Anacortes … “The Key West of the Northwest”

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Anacortes … The “Key West of the Northwest” – I’d love to be able to say I coined that phrase, but sadly, no. It was this guy…

mural guy bill mitchell

Bill Mitchell, Anacortes Mural Artist

If you’ve spent any time driving through the quaint maritime hamlet of Anacortes, Washington, you’ve no doubt spotted the murals in the downtown area. Native son, Bill Mitchell created the murals starting back in 1984 and today there are 125 works of art located around the village.

I spotted Mitchell once last year. He was tooling around in a motorized contraption the likes of which I had never seen before. (The ride he’s captured in above.) I had no idea then that he was the paraplegic artist who created the murals. I wish I had because I may have had the courage to ask him about his work personally.

Instead it only took a quick Google search of the Anacortes Mural Project to get lots of information on both Mitchell and the murals themselves, albeit with a much less personal touch. Mitchell, known as a character in his own right, has done a wonderful job of injecting character into his work. That fact that he is also a town historian gave him plenty of inspiration to draw on … literally.

In an interview a few years ago, Mitchell, called Anacortes “The Key West of the Northwest”. Because it’s sort of the end of the road, meaning you either turn around or take a ferry to continue your journey. I’ll admit I laughed out loud when I first heard that. I mean Key West is on my bucket list too and I never would have put the two places in the same category.

But, after thinking about it for a bit, I think I agree with Mitchell. It doesn’t take long to realize you’re in a marina, port, fishing community. Just pop into any business on Commercial Avenue and you’re more likely than not to see someone still in their deck boots and wet from a day’s work on a boat. Stop in for a local brew or bite to eat at one of the cozy pubs along the strip and chances are you’ll overhear a fish tale or two.

True, the weather doesn’t usually cooperate when you’re looking to partake in some fruity, umbrella-capped, rum drinks on the sand at sunset. But, there certainly is a laid-back, “island time” feel to the place. I think the “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!” mindset goes a long way to make visitors feel like Anacortes is an experience – not just a destination.

And now, without further ado, here are just a few of Mr. Mitchell’s wonderful murals …

wagon

strech

boat1

usps

boy1

sled

shovel

carp1

group1

broken

multi 1

baby

I guess the Bootleg Cab is as good a place as any to leave off. LoL There are so many to see! If you’re ever in this area of the state, take the time to make Anacortes a must see. It’s worth the trip! Like the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce says… “Coast in. Hang out.” 🙂

~Cheers~

Crock Pot “Baked” Chicken

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Those are just aluminum foil balls to keep the chicken out of whatever fat was left.

The crock pot, in my opinion, is probably the best small appliance to have on hand in the RV kitchen. I think I’ve used it more in the past two years on the road than I ever did in the stick and brick house. Whether you’re looking to make dinner without heating up the entire RV or simply want to have a hot meal ready for you when you back from exploring your new location, the crock pot is your friend.

Up until recently I have pretty much only used the crock pot with recipes involving a good deal of liquid (i.e. Yankee Pot Roast) or for soups and stews. I have to admit I was a little skeptical about trying to “bake” a chicken in it. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the result!

It was just as easy as baking the bird in the oven but without the added heat in the rig or mess. By the way, if you haven’t tried the Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners I highly recommend you check them out. I love them! Having a shallow kitchen sink in the RV makes washing large pots and things a bit messy. The liners work great and reduce clean up to a quick rinse out.

Crock Pot Baked Chicken …

The whole chicken I used weighed about 4.5 pounds and took about 6 hours.

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The hardest part was skinning the chicken. I usually just buy skinless and boneless chicken breasts so this was an experience for me! I think I did okay. 🙂

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Once the chicken was as skinned as I was going to get it, I set it on the rolled up aluminum foil balls. To give it a little citrus kick I stuffed it with fresh lemon slices and tossed what was left under the bird. For seasoning I rubbed it with a combination of Oaky & Smoky Seasoning, dried parsley, fresh cracked black pepper and a tablespoon of melted butter.

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I wasn’t sure how the citrus mixed with smokey flavoring was going to be but it was great. I cooked it on high for 3 hours and then turned it down to low for another 3 hours. It was fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy!

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Not a very good picture, I know, but it really was delicious and could not have been easier!

