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The Beginning

A Journey Through Life

Be completely and totally in love with your life.

100% in love with it.

The above picture is a view similar to mine many days out of the year. Yes, I am the wife of a die-hard trucker. Come join me as I take you along on our journeys. Down winding roads, past shimmering lakes and cascading waterfalls, across snowy mountain passes, and deep into our journey we call life.

Thought Contrails

Don’t judge someone unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

Some folks have to climb mountains in high heels.

Never say never.

I’m pretty sure everything I’ve ever said I would NEVER do has come to pass.

“We die once when the last breath leaves our bodies. We die a second time when the last person speaks our name. The first death is beyond our control; but the second one we can strive to prevent.” – Old Proverb

I’ve been listening to a Lisa Wingate novel.. The Book of Lost Friends. 100% worth your time..(no money-involving promoting going on here..just an honest opinion of a well-written book.) And dreaming of writing stories that ought to be told…

Note to self: Don’t leave anything of value outside within puppy reach.

I’m missing two shoes and a sprinkler.

Did you know that humans eat more bananas than monkeys?

I can prove it, too! I mean when was the last time you saw a human eating a monkey?!

This dry joke ⬆️ I overheard an older gentleman tell a police man in the gas station as we waited in the checkout line. His white handlebar mustache hid any telltale grin that might have been brewing underneath.

Wishing you all a fair fall day!

Till next time…

Charcoal-Grilled Meat Globes

These luscious smoky meatballs/hamburgers are a relatively-quick meal, providing you start the grill first thing! Maybe even go mow another couple rounds of grass while you wait for the charcoal to burn down to a white-hot shade. (Thawed-out hamburger also proves helpful although the defrost button on the microwave works in a pinch.)

Learning how to grill is on my list of dreams to accomplish. This recipe is one of my personally tried and true on our Weber charcoal grill. To me, these are a simple item for grilling beginners and a breeze for the experts.

So tonight if you need ideas for supper, go check your fridge and pantry for these ingredients!

  • 1-1/4 lbs. hamburger, thawed
  • heaping 1/3 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 to 3/4 sleeve original Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced onion flakes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs

You also will need the following for the BBQ Basting Sauce. It’s a MUST!

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

To make the meat globes, combine all 10 ingredients, mixing very well. I often just use my hands to get the spices thoroughly incorporated. Shape meat mixture into 12 globes. (They should look like a cross between a hamburger patty and a meatball.) Set aside.

Mix ingredients for BBQ Basting Sauce in a microwave-safe bowl. After whisking well, heat in microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Once charcoal grill is hot and ready (400º F.), spread out coals into an even layer, and distribute patties over grill rack. Cover grill and let meat cook for 5 minutes. It is important to keep temperature as even as possible, around 400º

-425º F. Flip globes over, and brush or spoon on a heavy layer of BBQ sauce. Close lid and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Repeat process 2 more times or until meat globes are thoroughly cooked inside and grilled crisp on the outside.

These are delicious served with Gourmet Potatoes or Cheesy Baked Macaroni, along with a vegetable of choice for a side.

If possible, be sure to use a wood-fired or charcoal grill for that impossibly-delicious smokey flavor that makes these so divine.

Enjoy!

You Might Be A Trucker’s Wife…

•If the local Kenworth and Peterbilt dealers call you by name when you step in the door.

•If riding in the truck with your husband is a great date night idea.

•If the words “Truck Show” make you tingle with excitement.

•If you’ve ever washed dishes in a truck stop shower with shampoo instead of Dawn dish soap.

•If you eat more meals on the road than at your own kitchen table.

•If you know how to operate a pressure washer, grease gun, and impact wrench.

•If weekends are entirely too short.

•If you spend more time in town running errands and picking up parts than shopping for yourself and groceries.

•If one of your superpowers is making meals in 15 minutes or less.

•If you feel excitement at the sound of jake brakes.

•If your house get cleaned ultra-fast the minute you get that long-awaited phone call that he’s headed home.

•If your Pinterest boards include Lunchbox Ideas, Games to Play on the Road, or How to Organize Small Spaces.

•If it’s hard to fall asleep in a bed that’s soft and still.

•If you’ve ever driven 3+ hours just to spend night with your man.

•If “Be safe!” is not just a shallow parting thought when he leaves..but spoken from a deeply-loving, caring heart that worries each time could be the last time she sees him.

©️Joanie Nikkel

Perspective is Everything

Have you ever seen the Grand Canyon from 30,000 feet in the air?

Or felt the hugeness of the universe in your soul?

