Home for the bad weather

It has been so hot at home! When I first looked at moving to the SLC area, I checked the historic temperature ranges. On average it used to get over 100 degrees four times a year. Last month we had over 10 days! It was the hottest July on record. Even worse it doesn’t get down below 70 degrees at night, and that is by 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. We have some medical and service appointments these three weeks so we can’t just head out again or I would! Even worse than the temps is the pollution. We sit in a big bowl of mountains with two million people driving lots of cars. Add to that mining and numerous petroleum refineries and we are getting a double whammy of particulate pollution and ozone. We really, really need a storm to come through and blow all this nasty air away, but it won’t be here for a few more days.

I am dealing with the heat by not using my stove or oven. If it can’t be microwaved or cooked in the Instant Pot, it doesn’t get made. We have had a few pork loin roasts and a beef pot roast, and that helps the heat. It is sad that I don’t get to leave my blinds open during the day though since I love looking at the mountains through the windows. Then again, I can’t see the mountains well due to the pollution! We decided to take a drive yesterday out to Antelope Island. Normally we get a great view to both the Lakeside Mountains to the west of the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains to the east. Yesterday we couldn’t see the Lakeside at all, and only the vaguest hint of the Wasatch. In other words, if anyone local wants to do a rain dance, please do.

Is that enough of a whine for today?

Quilts for “Quilts for Kids”

I had started these two little quilts in South Dakota, but I finished the piecing while we were in GTNP. My granddaughter Ava decided the block arrangement. QFK provided the kits, so I will restate that these were not my fabric choices (especially the pink/turquoise one). They came out cute though. I quilted and bound them when we got home.

This one hurt my eyes. Those borders! If you read an earlier post, the turquoise is actually the back side of a printed fabric. I just couldn’t handle that much wildness. The fabrics screamed to me for a flower motif in the quilting, so that is what the main body has. For the outside border I just followed some of the big swirls. The top thread is a light peach SoFine and the bobbin thread is a light tan SuperBob. I used extra backing for the binding and used a feather stitch to finish the binding.

Pretty wild.
The back of the wild one.
Back of the wild one.

This one is full of small animal/bug prints. I like it a lot more! It was so busy I just did an all-over meander in the body of the quilt. I used my rulers on the borders. It is quilted in a YLI multi-colored brown/green/gold thread with the same tan SuperBob the first one used. The binding is a wood grain print I had laying around. I used a 3 stitch zig zag to apply the binding.

I like this one a lot more.
A little old lady bear print was the backing on the brown/green one.

All I need to do to finish these is stitch on the Quilts for Kids label and deliver them. The quilting was done on my Sweet 16.

I really prefer a feather stitch to finish machine bindings, but my machine is having troubles with stitching to the left. There is a definite “click” when it goes far left, so I am taking it in to the repair guy. It either needs timing or a new hook, and maybe both. It gets a lot of use, and it is time to get it some maintenance.

Next up is quilting my big Carpenter’s Square quilt that goes on the queen bed in one of my guest bedrooms. I have two weeks until we take off again, so I have to get going. I hope to have the quilting done, just waiting on the binding until I get my sewing machine back.

Back from Iowa

It has been a while, but I got distracted.

After Ft. Robinson, we headed toward Grand Teton National Park. We spent Wednesday night, 19 July, at the KOA in Dubois, WY (pronounced “du-boy”). Note I am leaving in some pronunciations for my own future use since I kept forgetting! At the KOA I almost got assaulted. I had the audacity to tell someone to not walk through our site to get to the pool. Note there was an empty site right next to us that would have required the offender to walk at least 10′ farther. The adult man’s father (around my age) came screaming up to me and waved a fist in my face for being so rude. SMH! Luckily a staff member was driving by in the golf cart and intervened. The rude people left my site, and the staff member said they wouldn’t bother me again. They didn’t.

The next morning we left fairly early to move to Gros Ventre (“grah-vaunt”) campground in GTNP. We were there at 10:00 and got a nice site with shade. It was plenty big for our trailer with the truck parked next to us. We thought of trying for an electric site (they take a new wait list for them each morning), but it seemed like a bad use of money. It was much less expensive to use some gas in the generator than pay the electrical fee. I figured there were a lot of people who didn’t have the ability to dry camp for very long, so we left the electric sites for them.