We had enough left-over to make chicken salad for sandwiches the next day. I love getting two meals out of one! 🙂

Bellow is a picture of the seasoning I mentioned. It’s made by California Rancher and so far I’ve only seen it sold at Whole Foods. We’ve tried the Santa Maria seasoning as well and loved that one too.

I have a recipe for baking bread in the crock pot that I haven’t tried yet. But after this successful attempt at baking I think I’m ready to give it a try! I’ll let you know how it turns out. 🙂

~Cheers~

In the market for a crock pot? I use this one and love it 🙂 …

StrongBack Camp Chair – A review

I know there are lot of folding camp chairs out there to choose from but I wanted to pass along a great one we found. The STRONGBACK Elite Camp Chair.  We’ve gone through a couple of different kinds of camp chairs over the years. I think we’ve all had a few folding bag chairs in our trunks or storage compartments at some point.

The problem with most folding bag chairs, for us anyway, is the weird position you find yourself in when trying to get out. Especially the ones with the footrest attached like these …

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Golden Shore RV Resort, Long Beach, CA – October 2012

They’re comfortable, but somehow awkward. (Yes, perhaps it’s old age setting in… lol) They also don’t tend to hold up too long, getting more than two seasons was rare.

We’ve also had a couple types of the Zero Gravity chairs like these …

Salt Lake City KOA, Utah - May 2013

Salt Lake City KOA, Utah – May 2013

We’ve had these for two seasons now and they’re still holding up okay. They do have a little rust in spots from being in the salt air at the beach RV parks and they’re a bit faded from the sun, but still holding up fairly well. The problem with this type chair is the storage factor … they’re big and we have really limited space.

Now on to the STRONGBACK Elite Camp Chair  …

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Pioneer Trails RV Resort, Anacortes, WA May 2014

I have several reasons for loving these chairs. First off, they were this year’s Valentine’s Day surprise from Mr. G. Romantic isn’t he? 😉

Okay, seriously though, they really are as strong as the name implies. They also have great lumbar support that we haven’t found in other bag style camp chairs. Besides the comfort and durability the chairs are still space-saving and storage friendly.

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The bag has a choice of carrying options that make the chair easy to get to your favorite secluded spot or community campfire.

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Or maybe the over the shoulder technique is more your style…

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And of course if you’ve got to carry a cooler to your destination you’ve got a hands-free option as well …

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We haven’t had any issues with the chairs yet. Granted it’s only been a little over two months but we don’t expect any problems. They just have that nice sturdy feel and assembly to them.

So, if you’re in the market for new camp chairs that won’t break the bank or fall apart after a season, I highly recommend these!

P.S. – Special thanks to Mr. G for walking the catwalk!! LoL

P.P.S. – Did you notice our awning … err … I mean what’s left of it? Yes, windstorm kicked up while we were out. Note to self – Never leave the awning out unattended!

~Cheers~

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Did I wake up in Holland?

tulip sign

When I was a kid if you asked me where I wanted to travel to when I grew up chances are pretty good I would have answered Holland. This may not sound strange to the world travelers out there but if you knew the family I grew up in, you’d know it was a strange answer.

You see, other than one family trip to California to see my sister and her family, we never went any farther than an 8 to 10-hour car trip. In addition to strictly traveling via automobile we never, ever, ever ventured south. Mostly because to travel south would mean navigating the hostile Interstate 95 and over the George Washington Bridge … just getting too close to New York City in general. Truckers and taxis and traffic – Oh My!!

At the time I assumed this was because my Mom was just a wimp and afraid to approach the Big “Bad” Apple. She always hated crowds and was a nervous wreck in any kind of traffic. Reflecting on it now though, I wonder if maybe there were just too many sad memories in the New Jersey/New York area for her … but that’s a post for another day.

At any rate, it seems strange even to me, that a kid who had only vacationed in New England and Canada would answer Holland to a question about her favorite vacation destination. I’ve often wondered if it was something I read in school but I can’t think of anything specific. My best guess is that it was a photo spread in a National Geographic magazine … magnificent tulip fields exploding in an orgasmic array of vibrant colors.Yeah, that was probably it.

