Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 14, 2014 A new addition to our lifestyle


Yes, it has been a long time since I posted on this blog.  I am going to jump from March to August with the news we have added to our collection of “things.”

We enjoy spending the summers in Salem, OR.  In addition to cooler weather, it allows me the opportunity to take pottery classes at the Willamette Art Center.  However, Larry really doesn’t enjoy spending the summer in the camper.  So, we decided it was time to make a change.

We looked at buying a mobile home or a 5th wheel trailer.  After a lot of searching—and kissing a lot of frogs, we found something that met our needs.  With the help of two other Escapees RV Club friends, we inspected and purchased a 2007 Montana 2955 5th wheel trailer.



We had the trailer moved into the site here at the Salem Elks’ Club. We do not plan on moving it for the next year or two—but will leave it here in Salem to use during the summer season.  That way, Larry will be happy with a lot more room and Carol will be happy volunteering at the Elks’ Club and taking pottery classes.  It is a win-win situation!!


The cabinet under the second TV will accommodate a combo washer/dryer should I decide I can’t live without one!  Options!  The trailer has beautiful woodwork!


The shower has a low threshold that works well for Larry.  He does have to climb 3 steps from the living area to the bath/bedroom area.  Once up on top, the floor is flat—no other steps.  Down below, we have to comfy chairs and a couch.  See the happy man!



The couch makes out into a double bed—great for one or two nights, hee hee.  After that, I am sure it would become a bit uncomfortable.


Our dining room table and first TV—with Judge Judy.  Life is good, ha ha.


The microwave is also a convection oven—so I see some baked goodies in our future. The kitchen was not a big as I had hoped when we started looking for a rig, but it will work for us during the summer months.

The changes done to XP changed our computer preferences.  We tried Windows 8.1 and wasn’t really happy with it, so we returned that computer and bought an iPad.  We like the iPad, but it doesn’t have Live Writer to write the blog.  I can log on directly from the iPad, but I haven’t found a way to size the photos like I can do in Live Writer.  Once I get that mastered, we will return to a regular posting.  Poor Microsoft—we followed them faithfully for years—until they abandoned XP and us.  With three XP computers now basically paperweights—I am moving our stuff to Mac.

Until our next posting, keep us in your thoughts!  We are keeping the shoe box for traveling.  Poor Larry will have a hard adjustment in a month or two, smile.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mar. 8, 2014 Six weeks of medical challenges.

I haven’t felt up to posting since we left Quartzsite, AZ.  We have spent the past six weeks facing one medical challenge after another while visiting the Tracy Elks’ Club!


Larry has had Chronic Kidney Disease since prior to 2000.  We continued to travel with the help of two great doctors—who helped us work around his disease.  The one thing we have always put first is “do no harm to the kidneys.”  Larry hasn’t gotten to his “well-aged-wine” stage without a lot of scars and mars on and in his body.  Since mid-January, we have been hard pressed to stick to that slogan!

It was like pulling a thread on a sweater and watching the arm fall off.  It started with both of us being in back/sciatic pain for the first three weeks.  

The night we left Quartzsite, AZ, I re-injured a muscle in my groin which triggered sciatic nerve pain down my leg.  About the same time, Larry’s lower back went in to muscle spasms.  We spent the first few weeks trying to get the other to drive the car—because we hurt too much. We tried pillows and all sorts of ways to be more comfortable in the driver’s seat.  Eventually we found wonderful—and I do mean “Wonderful!!” gel seat pads at Costco which have helped us heal and drive.

After having two successful skin-cancer-removal surgeries in 2013 without affecting kidney function, we got too complacent.  During the first doctor visit in January, Larry asked for a referral to have his carpal tunnel syndrome fixed on his left wrist.  In retrospect, bad mistake.  It opened the door to numerous doctor appointments—up two a day as we saw a rheumatologist, two neurologists, a surgery scheduler (who referred him to the surgeon prior to agreeing to do the surgery), an ophthalmologist, ER physician and even an Internist. Oh, add his nephrololgist and the Infusion Therapy department to the list.

