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

Just getting caught up

Wow, I didn’t realize it has been over a month since I last posted.  We have been in a ‘holding status’ down here in Florida.  About 6 weeks ago, Dan’s father stated his legs felt weak, and his mom took him to the local hospital, which then told him to go to the hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  As the day progressed, his weakness continued to worsen, and spread to his arms as well.  By the end of the day, he was essentially paralyzed, as he had no movement in his extremities.

He was admitted to the hospital, and several tests were run.  After a few days, he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and auto-immune disorder.  The doctors suspect this may have been a reaction to the flu vaccination that he received.  After 5 days of intravenous administration of high-dose immunoglobulin therapy, his nerves began to regenerate, which was a very painful experience for him.  He was transferred to the inpatient rehabilitation center at the hospital, and received 3 hours of daily physical and occupational therapy, and has slowly regained the use of his extremities.  Between the excellent therapists, and the fact that his dad is very competitive, he has made a remarkable recovery.  After 30 days of inpatient rehabilitation, he had progressed from no movement, to a wheelchair and finally to a walker.

He was discharged home, and continues making remarkable progress with outpatient therapy.  Currently he is using a cane, but has been walking small distances with no assistance.  The prognosis is for a full recovery!  Dan was able to fly back to Wisconsin and visit his dad in the hospital, and get some chores done around the house for his mom.  We had discussed winterizing the 5th wheel and returning back to Wisconsin, but they kept telling us to wait.  The reason we stay in Scottsmoor, Florida is to be close to the condo that they rent out in New Smyrna Beach.  They continued to be optimistic that they would return to Florida, and felt if we came back to Wisconsin, they would not get down to Florida. Time will tell if they will be able to make it down for a visit.  We will be here through March 27th.   One thing that helped out in his fathers recovery, is the fact he is very active, walking two miles every day prior to this illness.  The doctors stated his good health contributed to his quick recovery.  Taking care of our bodies now, can pay big dividends later.

2016-02-22

Lots of visitors

2--16-02-22 dad hospital

Mom, nephew Kyle, Dad and Dan

ODDS AND ENDS

We did manage a few visits to Walt Disney World, before our Florida resident pass that we bought last year expired.  In addition to the usual cast of characters roaming around, they are now heavily promoting Star Wars, with storm troopers roaming around the grounds.

 

In addition to meeting up with our friends Karen and Al at Disney, we were able to have a nice lunch with friends Forrest and Mary in Orlando, Dick and Cheryl in Cocoa  and watched the Super Bowl with Tom and Ellen. It’s always nice to be able to catch up with friends that you have not seen in months.   Unfortunately, I did not take any photos:(

Our neighbors in this RV park found a NuWave Pro Induction Oven at a rummage sale, and let me borrow it for a few days.  I know a few RV’ers who have these, and love them.  I was impressed by  the “as seen on TV” oven, and may consider purchasing one.  It did a great job with cookies.  It uses less electricity than the convection oven, and cooked them in about half the time.

DSC03572 (1)

 

 

DSC03574 (1)

The weather this year in Florida has been a bit cool, and the three month extended forecast is continued below average temperatures.  The Midwest forecast is for above average temperatures, so we may leave Florida and venture north after March 27th.  We will play things by ear, but we would like to get back to Wisconsin and spend some time with Dan’s parents, before our summer workcamping job.

Quote for the Day: “Looking after my health today gives me a better hope for tomorrow.” – Anne Wilson Schaef

 

 

 


					

Reflections of two years on the road

2 years ago I left my steady, stable job as a CT Technologist at a hospital and Dan left his 27 year teaching career for a complete unknown. Reflecting back, we continue to have no regrets about making the change. As much as we have experienced in the past 2 years, it seems as if we have only scratched the surface on what our great country has to offer.

Mt Rushmore from Hwy 244

Mt Rushmore from Hwy 244

Sometimes I feel we are traveling at a snail’s pace, especially when I read others blogs and they seem to be all over the country. But then I remind myself that we, hopefully, have so much time ahead of us to continue going at our own pace. Eventually we will “get there”. It truly is the journey, and not the destination, that is important.