Anyhooo, imagine my delight (especially after we missed it last year by just a couple weeks) when I realized we were going to be in Anacortes longer than we originally thought this year! You guessed it, we’re only minutes away from the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival!! Woo Hoo! It was certainly one of those happy camper moments! 🙂

So, rather than bore you with any more musings on my childhood, I think I’ll let the pictures speak for me. Yeah, yeah … you’re welcome. 😉

tulip 1

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t5

d1

house

Loved this moss covered roof. Last time I checked companies were getting big bucks to grow “green” roofs! LoL

Okay, that’s all for now.

Thanks for stopping by!

~Cheers~

Quick Cash Idea for Living On The Road

Need to make some quick cash in your travels?

No, I'm not talking about phone sex either!

No, I’m not talking about phone sex either!

This title is sort of funny. Especially if you know that the novel I’m working on (slow and steady wins the race!) revolves around the daughter of an organized crime boss branching out on her own by opening a brothel in a picturesque seaport village in New England.

Relax, I haven’t taken to turning tricks for beer and book money just yet. 😉

There are all kinds of bloggers out there telling you how you to can support your nomadic lifestyle in a myriad of professional ways; technical IT type stuff, camp hosting, work camping, etc. They have tons of useful, proven tips and ideas on ways to make enough to support your gypsy dreams.

This won’t be one of those posts.

This idea is really more for anyone looking to just make a few extra bucks a week for the staples I mentioned earlier … in my case, mainly books and beer. Hey, they’re my only vices, honest. Anyway, I’ve come across a quick and fairly easy way to add to the household income slush fund.

Transcription

Yes, really.

If you’re anything like me, when you read that you thought … Ewww, medical transcription, no way! Guess what? I have to tell you it’s not all about the medical stuff. This may not be a newsflash to some, but I was a little surprised. I never even considered transcription in the past because I figured I’d have to take one of the medical transcription courses and that was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn’t even like biology in school, forget about medical terminology.

I can’t say for sure why it never occurred to me that all sorts of businesses might need transcription work done. It just didn’t. Marketing, news, religion, legal, entertainment are just a few of the categories I’ve come across while picking and choosing jobs.

Before I go too far, here’s the link for freelancer’s page of the company I’m working for at the moment. REV – Transcription Services

There is an application process to go through before being accepted. It’s fairly easy, a short writing sample and a quick grammar quiz. The turn-around time for that was about a week or so. Once I got confirmation of being accepted, it was another few days to get completely on-boarded (non-disclosure agreements, etc.) and then I was able to start.

The cool thing with REV (besides being able to pick and choose your work) is that you get paid weekly (on Mondays) and it goes directly into your PayPal account. I did my first gig on a Friday and got paid for that one plus two others I did on Monday. It’s quick and easy and you can do it from anywhere. All you need is an internet connection. (A word about that below!)

Like I said, it’s not enough to pay the mortgage. But if you’re looking for a way to supplement your guilty pleasures it could be something you might like. Seeing as I started on Friday, the first week was short and my pay for the week was only $51.90, for three short assignments. This week so far I’m over that and I still have four days left to pick up some more assignments – if I choose.

That’s another perk. You can work as much or as little as you like. Know you’re going to be near an awesome new micro-brewery next month that you want to check out? Or maybe you want to surprise your significant other with tickets to a ball game or NASCAR race without using “house funds”?  Just pick up a few extra gigs!

As much as I love being a “writer” let’s face it, there’s a reason they call us starving artists; at least at my stage in the game. Yikes, if we had to live on what I bring in we’d be living in a box – without wheels. Just sayin’ 😉 So this is a great way for me to contribute to the household coffers …

Nah, screw that. It’s a way for me to not feel guilty about my guilty pleasures. I like to call it funding the fun stuff!  🙂

I’m not at all an affiliate in the sense that I get any kind of commission on referrals or anything. I just think it’s a great way to make a few extra bucks and I wanted to pass it along to my nomadic and non-nomadic friends alike.

Okay, with regards to online data charges. If you do decide to check it out and get accepted. Be careful how you listen to the audio and video clips. I wasn’t paying attention and went straight through their site (never downloading) and racked up some nice data usage. Oooops! Thankfully, we have a business plan with Verizon and adequate GBs. But if we didn’t, it would have been a pricey mistake.

I’ve since downloaded free transcription software – FTW from Tyger Valley Systems

So far it seems to be working great, drastically reducing my data usage. Wfew!

If you’ve worked with other transcription services in the past (or still do) I’d love to hear about them. Drop me a line in the comments below.

Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

~Cheers~