Craft Beer and Hard Cider

The beautiful mountains of North Carolina offer hiking, biking, trout fishing, and gorgeous views. Besides all this, the clear mountain streams and the numerous apple orchards, make this area very conducive for the making of craft beer and ciders.

There are somewhere around 40 craft breweries in the Asheville North Carolina area but the largest of the craft breweries is the Sierra Nevada brewery. With arrangements made by my daughter in law, Dave and I, our son and one of our granddaughters got to go on one of their tours.

As I remember from the tour and from the brochure I picked up, Sierra Nevada was started in Chico California in 1979 by Ken Grossman. I believe, from what the tour guide told us, Mr. Grossman finished high school and left before his graduation ceremony for the mountains of Northern California. He opened The Home Brew Shop in Chico California.  Years later with innovation and ingenuity, he fashioned equipment from items such as a hot water heater,  dairy equipment and a hand-built-10-barrel brewing system he later founded his own brewery. He named it after his favorite hiking grounds and called it the Sierra Nevada Brewery Company.

That was in 1979. By 1984 he’d outgrown his original location. He then purchased a property in Chico Calif to build a new brewery large enough to house a salvaged 100- barrel brewhouse he had shipped from Germany. A couple of years later they added online sales.

In 2012, demand outpaced supply, and the Chico location was at capacity. This time they looked east and in 2012 they opened the new brewery in Mills River North Carolina. Mills River is just a few miles from Asheville, North Carolina.

The Asheville area already had somewhere around 40 small craft breweries. I believe our tour guide said this was the reason Sierra Nevada almost decided not to locate here. They did not want to be the biggest brewery in the area and ruin the other businesses. He said the local craft beer association got together and invited Sierra Nevada to come. Sierra Nevada provides some support to the other breweries by allowing them some access to their lab. 

With a 200 barrel production brewhouse and a 20 barrel small batch pilot system, a tour program, tastings, a full-service taproom, and restaurant, the Mills River location opened in 2014.  The property is beautiful. As well as the inside amenities, there’s an outdoor activity area with picnic tables and a stage.

Very impressive is the care they took in construction and the amount of reclamation of resources they use. The timber that was cut on the property was used in the construction of the building. Concrete walkways and driveways allow rain to penetrate. The reclaimed water is used for irrigation. CO2 captured from the yeast fermentation is used for carbonation in the drinks.  They use solar panels and microturbines for as much energy as possible.  Any left-over vegetation from the hops they donate for feed to area farmers. 

Read more
Advertisements

North Carolina

It’s a rainy day today in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Lakewood RV resort has some nice amenities. The pool, shuffleboard, and the planned activities don’t start until their busy season starts; the end of May. There are several park models owned by people who live here full time.   See the link below for a description and pictures of park models). They’ve managed to plan several activities on their own. They’ve scheduled Mexican Train one evening a week and something called nickel bingo that does not involve bingo cards. The lady in the camper next to us who spends her winters here and summers in Pennsylvania was telling us about this. We saw some things posted on the bulletin board but not sure if they were happening now or later in the year. We might check it out. There was also a sign-up sheet for Easter dinner that was already 2 pages long.

Read more

Shorts and Flip Flops to Coats and Gloves

Shorts and Flip Flops to Coats and Gloves …. in one day!

We left Savannah yesterday morning. I was wearing shorts as we were “buttoning up” the motorhome. About 6 hours later we arrived in Flat Rock, North Carolina and I began thinking about where we put our heavy coats, sweats, and gloves.

“Buttoning Up the motorhome” means anything that is loose has to be secured along with bringing the slides in and disconnecting the water, sewer and electric. This all takes a little time. “Anything loose” includes pictures on the walls, toothbrushes on the bathroom counter, dishsoap and utensils on the kitchen counters. Look around your house. What do you see that could move around if you shook your house? All that has to be put away. We even have tension backets in our cupboards to keep items in there from shifting so that we don’t have an avalanche when we open the doors once we get parked.

We’re staying at Lakewood R V Resort in Flat Rock which is just a few miles from Hendersonville, North Carolina which is about 30 miles from Asheville, North Carolina. Our son and his family live in Pisgah Forest which is about 1/2 hour from here. This is the closest full-service campground we could find with a monthly rate. Most of the campgrounds nearer them are state or national campgrounds with limited facilities and a 14-day max stay. There are a few others but either they’re too expensive or not open yet.

Read more

Tin Foil Dinners

In my last blog post, I said I’d be adding some tin-foil dinner recipes. Below are a couple and links to two sites that I found had several of them that looked pretty good.

I tried a few of these dinners and two recipes are below. Next time I’ll be sure to get pictures of them as I make them and when they’re done!

