Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Howling Winds

We are nomadic. Perhaps I am a bit more nomadic than my traveling companions. Momo is very content to sit in the sun or curl on the end of the bed inside the TinCan. WFS is just happy wherever we land. He is easy that way. Me, I have the "bear goes over the mountain to see what he can see" syndrome. There are places that truly lure me, call me back again and again. My home in the hills of KY, Paris, the Pacific Ocean and this little jewel on the Atlantic, Hunting Island. Nestled about 16 miles from Beaufort, South Carolina in Gullah low country hidden splendor; Hunting Island isn't exactly undiscovered but certainly wild and secluded enough to perk all my senses. The boneyard of tress lashed by the wind and waves is mystical and otherworldly. At low
tide, blackened tree skeletons stand sentinel along the shore. At high tide, a scant finger of blackened limb reaches toward the sky. Truly inspiring and eerie at the same time. I am mesmerized. The beach was particularly beautiful on this moonless night. Not even a sliver dared peek through the clouds. Perhaps the howling wind and the crashing waves were enough for our senses tonight. There is something extremely comforting about sleeping by the sea, wind and waves just outside our door. Sleeping with the promise of bright skies and the tree boneyard to greet the morrow is all this girl could ask for.

Monday, April 4, 2016


We are camping right by the sea. That in itself is a luxury. When early morning pounding surf is the wake-up call, it doesn't get much better. Add the aforementioned latte and it seems like my idea of paradise! The sun was brilliant this morning. Our long beach walk with Momo was exceedingly nice. Hardly anyone was out this morning except a few shellers and small shore birds. Yesterday we spent the day in Charleston, today was my read and relax day. The best laid plans, oft go astray. After our morning beach walk, WFS said, "wonder if there are good biking trails nearby." Oops, there goes my lazy day. A bit of research brough up Botany Bay Plantation. We got our gear and headed out. This beautifully undisturbed old plantation is more walkable and drivable than biking. So, that is how we spent our day. I
t is a highly protected area for wildlife and very few people were exploring. We were gifted with long, quiet moments of exquisite solitude. Only the bird trills and soft breezes, ALL afternoon. We sat silently on a plantation dike, hushing our minds to think, very somberly, about the souls that occupied this land so many years ago. Quietness and sorrow. We drove back along the dirt trail, dotted with azaleas, live oaks and loblolly pines. I always thank the good earth for giving me such grace.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Adventures in Asheville

Last night a gentle rain pelted the roof of the TinCan. The mountain air mixed with rain made for a blissful night. Morning brought bright, clear skies and an abundance of bird calls. A thrilling way to awaken. If I have neglected to report this detail of my morning routine, I shall remedy that now. Each morning starts with the best latte known to mankind, delivered to me wherever I decide to start my day. I must confess, sometimes that is my cozy bed! A luxury I rarely, if ever, indulge. Some years ago we decided to purchase yearly passes to the Biltmore Estate. We don't tour the estate house very often but each time we camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we journey into town, to stroll through the amazing gardens and take a long walk along the French Broad River. A labyrinth of trails zigzag through the forest and along rippling creek beds. I suppose if the Vanderbilts should bequeath me the estate, I would gladly accept.... Not for that huge inhospitable house but so I could forever wander where no one seems to go. Okay, I could hear the snickering from afar, we all know it is highly unlikely that I shall be at the helm of The Biltmore Estate
.... but a girl can dream. Speaking of dreams, tomorrow we shall sleep by the sea. Our next destination: Edisto Beach.

Thursday, March 31, 2016


Wanderlust: A strong impulse or longing toward wandering. Those words truly sum up the TinCan trio. Momo actually KNOWS when we start loading the TinCan that travel is in the air. He goes on high vigil, monitoring each move toward the door. The days leading up to our exodus are fraught with details. After nearly 30 years of camping with WFS & spending the bulk of my life "wandering" here or there, it should be second nature. I suppose it is but more often than not something is left behind. as soon as we see the dust in the rear view none of the details seem to matter. A certain giddiness takes over and the thrill of a new place, a great vista, a rustle in the woods, the trees dancing in the evening light, a dying fire as the night begins to chill... This is the lure. The absolute joy of life. We have no agenda. We eat, we read, we sleep, we hike to see what we can see. We cuddle with our sweet Momo. Nothing matters and what if it did!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

