For those of you interested Only in TRAVEL, I (Jack) wrote the blog between March 2010 and October 2010 during our travels west. We saw the most beautiful places and had the best time in our big truck and little trailer. See Blog Archive below.

Dec 28, 2011

A Tribute to Reileigh!


Reileigh was my friend, a chocolate Lab, adopted by one of Nancy's friends at 4 years of age. She was a lovely dog--gentle and kind like most labs. She was very shy and stuck to Diane's side like glue when we first camped together at Skidaway Island. Her Mom, Diane, was kind enough to offer to take care of me when Lizzie got sick and had to go to the vet when we were camping with a group of ladies and my friends in Virginia.

The shenanigans of my friends and me probably overwhelmed Reileigh, at first, but eventually she came out of her shell and friends tell me she got happier and happier as she camped more and more with the group. Unfortunately, I was sick all last year so I wasn't able to see her. She was lucky, like me, because she got to take a trip out west with her Mom and saw all the wondrous things that I got to see. Reileigh got sick, suddenly, and her Mom didn't want her to suffer, so as hard as it was to do, she knew she had an obligation not to let her suffer. I want Nancy to do the same for me if I get sick before she does. Everyone is devastated, but we all know that she lived a very happy life once she picked Diane to be her Mom. I wonder if she's at the Rainbow Bridge with Rich and Lizzie--waiting for Diane to come. Diane said Reileigh was snoring, as she always did, when she went off to sleep this final time. I'll be anxious to see her, again, when it's my turn to go to Rainbow Bridge.
Lizzie left me two years ago New Year's Eve. I hate it when Nancy crys--but she feels so badly for her friend. Someone quoted Anatole: "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." I sure am glad I got to see her in December at Desoto Campground, even if it was just for the day. She seemed so happy and content.

  • Nancy's monitor is broken so she can only tell that the first picture is of Reileigh. We don't know if she's enjoying the water like the  rest of us--she may have been walking and watching with Diane. I think this must be what the other side of Rainbow Bridge is like, don't you? At  least it shows everone what fun Reileigh was to learn to have; especially on her trip west. Diane's blog is on our blog roll.

Skidaway Island

Lizzie-she loved water more than any other pup I've known.
Friends Having a Good Time

Another picture of my beautiful Lizzie

I got the stick!

Here Comes Lizzie!

Tucker, Molly, Jazz, Teddy, Nick, and Me

Got My Eye on the Stick!

Dec 23, 2011

Celebrating the Little Things in Life

Well, I said I wasn't going to write,again, but this was worth celebration. Jack and I went on the longest walk we've been on for months. Not exactly in the "wild", but a sunny pleasant day. I was a bit stiff, but had very little discomfort. As we get older, we really do appreciate the little things in life...just being able to walk was a reason for celebration.

We couldn't go to the nature center, Jack's favorite place around home, but we went up to the school and out the back on a path (can't really call it a trail), and it FELT so good. I have an iPhone--couple of my kids rave about its picture taking capability. I guess I would, too, if I didn't press the button by mistake and take pictures of the ground and the sky

I checked the trailer--water is still coming in. I think it must be from either my tail light or a pipe that has a drip. I dried up what I could and spread towels on the floor. I'm not letting it dampen my spirits (no pun intended). I'll think about it tomorrow says Scarlett

Jack was a happy boy. I'm so thankful that Susan was able to walk him while I was laid up, but surely missed our walks, together.

Dec 22, 2011

Did Absolutely Nothing, Today

Something strange happened to the formatting in the first post.

A friend of mine, Dixie, stayed over last night. She's on her way from Florida to North Carolina. She was sitting on the couch next to me when Jack came over and looked at her, then looked at me very forlornly. Then the whining began. I knew what he wanted. He wanted Dixie to get up so he could take his spot next to me. Naturally, Dixie was good natured about it--she's known Jack, the character, for a long time, and she accepts the fact that I'm a nut because I told her he wanted to sit where she was. 

I checked this morning. Things are dried out in the trailer. I'm leaving the heat on for another night. I'll tackle trying to find the origin of the water and try to get the electric on when I know I'm not going to undo the good they've done for my back. Just wanted to write a quick note--maybe the last one for the year. Happy Holidays one and all, and peace and happiness in the New Year.

