Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dragons and their Tails

 Yesterday was a cleaning day for me, while Gary went off to the Hospital to get his second shot of Neupogen.  We rode up to Walmart for a couple supplies, and then Gary stopped at Kroger to pick up his lottery winnings - $15.00.  Whoohoo (hey, it pays for the last 14 losers).

We were going out with Betsy and Rick to the Rocky Mountain Brewery for half-price pizza night.  They wanted to thank us for taking care of Laptop (totally unecessary, but greatly appreciated).  Betsy and I enjoyed a veggie pizza and the boys had lots of meat.  We stayed and talked a while, then they came over for a campfire. 

While we were gone, Ron came home finally at 5:30, and was resting when we popped over to see how he was doing.  He looked really wiped out, so we didn't stay but a couple of minutes. 

This morning we had planned a big adventure for Mesa (our jeep).  She was going for a very exciting ride on the Dragon Tail.  We have been hearing about the Dragon Tail for months, and finally did our homework.  It is a road located off of highway 129 that is reached from the Foothills Parkway.  There are 318 turns in 11 miles of mountainous road.  She felt up to it, so around 11 we headed out.  But first we needed to stop at Dollywood to see if I had any workdays lined up.  All three of my leads were there and I asked them if I was on the list.  They thought we had left.  Well, heck no.  So they asked how Gary was and told me to report for work on Sunday.  Well, alrighty then.  At Human Resources, we mentioned Phil Vananda and Tuskaleechee Caverns and how much they'd like to be on the Perks List.  Pam King made a note of that and took his business card.  Hopefully they will be able to work together again.

Off to play.  The Foothills Parkway is completed south of 321, but not north of 321 yet.  We made our left off of 321 and enetered the National Park Systems Foothills Parkway:

Many pulloffs and Lookout Rock gave us some stunning views of the mountains and the city of Maryville.

Too many pictures to post, but we were almost at the Tail!  First we passed  Cheoah Lake and Dam.  We had to stop on the bridge to take the dam picture (oops):

A few trees were getting a jump on their fall finery.

Gary told the turkeys to start hiding, as Thanksgiving is right around the corner:

Finally we reached Rte. 129, the beginning of the Dragon's Tail.  Right away it was switchback after switchback one right after the other with very little straight road in between.  The motorbikers love this road as a challenge.  We saw lots of them, some sports cars (some even with cameras attached to the front bumper) very few cars and two delivery trucks.  Apparently this is a biker's heaven and regularly we hear on the news that a few don't make it to the end.  But we did! 

Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort and CG is a fun place to cool off after a dizzying ride.

 You can fill up your gas tank:

Or fill your personal tank at the Grill.  These T-shirts were donated by riders from all over the world and placed - where else - on the ceiling:

We filled our personal tanks with a shared cheeseburger and some fries.  Very good for someplace out in the middle of nowhere.  Of course, Gary had to get a T-shirt proving that he slayed the Dragon, and here it is:

There is a Tree of Shame on the property with motorcycle pieces of those who didn't quite make it in one piece. 

Well, there was only one way to get home, and that was back the way we came.  So that meant we did 636 turns in 22 miles.  During the ride, we saw these photographers parked along the road (at great risk, if you ask me) taking action shots.  I assume I will see our photos on the web tomorrow.  I really wanted to give them a good shot, so I actually stood up and waved (our top was down).  I'll let you know if I decide to buy a good one.  Gary managed to get a shot in while he was driving!  Yee ha!

 Mountain roads are cut into mountains, which are mostly rock.  Big rocks.  In order to keep the rocks from falling on topless jeeps, they often put metal nets over them and fasten the bottoms to the roadside.  For example:

This whole rock side is held back by giant nets.  I think they work as there was lots of debris at the bottom.  Whew.  No rocks on our heads this trip.
We arrived home just before Ron's brother and his wife arrived and parked behind us.  Gary was running a temp and cuddled in bed so we will meet them tomorrow.  A couple of Tylenol made him feel all better, but we stayed in and watched some TV.  Too much excitement maybe? 

Great day! Great day!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cave Exploring and Stew

 A fabulous fall day, but reaching into the 80s - what to do?  Let's go to the caves!  Tuskaleechee Caverns was on our list of things to do, but it was awfully close to Maryville (read: Panera) so we had a little breakfast, cut up some venison for our crockpot tomorrow, made some meatballs for subs later this week, and got ready to go.  We had a great lunch on Panera's patio, made a quick stop at Michael's for a giant suction cup to hang up something on our window, and headed back towards Pigeon Forge and the Caves.

Well, I thought it was on our Dollywood Perks list, but it wasn't.  Phil Vananda (a decendent of the discoverer, Bill), and the manager, said it used to be, but he was thinking that because they are located in Blount County, Dollywood decided not to exchange fringe benefits.  I said that I would say something to HR and he said he appreciated that, as they would like to visit Dollywood.  But did we want to spend $30 to see the caves? 

Well, while we were thinking about it, we noticed a siesmograph in the lobby.  One of the young men showed us that a professor at UT sent them printouts of the big seismic disturbances from the Thailand quake and resulting tsunami, the Haiti and Cuba quakes and most recently, the quake in Virginia on August 23rd.  Suddenly Phil came up and handed us two tickets.  He really appreciated us planning to mention adding them to the Perks List with an act of good will.  We will definitely do so.

