GRAPEVINE CANYON – LAUGHLIN NEVADA

This is one of those local hidden gems that no one tells you about and lucky we found it exploring around Laughlin, Nevada. About a mile off of the main highway on a dusty gravel road named Christmas Tree Road is a protected petroglyph site that beats any petroglyph site we have visited yet in our travels. The parking lot is well marked with a very clean restroom before the trailhead begins. From the parking lot is a easy 1/2 mile walk to the beginning of the cliffs, with plenty of beautiful scenery along the way.

Of course being the Thompsons we packed a lunch and plenty of water and probably spent a good half of a day exploring . The trail meanders around the rocks and petroglyphs for about 2 1/2 miles if you want to walk to the end. It’s a ruff go after the first mile with lots of rock climbing and literally sliding down cliffs but great fun for the young. This is a must adventure if you are in the area.

CHEERS FROM JUST AROUND THE BEND

OUR NEXT DESTINATION IS DEAD HORSE RANCH STATE PARK IN ARIZONA

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LAKE MEAD AND BOULDER CITY ARIZONA AND NEVADA

Boulder City was not what we expected. I thought dry, hot desert, nothing to explore, BORING, well that was not the case. I didn’t realize that a mire 4 miles from Boulder City was Hoover Dam and the expansion bridge which went across The Colorado river was incredible. After the Highway bypass was finished the cities staff went to work revitalizing the town and they did a great job. New bike paths, parks, and a nostalgic downtown with original neon signs. Boulder is one of the few Nevada cities that gambling and prostitution is illegal. This puts a relaxed persona on the town. There was a art and wine tour with live music downtown when we were visiting in February. The park on the way down to Lake Mead has resident Mountain Sheep hanging out in the park for great photo opportunities. We stayed 2 nights at the Elks Lodge RV park with Full hookups for members only. We moved over to Boulder Campground which is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area ran by the National Park Service.The very scenic sites were 10 dollars a night for senior pass holders and 20 dollars for young folks. There is 2 more campgrounds on the Nevada side and more on the Arizona side of the Lake. There is also some dispersed sites on the lake for free BLM camping. A plus to the campground is a 38 mile paved bike loop which goes along the lake, up towards Henderson and loops back to Boulder City. We had fun in the city and the Hoover dam was fascinating. We were reminded of the Selma Hayek movie Fools Rush In. Boulder won our hearts with great people and a fun nostalgic town. We will be back.

Until our next Adventure CHEERS FROM JEFF AND lIZ AT JUSTAROUNDTHEBEND.BLOG

You are probably wondering where are these Nomads headed to next – Well its to DEAD HORSE RANCH STATE PARK SEE YOU THERE!!!!

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DEATH VALLEY CALIFORNIA

DEATH VALLEY 2019 TRAVELS

We sadly departed Alabama Hills BLM Land and headed over Highway 190 through the Panamint pass, with a 8% grade entering Death Valley. At the very top of the pass a turnout called Father Crowley Vista Point is worth a stop. Just about the time we got out of our truck to enjoy the view fighter jets decided to put on a show of a lifetime for us and before our eyes the jets flew deep in the canyon yet so close to us you could almost see the pilots eyes. The canyon wasn’t straight and to witness the skill of the pilots was spectacular, this went on for over 30 minutes.. From this point on make sure your brakes are good and use your gears, as it is 8 miles at a 8 percent grade yet very scenic.

 We have now arrived at the floor of Death Valley, today it is 82 degrees, I can tell you we are not use to heat and it feels so warming and nice. We arrive at Sunrise  Camp ground with no one to check you in at the kiosk, it’s kind of cool you go to a self-check in stations ( which are scattered everywhere)  enter your information, slide your credit card and presto you go find a site anywhere you want as it is first come first serve.  The fees are $7.00 a night golden age and $14.00 regular. Totally dry camping, you do get very clean restrooms, water and free sewer dump.  Generators allowed with regulated operating hours. The camp hosts are amazing so friendly and helpful. In addition while we visited it was quiet, well except for the howling of the coyote’s, we chose camp site L1 with a vista view of the Funeral Mountains.

After settling in, we immediately head to the visitor’s center for maps, weather info and info on ranger talks. There is a lot to see and do from trail hiking, biking, arches to view and miles and miles of salt beds Ninety-one percent of Death Valley is designated wilderness, you must use common sense exploring this vast land. Before setting off on trails or roadways the park recommends one gallon of water, a day per person is required and you must stay on all trails and roadways. There are overly  friendly coyote’s you must not feed, sidewinder rattlesnakes that burrow under the rocks and sand waiting for kangaroo rats and the cutest burrows that bite and love to block traffic.

PS: Texas Spring is another campground with the same amities. Across the roadway is Furnace Creek Camp Ground with full amities if you desire.

