Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Road Tested: Creamy Mac & Cheese

Here's another one of Debs Road Tested Recipes. This mac and cheese takes a little time to prepare, but is worth it. It can be made with just an electric burner and counter-top oven (once again saving us additional LP expense). The best part is that it refrigerates and reheats well without drying out.

  • 1 8oz package elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp powdered mustard
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (Sargentos recommended)
  • 1/2 cup shredded 6 cheese Italian blend (Sargentos recommended)
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, drained and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup each of additional sharp cheddar & Italian blend cheeses (combined for topping)
  • 1/4 cup cheese flavored snack crackers (i.e. Cheez Its) crushed


  • Boil elbow macaroni in salt water using a sauce pan for 6-7 minutes until almost cooked (al dente). Drain, rinse well with cold water and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan melt butter on medium-low, then add flour while stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture is smooth and has cooked for about two minutes.
  • Add half-and-half slowly while stirring constantly for 10 minutes. (Do not skip the constant stirring, it is essential for a creamy sauce.) Add salt, pepper, powdered mustard and nutmeg.
  • Remove pan from heat and add cheeses, stirring until smooth.
  • Combine cooled macaroni with sauce and pour into a buttered 8 inch, square baking pan.
  • Sprinkle top first with additional cheeses, then crushed crackers.
  • Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes until top is browned and bubbling.
  • Add crumbled bacon to topping and serve.


copyright 2009 Lane A Geyer

Thursday, November 19, 2009


One of the greatest gifts we have been given in this full-time RV lifestyle is the opening of our minds to the concept of true, unbridled travel. Here are some quotes that better explain the essence of our current life than I could at this point:

- "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." - St. Augustine

- "A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it." - John Steinbeck

- "Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things - air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine it." - Cesare Pavese

- "Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." - Miriam Beard

- "Tourists don't know where they've been, travelers don't know where they're going." - Paul Theroux

- "A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." - Lao Tzu

- "Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey." - Pat Conroy

- "Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R.R. Tolkein

copyright 2009 Lane A Geyer
photo by Deb

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Visiting Knoxville

We spent time yesterday afternoon visiting the City of Knoxville while enjoying a good bar-b-que meal with my brother Jimmie, sister-in-law Allison and their children Jordan & Raegan. It was a glorious day with temps. in the 70's and full sun over the Tennessee River. Once again, we were impressed with the scenery throughout this area of the country and the friendliness of local residents.

The trip also gave us the opportunity to take another picture of the Geyer Family Football trophy in front of Neyland Stadium, home to the University of Tennessee Volunteers. (For the full story of the trophy and why these pictures are taken, see the July 7th posting titled South Carolina.) Although he lives in Knoxville and Jordan is currently enrolled at UT, you can see by Jimmie's hand-gesture that he has a low opinion of the team. What can I say, he's an avid Notre Dame fan.

copyright 2009 Lane A Geyer
photo by Deb

Friday, November 13, 2009

Things That Bug Me

We experienced several days of rain this week due to the after-effects of Tropical Storm Ida. Happily, there were no leaks through the roof and I was able to use the indoor time developing ideas for future posts.

Either because of the gloomy weather, or just because I needed to vent a little, a list emerged of things that have been bugging me. Here are a few of them -

Trashy People: Whether through laziness, rudeness, ignorance or just plain meanness too many people treat the world as their personal trashcan. I have spent too much time in too many campgrounds picking up litter. Mostly it is from fire-rings containing everything from plastic utensils to dirty diapers. Added to my dismay is the amount of trash I see along roadways. I have taken walks as far a five miles at a time in areas we stayed for supplies and to get exercise; it's a great way to get a true feel for the local land that would otherwise be missed in a vehicle. But no matter where I walk there are always too many bottles, cans and other debris spoiling the experience.

Wake up people! Be responsible and mature enough to take your garbage to a dumpster or keep it in your vehicle until you get home. Just don't leave it for me or the campground staff to deal with. There's a simple rule that every young Boy & Girl Scout knows: Leave your site cleaner than you found it.