Have you ever felt small beside the gigantic stretch of water we call an ocean?

Ever thought just how tiny a passenger plane is compared to a cloud?

Or how small a city of 8 million looks from the sky?

That the Rockies look like mere hills?

Have you ever stopped to realize how very minute… how utterly tiny, life on earth must look from heaven? The everyday things we stress over are completely trivial when compared with eternity’s vastness.

Perspective is everything.

Three-Cheese Potatoes

The first time I tried these potatoes, I also conducted my first attempt at grilling chicken. Let’s just say that I did not have beginners luck of any sort. But Ross manfully choked down the dry, tough chicken and seems none the worst for it. But the potatoes…we will definitely focus on this part of the meal! They turned out cheesy, juicy, and flavorful in the best kind of way.

These tasty potatoes are a delightful change to the normal routine of baked, mashed, buttered, or cream potatoes often found in my kitchen. I am a dump-and-pour cook so adjust measurements to your liking.

  • 3 russet potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese powder
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup bacon bits
  • 3/4 teaspoon Lawrys seasoning salt (or to taste
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup butter, cubed

Peel potatoes and slice thinly. Layer in a baking dish and sprinkle with minced onion. Mix together cheeses and spread evenly over potatoes. Top with bacon bits and seasonings with cubes of butter distributed over all. Cover and bake at 400* until potatoes are tender and cheese is browned and crispy-crunchy. I forgot to time them but I’d guess it took about 40-45 minutes..?

The past week has been filled with haying. All my time being spent in the swather and driving semi trucks around the fields picking up bales…along with gophering and irrigating, my house and yard are in a sad state of affairs. There are no clean shorts to be found and the lawn resembles our back pasture. I am hoping against hope that there are no overdue bills and that my plants will survive the drought.

Goodbye until I come back up for air!

Magical Moments in Life

Jake brakes reverberating through the open windows of a truck as you cruise through a tunnel.

The sight of a puppy lolling his tongue in happiness to see me come home.

Sinking into a bed freshly-made with sweet-smelling sheets warm out of the dryer.

A swallow of ice-cold water on a hot dry day.

The satisfying click of jars of canned meat sealing.

Realizing that you have made progress on a long-drawn out goal.

An intensely-vibrant sunset, clouds rimmed in gold, deep magenta, fiery orange, and purple madness painted across the sky.

A friend who texts or calls out of the blue…so heart-warming that they think of me enough to put forth the effort.

That brief moment when the laundry is all completely washed and folded.

Planting flowers – watching them grow and blossom.

A surprise gift from a neighbor, an old wheel waiting by the garage door…perfect decor for that empty spot in a flowerbed.

Laughing together with my husband…silly moments that make the world fun again.

Wishing you all a lovely week!

Take Me to the Ocean

***WARNING*** Long blog post ahead.

I see with horror that my last blog post was nearly a month ago! I find that somewhat hard to believe and double-checked my calendar just to make sure. I don’t understand how the days disappear into weeks and the months gobble up the weeks.

Life has not lacked in activity…both of the fun and the work-related side. June seemed to be the month for family to come and visit. We had visitors from North Carolina, Kansas, and Idaho. Always pleasant to reconnect and learn to know my husband’s side of the family better.

FIRST CUTTING BLUES

Our first cutting of hay came off amid fierce windstorms and rain.

We had been anxiously waiting for the rain to quit and the ground to dry out enough to swath the hay and grass. Yet at the same time, one felt guilty wishing for rain to stop after having such an incredibly dry winter and spring.

Finally the mud subsided and we ran the swather. Ross did most the fields, but left me in charge of the biggest one (the reason being that there were no risers to try and dodge in this particular field. See how much he trusts my driving skills?? lol) I don’t believe I have run a swather for nearly 10 years but its amazing how it all comes back to a person.

While waiting for the windrows to dry down, Ross hauled a few loads on the truck, while I caught up with irrigating the new seeding of alfalfa, along with yard and housework. The new alfalfa is coming along nicely. As are the 4,790,061 weeds.

Then finally the night Ross deemed the hay dry enough to bale, we readied our equipment, pulled out into the field to start baling the grass hay, and the wind hit. And I don’t mean just a small breeze. I mean the kind of wind where large branches break out of the trees, chairs blow over on the patio, and the neatly-raked hayfield turns into chaos. Thankfully our alfalfa hay was swathed in the same direction as the wind happened to be blowing so it stayed mostly in place. The grass hay didn’t fare well. But we raked just ahead of the baler and managed to save a goodly portion of it.

