Saturday, July 28, 2012

Plan C

Mt. Adams
What a beautiful day for a road trip. We had planned to travel one direction to visit good friends but one of them fell ill and had to cancel. I know my friend worried about it but I assured her that Gene and I always have a Plan B, C, and D.  Today we went with Plan C.

We got up this morning and originally planned to head towards Leavenworth, WA (Plan B) but after letting the coffee brew along with our thoughts we decided to go a different direction and headed to Mt. Hood.  Gene's younger daughter and family would be there camping so we decided to head that way and if we had time, we'd stop by and say hello.

That's how we roll. 

Wynter, Cathy & Jeremy
We left the house without eating breakfast. A box of Triscuits and Wheat Thins got us to The Dalles so we could enjoy lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant. I tried the house curry today and it was delish. They put peanut butter in their sauce. It was like having lunch and dessert at the same time.


Mt. Hood (Oregon)


We arrived at Mt. Hood and were lucky to find the kids had just returned from a 2-mile hike to have lunch before they headed to the lake. We were prepared to leave them a note on their windshield "We were here".  Instead, we got to walk with them down to the quiet lake where no motorized boats are allowed, and watch them launch their 3-man raft. We visited a little and headed down the road. It was fun to surprise them with a quick visit.

From there, we headed to a state park where there is a waterfall literally in the middle of some very dry country. We visited this waterfall last year and it's among my favorite spots. I didn't get a great pic of it because the sun was glaring down on us.

Wind mills in Washington state generate power!
On the trip home, I stopped and shot a pano of the windmills, which Gene raves about everytime he sees them. It's hard to get a good shot with my little point & shoot but you might be able to click on this pic and get a bigger version of it on your screen.

All in all, it turned out to be another stellar day that resulted from making plans and changing them promptly. 

Do you ever change your plans? 

love, susan

Sunday, July 22, 2012

193 More Miles Under My Leathers


It's a rare day when I see my guy run out of energy before I do but I'm afraid the heat got to him today.  Getting home after a fun-filled Saturday, we got a late start out the door at 10 this Sunday morn. We  were headed to Wenatchee but decided it best to turn back towards home at Moses Lake.  We stopped at various places along the way to get gas, eat some Mexican food from a taco wagon and hydrate. I was extra happy I brought two containers of frozen water and Powerade along. We needed it today. While we were sitting in the shade of this old, closed up building in Eltopia, a kid rode by on a dirt bike and waved at us. He circled back and stopped to chat.  He was breaking in the new Suzuki 125 his mom gave him for his birthday. He just got it today and was riding it back and forth on this long stretch of rode that surely has no traffic. We had a nice exchange of conversation with him. He just turned 14 and he knew alot about motorcycles. I loved the randomness of it.  Oddly enough, it was the highlight of our trip. 

Gene picked up the camera and shot me with it.
Another 3-day weekend here and almost gone. Sigh.  Hope you had your best weekend ever. And, if you didn't, it's something to try for next weekend!

love, susan

Let's Groove Tonight


We boogied on down last night at the Earth Wind and Fire concert out at Maryhill Winery's amphitheater. What a concert!   
We hopped on a nice air conditioned bus for a 2-hour ride to Goldendale. We had never been to the amphitheater before and when we walked past the ticket line and over onto the grounds, the venue was breathtaking. I was glad we had general admission as we were able to bring lawn chairs and a cooler. We found a nice spot next to super nice people and enjoyed a bagel sandwich with strawberries and grapes washed down with tonic water before the show. I noted that many of the other concert goers were way more elaborate in their picnic munchies. The people to the right of us were chowing down on shrimp cocktails with cheese & crackers. The folks to the left had a beautiful cole-slaw accompanied with nice chunks of cantelope and get this .... they ate theirs on real plates with real utensils. Wine people. I'd call them pretentious but really it's all about the experience and secretly I was envious that I hadn't given my picnic lunch just a little more thought.  Next time.

We sat for about an hour and 15 minutes before the concert and just watched people. I've never been to a concert at a winery before. It's a very different crowd. Lots of beautiful women in pretty summer dresses and sandals. Men in khaki shorts and nice polo shirts. There was obviously a large number of peeps from the Portland area. You can just pick them out. Tres chic. I loved it.

