Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Christmas Comes Early For Phannie!

 At Red Bay Acres RV Resort, Red Bay, Alabama...

If you read the last post, you learned that Phannie was on her way to Red Bay to get new carpet in the bedroom and her annual "well-woman check," as Sandy puts it.  (For guys, that's getting the oil changed in Phannie's engine and the generator, as well as a changeout of all the fuel, oil and air filters, as needed. For a woman, I think it's an entirely different thing, but I'm afraid to ask.)

Bay Diesel's shop in Red Bay; nothing fancy, but number one on my list for performing repairs:

As part of the annual check, Bay Diesel also tests the condition of the engine coolant, and it was found on the verge of needing to be changed. Well, we can't have Phannie running around "on the verge" of something, so that will also be done at 7:00 a.m. in the morning. Yes, I looked at a clock with hands on it, and there are, indeed, TWO sevens on it. Well, there aren’t really two, but there may as well be. We rarely have anything to do with the one through which we sleep in the morning; I had even forgotten about it altogether. As a result, we have, among the frenzy of hand-wringing about this ungodly show-up time, been thinking of ways to accomplish this and still get a little shuteye. We even thought about having Phannie towed there while we were in bed, but this would probably wake us up in the process. We think we've come up with a plan that will involve all sorts of short cuts in our normal departure routine, and who knows what we will leave behind or undone? We'll let you know how it goes.

Red Bay, in case you didn't know, is a little town built around the idea that working hours for just about everyone is 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This is several hours before we become coherent so, for us, it's like being in Switzerland or somewhere. The reason for these working hours is that the giant Tiffin factory employs almost everyone in town, including husbands and wives, and somebody has to go get the kids at school. To accommodate this, the whistle blows at 3:00 p.m., and there is a mad dash to the schools.

Okay, I'm digressing, as usual; back to the subject of the post I go. Everything went perfectly at MS Solutions with the carpet. We finally have new bedroom carpet that will be much less likely to show every blemish and piece of dust that got near the old light-colored carpet:


This new addition was so inspiring that we decided to change out the center-aisle rugs throughout the coach:

In this photo, you can see the old putty-colored carpet that remains in the lounge area. We can't wait to get it changed. Keeping it clean--especially since going fulltime--has been the bane of our existence. I think when they remove it, we're going to have a bonfire. No, that's not a good idea--the smoke may be toxic!

Well, we were on a roll, so to speak, with the new carpet. We checked into the newest, nicest RV park in Red Bay--Red Bay Acres--and began to think about more well-deserved upgrades for the old girl. 

One thing jumped out at us--Girard Awnings had just built a new RV awning factory and installation center next to our RV park, and wouldn't you know that Phannie just happened to need a new door awning, She had been without one since the old one decided to pop out and become a winglet a few years ago. You can read about it here: seemed like a sign!  I traipsed over there and found they were more than happy to sell me a new door awning...and I could even show up at the much more humane hour of 12:30 p.m. Now, this was more like it! I showed up on  time, went to lunch with Sandy. Our sandwich, with the awning as dessert, was a paltry 1500 bucks or so. An Alka-Seltzer helped a bit, and at least Phannie had a new door awning:

The old awning:

The new awning:

When the door awning first went kaput, we thought it wasn't that big a deal, but after a few rainstorms when we needed a little protection from the elements and sometimes needed a break from the hot sun, we decided it was worth the (gulp) price.

The Girard factory:

Phannie's in the bay for her awning while Sandy and I have an expensive lunch...

But were we through yet? Oh no, we've left earth's orbit! We had always been a little disappointed in the original lighting provided on the outside passenger side of the bus, which was, in reality, almost useless. And then, along came the digital age, and we couldn't help but notice that the newer coaches were being adorned with all sorts of LED light strings that even illuminated the ground underneath. Then we noticed they would change color, giving an effect that, well, may be appealing to some, but disco was a long time ago, and we old fogies were perfectly okay with white. Not wanting Phannie to be left lightless in her golden years, we ordered a string of LEDs under the awning and a set under the passenger-side slide, giving a nice effect at night, especially when we have outdoor guests. What we didn't realize was how sophisticated the system is. After installing it, the technician showed us how it was operated not by a switch, but from my cell phone! Not only that, it will also change colors, mimic a sunset, and even do a disco effect--flashing in rhythm to whatever rock tune I might have going on the phone!

This was hardly what I had in mind, and I can see visions now of my daughter watching her 74-year old father rockin' out to some heavy metal with disco lights in the background. I would probably never see her again!  (I have to admit that, in learning how to use the system, I accidentally turned on this feature, and I was frantic to get it turned off and back to white. I can just see Sandy trying to explain to the EMS attendants what I was doing at the time of my collapse.)  Here is a non-disco photo of the lights as they will be run unless I mess it up again:

Who knows what Phannie thinks of all this bruhaha?  She probably feels like Ethel Merman with a new necklace! No matter, the old gal has been good to us, and she deserves some special attention.

An unexpected plus was the surprise arrival of Don and Linda Cochrane, with whom we have been socializing for the past few days. They are always a lot of fun, and Don seems to have an inexhaustible supply of stories--as all of us pilots do. It's been enjoyable for a couple of old pilots to do "hangar flying" if not the real kind. So far, I think the lies have been kept to a minimum.

