Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Human Catnip

Ed and my friend Kim's cat, lounging on the couch.  No matter where we go, Ed attracts felines. They follow him, sniff his feet, lick his calves, nudge his hand with their heads until he pets them.

They love Ed.

And you can see why...he's obviously delicious. 

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I'm Supposed To Call Who?

2014: Morning Coffee
2013: When The Awkward Silence Comes BEFORE The Conversation
2012: Relax And Enjoy The Ride
Goats Make Good Pizza…And You Don’t Even Get Onion Breath From It

2010: When Medieval Equals Pretty
2009: A Great Celebration Of Abundance
2008: Dormers Of Sweetgrass
2007: Old Power
2006: At Your Service
2005: Clothing Identification 101

Monday, October 24, 2016

When Your Plane Lands, You're Home

Today my mother and I went to visit one of her friends who lives in La Cholla Air Park.  It's been around for over 40 years but I've never had a reason (or the opportunity) to visit.

It's a private airpark in Oro Valley, Arizona.  The people here live on lots that are a minimum of 7 acres each, most of them own a private plane, and many have taxiways that lead right to their house from the 4,500-foot air strip in the center of the community.  All that with a view of the open desert and the Tortolita Mountains.

My mother's friend is selling her house.  What's funny is that a while back I sent a listing from this area to Ed because he's interested in the whole glider/plane ownership thing, and it turned out to be the exact house my mother's friend lives in!  The hanger, if not used for a plane, is adequately sized for a big rig. Or two.

There are signs on all the roads in the communities warning that aircraft have the right of way.  I can't imagine coming home and being met by a plane coming in my direction.

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Lining Up For The Pony Ride

2014: Keep It Movin' People
2013: Salt For Miles
2012: I Attended Without An Entourage
It’s All Greek To Me

2010: Italy On A Shoestring
2009: What The Elle???
2008: Weird And Random
2007: California Burning With Need
2006: Walking Into Another World
2005: Fall Into Winter

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Behold The Beautiful Brisket

According to Ed, and much of the internet, Brisket is one of the most difficult pieces of meat to cook in a smoker.  If that's true, then I must have a master chef hiding behind a truck driver exterior living in my house.

Ed absolutely ROCKED his first brisket!  All that book learnin' really came in handy.

Above you'll see the six pound brisket just minutes after it came out of its resting place. After it had been smoked for almost six hours, Ed took it out of the smoker, wrapped it in foil, and put it back in the smoker for two more hours.  After that, he placed it in an insulated cooler for another two hours.

I had the honor of cutting the first slice. 

I've gotta tell you...it smelled divine.  Ed seasoned it only with kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper.  I pulled off a crispy nub even before I started slicing, and it was super tasty.

When I initially trimmed the brisket the night before, Ed instructed me to leave a quarter to a half-inch of fat on it.  You can see that layer of fat in the two photos below.  Once it was on our plates, the thin strip of fat easily peeled away.  The few pieces that clung to the meat enhanced the taste.  If you're not aware of this little fact, let me fill you in.

In addition to the tasty fat, a smoked piece of meat will have what's called a "Smoke Ring".  You can see it in the photos above and below.  The smoke ring, usually pink or red in color, becomes easily visible on the edge of the piece of meat and is what happens as the meat absorbs smoke, usually until it reaches about 140 degrees internally.  The slower you cook the meat, the more smoke the piece of meat absorbs.  The smoke flavor comes from what kind of wood or pellets you use. It happens whether you slow or fast cook the meat.

It is said that the sign of great barbecue is the presence of the prized band of rosy red around the edges.  If that's there, you have arrived.

I'm going to come right out and say, having tried brisket at several barbecue joints across the country, that Ed has completely arrived with this piece of brisket.  On. His. First. Try. It was truly amazing.

Perfectly seasoned with a gorgeous crust, each thin slice fell effortlessly off the knife.  It was so incredibly tender and flavorful - and this was before putting on his homemade barbecue sauce!  The meat just fell apart.

I served it sliced, but it can easily have been shredded or chopped like some 'cue joints do it.  

