Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pulling Up Stakes!

This morning we made the decision to move a little further south.  I know, I know, why move south when we are trying to get up north?  Well, this campground was remanaged last month, and instead of the monthly rate going down as usual at the end of the 'season', it is going up, electric is extra.  So we called our favorite RV park in Bradenton, Paradise Lake, and it was less expensive (electric is still extra).  But we are near our house, friends and it is a little easier to get to Michelle's for work.  Tuesday is the big move.  I think it will take an hour.  I might drive it.

Since it was going to be near 90 and humid today, we wanted to try out our air conditioners.  We haven't used them since Pigeon Forge last summer.  They both cranked right up.  But in a couple of minutes, the living room one started gently rumbling which rattled things in the coach.  Not a scary rumble, but enough to get up there and look at it.  Gary didn't do anything extensive, just looked.  I got the info out of the black box to see if there was a trouble shooting guide.  Nope.  We opened up all the windows, and there is a nice breeze as it is a little cloudy today, so we'll 'suffer' until we do something about it.  Now, that wasn't on my dream board.

We washed and rain-xed all the windows outside and cleaned them inside, too.  Now Bella sparkles all over!  While Gary did the Jeep windows, I started mixing up our Green Shakes.  Into the blender went:  pineapple, watermelon, 1/2 peach, cucumber, kale, spinach, broccoli, and a splash of OJ.  I didn't think it was as good as Michelle's, but we finished it all.  Gary liked it!

I cleaned the shower while cleaning me.  Here's a tip if your glass doors just don't sparkle because of hard water or soap residue.  I use a little powdered dishwasher detergent that I borrowed from my daughter.  I was watching a Cascade commercial and realized that Cascade is supposed to make glass sheet water off and leave it spotless.  So I tried it on Michelle's shower doors and it worked!  I filled a tiny ziplock with some powder to try on our doors, and actually used it all over the walls, too.  After a really good rinse, the whole shower is shiny clean!  And no stinky fumes. 

We wandered over to the flea market for some more fresh tomatoes so Gary could make some salsa.  I picked up a Chinese hand-operated fan for a dollar.  And Gary found his Roma tomatoes so whipped up a batch of fresh salsa when we got back.  He grilled a steak with a sweet potato (probably in revenge from a liquid lunch) for dinner.  Then we watched "The Descendants" thanks to Red Box.

  Today was a calm day, as we cleaned up outside and tucked away our chairs and rug.  We ran over to Camping World for a few lightbulbs to replace the ones we have been carrying around for two years, courtesy of Bella's former owners. 

Tomorrow we ride to Sarasota for Gary's opthamologist appointment.  Hopefully he'll discover the cause of Gary's irritation.  Here's a photo of my pirate!  Arrrrgh!

Home-made pizza for dinner tonight,  and maybe some Face Time with the grands!  Life is Good!

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Maintenance Decision-No Go

Wednesday we worked at Michelle's on a beautiful day.  I wish we were outside more...

Thursday was Doctor day (again).  Gary had some labs done, and they flushed his port.  Then it was the big meeting between two Doctors to let us know what maintenance program they had chosen.  But first we had to wait two and a half hours. 

Finally Dr. G. came in and vetoed Zolinza (I agreed).  Basically maintenance is a crap shoot, because we are trying to prevent something that may not be there.  So, if spots don't come back, is it killing new cancer cells?  Or are there no spots because there are no cancer cells to kill?  The only way to find out is to discontinue using it, which may invite spots to appear.  Then he'll have to have more radiation, and go back on a maintenance drug. 

So we're going to try interferon, an old proven drug (subcutaneous injections) to see what happens.  Depression is the major side effect with this drug, so I'll have to keep a close eye on my patient. 

Friday we ran over to Whole Foods to get some organic veggies, fruit and bread.  Michelle gave me her old blender because a friend gave her a VitaMix food blender.  She's been preparing green smoothies for our lunches (not Gary, unfortunately) and they are delicious.  You just throw everything in and push the button.  She mixed up broccoli, swisschard, tomatoes, an apple, banana, strawberries, spinach and a little juice.  Pour over a few ice cubes in a glass, and voila!  Totally nutritious and delicious.  I have to get Gary on the bandwagon, and tomorrow is the day.

We stopped by Moffitt to pick up his interferon prescription, but they're working on the amount of the co-pay with our insurance company.  It may be an old drug, but apparently it's expensive, so we will find out maybe Monday.