Back Feels Better-Water Problems

Just a quick post. My back feels better though I overdid it, yesterday. I'm not supposed to be moving around much until tomorrow, but I had to move, yesterday. My trailer was flooded with water. Doesn't appear to be coming from ceiling/rain. It's been there a while--set the CO2 detector off. Fortunately, anything on floor level in storage was in plastic bins/containers. Since my eye surgery, I don't see very well (I can see distance fine-no worries with me on the road), so I didn't catch it the other day. Yesterday, I went in to investigate, again, and I saw a paper back book lying on the floor under the bed table and when I picked it up it was soaking wet and moldy/mildew so I knew it had to be there quite a while. What a surprise! I wouldn't have seen the water, otherwise. It's in the lower cabinets. I'm winterized, but I'm wondering if when I did it, I opened a valve that let the water out. It wasn't still flowing so I've had a heater going strong all night. I had to run it with an extension cord because there is no power to the trailer even while hooked to a land line. The water is down near all the fuses and breakers, but I didn't want to risk injuring my back trying to get down on the floor. (Why don't they think of us old folks when building these things?). Taking buckets of water out last night was enough--it's all at one end of the trailer, seemingly away from everything else "water". I do have an outside shower that I've never used, but I checked the lines going to it and they are full of pink and the shower itself is completely dry. So, this is written in a hurry, probably not making much sense--didn't get to sleep until 5 a.m. I think if I can get the electric hitch to work I'll hook it up and take it to camping world in the next week or two, but I'd like to see if I can get the electric working before that. The first year I winterized I forgot to bypass the hot water heater so I damaged that. It's gas lit from the outside so I'm going to see if they can install an electric water heater that can be turned on from inside and I want to put new tires on the trailer. I hope I don't have floor damage, and I think my next step will be to wipe everything down with bleach or a mildew retardent. I have no idea if it got to the wood under the tile. No pictures. Too Tired. I'm going to go on one of the help groups to see if anyone has any additional steps I should take before I hook up. Any thoughts you might have would be greatly appreciated. I just wish I could get at it, today, but my back comes first and it's going to rain until Saturday, I think.

Dec 19, 2011

Epidermal Steroid Shot (Jim)

For anyone facing one, a little uncomfortable but NOT painful. I had two shots without any sedation (a local on each side of the spine). I have to stay put for three days (My "nurse" is on duty 24/7, now). Most of the time the shots do not take affect for between 3 days to 2 weeks.

I was SCARED going in as it was reminiscent of a myelogram that I had in the early 80s when everything that could go wrong went wrong.

This post is mostly for Jim so he knows what to expect. My daughter-in-law was asleep when they did hers. I guess it depends on the doctor. My surgeon told me I could have sedation, but from my perspective after speaking with the doctor who was going to do it, I really didn't need it and didn't want to be groggy afterward. They still insist that someone take you, wait for you, and take you home. CYA, I suspect.

Another thing they told me is that many times they have to do two or three shots. My surgeon said to call him in two weeks to let him know whether this session was successful. Now, I just hope it works. 

Dec 14, 2011

MRI Results

Heard from the doc with MRI results, today. He wants to try a shot to relieve the pain for the holidays. Once in a while they get lucky and it lasts for a pretty good period of time. If it does last that long, then he said he would give me another before my trip west. When I get back, we will talk about the surgery.

Unfortunately, it isn't the simple spinal stenosis that he and I thought/talked about when I saw him. I will need spinal fusion as my back is unstable and there are a number of disks that have slipped and will continue to slip. If the shot doesn't last more than a couple or a few weeks, then I might have to consider surgery sooner which might blow my leaving in March. One problem is that when more than two disks are involved, the success rate of the surgery goes down (I read this and this may be the reason to try conservative treatment, first). We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I'm looking forward to relieving pain even if it's only for a short while.

So, I'll try the shot--maybe I'll get lucky.

My Nurse

Dec 5, 2011

I Went to See Santa!

...and I want a big bone and...and a ball...and...

My sister,  Susie, surprised me today, and took me to see Santa Claus at PetSmart. She takes me every year. Then, I got to go shopping. Nancy takes me, but not when Santa is there. This was a special treat.

Nancy didn't go. I heard her mumbling about someone being nuts, but I LIKED Santa. It seems that Susie pleaded with Nancy to take Lizzie when she was young, and Lizzie being a young Lab, caused  complete chaos and almost knocked Santa out of his chair when she went charging up to greet him. That was at another place (fancier) where they were serving gourmet treats. Lizzie didn't get any because Nancy couldn't get to the door fast enough. Susie said she still laughs when she thinks about that day. Santa was straight ahead, Nancy had Lizzie on the leash, Susie opened the door, and Lizzie went charging to Santa who had an "OMIGAWD" look on his face! 