We will be headed back to Texas with a couple of stops with friends along the way before going back to Hondo. After that, we will be heading back north to Branson, where we will spend a couple of weeks with friends before my first knee surgery in November. But more on that later.  Here's hoping you will all stay well and happy until we meet virtually again!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it each day as I should.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood


Sunday, September 12, 2021

Medical News Not So Good, But We're On the Road Again Anyway

 At Downtown Riverside RV Park, Little Rock, Arkansas...

First of all, I cannot help but recall the terrible attack in New York 20 years ago. I grieve for those who were lost, for their families and for the impact it had on our country. 

Furthermore, I have done my best to mitigate my utter dismay at the current Washington administration by refusing to watch or read any news that is biased toward these troglodytes through broadcasting or writing obvious disinformation or censorship. Getting my news from trusted and unbiased sources has made my attitude much better, and I throw fewer things at the television. 

My dear friend Janice scolded me, with good reason, for the occasional long lapses between my blog posts. My standard excuse is that our lives are not all that exciting if we're not traveling and seeing new things that may be interesting to readers. 

I tend not to ignore Janice, as that is something to which she is not accustomed, and it usually doesn't end well. Furthermore, she is usually right about most things and has the uncanny ability to make you think she's right even on those rare occasions when the facts or truth change. (See what I mean? I can't even acknowledge that she has the capability of being "wrong.")

Janice and Dave are now dear friends whom we met while they were RVing, and we have many in that category, including Debi and Ed, with whom we had a lovely dinner recently. I wish I could name them all here, but they have showed up in this blog at one time or another.

I am, obviously, getting ahead of myself. The last blog post described our sad departure from Colorado and friends Jackie and Steve for Dante's Inferno in Texas. (Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, as there was no fire falling like rain, as in Dante's observation of hell; in fact, there was no rain at all.) But we had gotten accustomed to the perfection of our Colorado climate, and I can't help but whine about leaving it. (Before you judge me, you should know that I'm an only child, and only children have special needs...which I translate, roughly, into 'whatever I want.')

Special needs or not, we had to get back to our doctors for post-op checkups for Sandy and a pre-op checkup for me. Some of the news was not so good. Most of Sandy's surgeries were successful. However, the operation for numbness in her hand was a failure. The surgeon is now looking for other causes; she will need a neck MRI next. My knee surgeon, who first thought I would be a candidate for partial knee replacements, has informed me that an MRI showed my condition to be too advanced, thereby indicating full replacements will be necessary. That will be coming up in a couple of months.

Before getting this news, we spent a few days at our place in Hondo, where we changed out our summer wardrobe for the upcoming winter. Being a guy, this takes about 15 minutes for me, since I don't carry many clothes in Phannie anyway. However, for Sandy, it's more like restocking a Nordstrom's, except it's never to her satisfaction. I can't tell you how many swap-outs there were...some of them swapped more than once. 

When I point out that I have only about 18 inches of Phannie's closet rod (she has the rest), she explains that it is different for women--there are so many variables and so many rules for attire that don't apply to men!  When I remind her that we're retired and nobody really cares what we wear, I get "the look."  That's when I find something else to do.

After spending several days at Hondo and visiting with friends Karen and Richard, including eating a good Chinese meal, Sandy went shopping in San Antonio. It seems a couple of her winter selections didn't have the right blouse or pants or something...more clothes!  

Before you find me asphyxiated with a pillow over my face, I should mention that Sandy made a real effort to weed out the clothes she didn't often wear and were not her favorites; we gave a rather large amount of these to charity. I don't know how it happens, but even after this purge, there is little evidence that the quantity has changed. Oh well, she has an uncountable number of wonderful traits so, if she's going to have a vice, let it be this.

We had only four days in Houston and, among all the doctor visits, we barely had time to see Mindy, Tyler and the kids. However, since we have to return soon for the medical stuff, we will try to be more accessible.

Okay, fine, you say; so what are you doing in Little Rock? Well, we're on our way to Red Bay, to get some new carpet in Phannie's bedroom and to have her annual service done at Bay Diesel. Tonight, we are staying at the Downtown Riverside RV Park for one overnight, where I think most RVers have stayed at one time or another. Unfortunately, the I-30 bridge over the Arkansas River is being rebuilt, and getting to the park was one of the more complicated experiences I have had in Phannie. Fortunately, a park manager called me ahead of time to give me explicit instructions, which I followed closely, and after what seemed like going through an endless maze, I found it, just as instructed. Had it not been for that call, I'm sure we would still be searching for the entrance to the park. Following are a couple of photos, the first one showing the bridge girders being replaced:

Below is the older bridge on the other side of the park, with some views of the construction barge and a bit of the park on the river:

Oh, by the way, this park is no longer a Passport America park but, with a Good Sam or FMCA discount, it is still a very reasonable 31 bucks.

Well, I hope you're happy, Janice. I will try to be a little more diligent about posting, although I'm still not sure how interesting it is to talk about rather routine matters. Okay, I already know what you're going to say: "Your medical condition is not a routine matter!" 

One thing I do know is that age catches up with everyone, and the things that we once could do with ease sometimes becomes difficult and painful. That's why I encourage everyone to live their dreams and don't put it off. We are thankful that we took that approach, and we can truthfully say that, regardless of what limitations may befall us, we have no regrets. We did it our way, and we're thankful that God let us have those years.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it each day as I should.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood