Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Doctor Gave me the Boot!

The pictures in this post have nothing to do with the "story." Except for the last few, they are images taken during our time in San Diego.

My beautiful daughter
Over the last year our daughter has lost over twenty pounds and is really looking great. Most of her weight loss can be attributed to taking long daily walks. She has also cut back a bit on treats, but is not really on a "diet."

Walking is one exercise I also enjoy, and I had looked forward to going out with her frequently this month.

But it was not to be. 

I first started experiencing some slight discomfort in my right foot while walking on the treadmill at Jojoba Hills. I knew I needed new walking shoes and assumed that was the problem. As the weeks went by it started to hurt more and more, even under normal walking situations.

On the first day of our visit, I went on a 3 1/2 mile walk with my daughter and had to ice it when we got back. I did not have on my good hiking boots, so that is what I blamed. 

This image is totally untouched! This IS what the sunset can look like from the roof deck of my daughter's home in Sunset Cliffs.

It's not that I didn't want to see a doctor about my problems, it is more that I think I know what is going on and how to treat myself! In this case I thought I might have a bit of tendonitis that would get better with rest and weight loss.


Craig helps with the cooking
As the days passed, I felt no improvement, and admitted I needed to see a podiatrist.  My AARP supplemental insurance plan lets me see any specialist who takes Medicare without a referral. So, on the 23rd I called the Scripps Foot Care center, and asked for an appointment for the following week. 
Since our upcoming plans include Mexico and  Quartzsite, neither of which would be an easy place to find a good foot doctor, I hoped I could get in before we leave the area on January 4. Much to my surprise I was offered an appointment the next day, Christmas Eve.

One evening our daughter and her son made homemade ravioli
Although we are not part of their HMO, Scripps is our medical home and where our regular doctor practices, which is why I looked there first. Their medical clinic buildings are quite extensive, and on every other visit have been bustling with activity. Normally the close parking lot cost $4. Not much if you are sick and don't want to walk. On Christmas Eve day the gate was open and there was no charge. Craig did drop me off at the door and found parking quite easily. Inside, the clinic was almost deserted. The waiting areas were empty, and although the pharmacy was open, there was no line.

I checked in at the Foot Care Center desk and was the only patient in the waiting area. A nurse quickly took me into a room and after hearing my story sent me across the hall for an x-ray. Again no wait. I think the x-ray tech was reading a book while waiting for a patient. Through the magic of digital imagery my x-rays were immediately available on the screen in the exam room, and I only
Teenagers after Thanksgiving Turkey
waited for a few minutes for the doctor to review them with me.

The x-ray showed my problem was not tendonitis. The doctor showed me three fractures in the bones of my foot. They are not large. He called them stress fractures, and showed me the bone shadows that indicated they were probably a few months old and that my body had tried to heal them, but with repeated walking the bone could not build up enough to stabilize.

Cause? Unknown. 

A few days before Christmas, almost full.

The injury might have occurred on our "race to the top" in Canyon De Chelly, or on the long walk along the river in Bullhead City. Weight and old shoes may have contributed, as might my thinning old bones. I had a bone density test some years ago, and it was fine, but perhaps I should get another done next time I'm in town or if I continue to have problems like this. My sister has osteoporosis.

In any event, the treatment is simple: the BOOT!

I will be wearing it for the next three weeks at all time except in bed or in the shower. When the bones are healed, I am to take it "easy" for a while and build up my walking distance and intensity slowly. 

The purpose of the boot is to stabilize the foot so the bones can knit together. It is really comfortable, and the foot no longer hurts at all.

I am standing up straight, my good foot cannot reach the floor
But, while wearing it my other foot cannot quite touch the ground. In fact there is a 1.5 inch difference. It turns out this causes me to have an almost instant, sharp pain in my back. Just standing at the sink to do dishes for a short time really hurts.

I used one of these at Target last spring 
when I had a sprained ankle

On Sunday, Craig tried to help me with this by taking a couple of trips to Walmart looking for shoes with a thick platform sole. After he brought home two different pair that didn't quite fit, I went back to the store with him. 

