Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How can you just sit there?




I need to have an adventure on a daily basis. In some way, shape or form, I have to experience the unknown. The satisfaction of having met a new and unfamiliar situation is refreshing. I know folks who would sooner scrape their fingernails on an old school chalkboard rather than face the unknown. Many people are perfectly happy with the everyday “go about my business like I have for 20 years” lifestyle, and that is wonderful, at least I tell myself it is. But, even though I cannot believe these folks living a Bill Murray Groundhog influenced life are really content, I accept their accepting it is the life for them.
No matter what or how we have chosen to life our lives, temptation is always with us. Now I believe some of us go about creating our own temptation in a attempt to prove our worthiness. There are people who have to fight temptation in the street on a daily basis, much as I need to experience adventure. I see this everyday and believe me when I say this, because I have two hound dogs that couldn’t be more different.
The greyhound mix named Kramer (yeah, from Sienfeld) and plot hound named Lola are polar opposites in attitude. Kramer is laid back, in not hurry and just rolls with whatever the flow is for that moment. Lola on the other hand is all about the next conquest. She is up and ready to explore and find that which is new. Both dogs will go out in our small fenced in yard to do their business. Kramer will head over to a weed or the fence then come back and catch a few rays on the deck. Lola, she begins sniffing as soon as she is out the door. Everyday there is something new. There is no such thing as “old hat” as far as Lola is concerned. She is looking for that critter that dared trespass in her yard, that lizard crawling on the wall, or the cat trying to get over the fence before being “eaten” by the hounds. All the while, Kramer is looking over as if to say, “Have at it girl, been there done that.”


Monday, March 26, 2012

James and the Giant Peach



Contribution by Saul Martin My son’s class is reading James and the Giant Peach as a class right now, and I just saw that the movie is coming on Houston TX Satellite TV this weekend! Perfect timing! I emailed the teacher and told her I would record it for her and send it in case they wanted to watch it as a class when they are finished reading the book. I always enjoy watching the movie, of a book I’ve read to see the differences and compare the movie to the book. I think that would be a good educational experience for the kids, too. It would be neat for them to get to see their characters come to life on the screen. I heard the movie is pretty good too. They also have a “homework” assignment to create a “magic potion” like in the book out of things at home. I offered to get that ice that smokes…I forgot what it is called. I thought that would look really magical to the kids to see the steam.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The drive behind the adventure, aka TEMPTATION.




There is great frustration to be experienced in the everyday day events of our lives. Generally this frustration is generated by the inability to complete or participate in opportunities we find enjoyable. On any given day these opportunities can and will change. Some opportunities are created by ourselves, others are just chance happenings where we are in the right place at the right time. Or wrong place wrong time as the case may be.
But for the sake of nit arguing, let’s say we are creating these windows of opportunities and go with the notion we are in a good place for good reasons when they are presented. After all we can all point to bad experiences and our desire to avoid them. It is resisting the temptations of the good and seductive opportunities that are the most frustrating.
Before we all get into a heated discussion on what is or is not temptation, let’s avoid the semantic war by just saying each of us knows temptation when we see it. The only caveat I am willing to stipulate to is that the temptation is legal in and does NO harm to another or property.


Living with history in the backyard.




Here in North Carolina, public cemeteries are not as wide spread as they are in the north. It is more common to have a family plot just outside your door or in the middle of your field under the 150 year old pine tree.
When I first moved to North Carolina, I was astonished to see a family cemetery in the field or sometimes just on the other side of the garage. I suppose nothing made more sense than being buried on the land you had and your family had worked for generations. In the north that w=is how many cemeteries started. The one in Wyandotte, Michigan started when a young girl in the area dies and needed a burial place. The landowner had previous set a section of his land aside where he had buried several family members and opened up the area to local residents who needed a place to bury their family members. It was at a time when Wyandotte was transitioning from a agricultural society to one more “urban” and many farms had been divided into tracts for housing.
Here in North Carolina, I imagine it was much the same until a few years ago. When your family member died, you just contacted the authorities and filed the required documents for a death certificate and went out back and dug a hole for a final resting place of your loved ones. Something I found even more astonishing is many of these family cemeteries are still active.
When I came to North Carolina in February 2009, I rented a room in a singlewide trailer in Selma. Jim is a great guy and we were fortunate that we had similar outlooks and established a wonderful relationship that we have maintained to this day. Eventually I found a house to rent 25 miles north in Zebulon. Now if you are fans of that Tru-TV show LIZARD LICK TOWING, you pretty much know about Zebulon.
We lived on Carlyle Road just north of US 64. One day on the way to the convenience center, aka dump, I passed a small cemetery on Thomas Arnold Road. I see a canopy standing over a pile of dirt. That was when I realized these small family cemeteries were still being used. Later I would pass another in Bailey. This had me thinking about how complicated we had made the act of dying in the north. Here in the south it was as easy as wheeling your loved one out back.