Keep in mind you don’t have to only cook these on a grill. They can be cooked on charcoal or on wood embers from your campfire. You can also cook them in a crockpot. Remember to always wrap them tightly and use heavy duty aluminum foil.

Being full time in an R V usually means you don’t have a full-size refrigerator or freezer. Some of the larger Fifth Wheels or Motor Coaches do, but ours does not. We also don’t have much of a pantry. All that means is we have to shop more often. I usually try to keep only the basics on hand as far as spices and seasonings are concerned. This means the recipes are usually simple but I try to make them tasty.

Corn on the Cob is an easy one to fix. Remove the husk and silk; add salt and butter. Wrap it securely in heavy-duty foil; place it on the grill for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally and you’re done. Add some sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and you have a great side dish.

Lemon Chicken and Asaparagus Foil Packet for four

Ingredients and Instructions for this tin foil dinner are:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness or 6-8 boneless chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are smaller than the breasts so you’ll want to put two in each serving packet.
  • 1 large bundle of asparagus spears, which is about one pound
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic ( I used one fresh garlic clove that I had and chopped it up into small pieces)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning ( this is one seasoning I usually keep on hand)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Lay four 12×12 inch squares of foil out on a flat surface.Place one chicken breast or two thighs in the middle of the foil square.
  • Cut off about 1-2 inches off the hard end of the asparagus. Cut the spears in half and divide them among the foil packets.
  • Divide the lemon slices between the foil packets and tuck them around the chicken and the asparagus
  • Mix together the butter, garlic, Italian seasoning, and some lemon juice. Brush over the chicken and asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Fold the foil over the chicken and asparagus to close off the packet. Secure it tightly.
  • Grill them over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes on each side
  • Serve immediately.
Read more

R V – Random

I haven’t posted for a while. We’ve been busy.

Savannah has a huge St Patrick’s celebration. Second only to Chicago. Every hotel, big or small, and every campground, big or small has been booked solid since this time last year. The hours at CreekFire have been extended and the CreekFire to Savannah shuttle has started running. It now runs 3-4 times per day. The extended hours and the shuttle running means they need more people to work more hours. They’ve added a couple more work campers and some more employees so that helps some but since they’re new they are just learning and getting used to everything now. One work camper is leaving in a few days and since he is really knowledgeable he’s going to be sorely missed. It’s only going to leave Dave here who has maintenance experience until the others get up and running. I’ve driven the shuttle into Savannah a few times and took a couple of the new people in so they know the route and the pickup/drop off location. I found out that on the day of the parade most of the streets will be shut down and on that day, CreekFire is adding a few more shuttle times and renting a second shuttle to use. Since all the shuttles and buses going into Savannah will not be using the normal route and drop off location, we have a new route to learn. Should be interesting!

During the business of working a few more hours, we noticed our shower had a leak under the drain. What Dave said should have been a 5-minute fix took about 3 weeks. Good thing there are really nice showers here at this campground and they’re not too far from our site! Our motorhome and most of those built around the same time all used abs, the black PVC plumbing materials, instead of a white PVC. We needed a new ABS p-trap. After traveling to Lowes and Home Depot, several camper stores, several mobile home suppliers and ordering parts online we still couldn’t find the ABS p-trap and size adapter we needed. We understood that you could not mix black ABS products with white PVC ones because the glue that has to be used won’t hold both plastics. We talked to a retired plumber who told us they could be mixed now and Dave even called Coachmen to see what could be done. It took a couple calls to Coachmen to get through to the right person but when he called back he was helpful. Dave finished the project using both ABS and PVC. It was so hard for him to work on this in a small R V bathroom with about an 8 inch opening under the drain. But he persevered and got it done.

Read more

Savannah, A City Built on the Dead

When we first did the tour of the city, we had heard that Savannah was a city built on the dead. I thought that meant many people died to make the city what it is today. I was thinking of soldiers securing or protecting the land, people giving up their lively hood, fighting over land, whatever the case may be. But it turned out, I was wrong.

The city is literally built on it’s dead. Savannah was established as a buffer between the wealthy South Carolinians to the north and the Spanish Catholics in Florida to the south. There were battles to keep the land secure. The second bloodiest battle of Revolutionary war was fought in Savannah and Savannah lost many men who were buried here. Indians used parts of the area for their burial grounds. Many died from Yellow Fever. The French and British had a skirmish here. Add to this, natural deaths, occasional murders, and the Pirates coming into the city then you can see that there would be a great need for cemeteries. And, some families had their own burial plots next to their homes.

