A bunch of misc. pics

Road Trip!

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!

Colorado Rockies December 2010

Colorado Rockies December 2010

PJ on the road again.

PJ on the road again.

Keep your paws off my Starbucks!

Keep your paws off my Starbucks!

Part of the time they both felt the need to ride up front on the floor in front of me.

Part of the time they both felt the need to ride up front on the floor in front of me.

But most of the time they just rode in back.

But most of the time they just rode in back.

Cool sign from a defunct liquor store in Green River, Utah.

Cool sign from a defunct liquor store in Green River, Utah.

Is this really the Green River Fire Department's ambulance?

Is this really the Green River Fire Department's ambulance?

I guess this was once a sign, reused as siding. Cool!

I guess this was once a sign, reused as siding. Cool!

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.

The Rumor Boutique Hotel mascot, Las Vegas.
The Rumor Boutique Hotel mascot, Las Vegas.
Our suite at Rumor Hotel, Las Vegas. Very trency dark walls and black and white furniture.

Our suite at Rumor Hotel, Las Vegas. Very trendy dark walls and black and white furniture.

In room soaking tub at Rumor Hotel, Las Vegas

In-room soaking tub at Rumor Hotel, Las Vegas

The swanky pool area at Rumor Boutique Resort Hotel in Las Vegas.

The swanky pool area at Rumor Boutique Resort Hotel in Las Vegas.

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.

Jen and her pancakes at Mr. Lucky's inside the Hard Rock Hotel.
Jen and her pancakes at Mr. Lucky’s inside the Hard Rock Hotel.
I had the hot turkey sandwich and it was delish.

I had the hot turkey sandwich and it was delish.

Mike had the French Dip which he enjoyed.

Mike had the French Dip, which he enjoyed.

Jason, Jen, and me at Mr. Lucky's in The Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas.

Jason, Jen, and me at Mr. Lucky's in The Hard Rock Hotel, 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.

Gold and Silver Pawn Shop from the TV show Pawn Stars
Gold and Silver Pawn Shop from the TV show Pawn Stars

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.

Snow drift in Williams Arizona
Snow drift in Williams Arizona
A cafe in Albuquerque, New Mexico

A cafe in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Cookie Puss is sometimes scared in hotel rooms and hides in the tub.

Cookie Puss is sometimes scared in hotel rooms and hides in the tub.

Cookie Puss, we can still see you.

Cookie Puss, we can still see you.

Later Cookie Puss was chillin' on the chair.

Later Cookie Puss was chillin' on the chair.

While PJ was trying to find a way out.

While PJ was trying to find a way out.

I just like this picture of Cookie Puss.

I just like this picture of Cookie Puss.

Road trip: Monticello, Utah and Durango, Colorado

After our hike in Arches and our lack of desire to stay in Moab anymore, we had to figure out where to move on.

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.

A low fog hung over the campground in the morning making it really pretty. Monticello, Utah.

A low fog hung over the campground in the morning making it really pretty. Monticello, Utah.

Our campground was on the owners' farm/ranch in Monticello, Utah.

Our campground was on the owners' farm/ranch in Monticello, Utah.

Since it was night when we arrived and the town only has one restaurant in the first place, we had one of our swanky RV dinners. Then did some stuff online (almost all campgrounds for RVs have wi-fi now).
An RV meal of black beans with salsa, rice, and salad.

An RV meal of black beans with salsa, rice, and salad.

A delicious Tampranillo I brought with me that I got at Vintages last week when wine tasting.

A delicious Tampranillo I brought with me that I got at Vintages last week when wine tasting.

Mike had some yummy maple beer from TommyKnocker Brewery in Idaho Springs, CO

Mike had some yummy maple beer from TommyKnocker Brewery in Idaho Springs, CO

You can't escape the internet.

You can't escape the internet.