The past two summers, working in gift stores in major tourist areas, I have encountered many people who learn of our lifestyle, and then say “but you are so young”. Sometimes I wonder if we should have kept on working, and saving more money, but that thought quickly passes! After 2 years on the road, we are able to do just fine with our work camping jobs. It certainly helps not having to pay a mortgage, gas, electric, water, sewer and property taxes. And we make sure to find jobs where we are paid for all hours worked, as well as having our site paid for.

I really enjoy living in a small space. I still have too many clothes and other things, so another trip to Goodwill is in order. If it has not been used in 2 years, it is time to let someone else have it collect dust in their house!

Our current location, West Yellowstone, has dozens of hotels/motels/cabins. Watching people load and unload their luggage makes me appreciate the fact we have everything we need with us at all times when we travel in our 5th wheel.

THINGS THAT I MISS

  • A “real” oven. After our first year, I have stopped using our propane oven. Even though it is very small in size, it takes about 30 minutes to heat up, and significantly longer to cook anything. A small batch of cookies takes about 30 minutes. It just became too frustrating to use. In the past year, I have been using our convection/microwave oven, with slightly better results. An electric home oven has 220 volt power, versus 110 volt power in a recreational vehicle. As such, it still takes longer to cook, but I can do a batch of cookies in about 20 minutes, with better results. And things brown better than in a propane oven. Some people use a stand-alone toaster oven for their baking, and have better results. If we ever purchase another RV, it would not have a propane oven.
  • DVR. We do not have satellite, and we certainly do not miss the big bill! We rely on over-the-air television, which can be hit or miss. We have discovered a lot of excellent shows on the PBS channels, which usually come in when nothing else does. But I do miss the ability to record television shows when we are working. We have thought about going “old school” and getting a VCR! (that’s a video cassette recorder for you young folks!)
  • Washer/dryer. We opted not to spend an additional $1100 for a stackable unit when we purchased our 5th wheel. Although we do not mind going to laundromats, we have several t-shirts that are now “tye-died” as a result of using public washers!
  • Unlimited and fast internet connections
  • Family and friends events.  We have missed some big events due to having to work in the summer.  But there were also times with our regular jobs that we could not make it to certain things.  We do try to get back to Wisconsin to visit with family and friends, so this does help.

REGRETS?

  • Zip, zero, nada!!!!

BEST PART OF OUR JOURNEY?

The people that we have met along the road, have been the number one benefit of this lifestyle. As an introverted person, this has truly been a blessing for me. It is very easy to live in a house and not get to know your neighbors. It is almost impossible to walk around a campground and not strike up conversations with others. Work camping is also a wonderful way to meet others, share experiences, and make life-long friends.

Cedar Key 1/14

Cedar Key 1/14

lunch with friends

lunch with friends

Tom, Jack, Ruth Ann, me, Dan and Ellen

Tom, Jack, Ruth Ann, me, Dan and Ellen

We have had some wonderful experiences.

snorkeling with manatees

snorkeling with manatees

Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse Memorial

Disney after Dark

Disney after Dark

And driven through some beautiful parts of the country!

no problem!

no problem!

Encountering wildlife.

Big Daddy

Big Daddy

And trying new experiences

a small waterfall behind us

a small waterfall behind us

Looking back through our photos over the past two years make us realize how much we have experienced. And we have only scratched the surface! Some of you have followed along on our journey from the beginning, and we thank you for that! Others have joined along the way. We are humbled that people follow along with us.

Quote for the  day:  “The less routine the more life.” – Amos Bronson Alcott

Rain, Rain and a brief park visit

Since we arrived in West Yellowstone, MT three weeks ago, it has rained every day.  The locals are happy about the rain, as they did not have much snow this winter.  As many have put it, more rain in May means less smoke (forest fires) in August.  I’m thinking it will be a bumper crop for mosquitos this summer!

The forecast for this past Sunday indicated it would be nice until the afternoon, so we decided to get up early and head over to Yellowstone National Park for the morning.  We got up bright and early….to thick fog!  The best wildlife viewing is early morning or just before sunset.  We decided to wait a few hours for the fog to lift, so we were not expecting to see much wildlife on this visit.  Since we are here for the Summer, we have decided to do the park in small sections.  The park is divided into eight sections, and we decided to head to the Canyon Village area, to view the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, along with the Upper and Lower Falls.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

The canyon is over 24 miles long, and is continuously changing, due to wind, water, earthquakes and other natural occurrences.

