Thursday, March 31, 2011

What A Trip!

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 39 degrees, high 45 degrees, rain early, cloudy

It was another cold and miserable wet day here as we went out to the truck to drive to the hospital in Athens. I had to be at the hospital at 0800 hours as an out-patient for the procedure to do a biopsy on my abdominal fat, which the doctor said again was hard to find. The biopsy may tell us definitively whether I have the disease that is suspected, or it may cause us to have other testing performed to find the problem. Either way, at least we are doing something to move forward. Most people who know me know that I don't like standing around doing nothing when answers are needed.

I had never been in the portion of the hospital that I was in today, and I have to say that I was impressed. It was modern, well-lit, and cheerful looking. Everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful. After checking in, I was taken to a small private room, where I changed in to the dreaded hospital gown with the open view. After my vital signs were taken, an IV drip was installed with a minimum of pain. Soon after, I was taken to the operating suite, where I talked to the nurses and anesthesiologist. I understood that I would be sedated lightly, and would recover relatively quickly. Okay, let's go do it.

Well, I am here to say that I experienced the trip of a lifetime. As in, psychedelic in the most extreme sense. What happened is that I stopped breathing and they had to intubate me and administer a general anesthetic. That new anesthetic is what caused my way out experience. Imagine the most extreme representation of a psychedelic experience that you might have seen on television or in a movie, and that's what I think I had. I can't remember all of it, but enough to know I never want to go through that again. Plus, it didn't stop when I was taken back to my room. Even with my eyes open, I was seeing things that were out of this world.

We finally left the hospital about 1500 hours, and Carolyn had to drive, obviously. She stopped at the drug store to fill a prescription for me, and then we went home. I couldn't close my eyes because I kept having flashbacks to the experience. When we got home, where Carolyn had to help me in the house, laid down on the couch. I closed my eyes for a few minutes and saw a huge sock, similar to the ones that are used to make the sock monkeys, floating across my view. At the point where the material came together on the heel of the sock, there was a pulse as though the sock had a heart beat. As soon as I opened my eyes, the sock went away. Thank God!

I fell asleep on the couch and slept for about two hours. When I woke, I felt a little better, and was able to join Carolyn at the dining room table for a small snack and some V-8 juice.

I don't have any pain yet from the biopsy, but have some good drugs, just in case. In the meantime, I hope I can sleep tonight without flashing back to whatever it was that I experienced. I never want to go through something like that again.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Pueblo, Colorado: Pride City

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Night-time Hail Storm

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 40 degrees, high 49 degrees, cloudy, early showers

The crazy weather continued last night, as a hail storm arrived with no warning about 0030 hours this morning. It was relatively quiet outside as I was drifting off to sleep when suddenly I heard first one, then another, heavy thump hit the roof. All at once, something began hitting the roof that sounded like an army was up there hammering away for all they were worth. That's when I realized it was a hail storm, which often precedes a tornado. In this case, the hail continued to fall heavily for another 15 minutes or so, and then stopped as quickly as it had started. I looked outside about 0200 hours, and saw that the hail was piled below the gutters where apparently it had fallen over, plus the drains had hail piled up below them. Quiet a sound event, and we never had a tornado siren go off. As far as I could tell today, we didn't have any damage. It would have been a shame if the roof had been damaged, since it is only about six months old.

We didn't have any doctors' appointments today, so there was no rush to get out. The weather remains cold and wet, so the house was the place to be. This morning, we had a few housekeeping items to take care of, which didn't take long. The rest of the morning was spent by me reading and napping, while Carolyn continued working on her genealogy research.

At lunchtime, we went in to town to eat at a restaurant that has a senior special all day on Wednesdays. I had tilapia, while Carolyn had fried shrimp. My side dishes were not good to me at all, even though the same dishes tasted fine last week. It's strange how my taste buds are okay on something one day, then I can't stand the same dish the next day.

After lunch, we had to stop at the WalMart Mall to pick up a few groceries. Why is it that they seem to be moving everything in the store? We start remembering where things are located, and then they move them so we have to search to find what we want.

When we got home, we resumed doing what we had been doing earlier in the day, with a little television thrown in for good measure. About 1530 hours, I fell asleep watching television and slept for about a half hour. Now, if I could stretch that out a little......

My little brother Keith (just kidding) called today and said he and two of his sons will be coming here on Saturday from their home in southern Arkansas. he said he feels a need to see family, and I know exactly what he means. Our extended family has always been close, even though we may live a thousand miles apart. I have felt this need recently, but who knows how long it will be before we can take a long trip to visit family.

Tomorrow, I will have the abdominal fat biopsy performed as the doctors seek further information on what is wrong with me. I'm not expecting much in the way of pain, other than maybe a little soreness for a couple of days. At least we're continuing to move forward in trying to find the problem.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Holland, Texas: Home Of The Holland Corn Festival

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

No Biopsy Today

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 37 degrees, high 49 degrees, cloudy skies

I heard today that the weather we are experiencing here in the far north of Alabama is known as "Dogwood Winter". The dogwoods are blooming and it is cold, so the name is appropriate. The next season is supposed to be "Blackberry Winter", based on cold weather when the blackberry bushes bloom. So far, the black berries show no sign of blooming, so who knows how much longer the cold weather will hang on. Will spring ever arrive?

Sleep was hard to come by for me again last night, as my aches and pains as well as breathing problems only allowed me about three hours of sleep. I dragged around the house this morning until we had to leave for a doctor's appointment at 1100 hours. I had to see a surgeon about performing a biopsy of my abdominal fat in the area of my stomach. Only thing is that he had problems finding any fat. He was not inclined to do a biopsy, but after talking to my doctor, plans were made for me to have the biopsy performed this Thursday. That will still give us time to get the results of the biopsy back before I go to UAB next week to see a specialist down there. The biopsy, if it comes back positive, will save time on further testing in Birmingham, hopefully allowing a treatment plan to begin sooner. If the test comes back negative, more testing will have to be performed in Birmingham, but at least we will have saved the time that would have been required for the abdominal fat biopsy.

Does any of what I just wrote make any sense?

We saw my sister Judy and her husband Roger today. He continues to have problems fighting cancer, and underwent a procedure yesterday that made him sick. But, he struggled out of the bed about noontime and went in to his business in Athens. He is a tough old bird, and has a great attitude.

We continue to look for food that I can eat, and have found that most processed foods are out for me because of the taste. Fresh fruit tastes okay, as does plainly cooked fresh vegetables that are cooked slightly. Broiled fish seems to be good so far, with the tilapia tasting the best.

Speaking of tilapia, I can remember when people would catch them in Florida and treat them as trash fish. I didn't know of anyone that ate them back then. Little did we know that they would become the delicacy that they have.

Carolyn prepared lentils and corn muffins for supper, and it tasted okay. The taste may change tomorrow, but not bad tonight.

I can tell you from experience that RVing, even on a bad day, is more fun than what I am going through.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Freeport, Texas: Watta Town

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Red Lobster

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 39 degrees, high 48 degrees, cloudy skies

It rained most of the night again, even though we slept through most of it. At least there weren't any dangerous conditions like tornadoes coming out of this little bit of weather.

Since we don't know how involved or how long the medical testing will be that I undergo next week in Birmingham, we have been trying to take care of things that can be before we go. Things like closing a bank account that's no longer needed, which we did today. When we were in Florida last summer, we opened an account in order to have money available for a real estate auction we were planning to attend. Before the auction actually took place, the property we were interested in was taken off the market. The majority of the money was moved out of the account at that time, with enough left to keep us from having to pay a service charge. Enough time had finally passed that we could close the account without a penalty, which as I said, was completed today. One more thing finished to simplify life.

