Football, Nachos, and Friends

It’s Super Bowl Sunday … rah-rah … hooya! Okay, maybe we’re not all into football (moi), but I bet we all like hanging with friends while sharing a plate of nachos. Add in margaritas and a campfire and it just doesn’t get much better. Al and I have made some great friends over the years via this blog. Exchanging stories over a campfire while indulging in good food and tasty beverages is always a fun time.

campfire with friends
Good times, sharing a campfire with friends! Boondocking at Lake Powell.

Bloggers connect

The new year ended and started in much the same way; a campfire, food, drinks, and new friends. Seriously, I can’t think of a better way to ring in the New Year. A blog connection turns into a meetup in person … talking over a warm campfire while indulging in nachos and margaritas … yep, translates into a fun an active weekend.

Although Terri, Second Wind Leisure Perspective, and I haven’t been following each others blogs very long, our common interest in photography and RVing had us connecting in person at the first opportunity.

Terri reached out to me last fall looking for recommendations for their RV road trip at the end of December/beginning of January. The emails flowed freely back and forth, and Terri made plans and reservations which included a stop in Phoenix so we could meet. Fortunately, the RV site next to us was available for a couple of nights. After their Phoenix stop, they’d be venturing further north toward Sedona and the Grand Canyon. At least, that was their original plan.

We’re on the right (Laredo and red truck). Terri and hubby are on the left with their travel trailer. Pioneer RV Park in Phoenix, AZ.

Friends, nachos, margaritas, and a campfire

Shortly after their late afternoon arrival to our RV park in Phoenix, I made us all nachos and margaritas. After all, Terri and Hubby had had a rather long travel day driving from San Diego to the far north side of Phoenix, and we wanted them to be able to just chill and relax.

Earlier in the day, Al set up chairs and our propane fire ring for campfire enjoyment. It turned into a rather cold evening, but between the tequila flowing, the heat from the fire, and all of us bundled up, the conversation continued and plans were made.

The next day, while the guys went off doing guy stuff, I went into tour guide mode sharing some of my favorite Phoenix sights with Terri. We started off with a stop at the Scottsdale farmers market followed by a little shopping in Old Town Scottsdale. From there, it was time to hit the trail with the cameras.

Terri equally enamored with the saguaro cactus as am I.

One of my favorite places to hike in the Phoenix valley is at the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. We started our hike at the Jewel of the Creek Preserve trail which isn’t technically part of Spur Cross Ranch, but they are connected. The ecosystem here is fascinating. Anytime I find a body of water in the desert, I get excited. Yeah, I’m  easily entertained!

Jewel of the Creek Preserve, Cave Creek, AZ
Jewel of the Creek Preserve, Cave Creek, AZ

It was a joy sharing this trail with someone who appeared to be equally enamored with the landscape. Our cameras got in as much of a workout as our legs did. Their visit to Phoenix was over before we knew it, and it was time for them to continue their RV road trip and explore more of Arizona. We hope to meet again down the road sometime!

Terri’s Sunday Stills photo challenge

Every Sunday, Terri hosts a photo challenge and today’s theme is “Fire”. I can’t think of a more appropriate post to join in on her photo challenge. We had such a great time visiting over a campfire. If you’re looking for more photography engagement, be sure and check out her Sunday Stills page.

I too will be back soon for my Wandering Wednesday photo inspirations. It’s time to get some of my recent photographs posted and reconnect with you all. I’ve enjoyed my blogging break, but have missed you.

Terri was using her phone as well as her camera that day.

Recipe interest?

And how rude of me not to share my nacho or margarita recipe. What do you think? Should I share in a future post? Are you interested in my recipes?

And who are you rooting for … the Rams or the Patriots? I don’t really care which team wins considering I don’t usually watch football. I will, however, be making those nachos and margaritas for my husband and his friends watching the game in the RV park TV room. Should be a big group watching the game. On that note, I better get cooking!

(affiliate links)

Portable Propane Outdoor Campfire
Coleman Portable Camping Chair
Plastic Margarita Cups

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Culinary Delight

There’s an excitement to hitching up and getting the wheels rolling to places unknown.  That sense of wanderlust and curiosity as to what’s around the next bend is always a fun adventure, but there’s also joy in returning to familiar turf.  When we return to places, places that we like, it can feel like coming home.

Our family of four will be enjoying the holiday season together for the first time in several years.
Our family of four will be enjoying the holiday season together for the first time in several years.

Phoenix, Arizona, has started feeling like “home” to me.  First off, having both kids in the area helps.  Second, I know where all my favorite stores are located including a laundromat.  Al and I also have a few favorite eating establishments that we frequent and occasionally miss when we’re off traveling.

