Tag Archives: trailer

Ciabatta Bread

Even in the trailer for this road trip, when I wasn’t going to be doing much “domesticating,” I ended up baking bread. At home, I bake different kinds of bread but I wasn’t prepared to do that much work while on holiday. Still, a craving for that home-baked flavour grew until it could no longer be ignored. I found an easy solution. Ciabatta bread.

The oven in the trailer is not very big and had never been used. I could see why. If the bread rose very much it would bake onto the ceiling of the oven. It was chilly in the trailer too–tolerable but not ideal for dough to rise. Since ciabatta dough doesn’t need it to be toasty warm, just barely room temperature, and I had few ingredients, I decided that it was the perfect bread to try. It didn’t rise really high as a free-form loaf in the wide pan. Turned out perfect. The hardest part was lighting the gas oven without blowing up the trailer.dscn7110

Desperation recipe for ciabatta bread:

Remember that I faked and fudged it.

4 cups white flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. fast rising yeast

2 cups warm water

Stir until it forms a wet dough. Cover and set in a “warmish” place overnight.

In the morning, butter the baking pan and flop the dough into it, roughly shaping it into a loaf. Let it sit for an hour or two. Bake at 350 or 375 for about 40 minutes or until it is golden brown.

Cut off the heel tap and give it to the Captain. Cut another slice to give to your friend in the next RV rig.

Storm at Coulee City

Approaching Coulee City, Washington, I was impressed that the highway seemed to be what was holding back a huge piece of water that once was part of the Columbia River system.

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To the north, Grand Coulee Dam has diverted some of the river’s water to form Roosevelt Lake to the east (not shown here) and, to the south, Banks Lake (seen here, and named for the construction supervisor at Grand Coulee Dam). At the south end of Banks Lake is the small town  of Coulee City.

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The land to the south of the highway is nearly dry, with small amounts released to form a trickle of water over what is called the Dry Falls. Banks Lake is used for irrigation of areas close by.

Way at the other end of this causeway, where Coulee City begins, is the town RV park. Just turn left at the end of the road that is holding the lake back, and you’re in the community park.

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It was a breezy day but I didn’t worry about it too much because I remembered it being quite windy in this area when we came through here last year. However, the coots that had rafted up at the far corner of the lake knew that bad weather was coming. They made sure to be in the lee of the wind, and out of reach of the coyotes that would start yipping as soon as darkness set in.

DSCN4039I remember thinking how pretty it was, parked under the branches of the Russian olive tree, right by the beach. I looked out the window in the gathering darkness and admired glimpses of the moon reflecting on the water.

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But the gusts grew stronger and the trailer shook ever more vigorously as the evening wore on and the wind rose until it was howling like a speeding freight train. Lying in bed, I wondered if we were in an earthquake.

The  Russian olive tree that I had admired earlier was now a bony fingered skeleton tapping on our trailer walls. When we ignored the tapping some of its fingers broke off and skittered across the roof. Then whole arms of the whipping tree beat on the roof and the captain said, “I’m just waiting for the wind to get into a crack and rip the skin right off the trailer. I think we should move. It might be more sheltered over by the shower buildings.”

My ego isn’t big and I can admit now that I didn’t believe there was any place to get away from this near hurricane, but I have to give credit to the captain. He stepped outside as I called from the bed, “Hold onto the door so it doesn’t rip off.” As an afterthought I added, “And don’t … get blown … away….”

A few minutes later, the captain stuck his head in the door and screamed against the wind, “You stay in bed and I’ll drive us up around the buildings.” Slam! went the door, as the wind caught it.

“Okay … ” I whimpered. I looked down at the dogs on their mats. Two sets of eyes bugging out of  furry faces looked back at me pleadingly.

I got up and cuddled one on each side of me as we bounced along in the trailer while the captain towed us to higher ground a  couple of hundred feet  away from the lake and behind a building.

When the truck engine shut down and the captain came back into the trailer, he said, “That’s better. 40 years of commercial fishing has at least taught me something about where to anchor in a storm.”

Spider Hideouts

 

 

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Camped near a beautiful beach in Mexico, we often bought our fruit and vegetables from the produce truck.  One day, I lugged home three big bags of vegetables.

“Coming to the beach?” Gary asked.

“You go ahead. I’ll be down right after I clean these veggies,” I grumbled, slapping at the tiny biting flies. I soon gave up trying to work outside and brought the vegetables into the bug-free trailer to clean them in my little kitchenette.