The account we were closing was with Wells-Fargo, which has several branches in Decatur. After finishing at the bank, I invited Carolyn to Red Lobster for lunch, which she accepted before I could change my mind. There is a Red Lobster restaurant in Decatur, so it wasn't a big deal to drive on to it.

Red Lobster is one of Carolyn's favorite restaurants, and I can take it or leave it. Especially now that it's so difficult for me taste anything. But, I need to keep remembering this is a two person partnership, and there are places she likes to go. So, today was my way of showing that I try to do things she likes, even if some of them don't give me as much pleasure as they used to.

Carolyn said the food was good, including her salad, biscuits, baked potato, and fried shrimp. I had the blackened catfish, which I assume was okay. At least I was able to eat it, as well as the potato. The salad was wasted on me.

On the way back to Athens, we stopped at an RV repair shop to talk to the owner about repairing the rubber seal around the rear window of our RV. The seal has come loose in the upper corners, and we would like to get it repaired before going to Birmingham in the event that we can use the RV to stay in if I have to spend any time at all down there for treatment. The shop folks said they could repair the seal by the end of the week if I could get the RV to them, so we'll move it on Wednesday if I have it in me.

Before going home, we stopped at the library in Athens to exchange some books. All set now on new reading material for a few days.

About lunch time, my doctor in Athens who is treating me for what I have ailing me called and asked if I would be willing to go ahead and have another test performed that might help in pinpointing what my exact problem is. Of course I said yes, so tomorrow, I see another doctor who will set up the test in the next day or so. I'll do anything or go anywhere they want, as long as it helps me feel better.

The rest of the day was spent resting, reading, and watching television. It was a productive day for us in several ways. Now, let's keep the momentum up.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Houston, Texas: The Bayou City

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

More Rain

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 39 degrees, high 43 degrees, cloudy, breezy

The rains of yesterday continued until about 0200 hours this morning. No rain during the daylight hours today, but radar shows more coming tonight. Enough, already!

After my usual night of being up and down all night, then sleeping fairly well the last three hours before getting up at 0730 hours, we spent a slow morning reading, watching television, and working on genealogy. Can you imagine Carolyn being able to go back to her 12th great-grandfather? That just boggles the mind, and then to find the town in Wales where he came from is even more impressive. I put a real challenge to her today: what kind of work did he do? Intuition says he was probably a farmer or shop keeper, so let's see what she comes up with.

After the hard morning's work of doing much of nothing, we went to lunch at Cracker Barrel. With the problems I'm having with my taste buds being messed up, it doesn't really matter where we go. In fact, I could do just as well at home. Bad taste in one place is also bad taste any where else. But, I need to think of what Carolyn would like to do, so I try to suggest different places to give her a break. Who knows, maybe I'll find something with a little taste.

The food at Cracker Barrel was the same as always, but it didn't affect my taste buds at all. I ate as much as I could, and brought the rest home. I'm not sure why I brought it home, because making leftovers out of it didn't help.

We took a short ride in the country after leaving Cracker Barrel, but soon got tired of seeing water soaked fields and flooded ditches. When we got home, Carolyn continued working on genealogy while I watched a terrific college basketball game between Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Kansas. Kansas was a prohibitive favorite to beat the little school from Richmond, Virginia, but got the surprise of their lives as the smaller school won the game rather easily. It's good to see the underdog do well.

About three weeks ago, I wrote that we had to get in contact with the seller of the house we bought about them not fulfilling a term of the contract. He was supposed to replace all the lower sashes of the windows, and had promised to have it completed well before now. I guess you can see what is coming, as the work has still not been completed. I went to see him again today, emphasizing the point that we need to get the work finished, and the sooner, the better. The seller put the blame on someone else. As far as I am concerned, he is to blame, and if we don't get action in the near future, I will be seeing a lawyer. I think we have been more than accommodating. It's time for some action on his part. So, there!!!

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Charleston, South Carolina: The Marina City

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Feeling A Little Better

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 46 degrees, high 24 degrees, cloudy, rain all day

The rain started about 0200 hours last night, and has continued with varying intensity all day. As with most spring weather that passes through this area, we had severe thunderstorm warnings, flash flood warnings, tornado warnings...... About the only thing we haven't seen is hail, but the night is still young.

I felt a little better today than I did yesterday, but that's not saying much. We went to town to pick up a few groceries, concentrating on stuff that might stimulate my appetite. Things like fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, trail mix, and vegetable juice (V-8), which tastes pretty good. At least for the present. The taste may change completely tomorrow.

I felt well enough that I asked Carolyn to let me cook supper, which turned out to be oriental beef stew over rice, one of my specialties. I had to rely on Carolyn to do the final taste test, as my taste buds were not up to the task. I think the dish turned out okay, since I didn't hear any complaints from Carolyn.

While Carolyn was doing some genealogy, I watched college basketball on television. Florida played Butler in the NCAA basketball round of eight. It was a very good game, going to overtime. Butler won in overtime by three points, and will now play against Kansas. Ouch! Florida's season is finished. Now I'll start following spring sports.

The springtime is beautiful up here, with the different trees, shrubs, and flowers blooming. Here are a few examples of what I mean.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Columbia, Tennessee: Old South Charm, New South Progress

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bad Day

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 32 degrees, high 52 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, breezy

Notice the low temperature? We haven't seen any fields or gardens planted around here, and it looks like the low temperatures are why. Imagine a field coming up nicely, then frost kills the crop. That would have to be expensive in this day of high fuel, seed, and fertilizer prices.

Speaking of planting, Carolyn did a little digging in the dirt today. She loves to get her hands dirty, and this clay does a good job of it. She was able to finish planting the roses we bought last Saturday, as well as some bulbs she was given for Christmas. If love of plants makes these things grow, they will be championship quality.

I had a bad day, so far under the weather that I wouldn't have been able to see the sun if it was shining. About all I could do was be a gofer for Carolyn while she was doing her thing in the yard. In the middle of the afternoon, we had to go to town to pick up a few things to treat my symptoms. Normally, I go by myself when it's just to do what I did today, but Carolyn insisted on going so she could keep an eye on me. I'm glad she did, because she helped keep me alert.

Anyone that knows Carolyn knows that she has been advised to not drive because of her vertigo, and the issues it causes her. But, she is probably the best driver there is that doesn't drive. Her back seat driving is on a par with a championship race driver.

Her advice is the sort that would probably tick some people off, but I appreciate the help. In fact, I have come to expect her to help me drive. What caused her to be that way was her helping me watch the RV and traffic while we were traveling so much. There's no doubt she helped us avoid some problems along the way.

Moving on and hoping I'm not in too much trouble, after we had picked up what we needed, we went to McDonald's, where I bought Carolyn a mocha frappe' coffee. Since I hadn't eaten any lunch, she insisted I buy something, so I bought a southwestern salad. It didn't taste any better than anything else I have tried, but I managed to get half of it down. Tonight, I finished the rest, even though I almost gagged on it. I need to eat more than I am, so tomorrow will be an experiment with food, as we try to find as much as possible that I'll eat. It can't be eggs, grits, chili, and ice cream all the day. I need more fiber and vitamins.

Feeling bad caught up with me after 1700 hours, when I fell asleep watching the news. I can't remember the last time I took a nap that late in the day.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Eugene, Oregon: Track Town, USA

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Taxes Finished

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 48 degrees, high 52 degrees, partly cloudy, windy

We had a storm line that came through the area last night with heavy rain, high winds, and tornado warnings. We have tornado sirens all over the county, but they didn't sound off until well after the weather event was finished. Was somebody asleep at the switch?

