Last leg of 2018 journey – On the way to Arizona for the winter!

Bakersfield, Las Vegas, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon North Rim and the Verde Valley

So here we are in September and we are now on our last leg of our 2018 journey around the country.

Heading east from the Carmel area of California, we stopped in Bakersfield for a couple days.  This area is a major hub for agriculture and oil production.  Kern County is the most productive oil-producing county and the fourth most productive agricultural county in the United States.

And it’s HOT!!!  So i looked up the average temps here…

Summers are very hot and there are extended stretches of hot weather with 108 days per year above 90 °!  In addition, 33 days are above 100 ° and a handful of days each summer can be expected to top 110 °.

 

Hitting the highway again, we pass through Barstow and then the Mojave Desert on the way to Las Vegas.  We passed the town of Zzyzx, (formerly Soda Springs).  LOL, we didn’t stop.

Right at the Nevada border, in Ivanpah Dry Lake, California, we came down out of some mountains into a huge valley and saw this!

This is the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (SEGS) – a solar tower technology to produce clean, reliable solar electricity to more than 140,000 homes. When it’s completed it will be the largest solar thermal power tower system in the world. This solar farm is built on 3,500 acres of public desert land.  When you see it, the size and magnitude of it is breathtaking!  There are three towers and thousands of arrays of solar panels – it’s just an amazing sight.

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Arches/Canyonland National Parks (Moab, Utah) and a rodeo! – 2017

Carol and I left Grand Junction, Colorado and headed to southern Utah to take in the first two of what’s known as the “The Mighty 5”.  The Mighty 5 are Utah’s 5 national parks – Arches, Canyonlands, Capital Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion.

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK (Moab)– With over 2000 incredible rock formations, it is no wonder why Arches National Park is one of the most fascinating national parks in the United States and a place everyone should visit in their lifetime.  Remember you can click on any picture in the blog post, and you will see a slide show of large versions of the pictures!

The park is located just outside of the cool little town of Moab, Utah and is home to the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches including the famed Delicate Arch, which is proudly displayed on the Utah license plate. Towering spires, fins and balanced rocks complement the arches, creating a remarkable assortment of landforms in a relatively small area.

The best hike we did in this area was actually not in a national park!    We drove on Potash Rd( also known as the Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway) outside of Moab.  It runs along the Colorado river through a deepening, sheer-walled wingate sandstone canyon for 15 miles.  We parked at the trailhead for the Corona Arch trail, and hiked to see Bowtie Arch and Corona Arch.  We did this hike in the afternoon and it was HOT!  This was the LAST one we did in the afternoon!

Bowtie Arch has a narrow, circular opening – a former pothole – above a streaked sandstone bowl.  Corona Arch, which is much more dramatic – a graceful, free-standing curve 140 feet across and 100 feet above the ground, projecting outwards from the cliffs.

 

CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK  (Moab) – From the rim you glimpse only segments of the Green River and the Colorado River, which flow together at the heart of Canyonlands. But everywhere you see the water’s work: canyon mazes, unbroken scarps, and sandstone pillars.

The paths of the merging rivers divide the park into three districts. The high mesa known as the Island in the Sky rises as a headland 2,000 feet above the confluence.   We only spent one day in Canyonlands and this is the area we visited.  South of the Island and east of the confluence is The Needles, where red and white-banded pinnacles tower over grassy parks and sheer-walled valleys.  Another area of the park is The Maze, a remote region of pristine solitude. The Maze is the least accessible district of Canyonlands. It’s big, wild, remote and untamed. Roads require high-clearance four-wheel-drive. There are no amenities – no food, no water, no gasoline.  Needless to say, we took a pass on The Maze!  LOL!

Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo –  Carol and I also went to see a rodeo in Moab, something neither of us had ever seen in person.   The Canyonlands PRCA rodeo was going on at the Old Spanish Trails Arena, which was right next door to the RV park where we were staying in Moab.  It was a fun night!
Coming up next?   Capital Reef & Bryce Canyon National Parks!  Stay tuned.

