Saturday, July 31, 2010

Horses And Jobs

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 100 degrees, mostly cloudy skies with light showers in the late afternoon

This was not a good day for me, as it appears that something in my lunch yesterday made me sick. We think it was the collards that I noticed as being a little salty. Anyway, I spent a good part of the day keeping company with the porcelain throne. I don't get sick like that very often, and don't care to repeat today.

The sick stomach didn't strike me until after I finished my morning walk. As hot as it was this morning, I almost wish that I had gotten up sick so I wouldn't have been out in the hot, humid morning. When I wasn't in the restroom, I was zoned out in my easy chair trying to feel better. Finally, about mid-afternoon, I started feeling better, but we decided that it would be best to stay at home the rest of the day so I could finish getting over my stomach problems.

We've noticed that the horse industry is important to this area. There are hundreds of horse farms, and many of them have training facilities, including race tracks. I think that it would be fair to say that thousands of people are employed by the horse industry, both directly and indirectly. Each farm employs people as trainers, exercise riders, grooms, and laborers. There are people here who transport horses, and others who provide veterinary services. Farriers are used, as well as people to maintain the fences. The farms are usually very scenic, and one reason they are so beautiful is the pastures that look like city parks. Every farm seems to always have people running mowers to keep the pastures looking good.

Some of the more prominent farms have beautiful entrances to their property, with many of those putting up a representation of horses. Here's a statue of a horse and a jockey that one of the farms uses.



Among the horses bred and raised here are thoroughbreds, quarter horses, paso finos, apaloosas, and Morgan horses. I'm not sure what this statue represents as far as a breed, but it was impressive to me.



The reason so many horses are here is because the soil is high in calcium content, allowing horses with stronger bones to be raised. Here's a typical picture of the countryside that is part of a horse farm.



If I continue to feel better tomorrow, we'll be out and about to see what we can find.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Hendersonville, North Carolina: Friendliest City In America

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Crystal River

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 98 degrees, mostly clear skies in the morning to mostly cloudy skies skies in the evening

When we got up this morning, I told Carolyn that I didn't want to sit around the RV all day. Sometimes, it seems like we don't have any imagination about what to do with our time, or we're just tired of doing anything. That's when we take a day off to recharge the batteries. Yesterday was a day to recharge and rest, but that one day was enough for me.

While eating breakfast (shredded wheat - no sodium, ummmm!), we decided to drive over to Crystal River to see what kind of change has taken place since we were last there about 35 years ago. So, what has changed? Plenty!

The last time we were in Crystal River, it was a sleepy little fishing town that depended on tourism for a good bit of their income. It was a good place to take a family to swim, boat, and fish. Party boats took fishermen out into the gulf for a day of fishing. There were a couple of decent seafood restaurants and one golf course that I remember. The main street was a two lane road.

What a change 35 years makes. The main street is four lanes, and there are all kinds of restaurants, including those that specialize in seafood. Golf courses seem to be everywhere. Several subdivisions have been developed, as well as beaches and boat ramps on the Gulf of Mexico. We drove to one of the beaches to see what was going on.



When I got out of the truck to take pictures, the humidity slapped me in the face. By the time I got back into the air conditioned truck, I felt sticky.

The sea gulls were doing some people watching.



The gulf water was beautiful, with no sign that the area has been affected by the oil spill. The boat ramp parking area was full of vehicles with boat trailers.



There is a power plant near Crystal river that has three coal powered units as well as one nuclear powered unit. Can you imagine how many people would be left in Florida if electricity for running air conditioners was suddenly gone? I think there would be a wholesale exodus.



Earlier in the post, I spoke of the seafood restaurants in the area. We stopped for lunch at Claw Daddy's for no reason other than we saw their sign outside town. It was a good choice, as I was able to get a fried tilapia basket. I know that tilapia is a fresh water fish, and is therefore not seafood. It was still good, with the fish being lightly breaded and fried perfectly. I also got collards with the meal, and that was a mistake, as they were too salty and I couldn't eat them.

After lunch, we headed across country in a meandering way toward home, passing through Lecanto, Beverly Hills, Citrus Hills, and other little towns. Traffic was not bad, but I imagine it would get heavy when the snow birds come down here in the winter.

By the time we got home, it was time for meditation and trying to stay cool for the rest of the day.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Crystal River, Florida: Gem Of The Nature Coast

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Observations On Beggars

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 97 degrees, partly cloudy to mostly cloudy skies

Well, the professional beggars in this area are still working hard at plying their trade. We have noticed a core group of beggars composed primarily of men that rotates between several of the busiest intersections in the area. They appear to have worked out a schedule among themselves that keeps people stationed at the intersections, but the individual beggars change intersections on a routine basis. That rotation appears to be an attempt to make people think that new beggars are moving in. That doesn't seem to be the case to us, as we see the same people showing up at different intersections.

Is that rotation and schedule of people at different intersections an example of American ingenuity and initiative? I tend to think it is, as the beggars try to maximize their income with the least amount of effort. In addition, enough new motorists go through the intersections every day so that at least some of them give money without realizing that the beggars have been here for weeks.

The majority of the beggars are white and middle aged to retirement age. I've often wondered why some of these people who are obviously old enough to be drawing Social Security benefits are standing out in the hot sun begging, instead of sitting on the front porch in the shade, or better yet, in the air conditioning watching television. Our daughter Terri has helped in the treatment of people who were mentally sick that were homeless through their own choice, but those people were not beggars. There's no doubt that some of the beggars are mentally ill, but I have a feeling most of them have chosen to live the way they do.

The beggars we're seeing here are not the first we've seen in our travels, but these do seem to be the most organized. The youngest beggars we saw were in Eureka, California. The reason so many young people were begging there was because of all the marijuana being grown in the area. And can you believe they were the happiest beggars we have seen?

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Eureka, California: Queen City Of The Ultimate West

Not all who wander are lost

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cross Creek, Florida

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 97 degrees, mostly clear skies early, then cloudy skies and light showers in the late afternoon

I am a proud Florida Cracker. What does that mean? Over time, it has come to denote people who were born in Florida back before there was widespread use of air conditioning and mosquito repellent. That would describe how life was when I was born. The highlight of a week for when I was a child was to have $.25 to go to the movies. That $.25 would pay for my ticket ($.09), and popcorn with a Coke. The movie theatre was air conditioned, and there were usually two feature films, cartoons, a serial, and previews. If that wasn't enough movie theatre for a person, he could stay as long as he wanted and watch everything again, since they would run the shows again and again until about midnight.

The original use of the term Florida Cracker seems to have come from the Florida cowboys who worked cattle in the thick brush. The cowboys used bullwhips that cracked when they were used to gather the cattle. In early England, the term cracker was used to denote braggarts, but my experience with Florida Crackers has been that they don't speak much, but when they do, it is softly and people tend to listen to what they have to say. In other words, they usually have something of value to say.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, probably the best known writer about the cracker way of life back in the early to mid-20th century, owned a home at Cross Creek, which is about 30 miles north of Ocala. We decided to take a drive up to Ms. Rawlings' old house to see how the elements have been treating her old homestead. What we found was that the state has made the homestead a historic state park. In addition, the Federal government has designated the house and farm yard as a National Historic Landmark. So, through the efforts of the state and federal governments, as well as dedicated volunteers, the home place has been resurrected to what it looked like when it was used by Ms. Rawlings.

Ms. Rawlings bought the farm in 1928 after a vacation in Florida. Her greatest success as a writer took place while she lived in Cross Creek, and her novel "The Yearling" won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939. The book was made into a movie starring Gregory Peck in 1946. The movie was filmed near Silver Springs.

