Braiding Sourdough Bread, Round Top, Texas, clinic Spring 2007

Only folks old enough to remember the CBS Western series Paladin which aired 1957-1963 will make the connection between the business card of hired gun slinger, Paladin, played by Richard Boone, and the title of this blog! It became necessary to write this blog to best answer numerous requests as to why nothing new has been posted on Powerless Cooking(R) since late May. (As an side, Face Book even inquired about my health and well being when the number of “Notifications” crossed into triple digits!)

It starts like this. On Thursday June 4, we signed a multiple year lease on a new home which precipitated the onset of a major move. But, before that could happen we first had to pack the truck and trailer, load the dogs, and head for the McKinley Springs Winery near Prosser, Washington, for our Third Annual Dutch Oven Winery Clinic. According to my trip notes we packed a total of seventeen Dutch ovens. So… after two days of travel and two days teaching Dutch oven and Powerless Cooking(R), we got back and immersed ourselves in card board boxes. Trust me it was an arduous process to pack/move both our household goods and the business inventory. My brother-in-law, Al Kusy, helped us move the inventory, countless boxes, and smaller items before the movers came for the big furniture and appliances on June 19.

My memories of the next week remain a blur of our cleaning the old place and opening enough boxes to find essentials such as toilet paper, bed sheets, socks, skivvies, and bath towels. We completed our walk through at the old place on June 26, and immediately began packing the truck and trailer for our appearance  as “Artist in Residency” at The Resort at Paw Up near Potomac, Montana. Again, according to my trip notes, when we pulled out before day break on June 28, there were twenty-eight assorted Dutch ovens, other cast iron cookware, plus the rest of our camp kitchen loaded in the trailer.

I’ve hauled my Dutch ovens to some damn “purty” places over the years, but the Paws Up chuck wagon parked within fifty feet of the Blackfoot River ranks right at the top. A highlight of the trip was cooking a couple of meals for Leonardo DiCaprio and visiting about his new movie, The Revanent, due out in December which tells the story of mountain man, Hugh Glass. Drought conditions worsened to the point fire restrictions were imposed which prevented us from cooking the last two days on our schedule.  We pulled out for home well rested early on Monday, July 6, with a stop along the way in North Fork, Idaho, to load my old Majestic Wood Cook Stove from a friend’s cabin where I used to elk hunt years ago.

Up to this point, life was hectic and moving forward; but, of course, all good things must come to an end. About five miles from home I lost the clutch in our truck. Only the skills learned in another life as a long haul truck driver allowed me to shift without the clutch to nurse it those last few miles home and not have to call a tow truck on the spot. It’s now Tuesday morning and I need a new clutch fast as I’m due in Logan Valley, Oregon, near John Day for the Oregon State Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Rendezvous on Friday. We picked up the truck Wednesday evening and on Thursday I packed for my trip to Oregon. For this trip I only packed a dozen Dutch ovens.

If you’re a lover of high cold deserts in the Western United States, I highly recommend the drive from Vale to John Day, Oregon. The landscape changes at John Day where you not only enter the tall timber country of Central Oregon but you leave the electronic universe…meaning no Wi-Fi or cell phone service. What a great way to spend the weekend. It started with 70 dozen fresh Pacific Ocean oysters provided by the Tillamook Chapter of RMEF, then intermittent rains showers to cool the summer heat, and topped off with a prime rib dinner that someone else cooked. Life was good.

As I eased out of camp Sunday morning at the very crack of dawn four cow elk materialized out of the ground fog courtesy of the previous day’s rains and crossed the road in my headlights less than a hundred feet in front of the truck. Before reaching Prairie City I saw more elk, mule deer, and a black bear. What better way to start the new week. That all changed when I re-entered the electronic universe as my phone began chirping to tell me I had text messages and voice mails awaiting. As soon as I read the text message about Mom being in ICU back in Boise, I grabbed a higher gear and headed east quite a bit faster than the law allows. But now a couple of weeks later the good news is Mom is out of the hospital and doing well.

So…After over 1,900 miles, since early June all our Dutch ovens are home and we’re back on track to film and edit new learning modules for Powerless Cooking(R) which we’ll post soon!

Could it be Dutch ovens travel faster because they have three legs? Let us know your thoughts!

PS: If you look closely at the photo at the beginning you’ll see our 2001 F-350 in the background. It just turned over 318,000 miles. Most of those miles included hauling Dutch ovens. So…”Have Dutch Oven – Will Travel” is based in fact!