Elephant Butte Lake

Elephant Butte Lake
Elephant Butte Lake

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Another lesson learned

As I mentioned in my last post, we are staying in the Central IL area for a while to see how my dad's health condition progresses. It is a terminal health condition however there is no way to know when it would progress to the terminal state. We are staying at a local county park near Hudson, IL next to Evergreen Lake. Much quieter and more our style(more like camping). Well the park is electric and water only and we had been here for a week on a back in site(#94)and are planning on staying at least until Oct 17th. So we needed to dump our tanks and we also snagged a pull through site more toward the front of the park. We have a picture of Snake Alley in Burlington Iowa, our hometown, which is similar to Lombard street in San Francisco. We thought it looked good above the slide out with the refrigerator. And since we really don't have many places to hang pictures, this was a convenient way to show the picture without putting holes in the walls.

 
Well in the process of pulling the slides in to go dump the tanks, we neglected to take down the picture and to add to that mistake, after setting up on the new site(#7) we didn't see the picture had fallen down and was laying on the top of the slide so when we pushed the slide back out....this happened.
Yes, that is the picture stuck under the edge of the slide

Different angle
 
 
The weirdest part of this was the fact that Glenda woke up in the middle of the night because she heard a noise. It turned out to be the window shades clinking because I forgot to shut the window. Then as I was closing the windows she goes....oh my gosh I didn't take down the picture. It must be on the slide. So this morning I climbed up the ladder and sure enough there it was. I tried to get it free but it wouldn't budge. So I had Glenda pull the slide in about 4-5 inches and I reached down and it came out easily. Whoa...what a relief and no damage to the top of the slide or the slide seals and no damage to the picture or frame.
 

Another lesson learned. The picture is not going back up on the slide. Guess we'll have to find another place for it or decide to put a hole in a wall. Anyway, all's well that ends well. Another day in the life of a retired RV'er. :-)

 


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Indiana family time, RV Dreams Rally and Dad

While out in South Dakota I got a call from my brother that my Dad had a groin pain and he took him to the ER to be checked out. X-rays for a hip fracture were negative and additional tests for burns on his buttocks(from a heating pad), he was sent home. Dad had a walker and started to use that but the pain was still quite intense so he didn't move around too much. Once we got home I went to see him and attended a MD apt with him. The MD and I thought he just had a muscle strain, again because the x-rays at the ER were negative so we decided it was ok to continue with our plans to attend the RV Dreams rally in Goshen, IN at the Elkhart Fairgrounds. We got to Indiana about a week early to visit our daughter and the grandkids. We stayed at the Granger/South Bend KOA. A typical KOA but away from the Interstate and mostly away from trains. We had a good visit and enjoyed attending the grandkids activities. Brooklyne and Ryleigh are both doing cheerleading so we went to see them do their cheering on the sidelines.

 
 
I will post a photo of Brooklyne soon(Couldn't find the right one). My photos are still all jumbled up. We helped our daughter paint two bedrooms and do some organizing in Brooklyne, Ryleigh and Caden's rooms. Then Glenda tackled the basement. The whole event took over 3-4 days to complete but it got done and our daughter and the grandkids were very grateful. We'll see how long this lasts though. :-)  Then it was time to move to the Elkhart Fairgrounds for the rally. While we were in Indiana and in the RV capital, we wanted to get some warranty work done but couldn't get an appointment until after the rally. In addition, when I called the dealership that sold us our rig earlier this year, I found out that they went out of business. Fortunately, Heartland RV company told me that any dealership that can do the work is ok with them. So we contacted Charger Enterprises in Elkhart, IN. We made an appointment for after the rally. We made the move to the fairgrounds and Debbie and Steve McCormack of  Down the Road had saved us a site next to them. We're so glad we have had an opportunity to get to know them better and share this experience since we both started this full time adventure about the same time.
 
