Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Road to Recovery



Just a quick post to let everyone know Jim’s surgery went well and he is doing great. The doctor told me his gall bladder was very infected and definitely needed to come out. He’s had surprisingly little pain, ate a light lunch and dinner, and was up walking tonight. He will be discharged sometime tomorrow, yeah!

We are both very impressed with the Mayo Clinic. The level of care is excellent, the environment is pleasant, and the staff have been very kind and attentive. We definitely made the right decision in coming here. They even have a beautiful cactus garden in front of the building.


Time for bed, it’s been a long, stressful week. (Probably more for Jim than for me, but hey, since I’m the writer I can complain, too.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Another Long Day in the ER


Jim had a lot of discomfort again last night, and when it hadn’t eased up this morning he decided he couldn’t wait until Tuesday to see the doctor. So off we went to the Mayo Clinic, and another day sitting in the ER. At least it was a much more modern and attractive ER than the one in Blythe, CA.

After blood tests and an ultrasound, the surgeon came in to talk to us. He said the stone was in the neck of the gallbladder, and the walls were thickened, indicating chronic inflammation. He recommended surgical removal, and they even thought they might get him on the schedule for this evening. Unfortunately that didn’t work out, but he was admitted, give IV antibiotics and a heparin injection, and will have the surgery tomorrow. In fact, he just called and said the surgeon was by to see him and he is on the schedule for noon tomorrow, but it could be earlier.

So far we’ve been very impressed with the Mayo Clinic, unlike the Blythe ER where the doctor told Jim to get followed up in the next few days, and wouldn’t even give him a prescription for pain medication.

So he is spending the night in a lovely private room with a nice view of Scottsdale and the surrounding mountains and I am spending the night in the rig with the cats. It seems odd, as this will be the first time in over 2 years we haven’t slept in the same bed together.

Several friends who’ve had their gallbladder removed told us they were sent home the day of surgery but didn’t feel like they should have been. Here, they keep you overnight, so by the time he comes home on Sunday maybe he will be feeling better. I’m so glad we came to the Phoenix area!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

More Quartzsite and Moving On


Jim was feeling good enough on Tuesday afternoon to take another walk to the Big Tent. There were lots and lots of RVs as we got closer. We have to thank our Lazy Daze buddy Jerry for sharing the spot he and his non-Lazy Daze friends stay at every year, and thanks to Roger for keeping the fire going  We were far enough away from the main road to keep the dust away, and the mile or so walk to the vendors was good exercise.


Some people get a little carried away, erecting signs for their little “subdivisions” in the desert.


The crowds were much thinner under the Big Tent Tuesday compared to Saturday, but we didn’t find anything to buy, although there was a bit of everything for sale, much of it not related to RVs. We did speak to the Blue Ox Tow bar rep, and he was nice enough to give us a small replacement part that had broken.  

Yesterday Jim started having a little pain again, so he didn’t feel like doing much of anything. I ended up walking to the Tyson Wells flea market area to see what I could find. There are acres of vendors and lots of junk. I got Jim some socks and work gloves, and picked up a couple dollar kitchen items, but managed to get out of there without spending too much money.


Two other Lazy Daze came and joined our group yesterday afternoon and it was too bad that Jim didn’t feel like socializing much. Aside from him not feeling well and our trip to the ER, we had a great time with the group here in Quartzsite, and are really glad we came back. One of the LD owners, David, is a professional photographer who is doing a project on American Nomads, so he took our picture to add to his collection. Check out his photography and blogs here for more great photos.


Jim was feeling somewhat better today, so we moved on to the Phoenix area. He decided if he had another episode of severe pain, he wanted to be near the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. We arrived here safely this afternoon after a white knuckle drive for me through downtown Phoenix on I-10. He doesn’t let me drive very often, and I’ve been bugging him about it, so I got my  big chance today. i only scraped the right rear tire once on a curb, which didn’t make him very happy.

We got a lovely site at McDowell Mountain, a Maricopa county park near Fountain Hills where we spent a couple weeks last March. We forgot how pretty the desert is here, especially after Yuma and Quartzsite.

Site 60 january 2011

We even have a great view of the fountain, which is turned on daily from 3-4 in Fountain Hills.