A heavy rainstorm was predicted for the following day so we stayed up all night and worked steady until the afternoon of the following day, picking up the bales off the field and stacking them in the hay lot. We also hauled a few semi loads away. Amazing how much you can accomplish during normal sleeping hours.

The next week or so, I spent catching up with everything possible. Spraying weeds, irrigating each field, trapping gophers, and delving into bookwork on the rainy days. One day I helped our neighbor and his hired man with a very large tree that had fallen over his driveway during one of the previous windstorms. Chainsaws and elbow grease turned it into firewood.

One day I opened up the nest boxes in the chicken house, expecting to find an egg or two. Instead to my surprise, there was 5 baby kittens and a proud purring mama cat. Better than having them in my garage, I guess!

A DELIGHTFUL ANNIVERSARY VACATION

We had planned this trip back in January, optimistically hoping that everything would work out so we could get away for a weekend. Then in February the farm came up for rent and we jumped into alfalfa farming. By May, I was wondering dubiously if a night out or a supper was even possible much less a 4-day weekend. But full of faith, we left our reservations and kept working toward our goal. I should add that I nearly canceled 14 times but Ross convinced me not to. Then it started raining. Talk about timely. We turned down the water, let the neighbor man feed the animals, and packed up.

If you ever get to Oregon and are in need of some beautiful scenery, take the time to drive to Koosah Falls and Sahalie Falls. They are part of the beautiful Mackenzie River, just south of Santiam Pass. The pictures below don’t begin to do justice to the crystal clear blue-green water crashing over the rocks.

The Mackenzie River
One of the waterfalls

The afternoon passed quickly, hiking trails, climbing rocks, and just soaking up the beauty. Then we spent night at a charming little mountain resort tucked back in the hills. The landscaping was delightfully woodsy, and I discovered a little winding trail along the river in the cool morning hours.

The next day we headed west, to the tiny coastal gem of a town, Yachats, Oregon. The white foaming waves of the ocean crashing over the black mounds of rocky coast were mesmerizing. We spent all afternoon exploring, climbing, and hiking.

At one point, a sneaker wave crept up on us unawares, crashing over our heads and leaving us completely drenched. The 72* weather didn’t feel so warm after that!

We took several trails along the coast, then ended on one that wound through the fern and ivy-carpeted forest. We were calmly walking along when out of the blue, I felt a sharp pain on my leg. Ross fully believed my jumping around and yelling wildly to be a hoax but when he saw the bee, he changed his tune. It didn’t hurt too badly so we continued for another mile or so. Then supper began calling our names so we turned around at a grassy meadow and headed back. About a mile back, I was engrossed in the beautiful view of the ocean from a small window in the pine trees when all of a sudden, I felt another stab in the same leg. Believe it or not, it was another bee sting. And we realized that we were at the exact same spot in the trail as last time. I couldn’t believe Mr. Bee has lain in wait for me and got me again!

The rest of the weekend passed entirely too quickly. With regret, we packed up our belongings out of our cozy cottage nestled among the trees, took a last deep breath of the misty ocean air, and headed back to reality. In my heart tho, I can still hear the pounding of the surf, visualize the red-and-white lighthouse perched on the hill, and taste the fresh seafood, caught the same day and cooked to perfection.

I know I’ll be back someday.

Back home, we are in the midst of trucking, irrigating hay, and the normal shop work, yard maintenance, and just the everyday means of staying alive. I took my mom on a little outing for her birthday. We enjoyed a evening of popcorn, sparkling peach juice, and Scrabble; then drove up to McCall for a bite of lunch and to show her Charlie’s Gardens. If you ever sightsee in McCall, Idaho, this bit of beauty tucked back in the woods is worth your time. Beautiful landscaping, flowers of all kinds, and a mountain stream.

Till next time…take care!

Living a Spontaneous Normal Life

Life has been considerably normal down Highway 20. Almost too normal in fact, because if nothing of great interest happens, what is there to write about? I’m the type of person that loves life. So much in fact, that one life is entirely too short to do all the things that are calling me to do them.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing the matter with doing the laundry, making meals, scrubbing floors, weeding the flowerbeds, and working in the shop. I enjoy the everyday tasks. But do you realize, how big the world is? How many thousands of fascinating cities are waiting for me to explore? And how many charming restaurants and brand-new foods are waiting to be tried out? How many beautiful tree-swept mountains are waiting to be climbed? How many winding trails are waiting to be discovered? Dozens of waterfalls, canyons, and rivers.. A world full of beauty and adventure.