Steve and Debbie at the rally
 
Shortly after getting to the rally, I got a call from my brother back in Normal, IL and he said that Dad's groin pain had worsened and he was back in the ER and going to be admitted. After performing a CT of his pelvis and hips, it was determined that he had a hip fracture at the neck of the femur(upper leg bone). They planned to do surgery in a few days after he was off some blood thinner meds he was on. I continued to keep in contact with my brother. Surgery was scheduled for Friday Sept 19. My brother called me later in the morning and informed me that while Dad was being put under for the surgery his heart began to beat erratically and they had to bring him back out.
 
The Dr's told us late that day that surgery was now NOT an option and Dad would have to live the rest of his life in a hospital bed, in pain. His heart was not strong enough to go through any type of surgery. So I drove home on Saturday to determine with my Dad and brother what options he would have. Unfortunately his only option was a nursing home with 24 hour care. No rehab, no surgery just live with pain and never walk again. So in the span of about 2 weeks my Dad went from a self sufficient man to a nursing home. Still reeling from the thought and seeing him there. My brother made the arrangements to move him and I drove  back to Indiana to try and finish the rally on Sunday, have our rig weighed and get our service work done so we could travel back to Normal to be with Dad.
 
The rally was overall a big success but hard to concentrate with Dad's health issues. Since the rally had started on Tues I had the opportunity to attend most of the seminars and meet some great RV'ers. Really looking forward to meeting them again down the road. We also had an opportunity to tour the Heartland plant that built our rig. The process is very interesting and complicated. Looks like they are coming out with some new innovations and changes in floorplans. Howard and Linda Payne of RV Dreams puts on a great rally with an incredible amount of information. Thank you to them for helping wanna be's and full-timers.
 

They had their inflatable kayak there and showed us all how easy it was to inflate and deflate. It has sleek look and seemed very durable. This is something we are looking at for the future.


Glenda was also able to attend the last evening party/dance on Saturday with Steve and Debbie McCormack with a glow in the dark theme. I made it back to get this photo of them.

On Sunday Howard and Linda have a nice farewell breakfast and some parting words for everyone and then they played a song that represents their feelings about the RV lifestyle and their wish for all of us. The song is called "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts.

 
Please click the link and listen to the lyrics. After what we are going through with my Dad the lyrics really hit home. This is my wish also for all my RV friends and non RV friends. Make everyday count and know that you are loved by so many. I'm so glad that I have such a great family and have so many great memories of my Dad and Mom. Mom passed away in 2009 and it looks like I will be losing my Dad in the near future.
 
We contacted hospice and they are giving him pain medications to make him comfortable. The only problem with that is he sleeps a lot and has very little appetite. Would it be better to watch him linger in pain knowing that he will never walk again and every time he moves there is unbearable pain or help him be comfortable ? We have asked him over and over what his wishes were and he has stated that he did not want to live in pain, in a nursing home, in a bed under these circumstances. So we are honoring his wishes and making him comfortable until his body can no longer endure. I highly recommend everyone listen to a podcast on NPR On Point called End of Life needs an Overhaul. We're taking it one day at a time. Not sure when we will be heading south. We need to be here for Dad for as long as we can. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.



 
 
 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

South Dakota Trip Part 2 and rainy drive home

Sept 3 - 5
We had a few things to finish up on our last day in South Dakota. Our trip was a great success with getting our drivers licenses and our residency. We spent time in Custer State Park, seen the wildlife, Mount Rushmore and driven the Needles Highway. No it was time to tackle the Mickelson Trail. I had seen the trail when I was in South Dakota attending the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2012 and wanted to ride the trail with Glenda on a return trip.....so we drove down to Hill City and rented two bikes and headed out. Hill City is at a low level in the terrain which means either direction we would go, it would be uphill. So we headed for the Oreville rest area. It was 5 miles away and all uphill. Unfortunately the bike I rented was a little too small for me so I had some difficulty at first but after adjusting the seat a couple of times I got into a rhythm.

 
 
The bikes were of good quality so the riding was smooth but having not ridden for sometime and putting on a few pounds I tired out fairly quickly. However I did not give up on making it to the Oreville rest area. The scenery was terrific and the Black Hills are beautiful.
 


