Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Fourth Of July

This time last year we were in Fort Benton, Montana. Fort Benton is at the headwaters of the navigable Missouri River. That meant all trade supplies for anyplace north of there went through Fort Benton. We went there as the jumping-off place to explore the Missouri Breaks. What we found was a delightful town that celebrated the Fourth of July as I recall it as a kid. They have their celebration before the 4th and then go upriver to Great Falls for a big city blowout.

When you look at the pictures, understand that everyone knew everyone else. They were all family and friends. There was equal shouting of greetings from the parade to onlookers and there were shouts from the onlookers to those in the parade. We were the only outsiders. They took a quick look at us and knew we should be welcomed. 

Some would say the parade was hokey. Not me. There were several signs and t-shirts about banning human trafficking. Yeah, way out in the boonies they were tangled with a subject of real substance.

The town has several statutes of white men that founded Fort Benton. I would bet heavily that they are still standing.

We wish we could be there right now.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

June Is Coming

We are doing as well as we can. I have had six chemo treatments. The last one was seven weeks ago and I have just about recovered from it. Meaning my red counts are high enough to feel like doing more than being in my Lazy Boy. My monocytes are high again and that is what I am being treated for. The doc and I agreed to suspend chemo and just watch and see what happens since the drug is messing with me. He does have another drug to try if my platelets and red counts go down and monocytes go higher. There is no cure, just treatment.

The stores being closed has not affected us much as we don’t shop much. It's much easier to order online. Dorothy continues to resist my offer to cut her hair. She cuts mine. We wanted to try a new restaurant, but that can wait. I am finding recipes and doing more cooking. I have made a few things that I like better than any restaurant version I have ever had. Such as a killer Chile Colorado and damn tasty Basil Chicken - my first foray with a wok.

I do miss playing bridge. A lot.

We have not done much on KoKo since we got home. I just have not felt like it. Now it’s getting hot so that will be an excuse. We have spent a lot of time in the yard. After years of ignoring it, it needed work.

We might be able to get to CO and/or UT this year. It depends on how my bone marrow does its job. Sure would like to. There is not a rock in a thousand miles of here and the Jeep is eager to go.

I have been thinking about a garden. We have never had one, other than a few tomatoes.
The soil here would have to be replaced. Clay is not much for growing veggies.
I looked into a compact tractor. Maybe.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Travel Plans

Today March 27, I was going to write an update on my health issues and discovered this which was written in February and never published. So I post it today, with a short update at the end.

We don't have any travel plans. Everything is on hold until I complete my chemo treatments, which will be probably sometime this summer.

I am a world-class procrastinator. We wanted a new Lazy Daze, another mid-bath, this time in red. We should have ordered one five years ago. I never could pull the trigger.

We got on the waitlist last March. They sent us the order package around Christmas. Delivery would be this summer. I had the order package on the table since it arrived. I kept trying to figure out a way that I could clean the old one up, get to Montclair, and bring the new one home to do some mods and then we would be ready to travel.

Considering that I have not felt like cleaning KoKo up from the last trip. I just could not figure out how to do it plus all that would need to be done to the new one while continuing the chemo. Just a bridge too far. I called Todd this week and let him know I was not a buyer.

I have had some good weeks since July, but I have also had some setbacks due to infections. I should know by the summer if remission is possible. Then it's just a question of how long I might stay in remission.

I am holding out the possibility that we might be able to go to Utah in the Fall. After modifying the Jeep, I now realize that Utah is of the very few places I can use its capabilities. There is nothing this side of this country that offers the Jeep a challenge or scenery. The crowds in Moab will start to dissipate in late September and the weather may well be comfortable in St. George in November.


March 27 - The last sentence about crowds in Moab was written before the virus hit the world. Who knows if the virus will pass by then.

