Monday, September 29, 2008

Still Hangin'

Hi all... just a quick update. We still are not sure exactly where we will be landing now that we have been uprooted from Pfeiffer Big Sur. There is a chance that we will move down coast to Limekiln which is a small park right smack in the center of the Big Sur coastline. This is a super remote park... no phone, the electricity is via generator and the nearest grocery store is more than an hours drive away on the curvy doodle, make you car sick Hwy 1. It would take some serious effort to keep Billy's painting sales alive and running froma locale such as this. It is also a spot where we could potentially get isolated due to landslides and road closures once the rainy season sets in. We have to take all of these factors into consideration mostly because of the fact that we have to be able to get online and get stuff shipped out to buyers at least a few times a week. Once trapped by a mudslide I am pretty sure the post office does not deliver or pick up any mail. Yeah. So there you have it. Just so you can understand why we are considering this place as a serious option here are a few photos of the place to clarify the appeal...

So there you have it. It's not definite that is where we are headed... I am still trying to talk to rangers in a few other locations mostly in Northern California but Limekiln is the only spot so far that is for sure open.

In the meanwhile we are hanging out in the woods reading, painting and thinking. Here are a few more pics until next time...

Friday, September 26, 2008


Our shiny little space ship in the forest....

Hi you internet people... I just wanted to post a quick update on our scene out here in Big Sur. We have a big change of plans that has landed on our sunshiny faces these past few days. The park we were set up to live in for the next three months is officially closing for the whole coming season. To access the campground you have to cross a bridge that runs over the Big Sur River and they are afraid that once the rainy season begins there will be a lot of flash flooding carrying debris down river from the fires this past summer. The bridge would more likely than not be washed out completely by these floods. So... they are going to pull the bridge out before the rains begin. This leaves no access to the campground, therefor it has to be closed down. It can rain heavily here beginning in October through to around March so it will not be opening back up any time soon.

So where does that leave us? Yeah! Good question! We are trying to figure that out right now actually. We may head north up near Mendocino (that is my first choice) or we may end up down near San Luis Obispo at San Simeon State Park. It all depends on where we can secure a spot. We can hang out here until they announce that the bridge is coming out... it could be a week or two at best I think. Then we have to hit the road.

We have no internet service where we are right now.... so updates will be few and far between until we land somewhere else. It is beautiful here (even despite the fact of damage done by the fires) and we are trying to soak up as much as we can before we head out.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

True Grit

So tomorrow Rudy's poop will be full of sand. It can't really be good the amount of sand he seems to swallow every time we take him to the beach. He just gets his mouth totally full of it. He goes crazy. I don't know.... maybe it is the ultimate fiber experience or something. He loves it.

Today was our last day in Carmel so we went to the town beach for a good long while. Rudy is doing better with coming when called and staying when told to stay. I thought it would never happen. Usually if he even lays eyes on another dog (and it does not matter if said dog is 3/4 of a mile away) he rips off straight for them. Carmel's beach is a totally dog friendly place and dogs are allowed to be off lead but I personally think we look like assholes if we let him run like a nut way far away from us. So we have been battling this habit and it seems that we are finally making headway and coming to a place where everyone can be happy. We had fun today because we were not screaming "RUDY...NO! NO! Rudy COME!" every 6 seconds.

We dig holes...

We people watch (and dog watch)

And generally just hang out...

There are of course still moments when he reverts to demon like behavior. I think it will always be this way. He is dog... he is dirty. It does make for some super funny photos, that's for sure. Sometimes I think he is part terrier and part swamp thing... if there is a dirty, muddy pond to dive into he is there every time.

And for the next 5 minutes after getting wet he rips around growling and snarling. It's quite entertaining. It's all fun and games until the next morning you look over and see this happening...

Those are my pillows. Where I lay my CLEAN FACE at night to go to sleep. Sigh. Oh well... my immune system is probably the stuff of legend now that it is dealing with that dirt on a daily basis.

I think that will finish it for today. Have a great week peeps and I will report in from Big Sur once we get set up down there.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Oceanic Cuteness and Concentrated Evil

The above picture is evidence that seaweed can indeed be cute. Sooooo cute. If there was ever any debate on this issue... I have just closed the case in favor of the seaweed. It is not always stinky and slimy.

