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There and Back Again

What I did on my vacation

It is always a relief to make the 550 mile round trip to the Secret Hideout without catastrophe; especially so in the heat of the summer.  The trip was made easier due to two factors.  I left here and all my outside gear stayed in place.   All the lights, water system, front porch, utility table and even down to the high dollar Dakota Alert driveway alarms. I just unhooked the umbilicals from the NO Princess Palace and pulled outta the slot.  Tennessee Red and her husband just pulled right in and they were in business. Easy Peasy!! Sure helps that I trust the two of them implicitly and they did a superlative job  on the gate.  She did spoil the boys bad with candy and cookies dammit! 🙂  For the first 3 days I was back I would pile out the door hollerin’  “I ain’t got no candy!  Get over it!”  Jeez. Suck it up buttercup.

The other deal that made this trip a snap was the addition of electricity at the Secret Hideout.  Man oh man is that a welcome change!


I had a specific bucket of tasks to get done on time off.  One of ’em was fixing a pesky water leak on The Palace.  I was procrastinating big time because I knew it was going to be a wet nasty job layin’ on my back in the gravels. It was worse than I could have possibly imagined as far as gettin’ there and finding the PEX line that was pinched and cracked between the floor and the frame. Fixin’ it was a snap thanks to a pair of SharkBite 1 Inch Straight Couplings . I will tell you right now every RVer needs an assortment of these couplings because you will have a water line leak or break at some point.  I will let you in on a little secret ……….  Sharkbites love a good straight edge to bite onto and stay leak free forever more. Buy you a Tubing Cutter to do that perfect.

Vela Von – Hound of the Puckerbrush – was on the list as well.   At 20 months I was overdue to get her spayed but the logistics of getting that done and holding down a one man gate were formidable.  I went to Robertson County Vet in Franklin. TX on a recommendation from one of My Bro’s tribe.  They did a damn good job and the price was less than it woulda been down here in the puckerbrush.  $300.50 for the spay ($35 extra because she was just finishin’ a heat cycle), all her shots for the year, heartworm check, other wormies check and a general physical.  It sure did slow her down for a day or two but 10 days post-op she is getting back to her normal supercharged self.

Funny thing about dogs……  My Bro has a big bruiser of a female Doberman and she is a very dominant dog – and the Secret Hideout is home turf for her.  When year old Vela Von visited there this past December, the big Dobie did a good job of cowing her. It is what dogs do –  that pack mentality and all.  Hell, I had a tough time just to get V V out of The Palace.  She would peep out the door looking for that Black Bitch hidin’ out to ambush her straight away. She would do this full tilt drive-by out of nowhere that even scared me a little bit. ( I do not fault his dog’s behavior AT ALL BTW)  I was a little concerned because in my mind V V was pretty danged aggressive but that timid routine got me to thinkin’ maybe not so much?  So you put 6 months on Vela’s growin’ up and it was a different story.  She is not a big dog at 66 lbs but right off the bat those two went mano a mano.  BAM!  Got to the point both of them were peepin’ around lookin’ for the other one. I think another week or two woulda seen them become much more tolerant and agreeable with each other.  Gonna save that for the next visit.


Man cooking barbecue

And then there was the cooking….  My SIL had asked me to cook for 15 at My Bro’s 60th birthday bash and it was a challenge.  First day there I did a tuneup cook of some chicken that had been in my freezer for a year for immediate consumption.  Then we got down to business and it took three full days of cooking. 4 chickens, 4 pork shoulders, 2 briskets and a coupla pounds of Slovacek sausage came off that Church Smoker.

I also had a new toy to wring out. I had my eye on a Camp Chef Outdoor Oven with 2 Burner Camping Stove ever since I spent that summer at The Hideout with no AC and discovered cooking inside an RV in the summer is no bueno. I broke down, ordered it and had it delivered to The Hideout. I was hoping it would set on my Lodge Dutch Oven Cooking Table and it did – nicely. I cooked my all day beans for the party on it and it did well. I also cooked a peach crisp old school in my Lodge Deep Dutch Oven – 12 Inch using some fresh Tyler peaches.

My SIL put on a feed the likes I have not seem in a long time and damn if it wasn’t just extra-tasty!  Part of the kids stayed all weekend and she still had enough food to send them all home with a requested care package.

In my freezer now

The next week it was time to fire up the Church Smoker again to fill up my freezer.  The packages of year old chicken I had taken out of there earlier in the week had emptied it completely. E-M-P-T-Y!  No way I can survive the gate week after week with an empty freezer.  Back to the store and two more full days of cooking –  2 chickens, 2 cornish hens, 2 briskets, 4 pork shoulders and 4lbs of sausage came off the smoker and was processed by my FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System . I don’t know how many of my days started out early  stokin’ the Church Smoker with fresh wood and ended up well after midnight with me bent over a cutting board and that FoodSaver.

I also bought some Family Paks of chicken and pork and divvied them up raw into FoodSaver bags too.   Y’all know I am absolutely sold on storing meat long term in a freezer using the FoodSaver machine.  I have tested it over and over -even up to two years- and the stuff comes out in great shape.  The freezer is chock full right this minute and even the little freezer in the fridge is full of shrimp creole and chicken / andouille sausage jambalaya.  My Mom brought me 8 big homegrown tomatoes and I could not let them ruin!   They ended up in the creole and jambalaya and damn it is good.

Barbecue smokers and pits develop a patina of usage over time -sorta like the seasoning on a cast iron pan.  I remember reading a story about one of the old barbecue joints in Lockhart that had to replace their pits after 50 years or more of use.  The pitmaster said that even after a year of heavy daily use, the pits still did not have the flavor of the old ones.  The Church Smoker is tasting better with every cook I do believe.  I clean out what little grease that doesn’t run out the traps but the patina is not at all what I thought it would be.  I thought it would be a little greasy and sooty like on a barbecue grill  but it is not.  The coating is semi shiny and not greasy at all.  It is rough and as hard as a diamond.  I wonder if I could even scrape it off there if I tried?  It reminds me of molten glass that has cooled. You open those lids on the cold smoker and the smell of smoke is just incredible.

One thing I got on my mind is to learn how to make sausage and I did my best to make it happen this go ’round. I ordered a Chop-Rite Two 22 Medium Meat Grinder Chopper  with plenty of lead time from somebody other than Amazon and the process turned into an epic fail due to some of the ABSOLUTE WORST service I have experienced in probably 10 years.  I am saving that story for an off the rails rant later.

End Note: Slow and Easy by Scott H. Biram from the Nothin’ But Blood cd.  I revisited Scott Biram because he was on the Hell and High Water soundtrack. His music has been used on plenty of shows including Sons of Anarchy which was a true fave of BFF Cait and myself.

BFF Cait doesn’t care for him – not one bit.  She says he is too raw – maybe scary raw.  Maybe it is the chicken leg tattoo on his right arm?  I dunno.  Me?   I like to get out there a little bit when it comes to my music.  So I give you two youtubes…. The first one is kind of edgy raw; the second one is scary raw.  Do somethin’ different today and give ’em both a listen


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