We drove out to L.A. for Christmas and came back a few days ago.
It was strangely warm on the way out there. Here’s Mike at high elevation in short sleeves!
Next stop was Las Vegas. We stayed at The Rumor Boutique Hotel. It was late December and we might have been the only guests! It looks like it would be a pretty neat place to stay at a busier time of year. It’s not on the strip but it’s right across the street from The Hard Rock Hotel, which has a fun casino.
We met up with my friend Jen and her boyfriend Jason and wandered around the Hard Rock, had dinner, and played some slots. At one point we were surrounded by cameras and realized we were in the middle of the filming of MTV’s The Real World Las Vegas.
We also stopped by The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, home of the show Pawn Stars. None of the pawn stars were there, tho.
On the way back, we went the southern route to avoid snow. There was some snow, but not as much as if we had gone thru Utah and Northern Colorado.
Originally Durango was out because it was going to be too cold. We were thinking we’d have to go all the way around Colorado, down into Arizona and New Mexico. Neither of those options thrilled us since we’ve both been to those places many times. But I took another look at the weather and it had changed. It was actually going to be really nice. I had been to Durango last summer and it seemed very touristy then. But Mike had never been and so many people like it I figured we’d give it another chance. Plus the scenery is supposed to be awesome this time of year. So we headed out in the early evening.
The scenery to get there was pretty and since it was starting to get dark we stopped in Monticello UT in the one campground they have which is basically someones front yard. LOL. We weren’t sure what to make of it but we stayed anyway and when we woke up in the morning and looked around it was really pretty! The people were very nice, too.
They try to be pretty healthy over at Carver’s, even their ketchup is HFCS free.
The decor was really neat. Exposed brick walls, high beamed ceilings, but still very cozy with antiques and comfy chairs.
We just had their baked goods but they are also a full service French restaurant and wine bar. Next time we’ll try those!Jean Pierre Bakery, Durango, CO
Anyhow, after the bike ride, the wandering, the lunch, and the beer tasting, and the sweets, we were pretty tired so we went back to the RV for the night.
Cookie Puss seemed to like the RV enough when it was stopped.
PJ and his daily meds.
The next day we got up early and biked over to Oscar’s Cafe for breakfast.
I had some scrambled eggs and hash browns, Mike had the corn beef hash and eggs and we shared the French toast. The hash browns were heavily seasoned which I didn’t care for. Hash browns should be good all by themselves! Mike liked his tho. The French toast. OMG. Soooooooo good. Next time I’ll get an order all to myself….:)
After that gluttony we needed a LONG bike ride. We went the other direction on the path than we did the day before.
Then Mike wanted to go fishing so we found a good spot.
After all that activity we were ready for another snack at The Steaming Bean. Their website is pretty lame. The place itself was actually really cute.
Since we’ve become sort of obsessed with hot springs after that great experience at Yampahin Glenwood Springs, we’ve been searching out hot springs in different places. We found a “famous” one in Durango and seeing as how Durango is sort of an upscale resort area, we decided to go. We don’t have any pictures because it was a little bit creepy. The pictures on the website only kind of look like the real place and there are NO pictures of the one hot pool, probably for good reason. They say it’s clean and we didn’t develop any strange diseases but it really doesn’t look that great. It was oddly relaxing, tho and we had fun whispering mockery to each other (“How many of these people do you think are sex offenders?” “How many people are in here?” That kind of thing. ). Anyhow, we probably won’t be going back. It was expensive for what it was, the locker rooms were no good, and there was only one hot pool.
After that we went back to the RV and got ready to go to dinner at Ken and Sue’s. There were other places that were more exciting to me, but they were all closed- it was Sunday night. Ken and Sue’s got great reviews, tho, and it was really good.
We wanted to save room for dessert but were unable to. They supposedly have a fantastic chocolate souffle. It was a really good place but you could tell locals don’t ever go there. I’m sure locals don’t go anywhere near the historic district and next time I’d like to find out where they DO go.
We sort of wanted to go up to Yellowstone but it seemed pretty far and a lot of driving for the time we had. It also was going to be pretty cold. In fact, a lot of this area was going to be cold.
We were unaware that when it gets to 32 degrees you’re not supposed to use the water or waste in an RV or the tanks could freeze. The RV people are very severe about this — of course they didn’t mention anything about this on the website or when I made the reservations … for Colorado … in October. There’s really no point to having an RV if you can’t use the sinks or toilet.
So we constantly looked at the weather on our phones and tried to skirt around any really cold spots.