The band came out shortly after their scheduled time and simply started playing that music we all know and love. They played non-stop for 15 minutes short of two hours. The only time they stopped the music was to introduce the band. There are 3 original members at the front center stage and the rest are younger, upcoming musicians who rocked the river last night.

There are some bands who should just hang up their guitars and sit in rocking chairs but not this one. They played all their hits and when they played "September", everyone in the audience stood up and never sat down again.

It was truly a feel-good couple of hours. Gene and I never stopped smiling and it kind of restored my faith in humanity for awhile. This band had nothing but positive, uplifting music back in the day and after 41 years of touring, they still got it.

Go on, get your groove on!

love, susan


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tamales Equal Love

The other day I was sitting at work thinking about what I had at home to throw together for dinner. I remembered a friend had brought over a dozen frozen tamales. I had ordered a dozen but forgot to pay her them for them so those tamales became a gift.
My name is Susan and I am a former tamale hater.  Having grown up in Alaska, we just didn't have them and I remember the first time I tried to eat one when I was in my 20's. I thought it was vile. My mom always loved them but for the life of me I cannot figure out where she ever got the idea to eat them. Tamales are so non-Alaskan. Mom died a while ago and it would definitely be one of those questions I would ask her now. 

The thing about tamales is that they are not just something you plop on your plate and eat like a piece of chicken. Tamales are an experience.  At least they are for me.

When I was working at the County Attorney's Office in Yuma, Arizona, there was a tamale war at my work every November. "Susan, do you want to buy some of my Tia's tamales? They are the best, you won't want to buy anyone else's".  Seriously.  And, because I believe in fair tamale trading, I bought them from anyone in my office who approached me. While I did have my favorite, I will go to my grave with the name of that particular tamale maker.

What I think you have to understand is that tamales are made with love. A long line of love. Generations of Mexican women gather at some one's house and make these lovely gifts. It is a long process. I won't pretend that I know anything about it, cuz I don't. They don't mess around with making a dozen or two. Many people make enough to sell to their friends at work. Tamales are a traditional dinner around the holidays and when I lived in Arizona, it was a good reason to look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Women who make tamales always have a way to make theirs special. I'm not real picky about what's in them. In fact, I recently had a vegetarian tamale that was filled with pepper-jack cheese and corn. I loved it. The corn was a nice touch that gave it a distinct flavor. Some women place a green olive in their tamales. Warning: the olives almost always have the pit in them. I found this out the hard way. Usually those who place the olives in warn us gringos about it. I have also had tamales that had a few small bits of potato in them. I'm not crazy about those but I imagine adding the potato makes the filling go a bit further. My real preference is for the spicy pork or beef tamale.

When I say the tamale is to be experienced, I feel I must describe what I mean by that. Most of the time, when buying tamales they will be frozen. Not to worry, freezing them does them no harm. As a matter of fact, in my opinion they are better after having been frozen and reheated.

You take the beautifully wrapped gift out of the freezer bag and place it in a casserole dish with a splash of water on the bottom, leaving it in the corn husk it's wrapped in.  I place a cover on my dish and zap it in the microwave for 5 minutes. If you have more than 2 you may have to increase the heating time.

Now comes the part I really love. I unfold the corn husk carefully, trying not to burn my finger tips, knowing I am about the eat the most wonderful concoction. So, it's worth a little burn when you get a whiff of the lovely aroma coming from the steam of the tamale. I make certain to scrape all the masa off the husk. It would be rude to waste it.

So now you've got your tamale laying there on the plate begging for some kind of hot sauce.  I prefer a bottled sauce we discovered last year that we can only find at Fiesta Foods. Tamales do not require a bunch fluff on top.  In fact, I believe it would be a great insult to add much more than a drop or two of Talapia hot sauce or a tablespoon of salsa. But that's just me.  I know tamales don't have feelings but if they did, they would be hurt with too much added junk.

Once the tamale is consumed, you're left with only the wonderful smell of the corn masa on your hands. You might be feeling extra full and thinking that you maybe should have only eaten one, but I guarantee it is nearly impossible to eat only one, if you're a tamale lover like me.

When I eat tamales now, it takes me back to Arizona in an instant. I miss the culture we learned to love there. I miss my Mexican girlfriends vying for me to buy their tamales.  I miss knowing that I was invited into a culture I don't know very much about except that it is all about love.

Thank goodness for tamales. My world is a better place for them and having frozen ones in the freezer has been a life-saver this last week.

love, susan