Getting Ready to Roll in the Time of Covid

My Roadtrek

In RV lingo – I am getting ready to roll.  I am going


to be moving back into my sweet little Roadtrek and heading out into the wide-open spaces of the American West.

All good things come to an end. My time “Sheltering in Place” with my friends, Cynthia and Ward is coming to a close. It is time to give them their home back. We have gotten along more than well, not one argument. I will miss them. This three-month adventure has made me realize that community living is definitely possible.

Where am I going?  I am heading north. As I am sitting in the middle of a Santa Ana and things are warming up in San Diego county I realize it is time to head for the coast and the mountains in search of cooler weather. First I will venture to Ventura for a few days to meet up with Dan Neeley of Dan Neeley RV Services who knows all things Roadtrek. It is time to get some work done on my rig. We have been trying to get together since January, without success.

I have good friends in so many places. It makes it easy to travel and feel safe from all those germs out there. A few summers ago Miss Elsie the Cat and I spent most of a summer in Donnelly, Idaho. My good friend Linda and her husband, Steve, offered us the use of their cabin in the mountains. It was a beautiful summer of hiking, biking, and using the lakes, that are generously dispersed throughout this beautiful country. It was also a summer of getting to know Linda and Steve better.

I am returning sans Elsie. I asked Linda if their second home might be available and without hesitation, she said yes. Why not shelter in place there? Why not enjoy the mountains and water? Why not?

My 1st Summer in Idaho

Ooooohh there are so many possibilities.

It is time to clean out my rig and put what is not needed into storage for the next several months. I am spending time cleaning and getting things done while still enjoying the company of my friends. My new bikes are getting excited. I occasionally hear their chains rattle in anticipation.

This will be the first adventure out since Covid 19 arrived on the American scene.

What will I do differently now than when I traveled before?

  • Wash my hands often.
  • Keep hand sanitizer readily available and use it.
  • Wear gloves when I pump gas. It had not occurred to me until Covid that touching a gas pump handle is dirty. Think of all the people who touch a handle on any given day. I have disposable gloves or work gloves that I will use when I pump gas.
  • I have masks, thanks to Cynthia. I will use them when I encounter others and will faithfully wear them.
  • The free tours of my rig are on hold for now. ­čśĽ
  • I will eat at home almost exclusively. I have a small but efficient kitchen in my rig and it will be used.
  • I am so thankful for my own bathroom. I will be able to avoid public restrooms. And I can shower at ease in my rig.
  • It will be unique to visit others while socially distancing (6-8 feet away), but at least we can visit.

There will be challenges as well. How do I approach laundromats to wash my clothes? I will have to enter a grocery store. I haven’t seen the inside of one since early March.  Remaining alert and attentive will help me weave my way through the challenges as they arise.

This will be a good getaway for me. I have had a lot to deal with in the past six months. I know this adventure out will not be truly normal, yet I hope I still have the excitement of seeking out new adventures and places. This year I will be on a careful and watchful adventure. Normal times are not here yet.

And if things bottom out again in the next week and a half…..it is not a bad option to remain “Sheltered in Place” with my good friends in San Diego.

Today I am thankful for good friends, my rig and knowing how to safely, move through my world.

 

Surgery Complete-Recovery Mode in Full Swing

The New Kaiser Hospital

Surgery is done. I am in recovery mode at the moment and feeling very thankful and grateful to my friends who are helping me and Miss Elsie the Cat.

Here are a few things I have learned. Because I had a similar surgery done last April, no two surgeries are alike. Removing half a thyroid is different than removing the other half. When one has half a thyroid left there are certain things that one doesn’t have to be as concerned about.

A few logistics are needed here. I won’t detail it too much as I prefer none of you to get funny or pass out. ┬áThere are these little glands, four of them that sit on or next to the thyroid, known as the parathyroids. They control calcium in our bodies. Most of us know that calcium is important to our bone growth. Did you know that calcium is important to muscles as well? Those little parathyroids sometimes like to go into shock when they are manipulated or handled. It can cause a dip, sometimes a big dip in the calcium and our heart may not work so well if that happens.

