Wow - The Booth/Burns/Lamberts can really cook! Thanksgiving they loaded the table with roast turkey, fried turkey, baked ham, chinese ribs, smoked pork loin, tri-tip beef, smoked ribs, smoked prime rib and baked prime rib. Plus all the trimmings! You want desserts? How about apple pie, coconut cream pie, banana cream pie, German chocolate cake, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheese roll, nut tarts and a huge fruit basket.

It was an awesome feast, but shortly after it was over we called it a day. Most of us had been up all or part of the night before, working on the church dinner. This year the church served dinner to about 3,500 people, and over 3,100 of those were hand-delivered to the people’s homes! The church that hosts the dinner only has about 200 members but they get a lot of volunteers for this event. Aunt Jean and another lady made all the dressing, cousin Teresa worked all night prepping the massive amounts of vegetables, and they both cooked several turkeys. Randy spent most of Wednesday night cooking potatoes (roughly 1200 lbs), and I used my particular skill - I washed dishes. All in all it was an exhausting but absolutely wonderful experience.

November 24, 2010

We've been RV-ing over a year now, and for the first time we returned to a place we'd been before. We drove into Riverside California and parked in our cousin's driveway again. They hosted us in the spring, and have welcomed us back again. Our first few days here we visited wineries and apple festivals.

We have also visited Lance and his family in Turlock., and took a day trip with them to Monterey, California. The bay area is beautiful; we picked up shells and beach glass (glass bits that have been rolled in the surf until they are smooth); Jordon upped the ante by finding a dollar. We ate lunch at an English style restaurant, then enjoyed the sunset at a very quiet cove, where we watched the waves for over an hour. On the way to and from Monterey we stopped at Casa de Fruta, a road side fruit stand that has been successful enough to expand into several buildings. They have a huge selection of fruits, nuts, candies as well as sandwiches and drinks. The day was a wonderful time, but we left early the next day as Jordan had school and both Lance and Marla had to work.

So we headed back to Riverside, where Teresa, Jack and Jackie had been watching our dogs for us. Teresa and her mom (Aunt Jean) are exceptional cooks, so Randy is just about in heaven. They've all been cooking up a storm here. They've fixed lobster, steaks, chicken cordon bleu, lasagna, ribs, and too many other things to mention. Uncle Jack, Cousin Jackie and I have been doing our level best to keep up the eating side of things!

Saturday we went to 2 football games where Jack and Teresa's grandsons were playing. Both Ian and Riley are in playoffs with their respective teams. They both played great and both of their teams won. Saturday they will be playing the next level, and hopefully they will both win again.

Sunday evening we joined their church outreach program, feeding homeless people in LA. It's about an hour drive to get there and they have a spot they always go to. When we pulled up around 10 pm there were a lot of people already there, waiting for us. They all lined up and were very polite to us, as we handed out PB&J sandwiches, oranges, and homemade chicken-vegetable soup. It was unsettling to see how many homeless people were there - they were all ages, all races, and both men and women. I talked to one guy who looked like he was about 30 years old. He well spoken and articulate and I wondered why he was there, but after a short time I understood - he was clearly schizophrenic. After the meal a couple of them helped clean up the area. It was a privilege to be able to do something for them.

Yesterday we went to see the La Brea Tar Pit. I love this place! No dinosaur bones (unfortunately) but lots of animals from the time of wooly mammoths and sabertooth cats. (Yes, I coveted the mammoth tusks but they were watching so I couldn't sneak one out!) Since its discovery there have been over 100 tons of bones extracted from the tar pits. The tar is often covered by a thin layer of water or leaves from nearby trees. Animals would wander into the tar pits and become trapped. Tar doesn't work like quicksand - animals did not sink under the surface to die. Instead they either died of starvation or their cries and struggles drew in predators of all sizes, from the big sabertooth cats and Dire wolves to vultures and smaller birds. But the predators would often become stuck themselves, and a whole series of animals would die together. After a few years the bones would become covered with more water or tar, and the cycle would repeat. The work there is ongoing and fascinating, and they do a great job of identifying, cleaning and reassembling all the bones. . If I had my life to live over again, I think I'd work as a paleontologist.