History has been a major influence




I must admit, part of this adventure is being on the road. In previous years, I would search out destinations. There was always a new city or town within a 2-3 hour drive of the house. This afforded me a few hours to look around and still be back within a reasonable time.
Then I stumbled across a few older cemeteries. I began to recognize certain headstone designs as being of a particular era. I went looking for the sections that had the short thin headstones or the taller kiosk style markers. These were generally in the same area of a cemetery, usually in the back and set upon a hill. I made a note of the names and took pictures of the graves that were older than 1930 date of death. I stopped at one cemetery in Waltz, Michigan where I found a family plot. It had 4-5 smaller headstones and on either end were larger headstones. The 4-5 graves in the middle were children, having died over a 5 year period beginning in 1920. The graves on the outside were the parents, buried in the 1950s. I would like to find out how this family lived and what happened that caused these children to die.
I began finding a lot of history in these old cemeteries. This was enough to feed my sense of adventure. I found many famous Detroiters’ buried at Woodmere Cemetery. Many had roads and through-fares named for them. If you are ever curious how nearby towns and streets got their names, stop by the local cemetery.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Blame it on my Ventral Striatum




There has always been a sense of urgency. The need to get it done. Though its origin has never been identified, it seems to begin from within. Somewhere in the ventral striatum is the voice of adventure that is every bit as annoying as tendinitis. This voice is always on the low, and generally barely audible. It is the reason I turn left at the intersection when the road ahead is straight and flat. It becomes my justification for questioning the established routine and seeking out the unknown solution. For so long as I can remember I have always looked for a more interesting way to solve a problem. I have even gone so far as to create problems so I can ponder all the possible ways it might be solved.
What most people see as an emergency, I see as just being another event that needs a solution. My ventral striatum tells me that no solution worth developing can be thought of too quickly. Don't get me wrong. I am far from a typical procrastinator. Yes, I will wait until the last minute to complete mundane tasks. You know those projects that really should be done, but there is no sense in doing them too soon. Once a task like this is done, whet does one do next? Isn't it better to have a task undone, waiting in the wings, than to be with out a task?
Then there is the adventure concept. Not the walking the edge of death adventure. Not even the adventure of exposing something to a risk. This is the adventure of the undiscovered. It is this adventure that creates a sense of urgency within me today.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Our first experience with the Pollen Storm




This is of course our third year here in North Carolina. It is also OFFICIALLY the worse spring on record for POLLEN. Not just any polled, but the yellow-green sea of dust that blows across the road like sand in Nevada. Previous years we hadn't even noticed the pollen unless it had rained and the edges of the puddles were outlined in a disturbing color of yellow-green.
Surprisingly it hasn't covered the interior of the house. As a friend stated on city-data forum, he has to BRUSH off his car every morning as if it were covered in....YELLOW SNOW. Seems almost everyone here is struggling with temporary asthma, watering eyes, scratchy throat and headaches. Even our two hounds have pollen colored nasal passages. This is the first time i have had to deal with an allergy related illness.
We are now faced with the prospect of washing the 5er once the storm subsides. Not that this is a bad thing. It is long over due for a bath. We had wanted to wax it during our stay in Michigan last June, but we couldn't find the RED MAX floor wax at Lowe's. I have the 8 foot ladder, but no power washer. This might be the excuse I need to pick up an economy model on craigslist this weekend, right after I get the tire tire inflator for the riding lawn mower wheels.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Anticipation is killing us