Over time, either from vandalism or just time-worn, many gravestones were destroyed or lost. From one of my previous posts, you may remember that the city of Savannah is laid out in squares. Homes surrounded these squares. As time went on and as the city grew with infrastructure being developed, roads were paved over areas that had been burial grounds. Some homes or municipal buildings have been built over areas that had been someone’s burial plot.

At first, when skeleton’s were found they had tried to move them. Later, as more and more bodies were found, some even in mass graves, the decision was made not to disturb them anymore, just leave them where they are and continue with the roads, or housing whatever the project in progress.

It seemed to be that the hauntings began when the bodies were disturbed. One such case was explained to us on the ghost tour we recently took. The Foley house was a boarding house established by a prominent widow living in Savannah. She and her children lived in this house and had frequent and sometimes long term boarders. At one time, two boarders came to stay with her. One was a bricklayer and the other one was an older wealthy exporter gentleman named Wally. Wally frequently wore a top hat. He and the bricklayer both had been staying there for quite a while. One night Wally ended up dead. One story is that he went into the widow’s bedroom. She awoke with him standing over her with his hands on her neck. He had tried to strangle her. She was able to stretch her arm out, grab the candle holder next to her bed and hit him over the head with it. When she did he fell dead beside her bed. Another story is that she murdered him for his money.

Remember, the bricklayer who was also staying at the boarding house? 100 years later, when some remodeling was being done on the home, the contractor renovating the house found a wall that didn’t seem to be in the right place. When opening the wall, they found the skeleton of the older man, top hat and all. No one had heard from or seen him prior to the brick wall being opened. Now, 100 years later, he is a frequent top hat wearing visitor in the former boarding house, now known as the Foley House Restaurant.

It seems that Savannah made a good decision to leave the dead where they lay as they continued their renovations and improvements to the city. Hauntings seemed to escalate when the bodies were disturbed.

Read more

Working, Touring and Movies filmed in Savannah

We arrived at our work camping site near Savannah on January 2, so we’ve been here now a little over 6 weeks. We’ve got about 6 more weeks to go before we move on to our next location. But, while we’re here I want to see everything Savannah has to offer! We went to Savannah again last week for a part of the day with a traveling nurse we met that’s also staying here at the campground while she’s working here for a couple months. We enjoyed walking around the downtown squares again. I still have a few more things to tell you about Savannah but it will probably be in the next post.

One thing I have to remind myself about work camping is that it does mean you’re supposed to work, too. Even though we choose where we want to go and we get to tour and enjoy the area, we did commit to work X number of hours each week. I’ve been averaging about 23 hours a week. Dave’s been working about the same, maybe a little more. We work in exchange for our campsite as well as pay for hours over an agreed amount of work time.

Read more

Low House, “Jingle Bell Church” & Zunzi’s

Savannah has so many cool historic sites to visit. It’s been called an open air museum by some. It reminds me of visiting the Smithsonian in D.C. and knowing I’ll never get to see everything and know the story about these historic buildings, statues, people and sites.

Here are a few more sites we visited – The Low House, The Church known as the Jingle Bell Church and lunch today at Zunzi’s.

Let’s start with Zunzi’s. We had lunch there today. It’s located downtown Savannah on York Street. The owners Johnny and Gabriella Debeer have another location in Atlanta. It’s very small, but a fun place to visit. It’s a walk up diner with a line usually down the sidewalk. They say their menu is influenced by the owners South African, Swiss, Italian and Dutch heritage. When we arrived, they asked if we’ve been there before, if we had any food allergies and offered us a little sample cup of their chicken, two sausages and our choice of their many sauces. I did not try the “Shit Yeah” sauce!

Once we ordered, we took our carryout boxes and drinks around the corner to their comfortable outside tables and chairs. They also offer free Wifi and drink refills. To get your refill, you go in what looks like the backdoor to their restaurant, but they meet you there and take care of the refill for you. It’s another one of those you don’t want to miss places. One of the drivers on the Old Town Trolley Tour buses pointed it out when we drove past.

Their website is www.zunzis.com

Here’s a couple pictures from our visit there.  .

If you can’t read what it says on the cup, it’s this: “ZUNZI’S PROMISE TO YOU. Here at Zunzi’s, we want you to have such a great experience that you can’t help from saying Hell, Yeah! If at any point you don’t feel that way, let us know and we’ll make it right. We Promise.”

It was fun and the food was delicious. If you get to Savannah, add it to your must see list.

