Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Day in Yosemite

A few months ago my brother suggested we stay at The Lakes RV and Golf Resort as we made our way over to Arnold CA for a 4th of July reunion.  Turns out it was an excellent idea.  We wanted to see Yosemite National Park as well as Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
As you can see, it was about a two hour trip one-way from our campground.  But still very doable.  Turns out nephew Nate and his family were in the Lower Pines Campground for a week with friends.  They were staying at the Lower Pines Campground.  We wanted to see them early in the day before they got out and about on their hikes and such so we left our campground before 6 AM.
Like many other National Parks, we wanted to take a picture of the entrance sign.  Then it was quite a few miles down the road before the scenic views started.
El Capitan
One of the beautiful meadows along the way into Yosemite Valley.
Cathedral Rocks and Yosemite Falls

Thought this was pretty interesting.  A sign signalling the spot where John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt had a chat back in 1903.  You have to imagine that some of the trees are young ones and may have not been here back then.
It was a little crowded at some of the pull outs but not too crazy.  Most people were slowly making their way through the park and glad to let you pull in or out and were friendly folks.  I think some of the majesty and awe of these places makes everyone a bit more congenial and courteous. ?
More Beautiful Falls - this was very unusual at the beginning of summer to have such a strong flow off the mountain.  Usually it is drying up quite a bit by now.
Here's a group photo about noon at Nate and Angela's campground with daughter Aubry.  Son Jacob was off riding bikes with his buds in the campground. Angela's parents were there at a nearby Bed and Breakfast and stopped by.  Great timing!
We continued on our drive through Yosemite Valley and stopped for more pictures.
 Yosemite Falls

 Lots of pull outs and parking along the way to see the meadows and mountains in the background.
 Before we left, we made it over to the Visitor Center and checked it out.  It had an informative video -- this one was on bears.  In the 1930's they used to encourage bears to eat trash and humans food.  They stopped that in the 1940's and have seen a resurgence and healthy population of 'normal' bears as a result.  Now, folks keep their food at the campsites put away in the bear locker.

Even the exit out of the valley was full of wonderful scenery and the Merced River flowing.

There is no way a person could see Yosemite in a day.  It is definitely worth a longer stay at some point.  Lots of hiking and more beautiful scenery to be had.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Roadrunner Reflections: Lessons Through My Left Eye

Some things happen in life that cause one to stop and take time for contemplation and reflection.  It has happened to me that last few days while here at the foot of the Sierras.  Pam and I have traveled over 3,000 miles in the last month and it was time to park the Roadrunner and catch our breath. We are at a nice campground called The Lakes RV and Golf Resort.

While running an errand I had an episode with my left eye.  It was a bit scary and I pulled over and tried to clear the cloudiness and blur from my eye. But it didn’t really work.  There was no pain, but my vision immediately started cloud up and get blurry.  Right then and there I started getting used to just looking out my right eye.

I was concerned but last April a similar incident happened.  Then, the cloudiness cleared up day by day and pretty much resolved itself over the course of a few weeks.  We were in Virginia Beach at the time and I when to an eye doctor to see what was going on. He basically said to keep tabs on it and not worry about it.  So I didn't.  Until it happened again last week.

That was on Thursday afternoon.  By mid-morning on Friday I decided to call around to get hold of an optometrist who would take my TRICARE insurance.  I got in to see him a little before noon and we didn't leave until almost 4 PM.  

I described what happened as liquid spurting in around my eye that made me think of oil pockets.  After about 30 minutes it settled and it was like I was trying to look through a mix of dish soap and dark brown smears.  Like clear/brown dish soap on a glass.  (Later I found out this was the result of the hemorrhage.) 

The bottom line was I couldn’t see very well.  I could make out general images.  But when I took the first eye test, I was 20/20 in my right eye and 20/200 in the left.  I think that is basically blind.

Now when something like that happens, one can get pretty philosophical about things.  I contemplated the long term loss of my eyesight.  With only one eye, it complicates things, but I know that a lot of folks have only one eye and they adapt.  So I decided I will too — regardless of the prognosis.

The optometrist said I had a hemorrhage and maybe a retina detachment or tear.  That possibility was serious business.  He tried for a couple of hours on Friday afternoon to get me into see a retina specialist.  But the best we could do was a Monday appointment at 1:00 in Fresno.