As Larry was seeing doctor after doctor, I picked up a UTI and then intestinal distress after the antibiotic.  You would think 4 weeks of suffering would result in some weight loss—no such luck.

Meanwhile Larry’s nephrologist scheduled 6 weekly visits in the Infusion Therapy department to receive iron via IV instead of daily pills. I knew we should have stayed out in the desert for another month or two!!

The worst part of all this suffering was that it appears Larry had another reaction to a new medicine that triggered a bout of Shingles.  Of all the things he has, the Shingles attack has been the worst.  It started with a tingling on his scalp and throbbing pain in his eye.  It quickly progressed to extreme light sensitivity, which meant no reading, TV watching or rides in the bright sunlight. He has suffered more from this curse than anything else that has been thrown at him in years!! He basically slept away the first 10 days.  I had him scheduled for a Shingles shot in March—isn’t that the way it always goes?

And if that wasn’t enough, he ended up in the ER last Sunday—with some intestinal issues which resulted in having an Endoscopy.  He has acid issues and apparently the ulcer-causing bacteria.  That will mean more medicine—which could more reactions.

The ER doctor summed up his medical history in the nicest way:  “Mr. Jennings, you are a very complicated man.  You have many layers!”  Isn’t that the sweetest way of saying:  You have so many things going on, where do I start??

Even the Honda started having “medical issues.”  We noticed a rumble sound/feeling at medium speeds.  I Goggled the symptoms and found articles suggesting flushing the transmission fluid.  So far, It has helped.  We are having the transmission fluid changed again next week—for additional insurance.

And that is why even though the weather has been wonderful, the hills are green and trees are blooming, I just haven’t had the energy to take photos or write the blog.  Some days were just too painful to think about—much less write. 



I hope we have turned the corner and life will be a bit easier!  Larry is still facing another four weeks of IVs for iron, along with the scalp and eye pain, and seeing the surgeon about possibly having wrist surgery. As there are problems with the wrist that bothers him, we are hoping they will fix the other wrist—that also has carpal tunnel syndrome.  Yikes, he is falling apart—we have to get away from the doctors!

We managed to get in one day of riding around Tracy and spotted this:



See, even wine grapes need medicine to fix what ails them!

If you are free from pain today, offer a prayer of thanks!  No matter what else is going on in your life, you are blessed!   Feeling fine and enjoying good health is something we take for granted—until something goes wrong.  We will get past all this trauma because our eyes are on our goal—summer in Salem, OR.   And we acknowledge—it could be so much worse!  We are thankful for all the good things going on in out lives.  This too shall pass!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jan. 23, 2014 -- Time to move again.

We spent the last month in Quartzsite, AZ.  Like previous years, we stayed in the BLM’s long-term camping area called La Posa North where we lived without utility hook-ups.

The BLM supplies two sewer dumps and 8 water spigots for campers holding either the two-week ($40) or annual pass ($180). With careful rationing, we can last 6 days between sewer dumping and refilling the water tank on the camper.  We drive two miles south to La Posa South and then in one mile to the Sewer dump/water station.  Most of the time, it is easy.  however, during the Big Tent show, the third week of January, we can end up in line for up to 45 minutes—like we did yesterday.  But, we just bring a book up front and read until our turn “at bat.”  (See the links from last year.)

We handle our electrical needs two ways:  First we have two solar panels (thanks to Don Del Rosario) on the roof installed by AM Solar in Eugene, OR, that keep the two golf-cart batteries charged during the sunny days.  We also use our Honda friend when I need to use the microwave or the Vita Mix.  I even made waffles last Sunday morning with our friendly Honda.


I can start this little generator with two pulls!  Amazing little machine!!  I love this little guy! 

When I have to charge my smart phone or the computer, we draw from the batteries with 12-volt chargers.  We try to keep the phones charged up in the car, but sometimes I have to use the car charger in the camper—mostly when I have talked toooo long!  The computer is charging when we start the generator—but sometimes that is inconvenient, so we purchased a 12-volt charger for the computers from Amazon several years ago.  It does a great job on both of our computers—Dell Inspiron 1520.


Larry had rewired a 12-volt plug into the camper years ago—and we use it much more now that when he first installed it.