It is a huge park, with lots of trails, and I went for a long bike ride this afternoon after dusting all the Quartzsite dirt off the LD and car. We will spend a few days here and then head on to Tucson, where Jim has an appointment with a gastroenterologist on Feb 1st, unless things change and he needs emergency care here. I’m hoping not!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Unexpected Trip to the ER

We had planned to walk over to the Big Tent yesterday but things don't always go as planned. About 2 am Monday morning, Jim awoke with bad pain in his back, which migrated to his rib cage and stomach, and kept him (and me) up most of the night. By 7 yesterday morning I was debating whether to call 911 or drive him to Blythe where the nearest hospital is located, about 23 miles away. He was able to get dressed and get in the car, but it was not a pleasant trip for him.
Palo Verde Hospital is very small, and he was taken back just a few minutes after we arrived. They first suspected kidney stones, but always have to rule out a heart attack, so the tests began. Unfortunately for him it was almost an hour before the nurse started an IV and gave him Phenergan and Dilaudid, which quickly relieved his pain, and caused him to fall asleep.
Turned out his heart was fine, no kidney stones, but the CT showed a 1.5 cm gallstone. The doctor told him to eat a low fat diet of mostly fruits and vegetables, which of course we already do. Coincidentally, though, we've been eating lots of junk food at our daily happy hours since we got to Quartzsite, so it could be the extra fat in his diet triggered the gallbladder to act up.
He slept most of the day yesterday, and after our 6 hours at the ER, I left him sleeping in the car while I did some grocery shopping at the Blythe Albertsons. That is the only real grocery store around, so it was packed with people from Quartzsite. There were 5 or more people waiting in each check out line, and all the lanes were open. Great for Albertson's business!
After a good night's sleep, he is feeling much better today, but it looks like he may have gallbladder surgery in his future. We're just glad it wasn't anything more serious.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ



We moved 70 miles up the road to Quartszite yesterday to meet up with a group of Lazy Daze owners. Today is the start of the big RV show and flea market which we attended last year and swore we’d never come back to. Never say never,so here we are again. Last year the weather was really cold and rainy while we were here, so we stayed 20 miles away in Blythe, CA where we had hookups.That meant having to fight the traffic and parking to get to the show.The weather has been great this year, so we decided to brave the dust and crowds and join the group.

Our $40 pass from Senator Wash is good until January 31 and is valid here at the La Posa BLM areas, also. There is a dump station and drinking water 4 miles from here at La Posa South. Our friends said they waited in line over 45 minutes to get into the dump yesterday, so it’s not something you want to do very often.

We got here just in time for happy hour, and had a nice time visiting with the people we already knew, and meeting a few we hadn’t. This morning at nine, a bunch of us walked over to the Big Tent, which we knew was a mistake being the first day of the show. It was about a 20 minute walk, and when we got there we weren’t sure if we would remember how to get back. I took this picture so we’d remember we needed to exit by this burger stand. Yes, that handsome fellow is Jim.


The crowds were pretty thick so we looked at all the outside booths surrounding the Big Tent, bought a few little items, and then went inside.


We didn’t last long, though, since there were so many people we were barely moving and it was impossible to stop and look at anything. We’ll go back in a couple days when the crowds die down just to be sure there’s nothing we can’t live without.

Luckily we are parked away from the crowds and have nice mountain views. If the weather holds, I think we’ll like it here.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Senator Wash/Imperial Dam BLM Area, CA



Tuesday morning we picked up our mail, took a walk along the Colorado River in downtown Yuma, and filled the rig with gas and propane. From the casino it was only 19 miles northeast on SR-24 to the Senator Wash/ Imperial Dam Long Term BLM camping area, a pretty drive through lettuce and cabbage fields and date farms. The road unfortunately left a lot to be desired, causing all the kitchen drawers to open themselves up from the bouncing. It wasn’t the worst California road we’ve been on, but it was close.

We’ve camped in BLM areas before, but not in one of the LTVA’s (Long Term Visitor Area). This place is like a small city in itself. We stopped at the registration office to get a pass, and our choices were $40 for 14 days, or $180 for the season (April-October). We forked over $40, which allows you to camp in any of the other LTVA’s also. This area has 6 water and 4 dump stations, lots of trash dumpsters, and 2 bathrooms (with outside showers). Many BLM areas have no facilities at all, which is why they are free or minimal cost.

We like our privacy but sometimes don’t feel comfortable boondocking when there is no one else around. Not to worry here. We have plenty of company.

Senator Wash BLM Campground

Human and other. There are a couple herds of wild burros, who don’t seem very wild as they make their rounds to get fed. Our neighbor told us two coyotes usually walk up the wash in front of our rig at dusk but we haven’t seen them yet, although we’ve heard a lot of howling after dark.


They even have a newsletter, which talks about all the events going on, such as aerobics classes, desert golf, card games, remote control car racing, cookouts, sightseeing trips, etc.There is a Christian Center, where you can receive mail and packages, get propane, or visit the solar dealer, There is also a “liberry” and swap table at an old Airstream trailer. The whole place reminds us of an upscale Slab City.