We waited for our group to assemble and then headed down, down, down.  In the early 1930s Bill Vananda and Harry Myers used to play in the caverns as little boys (and I mean little 6 and 8 years old!).  They went off to college, but never forgot the caverns.  After returning to Tennessee in 1953 they decided to open the caverns to the public.  No one would lend them money, so they did the work themselves, bringing tons of cement and building materials for the paths and bridges in on their backs.

In 1955, the Big Room was opened to the public at the same time electric lights were added, eliminating the use of kerosene lanterns.  James, our guide, showed us what it looked like with no light.  Now I know what 'pitch black' means.  Wow.   I would have taken a picture, but....
A seismometer

Wishing Pool
Broken-off stalactites probably done years and years ago
We compared this cave to the others we have seen together:  Karchner Caverns State Park in Arizona and the Forbidden Caverns in Sevierville, TN.  Each had it's own best part and I would recommend them to everyone.  In the end we had climbed 410 steps and walked over a mile. 

A crystal clear stream flows through the length of the caverns, draining much of the surface water from a small Alpine cove, Dry Valley, located directly above part of the caverns.  We were offered a taste:
Taking a drink of 99.6% pure water

We ended our day with leftovers and a campfire.  Ahhhhh.

Monday was a work day and we were expecting thunderstorms, but they didn't show up until 6 pm.  Meanwhile I checked in a bunch of people and Gary met me for lunch with soup. 

Last night we put some venison (kindly given to us by a fellow camper) into the crockpot and let it cook gently all night.  At 3 pm, Gary was planning to dump in some cut up veggies (sweet taters, butternut squash, carrots and celery) to finish the cooking in time for dinner.  By the time he came to get me at 7, he said the coach was smelling g-o-o-d!  I whipped up some cornbread and dished it up with the stew.  Very tasty!  It made a bunch, so we plan to give some to a lucky couple.

Ron was feeling very good, so the Dr. said he could eat a soft diet and come home tomorrow!  YAY!
Gary needed to get one of his three injections of Neupogen today and said it went well.

Tomorrow who knows what fun things will happen?  It's a great life everyday we wake up (especially smelling coffee!)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thursday was still wet and drizzly, but four of us girls were meeting at the Apple Barn coffee shop for some fried apple pie and coffee. I've never had a fried apple pie before trying one at the Apple Barn, and that's so sad because they are soooo good.  Of course, they are not low calorie, so Donna and I were good and split one.  We had a nice time chatting, and then a waitress kindly took our picture.

Brenda, Cheryl, Donna and me at the Apple Barn.

After our coffee, Donna went off to the hospital to be with Ron, and Brenda and I went exploring near the Old Mill.  I took her into the Pattern Hutch where I first discovered the art of Needlepunch.  I asked some questions while she browsed the materials and other cool stuff in the store.  I got my answers and we headed over to her coach, where she thought of a clever idea.  Why don't I use stamps to create new patterns?  Brilliant! 

This is what I've begun so far: 

 This is the front
And this is the back
I worked on my rooster for a little while tonight.  I love doing this! 

Friday was chemo day, and the Doctors are still very pleased with Gary's response.  His white cell count is too low so he will need some shots next week on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday to boost his immune system before his last treatment in this series on Friday.  Friday may be his last treatment (hopefully forever).  We'll wait to see what is supposed to happen for sure.  Happy, happy, happy campers!

We went to visit Ron in his hospital room and he was hanging in there.  Still waiting for things to move.  If they don't soon, they may have to go back in, but his Dr. is not too impatient and is still optimistic.  We didn't stay long, because a hospital is not a place to keep someone with a fragile immune system, so when Donna came back, we went to Walmart (but I made Gary stay in the car).  No need to go into that hotbed of germs!  We put away the groceries and had some tilapia with lemon sauce and angel hair pasta with sundried tomato pesto and broccoli for dinner.  Not bad.

Today I had to work, and it was a low key day.  It started out cloudy and cool, but then all the clouds disappeared and it turned out to be a beautiful fall day - great for the Shriner's Parade on the Parkway (read:  traffic headaches).

Close to six o'clock, Donna comes into the park and pulls up to the office.  She's all smiles and thumbs up - yay, Ron moved (if you know what I mean).  Doctors and nurses were never so excited!  So he got beef broth tonight for dinner while Donna took us out to No Way Jose's Mexican Restaurant.  This is us celebrating for Ron with large Margaritas and Dos Equis:

This is what my dish looked like.  I ate maybe 1/4 of it and boxed the rest:

Thank you Donna and Ron.  Next meal we will hopefully have Ron with us and it will be his choice of restaurant!

Oh, we have celebrities behind us.  Chris Perondi and his stunt dogs will be here for 5 days.  You can check out his website: if you want to learn more.  This act gets around; they have been on Ellen, Oprah and Jay Leno.  Gary walked over to talk to him today and met four out of his 20 or so dogs that have traveled with him to get a contract with Dollywood (which he did for next year).  When he leaves, Ron's brother and sister in law will be moving into their spot.

We are still planning to leave the middle of October, but not sure exactly when.  Until then we enjoy every day!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Elbow Greasers

Today was my turn to take care of Laptop and it was wet and drizzly.  But Laptop was awake and ready to go when he felt my footsteps on the floor.  We took a walk to the river and over to the dumpster and back home and he did really well.  But he was happy to get his treat and snuggle back in his warm bed. 

I could smell coffee when I opened the door thanks to my sweet hubby, so I made some pancakes and bacon with a side of fresh melon (from the CG Manager) to go with it.  Yum. 