The Greek PitaWhen we rolled back into Phoenix in early October, our very first stop was to The Greek Pita located on the north end of the Phoenix valley.  Hubby and I had talked about their Gyros for the previous six weeks and couldn’t wait to make a beeline there on day one.  I’m not normally a fan of Greek food but I’ve always had a weakness for an authentic Gyros (ok and maybe lemon Chicken).

During my high school and college years, I spent my fair share of time working in the restaurant industry in the Chicago area.  Ah yes, I could tell you stories about venturing into Chicago’s Greek town and drinking and dancing until four in the morning…. OPA! But that’s a tale for another time 😉

With our Gyros habit satisfied, a few days later it was time to visit  Café Rio.  We were first introduced to this “Chipotle” style restaurant in Grand Junction, Colorado, and were super excited to see one going in right next door to The Greek Pita last spring.  Can you say, “Taco Tuesday”?   But our favorite little spot that we love sharing with fellow travelers and family can be found northwest of Scottsdale.

What do Walleye fish, the Green Bay Packers, and Arizona all have in common?  The Buffalo Chip Saloon in Cave Creek, Arizona.  We stumbled upon this place a little over three years ago and have returned regularly ever since. Buffalo Chip

I knew our first Friday night back in the valley would be spent dining on the all-u-can-eat fish fry at the Buffalo Chip Saloon.  Hubby just loves Walleye and where else can you find it without visiting Wisconsin or Minnesota?  But they don’t just serve Walleye.  Nope!  You get your choice of Catfish, Cod, Lake Perch, or Walleye….. plus you get to mix and match.  Talk about culinary fish heaven!  So while I sit and politely devour two fish tacos, Al orders and reorders the mix and match fish….. “hold the fries, please”.  He doesn’t intend to fill up on potatoes when there’s all that fish ready to be consumed.

Lunch is a quiet time to visit. (excellent burgers) I took this photo while stopping for lunch and other than the table filled with local law enforcement officers, the place was empty. I assure you Friday nights it's hopping.
Lunch is a quiet time to visit. (excellent burgers) I took this photo while stopping for lunch and other than the table filled with local law enforcement officers, the place was empty. I assure you Friday nights are hopping.

And this is Packer territory.  Rumor has it, one of the original owners of The Chip was a former Wisconsin Green Bay Packers football player.  The place fills up with Packer fans when there’s a game and the numerous television screens hung throughout the place assure guests won’t miss a play.  But that’s not all!  There’s LIVE Bull Riding for all you cowfolk out there.  Out back is an outdoor arena along with a BBQ buffet and bar.   Eating and entertainment western style…. doesn’t get much better.The Buffalo Chip

My heart sank on Thanksgiving Day when the news reported that a fire broke out and destroyed the main building; a historic, one of a kind structure with unique memorabilia adorning the walls.  The owners are working diligently to rebuild asap and folks are donating all kinds of things like cowboy boots, hats, etc. in an attempt to help replicate the authentic atmosphere that helped make the Buffalo Chip Saloon an original.  Arson is expected to be the culprit of the destructive fire.  A very sad loss for the owners AND the community.  I look forward to visiting again once rebuilt.

When we move on to the south-east part of the valley, we like to grab a few friends and head on over to the Organ Stop Pizza.  Although we do enjoy the food, it’s the experience that draws us back time and again.  It is most definitely worthy of a visit at least once.

Although our tastes these days center on the extreme casual, the Phoenix Valley is filled with world-renowned culinary experiences.  There’s no shortage of Five Star Restaurants around here.  Every now and then, hubby and I like to dress up and check out one of these fine establishments.  We actually do clean up nicely…. so we’ve been told LOL.

A gathering of RV bloggers indulging in culinary delight
A gathering of RV bloggers indulging in culinary delight

LumpiaWith that said, I can honestly say we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying some of the finest and tastiest dishes at a picnic table gathered with friends, new and old.  There’s something about everyone wanting to share their “A” game that turns these meals into a culinary delight that can easily rival any Five Star Restaurant.

Ribs

Flourless chocolate cake
my RV oven was busy that day!

cupcakesDave is a pro when it comes to smoking ribs and chicken, and Mona Liza always endears herself to hubby when she makes her Filipino specialty; Lumpia.  Then there was Curt whom we counted on to provide a cooler filled with beverages.  And me?  I’m the dessert maker.  For this gathering I baked a Flourless Frangelico Chocolate Cake, regular Vanilla Cupcakes, along with Grain Free Chocolate Cupcakes.

Paleo CupcakesI did have a little bit of an oops moment with the Chocolate Cupcakes, but the frosting and chocolate shavings were quick to cover it up.  You see, I got a little lazy and didn’t feel like separating the egg whites from the egg yolks which resulted in a sunken cupcake.

My save was filling in the hole with a little extra frosting.  I don’t think anyone noticed and I know hubby’s sweat tooth was thanking me for the extra dose of sugar.