In the morning we made our way to Durango, got a campsite just a few blocks from town and biked into town. Cottonwood Camper Park is just a few blocks from town. There are some iffy reviews on the internet about it but it’s mostly people complaining that it’s not scenic. DUH. It’s DOWNTOWN. It was perfect for us (and frankly, plenty scenic, there’s a creek that runs thru it and it’s like 1/4 mile to the bike path and the Animas River). Also, the people who run it are exceptionally nice. Highly recommended.
Cottonwood Camper Park, downtown Durango, CO

Cottonwood Camper Park, downtown Durango, CO

There’s a nice long bike path along the Animas River right downtown in the historic section. We took a little ride along the path then cut up and over to the historic district where all the shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants are.
A bike ride along The Animas River, downtown Durango, CO

A bike ride along The Animas River, downtown Durango, CO

Bike ride along The Animas River, downtown Durango, CO

Bike ride along The Animas River, downtown Durango, CO

Historic downtown Durango, CO

Historic downtown Durango, CO

Historic downtown Durango, CO

Historic downtown Durango, CO

Durango is much nicer in the fall than in the summer. Not as crowded and the leaves are all yellow and orange and up against a backdrop of snowy peaks. It’s still pretty touristy with tee shirt shops, etc. But they also have some good restaurants.
First we stopped into a bar that was supposed to have good food. But the menu wasn’t all that appealing to me- I wanted a cheeseburger and they didn’t have them there. Plus I was tired and getting cranky. So Mike had a beer and I had a cup of coffee. In a bar. LOL. We felt much more energetic after that so we moved on.
Next we went to a local brewpub- Carver Brewing Company– and tasted some beers and had some lunch. I had a really good buffalo burger and Mike had an awesome steak sandwich with peppers and onions and stuff. Sounds pretty basic but it was really delicious.
Sampling all the beers at Carver's in Durango, CO

Sampling all the beers at Carver's in Durango, CO

Carver Brewing Company, Durango, CO

Carver Brewing Company, Durango, CO

Buffalo burger from Carver Brewing Company, Durango, CO.

Buffalo burger from Carver Brewing Company, Durango, CO.

Southwest Steak Sandwich, Carver Brewing Company, Durango, CO

Southwest Steak Sandwich, Carver Brewing Company, Durango, CO

 They try to be pretty healthy over at Carver’s, even their ketchup is HFCS free.

Hunt's Ketchup no longer uses high fructose corn syrup.

Hunt's Ketchup no longer uses high fructose corn syrup.

After lunch and wandering around in all the shops, we stopped by a French bakery and I had  a latte and the best almond croissant I’ve had in a long time. It was late afternoon and the croissants were all “buy one, get one free”. Mike had a glass of milk (!?) and a chocolate croissant.
Almond croissant and latte at Jean Pierre Bakery, Durango, CO

Almond croissant and latte at Jean Pierre Bakery, Durango, CO

Jean Pierre Bakery and Restaurant, Durango, CO

Jean Pierre Bakery and Restaurant, Durango, CO

One of the pastry cases at Jean Pierre Bakery, Durango, CO

One of the pastry cases at Jean Pierre Bakery, Durango, CO

The decor was really neat. Exposed brick walls, high beamed ceilings, but still very cozy with antiques and comfy chairs.

I want to live inside Jean Pierre's bakery space. Durango, CO

I want to live inside Jean Pierre's bakery space. Durango, CO

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

One of the shops we looked at sold these boots. I probably need to have them. Or these. Or these.

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.

Dashboard Kitty

Dashboard Kitty

Looking for a way out?

Looking for a way out?

PJ and his daily meds.

PJ is a good traveler.

PJ is a good traveler.

The next day we got up early and biked over to Oscar’s Cafe for breakfast.