I'm also going to Susie's Christmas party, but I'm not sure what day that is. She invites me to her house whenever she has something going on. It's such a busy time of year for me--so many social engagements. Tuesday, Nancy and I are going to see Michael, Keely, and Peyton AND Bella and Bogey.

Nancy gave Susie a seatbelt for me for her car and also a cover for the back seat so I don't get hair all over. She says she could probably make five dogs out of what I've left in my beds in the back seat.

Nov 29, 2011

MRI Time

Well, I gave the Physical Terrorist and anti-inflamatory a chance and hoped they would do the trick. I was supposed to call the doctor in two weeks (that was October 19th), but held out and finally called him, today.

They'll call me to schedule an MRI. The nurse told me to stop the PT and not to do anything strenuous. I asked if I could go camping and she asked me to hold on while I presume she was asking the doctor. The answer was no so I had to cancel plans to meet friends in south Georgia.

The doctor will call me with the results, and to talk about treatment options. He told me during the visit in October that dependent on the MRI, it might be possible to do a shot in the spine. If, however, he decides to do surgery, I'll be well enough to travel out west by March.

I've had worse pain in my life, and for a much longer period of time before a surgical fix. Still, pain wears one down, mentally, and when it takes away the simple pleasures (and obligations) in life, it starts to get depressing.

This is the last year that Jack and I will be able to travel. He's 10-1/2, now, and thank goodness in very good health. Seems like I picked one end up and dropped the other.

I winterized the trailer, today. Unfortunately, the first year I had it I remembered to bypass the water heater but forgot to drain it. It froze. I need tires before I go and I'd like to have an electric water heater installed, if that's possible.  I managed to blow my eyebrows and eye lashes off and singed my hair trying to light the one that came with the trailer.

Well, here's hoping that whatever the treatment is, I will be able to bail early spring. Maybe even meet two of my best friends out in Yosemite to see the frazil ice!

Nov 13, 2011

Meeting with Friends

One of my friends retired and in celebration took a "Victory Tour" this year. Her blog is on my sidebar. She officially ended the tour (will be back in her home after 99 days of travel). Several friends (some of whom had traveled 5 weeks with her out west) decided to have an official celebration at Desoto State Campground in Ft. Payne AL. I thought about taking a run over to surprise them with a visit, but they are on the move all the time so I didn't want to interrupt them. If they're not hiking, they are biking, if not biking, playing golf--well, you get the picture. I can't keep up with them when I'm healthy, but with my back, fawgedaboutit. But! They called me and invited me over, saying they were going to hang around the campground and that I wouldn't be interrupting anything. Because of PT, I couldn't go during the week, but I could manage one day.

I decided I could go over and spend the night in a nearby hotel in as much as it's a little under 2 hours from home. So off I went Saturday morning. Got to Fort Payne, made my reservations but didn't go into the room. Desoto was right down the road. It had been a pretty ride over. I couldn't wait to see them.

When I found their campsites, all was quiet. I thought it odd because I know at least one is up and at it before dawn every day so that surprised me. As quietly as I could I backed into one of the sites put my iPhone on and sat back and waited for everyone to get out of bed! Well, all of a sudden, they were ALL there--pups and all! They had taken a walk. I was so surprised for a minute that I thought they had all awakened at the same time and come out of their trailers at the same time--pretty amazing was my first thought. After happy greetings we went over to Bama Deb's site (my friend from Gulf Shores) and gathered around the fire.

This group of women is very special to me. We all actually belong to a larger group and we have camped together as often as possible. (I've been the absent one in the last year or so because of my trip west, Jack, and my back). I have made wonderful, lifelong friends-two of my best friends live pretty close by and aside from many camping adventures, together, we get together for lunch when we can. Without getting overly dramatic I'll say that they actually saved my life, I believe. They gave me a reason to keep going when each day was so bleak that I didn't want to go on, and they showed me that I could laugh, again. If I make the trip out west, I won't be with them for another year, but I'm hoping to be well enough to camp at least a couple of times in December--IF PT or surgery doesn't interfere. Then after the trip west, I hope to join them for many more campouts in the east and midwest.

We had a day of great conversation and laughter (always laughter in this group) around a great (roaring) fire and good food. They had brunch planned  and dinner! One gal in the group is an amazing cook (chef really), and some of the most delicious meals I've ever eaten have been while camping with her. She is Saffire's owner (her blog is on my sidebar, as well).