Along the way to several viewing positions, remnants remain of the glaciers that melted over 10,000 years ago.  This boulder, as big as a small home, remains nestled in the pine trees.

glacier boulder

glacier boulder

At 308 feet, the Lower Falls is the tallest waterfall in Yellowstone National Park.

Lower Falls

Lower Falls

The Lower Falls

The Lower Falls

The Upper Falls, is named because it is at a higher elevation on the river.  However, the waterfall is only 109 feet.

The Upper Falls

The Upper Falls

We did stop and view one geyser on our way to the Canyon Village area, but I forgot to take a picture of the sign, so I have no idea what this one is called.  It was very small and all by itself.

unknown geyser

unknown geyser

The highlight of the day was encountering two beautiful Elk that were hanging out near the parking lot by the Upper Falls viewing area.  Elk shed their antlers late March thru April, and then begin re-growing them almost immediately.  They can grow as much as 2 inches per day.  They are velvet covered during the period of growth, and by summer the blood flow stops to the antler, and it hardens.  The Elk scratch their antlers along trees to scrape off the velvet.

Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Hello!

Hello!

We are very excited about having the entire summer to take our time exploring the park.

Quote for the day:  “Think of your life as a waterfall; it may come crashing down at some point, it may have it’s ups and downs, but in the end, it will continue to flow.” – unknown

Back to Work – our summer home

After our unexpected delay in Rapid City, SD to repair Dan’s truck (under warranty yay!), we spent the next two days travelling to our summer job in West Yellowstone, MT. It was a beautiful drive, and we knew our destination was ahead when we hit this sign.

Welcome to Yellowstone

Welcome to Yellowstone

We were pleasantly surprised by the town of West Yellowstone, population 1300, located at the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. For such a small town, it has a lot to see and do in the area, besides the big park. We feel this will be a good summer for exploring.

There are a few RV parks in town, but they charge very high daily fees. As such, work campers are usually tucked away in spots throughout the town that locals rent out to businesses. If you drive around and look in the alleys, you will see RV’s tucked all over town. We are on the edge of town, in a quiet area, with one other RV. It is not a glamorous spot, but it has 50 amp full hook-ups, and will be free, to us, for the entire summer.

our 'spot'

our ‘spot’

Across the street from our spot, is US Forest Service land, which has some nice trails and a place to let Makena play off leash.

place for Makena

place for Makena

And beyond the forest, lies a beautiful view!

view for the summer!

view for the summer!

The day after we arrived, we started our summer jobs. We will be working at Homeroom at Madison Crossings, a cabin decor gift shop. There is one other work camper couple, Tom and Ellen, that recommended the job to us.

Tom and Ellen

Tom and Ellen

The building was the old school in town. Originally built in 1918, it was a 3 room school, and expanded over the years. In 1954, a gymnasium was added on, and that is the location of the gift shop. It remained in use until 1992, when a new school was built. In 1993, an elevator and 2nd floor was added to the gym. The floor, wood beams, and two of the lights are original to the building.

Madison Crossings

Madison Crossings

Homeroom at Madison Crossings

Homeroom at Madison Crossings

view from 2nd floor

view from 2nd floor

Down the hall is the old gym (a “half court gym”) and the stage.  Today it is used for banquets.

half gym & stage

half gym & stage

For those curious about work camping and what it pays, we will be making $9.00/hour, with a 50 cent an hour completion bonus for every hour we work. In addition, we will receive free access to the fitness center in the building, ($40/month value), and our site is free, including electric. We will also receive a discount on any purchases we make in the store as well as the restaurant that is in the building.

We already had visitors! George and Laurie (Owens on the Road) stopped by for a visit on the way to their summer job in Montana. It was great getting caught up with some fellow Amazon workers. We will be working Wednesday through Saturday, eventually working 10 hour days once the tourist season gets in full motion.

George and Laurie

George and Laurie

The store sells many items, including a variety of signs. I took a photo of one of the cute signs, and that will be the Quote for the day:

Quote for the day

Quote for the day