Colorado – 2017

After our brief stay in  Goodland, Kansas,  we packed up and headed to Colorado.  Neither Carol or I had ever spent any time in the state and were anxious to see it!

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Pike’s Peak Drive with our Freightliner Sportchassis (aka “The Beast”)

We’ll be posting a “Colorado” blog entry soon as our journey will  soon take us into Utah for the month of June to see the Big 5 national parks(Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion).

But we decided to throw together a video of something really special we did in the Colorado Springs area –  drive to the top of Pike’s Peak!

It was an amazing experience –  the views are almost impossible to describe.    Turn on your sound,  and click below.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed the drive!

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Omaha, Nebraska – 09/20/2016

After we left the Badlands, we headed east and overnighted at a nondescript campground in Sioux Falls, SD.  The next morning, we drove “Beauty” and the “Beast” due south towards the Omaha, Nebraska area.Continue reading

Powder House – Keystone, SD – 8/24/2016

The Powder House serves great wild game in the Black Hills of South Dakota!

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Rustic Powder House Lodge

Carol and I decided to go out for dinner and try one of the local favorites in Keystone, South Dakota – the Powder House.

As are most of the restaurants around here, it a seasonal restaurant open from mid-May until mid-October.img_1535

According to their web site,  the Powder House Restaurant has garnered a national reputation for serving some of the finest Prime Rib in the Mid-West, and  has also established a reputation for the fine Buffalo and wild game entrees.   Carol and I love wild game, so off we went!

img_1542We were seated promptly(with reservations) and the wait staff was attentive and friendly.

The restaurant interior is rustic and woodsy that really matches the local atmosphere.  Soon after we arrived, the restaurant became very busy, and it was a full house!

We were intrigued by their menu.   They had some interesting items, such as Buffalo meatloaf, Chef Les’ Pork Chop which was a 12 oz. double boned rack in pork chop, Vegetable Wellington-Asparagus, Red Pepper, Onion and Spinach wrapped in a Pastry with Pesto Sauce and Goat Cheese, Wapiti(Elk) & Tatanka(Buffalo) burger and bacon-wrapped trout.  Other interesting items were BBQ buffalo short ribs, Elk medallions, and a game sampler platter of buffalo short rib, elk medallion, buffalo sausage, and a blended game sausage.

Not your standard fare by a long shot!

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Bison tenderloin

I knew I wanted to try a bison tenderloin before we arrived at the Powder House, so my menu choice was predetermined! They recommend not cooking bison steak more than medium because it is very lean.  I like mine rare anyway, and they cooked it perfectly.  The texture was spot on and was very flavorful!

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Stuffed quail

Carol decided on having what was my second choice – Stuffed quail – three  birds stuffed with seasoned wild rice, roasted to a golden brown then finished with a garnet hued blackberry sauce.  Carol said the birds were cooked perfectly but the sauce was too sweet and there was too much of it, so much so,  that it “drowned”  the entire entree.  A little “spoon push” of sauce on the  plate under the quail would’ve worked better.

 In our quest to become “traveling foodys”, we always enjoy stopping at the local establishments to critique their specialties.  Some of the criteria we use when rating the establishment are decor, cleanliness, wait staff, menu, prices compared to the area competition, and food quality.

The Powder House met all the standards of an “excellent” rating with the exception of the sauce on Carol’s quail.   So the Powder House gets 4 RV’s up!  If you’re ever in the Black Hills, try it, you’ll like it!

Hibachi Hut – Manhattan, Kansas

Hibachi Hut serves up delicious Cajun dishes in a cool atmosphere in  K-State land!

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www.hibachihut.com

 

By now you all know Carol and I have been on an extended stay in Manhattan, Kansas waiting for our RV to get all of it’s warranty repair work completed.

This stay has us living in a hotel until certain repair components are completed (like completely rebuilding our shower!).  So I think we have eaten at EVERY restaurant in Manhattan!(Not really, but it certainly seems like it, LOL!)