What to do today?  Well, we couldn't go too far because of looking after Laptop every 5 hours, but it was not a very pretty day anyway.  We decided to clean the Diamondshield off the coach.  When our coach was new, the first owners decided to apply Diamondshield, a thick, clear contact-like coating that was professionally applied on the front, around the keyhole on the door, around the handle and at the bottom of the 'doorjam'.  By the time we purchased her last year, it had become cracked and dirty like this:

  Having it professionally removed would have cost a bundle, so I sent an email to the manufacturer asking how I could remove it myself.  They wrote back and told me how!   Last summer, at my brother's house, we labored with the front of the coach, actually needing to repaint it because it was so very difficult to remove. Fortunately my brother had owned a body shop, so he did the painting for us.  But we never got around to these last few spots.  So today was the day.

We got our supplies together and went at it.  It's imperative that we not scratch the paint underneath, so it's extremely tedious and time consuming. Can you see that stuff I'm scraping?   But slowly it came off, and then to get the goop off under the surface, we needed to use Xylene.  Two out of the three were done and we were working on the third, but it started to rain. 

We took a little break to put up the shelf that is finished, but our brackets are too big to fit where we need them to.  Another day.

Laptop's mom and dad got back from Charlotte and came over to say hi and Donna got home from the hospital at the same time, so we stood outside in the brightening skies and chatted.  Gary put some chicken thighs on the grill and we had dinner around 7:45.

The rain kept us in bed this morning as we watched the History Channel regarding Woodstock.  I was too young (heheh) to go, well, at least my mom said no way, so it was really cool to watch this peaceful historical moment that has never been replicated.  But, we needed to go over to Dollywood to check my schedule and a couple of chores.  I'm not even on the schedule, at least until Oct. 2, so I'm not sure if I'll make it back to work at all before we have to give our notice.  The Gospel Festival starts on the 28th, so hopefully business will pick up during that. 

We were on our way out and decided to pop in to see the Dreamland Drive-In show that was just beginning.    It was a fun show, similar to the show we saw during the RV Dreams Rally in April, but it had a story line and it won the Heartbeat Award twice.  Of course we were hungry when we came out and Gary had been craving sushi since April.  Today was the day.  We rode over to Little Tokyo and the parking lot was jammed.  This is a good sign at a Japanese restaurant.  We ordered our usual, tuna, salmon, California rolls and eel.  We got free soup and the sushi was very good.  Not the best we've ever eaten, but very tasty. 
I got a text from Donna who had left early this morning for the hospital, and Ron took a step backwards.  It seems they were rushing things, and he wasn't ready for real food yet.  His gastric tube is back in and we feel so sorry for him.  But the xray showed no blockage, so they're just waiting for 'things to get moving'   Poor guy, he's so ready to get outta there. 

We stayed for a couple hours talking to Donna (Ron slept on and off) and then we left to get gas (down to 3.22 and diesel to 3.69) and with our Kroger card, only paid 3.12 a gallon!  Then off to the hardware store for different brackets. 

Gary and I tried out the new brackets, and installed them.  We had no idea what the wall was made of, and would have put it up any way possible rather than drilling holes, but that was the only way.  I believe it was thick particleboard, but what do I know?  Regardless, we are really pleased with the finished product. 

Tonight is what I call 'funny night' on TV comprising of The Middle and Modern Family.  These days it's important to laugh as much as possible.  And these two shows do it for us.

We love our life.  Yep, we do.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Friends and Food

Sunday was warm and beautiful. We were having Jim and Megan Stebbins for dinner and made some preparations in the morning. 

We wanted to visit Ron in the hospital as Donna was working at Dollywood, and yesterday the Dr. said he was going to have his gastric tube out.  Now, Gary and I discussed if we wanted to be in the room when it was done and we both said no.  So when we arrived at 1, the nurse, Scott, came in and said he would be taking it out at 4 pm.  OK, we said, we'll be back.  We grabbed a little lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings - Gary loves those wings.  In fact, that's where Ron had chosen to go for his birthday dinner, but sadly that needed to be postponed.  We arrived back at 3:45, and right at 4, Scott came back in, and I got up to leave, but Gary said he'd stay.  Fine.  I left but came back a few minutes later and listened at the door.  I heard voices, so tentatively went in and they boys were all joking and laughing.  Whew.  Dodged that.

Ron was really happy and asked for a cup of coffee, which Scott kindly brought right away.  We hung out a while longer, but then needed to get home to ready for company. 

Megan and Jim are from Washington state and have been full-timing for almost 10 years.  So we had a lot to learn from them.  They, like many full-timers including us, have to work to maintain this lifestyle, but working at Dollywood was their first job dealing with food.  Mostly they like working with the NASCAR circuits in retail.  They also do NHRA drag racing and both of these jobs take them and their two kitties from coast to coast.  Our dinner was great, but I forgot to take pictures, sorry.  During our pumpkin pie, our neighbor, Betsy, stopped by to ask a favor.  Her son was having surgery in Charlotte, NC and asked if we could look after her poodle, Laptop, while they were gone a couple days. Of course we would - Laptop is a sweet special needs dog at 18 years old, blind and deaf,  and soooo sweet.  Gary would do Monday and I would do Tuesday.  We made plans for Gary to meet  up with Rick at 7:30 am to learn the ropes.

We had a really nice time with Megan and Jim and wish we had done so earlier, but they are leaving on Tuesday for their trip to Las Vegas via Alabama to vist Jim's dad.  Then off to the races!  We wish them fair skies and smooth roads.