Here's a picture of the house that Ms. Rawlings lived in at Cross Creek. This type of house was common in Florida at the time, and was well suited for people who lived in a hot, humid climate. She wrote that the climate was such that she could eat the majority of her meals on the screened porch for 10 to 11 months out of the year.



This was the bedroom wing of the house. Ms. Rawlings had the room on the right hand side.



This tree is typical of the trees around the farm. Note the moss hanging in the tree. Now that's an old gray beard!



We liked the inscription on the sun dial that stands in the front yard.



I can't pass a flower that looks like it will make a good picture. Here's a shrimp plant in the back yard.



Our trip to Cross Creek has made us realize that we need to read more of Ms. Rawlings' books. I'll be looking for her books the next time I'm in the library.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Hawthorne, Florida: The Heart Of Fresh Water Fishing

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Good Doctor's Visit

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 100 degrees, mostly clear skies

Summer has set in with a vengeance, as the temperature reached 100 degrees today. Happily, there are only about four months to go before it begins to cool off!

Another doctor's visit was taken care of today, as I saw the pulmonary specialist who helped treat me for pneumonia a few weeks ago. He did a good examination of me, and said my lungs sounded clear. The next question to be answered now is whether I had asthma or not. I was diagnosed as having asthma back in May while seeing my family doctor in Texas, and started being treated for that. There's only one thing that was wrong with the treatment: the medicine never seemed to relieve the symptoms, and I was feeling worse all the time. Everything came to a head when I finally got so sick here in Ocala that I had to be admitted to the hospital. That's when the pneumonia was found.

So, what happens now is that I will have more tests performed in August that should tell us whether I ever had asthma or not. Obviously, I hope that I don't have asthma. If we find that I was misdiagnosed with asthma when I actually had pneumonia, I will be disappointed that the doctor that I had used for more than five years made that kind of mistake. But, I'm happy that if I was going to get as sick as I did, that it happened in Ocala. My medical care here has been very good, and I'm feeling much better.

The next thing I need to decide when all the medical stuff here is finished is whether I'll be changing primary care doctors. That's going to be a tough decision because I like the doctor in Texas, but as I said, I'm disappointed that he didn't catch the pneumonia.

After leaving the doctor's office, we went to Carolyn's mother's house and visited for a couple of hours. Then it was on to home and try to stay cool for the rest of the day. Only about 120 days to go before cooler weather. I can hardly wait.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Industry, Texas: Cradle Of German Settlement In Texas

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Trouble Sleeping

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 97 degrees, mostly clear skies early, then rain in Dunnellon, no rain in Ocala where we are camped

Last night was a bad one for sleep. I didn't get into the bed until about 2330 hours, and sleep was very slow in coming. Up at 0030 hours, 0230 hours, and 0430 hours, when I decided I might as well read some to see if sleep would come more readily. In my work life, getting up at 0430 hours would have meant that it was time to get ready to go to work. When I'm awake at that time now, it's usually because I'm having trouble sleeping. After reading for about 30 minutes, I went back to bed and was able to sleep until about 0800 hours.

So, the question is why did I have so much trouble sleeping? Well, there were a couple of reasons, but I think the main reason was that I kept having to get up and go to the restroom. In other words, I may have had too much to drink yesterday. No, not the alcoholic type of drink, which might have helped me sleep better. I don't usually have this problem, and can't remember drinking a lot of fluids yesterday. But, there I was, getting up several times throughout the night. Here's hoping I won't have the same problem tonight.

We are starting to get hitch itch, but can't go anywhere for almost three more weeks. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, and then another one on the 11th of August. These doctor appointments are all followups from my recent stay in the hospital with pneumonia, and we don't want to cancel them because I need to take better care of my health. We're looking at some things that we can go do within about one hundred miles of where we're staying. More news on that as we get the plans completed. One place we're thinking about going to is the Stephen Foster State Park. I visited the park with a school class when I was in the sixth grade (that was a long time ago!). Then, we took our girls there when they were little. It was impressive enough to us that we would like to go back, even if some people may think it's not politically correct because it depicts plantation life in the south back in the early 1800s. We enjoy the beautiful dioramas and Stephen Foster's music.

In an attempt to scratch our itch just a little, we drove back over to the Dunnellon area to do some more sightseeing of the countryside. Only one thing wrong: it rained almost the whole time we were in the area, which tends to restrict the enthusiasm a little. Finally, we said the heck with it and came back home, where the skies were clear and it hadn't rained. It's amazing the difference that 20 miles can make in the weather.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Asheville, North Carolina: Paris Of The South

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Grocery Shopping

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 97 degrees, clear skies early, mostly cloudy late in the afternoon

Carolyn doesn't go to the grocery store much these days. Her vertigo seems to give her fits whenever she gets in a situation where there is a lot of visual stimulation, such as crowds of people or quickly changing scenes. Since she can't get into that type of situation very often, I'm usually the person that goes to the grocery store. In fact, I do most of the shopping of just about any kind that we need to do.

Occasionally, Carolyn will take a chance and go to the grocery store with me, and she decided to try today. It seems that she doesn't think I have the imagination that she does, so I take a list to make sure I get everything I should. There was no list today, since Carolyn said she didn't need one. Okay.

We got to the WalMart Mall about 0900 hours, and there was hardly anyone shopping in the Mall. That was good for Carolyn, since the motion stimulation was much less than normal. Starting at the front of the grocery section, she went up and down each aisle, checking the labels for sodium content for just about every item. Also, she was looking for some items for new recipes that she wanted to try. About 90 minutes later, she had found everything she wanted. About that time, the vertigo started rearing it's ugly head, so the timing was good.

It was a good shopping day for Carolyn, and we may have found a time of the day that will allow her to do more shopping. And, if she can, it means I don't have to worry about not getting something that was on a list.

Since Carolyn was able to go help buy groceries, her imagination allowed us to have low sodium taco salad. I think she needs to go with me more often.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Boston, Massachusetts: Puritan City

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Doris Is 86 Years Old

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 97 degrees, partly cloudy skies, light showers late in the day

Today was the first time that Carolyn has been able to help her mother celebrate her birthday since we moved away from Florida about 30 years ago. A side benefit of the birthday celebration was that all of Carolyn's brothers and sisters were there except for her brother Leland, who had to work.

Doris was born 86 years ago outside the little town of Nashville, Georgia, on a little farm that she grew up on. She has lived through the depression of the 1930s, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and all the other wars that we have had since she was born. She saw man go to the moon, and all types of wondrous inventions that help to make our lives easier.

When she was born, her family had no television or radio, but had a family full of people who knew how to make music. Church services were important social and religious events that the family enjoyed going to. The high light of a day in the summer was a trip to the community swimming hole to get a soft drink and a candy bar.

Doris had eight children, and all of them are still alive and living in the Ocala area, except for Carolyn, who is at home where ever the RV is. So, ALL her children are here now. Doris lost her husband to cancer many years ago, yet was able to keep her family together. Like many of the people of her era, Doris had a hard life, but I have never heard her complain about her lot in life.

In this time of her life, Doris has some medical issues that bother her, but her mind is as sharp as a tack. She says that she still thinks like a young person, but her body reminds her that she can't do the things that she used to do. If she could do the things that she thinks about, she would be a whirlwind.

She looks like a happy person, doesn't she?



Happy Birthday, Doris. I hope you're here for many more.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Akron, Ohio: The Rubber Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tropical Storm

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 95 degrees, mostly clear skies early, then mostly cloudy skies in the afternoon and evening

A tropical storm is making it's way across the state. It crossed the coastline heading west below Miami, so there's little chance that it will affect the weather in Ocala, other than the clouds and a little wind that we're seeing this evening. Not that it bothers us, because if the weather looks like it's going to get bad, we can hook up the RV to the truck and head in the opposite direction.

