Day 2, Leg 3, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

Friday, March 1, 2013

After a quick breakfast at the hotel in Hobbs, my sweetheart (SH) and I continued East on Hwy 180, starting the day dressed warmer than yesterday’s start, including the addition of chaps, a neck-warmer and my light down jacket under my armored jacket for me, and winter gloves and light jacket as a liner for my sweetheart. The sun is warm, but when we start out in the high 30-degree levels, the wind is chilly, even for these Minnesotans!

We stopped in Lamesa at a Mexican family restaurant to warm up / snack / coffee break. Then we continued on Hwy 180, enjoying the changing landscape that includes desert, oil, hills, mountains, some trees, increasing agriculture and ranching – and long stretches with a whole lot of nothing! We always seem to find the beauty in our travels, even in the desolation of sparsely populated, remote areas that include long, pancake flat stretches of straight highway. Loving 75 mph posted speed limits.

It’s a windy today, and the fields of windmills near Albany are good indicators that my arms will ache by the end of the day from balancing the bike against the gusty northwest breezes. Although it is the windiest little city, I love Albany, TX, population about 2,000! It appears to be a much more affluent town than Snyder or Lamesa. We had a latte at a very cute and historic drug store, shopped for souvenirs in a gift shop, where we chatted with a charming store clerk (who gave me a postage stamp for my postcard to SH’s Uncle Walter).

We didn’t take the time to visit the Old Jailhouse Art Center, but the lady in the Chamber of Commerce was eager to tell us all about it. If I were to move to a small town in Texas, I would be likely to choose Albany!

The Ridge Motel in Breckenridge, TX, is our stopping point for the night. I collapsed for a short nap, and was tempted to stay there all night, until my empty stomach convinced me to get up. We walked over to Ernie’s Spanish Kitchen for dinner, where SH had a burritto and I had a delicious rib-eye steak. It can be tricky finding gluten-free food in the boonies. The servers often look at me like I’m speaking Chinese when I ask whether a dish is gluten-free!  I usually stick to eggs, salads and grilled meats, for the most part, on our travels.

The server was an energetic, sincere woman who must have had close to the same circumference and height measurements. The people in outstate Texas have been just delightful, hospitable, and interesting.

After our second 250-mile plus day in chilly, windy temps, I think I was sleeping before my head hit the pillow.  Tomorrow will find us back in the city.

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day3 , Leg 2, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

January 19, 2013: Great to wake up this morning when my body told me it was ready to,   at 7 a.m. At that time, it was 21 degrees in Lordsburg, NM, which meant a leisurely morning waiting for the thermometer to rise to a point where it would be safe and comfortable to ride the motorcycles to our next destination — El Paso, TX.

We had breakfast in our hotel and enjoyed visiting with the Brownings, from my home state of ND. They are Bismarck residents who are spending a few weeks in Arizona. Then we chatted with a man from Arkansas who was in the area to get medical treatment for his wife. Talking with people from around the country is one of my favorite aspects of our adventures!

When the mercury hit 40 degrees and the clock showed 10:30 a.m Mountain Time, we were packed up and on the road – I-10 East to be exact. The sun was warm on our backs and we had prepared for these temps by packing and wearing layers that could be peeled off as the temp rose throughout the day.

Halfway between Lordsburg and Deming, NM, we crossed the Continental Divide at an elevation of about 4,500 feet. The desert has lots more native vegetation than Northwest Arizona, which we traveled on Leg 1 back in November, but the sand is still very unstable. We saw many highway signs warning us that zero visibility was possible due to high winds and blowing sand. Fortunately, the winds were light and the weather was friendly to these adventurers!

We stopped in Deming to top off the gas tanks and eat lunch at La Fonda, which the gas station attendant recommended. I love Mexican food, and my Sweetheart (SH) is usually agreeable to eat anywhere he can get a decent salad, so I was happy to follow up on that recommendation. The lunch buffet looked and smelled de-lish, but unfortunately they put flour in all their sauces, so the pickin’s were pretty slim for this gluten-free girl.

Although disappointed by a pretty plain lunch, we were delighted by a couple places in downtown Deming on Gold Avenue. The main business street that we rode into and through town had a lot of shuttered businesses, but downtown appeared to have a number of cute shops. I enjoyed my latte and SH his mocha (our “usuals” when we can find them!) in a Christian bookstore called The Wayfinder. After catching up with the world, thanks to The Wayfinder’s free WiFi, we stopped into a little boutique down the street on the way back to our bikes. I found my souvenir of the trip – a beautiful black wrap. But apparently the real reason we were drawn to the shop was the deeply touching conversation we had with the young woman shopkeeper – all about blessings and gratitude.

We avoid freeways on our adventures whenever possible, so we continued the day’s journey on NM Hwy 11, south of Deming, before turning east on NM Hwy 9, which would take us the remaining distance to El Paso. There is some agruculture in this area, including some kind of orchards – I’m going to research what types of trees they were – perhaps nuts?

