Monday, July 15, 2019

What Happened? plus 2018 summer trip

Farnum Creek Campground Kansas

Thirteen months ago I had no idea that the blog would go dormant for over a year. This post is to explain it to you, the readers, and to also help me understand what happened.

The brief version goes like this:

We left for British Columbia in July, 2018.  Got our Escape updated and saw 5 National Parks.

Two weeks after we returned in September my mom was admitted to the hospital.  I became her caregiver, the trustee and POA for my step-father.  She passed away on Christmas Eve after three difficult months.

In January, three weeks after her death, we headed out for Arizona.

Returned home in March leaving again in April and May for three more fiberglass rallies.

There have been other stresses.  As many of our rally friends have noticed, my husband's memory is going. My step-father needs care. My sister is disabled.  And I am left with being the new matriarch of the family.....a role of my mom's that I cannot fill! 

Please don't misunderstand.  This is not a pit party.  It is just life in this moment.  We have many good things going on and strive to always be grateful for our health, our home and our happiness.

We have been home for six weeks...a long time for us!  It's taken that long for me to realize how much I've missed doing the blog and missed reading about my friends.  Yesterday was spent reviewing the phone's trip photos.  Also found photos on the Nikon from last September!  Haven't touched the camera in 10 months! The past 12 months seem like a blur.

Clark Fork River
Lolo NF, Montana

Lake Roosevelt, Columbia River, Washington

Diablo Lake, North Cascades National Park

Last year, contemplating a 2650 mile trip to the Escape factory in Chilliwack, BC was almost too much to comprehend.  Our trip that winter to AZ had been full of complications including my husband's 4 night hospital stay and our Tundra's costly California breakdown.  But the Escape was aging and there were things we wanted on top and some new windows.  And there are many national parks to see on the way!

The Black Hills in South Dakota were just about half way between Tennessee and British Columbia.  The plan becomes to camp there for 3 or 4 nights and reassess where we are both physically and mentally. 

Pactola Lake, Black Hill, S.D.
Our strategy of taking it easy and not pushing the miles pays off as we arrive feeling pretty good.  Stayed at Pactola Lake for three nights.

Back on the road we discover a cool mountain-top campground at Georgetown Lake near Anaconda, Montana and stay another three nights.  We feel like we have plenty of time as our appointment with Escape Industries is two weeks away.

Neither of us have seen Glacier National Park.  It's only 200 miles away!  Pulling over to the side of the interstate we call and secure reservations at a private campground very close to the park's entrance.

Hike from Logan Pass

McDonald Lake
The North Cascades National Park in Washington state is full of twists, turns and smoke as we slowly travel through it.  I keep worrying about the brakes, making it a tense drive.  We spend a few days but forest fire smoke keeps us from having a positive experience.  (We had been in a haze since the Black Hills but this was much worse.)

Our appointment with Escape Trailer Industries is in a few days.  We are getting a new solar panel on top, inverter, two new that opens over the sink, a new bath vent and reading light.  We stay two nights at Camperland, dropping off the trailer for work during the day and picking it up in the evening.  We are over joyed, feeling like a child at Christmas! It is an exciting time!

campsite without the Escape

Our time in Canada is seven nights: two nights at Camperland waiting for the trailer work to end and four nights at Tamihi Creek on the Chilliwack River.  We enjoy this rural forest camp....until the weekend when we are overrun by ATVs.

The above photo is a smoky Chilliwack Lake which was miles above our site on the Chilliwack River.

Our next destination is Olympic National Park.  I have some hope the ocean breezes will blow away the smoke that is now always with us.

Locals tell us how to save miles of driving by taking the ferry.

Our campsite at Mora on the Olympic Peninsula is only a short distance from the Rialto Beach.  It's nice.  Ten bucks a night. We have what we need but something is wrong.  I am restless.  The forest seems sun is filtering through the trees and the always present haze.  A close friend is in Yellowstone NP at Mammoth Hot Springs and says she is not leaving anytime soon.

I look at the distance on the map and send off an email.  We are coming!  I am so ready to get away from the west coast!
Three nights later we are in Livingston, MT and we wake to snow on the mountains above us!

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone NP

Mammoth Springs campground

Leaving Yellowstone is difficult but we had not seen the Tetons.  Our friend recommends Gros Vente campground.