Done at last! Now for the beach and a cool swim. I hurried outside to bring in my bathing suit from the clothesline we had strung between two coconut palms. I was about to step into it, when I let out a shriek. A brown critter about the size of a wolf spider was waiting for me inside the bathing suit bra.

Anyone passing by must have gawked at the bathing suit flying out the doorway.

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I was late getting to the beach that day, and although the water was refreshing, I couldn’t relax. Other swimmers must have wondered at the woman who kept pulling away the top of her bathing suit to look at her boobs.

That evening, we sat at the kitchen table playing cards and relaxing with an Oso Negro gin and peach juice. I tidied up the last few things before getting into bed.

Gary had just finished brushing his teeth and as he came out of the bathroom he heard me GASP! His eyes followed my arm as I pointed to the corner of the trailer. There, clinging to the ceiling, sat the biggest spider I’d ever seen. The fuzzy dark brown visitor had a body the size of my thumb and could easily straddle a saucer. If I had been a screamer they would have heard me all the way to Mazatlan.

“And I’ve been sitting there playing cards all evening with that thing poised over my head,” I wailed.

I handed Gary the fly swatter. “If it gets away,” I said, shakily, “I’m not sleeping in here tonight and I’ll be on the plane tomorrow.”

“It must have come in with the vegetables,” he said, as he tossed its crumpled body outside.

And where had it been while I sat there cleaning them? I wondered. Hiding in the cauliflower leaves? How close had I come to touching it? Shivers ran down my back.

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The next day we visited an open air market. I admired the handmade wooden cutting boards and picked one up to study the grain. Something ran over my hand. I threw the board into the air and squealed, “Una araña!” The vendor laughed and seemed unperturbed as I pointed to the gigantic spider running in his direction.

I was having serious thoughts of home. But imagine missing all this fun.

Baja Getaway – Part Three

We had limped back to town with the back bumper of the Boler trailer tied to the back bumper of the Ford truck. (Luckily, Gary had thought to bring along rope from home.) We had made it back from no man’s land. But now what? Our trailer frame was almost broken through near the hitch. Something had to be done. Parked on the side of the road near the main highway where Mex 1 passes through Cardenas, we sat in the truck and made a plan.

“You stay with the truck,” Gary said, “and I’ll go look for a welding shop.” He hopped onto the trail bike and buzzed down the main street. About ten minutes later he was back.

“Four blocks down the road,” he said. “A brake repair shop has welding equipment. They’ll fix the trailer tomorrow morning.”

A dreary place, but we were happy to have found it.

That night we parked across from the brake shop, in front of a small high school. I didn’t sleep much as cars and trucks careened past at all hours of the night, some on the highway, but mostly the locals doing their Friday night partying (except that it was a Sunday night), hooting and yelling in Spanish, car radios turned up full blast with speakers booming out the music—the accordion and trumpet giving it that unmistakable Mexican flavour. With each passing vehicle I sat up in bed to peek through the curtains to make sure they kept going. Not an ideal camping spot.

As the yahooing lessened in the wee hours of the morning, the barking of dozens of dogs throughout the neighbourhood, punctuated by the odd male voice barking back at them to shut up, kept us awake for the rest of that long night. We were glad when daylight came and we could drag the Boler over to the welding shop.

The young man who worked on our trailer frame for most of the day was more Indio than Spanish and his speech reflected the heavy dialect of the region. I had only taken a few months of Spanish lessons at the time and had a hard time understanding him. After a few attempts at conversation I left him to his work. He liked his job. He pounded and cut and welded and all the while he sang some kind of opera-like arias that I didn’t recognize. All day he pounded and welded, and all day he sang.

When the work was finished, the frame looked good and strong. He told us the price in his very hard to understand Indio-dialect Spanish. “Fifteen hundred pesos.”

We were shocked.

In those days, twelve years ago, the difference between the U.S. and Canadian dollar was huge, and the peso’s exchange rate reflected that. But nothing could explain why it cost 1500 pesos. We were reeling. 1500 pesos would mean about $300 Cdn., a lot of money for an unexpected expense.

Gary said, “Ask him how much in American dollars.”

The young man did some figuring and wrote in the dirt, $63.

We were happy to pay him right away. Later it dawned on me why there was such a difference in the price. His English was minimal and when he said fifteen hundred pesos, he meant 500 pesos. With the exchange that worked out exactly to U.S.$63.

“If we hadn’t asked again, we would have paid three times as much,” Gary said.

“I know,” I agreed. “Too much for people who pull Bolers.”