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Living the Sweet Life

Living the Sweet Life

Cabin fever was setting in and it was time for us to have a place to call home again.

Mema's Magic Refrigerator

Fridge and microwave next to the bed in our 73" sleeper.
Mema's magic refrigerator.

My mother's mother lived in northern Mississippi. They had 86 acres of farm land, so there was always an abundance of food, especially veggies. She had a deep freezer, a  second small refrigerator, and a magic refrigerator with an unending hole in the back.

No matter how many left overs we had, or fresh fruit, or gallons of tea getting cold, or any number of things needing to go in the fridge there was always room. More to the point, she alone knew the magic combination to open that vast hole mysteriously cloaked in the back of that old fridge. Nothing ever had to be thrown away that was still edible. And no matter how many groceries she came home with from the commissary, she always found room for it all.

This magical legacy has been passed down to me. Even with the tiny dorm fridge we have in the truck with a freezer smaller than a mailbox, that magically hidden hole opens for me allowing me to find a place for everything that needs chilling. Gallon of creamer? Sure. Milk, 2 types of deli cheese, butter, cream cheese, deli meats, tortillas, condiments, sodas, fruits, and veggies? No problem. A whole pot roast, beef tips, ground beef, ground pork, chicken breasts, frozen spinach and peas?  Sure thing!  Left overs? Pudding? Candy? Chicken salad? Juice? Yogurt? Ricotta? Mozzarella? Eggs? Bacon? Apple sauce? More? I can make it fit with room to spare!

This gift is a god-send while we are over the road.  A big truck, even with a 73" sleeper, has limited space. Every inch is valuable and utilized. Eating out all the time is expensive and unhealthy. I love my little fridge and other appliances that allow me to cook more meals than not while we are on the road. He drives all day, in all weather conditions. This way I can always have fresh food to fix him a nourishing hot meal at the end of the day.

Thank you Mema, for passing down this witchery, this magical heritage, the unending refrigerator hole!

~sierra

Size Matters


A beautiful morning in Arkansas, just because.
Bigger doesn't always mean better.  Especially in the case of cities.  Certainly big cities have their benefits.  Most things you could possibly need or want are close by.  Bigger cities usually are a host to a variety of entertainment, cultural, and shopping centers, not to mention easy access to an abundance of educational opportunities.  But they are also crowded, congested, often dirty, and higher crime.  But the biggest thing that stands out to me while traveling across the country is the lack of architectural diversity in larger cities.  Yes, they have huge sky scrapers, interesting medical buildings, art museums where the building itself is a work of art.  But essentially they all look the same.

You have your grid lock of street lights with cars racing between the reds.  You have your big box stores, your typical strip mall shopping centers, your chain restaurants.  You have your residential sections split up according to income and social status.  And driving through these larger cities very little stands out that is worth seeing aside from a famous night skyline or two.  Otherwise, the only thing you are usually watching are the taillights in front of you as you try to avoid an accident from the bumper to bumper, always in a rush, traffic.

It is the smaller towns that catch my eye.  The rural life with its rustic beauty and diversity.  The ones that have historic town hall buildings that are still functional.  The mom and pop stores and family owned grocery.  They are filled with history both in landmarks, stories, and architecture.  These little towns catch the eye as you travel slowly through them with all their neat little buildings and layouts.  They aren't as segregated as the larger cities.  You can often see residential mixed in with businesses, right next to “industrial”.  These little towns are made for walking, exploring, and enjoying.  They boast a slower pace in life.

When we are younger most of us want to escape to the big city to experience all the excitement.  But as I get older I realize the the beauty of a slower paced life and enjoy the quaint beauty of the tiny towns.

~sierra

The Night Before Christmas

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,

Comet and Cupid and Donner, and Blitzen.

But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?

It's that time of year where Christmas Carols are on every radio station, “Its a Wonderful Life” is playing on TV, and all the little children are anxiously awaiting what wonderful surprises might be under the tree come tomorrow morning.  It truly is the night before Christmas.  And did you know you can now track Santa and his sleigh as he makes his way around the world?  Just go

here

 and find out how close he is to your house.  He really puts those reindeer through a workout this one night of the year; a 24-hour midnight race around the world.

Ever wonder how those reindeer train for such a demanding event?  I'll let you in on a little secret.

Watch out for flying reindeer!  