Monday came early enough - Gary went out to learn about Laptop and I got ready for work.  For some reason, I had a feeling that this was going to be a difficult day.  It was the first day after the Rod Run ended, and a lot of people were leaving, but various complications started arising from the get go.  But, things were handled satisfactorily and I was really glad to see 7 pm roll around. 

Donna came by to have dinner with us and we started watching the season premier of Dancing with the Stars.  It's always surprising who they choose to be the stars - I would like to know, do they ask to be on the show, or are they solicited?

Thank you for your suggestions about staying in Raleigh!  I forgot about the Fairgrounds - we're just used to going to the fairs and flea markets, but not living there!  That could be an option if we stay longer for sure. 

Another day off tomorrow and not much is planned, but I have a couple ideas.  Nitey-nite.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Planning Ahead

The Doctor's reaction to Gary's improvement was less than stellar.  But we expected that.  He had been on vacation for two weeks.  So I whipped out our iPad and brought up a photo I had taken of Gary at his very worst.  Well, his eyes popped.  The old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" escaped from his mouth.  Needless to say, his smile made our day. 

What's next?  Three more treatments.  When it's all gone, is there a maintenance schedule?  No, just go on your merry way.  What if it comes back?  Run to the nearest chemo center and get a dose or two.
Well, alrighty then!  Let's get on with it.

Sitting in our private room, people who knew Gary (and everyone does since we've been showing up for 5 months now) came to visit and commented on the great improvement.  We are taking a big breath and letting it out slowly...

LeConte Hospital is down the drive, so we went over to see Ron when Gary finished up.  He was really looking forward to getting all the tubes out of him.  The Dr. said maybe tomorrow.  Still waiting for "noises". 

Saturday was a work day for me at the CG office.  Since the Rod Run is this weekend, I checked in 18 rigs.  Fortunately they didn't all come in a once!  After I get home from the office, I have this (almost) overwhelming desire to visit all of them and see if everything is OK.  I thought about how I would feel if I was in a CG and staff came to ask me.  I think I'd feel really impressed and grateful.  But, perhaps they'd feel it would be an intrusion.  How would you feel?

Gary worked a little more on my shelf, which is looking rather smart.  It is put together and stained, and now he is varnishing it.  Can't wait to get it up.

Also my new project supplies arrived, and I'm reading up on how to do it and thinking of all kinds of designs I will apply to various items.  I'll take some photos of this, too. 

It was just twilight, and we decided to have a drink on the patio and start a fire.  I collected twigs and Gary rolled the fire ring (a truck rim) into position.  But, we never had our fire, as our neighbors stopped by and chatted while the fire went out.  Oh, well.  We're having company tomorrow, so will definitely have that fire after our BBQ.  I'm trying out some fancy recipie for hamburgers and grilled corn on the cob.  I will definitely take photos and let you know how good it was.

We are hooked on black and white (sometimes color) movies on TCM.  They are so different from the films they make today, aren't they?  One of the first things I notice is that EVERYONE smoked.  All the time.  If there was a pause in the script, they lit up.  If things got tense, they walked over to that cigarette box on the table, opened it up, tapped the end of the cigarette, and lit up.  Sometimes it got so smoky in the room, you could hardly see the actors.  What ever happened to night clubs?  How it must have been to get dressed to the nines any night and go listen to great music and dance and drink for hours.  These days - we tweet.

Since we will be moving in a month, we started talking about our departure date.  We would like to be in Raleigh with our daughter's family for Halloween, but the only campsite anywhere around her home is the Falls Lake State Rec. Area, which is beautiful, and we love it.  But the stay limit is two weeks.  We were thinking they might let us extend our stay since it is not busy at all at that time of the year.  Most people from the "plains" area are up in the mountains watching the leaves change, although it would be late in the season for that.  Anyhow, we'll ask.  The worst they could say is 'sorry'. 

As fulltime RVers some might think that we can go anywhere anytime we like.  Well, we can go anywhere, but we still have to make appointments and commitments.  So we still need to be somewhere sometime, even if it's only because of the weather.  I'll elaborate more on that subject another time.

Meanwhile, we are happy campers. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hospital Birthday, Woodworking

Our dear friend, Ron, is still in the hospital.  We visited him on Tuesday and he was sitting in his chair just having had a bath.  He seemed in good spirits, but had a very sore throat due to the tube through his nose and into his stomach.  They gave him some Cepacol to numb the area, but he really was having a difficult time swallowing.  We stayed for a few hours, and then left with Donna.  She was exhausted from lack of sleep and worrying, so we didn't visit long before we parted company and hit the hay.

Wednesday, it was planning to be 89 degrees, but not humid, so we kept the top down on the Jeep, ran a few errands, worked a little on the shelf we're making and the side burner Gary fashioned.  Yup, that's a grill bowl that never got used much.  He also drilled a hole in the grill shelf (the thing it's sitting on) so that the new propane hose will go directly into the burner, and will fasten it all securely.  Such genius!
Around 2:30, we headed over to the hospital and Ron was in bed, and looked uncomfortable.  The Dr. came in and said he had checked the latest X-rays and was concerned about a rupture.  Surgery was imminent, but Donna was taken aback when he said "within the hour".  Immediately 4 nurses arrived with papers to sign, machines and monitors, IV poles, etc. and within 10 minutes they were rolling him out of the room.  She went with him and we waited in the room until a nurse came and got us, showing us the surgical waiting room.  Donna was there on the phone informing family of the situation. 