With the windy and cool weather today, we decided to not do anything outside until it warms up again. That gave us the time to finish our income taxes, which ended up being a big ouch! How is it that someone like us pays as much as we do, while I hear about people in a much higher income bracket that pay a lower percentage? Not to mention the 49% of people who pay no income taxes? Something seems screwed up in our system.

Don't get me wrong, we appreciate everything we have, and worked hard to accomplish it. But, when I realize how much we have paid in taxes over the years and how hard we worked for the money, it just grinds my gears.

Another thing I did today was get a haircut. It had been about eight weeks since the last one, and I was starting to be a candidate for dog tags. Since I was so unhappy with the person who did the last one, I tried another shop, where the only barber was a woman. Over the years, I have gotten a lot of haircuts from women, and I can think of only a couple that I was unhappy with. Today's haircut was a good one, with just the right amount taken off. Carolyn was happy with it, so I guess that's the seal of approval.

I found more food that I can eat today, as we decided to try lunch at Appleby's. We tried their 2 for $20.00 deal, which included an appetizer and two entrees. The appetizer was boneless chicken wings, which looked to me like over-sized nuggets. Carolyn says they were good, but I couldn't get past the first bite, as my balky taste buds rebelled at the sweet sauce that was on the wings. Luckily, my entree was grilled sirloin steak, mashed potatoes, and spring vegetables. All of the entree tasted fine, and I couldn't finish it. So, I had the rest for supper. Carolyn ordered some kind of pasta dish with penne pasta and a white sauce. She said it was very good.

I watched NCAA college basketball tonight, as Florida played BYU and the nation's leading scorer. This was a game between two very good teams that went back and forth before ending in a tie in regulation. Florida got a quick start in the overtime period and won the game 83 to 74. That puts Florida in the round of eight, where they will play for a chance to move on to the semi-finals.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Columbia, South Carolina: The Metro

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Possible Diagnosis

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 64 degrees, high 69 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, windy with gusts to 30 mph

I had a doctor's appointment this morning for a checkup and to discuss what the possible diagnosis is for all the medical problems I have been having. Obviously, we had no idea what the problem is, but all kinds of things had gone through our heads. Imagine our surprise to find that the doctor is 99% sure that the problem is a rare disease that is only diagnosed about 2,000 times a year in this county. That word "diagnosed" seems to be a key, because the disease is usually only found with the kinds of testing that I have been going through, and even then it slips through the cracks.

The good news is that there is a treatment for the disease, but not in the traditional sense that most heart ailments are treated. That's assuming that the progress of the disease has not gone too far for treatment. The doctor still has a couple more tests he wants to do to confirm the diagnosis, which he is scheduling for me. I'm hopeful that treatment can begin within the next two weeks. At that time, my care will be transferred to the Cardiac Unit at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB). I don't know how long treatment will last, or what denotes success or failure. I do know that I'm ready to move forward in a positive direction, and I feel positive about what I know at this time.

The doctor cautioned me about not eating enough, which I already knew was a concern. When we finished with him, it was lunch time, so I suggested we try some fish. I tried the baked tilapia, cole slaw, rice, and fried okra. The rice was bad, and I ate about half the cole slaw before it started tasting bad. On the other hand, the fried okra was good, and the baked tilapia was excellent. Very mild, flaky, and cooked perfectly. My drink to start with was lemonade, but it tasted so bad that I couldn't drink it. The taste had nothing to do with the restaurant, but was my faulty taste buds acting up. So, I got some unsweetened tea, and that hit the spot.

Carolyn got her usual fried shrimp, and she said her food was also good. She shared one of her shrimp with me, and it wasn't bad.

The lunch was the most I had eaten at one time in several days, and I felt good afterward. When we got home, I had an ice cream bar for dessert. Hopefully, I can keep building on the success of today.

One question we have is what impact this diagnosis, if it holds up, will have on our RVing lifestyle. I don't think we can answer the question until the rest of the tests are performed and we get into the treatment. In the best-case scenario, treatment works as anticipated, and everything returns to normal. In the worst-case scenario, treatment doesn't work, or not nearly as well as expected, with little impact on my symptoms. I think it's easy to figure out the scenario we would like to see.

Realistically, planning for the worse and hoping for the best, we may not be able to get out with the RV for several more months. My health is the number one concern for us at this time, so we will do whatever the doctors want.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - San Francisco, California: San Fran

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Baked Potato

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 52 degrees, high 75 degrees, partly cloudy skies, breezy

I was up at 0200 hours last night, and was unable to go to sleep again until after 0400. At least I was able to sleep until almost 0800 hours, so there wasn't much sleep missed. And when I add in the nap from this afternoon, I did okay on sleep. Much better than I was doing as little as two weeks ago.

I thought Carolyn was through with her cleaning blitz, but that was a mistake on my part, as she continued her assault on the house. I should have realized that spring is here, and you know what that means. While she was working over the house, I went to the shop and swept the floor to get up the trash from what I was doing yesterday. Then, I did some touch-up painting on the shop door trim where the paint was peeling off. The next little project I did was to continue with the painting on the trim strips for the screened porch. That job wasn't finished, but I made a good start on it. It'll probably take two coats, since the strips are treated wood.

I tried a different dish for lunch today. Tuna salad was the choice, with a chopped egg, pickle relish, mayo, salt, and black pepper. I decided to try it by itself with no bread. Well, the first bite was fine, but everything after that was downhill. Eventually, I settled for some leftover chili, which worked.

After lunch, we went to the Dollar General at Elkmont to pick up a couple things that Carolyn wanted. When we were done at Dollar General, I went next door to the Piggly Wiggly, where I bought a couple of Klondike bars for us, as well as some ice cream on sticks. I also bought a couple of moon pies in another attempt to find something I can eat. We ate the Klondike bars, and they were okay, but there seemed to be just a touch too much chocolate. I know there's usually no such thing as too much chocolate, but with my taste buds messed up like they are, it was today.

When we got home, I was so tired that I took a nap of about an hour. The naps help me now, but are an indication of how bad I feel. I see my doctor tomorrow, and we hope he can begin to answer a lot of questions we have.

As we were trying to come up with something for supper for me, Carolyn suggested a baked potato without anything on it. In the past, I would have said no, but I'm searching for food, so I said okay. I added salt and pepper to it, then just a touch of taco meat. Nope, that didn't work. The potato by itself worked, so I added a touch of butter. That worked all right, so I added more butter and finished the potato. So, one more food I can eat, even if it is a little bland.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Tupelo, Mississippi: All American City

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Shop Work

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 55 degrees, high 73 degrees, mostly clear skies, breezy

Carolyn became a dynamo in the house this morning, working on some cleaning left over from when Lori and the grandkids were here last week. I was little help to her, so I stayed out of her way as much as I could. Come to think of it, staying out of the way was probably a help to her.

While Carolyn was busy, I worked on our taxes a little, trying to make sense of what a CPA used to do for us over the last 25 years. I think I have it all figured out, and even entered all the data. Tomorrow, I'll double check the numbers and facts, then think about it a little. Then, I'll check again in a day or two. If everything seems good, in to the mail the return goes.

After Carolyn's morning of hard work, I felt I owed her lunch in town. So, we went to....drum roll, please......McDonald's, so I could try something different in my quest for food that tastes good, or at least doesn't taste as bad as most food does to me since I have been sick. What I had in mind was to try the McNuggets, along with one of their dipping sauces. No french fries, and no Coke, since both of those taste awful to me.