You see these signs all over the highways and roadways throughout America, even the world.  Yep, that's right!  These are the practice pathways for Santa's team of coursers.  Throughout the year they race through mountains and valleys, woodlands and hills, up and down, and over the rivers and through the woods, but not necessarily to grandmother's house.  Atleast, not until Christmas Eve.

I'm sure they take some time off after the mad dash of Christmas Eve.  But not for too long, as they have to stay in shape for the next year.  With that in mind, off they go, the experienced and the hopeful, of all Santa's reindeer training to be the next Dasher or Blitzen.  Talk about hiding in plain sight!  So next time you're out driving around and notice these yellow caution signs for flying reindeer, look around, you just might get lucky and catch a streaking red glimpse of Rudolph's glowy nose.

Merry Christmas everyone!

~sierra

Kitty kissing Santa Claus!

Memories of Mom & Crochet



[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]

My mother was an amazing woman.  She was smart, soft-spoken, friendly to everyone unless they gave her a reason not to be... and then watch out.  She didn't take anything from people.  She had a her own sense of style, an understated elegance that was tasteful and classy, and very feminine.  Part Irish and part Cherokee, she had a beauty that matched her style.  She had the long, silky, thick, straight hair of the Cherokee, liquid silver in color unlike any other I've ever seen, along with the high cheekbones so prominent in the American Indians.  And yet her skin was covered in freckles.  She was a lady.  She was a wife.  She was a mother.  And she is missed every single day.

Some of my most fond memories of my mother are of her being involved in one of her many arts and crafts hobbies.  She did sketching, home décor and design, bead work, jewelry making, sewing, stained glass, painting, quilting, and crocheting just to name a few.  She was good at everything she did.

Ever since I was a little girl I always wanted to crochet.  It was something I grew up seeing my mother and my grandmothers do.  I loved all the things they made.  At one point my mother even owned a yarn and crochet shop.  I would try and try.  Mom tried to teach me.  Both my grandmothers tried to teach me.  Over the years various friends would try.  But, I could never get the hang of it.  I'm sure in no small part due to my lack of patience.  I wanted to do it, and it be perfect... now!  And art just doesn't work that way.

With the weather turning colder, my mind once again returned to thoughts of my mom and the things she would make.  I was determined to learn to crochet once and for all.  Its something I can do in the truck while we are moving, unlike drawing which requires the truck to be stationary due to all the bumps and such in the road.  We were in the craft section and he bought me a book, a DVD, some yarn and several various sized crochet hooks.  I studied the book, practiced some of the stitches.  Watched several videos on how to crochet.  And finally I think I have gotten the hang of it.

He's been incredibly supportive and encouraging, especially when I would get frustrated.  I've actually finished a few small practice pieces and he just bought me the yarn to try to make my very first afghan.  Needless to say I am incredibly excited.  But there is also a part of me that is melancholy as I wish my mother were here to finally see me able to crochet.  I wish there was a way to turn back the clock, or change the past, and allow me a cool afternoon of crocheting on the couch, sipping coffee, and talking with my mom as she was busy crocheting too.

Mom, I love you.  And you are missed every single day.



~sierra

Clear hair, Cold nights


[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]


One of the hardest things to get used to while being over the road in a big truck is not being able to take a shower every day. When you're under a load that has a tight time table finding time to stop and shower isn't always possible. Every time we get fuel we earn shower credits at places like Flying J, Loves, Petro, and Pilot truckstops.  But we can't always stop at those when he has to drive until his time is out.

Last night was one of those no truck stop nights.  Instead we stopped on a "get on ramp" off the interstate in the middle of the desert.  It was late and dark, and the stars were so bright in the sky miles away from any city lights.  The Milky Way just jumped out at you like special effects at a 3d movie.  Despite the spectacular view I couldn't relax because my head was itching. My hair needed washing and bad!

This was the view to random passerbyers.  Me standing outside the truck, the top of my head barely reaching the bottom of the door. The desert winds blowing, dropping the already chilly air to near freezing while I used a spray bottle to wet my hair. Thankfully, I keep a small bottle of Dr. Bronners castille soap on the truck. It cleans and refreshes wonderfully, removing oil and dirt without tons of bubbles and lather to try and rinse away. The bad thing about it is, it has peppermint in it, which is cooling.