Also on Monday we are going to Sarasota for an opthamology appointment suggested by Gary's other Dr. L, the radiologist.  He's been having trouble with both his eyes due to the radiation, but Dr. L believes that his right eye might have a little infection going on.  Always something. 

Anyhow, all of this means we won't be leaving for points north for another month as all the Doctors want to see what happens with this new drug.  We are accepting prayers as of Monday.  Because, if this drug works, he can be on it indefinitely and we will be able to get it anywhere and we will be able to MOVE!!!

Meanwhile, I am constantly collecting information on where we want to travel, and am so looking forward to going back to the beautiful Smokies this summer.  Tomorrow we are going to construct a "Dream Board".  All we need is a piece of tag or foam board and cutouts of words and pictures that we dream about.  Some people swear by them.  My daughter made one during her really tough divorce period to help her look to her future dreams.  She found a picture of a couple walking on a beach and used that with other things she wanted.  After she met her new husband, he asked about it, and she told him what it was.  He studied the photo of the couple and said "I know that beach - I go there on vacation sometimes".  During their courtship, he took her there and they had their own picture taken on that beach.  See?  It works!  You should try it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Twenty Years Ago..

Monday the sun was out again and the wind was a steady 20 mph.  Waves were breaking against the Howard Frankland bridge on our way over to Michelle's for work this morning.  Even at 5 pm there was a stiff breeze.  After dinner we decided what we were going to do on Tuesday. 

It was our 20th anniversary.  I'm not sure if you know our story, but here is an abbreviated version.  I moved after my divorce with my two children, Michelle (14) and Tristan (4) to Raleigh, NC in August 1991.  Michelle was to start high school and Tristan Kindergarten.  The first week of school, Michelle made a friend, Mandy.  After discussing their situation of 'kids of divorced parents', they cooked up a meeting between me and Mandy's dad, Gary.  Little did the girls know that it was kismet, because we fell in love that day.   Eight months later we were married and have been in love every day since.  [Funny footnote.  We had made plane reservations for the evening after our wedding.  A week before that date, the airline called and changed our flight to the day before.  We scrambled to change EVERYTHING and succeeded except for one thing.  We had had our rings engraved with our wedding date and Gary's could be re-engraved with the correct date, but mine could not, so we each have different wedding dates on our rings.] 

We wanted to have some fun today, so we chose to play at Universal Studios probably for the last time before we leave. 

Gary's eyes are still bothering him because of brightness, but he is seeing clearer just yesterday.  There was not a cloud in the sky on our hour drive on Rte. 4.  We walked the park all the way around the Studios after our Cinnabon and coffee break.  We enjoy people watching and try to guess where in the world they're from and their relationships.  Lunch was near the River Ride in Jurassic Park where it's fun to sit at a table outside and watch people get splashed as the boat falls down 85 feet into the river and sprays water at least 40 feet all around.  It's the unsuspecting guests that are the funniest to watch. 

We made our way over to Adventure Island and walked to the back to Harry Potter's Forbidden Journey.  During the 20 minute line wait, it snowed on us, pictures talked to us and Harry, Hermoine and Ron warned us about the future.  It was the only ride we went on, but it was worth it.  I'm always screaming with my eyes shut in the photos that are taken during the ride - ridiculous.

We left Universal and stopped by the Disney Marketplace for some dessert.  It was a mere 15,000 calories, I'm sure, but worth every bite. 

Espresso Escape Sundae - YUM!

Disney Marketplace - only 222 days till Xmas!
We did walk a couple miles after that, and arrived home around 5:45.  It's seven thirty now, and I'm still not hungry.

One of the stops on our honeymoon was the island of Tortola.  Pusser's is the Royal British Navy's Rum factory located there, and they had a store and rum tasting going on.  We bought a bottle of rum and never opened it until now.  Here's Gary with the dusty bottle about to partake.  Cheers!  Here's to another 20 years!


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quick, Before It Rains!

Our usual work day on Thursday, and Friday began at Panera for breakfast and we did a few chores.  Saturday we were supposed to go with Michelle and the kids to Universal, but the forecast (finally) was for rain and thunderstorms.  She did text in the morning that they were going to go anyway, but by then I had made up my mind that it was perfect weather for washing and waxing Bella.  Gary wasn't too thrilled to hear that, but I convinced him that we'd only be able to do one side and one end before it began to rain.  I made him a nice breakfast and we started work at 9:30. 