I think these shoes also look OK

We ended up at a Payless and found a pair of shoes that although not perfect, will allow me to walk for short distances without extreme pain in the back.

One final image from the days before Christmas:

On one evening our daughter made Summer Rolls, Thai Chicken Saté and Thai Beef Saté.  She is such a good cook!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Just Checking In, and Happy Birthday Craig

We are still at Mission Bay RV Park in San Diego. 

We spent five nights staying at our daughter's lovely home with our two grandsons while she and her husband took a quick trip to Switzerland for a conference. With all that has been going on in the world, I was not happy to see them flying to Europe, but all went well and their trip was safe and uneventful.

While they were gone, one of my "duties" was to take our younger grandson, age 12, to participate with his school team in the "First Lego Robotics" competition at Legoland. The team did well winning an award for "professionalism."

Unfortunately, I seemed to have picked up a nasty cold germ that day as well. All those children touching door handles and sneezing!  I like children, but it seems that whenever I get near large groups of small ones I get sick. I thought I was safe since my grands are 12 and 15, but Legoland is a breeding ground for child-borne germs!

Can you tell I'm really feeling lousy with this the first cold I've had in two years?

Today is Craig's birthday.

We are going shopping for a new phone and having dinner with our daughter and family.  

Hope I don't spread the cold. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I'm thinking of it as a Sabbatical

Hello out there, we are still alive and well, living happily in our Alfa motorhome!

After 25 days up at Jojoba Hills, we moved all of 80 miles south to the Mission Bay RV park in San Diego.

We will be in the San Diego area until after New Year's Day.

Although we will be doing some exploring on our own, most of our activities will be "family" stuff. You know, Christmas with the kids and grandkids. 

So don't wonder about us. We  will be back posting on this blog in January. First stop will be Mexico for some more dental work, followed by our first Quartzsite experience. 'Til then ... 

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Well, we did it.

We put ourselves on the Jojoba wait list for an opportunity to buy a membership in the co-op. We have read all the paperwork, bylaws, and history of the place, and think we understand how it all works. You do not buy a deeded lot. You buy a membership that allows you to "adopt" a lot as your own. There is a complex, but straightforward system for adopting a lot. All lots have the same nominal value, but some are more desirable than others.

We are #20 on the wait list. When a lot becomes available, it is first offered to current members. If they want to move from the lot they are on, they have ten days to put themselves on a list. Whoever has been there the longest gets the lot, their current lot goes up for "adoption," and the process is repeated.  If none of the current members want to move to a lot, it is offered to the wait list people one at a time, until it is claimed. If you are on the wait list, you can pass three times, for any reason, without losing your place on the list. But after passing three times, you are put on the bottom of the list and are not called for at least 30 days. If you want to remove your name from the wait list, the total cost is a $100 administration fee. 

We are told there are some people who are on the list, but not quite ready to buy in, for either personal or financial reasons. In fact, we are not in a big hurry either. We are told there is usually more turn over in spring. In the last few years, many of the founding members have been leaving as they are getting into their 80's and 90's. Jojoba is not an assisted-living community. In fact, as part of the purchase contract, a buyer agrees that when they reach a point where they are no longer physically able to care for themselves and mentally competent, other living arrangements must be made. The members do help each other a great deal, but all understand they cannot stay  if they become infirm. It seems that spring is a time to move on. Someone told me that 36 lots have turned over this year. 

When we started on this adventure, I never thought I would want to have another "permanent" home base. One of the things I was trying to get away from was the need to return to, and support, a sticks and bricks house. 

Many full time RVers go back to the same winter park year after year. But as we have reviewed our options for the winter, we find we are not drawn to the wall-to-wall RV parks in Arizona. Nor are we attracted to boondocking out in the desert for months on end. We are not golfers, and really don't want to pay for the maintenance of a golf course. 