The retina specialist was quick and efficient and put some incredibly bright lights into my eyes after the pupils were dilated.  He also did a ultrasound on my eye (yes - just like the one they do with pregnant women!).  He confirmed I did not have a tear of retina detachment.  

He prescribed the following treatment:  No lifting heavy objects or exerting strain. Stop talking baby aspirin, sleep with a pillow or two. Gravity is my friend.  I am not to put my head down for long periods of time.  

Sadly — there is nothing definitive that we can point to for the cause.  I don’t have diabetes, high blood pressure.  I haven’t had a heart attack or had a blow to the head.  I don’t have the 4-5 diseases the doctor questioned me about.  I read 7 people out of 100,000 ever get an eye hemorrhage. That is interesting but I would like to know why this is happening. (Isn't that one of the universal health questions?)

But the fact that I had no tear or retinal detachment is great news!  I have hope. And the fact that the murkiness in my eye seems to get a little better each day was another positive item.

But after a week now, I have very limited vision in my left eye.  Progress is slow.  A week ago it seemed as if I was looking through dish soap an inch thick.  Now it seems as if it might be 1/8 of an inch.  This is all what it ‘seems like’ because in both cases we’re probably talking about millimeters of substance.  But the bottom line is that I still probably have 95% loss of vision in that eye at the moment.

I really believe I will regain it all back — but it will take time.  

So in the meantime I am learning (or at least I try to remind myself):
  • To try to quickly get perspective.  Get a grip.  This is not life and death. Its an inconvenience and may get worse but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Worst case might be we have to change our lifestyle and get off the road.  We’re not there yet, but it is a possibility.  If that happens, its been a great ride.  Wonderful. Glorious. Fantastic.  But we’re not at that point.  
  • To use my one good eye.  It gets mentally tiring, but every day it is easier and easier.  Sometimes I forget about ‘the cloudy eye’. Other times I find myself closing it and just using the good one.  More adjustments will come I am sure.
  • I am grateful for many things:
    • The one good eye
    • Overall generally good health.
    • Strong wife who is helpful but doesn’t get too easily shook up over these things.
    • Living to be this age.  I am very aware my dad had heart disease and didn’t live to see his 63rd birthday. These days it is all a bonus.
    • That it wasn’t worse — like a detached or torn retina.
    • Hope — at any stage of life and when addressing serious issues one needs hope.  And I have that and am thankful for it.
    • Good timing. This happened after we had already traveled 3,000 + miles in the last month and are taking a two week hiatus.
    • Supportive team.  Our son reminded me his father-in-law is an optometrist, so I sent him the report from the first doctor.  He concurred and echoed many of the same questions, concerns, diagnosis and treatment.  Good to have a second opinion.
  • To try not to be too self-focused.  Really?? (this whole post is just about that…) But at the same time, I am trying to just relax and do things I normally do.  And reach out to friends like always to see what they are up to.
  • Tomorrow is not promised to anyone.  Neither is this life-style we love so much.  I don’t think so, but if they eye doesn’t ever get any better, do we want to continue to drive around the country?  Maybe.  Maybe not.
  • Patience.  This will take time.  Maybe a month or two or longer.  After an initial followup in a few days, we will be seeing a recommended specialist for more follow-up in a couple of months.  
  • God is sovereign.  Like all things that happen in life, I believe this happened for a reason. This is no surprise to Him, so talk to Him about it.
  • To do what I can and not worry about what I can’t control. Enjoy what I can.  Never complain.
  • Don’t bother feeling sorry for yourself.  I see so many people disabled and without the use of limbs.  Others I know are fighting for their lives.  This could be worse. Be a good example.  
  • Tell your family soon when you realize it is serious.  Bad news doesn’t get better the longer you wait.  They can handle it.  Don’t exaggerate. Don’t minimize.  Just tell them what you know and they can process it.  Call them.  Talk with them.  This is one of those things our daughter said is “Not Textable” as in “Do not send me a text like this - I want to talk to you".  
  • Your friends would want to know, so if it appropriate, let them in on what is really going on.
  • Dwell on those things that keep you thankful.  I heard this once, “I complained about growing old until I remember those that were denied the privilege”. 
  • This is like the Roadrunner.  Once we got the Roadrunner, I have told myself early on and a hundred times since, “It is all going to break sooner or later.  Don’t act so surprised.”  Aging will eventually take its toll.  Thankfully I am in otherwise pretty good health.
Every day I think and ponder new things this is teaching me.  Hopefully I will make good choices and this will run its course and the eye will heal itself.  I believe it will and am ‘looking' forward to more adventures in the Roadrunner.  This is a pretty special time in our lives and we are cherishing it.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles! 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