And we're off

Derby comes every year in Louisville on the first Saturday in May. Most Kentuckians(and all of Louisville) turn their attention to The Run for the Roses. I've done my share of yelling, "go baby go" as the field of horses run down the stretch toward the finish line and the winner's circle. I have viewed this race from various positions(sorry Leonard) including Millionaire Row. I have never been in the infield and I strongly suggest I never will. This year, my number one son and darling Andrea summoned us to the city of brotherly love to introduce some of their friends to the fine art of southern hospitality and horse racing and bourbon. So, we're off. For me, any reason to travel is good enough. All seasons, all weather...I love to plan, pack and leave or just leave in a flurry, the dust billowing behind me. The days leading up to our departure were filled with stuff. Good stuff. I have a garden! A real garden. Phil, my new friend and benefactor has kindly allowed me to till his yard into a fantastic plot filled with possibilities. We gather by the yellow shed to chew the fat, pick up rocks and lay out neat rows. We talk about what will grow in those neat rows. Friends stop by...an outdoor living room takes shape by the shed. Neighbors lean over fences and walk by(often) to check the progress. We laugh, we plant, we bask, we reminisce. As the garden germinates, a sense of community develops. There is a deep sense of purpose associated with producing food. I was surprised when oodles of people wanted to share the chores associated with preparing a garden. When I was a youngster, long rows of beans were synonymous with hell. As I became older and wiser, I found the zen of gardening.... This brings me full circle. I awakened this morning at 6:00am. Six! Second comings do not get me out of bed at that unholy hour. What would rouse me? The twittering of birds? The promise of a campfire by a lake in West Virginia? The call of a few last plantings in my garden? Yes. Yes. And, yes. The next two weeks will drift by as we explore the Chesapeake Bay and the Blue Ridge Parkway. We will condense our routine to match the day ahead. Nothing more. Except I will worry about the sweet little garden I left behind.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Once, a long time ago, I was a young woman with big dreams, two little boys and a yearning to do something incredible. Life, as it was for me, had other designs and it did not include luxury. Actually, as I look back, it barely included necessities. But, what did I know? My origins were from a very rural and humble background..... not bereft, just sparse. Each and every part of my learning curve was steep and slippery. I learned to feed the cow,milk the cow,strain the milk, separate the milk, churn the butter, make the buttermilk and slop the hogs with leftover milk. I learned to save the seeds, dry the seeds, sow the seeds,plant the seeds,weed the plants and harvest the results. That was only the beginning. I learned to hull the peas, break the beans, dry the onions, cut the corn and scrape the cob, blanch the tomatoes and shred the cabbage. I learned to cut the eyes from a potato and plant them with the eye facing the sky. Not to mention the endless washing of jars and canning all spring and summer. Still, I dreamed and yearned. I dreamed at the spring dipping water into the galvanized buckets. I dreamed at the pond breaking the ice for the cows to drink. I dreamed at the creek checking the box traps with my brothers, hoping for a young rabbit to be fried and served with biscuits and gravy. I dreamed at the spring house that cooled the buttermilk. I dreamed. The sway of my dreams and ambitions did not correlate with my reality. I am not easily daunted. I knew, somehow, I would find my dreams. I backed into it. I never would have thought the domestic arts would be my salvo. But, there they were...my hidden talent, awakened from a wall of mind sludge and drudgery I considered the very essence of droll. I had cooking skills and a huge number of people had none. Supply and demand. The Paul Sawyer Library afforded my sons and me a window to the world and a reading haven for the three of us. Betty Crocker's Cookbook and Kroger matched pretty well for my adventures in food...but at the Paul Sawyer Library I soon discovered The Joy of Cooking, Sunset Magazine and oh, my god, Gourmet. A star wasn't born but a beginning chef was. I dreamed. I dreamed food. I dreamed of adventures in locales I previously did not know existed. I envisioned the possibilities. Ambitions and dreams wed and they prospered and lived happily ever after. My sons were not the first to leave the nest, I was. I simply had to fly. I made nest after nest after nest. It might be my best asset. The most familiar asset and the one that I hold dear, is cooking. From the cutting, carving, chopping, dicing, baking and icing...I never tire of finding new and challenging avenues. To me, the biggest luxury of my life is going to the market and finding lovely ingredients and making something divine happen. My sons, my friends, my colleagues, employees and my spouse have all followed me to " find that secret ingredient". The closing of Burger's Market will certainly be a milestone in my culinary career. I have traveled there day after day, week after week, year after year for 25 years searching and finding not only secret ingredients but the best chicken and the best country ham and the best pork loin and the best ribeye steak and the very, very best burger. My friend Jeff said, I would have to seek my "secret ingredients in fence rows and special orders." Tis true, dear Jeff...I will miss the tiny market and it's friendly staff forever. Jeff and Tony always greeting me with a happy hello. Dennis knowing my meat or poultry order to the exact detail. Cream in large quart containers....sigh. Yes, I know, just like churning butter straight from the cow versus the store bought kind...the beat goes on...but, did it have to be Burger's?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