Kevin’s back pain was really bothering him. I did all the driving from Carney on, and he still wasn’t getting better. We found an Urgent Care site in Jackson to concur there wasn’t anything really bad and get some muscle relaxants. He also ended up with a couple of rounds of massage therapy and some time in the hot tub at the local recreation center. The combination finally started some improvement, but I still did almost all the driving.

Is it time for the mandatory park pictures?

An elk wandered through the campground.
Mandatory picture of the Tetons.
Absolutely incredible wildflowers were everywhere.
Trust me, that is a big bull moose along the Gros Ventre River a couple of miles from the campground.
The sun coming through the clouds.

We ended up staying a bit more than a week. The campground only costs $14.50/night with a Senior Pass and had a 2 dot Verizon signal which kept us up to date with the world. A few days we drove around the park and even went to Yellowstone’s south east side. We had never spent much time in that area, so it was a good trip. Other days we just stayed around the campground, just relaxing. We came home on Friday, 28 July, a relatively easy drive. Kevin is still getting massage therapy here in SLC, and it is definitely helping both his back and his knee.

While we were gone on this long trip, I figured out how easily I get bored. I really need to bring more sewing with me. I finished two quilt tops that had been partially completed before we left, and I wanted to do more sewing. There is only so much sight seeing and reading I can do! Look at the next post to see the quilting results.

Nebraska, I wronged you

I generally travel across Nebraska on I-80. With the exception of the hills along the Missouri River and the Sand Hills area, I have always found it pretty boring. This trip we are traveling across Hwy 20, and until the middle of the afternoon today, my beliefs seemed justified. This we came into the area around Ft. Robinson State Park, and it is gorgeous. Badlands, rolling hills with pine trees, incredible broad meadows with bison and longhorns grazing, pronghorn, and deer. Wow!

Looking along the Smiley Canyon Scenic Drive
Bluffs with the sunset gold on them
Even more sunset
Did I say something about sunset?
The bluffs yet again

They have a lovely campground. An electric site was $20, but there was an additional daily Parks Pass fee of $8 for an out of state resident. The fort itself is wonderfully preserved. There are many original buildings and a number of reconstructed ones. The old officers quarters have been converted into rental units. They are full many weekends, but not during the week. We road our bikes all over the main part of the fort. Of course we also included the University of Nebraska museum with a lot of fossils. I hadn’t realized just how close this place is to the southern Black Hills. I definitely am going to plan a longer trip that will include the wonderful southern Black Hills plus this area. There are a number of National Monuments and Historic sites.

I wish I could post an audio recording of the campsite as I sit outside on a warm summer evening. Lots of birds (including a mourning dove) plus a small babbling brook at the edge of our site. Quite nice!

Into Nebraska

We left Iowa this morning. Yesterday’s baptism went really well. Darling Clay slept through much of the service, but he woke up when the pastor poured the water over his head! Isn’t he adorable?

Dad, GS, Mom, and the two pastors.

You can see the long skirt that buttons onto a romper. There are actually three sets of pintucks, each 7 rows.

The romper part of the baptism outfit.

The romper has 13 sets of pintucks down the front.

Regarding Iowa, I said I would post some wildflower pictures.

To give some help with scale, the yellow rockets are higher than my waist.

These pictures were taken on the bike path at Pinicon Ridge County Park, but Squaw Creek (where we camped) was the same.

We decided to head toward Gros Ventre campground in Grand Teton National Park. We also decided to not head out on I-80 but instead take Hwy 20. I must admit it is not the scenic path, but at least it has the advantage of newness. We are now camped at Carney City Park in O’Neill, NE. What a lovely little place!

Shade, concrete pad, electricity, and water.

There are quite a few sites available. It is on a voluntary donation system, so we left 10 dollars. We won’t use any facilities except the electricity so it seemed fair.

It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity

Oh my! I had forgotten just how humid and hot Iowa can be in the summer. Living in Utah for 5 1/2 years, I have gotten used to the lovely dry climate common in the West. We are back in Iowa for my grandson’s baptism, and they decided to have heat indices of 102-105. The dew point actually reached 80 degrees today. Combine that with temperatures in the mid 80s with only a light breeze, and it is miserable by late morning.

