The A-Dog goes on the ‘DL’

Hello everyone, it’s me again!  For those new to the blog, I’m Makena, who occasionally takes over this blog.  Today I have a lot to write about, and it’s not good news for me…

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Keeping my peeps informed!

But before I get to the bad news, I will do a brief summer recap.  I again enjoyed my time out in Wyoming, with 100 acres to roam around, off leash!  What dog wouldn’t love this?

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My parents were excited about the Eclipse, and I was prepared with my glasses.  But I ended up staying in the 5th wheel….no dogs allowed by the cabins…sigh.

IMG_1035 (1)I spent the summer doing a lot of playing with my football….maybe too much playing, which I will get to later.  The weather was good all summer, until the end.  My parents promised me when we ventured out on this crazy journey that we would always have warm weather.  But once again, we ended up with quite a bit of snow.  But I didn’t let it stop me.  I made my mom put on her boots and winter coat (had to dust it off!) and get out and play with me.  October in Wyoming!

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Hurry Up! I’m ready!

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And away I go in the snow!

 

We made a quick stop in Minnesota on the way home, so I could see how my cousin Simon was doing.  He is now 6 months old, and has grown a lot since I last saw him.  Compare the photos from May (bottom) and October:

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He still can’t throw a football, and he’s not eating solid food, so I’m still not that interested in him yet.  I did try to teach him how to rub my belly.  But apparently, Grandpa Gary has been teaching Simon the “pull my finger,” trick,  as he was only interested in “pulling my paw!”

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THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

When we got back to Wisconsin, my parents dropped me off at my grandparents house, so I would be well taken care of while they helped out remodel their friends business.  However, after two weeks, they picked me up and took me in to see the doctor.  And that’s where we get to the bad news.  For the last few weeks, I have been unable to jump up on the couch or the bed at night.  I still wanted to play and play, and my parents didn’t think too much of this at first.  But I wasn’t getting any better, and was having trouble going up steps.  So they decided to have me checked out.

My doctor in Wisconsin retired, so they tried out a new clinic, Kuenzi Family Pet Hospital, and were happy with the visit.  I was not.  They were concerned I may have torn a ligament in my knee, but they could never figure out which leg I was favoring.  Dr. Alex did a thorough examination, and put me through a lot of range of motion tests, and said my legs and neck were fine, (that’s the good news) but he was concerned about my back, and took me in another room for x-rays.

The bad news:  I ruptured a disc in my spine, and the two vertebrae are now just “bone on bone.”  Dr. Alex said in humans, this would be an extremely painful injury.  But I’m one tough dog, and haven’t displayed much pain.  Here are two of my x-rays:

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Yes, I’m a lean, mean, machine!

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Now for those reading this that are not Radiologic Technologists (Happy Rad Tech week, by the way!), here is the above  image blown up, and I have added some markings.  The arrow on the top left points to the microchip that was inserted in me when I was a puppy.  The other 3 arrows point to the disc spaces in between my vertebrae.  This is how they should look.  The circle shows the two vertebrae that are rubbing together.  The disc is gone.  And there is narrowing at the disc space below that level.

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So this is where “the ugly” comes into play.  Since the vertebrae appear to be starting to fuse together, Dr. Alex said wants to hold off on considering surgery.  However, for the next 6 weeks, I have to be completely non-weight bearing!  In other words, I have to stay in my crate….ugh!  No playing, no jumping, no walking.  My parents carry me out to go potty, and then carry me back in.

I’m not happy, and I don’t understand why I’ve been put “in jail.”

My parents friends, Dave and Angie, let them borrow a bigger crate that I can stay in during the day (at night I’m back in the little crate in the bedroom).  They call it “The Taj Mahal.”

IMG_1213I call it “a bigger jail.”  But I am happy they put my dog bed in it, and set it in front of the electric fireplace.  I’m on pain meds and anti-inflammatory pills, which are making me feel better.  I have learned that they will let me out, “on good behavior,” for an hour or two at night, as long as I don’t run around.  I heard the word “NO” for several days, before I complied with their rules, and just laid down on a blanket outside the crate.

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Freedom!

The worst part of all of this, even worse than being stuck in a crate for 6 weeks, is that I am not allowed to play football, until February, at the earliest.  It’s going to be a long winter for me….

Quote for the Day:  “Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation, and almost as good for the soul as prayer.” – Dean Koontz

 

 

Summer 2017 ‘a bear-y good time’

We have finished our summer work camping job at Luton’s Teton Cabins, just east of Grand Teton National Park.  Dan feels the summer flew by, but I think it was just the right amount of time.  There was snow when we arrived in May, and snow when we left in October…a lot of snow!  We were the last ones to leave, as Dan was busy steam cleaning the carpets in the cabins. Although the weather was supposed to be 50s, we ended up with about 7 inches of snow!  It was pretty though!

IMG_3128It did make for an interesting drive over Togowotee Pass, at 9600 feet and a steep grade! And this is after they had “cleared” the pass!  Normally we like to leave early in the morning when we are in travel mode, but we had to wait until late morning for the road to improve.