Four hours later the Dr. came out and said it had been a difficult surgery, very time consuming and precise, but everything was aligned and straightened out.  We rode up to the second floor where ICU was located and waiting in that room until we saw him wheeled past.  Just at that moment, Gary had arrived back with a pizza.  They said they'd come and get Donna in about 30 minutes when he was all situated and comfy.  We were all relived that everything went well,munched on the Gondolier's fabulous pizza and when they came and got her, we left for home, and heard her arrive an hour later.

This morning it was raining, but that didn't stop Gary from heading to the golf course.  He is so considerate, that he puts all his stuff in the livingroom so he doesn't disturb me so early in the morning.  I got up, dressed and ate breakfast before I decided to go check on Donna.  It was 10:30 and when she answered the door, she had just gotten up a few minutes before.  Checking on a hubby at all hours of the night is rough on sleep.  Soon after, she headed to the hospital. 

I went to Walmart to pick up a few things for us and Donna, and noticed the increased traffic into Pigeon Forge due to the Rod Run this weekend.  Lots of people from last week's Shades of the Past Rod Run just decided to stay on here, so it's really crowded.  That's so good for the economy, I really shouldn't complain.  So, let them RUN!

This afternoon, I wanted to look up a blog that showed how a fellow RVer had redone her window treatments in the camper.  I thought I remembered detailed pictures with explanations on each step, but even though I read through the dates she had worked on them, there were not very many photos.  So if I decide to change the window treatments in our coach, I may have to figure it out myself.  No biggie.  But I will need my 10-ton sewing machine to do them, or I may need to look into that little machine that fit in an overhead cabinet of my friend's.  I'll let you know. 

Right now, it's a rainy, drizzly cool afternoon, and we're just chillin'.  Tomorrow we will continue our shelf project and side burner project.  Gary is so excited about tomorrow to show his Dr. the improvement due to this new chemo drug.  (And all your prayers!)

 Thanks again, and Life Sure is GOOD!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Indian Summer Days and Birthday Shock

I can't think of anything more exhilarating that a crisp, Carolina blue-morning sky, the smell of campfires and bacon, and knowing you have to work 10 hours in an office.  Well, my office is great, because I can move it outside. 

I opened the office, planned on grabbing the phone and a pen and heading out to the porch, but it was steady phone and people for an hour and a half.  Finally there was a lull, and off to my rocker I ran.  Ahhh, such memories of the beautiful days in my life.  Closing my eyes, I fondly remembered the sounds and smells of my happiest days.  The traffic, the birds calling to each other, cicadas high in the trees, the warm smell of the  grass heated gently by the sun... ahh, memories.

A couple of years ago, I started a Journal for all my memories.  Some of them are sad, some are funny, some have such deep meaning for me that if others read them, they could possibly be almost foreign in nature.  But these are all special to me, and I enjoy reading them now, and will definitely later in life.

As the day went on, it got warmer and less busy.  I enjoy helping people at their leisure and always wish I could spend more time with them when it's hectic.  Everyone was happy on this beautiful day except about the traffic.  It is Shades of the Past Rod Run weekend, and that means long slow traffic on the Parkway as the lookers drive in the right hand lane and gawk at the hot rods that owners line up in the parking lots along the edge of the road.  It brings business to this area, but how the locals tolerate it, I don't know.   Next weekend we have another one.  Oh, joy.

Finally 7 pm came, and all was settling in for a cool fall evening.  I believe there is a full moon on Monday.

Sunday is usally a Dollywood day for me, but I'm off for a while during the lull.  So Gary had, of course, a Panera attack.  I wanted to decorate a little for fall and needed a grapevine wreath, so off to Maryville we went.  An hour later, we were sitting outside with fresh bagels and creamcheese to have with hazlenut coffee.  Yum.  We try to make it last, but it's too good, plus it was about 11:30 by then and we were really hungry.  Oh, well, we know where it is..

Michael's had their wreaths outside in bins, so we chose a nice one, then found a bag of "gourds" half priced, looked around a little and then left.  We stopped at Lowe's to get some lumber for that shelf I have been wanting for behind the couch, and found some pretty trip with leaves stamped in it.  They were 8 foot pieces, but we had the top down on the Jeep and I held on to them as we drove on home.

One advantage of a convertible... 

I worked on creating a wreath and Gary began staining the boards and measuring. 

Then as soon as Ron got back from working at the CG Office and Donna got home from Dollywood, we jumped in his truck and drove up to Buddy's BBQ to meet Brenda and Larry for some dinner.  Gary had chopped BBQ pork and I had ribs.

 They were OK, but it was late and they were just about ready to close, so we did get the dregs.  We'll have to try it again a little earlier in the day next time.  We said our goodnights at the restaurant with plans to visit Wild Buffalo Wings for Ron's birthday tomorrow night.  But that never happened.

By nine am I was in the CG Office opening, and Donna runs in to tell me that she's on her way to emergency with Ron.  He woke at 3 am complaining of stomach pain, and was sick.  By early morning, he had decided that he had another bowel obstruction, and needed to go to the hospital.  This would be his fourth time in 6 years.  So off she went and it was so busy I didn't have much time to think about what we could do.  Donna called a little while later and said they had him hooked up to a stomach pump (like before) and he doing OK with some pain killers.  Basically, the Doctors don't want to do surgery, but want to see if it will straighten out by itself.  Not a good way to spend your birthday!!!