We have been looking at the Coachmen Catalina 5er for what feels like an eternity. We parked it on July 25, 2011. We had just returned from our maiden voyage. It was suppose to be a shake down trip to Michigan and then to Amish country in Shipshewana, Indiana.
It evolved into a round the Great Lakes in 14 days tour. By the time we pulled up at the homestead here in Bunnlevel, North Carolina we have traveled nearly 4,000 miles in a little over 6 weeks. We were able to see some great sights in between some grueling setbacks. Overall it was an excellent trip and we learned so much about the 5er and the Dodge Diesel.
We learned that the 33 foot 5er was just about the perfect size for the two of us and our hounds. The Dodge was going to need some fortifications if we are to take on the Rockies in the coming year. We also learned we will need a serious Wi-Fi connection to stay in touch and maintain our internet obligations.
I really think we were not prepared for the angst of being land locked during the winter. At least I wasn't ready for the feelings of entrapment. We had made plans for New Orleans at Christmas 2011. We were all planned, investigated and chewing at the tires to get on the road.
Just as Christmas was approaching, and we were ready to confirm reservations and route, Mary is offered employment working with her sister and nieces in Michigan. I have previous mentioned this and the changes n our plans that have resulted in this great opportunity. Still missing Christmas on the road made looking at the 5er even more difficult.
Mary has made the move back to Michigan to begin her apprenticeship for real estate appraiser. I wil follow by July. So until then, I am busy with cleaning and reshuffling the interior of the 5er in anticipation of the trip north.
Looks like our first trip of the season will have to wait until September or October. I just hope it isn't too cold to be in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We missed Pictured Rocks in July.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

PORTLANDIA HA!



Post contributed by Josue Durham

I started watching this hilarious new show on direct tv seattle. It is called “Portlandia”. Basically, each episode is a pair of actors who do different skits. They dress up as different characters and make fun of Portland, Oregon. I don’t say that they are actually making fun of Portland, but just playing into its unique culture. Seattle ( my town) and Portland are always in a little bit of competition to be the coolest city in the Northwest. Portland is known more for being a laid back hipster city. I have to say that every episode that I have watched so far of “Portlandia” makes me laugh so hard I almost wet my pants. It is really so on key with all of the stereotypes of people in Portland. My favorite thing that they do is all of the original songs that they come up with about the town. The season opener song was the best. They describe Portland as the town that the “dream of the nineties is alive in”. It couldn’t be a better description. If you like to laugh and know anything about Portland, you should definitely watch this show. It is hilarious!

The heart, above all else is deceitfully wicked.




Seems like it has been a long cold lonely winter...I truly understand what the Beatles were singing about in their HERE COMES THE SUN hit. We have been busy planning our next year. Mary is going into real estate appraisal and I am looking at options.
I am also looking at, no I am not looking--I am struggling with maintaining the Blue Road Blogger website. I had thought life was going to get slower. I was actually expecting large gaps in my obligations that would create the time for what I want to do.
But life always has a way of increasing its speed as we age. It doessn't feel 3 years has passed since we first started looking at the road as a lifestyle. As a means to an end of well regulated existence. We have been across the stste of North Carolina more than we have traveled any state. That inludes east to west and north to south. We have also been to Florida and discovered the beauty of Savannah Georgia. We have wandered into some real hole-in-the-wall places and were almost always impressed by the people we met there.
So I guess it is inevitible that we are now planning our return to Michigan. This will be our home base, as it has been our home since birth. We have been expatriates of a state we can no longer deny as ours. As much as I love North Carolina, I have always known this was just a lay over. As were Madison, Wisconsin; Bolder, Colorado; Honeybrook, Pennsylvania; and all the places I had the pleasure of seeing and sleeping in while I bicycled across America--all 5,000 miles--in 1982.
It is my hope that Michiagn will provide us with the time we need to organize our expectations. I also hope Michigan will also afford me the luxury of healing. I am sure Mary feels a similar pang, as we left so much undone when we jettisoned from Michigan in 2009. Mary believes it is family; but I firmly believe it is much more personal, something much deeper that draws us back. It is not as shallow as a matter of the heart. I have done this many times before, for Mary this exile is completely new, It has taken me all of 52 years to understand what it is that tugs at the soul. The heart really has little to do with our compass. The heart is incapable of finding its way as it is always influenced by the smallest notions and distracted by the weakest feelings. The soul can never be fooled. The soul stands unmoved by emotions, it is only concerned with destiny. And so 2012 begins with our destiny taking our heart back to the beginning, where we seek clarity.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dinner in Fuquay Varina