Although it is just a few days after Labor Day, the leaves are turning yellow in the Tetons.  It feels like time to get back on the road.
We get to the Kansas rally ready to get off the road for awhile.  It's great to hang with our buddies!

This was a wonderful trip, really our best! We always thought our Alaska journey would beat out everything thing else. Although the AK trip was truly magnificent and gorgeous, it was also exhausting and stressful.

This worked for us because we tried to be easy on ourselves.  Hope we can keep remembering this lesson as we go forward.  The husband is turning 82 in a few months and I hit 70 in the spring.  Aging is a reality but we don't plan to sit in a least not for long!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Queen of Procrastination....our last three months!

Our life has just slowed down enough to consider writing a bit on the blog.  For the past three days I told myself that I must sit down and get it done...I don't want Spring 2018 to pass without documentation!

When it was time to write on Thursday, I chose, instead, to pick up a library book by JA of our favorite Southwest authors.  David was taking his afternoon nap and I was sure that the time to write was here.  Eleven hours later, at 2 AM, the book was finished. And nothing is done on the blog.

It's summertime here in the South.  We walk and run errands in the morning and settle into the cool air conditioned rooms in the PM.  Friday, I think surely I can write.  Instead I play Freecell until my mind becomes numb and I can no longer win a game.  What is going on here??

Saturday morning we visit a museum in an old bank building in Soddy, TN, a coal mining town where David's family played a prominent role in the community around the turn of the century.  Not sure if our outing played a role in my evening activities but, instead of writing, I spent four or five hours on the Find A Grave website researching my father's family in Bradley county. 

I 'm sharing this as proof there is no self discipline in my psyche.
Always wanted to be a writer but now see myself as a writer who does not write.

We had about a month at home after returning from Arizona and going to the Smoky Mountains in April.  Enough time to create a page of things that must be done and to tear up an ancient brick path in the back yard. 

Due to the constant rains and waiting for a professional landscaper, the backyard project took almost two months!  The landscaper kept saying he was coming to give us a quote.  After two weeks I got mad and said I would do it myself!

We also restained the deck and painted the patio!  
It was a lot of work for an eighty year old and a sixty-nine year old....lifting bags of sand, rocks and pavers.

(FYI for new readers....we downsized three years ago, leaving a house and moving into our 900 square foot duplex. We are loving our small space but it still needs updating in between trips.)

In April we join Escape friends in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  There are 6 trailers: 3 from Vermont, 2 from Georgia and 1 from Tennessee.  We met one of the couples way back in 2009 and try to see them when they come south.

The wildflowers are blooming but it's overcast and cold the first few days.  David and I manage a hike to Laurel Falls.

By the middle of May we are dealing with health problems.  My stepfather is in the hospital and my mom insists on staying with him.  They are 92 and 90 years old, respectively.  I run back and forth to the hospital trying to help.

My husband loses a front tooth, has the roots pulled out and then gets sick with a sinus infection.  Our 20 year old Sienna decides to not roll up it's driver's's 90 plus degrees and we are suffering..... Fixing it is not an option as we need a new vehicle.

We buy a used Corolla, David feels better, the stepfather goes home and the Tundra's engine light comes on as we are packing to go to the Eggs on the Hiawassee Rally. We partially unpack and call the campground.  Meanwhile our spot at the rally is flooded along with other river sites.

We get Big Blue repaired (its second big repair this year) and start for the rally late the next day.  More storms are in the forecast!  Forty miles from home we are hit with a terrific wind and rain event.  I can't even see to drive!  We pull over, get back on the road and then pull over again.  I have had no sleep from worry about the truck and we arrive at the rally just minutes before the Thursday night fish fry.
I am mean and hateful due to no food and low blood sugar....wind up spending the rest of the rally apologizing to everyone.

The sun comes out and the river goes down.  We enjoy being with our friends.

Reacher, left and Layla, right

We have been home from Hiawassee for two weeks and life is getting less stressful.  We have many friends who are on big trips, Alaska and Northwest, and love to read about their adventure but the desire to travel is just not there.  