Why is this important? I ended up spending the night in the hospital post-surgery so that my calcium level could be monitored, just in case. Everything went well and I was discharged the following morning. I was surprised to find out I would be staying. Cynthia, my major support person was surprised as well.

An example of the rooms in the new hospital.

In view of the larger picture, this was just a small blip. If I had to stay in a hospital for the night I could not have been in a better place. The Kaiser hospital in San Diego is brand new. On the floor where I stayed, every room was private. Cool. When they wheeled me in I discovered a beautiful view of Mission Trails Regional Park and Miramar- the Marine base. There was the hugest TV I have ever seen hanging on the wall in front of the bed. I could watch TV, I could watch movies, I could surf the internet, I could watch videos about my health. I could even order my meals, all on that screen.

Remember that I live in about a 200 square foot space so this room and all the amenities were amazing. Drawn behind the TV screen was a picture of the Santa Rosa Mountains in the Anza Borrego State Park. I love the desert, so it was nice to see a view I know well and love.

Beyond all the amenities was the staff. The nurses, aides, and student nurses were amazing and kind and generous with their time. They let me sleep through the night. Yes!!!! Everyone cared for me well and lovingly. I was in good hands with people who appeared to love their job and cared about me.

Now I am back at Cynthia’s and Ward’s, recovering, being fed and loved. Today I am achy and sore, tomorrow I am sure I will be better. It is hard to be patient and allow myself the downtime to recover. Usually, the body wins out and off I go to take a nap.

Miss Elsie, meanwhile is hanging out with Nancy a long and good time friend, who Elise has always liked. I am sure she is getting loved and cared for. I hope Nancy is enjoying her company as well. Elsie can be Miss Personality when she chooses.

So, there is an update. I am still alive and working on thriving again. I will know the biopsy results in about ten working days. My main job currently is to rest and recover and enjoy the attention.

Thank you, all of you for your support and caring and loving thoughts as I worried my way into and out of surgery. Today I am thankful for every single one of you, known and unknown who encourage me and support me through my life.

Yes, I am still breathing.

 

I’m Sorry-Revisited

Sunset Cle Elum

After spending four really good days catching up on over 20 years of conversation, my visit with my friend Lori in Cle Elum, WA came to an end today. We hiked, toured and lord did we talk. I got to explore the Cle Elum area with a long time resident. Lori was a great tour guide and I am thankful for her giving me the time to visit and tour

 

Elsie the Cat and I are “on the road” in Washington state. We are slowly heading west.

Today I drove back into the hot somewhat barren country of the Columbia River Plateau. It is really not barren. There are major crops that grow out here. The land, however is yellow and treeless and hot. I kept thinking about trees. When I saw this campground it is on a river and there were trees. That was inviting enough for me.

I am camped along the Methow River. I am in an RV park for the night. My first night back on the road is often easier when I still have amenities, laundry, shower, electric and water. What more can one ask for in life.

It is busy in the campground. This weekend is the Winthrop R & B festival. People are pulling in. I was lucky to get a site for one night. I am always thankful for small miracles. Tomorrow I will head for the National Forest and higher, cooler climes.

I tend to say “I’m sorry” often. I apologize for things that are not even close to being my fault. If something happens in the world well I may as well just apologize for it. For goodness sakes it is so past time to get over this behavior. It is hard to break old habits.

Tonight I received a lesson. The man in the RV next to mine must have apologized to me several times since my arrival.

  • I am sorry that my air-conditioning is so loud.
  • I am sorry but I have to empty my black and gray water tank. I apologize ahead of time for the smell.
  • I am really really sorry about the smell. (there wasn’t any)
  • I fixed the air-conditioning but I am sorry that you can hear it.
  • I live in western Washington and it so hot here that I have to run the air-conditioning. I am sorry.
  • I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry.

