"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime"-MARK TWAIN

Monday, February 3, 2020

They're All Behind Us, Now..

Sure hope they don't return any time soon.  Medical issues, that is.

As I sit here on the Monday after the Super Bowl, I can't help but feel a little blue.  This is the first time in six years that we haven't been at Dome Rock, just West of Quartzsite, Arizona, on this day.  The Dome Rock Gathering of molded fiberglass trailers is the weekend after the Super Bowl.  We always arrived early, and usually stayed late.  Visiting friends from many parts of the Country, along with experiencing beautiful sunsets.

I feel it's time for an update on the past three months.  November wasn't kind to either of us as far as medical issues went.  First was Wanda getting referred to a thyroid specialist for a goiter that she had been dealing with for a number of years.  It was growing larger, and migrating down into her chest cavity.  We met with the specialist in Jackson on November 7, and he recommended biopsies, followed by surgery to remove the goiter and her thyroid.  The biopsies were done, and thankfully came back as benign for cancer.  Surgery was scheduled for January 7.

 Meanwhile, on November 15th. I left the house for my daily walk.  As I was walking out our driveway, I was hit with an excruciating pain in my left knee.  I could hardly walk back to the house.  Absolutely the worst pain I had ever experienced.  A trip to our family doctor returned a diagnosis of a probable pinched nerve in my "back"  He prescribed a steroid pack, gave me a steroid injection, and told me total rest.  Two days later, I'm back, looking for more pain relief.  And then three days more, and I'm back in his office.  He gave me another injection, prescribed an opioid pain reliever, and told me to go home, get in my chair, and only move for bathroom and bed for two weeks. His office got me an appointment with a spine specialist in Hattiesburg for December 5th.

I missed our large family Thanksgiving gathering for just the second time in 71 years.  Our kids came to our house, and I was tended to all day.  Made me feel like an old invalid.  After X-rays, MRI's, and more X-rays, the specialist's diagnosis was a  severely irritated nerve, caused by a herniated disc between the L3 and L4 vertebra.  I don't have a clue as to when, where, or how, the damage was done.  Physical therapy, and an injection directly into the affected area begin to relieve the pain.  By Christmas, I was able to walk without much of a limp.  Now, I'm pain free.  Just uneasy about doing much, as I don't want to irritate that nerve again.

Now, back to Wanda.  On January 7th., she went through a four hour surgery to remove two goiters, as well as her thyroid.  One of the goiters was the size of her fist. We were informed that a lot of things could go wrong with that type of surgery.  One of the worst being damage to the vocal cords.  Thankfully, she had an awesome surgeon, and came out of recovery talking.  A week later she was released from his care, with a followup in two months with our local physician.  Just a month after the surgery, the scar is practically invisible.

That brings us up to date.  If we had known that things were going to work out as they did, we would have stayed with our February plans.  But when one of us can't walk, while the other is facing serious surgery, it's difficult to plan into the future.  We're headed to Gulf Islands national Seashore in a couple of weeks.  Davis Bayou and Fort Pickens campgrounds.  Hopefully the wheels will still turn on the Casita.  It has never sat this long between trips.

Now, you know the "rest of the story."  Hopefully there will be travel reports from now on, and no more medical issues any time soon.....jc

Friday, January 3, 2020

Back in Time--September 1, 2008

Though we had owned our Casita for almost two years, it wasn't until September, 2008 that we took our first real journey.  I had officially retired in April of 2008, taking a pension buyout.  I also cashed out my 401K, and handed two checks to my financial advisor, reminding him at the time that he had my life in his hands.

We flew to Seattle in May for a much anticipated Alaskan cruise with friends.  June, July, and August were spent adjusting to retired life, and trip planning.  This was pre Sally.  At the time we had Ben, a beautiful red dachshund.

September finally came and we hit the road. Our first night found us in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  We spent the evening watching Hurricane Gustav take dead aim at our home.

After talking with friends and relatives the next morning, we continued on.  We made our way to St. Louis, then west across Missouri, and into the southwest corner of Iowa for the night.  On into Nebraska the next day, with the Bessey campground within the Nebraska National Forest being our destination for the evening.  It was a huge campground, set within the largest hand planted forest in the world.  Signs were everywhere saying not to drink the water as it was full of arsenic. Couple that with a nearby railroad which had a coal train every hour or so, and we understood why we were the only campers there.