When we lived in Florida back before 1980, we experienced what hurricanes can do first hand. My earliest recollection of a hurricane is of a storm that hit Florida when I was about six years old and we lived near New Smyrna Beach. The reason I remember that storm is that we were flooded out of the house and had to leave. Now that will make an imprint on a young kid's memory.

Another storm that stands out was one that occurred about 1972. We were living beside a lake in the Ocala National Forest, and when we went to bed one night, a storm was making it's way up the west coast of Florida, with all forecasts saying that it would hit land near Pensacola. Think about how far Pensacola is from Ocala (about 300 miles). So, it was a real surprise to be awakened in the middle of the night when the television antenna (remember what those were?) was blown down on to the roof. The storm had made a 90 degree turn near Crystal River and came across the state on it's way to the Atlantic Ocean and up the east coast. We were directly in the path of the eye of the storm, and went through about a 30 minute period of calm air with no rain when the eye passed over us. Then, we really caught it. Higher winds and more rain than ever. Finally, the weather started easing about daylight.

When I went out to check on the damage we suffered, I found that the only damage we had was the television antenna being blown down. However, several homes near us had trees blown down on them, the power lines were blown down, and the roads were blocked by trees being blown down across them.

Of all the hurricanes we experienced when we lived here, the one I wrote about above was the only one that caused us any damage. And guess what? People picked up and repaired the damage without any help from the government or any other agency. Friends and neighbors helped those that needed it, and no one sat waiting for big brother to make everything right for them. What a novel concept!

What ever happened to that independence that Americans used to be so well known for?

It was amazing how well the fish were biting when the storm passed over. I went fishing a day after the storm, and every cast caught a fish. I even had one fish jump into the boat. And that's not a fish story.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Fortuna, California: The Friendly City

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Special Place

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 97 degrees, clear skies

There is a special place near here that we remember with a lot of fondness and nostalgia. We decided to visit that special place today. On a hot summer day, Juniper Springs was a place that we visited with the anticipation of jumping into cold clear water that averages 72 degrees the entire year. The springs were developed back in the 1930s as part of the work performed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.



As I was walking around taking pictures today, it was funny to see the little kids running out of the water with blue lips and shivering because they were cold. Of course, it didn't take long for them to warm up in the bright sunshine.

About 1975, we took our girls for a canoe trip down Juniper Creek to Lake George. Here's the start of the canoe trip, and the picture doesn't do justice to the beauty we saw as we moved away from the springs. Note the kids wading in the creek, more commonly known as "The Run". The spring puts out 80 million gallons of cold, clear water every day, and it creates Juniper Creek on it's way to Lake George.



The trip down the run is a beautiful step back in time. However, I got the worse case of poison oak/ivy that I ever had when we paddled down the creek. It took me a month to get over it. At least my family had fun.

There was a good crowd at the spring today, and there are several shelters for people to use for picnics, etc.



The woods around the spring are protected, being left in an undisturbed state as much as possible. Check out how thick the woods are in this picture. Can you imagine how hard it was for the early settlers to travel in this stuff?



On my way back to the truck where Carolyn was waiting, I stopped for a few minutes to talk to a man who works at the spring as a security guard. It appeared that the major portion of his job consisted of stopping people carrying coolers and checking them for alcoholic beverages. From what I saw, he was very unpopular today, as he sent three people back to the parking lot with forbidden beverages. He said they had to adopt strict measures like that because some people allowed their actions to get out of hand while drinking. With the number of kids and young people there, it made sense that they had banned alcohol. That didn't make it a popular decision.

This was a good day, and the only thing that would have made it better was to have had our daughters there with their kids to see where their mothers went to have a cool swim when they were little girls.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Temple Terrace, Florida: The Terrace

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fellowship

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 98 degrees, mostly clear skies

Today was about as an ordinary day as we've had recently. We were up about the same time as usual, but Carolyn said she felt a little off, which usually indicates that her vertigo is getting ready to give her a bad time. She didn't have a full-fledged attack with the vertigo, but never felt as good as she did the last two days. Oh, well, it was nice while it lasted. Maybe she'll feel better tomorrow.

We did get out for a couple of hours, doing some more nostalgic sightseeing in the northwest area of the county. Today's trip took us out to the Fellowship and Blichton areas, which are in the center of the horse farm country. Before driving home, we drove through the Golden Hills subdivision, which was developed by the Castro family years ago while we were still living here. The subdivision has a country club centered around an 18 hole golf course. It is a nice place to live, but we were surprised at the number of homes for sale, including those owned by banks.

Since we've been here, we've found that the real estate crash appears to have been caused by the same factors that caused real estate to crash in the rest of the country: people buying property that was overpriced at terms that usually included small or no down payments and balloon payments at some point that they were unable to honor. In addition, when the price of real estate started tanking, many of the people found themselves upside down on the mortgages, and they couldn't afford the loans anymore. Based on what we've observed, it will be some time before the real estate situation gets better in this area. The only people making money on real estate seems to be the real estate agents. But, there's so many of them here, I can't see any of them making a lot of money.

By the time we got home, Carolyn was ready to settle in for the rest of the day. It would be great for her to be able to get up one day and her vertigo be gone, never to return.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Eugene, Oregon: The Emerald City

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Back Roads

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 97 degrees, mostly clear skies

Carolyn had a second day in a row of no vertigo symptoms. That's something that happens so rarely that I can't remember the last time it happened. So, what did that mean to our day? Why, we were out and about again!

Our little trek today took us back to the northwest part of the county, down roads we didn't even know existed until we found them today. These roads were typical of most of the little back country roads here: horse farms, huge oak trees with moss, tree tunnels over the road, piney woods, beautiful pastures. And everything is so green. After living in Texas for many years, it's still amazing to us how green everything is here.

We have a habit when we find a new road of driving on the road to see where it goes. That led us today across the country, around curves and up and down hills, and suddenly we were in the outskirts of the southern part of Gainesville. How did we get there? I have no idea, but we enjoyed the drive. According to the odometer on the truck, it only took us 17 miles to get to Gainesville from where we started out in Marion County.

One thing we noticed today was that even with all the people who moved to Florida in the last 20 years is the fact that there is still plenty of vacant land when you get away from the towns and cities. Of course, that doesn't make it cheap, as the average price seems to be $10,000 to $50,000 per acre. Ouch!

Have you ever gotten tired of something to the point that you're ready to scream if you have to do it one more time? That's about the way I felt about the low sodium diet that I've been on for the last three plus weeks. I have been very good with the diet, and even the doctor said I was overdoing it a little. Today, we decided to try a new restaurant that we hadn't been to before, Sam's St John's Seafood Restaurant. I told the server that I was a low sodium diet, and asked her if they had anything that I could eat without getting an overdose of sodium. Surprise, they do, and she named several items with little or no sodium that fit the bill for me. I decided to have their fried shrimp (very little breading), french fries (no sodium), cole slaw (no sodium), and hush puppies, which I gave to Carolyn. It was so GOOD! Maybe we can find a couple more restaurants that work so I can get a break from what we've been fixing. Carolyn does a good job preparing things that are low sodium, but we are limited in room to cook. If I get a break at least once a week, I think I can handle it.

Okay, enough of the whining.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Cullman, Alabama: City Of Churches

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bundt Cake

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 97 degrees, partly cloudy skies

Today was clothes washing day, as Carolyn said she was running out of her favorite clothes to wear. I was still good for about, oh, another two weeks. Needless to say, the clothes got washed today. And guess who washed them? One guess, and his name starts with J.