It was a busy day, and I was ready to get to the hospital with Gary to see how Ron was doing.  I called Donna and told her we were bringing dinner.  Poor Ron.  He had this big tube in his nose and down his throat all the way to his stomach pumping yucky stuff into a jar on the wall.  But he brightened up when he saw us carrying a birthday present.  UNfortunately we forgot the camera, so we took pictures with Ron's new phone the Fascinate.  It's so new he doesn't know exactly how to get the photos to me, so I don't have them yet.  So this story will continue tomorrow...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Music, Dancing and New Friends

Thursday Ron had to train at the CG office, so after we did a little tidying up, Donna jumped in the jeep with us and we went over to Walmart for some food shopping.  I also was specifically looking for a product my parents used for their hummer feeder.   It kept the ants from crawling down the wire from the branch and getting into the feeder. I have a window feeder, and the ants smell that delicious sugar water and clog every opening, drowning in the syrup.  Even asking Walmart associates for something called Sticky Foot incited puzzled faces.  Nobody had ever heard of it.  Searching on line at Wild Birds Unlimited and sticky bug traps I came up empty.  Oh, well, I'll have to concoct something other than Vicks Vapo-Rub and Petroleum Jelly (which melts in the heat). 

Friday evening we were invited to see the Country Tonite show with friends of Donna and Ron. 

We met Claire and Dave in the lobby getting tickets, and throroughly enjoyed the show.  Lots of dancing and singing.  The ending was a special tribute to the military, and the veterans in the audience were asked to stand where they received applause and a moving song.  Gary snapped a photo:

Friday we were planning to meet again for a breakfast buffet at Smith Family.  There was no show with this meal, but in the evening there is a show with a dinner buffet.  We had to sit in a long table, which made conversing difficult, so after we finished our breakfast, Gary and I moved down to the row in front, faced backwards and listened to Dave and Claire talk about their venture with Gate Guarding in Texas.  Everyone we meet has such a different experience.  We will continue to collect information and research before we commit to doing this job.

Gary continues to improve daily and Friday he did not have a transfusion as his blood test revealed that his bone marrow needed to replenish his red and white blood cells and platelets, but will continue next week.  He is so encouraged, it is hard to have to wait as you know, we want this gone!

We dropped off some new prescriptions and ran over to JoAnn's Craft store as fall decorating is just around the corner.  Then it was coach-cleaning day, so did my grueling hour clean as Ron and Gary chewed the fat on the patio.  Donna was working until 8:30, so I whipped up a quick dinner, and worked on the computer till bed time.  It's wonderful to be able to open the windows all day.  It's cool at night, so we've actually turned on the heat pump - well, I did - so it's cozy all night and not really chilly in the morning at 54 degrees.  It warms up just like Indian Summer and tomorrow it should be even more beautiful. 

Our hearts go out to those enduring dangerous flooding in the North East and the deadly fires in Texas.  There's no accounting for the whims of Mother Nature.  But we shall endure.  We have no other choice, do we?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tuesday was dark with clouds when we woke up, but the radar showed little spots of green instead of all green and yellow like yesterday.  And it was much cooler - 65 at 7:30 am.  I grabbed my camera and jumped over puddles to the edge of the creek for some shots.  Usually this creek is a little dribble of clear water, but not this morning.  Fortunately it didn't rain hard enough to make it run over the banks.  Whew.  I believe the northeast is getting more flooding that around here.

We were going to Western Sizzlin' for the breakfast buffet with Donna and Ron.  Ron had to be at work to train today, so we wanted to get over there, run up to Bass Pro Shop and make it back before lunch.

Western Sizzlin' was less than wonderful, however, it used to be really good.  It must be the old economy striking again.  It was a short ride up to Bass Pro, and we looked for some water proofing liquid that your clothes can be washed in.  I didn't know that existed, and we found it under a big sign that said "RAINWEAR".  Ron also found a neat jacket in vivid red that was light and waterproof he was looking for.  We didn't hang around long but will return to look at camping gear for the fun of it sometime soon.

At home, Ron went over to the CG office for his training, and I began to make a crockpot meal for Brenda, Larry, Ron and Donna for tonight.  Today is also our grand-daughter, Ainsley's birthday, and our family tradition is to call and sing happy birthday to them.  She wasn't there, so we left a singing message.

Brenda and Larry came around 6 and we had some yummies before a really good crockpot soup.  Everyone enjoyed talking and eating the strawberry shortcake that Brenda had brought and before we knew it it was after 10.  Ron had to get up for work tomorrow, so we called it a night, a really NICE night.

Wednesday morning, the creek was much lower and Gary was having a Panera attack.  He checked with Alvin (the CG Maintenance guy) about how to get there the back way.  Alvin agreed that he had the correct turns.  Donna dropped of lunch for Ron and off we went.  First stop was Dollywood to  pick up Donna's umbrella and check my schedule.  Hmmm, I am not scheduled to work even one day until Sept. 25th.  Good thing we get free rent. 

We were getting really hungry but about 40 minutes into our drive, Gary was having concerns about the landmark he was supposed to have seen by then.  I opened up our iPad, Googled our position and discovered we were on a long, long dead end road.  Ooops.  Turned around, enjoying the scenery and even stopped to take pictures of these whimsical straw bale statues:

It was a nice drive but added an extra 30 minutes to our final destination: Maryville.  Finally we get to our now lunch, enjoying soup on this 65 degree day.  I never thought I'd see this temperature again with all the heat this summer.  How refreshing!

Panera was delicious, and on our way back, I took some shots of how the clouds were misting over the mountain tops. 