Anyway... what else? Let's see. First off I would like to make a public service announcement of sorts... This is relating to dogs of course. Kind of like when they do a recall of certain tainted pet foods that make it on to the grocery store shelves and may sicken your animal. This is a warning to all dog owners. There is a product on the market that basically is microwave popcorn for dogs. It is a smaller packet than the human size one and this popcorn is bacon flavored. We were given a free sample of this product from a feed shop here in California. Since Rudy is IN YOUR FACE if you try to eat popcorn in his presence we thought... Hey! Great idea! Bacon popcorn for Rudy!
We fed it to him one night while trying to bribe him to let us file his nails with one of THESE. We crammed his face full of bacon popcorn and he loved it. He ate it until his eyes literally pleaded... "Please, please you have to stop giving it to me because I cannot stop eating it!" So that was that. Life goes on... until two nights later. Let me explain that the inside of our trailer is a small space. I mean... it is enough room for us to live and function and be perfectly comfortable and happy in, but when it comes to certain things, namely SMELLS, it can get really small, really fast. And on that particular evening it was like being housed in a shoebox with a seriously pissed off skunk. Bacon Popcorn = Bacon Popcorn Farts. Bacon Popcorn Farts that have been stewing for 48 hours in the gut of a dog. When I mentioned a pissed off skunk that does not really come close to capturing the true essence of this scent. It would be more accurate to imagine that the skunk also smells like greasy poop. Burning, greasy poop that is on fire and smoldering in a pit of old rubber tires. Yes. That about sums it up. At one point Billy and I were actually huddled in corners with clothes to cover our faces. It woke me in the night. There was no escape. Of course Rudy was oblivious. Every now and then he would shoot us a look over his shoulder as he let fly with a freshy just to see if we were paying proper attention. Which was unavoidable of course. My attention paying skills were forcibly at an all time high. So there you have it. Do not feed your dog Bacon Popcorn. It could be used as a seriously hateful tactic against a neighbor you are quarreling with... feed some to HIS dog. That'll fix him. Just make sure you are upwind of the situation on the day you execute your plan.

I will leave you with a few more recent beach shots from here in Carmel. I like to call this one... "Two Bearded Men."

This is a shot of Rudy in hot pursuit of a curly little lady on the beach who was playing hard to get...

And this last one is my favorite shot from that afternoon. The waves were just enormous and were breaking right on the beach. The sky was an incredible backdrop of clouds, blue sky and of course the sun.

We head out to Big Sur on Monday. I am hoping to still be able to get online via our air card so cross your fingers for us.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Coastal Good Eats and Views

This week we are settling into our new hood here in the Carmel/Big Sur area. We took the 35 minute or so drive down coastal Hwy 1 yesterday to see what our camp host sites will be like at Pfieffer and ate at the local restaurant Nepenthe.

The campground is beautiful, nestled down deep in a valley of redwoods. I am not sure what site we will land in yet because Betty the ranger we have been speaking with was off duty yesterday. The park is right near a few essentials like the post office and of course a beach where we can bring the dirty little dog. I did not grab any shots of the campground but here is what our beach of choice for daily walks looks like...

It's a good one. We spotted dolphins fishing the kelp beds and the waves were nice and big (this is a requirement for me... I want the constant sound of them crashing to accompany me on my walks.) It was windy as hell but so it goes. Rudy fought with seaweed. And sometimes... the seaweed even seemed to fight back. It was fine entertainment.

Lunch at Nepenthe was nice. It is off the charts silly expensive ($17.50 for a portobella mushroom sandwich) but then I guess you pay for the view and the real estate it sits on when you eat there. There really is no such things as cheap eats in this neck of the woods. I liked the atmosphere of the place though, it was really casual and anytime I get to sit outside to eat you win me over.

After lunch we drove back up the coast and stopped off at a few beaches that we had spotted on the way down.

It was getting on in to early evening and was quite cloudy so my pics are kind of dark. I guess you can see well enough what the place looks like though. The sky was beautiful casting spotlights out on the water through the clouds..