Carolyn was feeling pretty good when she got up, without any evidence of vertigo. When she has days like that, we try to do whatever we can to make the vertigo-free day last as long as possible. That's why I washed the laundry. Besides, I don't mind doing the clothes. I've done many things that were a lot harder to do in my life.

After lunch, Carolyn felt well enough that she wanted to go revisit more of the countryside that we remember with fondness from our past life here. Today, the trip down memory lane led us northwest of Ocala through the Germantown, Reddick, Flemington, and Fairfield areas. Back in the day, there were some nice horse farms in the area, but most of the land was wooded with pine trees and oaks. Now, there are more horse farms and small hobby farms. It seems that many more people live in the area.

We lived in the Fairfield area at one time. In our travels today, we tried to find where we lived before, but the area has changed so much that we're not sure whether we found the location or not.

As we started meandering back toward the RV, we explored some of the back roads in the little town of McIntosh. The town only has about 450 people, but is full of majestic old oak trees and nice old houses that date back 100 years or more. Most of the town is listed as a historic area. Here's a picture that gives an idea of the little town's size. This is the town hall.



By the time we arrived home, it was time for some meditation. Later on, we discussed what supper would consist of, which started me thinking about dessert. For some reason, I've been wanting some chocolate, as well as a good tasting cake. The last time I was at Sam's Club, they had some great looking Bundt cakes for sale, but I didn't get one. I rectified that serious mistake today, picking up a triple chocolate Bundt cake. I can hear the cake calling me to go cut it. Hold on, I'm coming!

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Dodge City: Cowboy Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Williston

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 97 degrees, partly cloudy skies

The early part of the day was spent watching the British Open golf tournament on television, as the best golfers in the world got kicked around the course by a wicked wind. I haven't played golf in some time, but I still enjoy watching some of the tournaments, especially the four major ones.

We took another trip down memory lane today, taking a ride over to Williston, a little town of about 2,500 people. Williston is located about 20 miles northwest of Ocala on US 27. I would like to be able to write that it was a meaningful trip, but there seems to have been little change in this town over the years. Except for the highway through town being made into a four lane road. So, is the fact that there has been little change in 30 years good or bad? I guess it depends on your viewpoint. With all the growth in Ocala and Marion County, I thought there would be more change in Williston. After all, the two towns are only about 20 miles apart.

We enjoyed the drive over to Williston along US 27. It took us through the heart of the horse country, and it is just as beautiful as we remember. Beautiful old moss draped oak trees, green pastures that look like lawns and parks, and homes that look like old plantation places. Then there's the horses. These animals are world class thoroughbreds, and there are a lot of foals and colts in the fields right now.

One thing we saw on the way home was a little bar-b-que shack named Frog's that we visited often when we lived here before. If I hadn't been on this restricted sodium diet, I would have stopped and gotten some pulled pork sandwiches. They were so good back in the day! We were surprised that they were still in business.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Williston, Florida: Gateway To The Nature Coast

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Memories Of Silver Springs

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 74 degrees, high 98 degrees, partly cloudy skies

As much as I complain about how busy the WalMart Mall gets on the weekend, you would think that I would go buy groceries during the week. Nope, that's too simple. One thing I did do today was go to the Mall early. It wasn't quite as busy, and I only took about 30 minutes total for what I needed.

The Mall I usually go to is near Silver Springs. As I was driving back through Silver Springs on my way home, I was overwhelmed with memories of what Silver Springs used to be like. Back when we lived here years ago, Silver Springs was one of the most popular family destinations in the state. Tommy Bartlett had a deer ranch, Ross Allen had a reptile show where he milked rattlesnakes and wrestled alligators, and the glass bottom boats showed off the clear water from the springs. The water was full of fish, and there was a swimming area that people could use to enjoy the cool water in the summer.

At that time, there were several motels in Silver Springs, and they were all busy in the summer. I noticed today that the Silver Springs attraction doesn't seem to get as many people as they used to, so the motels are mostly empty. One of them across from the springs has been repossessed and will be auctioned later this month.

It looks as though the handwriting was on the wall for the area businesses as soon as Disney World opened near Orlando. Many other tourist attractions followed Disney World, and now the Orlando area is probably the premier destination for family attractions in the world. As a result, Silver Springs has become a backwater for tourism. It's a little sad.

When I was in my last two years of high school, I worked as a bellhop at the Thunderbird Motel. I keep surprising you, don't I?

Over the years, the old Thunderbird Motel underwent name changes and remodeling until it looks like the picture below.



I met some interesting people when working at the Thunderbird. Two of those people stand out, including Tom Adams, the Florida Secretary of State. The one I remember most was Robert Kennedy. His wife Ethel was with him, and she had a news magazine with her that had Kennedy's picture on the front cover. Rich man, right? Well, he was one of the biggest cheapskates I served, only giving me a dime tip for taking their bags in and getting ice, as well as a newspaper. He had to go through all his pockets to find that dime.

It's funny the things I remember.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Vidor, Texas: Home Of The Texas Bar-B-Q Festival

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, July 16, 2010

ANOTHER Doctor Visit

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 97 degrees, clear to partly cloudy skies

ANOTHER doctor's visit today, as I had to go see the doctor who admitted me to the hospital when I was sick. Remember when I wrote that it looked like more of them were going to get their hooks in me? At least the appointment today didn't result in more tests or procedures. It looks like I'm finished with one of the doctors who worked with me when I was in the hospital. Yes!

I don't want to sound like I don't appreciate the care I received here, because I thought I got outstanding help. I'm one of those hard headed men who don't like to go to the doctor. Of course, sometimes I'm a little overboard with avoiding the doctors, and I almost waited a little too late when I was admitted into the hospital. Now, I listen to Carolyn more when she gets on to me about being hard headed. Has my hard head softened up some? I would say so.

While I was at the doctor's office, Carolyn was visiting with her mother. Doris is 86 years old, and is still as sharp as a tack. She loves to crochet, and is usually doing an intricate piece that she passes on to a member of the family. Whenever someone wants a particular piece, they buy the material and patterns and a week or so later, the piece is finished. Doris is what i would call a speed crocheter. Those needles fly and you can almost see the smoke coming off them. It's great that she can still do things like that at her age. Oh, and another thing. She loves to put puzzles together. So, everyone is always looking for a new puzzle for Doris. Can you believe she does all this without having to use glasses?

It was past lunchtime before I got out of the doctor's office. Since I received a good report from the doctor, I decided that we would go to Sonny's for a late lunch. I know that I can eat a low sodium lunch there, so it wasn't a hard decision to make. Also, Carolyn is always ready to go there, so it was a popular decision with her.

Today, I had the sliced pork again, along with a corn muffin, cole slaw, and a baked sweet potato. Oh, and iced tea. I know it doesn't sound like much, but I enjoyed it. I did fudge a little by having two of Carolyn's french fries, but they didn't have any salt on them. I know, excuses, excuses.....

I was just thinking that it's only about six weeks until college football season starts. I'm ready.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Medina, Texas: Home Of The International Apple Festival

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Light Showers

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 74 degrees, high 94 degrees, light showers in the afternoon and early evening

The doctor visits continued today as I had to go back early this morning for a blood letting so some lab work could be done. In addition, another EKG was performed, which is about five or six of those in the last three weeks. Then, to top it all off, I had to go pee in a bottle. I'm not sure what that was about. Before I retired from working in the nuclear power industry, we had random drug tests all the time. This is the first time a private doctor has wanted a pee sample from me in a long time. I hope that word doesn't offend anyone.

I like to donate blood for other folks to use whenever I find a blood mobile. There's plenty of that activity around here, but I'm unable to donate. I've given so much blood for tests in the last three weeks that it amounts to more than if I was donating for someone's health. My arms were black and blue for a few days. Just when I was healing up, more blood was taken, so now my left arm is bruised again.