Life passes too quickly to eat the same foods each day and to see the same scenery over and over again. But, of course, adventures don’t have to be exotic, far-away, and expensive. How many tiny towns, homey cafes with down-to-earth people, beautiful scenery, amazing sights, and new foods at the grocery store lay within a 300-mile radius of me and could be happened upon and enjoyed?

Can you tell that I’m feeling a bit cooped up? Last Sunday Ross must have caught my fever; we abruptly hopped in the pickup and drove around, exploring little back roads, discovering farms, ranches, an old truck graveyard. Must have seen 15 or more “359” Peterbilts in various stages of rust.

Back home as the weather would have it, last week we were planning to lay down our alfalfa, happened to be the rainiest week ever. Joys of farming, I believe.

After a few days of showers and semi-continuous drizzling, everything seems to be perking up and growing with leaps. (Including the weeds.)

We have been spending time in the shop, filling our hours with bondo-work, much sanding, cleaning, painting, and such.

My office is also a fine place to listen to the rain spatter on the panes. Keeping up with the bookwork is a much-dreamed of situation but seldom reality.

It’s one of of those things where the thought of tackling the project is much worse than the actual tackling. Strange how powerful our minds can be if we let them. Mine can talk me right out of filing my knee-high stack of paperwork real quickly.

But among the day-to-day living, I’ve been trying to find bits of adventure and random fun.

To live is the rarest thing in the world.

Most people exist, that is all.
-Oscar Wilde

I am a great believer of spontaneous behavior. If all of life is planned out and followed in routinely fashion, how entirely boring it would be. Life is short, do all the fun things you can think of!

For example, why mow your lawn in perfectly straight rows each time? How about, just once, imagine you are following Highway 191 through Glen Canyon, Arizona and drive your Craftman mower accordingly.

Or how about, in a random burst of dieting inspiration, whip up a perfectly green smoothie at midnight while chatting on the phone with your best friend.

Try buttered popcorn and watermelon in bed, a candlelit room, and a special someone to share the impromptu date with.

How about, just for today, you comb your hair in a way you have never tried before and put on brightly colored mismatched socks, just because.

Invite spur-of-the-moment company, or eat breakfast for lunch, or add a new ingredient to an old faithful recipe.

The next time you go to town on errands, sneak your roller blades along and spend half an hour breezing down the sidewalks among lush green grass.

The man I am married to has moments of spontaneity as well. One day we drove to the nearby city to get painting supplies for a truck project and came home with a pickup. I never know what a day will bring.

But no matter where your life takes you, no matter what your duties consist of, enjoy your own particular life to the fullest. You only get one. So why not make the very most of every minute?

Bright Spots in Life

Some days bright spots are as simple as catching 2 gophers out of one gopher mound.

Tiny springs of alfalfa pushing through on spindly stems, coating the field with green.

Washing the flatbeds and not having to scrub them entirely by hand…

Other days it’s getting out of my 30-mile radius and hauling a load of cows with the hubby. Something about the rumble of the truck and the gentle road motion puts me to sleep easily. A much-needed nap makes all of life look so much brighter.

One day, greenhouse shopping infused joy in my soul as did planting the perennials in my flowerbeds.

Some days it’s an hour-long phone call with family or one of my best friends.

Sometimes it’s a sunrise, spilling pastel shades across the valley. Or a sunset bathing the sky in brilliant hues of gold, mauve, and burnt orange.

Another bright spot is found in my puppy listening to commands and obeying immediately.

A niece writing about me for a character assignment in homeschool, saying she wants to be just like her aunt when she grows up ❤️

A lounge in the sunshine with a fascinating book, soaking up rays.

Early mornings when I take time to sit on the couch with my Bible for a bit of quietness.

Little moments like these that make life so wonderful.

These Are The Days

And no, surprisingly I wasn’t driving when this all went down! 😂

These are the days of early mornings, crisp air, and icy water.

Of muddy boots, muddy jeans, and muddy floors.

Of sunburn and chapped hands. Of sore muscles.

These are the days.

Of late nights. Moonlit walks, twinkling stars, and a strong warm hand to hold.

Of alfalfa peeping through the crusty soil, of changing water frequently so the topsoil stays damp.

These are the days.

Of a brief rainstorm, of a long-neglected book opened, and much-longed-for snuggles on the couch.

Of steaks grilled over charcoal flames and buttery baked potatoes. Of laughing at our own silly jokes and pulling pranks. Of working through frustrations.

As you can tell, Ross has been home off the truck a lot more lately. Although the current lack of work worries me alittle, I am guiltily enjoying every minute of our time together at home ❤️