The last few mornings I have been having my coffee outside, before it gets too hot. We are staying at Squaw Creek County Park in Marion, IA. It is a lovely place with prairie meadows just bursting with flowers. I promise I will get some pictures soon. We are staying at a full hookup site for the princely price of $30. For this we have a HUGE back in site (most are pull through) with a large concrete patio, fire pit, and picnic table. It is a bit lacking in shade because the trees were planted only 10-12 years ago, but the electricity works fine to keep the AC running.

Kevin took off today to get his new electric bike delivered and put together, so I decided to get some piecing done. I finished the last row of blocks on one quilt top, put the rows together, and put two borders on. The second quilt I made rows, put the rows together, and added the two borders. The quilts will go to Quilts for Kids, and I will quilt and bind them when I get home. Note I did NOT pick the fabrics; they came in a kit from QFK.

I like this one
This one makes my eyes hurt. Look at those borders!
The “right side” of the turquoise was poorly cut and too busy, so I used the “wrong side” for the top.

I know I am going to quilt the crazy pink and turquoise one with meandering flowers. I haven’t decided on what to do for the more normal one. Oh, and I know the stitch length is all over the map. I had issues getting the stitch length where I wanted it on my Featherweight machine. I prefer a nice short stitch when piecing. Now I have to decide what other project to work on when I get bored.

In Iowa

We made it into Iowa. We are spending the night at a city park in Casey, IA, about 50 miles west of Des Moines and only a couple of miles off I-80. It is a classic small town city park with playgrounds and a covered pavilion. It also has a few electric RV sites in a grassy loop, most with lovely old shade trees. The sites are very unlevel, but the price is definitely right at only $10! We stayed here before, but I can’t remember when. Looking it up in my old paper trip journal is too painful, one of the reasons I prefer the current electronic version.

The animals have been interesting on this trip. Minou, our older black cat, is calm and collected. Nothing much bothers her. We put her in the truck, she comes for some petting, and then she goes to sleep in one of the cat towers in the back seat. Lily, the calico cat is definitely an Anxious Annie. She gets all wound up and starts crying when anything changes. Slow down? Rough road? Lots of curves? Out she comes screaming! She also wanders all over the truck. Eventually she will go to sleep under the passenger seat or I  one of the cat towers (but not the one Minou is in). Lexi, the dog, is very mellow. She is older too (12) and she just goes with the flow. She mostly just sleeps on the back seat, but occasionally something will be interesting enough to make her sit up.

Inside the trailer we have an adjustable pet gate with a tiny door for the cats to move through. It lets the cats have their food available without Lexi getting into it. We take it down when we travel.

Other than the hassle with the pet gate, traveling with Lexi added to the menagerie isn’t too bad. She sure does leave a lot of hair clumps though. When we get to our campsite in Marion we are going to have to sweep and vacuum, something I normally don’t get too worried about. The trailer is really a mess though with clumps of black dog hair all over the small amount of carpeting we have. The rest of the dog hair is in the corners of the vinyl flooring!

We have also been listening  to audiobooks on this trip. So far we have done two by Faye Kellermann. This last one had a back story about diamond merchants so I think I will pull out my Dick Francis audiobook that is also about gem sellers for our next book.

On the road again (again)

It has been a while since I posted. After the last post I finished my grandson’s baptism gown, but I am not posting pictures until the baptism takes place. I will say there are lots and lots of pintucks!

On a food-related note, I made a small lasagna with the pre-cooked noodles in a 6″ pan. It came out quite ok, and I am going to try it again. A big pan of lasagna is just too much for two people. I also tried to make brownie so in my Instant Pot, just to see if I could. It was an epic fail – brownies too thick, too much liquid after cooking, and took too long. It was a silly thing to do, and I will go back to using an oven for baked goods.

As for travel, we left on Tuesday, 4 July, to a campsite at Steamboat Lake State Park. How lovely! No electricity, and it was hot. We took it for the first couple of days, but yesterday we gave in, turned both generators on, and had air conditioning. Ahhh, cool! Mornings were really lovely, but it was just too hot to make it comfortable between 2:00 and 7:30 – 8:00. We did use the new clam screen room, and it was great. There weren’t any mosquitos I could discover, but there were a number of bothersome little gnats. The screen room kept us comfortable. Pretty nice view, isn’t it? Lots of wild flowers.

