It Be Wondermous…I Gar-On-Tee

That title will be familiar to some of ya’ll…but probably only the ones that grew up in the south who may have seen the old cooking show Louisiana Cookin’ on PBS. The chef in the show was a Cajun named Justin Wilson…who actually started life off as a safety engineer He took himself way too seriously and was putting the audiences he was addressing to sleep…so he engaged the patois of Cajun country and some humor to liven up his presentations. He was also a pretty good amateur cook and eventually parlayed that and his humor into a later career as a humorist and cooking show chef. Anyway…those two phrases above were his catch phrases and you could count on them being in every show a half dozen times each. The significance of the title will become clear shortly.

And now…let’s go back to those thrilling days of yester-week…er, sorry about that…that’s a Lone Ranger reference and this is clearly a southern sorta post…I gar-on-tee.

Before I get too far though…keep the folks in the Houston area in your thoughts as they’re recovering from the flooding from Hurricane Harvey. This storm dropped 9 trillion gallons of water on SE Texas…thats enough water to cover the entire lower 48 states with almost 2 inches of water. Thank goodness they’re Texans and mostly take care of themselves…but have been helped considerably by the Cajun Navy who came over with 100s of small boats to help rescue stranded folks. They’re mostly recovered from the immediate disaster at this point but it will be weeks before things get back to normal and months before all the damaged homes and bidness get back to regular living  

When we arrived in Ellensburg WA on Monday…and after fixing the slide bolt…we wondered what to do for dinner. Our original plan was to walk over across the freeway to Perkins and eat there…as you’ll recall we were only staying overnight so didn’t unhitch Big Red which meant we walked or didn’t go anywhere. Neil decided it was too far to walk…and Connie separately decided there wasn’t anything on the Perkins menu worth walking for anyway…so it was time to eat in. We tossed out a couple of suggestions to each other…nothing really sounded good to either of us until one of us remembered the Crunchy Breaded Fish Filets in the freezer. We get the Gorton’s brand and they’re actually pretty decent tasting…they come in a pack of 10 so that’s 2 for Connie and 3 for Neil twice on a package. We usually keep them for days when we need easy meals…and Monday was definitely that day. So into the Breville oven they went to cook. While that was doing…Neil whipped up some mashed taters in the bag…yeah, I know they’re instant and not nearly as good as real taters…but they’re easy. He added in some sour cream and some left over cilantro-hot sauce-garlic butter (that we normally use on grilled corn) and they were darned good taters. Once those were in hand…it was time to whip up some cocktail sauce…this is just about the only reason we even have catsup in the fridge. Four tablespoons or so of that…add in a couple tablespoons of horseradish to give it some spice along with a dash of Worcestershire and lemon juice and that usually makes pretty tasty cocktail sauce…although ours is usually pink rather than red as we like it spicy…then we (well, Neil actually) had this idea. In the fridge as he was getting the sauce ingredients out he spotted some leftover wasabi from the seared tuna steaks we had the night before and decided to toss that in. I gotta tell ya…it be wondermous…wasabi is a great addition to cocktail sauce. The only drawback is that the green wasabi…well, it isn’t actually real wasabi as the real stuff from Japan is about $40 for 8 ounces and doesn’t keep very long…the stuff we have here in the states, even the powdered stuff that we buy and mix as we need it (this is the only way to have wasabi if you need it) is dried and ground Japanese horseradish but it’s pretty close in flavor. Anyways…the green in the wasabi made the cocktail sauce sort of brownish instead of red or pinkish…looked kinda like a baby diaper…but darn if it wasn’t mighty tasty.

