Sunday, April 17, 2011

2011-08 Santa fe, surgery

On the Road lifestyle

I’m sort of in a transition between staying at a campsite for the winter and moving on down the road.  Once I had a second opinion on my health issues, I decided I’d go ahead and have the surgery for a small hernia while here in Santa Fe NM.  That means that I’ll be in the area for a couple more weeks.  I’ve learned to pretty much go with the flow and had decided that being out here after the surgery, I would be able to spend a bit more time with my niece and sister.

Fate has a way of changing some of the best laid plans and my niece and most of her children and husband ended up getting a 24 hour flue bug.  Needless to say, I have not visited them over the past week as the household goes through the bug.  And my sister Ann will be flying home on Saturday so I won’t see her again until I make a trek up north to the U.P. of Mich.  Found out her plans changed as well, since she too contracted the dastardly flue bug as well.

While waiting for my surgery at the end of the week,  I had a chance to explore the Petroglyph National Monument here in Alb. NM.  I only went on the one mile hike up and down the basalt rock outcropping on the edge of the city.  The two mile hike would have to wait until after I had the hernia operation.  The sites are noted for the Macaw birds etched into the black basalt rocks.  There was quite a trade route between Mexico and the southwestern United States some 1,000 + years ago.  Macaws were highly prized and their feathers were prominently used in the head dresses of the chief Indians.

I finally purchase a new Canon Camera, the SX30IS, 35X optical zoom.  I had been holding my Tax refund on the side for the purchase and finally found a good deal ordering the camera on the internet and picking up the camera at a Best Buy.  Saved an additional $30 by doing that.

I’ve enjoyed a couple local restaurants in the area.  One being  a chain eatery called Dion’s.  A pizzeria and sub shop.  Their subs are toasted, with the best fresh rolls and 10 times better than a Subway sub.  The pizza’s can be ordered by the slice if your in a hurry, but I recommend getting a 10” or 12” pizza made to order or larger if your with a family.   I’ve also eaten at a couple of great Mexican restaurants, always serving either green or red chili.  And most will serve sopopias a Mexican desert, basically fried puff pastry served with honey on the side to drizzle over the pastry.  A perfect light after dinner treat.

Friday.  This is the big day.  I packed up my camper for the 40 minute drive back to Santa Fe, and got settled back into the Rodeo Fairgrounds, just in time before my ride came to pick me up and head to my appointment for surgery this morning.  Chris Linn, who I’d met through a mutual camping club has been an angel to help me out for a day or so with getting me to and from the Dr.’s and letting me stay overnight at her place.

We drove over to the surgeons smart new offices where they have an operating room on the first floor for outpatient procedures like mine.  I dressed in my peak-a-boo gown, light blue hair net, which Chris said I hardly needed with so little hair on my head.  After all the paperwork was signed, and with introductions to everyone including, nurse, anesthesiologist and Doctor,  even a nurse who is a fellow Rv’er (nice to have someone with similar interests caring for me) they wheeled me into the operating room.  How nice that they covered me with warmed blankets before putting me under as you may know an operating room is quite cold.

Before I knew it, I was awake again and had a titanium mesh installed to keep all my innards in place and where they belong.

I feel all pampered sitting here in Chris’s guest bedroom with a most adorable cat to keep me company.  I have a special bulb filled with a drug that gets pumped to my surgery area which will keep it numb for the next 48 hours.  So at this point no pain to speak of.  Isn’t modern medicine wonderful.

Then a nice breakfast prepared by Chris and a ride back to my camper where I’ll spend a few days just vegging.

I final note.  Thanks for all the Facebook get well messages.  You know, your e-mails and all the news I hear on Facebook do so much to keeping me connected with you.  I know we’ve all lost our abilities to just drop folks a line or two, but when we do I can tell you, the recipient sure does appreciate it.

Have a super duper day, I know I will as I continue the healing process.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

2011-07 Santa Fe New Mexico

Santa Fe NM

Campground:  Rodeo Fairgrounds.  $20 full hookup (30 amp service).  Dirt, back in open sites next to the horse and cattle area.  Quiet location and within a short distance to all the big shops, mall, and eateries.

Campground:  Coronado State Monument.  $18.50 with a weekly rate.  Electric/water.  Really nice enclosed Ramada with picnic table.  Paved sites with trees.  Nice vistas from campsites.  Within one block of the Casino and $2.95 breakfast.

I arrived on a Sunday around mid-morning before the heavy winds were about to begin.  There’s snow on the tops of the surrounding mountains and it got down to freezing Sunday evening.  Amazing what a little more elevation will do to the temps.

I had planned on staying at a Cochiti Reservoir campground, but when I arrived, all the electric sites were filled.  Fortunately I had a plan B and headed to the Rodeo Fairgrounds for  a campsite.  Although there are a few commercial campgrounds right in town, they are a tad more expensive.