We are starting to get out a bit more. The weekends here in North Carolina include an increasing amount of sunshine. So Mary and I decided to take a more in-depth look at our neighboring city of Fuquay Varina. We generally make our trip to Sanford for our Taste of the Wild dog food, but the Tractor Supply Store has yet to be rebuilt after the tornado of April 16, 2010. So we drive to Fuquay Varina once a month or so to pick up a 35 pound bag of goodies for Lola and Kramer. On several of our previous travel through F-V, we pass what look like an old train station on Broad Street just south of the railroad tracks. There is a large marquee atop the building with the words “Fuquay Varina Station.” The building houses the Aviator Brewing Company bar. Across the street is the Aviator Brewing Company Smokehouse. We were in the mood for some North Carolina BBQ. Walking into the Smokehouse, we were impressed with the openness and simplistic uncluttered d├ęcor. It is refreshing to find a place that doesn’t feel the need to compete with Appleby’s or Cracker Barrel by filling every inch of their walls with memorabilia.
Our server was quick, polite and very accommodating. The menu was reasonably priced with most appetizers under $7.99, burgers around $8.49 with a wide variety of goodies and entrees between $9.99 and $16.99 with the triple rack of ribs coming in at $39.99 and the offer to pin your picture to the wall should you consume the entire plate by yourself. I wondered if the man vs. food guy had been here before he retired.
We started with two varieties of the house beer, Mary had the Hot Shot, and I had a darker red Belgium version. Both were very well crafted. We also did onion rings as an appetizer. We enjoyed our beers and started in on the onion rings as we waited for our Cobb salad and pulled pork plate.
Did I mention the server was great? Other than our server and the beer the rest of the evening was far from great; actually it even missed the mark for being “good.”
The onion rings looked astounding sitting on the 8X12 aluminum pan. There were piled high and the batter was crying out for some of the southwest dip that came with. The rings were a bit greasier than we would have liked, and after 2-3 of the rings, they sat in the stomach like a lead sinker. The dip was different from other southwest dips we have had at other chain restaurants. The onion rings were a great reason to drink more beer. I still think over salted peanuts would accomplish the same and be cheaper. Our server was great and had our water refills and ketchup (which did NOTHIN for the onion rings) quickly and effortlessly. It wasn’t long before our dinners arrived—on those 8 X 12 aluminum pans covered with wax paper.
Mary’s Cobb salad was more like a wedge salad that was spread across the aluminum tray like a deck of cards. The components were draped across the top of the lettuce, not layered and were very cumbersome to eat. By the time we were ready to leave, the wax paper under the Cobb was deteriorating and created a very unappetizing image.
My pulled pork plate looked excellent. I had two traditional BBQ sides—greens and mac-n-cheese. I was ready to partake. The greens were sweet. Although cooked to perfection, I could not get past the overall sweetness of the collards. I found the BBQ to have a similar taste. Other than the “smoke” flavor of the pork, I had a difficult time distinguishing the meat from the greens. The pork had what I believe was the house red sauce that was rather bland and empty. In this part of North Carolina one expects a great vinegar base sauce on their pork. The mac-n-cheese was the best part of the meal. Again, it had a unique flavor, which is good for an eatery to have its own signature, and it was prepared really well. Over all the service was great. We would love to have another beer at the Aviator Brewing Company. As for the dining experience and the food, we would say it is a 4 out of 10 in the world of pork BBQ and if not for the saving grace of the service, the beer and the mac-n-cheese (in that order) it might not have been a 4.
Our thoughts are it is a great hang out for some fine micro brewed beer, but if we were hungry we would head over to real BBQ just up the road on NC 55 in Durham.


