below with one exception.

1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
5 pound bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2″ pieces (I used 2# of boneless)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1. In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, beef broth, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and red pepper flakes, if using.
2. Place short ribs into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in soy sauce mixture until well combined.
3. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours (4-5 is better for the meat we had).*
4. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup water. Stir in mixture into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat for an additional 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
5. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and sesame seeds, if desired.

*To test for doneness, pull on a bone as it should slide out freely

I used only two pounds of meat as that is what I had and it made three good servings, but there was enough sauce for another pound of meat and 4-5 servings.

We all thought it was good but not blow-you-away and I thought it was very good for the effort I had to put into it.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


8/04/17 Meal Date

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Salmon Burgers

Bev had been wanting some salmon cakes (patties) so we grilled enough fresh salmon for a meal with enough leftover to whip up a batch of cakes the next day.  I found several recipes but when Bev said she wanted a salmon burger on some rye bread that she had, I looked up recipes for the burgers to see if they were the same as the cakes.  I came across one from Mark Bittman and it had several less ingredients than the cakes.

1½ pounds skinless, boneless salmon – See Note
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 shallots, peeled and cut into chunks
½ cup coarse bread crumbs – I used Panko
1 tablespoon capers, drained – I chopped them a little
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil - I used both
 Lemon wedges- we didn’t use
 Tabasco sauce – we didn’t use

1. Cut the salmon into large chunks, and put about a quarter of it into the container of a food processor, along with the mustard. Turn the machine on, and let it run -- stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary — until the mixture becomes pasty.
2. Add the shallots and the remaining salmon, and pulse the machine on and off until the fish is chopped and well combined with the puree. No piece should be larger than a quarter inch or so; be careful not make the mixture too fine.
3. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, and by hand, stir in the bread crumbs, capers and some salt and pepper. Shape into four burgers. (You can cover and refrigerate the burgers for a few hours at this point.)
4. Place the butter or oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, and turn the heat to medium-high.
5. When the butter foam subsides or the oil is hot, cook the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes a side, turning once. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lunch On The Riverboat

Our Tennessee Travelers Chapter of FMCA (motorhome club) recently had a little summer get-together for a lunch cruise aboard the Star Of Knoxville riverboat - a 325 passenger paddle wheeler.  The boat headed downriver from downtown Knoxville for a two hour round trip cruise.  This is the docking area with the boat behind it, then out on the river.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Creamy Feta Dressing

I’ve found that I like virtually no bottled salad dressings as most of them seem have this unusual flavor that I call a “wang” that I don’t care for – since so many have it, I assume it might be a preservative.  We usually keep a bottle around for when we run-out , but otherwise I prefer homemade or semi-homemade dressings.

I really like Greek flavors including Feta Cheese on salads and I have always used a vinaigrette with crumbled cheese.  Unfortunately for my waistline, I also really like creamy dressings, such as Bleu Cheese, so I went in search of a recipe for a creamy Feta and my search led me to this one from

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Limoncello Follow-Up

Back in May, I posted about our first batch of limoncello and commented that the next batch would be made with Everclear but I ended up using 100 proof vodka instead and I made a larger batch using 2.5 liters of the liquor and scaled the other ingredients to get this.

25 lemons
2.5 liters of 100 proof vodka
6 2/3 cup sugar
8 1/3 cups water

I added everything to a gallon jar and let it macerate for 3 weeks then added the sugar water (it took two containers) and let it set another month before bottling (it was delicious).

For our third batch, I used 1.75 liters of vodka and 750ml of Everclear and I look forward to seeing if there are any differences (in about six weeks).  If mine looks like it has less lemon peel than others, that's because it contains all of the liquor. 

Thanks Velva for getting me started with making this.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


5/12/17 Finished Date

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fried Green Tomatoes Ala Roz

I’ve always loved fried green tomatoes and when I was growing up, my family often had them in simple fashion – sliced about ¼“, S&P, dusted with flour, fried in Crisco, eaten as an open faced sandwich on a slice of white bread.  They’ve come a long way since then and are now featured on many restaurant menus as appetizers, side dishes, and sandwiches usually with much more sophisticated coatings than mom’s simple flour.