To top all this off, I have another appointment tomorrow to see an internal medicine doctor. He is the doctor who admitted me to the hospital when I was sick, so I guess he's got to get his hooks in me. Maybe all this is necessary, but it sure gets tiresome.

Since I had lab work this morning, I couldn't eat or drink after midnight. By the time I got home about 0930 hours, I was starving. Shredded wheat with zero sodium and milk never tasted so good before! Add a sliced banana to the bowl, and that's a fine breakfast. I use a little sugar to give the shredded wheat a little more taste.

With the early start and not being able to eat, I was a little under the weather most of the day. Then, the rain started, which tends to get Carolyn's anxieties going. She gets really anxious when there are thunderstorms around, so she was watching the radar on television most of the afternoon. If I was watching something, she would ask me to check the radar every few minutes. She picked up her anxieties about the weather from her mother. Doris seems to be calmer about rainy weather now, while Carolyn seems to get more anxious. I, on the other hand, hardly ever think about the weather getting bad. Maybe we're a good balance to each other. However, note Today's Town below. Is that something to be proud of?

There wasn't much going on today, but I have a few things planned for tomorrow, other than seeing another doctor. I'm starting to get a little RV crazy, so it's time to get out and about.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Ocala, Florida: Lightning Capital Of The World

Not all who wande rare lost.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Medical Anomalies

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 74 degrees, high 96 degrees, partly cloudy skies

The first of three doctor appointments (I thought!) was this morning at 0930 hours. I was there about 45 minutes early so I could fill out any paperwork. I was surprised to find I only had two sheets to fill out, and they only took about three minutes to do. Well, that was a change from what I'm used to. Maybe this new doctor is going to be okay.

My first impression was reinforced when I was called to see the doctor a few minutes later. After his nurse took more information, including what medicine I was using, the doctor came in. We had met when I was in the hospital, and at that time he said he would like to see me after I had been out of the hospital a week or two. He and I went through what caused me to be in the hospital to start with, and then he went into why he wanted to see me now.

It seems that he saw some anomalies in the x-rays and other tests that were performed
when I was in the hospital. He felt that the anomalies were of the type that warranted further tests and reviews, including any test results that he could get from my doctors in Texas. Before I left the office, I signed permission for the test results from Texas to be sent here for comparison.

I had a lot of questions for the doctor, and he was open and frank with his answers. Based on what he knows so far, I don't have anything wrong that I have to worry about keeling over unexpectedly. He said that the anomalies he saw concerned him enough that he wants to have them answered before he releases me. That means the information from Texas should be in his office overnight. Tomorrow, I have to go back to the office and have another EKG performed as well as more blood work. Then, I have an appointment with him in four weeks, unless they call sooner.

Overall, the meeting with the doctor was positive. I like the way he explains what he is doing, and he takes as much time as needed to answer questions. One really good thing that came out of seeing him is that he said I didn't have to restrict the sodium in my diet as much as I have. The RDA for sodium is about 2500 milligrams, and he said to be aware of my sodium intake, and not exceed 2000 milligrams a day. He explained what too much sodium does to the body, so now I will be able to recognize the warning signs that tell me I'm starting to retain fluid caused by sodium.

I knew I was probably overdoing it, so now I can take Carolyn out to eat once in a while. That made her day.

When we lived in Florida many years ago, we enjoyed the watermelons that are grown here. Before I got sick, I bought a nice one that we finally cut today. Wow! It was outstanding. Sweet and firm, perfectly ripe, and seedless. It was the first watermelon I have eaten in about 30 years. I think we'll get another one in a week or so, after we finish eating what we saved in the refrigerator today.

Carolyn's getting good at cooking the low sodium method. She prepared a nice roast with gravy, rice, and English peas for supper. It was very tasty, even without regular salt. We'll continue to use as little sodium as possible, with a reward meal outside the home occasionally.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Gateway To The Smokies

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Carolyn's Sister Diane

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 98 degrees, mostly clear skies

Carolyn's sister Diane and her husband Jim are in Ocala on vacation until the end of July. We hadn't seen them for several years due to our schedules not lining up. We got to visit with Diane today, while Jim was playing cards with some of his friends who live here. Diane has had some health problems in the past couple of years, and is doing better, but still has a problem or two that her doctors are helping her with. My first reaction when I saw Diane was what was wrong with her hair. She grew up with red hair, but it's just about white now. Boy, these people are getting old!

Diane and Jim live in Ohio, but have gotten tired of the cold winters. They bought a winter home here so they can get away from the snow and ice. If we can get our schedules turned around, we should be able to see them more, since we're going to try to visit the area in the winter more often, versus coming down when it's so hot in the summer.

Since we hadn't seen Diane for so long that there was a lot of news to exchange with her. Carolyn's mother Doris seemed to get a kick out of watching and hearing the interaction between Diane and all the people there. I know that we enjoyed the get together, and we made plans to see them again before they leave.

Before we went home, I stopped at Publix to pick up some meat for supper. Carolyn told me to get something that was easy to prepare, yet would be good. Huh? She told a person that has no imagination (me) to do something that is usually fraught with all kinds of chances to do it wrong. Well, I got it right today. I picked up some cubed steak, and she said it was the perfect choice. Well, okay. That wasn't too hard. Maybe I have more imagination than I thought. Of course, I shouldn't have said that because I'll probably blow it tomorrow.

I guess you know what we had for supper, right? And it was the perfect choice. It had been several years since we've had cubed steak, but even with the low sodium cooking style, it was tasty. Carolyn wasn't whining today about cooking, so I guess she got her restaurant fix yesterday. Maybe the doctors will start giving me a little more flexibility by the end of the week.

One of the pastimes that RVers like to do (especially those of us who have been doing it awhile) is watching rookie RVers set their RV up. Today was a classic, as I saw a fellow and his wife setting their RV up for what was obviously one of the few times they had done it. To start with, they put all their slide-outs in the out position while the RV was still hooked up to their truck. Then, they put the rear jacks down before taking the RV off the truck. That meant they tried to raise the RV up off the truck hitch with the rear jacks down on the ground. When I saw what they were doing, I started to go over and suggest they change the sequence of events so that the rear jacks were put down after the RV was off the truck. As I got about 20 feet away, I heard angry words being exchanged, so I veered away. I didn't want to be involved in a spat between the man and woman. Eventually, they realized they couldn't get the RV off the truck unless the rear jacks were raised. After another 20 minutes or so, they finally had the RV set up, but I don't know what kind of damage was done. The school of hard knocks is a hard teacher. I can speak from experience.

The first of three scheduled doctor appointments is set for tomorrow. I'm hopeful that I will get a good report. I can't imagine what else I could do to live a plainer life. No sodium, who would have ever thought it?

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Ocoee, Florida: The Center Of Good Living

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sonny's

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 93 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, humid (what's new?)

My morning walks continue to get a little longer. It seems the better I feel, the more I want to get outside and get some exercise. Maybe I'll be back to normal in about, oh, three months. Just kidding. If the weather wasn't so humid, I would probably be walking as far as I usually did before getting sick.

I mentioned in an earlier post that when I was released from the hospital, I was advised to keep my sodium intake as low as possible. That was the wrong thing for Carolyn to hear, because she knew I would take what was said as gospel. I usually have the self discipline to do whatever the doctors tell me to do, so she knew I would probably go overboard on reducing the sodium from my diet. And I did. At the rate I'm going with this diet, I should lose enough weight to disappear from the earth in about nine months. Just a little poof! and I'm outta here.