The little red heater by Mr. Heater Buddy, is our other life-saver.  The regular heater uses too much electricity to run and would drain our batteries.  Mr. Buddy runs off the canisters and provides about 4-6 hours of heat per canister.  This year the canisters have lasted two days/evenings because it has been so warm.  Other years we burned about one per day.  That still only costs us about $5.50 a day for camping.  Not bad in today’s pricey world.

Yes, I heard what you were thinking—how about carbon monoxide with a heater burning inside the camper?  Besides having an oxygen sensor in Mr. Heater, we run this in the camper:


See the zero?  That is after the heater and generator—outside the camper, have been running.  The only time the number changes is when I use the camper stove.  Making a pot of coffee can run up to 65 pp “whatevers.” IAs this meter is about 5 years old, I have ordered a new one from Amazon to make sure we operate in the safe zone.  I don’t want an alarm, I want to know what the numbers actually are—so we don’t get up to the number to trigger the alarms.

And this is how we make our daily coffee—which we really enjoy!


Again, Amazon was the only place where I could find a stainless steel stove-top percolator.

To save cooking time, I purchased a fantastic Pressure Pro pressure cooker from a booth at the Big Tent sale a few years ago.  It was terribly expensive and worth every penny according to Larry when I make him stew!




Thanks to Costco—we use reduced sodium Better than Than Bullion Soup bases.  With the soup bases and the pressure cooker, we can have soup or stew in about 45-90 minutes.  That makes Larry happy—and anything that puts a smile on his face is fine with me!


Our Q-time was fun, but Larry has some medical needs that need to be attended to in Antioch, CA.  So, we left Q-town this morning and are headed back to the SF Bay area for a week or two.

If all goes well, we will be able to return to Q for about another 5 or 6 weeks left in the season.  If the skin lesion requires further medical treatment, we may be stuck up there until it is time to head up to Salem, OR.

We are in Needles, CA, for tonight and tomorrow in Bakersfield, CA.  Then on to Tracy, CA for a few days.  I will post more either tomorrow night or when we get to Tracy.  Life on the road is filled with detours—some detours driving the camper—and some detours in our plans.  We just count every day we are able to travel in the RV as a blessing!  So until the next installment, we wish you safe and happy travels.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Dec. 25, 2013 -- Greetings from downtown Quartzsite, AZ.

We are here and settled in—at least for a few weeks.  It was a long trip across Texas, smile.  The rest of the trip was faster.  We did run into a LOT of wind after we left Deming, NM on Daturday.  If I had looked at the weather report while at Dream Catcher RV Park, we might have delayed our trip by a day—but in spite of bad weather warnings, we were able to drive west to Gila Bend, AZ in one day.  We don’t normally make 335 mile days—but wanted to get to warmer weather.

We ended up having to dry-camp at Gila Bend—missing the last RV spot by minutes.  I just figured it was practice for Quartzsite! 

Here are some of the photos I could not post along the way.  We ran into Internet connection troubles across Texas and even into New Mexico.  In Junction and Balmorhea, we barely had phone coverage, much less Broadband or iphone internet service.  Deming, NM, we had the same issues.  So, we kind of gave up until we got to Quartzsite.  Now we have to run the generator to charge the computers, so times are short.

P1010021 P1010023

Our site at the Llano River RV Park in Junction, TX.  What a rough life, eh?


Larry resting at Quartzsite, AZ.  Fred & Arlene’s new trailer in the background.

Merry Christmas!  We had a very quiet Christmas with our friends (& family), Fred and Arlene Cray.  We have been friends and family for almost forty years!  Wow, that makes us old people.  We met when our 45-year old sons were about 8 years old!

I hope you have had a day surrounded by loved ones—either related by blood or by choice!  I heard recently:  What is under the tree is not as important as who is around the tree.  And with that, we were blessed this holiday!  We had wonderful friends at our sides.  It just doesn’t get any better.

May 2014 be the year your dreams come true—and fill your heart with joy.  Big hugs from the Jennings.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dec. 19, 2013 -- Out in the wilderness…West Texas

Help, we have fallen into “old times.”  Last night we stopped at North Llano River RV Park and found we didn’t have internet service!  I couldn’t log on with my phone nor the broadband card and the WIFI signal was too weak to use!  I felt crippled!  Nice park—but step back in time if you visit. 

