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Food, Glorious Food!

We were at this camping trip for over a month which means we’ve tried out quite a few meals. Way back before we left I wrote a post about the possibility of doing this trip on a budget and in there I mentioned some marinades and such that I had prepared. Those were consumed within the first couple weeks and I am happy to report that they were all really good!

This blog post is about sharing a few more ideas of meals we enjoyed and hopefully you’ll find something new to try. You’ll notice the Blackstone Tailgater is featured in almost all our meals that weren’t cooked on a fire. I already mentioned our Blackstone here and shared that this was a splurge we made to make up for the lack of an oven in our camper. I have rave reviews over that purchase! We have thoroughly enjoyed it. Erick was the one who set it up and took it down each stop and though it was a bit much to take out for a rest stop meal (mostly because we’d have to cool it down before packing it back up again), it did go up pretty quick. One of the pins that is designed to hold the legs out when set up did break and he will be contacting Blackstone when we get home to see if they can deal with that. It didn’t stop us from being able to fully enjoy it though. He rigged something up for it in the meantime.

So, here we go! Kebabs! Here and here are the links I got my recipes from.

Chicken:

Cilantro Lime Chicken – Excellent!

Soy Honey Garlic – Excellent!

Beef:

Sweet and Sassy – Good, but probably better on chicken.

Balsamic – Yummers!

I had a couple frozen bags of fajita mix in my tiny little freezer. I originally saw this on Pinterest from Mommysavers as a slow cooker meal prep option and I took the chance that this would work just as well thrown into a pan and cooked up for a meal. It was perfect! And even better that we could do it on the flat top and I didn’t have to wash any skillets.

I did recreate the fajitas along the road after pre-made ones had been eaten. It was an easy thing to grab the veggies and meat from the grocery store along the way and just throw in some seasoning. I used a package of Fajita mix from Old El Paso and it was easy and good. Not quite the same as the ones I made at home, but definitely a good camping option.

Now, I usually make my own tortillas whether they are corn, flour or black bean flour. Call it the mennonite in me that needs to eat homemade goodness and the Guatemalan presence in our home that may or may not have influenced the need for tortillas in our lives. Really he only confirmed what I already knew. Tortillas ARE a necessity and made from scratch makes a big difference. The Old El Paso packages just don’t do it, but I did buy a pack for the ease of use along the road knowing that our first week was going to be too much driving to worry about homemade. We found that grilling the store bought tortillas really helped the taste! Toasting them gave a nice little crunch and anything BBQed just tasted better, right? Check out this post for the recipe for the Black Bean Tortillas I’ve made here.

Unfortunately, we threw away one of our prepared packages of fajita chicken as we headed towards the border. Everything we read was that we can not take meat over into the states. We thought we did enough research on that and I recalled one time when a border agent watched me eat my cold cut sandwich in the car because he wouldn’t let me take it across the border and I refused to waste my food.

A few too many meals  eating out (whole other conversation……)  meant we didn’t have time to consume what was prepared back at home. I wanted to chance it and bring our food – meat and all – till the border, but suggestions all around us was to just throw it and don’t bother bringing extra attention to ourselves when crossing. Well, wouldn’t you know as we got to the border I had a little chat with the agent about whether or not I should have thrown it. He slowly shook his head. He knew I was crying inside. What a waste. Turns out that at this point and time the only thing they take is fresh fruit and veggies. All else seems to be a go. I’ll be chancing it next time, that’s for sure. No more chucking things out before absolutely necessary! And I’ll note here that on the way back in to Canada they didn’t even ask us what we had. Didn’t even look into the trailer!

We’ve enjoyed pie/camp irons on a few occasions. I’ve written at length about those already so check out more on that in this post from New Hampshire.

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You know those specialty food shops that have prepackaged “gourmet” soups and dips and such? Usually I look at those and thing about how overpriced they are, but those are incredibly handy when camping. We used a couple of those for soups. Just add the fresh stuff and you have a great supper! Or lunch. Even better when you have homemade biscuit mix also prepped! Trish had some that she made up to go with this Thai Shrimp Soup.

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I’m going to share Trish’s recipe here, but a quick apology because we don’t know enough about these blogs to have a “Print” button. Maybe someday along the road we’ll figure it all out.