We talked about what we could do to modify the diet, yet still meet the intent of what the doctors want me to do. Now, it's important to know that Carolyn decided she was going to eat the same diet as me. As she said, she wasn't going to become a short order cook, cooking for at least two different diets at the same time.

Well, the time has come that this low sodium diet has gotten old for Carolyn. She said she needed a break from it, at least for one meal. She kept talking about how much she would like some bar-b-que. In this area, the best bar-b-que is from Sonny's. I suggested she go with her sister for lunch, but she said she would feel guilty for going without me. Of course, I would never play on that guilt. Nah!

Throughout the day, Carolyn continued her whining about how much she wanted something different. Finally, I took pity on her and called Sonny's to find out what the sodium content was on their sliced beef and pork. What a surprise! The sliced beef had 90 milligrams of sodium per serving, while the sliced pork had 105 milligrams per serving. Those are low numbers.

So, I decided to take Carolyn to Sonny's for supper. It's tough hearing a grown woman whine about food.

It felt strange walking in the restaurant. Today was the first time in any sort of restaurant in more than two weeks. I decided to splurge and have the sliced pork for 15 milligrams of sodium more than the beef. With a baked potato served with sour cream (no butter), cole slaw, and a corn muffin and ice water, I had a good meal for a very low sodium total. The sliced pork was eaten without sauce until the last two bites when I added a few drops of sweet sauce. Ummmm, umm, good!

The best thing about going to Sonny's today is that Carolyn's happy again. A bonus may be that I won't go poof! quite as soon as I forecasted.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Nashville, Tennessee: The Protestant Vatican

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Country Roads

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 93 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, occasional light sprinkles

This was a day when the most exciting thing happening appeared to be an octopus picking Spain to defeat The Netherlands for the World Cup in soccer. This sport seems to be nothing more than a bunch of people running around kicking a ball, tripping each other, penalty cards being flashed for things that most people can't see, and the average score of a game being 1 to 0. I thought the sport of curling in the Winter Olympics was more exciting. Give me a good old American sport, such as football, especially the college variety, baseball, and basketball.

Oh, by the way. The octopus got it right. That's a sad commentary on a sport when the octopus seems to get more attention than the championship game.

Carolyn felt well enough that we were able to get out for a ride through some of the beautiful horse country. Riding along these country roads seems to have a calming effect as we enjoy the huge moss draped oak trees, post card beautiful pastures, training tracks with horses being exercised, and barns that equal any home in the county. These horses are well taken care of. And, when you you think of how expensive they are and the amount of money they can earn their owners, the care appears to be warranted.

With the cloudiness and lightning flashing in the sky, it looked like the bottom was going to fall out, so we headed home. By the end of the day, we might have gotten about 40 drops of rain. That's okay, since it has rained so much recently. The interesting thing about all the rain is that we have not seen any mosquitoes. This much rain in Texas would have us overwhelmed by mosquitoes. Bzzzz, slap!

Actually, something else was more exciting than the soccer game. Carolyn was able to make us some fried chicken that was very low in sodium. It was tasty, and gave us a break from some of the other things we've eaten since I was released from the hospital. I have a feeling that as we go along with this new way of eating for me, she will be able to come up with more good things to eat. I hope so.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Iuka, Mississippi: Gateway to Mississippi

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wild Waters

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 74 degrees, high 97 degrees, clear skies

Most of the day was good for Carolyn, so we took a ride down to the Summerfield and Santos areas. Summerfield is located near The Villages, a huge development that spreads over parts of four counties. Much of the countryside around Summerfield is now used for subdivisions and mini-farms. Back in the day, most of the area was used for farming. In those days, we bought a lot of the vegetables that we ate from that area.

Santos is closer to Ocala, and if we hadn't known where we were, we wouldn't have recognized anything. A lot of new subdivisions and streets, and everything it takes to support the population growth. Santos is the location for the trail head for the Cross Florida Greenway, which has a bridge crossing I-75. The Greenway right of way was originally planned to be a barge canal across the state, but that project was stopped about 40 years ago. Users can hike, bike, and ride horses on the trail, and it is part of the state wide trail system.

As I noted in the weather section above, the temperature got up to about 97 degrees today. Silver Springs, the best known tourist attraction in the area, has a water park named Wild Waters, and it was getting a lot of use today.



The water slide had people backed up about 100 deep to use the slide. You can't see them all in this picture, but they were there.



About 1600 hours, we were visiting Carolyn's mother when her vertigo decided to kick back in. That meant it was time to go home so she could kick back and let it have it's way. At least she was able to enjoy part of the day without getting sick.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Billings, Montana: The Magic City

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Signs Of Summer In Florida

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 96 degrees, mostly clear skies

Carolyn's vertigo decided to go play with someone else today, so she felt better. We got out for a little while, taking a ride down the old Sharpe's Ferry Road east of Ocala and south of Silver Springs. It had been about 20 years since we had been out there, and there were two surprises. The first one is that so many homes have been built out there, and the second one is that there is still as much of the old Florida that we remember with nostalgia.

After getting through all the houses, a narrow road winds through the swamp caused by the Oklawaha River, one of the few rivers that are still free flowing. When we lived here, the bridge across the river was a rough, narrow, wooden affair that creaked and groaned as you drove over it, with the water only a couple of feet below the bridge. Now, there is a modern concrete bridge that is wider and higher above the water. Maybe I'm not getting it, but I was a little fond of the old wooden bridge.

Florida has millions of visitors every year, and many of them pass through Ocala on their way south to the attractions around Orlando and Tampa. Some of them stop over to see the local attractions, such as Silver Springs, and to tour the horse farms. From what we have seen over the past few years, Ocala's population of tourists increases the most in the winter, when the temperature is not so sweltering. With so many tourists not coming in for another four months or more, I was thinking about what the signs of summer are here. Beyond the obvious signs such as high temperatures and sweltering humidity, here's a few that I thought of.

The RV park where we're parked has horse shoe pits for the folks to use. Look at how busy this one is.



Since there are not many RVers here in the summer, the park where we're staying is almost empty. In the winter, it fills up. These are just a few of the empty spaces.



One of the best signs of summer in Florida is the almost daily buildup of thunderheads in the late afternoon and evening.



To us, one of the best things about being here in the summer, other than visiting family, is a shady spot to park. It is amazing how much the shade helps to cool the RV. And, this is a nice spot we have.



Just a few thoughts that flitted across my mind today.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Buda, Texas: The Outdoor Capital Of Texas

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Put Basement Back Together

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 95 degrees, clear skies

Carolyn had problems with her vertigo today, and we were home bound as a result. At least she was. I still had to go to Sam's Club for a few things that we use. The store seemed unusually busy for the middle of the week. I don't know if that means the economy is getting better or not. Probably not, since there are a lot of retirees who have settled here who are not dependent on a regular job to survive.

You'll notice I assigned ownership of the vertigo to Carolyn. It would be nice if she could give it up. She has said that she wouldn't wish this affliction on her worse enemy. Still, she's ready to give it up.

About three weeks ago, I repaired three separate leaks on water lines in the basement. Here's a picture of the spaghetti I had to deal with when I made the repairs to the leaks.



I decided to put everything back together today, trusting that three weeks of no leaks means that the leaks have been repaired. Here's what the basement looks like after putting the wall panel back in place.



Looks like new. Once the panel was installed, I put everything back in it's normal place. I'll keep a close watch for awhile to make sure there are not any more leaks.