The Professor Flame-O's: This is our endearing term for people who have no clue of how to properly light a campfire. I won't get into the basics of thermodynamics here, but let's just say dry tinder goes a long way in burning larger logs. Dousing the logs in copious amounts of lighter fluid IS NOT the answer!

Dangerous Drivers: This one makes me want to go off again about drivers in the Boston area, but I won't because I've written enough about that horrendous experience. It is only one example of too many dangerous drivers we have found everywhere.

Look people, if you want to act as if you own the road and the rules don't apply to you then buy the damn thing and I'll find another route. Otherwise, keep in mind that I am in a vehicle carrying 30 lbs. of LP and 80 gallons of gas. If you hit me there is a good chance a fireball of hellish proportions will arise. If you cut me off, there is also a chance that this six-and-a-half ton rig could end up making your fancy sports car look like a flattened soft-drink can.

The Number Of Times Paula Dean Says Y'all: I have lived in the South, have relatives residing in the South, spent a great deal of time visiting areas in the South and can say I honestly know Southern people. While the word y'all is part of the Southern language, it is not used in every sentence!
I'll give Paula her dues; she is a great cook that has built an impressive empire. I just wish she would develop a broader vocabulary. And that's all I have to say about that, y'all.

There...now I feel better.

copyright 2009 Lane A Geyer
photo by Deb

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another Road Tested Recipe

After two days of steady rains, it is warm and sunny once again here in the mountains of Heiskell, TN. Although the weather limited outdoor activities, we had plenty of time to complete tasks on the Web and develop more ideas for future blog postings.

We received positive feedback on our last posting featuring the first of Debs Road Tested Recipes. So here another one that is not only inexpensively delicious, but also saves us additional LP expense through preparation with only a microwave and/or a toaster oven. This meal is especially tasty when served with a tossed salad.

  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 7 1/2 oz canned salmon (skin and bones removed)
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1/4 c chopped sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped green onion
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce
  • Sea salt, pepper and smoked paprika
  • 1/3 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese (for topping)


  • Scrub potatoes and prick with fork. Bake in either a toaster oven at 400F for 45-50 minutes or microwave for 10-15 minutes until tender when squeezed.
  • In a bowl, gently combine salmon, sour cream, chopped cheese, onion, dill, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce. Season to taste with Sea salt, pepper and smoked paprika.
  • Remove 1/2 in. slice from top of each potato.
  • Scoop out pulp, leaving 1/4 in each skin.
  • Mash pulp and stir into salmon mixture.
  • Spoon mixture into potato shells.
  • Top with shredded cheese
  • Bake in toaster oven at 400F for 15-20 minutes until cheese is browned and bubbling.


copyright 2009 Lane A Geyer

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Debs Road Tested Recipes

One of the things both of us are proud of is being darn good fusion cooks. We have always shared meal preparations and love to discover new ways for expanding our talents. A complete day for us is watching the Food Network while preparing great meals.

But living a full-time RV life has forced us to adapt to new, and innovative, ways of cooking. We have less kitchen space, need to purchase ingredients that will supply meals for weeks and save expenses while still producing unique eats. Along the way we have learned that using electric appliances like a crock pot, electric skillet and counter-top convection oven can not only produce great dishes, but also save on additional LP gas expenses. After all, why should we use our gas oven when we paid for an electrical connection in our site fee?

In future postings we will expand on recipes that have worked for us and ways we have saved expenses creating them. For now, here is the first dish that we have come to love because it is not only delicious, but also lasts well in refrigeration after assembly and compliments a variety of meals:

Ramen Noodle Salad

  • 4 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Flavor packet from chicken Ramen noodles


  • 1 pkg cole slaw mix
  • 1 pkg broccoli slaw mix
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 3 tbsp toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 pkg Ramen noodles crushed and toasted


  • Toast almonds, sunflower seeds and crushed Ramen noodles in toaster oven until golden
  • Toss salad ingredients together
  • Toss with dressing


copyright 2009 Lane A Geyer

Saturday, November 7, 2009

News vs. Reality

Over the past few weeks we have been tracking with interest what seems to be an increase of online articles and TV segments about people "opting out" of traditional lifestyles for full-time RV living. All have concentrated upon couples or families who, because of current economic conditions, decided it was time to "cash it in for a cheaper and more adventurous life". There are numerous quotes estimating as many as one million people are now living full-time in RVs and that "it is much cheaper than a maintaining a traditional sticks-and-bricks residence". Unfortunately, the facts presented in these news articles are much different than we have seen during the past five months.