Tonight we are in Balmorhea, TX, at a Passport America Discount park—and I am using the old dial-up phone speed on the broadband caard for this posting.  So, until we stop in El Paso, TX, tomorrow or Deming, NM, I can’t post any pictures!  We are fine—weather is beautiful but expected to get rainy and windy tomorrow.  We are 212 miles from the Texas border—and it will have taken us four days of travel since we left Livingston.  Told you we don’t travel far and fast, smile.  Until tomorrow, keep us in your thoughts!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dec. 17, 2013 – Back on the road again…

Well, our time in Livingston, TX, didn’t last very long.  It was so nice to get out of the camper for a while.  Besides seeing wonderful friends again, these are the things that make my heart go “pitter-pat” at the house:


Of course, my pottery shop.  Isn’t it cute?



I made time to throw some bowls, doing a bisque fire and two glaze firings to practice some of the new techniques I learned in Salem last summer.


The Livingston Art League’s annual Art Show was the day after we got back.  I entered three bowls and two won, a second and third place.  I was very happy!  The one on the left is called Texas Red and was thrown last winter.  The other two were thrown and fired in Salem, OR.  The ribbon winner was Day Break and the other is Midnight.  It was fun!!


This is the other thing at the house that speeds up my heart—the washer and dryer.  I hate doing laundry in Laundromats!  I mean I HATE it.  I love being able to do a load of laundry every day—while I am doing other things—I miss these two already—and we are only 225 miles from home.  Boo Hoo!

We spent some time cleaning out the back of the back yard.  There was a huge Kumquat tree as well as a mangy fig tree along the back property line—which is also over a waterline.  The trees and bushes needed to come out—so Larry and I chopped and hacked and totted 10 or 12 loads down to the dumping area with the golf cart!  We had it down to a fine art.  Eventually we hired D & D Tree Service to remove the kumquat tree—I didn’t want to try “playing” with a chain saw at this stage in my life!


Now the yard looks larger and much cleaner!  Another chore checked off the list!

If we were having some much fun, why leave? Well, we wish we could have stayed another month or two, but Larry developed another suspicious spot.  We had it looked at and the specialist prescribed an antibiotic/anti-fungus medicine that we have applied faithfully for three weeks.  While the spot looks better, it isn’t gone.  If it needs a biopsy, we want it done by our doctor in California.  The weather has been pretty rough across the US and we don’t want to risk staying another month and running into more severe winter weather.  There is a slight lull, and we hope we can make it to Casa Grande area before the next freezing weather.  If not, we will just hunker down and wait out the bad weather.  If we wait until mid-January, we won’t have that option if we are trying to make a scheduled appointment.

Tonight we are at Riverbend RV park In Luling, TX.  We have stayed here before as it is a Passport America Park as well as an Escapees’ 50% discount park.  It is close to I-10 and easy in and out.


This is the laundry room and showers:


There is an on-site pool and fishing pond.  It is located along the attractive San Marcos River.


Tomorrow night we will be in Junction, TX again.  Hey, we were just there in November—and this is December!  Yikes!  Our travel stops along I-10 through Texas are pre-determined by the number of RV parks in the few towns between Houston and El Paso.    So instead of 250-300 miles a day, we will be doing about 200 for the next day or so.   We could comfortably drive 250 miles—but the lodgings are to slim to do it.  We aren’t in any hurry—so we will just mosey toward Quartzsite, AZ, for a few weeks until Larry has his doctor appointments.

See you tomorrow night.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Nov. 10, 2013 -- Home at last! (On Friday)

Just a short note for tonight—we got home Friday about noon—and I will slow down enough to write in a day or two!  Between cleaning the house so we can move in, moving all the food and clothes into the house, cleaning all the camper stuff to have it ready in an emergency, and tidying up the yard, I manage to stay busy!

So, hang tight, I will be back to write about the last days of the trip—and then winning Two ribbons at the Livingston Art League’s annual art show on Saturday.