We continued to uphill trek and finally made it to our turn around point. Oreville Rest Area.



Oreville is near the mid point of the Mickelson Trail. It was established as a railroad stop in 1890. The great thing about an all uphill trek to Oreville was the all downhill ride back to Hill City and the bike rental place. It took us less than half the time back down as it did going up. Once we got back we headed over to Mount Rushmore for one more look. On the way back to Box Elder we stopped at the Naked Winery for some gifts for family and friends. No, it isn't what you think but they do have some good wine. We got back to our room after a light dinner and prepared for our trip home the next day.

The next day we checked out and checked our mail before getting on the road. I found a Starbucks and away we went. We made it to Sioux City, IA for the night and stayed at a Stoney Creek Inn. There was a Famous Dave's next door so we had a good BBQ dinner. We got an early start the next day and ran into some heavy downpours going through IA.



It was on and off rain most of the way home. We finally made it home and relaxed the rest of the evening. Now it was time to prepare for our move to Indiana on Monday. We had a reservation at the Granger KOA and planned to spend some time with the grandkids. After that it was time for the RV Dreams Rally at the Elkhart Fairgrounds in Goshen. So far many things have happened since retiring and we are still getting settled in to the process. It is taking some time with going between family and the rally. Looking forward to getting down to AZ in November.


 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Canoeing and South Dakota Trip- Part 1

August 29 - Sept 2
As I stated in my last post I was going to go canoeing with my brother on Friday, Aug 29th, which actually was my last day of work but since I had turned in my laptop there really wasn't a good reason to go in. So my manager and section manager said take some permission morale time. So I did. Last day of work I went canoeing. I met my brother at his house and we loaded his canoe on the top of SUV, the paddles and some light gear. We drove to our take out point a few miles down from where we would put the canoe in, then we drove to the put in and unloaded.

Kent unloading

The canoe

Ready for a good paddle

Mackinaw River

Our first log jam

We made it to the take out
 
We got started and were making some good progress when we came upon ad huge log jam that caused us to do a portage of about 100 yards around the jam. We got going again and a couple more miles down the river we encountered another jam. This time we had a short portage but through a field of itch weed. I hadn't been in that stuff since I was a kid on the Mississippi River. Anyway we made it through and soaked our legs in the cool water until the itching was tolerable. We continued our journey and came across one additional jam, a couple of step over logs and finally made it to our take out. We calculated the mileage and figured we had done about 13 miles. About 5-6 miles more than we anticipated. We started out with some light rain and clouds but ended with a nice sunny day. I hadn't done that much paddling for a long time and was a little sore for a couple day after.
 
Then it was time to make our way to South Dakota to get our licenses and residency. We left our rig at Kamp Komfort on Sunday Aug 31 and made out way to our overnight stop in Sioux Falls, SD. We stayed in a nice Quality Inn and Suites. The next morning as we were eating breakfast we saw some pamphlets about Falls Park. Falls Park is actually in the downtown area of Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls is the largest city in the U.S. state of South Dakota. It is the county seat of Minnehaha County. The history of Sioux Falls revolves around the cascades of the Big Sioux River. The falls were created about 14,000 years ago during the last ice age. The lure of the falls has been a powerful influence. Ho-Chunk, Ioway, Otoe, Missouri, Omaha (and Ponca at the time), Quapaw, Kansa, Osage, Arikira, Dakota, Nakota and Cheyenne people inhabited the region previous to European descendants. Numerous burial mounds still exist on the high bluffs near the river. The inhabitants maintained an agricultural society with fortified villages on many of the same sites that were previously settled. Lakota populate urban and reservation communities in the contemporary state and many Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, and other Indigenous Americans reside in Sioux Falls today. It was a short drive from the hotel to Falls Park. What a great side trip to start our SD adventure.
 
Rock formations leading to the falls

The Selfie

Looking up stream

One of the falls

The large lower falls
 
We spent about an hour just walking around on the rocks, going to different vantage points to view the falls and listening t the rushing water. What a beautiful state.
 