Jack enjoyed his day; being the usual clown that he is. The gals remarked about how healthy and happy he looks. He got to see his friends, and I realized just how much I had missed them all. Some of the pups are pictured in my blog when I was in New Mexico and we all met in Santa Fe, and one, Molly, when I camped in south Georgia last November.

I had about ten miles or so to drive back to the motel. One is right next to the other. I dragged everything up to the second floor and spent 20 minutes trying to make the key work in the door. No go. I lugged everything back down to the truck, drove to the office, and the lady made me another key. By this time I thought my back was going to break in two. She said she'd meet me at the door. Well, I didn't have the wrong key--I had the wrong motel! The motels share a parking lot between them, look the same, and the gentleman who had checked me in told me it was all the way to the end. Both motels have Room numbers 237 one near the end and the other at the end. Well, glad that "adventure" was over. Lugged the stuff up the right motel stairs, came out and got Jack out of his seat belt, walked him, and we went up to the room. I think it took me five minutes to nod off. I awoke a little after 6 a.m. so we were on the road within in a short while after another walk. Stopped for breakfast and we were on our way. Ran into Teresa (and Molly) as she was figuring out her route. She had an eight hour drive back to Florida. Deb left for Gulf Shores. Diane and Luanne were on their way north to Virginia and Illinois. Patricia was going south to spend some time with friends or family (forget which) before heading back to St. Louis. So, you see we come from all over--from the east coast to the west, and from far north to far south.

Unfortunately, I left my camera behind. I had it with my other things so I wouldn't forget it--but walked off without it. I hope they'll send me pictures. Patricia did put one on Facebook and I'm shamelessly stealing it. Desoto is a lovely park.
L-R Me, Luanne, Diane, Bama Deb, Teresa (Varietal Times) (and Patricia taking the picture)

I'm sure they'll be posting pictures on their blogs. Jack usually writes about our travel, but he's lazy and sound asleep after his big day, yesterday.

Nov 8, 2011

Our Little Oasis

I have written often about the nature center. Rich used to walk Lizzie and me there every day rain or shine.
After Rich was gone, Nancy walked me every day and Susie would take me, too. When I was sick last year and we had to stay close to the vet, Nancy took me here no matter what the weather so that I could get out. Since I felt well, I was able to go, and I never got tired of going.

Nancy hasn't been able to go because of her back, so Susie has taken over.

Today, though, Nancy took me out for my "short" walk and said she was going to try to make it to the nature center. I was so excited. I know it hurt her, but she said when we got there, "I'm so grateful we have this place, Jack."

I am, too.

Susan got off work early and as usual, even though I'd already been there, I conned her into another walk. Nancy said she was going to drive up to get some pictures. They didn't turn out as well as she wanted, but they give you an idea about how important the nature center is to us. Nancy only got pictures of a small portion of it. She waited until Susan and I came around the bend, and there she was! They've made the paths so that it feels like you're moving deep into woods, but the fact is that they are winding up and down and around. You'll see the creek that I get into once in a while when I can (it's dry, today)...and the mud! Yes!
This is Susie with me, but Nancy usually rests on this rock. In fact, Nancy rests everywhere when we are here.
They made a place that simulates a swamp.
This is one of the trails
Me and Susie on the trail
Wouldn't you think we were in the country? When we leave, we're on the busiest street in our town. Can't hear the cars from here, though.
Susie and me on a bridge
This is when I first saw Nancy
This is where I usually escape down into the creek
This is where Nancy stands and tells me to get up out of the creek or she'll brain me.
The rest of the pictures are just from different angles and of Rich's bench. Maybe some day, Nancy will be able to walk and take pictures of the whole nature center. She never takes the camera with us on our walks because there are a lot of roots and it's hilly and she's afraid to fall (and break the camera).

This is the bench that Nancy put here for Rich. It has his name, Lizzie's name, and my name on a brass plaque. Unfortunately, even though it has been weather treated it is aging from being exposed to the elements. Nancy sits here and thinks, and so do I. We can hear the little water falls. Maybe when it finally disintegrates, she'll put a granite bench.

Nov 1, 2011

Cozy Bear in Cherry Log

I spent a wonderful couple of days with my son at his cabin in Cherry Log near Blue Ridge. The ride up was beautiful, and I didn't get lost! It was good to get away from suburbia and the confines of the house. Jack enjoyed the new smells, and while I couldn't walk him far, at least he saw something new. He made himself comfortable by the fireplace; settled in comfortably as he always does no matter where he is as long as we are together.