BAKING POWDER BISCUITS  (Prepared for camping trips)

1 ¾ cups All Purpose Flour

2 ½ tsp. Baking Powder

¾ tsp. salt

1/3 cup Shortening

¾  cup Milk

 MAKE AHEAD:

 -Mix flour, baking powder and salt together.

 – Store in a small Ziplock freezer bag (or container of your choice).  We like to use the bags and write the rest of the recipe out on them for easy prep later.

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 WHEN READY TO USE:

–          To your dry mix, add any “extras” you’d like (ie – herbs, Italian seasoning, black pepper, grated cheddar cheese, etc.)

–          Mix in the shortening until the mixture is crumbly looking

–          Add enough milk so that the dough leaves the side of the bowl (don’t over do it, or you will be working with a soggy mess!)

–          Roll out on a floured surface until the dough is about ½ inch thick.  (I’ve also just used my hands to form “patties”, works just as well!)

–          Place on ungreased cookie sheet and cook for 10 – 12 min. in 350 degree oven. *

Trish used a pizza stone and made these in their trailer oven.  She made sure to check on them as they cooked, and they turned out perfectly.  I used our Blackstone Grill, of course.  This also worked very well!  Just make sure the temp. is not too hot (or the bottoms will burn before they cook through), and flip them half way through, so the top and bottom both get cooked.

One of my favourite camping meals over the last couple of years has been Black Pepper Breakfast Biscuits. Ideally you want these with amazing farmer sausage patties from southern Manitoba. I’ve mentioned the Mennonite/Guatemalan mix in our home and we love the foods of both those cultures, but the farmer sausage of my own roots is one food that Erick has talked numerous times about wanting to share with his family. If only we could pack it up and take it with us when visiting his family. We made sure to have some when his mom came to visit us last Christmas!

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Look! It all fits on there at the same time! Just add at different times to finish all together.

For these biscuits I use this recipe I found on Pinterest. Again, you need to be patient when cooking the biscuits over the fire or the flat top. They need low heat so they cook through to the middle before they burn on the outside. It’s much easier on the Blackstone. We’ve never been skilled enough at cooking over the fire to be burnt-biscuit free, but we HAVE pulled it off. Anything cooked over a fire….. Delicious. Serve these with a sausage patty and a fried egg. Then add whatever else you may like. Hot sauce, cheese (if you didn’t already put shredded cheese in the biscuits or just want more!) sliced tomatoes, etc. So yummy!

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Ok, this one might not be so common. Lentils and hot dogs! My oldest really, and I mean really, dislikes tomato. She sits there and gags the whole way through any tomato meals while I sit there with a mixture of amusement and annoyance. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from preparing meals with tomato. Lo and behold, she absolutely raved over this one! Strange girl asked me to make this again!

It’s another easy recipe/meal. One can of crushed tomatoes (the bigger cans), some hot dogs cut up and lentils! Add some salt and pepper or chicken stock for flavour. And if you want to make it “gourmet” cut the hot dogs on a diagonal…… That’s fancy, right? And the world wonders why I’m not a Master Chef. Cook it up till the lentils are no longer crunchy.

There are many different travel friendly pancake mixes out there that are just “Add water” and they make camping pancakes super easy. For the last 4-5 years our church has served a pancake breakfast for our town’s Winter Carnival. I’ve been the pancake girl each year which means I’ve adapted one of my favourite Buttermilk Pancake recipes into something I can prepare for 150-200 people. For camping I’ve further adapted this recipe to be camping friendly.

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Dry Pancake Mix:

4 cups flour

3 rounded Tbsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

6 Tbsp sugar

4 Tbsp powdered milk

I put this all in a ziplock bag and for camping there’s no measuring. Just dump some dry mix in a bowl and add water till you have the consistency you like. Throw in an egg or two and, if you prefer, add a bit of butter and maybe some cinnamon. One morning I threw in some blueberries and we even bought some whipped cream canisters that none of our kids had seen before. The joys of discovering canned whipped cream!! I’ll highly recommend the coconut version. Pure coconutty goodness!

In Chicago we had one hot, muggy day where we had no desire to try and cook anything. So we opted for a nachos kind of supper. I did turn on the flat top long enough to warm up some refried beans with chopped onion and then I toasted up some tortillas that Erick found in an authentic Mexican tienda in New Jersey. That with some fresh salsa (tomato, white onion, cilantro and salt) and random topping made for a pretty quick and easy supper. Trish had some chicken she quickly cooked up and pulled out random toppings of her own. That yummy little buffet stayed out for snacking all the way till the guys got home from their baseball game.