Anywho, my hemoglobin level has made it to the bottom rung of low normal. I feel better than I have in years. OTOH, my platelets and white count remain critically low. Just great with the virus raging. I will be taking a reduced dosage of the drug and see what happens. Still being able to do chores, work in the yard, exercise etc. sure as hell beats laying in bed and the recliner.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Biblical Rains

Dorothy writes: The weather here has been normal, which is dreary, wet and humid. Just your typical January and February.  We have gotten 2/3 or the normal annual rainfall in less than two months. It’s also warm for winter. Just a light jacket sometimes. I do not like Central Standard Time. Not enough light so that is depressing also. Looking forward to March when the days will be longer and the daily rain will go away. Then my mind will turn toward fun things, such as getting in Koko and going somewhere.
I had open heart surgery and recovered quickly. According to the therapist that came to the house, I was more advanced at one week than most people after several weeks. I was beginning to feel better and then got vertigo. Never had that before and don’t care to have it again. The sense of falling out of your recliner is strange and keeping my hands on the walls to walk around the house is also strange.

We had an extremely quite Christmas because both of our grandsons were sick and neither of us could take the chance of catching something.  That worked out well for a while until Don came down with the “crud”. He felt awful and stayed in bed for two days rarely getting up. Luckily I have felt well and could take care of him through his different illnesses.  I commented to a friend that at least when he was sick, I was well and vice versa. Then our luck changed and I also came down with the “crud”. It lasted four weeks, but we are over that now. I also got an eye infection but that healed quickly.

Don is better and so am I. I have been thinking about traveling again.  We will have to wait until the last of Don’s treatments and see where to go from there. But I am thinking positively.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Now What's Up

I don’t recall if I have said what I am dealing with. It’s a rare form of Leukemia. It does not kill you, but it makes you susceptible to infections that can kill you. I survived an 11-day hospitalization with a staph infection back in August and a three stay for pneumonia last month. Enough of that! I stay away from people, wear a mask to grocery shop, wash my hands all day, etc.
My treatment is working according to the doc and my “blood numbers” are improving marginally. Some days I feel almost normal. I am still months away my immune system being able to keep infections at bay and having enough red blood cells to carry enough oxygen so I can function in a normal manner.
Now we have another health crisis. Dorothy will have a triple bypass Monday. She has several blockages, two of 90%. The cardiologist and surgeon are both top-rated and expect an excellent outcome. She will be in the hospital for five days so I will be on my own next week. I don’t have the energy to make long visits to her so it will be a long week for both of us.

She will be in the same hospital that I was in the first time around. I remarked on the nurses in front of the surgeon and he finished my sentence by saying he has his own nurses. Considering that open heart now bills at over $300,000 such an earner for the hospital can demand the best.

Dr. Kwan is on-call whenever the President (whoever he is) is traveling in the southeast US, including his trips to Florida. There's an executive jet on standby at Maxwell AFB ready to take him wherever needed

The house was already filled with food. Most of it I can not cook, but a women's group Dorothy is in will be keeping us fed. I was kinda looking forward to pizza, but I will be eating healthy instead.

2020 is going to be good year!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

What's Up

Usually this time of year we have arrived home from our Spring/Summer/Fall trip.  This year we arrived home in July because Don was not feeling well.  To say it’s been hot and humid in Alabama is an understatement and it’s still not cool enough for me.

When we arrived home, Don had some energy and so did I. We got Koko unpacked and did a little cleaning.  We had our grandson, Bennett, come over and he climbed on top and put the cover on Koko.  Young men (16) have so much more strength than men of a certain age.

Don’s energy level continued to drop. He had an upper and lower GI test and found out he has Crohn’s disease.

We went to our primary care doctor on September 16 and had blood work, etc. done.  They called me that afternoon to let me know that everything was good with me.  The next morning (7:30) they left a message on our phone to get Don to the emergency room, that his kidneys were failing.  They called back around 9:30 to make sure we were going to the hospital and that they were expecting us.  When we pulled up to the hospital, a young man was sitting down and looked awful. Don told him he looked as bad as he felt. He told Don he had a kidney stone.  