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The “Hut” dining room

One of our favorites in our stay here has been the Hibachi Hut.  So right away, you think – Asian!  WRONG!  This place serves Cajun food!??!?   I know, that was our reaction too.

This place certainly has a long and interesting history.  It originally opened in 1965 by John and Margaret Anderson, and offered hibachi grilled burgers-hence the name “Hibachi Hut”.  The Hut quickly became a favorite in “Aggieville”(a bar/restaurant area just off of the campus of Kansas State University).

The restaurant was bought and sold a few times in the 1980’s, and the new owners at that time decided Cajun cooking was going to become a distinctive part of the Habachi Hut menu.  Gumbo, Tiger wings, Chicken Orleans and Spicy Shrimp were added to the restaurant fare.

In 2014, the restaurant moved to it’s current location in the beautiful downtown are of of Manhattan, under the new owners, Ward & Brenda Morgan.

So Carol and I decided to give this place a try – 3 times!  We had dinner first, then a Sunday brunch and finally a Crawfish Boil dinner they put on the 1st Tuesday of every month.   And every meal was a home run.  Their service is great and the prices were very good, especially when you consider the quality of the food served.

Our first dinner there,  Carol and I certainly went in different directions – I selected a “Hut Original” cajun dish – grilled  bacon wrapped shrimp basted with the Hut’s homemade BBQ sauce, served atop a bed of sausage jambalaya and sautéed green beans.  I’d have toIMG_1315 say that the jambalaya was outstanding.  Perfectly spicy, and great flavor.   And to top it off they served it with moist, warm, crumbly corn bread.

 

Carol chose the ultimate “stick to your ribs” Chicken Fried Chickenfried double breaded chicken breast, topped with creamy gravy, and served with sautéed greIMG_1313en beans and mashed taters – she NEVER eats like this! Seriously,  Carol is the ultimate vegetable junkie!  (Take notice in the picture below, she tore into her meal before I could even get the picture! LMAO!)  I didn’t have to ask her how her meal tasted, all I keep t hearing was “MMMM”,   “oh, my”,  “Wow”.  Suffice to say it was excellent.

Our next foray at the “Hut” was Sunday brunch.  Of course the best part was the $2(all day) mimosas and bloody marys – and I only had two!  UnfortIMG_1326unately we forgot to take pictures of our brunch FOOD(I don’t think it had anything to do with the bloody marys?)  Carol had two poached eggs atop cajun red skinned potatoes and peppers and i had a new york strip and poached eggs.  I asked for “rare” and I got what I asked for – a treat because many places today won’t serve you “rare” anymore!  I was a little hungry afterwards, because I typically get “leftovers” from Carols plate – but not today!

And last but not least, this past Tuesday we went back for the third time(we are now officially “Hut regulars”), for their monthly Crawfish Broil.

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The placed was packed and their was a line waiting for tables.  We had made a reservation and they had our table ready front and center right in front of the entertainment.  Rob xxxx was the entertainment and was pretty good!  He performed a lot of Dylan and Beatles.  Nice guy too(talked to him a little bit and his family is from Jim Thorpe, PA!)!

 

Click on the picture to watch a short video of Rob performing.

Lets move on to the food! Below are some pictures of the crawfish boil which Carol and I both had. It was again great food – presentation wasn’t the best but flavor was off the charts! Crawfish, shrimp, corn on the cob, boiled potatoes, collard greens, jambalaya, beans and rice – I feel full again just thinking about this meal. Carol behaved herself and ate a normal amount – I didn’t, of course and we(me) actually had three buckets! I know, I know, but it was SO good!

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Oh I almost forgot the best item on the menu!  Their homemade whiskey sauce bread pudding!

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Oh my, was this outstanding or what?  It was served warm, and that rich whiskey sauce added so much flavor. We had this dessert all three times we were there.

Will we go to the Habachi Hut again?   Well, we hope we won’t be in Kansas for a while since we’ve been here for an extended stay – but yes,  we would, because overall the food was very good, the service excellent and the prices were reasonable.