Weird Bones and Weirder Teeth - What is this?

While we were in Gilchrist, Texas, Randy's brother Lonnie showed me a bone that he found on the shore, and it unlike anything I've seen before.  I tried to research what it is, but I can't find a way to describe it that provides any information.  I am pretty sure it's a jawbone, but that's as far as I get.  Does anyone know what this is?

Rain Out? Not at the Snack Shack!

I have been wanting to improve the blog lately; now I've added a couple of widgets that may help.  There is a "Search This Blog" function under our picture/profile that will search all entries of the blog.  And below that is a blue "Email me" button to let people email us from the blog.  Please feel free to use these.

Yesterday at the Snack Shack we introduced several locals to the Butterfly Pork Chop sandwich.  This staple of the Midwest is apparently not common here - several people asked us what it was.  But everyone who asked about it decided to order it, and loved it!

Today was our second day in the Snack Shack.  It was quite cool outside - definitely jacket weather.  That's a good day to stay inside and a bad day to serve food outside.  We had some customers anyway and everything went well.  But the sky kept getting darker and darker, and then, in a lull between customers, it started to rain.  Really COLD rain.  Nobody's going out in cold rain for a sandwich, so we started to close up.  Just as I headed to the Clubhouse to put things in the big freezer, a couple of people showed up for lunch.  They were here yesterday and it was so nice of them to come out today in the rain to show support for us.  I, of course, turned around and headed back to the Shack while Randy started cooking again.  Behind them came a couple more guys, then our friend Mark stopped in to pick up lunch for himself and his wife.  And before we were done with that, two more couples came out for lunch (actually they sent over the only one of their group with a rain hood).  With this kind of support, we can hardly wait to see what happens when it's warm and sunny! 

A New Restaurant Adventure!

Well, we started a new adventure today.  The RV Park has a Snack Shack which has not been open for a few years, but this year we will be running it.  It's small, just one room, but the location is good - right next to the pool and hot tub!
It's so little that I can't even take a good picture of the inside, just sections of it.  In the back is a little deep fryer and a miniature grill; this is where Randy creates savory delights.
My place is in the "front of the house", which means one step away, at the cash register and the customer window.  
For now we will be open Fridays and Saturdays for lunch.  We are starting small - burgers, hot dogs, and a daily special - and will see where we want go from there.  It feels good to work in a restaurant again.  This time is a little different, though.  Because of who we are, we approach this professionally and take it as seriously as if it were our own.  But we don't own the business, so there is an opportunity to relax and enjoy it.  The truth is that Randy is happiest in the kitchen, so we are planning on having a good summer!

One Year Ago: Pirate Adventure
Two Years Ago: St. Louis snow
Three Years Ago: So much to do in Riverside

Tea Party Themes - March 20, 2013

I recently learned that we are near the Charleston Tea Plantation, which is supposed to be the only Tea Plantation in the Continental US.  So I decided that since we have a local tea here, we should have a Southern Hospitality Tea Party at the RV Park.  I made two pots of the tea served it with some Southern classics: Cheese Straws, Pralines, and Old Fashioned Ambrosia (all made by Randy, of course!).  Southern Ambrosia is nothing like the Ambrosia I used to have in Illinois.  That was a fruit salad of crushed pineapple, mini marshmallows and mandarin oranges in whipped cream, and always topped with maraschino cherries.  Southern Ambrosia is a lot simpler - less ingredients and never any whipped cream.  I used the oldest recipe I could find, which was just oranges slices with a bit of sugar and fresh coconut sprinkled in, and marinated overnight.
I found the picture frame that is on the table at the "Worlds Largest Yard Sale" last Saturday.  I couldn't pass it up, since it cost just a quarter.  So I printed a copy of the painting "Southern Belle" by Erich Correns and put it in the frame as a centerpiece.  The funny part is that although Correns called the painting "Southern Belle", it's really a portrait of the famous Swedish coloratura suprano, Jenny Lind.  I guess that just proves we can all be Southern Belles if we try!
I thought the tea itself tasted pretty good.  Not as good as my favorite, Marks and Spencer's Tea.  But enjoyable.  That's a good thing, because American Classic Tea has been the official tea of the White House since 1987.
I served my beloved Marks and Spencer tea a couple of weeks ago when I hosted a Low Tea.  Although High Tea is much more common, I really like Low Tea.  It's not as fancy as High Tea and there isn't as much food, so for me, it's a perfect little tea-time.  For that party I served miniature scones with clotted cream and jam, cucumber and mint sandwiches and frosted lemon cookies.  As always, Randy came through, making everything just the way it should be.

One Year Ago:  Perks of working near Disneyland, CA
Two Years Ago:  Family and Chinese Food in Oklahoma
Three Years Ago: Being a Tourist in LA, California

A Great Hilton Head Island Restaurant

Today we tried a new restaurant for breakfast - the Stack.  Our friends in the RV park recommended this one to us, and it was a great recommendation.  They make a Creme Brule French Toast that is amazing! 
And this is the most unusual sight around here - Shorty, not jumping, barking, chewing, wrestling or chasing the cat - just resting quietly.  Aren't they cute when they're sleeping?