I know that McNuggets are not a premium piece of meat, but when you're trying to find anything that tastes half-way decent, you try just about everything. Well, I've got to say that the McNuggets didn't make the grade. After about three bites, the awful taste took over, and I couldn't get past it. Knowing I needed to eat something, I managed to get five of the nuggets down. Next, I decided to try their ice cream cone. That went fairly well, and would have been better if I hadn't already stimulated my taste buds with the chicken.

Before we came home, we stopped at the WalMart Mall to pick up a few more things for me to try to eat in the next couple of days, plus a few things that Carolyn needed for housekeeping. Then, it was back home for a well deserved rest.

In the afternoon, I spent a little time in the shop getting things neatened up. It took longer than it should have, but then everything does these days with me being sick. At least I'm getting some things done.

The food experiment tonight was taco salad, since that is usually one of our favorite meals. I thought that the spicy mix would overwhelm the bad taste. Not to be, as it was nothing like what I expected. I think what I may have to do with the salad is add one ingredient to the meat to see if that one triggers the bad taste, then add another and another until I can narrow the culprit(s) down.

So goes another day in trying to find something that tastes good to me.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Gordo, Alabama: Fat City

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Visited The RV

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 48 degrees, high 77 degrees, clear skies

We enjoyed a slow morning, as I didn't get up until almost 0800 hours. What I didn't tell you was that I was up for about three hours last night, waking about 0200 hours and not being able to go back to bed until almost 0500 hours. I will be so happy when my medical problems are diagnosed and an appropriate treatment started!

After lunch, we attempted to plant the three roses that we bought yesterday at Lowe's. But, like many of the best laid plans...... We ran in to concrete in the flower bed where we wanted to plant the roses. Now, why in the world concrete is in there is beyond. The only thing I can think of is that when the house was built, excess concrete from the driveway was dumped in that area. The only way it can be fixed is to remove the mulch, pea gravel, and dirt, and then get the concrete out. That's too much for me to handle right now, so we'll find another place for the roses.

Once we got over wrestling with the concrete, we had to go to where the RV is stored so it could be moved to another spot. The campground has a rally coming in the first of April, and they need the spot where we had it stored. It felt sad driving up to the RV, knowing how much we have enjoyed the lifestyle, and wanting to be on the road now. The RV looked lonely sitting there by itself.

We got the RV hooked up and moved without any problems, other than that it took about three times as long as it should have because of my illness. While we were there, we checked inside, but didn't see any issues. I got up on the roof (over Carolyn's objections) to check the roof for caulking or other issues. Again, no problems found. Telling the RV bye, we headed back home.

For some time now, I have had no appetite, and never seem to get hungry. I know I need to eat, but most food either has no taste, or tastes bad, as in much different from what I remember. Here's how bad it has gotten: hamburgers taste awful. Now, that's the ultimate bad, considering how much I like hamburgers, especially those made at home.

In an offer to find food that tastes halfway decent, I have been trying different things. Such as eggs and grits, which I seem to do okay with if I eat them for breakfast. At lunch, I didn't want anything, but Carolyn talked me in to trying her corned beef sandwich. It wasn't too bad, but the Claussen pickle had so much taste it knocked the bad taste right out of my mouth. But, I can't live on pickles.

Tonight, I decided to try some Wolf Brand chili with a few kidney beans thrown in. The taste of the chili was so strong that it seemed to mask the bad taste, so I ate a bowl of it. Can't live on chili, but at least it's one more choice for the time being.

Stay tuned to see what I try next.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Daytona Beach, Florida: Way More Than A Beach

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Trip To Lowe's

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 50 degrees, high 72 degrees, clear skies - the beautiful weather continues.

At this time of the year, Carolyn starts getting the urge to dig in the dirt. That urge probably comes from spending years as a child on her grandparents farm in south Georgia. The urge is only scratched by putting something in the ground to grow, or working in a garden or yard. Since we don't have a garden, the yard has been getting a lot of attention from her, and me when I've felt like it.

It was decided a trip to Lowe's was in order for this morning. Carolyn wanted to look at plants, plus a few other things that she has been thinking about getting. About 1100 hours, we arrived at the store to find the parking almost full, and the store aisles teeming with people buying almost anything in the store. Apparently, a lot of other people had the same idea as Carolyn.

We started out in the nursery, where Carolyn bought three nice shrub roses to put in an empty area of a flower bed. Of course, you also need fertilizer and tools, so that stuff was added to the cart. Then, we picked up some nails, stain for a couple of unfinished pieces of furniture, a brush to put the stain on with, steel wool, and a couple of other things. By the time those things were found, I was starting to drag a little, so we cut the expedition short.

On the way home, we stopped and filled up with diesel. We were only down to a half tank, but it still cost $72.00 to fill up at $3.79 a gallon. I can only imagine what these high gas prices are doing to people on a limited budget. It's probably only a matter of time until the prices begin to affect in a negative way the little bitty economic recovery that is allegedly occurring.

After lunch, I watched some of the NCAA basketball tournament, enjoying an excellent game between Florida and UCLA. Florida won the game 73 to 65 and moves on to the Sweet 16.

While I was watching basketball, Carolyn had been doing some house cleaning, so I helped by polishing mirrors. The house is not a lot of work, but Carolyn has a set routine she likes to follow, whether it's dirty or not. The rest of the day was spent with some organizational work in the shop, making it easier to put tools and other stuff away. Just a nice day enjoying the great weather.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Dublin, Texas: Irish Capital of Texas (Also, where the original formula for Dr. Pepper is still used)

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Gibson's Bar-b-que

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 52 degrees, high 75 degrees, clear skies

It was another beautiful day in the Tennessee Valley, the kind that a chamber of commerce loves to tout as being typical. It sure is a nice change from the cold weather of the winter.

Lori and her family left bright and early for Texas this morning. It was a nice change for us in having them here for the second time in three weeks. We enjoyed having them here, and they seemed to have a good time. As they were leaving, they said they would see us in June. All right!!

At lunch time, we decided to try a bar-b-que restaurant that we hadn't been to before. We're getting leery of the bar-b-que up here, but are game to keep trying to find a restaurant that we'll like. So, today it was the turn of Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Que.

Gibson's has been in Decatur for over 75 years, and we figured if they lasted that long, they must be doing something right. Plus, in watching bar-b-que cook-offs on television, we noticed that they seemed to do well against teams from all over the country.

The first thing we noticed when we drove in to the parking lot about 1230 was that the parking lot was almost full. The second thing we noticed was that their sign by the street was welcoming The Food Network. Hmmmm, must be pretty good.

When we walked inside, only a couple of tables were empty. We were seated and the server took our orders. Both of us ordered the regular pork plate. The sides for Carolyn were potato salad and baked beans. The sides for me were cole slaw and a bag of potato chips. Why did we get those sides? because that's all the sides they had. No garlic toast or french fries, or anything else.

The pork was not pulled, but chopped in to coarse pieces. There was no seasoning on it that we could tell, and both of us agreed that it tasted as though it had been boiled, instead of cooked over a fire. The beans tasted as though they came out of a can.

The service was efficient, but I wouldn't call it friendly at all. Carolyn's take on that was that the servers had been trained to get people in and out as quickly as possible, especially at lunch time.

Would we go back to Gibson's? We wouldn't go to get the pork, and with the limited number of sides, I'm not sure we'll go back at all. In watching the television shows that Gibson's team competed on in bar-b-que cook-offs, we got the impression that the pork was their claim to fame. If so, either a lot of people have no idea what good bar-b-que tastes like, or they have the wrong idea of what it should taste like.

Why is it so hard to find good bar-b-que outside Texas? And Mexican food?