The lonely Burrow

Join us on our next adventure to Lake Mead, maybe the weather will let us launch our kayak and do some water exploring.

CHEERS FROM JUST AROUND THE BEND – JEFF AND LIZ 

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ALABAMA HILLS CALIFORNIA

THE ALABAMA  HILLS

This destination has been on our bucket list for some time, now that we have arrived it is has been well worth the very scenic drive. Alabama Hills is BLM land, with wide open spaces and very large rock formations that look like they could come alive at any minute. Over 400 motion pictures, TV shows and commercials have been filmed here.  Ironically as you enter the area, the roadways name is  movie road. You can obtain a detailed map at the Eastern Sierra Mountain Visitors Center. 

There is a selected few dry camping spots as the BLM is re thinking the usage of the area and in the future may eliminate the free camping. This is due to heavy usage and the destruction of the plants and land. There is two designated camping sites with fees and not much amenities.

Located in the city of Lone Pine, The Museum of Western Film History is worth a stop. For a $5.00 donation the museum includes a history documentary on the film history of the Alabama hills and over 40 on going exhibits containing memorabilia and information about westerns from the earliest days of the silent screen to some of the latest. The staff also offer tours of the Alabama Hills showing you special film locations.

Next stop 15 miles up the roadway is a Internment Camp Museum called MANZANAR. Extremely well presented with actual buildings you can tour and artifacts that humble you. This is a national historic site. Give yourself at least two hours for touring the museum and camp. There is also a drive around the perimeter of the camp with stops along the way. A must see.

Please join us on our next adventure at Death Valley California

CHEERS FROM JUST AROUND THE BEND

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General TSO’S CHICKEN

GENERAL TSO’S CHICKEN

Since our retirement, my husband seems to spend a lot more time in the kitchen. Now do not take this wrong he is an excellent cook and comes up with some good ideas. He loves his pressure cooker, one morning he is surfing the web for new ideas for dinner. He also knows whatever idea he conjures up has to be healthy.  So when he says WHY DON’T WE MAKE General Tso’s Chicken tonight my first thought was YUM, I love General Tso’s chicken, but reality says breaded, deep fried, grease  oh no.  So we do more research in the  Kuhn Rikon webb site, took about 12 different recipes and ideas and came up with this fantastic recipe.  I will admit I was skeptical that just a few ingredients  could bring out such amazing flavors. OK I was wrong; this recipe has become one of our favorite fast, healthy go to recipes. It also works well for us as we make it in our RV often. The recipe works with an instant pot or my traditional pressure cooker.

SIMPLE INGREDIENTS

SAUCE –   mix together and set aside

¼ CUP LOW SODIUM SOY SAUCE OR TAMARI

¼ CUP HONEY

1 TABLESPOON TOMATO PASTE

PINCH OF CHILI FLAKES

3 STRIPS 2 IN LONG FRESH GINGER OR  2 TEASPOONS JARRED MINCED GINGER

2 TEASPOONS MINCED GARLIC

3 TABLESPOONS RICE VINEGAR

PLACE

1 POUND CHICKEN    I USE CHICKEN TENDERS –  You can use any kind of chicken you prefer thigh’s  would be good also but more fattening.  Tenders are more convenient for RVing.

Add your chicken to your pot; pour sauce over chicken, that’s it, so simple. Close the lid. I bring my pressure cooker up to the top red ring and let cook for 5 minutes, then quick release. Instant pot cooks for 10 minutes then quick release. Remove the chicken to a vessel you can keep it warm in. Leave the sauce in the pot.

3 Tablespoons Water

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Mix water in a small cup, whisk in 1 teaspoon cornstarch, add this slurry to your sauce in your pressure cooker and cook for about 2 minutes stirring to keep from lumping. Should  thicken up if not turn heat up and cook 1 to 2 additional minutes.

SERVE OVER BROWN RICE OR MY NEW FAVORITE FARRO

NOTE; FOR CONVENIENCE YOU CAN MIX THE SAUCE AND CHICKEN ALL TOGETHER, THAT WORKS WELL ALSO.

NOTE; ANOTHER HEALTHY IDEA WE DO OFTEN IS STIR FRY A LARGE BAG OF MIXED VEGGIES (LIKE THE ONES AT COSTCO) PLACE IN A REFRIGERATOR CONTAINER AND HEAT UP AS NEEDED. I THEN PLACE RICE OR FARRO IN A BOWL TOP WITH THE HEATED PRE COOKED VEGS , PLACE CHICKEN AND SAUCE ON TOP, VERY TASTY.

ANOTHER NOTE: YOU CAN USE WHITE RICE – BUT REMEMBER BROWN IS MORE NUTRIOUS!

BROWN RICE

1 CUP ORGANIC BOBS RED MILL BROWN RICE

2  ½ CUPS WATER OR STOCK

Place ingredient’s in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid or use your pressure cooker. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir once or twice, cover. Reduce heat and simmer 45 to 55 minutes.