Next morning we got up and hit the road about 1000…we only had 207 miles to go to get to Coeur d’Alene…we thought about stopping by and seeing Palouse Falls but decided it wasn’t worth an extra 100 miles on a 3 digit number state road…we arrived at Blackwell Island RV in Coeur d’Alene and quickly pulled into our nice site 67 and got setup. Neil dumped and flushed our tanks and then we got down to the main reason we stopped here…to visit his old college roommate Joe Claxton and his bride Nicki…haven’t seen them since the human kids wedding back in 2006. We had decided our destination for the day was the Daft Badger Brewing Company downtown and Joe (or Jodi as we mostly called him) met us there. We had a couple pints each of their Imperial Stout and a bacon appetizer. Connie had Pea Soup for dinner and Joe a sandwich but Neil stuck with the rest of the bacon and Connie’s bread which was pretty good. Turned out that Nicki was in Fear City for work for the week and wouldn’t be back until Thursday. We talked old times, acquaintances, and assorted hometown and college stuff for a couple hours before heading home.

Wednesday we met again for dinner…we had Joe pick a place and he headed us to the White House Restaurant over about 8 miles west in Post Falls ID…it’s a Mediterranean restaurant that has Italian and Greek food…with serious amounts of garlic. We knew it would be good as soon as we opened the doors on Big Red as you could smell the cooking garlic a block away. Connie had Chicken Curry Kabobs and Neil had about the best Chicken Alfredo he’s had in quite awhile…it was swimming in butter, cream, cheese, and garlic of course. Joe had a pasta/pepper dish that I forget the name of and we had some wine before heading up to their house in Hauser ID for a tour and more visiting…actually their house is right across the border into WA…they pay WA property taxes but get all their services from ID. They’ve got 25 acres and a nice 3 bedroom house along with a barn for Nicki’s two horses, a shed for the tractor and Joe’s pretty well equipped bike shop…he’s turned into a bicycle racer in his old age and travels around both the US and the world for cycling trips as well as races. That much property has a lot of upkeep…way too much for us…but if you want horses…and let’s not forget the 3 Border Collies and 2 English Mastiffs they have instead of children. The Mastiffs…both female…probably weigh 170 pounds each. We spent a couple hours drinking beers from Joe’s fridge and then he took us back down to the restaurant to pick up Big Red…we had left him there and rode up with Joe so we could get the area tour on the way.

Thursday…Neil went on a 11 mile bike ride…and discovered a few things about Coeur d’Alene…first is that no matter what direction you go from Blackwell Island RV it’s uphill…second that it’s windy…and third that the wind comes from all directions…he rode across the bridge than east to the park…then back west and north until he headed south back for the campground…and it was always, always upwind.

After that…we headed off to Joe and Nicki’s for dinner…although before dinner we hiked up to the top of their property…only about 1/3 of a mile to the top but 350 feet up vertically. Dinner was grilled Romaine lettuce with balsamic grilling sauce and grated Pecorino cheese, steaks with sautéed mushrooms, and spaetzle layered with caramelized onions and grated Swiss cheese…along with a couple bottles of Argentinian Malbec and cheese cake we took up…the latter was topped with cherry ice cream that was spectacularly good…even Connie liked it and she’s not much for cherries. We finally left there about 2200 stuffed and made our way down the now very dark roads to the RV park…didn’t see any animals about but we saw a half dozen deer earlier in the day and the day before so we drove very carefully on the way home.

For those of you who’ve never heard of spaetzle…it’s a German pasta dish…they call it a dumpling but it’s more like pasta. Basically you mix 1/2 cup of flour and 1 egg per person along with milk to get a waffle consistency batter and then drop it into boiling water using a spaetzle maker…essentially it’s a large grater and you schmear the batter over it with a spatula so you get little 1/2 or 3/4 long pieces falling into the water. When the float to the top they’re done. These go into a casserole and get layered with butter and caramelized onions on each layer. Top with the Swiss cheese…you actually are supposed to use Emmentaler cheese which is harder than normal Swiss and closer to Gruyère than Swiss cheese. Put into the oven until it’s melted, golden brown, and delicious as Alton Brown would say.

Before leaving we said our “until next time’s” to Joe…he’s headed 9 hours south on Friday for a bike race on Sunday so we won’t see him again before we leave. We did invite Nicki to give us a call over the weekend assuming she had time…she travels for work almost every week and has horse things and 25 acre property things to do so might be too busy…but we  told her we would be glad to get together over the weekend if she was able…she’s our kind of people. 