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Decatur, Alabama: Home Of Meow Mix

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nice Day

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 39 degrees, high 70 degrees, clear skies, breezy

The weather was nice enough today that I spent some time in the garage, watching the birds build nests and people mowing and fertilizing their yards. Great weather, and it would be nice to have it like this all year.

The morning was uneventful, as Lori and the grandkids lazed around the house. At lunch time, they went to Huntsville to have lunch with John's mother. We were invited, but by that time I was starting to drag, so Carolyn and I stayed at home.

While Lori was gone, we did some minor housekeeping and clothes washing. In addition, we talked about what we would do once I'm diagnosed and treated for what's been wrong with me. Both of us want to take a road trip, but we're tempering what we want with the idea that it might be a little while yet before we can do that.

Supper was getting all the leftovers out of the refrigerator and using them up. I love leftovers (usually), but they didn't taste any better than any thing else I've been trying to eat. At least the refrigerator will be empty when Lori leaves for Texas in the morning.

I watched Florida play in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament this evening. They easily beat the University of California, Santa Barbara, and are waiting to see who they will play in the second round on Saturday. If the Gators continue to play as well as they played today, they have the potential to beat anyone. Of course, I've seen them play when they stunk up the gym, so it remains to be seen how far they go.

Lori and the grandkids are going back to Texas tomorrow to get ready for school and work after spring break. It was nice having them here, and they are already talking about coming back in June after school is out for the summer. I hope I'm feeling better by then so we can get out and do some exploring.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Butte, Montana: Mining City

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Back To El Olmeca

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 43 degrees, high 57 degrees, clear skies

The weather today was in marked contrast to yesterday: clear, calm, and slightly warmer. Tomorrow is forecast to be even a little bit warmer. Okay!

Lori and the grandkids were out until almost 2200 hours last night as they visited with John's mother in Huntsville. As a result, everyone but Lori slept late this morning. I think Lori got our early rising genes, as she always seems to be up bright and early.

After lunch, we went to my sister Judy's house to visit with her and and her husband Roger and daughter Traci. In Monday night's post, I said that Lori and the grandkids went to visit them that day, but I was mistaken. However, we did go visit them today, and it was the first time Judy and Roger had seen the grandkids in over three years. Needless to say, a lot of growth had occurred so they were amazed at how grownup the grandkids had become. It seems like you blink, and they are no longer kids. At least, in the sense of being small kids.

After a good visit, we headed back home, taking a route Lori had never been on before. They were able to see some different countryside, and get a feel for the different terrain in the county.

Tonight, we went to El Olmeca Mexican Restaurant in Ardmore for supper. Carolyn and I had been there before, and liked the restaurant. Of course, that was before my taste buds and appetite got messed up so bad with whatever is wrong with me. Everyone says the food was good, but I'll have to depend on their judgment for that. I could taste very little of mine, and only ate about a third of what I ordered. This is really getting old.

My doctor's office called today to see how I was doing and to let me know that they were still working on getting me in to have further tests performed in Birmingham. It's taking longer than expected because the doctor I'm supposed to see down there has been sick. I have an appointment with my doctor next Tuesday, and they are hopeful that they will have an appointment by then. It can't come too soon for me. I'm ready to be over whatever it is affecting me.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Natchez, Mississippi: Timeless Beauty…Ageless Fun

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

No Taste

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 45 degrees, high 49 degrees, cloudy skies, breezy

It was surprisingly cool this morning, especially after the warmer days of the past week. A jacket felt good outside, and it was even warmer in the bed under the blankets. Of course, all that will end soon enough as we get farther in to the year. How long will it be before we're ready for cooler weather again? July?

We spent a leisurely morning, visiting with Lori and the grandkids. After lunch, they drove over to Huntsville to visit John's mother, who lost her husband several months ago. Mary is still living alone, but that situation is probably going to change. The house is too much for her to take care of, and most of the time, there is no one here to help her. And, her children worry about her being by herself, so there is some pressure to find a different place to live, such as a retirement home.

When Lori and the grandkids left for Huntsville, I was so tired that I laid down again. For the second day in a row, I was able to take a nap. I can't remember the last time that happened. I think my lack of sleep at night has finally caught up with me, especially since some of my symptoms have abated, thanks to the little tweak in my medicine a couple of weeks ago.

One of the side effects of what is wrong with me is little or no appetite. I remember what food is supposed to taste like, but when I try to eat, it's nothing like what I remember. The closest the food comes to tasting right is when I have eggs, grits, and sausage in the morning. Breakfast has become my primary meal of the day. The rest of the day, I try to find food that tastes good. It ain't working. Can you imagine eating, and everything tastes like medicine?

I was thinking about what I could try for supper, and decided to go pick us up a hamburger with all the trimmings. The first two bites were great, and then the medicine taste took over. Disappointing!!

I still have every confidence that the doctors will figure out what my problem is, and I'll be back to my old self in no time. In the meantime, this sucks!

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - North Las Vegas, Nevada: Living Is Good At The Top Of The Valley

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Yard Work Finished

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 50 degrees, high 68 degrees, cloudy with showers in the afternoon and in to the night

Lori and the grandkids arrived here late last night after a long drive from Texas. Schools are on spring break in Texas, so it was a good time for them to visit. After hugs and catching up with what's been going on, they went to bed for a well deserved rest.

I slept the best last night that I have done since about a month ago. By the time I got up this morning, I had gotten about six hours, even though I had to get up once for about an hour in the middle of the night. I hope I can build on that tonight.

Carolyn and I finished trimming the shrubs this morning, just before the rain came in. Traci came over and finished weed eating and trimming, and the yard looks good. The grass is still brown, but it is only a matter of time until it starts getting green. Which means more mowing. Yuk!

The little bit of work I did outside this morning wiped me out, and I actually took a nap this afternoon. No meditation, just sleep, and it felt good.

I still don't have any idea when I'll be going to Birmingham for my next medical tests. It would be nice to hear from the doctors down there, since I want to get over this mess so bad. Besides that, Carolyn needs my help, and I'm not much help for anybody at this time.

After supper tonight, Lori and Julian went to visit Judy and Roger. She has not seen them for almost four years so they had a good visit. She said they had a good visit, and she'll probably go back again before she leaves.

This morning, I saw a motor home leave the neighborhood with a car attached behind. Looks like folks up here are starting to get out and ramble. Sure wish we were on the road.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town -

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Preps For Company

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 43 degrees, high 70 degrees, partly cloudy skies

The weather continued to be nice, although we did start getting some clouds. Rain is supposed to come in tonight or tomorrow, but should not be as bad as it was a few days ago.

It's spring break for the schools in Texas, so our daughter Lori and grandkids Julian and Zoe are on their way up for the week. Our son-in-law John is involved with an outage at work, so he couldn't make it. They should be here late tonight after the blog publishes.

In preparation for the welcomed company, I went to the grocery store and stocked up on foods that Lori and her family like. In addition, Carolyn baked a bunch of cup cakes, so there will be treats to last a while.

After I got back from town and we had lunch, I spent the next two hours watching Florida get their butt kicked by Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference tournament championship game. On this day, Kentucky was clearly the best team. Florida was both outplayed and outcoached. Both teams will move on to the NCAA basketball tournament, where Florida will be a #2 seed. I think that's a little high for the Gators. As in, over-rated.

Once the butt kicking was over, I went outside without a jacket for the first time since early October and started trimming some shrubs around the porch and deck. The shrubs had been let go so long that I only got four of them trimmed. Carolyn came out about half-way through the job and gave me some guidance, which I needed. Plus, she helped me finish up what we did today.