It is a really pretty area around the Senator Wash Reservoir. There is more camping by the water, but it requires a different $75 pass, or $15/night.

Here are some photos from our walks around the reservoir, and the beautiful full moon.






Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Paradise Casino, Yuma, AZ


On our way out of El Centro yesterday we stopped at Wal-Mart and a gas station. This was the first time we’ve put gas in the rig since November 30, so it pays to hang around one place for awhile, especially since gas was $3.29/gal.

The drive from El Centro to Yuma along I-8 passes mile after mile of lettuce fields, then gets more interesting as it goes through the Imperial Sand Dunes. There were lots of RVs and off road vehicles.


We spent last night in a big dirt parking lot behind Paradise Casino, just outside of Yuma. We were not the only ones looking for a free place to stay.


New player’s club members received $20 in slot play, and since it was my birthday yesterday, I got an extra $10. I spent my $30 fairly quickly, but Jim had a good machine, and ended up coming home with $50.02! So they actually paid us to stay there.

I thought we might eat at the Italian buffet at the casino, but everything had meat in it except the Alfredo sauce. So we  took a ride to check out the Yuma Foothills area, where lots of RVers stay, and found a Domino’s pizza, which we brought back and ate in the rig. Another exciting birthday!

We are waiting on a new tire pressure sensor from Doran, which was sent out last week. If it’s not in the mail today, it’s another night in Yuma. At least gas is only $2.99/gal here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rio Bend RV Resort, El Centro, CA



It was a short 36 miles from out spot in Anza Borrego to Rio Bend RV and Golf Resort, 5 miles west of El Centro. It is a nice RV park, but even with our Passport America discount, still cost $25 a night. We do have full hookups and cable, though.

The park has 500 sites, but it looks maybe half full, and there are quite a few park models. Most of the license plates are Canadian. Since we are only 4 miles from the El Centro Naval Air Facility, there are military planes flying overhead all day long, beginning about 7AM. Jim can’t understand why anyone would spend the entire winter here, with the noise, but I guess it beats the cold and snow in Canada.

And they have a great exercise room, pool, restaurant and lots of planned activities for the snowbirds.


El Centro is the largest city in the US that is below sea level, at –50 ft, so the winters are usually pretty mild. In fact we’re to have low 80’s this weekend, which sounds great to us. El Centro’s other distinction is having the highest unemployment rate in the country, which was 29.3% as of Dec. 2010.

We went to the bank, post office, and mall yesterday afternoon, and felt like we were in a foreign country (think Mexico). We only saw a few other Anglos  wherever we went, and rarely heard anyone speaking English. Guess that shouldn’t be surprising since we are less than 10 miles from the Mexican border. We aren’t too impressed with El Centro, but we weren’t expecting much.

The sunset last night was something, though.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Anza Borrego Desert State Park, CA



We finally left Jojoba Hills Wednesday on our way to El Centro, CA, where the weatherman is promising 70’s. After way too many weeks of RV parks and full hookups, we couldn’t pass up a free night in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, which we had to drive through on the way to El Centro. The state park offers free boondocking and also has both primitive and developed campgrounds. We didn’t see any good places to boondock, but found this small campground with only a vault toilet and a few spots to park. It’s in the southern part of the park, along CR-S2, also called the Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849.


Our view. You have to like the desert to appreciate it.


Just a short hike away are several palm oases and a small running stream. According to the sign there are 20 canyons in the park with palm oases.

Jan 12, 2011 Palm Oasis


It was in the upper 60’s, and one of the calmest days we’ve seen in the desert. Jim decided to change the oil in the rig, and all was going well until he got up from under it and hit his head on the passenger side mirror. He wrenched his neck and was in quite a bit of pain. Luckily he didn’t need an ambulance as there is no cell service here! He was feeling much better by last night, although he is having second thoughts about continuing to do these things himself.

It was a beautiful morning yesterday, so we decided to take another hike into a different canyon before we left. I was surprised while we were hiking when Jim suggested we stay another night. With no internet, phone or TV, I figured he would be anxious to get to civilization, but he was enjoying the quiet, and was in the middle of a good book. So stay we did, and had a nice relaxing day in the desert. It even got up to 72 degrees!

On our second hike, we found several more larger palm oases.




We are definitely going to El Centro today, as Jim is transferring some IRA money and we need to get to a Bank of America.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happy Campers



Warning: This post is about RV sewer tank treatment so read at your own risk.