Oscar's Cafe, Durango, CO

Oscar's Cafe, Durango, CO

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….:)

Scrambled eggs and has browns at Oscar's Cafe, Durango, CO

Scrambled eggs and has browns at Oscar's Cafe, Durango, CO

Corn beef hash and eggs at Oscar's Cafe, Durango, CO

Corn beef hash and eggs at Oscar's Cafe, Durango, CO

Deep fried French toast at Oscar's Cafe, Durango, CO

Deep fried French toast at Oscar's Cafe, Durango, CO

After that gluttony we needed a LONG bike ride. We went the other direction on the path than we did the day before.

Bike riding on the path by the Animas River, Durango, CO

Bike riding on the path by the Animas River, Durango, CO

Then Mike wanted to go fishing so we found a good spot.

PJ helped Mike tie his line.

PJ helped Mike tie his line.

Fishing on the Animas River, Durango, CO

Fishing on the Animas River, Durango, CO

The historic Silverton Durango Railway goes right by here, on that ridge above the river

The historic Silverton Durango Railway goes right by here, on that ridge above the river

I sat on a rock and drank tea while Mike fished.

I sat on a rock and drank tea while Mike fished.

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.

The Steaming Bean, Durango, CO

The Steaming Bean, Durango, CO

The Steaming Bean, Durango, CO

The Steaming Bean, Durango, CO

A delicious latte from The Steaming Bean, Durango, CO

A delicious latte from The Steaming Bean, Durango, CO

A slice of organic apple pie made by a local pie lady.

A slice of organic apple pie made by a local pie lady.

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.

Really good bread basket at Ken and Sue's, Durango, CO

Really good bread basket at Ken and Sue's, Durango, CO

Pinot and local beer, Ken and Sue's, Durango, CO

Pinot and local beer, Ken and Sue's, Durango, CO

We shared an iceberg wedge that was delish.

We shared an iceberg wedge that was delish.

Mike had the meatloaf which came with mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach and was really good.

Mike had the meatloaf which came with mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach and was really good.

I had a potato gnocchi with mushrooms and asparagus. The gnocchi was a little doughy. But the veggies were really good.

I had a potato gnocchi with mushrooms and asparagus. The gnocchi was a little doughy. But the veggies were 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.

Glenwood Springs and Rifle, CO

So when we picked up the RV on Tuesday we still didn’t really know where we were going to 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.
McDonald's breakfast in the Walmart parking lot, day one.

McDonald's breakfast in the Walmart parking lot, day one.

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.

Yampah Vapor Caves, Glenwood Springs, CO

Yampah Vapor Caves, Glenwood Springs, CO

Down the stone stairs and into the vapor caves, Yampah Hot Springs, Glenwood Springs, CO

Down the stone stairs and into the vapor caves, Yampah Hot Springs, Glenwood Springs, CO

Mike in the Yampah Vapor Caves, Glenwood Springs, CO

Mike in the Yampah Vapor Caves, Glenwood Springs, CO

 But before the vapor caves, since it was still so early and they didn’t open till 9 a.m., we took a bike ride. We parked in front of the caves and rode into the little town of Glenwood Springs, just a few blocks away. Stopped into a cute cafe called Sacred Grounds and had some coffees. At some point we’ll probably go back and stay at Glenwood Hot Springs and Lodge which is right across the street from the vapor caves.
A bike ride in Glenwood Springs, CO

A bike ride in Glenwood Springs, CO

A cool sign, Glenwood Springs, CO

A cool sign, Glenwood Springs, CO

Another cool sign, Glenwood Springs, CO

Another cool sign, Glenwood Springs, CO

The coolest old sign in Glenwood Springs, CO

The coolest old sign in Glenwood Springs, CO

We would have loved to go in here for a drink but it was not even 9 a.m. yet and that’s too early, even for us.
Coffee at Sacred Grounds, Glenwood Springs, CO

Coffee at Sacred Grounds, Glenwood Springs, CO

Glenwood Hot Springs and Lodge, Glenwood Springs, CO

Glenwood Hot Springs and Lodge, Glenwood Springs, CO

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.