Another gooder is “Taco in a Bag”. We know of this from fundraisers back home. The hardest part is finding Doritos bags that aren’t too big! I’ve tried just buying a big bag of Doritos and preparing this in bowls for my family. Apparently it doesn’t taste as good. It must be served in the bag.

Instructions for this are pretty simple. Fry some hamburger with taco seasoning of your choice. Obviously the envelope kind is easy. Cut the side of the taco bag open. Throw in your favourite toppings and EAT!

Who doesn’t LOVE bacon?! And wrapped around a jalapeño with some cream cheese inside? I mean, come on!! I prefer the herb and garlic flavoured cream cheese. And when you splurge for the the thick bacon you get extra bacon-y goodness. Leave the seeds in the odd one for some Russian Roulette Popper-Style.

I love bacon. A friend shared this recipe for a salad once. She knows me well.

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I’ve pulled out these few meals and snacks because they were all ones that I will keep in mind for future trips. Hot dogs were scattered liberally throughout our meals during the weeks on the road. Always easy whether you BBQ them, roast them or fry them. Easy Peasy, Ketchup Squeazy. Those along with hamburgers, steaks and spaghetti were all things that are pretty normal for most people, I’m sure. I’ll spare you discussion about each bite we took for 5 weeks and leave you with a couple pics instead.

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Train them young!

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Hot dogs were quite common on travel days when arriving at campgrounds at suppertime.
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Of course, sandwiches are always super handy!
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Leftover pizza. We lucked out when the gas station had a microwave!
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Of course, baked potatoes!

I hope you got at least one or two ideas from this. I know each time we head out we’ll probably try something new, but at least I have a good selection of things that I know work and are easy to do. With a little prep we had a lot of meals that were quickly put together. I do wish my freezer was a bit bigger! I’d prep every meal if I had room. It was so handy.

Lastly before I leave, for those interested, here is just a bit more review about the Blackstone. We did choose to use it for the majority of our cooking. It was much preferred to heating up the trailer with the inside stove top. It cooked up porridge, mac and cheese, boxed scalloped potatoes (I hesitate sharing that we ate those!!) and popcorn.

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Porridge on the go!
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My little popcorn helper

The one area that it didn’t quite work out was for anything that needed simmering. The heat would not turn low enough for that so if it was really important for something to simmer, which the Thai soup was, I actually settled myself in a chair beside the cooktop and just turned it on and off and on and off the whole time to create a fake simmering effect! Most food is quite forgiving so it worked.

If you have any other great camping meal idea, please share! Buen Provecho!

 

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A Clam Dig Day

My post today is a bit more specific to a particular tour we went on while in Prince Edward Island. It was suggested to us by friends to check out the Giant Bar Clam Dig with Tranquility Cove Adventures. This was the excursion that we sacrificed a bunk on the ferry to Newfoundland for. Now’s the time to go enjoy!

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We needed to be up at 5:30 to get ready and do the hour and a half drive from the Cavendish campground to Georgetown. We arrived JUST on time. Everyone was there waiting for us. We hopped onto the boat and Perry, our guide for the day, gave a little intro before we headed out.

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First stop was to pull up a few traps. We saw a rock crab pot, lobster trap and a mussel sock. We were given an explanation of how they farm, collect and measure each and then we could hold them and check them out.

Perry’s assistant for the day was Riley and he was super informative and friendly.

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This doesn’t show Riley very well, but here he’s showing us a female lobster covered in eggs.

From there we drove by the oldest wooden lighthouse on the island, but didn’t stop spend or much time there.

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We had a special driver for awhile.

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Perry was so good with giving our oldest the time of her life.

It took a bit of time to get to our digging destination and along the way Perry called out that this would be the time to get into our swimsuits….. Swimsuits….. Right. I had a feeling I should’ve brought those. I’m very much a land lubber. I don’t even like swimming. Or showering. I’m not afraid of water, I just don’t really prefer it at all which means I don’t have much experience with water sports so when I read on the website that we would have wetsuits I thought “waterproof”. We would just put them over our clothes and be fine. In fact, I dressed all of us girls in clothes that would easily fit inside a suit. Yes, that was silly of me. It gets worse.