At the same time as I was trimming shrubs, our niece Traci was mowing the yard. We really appreciate the help she is giving us while I'm having my medical problems. The work she did has the yard looking great. We plan to put some new plants out this next week while we're waiting on my medical tests in Birmingham.

I just described a rather mundane day for us. We would much rather be out on the road some where, looking to see what's over the next hill or around the next curve.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Bellingham, Washington: Let Us Surprise You

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

New Rocking Chair

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 34 degrees, high 68 degrees, clear skies

It was a glorious day! Beautiful weather, and I felt a little better today. In fact, I felt well enough that I invited Carolyn to breakfast at McDonald's. I know, I know, there are probably better places, but she chose the restaurant, so don't blame me.

After breakfast, I still felt good, so I suggested we see if we could find some yard sales to check out. We have been looking for certain items, and having trouble finding exactly what we wanted. The first yard sale we stopped at was a waste of time. They had almost all clothes, and everything else was just junk.

The second sale had better merchandise, and we found a bunch of crochet books for Carolyn. The books are usually about $5.00 each, and she bought 18 of them for a total of $4.50. I would say that's a good value.

The third place we stopped at was almost missed. We were driving along talking, and I happened to catch a glimpse of a brightly colored piece of paper on a real estate sign. Looking closer, I saw that there was a moving sale going on. We stopped, and before we left, I had bought two very nice brass lamps that we estimated would have cost about $200.00 from a store. We paid $25.00 total for the two lamps. As I continued looking, my eyes fell on a rocking chair. To my surprise, the chair was for sale for only $40.00. I sat down and started rocking. Well, the fit was perfect, and I thought of the perfect place for the chair. So, I bought the rocker, also. It looks brand new, and is very well made. I think we will get a lot of good use out of it.

By the time we left the moving sale, I was starting to drag a little. We went home, where the lamps and chair were a perfect fit. As I was moving the chair in the front door, Carolyn noticed that one of the shutters on the front of the house had fallen in to the flower bed. I put the shutter back in place, making sure the rest of them were also okay. We think the high winds over the last week may have blown the one off.

Since I was on a roll with getting things done, I decided to check for the source of the oil leak that was discovered when I had the truck serviced yesterday. The best explanation I can come up with is that the oil plug was left a little loose (again), or there is a hairline crack in the area of the plug that allows a little weeping of oil. I cleaned everything off, and will keep an eye on it until I can figure out what the real problem is.

After all that activity, I was starting to drag a little more. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching college basketball, especially enjoying the Florida/Vanderbilt game. Florida was behind at one time by 12 points, but won the game by 11 points. Tomorrow, they play Kentucky for the Southeastern Conference tournament title. It should be a good game.

At supper time, we decided to go in to town and try another Chinese restaurant. Carolyn says the food was good, but I couldn't taste it. My recent illness makes everything taste like medicine. Yuck!

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Boston, Massachusetts: The City Of Kind Hearts

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 32 degrees, high 54 degrees, clear skies

The weather was great today. It's too bad I didn't feel good enough to get out and do something. I did manage to take the truck to town and get it serviced. That brought up a little problem I need to check in to. The serviceman wrote on the ticket that the engine had a small oil leak, so maybe I'll be able to check on that tomorrow.

The reason I didn't feel like doing anything was that I only got about two hours sleep last night. The breathing problems continue, but at least I am able to get a little sleep, unlike a week ago when I was lucky to get an hour a night. I'm still waiting on the doctor's office to let me know when to go to Birmingham for the medical tests that he wants performed.

The big news of the day is the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people affected. Seeing the news today reminded me of things we saw when we were on the west coast in 2004. We drove the length of US 101 from San Francisco to Olympia, Washington. We saw many beautiful beaches and coastal towns. However, we were continually reminded that the beauty held a hidden danger in the form of tsunamis that could strike without almost no warning. There were many signs posted at the low points near the coast that warned of the possibility of tsunamis hitting the area. The first time we saw one of those signs, it gave us a funny feeling. Like, should we be on this road?

It appears the worse hit area in the US today was the northern California/southern Oregon coast. Crescent City, California had a tsunami hit the town about 40 years ago, with a number of people being killed and most of the town being destroyed. So, it was a surprise that a person was killed there today when the tsunami struck. In addition, the harbor docks, along with many boats, was destroyed. That's a shame, since it is such a nice little town.

Events such as what happened today make us stop and think about what is going on with our lives. I've been sick, but I have every confidence that eventually the cause and a cure will be found. At least I don't have to worry about the house shaking down. Or being washed away.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Carthage, Texas: The Best Small Town In Texas

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mooresville, Alabama

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 39 degrees, high 41 degrees, cloudy, windy, sprinkles

In spite of the cold weather, we got out again today, looking for something besides four walls. We ended up in the little town of Mooresville, located near Decatur.

Mooresville is the oldest incorporated town in Alabama, being settled in November, 1818. The population of the town is only 59 people, and the entire town is listed on the National Registry of Historical Places. The post office was built in 1840 and is the oldest in operation in the state. Here's what it looks like now.

The little town is full of old houses and two churches. One of the most interesting buildings is the Old Brick Church, built in 1838 and home to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. No church owns the building at this time, so the town owns it and rents it out for weddings, etc. One thing that makes the old building interesting is the fact that unlike most churches, this one does not have a cross above the building. Instead, it has a carved hand pointing to the sky. Here's the Old Brick Church.

Since I didn't get a picture of the hand on top of the church, I copied one I found on the town's web page.

Here is a house that is typical of the houses in the town. An important point to keep in mind is that Mooresville is a functioning town, not a museum.

The Church of Christ is known for it being where General James A. Garfield, 20th president of the United States, preached there when he was camped in 1862 with the 42nd Ohio Volunteers during the War of Northern Aggression.

Another interesting fact about the town is that Andrew Johnson, who later on became president of the United States, was an apprentice tailor there.

I'm sure we could have gotten better pictures if the weather had been good, but it was still fun to drive up and down the streets, seeing houses and churches much as they were many years ago. Maybe we'll go back when everything is green and blooming.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Mooresville, Alabama: Alabama's Williamsburg

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

More Medical Stuff

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 50 degrees, high 58 degrees, cloudy, rainy

It rained hard all night, with showers continuing today. The rain finally stopped about the time the sun went down, and it looks as though it will clear up with cooler temperatures.

I had to go to Huntsville this morning to pick up some medical records associated with the tests I had performed over there last week. The records will go with me to Birmingham when I go down there for further tests. Carolyn decided to stay at home, and used the time I was gone to do some housekeeping that I seem to get in the way of.

When I got back to Athens, I had to go by my doctor's office to have blood drawn for lab tests to check some things that might be affected by the medicine I am taking. While I was there, I was given more records to take to Birmingham. They had already sent the records down by fax, but wanted to ensure that they got there in case something happened to them before I got there. As the nurse said, too much is better than not enough.

It was lunch time by the time I got home, so we scrounged up some leftovers. It doesn't matter what I eat now because one of the symptoms of what's wrong with me is a loss of appetite. I have a loss of appetite, big time, and it seems nothing tastes good to me. It's frustrating, because I like to savor my food, enjoying every bite. I wasn't overweight before I got sick, and in the last few months, I've lost about 20 pounds. Carolyn worries about me, but once I get well, I think my appetite will come back. At least I hope so. I didn't realize how much pleasure I got out of eating.

The rain kept us in today, plus I felt bad after the long drive. After lunch, I took things easy until late in the afternoon, when I helped Carolyn prepare supper. Again, no appetite, but I made an attempt to eat because she feels better about me if I do.

