Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The joys of RV cooking

At least these pancakes didn't get burned!
Cooking in an RV’s small kitchen is proving to be a challenge. Not only is there inadequate preparation space, storage space for pots, pans and ingredients is limited. No siree, cooking is not a lot of fun these days.

The stove has a cover you can put down and sink covers that are supposed to provide additional counter space, since the counter space is in inches, not feet, like a house’s kitchen. In theory this sounds good, but in reality it’s not. If you’re cooking one dish while preparing another, you can’t have the stove cover down. Not to mention that I hate this stove; it runs on propane, and only one of the three burners has an adjustable temperature. When I have to use more than that one burner, I frequently end up burning a lot of food. (My apartment at China Daily had a gas stove, and I never burned so much food in my life. It probably didn’t help any that the temperature dial notations were in Chinese!)

I suppose I could cook one dish at a time, but that means the first-cooked dishes would be served cold. I suppose I could warm them up in the microwave, but running the microwave at the same time the air conditioner is on trips a breaker in the fuse box and we have a trailer-wide power outage. It’s such a hassle to go back and reset clocks, computers, etc. We have the AC running most of the time because of Yuma’s triple-digit temperatures. (109-degrees in April? You better believe it!)

I also don’t do as much baking as I used to, mainly because you have to get down on your knees, stick your head in the oven, and wave a lighter around to ignite the pilot light. I can usually sweet talk Jon into doing this, but that means I can’t surprise him with treats.

As I was packing up my kitchen in Kennewick, I organized my spices, herbs, flavorings and other ingredients into plastic boxes by the frequency with which I used them. I then placed them in the trailer cupboards in that same order. This turned out to be another thing that sounded good in theory, but in reality doesn’t work out. It is such a hassle to get the boxes out of cupboards I can barely reach unless I stand on a shaky step stool.

Even if the ingredients were more easily reachable, I don’t have the necessary pots and pans for cooking like I used to. At home in Kennewick, I had two woks and six frying pans, each used for a different purpose, and the same amount of sauce pans. Due to limited storage space in the trailer, I was only able to bring three frying pans (two small and one medium-sized) and two sauce pans. It just isn’t enough to do the type of cooking I want to do.

We eat a lot of sandwiches for dinner.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The snowbirds are migrating

An emptying RV park
With days getting warmer all the time in southern Arizona, the snowbirds are going home. Yuma, where we’re at, has been in triple digit temps for several days now, though locals say these temps are unseasonably warm for this time of year. The temps are so warm that news reports say rattlesnakes are coming out of hibernation early.

Many of Yuma’s 90,000 snowbirds started going home in mid-March, and more are pulling out every day. It’s hard to get a handle on how many are left in the RV park we’re at, because some people leave their RVs here year ’round or else have park model homes. We pass about a dozen RV parks on the way to the hospital every day, and they also are turning into ghost towns. We recently drove through Quartszite, where we spent a week in January, and saw many of the city’s 28 RV parks totally empty.
Another sign the snowbirds are migrating is the lines at the Walmart pharmacy department. Back in February, lines to drop off prescriptions wound down the aisle, almost to the door. Lines to pick up prescriptions were equally long the other way. People easily stood in either line for an hour or more to be helped. Now there are no lines and prescriptions are ready in 15 minutes or less, instead of a day or two.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Our first house-hunting adventure

One of the things Jon and I hope to accomplish on our excellent adventure is to find a new place to settle down. One of the places I was interested in living was Las Vegas, so we made a quick trip up there to check out the housing market.

Prior to leaving, Jon searched the Internet and compiled a list of properties he thought we should look at. They were mostly fixer-uppers. When we got to Vegas, we started calling real estate agents, which turned out to be a waste of time.

Jon gave the addresses to two different agents, both of whom said they’d map out a route and call us back with a meeting place. They never did. A third agent said he didn’t show any properties to buyers who weren’t pre-qualified. Since this was just a scouting trip, we didn’t see any need to get pre-qualified. A fourth agent said he considered showing properties valued at less than $100,000 a complete waste of his time.

We ended up just driving around neighborhoods to get a feel for the city, but found very few for-sale signs up. Which was OK, because we quickly decided we didn’t want to live there because of unsafe driving conditions. Check out this post on Cheryl’s China for more details.

We took a drive north of Vegas to look over a couple of towns, but they didn’t appeal to us. On the way back, we detoured to Bullhead City, Arizona, and were impressed with the town. We even found some properties we might make a return trip to look at. I’m still not convinced I can live in the desert, because I do like my green forests and blue water. Bullhead City is on the Colorado River, across from Laughlin, Nevada, so that at least met some of my requirements.
We anticipate getting to leave Yuma, Arizona, where we've been since mid-January, in late May or June, so we'll have plenty more opportunity to house-hunt. Jon is also keen on checking out Missouri and northcentral Florida.