Bella has two slides, both on the driver's side, so we did the easy side first.  That went quickly, so we did the front and Rain-Xed the windshield and mirrors.  It was still cool, cloudy and rain-free, so I convinced him that if he started the front driver's side I would do the entire back end. 

Two-handing it!

reaching over the canopy
It took me longer to do that than his job, so he kept on going along the top section on the ladder, so that I could catch up doing the bottom half.  Lunchtime came and went, and still no rain.  I thought I could hear thunder in the far distance, but Gary didn't hear it.  Since we couldn't reach the upper edge of Bella over the slide side, I climbed the ladder and paste-waxed the entire perimeter while Gary cleaned our towels and tidied up. 

By 2:30 we had finished and were famished and filthy.  And we definitely could hear thunder a little closer.  I grabbed a shower and began making lunch while Gary had his shower.  We settled down to a nice chicken salad lunch, and wondered if we'd ever be able to get out of bed the next day.  Eventually the heavens opened and it poured all over nice, clean Bella.  But we watched the raindrops sheet off of her and imagined her slip-streaming on the highway.  Yay, I can cross that off my spring cleaning list.  That was definitely the biggest project.  Still have to do the basement, though...

Around midnight we got some torrential downpours, thunder and lightning, but nothing severe.  Just enough noise to keep us awake.  Sunday we actually were able to get up and couldn't decide what to do today.  I did some research on our extended powertrain warranty quotes, looked up recipes and went to the store for groceries.

Off to work tomorrow because we have a special day on Tuesday.

See you then!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Doctor Results and Future Plans

Well, we were all excited to see Dr. G today to find out what maintenance program he had in mind for Gary.  He was pleased with the results of the radiation and all the healing during the last two weeks.  And he would like to give us something 'to go' knowing that we are full-timers.  An FDA approved (which doesn't mean a whole lot) drug called Zolinza is available.  ZOLINZA is a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor indicated for the treatment of cutaneous manifestations in patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) who have progressive, persistent or recurrent disease on or following two systemic therapies.That's Gary, alright.  I Googled it when we got home to find out all about it, and it has some serious side effects.  We're meeting with two other doctors next Thursday to discuss this further.  Knowing all the ramifications of drugs is so important.  The drug adverts on TV warn against so many dangerous side effects, I wonder why people even want to take them.  But of course, each body is different, and will process drugs in its own unique way. 

So, I can't make any plans just yet.  But soon....

Tuesday was a work day at Michelle's, but Wednesday I was expected at LazyDays Driver Confidence Course Class for a day of learning how to drive Bella easily.  First we needed to attend the classroom portion, which explained the "DOT SYSTEM".  I had found this on the web over two years ago before we bought our coach and lost the website.  Couldn't find it again, and time moved on to our purchase and the salesman tossing the keys to Gary and told him to drive it.  Well, that's not the way to learn how to drive a multiple ton, house-size long vehicle from three feet in the air.  But Gary did it (thank goodness) without mishap and in the rain. 

My entire experience driving Bella was the test drive (I drove over a curb) and backing up into a parking space with nothing parked near me.  I also drove around a large campground at a rally a year and a half ago.  That's all, folks.  Now, I am not the calmest passenger.  When I know our leave date, I start hyperventilating just thinking about it.  My favorite line is "Left! Left!" when I think Gary is too close to the edge of the road.  I wish I could twitch my nose and just appear at the next spot we're camping instead of driving there.  When I think of the jams we got ourselves into (dead end, one lane bridge through 200 year old town, mountains -up and down; one lane roads with deep ditches on either side, and a head on meeting at a gas pump with a fifth wheel, to name just a few), I don't ever want to drive.  And moving this 13 ton bullet at 60 mph with others going faster around me - ha, no thanks!  But I will do it, just so in case I need to do it I will be able to do it.  Not tomorrow...soon, though.

We learned what to do in a blowout situation - step on the gas, (yes, gas) and how the dot system works.  Then I had to get behind the wheel.  Barney Alexander was our instructor, and he was so very patient with all of us.  Only three men and 8 women drove the 40' diesel bus all around the parking lot.  We were a brilliant bunch with only one of us bumping a curb. 

If you want to see the tips and tricks for yourself, check out this website: and click on Driver Confidence Course.  But if you can attend, I recommend Barney.  However, he retires in 42 days and has a huge countdown clock in his office.  Really nice guy, and I don't know who is taking his place.  By the way, the entire day is free, as is breakfast and lunch.  Anyhow, here are some photos:

listening on my headset to driver to measure front blind spot
marking the spot on the windshield
marking the turning spot for Barney
It was a fun day, I learned a lot (as did Gary) and it was free!  Great deal!