John thinks of everything--he's an excellent host. We enjoyed several scenic rides on the back roads, ate at some great roadside restaurants (one called the "Pink Pig") and we went last night to see everyone in the county, I think (young and old), in costume in the town of Blue Ridge. We also took a ride to my younger son's cabin--Watersound in Blue Ridge. When they aren't using the cabins, they rent them--I was reading through the visitor books and saw some wonderful comments from people who had enjoyed their stays.

I'll leave you with a few pictures of the changing leaves and our ride through the countryside. I didn't take any of the Halloween celebration last night--easier to walk without lugging a camera.

Oct 22, 2011

It's My Turn!

I finally got myself to the doctor last Wednesday. My self-diagnosis was correct (isn't the internet wonderful). My daughter had recommended a very nice doctor and I liked him, his staff, and the way the whole process worked.

I am on a large dose of anti-inflamatory medication and the doctor said 4-6 weeks of physical therapy. However, if I'm not feeling better after 2 weeks, he wants me to call him and he'll do more tests and maybe try a shot of some kind, then surgery if that doesn't work. I told him I was going to make a trip west. He assured me that even after surgery I would be recovered enough to go. That's the best news I've had since September 30.

I was going to walk up to the nature center, where Susan and I walk Jack, to take some pictures, but I made myself walk there last Tuesday and almost didn't get back. I was ready to go to the doctor after that little venture. I'm going to take the car up next week and I'll take pictures so you can see how fortunate we are to have this little bit of heaven right in the middle of chaotic suburbia.

Jack is funny. Sometimes he walks out to the mailbox with me and when we walk back, he lays down by the trailer like he's pretending to camp. The trip to Gulf Shores whet our whistles. He goes to our regular vet soon for his shots so he'll be ready to go as soon as I'm able.

Jack and I are going up to Blue Ridge to my eldest son's cabin for two days. I'm looking forward to getting away. He and my daugher-in-law make it so comfortable not only for themselves and family, but for the people who rent it. They even decorate it for Christmas and Thanksgiving. It's very homey.
Cozy Bear

I'll bring my Kindle and curl up with a book right here on the porch.

Oct 7, 2011

My Kind of Day!

I saw Nancy with the map and wondered what she was up to. Susie came back from her shower and Nancy said, "How'd you like to go to Dauphin Island on the ferry? Then maybe up to Mobile?

We got in the truck and drove for quite a while. The ferry was great. The two crew men paid lots of attention to me. Nancy said it was because Susie was at the end of my leash!
Susie took care of me while Nancy was taking pictures.

They really liked me. They stood by us through the whole trip.

Everybody said hello to me.

I was thirsty. Fortunately, Nancy always carries water for me.

The oil rig that leaked was about 60 miles from where we were. The crewman said that recent storms washed more oil up so he doesn't think they'll ever get it all cleared up.

We decided we didn't want to go all  the way to Mobile so Nancy said, "Why don't we go back to the island and go the opposite way. Maybe we'll find a place for Jack to swim." My ears perked up! Yeah, at last!!

The gulf was rougher than we had ever seen it.

Waves like in the ocean. I got knocked over by waves, another one crashed right over my head--I had a blast. Nancy and Susie were getting a little nervous. Nancy never brings her camera when I'm in the water just in case she has to come in after me. (C'mon, Nancy, I'm a Lab).

After a while, Nancy decided that she'd go back to the truck to get her camera. I was soaked and Susie had me on the leash. I got very nervous when I couldn't find Nancy, and then I saw her and went running to her!
I'm coming, Nancy
Still Comin'
Almost there!
Don't Leave Me, Again
Don't call me a wet old man!

Before long, it was time to get in the truck and take the ferry back to Gulf Shores. We met the same two crewmen who talked to Susie all the way across. I think Nancy is right--they were flirting with Susie, but they were paying attention to me. 

This week has gone by so fast. We're all sad that we have to go home, tomorrow. It's been so good to get out and away from home for a while. We got back to the trailer and Nancy got a text from the Mayor. She and Linda were going to stop by. More fun! Nancy had some wine left over so when they got here, we sat out at the picnic table and they gabbed and laughed a lot. Nancy has camped with Deb (Mayor) before, and she is so much fun, and it was great that she and Susie met Linda. It was dark by the time Nancy remembered that she hadn't taken a picture of them--so...
Linda and Deb

No caption needed (and they tell me to behave!)