Today (11/24/10) we are getting ready for Thanksgiving. Tomorrow at Jim Booth's house is the Booth family celebration. We expect to have Roasted Turkey, Deep Fried Turkey, Ham, Prime Rib, Chinese Style Ribs, Smoked Ribs, Smoked, Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Root Vegetables, Rolls, Salad, and more desserts than I can describe. In other words, huge amounts of food. But before all that we will be over at the church tonight helping cook food for over 4,000 people who are either elderly, handicapped, homeless, home ridden or many other conditions. This is such a privilege and we are both really glad we have this chance.

To those of you who read our blog; Thank you for reading it, and we hope you have a safe and Blessed Thanksgiving.

November 7, 2010

What a wonderful week! Our close friends Aaron and Dezina flew in from Illinois to spend a week with us in Las Vegas. This was their first visit to Vegas, so we had a lot to cover. We walked the Strip to see the Mirage volcano and Bellagio fountains. We checked out the Venetian’s canals, MGM’s lions, and the Luxor pyramid. We drove to the old downtown area to watch the Freemont Experience. And we fed the slot machines in several casinos, but nobody won the jackpot.

The weather here couldn’t be better. It’s hot during the day – high 80s – a desert hot that warms you all the way through to your bones. In the evening it cools down 20 or 30 degrees, and the next morning you wake up to sunshine all over again.

During the week we ate at Binion’s CafĂ© (OK), MGM Grand (really good), Rio Buffet (extremely good) and Pampas (excellent!). One night Randy fixed halibut, and truthfully that was as good as anything we had in a restaurant.

One of the first things we did was go to Gold and Silver Pawn, which is featured on the Discovery TV show “Pawn Stars”. In this pic, Randy and Aaron are in the shadows under the sign.

On TV the building looks big outside and spacious inside. NOT!!! It’s just a small, one story building. Inside is the main room with a cattle-rail like the ones you find at Disneyland, to direct people down one side of the store and back up the other side. They are enlarging the building now, and although the outside is still being framed-up, the inside of the addition is being used to double the size of the main room, but it’s still not nearly as spacious as it looks on TV. The main characters weren’t there, but Chumlee did show up. He said he could only stay about 10 minutes, so everyone could take pictures and if they had something to be autographed, bring it to the counter. He was very friendly and nice to everyone, posing and signing as much as possible, but it’s odd that everyone was lining up to get a picture with him, just because he’s on TV.

One night we went to the Terry Fator show. He is amazing! He’s a very talented ventriloquist and a wonderful comedian. He works with a series of puppets, giving each a different personality. His bit with a member of the audience was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. And he seems to be a very nice guy, because the profits from his memorabilia was is donated to the military. Terry seems to know he’s blessed and isn’t greedy about keeping every dime to himself.

Since none of us were hard-core gamblers, we went looking for other things to do outside of Vegas. One day we drove out to the Hoover Dam, which is less than 30 miles away. Highway 93 used to run over the dam but recently they build a new bridge that bypasses it, so you have to turn off the highway to get to it. From the new bridge you get a great view of the dam. It’s not possible to get a picture of the dam without a bunch of cables in the way, but this is a working landmark, and not concerned with such things.

Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful dam. I love the way the curves of the dam work with and against the curves of its surrounding structures. Lake Mead, behind the dam, is really low now. The valley sides look whitewashed, but that’s the demarcation of how much the water level has dropped.

The next day we made the 280 mile drive to the Grand Canyon. It look over 4 hours to get there and the same to get back, but it was worth it! Words can’t describe it, and pictures will never do it justice.

One fun thing that happened there is that we found a herd of elk, and they are so used to tourists that they totally ignored everyone. We didn’t see the sign that said not to approach them until after we’d approached them, but they ignored us anyway.

Closer to the buildings some deer were milling about, looking for something to snack on. This buck is checking out the hay that is stored for the mules that tourists ride.

People in Las Vegas will do anything to make a few dollars. Folks dress up in super-hero costumes pose for pictures for tips, some do magic tricks, and one guy offered to let you take a picture with his boa constrictor for $5. I ponied up the money and loved it!