An American icon lost his lease on life today:  Dick Clark.  He gave young America a lot of fun for many years.  He will be missed.

And that wraps up the first half of the week.  Thanks for visiting us!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Whistle While You Work

Wednesday we had a day off so decided to wash the awnings.  Our main awning is 20 feet long by 8 feet deep.  It's made of woven acrylic in a beige color, so it shows all the bird poop and dead bugs and mold.  Last year I had a problem with mold but finally used enough bleach to clean it up.  We've decided that as much as we love trees, we should park only partially under them.  They really do make a mess on your rig, as I'm sure you all know.

I climbed up and did the upper four feet, then Gary did the lower four feet and the awning over the living/dining slideout, while I did the awning on the bedroom window.  It was another lovely hot day, and the water felt good, so we kept on washing the edges of the slide outs, then the Jeep, then just for fun, I did three loads of laundry.  Ahh, but I hung out at the pool next door to the laundry room for an hour and a half and cooled off in the water. 

Thursday we headed over to St. Pete for our work day, and Gary unplugged drains and fixed Lance's watch.  I did my usual cleaning and we got out of there at 3:30.  I'm not doing much tomorrow, that's for sure.  Gotta give these tired old bones a rest.

Gary got a socket last year to fit the hot water heater tank, but now needs the right size shank to fit on the wrench.  Of course, it's in Sarasota, so that little chore will be postponed for a while.

The water dispenser on the fridge stopped working.  Huh?  It's so new!!  Oh, the screw behind the thing-a-ma-jig needed adjusting.  All's OK now.  We're not thrilled with the taste of the water here.  It leaves a white deposit on the dispenser, so we're not going to change the anode until we get to a place with better water.

Saturday we went to a large flea market in Lakeland to look for a couple of things:  a new visor for me - check: $1; a ratchet shank for the wrench - check $5 ('Made in America'); fruit and veggies - check: strawberries, blackberries, avocado, greenbeans, cauliflower, cabbage, squash and tomatoes.  I wish they were organic, but the price was too good to pass up, so I'll wash them extra well.  BTW, did you know that to give your berries a longer life, bathe them in 10 parts water to 1 part any kind of vinegar for a few seconds, then drain and refrigerate.  You won't taste the vinegar, but it kills any kind of mold spores that have hitched a ride.

Two days until we find out what's next as far as Gary's continuing treatment.  He looks soooo good, that I took a photo of him in Exit 10, where we had lunch today.  However, the photo was terrible, so I'll show you a photo of the car show that was going on in the parking lot.  The black 67 Chevy Impala SS was Gary's first car.  Not, the car, because of the engine, but he had one of those. 
My first car was the color of the lima bean Ford on the left.  It actually was a Ford Falcon stick shift.  It was hideous: the back door handle was broken off, it had a very weird ordor when the temperature rose above 75 that we never could identify, but it got me to school and work, so I was grateful.  Also I could fill her up with $5.00.  Boy, those days are over...

Gary's going to do a little grilling tonight.  He really wanted some beef on the barbie, so he'll enjoy that.  I'll stick to veggies and my bean and rice burger.  Till later...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Between the two of us, we got Michelle's house looking good in about 4 hours, but it took until 3 am to get all the wash done.  I only know that because I couldn't sleep and decided to keep on doing the wash. Gary slept like a baby, which is so good for him.

We finished up, had breakfast at Panera and changed plans.  The fishing pole was not going to be used today.  Instead we were going "west" into Russell's Western Wear.   Our iPad told us how to get there, and we browsed the hats, boots and shirts.  They have a great selection, and an even bigger store in Brandon.  We're not ready yet to purchase anything, but we look forward to Texas next year.  Gary's itching to get on a horse.  YeeHa.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter.  I was planning to wash the coach roof, but never did get around to it.  However, Monday I was determined to get it done, and right after a quick breakfast I climbed up and went to work.  I also looked for any trouble spots, like holes, cracked caulk, separations, etc.  The only thing I noticed was a hole the size of a half-carat diamond (brilliant cut - :) and the caulking around the shower skylite really needs removing and some new applied.