Once in the emergency room, IV was started, of course.  So we waited and waited and waited. Our daughter and oldest grandson came to visit. We finally got to a room and had doctor visits. The next morning they did a CT scan and found that one of his lungs was full of fluid and he also had a staph infection.  Now we have more doctors and more medicine being pumped into him.  He continued to go downhill and after his second night, I decided to just stay in the hospital with him. They had a loveseat that is a hide-a-bed.  It has the worst bed I have ever endured. The owner of that company should be forced to spend a week on that bed!

One morning, Don was feeling better so I went home for a couple of hours.  When I returned, he was doubled over in pain.  He had kidney stones (remember the young man when we entered the hospital) and the urologist said he needed surgery. This is incidental to the reason he was in the hospital in the first place.  So in just a few days, he had his lung drained, a bone marrow biopsy and surgery to remove the stones.  

Don has been diagnosed with a form of leukemia, CMML. There is no cure but it is treatable. After being released we went to the oncologist office and discussed the treatment.  For the next 10 - 12 months he will receive a drug called Dacogen.  It’s administered for five days a month.

Friday, he had a port installed which makes it easier to administer the drug instead of IV.  So far, he has had four blood transfusions. They bring his red blood cell count up enough so he feels almost normal. He’s still very weak and cannot drive. He’s lost 40 lbs. because food had no appeal for him. His appetite has returned, thank goodness. 

Our days are filled with doctor visits but hopefully, after the next two weeks, things will settle down some.

What does this mean for us in the future?  We don’t know. If the trip this year was our last, it was the best trip ever except for the first trip.  We enjoyed being with our friends, we enjoyed Jeeping in Moab.  Don does an excellent job of climbing the red rock and I am very confident in his and the Jeep’s ability and I’m not scared when I can only see sky out the front window.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Homeward Bound

Dorothy has not written a word for the blog all year. Minutes after I posted this she emailed me this. 

Here is a synopsis of our trip from Dorothy’s point of view:  We left home mid-March in order to met up with friends.  Our first real stop was in Llano, TX so that we could eat at Cooper’s BBQ.  And eat we did - it was yummy! Then Terry & Betty joined us, showed us their new rig, and we all went to Cooper’s to load up on food to take with us.  We spent the night at a Texas rest area and ate bbq.  

Next we met up with Keith & Sandy and Ed & Carol in southern Utah and then moved to Moab.  We certainly enjoyed spend time with them as always.  After Ed & Carol left, we met up with Paul (Corndog) & Laurie.  We did a lot of Jeeping with them and had a great time riding over the rocks of Moab.  Keith taught us the card game, “Golf” and it has been fun, but I think Keith taught Don how to cheat - ha ha.  The weather in Moab was perfect.

Since the Jeep has been lifted the trails seemed easier.  But, I have had a difficult time getting in it, especially on the driver’s side.  We found a place in Logan, UT that would add electric steps.  This has made a big difference for me and it can still climb rocks without the steps being a hindrance.  But for Don it is too tall.  He has learned to duck his head.  Then we found the rain and a lot of it.  We had to stay in places with electric hookups because the solar panels might not get charged.  One of the places we stayed was Spanish Fork, UT at the city park.  Just looking,  the campground was just a parking lot.  Once you were in your site, there was grass and shade trees behind you.  It was just like a park.  We met some friendly people, Spencer & Lorraine and Dan & Carol, and we certainly enjoyed several Happy Hours with them.

We had many days boondocking.  It certainly lowered our camping fees.  We were gone for 122 days and spent a total of $853.50 for an average of $6.99 per night.  Amazing that I get so excited by having a low average.

Monday, July 8 - We continued south passing through Wind River Canyon which is even more spectacular than we recall from 2007. It gets our vote for the best canyon that you can drive through.