We have been using a new holding tank treatment, and I wanted to let everyone know how well it works. When Debbie spent the summer in the heat of Minnesota, she did some research and found this product, Happy Campers Odorless Holding Tank Treatment. 

She raved about it, and a vendor at the Palm Desert Street Market happened to be selling it, so we tried it.  We’ve been using it for about 6 weeks now and this is one product that actually lives up to it’s advertising. There is no odor whatsoever while dumping our tanks, and our See-Level sensors that were not always reading accurately now seem to be working fine.

The only bad thing is they do not sell it in stores, but we bought the 64 oz size which should last over a year. I would highly recommend it if you are searching for the perfect holding tank treatment. And who isn’t?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Balboa Park, San Diego, CA


We moved back to Jojoba Hills on Tuesday for another week and yesterday decided to take a 70 mile drive to San Diego to check out Balboa Park. Years ago we spent a day in San Diego and went to the Zoo, which is in Balboa Park, but we didn’t have time to explore the rest of it. What a beautiful place!


The Visitor Center is located in the House of Hospitality, which was built for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition, as were many of the other buildings..



Besides the Zoo, there are 15 museums, numerous gardens, performing arts centers and restaurants. We had a great veggie rice bowl at The Tea Pavilion outside of the Japanese Friendship Garden.

This is the Spreckle Organ Pavilion, which houses one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs. They give free concerts on Sundays.


This is the Botanical Building, one of the largest wood lath structures in the world. It was also built in 1915, and houses a display of tropical plants and flowers. Unfortunately it is closed on Thursdays, so we didn’t get to go inside. The reflecting pond was actually used to teach soldiers to swim during WWI and for physical therapy for injured soldiers during WWII.


It would take days to see it all, but we only chose to visit the Timken Museum of Art (since it was free), and the Museum of Man, which was $10 with a 2 for 1 admission coupon. The Museum of Man is an anthropology museum, and they had a good Egyptian display, but we especially liked the Strange Bones exhibit, which showed bones and skeletons with various fractures and diseases. It was really fascinating.


We also walked through the Alcazar Gardens,


and Palm Canyon, with this incredible Moreton Bay fig tree. We’ve never seen a root system quite like this on a tree before.




Balboa Park and San Diego definitely go on our list of places to come back and spend more time.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Temecula Valley Wine Country

After over a month in the area, we finally made it to the wineries. We have been driving by them on our way to and from Lake Skinner, and since it was a dreary, rainy Sunday afternoon we figured it was a good time to taste some wine.
A couple different friends recommended Thornton Winery, so we stopped there first. They offer free tours but our tour was abbreviated due to the rain.
We did get to see the cask room, which they actually rent out for weddings. It is a constant 58 degrees in there, so I’m not sure what the attraction is, but I guess it’s a popular place to get married.
We also learned that the French and American oak casks are only used for 3 to 5 times because of seepage. You can see the red wine stains on some of these casks. Then they turn around and sell them to be made into planters sold at places like Lowe’s and Home Depot.
We came to California a few years too late, as most wineries no longer offer free wine tasting. Now the going rate is $10-$15 for anywhere from 4-6 different tastes. Since we like cheap box wine or Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw $2 a bottle wine, better known as Two Buck Chuck, the tasting prices seem a bit much. I found several 2 for 1 tasting coupons, so we decided to splurge. They don’t give you a souvenir glass on the 2 for 1 deal, but we didn’t want the glass anyway.
After our tour at Thornton, we looked in the tasting room and it was very crowded. Plus they only give you 4 tastes, so we left and went on to Robert Renzoni Winery, where we each got to taste 5 different wines for $12. There were several we really liked, and we were debating whether to buy a bottle, when the server came along and poured us an extra taste. Naturally we had to buy something then! We picked a slightly sweet white wine, Bellissimo, which was really good and I am saving for my upcoming birthday in a couple weeks.
We learned that tasting wine on a rainy afternoon sure does lift your spirits!
Another fun thing to do in Temecula is go to the Farmer’s Market. Every Wednesday it is set up in the Promenade Mall parking lot, and on Saturdays in Old Town.
When Debbie was here, she and I went twice to the Wednesday market. There was a stand with excellent breads. We loved the multi-grain sourdough bread and whole wheat fruit and nut bread, and wanted to get some more. How disappointing when they were not set up at the Saturday market. There were lots of fruit and vegetable stands but at this time of year there is not a whole lot in season, so we ended up not buying anything. We did walk around Old Town, a nice area of shops and restaurants. but it was in the 40’s so we didn’t last long. They are calling for no rain and low to mid 60’s the next 10 days, which will be a big improvement.