There are many features that attract us to Jojoba Hills. One of the biggest draw for me is that it is a reasonable distance to San Diego, where our daughter and grandsons live. Close enough that we will be able to drive down for a holiday, special event, or even just a weekend. This winter we are spending a month in San Diego at the Mission Bay RV park. It is an expensive parking lot, but it is close to where they live. We will be back on the road in January. 

When we do get a lot at Jojoba, it does not in any way mean we will stop our travels. We plan on spending some of the winter months here, and going on the road for the rest of the year. We still have so many places to see, but the thought of a home base is good too. 

 Especially one we don't have to maintain or pay taxes on!

Where do you spend your winters?

[From Craig]  You know those knitted caps that people wear in winter?  In Wisconsin and elsewhere, we called them "stocking caps" even though we never saw stockings made out of similar material.  I'm currently reading a book that has people wearing "toboggans" on their heads, which for me leads to pretty fun images but is meant to designate the same kind of headwear.  Also one of our grandchildrens' au pairs was Canadian and called the same kind of cap a "tuque" which she pronounced "tewk".  Other names for similar caps around the world are "knit caps" and "watch caps".  Other terms for such caps are "beanies" and "skull caps", but in my experience these terms are also used to describe the Jewish yarmulke or kippah.  Do you suppose we have enough names for such caps? :-)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Alive and very well at Jojoba Hills

Our days have been passing quite quickly here at Jojoba Hills. We have not really "done" much, but I at least have not been bored for a moment.

Almost every morning I have gone over to the Friendship Hall where the big beautiful pool is, and first walked for a mile or two on one of the treadmills in the exercise room, while watching the morning news, then joined a half dozen or so others in the pool to do 40 minutes of easy water exercises. 

They play a recorded routine. The exercises are suitable for older bodies, but give a great relaxing stretch and a complete series of joint movements. After the pool time, we gather in the hot tub for a bit. Then I use the showers and dress for the day.

I get back to the rig about 10:45, by which time Craig has finished his breakfast and morning routines. On a couple of days I have found him just getting up, and on a couple of others he was outside washing windows. This has been a very easy-going time!

Temecula is about 14 miles away, and we have gone there several times to shop. We also went to an afternoon movie one day, and out for an excellent gourmet pizza on another. 

One of the things I brought along on this adventure was my sewing machine. Just about the only thing I sew is pajamas for Craig. It is hard to believe it has been three years since I made him three new pair while he was working on repairs and painting the high, dangerous places outside our dining room windows. I set up my machine on the table so I could keep an eye on him.  

Well, it is time to make him some more. He went with me to the fabric store and picked out three lengths of nice 100% cotton. Of course they are quite colorful! 

I have taken advantage of the huge sewing room open to all here at Jojoba Hills. 

Room for all, they made space for me to work too!

My back no longer is happy about standing over a work table for hours on end, so I have gone over on three different days, cutting out one pair each time. The ladies who have their machines there and were working on a variety of projects were very welcoming and friendly. There is a sewing machine that anyone can use, or if I had wanted to bring in my own,  there was a space for it. I have been doing the sewing in the Alfa. I find it quite easy to set up, and put away, so I can work for a few hours whenever I wish.

I'm in no great rush to get these finished, since although he picked out the fabric, the overall project is meant to be a Christmas present. 

Temecula, CA, the nearest town, has a number of large chain groceries, including Albertson's and Ralph's, plus a Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Fresh and Easy, and Walmart.

We were happy to be able to buy some end-of-season heirloom tomatoes this week for one last go at our favorite meal of just tomatoes, cheese, lots of very fresh basil, and warm baked french bread, with a balsamic-and-caper dressing. A laptop and a glass of white wine is all that is needed for a super supper.  :-)

Recently I saw a video about making perfect poached eggs by wrapping them in plastic before lowering them into boiling water:
1. drape plastic wrap like a liner in a cup or ramekin, 
2. put a little oil in the plastic wrap, 
3. crack egg into plastic, 
4. tie off, and
5. boil about five minutes.

I have wanted to try it, so when we had a lazy Sunday last week I did.

It worked great, far less stressful than trying to poach them in just water the way I had learned in the past.  I topped a toasted English muffin with some ham, chopped spinach, and Hollandaise sauce from a can, for a homemade Eggs Benedict.

Not exactly your typical camping breakfast!

Let's see.  What else have we been up to?

Craig helped our friend Judy put together a new picnic table. Emma watched, and I took pictures. She treated us to a hamburger cookout the next day.

We also drove down to Escondido to see our grandson Dylan play in a San Diego Youth Symphony concert. It was a treat to be able to do a "family" thing.

Other than that we've just been pretty lazy, reading and watching TV. There are tons of things to do here at Jojoba, but since we are just visitors at this time, I don't want to start anything. We are thinking about getting on the waiting list for a membership, and if we do I am sure to join many groups next time we are here.

I will end this post with a glimpse at a very nice sunset. 

Until next time!

Thursday, November 5, 2015


It has been more than a week since I did a post. Craig wrote the last one, and I have just been a bit burned out and not feeling like I had much to say. I had wanted to head northwest when we left Bullhead City, and spend a couple of week in the southern Sierra Mountains, but being late October the weather wasn't looking promising. Several of the parks I called were closing in a few days, or at the least turning off the water supply. So we turned toward Southern California instead. I knew there were two discount parks in Desert Hot Springs, one of which we had been to a few years ago. Unfortunately I choose the other one because it looked like we could get a discount for five nights, unlike the other one's offer of only two.

Desert Springs RV Spa and Resort is not terrible, but it was not great either. I felt "bait and switched" when we were told we could not use the Passport America discount on a 50 amp site. In the PA book it indicated 50 amp was available, and since it was still hot there I thought we might need 50 amp for the air conditioners. Anyway the 30 amp site we were given was very tight and in the midst of some "older" park models. I paid for one night and did some checking around for other options.

Our month reservation in San Diego doesn't start until November 23rd. I guess we could have called and tried to get a spot there for some time earlier, but I consider their daily rate outrageously expensive. I called a couple of other San Diego parks, but all were booked for all or part of the time we wanted.

Then I checked the calendar and realized the number of days we needed was within the maximum allowed annual "visitor" stay at my favorite place, Jojoba Hills SKP park. We were there in April of 2014 and really liked it.

IMO Best Pool in the country!
It is a cooperative where individual Escapee members own the lots in the park. If they are not there, they can put their lot into a rental pool and other Escapee members can rent them for up to 28 days a year at a very reasonable rate.  There are two small caveats: no advanced reservations can be made, and if the owner returns while a visitor is on his lot, the visitor has to move to another space. There is also a very sizable dry camp area, so if no spots are open there is always room to park there for a few days. 

Local resident
So, we have been at Jojoba for eight days already, and will stay until the 23rd. Although we are not yet ready to settle down again, nor buy into and call one park "home", the feeling of being set for the next 25 days, in a wonderful spot at the Jojoba SKP park in Aguanga California, is very nice. We are strongly considering getting on the waiting list for a lot here, so this time is also a short test period. Plus, I feel I need a few quiet weeks after all the travel we have done this year, before a month or so of "family time."

We did have one nice upside to our time here. Judy, our blog friend from "Travels with Emma", arrived to move onto her new lot on the same day as we got here. We enjoyed seeing her again and hope to spend some more time together before we have to move on.

I expect I'll be posting again soon to tell you about what I have been doing to keep busy this month.  

A  beautiful evening at Jojoba Hills

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bullhead City

[From Craig] Sunday we drove from Flagstaff AZ to Bullhead City AZ.  It was quite a weather transition: the low in Flagstaff was 27 F, while the next night in Bullhead City it was 68 F.  A 41 degree change in 180 miles east-west involves either a large body of water or a significant change in elevation.  Coming down from 7000 feet (2130 m) to 560 feet (170 m) also meant we could roll over in bed without having to catch our breath!

"They" promised that if we spent months at altitude, our bodies would adapt and we wouldn't need to huff and puff all the time.  Maybe that only applies to kids under 50?