If anyone is interested in this grain free, gluten-free, chocolate cupcake recipe – click here.  All this talk of food is making me hungry.  Hey Dave, “got any left overs?”

my favorite Five Star Restaurant
my favorite Five Star Restaurant

This is my latest cookbook purchase. I’m beginning to wonder if I have an addiction to cookbooks!

Dining western style – click here for another Arizona favorite

A Momentary Lapse

We truly enjoyed our visit to Devil’s Lake, but had commitments necessitating we pull up jacks and start rolling north toward Marshfield, Wisconsin.

Baraboo Wisconsin
Baraboo, WI Farmer’s Market

Between the hiking, the crane foundation, and the Baraboo farmer’s market, we had a wonderful stay at Devil’s Lake State Park and wouldn’t mind returning some day.

It is however Wisconsin’s busiest state park and even though I booked our reservation five months in advance, I was still unable to secure a site over a weekend.  During the week, there did appear to be plenty of open sites available for drop-ins.  (We stayed here during the middle of August)

friendship
driveway camping at a friend’s home

Al’s best friend from college and best man in our wedding was eager for our arrival.  We fit comfortably in Roger’s driveway and set up house within minutes.  Even though we only stayed in Marshfield the weekend, we managed to get in plenty of catching up.  That Sunday was preseason football and the Green Bay Packers were playing.  This is serious Packer Land and Cheese Land.

cheese head
Oh no, this Bronco’s fan has been turned into a ‘cheese head’

Roger planned a tailgate party at his house which included a bunch of people we hadn’t seen in years.  Even though the Packers lost, it was a super fun day.  We loved visiting with everyone and the weekend flew by.  I may have worn Packer green that day and been turned into a cheese head, but I assure you, it was a momentary lapse and I’m back to wearing the orange and blue of the Denver Bronco’s.

Lambeau FieldBut there was more impending fun with the guys to be had …. for hubby;  a fishing trip on Lake Michigan.

The day after the football game, we packed up the RV and headed to Algoma, Wisconsin.  But first, a stop at Cabela’s to empty the holding tanks was necessary and a cruise by Lambeau Field (home of the Packers) was in order, for posterity.  After all, we were Green Bay Packer fans for a day.

PepeLePewPulling into the Green Bay Cabela’s was easy.  Quite a few Cabela stores offer a dump station free of charge. Not this one. (for all you non-RVer’s, this talk is about the not so fun and stinky part of RVing. Our holding tanks contain our waste water, including potty waste and when we’re not staying in an RV Park with full hook-ups we need to find a place to clean out our tanks before they fill up).

There was a $5.00 charge to access the dump station or free if we bought something.  Hmm!  We stepped inside the store and quickly purchased some chocolate walnut fudge.  We took our receipt to the customer service counter and were given a number that would unlock the dump cover.  Let’s see – they gave us fudge and we gave them shit …. literally!  Sounds like we got the better end of the deal 🙂Wisconsin

With clean tanks and plenty of fresh water on board, we continued the drive from Green Bay to the little town of Algoma, Wisconsin.  The rest of the fishing gang wouldn’t be showing up until late the next day allowing Al and I to have a day to explore Door County.

Door County
Door County, Wisconsin

Door County is a popular tourist destination especially for residents of Wisconsin and Illinois, boasting 300 miles of scenic shoreline, 5 state parks, and 19 charming communities.

With our RV comfortably parked in Algoma, we set off on a scenic drive that had us skirting up County Road B, along the waters of Green Bay.  It didn’t take long for Al and I to realize why this is such a popular place for vacation homes.  Homes of varying architectural styles are nestled in the woods along the shores of Lake Michigan’s Green Bay.  Most homes enjoy their own private dock for easy watercraft access.  As we approached the quaint town of Egg Harbor, we were greeted by plenty of old fashion charm.  This would be merely the first of several such communities we explored that day.

Door County, Wisconsin
quaint shops offering locally grown and handcrafted products.

We saw plenty of unique shops, eateries, brew pubs, wineries, art gallery’s, and marina’s, but what stuck out to me the most were the beautiful gardens.Door CountyEach business seemed to take the extra effort in the gardening arena, adding more character and ambiance to an already lovely place.

Door County
How could I resist stopping here? That sidewalk going through all those flowers was irresistible.

Considering this is Wisconsin, I shouldn’t have been surprised with all the lush and beautiful vegetation.  The rich, black soil makes it easy to grow just about anything.  All those flowers did continually captivate my attention to the point hubby asked jokingly, “How many more Black Eyed Susan’s do you have to look at?”

And then there’s the orchards…. apples, cherries, and berries oh my!   Up next.

Green Bay
An overcast day along the shores of Green Bay

Door County Outdoors: A Guide to the Best Hiking, Biking, Paddling, Beaches, and Natural Places
Door County Coffee Single Serve Cups for Keurig Brewers (Almond Toffee, 12 Count)