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We had another hard working crew this summer, and six of us will be coming back next summer.   Last summer, with my broken foot, we did not get to do as much hiking as we had planned.  This summer, we did many hikes, and even got our bicycles out.  The Tetons and Jackson Hole are very bicycle friendly areas, with miles of paved paths.

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Dan and Al had a great summer fishing (and catching!) trout.  After a slow start due to the spring flooding, they were able to get enough to have a pot luck fish fry for everyone.  Al brought his inflatable Sea Eagle boat, and they floated down the river many times.  The boat folds up into a small bag, and is strong enough to hold both the guys, and all their gear.

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The highlight of the summer, for me, was seeing (and experiencing) the Solar Eclipse.  You can read about that here.

A close second was watching a grizzly and her two cubs, feasting on berries.  (a special thanks to our co-workers Karen and Al for texting us when they spotted them in the park – about 2 miles from us).

 

We also had a bull moose run right across the road on our way back from the grocery store.  I have learned to always carry my camera in September, as the wildlife is very active.

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After we left Wyoming, we had a long travel day and stopped at the Cabela’s in Rapid City, South Dakota, which lets you stay overnight in their parking lot.  We were woken up very early to an alarm going off.  We though it may have been our carbon monoxide detector.  We both woke up in a panic, and started searching, only to discover it was our temperature gauge, which has an alarm clock.  We have had this for over 8 years, and never knew it had an alarm clock!  Apparently when we packed it up and put it away for travel, a button must have been pressed to set the alarm.

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And 10 minutes later…we discovered it has a snooze feature!

Since we were up early, we just got on the road (it was 5 am), and watched the sunrise as we traveled east.

IMG_3144We are now back in Wisconsin.  Originally, we planned to be here a few weeks, then head down to Amazon in Kentucky.  However, our friend Mike’s bar and grill that we had helped remodel is not yet open.  He was very busy this summer with his landscaping business, and did not finish the remodeling.  So we are back helping him out, probably through Thanksgiving, and then we will head south for the winter.

Quote for the day:  “You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.”  Joyce Meyer

 

 

 

 

Winding down in Wyoming

Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the flooding in the southern states afterward.  And now we have been reading about Hurricane Irma, soon to be hitting Florida.  Add in all the forest fires raging in California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana and it has been a devastating month for millions of Americans.  Our only impact here in Wyoming has been hazy skies and poor air quality.  If only there was some way for the rain in the South to make its way to the northwest, it would solve some of these problems.

Our season will be coming to a close at the end of September, but we have been keeping busy.  Labor Day weekend means the end of families with school-age children.  Now our visitors are what those of us in the tourism industry refer to as the “newlyweds and nearly-dead’s.”  Luton’s Teton Cabins continues to be full, until the last week of September.  At that time, we will start winding down, and begin fall cleaning.  All the linens and curtains will be removed from the cabins and cleaned.  Joanne will strip and wax the linoleum, and Dan will shampoo the carpeting.  As with our Spring cleaning, it is an efficient process.  The cabins are  open this year until October 10, but all of us work campers will be done by October 1st.  Brad and Joanne, the owners, will handle the cleaning of the few cabins that are rented after the 1st.

In the meantime, we have been out on a few hikes.  Tom and Ellen, our friends working in West Yellowstone, Montana, came down for a visit.  Next year, they will be working at a gift store in Skagway, Alaska.  We will miss seeing them in the summer, but are looking forward to hearing about their adventures in Alaska.  That is definitely on our list of states to visit…hopefully soon!

We did a short hike out to Taggart Lake with them.

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Tom, Ellen and Dan

Here’s our Sound of Music photo!

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The “hills are alive!”

We also went hiking on our off day with co-workers Karen and Al.  Last year the trails to Hidden Falls by Jenny Lake were closed for renovation.  Most of the trails have now opened, so we were finally able to do that hike.

We made the short trek over to see Hidden Falls.

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There was a group of people learning how to rock climb.  It was entertaining to watch, but not something I would want to try.

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Then we had a lengthy upward hike to see Inspiration Point, which overlooks Jenny Lake.

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On the way back down, we saw a two-toned bird, later identified as a Stellar’s Jay.  That was our “wildlife” highlight!

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After we leave Wyoming, we will head back to Wisconsin for a few weeks, and then head down to Kentucky to work at Amazon for our fourth season.  I’m not looking forward to working there again (too boring), but it is a great weight loss program for us!

Take care and stay safe everyone!

Quote for the Day:  “Most anyplace one lives is essentially dangerous.  There are floods in the Midwest, and tornadoes.  There are hurricanes along the Gulf.  In New York you get mugged.” – John Gregory Dunne

 

Cousins come a callin’

First off, thank you for all the wonderful comments, e-mails and telephone calls from our last blog post.  It really meant a lot.

Dan’s cousins, Roni and Jodi, made a long road trip from the Twin Cities to come out and visit with us for two days.  We tried to pack as much as we could in the short amount of time they had, and we think we succeeded.  The only thing they were not able to check off their list was seeing a grizzly bear.