The RV park where we're staying has a few overnighters stop in every day. When I see them leave in the morning, it makes me want to hitch up and follow them. But, it's important that I make sure my problems are doing like they should. My first appointment is next Wednesday, with another one following two days later. The last one is near the end of the month. I'm hopeful that the doctors are satisfied with my progress, and that we can start doing our drifting again. Of course, I understand how important it is that we stay here until I'm 100% again. I'm feeling much better, after feeling bad for about six months.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Gatlinburg, Tennessee: The Heart Of The Smokies

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Mall Was Out Of Something

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 90 degrees, mostly clear skies - no rain today!

That's right, no rain today. Actually, it was a pretty nice day, with a few clouds here and there, light breezes, and the humidity wasn't stifling for a change. At times like this in Florida, I start wondering when the next shoe is going to drop.

In the past, I have carried on about the fact that if the WalMart Mall doesn't have something, I don't need it. Well, today was a red letter day, when for one the few times that I can remember, the Mall didn't have something that I needed. I'm speaking about some graphite to squirt into the innards of the lock on the door to the RV. I looked all over where I thought it would be, but had no luck. Finally, I suppressed my manly urge of never asking for directions, and asked a Mall worker where the graphite was. He took me right where it was supposed to be, and it was all sold out. He said the rack was full this morning, but it looks like the awful humidity here is causing a lot of locks to stick. I was so disappointed!

On the way home, I stopped at Auto Zone to see if they had any graphite. Nope. So, I guess I'll see what else I have in the basement that might work for freeing up a stuck lock.

The search for low sodium foods continues. Carolyn does a great job of preparing good tasting meals that are low in sodium content. I thought I would try to give her a break on the meat preps by picking up a baked chicken. Well, we're so used to checking the sodium content on everything now that I almost dropped the baked chicken when I saw how high the sodium content was. Can you believe 840 milligrams per serving? Ouch! So, instead of baked chicken, we had a chicken breast that Carolyn braised on the stove. Zero grams of sodium. You can't beat that, and it was good.

This afternoon while I was at the Mall, Carolyn was visiting her mother. She cherishes the time she has with Doris. Even though we're here longer than we thought we would be because of me getting sick, it hasn't been bad. Doris will be 86 years old later this month, and it will be the first birthday for her that we will help celebrate with her in many years.

My morning walks are gradually getting a little longer, although I'm still a long way from doing what I was before getting sick. I didn't extend the distance I was walking today compared to yesterday, but instead tried to do the distance a little faster. That was in an attempt to see if I'm going to have troubles breathing as I was before going in the hospital. So far, my breathing is doing good. No shortness of breath and no stopping to rest. Maybe I'll be back to my normal distance in a month or so.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - New Orleans, Louisiana: The Queen of the Mississippi

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Frog Strangler

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 71 degrees, high 83 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, heavy showers in the afternoon

We had to go to the grocery store this afternoon, and got caught in a real frog strangler of a rain. It's rained almost every day for more than a week, and today's was the hardest. Florida averages well over 50 inches of rain every year, and with the way it's been raining, I think they'll equal that or more this year.

The main reason we went to the grocery store was to get some hamburger for homemade hamburgers. It's been almost two weeks since we had one, and anyone that follows the blog knows that we are hamburger connoisseurs. With my restrictions on eating much sodium, we can't go to a restaurant to get a good old juicy hamburger. So, we figured out what the sodium content would be if we fixed them at home, and it looks as though with alternative seasonings, we can have a pretty decent hamburger. In fact, I would say it was better than decent, it was outstanding. You can't beat a homemade hamburger! And we made enough so we can have one for lunch tomorrow.

This was a day for taking care of some housekeeping stuff, like washing clothes, dusting the furniture, and anything else Carolyn could reach. I took care of the clothes washing, and it was nice to be able to do that sort of little task again. It's funny how I was missing doing the little things that help us get through each day.

Our door lock is acting up on us, being difficult to open most of the time from the outside. I thought I had some graphite that I could shoot into the lock to loosen it up a little, but like many things that are not used fairly often, the graphite has disappeared. It's on my list of things to get when I go back to the WalMart Mall.

When we bought a few groceries last Friday, we looked all over the store for a dessert that wouldn't blow my low sodium diet out of the water. When we were about ready to give up, Carolyn found a coconut cake that fit the bill for us. Each day, we have had a small piece as a treat for having to eat like we are. Which, I might add, is not as bad as I thought it would be. Getting back to the cake, we're almost eaten the whole thing, with only the small piece left in the picture.



Since it would be unfair to allow this small piece of cake to grow up by itself, and I haven't had any today, I'm going to eat it when I publish the blog. Ummm, boy!

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Hoquiam, Washington: Gray’s Harbor’s Friendliest City

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Country Road Tree Tunnel

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 90 degrees, mostly cloudy skies

I wrote in an earlier post about the trees growing over many of the country roads in this area. Here's one we saw today while on a short drive today through part of the horse country northwest of Ocala.



This tunnel is not as impressive as some we've seen, but it'll do.

We found one scene that resembled some of the hill country in Texas, but it was so cloudy that the light was bad. The main difference between Texas and what we saw today is that this countryside is so green, while in Texas it's usually brown. And, there are plenty of rocks in Texas. Not so here, where there's so much sand.

Speaking of sand, there's an old Florida cracker saying that once you get the Florida sand in your shoes, you'll always come back. I would add that the old saying might be true if a caveat is added: if you can stand the heat. We've been fortunate that over the holiday weekend, the temperatures are lower than normal. That means it's about time to get blasted by the summer sun.

My recovery from the hospital stay continued today, and I seem to be able to sleep a little better each night. I checked the side effects of the medicines that have been prescribed for me, and found that most of them cause sleeplessness to varying degrees. I guess I'm lucky to get any sleep at all.

When I went for a short walk (real short, compared to what it was before getting sick), I extended the length of yesterday's walk by about 1/4 mile. That's not much compared to what I was doing, but I'm not pushing things. Actually, it feels good to not be driving myself. In the past, I felt I had to walk at least a certain distance in order to get what I needed out the walk. Not any more, at least for now. I just feel fortunate to be able to do what I am.

I checked the status of the leaks that I repaired in the basement last week, and it seems the repairs are still holding. I'll wait another day or two and then put everything back together. Considering how much we've traveled, it's a wonder we haven't had more leaks in the plumbing.

I'm rambling a little now, so I think I'll close for the day.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Grapevine, Texas: Vintage Texas

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th Of July

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 72 degrees, high 80 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, scattered showers

Happy Birthday, America!

Our country is going through a rough time right now, and things may get worse before they get better. Many people are unemployed or underemployed, people are losing their homes, our government seems to be hellbent on bankrupting our country, and we're stuck in a war that it seems our leaders don't want us to win. We've had it just as rough before as a country, and we've always overcome all problems. It may be a little harder this time, but I believe the majority of Americans are unhappy with the direction we're going as a country, and will take the necessary steps to turn the situation around, starting with the elections this fall.

I'm not naive enough to believe that a wholesale change of the idiots in Washington who are supposed to be representing us will solve all our problems. Some bad apples will slip through, regardless of how diligent the voters are. After all, being a politician means they say what they think people want to hear, rather than what they will sell out for. We have to have hope that we elect enough good people who truly care about our country and the direction we're going, and that they do the right things.

Whew! I didn't know I was going to take off on that when I sat down to write this post to the blog. I feel better.

It seems most of the stuff in the blog lately is about my medical issues. I apologize for not having more real RV stuff to talk about. Of course, taking care of a person's health is more important than telling everyone I dumped the holding tanks. It's probably obvious that the last week scared us, but we know it served us well in making us take our health more seriously. We thought we were fairly healthy, but there's no doubt we were probably fooling ourselves. At least I was. I thought getting as much as exercise as I was and eating fairly decently would keep me more healthy than the average person. Hah!!