Along this road, close to Wears Valley, are small stores, antique shops and small eateries.  We are all curious, so stopped at a few to check out the local artisans offerings.  Came close a few times, but just wasn't sold on the perfect piece.  This outfit was brand new; Gary and I watched it finished this summer, so we had to visit here. 

 Gary found a T-shirt with "Paddle faster, I hear banjos" on it.  Later that night, I heard that the saying belonged to a movie called Deliverance.  I hadn't seen that movie, and when I listened to the description, I was glad I didn't.  We also found a T-shirt that had the Dragon's Tail road depicted on it.  Wow, we've got to do that - but ONLY in the Jeep.  We'll let you know when that happens.

Ron got to leave work a little early, so he grilled burgers and we ate outside before we headed down to Gatlinburg for a show at the Sweet Fanny Adams theatre.  We found the parking deck, got a good spot, walked over to the theatre and - oops - it was closed tonight.  Oh, well, the parking attendant let us off free and we decided it was too late to catch another show, so let's go to Mel's Diner for a banana split.  Are you ready for this????

Six scoops of ice cream, a whole banana, three toppings, whipped cream nuts and a cherry.  I ate all the chocolate, but Gary couldn't finish both the strawberry and vanilla.  It sure was tasty, and with our discount, we saved the tip.  We won't be doing this again any time soon, but I can't even remember when I last had a banana split.

And it's such a good idea to go to bed with all that sitting in your tummy.  But no nightmares, please...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lee is Coming Our Way

Amazingly, Gary agreed to play golf with the boys this morning leaving at 6:45 am.  After the storm yesterday, I was curious to know if the course was messy with leaves and branches, but the answer was no, it was fine.  He played well, but there was an 'altercation' on the course which lead to an incredible event.  It happened like this:  the CG Manager, Billy,  hit his ball.  Another team, coming the other way on the next hole, hit their ball.  It bounced close to Billy's.  As Billy was walking to his ball, the other player was getting ready to hit Billy's ball.  Billy yelled that it was his ball, but the man refused to look at it, said it was his, and hit it.  That made Billy mad.  He found the man's ball a couple yards away, picked it up and tossed it to him.  The man apologized, and they went on their way.  Then after all four guys hit their balls and were moving to the hole, the man's golf cart comes tearing up to them, the man throws the ball at Bilyl, hitting his ankle, and Billy threw his club at the golf cart.  Words were exchanged, but they parted without further incident. 

By the time Billy got back to the campground, he was still fuming.  And that was when things fell into place.  He fired one of the people in the office who had been doing a terrible job and that opened an employee spot.   

I did some cleaning until 11 when Donna and I drove to Dollywood to work together.  We didn't know how bad the traffic would be so left an hour early.  Of course, it only took 15 minutes to get there, so we hung out on a bench and people-watched for a while.  I love to people-watch. 

We expected it to rain as Lee was coming our way, but it only sprinkled a couple times.  I finally closed at eight with a headache due mostly to the falling barometer.  I sent a mental message to my honey to make breakfast for dinner, and sure enough, when I walked in the door I could smell eggs and toast!  It is amazing that we can do that.  We do it all the time. 

I threw a couple asprin down and cuddled with my hubby as the rain began.  It is very soothing to sleep with the sound of the rain on the roof (as long as it isn't hail).  Before we knew it we were asleep (after I set the alarm (yuck) for work on Monday).

It was raining when I got to work but it was busy all day, some people wanting to stay another day and others leaving  After lunch the owner came in and chatted. I convinced her to think about hiring our friend Ron. Later, she called Billy and they agreed to meet with him. Ron, Donna and Gary were out getting groceries, and I called them with the good news. When they got back, Ron and Billy came up to the office, he was hired to work on Wednesdays and Sundays, and they shook hands. Ron and Donna are how happy campers.

A creek runs along two sides of the campground, and it has been known to flood seriously - like the entire campground.  The depth of the water can be over the pool fence.  Yikes.  We began to make a list of open sites up out of the way of flooding, and Billy had a marked stick that he measured the creek with on an hourly basis.  It rained steady all day, sometimes heavy and sometimes lightly.  People were getting nervous around 5 pm as they were watching the water get higher and swifter and muddier. 

Around nine pm, we began moving those closest to the early flood zone, as once the water crested the banks, it would be 30 minutes until it reached the lowest RV.  Yikes again.  It rained until after we went to sleep and I had nightmares about our coach being under water.  We were not in an early flood zone, but if there was any chance of it reaching us, we would pull up stakes and roll on out ASAP.  I had a view of the creek's first flood zone from my bedroom window, and there was a street light near it.  I kept a sharp eye out looking for reflections of water rippling out there.  It was supposed to rain Tuesday as well, so we said a little prayer before falling asleep. 

I can hardly wait to see what it looks like tomorrow morning.


Saturday, September 3, 2011


Friday was chemo day, and let me tell you, I was thrilled to be going in to see the Dr.!  On Tuesday Gary was absolutely in horrible pain and the worst he has ever been, BUT by Thursday, we suddenly could see a lot of improvement.  And when we walked into the exam room, even the Dr. could see the nice clear spots beginning to expand.  Needless to say, he gave the go ahead to get another infusion, so off we trotted, into our little private room, and he got hooked up and away we went. 

Around 2:30 he was done, and I convinced Gary that he could walk into a public restaurant without clearing the place out.  So we had lunch at Chic-Fil-A.  Then I convinced him that he could walk into Walmart without sending everyone into a panic, and he did just fine.