I mentioned to Erick that we didn’t bring our suits and he apparently already talked to Perry about it who said the other family on board didn’t either and they were just going in their underwear. He says this is a regular occurance. Well, now I really started panicking because it now sounds like we don’t even have the wet suits! I’m frantically whispering to Erick that I don’t know what we’re going to do and he says all nonchalant that we can just use our underwear. Good lands! Who does he think I am?! I’m simply not comfortable with jumping in the water with a bunch of strangers and me in my underwear! I’m considering just staying in my clothes, but we wanted to go into Charlottetown when we finished and now we were going to be in wet clothes! Things were getting out of hand in my mind.

A few minutes (felt like half an hour but probably wasn’t) later Perry calls out that we can now put on wetsuits. PEOPLE!! The relief I felt! It was around this point that Erick finally clued in that I was thinking we were swimming in our skivvies and he started laughing at me. I would’ve too. Into our suits we wiggled. I never felt more like a sausage than that moment, but the happiest sausage there ever was. I was dressed!

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Some look cuter in wetsuits than others…

Eventually we ended up at the bar where we would be collecting our clams. Perry told how this was where his father and grandfather dug clams and explained how much the shores had changed since he himself was a boy. Where we saw a sandy shore all the way across he remembers when they could still drive the boat right through that area. (Or his dad did….) The sand has drifted across and created the connection to the other side. Pretty crazy to think how fast a landscape (or shore) can change in just a few decades.

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We jumped into the water with our snorkels and rakes and started the hunt. We were searching for indents in the sand that looked like belly buttons or sometimes they would stick their nostrils out a bit and you would see the holes from their breathing. It was a bit of a slow start as we were finding lots, but they were not big enough to keep. It’s too bad we couldn’t take pictures at this point because my favourite part of this day was the digging. Every once in awhile we’d see a lobster or crab running around our feet. I could’ve stayed out there for awhile yet. Our littlest clam digger was kinda cold and got a special ride to the boat with Perry to wait for us to collect our clams.

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Eventually we found all we needed and Perry called everyone to shore. They did a quick measure of the clams to make sure they were the allowed size and then the clams all went in the pot. When there was about 2-3 minutes left he added the crab legs that were also collected. While waiting for those to be done we got to sample some raw clam and that part was my personal favourite taste of the day.

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Once finished we got a little Chef Ramsay style tutorial on how to prepare the clams to eat. It included adding in some of the brine that they were cooked in. YUM! My oldest was in there like a dirty shirt once again. She got her own little lesson and then was very proud to present a specially prepared clam for Papi where she forgot to clean out the stomach. Oops.

We ate for awhile before heading back to the car. In all it was very fun and worth the early morning.

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Enjoying a little coffee after a full morning.

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We headed through Charlottetown on the way home for a quick walk around. We needed to pick up more Beaver Tails for everyone.

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Enough for everyone. And people stared at us as we walked down the sidewalk with this!

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Once back at the campground us girls headed to the beach for a little bit to enjoy the sand and have a quick sand castle competition. We started the day in sand, we might as well end it there too.

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A Campground Review, Rocks and 3 Things I Learned

“I love rocks!” I exclaimed today while in the Sudbury, Ontario Wal-Mart parking lot.

“Girls! Throw some rocks at Mami!! She likes rocks!”, says Erick.

The interpretation of the actual words out of my mouth leave much to be desired.

I’ve been completely enamoured with all the cut out crevices along on the roads and in Sudbury the town has walls of this cut rock all over the place. I don’t know why I find it so fascinating. It’s especially when there are all sorts of trees, shrubs and flowers growing out from the nooks and crannies. But it bugs me that I can’t just stop in the highway and take pictures. I’m forced to be content with drive-by photos through the windows.

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This involves great finesse as I quickly turn on the camera, find my focus, centre on the most artistic view I can possibly get at 90 km/hr, try to maneuver around the dead bugs all over the windshield, and the glare from the sun on the dashboard, and the dreaded crack!!

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#nofilter

This crack!!! Completely in my line of sight and today I noticed it matches the scratch across the right lens of my prescription sunglasses…… Lovely (she says in deadpan manner).

I wish I had a picture for one particular experience coming around a rocky corner right into a construction area. There in the middle of the road was the guy holding the stop sign. It all had a real Sasquatch feel to it. Perhaps it was his incredibly unruly hair or the huge grin with the lack of numerous teeth that is clearly due to previous games of chicken with cars coming around that corner! We hit the brakes pretty hard and he sat there calm as can be, big toothless grin, just daring us to run him over. It was a moment when I wish we had a dash cam… pointed at us! For all we know, we could have had a real Sasquatch sighting and we’ll never know for sure. Prayers for the guy whose clothes and hard hat he stole, I guess.