Weird Plants

Back in November of 2011 I found a funny little plant in Arizona called a Lithop.  I really like it and bought one but unfortunately, being a desert plant, it didn't survive the trip to Alaska.  But since I'm going to be in the South for quite a while, I decided to try again.  While we were in Arizona this January I found some for sale at the at the Desert Museum.  I bought them and transplanted them into a cute little container I bought in Palomas, Mexico.  They look pretty good, with a decorative shell tucked in the corner.
And shortly after I bought it, they started to grow.  Lithops grow by pushing new leaves out from in between the old ones, sort of like a snake shedding it's skin. 
Now, being desert plants, Lithops need a lot of sun.  When Lithops are healthy, they stay very short, just above the ground.  But if they don't get enough sun, they grow up towards it.  Apparently mine are not getting enough sun, because they are looking unusually weird. . . what the heck?!

World's Largest Yard Sale and Hilton Head Island Bicycle Paths

Today the weather was perfect!  Much too nice to stay inside, so we started the day by going to what was advertised as the "World's Largest Yard Sale".  I am not sure it really qualifies for that title, but it was pretty big.  It opened at 9 am and by the time we got there at 9:15, it looked like half the Island's population was there.
Being Full-Time RVers, we don't have much room for new stuff.  The classic RV rule is "everytime something comes in, something needs to go out".  But I wasn't shopping for me, I was shopping for the Resort.  I have started hosting Tea Parties and I need a lot of cute stuff for that.  I also need a teapot, but nobody on the Island seems to have one.  

After the yard sale we still wanted to soak up more of the sunshine so we went for a bike ride.  It's about one mile to the beach, which seemed entirely within my ability, even though I haven't been on a bike much lately.  And once we made it to the beach we just kept going.  The sand is packed firm enough to ride on.  The amazing thing about this photo is that I am actually in front of Randy. . . but I sped up specifically to get this, then dropped behind again.
Eventually we turned off the beach and on to one of the many bike paths.  One of the cool things about Hilton Head Island is that they takes their trees very, very seriously here.  When the bike path conflicts with a tree, the tree wins and the path goes around.
When the road conflicts with the tree, the tree wins and the road goes around - sometimes all around.
When we got back to the Resort I went looking for our alligator.  Since it's a sunny day, he wasn't too hard to find.  He's not a big gator, but I learned that any gator looks pretty serious when he's headed towards you.

Mrs. Wilkes, RVs and Alligators

One of the best things about RVing is finding great places to eat and sharing them with others.  Today we headed to Savannah to one of our favorite places; this picture of the waiting line should give an indication of where we were:
Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House!  We were here July 19th in 2011 and loved it, so today we invited a couple of friends from the HHI Resort to go with us.  They had not been here before but they gamely got up early so we could drive to Savannah and be in line by 9:30.  This time we were at the head of the line, which soon stretched out behind us.  Once again we had the good fortune to be in line with some great folks.  The 2 young ladies ahead of us had missed the chance to come here for two years in a row and were excited about making it this year.  The couple behind us were repeat customers who brought their sister and brother-in-law along this time.  That made exactly 10, so we all got to sit together with people we were already comfortable with.  A few minutes before 11:00 the doors opened and we went inside to sit at a large oval table covered with a white tablecloth and a lot of dishes.  As usual, after we were seated they brought out even more dishes.  Today we had fried chicken, BBQ pork, beef stew, meatloaf with gravy, dirty rice and sausage, chicken and dumplings, squash, white rice, mashed potatoes with cheese and onions, candied yams with raisins, creamed corn, okra and tomatoes, snap beans, cucumbers, lima beans, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, black-eyed peas, butter beans, cornbread and biscuits, plus all the sweet tea we could drink and the best banana pudding on the planet. 
At first everyone tried to have a little of everything, but after awhile we gave up and just had whatever we knew we liked, plus a few more things to try.  Every dish we had tasted good.  This restaurant is a testimony to good cooking; there is no unique, amazing dish (although they might have the best fried chicken that can be made), just a lot of very good food made with good, fresh ingredients and cooked correctly.  A Norman Rockwell dinner table, quadrupled.

After that meal we didn't really want to walk around much, so we went to Camping World to look at beautiful RVs, then back to the Resort to look at a couple of not-so-beautiful RVs.  One hasn't moved in so long that the mice have made nests in the battery bay.
This RV has been donated to charity and is being towed out today.  I am not sure what they are going to be able to do with it; the roof was damaged a couple of years ago and mold has grown everywhere.  Yuck!
But I'm glad it's being removed from the Park.  This really is a beautiful RV Park and they take excellent care of it.  I like the gator in the lake, too.  Today Randy saw him sunning on the other side of the lake, in front of an RV.  
At first he looked like a statue, but suddenly he dashed towards the water.
A moment later the family who owns the RV drove up and let their dog out.  I'm sure they don't know why he was so fasinated by the scent at the lake!