Oh, and we worked on some genealogy stuff today. Carolyn has traced her maternal side back to the 1500s in Wales, England. We saw some of that information today and added it to the tree. We also found a little bit of information on my paternal side, but have still not made the breakthrough needed to go further back in time. Were they outlaws?

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Williams, Arizona: Gateway To The Grand Canyon

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Belle Mina, Alabama

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 37 degrees, high 50 degrees, cloudy, rain, windy

It was another miserable weather day here in north Alabama. We didn't let that slow us down, however, as I felt good enough to suggest we go somewhere for lunch. Since I didn't have an idea for where to go, we decided to just play it by ear.

We decided to take a ride east on Brown's Ferry Road from Tanner to see how the area has changed. When we lived here back in the 1980s, we used that road often to go to Madison or Huntsville. Well, I have to tell you it is not the same now as it was then. Oh, sure, there's still plenty of vacant farm land, but there are also housing developments with prices to the $400,000 range on the road. It is really building up, especially within the Madison area.

As we were driving, we noticed a Mexican restaurant. A closer look showed it to be another El Olmeca, which we ate at in Ardmore about three weeks ago. Since our experience in Ardmore was pretty good, we decided to try this one out.

This particular El Olmeca is out in the boondocks, with nothing around except for a cotton gin and a farm supply store. It must be tough on them to have a profitable store in this location. Anyway, we stopped and had lunch, and it wasn't bad. I think the biggest negative was not the food or service, but the temperature of the restaurant. It felt like it was about 60 degrees. But, the food was good, as was the service. And the prices were reasonable. Looks like we have found another local restaurant that we'll be using. That is if the location doesn't kill them.

While on our little trip, we saw this old house. Looks like it has been overcome by events.

Before we went home, we decided to check out the Belle Mina area. Belle Mina was a famous plantation that was developed in the early 1800s when the government sold land to whoever had the money to buy. The area was perfect for growing cotton, and still grows it. The second governor of Alabama, Thomas Bibb, owned the plantation. The plantation home is still being used as a residence, and looks much like it did 150 years ago. Here's the best picture I could get.

A small business area was established near the plantation, but that has degraded to mostly a farm supply area. There is still one old building there that was probably the train depot at one time.

The surprising thing about the old plantation homes up here is that more of them were not destroyed during the War of Northern Aggression. That gives present folks a chance to see something that was accomplished back then.

By the time we saw Belle Mina and looked around a little, the post-lunch stupor was setting in. We decided to go home so we could stay warm and dry the rest of the day.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Austin, Texas: Keep Austin Weird

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, March 7, 2011

More Tests Coming

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 38 degrees, high 48 degrees, cloudy

Just when I thought my breathing problems were getting better, I had another bad night with little sleep. This is so frustrating!

My doctor called me today to give me the results of the medical tests that were performed last week. He saw what he expected, but also saw other things that raised more questions. He recommended that I have one more test performed, which I would have to go to either Atlanta, Nashville, or Birmingham to have performed, since the capability for the test does not exist in this area. I chose to go to Birmingham, since it's closer, and we're more familiar with the area. I'm not sure when the test will be performed, but shouldn't be there more than over night, if that. I should hear in the next day or so when I need to go. Once that test is completed, a comprehensive treatment plan will begin. I hope.

When I have a bad night, like last night, I tend to take things easy, trying to nap and get over feeling like my eyes are full of sand. So, taking it easy was the order from Carolyn for the day, at least until just before lunch. Then, we went in to town to the WalMart Mall to pick up a few groceries. While we were at the Mall, we decided to buy some brownie mix so we can bake some brownies in an attempt to find something that tastes good to me. Since I have been sick, nothing tastes good, and I have lost more weight than I need to. I'll let you know how good they taste to me tomorrow.

When we left the Mall (have you noticed how much prices have gone up?), we stopped at the library to check out more books. By the time I stopped looking, I had found seven books to bring home. Some good reading ahead.

When we bought the new home base, one of the conditions of the purchase was that all of the bottom sashes of the windows would be replaced. We knew that the replacement sashes would have to be ordered and manufactured, so we didn't worry too much when it wasn't done right away. Well, here it is almost three months later, and no new sashes. Yesterday, I left a message for the person who sold us the house about my concern. Today, he called and said that the windows had been ordered in November, and the people who were going to replace them were supposed to have gotten in touch with us to arrange a time for installation. Needless to say, that didn't happen. The seller was very apologetic, and he said he would call the installers and get it set up. I believe what the seller says, but I wish he had followed up on his end of the deal a little better. OH, well. As long as we get the sashes replaced..... I think we have been patient long enough.

And, now a couple of pictures of the beautiful trees up here. This first one is of two flowering pears in our front yard.

Here's a tulip tree we saw down the road from our place.

Finally, another picture of one of the old cabins that we find in our travels.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Andrews, North Carolina: Preserving The Past, Looking To The Future

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Fried Tomato

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 36 degrees, high 37 degrees, cloudy skies, windy

About the best thing that can be said about today's weather is that it has stopped raining. Otherwise, it feels like winter has come back to us. A heavy coat felt good when we were outside.

We don't eat out very often since we moved in to the new home base. There are several reasons for that, including the fact that so many of the restaurants are so bad. At least that's the way I see them. Another reason is that Carolyn enjoys cooking more when she has more room to spread out, so I'm getting some of the dishes now that we used to eat before we started full time RVing. Occasionally, however, I suggest that we try a restaurant in order to see if we can find another one that we like. Today, I suggested we go to the Fried Tomato Buffet, located in Ardmore, Tennessee.

We had been past the restaurant several times in the past, and it was always busy. The circumstances were not right to stop before now. With the weather like it was and lunch time approaching, today seemed like the day to take a chance on the Tomato.

When we walked in the door of the restaurant, we were immediately made to feel welcome, as the lady at the register called us "Sugar" and told us to sit wherever we wanted. Another lady came to our table and took our drink orders, also calling us "Sugar".

Since this was a buffet, we looked at the choices available. There was fried chicken (a southern staple), turkey, roast beef, dressing, and all the normal vegetables that might be expected in a southern restaurant. I was a little disappointed that there was not any cat fish, but got over it.

I have to say that the food was a pleasant surprise. It was tasty, and there was plenty of it. The drink glasses were never empty, and Carolyn said the fried chicken reminded her of when she was growing up in south Georgia. We can see why the place is always busy, and we added it to our list of good restaurants to return to.

Oh, by the way - the fried green tomatoes were good.

I think I'm starting to get over my breathing problems, at least the ones that have kept me from sleeping well for the last month. Last night, I slept the best that I have since my problems started, and didn't have to take a nap today. Instead, I helped Carolyn on the genealogical research. I even managed to dredge up some memories that helped close some loop holes in her previous research. We do well when we work together. Now, who were my great-great-grandparents and where did they come from?

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Live Oak, Florida: The City Of Nature

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Genealogy Lesson

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 46 degrees, high 55 degrees, cloudy, rain

The rain started before midnight last night, and as I write the blog tonight, is still falling. It was a miserable day to be outside, so we stayed at home, dry and warm.

Carolyn has been working with her genealogy stuff for about 20 years. She has been trying to get me involved, since most of the missing stuff involves my family. She has not had any problems tracing her family on her father's side all the way back to the 1200s in Scotland, and her mother's side back to the 1600s in Virginia. My mother's side is not hard to trace either, with much information available on them. My father's side is another story. She has been able to go back to my great-grandfather, and that's it. It's almost like earlier generations came here by flying saucer.