An Afternoon at the 2016 Corrales Garden Tour

Posted from Bakersfield CA.

Last Sunday, Reid, Amy, Pam and I attended the Corrales Garden Tour.  Cousin Linda lives in the village was again on this year's Garden Tour Committee.  She was at one of the six home on display.   We got our tickets near the Produce Market in town and then followed our map to visit each of homes.

Corrales Valley is next to the Rio Grande and has a good water supply for farming and gardening in the area.

The color of the flowers and Mexican Tile caught my eye at the first house.
 But the noteworthy aspect of the garden was the two very large fish ponds that are kept stocked with sizable ones.
 Many times the gardens are not dependant on lots of water, but rather those that need very little.
 I am about as good at naming plants as I am birds so I'm not much help identifying these fragrant yellow bushes.

These are like most gardens and take a lot of TLC and work.  But they were gorgeous.
 Many of the homes had artists who were set up and painting scenes from a shaded vantage point.
 This might have been my favorite home where the homeowner, in blue, gave us a guided tour.
Her mom, in the red top, has been visiting for weeks and did a lot of the work getting the gardens on the property in shape for all the visitors.

This was a typical check in point at a home on the tour.  It is set on the mountainside near Rio Rancho.
 Inside, we found these three authors who also are RVers and were selling their latest books.  I know it would be helpful it I had taken a card and gotten their names and website correct.
Maybe they will see this and add a comment.  Stranger things have happened.

Some of the homes had lots of garden area, others had a few plants along a wall or near the house.  All were beautifully done and many with grass which surprised me.  I figured most would be yards requiring minimum irrigation.
 Some had beautiful porches of this variety.  I like the separated beams with the mesh fabric over top.
 Then the highlight of the tour -- we got to see cousin Linda!  She is very active on the committee and was filling in as a parking director.
 She took time out to chat with us and catch up on grandkids and such.  Priorities.
 This is the last home of the tour and looks across the mesa and Rio Grande and downtown Albuquerque and the Sandias in the distance.
 Each home had a volunteer or two from the Sandoval County Master Gardener group and they answered all our questions.  But here at this back porch view, we mostly enjoyed the breathtaking view.
It was a fun way to spend the afternoon and we topped it off with some dinner at the world famous El Pinto Restaurant.
 It was a great way to wind up our stay in the Albuquerque area!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Lots of Info at the Nuclear Museum

The Kirtland AFB FamCamp (where we parked the Roadrunner while in Albuquerque) is located near the Eubank Gate not far from the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.  

 New Mexico and other key states have long been involved in the nuclear industry beginning during World War II.
At that time, the U.S. and many scientists from Germany who left the Nazi regime -- developed the atom bomb. Much of that research took place in New York (the Manhattan Project), New Mexico, Tennessee, California and Washington.
 Interesting that Pam grew up in Clinton TN not far from Oak Ridge and I grew up new Los Alamos.  In Oak Ridge, the plans are still identified by their letter and number designator and we hear of people who still work there.
Not being that interested science or nuclear stuff, the real draw for us was the Route 66 museum and artifacts that are temporarily housed in the building.  Really?  Guess they want to get something that appeals to everyone?

The owner of this Mustang drove the entire way and documented his travels, then loaned it to the museum.
 It was fun to see all the towns it went through in New Mexico including Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

Can't tell you how many times we've seen friends and family and fail to get a picture so we did that.

Next, we had lunch over at the unique restaurant and shops built with transportation containers.
 Green Jeans is newly up and running and appears to have a booming business.
That is a quick recap of our Saturday sights in Albuquerque last weekend.  Always fun to hang out and do stuff with Reid and Amy.