This week is really our week of long drives in our effort to get across the country and be able to spend some longer stays in the campgrounds out east. We planned it this way because we figured the beginning of the trip would be the time when we’re motivated and excited to go. The assumption is that after a few weeks we won’t be quite as excited (or the kids) for the super long drives. However, we had a longer stop than we planned in Sault St Marie, ON.

If you’ve read in a previous post about the big bang you’ll remember Dale and Trish needed to get some car work taken care of. The parts and a perfect “first thing in morning” appt were waiting for us in Sault St Marie so it gave us the chance to sleep in and relax. I have to say it sure was a nice treat. I’m starting to become accustomed to the different bed and don’t wake up as much during the night so this was probably my best sleep so far. And MUCH needed.

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The campground we stayed at was called Bell’s Point Beach Campground. It was one we called on the way to the city and not one previously booked. RV Park Reviews gives it 4.9/10. Not the best ratings, but the bonus was that it was close to the dealer Dale needed to be at early in the morning.

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You can look across the river into the states.

I would say 4/10 is a fair review. Though the scenery is beautiful, it wasn’t quite what I expected. We paid for the water/electric service and couldn’t use either so I probably should’ve gotten some money back, but I didn’t want to argue. Here’s an idea of how far we were from the tap and outlets.

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On the left is the power and the hoses are the water supply for 4 sites.

There was a fairly good size drop that we’d have to attempt to manage while going around a huge stump (just on the other side of our trailer) in order to reach our water and power. This is NOT something that we were willing to do still feeling so very, very new to backing up trailers. We should probably invest in some longer hoses and cords thought. This is not likely the only place we’d need them.

Some friendly campers from Red Deer, AB offered us an extension cord that would reach. Still no go. We’ve installed the Progressive Industries HW30C 30amp surge protector. It works.

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For those curious, this is where it was installed on our trailer.

We had low voltage issues so it kept kicking out the power. We can only assume this was because the surrounding 3-4 other campers were all plugged into the same post and it just wasn’t enough for that many people. I have to admit I was a little conflicted on how much I loved that surge protector since everyone else around us was happily enjoying the power they paid for and apparently quite oblivious about the low voltage. I should probably rather be glad that we know our camper is protected quite well from voltage issues.

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The one other reason I think that 4 is a fair rating for this campground is the general confusion when trying to find your site and the fairly “rustic” style with stumps all over the place. The guys happened to notice a guy trying to back up his camper and somehow ended up driving his pickup right onto the fire ring. For some reason they both looked at ME and said “See? That’s why spotters are important.”….. Really? So much pressure!

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Beautiful stump and many angles
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Just a few more stumps and more angles

Anyway, I can only imagine when they decided to open this campground they took all the site markers and threw them in the air and wherever they landed, there was a site! I tried to take a picture of the grounds to really showcase the feel, but I don’t know if they really do it justice. The roads are just packed down grass and trailers are parked in every angle possible. It took us forever just to figure out where we were supposed to park. Do we go lengthwise? Widthwise? Down the hill? On top of the stump? On top of the fire ring?! Should we just flip the trailer upside down? What is the best way??? This all did not help the genuine marriage test that is backing up the trailer as a married couple! Thankfully, today we are still driving the same direction, in the same vehicle.

But we’ve learned a few new things.

  1. Always check to see where your power/water is situated before you unhitch.
  2. Take the sway bars off before pulling out from under the hitch. Just in case a bar flings around (in a completely random way) and knocks out a piece of wood that you have piled under the tongue jack.
  3. When doing long drive days, take the time to do your bigger meal at lunch so that you can do the quick sandwich style for supper and you’re not trying to set up while getting HANGRY!

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If you’re an Instagram junkie, I’ve been posting a few daily pics over on my account. Feel free to go check them out. It’s my regular sewing account though, so fair warning on the sewing posts! 🙂

The First Install

We’ve seen a lot of talk on various camping forums about getting a surge protector for the trailer.  The question has been, do we get one or not?  And if we do, what style should we get – portable, or hard-wired?  If this was a simple $20 item it would have been more of a no-brainer, but these baby’s don’t come cheap!  Continue reading The First Install