 Our rubber roof is in good shape otherwise, a little discolored from trees, but mostly bright white.  I followed Howard Payne's (RV-Dreams)  directions on how to clean a rubber roof as he has one, too.  I used Mean Green diluted in my bucket, and sprayed directly on stubborn areas.  I tried Clorox Cleanup on the few discolored areas, but it only helped a little.  All in all, Bella has a clean roof.  I know I'm gonna feel all that scrubbing later.

We cleaned up and went to eat at Exit 10 at LazyDays, but it was closed, so off to Cracker Barrel.  At Exit 10 off Rte 4 (thus the name of the restaurant), LazyDays and Camping World share the same parking lot.  Well, they planned that well.  We browsed the Camping World Clearance room, and found a water pressure meter for $6.  I had been looking at those and they ran $20 (at least that was the price on the under sticker) so that was a deal.  But we did need another anode rod for our Suburban water heater.  Tomorrow we will work on that.  We did the first change last year, and this is the condition we found the rod in:

This should be 8 inches long and 1/2 inch wide at least.  Obviously, this was the first time it was ever changed.  Some water heaters don't need an anode rod, like Atwoods.  But check your manuals, because this needs to be changed on a yearly basis, maybe two if you're in a good water area for a long while. 

Tuesday we worked at Michelle's but since they were gone all weekend at the beach, it wasn't that dirty and we got to leave a little early.  Yep, I'm feeling those muscles from yesterday, so we're taking it easy this afternoon in the beautiful Florida weather. 

Gary's feeling really good and looks better and better every morning.  We're happy campers once again!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Still Hangin' in Thonotosassa

I worked at my daughter's house on Tuesday.  I had to drive all by myself.  This is a rare occurance.  I knew the way, but I missed my driving buddy.  Crawled back into the car at 3:30 and faced an hour of traffic.  But I drove with the windows open in the Jeep - fun!

Back at home, my honey was still miserable.  This is going to take a long while to heal, apparently.

Wednesday we hung out except to run over to the hospital to pick up Gary's records.  It was a hot one today, but a cool breeze made sitting out under the awning and reading very pleasurable.  We found out that our very sweet tenants are planning to build a house which will be ready in Sept or Oct.  This is great, as we have the summer to play, and plenty of time to find new ones!  Anyone interested in a 3/2/2 in Sarasota?

Around 9 pm I thought I saw lightning out the window.  Then I heard thunder.  It rained really hard and fast for about 10 minutes, then stopped.  We really need the rain down here, and there is promise of the Texas tornado storm remnants showing up tonight, but not severe.  We didn't get the awning in fast enough last night, but we rolled it up wet.  This morning it was beautiful, so we put it out to dry.  Anytime it's over 13 mph (and especially when there are gusts) we put it in.  It's just not a risk we're willing to take.  I've seen too many awnings destroyed in just our two short years on the road.  Anyone have a favorite anemometer they use?

Good news today!  Gary and I got our jobs at Dollywood again this year.  We will be starting in the middle of July, which gives us some time to play and visit family and friends before we start.  Can't wait to see those beautiful Smokies again. 

Gary's feeling much better.  The aloe juice really helped with his mouth, and now he can look forward to getting completely better.  YAY

Monday, April 2, 2012

Healing and Hanging Out

We have been lying low as the effects of Gary's radiation have been pretty bad.  Last Thursday we showed his Dr. the few little canker sores in his mouth.  Since then, his whole mouth is one big canker sore and swollen.  Cold soup, yogurt and ice cream are on the menu a lot.  Checking on line for some solutions, we came upon a blog from someone with similar sores.  She recommended aloe juice, so we went over to GNC for a bottle of cherry flavored juice.  The best part is that you can swallow it after swishing around for a bit.  We're expecting it will be a week before he will really start healing.  In the mean time, it's 'say YES to drugs'.

You might have noticed a couple of additions to the blog.  It took me all day yesterday to list the places we have visited.  It really isn't a review of campgrounds (which I have on a spreadsheet) but if you want some more information, I'd be glad to give you our impression and details. 

It was fun remembering all the places we've been in two years.  In fact, our two year anniversary of fulltiming was just yesterday!  I can still remember our first day out in a raging thunderstorm.  Why leave in a storm?  We had a schedule to keep to get to our first RV Dreams Rally, and so we wouldn't have to drive a long first day, we drove a couple of hours to an inbetween stop.  It was a good call, and Gary did a great job driving.  Of course, he had me in the right hand driver's seat to help. 

So much of our lives is remembering the past and looking toward the future.  We are at a calm place in our lives right now, so we're enjoying the moment.