Aviator Smokehouse on Urbanspoon



Saturday, January 28, 2012

Breakfast in Smithfield, North Carolina





Mary and I have been thinking about some of our favorite places to eat. It is very difficult to find a good, let alone great restaurant here in North Carolina. There just aren’t the greasy spoons that there are in the north. So when we do fond a place that is worth returning to, we want to share it.
The Biscuit Stop in Smithfield is such a place. I saw the Biscuit Stop the first week I was in Smithfield in March 2009. The building isn’t much to look at—in fact I was on the cell phone with Mary who was still in Michigan and commented that it was too bad it was closed because it looked like it might have been a great place for breakfast. It looked like it was CLOSED, as in OUT OF BUSINESS. It was a year later before I realized the Biscuit Stop was indeed open. Seems I always drove by after 2:00 p.m. and the Biscuit Stop is only open 5:00 A.M. until 2:00 P.M.
So it was that I stopped at 6:00 A.M. and ordered two sausage egg biscuits. At that time they were $1.00 each (the price has increased slightly since) and headed to work.
I will say they were some of the best biscuits I have had. Everything about the biscuits is home made from scratch. The mixing of the batter, the adding of the soda and the beating of the eggs are all done like my grandmother used to do. I have been back for lunch several times. The Biscuit Stop has burgers, chicken and pork sandwiches all served with a side. It is a small place that is BIG on value and taste. But drive slowly down Brightleaf because the Biscuit Stop is EASY to miss, even when you are looking for it. They also have some pretty good coffee.


Biscuit Stop on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 20, 2012

Recently Moved




Guest post from: Natalie Walter

I was moving recently and my sister asked if I was Looking for Oncor Electric in Hillister Texas? It turns out she’d found a good deal online that would work for me and my family’s new house. I was really excited about the move but I was stressed to the max about how much everything was going to cost – there are some things you shouldn’t have to think about but since I was moving because my boyfriend and I had a breakup I had to get a lot of new furniture because he had bought everything for our old house and was planning on keeping it. I can’t believe I let things go on for so long the way they were but I’m just happy that I’m finally moving on with life and getting into something new. I am excited to begin my independence and get settled in my new house so I can’t wait to get in there and get the place decorated. I’m just going to have to do it all really cheaply!

Friday, January 6, 2012

On the road closer to home

We are not straying to far from home these days. When we do, it is usually to a destination we have planned on visiting. Today we stopped by Peaden's Seafood in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Mary and I have driven past Peaden's several times, but we always came by before they open at 4:00 P.M. Last week we decided to plan a trip and try this seafood cafeteria.
Upon entering the resturant, we found it to be very comfortable and family friendly. LIke many eateries, there are photographs all over the walls. They have a long counter up front as a large paqrt of their business is carry-out. Wednesday and Thursday is $3.99 carry out special nights.
We started with the clam chowder and the complimentary hush puppies. The chowder was hot and very tasty. THe bowl was full and the chowder so thick I used a fork. The hush puppies are round, but very good. Mary and I shared the Captain's Platter between us--Flounder, Shrimp, chicken, BBQ, french fries and cole slaw.
The Shrimp was the best of the platter. Done in a light calabash style, it was extremely flavorful. The flounder was also very good, but the deep fried breading sort of took away from the flavor. The BBQ was good. I prefer mine a bit smokier, but the Peaden's vinegar based BBQ sauce was great. The chicken was a deep fried boneless piece. It was good, but it was your traditional fried 1/2 breast chicken. The cole slaw was a mayo base and we both enjoyed it.
Overall it was a very good experience and the service was worth the 20% tip. You can tell going in, Peaden's is NOT the Ritz or a high end establishment. It is a great family place and one of the best values we have found in a long time. The Captain's PLatter was $11.99 and the full bowl of clam chowder was $4.99. We both agree Peaden's is on our "We'll be back" list.

Peaden's Seafood & Catering on Urbanspoon