When it comes to family, nothing is more important. We were recently finding ourselves with a ‘gap’ in our calendar for activities and duties around the house when, at the same moment, one of our family members reached out and asked if we had a thought about visiting them. Steph’s parents (Don and Denise) live in their RV half the year when the summer heat of FL sends them north.
They set up shop at a spot in Griswold, CT, Countryside RV Campground (https://www.countrysidervcamp.com/). The owners of the campground have really put their souls into this facility. They have many seasonal sites and quite a large number of vacation sites. Their maintenance of the grounds is impeccable. Sites are large and nearly perfectly flat. If you’re ever visiting the CT/RI area, don’t hesitate to stay there because it is conveniently located for travel to either the western side of RI’s inner coastline or to CT’s southern shores. Both are within 20 minutes.
Denise and Don scurried out of FL early this year to avoid the pandemic’s effects there. Flash forward and they’ve now decided to remain in CT for the winter, as the widespread issue in FL hasn’t backed down yet. They have to buy all the clothing and supplies needed for a winter’s rest in one of the colder areas of the country. Even in their later ages of life, they’re learning new things every day! Their site at Countryside is absolutely amazing; they've put 5 years of love and attention into a site they've only been able to visit a handful of times before they made this site a permanent home for the season. Nestled back into the woods, they have vegetables and herbs growing in planters, a couple of deer feeders for their doe and buck friends, and all sorts of little creature comfort accessories to make their stay the most enjoyable it could be. We couldn't wait to get there and see all the love they put into their site and finally get to be a part of it.
We set up the RAINMAKER just a few sites away from their lot. Of course, it was in the rain! Didn’t last long, though, and we were enjoying some Napa wines on the veranda of their 42ft Grand Design Solitude. We watched as the local deer population took turns at their feeder about 75yds away, triggering a motion sensing flood light, never blinking a bit. This didn’t turn out to be the case the whole time, but the deer are growing more comfortable with the new feeder every day. Our eyes were glued to that feeder every evening, just waiting to see who would arrive and partake in the yummy treats the boys were so eager to leave for them.
While we were there to reconnect with family and enjoy each other’s company, one specific reason we were summoned was to settle a long-running bocce score. You see, Stephanie comes from a long line of Italian/Sicilian ancestry that takes bocce (bah-chee) seriously, especially when their grandchildren are involved! We brought out the bocce set (tournament grade granite rock style!) and set up an epic sports network-style filming arena. You’ll only see bocce filmed with such dynamic production on this channel! It was a blast and the kids are still talking about it several weeks later.
One spot we’ve never visited while traveling to this area is Mystic Pizza. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the place. If you haven’t, go to the place and you can watch the movie while eating the pizza. They have excellent pies there and the service is exceptional. Mystic, CT is a seaside town (really a city at this point!) with traditional New England style and flavor. Be sure to pin the aquarium and submarine museum to your maps, as they are worth the trip to get there alone! Mystic Pizza didn’t fail to impress, even during a pandemic. Pizzas and calzones with local brews and views. Once full of slices, we made a quick stop at a local chocolatery to grab some treats for our neighbors, Phillip and Monica, that back us up at home when we drop the ball with our mail. We had surprise early deliveries by Amazon and our Kickstarter board game addiction, so they grabbed them for us. Really is nice to have a supportive neighbor while you’re out traveling the country. Sure beats soggy board games, we can assure you!
We next visited Narragansett, RI, which is where Stephanie grew up for the first half of her life, and has left part of her heart and soul. Seaside villages and towns dot the RI coast, but none feel quite like Narragansett does. It’s a town where you can put out a free library offering and expect to have several books every month removed, but replaced with others you never read. When you're in RI, Narragansett especially, you have to order some very specific foods of the region, and Monahan's is the perfect place for just those foods. We snapped up a sack of clam cakes, some ‘chowdah’ and lobster/crab dishes, sat at a table by the water and enjoyed quality family time. Monahan’s on the pier; pin Monahan’s to your map, it’s a local delight. Also, if you’re looking for a great evening cocktail or a special dinner, hit the Old Coast Guard House just up the shore. A little more costly, but an absolutely enjoyable and delicious restaurant and bar with the best views possible.
Next up on the extreme adventure series in CT/RI was where things got quite a bit dangerous. We met up with Stephanie’s nephew Austin, her brother, Jay and his wife Stacey, at a gun club he is a member of. Elite Shooting Sports of RI is not what you would imagine to be able to do in a place like RI. However, they let us hand shotguns to the boys and put them in a golf cart with a box of ammo and drive around their enormous property full of skeet/trap shooting ranges! It was an amazing experience for all. Brennan put some of his shotgun merit badge skills to the test and Finn got to shoulder and fire a shotgun for the first time ever. He hit the clay on the second trigger pull! Brennan ended up winning the day, even though the last round shoot-off between Brennan and Jay resulted in a loss for Brennan (again, that Italian/Sicilian competitive nature! Great win against the 11yr old Jay! LOL!). What goes best with the smell of gunfire in the air? Pizza and beer, of course!! We wrapped the day with some time in the VIP lounge at Elite, eating local pies and brews. Highly recommend pinning Elite Shooting sports to your map, your family will enjoy the day.
We spent the last day cooking some of our favorite fish recipes with each other. We had grabbed a couple pounds of salmon from Ocean Catch Seafood (as well as some delicious "stuffies" (stuffed clams), and a couple more pounds of sushi-grade ahi tuna from Gardners Warf Seafood -- two of the nicest seafood shops around RI. Denise took the salmon and made a dill-sauced baked salmon recipe that delighted the masses! Flaky and flavorful, the creation is in the video. If you’re into salmon, this one might be a good one to try! Stephanie crafted up one of her signature dishes, seared tuna steak with mango chutney. We have made this recipe several times throughout the years, including at a time share in a mini-kitchen, at home in a gourmet style kitchen and, now, in a camper kitchen. That means it can be done anywhere! Super easy and fun, if you like rare tuna steak. The video has all the details on the process, but the recipe is super easy to follow. Give it a try and see if you add another culinary tab to your personal cookbook!
We wrapped up with another evening of family time with Denise and Don. Once again, we cannot express how important it is to connect with family regardless of how things are in the world. Even more so important when things in the world are ‘iffy’. The bonds between family never can be broken, but they can get weak if you don’t work on them. We get one life in this world and the connections to others are far better than the wifi you needed to read this, but we’re glad you did!
See you next time when we show you how we took Finn, a non-swimming 8yr old, out on Class 3 rapids in a raft!
2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra for searing 1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion (2 onions) 2 teaspoons peeled, minced fresh ginger 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic 2 ripe mangos, peeled, seeded, and small diced 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 2 teaspoons light brown sugar 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeno pepper, to taste (1 pepper) 2 teaspoons minced fresh mint leaves 2 tuna steaks
Saute the olive oil, onions, and ginger in a large saute pan over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the mangos, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 more minutes. Add the orange juice, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and jalapeno; cook for 10 more minutes, until orange juice is reduced, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the mint. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Heat a saute pan over high heat for 5 minutes until very hot. Season the tuna liberally with salt and pepper. When the pan is very hot, add a drizzle of olive oil and then the tuna steaks. Sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until the outside is browned, but the inside is very rare.
Serve the tuna on top of the mango salsa.