We continued our journey and stopped at a rest stop near Chamberlain, SD which had an incredible view of the Missouri River. The Missouri River is the largest and longest river in the state. South Dakota can generally be divided into three regions: eastern South Dakota, western South Dakota, and the Black Hills. The Missouri River serves as a boundary in terms of geographic, social, and political differences between eastern and western South Dakota, and the geography of the Black Hills differs from its surroundings to such an extent that it can be considered separate from the rest of western South Dakota. South Dakotans also at times combine the Black Hills with the rest of western South Dakota, and refer to the two resulting regions, divided by the Missouri, as West River and East River.
 
Teepee monument

View of the Missouri River

Close up of bridge across

Different perspective
 
We made our way on across this great state and stopped for a short rest in Wall, SD. The home of the famous Wall Drug store. There were numerous signs for about 200 miles before getting to Wall Drug so we had to stop.
 


Interesting place to stop....typical tourist trap.
 




 
We finally made it to Box Elder, SD and our mail forwarding service location. Americas Mailbox is our mail forwarding service and they have 3 rooms that can be rented when in the area or for first timers like us so we could get a receipt to prove we stayed in South Dakota at least one night which qualified us for residency and getting our SD drivers licenses. The rooms are nice, like a hotel room, and near the licensing facility. We found a Quaker Steak and Lube and had some dinner. The next morning we took our documentation - birth certificates, marriage license and social security cards along with the receipt to the licensing facility. Within 25 minutes we were residents and had our drivers licenses.
Ok....I look like I should be on a wanted poster, I know
 
They said look at the blue dot, so I did. They didn't say smile, so I didn't. Oh well. It could have been worse.
 
We then set out to see some of the sights of the Black Hills. We drove the State Road 385 and then headed to Custer State Park. We were ready for some wildlife. We checked in at the gate and paid our 7 day fee. (We only were there for 2 days but that is the shortest they have) We got some directions and a map. Then we headed to the wildlife loop. For the first few miles all we saw was one prairie dog near the side of the road. We passed it before we could get a photo. then we happened upon a group of cars along the road so we knew there was something to see. It ended up being a few donkeys that folks were feeding. They would actually put their heads in the car windows if they were down.
 


That was fun but we were on a mission to see some REAL wildlife....like Buffalo so we continued on. Down the road a short way we saw some buffalo in the distance.

Pretty far off to see well...just wait
 
Then we saw a car take off on a side road from the main loop. There was a sign ta said "open to public" so we followed....so glad we did. We came across another heard not too far off on our right. So we stopped the car and to our surprise they were walking toward us. This is what we came to see. They kept coming closer and closer and then they were right next to our car. Glenda got a little spooked thinking they might come right over looking for food but they didn't pay any attention to us and walked right on by.
 
The herd

Here they come

Right by us

Right next to us
 
What amazing animals. So gentle looking but so powerful too. This is what I think of when I think of America and how the west was won. After they passed by we turned around and continued on the main road when we came upon a second group of buffalo that were on the road.
 



Our wildlife experience was complete
 
You would think that there wouldn't be much more to see in the Black Hills after that but we then headed to the Needles Highway.
 





 

Needles Highway is located in Custer State Park and is 14 Miles in Length on SR 87. It features Black Hills scenery including; granite spires, the Needles Eye, narrow tunnels and hairpin curves. Needles Highway passes beautiful Sylvan Lake.
 



 
 
Too bad we didn't have time to rent a kayak and do a short paddle. Too little time and too much to do. We will, of course, be back. That was a pretty full packed day but we weren't finished yet. We drove over to Mount Rushmore to get a quick peek at the Presidents.
 


Again, we didn't have time to stop and go into the park. So I snapped a couple of photos. Then we headed back to our room at the mail forwarding service. That was an eventful and long day. We had a light dinner at McDonalds and retired (I like the sound of that word) to our room for the evening. We had a big day planned the next day. Sept 3rd would be our last day of sightseeing. So I will leave that day for my next post. Wow...kind of feels like vacation. A lot going on for the next month so it will take some time to slow down. So far it's been fun. That's how we roll.