That evening I went for a walk in the Silver Canyon RV Park, and encountered this toothy totem which was carved from an old palm tree.

It was pleasant to leave the windows open and to not have the furnace run all night.  We originally planned to just stop for the night, but the air was so nice we decided to stay another day and hike near the Colorado River, which separates Bullhead City from Laughlin, NV.

After a nice breakfast we headed for the Heritage Greenway Park and Trails.  Unfortunately Google Maps took us to the Davis Dam, a couple of miles upstream.  Davis is the first dam on the Colorado below the famous Boulder Dam (f.k.a Hoover Dam).

There were hiking trails in the vicinity of the dam, so we started down one on the Nevada side, toward Laughlin.  A short while later we met a knowledgeable-looking couple, and we asked them if we could hike downstream in Nevada and then back upstream on the Arizona side and cross back over the river at the dam. They said "sure", and cited a pedestrian walkway on the first highway bridge over the river.  They were right about the walkway.

The trail on the Nevada side was well-paved in a federal park that had lots of educational storyboards but no grass or trees, just desert scrub.  The Arizona side was a county park that included lots of palm trees, grass, and RV campgrounds.

After about 2 miles we came to the promised brdige, which was the one we had driven across on our way to the dam.  The following view looks downstream toward the Laughlin casinos.  (Nevada allows gambling, Arizona not so much.)

We walked across the bridge, and on the Arizona side we snuck under it, past some sleeping gear that may have been left by homeless folk, who weren't around.  A short way from the bridge we found ourselves among the palms and campsites we had seen from the other side.

Past that campground we found an undeveloped stretch of scrub vegetation that  came right down to the river, but we found gravel roads through it.

Near the end of this wilder stretch we encountered a roadrunner.  I wished I had brought my Nikon and zoom lens that goes up to 300 mm, but we had to rely on our point-and-shoot Sony and a lot of cropping.

Past the scrub area we came to the second campground area, which had electric and water hookups at many sites.  The sites nearest the river even had a beach! 

Past that campground we were again nearing the dam, which is where we had a problem.  A fisherman and a country park maintenance man told us that the only away over the dam (back to our car) required a long walk-around on highways, which our chance-encountered hikers near the start of our day hadn't known about.  That way was much farther than just retracing our steps!  

So we turned around and walked back toward the bridge.  After we had walked about for about half an hour, the fisherman we had met came and found us and drove us back to the Nevada side of the bridge.  This saved us a mile or so, and we thanked him with heartfelt gratitude.

As we walked back, we saw that these folks who we had talked with an hour or so before, were still soaking their feet in the river.  This was something we did last December in the Florida Keys, and looked very familiar and pleasant.

Almost back to our car, I took this shot of the overall campground.  One problem with RVing is that we know of no way to learn about local campgrounds like this one.  Do you know of a resource that lists such places?

In all, we walked about 7 miles when we had expected 4.  But more miles are good for us, right?  

From Merikay: "good for us" yes, but because we had had a filling breakfast and I anticipated being back to the Alfa by noon after an easy four mile walk, I did not pack our usual sandwiches for lunch. Instead we stopped at a Chili's restaurant and had big fat hamburgers, fries and margaritas, then took a long afternoon nap.

Life is good!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Canyon De Chelly

We have been north of it, south of it, east of it and west of it, but have never made it to Canyon De Chelly until now. It has been on my "must see" list ever since I read a post by Al of the Bayfield Bunch sometime before we even had our RV.

We drove down from Mesa Verde on Monday, stopping to see the Four Corners Monument. It was on Craig's bucket list.

Left hand in AZ, left foot in UT, right foot in CO, right hand in NM
When we were still at the Balloon Fiesta, I spent some time looking through my campground books, and searching the internet for campgrounds near the canyon that had hookups. No luck. 

Looking down on eroded sandstone in Canyon De Chelly
We have had bad luck with a couple of parks that were "walk up only" this summer. 
I had mixed feelings about the reviews I saw for the campground in the park itself. Partially because Cottonwood campground was described as "shaded by large, mature trees". This would be a positive in the heat of summer, but this is baseball playoff time, and I know Craig wants to be able to see the games on TV. Large trees can prevent satellite reception.