Yesterday we stopped off at the farmer's market and were thrilled to find baskets of zucchini blossoms at one stand. We bought some and the woman gave us her recipe for cooking them as well. I made them today for lunch and they were quite good (and easy to make.) If you happen to stumble upon some in your local market here is the recipe I followed...

Bar D Ranch Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

makes 4 appetizer/side dishes or 2 light entrees

8 zucchini blossoms with baby zucchini attached (female blossoms)
16 teaspoons soft goat cheese, feta or ricotta ( I used goat cheese and did not come close to using or needing that much)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 cup finely chopped tomato
salt and pepper to taste
a few shredded leaves of basil

Gently open the zucchini blossoms and place 1-2 teaspoons of cheese in each. Close the petals to enclose the cheese. (This takes a minute to master... the first one will have you all "What the Hell am I doing?)

Make a fresh tomato sauce by softening the shallot in butter and then adding the tomato to cook for a few minutes until soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the basil. Place the stuffed blossoms on top of sauce and cover the pan to cook (on low heat) for around ten minutes until the zucchini is tender. Serve on top of the fresh sauce.

Here is a shot of my zucchini in the pan...

They turned out really well and tasted fantastic. I used a bit more shallot than required and we had really beautiful heirloom tomatoes to make the sauce from. Also the goat cheese was locally made, loaded with fresh herbs and garlic. I would totally make these again if given the chance (it's not everyday you find these blossoms.)

Billy is starting work on a few Carmel Beach scenes and I am sure oodles of Big Sur work will follow. The landscape is endlessly paintable here. I will post a few paintings once they are completed.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Shame On Me

It's been two weeks since I last posted. I totally suck. I admit it. But listen people... I have been swallowed up by the peach fuzzy goodness of California. We have been out doing so much stuff that I just straight up have not had it in me when we get home at night to write. Or to even think. I pretty much eat and go to sleep for like ten hours.

A quick recap would go something like this... we left Brook and Mike's ranch and went to Felton, CA which is right outside of Santa Cruz and in the redwood forest. It rocked. I loved Santa Cruz and I loved funky little Felton. Our camp was right next door to a redwood state park so we did a lot of exploring in there. We had a few really killer dinners out in Santa Cruz. If you are interested in vegetarian fare and are ever in Santa Cruz try out Malabar on Front St. They have a really far out Indian fusion sort of menu. We also ate at Dharma's which is an old school vegetarian place with a couple of dozen fabulous choices on their menu. The farmer's market in Felton provided us with THE BEST GRAPES I have ever eaten in my whole life. They were red muscat dessert grapes and they were heaven. I am forever ruined for regular old grocery store grapes.

OK... here is a smattering of photos from Santa Cruz and the redwoods etc. to give you an idea of how beautiful it is there...

OK. So we left Santa Cruz a few days ago and are now set up in Carmel Valley. People... for real.... Carmel is one of the best spots on the planet. It is so gorgeous. The houses in the village are so freakin' cute you feel like you are living inside a quaint little hobbit snow globe when you are walking around the neighborhoods in town. This is the town we will be closest to once we get set up camp hosting in Big Sur. Do you want to know the best part? Carmel is the most dog friendly town in the whole country. Hands down. Dogs are happenin' around here. Dog's are allowed. Dogs are encouraged. Dogs are workin' it at very corner like they own they joint. So that being said Rudy is in hog heaven here. He has run his little ass off on the town beach and has been out to eat and into stores. For those of you female readers who are into clothes... I can take Rudy into the Anthropologie store with me here. How nuts is that? If I had money falling out of my back end I could buy him a cashmere sweater in every hue... and a hand tooled leather collar for $100. A lot of the restaurants have doggie menus available. We are going to eat tomorrow at a place that will serve him his very own meatloaf. So that should be properly dumb fun.

Again... here's a whole bunch of pictures to sum it up. We are here for about another week so there will be lots more to follow... (for some of you the most exciting image here will be the one actually documenting the beard phase of Billy McLane... you really have to see it to believe it.)

And in case you have not had enough of me and my photos yet... here are some from a drive we took up the coast the other day on Hwy 1. Now I am pretty much just showing off.

How am I doin'? Are you throwing up pictures of the California coast, tree bark, rocks, my dog and pelicans yet? Good. That should do it for a few days right?