The next place I’ll tell you about is the church known as the “Jingle Bell Church“. In the early 1800s, a group of wealthy, liberal-minded Englishmen interested in building wealth through the cotton industry migrated to Savannah. When they couldn’t find a church to attend, they formed the Savannah Unitarian Society. They eventually built a church which has a very interesting history. Too much to tell about here so go online and check it out. In May of 1851, they hired a minister named John Pierpont, Jr who had a brother named James. James served as the church music director and organist. While serving there, he wrote and copyrighted a song called “One Horse Open Sleigh” and that’s how the church became known as the “Jingle Bell Church”.

The Unitarian church wasn’t very popular in Savannah. There were attempts to burn it down, it went broke a couple times and moved a couple times. You can now see it in Troup Square at East Harris and Habersham Streets.

The last site in this post is the Andrew Low House. Andrew Low was another one who migrated from England to build wealth as a cotton broker. He built the house in 1849. He died in 1886,the same year his son,William MacKay Low, married Juliette Gordon. William inherited the home from his father and they lived there for a while but spent most of their married life in England.

Read more

Workcamping and Savannah

On this rainy day in Savannah, I’m sitting here at the table in the motorhome looking out the front window watching people tear down getting ready to pull out while Dave is changing out some of our lights. We’re replacing the overhead lights with LED lights. 

CreekFire RV resort is less than a mile off I-95, it seems most of the campers here only stay 1-2 days. Since part of Dave’s job here is to escort campers to their site, he gets to talk to some of the people that come here.

A couple across from us just pulled out. They’re full timers, driving a motorhome and pulling a car, similar to us. They’re a young couple that work from the motorhome. He does some kind of consulting work and she writes a blog. They told Dave they’ve completely redone the inside of their motorhome. I would have liked to meet them and get to know them a little, but they’re gone already.

The couple next to us, who are not workcampers,are here for a couple months. They’re also full-timers but are from here in Savannah. She has to have surgery and wanted her doctor here to take care of it. As soon as she’s cleared by the doc, they’re back on the road again.

We just met a woman from Ohio who is a traveling nurse. She travels by herself with her small dog and is here for a few months.

I’m watching another couple load up their golf cart. I think they’re going further south for the winter.

Dave met another couple from Ohio. They planned to travel with their friends also from Ohio. When the Ohio weather report called for a major cold front moving in the couple Dave met called their friends and suggested that they needed to go now. Since the friends said they couldn’t go yet, the couple Dave met told them I’ll see you there and took off. Their friends arrived two days later.

Another couple we’ve met here are workcampers too. Well, at least he is. They’re also full-timers. They have a son here and another one out west somewhere. We’ve only seen her once. CreekFire requires couples to work 32 hours a week in exchange for a full hookup campsite. So he’s working all the hours. (Anything over the 32 hours is paid.) They don’t seem to do anything or go anywhere when he’s not working, I asked him if they’ve toured Savannah and he said they only go to visit their son and his family whenever they aren’t working. If his son is working, he said, they just stay here.

Such a shame. There’s so much to see here. So, let me tell you about one of them, The Pirate’s House Restaurant. The structure of the Pirate’s House building now is actually several buildings put together. Inside the buildings is the oldest house in Georgia. Built in 1733, it’s a white little 2 room house with a fireplace between the rooms and a sleeping room above them. Over time this little house evolved and more buildings were added. It’s been restaurants, serving no alcohol, a ladies tea room, restaurants serving alcohol and bars. Now all the buildings are under one roof with a gift shop and dining throughout the several rooms. The location of The Pirate’s House is just off River Street. As the port became busier, privateers started arriving hoping to make their fortune. Following them, the pirates came in. This area became a very scary part of town. The owners of The Pirate’s House at that time decided the restaurant absolutely needed to serve alcohol to all these sailors coming in off the ships. The placemats at the restaurant tell the history of The Pirate’s House on one side of the placemat and on the other side, it tells about the house being haunted and Robert Louis Stevenson getting his inspiration for the book Treasure Island.

Remember, the tunnel I talked about earlier so that sailors and merchants could get up to the city? Well, the tunnel also came up into the Pirate’s House. This made it a quick route to the alcohol.

Many, many, pirates sailed into this area. And, many, many, drunk young men sailed out of this area unaware they were going to be part of the Pirate’s ship’s crew. When the captain was in need of crew members, he headed to the Pirate’s House found a few local young men, got them drunk, carried them out of the tunnel and when they woke up, they were at sea. They could either stay or swim back. Many of these men were never seen again.

Again, I have to add my disclaimer about doing your own research. This information came from the placemats, the tour we took at the Pirate’s House and some Savannah tour books. Our tour guide, dressed as a pirate, was also a history teacher, so most of our information came from him and from the guidebooks.

Here’s a few pictures and one more bit of random information. Whenever your walking on the sidewalk in the Savannah squares and the sidewalk changes to slate, that means you’re in front of a historical building.

Read more