We look at things differently now, especially with respect to how we eat. Before I got sick, we ate out more often than we should, without any thoughts to whether it was good for us. Oh, we would think about what we should have to eat, and usually picked the lower fat foods, but prepared foods away from home are just about always higher than they need to be in all the bad stuff for us. Like fat, sugar, sodium/salt, etc. As of today, I haven't eaten out in a week. Part of that week was spent in the hospital, but since I've gotten out, we have done whatever we need to do so we eat at home. It's more work for Carolyn, and creates more for me since I wash the dishes. The important thing is that we know we're eating more healthy, which should help make us healthier.

We went out for a ride this afternoon, and found one of the beautiful roads that has big oak trees growing over the road, much like a tunnel. With the weather like it is today, it was too cloudy and dark to get a picture of the tunnel, but I'll try to get one later on.

The fireworks started here last night, and we've been hearing them all day long. Is it my imagination that the fireworks are getting louder? Some of them seem to shake the ground.

I took a leisurely short walk this morning, walking much like I was an old man. It went pretty good, so this afternoon, I repeated the walk for the same distance. I didn't come close to walking like I used to, but I was glad to get out in the humidity. Right.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Dodge City: The Wickedest Little City In America

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Adjusting

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 89 degrees, partly to mostly cloudy skies

Today was my second day out of the hospital, and I may have overdone things a little. Well, actually, I did overdo things. I tend to get impatient with inactivity because I'm used to being active. Being sick held me back from doing the things I wanted to do, so I thought I would start getting back in the swing of things today. Have you ever had your body tell you "That's enough"? Mine did today, and in no uncertain terms.

The doctors told me to start increasing my activities as I felt like it. I don't think they meant to hit the ground running (or almost) as I tried to do today.

Once I recovered from my ill-advised attempt at doing too much, and Carolyn finished fussing at me for being an idiot, I kicked back for the rest of the day and acted like I was retired. Should have done that sooner.

Now that I've beaten myself up enough about the day (with Carolyn's help), I'll tell what we did the rest of the day.

Nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing. Since we're still learning how to cook using low or no sodium (salt, to some), we stopped at a new grocery store to check out what kinds of groceries they have that may work for me. Did you know how hard it is to find foods that meet the criteria of no or low sodium? There are no prepared foods that we've been able to find that don't have high sodium levels. We don't even look at the restaurants anymore.

We have found some canned foods that have no salt added, and that's as good as it gets. Did you know that even ground turkey has sodium levels that are 3% of the RDA? Simple things like bread can have as much sodium as 10% of the RDA.

Tonight, we had a pasta sauce that Carolyn prepared using canned tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, garlic, black pepper, and a little salt substitute with penne pasta. It was very tasty, and we have found that we are now able to taste the subtle flavors in food that were covered up by salt. I have found that I like shredded wheat with a banana, and what's even better is the fact that there is no sodium present.

We're just getting started on learning this new way of eating, but so far, it's not been as hard as I thought it might be. I'll do whatever the doctors advise to keep from going through another week like the last one was.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Petaluma, California: Egg Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Anniversary

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 74 degrees, high 89 degrees, cloudy, showers

It rained all night, and has been raining intermittently all evening today. At least the rain is helping keep temperatures down to a reasonable level.

Last night was my first night home after the hospital stay, and I had a lot of problems sleeping. My respiratory issues are getting better, but when I try to sleep lying flat, I still feel as though I'm smothering. The doctors say that symptom should get better as my lungs heal.

With my problems breathing, I didn't get to sleep until about 0500 hours this morning, and managed to sleep until about 0800 hours. Carolyn got up about 0300 hours and kept me company. When I was finally able to sleep, she got a few more hours. It was a heck of a way for us to start another year of marriage.

That's right, today is our anniversary. Forty seven years and counting. I had made plans for it to be a special day for us, but sometimes the best laid plans get sidetracked. It was still a special day for us, but I would have liked to take Carolyn out to eat. With the restrictions I have on my diet, it's a little difficult to find anything on a restaurant menu that I can eat. Carolyn is understanding about the situation. I'll make it up to her when the doctors loosen my restrictions. Believe me, I'm going to do whatever they say in an effort to get over this mess.

We had very little food in the RV that fit what I am restricted to, so a visit to the WalMart Mall was in order. The advice given to me when I left the hospital was to read labels for sodium content, and stay away from prepared foods. We had never looked at labels for that particular component of the food, and were amazed at how much sodium is present in most foods in the grocery store. The government recommends limiting sodium to 2500 milligrams or less. I've been advised to keep my sodium intake as low as possible. This is going to be continuous exercise in counting the bad stuff in food, and trying to find food that is low in sodium. Fun, fun, fun.

After about two hours of going up and down aisles and reading labels, we had enough food to prepare meals for several days. Since it is our anniversary, we picked up a nice steak and salad fixings, along with some baking potatoes. All of that food came to zero sodium, so I think we did well. The food was pretty good, even without a lot of sodium.

After we got home and put up the groceries, I was able to actually take a nap for one of the few times that I've done that in the daytime. I know I've talked about doing meditation in the past, but that's a far cry from sleeping. Maybe I'll be able to take another nap tomorrow.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Hot Springs, Arkansas: Government At Your Service

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I'm Back!!!!

Ocala, Florida

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 90 degrees, cloudy, rain

The last time I posted to the blog was Sunday, 6/27/10. Early the next day on Monday, I had to go to the emergency room for several medical issues I was having. We don't have a doctor in this area, and I was not in a condition that would allow us to travel back to Texas to see our doctor.

My primary ailment was a carryover from being sick with an upper respiratory illness that I had in March. I wen to a doctor for that, and got better. However, the problem didn't go away completely, and I saw our family doctor in May. At that time, I was diagnosed with asthma, and started treatment for that.

We went back to Bay City for our grandson's high school graduation, and I thought the asthma was getting under control. From Bay City, we came to Florida to visit family, where I thought I felt the treatment for the asthma was no longer doing any good, but was too hard headed to see a doctor here about it.

The respiratory issues continued along, not getting any better, but not worse, I thought. Last Friday, I started having more problems breathing, but thought the weather might be causing the difficulties. Over the weekend, I was feeling worse every day, until when I got up Monday morning, when I knew I needed help in a major way. That's when I went to the emergency room.

I walked in the emergency room and saw many people sitting around, waiting to see a doctor or for family members that were being cared for. I almost turned around and went home to call around to the local doctors to see if I could see one of them. Luckily for me, one of the people working in the area noticed me and asked if she could help me. I told her the problems I was having, and within ten minutes I was being examined by a nurse, who notified her co-workers that I needed immediate help. Thank God!

I was placed in an examination area, where all kinds of tests were performed, x-rays were taken, and before I knew it, I was being admitted to the cardiac care unit. By the time all the tests were finished and the doctors had talked among themselves, I was diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs, and some issues with my heart that will not require surgery. I have been treated for those problems since I was admitted, and was released to go home late this afternoon. I have several medicines to take, and will have to undergo a life change as far as diet is concerned. Salt is now an enemy of mine, and I will have to be aware of the sodium content of everything I eat. Bummer! That's okay, I'll do whatever it takes to not have to go through something like this again.

I have followup appointments with all the doctors who treated me that will last over the next month. So, it looks like we'll be here in Ocala for awhile. In the meantime, Carolyn gets to spend more time with her mother. And, we'll spend more time visiting old haunts from our past life in Florida.

If there's one thing I've learned from this misadventure, it's that I shouldn't keep putting off seeing a doctor when I'm sick. I may have had the pneumonia since March, and haven't really felt good since then.

More later, be safe.

Today's Time - Aliceville, Alabama: A Great Place To Call Home

Not all who wander are lost.