Scrubbing the soap into my wet hair, in the cold night air, my poor little fingers were frozen. Then the fun part.  He had a gallon jug of rinse water which he slowly poured over my head. So here I am bent over, head turned upside down, combing my numb fingers through my hair as he poured cold water over it right there off the side of the interstate. Yay for teamwork!  It didn't take much water thankfully and my hair was fresh and clean.

Clean hair finally, and I was able to sleep last night all snuggled up to him to keep warm.  Tonight we get a hot showers somewhere near Fort Worth, TX.

~sierra

Realities of living in a Big Truck



[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]

Its been a little while since my last update.  In that time we made it home for a few days. We are now back out again and currently making the long haul across Texas on I-10 heading to Southern California.  In just over a week we went from Florida, to South Carolina, to Indiana, to Dallas, to Corpus Christi.  When we left home in the Florida panhandle it was in the 80s. Today the high in Corpus Christi was 44.  44!!!  In what dimention is it considered normal for Southern Texas to ever be that cold?

So we are heading to Southern California which will take us right through the Mojave Desert.  Naturally I am excited. We have a lot of time to get to our drop destination.  That means time to stop and take pictures.  There is something about the southwest's desolate beauty that appeals to me.  Maybe because it is so radically different from where I grew up.

This trip out we have better organization in the truck. When we were home he installed a 3600watt power inverter.  This will help power the new refrigerator, microwave, and coffee pot. And of course we already had the crockpot.  We lucked out at Sams and found a nice fridge on sale.  Its about 2 feet tall, like the ones you usually find in hotel rooms. Now I'm able to keep fresh veggies, milk, and enough meat for two or three meals at a time.   We can now have fresh hot coffee every morning, home cooked meals, cold drinks, and healthy snacks.  He also installed some small dresser drawers above the bed for better organization and storage.

Most of the cooking is done in the crockpot.  I found these crockpot liner bags that make cleanup a breeze.  The clean bag goes in the crockpot, then the food for cooking.  After we're done eating I wipe plates, cutlery, and stuff down with paper towels to remove food particles and grease. Then wipe everything with lysol wipes with bleach which kills germs.  Finally, I have a spray bottle with water, which I use to spray everything down and dry with a clean paper towel.  It may not be as ideal as a dish washer, but it still kills germs and is less wasteful than disposable plates, bowels, cutlery, etc...  All the trash goes in the now empty crockpot liner and throw it all away.

Of course cooking while traveling down the road is great but presents its own challenges.  You don't realize how bumpy, crooked, or otherwise imperfect our highways are until you are balanced on one foot, on top of a spring mattress, reaching on tip toe to grab something out of a cabinet; or trying to cut veggies on a small cutting board on a small slide out table and keep said veggies from bouncing to the floor at the same time.  I feel like the girl on the flying trapeze.  And did you know a bed makes a great prep area?  It has become my assembly line. Everything gets lined up on the right side of me. As I use it, it gets moved to the left side.  Strap the crockpot down and put everything away again.

When you are confined to a 73" living space three things become important. First, you have to have organization. In small spaces it doesn't take much for trash and clutter to build up.  A cluttered space is depressing and unhealthy. We try to keep everything put away. Trash gets taken out evry day. He even installed an air hose in the cab to help blow out dirt and dust.

Second, you have to make time to get out and walk around. Sitting for long periods is bad for your health. It can create blood clots in your legs due to lack of circulation. Being sedentary is bad for your blood pressure and your metabolism, as well as bad on your joints and nerves.  When we stop at truck stops he always parks in the very back, which gives us lots of leg stretching time when we walk back and forth. Having Missy with us helps too, because we have to walk the dog several times a day.  And on the days when we aren't pressed for time extra stops for pictures and site seeing help too.

Third, its important to have hobbies. Being cooped up in a small space with nothing to entertain your mind causes cabin fever, grumpiness, high tension, and other forms of stress. He and I spend a lot of time talking and joking with each other. We talk about the things we see as we travel, as well as future dreams and plans.  I look up places we're going to and we discuss the history and other trivia. We listen to a lot of music. We listen to the news and have discussions on what we hear. I spend time blogging. Yes, I do updates and check ins with my friends and family on facebook. I read on my kindle app. I have my drawing materials for when we are stopped.  And currently, I am again trying to teach myself to crochet.