Today, I sat down with her in front of the computer as she explained the program she uses, and how she tracks down leads. I have to say this genealogy stuff is a lot of work. And, a lot of stuff to remember. As might be expected, she is very protective of the information she has gathered. A lot of work went in to it, and I would not want to be the one who messed it up. I haven't been turned loose to look by myself yet, and I don't think I'm ready to be. But, I still think I can be some help, as my mind thinks differently than hers. For example, she was trying to find the place where one of my ancestors was buried in Texas. Now, I didn't know any were buried there, but I suggested getting in touch with the local newspaper there to see if an obituary had been published for this ancestor. So, I sat down and wrote an e-mail to the newspaper asking that question. I don't know if it will do any good, but if it does, one more piece of the puzzle will fall in to place.

The genealogy stuff wore me out, so I took a short nap in the middle of the afternoon, plus another one this morning. Hey, when I'm not sleeping well at night, I'll take the sleep where I can get it.

After my nap, I watched Florida defeat Vanderbilt in college basketball for the SEC championship. Florida was obviously the better team, but the game was played at Vanderbilt, which is a tough place to win.

The rain is supposed to end tonight, so we're planning to get out and look at the beautiful blooming trees and shrubs. Pictures to follow.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Chattanooga, Tennessee: City Of Lights

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 55 degrees, high 65 degrees, partly cloudy, windy

Sleep was a little better last night, as I only roamed the house for about four hours because of breathing problems. Now, if I can get that down to three hours tonight....

After a mid-morning nap in my easy chair, we went in to town to take care of some business that had been put off. Our RV insurance had gone up about $300 a year, and was due for renewal on Saturday. I had previously done some comparison shopping, and found another carrier that would give us the same coverage for $200 less than what we are currently paying. I took care of getting the new insurance, saving the money I mentioned. While I was in the office, I was asked a lot of questions about RVing, including full timing. I love to talk about RVing with anyone, but had to leave soon because Carolyn was waiting for me in the truck.

Leaving the insurance office, we went to visit my sister Judy and her husband Roger. They had quite a scare two nights ago, when Roger had some problems with erratic heart beats. He has been battling cancer and other problems for several years, and they don't need that kind of scare. He has a great attitude, and always seems to be upbeat about what he's going through.

After a good visit, we went home and had lunch. Then, I gave in to temptation and had another nap. I used to meditate, but with my problems breathing and not being able to sleep at night, I'll take sleep any time I can get it, even if it's only a half-hour nap.

After the nap, our niece Traci came to the house and started trimming our trees and other shrubs. This is work that I normally like to do, but with my problems, we made a deal with Traci to help us out some until I'm more able to do it. Also, she will take care of the yard for us when we're gone with the RV. It's nice to have someone we can trust to do these things for us.

We had a bad experience for supper. Neither one of us wanted what we had to eat, so we went to town and picked up a couple of hamburgers at Hardee's. We brought them home to eat. When we got home, I discovered that our order was about as messed up as it could get. Plus, the food just didn't taste good. Another place to eat is crossed off our list. It would seem that they could get one of their standard orders right, but I guess not.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - San Francisco, California: Only In San Francisco

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 44 degrees, high 72 degrees, partly cloudy skies

I spent most of the day involved in more tests to find the reason or reasons for my breathing problems. We had to go to Huntsville early this morning to have the tests performed, but traffic was not bad, for a change.

During this process to find the reason for me being sick, I have been poked, prodded, stuck, pricked, x-rayed, and any number of other tests. Today, I went through a brand new experience, at least for me. I had an MRI of my heart performed. What a trip that was!

Imagine being placed in a metal cave with the walls and ceiling only six inches away. No movement is allowed for about two hours. Almost the whole time the examination is going on, it sounds as though you're in a metal barrel and someone is beating the outside of it with a hammer. A pair of hearing protectors are used, with piped in music to listen to. Do the hearing protectors help with the noise? Not hardly. The music is supposed to help the time pass and take your mind off what is happening, but believe me, it doesn't help. Especially when the music was mostly performed by hair bands.

During the examination, I was asked to hold my breath several times while certain tests were performed. Normally, holding my breath is not a problem, but since I'm having breathing problems, it was a little difficult sometimes. Still, I managed to get through the exam fairly well, and even missed a cue to hold my breath one time because I almost went to sleep.

As far as I know, the tests are completed. Now, the doctors will put their heads together to see what they can come up with. I do have some positive news to report. Yesterday, my medicine was modified, and my symptoms are better today. It's amazing the difference a little change can make. Now, if we can just build on that success.
That road trip in the RV might be sooner than we thought.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Brookings, Oregon: The Pulse Of America’s Wild Rivers Coast

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Doctor Visit

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 35 degrees, high 63 degrees, partly cloudy skies

There was no change in my breathing problems today, but we did more medical tests and saw the doctor. Tomorrow, I have another test in Huntsville, which I hope will complete the testing. Then, after all the information is reviewed, we should be able to come up with a treatment plan that gives me some relief from this mess. At least that's my hope.

We didn't get home from the doctor's office until after lunch. We rested for a short time, then Carolyn decided she wanted to wash the truck. Normally, that's my job, but with my health problems, I could care less whether it gets washed or not. I helped her get everything ready, then stood there holding the water hose as she did the washing. When rinsing was needed, I was able to do that. Between the two of us, we managed to get the truck washed, and it looks better. Of course, that will bring the rain, which is due here in two days.

Have I said lately how important Carolyn is to me?

Late in the afternoon, our niece Traci came by to see us. Traci is a trauma nurse, so she has been keeping us informed as to what my problems mean. By the time she left, I felt better about the situation I'm in. She is coming back tomorrow to mow the yard and do some work on the flower beds. That is stuff that Carolyn and I like to do, but this is not a good time for me to do it. Obviously, I'm going to pay Traci for what she does. If she didn't do the work, I would have to get someone else to do it.

The test I'm having tomorrow is a two hour MRI scan. I hope I can lay on my back for that long.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Toledo, Ohio: Detroit’s Right Hand

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Saw The RV Today

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 38 degrees, high 60 degrees, clear skies

I had another restless night, as my breathing problems only allowed me about three hours of sleep. Up and down all night, I'm glad I can go to a room where it doesn't wake Carolyn up. I see the doctor tomorrow afternoon, after more tests in the morning. I have my fingers crossed that he will know what the problem is, and can prescribe something to take care of it.

This afternoon, I went to the RV park where we have the RV parked, waiting on us to come get her and go for a drive. I had to go pay the storage rent, but took the time to check everything out, at least as well as I could. The winter weather has made the outside of the RV dirty, so the first order of business when I get the okay from the doctor is to clean that up. Carolyn's first priority is to make sure we didn't get any unwelcome guests over the winter, like mice. It felt good to see the RV again, and will feel even better to hook it up to the truck and take off.

Before I went to the RV, Carolyn trimmed my hair. The last time I had it cut, the barber almost scalped me, leaving basically a stubble. I guess he never had classes in following what the customer asks him to do. I had asked him to cut it short, but leave enough to comb, even if only a little bit. Hah! Carolyn did a much better job. And she didn't cost me $13.00. The cost would have been fine if he had followed my directions.

Earlier in the day, we finished trimming the shrubs in front of the house. That little job took about twice as long as it should because of my breathing problems. But, it is done for now.

Tonight, I watched Florida and Alabama play a college basketball game. The two teams were tied for the lead in the SEC. The game was close in the first, with the score tied 30 to 30 at the end of the half. In the second half, Florida ran away with the game, winning 76 to 51. That means Florida has clinched at least a share of the conference championship, and if they win their next game or Alabama loses their next, Florida will be the champions. Very good team.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Clemson, South Carolina: In Season, Every Season

Not all who wander are lost.