I’ve tried many versions in restaurants and enjoyed most of them but have never been able to create a satisfactory coating at home so I decided to give Roz’s “The Best Fried Green Tomatoes With Garlic, Bacon, And Buttermilk Sauce a try from her La Bella Vita blog.

I won’t reprint the recipe here but encourage you to stop by her blog for the details and some great photos – you really need to see her shots – then you’ll likely be heading to the store to pick up some green tomatoes.  I borrowed one of her pics to whet your appetite. 

The only change I made to her recipe was in cutting the tomatoes about 1/3.”

Her blog also includes a dipping sauce recipe and a photo of tomatoes stacked with pimento cheese.  Since we had some smoked gouda pimento cheese on hand, I opted to try them both ways.

The tomatoes were delicious without any toppings so I have found my coating recipe and will make this the go-to version.  I deep fried them at 350 degrees but after reading this in Wikipedia – “Shallow frying is preferred, as the tomatoes do not float in the oil, which allows the weight of the tomato to press the cornmeal to the underside of the tomato.  This negates the need for a wash” – I’ll still use Roz’s wash but I’ll try pan frying next time to see which I prefer.

I followed the sauce recipe as written and next time would make two changes – First, I thought the bacon was a little overwhelming so next time I will use half as much and second, the sauce was overly salty, which may have come from the bacon so next time I will mix and let it set a while then salt to taste.  While I enjoyed the pimento cheese stack, I preferred the dipping sauce.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


7/09/17 Meal Date

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pork Chop (Chicken)/ Hash Brown Casserole and French Toast

I had a craving for chicken thighs so I picked up a package during a recent store visit and I had saved this recipe from Coupon Cravings which sounded very good, so I decided to marry them and just substitute chicken for the pork chops.

6 chicken thighs (we used bone-in)
1 T. oil
1 c. sour cream
10¾ oz. can cream of chicken condensed soup
½ c. milk
28-32 oz. pkg. frozen hash browns
1 c. onion chopped
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese

1. Brown the pork chops on both sides in the oil in a pan and drain on paper towels.
2. Combine all other ingredients (hash browns last) and spread in a 9x13 baking dish.
3. Top with browned chicken (mine could have cooked a little longer).

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Visit With Our Kids and Grandkids – Part 4 – Wrap-Up

All-in-all, I think it was a great visit and everyone seemed to have a fine time, some are already looking forward to next year.  From a food standpoint, we had the low country boil, hot dogs & Dutch oven fried potatoes (a Kathy must), Lasagna, Sloppy Joes, scrambled eggs (a Matthew must), pancakes, and French toast casserole.  Here is my hot dog plate – grilled wieners, homemade hot dog sauce, potatoes fried is a large cast iron pot.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Visit With Our Kids and Grandkids – Part 3 – Off-Site

In addition to playing on the lake, the kids did several off-site things while here, beginning with a visit to Bald River Falls in the Cherokee National Forest near Tellico Plains, TN.  Only part of the gang went and they got to see some good water coming over the falls and play in the pool at the bottom.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Visit With Our Kids and Grandkids – Part 2 – Karaoke (Humorous)

Our good friends Carol and Joe are big time Karaoke fans and have a real set up for doing it including some big speakers and hundreds of fully cataloged songs on CD’s.  Since many of our family are singers, we decide it would make for a good activity following the Low Country Boil on the dock and as I found out later several of them were expecting a boring evening.

As is usually the case, folks are reluctant to get up to the mic but since I’m the worst singer in the group and don’t worry about what they think, I went first with brave granddaughter Katelyn.  Here is a shot of the audience with several looking through the song lists.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Visit With Our Kids and Grandkids – Part 1 - Lake and Low County Boil


Our Texas (Roden’s) and Illinois (Doolittle’s) families came in for their annual lake visit and they were joined by two of the Walker (South Carolina) kids and the two older grandkid’s boy friend’s for a total of nine kids ages 10 thru 20 and three adults – had Madison been able to come, all eight of the grands would have been together for the first time in I can’t remember when.  All twelve of them slept here along with Cindy and us so we had the RV and beds full plus several on couches and recliners but they found a way to make it work.