We spent the first day on a quick tour of Grand Teton National Park, trying to stop at some of  the highlights: Colter Bay, Jackson Lake Lodge, Signal Mountain, String Lake, Jenny Lake, Lupine Meadows, The Chapel of Transfiguration, Schwabacher Landing, etc…

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Dan, Jodi, Roni

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After seeing some of  the highlights, we stopped in Moose for a little pizza at Dornan’s.  While sitting outside we were briefly entertained by a fox walking near the deck.

DSC04474 (2)The next morning we headed up to Yellowstone, making a few stops in the Tetons to view a herd of Elk,

P1000307 (2)followed by a mama and baby moose!

P1000363 (2)And no morning is complete without a stop at Oxbow Bend, with the low-lying clouds covering parts of Mt Moran.

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Yellowstone was pretty busy, but Roni said she had “positive vibes”, especially after our wonderful start to the day.  She was right, and we never had issues finding parking spots!  Our wildlife sightings continued, with an Osprey in a nest,

P1000516 (2)and a lone buffalo taking a nap along the side of the road!

P1000500 (2)The cousins were impressed with the view of the Lower Falls.

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I think Roni and Jodi may have a new future career in the park service!

P1000472 (2)No stop to Yellowstone is complete without a visit to Old Faithful.  It was Roni’s first time seeing the geyser go off.  Despite its name, it did not erupt until 25 minutes after its scheduled time.  The crowd of thousands was growing very restless, and a lot of cheers erupted when it finally went off.  Roni said it was worth the wait!

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Although their visit was very short, we had a wonderful time and are thankful Roni and Jodi decided to venture out west to see us!  Our door is always open for our family and friends to visit!

Quote for the day:  “Nobody will understand the craziness of your family better than your cousins.” – unknown

 

Don’t Take Life For Granted

A few weeks ago my brother-in-law John, suffered a stroke. He is only 67 years young. Fortunately, my sister LuAnn realized his behavior was very erratic, and called 911. They live in the Dallas area, which has many excellent hospitals. The paramedics recognized his symptoms, and took him to Baylor University Hospital, a certified stroke facility. My sister was very impressed by how quickly the hospital staff treated him. When a stroke is suspected, timing is critical.

By clicking this LINK, you can learn more about the signs of a stroke. Please take a moment to do so, as you can help save a life. Remember to think F.A.S.T.

John is at home, and going through daily outpatient rehabilitation. It has been a slow process, and his long-term prognosis is not fully known at this time. My sister is remaining positive and just trying to take things one day at a time. If you are a praying person, I know they would appreciate keeping them in your prayers.

And if that isn’t enough for my sister to deal with, she is also trying to teach her daughter Alicia how to drive!

It has been a while since I have seen John, LuAnn and Alicia, so I do not have a recent picture. The one below is from a breast cancer walk that I participated in down in Dallas in October 2009 with John, LuAnn and Alicia. That little girl just to my sisters left in the pink head scarf is Alicia, now all grown up! (Watch out Dallas, she has a learners permit!) My sister has beaten cancer, so I know she has the strength to get through this.

 

Alicia, LuAnn and John

Two Sundays ago I learned from my sister Margie that her brother-in-law, David (a/k/a Lumpy), had suffered a heart attack. He is only 58, and is recovering after having a stent put in his artery . Please keep him and his family in your prayers as well.

 

And here is the link for recognizing symptoms of a heart attack.

Hearing things like these give me a lot of mixed emotions. I have debated writing about this for a while now, but it keeps gnawing at me, so I decided to post a blog. Normally I like to keep personal matters to myself. I feel very blessed that we have been able to fulfill our dreams and live the RV lifestyle. The number one reason we are out here doing this, is because life is not guaranteed. After working in a hospital, and seeing how quickly life can change, I just wanted to get out and live life. If I die tomorrow, I can die happy.

But, I just wish we were more mobile, so we could go and help out when needed. I would love to be able to drive down to Dallas and help my sister out. We would also be able to attend more events with family and friends, such as weddings, graduations, funerals, class reunions, baptisms, etc., which we have been missing.

I don’t have any regrets about what we are doing, and I certainly don’t want to go back to a stationary life living in a house full of stuff. I just need to start looking into other sources of income that we can do on the road. I need to find a ‘work from the RV’ job, so we can be more mobile.

I have been spending a lot more time pondering the value of life. Fortunately, cleaning cabins doesn’t require a lot of thought, so I just quietly scrub the toilets while I think about things. I am thankful that we do not have television out here in Moran, Wyoming. There is just too much ‘noise’ going on in the world right now. We spend too much time worrying about things beyond our control. Too much time on social media. Sometimes we forget what is really important in our lives.

So take some time and hug your loved ones. Give them a call, write a letter (yes, snail mail) and plan a get together. Just try to enjoy life! Don’t take it for granted.

Quote for the day: “I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine.” – Neal Armstrong