We spent a mostly sleepless night due to trains blowing their whistles every hour or so at a nearby crossing.  After a quick breakfast, we continued on our way toward the Black Hills of South Dakota.  As we neared Alliance, Nebraska, we spotted a sign for Carhenge. Now how could anyone pass that up?

We had made reservations at an RV park just out from Custer, SD.  We wanted to tour Custer state park, visit Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse memorial.

We were told the sculpture is so huge that the four Mt. Rushmore carvings would fit between the eye and ear.

We happened to be there on one of the two nights each year when night blasting is done.

We visited the Badlands.

We also took a day trip up into Montana to visit Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.  Better know as Custer's Last Stand.


We spent a night in Sheridan, WY, and the next morning climbed the Big Horn Mountain range to the West.  Our next destination was Cody, WY.  Along we way, we found ourselves in the middle of a real cattle drive.  Moving the herd from summer pasture in the mountains to lower elevations for the Winter.

We were having a blast!!.....jc

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Back to the Beginning.

As we are sitting home, me with a pinched nerve in my back, and Wanda facing a difficult surgery the first of the year, all our immediate travel plans have been cancelled.  I thought I would go WAY back to the beginning. Way before I was even aware of a blog.

 As I was nearing forty years of employment with the telephone company ( Southern Bell, South Central Bell, Bellsouth, and the "new att"), it was time to think about retirement and our retirement plans.  We knew travel was our first priority, and were looking at different trailers and small motor homes.  Shortly after hurricane Katrina came through our area, I spotted a small trailer in a friends yard.  I stopped by and inquired about it.  It was unlike anything I had seen before, and belonged to our friends sister.  She had brought it up from the coast for protection from the storm.  She said that her sister and husband work-camped about nine months a year in a motor home, but used  the small trailer (Casita) to travel in the other three months of the year. I took a peek in, and said no way.

My job at the time was 80% sitting around, and 20% get it done yesterday. That left lots of time for cruising the Internet.  I found two forums dedicated to Casita's, and became fascinated with everything about them.  How well they were built from molded fiberglass, how well they held their value, basically maintenance free, with most every thing larger units had such as a nice full size bed, stove, sink, two person dinette, furnace, air conditioning, toilet, shower, closet, grey and black tanks, etc.  Wanda got on board with a few reservations, and we began a search.

In August 2006, one appeared on one of the forums about 60 miles from our home.  We called, and made an appointment to see it.  It was a 2002 17' Spirit Deluxe, in like new condition.  We purchased it for $12,000 dollars, no dickering.  Remember that price.

Within a month of our purchase, someone in Mandeville, Louisiana posted for sale on one of the forums a custom made mattress for a 17' Spirit model.  Southern Mattress had shipped the wrong size for his 16', and had told him if he could sell it, they would ship the correct one with a discount, so as not to pay shipping for the return.  We got the new mattress we were about to order without shipping costs.

Forward another month, and we were in Riverview RV park in Vidalia, Louisiana.  It was the Great Mississippi River Balloon Races, and we were there to crew for our friends.  We were very lucky to get one of the four tent sites.  Just the right size for a Casita, surrounded by a couple hundred fifth wheels and motor homes. As we were near the office, folks passed our site all day.  It seemed no one was familiar with a Casita, and I'll bet we showed it over forty times during two days.  I even heard one guy say to a friend as they were talking on the clubhouse porch. He said "that guy has everything I have, except the note".  Made my day.

As I was still working, we only made short trips for almost two years. Hardly ever over a week to nearby state parks, ballooning events, and family outings. 

We did manage to make the Bluebonnet Rally in Bandera, Texas in April of 2007.  Over a hundred Casita's, and a few other fiberglass trailers, all in one park.  That's where we found that we had become members of  a special group. The Casita Family.
And what a family it is.  Because of that little trailer, we have friends we call by name in probably 40 states. We spend nights parked in their yards, and they do ours. We travel together at times, and meet up at gatherings across the country.

In April, 2008, I retired.  First, an Alaskan cruise as a retirement gift to ourselves.  Then the real traveling was about to begin........stay tuned..........jc