This was an entirely successful and delightful smoked meat meal.  We served it to my mother and friend Kim the way they do it up in Texas - with a stack of Texas Toast, sliced white onions, BBQ sauce warmed up in a squeeze bottle, baked beans, coleslaw, and potato salad.

We stuffed ourselves.

Here's the recipe for the barbecue sauce that Franklin Barbecue uses.  They bottle it, sell it, and put it on the tables in their restaurant.  But you don't have to go to Austin to get it, you can whip it up in your own kitchen.  Doesn't get easier than that.

Makes about 3 cups

1 3/4 cups ketchup
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershite sauce
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and warm gently over medium heat, stirring occassionally.  There is no need to bring the mixture to a boil, as the idea is just to warm it enough to melt and integrate the ingredients.  Once you have done that, remove from the heat and let cool.  Transfer to a jar, bottle, squeeze bottle, or however you want to store it.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

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2015: He Really Is A Carpenter
2014: Constant Surveillance
2013: Not Even Good Enough To Make My Top 100 Pictures Of Fall List
2012: Exactly
2011: A Little Grease More Often Is Better
2010: Scenes From Florence
2009: Eddie Palm Sketch Friday
2008: Moabulous
2007: Ready To Draw The Future
2006: Red Fish, Blue Fish, One Fish, Two Fish.
2005: Beautiful Enough To Lick

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Roll With Me, Roll With Me

I discovered this song a year or so ago and every once in a while I come across it via my iTunes shuffle. I always sing it out loud, like I did today while tooling around town in the pickup, but it fits best when I'm out on the road in the big rig.

Holly Williams is the granddaughter of Hank Williams, Sr., and the daughter of Hank Williams, Jr.  The talent was evidently passed down trough the generations.

Here are the lyrics if you want to sing along:

THE HIGHWAYHolly Williams

I’ve been sitting here wondering if I’ll ever get
Back to those wheels will I ever be
Changing those strings out before nine

I am wishing for the life that I used to live
Giving everything that I had to give
In a brand new city ‘bout everynight

Missing those nights, missing that sky I been missing home
Missing their smiles, missing those miles I been missing home

Out there on the highway, out there on the open road
Oh baby would you roll with me roll with me
Head down to New Orleans
I should be wearing out the blacktop
Out there with the boys I love
Everybody would you roll with me, roll with me
Running down this dream
Get me out there on the highway

I’ve been sitting here asking him everynight
For a brand new song and a peace of mind
The road is all I think about these days

All I need is out there I will be just fine
With a 6 string guitar and a jug of wine
When the lights go down around that stage

Missing their smiles, missing those miles I been missing home
Yeah I been missing home

Out there on the highway, out there on the open road
Oh baby would you roll with me roll with me
Head down to New Orleans
I should be wearing out the blacktop
Out there with the boys I love
Everybody would you roll with me, roll with me
Running down this dream
Get me out there on the highway

Well I miss the sound of rubber rolling out my window
And that crescendo the highway brings

Out there in the highway

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Fall Into The Holidays
2014: You've Been Warned
2012: And Not Just When Halloween Is Near

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Manifesto For Meat

Ed reads manuals, websites, magazines, birthday cards.  But I don't think I've ever seen him read a book.

Until he got his hands on Franklin Barbecue - A Meat-Smoking Manifesto.

A gift from our friend, Gary Goulette, this book hasn't left Ed's hands since he opened the package the day it came in the mail.  He's like a kid with a new toy.  And Gary and Ed have become like teenage girls talking and texting on the phone lately.  About barbecue.  Gary's been smoking meat for a while now so he's been providing tips and tricks, telling Ed smoker stories, and making suggestions on cuts of meat that have worked out well for him.  He's the one who suggested Ed smoke a pork butt for his first attempt.

But let's get back to the book...apparently, this Aaron Franklin dude is a big deal.  If you visit his restaurant in Austin, prepare to wait in line for hours.  Earlier this year, The New York Times wrote about him.  His book covers everything from identifying parts on a smoker, to what kind of wood to use and the results to expect, to cuts of meat (with photos and histories of), to actually cooking, serving, and eating.  It's actually kinda right up Ed's alley, because it is like a manual.