I kept telling him, it is OK. Then he would apologize again. I thought to myself, is that what I sound like when I apologize for everything under the sun? It didn’t sound good. I kind of felt sorry for him. What if he had just come out and said hi, I am your neighbor, welcome to the park. I think we all get it, when we live in close quarters there is going to ┬ábe sounds and noise. For me it is one night.

I am going to try to catch myself when I get in an apologizing mode. Maybe, just maybe with practice I can stop before I apologize and ask myself, silently, is this really something I need to apologize for? Practice can change habits. I also promise not to be hard on myself when I slip. It is life and these habits are slow to change. They are very long and ingrained habits.

Tomorrow I ascend into the northern Cascades for the weekend. Up I go and down goes the temperature. Elsie and I will be looking for solitude and quiet for the rest of the weekend. I am excited I have never been here before so everything is magical and new. I am ready to get on my hiking shoes.

Next Wednesday El and I are going international and heading to Canada, Vancouver Island. I am anticipating a month, maybe more exploring the island from the south to the north and back again. Any suggestions besides Victoria and Buchart Gardens?

Off I go on another adventure. It has taken me since early May to reach the west coast. I am looking forward to seeing the ocean, saying hello to Jim (his ashes went to sea) and exploring a new place. And I get to take at least one ferry ride. I love ferries.

Anyone want to come along? Company is always welcome.

How I Took a Vacation to Aruba

Janet at Eagle Beach

Janet at Eagle Beach

It is good to have friends. It is really good to have friends when they invite you to be part of their vacation.  My friend Diane who I have known for years, lives in northern Vermont with her husband Tom. They have had a wicked winter. Like many New Englanders they abandoned ship and went to Aruba for a month. No snow there. Tom could only stay for two weeks so Diane invited me to join her for the last two weeks.

Shortly after Jim died I was told that after about three months all the concerning friends and acquaintances would slowly disappear. I have discovered, for me, this is not true. Many of my friendships have strengthened both with long time friends as well as newer friends. And, I am glad for it. Married or single my friends are willing to include me in their adventures. So, here I am in Aruba.

I like going places I have never been before. So far, this has been a very easy adventure. I don’t think I have ever made it through customs so fast. It was a very easy entrance into a very pretty island.

Cactus & Carribbean Sea

Cactus & Carribbean Sea

Aruba reminds me a bit, ecology wise, of San Diego, my home town, except it is more humid, the wind never stops blowing (tradewinds) and the ocean is warm enough to swim and snorkel in. How then, you may ask does it remind me of San Diego? Well the island is semi-arid. There are cactus and lizards and snakes. Oh my!!!

Here is what I’ve been up to since I have been here.

  • Walking early in the mornings. The trade winds make it very comfortable to exercise despite the heat and humidity.
  • Snorkeling. There are so many pretty fish here. My personal highlights, as of now, are seeing an octopus and a flounder. Cool.
  • Visiting Arikok National Park. This park gives you a very good ecological perspective on the geological history of the island.We hiked, explored caves and watched the body boarders surf at Dos Playas Beach.
  • Snorkeling
  • Eating both at Sunset Beach Studios, where we are staying and eating out at delicious restaurants.
  • Snorkeling
  • Bird watching. A new fun past time for me.
  • Snorkeling.
  • Spending time talking with Diane and catching up since her last trip to San Diego. One thing I love about my friends is that we never seem to run out of things to discuss.
  • Snorkeling.
  • Reading good summer fiction. If you are into light science fiction about magic and such try Lev Grossman’s triology The Magician. It is a very captivating read and I am almost sorry that I just finished the third book of the Trilogy. I hope he writes more.
  • Oh, Have I mentioned snorkeling?
Body Boarder at Dos Playas

Body Boarder at Dos Playas

Terns

Terns

In one of the caves at Arikok National Park

Janet & Diane in one of the caves at Arikok National Park

I am here for another week and despite the fact that everyone asks me why I am here, since I live in San Diego, I am having a wonderful and relaxing time. I am so glad Diane thought to invite me on her vacation. Would I come back? I don’t know. There are a lot of other islands here to explore. If Diane invited me back to Aruba again, would I come? In an instant.