The canyon has an optical illusion. South bound you think you are descending at something like a 4% grade while you are actually going up. The river appears to flow north seemingly uphill. The RR  appears level.

                                 Wind River Canyon

We stayed in an RV park in Casper for AC. We resisted going to Safeway for a bag of fried chicken.

Tuesday, July 9 - Southbound to the hamlet of Encampment, where we parked in a city park with full hooks. I washed off some of the grime on KoKo. No need for AC, there was strong wind blowing.

Wednesday, July 10 - Our intent was to continue south to Buena Vista and do a little wheeling for 2 or 3 days, then head directly home. I checked the weather and found the highs were going to be in the high 80's - way too warm for our comfort. We choose to get on I80 and head east. The direct route to I80 from our location was WY130 through the Snowy Mountains. I knew it was scenic, but I had forgotten how high the summit is - 10,830 feet. That was easily the highest we have been on this trip. The top is granite with lots of lakes and reminds me of the the Rubicon Trail section of the Sierra Nevada.

We parked at Vedauwoo east of Laramie. We had not been here in a decade. It will be the last "rocks" we will see as we descend on the plains. Surprise, while it is mid-70's there is a light breeze and we had to put on long pants and sleeves to sit out. I expect this will be the last coolness we experience until October.

Thursday, July 11 - After six days of feeling pretty good, I woke up back in the ditch. I improved during the day, but my energy dropped at 7:30.

Vedauwoo is at 8,200. when we parked we were at 4,200. Slow downhill all day.

Our west bound friends met us at the city park in Brush, CO. What a busy place. Consolation that had a swimming pool so we cooled off there. A band decided to rehearse their act at the park. Damn good. They played mostly Beatles. Three old guys and a talented young vocalist.

Friday, July 12 - Our friends suggested we take US36 rather than I80 all the way to Illinois. We prefer such roads as they provide more interest than interstates. Sure you have to slow down for every town, but I feel that keeps the mind engaged. So far the road surface has been quite smooth.

We planned to overnight at a city park in Phillispburg, Kansas but the voltage was too low run the ac. There was not another RV park of any kind within 50 miles eastbound. I saw there was a COE CG to the north near Alma, Nebraska. So 24 miles off course we went. The CG was flooded. We perched in a CG in Alma. $28 is cheap to pay for electricity when it's 95.

Long day for us, 4 hours to intended destination, then another half-hour to an alternate.

Saturday, July 13 - Three hours brought us to the Washington, Kansas city park. Shade and electricity and a pool.

Curious to us, five birds, three today, rose from the roadside and flew directly into the windshield. It must be raccoon breeding season, we have seen dozens of road kills.

Sunday, July 14 - Four hours and my ass was hurting. We got to the city park in Brooksfield, MO. Electricity and a pool.

Monday, July 15 -  Another four hours brought us to a delightful city park in the corn fields. The Sherwood Forest CG near Hillsboro, IL.  Almost every space is taken for the season by locals who use the lake. Only $1,100 for the season which includes W&E. We paid $10 also a deal.

A little cooler here and much more humid.

Tuesday, July 16 - How long did we drive today? Four hours of course. It would be nice to drive longer, but we just can't. Let's see we were in Missouri, we went east into Illinois, then south into Missouri. Gas is 50 cents more in bankrupt Illinois.

We intended to park in a city park in Thebes, IL, but the bridge over the Mississippi was closed, so we are at The Little Old Opry CG for the low price of $15. $10 a night if you stay three nights.

Wednesday, July 17 - 3.5 hours south on I55, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and finally Mississippi. We parked at a COE CG under shade trees. It's only 88. The ac is set to 77 but it has not turned off in the three hours we have been here.

The guys are probably dead, but the idiots who thought running interstates through downtown would be a good idea should be flogged.

Thursday, July 18 - Three hours brought us to a COE CG near Westpoint, MS. We should be home be lunch tomorrow. Crossing from Montana to home in 13 days.