We'd like to thank Gary for being so generous and being so interested in Ed's new endeavor.  Thanks, Gar!

This weekend Ed will be making a brisket, a Texas barbecue staple and something Ed grew up eating.  His excitement level for this cut of meat is off the charts - it doesn't get any more Texas than smoked brisket.

Come back to see the results!

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Morning Y'all
2014: Happy Fall Morning
2013: Own The Day
2012: Barrio Viejo 
2011: A Daunting Task
2010: Salivating Over The Salumeria
2009: The Cheapest Entertainment Around
2008: Proud To Be A Liberal American
2007: I Don’t Think This Is What The Gideons Had In Mind
2006: Ten Reasons Today
2005: The Big Five Oh!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ten Outstanding Years

This week I received my 10 Year Safety Award - a paid 3-day cruise to the Bahamas which includes airfare, airport transfers, and the cruise itself.

I'm not going.

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the gift, but I went on a 32-day cruise in 2015, and three years ago we went on this very same 3-day cruise when Ed won his 10 Year Safety Award.  Honestly, the hassle of flying from Arizona to Florida to get on a boat to go to the Bahamas for one day isn't worth it.  I've opted to take the alternative gift.

The certificate came with a letter congratulating me on my "outstanding achievement". What's even more of an outstanding achievement - and means more to me than this certificate or cruise - is that Ed trusts me with his life when I'm behind the wheel of his truck.  I'd say he sleeps like a baby, but that's not really accurate since they get up for feedings and cry at the slightest provocation.  He sleeps more like a house cat.  Or a corpse.  That's definitely evidence of how much confidence he has in my ability.

I'm not sure how many miles I've driven at this point, but I'm probably up around 500,000 or so.  That's a lot of pavement, baby.

Done without incident, save for a few deer strikes and a very injured bear.

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Mangiare All'aperto, Trucker Style

2014: Released To The Press
2013: In A Time When Gentlemen And Ladies Actually Existed
2012: The Great Affair 
2011: The Gaping Void Says It All
2010: Under The Tuscan Sun Within 3,000 Year Old Walls
2009: Dragged Back, Kicking And Screaming
2008: Seniors Maintain Law And Order By Way Of A Fluke Discovery
2007: Lisa Lavie Is The Angel Here
2006: Fight The Moth
2005: Abandoned But Not Forgotten

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bathing Beauty

Every few weeks our steed gets a bath.  We run in the dusty Southwest and after a while the swirling tornadoes of dust dull everything on the truck.  I'm sure it's also stripping the paint as we drive, just like it carves away rock in the canyons, but there's really nothing we can do about that.

In the winter we wash more often, as the road salt does a number on everything.  But it needs to be done in the summer, too.  Dust, dirt, and bugs.  Oh. My. God.  The bugs.

It costs $77 to get the truck and trailer washed, which is about the national average.  Some places do a better job than others but when it's done, no matter where it gets washed, it always looks ten times better.

Here you see her leaving the wash bay with a smile.

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2015: Win In A Complex World
2014: Farm To Belly
2013: It's The Weekend. Kick Back And Relax.
2012: With Pleasure
2011: It’s Exhausting Imagining You In These Pants
2010: Florentine Youth
2009: What’s In A Name?
2008: Farming The Wind
2007: Eddie In The Big Little City Friday
2006: Photograph It If You Think You May Never See It Again
2005: Why???

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Driving Into The Sunset With Voices In My Head

I've written in the past about podcastsenjoy listening to while I drive.  The time passes quickly when I have something to entertain me.

Well, there are some new podcasts that have come out and I feel it's my duty to share them with you.  Here's a list of the latest ear candy on my to-listen list. 

Slate's Trumpcast
My absolute first choice must-listen-to is this podcast.  Donald Trump provides so much material, it's impossible not to have something to say about it.  In addition to Jacob Weisberg presenting crack interviews and insightful information on the most polarizing candidate of our time, John Di Domenico, Trump impersonator, reads Donald Trump's latest tweets.  It's my favorite part of the show.