Although we are far from being seasoned experts on the topic, here are some glaring differences in the facts presented in these media pieces from the front-line truths.

"As many as one million people are now living full-time in RVs": First of all, there have always been - and always will be - people who live in RVs. In all of the private campgrounds we have stayed, many people reside there either seasonally or year-round depending on the weather; but do not travel. Some of the permanent residents in these campgrounds have maintained their spots for generations and display elaborate lawns with wooden gazebos around their units. Others we have talked with travel anywhere from four to six months during any given year. We can honestly say that there are less than ten percent of the people we have talked with who both travel in and claim their RV as a primary residence 365 days a year. As the Baby Boom generation continues to increase and move into retirement, I'm sure there will be an increase of us actually living and traveling full-time in an RV. Right now though, we have not seen a reality that an increase of families or non-retired people are among us.

"It is cheaper than maintaining a traditional sticks-and-bricks residence": Depending upon the area of the country one is from the answer is maybe yes, maybe no. Renting or buying a one-bedroom unit near the Hollywood, FL beach area we came from would have cost much more than we currently spend on average monthly campground sites. But for the equal square-footage as our unit we could easily find a similar space in other areas of the country at about, or below, the same costs: and that doesn't even factor in the costs of fuel, maintenance or other regular expenses. There was a quote in one article where a family of five stated, "We calculated our costs of keeping our mortgage and related expenses at around $3,000.00 per month, now it is around $300.00 per month while living full-time in the RV." No way! The cheapest monthly rate we have found for a spot is $400.00 per month. Add in the additional costs of filling an 80 gallon gas tank, an LP supply, routine repairs, misc. expenses and other essentials and the numbers don't add up. As with any way of life, it's all about living within a realistic budget.

"Living full-time in an RV is an adventure": Yes, it is. However, perceptions are often much different than realities. Life on the road can prove to be tedious, demanding and tiring. Just because someone decides to radically change lifestyles does not mean life becomes easier. The full-time RV lifestyle is not meant for everyone. There are still daily demands; leaks develop in the roof, supplies need to be purchased, bills need to be paid, routine maintenance needs to be performed and one's ideas of space and time needs to drastically change. While everyone in the news articles have been presented as finding "the ultimate" change in lifestyle, we can attest that "the alternative" takes constant work and should only be undertaken after considering all the facts. It is not a permanent vacation. It should be openly and fully approached with a sense of innocent wonder. The best way we can explain it is through our favorite quote from Mark Twain, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed in the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover -".

copyright 2009 Lane A Geyer
photos by Deb

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Enjoying The Area

It is another beautiful day here in the mountains of Heiskell, TN; deep-blue skies, peak Fall colors and a warm sun. Temperatures have been dipping into the 30's at night, but days quickly warm back into the high 60's. So far, we have stayed comfortable with two small space heaters. There is a central heater in the unit, but we have never turned it on. We have no idea the last time it was used and do not want 25 years of accumulated who-knows-what in the vents to suddenly ignite. We'll just keep heading farther South.

A few days ago we moved to a different site in the campground for a stay through mid-December; we are now officially among the long term residents. As I wrote previously, this place is too comfortable and offers to many extras for the price to move on just because we can. We knew going into this journey that there would be places like this that would make us want to stay for awhile. It has been nice to find such a place and be surrounded by people who are genuinely happy to have us as neighbors. There are many good things to be said for Southern hospitality.