View from our campsite at Steamboat Lake State Park
Trailer and screen room
Steamboat Lake
Everything was a little smoky due to wildfires nearby

We left this morning to head to Iowa. Tonight we are in the Holiday RV Park in North Platte, NE. We have stayed here a number of times before. Lots of mature shade trees, a little bit of grass between sites, plus full hookups. I will take a luxurious shower tomorrow! The park, generally just an overnight place, is almost completely full. I am guessing it has a lot of travelers going home after the holiday week.

Oh, and Lexi came with us this trip! She is my son’s dog now, but she originally was the family dog. She is doing great, tough it is amazing how much floor space she takes up.

No camping but good food

We got back from the Black Hills trip on Sunday. This week we have just been putting around on miscellaneous things. On Wednesday we headed to Bozeman to move my son’s household goods to our storage unit. We got back on Thursday after a leisurely trip, and Friday we unloaded everything. In addition to the furnishings, we also received temporary guardianship of his dog Lexi. She was ours until he took her with him to grad school years ago so we still get along. Even the cats are getting along with her.

I have also been playing more with my Instant Pot. I have finally figured out how to make perfect “hard boiled” eggs! It is more complicated than it should be because we are at 4400′, and all the recipes are for <2000′ and need adjustments. I also bought an IP accessory that holds eggs separately so they don’t bump each other and break. For me, pressure cooking on High for 7 minutes followed by a quick release and putting the eggs in an ice bath for 5 minutes makes gorgeous eggs. The advantage of pressure cooking the eggs is they are always easy to peel, even if I use fresh eggs.

Another recipe I tried was basmati rice. One cup of rice plus 1 1/4 c of water, high pressure for 7 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes makes a lovely rice. We had it with some Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken. Yum.

Want more? Tonight I made ribs. I put 12 spare ribs (just over half a rack of pork spare ribs) on top of a rack in the pot with 1 cup of water. I used high pressure for 24 minutes followed by a natural release. I then made a sauce from 1/2 c. hoisin sauce and 3 T. chipotle paste, basted the ribs, then broiled them on both sides for a few minutes. They were wonderful! I do think I will use 26 minutes next time to have them be more “fall off the bone.” Kevin made grilled corn on the cob, and we had a feast. The basic recipe came from Instant Pot Obsession, one of my favorite recipe sources, but I updated it for elevation. I still have part of the rack of ribs to make on Monday. I haven’t decided whether I want to make the same recipe of try a different variation.

I had one big failure though. I tried to make tapioca pudding, and it came out flavorful but runny. I think I rinsed the tapioca pearls too much. I am going to try that one again since I love tapioca pudding.

On a personal note, I got into the ophthalmologist to check my vitreous detachment. There is no problem with my retina (yeah!), but he wants me to come back in six weeks as a follow up. The floaters are driving me nuts, but he says that will get better with time.

Tomorrow we go see the last Eccles Theater presentation in our season – Dirty Dancing. Next year our tickets will be on Wednesday nights which means fewer stand-ins than our current Sunday night tickets. I guess the stars don’t like doing two Sunday shows – a matinee and an evening performance. We intend on being home until 4 July when we take off for Steamboat Lake State Park on our gradual way to Iowa for my grandson’s baptism.


Pictures from the Black Hills trip

Our travel trailer and the view at Lucerne.
View off our campsite at Lucerne campground in Flaming Gorge near Manila, UT
We had a number of unfazed pronghorn that kept wandering through the campground to the lake.
Oh, and there was a family of ospreys at the edge of the campground. We never saw the babies, but the adults flew back and forth with food.

I tried to insert a sound file from Boulder Creek, but I can’t figure it out. Sorry!

Devil’s Tower from the KOA campground
Cabin near Spearfish views
Bunkhouse near Spearfish
A mandatory view of Mount Rushmore from the highway (with the truck antenna right through Jefferson’s face)
Another view of the Needles Highway
Even in the rain I think this shows why the hills were called “Black”
One of the wonderful tunnels on the Needles Highway, in the rain from inside the car.
Pactola Lake in the Black Hills has some amazing rocks around and in it.