In addition to being with each other, the main purpose of the visit is to play at the lake, especially riding a tube behind the jet ski.  Here are some shots of them in action.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Mt. Airy, NC Rally – Part 3

Thursday was an on-your-own-day and Bev and I decided to make it a wine day as the Yadkin Valley has a blooming winery industry.

We began downtown at a wine shop called Uncorked In Mayberry, which we thought was a tasting room for multiple wineries but it turned out to be a wine shop and bar where you could buy glasses or bottles of wine from several local wineries as well as beer.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mt. Airy, NC Rally – Part 2

Wednesday was Mt Airy day for our rally group where we spent the day downtown seeing the sites and having lunch.  Like many older manufacturing towns, Mt. Airy has become a tourist destination themed around Mayberry and it seems to be prospering with lots of newer places south of town (Walmart, fast food, restaurants, car dealers, etc – most towns seem to have this area).  The historic downtown, basically one street and about four blocks long, also seemed to be doing well and while one place was having a “going out of business” sale, all of the buildings were occupied by a shop or restaurant, such as Barney’s café and Floyd's Barber Shop.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mt. Airy, NC Rally – Part 1

Our chapter of FMCA held a small rally near Mt. Airy, NC and since Bev and I had both wanted to visit there at some point, we couldn’t let the opportunity go by.  As usual, the rally was during the week so nothing was crowded even though it was mid-June.  Mt. Airy is noted for being the home town of Andy Griffith and it has morphed itself into a tourist location centered around the TV town of Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show.

We had a choice of two primary routes to get there – I-40 then I-40 or I-81 then I-77 and since they were about the same distance and I’m not a big fan of the curvy I-40 through the mountains, I opted for the I-81 route knowing I would still have to go over The Blue Ridge on I-77.  Traffic on all three interstates was reasonably heavy as it nearly always is but we had no delays, the road surface was generally good (except for the bridges in VA), and crossing the mountain was uneventful – it is not a steep grade.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Maiden Voyage For New Grill

Bev had bought an eye of round roast and we decided to cook it on the rotisserie for our first cook on the new grill.  She bought it at our local Vonore store which has a real butcher shop and the roast was well trimmed but unfortunately, their beef is all select.  To help with this less tender beef grade, I ran the Jaccard over the entire thing to cut some of the muscle fibers and provide an inlet for the marinade – a couple of shots from the web and a tool every kitchen should have – IMHO.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Finally, A New Grill

Many years ago, we bought the Home Depot version of a Ducane grill, which at the time had a reputation for making pretty high end grills.  Of course some corners were cut on the Home Depot version, which was less than half the cost of the normal Ducane.  We used it for at least 10 years and put new burners in it twice, but it now won’t stay lit and I’m not working on it anymore.

Bev’s view on grills is buy a cheaper one, toss it when it quits working and rusts out, then buy a new one, which is what we have been doing up until now.  But this time, I decided to spend some of the kids inheritance and I got a Weber Summit which is not a real high-end grill but well above our normal.  With the 10 year warranty on most parts, it will hopefully be the last grill we have to buy.

Since I could not find this model at one of our big box stores, I bought it from Amazon for less than the list price and with no shipping cost – I’m one of those online shoppers whose behavior is unfortunately resulting is the closure of many brick and mortar stores.  I had to spend about an hour installing the side shelves and a few more parts to end up with this, including many of my fingerprints.

It has some bells and whistles, such as lighted burner control knobs and a lid-handle mounted light, that I don’t really need but I like that there is a place to store the rotisserie items and the motor is always installed on a flip up mount.  It also has a searing area and a smoker box which will allow some bbqing without using my big smoker.

I have fired it up using a normal propane bottle and now I just need to put it in place on the patio, hook it to our home’s propane system, and commence to cooking.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


6/7/17 Event Date