We took a little side trip a few miles further south to take a peek at the United States / Mexico border. It was interesting and a little unnerving to see all the border patrol measures and activity. That whole area, all the way to El Paso, was crawling with border patrol SUVs, a blimp monitoring the area, radar stations in the middle of the desert terrain, etc.

We reached the El Paso city limits about 4 p.m., a little surprised at how large the urban area is, including the more industrial Juarez, Mexico, across the river. I’ve never liked city freeway driving on my motorcycle, and it’s even less enjoyable when I’m in unfamiliar territory.  However, I am proud of the fact that I’m now a competent biker in these conditions, after only three years of riding. I’m happy to have grown beyond “terrified” when riding in heavy freeway traffic!

We found our La Quinta near the airport without mishap – again very grateful,for our excellent helmet communicators! After locking up and covering the bikes, we rested, showered, and then took the hotel staff’s recommendation and their shuttle service to Carlos & Mickey’s Fine Mexican Dining. I loved this place! Live music, high energy, great people watching and fabulous food! I  enjoyed a margarita and SH a Corona as we chatted with two Army guys who are here attending the Academy while we waited for a table.  My chili-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp were delectable and SH didn’t leave a crumb on his plate, so I’m assuming he was equally satisfied with his Steak Rancheros.

In all, a wonderful day of sights, sounds and sun! Tomorrow we will be El Paso tourists.

Hasta la vista!  Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 3, Leg 1, winter 2012-2013 motorcycle adventure

Another great day of adventure, although it’s hard to remember this is the first leg of a winter adventure, given the temps we’ve been enjoying in California and Arizona! My sweetheart (SH) and I stopped at our favorite Starbucks in Redondo Beach for a latte, and then I had my favorite huevos quesadilla (with corn tortillas substituted for flour to convert to gluten-free) at one of our “usual” spots when we go to visit Uncle Walter — Redondo Beach Cafe. We got a bit of a late start, due to some challenges filling tires with air and the tanks with gas, but nevertheless, we headed east on the 91 freeway at about 9:50 a.m., enjoying the 73 degree temperature.

Our path included: 60 east to I-10 to 62 North, lunch in 29 Palms, CA. Then Adobe Road north to Route 66 to Needles, then I-10 to AZ 95 South to Lake Havasu City. Love the history of old Route 66, and it’s a little sad to see all the abandoned businesses and towns along that route. This is truly desert country!

The temperature got to 92 degrees at one point (hot for us, cooler for the locals!) I had a reunion with my cousin Dave, whom I haven’t seen in – I’m guessing – 30 years, at dinner in Lake Havasu City.

We put about 340 miles today – between the heat and the distance, I’m tired, but it’s a satisfied tired! I’m reflecting on the desolation of the desert landscape, wondering about who lives in the middle of nowhere in this at-times inhospitable climate and environment, and why they are here. How do they make their living? What are the relationships between far-flung neighbors? I saw one sign that said “Next services 90 miles.” WOW, that is remote, even for this North Dakota-born girl!

Until tomorrow,

Tomboy Tam

All gain, no pain – diary of a mid-life Celiac diagnosis

I never saw it coming – the significant weight gain in the months after I stopped eating gluten (products with wheat, barley and rye ingredients or contamination). So while the pain and life-changing symptoms of Celiac disease subsided, my relief was marred by a swift transition out of my jeans and into sweat pants!

The dietician I consulted following my Celiac diagnosis said that weight gain is common after Celiacs ditch gluten.  Primarily because once the small intestine recovers from the damage caused by gluten, it starts absorbing the food instead of . . . well, you can imagine “instead of!”

In other words, I had become accustomed to eating larger quantities than a healthy body should need in order to maintain or lose weight, as I had been. The “significant” part of the gain was active denial. I was eating healthy foods! I had given up bread, pasta, most desserts and my favorite German comfort foods! I had recently started working out regularly! I couldn’t be gaining weight – it’s not fair! Maybe my personal and family history of thyroid issues caused it!

So it went for 21 months, 30 pounds and a few half-hearted attempts to get the situation under control.

About six weeks ago, I finally tackled head-on the current reality of how my body is wired. I chose to make my wellness a priority to ensure my physical condition can keep up with the active lifestyle I enjoy so much. I intend to be an active, adventurous 100-year-old tomboy! That will only be possible if I am an active, adventurous and healthy 53-year-old.

It’s not rocket science. My renewed commitment to wellness includes an app, food, exercise and support:

MyFitnessPal.com – a free but priceless online and mobile app that tracks calories, exercise and nutritional information. In my opinion, its features and usability are better than a well-know membership program I subscribed to for several months.