How I Built This
Another winner from NPR, How I Built This is a podcast they describe as, "about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Each episode is a narrative journey marked by triumphs, failures, serendipity and insight — told by the founders of some of the world's best known companies and brands. If you've ever built something from nothing, something you really care about — or even just dream about it."  It's hosted by Guy Raz, who hosts another one of my favorites, the TED Radio Hour.

This is a new one - only 8 episodes so far - but a real winner.  Found explores "personal stories of love, loss, hope, transformation, and aspiration through the lens of lost and found notes --with the power of humor and music."  After you listen to the episode, you'll want to check out the notes through the FOUND app or the Wondery.com website.

Code Switch
NPR knows how to crank out great podcasts.  They say, "Ever find yourself in a conversation about race and identity where you just get...stuck? Code Switch can help. We're all journalists of color, and this isn't just the work we do. It's the lives we lead. Sometimes, we'll make you laugh. Other times, you'll get uncomfortable. But we'll always be unflinchingly honest and empathetic."

More Perfect
A spinoff of another favorite podcast of mine, Radiolab, this one is super-interesting.  We are in the midst of having a new justice appointed to the Supreme Court, so it's very timely.  And appointing this justice is a big freakin' deal.  As most of us have seen, it's a country-dividing deal.  This podcast "dives into the rarefied world of the Supreme Court to explain how cases deliberated inside hallowed halls affect lives far away from the bench." It's a winner. 

Produced by Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO) and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, this podcast is "a unique collection of stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to create positive change in their communities. Upstanders help inspire us to be better citizens."  It's a Starbucks original series narrated by SuChin Pak.

And one I just heard about but haven't listened to yet:

Remarkable Lives, Tragic Deaths
This podcast examines the lives and deaths of prominent people who changed history and influenced pop culture. Each episode is focused on an historical figure and takes you on a dramatic journey through the life and ultimate tragic death of those who have had an impact on society. With the help of voice actors, we attempt to honor these individuals by bringing their stories to life. New episodes are released every Wednesday. Remarkable Lives, Tragic Deaths is part of the Parcast Network and is a Cutler Media Production.

So now you have a few new entertainment options.  Happy listening! 

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Look Away, Look Away, Look Away, Dixieland

2014: Denial For Sale In New Mexico
2013: Friday Night Fright
2012: Ten Things For October
Jane’s Addiction

2010: Isolated Iesolana
2009: WWJD?
2008: Where The Angels Arrive And Depart
2007: Diamonds In The Deep Blue
2006: Everyone Is Doing It
2005: En-Gulfed Coast

Monday, October 17, 2016

Smoky Slices Of Butt

So on Friday, Ed spent more than 12 hours smoking a Boston Butt.  He approached it with military precision.  He awoke at 4:45 am, filled the smoker with pecan pellets, let it heat up for about 30 minutes, and had the butt in place by 5:30 am.

Then he spent the rest of the day doing yard work, changing the oil on the truck, organizing his side boxes, and generally keeping busy while the pork cooked.  He watched the temperature and basted the butt hourly, as was suggested by what he's read.

When he took it out of the smoker at 6 pm, we were all starving, but we had to wait another 30 minutes while it rested.  Argghhh.  It was the longest I've EVER waited for food.  I don't even like to wait on line in a restaurant.  I'll walk out if the wait is more than 20 minutes, but here we were approaching hour thirteen.

Once we unwrapped the butt and got it ready to slice, I started to calm down a little.  The outside was both gooey and crispy.  I sliced a tiny piece off and had my first bite.  A little salty - most likely from the rub - but still pretty good.  Then I just started maniacally slicing, peeps were hungry.

The pork wasn't falling apart like I thought it would be, as I was imaging a pile of pulled pork like I've ordered at restaurants, but it was tender and moist.  I served it with mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, and small dinner rolls in case anyone wanted to make a slider-sized sandwich.