Santa Fe is called the City Different.  Local Tv stations provide weather for the entire state.  Quickly showing the NE, SE, SW, NW sections making for a blur of temp numbers across the TV screen.  They also provide in depth coverage of the winds which can be as high as 50 to 70 mph.  I remember when I lived in Orlando Fl, the weather included only the Orlando suburbs area to Daytona.  One would have never known that Tampa and the west coast existed by watching the local weather there.

The Rodeo Fairgrounds are close to all the main arteries in town including all the national chain stores and a ton of restaurants.  Of course all the big stores have the look of adobe structures, as it’s a requirement in the city of Santa Fe.  Did you know they paint their window frames and doors turquoise blue to keep out evil spirits.  Both a Spanish and mid-Eastern tradition.

Mid week I went into the heart of town with all it’s historical buildings, capital, churches and art galleries.  In front of the La Fonda Hotel, one of the original Harvey Houses, I joined one of the open air Trolley tours.  Covers 8 miles and lasts 1:15 minutes.  I find it’s a great way to get ones bearings in a new city, learn some of the history and discover places I’d like to go back and explore more in-depth.  Santa Fe has a ton of museums so one could be kept busy all week just going through them.  After the trolley tour, around town, up canyon Road, which has row after row of art studios, I settled on hitting a couple historical adobe churches and the Capital building only blocks from the heart of downtown.

The Loretto Chapel was the first.  Not an adobe chapel, it was done in a French design and run by an order of nuns.  After the chapel was completed without a stairway up to the choir loft, the nuns prayed for someone to come and help them construct one.  After nine days of prayer, a mysterious carpenter appeared and built a free standing spiral stairway.  Without a banister… one was later added as the nuns were scared to climb the stairway without one.   Anyone into architecture will appreciate touring this beautiful little chapel.

The second Chapel I went to was the San Miguel Chapel, said to be the oldest church in the United States. Building began in 1610 of  thick adobe walls.  The Loretto Chapel was to be the center piece of the nuns who were brought here to teach the girls.  San Miguel Chapel became the center for educating the local boys.

Lighting a few candles for those who have died or who currently have aids or cancer, which I always send a prayer  out for as I’m traveling and visiting churches across the country.  You never know when God will pop in and listen to our prayers you know.

I then continue up the hill to the Santa Fe Capital.  Shaped like a round Kiva.  The Santa Fe capital is quite accessible to visitors.  I even walked into the anti room to the Governors office.  She wasn’t in that day.  The capital building has a rotating display of New Mexican art worth well over 5 million dollars.  Art is everywhere on the 4 floors of the capital and well worth wondering around and viewing them.  I’ve previously been to the official State Art Museum and must admit there were more paintings on display in the capital building than in the art museum.

One of the ongoing exhibits is called:  Motels and Motion on the Mother Road:  New Mexico, A people’s survey of Route 66.  A most unique project to capture in pictures, paintings and signage, the culture created along Route 66.  One of the ongoing projects is to use abandoned motel signs to post messages and poetry throughout the stretch of Route 66 going through Albuquerque.  One sign reads:  “I clap for you in my head all the time“.

One of my last stops for the days touring was at a local art gallery in town called Kiva Fine Art.  It’s owned and run by Paula Rhae McDonald.  I had to go in and see if I could take a couple pictures of some of the most dynamic paintings  by the artists Yellowman and Ben Nelson.  A father and son duo portraying the Native American warrior and other subjects.  Modern art displaying the past and present scenes that make up the Wild West.

I was just mesmerized by their paintings.  Paula Rhae besides being a business woman,  is also a musician. And she was kind enough to give me a copy of her music on CD.  You can check her out at: and request songs by Paula Rhae McDonald.  And I might add not a bad image to enjoy as Paula Rhae is quite the Cowgirl looker….
Add caption
Finally I’ve traveled back to Albuquerque for a 2nd repair on the water valve regulator.  So now I think the camper is finally all fixed and ready for some good traveling.  But before I head out on my great adventure, I’ve decided to have a hernia operation.  I’ve seen a Dr and surgeon and the surgeon told me I would eventually need it fixed.  Even though I’m feeling much better, it’s best to have it taken care of, like maintenance on the truck.  So I’ll schedule the outpatient surgery next week.  The Dr. told me it should heal in about 5 days and I can be back on the road in 10.

The good news is, I’ll be able to visit with my niece/family and sister Ann during this period.

Note: more photo's on my Picasa web site.
Happy trails to you….

Sunday, April 3, 2011

2011-06 Albuquerque New Mexico, A Family Visit

Albuquerque NM

Sometimes you’re the pigeon
Sometimes you’re the statue

Family visit.  Not so much a travel report as a report on family life out here in NM.