FARRO- ORGANIC BOBS RED MILL MY FAVORITE

1 CUP FARRO

3 CUPS WATER

RINSE 1 CUP FARRO, PLACE IN A POT WITH 3 CUPS WATER OR STOCK.  BRING TO A BOIL, REDUCE HEAT TO LOW AND SIMMER FOR 30 MINUTES. DRAIN EXCESS LIQUID IF ANY.

HOPE YOU ALL TRY THIS SIMPLE HEALTHY RECIPE – CHEERS FROM LIZ AT JUST AROUND THE BEND

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RED ROCK CANYON CALIFORNIA

I was born and raised in California, everyone I have spoken to about our next adventure have never heard of Red Rock Canyon State Park. Its actually on the way to The Alabama Hills so why not, let’s explore one of California’s least known State Parks. We took Highway 58 from Bakersfield toward Mohave and North on Highway 14, in a little over 20 miles of pure desert you begin to travel into a different land. WOW- you would think you were in the middle of a Indiana Jones movie. In fact many movies, videos and commercials have been filmed here.

Most of the campsites are nestled into the brown cliffs and at night the camp fires danced literally off of the rocks. These fluted brown folds are the result of wind and rain eroding the softer materials. Very nice hiking trails, a beautiful nature walk which starts at the Visitor Center..

Restrooms are very clean with a $20.00 dump site fee. Camp fees are $23.00 a night with a $2.00 discount for seniors. Dry Camping includes tables and a fire pit with spectacular views.

On a personal note we could have stayed here a long time, the campground was extremely quiet with just the sounds of coyotes and the breathtaking hiking trails really ticked alot of our personal boxes. Would highly recommend.

Please join us for our next adventure in The Alabama Hills – see you there!!!

CHEERS FROM JUST AROUND THE BEND – JEFF AND LIZ

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Napa Valley Wine Country

The first thing that comes to my mind as we begin to see beautiful rolling hills and majestic vineyards is Calistoga water, The French Laundry and the CIA at Greystone. Napa Valley is a culinary mecca of the finest dining and wines set in the most beautiful valley and climate. We are on our winter journey exploring as we go and this was a must stop. Pulling our 25 foot trailer and trying to visit the beautiful Napa Valley Wine country is a little tricky. So what do you do, you head to The ELKS Lodge (if you're lucky enough to be members) and pay $35.00 a night for full hook-ups, bocce ball ,horseshoes,BINGO NIGHT and of course a full bar. Now that we are parked in a gated and locked secure campground we can venture out to explore the beautiful wine country at a leisure pace.

Visiting the Culinary Institute Of America (CIA) was definitely a culinary dream of ours, we are definitely foodies and this is the place to tour. From the massive carved doors when you enter, the italian architecture and the aromas from the hi tech kitchens we were in culinary heaven. A self guided tour allows you to see years of antique wine stoppers to kitchen equipment which will bring back many memories. I can’t tell you how many items we saw that our moms or grandmas had, very fun. After you are finished with your tour you have to find the CIA’S restaurant and BAKERY.

FIRST STOP: THE CIA

Homemade baguettes, stone ground bread to chocolate hazelnut tarts all made to perfection what a treat. With so much to choose from we opted for a chocolate tart and a expertly made Illy Espresso. We then had to sample their handmade chocolate truffles and maybe take home a calamita olive focaccia bread and a whole wheat stone ground loaf of bread. Yes we went a little carb crazy. We will walk it off right!

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Of the over 500 wineries in Napa Valley, the Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga California is a unique winery and a must see. We purchased the premium tour which lets you visit the dungeons, the torture room and the underground barrel rooms. We each got to taste 5 unique and delicious wines and an additional wine tasting right out of an oak barrel. We are not wine experts but do appreciate a fine glass of wine and as we tasted we were to judge each tasting. We found ourselves rating them all 10’s as EVERY TASTING was some of the best wine we have ever experienced. We had to hold back and only purchase 2 of our favorites but could have purchased all of them. We highly recommend the tour as the castle itself was Dario Sattui’s dream in which he kept the Italian theme. The style of the castle, the vast grounds and their wines make you feel you are in the heart of Italy.

Our next winery exploration was CHATEAU MONTELENA. Now there is madness behind finding this winery as it is the winery they made the movie BOTTLE SHOCK. Its a fascinating story about a struggling little winery back in 1976 that just happened to have one of the finest wines in the USA and needed to prove their excellence to the established French vintners. The grounds of the Chateau are all original and are featured in the movie. What a beautiful winery and their wine well you’ll need to watch the movie and sample some of their finest wine, let’s say we were in wine heaven.

Until our next adventure, thanks for following my blog and CHEERS from JEFF AND LIZ

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY TO ALL

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