No one could argue that I have, for the most part, a sunny disposition. I like happy. I like things orderly. I dislike mishaps, which I consider blunders of the ill prepared. Unless, they happen like this: Day one: we drive into the remnants of Hurricane Isaac...rain whooshes across the front of the TinCan as we crawl along I65 @ a snail's pace. The rain is so torrential we consider stopping along the side of the interstate. We crept on. The rain would cease, for a few minutes, bringing a much needed respite....after a short pause, the rain would bear down on us again..full bore. In Nashvile, clear skies prevailed. Jaxon runs to hug me and says, "let's sit in the airstream"... We open the door and the front bed is soaked! This bed belongs to WFS! Not too great a tragedy, as my bed is bone dry! The next few hours are spent drying the comforter and sheets. Day two: we set off for Georgia, my sunny disposition matches the weather. This holds true until we hit the Georgia border. Then Isaac unleashes its fury again. Jason & WFS have repaired the seal around the window...I am confident we will have no more leaks...still, shouldn't I check at the rest stop? The seal is holding back the water but a small trickle for several hours means another wet corner. sigh. WFS says our ship took on water. It happens. We move on. Day three: we arrive in sunny Fort Desoto. The lead in for this mostly undiscovered place is... If you think paradise is lost, think again. It WAS paradise...complete with a gazillion no see ums to keep the riff raff away from the aforementioned paradise. I seem to be totally unattrative to midges but WFS is a magnet and I will say this, paradise yeilded more little red bites than I thought was humanly possible. Poor guy. We soldiered on~~ Day four: Momo was chosen for a Thundershirt commercial and we basked on a midge free beach extolling the virtues of paradise. Day five: we jump on our bikes eager to relive our perfect day on the beach. We are excited that Momo will have a morning romp on the beach. Just as we turn onto the beach, a young couple approached us... "There's a man on the beach and things don't look good." The beach is empty except for a body on the shore. At that same moment three police vehicles swing down the beach access road. Things don't look good. The young couple are totally unnerved. We sit on a picnic table with them, trying to help them through this terrible event....the sad news is the night before the man jumped from a bridge. 250 feet down to the Gulf of Mexico. Day six: camping neighbors from hell arrive. Three vehicles, two dogs, one boat and three tents. The park rangers thinned out the vehicles & one tent but the congregating was constant as was the wretched music they blared on a cheap radio. And the no see ums gnawed away ~~~ Day 7: paradise lost. We retreated to the north to Fernandina Beach where paradise is civilized and protected and midge free. Day 8,9: sunny disposition intact. Order restored. The moral of my story is: never trust a sunny disposition on the way to paradise

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Camping preparations take a certain amount of planning. One should not causally approach camping. Even backpackers must think ahead and prepare for the unexpected. As our little rig headed north on I65 into a bank of slate colored skies, nary a shred of sun sliced through the clouds. One cannot prepare for the weather, that is a certainty. We drove most of the day in the rain. That works just fine for traveling but not so much for setting up camp. We registered our vehicle and proceeded to our site. In our many years of travel, we've rarely had a bad campsite. And I do mean rarely. We were perched on a high point overlooking Lake James. Nice for scenery, hell for parking an airstream in the rain. We jockeyed into a space meant for a tent and hunkered down as rain pelted the roof of the TinCan. Dinner? We had warm pita with tapenade and cold sliced pork. Dessert? Left-over grilled summer peaches. We washed up, read our books and slept like babies. The rain continued through-out the night and early morning. MOMO & I got a brisk morning walk around the lake. The morning mist hung over the edges of the lake as pale white swans weaved their way around the shoreline. We soaked up the luxury of that moment. We had little to do in preparation for leaving. We pulled north to South Higgins Lake State Park. A heavenly glacier lake with a superb campground. There were loads of families and dogs. Our anxiety melted away as warm blue skies broke through and our camp fire burned down to hot coals for roasting our little chicken with fresh herbs. After dinner we took a long long walk, stretching MOMO to his limits. I had a blissful hot shower and we sat by the fire until every child and dog was sleeping.

Friday, August 10, 2012


That little phrase "dust in the rear view mirror" has been a mantra of mine for many, many years. I have always wanted to ramble. To leave. To go. I truly didn't want a plan, just dust in my rearview mirror. Unencumbered. The past few years have changed my approach to travel. I plan(sigh), I make lists, I organize like mad. This approach to travel is a huge departure from the free falling, adrenal loaded, thrill seeking adventures in my days of yore. I KNOW where I am going, where I will be and pretty much what I will be doing during my current travels. I have learned the meaning of the word, yield. Significantly, yield: to give up and cease resistance or contention. This metamorphosis occurred as my travel plans included another human being(WFS)and dogs( Chloe and Momo)...maybe I could cut to the chase and give a more straight forward assessment: age, birthdays, many moons. In the past month, I have been humbled by a very terrifying infection and five day hospital stay. I numbed my brain during the entire ordeal. I think I am a very unusual person, I can face almost anything if I can still my brain and NOT think. My very overactive brain is engaged again and ready for a holiday in the TinCan. I want to reflect on the road ahead. Metaphorically and physically. I want to sit quietly with my human companion and romp with my puppy companion. I want to watch the rear view very, very carefully, without dust in my eyes.