We reheated the Mexican enchiladas I made on Monday, added some chile con queso all over the top and they were even better!  Donna came home from work, changed and finished off the last piece.  Maybe I'll keep that recipe...  We talked until 10, and then I said gotta get ready for bed as I had to be at the CG office in the morning.  I set the alarm (ugh) and we had a great night's sleep.

Saturday, the temps were near record high at 98, and the Weather Channel said a 30% chance of showers.  Well, around 5 pm, wind, thunder, lightning, torrential rain and hail blew in and within 40 minutes, the temperature had dropped 24 degrees, tree limbs were down and at least 4 awnings were destroyed and numerous tents were upended.  Wow.  Here is a picture of the trailer next door to us: 

And at 9:20 she still isn't home.  We cleaned up a little for her, but she will need a brand new awning, for sure. 

Of course, tropical storm Lee is on it's way up here (and will hit on my day off, bummer), and the guys are predicting 3-6 inches of water.  Fortunately most of our guests we be leaving Monday.  All I can hope is that Katia keeps off the coast.  Here's hoping everyone that has loved ones in the midst of the worst of Lee is faring well. 

Tomorrow is my work day at Dollywood, but the traffic is horrible and I'll have to leave an hour before clock in time.  The storm did some damage at the park today, too.  A tree came down and apparently hurt three people.  The power went off, the computers went down, and everyone crowded into every public building available.  All we need is a light rain, not storms like this. 

Easy does it, Mother Nature.  Easy does it. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Golf and Butterflies

Well, Gary and I had a great night's sleep, so I let the alarm go off at 6:30 am for his early golf game.  He quietly moved into the other room and got dressed in the clothes he had set out the night before.  I heard the door close then went back to sleep until 8.  Having my two cups of coffee, I leisurely did some more research on this annoying, frustrating, (and a little scary) disease, and then quit.  There is lots of information out there, and I bet tomorrow we may hear something we've been kinda a dreading from the Dr.  But I'll let you know - it may be encouraging.  That's part of the frustration - we never know what is going to happen next.

Then I did some research on Punch Needle Embroidery.  I am entranced with this needlecraft.  It looks entirely too easy, and I am already planning designs in my head, and what I am going to do with all these finished products.  In fact, I want to redecorate the entire coach around them.  The beginning tools can run a little expensive if I purchased them from this local shop, The Pattern Hutch (not to mention the nearly 10% Tenn. tax), so I am looking around on the web to find better prices.  Lots of success in that department.  I can think of all different ways to apply this art form, but have seen very little of my ideas out there.  That's a little exciting.  Perhaps I will be able to break new ground??  I will keep you posted, because everytime I think about it, I get tiny butterflies in my tummy. 

Gary came home around 1:15 and looked a little poopy.  He went to bed for a nap, and I cleaned the outside, visited with Ron and Donna a bit, and then decided to take Donna and run back over to the Pattern Hutch to investigate further.  I wanted to compare prices found on the web, feel the tools, check out materials and patterns and jot down the names of the designers.  I felt even more strongly that this was something I would enjoy.  It's very easy, fast and adorable when finished.  There's a small learning curve, but like any medium, your imagination is your limit.  And it's portable, lightweight and a curiosity, as it's not very popular (yet).   Yep, I definitely see this in my future!

Arriving home, Gary was up and trying some of the new numbing medication on his face.  By dinnertime he was feeling much better, a good thing as Donna was cooking pork loin, one of Gary's favorite meals.  We hung out for just a little bit, as they were going to a show with friends, and then we came home to veg. 

Tomorrow is Chemo day, so once more, we go into Wonder? land. 

Some Pain and Some Relief

Wednesday Gary was really in bad shape.  His face was burning and so painful that he wanted to go to the emergency room.  Time for help.  I took a picture of his face with the iPad, and on my way out to the Pharmacy, I noticed Elaine's vehicle at the CG Office.  She is a retired nurse, so I thought that another opinion wouldn't hurt.  I showed her the photo, and she told me to call his Dr. and email the photo.  I was planning to take the iPad up to Walmart to ask their opinion of what could be done to alleviate the burning, like some kind of numbing agent safe to put on open wounds.  On the way I called his Oncologist, and ended up speaking to his nurse, Cindy.  She said she'd get something ordered for him today. 

I stopped at Walmart to get some cash and then headed home.  I had to go into work today from 1 to 4pm.  Hardly worth it, but I like short days once in a while, especially when I was really needed home.  Our friends, Donna and Ron drove into Dollywood to fill out employment papers and pick up clothes.  They stopped by my MiniMelts Stand and chatted a few minutes.  I told them there should be a prescription for Gary at Walmart, and they offered to pick it up for us.  As I said, GOOD FRIENDS!  By the time it was 4 pm, I called to see if the order was in, and Ron said they were actually in the Pharmacy line to pay for it.  So we met back at home, threw some pills down Gary's throat, and he started feeling better.  He even looked better.  As the evening progressed, he got even happier with no sign of chills or fever.  This meant he'd probably have a good night sleep, and we had a delicious dinner outside.  Gary had turned on our mood lighting lanterns that he found at (where else?) Walmart. 

Cute, huh?

We ended up inside doing dishes and talking, which is what we do best, until 10 pm.  We were looking forward to a good night's sleep because if Gary has a good sleep, he might just play golf in the morning.  Yep, he's an addict.  I don't mind at all, because he is supposed to do what makes him feel good, so have at it! 

Here's to the Sandman, bring it on!