Shorty Update

Shorty is still trying to get his new sisters to play.  Julienne still doesn't want to give him the time of day but Missy will sometimes  play with him.  (Missy always did think of herself as more of a dog than a cat.)  They don't cuddle - he likes to bark at her too much for that - but she will get into slapping matches with him.  Since she doesn't have claws, it's all in fun.  And occasionally they get distracted by something and forget to act like they don't like each other.
But his very best buddy is Randy.  If Randy sits down, before he gets all the way in the chair, Shorty is on his lap.  And Shorty wants to go everywhere with him.  That doesn't mean Shorty is good on walks - he still likes to make the decisions too much - but he is learning.

Three Years Ago: San Diego Wild Animal Park

Is it possible to overdose on oysters?

Captain Woody's restaurant is just down the road from our RV park, and tonight they celebrated the start of tourist season with a big ol' Oyster Roast.  (They don't really roast the oysters, they steam them, but "Oyster Steam" doesn't sounds as good.)  I learned that steaming is a quick way to kill the oysters, making it easier to open the shell while leaving the oyster meat raw.  That bit about being "easier to open" is important, because after you hand over $10, they give you a bucket full of oysters, all of which are still snug in their shells.  Well, we've had a little experience at shucking oysters.  The first time was in 2010 in Tillamook, but just a few days ago we bought some fresh oysters in Bluffton, so we were in good practice. But oysters don't like to be opened and they make it as difficult as possible.  And even after they are steamed, they don't just pop open.  You still need an oyster knife, some strong wrist muscles and a little patience to get the job done.  But oh, when the shell gives a little and you know that oyster is just about yours, what a wonderful feeling!

Randy's Birthday or "How to spend a day enjoying local food"

Today was Randy’s birthday and I asked him how he wanted to spend it.  His culinary instincts came to the fore, so today was all about food!

For breakfast I cooked bacon, eggs and toast, and although I don’t usually cook, it turned out OK.  Then we went to Le Cookery to see if they have anything we need.  Randy is always looking for useful kitchen utensils that will fit into the RV.  Today we didn’t find anything for the kitchen, but I may have found a new tea.  

For lunch we went back to the Bluffton Oyster Restaurant for more raw oysters; May River oysters are the best!  At Scott’s Meat Market we bought some really fresh beef and seafood. 

Back at the RV park we got a few things done, and eventually it was time for dinner.  We went to the Roastfish and Cornbread restaurant, which is pretty well-known on the Island.  Seafood is their claim to fame so we ordered an appetizer of popcorn shrimp and the Port Royal Platter.  The Platter comes with Tilapia, oysters, shrimp, scallops and crab cakes, with a side of greens.  All the seafood was lightly breaded and fried, but the breading was well done and did not overpower the seafood.  It was all good, the crab cakes were great, and the fried oysters tasted almost like morel mushrooms!  They are also famous for their sweet potato cornbread; it did have good flavor, but it was a bit too dry.  Also, for $21.95 we thought perhaps the dinner should be served on more dishes and less paper cups.  
But all in all it was enjoyable, and we will probably go back and try some of their roasted dishes.  

Every birthday needs cake, so on the way home we stopped at The Fresh Market, a really nice specialty store.  There we got some great cake - not better than Randy could bake, but certainly better than I could.  Chocolate is a great way to end a birthday . . . or any day! 

RVing in Hilton Head Island

We haven't visited much of South Carolina yet but here on Hilton Head Island, the land retains much of its natural beauty.  The culture here is very 'green', and you won't see any billboards or flashy signs.  This picture could be a street anywhere on the island, although it's someplace very specific:
Another view gives a better hint of where it is:
That's right - this is the RV park where we are staying. We have been in some other beautiful RV parks but this one stands out as the greenest.  The laws here protect trees to the extent that now it's almost impossible to cut any down.  That probably drives the business owners crazy, but it does preserve the outdoors for everyone else.  There is another RV parked next to us but the trees and foliage create a natural screen.  It is practically like camping in the woods. . .
but just around the corner are full amenities:  paved bike paths, a big clubhouse, a hot tub and a gorgeous pool, which will open as soon a it warms up a bit.
There is so much to be explored in the area, just as soon as it warms up a bit.  There is a theme there - it needs to WARM UP.  I am very grateful to be out of the snow and sleet of the Midwest, but I am now an official "Snow Bird" because I think temperatures in the 40's are practically uncivilized, even if the sun is shining.  Today I was wearing the jacket I bought for Alaska, plus my headscarf and gloves.  They tell me that soon I will be wishing for the cool weather to return and I believe them, but it doesn't keep me warm now.  Oh, well, there are some sweet compensations, like going to Gillan's Fresh Seafood and Oyster Bar for a dozen oysters.  I can't believe how much I used to hate oysters and how much I love them now.  They are still the ugliest food I've ever seen, but that's just too bad - pass me the horseradish and cocktail sauce!