At first Telluride and Durango were out because it was going to be raining and freezing. So we headed north and west. Our first stop was Glenwood Springs, CO. We got in really late and didn’t feel like fussing with a campground so we stayed overnight in a Walmart parking lot with three or four other RVers. Classy. Since we had no electricity and no heater, we both woke up at like 7:00 freezing to death! So we started the car and turned on the regular heat, drove to McDonald’s and had coffee and Egg McMuffins to warm up.
I had remembered that Glenwood Springs is an oldey timey spa town from Victorian times. They have these vapor caves there that the Indians used to use when they were up in that area.
We figured since the caves were heated naturally with 125 degree water from underground springs that we could probably get warm that way. It was reallly awesome. Like a steam sauna but in a cave. There were only a few other people there so we had a whole “room” to ourselves. One guy was sitting in a yoga pose in one of the caves. I guess he was meditating. You go down there for 10 minutes at a time, and upstairs to the deck or solarium and drink water in between. It really wasn’t that cold by then because in between we hung out on the deck.
After the caves we drove an hour or so to Rifle, CO. We were still pretty much at a loss for what to do next. We had been camping at Rifle Gap before but I still wanted to go to Rifle Falls, which is way nicer.
We stopped and had some breakfast at the Base Camp Cafe then went to the visitors center.
The Colorado river runs right thru that area, so Mike did some fishing.
After the fishing we still didn’t have a clue about where to go so we went to that campground I had wanted to go to before. It’s right near some cool waterfalls and a rushing creek. The good thing about this time of year is that nothing is booked and you don’t need reservations. In summer that campground books months in advance.
The next morning Mike went out and took some more pictures while I sat by the fire and had some coffee.
I made some sauteed chicken, some really good pan-roasted potatoes, and a green salad for Mike to take to work the other day. He likes to keep all his food separate but I like mine all mixed up. So I turned it all into a salad and added some avocado and a mustardy vinaigrette.
The chicken was just sauteed in a cast-iron pan with some butter.
The potatoes were adapted (what else is new!?) from a great book that I highly recommend called Cucina Fresca. I’ve had it for years and it’s all sloppy from being used so much! I think the link above leads to a new version, the one I have is out of print.
Anyhow, the potatoes (the way I made them):
- 4 medium yellow potatoes
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 3 sage leaves, minced
- sea salt to taste
- pepper to taste
Cut the potatoes into 1 inch pieces. Saute the garlic in the olive oil for a couple minutes. Add the potatoes to the pan and stir them to coat them in the oil. Add the sage, salt and pepper then cover the pan. Turn the heat to low and let them cook, tossing them from time to time until they’re tender. The book said 15 minutes but it took mine more like 20-25. You should start checking them after about 15 minutes. Once they’re tender, take the lid off the pan, increase the heat to high and cook them till they get a little crusty and crispy.
The salad dressing was just olive oil, white wine vinegar and mustard. Everyone likes the proportions of salad dressing different so just do it however you like it.
Toss it all together (don’t forget the avocado if you have it) and yummy!
I’m still getting lots of tomatoes and basil from my little garden. Check out that weird-shaped tomato down in the lower left corner!
To make bruschetta you just chop up tomatoes, basil, and garlic. You can add a little olive oil if you want to. Then you take some nice bread, put a little olive oil on it and put the bruschetta mixture on top. Then cook it all in the oven or broiler till it’s nice and hot and the bread is toasty. I usually use the oven instead of the broiler because the broiler scares me a little.
I also made a nice checca to put over pasta with my tomatoes and basil.
It’s similar to the bruschetta topping except that you cook it a little . I’ve always cooked it, but I come to find out that real checca is not cooked. Oh well, I always cook it. Basically heat some olive oil in a skillet, add some tomatoes and some garlic and cook it till it’s the consistency you want, then add some basil.
I served it on top of extra-long spaghetti and topped with parmesan!
I make pizza so often now I can’t even remember what this was. Looks like just olive oil, mozzarella and parmesan. One of these days I’ll make a post just about how I make pizzas.
We’ve had a couple of Italian cream sodas lately so I thought I’d try to make them at home. It’s easy. Just a little bit of flavored syrup (We use Torani), some sparkling water, then topped with half and half. It’s really good!
When Mike came home from having his spine surgery, his throat was really sore from the breathing tube and all the jostling around of the vocal cords, etc., so I made him some easy-to-swallow stuff, including chocolate peanut butter milkshakes. Mmmmmm.
Ok, I didn’t make this ice cream but I thought it was pretty so I took a picture of it.