Base Camp Cafe, Rifle, CO

Base Camp Cafe, Rifle, CO

Rifle, CO is a big hunting area. Not sure I'm fond of all the dead animals on the walls at the Base Camp Cafe, tho.

Rifle, CO, is a big hunting area. Not sure I'm fond of all the dead animals on the walls at the Base Camp Cafe, tho.

Basic breakfast at the Base Camp Cafe in Rifle, CO. It was about $4.

Basic breakfast at the Base Camp Cafe in Rifle, CO. It was about $4.

Mike had some sort of egg and hash brown scramble with peppers and onions that was really good. It was about $6. Base Camp Cafe, Rifle, CO

Mike had some sort of egg and hash brown scramble with peppers and onions that was really good. It was about $6. Base Camp Cafe, Rifle, CO

The Colorado river runs right thru that area, so Mike did some fishing.

Mike fishing on the Colorado River, Rifle, CO

Mike fishing on the Colorado River, Rifle, CO

Mike fishing on the Colorado River, Rifle, CO

Mike fishing on the Colorado River, Rifle, CO

The scenery is really pretty up ther so I took pictures while Mike went fishing. Rifle, CO

The scenery is really pretty up there so I took pictures while Mike went fishing. Rifle, CO

Colorado River, Rifle, CO

Colorado River, Rifle, CO

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.

Rifle Falls State Park Campground, Rifle, CO

Rifle Falls State Park Campground, Rifle, CO

Rushing creek, Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO

Rushing creek, Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO

Our campsite, Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO

Our campsite, Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO

The falls are pretty much right in the campground so there’s no big long hike to reach them.

The falls at Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO
The falls at Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO
Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO

Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO

PJ and Cookie Puss trying to relax in the RV

PJ and Cookie Puss trying to relax in the RV

Cookie Puss doesn't really like to travel

Cookie Puss doesn't really like to travel

But PJ is a really cool cat with traveling

But PJ is a really cool cat with traveling

Tommyknocker maple beer from Idaho Springs- yummy!

Tommyknocker maple beer from Idaho Springs- yummy!

PJ wants in on the home cooked RV dinner

PJ wants in on the home-cooked RV dinner

The next morning Mike went out and took some more pictures while I sat by the fire and had some coffee.

Caves at Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO

Caves at Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO

Behind the falls at Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO

Behind the falls at Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO

Drinking coffee by the campfire, Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO

Drinking coffee by the campfire, Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle, CO

Home Cookin’- salads, bruschetta, pastas, and of course, pizzas

Last time I was in L.A. I had this great salad at Amici Trattoria at The Americana At Brand. Mom asked me to recreate it at her house, so I did. It’s just arugula, shredded hearts of palm, sliced artichoke hearts, and thinly sliced parmesan. I also added garbanzo beans for my own little twist. It’s topped off with a lemon vinaigrette. Mom had some lemon olive oil so I used that with some white balsamic vinegar. At my house, I don’t have the lemon olive oil so I just make the dressing with regular olive oil, some lemon, and the white balsamic. It’s tasty!
Amici Salad

Amici Salad

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):

Ingredients

  • 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!

Chicken and potato salad, no mayo

Chicken and potato salad, no mayo

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!

Bruschetta ingredients

Bruschetta ingredients

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.

Bruschetta ingredients ready to put on the toasts

Bruschetta ingredients ready to put on the toasts

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

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.

Checca

Checca

I served it on top of extra-long spaghetti and topped with parmesan!

Pasta checca

Pasta checca

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.

Pizza!

Pizza!

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!

Cherry Italian Soda

PJ isn't sure he approves of Cherry Italian Soda.

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.

Chocolate peanut butter milkshake

Chocolate peanut butter milkshake. Easy to swallow (Yeah, that's why it's good)

Ok, I didn’t make this ice cream but I thought it was pretty so I took a picture of it.

Ice cream!

Ice cream!