Heidi and Jay
My sister:  Ann
Her Daughter:  Heidi
Heidi’s husband: Jay
Sarah 14,
Elisa 12,
Minnie 8,
Noah 6,
Natalie 3,
Jillian 2,
Calvin 1

Great Uncle Doug arrived on the northern outskirts of Alb. NM for a visit with family.  Visits are made between busy schedules and busy lives.  I’ve set up camp as I mentioned in the previous report at the Hollywood Casino north of town.  The campsites are the typical casino campsites.  Large gravel sites with concrete islands designating each campsite.  Electric hookups, though I have to fill my holding tanks with water as there is no water or sewer at each site.  I’m able to get about a dozen over air TV stations in the now normal high definition quality stations.

From my campsite I watch the traffic as it travels along I-25 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.  A steady stream heading north and south rising higher as the road travels over one of the many barren hills dotted with the occasional juniper tree.

Ann with one year old Calvin
My first evenings visit enabled me to enjoy and observe Heidi and Jay’s brood of 7 children from ages 1 to 14 years in age.  There were no formal introductions to the children.  Not sure one could wrangle all 7 of them together at once anyway.  I believe three of them are currently getting home schooling.  A true passion for Heidi who has also been diagnosed with a form of cancer that has invaded her body and which will require chemo treatments for the rest of her life.  Her youthful gypsy look is complimented as she now wears a stylish scarf on her head.  A strong faith continues to hold her in good steed.  Jay’s parents were here for a visit and we adults went out to dinner on their last night here.  My sister Ann, Heidi’s mom, has been here for months helping out the family as much as she can.

You may remember from my last years visit to Michigan when I visited my sister Dorothy in lower Michigan and then went to the U.P. of Mich to visit with Ann in our home towns of Houghton/Hancock.  Ann has continued to be our families caregiver as she for years took care of Mom and Dad in their latter years.  Working in a elder care apartment complex, taking care of her friend and partner, Jim.  Jim of course is still in Northern Mich. And while Ann continues to help out here in Alb. NM her thoughts are also with her sweet (or ornery as the case may be) Jim.

I’m here in a minor supporting role, that we all take at times in our lives, some more than others.  Heidi is such a strong character and it is truly an inspiration to see her go through her day.  Though there have been times of tension and raised voices as the pressure of Heidi’s illness invades everyday life.   And yes a few more breaks for much needed rest to rebuild her strength, but still a full time mother and educator, living a very full life indeed.

I’m taking time to do a few chores that we full time Rv’ers need to do occasionally.  Bringing the camper in for another warranty repair.  The city water connection had a malfunctioning “back-flo” regulator that wasn’t working.  Meaning when using the onboard water pump, all the water came gushing out of the city water connection.

Today I did regular maintenance checks on the camper and truck.  1.  Check oil in truck.  2. Tighten lug nuts on trailer tires. All were secure and tight. 3.  Grease stabilizing jacks, they squeak.  4.  Attach clear sewer connector.  And no, I can’t count each one as my chore for the day.  Remember I try to do just one chore each day.  These pretty much added up to my one chore a day routine.

Ann and I spent some time out having lunch and a bit of shopping.  Though I hardly need a thing living in an Rv.  Nice to interact with my sister and reconnect about simple likes and learning who we are in our adult lives.

On my last day with Heidi, Ann and the family, I brought a set of framed and matted prints I'd made up for my first Photography show.  I let Heidi and Ann select one as it was their birthdays this past week.  Heidi selected the Port Townsend Ladies in front of a storefront window.  Ann selected the photo of Madonna.  Everyone really enjoyed looking over my framed photos.
view looking out from campsite at Casino
A last note before signing off.  I had my annual physical in Tucson about a month and a half ago.  All was well, except for a pain in my lower groin area which was diagnosed as probably a hernia.  A month later I received a call from the Dr’s that they wanted me in for a cancer screening.  It was all an error, as the Dr. had put Hodgkin’s disease on the “history” as well as the “diagnosis sheet”.  I had had Hodgkin’s 35 years ago. So when they reviewed my records a whole month later, calling me to make an appointment at a cancer institute,  it put me into quite a tailspin until we could get it all sorted out.

Today I did do a follow-up with another Dr. while here in AZ, with a more thorough screening including more blood tests and a sonogram.  I was able to actually see the small hernia and my innerds.  Quite interesting.

The pain had been going on for almost two months.  Interestingly, a few days before making the appointment to see a second Dr., I was laying in bed one night, with the persistent pain keeping me awake, when I suddenly felt the urge to declare the following:  “Body, Heal Thyself”.  Within three days, it appears all the pain is gone.  The power of suggestion? The power of God? Coincidence?  Did I have the power to heal myself?  My spiritualist training tells me I was able to connect to the Universal healing energy.

I'll be in Santa Fe NM next then we'll see which direction I head....