We've had pork for days.  So.  Much.  Pork.  Last night I made some leftovers for Ed, sautéed it with butter, white wine, and a little barbecue sauce.  Served it over rice with mixed veggies.  He loved it.

The rest is in the freezer.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Clouds In The State Of The Large Creek

2014: Yellow Trees, Big Sky
2013: The Negotiation
2012: Going Au Naturel
2011: A Great Idea
The Real Deal
This Should Keep You Buy For A While
Plenty Of Room For The Ladies

2007: It All Began With The Cheese
Zig Zag Wisconsin Color

2005: Made In China 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Is Purse Anxiety In The DSM?

Some girls like shoes.  Collect them.  Can never have enough pairs.  
With me, it's purses.  From an early age I've had a thing for purses.  I think I get it from my maternal grandmother, who was always on the hunt for the right bag.  It's a bit of an obsession.  From cheap to expensive, leather to pleather, parachute material to canvas.  I've had them all.  

Pockets, strap length, weight, color, material - all factors to finding just the right bag. You'd think narrowing it down would be easy.  Oh, no.  

Right now I'm carrying two - a black Kipling tote sorta like this one, and a blue lightweight faux leather crossbody bag that I pilfered from my mother.  Since I'm home so much now, I've recently started only carrying the essentials with me when I'm running around town - wallet, phone, fan, gum, pen, paper.  But if I'm going more than 10 miles from my house, the big one comes with me.

What I've realized, is that I have purse anxiety.  I must have my stuff with me.  I don't have the ability to decide which things are not as important as others. I want it all.  What if I need aspirin?  Or a bandaid?  Or duct tape?  I'm sure the weight of the purse is going to give me shoulder problems.  I probably walk lopsided as it is, favoring the shoulder that's shouldering all the weight.  And God forbid I ask Ed to get something out of my purse.  The look of horror on his face says it all.

When I went through my bag and laid out everything I carry with me, I didn't think it seemed like a lot.  The selection seems reasonable, doesn't it?  And necessary.  OK, maybe I don't need an extra expandable tote bag when I'm carrying a tote bag, but what if I go shopping and buy stuff that I need another bag for?  Like at the Farmer's Market?  I can't put peaches and strawberries in my actual purse.

I see people, mostly celebrities, running around town with just their keys and a cell phone in their hand.  


What the hell is that all about?  


What if they need something?  What if...

I don't know how they do it.  My chest is constricting just thinking about it.

Below is what I carry on a regular basis. Some things aren't shown, like tissues, or the extra grocery bags I tuck into small spaces.  Unless extreme circumstances require me to carry a small bag - like at a cocktail party, or a wedding - I almost always have all of this with me.  Sometimes more, if I'm toting around books, magazines, or my iPad.

Don't judge.

 1.  Hairspray
 2.  Tylenol
 3.  Expandable Tote Bag
 4.  Zippered bag currently being used as my wallet (money, credit cards, bills, receipts, pocket knife, etc.)
 5.  Zippered cosmetic bag (I carry enough with me to do the makeup for a drag queen stage show)
 6.  Silver zippered bag with small personal items (tampons, hand sanitizer, hand cream, bobby pins, hair ties, dental floss, antacids)
 7.  Mesh bag for change
 8.  Extra pair of silver hoops just in case I forget to wear earrings when I leave the house
 9.  Small spiral notepad and small pack of Thank You notes
10.  Post-It Notes
11.  My point-and-shoot camera that goes everywhere with me
12.  Sunglasses
13.  Paper clips and metal binder clips
14.  Extra keys to my mother's townhouse
15.  Chocolate Velamints - it's been YEARS since I've had these and recently found them at Cracker Barrel
16.  Sony earbuds
17.  Nature Valley Granola Bar
18.  Red pen, black pen, highlighter, mechanical pencil, etc.
19.  Zippered bag (gift from Marlaina, bought in Bangkok) containing Splenda
20.  Reading glasses
21.  Wet Ones bacterial wipes (I also carry baby wipes in a Ziploc bag)
22.  Mini ziploc bag with stamps, duct tape strips, misc papers and business cards collected along the way
23.  Mini ziploc bag with bandaids
24.  Hair band
25.  Gum - I usually have several kinds                

26.  Business Cards
27.  House and pickup keys.  My big rig keys are not shown.

28.  My fan.  This one is a gift from Marlaina that she purchased in Hong Kong.  I never go anywhere without.  If I had to choose between my camera and my fan, the fan would win. And since it's so big, I usually have a purse it'll fit in.  It's essential and when I'm hot, as it can be the difference between me being just bitchy or downright homicidal.