Nutrition – in addition to strictly eliminating gluten, I eat very little processed food, choose organic whenever possible and maintain a balance of veggies, protein, fruit and carbs, in about that order of quantities (also tracked by MyFitnessPal). I also consult with Dr. Tom at Spicer Wellness on a regimen of natural supplements that has helped rebalance my body’s systems and give my metabolism a good swift kick-start. And I cook and bake more of my meals myself, so I know exactly what I’m eating and can enjoy the occasional treat.

Exercise – I’ve committed to working out at least 30 minutes, five times a week. Some days it’s a half hour walk or dancing in my living room. At least once a week it’s 30 minutes of Krank Cycle and 60 minutes of Reformer Pilates at Revolution Cycle and Fitness. I work out because it supports my lifestyle, not because I love working out. However, I do like how it makes me feel – strong, in control of my body, sexy and proud that I am in the best physical condition of my adult life.

Support – several of my family members share our wellness successes and challenges and cheer each other on through an email chain. MyFitnessPal also has a social media feature that allows me to add friends, get updates on their progress and comment on them. And my sweetheart consistently supports and participates in my menu and workout choices.

Gaining perspective, not pounds

When I approached my fitness program from the perspective of what I want to GAIN (active lifestyle and feeling good) instead of what I want to LOSE  (extra pounds, tight clothing, etc.) I became much more positive and started thinking about what I could do, instead of what I could not. Seems like such a simple shift in mindset wouldn’t matter much, but the jeans I wore yesterday tell a different story!  I’ll soon be saying “Good-bye sweat pants!”

  • What activities or lifestyle benefits have you gained (or do you want to gain) from wellness priorities?
  • What tips and tools can you share for supporting your wellness program?

I’ve got some tomboy fun to plan and a suitcase to pack – catch you later!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Living to eat doesn’t have to be a bad thing

Food is not one of my defined categories for this blog. The reality is, I love food so much, that I consider it inherent in all aspects of life:

Relationships – I love to cook for my loved ones.

Personal growth – Food has been a consistent source of comfort through all stages of my growth. And I’ve consistently improved my choices throughout that same time!

Health & wellness – I’ve enjoyed evolving my diet to satisfy my foodie fetishes, while honoring my commitment to being healthy and fit, and living a long life.

Spirituality – Food feeds my soul, as well as my body. I have glimpsed heaven while enjoying sublime flavors.

Career – What beloved manager has not motivated teamwork and employee engagement on the backs of pizza lunches and Friday bagels? Even my food offerings at work evolved through my personal growth to fruit and salad options.

Lifestyle – Adventure, exploration, friends and fun: all relevant to cooking, dining out and trying new foods and restaurants.

Today I offer one of my recent favorite recipes – Tomboy Tam’s un-omelet (not really an omelet because I throw most of it in the pan together instead of folding the contents into the embrace of cooked eggs – fussy, precise cooking is not a tomboy trait!):

Serves 1, about 250 calories per serving, 14 grams of fat and 20 grams of protein

Ingredients (I use organic ingredients whenever possible):

  • 1 t oil (go with a healthy one – olive, avocado, etc) or spray oil
  • 2 T chopped onion
  • 2 T chopped green and/or red pepper
  • ½ C chopped mushrooms
  • ¾ C chopped baby spinach (I just cut it up a bit with a scissors when I add it to the pan)
  • ½ of a medium-sized tomato, chopped
  • 1/8 C feta cheese crumbles (as I am fond of saying, “feta makes everything betta!”)
  • 1/4 of an avocado, sliced
  • 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I added the tomatoes after cooking in this photo, which is an easy alternative to adding them to the pan to cook with the eggs.

Whisk the eggs with the salt and pepper. Put oil into a small non-stick pan and heat over medium burner. Add onions and peppers and stir-fry a minute or less before adding mushrooms. After about another minute of stir-frying, add the chopped spinach and tomatoes. Stir for a few seconds and then add the eggs. Reduce heat to low and cover pan. Check after three to five minutes for doneness. When the eggs are set and it’s a little puffy, it’s done. Don’t overcook. Remove from pan and put on plate. Add the feta cheese and avocado and fold over – or not. Eat and enjoy!

I’ve added slightly blanched asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces or other veggies, depending on what I have on hand. You can add or replace the avocado with some chopped deli ham or a slice of fried, crumbled bacon without completely ruining the health value. Obviously, adjust the ingredients as needed for any special needs, such as replacing the one whole egg with another egg white are watching your cholesterol. Personally, I like the veggies tender-crisp so I keep the sautéing prior to adding the eggs to a minimum.

I enjoyed this as a real omelet with a dear friend for brunch at Wilde Roast on St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis recently and loved it so much I recreated it at home and have been eating it a couple times a week ever since. And by the way, Wilde Roast has gluten free bread! I keep fresh chopped onion and peppers in the frig so it’s quick and easy to prepare.

  • What are your go-to healthy favorites? 
  • What is your relationship with food?

Thanks for sharing!

Love, Tomboy Tam