Old Diary

A check on our solar powered fridge

The first day’s results are in.

Yesterday morning I turned off the battery charging system from the power post here at the Corps of Engineers campsite.  That is an automatic function within the coach.  I have to consciously disable it because most people want their batteries to be charged when they plug into shore power.  In yesterday’s blog I mentioned that I wanted to monitor what happens when we rely solely upon the solar panels to power our new refrigerator.  Seeing as the fridge is powered off the same bank of batteries that power our house lights and some small appliances we’re really testing our over all battery capacity against our typical usage.

Yesterday was a nice sunny day.  By the end of the day, and after several days of severely overcast skies the batteries needed to be brought up to 100% charge.   At the end of the charging day we had a full 600 amp hours in the batteries.  And this morning — as the sun was coming up and the solar panels were about to start working again we still had 94% of our charge. I’m pretty happy with that result.  I will continue monitoring — specially on days with overcast skies — and on strings of days with overcast skies to thoroughly understand the ins-and-outs of the system now that we have a larger continuous load on the system, but I’m happy with the way things are working.

Chill Time

Monday, after two long days of driving, I didn’t accomplish much at all.  We mostly try not to drive two days in a a row but it’s not like we have a “policy” that we won’t do it.  It’s just a preference that we often abide by but don’t get too upset about when we don’t.

It’s interesting though that for various reasons being in Milwaukee seems to have been more ‘stressful’ than one might think.  We’re out of the city, back with nature and after several checks of my BP throughout the day yesterday my numbers are a good 10-15 numbers lower than they were holding steadily in Milwaukee.  We’re back in our kind of environment with the geese and deer and not nearly as many people and no truck backup alarms, and no tow trucks zooming through the parking lot and life is good once again.

The Sunrise Tuesday Morning.

The Sunrise Tuesday Morning.

For the first time in (probably) 3 1/2 months we didn’t get in the car and drive anywhere yesterday.  Even though I had a couple errands I want to run I decided to chill and do nothing.  I started (about 2 p.m.) and finished a James Patterson book,  caught up on computer backups, edited quite a few blog categories and tags — all stuff that I consider ‘doing nothing.’  Peaceful time at the computer, or sitting in the lounge chatting with my sweetheart.

Speaking of sweethearts…

The 21st (of December) is our 47th wedding anniversary.  We’ll be moving from Grenada to the Service Campground on the 20th — so that on the 21st we are stationary and we can just enjoy the day as ‘newlyweds.’ 🙂

Silas AL is not much of a metropolis — I need to get to the grocery before we leave Grenada to find something interesting for our anniversary dinner.  The last couple years we have tended to do restaurants for our anniversary evening but there appear to be only three restos of any sort in Silas AL so I’m going to arrive prepared!

Mrs P — one of my faithful readers — commented the other day about differences in cuisine between East and West (coasts).  And I have been thinking about that comment for a couple days.

One of the things we have noticed as we travel about is how much the grocery stores change from place to place.  I have commented a few times about various things:  corned beef hash, sausages and preserved meats, jelly/preserves, quality of veg/produce, etc. I’m sure I could make comments that would be taken as ‘profiling’ or racially biased but the fact of the matter is that one finds a different variety of product in local stores based upon what the local clientele will purchase.

And sometimes it’s not about different states or cities — sometimes it’s just about neighborhoods.  For example if you go to a grocery that says it’s an Asian grocery or the name of which is obviously Latino one is not surprised to find that the store carries ingredients unique to Asian or Latino cuisine.  But if you go to a Safeway, or Lion, or Sentry, of Jewel it’s easy to think that such differences don’t exist — or don’t exist within departments — but in fact they do.

While in S. Texas we had to learn to buy completely different cuts of beef and pork, and we found it very difficult to find lamb at all.  The cuts of beef were often much larger — intended for the outdoor grill as prime cuts of meat.  The same steaks that we might expect in Milwaukee simply were not to be found — A Porterhouse was extremely hard to find, but what I know as thin-sliced breakfast steaks were in abundance — whereas in Milwaukee not so much.  We have noted that in some areas of the country jams and jellies are found in abundance while in other areas you get the sort of standard grape/strawberry/apricot mix and not a lot more.  Ethnic foods are another telltale.  In some generic groceries there are multiple aisles filled with ethnic food — in others generic groceries you might be lucky to find 1/2 of 1 aisle devoted to ethnic foods.