We just got our passports renewed and have some tentative travel plans.  We'll see if our wanderlust returns before summer is gone.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Winter Trip Update and an Unexpected Challenge

This photo is taken a couple of days after my last post at the end of January (2018).  We are at a private campground, Arizona Oasis, on the Colorado River just a few miles west of Dome Rock BLM. We're there for the Superbowl weekend party and game.  David and I enjoy the party dancing to a few oldies.
The next night, at half-time, he starts complaining of pain in his left forearm where he had knocked it up against the bathroom door latch.
The next morning he is running a fever.  We relocate to the fiberglass rally at Dome Rock and find a walk-in clinic in Quartzsite where he gets antibiotics.   Over the next two days his arm swells (from his wrist to his shoulder) and I become frightened.  
We need to get back to a more populated area where there are great medical resources. 

By Thursday afternoon we are in an emergency room in Scottsdale, AZ where David is admitted to the hospital.  (We picked Scottsdale, a three hour drive, so we can be close to his family that lives there.)

It takes a few days but his arm eventually responds to the excellent medical treatment.  He has an extremely bad case of cellulitis!  The nurses teach me how to care for his wound, cleaning it, applying layers of medicine and gauze and securing it with a sleeve.

After four nights David is released and we decide to stay at his daughter's until he recovers more fully.  I am not a "happy camper" as I am not the RN in my family and have been known to faint, years ago, at the sight of blood!  But, somehow, we manage to get the dressing changed each day.

The weather has turned cold and rainy and we are glad to be warm in the back yard.  Ten days after his hospital discharge we resume traveling and head to the Escapees' North Ranch in Congress, AZ.

We picked North Ranch for two reasons.....I was just so ready to get out of the city and we were able to get full hookups for a long weekend.  We did not do much....the weather was not typical Arizona winter weather...but I did manage to get in a mountain bike ride in the BLM behind the ranch.

Sleet on the Tundra!

One of the colder days!

One of our friends, Jean, is at Gilbert Ray campground next to Tucson and we are ready for warmer weather!  We say bye to central Arizona and go south to join her.

BLM South Entrance of Joshua Tree

Canyon Lake

Gilbert Ray campground is beautiful!  The following day, Oliver trailer friends pull into the site next to us! We are having a mini rally!

It's time to leave Arizona and there's another state park on the way home that we want to see...City of Rocks in New Mexico! Our friends, Jerry and Wanda, posted fun photos of this place prompting us to put it on the must see list.

Very unusual place....this City of Rocks. A volcanic eruption millions of years ago created the city in the middle of a plain.  A full moon rises above the rocks creating a keeper photo!

Sylvester gets a little crazy while walking in the rocks.  He runs from rock to rock exploring every crevice.

New Mexico sunset

Plus there's Faywood Hot Springs just up the road from the state park.  This soaking experience is addicting....can't wait until it's time to return next year!

We spend three nights at City of Rocks leaving on a Sunday morning.  I am having mixed feelings...sad that we are saying goodbye to the West but hopeful for future trips.

That night finds us at Wal Mart in Fort Stockton, Texas and we are not alone!  These are our views from bed the next morning.



We hear that all the local rv parks are full....guessing 30 to 40 rigs are Wallydocking.

We have a little time to spare before our reservations start in Alabama for the Green Eggs and Ham rally.  We decide to visit the Canyon Lake in Texas.  Great idea! We stay a couple of nights doing a little walking and a lot of resting.

Using Google Maps, paper maps and the Garmin we find a way around Houston staying on 290 and 105.  It is a long day..much out of our way but no white knuckles.  Most of the route is very rural.  Another night at Wal Mart at Beaumont and we are on our way again and almost through Texas!

Another stop in Mississippi at the Welcome Center gives us information on local beaches fifteen miles away! We have not seen the gulf from Mississippi and the beach is calling my name.  We find a site at Buccaneer State Park near Waveland and Bay St Louis. The campground is big and the ocean is nearby!

(Full disclosure....I enhanced the beach photos using the app Snapseed.  The sand was not very white.)

It's getting late and this post must come to an end soon.  I'm going to close with photos from the Green Eggs and Ham Rally.  An event we have attended for many we really enjoy!

We are now home in Chattanooga and gradually adjusting to living in a house.  We have a short trip coming up in a couple of weeks...over to our beloved Smoky Mountains.  After that, no real plans other than be gone in the summer.  XXX