Friday…our sole outing was out to English Point Red Loop Trail for a 1.6 mile hike near a lake about 20 miles north of here…according to the reviews it had spectacular views. Well…not so much as you can see from the 3…count ‘em 3…photos Neil took. At least it was a nice hike in the woods and got us some exercise…but the views were basically non-existent as was the wildlife.

D71 2881

D71 2880

D71 2879

Dinner Friday was soup made out of Connie’s leftover Curry Chicken Kabobs and rice…pretty tasty.

Saturday was laundry day and football day. We ate dinner early…grilled pork steak with corn and pear salad…and sat down shortly after 1700 for Alabama vs Florida State in the Chick Fil-A Kickoff Classic. The game featuring the top ranked Tide against the 3rd ranked Seminoles has been getting hyped for a couple of weeks now. One of the ESPN talking heads…don’t remember which…said that both defenses would come ready to play and whichever offensive line showed up better on the BBPI (Big Boy Pants Index) meter would come out ahead. Turns out that…as expected…the Tide D was the difference maker…holding FSU to 40 yards rushing and 210 passing with just a single score. The Tide offense rolled up 173 yards rushing and another 96 passing on 10 of 18 by Jalen Hurts including a beautiful 53 yard strike to Calvin Ridley…the deep ball was his worst trait when he was a freshman starter last year but he’s obviously worked on the passing game over the off season…going through his progressions much better and sticking in the pocket longer…and looking to throw it away and avoid the sack unless there’s a clear running lane for him to take. The D and special teams forced a blocked punt, blocked field goal, fumbled kickoff, and two picks on the way to a 24-7 win…although the game was closer than the final score would indicate being at 10-7 late in the third before the D stepped up and gave us a short field (20 yards or less) 3 times in a row and we put the game away. FSU’s quarterback was hurt late in the game in garbage time…season ending knee injury…you hate to see players get hurt anytime but especially in garbage time. He got sacked but wasn’t hit very hard…must have landed wrong as he grabbed his knee as he hit the deck.

Sunday was Mass, breakfast out, and then looking at our next stop. We’re supposed to leave Tuesday and spend 3 nights in Missoula MT before heading on to Yellowstone NP…but there are a lot of fires around Missoula so we might just stay overnight and then move on to a less smoky area…there aren’t any fires over near Yellowstone at this point, the closest one is the June Fire east of the park with the winds blowing the smoke east away from the park…and it’s fully contained anyway. After some discussion…we’re going to go ahead and stay the scheduled 3 days in Missoula unless the smoke is terrible there.

Interesting stuff from the net this week.

Following up on the solar eclipse a couple weeks back…just in case you didn’t see it.


Comment card left at Yellowstone NP by a tourist.


Another slow news day in Wales.



Following up on Hurricane Harvey hitting Texas…and the likelihood that Irma will hit somewhere along the east or Gulf coast this week or early next…not even hurricane panic buying results in people buying from the vegan aisle in the grocery store.


And this is the Cajun Navy on the way to help out in Houston.


And the company policy on hurricanes…for those of you still doing that whole work thing.



Guy in the personals…but he doesn’t want any weirdos.


And finally…this photo of a bus interior was posted to the Facebook page of an anti-immigration group in Norway. It immediately met with vehement outraged comments about how wearing a burkha in public was a disgrace and that all immigrants, especially Muslim ones…should be summarily deported. Trouble is…it’s seat backs in the photo. Duh!



About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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2 Responses to It Be Wondermous…I Gar-On-Tee

  1. I wish u guys would stop traveling and come home. I swear I have gained 15 lbs reading what you have eaten or cooked Miss u both and Gunther and Kara even though I haven’t met them yet. U have 2 introduce us soon. I was really bummed Florida didn’t win against Alabama. They have 2 get a better team. AND WIN NEXT TIME.

    • Neil Laubenthal says:

      Alabama is God’s Team. We met with Joe and Nicki for dinner again last nignt…an unexpected treat.

      Joe was off Fri to yesterday evening to be in a bike race 400 miles from here and we figured he would be tired but Nicki called so out we went.


      The three kinds of stress…nuclear, cooking and a&&hole. Jello is the key to the relationship.


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