We had our GPS set to take us to an RV park down on I-40, that was about 100 miles past Canyon De Chelly, so we decided to stop for a quick look and ask some questions about the campground at the Visitors Center, leaving our options as open as possible. 

As it turned out we could see the edge of the campground from the VC, and I spotted a nice big space, that had no trees. Hooray! A place to be. We ended up staying for four nights.

This picture, with the Alfa in her spot, was taken a few days later from the VC parking area.

We woke up early Tuesday morning to thunder and heavy rain pounding on the roof above. We snuggled in and had coffee while reading the news and other bloggers' posts. By the time we were up, showered, and had breakfast, the storm had passed and the skies were clear.

Our plan for the day was to drive the South Rim Road and also walk down the White House Trail. It is the only place you can go into the canyon without a Navajo guide.

We stopped at several observation points. The weather was perfect, 70° with a sweet breeze. The clouds were puffy white, but growing.

Then we tackled the 2.5 mile (round trip) hike down to the bottom of the canyon to see a ruin called the White House. The arrow shows where we were going.  It seems to me these people were more sensible than those who built high on the cliffs. This building was at canyon bottom level. There was also a building above it in a cliff niche.

This is a look at the trail down. There were some rather rough and steep sections, and as we went down I kept thinking about the return climb.

Sandstone rock walls do some pretty strange things. 

We discussed whether this center support was a natural or man made feature as we hiked down the steep pathway.  Craig thought the rocks involved were too large to have been manipulated by people in such a location.

Texture, texture, texture, created by the forces of nature.

Merikay wrote on Dec 8 2010: "Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!"

On the canyon floor we noticed this wonderful cactus! So healthy looking! The fantastic canyon walls towered above.

Views of the White House Ruins:

Although we got a closer look at the ruins, we noticed that the Navajo vendors were packing up their wares quickly,  

and that all the other hikers were heading back up the trail. The thunderheads were building above, and one of the vendors told us there were thunderstorm and tornado warnings for the area. 

I did not take any pictures on our hike back up. When faced with a one and a quarter mile, 600 foot elevation hike up the side of a rock canyon I would normally take my time, stopping frequently to catch my breath, and just do it. I would be glad to see the top, but I would stay within my comfort zone. But this time it was go, go, go! As slow as I was, I did keep going with only a few short stops to catch my breath. We felt threatened by the clouds, but quarter sized drops of  rain that started to fall on us. We really did not want to be on the side of a slippery, rough rock face of the canyon when the lightning and/or downpour started.

By the time we got to the top, the rain had stopped, but the storm was still on its way. I was very glad to have a moment to catch my breath before we headed for the car.

You have no idea of how much I regret being so fat! I was a smoker for many years, and although it has been a long time since I quit, my lungs remain compromised from that abuse. My son still smokes, and I wish I could say something that would influence him enough to quit!

It did rain quite hard that night. A strange thing happened the next day. At about four in the morning I woke feeling quite nauseous. I had a pounding headache, and stayed in bed with a barf pot all day. I don't know if I picked up a twenty four hour flu, or if my body was over stressed by the rapid climb out of the canyon the day before. Craig never got sick, and I was OK the following day.

On Thursday we drove the rest of the rim roads and stopped at the remaining interesting overlooks.

A few pictures cannot show all the fantastic views we had.

Canyon De Chelly is a remarkable place. We enjoyed our few days there and are very glad we stopped to see it. 

Cottonwood Campground was peaceful and we are becoming less leery about the idea of dry camping for a few days at a time.

I doubt we will ever be full time boondockers, but we might just try some nights out in the BLM lands next year. 

[From Craig] Merikay and I found Canyon de Chelly, in the heart of the Navajo Nation, to be much more than we expected. We recommend it to anyone who's interested in geology, ancient cultures, or current Navajo culture.  I like this place!