If you go to a restaurant you’ll find far more standardized dining than if you visit a grocery — or at least so it seems to us.  Especially if you are one of those unimaginative eaters who love chain restaurants — for the thing about chain food is that they work very hard at giving you the exact same thing no matter where you are.  McDonalds has become the ‘taste’ leader — being the first chain to manage giving you the same cup of (admittedly mediocre) coffee no matter where you are.  Their reliance upon reverse osmosis filters (and subsequently their impact on other chains) has done a lot to remove the differences in restaurant coffee based on the local water supply.  Some of you may be young enough never to have tasted coffee made from highly sulphur water, or highly iron coffee but let me tell you, if you missed it, count yourselves lucky.  As terrible as McDonalds coffee might be, it’s infinitely better than coffees I’ve been served in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in independent restaurants and truck stops.

Lemon Curd dundee orang marmaladeMy dad used to love visiting grocery stores while on roadtrips.  When I was young I never appreciated what he found there;  after we married and started traveling on our own I found myself doing the same thing and discovering the same delights as he.  I remember my first container of Dundee Orang Marmalade or Wilkins Lemon Curd.  The original containers — at least of the Dundee product didn’t even have a screw top lid or safety lid — they were covered with a piece of parchment tied in place with a little bit of string.  And they were outrageously intensely flavored — and we could not find them in Milwaukee.

In college I worked for Uncle August Sausage company and developed a taste for smoked meats.  When I first tasted the difference between fresh liver sausage and smoked Braunschweiger (same contents, but smoked) I was over the moon — my tastebuds woke up for the first time ever (or so it felt).  All of these differences to be found in an average grocery store — forget the idea of traveling the world for taste sensations — and we have done that as well.  One of the best meals I ever ate was in Carcassonne France, when I had a classic Cassoulet which is really nothing more than amped up baked beans — and yet the combination of circumstances and flavors hit a high note I have rarely repeated.  It doesn’t have to be fancy to be extraordinary.  Sometimes the simplest ingredients, honored and respected, produce the best flavors.

And at that, I’m going to get in the car and drive into Grenada to see what we can find for dinner.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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Old Diary

Screening In

Verizon is still giving me fits, so I’ll try this post from my iPhone.

20130706-055358.jpgWe put up our screen room yesterday!  This is the one we bought on Wednesday.  I had to do something for Peggy.  The gnats are abundant to say the least.  Besides, last year peg got so bitten up it was crazy. I vowed to make this summer better for her. That fortuitous trip to Cabela’s got us a nice screen room  for about 60% of retail and it’s a pretty nice product.

We’ll see how long it lasts though.  Like almost everything else in their store it was assembled somewhere over in the Far East.  At least it’s better built than that we saw at Walmart!

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The turtles are still laying eggs here.  We see these guys all over the campground! They had finished mating season in Thomson before we left, but this far North, they are still going strong.  The eggs will hatch out in another couple months — but the hatchlings will stay in the nest over winter. Not sure how their metabolic system works to enable that — unless they eat grubs and such that might be in the nest, but that’s what the turtle experts tell us..

We didn’t “do” much yesterday.  Peg was eager to see Kathryn’s arrival, so after a quick trip to La Crosse for FRESH fish we pretty much just enjoyed the heat (86 yesterday, 88 today), read until she arrived, and then spent the day getting caught up. Lovely to have her with us.

I have come to the conclusion that La Crosse is biased against the French — in spite of their name.  I can’t find Herbes de Provence in any of the groceries and I cant find Pastis (not Pernod, or Rickard, or 51, or any other) in any of the liquor stores.  What is this?  Seems every store I went to had Campari — which is no easier to find in Milwaukee than pastis.  But neither are to be found.  Oh well, I guess I’ll have to turn Italian or something.

Ok — I’ll talk with you more tomorrow — for now my “girls” need attending to!

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