Also important I think, is for each of us to have time to ourself. Not that easy in such small confines. He gets up in the morning and shuts the sleeper curtain allowing me time to wake up slowly. This is his time to listen to his talk radio shows.  After I wake up we spend some time together talking and planning.  We plan the trip route together, daily stops, fuel locations, and work on paperwork together. Usually some time in the afternoon I will go back in the sleeper to read, cook, rest, or listen to music with my headphones on, and let us each have some "me" time again.

I think we are managing a good balance. We manage to be considerate and respectful of each other. There's always lots of laughter and I love yous. And overall I feel this adventure has been good for us.  Adapting to a new lifestyle isn't all smiles and sunshine. But when two people work together the bumps in the road don't seem quite so big.

~sierra


Red Rover, Red Rover


[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]


Send tumbly right over.

How many of you remember playing Red Rover in elementary school?  You would wait for the other side to call your name and then run as fast as you could to try and break through their held hands. If you broke through you went back to your team. If you didn't break through you had to join the team that called your name.

Driving down the highway in southern Colorado I finally saw a live tumbleweed.  Ok.  So technically tumblweeds are dead plants blowing across the road.  But someone forgot to tell them that. The tumbleweeds were all lined up against the fences on either side of the road.  The bunch of them just quivering in the breeze like a bunch of kids waiting to hear their name called. Suddenly, one breaks free and rushes across the road, bouncing,  zigging and zagging.  The brownish bush darting forward then jumping back, only to zoom forward again.   This one made it across.  The next one turned around and went back the way it came.  A bunch of kids playing Red Rover between the cars on the highway.



They were fun to watch.  I could just imagine them laughing and giggling as they tumbled along.  Cheering each other on.  Razzing the hesitant ones, and squeeling with delight as they played chicken with the big trucks and won.

Yes indeed, I saw my first and many live tumbleweeds in the desolate flat lands of southern Colorado.

~sierra

Truck Lag

Being sick when you're over the road sucks!

To be fair I doubt being sick at anytime is on anyone's list of top fun things. But when you are traveling it is even worse.  All you want is a dark room, a soft pillow, a comfortable bed, and lots of quiet. Instead you are in a big truck traveling 70mph down bumpy interstate roads, up and down mountains,  and often crazy traffic. Now imagine all that motion on top of four great big air pillows!  The cab of our truck sits on these, "air ride", it helps cushion the jarring from the road. But when you are laying down in the sleeper on a spring matrress it feels like being bounced around on a trampoline.  Fun.

I'm not really sure what was wrong with me.  It started sometime Sunday, but really hit me late Monday.  For a little over 24 hours I had no energy or appetite.  I didn't even want to drink anything.  At one stop before it hit full force we were walking back to the truck and I had to lean on him to help me because I suddendly felt overwhelmingly exhausted.  I wasnt sick to my stomach. No fever.  No sniffles or coughing. Just pure exhaustion. Oh and a whole lot of peeing even through I wasn't drinking anything.

He says I was probably suffering from road or truck lag. Essentially the same principle as jet lag. In the past 3 weeks I went from living on the east coast at or below sea level for most of my life, to traveling over the smokey mountains twice, across the midwest plains three times, up, over, and down the rocky mountains four times, and from the coastal pacific northwest, down through Texas, and back to the east coast. Thats a lot of time zone, climate, and altitude changes in a short amount of time; especially for someone who isn't used to it.

Thankfully today I feel almost normal. We stopped and got a long hot shower, a  hot cup of coffee, and a good meal.  Tomorrow on to new adventures.

~sierra

*Pet Peeve* Piddle Problems

Ok, so I want to know what is up with women in public bathrooms!  Sorry guys if this embarrasses you or falls under TMI. But seriously girls, help me out here.

As someone who suffers from "stage fright" I always try to pick a bathroom stall that is not right next to someone else. Heck, even at home I hesitate and struggle if someone is right outside the door, or even in the next room.  In public facilities it isn't always possible to be completely alone in the restroom, or even have empty stalls on either side of you, especially if there is a waiting line. But it never fails.  The ladies room can be totally empty when I go in.  Then someone will come in and pick the stall next to me.  Now I'm not talking small two or three stall tinkle rooms.  I mean the big ones with lots of little privacy rooms.  I have tried picking the stalls on either far end and various stalls in the middle.  Yet every single time someone will come in and sit right next to me.

Come on ladies!  Seriously, are we that potty codependant?  Give a girl some piddle room please?

~sierra