Maybe what I really need is anti-anxiety medication.  I certainly have room to carry it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Apple Crisp And Friends

2014: Where The Food Is Delicious And The Service Is World Class
2013: Something To Look Forward To
2012: Two More For You, Mr. President!
2011: A Thing About Things
2010: Americans Among Us
2009: Next Time I’m Buying Him Carbon Paper And White Out. And A Roll Of Stamps. And Maybe A VHS Player.
2008: Flash Flood
2007: Consider The Source When Getting Advice
2006: Perfectly Apropos For Bush’s Home State
2005: Soul 2 Soul

Friday, October 14, 2016

Prepping The Butt

Here's Ed, getting the pork butt ready for the smoker.  Upon suggestions from people who've gone before him, he rubbed the butt with mustard, then patted a spice rub over the entire piece of meat.

The pork shoulder was about 10 pounds.  We marveled at the price.  If you know how much it is to get pulled pork (or any barbequed meats) at a restaurant, or place like Dickey's, you know how much of a deal this piece of meat is.  Plus, it's going to provide many meals.

I think Ed's going to try brisket and turkey next, which might be a good plan considering Thanksgiving is coming soon.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Strangled By The Capital Beltway

2014: Even The Deer Are Bored
2013: Happy "Columbus" Day!
2012: Not So Subtle
2011: Satan Called. He Wants His Weather Back.
2010: If Only I Looked As Good As He Does
2009: What Grandmothers Do When Their Grandchildren Grow Up
2008: The View Of The Valley And Meadow
2007: A Beautiful Dimple In The Earth
2006: Dive The Sky
2005: G-Y-M

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

This Butt Is No Joke

Ed is serious about his new smoker.  After much research and some lengthy conversations with our friend Gary (who is enjoying his smoker), Ed decided his first piece of meat was going to be a ten pound Boston Butt, also known as a Pork Shoulder.

We bought the butt at Dickman's Meat & Deli and when we got home, Ed prepared it with a basic spice rub.  I'm really looking forward to tasting the result of Ed's extensive research.

Tomorrow morning it goes in the smoker!  Come back for the flavor report!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A Day Of Amusement On The Lake

2014:  法拉盛華埠
2013:  The Pumpkin Master
2012:  Prime Viewing
2011:  Still Flowering
Wishing I Could Trade My Feet For Wheels
And The Winner Is…
Palm In The Dirty South
Ed Makes Out With Fair Fluff Friday
Blue Light Special
Blue Collar

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Couple In Selfies

Most places we go, I'm the one taking the pictures.  Which means a lot of photos of Ed and not so many of me.  Every once in a while I remember to ask Ed to take a selfie of us - his arm is longer and can hold the camera out further than I can.

Top:  Freemason Harbor in Norfolk, VA / The sleeper of our truck / Biking in Secaucus, NJ
Middle:  Pittsburgh, PA river cruise / Amusement Park in Cedar Point, OH / Florida T/A truck stop
Bottom:  The sleeper of our truck / White Sands National Monument in NM / Mall in Tucson, AZ

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
2015: From The Top
2014: If Your Name Is Tinsley, You Probably Use A Fountain Pen
2013: British Invasion
2012: Splendid Fantasy Road Trip
2011: Hard To Get Close To
2010: Lunch In Fossombrone
2009: Taking Carving To A Whole New Level
2008: Is There Enough Yellow In THIS One For Ya?
2007: I Didn’t Realize Railway Workers Were So Frisky
2006: Individuality
2005: Text Me