Sunday, July 24, 2016

On the Oregon Trail

Heading west on I-70 from Green River, we take a shortcut from Salina, northwest to join up with I-15 northbound at Scipio, cutting off some 120 miles or thereabouts where I-70 makes a significant southwest jog to meet I-15. Before reaching Salina we raced some bad weather to the rest area at mile marker 79 but the storm won. At least it wasn't a bad one!

The scenery is much the same most of the way ranging from valleys to mountains and back again. Some of the sights happen in various locations but I mustn't fail to mention that we saw cattle out grazing in the median and wind turbines from Kansas all through the west including this part of the trip from Utah through Idaho and Oregon.

This day we ended just short of the Utah/Idaho border in Snowville, Utah, where we stayed at an RV park named the Earp & James Hitching Post. It was a fairly ordinary place without much to recommend it one way or the other but it was convenient and the name unique! It did have pretty flowers in the grass.

We angled on I-84 all the way across Idaho and into Oregon, much of it along the same route so many pioneers followed into this countryside. Many paid the price and there are monuments and markers detailing some of the disasters that befell them.

Along the Snake River
This route follows along the Snake River and then the Columbia River. The Snake River is far too winding through the hills to stay close to but the Columbia flows smoothly not far from the interstate.

One of the things we found different in Oregon is that it is the law that a gas attendant must be the one to fill your tank. You are not allowed to do it yourself. A mixed blessing but I must admit it has been a very long time since I had an attendant do the tank. At one truck stop we even had the attendant wash our windshield which was home to a lot of bug splats by then. He didn't get everything but it was greatly improved and he was well tipped for his strenuous effort. We definitely appreciated it!

I wonder if any of the road trains we saw along the highway had their tanks filled. Maybe it is different for trucks? We saw many road trains, some with not just two but three trailers behind them like this UPS road train. They aren't kidding with that sign on the back that says "LONG LOAD" but I'm glad it wasn't me driving it!

We kept on westwards following the Columbia River and stopped to have a picnic lunch of bananas and bagels with cream cheese at a river front park. Note the Columbia River across the top of the picture, this was really a river FRONT park. The Rand McNally GPS in the foreground gives you our location at The Dalles in Wasco County, Oregon. We're resting our heads by taking the communications caps off for the meal when they are not needed. That's the mysterious jumble in the box to the right of the picture.

Soon we are back on our way following the Columbia with its dams and locks all the way to Portland.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Into the Desert

Driving through Arizona, note the rock formations in the window
After our brief stop at the WalMart in Flagstaff we headed for Monument Valley in the northwest of Arizona along the Utah border. On the way we stopped at the Cameron Trading Post and had lunch as well as acquiring some souvenirs. I was in this area a number of times as a girl in the 1950's and there were few things here but the Cameron Trading Post was here even then. It has grown and has an excellent restaurant now but it has the same basic feeling to it and that is good.

It took most of the day to get to the Monument Valley area so we went straight to the RV park, the campground at Gouldings Lodge, just six miles from the Monument Valley Center. This campground is up in a canyon, above where the lodge and other buildings are that are part of the complex. Just driving to and being at this campground passes a lot of interesting rock formations and views.

In the morning we headed for the Monument Valley Center. This center wasn't even here when I was young although there were a few simple jeep tours available, basically you just got to drive through the area. Probably the most famous and well known formations are the East and West Mittens seen in the image at the left. As a girl of about eleven or twelve I remember coming through the valley in the middle of the night and my mother pulled over and shut the lights off on the car and we saw the monuments by moonlight, including the mittens. This isn't possible these days, too much traffic and too many people around for it to be that dark and quiet.

my little lizard friend
Of course I added to our souvenir collection ... I suppose eventually I should take a photo of them all but not today, after all there is more to get. I tried taking a selfie at the center while waiting for Geoff but I won't inflict the results on you. Suffice it to say that I need more practice at selfies. We were going to have lunch at the center but it was too early so we headed on north back into Utah because we discovered that at the campground we had been just over the state line into Utah and had gone back into Arizona when we went to the center.

We drove up through Utah on roads that were one lane each way and sometimes a bit rough and were very glad to finally connect up to I-70 coming out of Colorado and headed west to meet up with I-15 going north. Before getting that far we stopped for the night at an RV park in Green River, Utah. I don't remember the name of it and it is not very memorable, neither good nor bad. The Green River itself was nice to see, mostly because the country we had been going through had been so dry.

We headed on the next day, a bit farther west on I-70 and then a short run over US50 to get to I-15 north bound rather than going southwest on I-70 and then back north on I-15 to pick up where we did get on at Scipio. Along the way in Utah we saw more strange rock formations but I think the one to the left is one of the strangest!!

At first we thought it must be a man made structure but when we got close enough it was clearly a natural formation. The far side of it, away from the direction of the photo is more stretched out and less like a bee hive (ignore the bug splats on the windshield, please).

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Seester visit!

Yes, yes, "seester" is what my sisters and I frequently use instead of sister for each other. When we headed down to Cave Creek to see my son, we stayed overnight in Camp Verde. We liked the place so much that when we came back up I-17 and stopped to see my youngest sister we stayed at the same place: Distant Drums RV Resort in Camp Verde.

Just off the interstate, it is one of the nicest, cleanest places we have stayed. What would I change, not much at all. A little more shade but that's tough to come by in the region, and maybe a smoother turn into the entrance. Other than that it was a very nice place.

We stayed a couple of days, partly to catch up on laundry (again!) and relax a little but also to visit with my seester. Getting to her house is not something I'd enjoy in a car, even a jeep is a good idea! So, she came to us.

We visited at our RV for a while and then went to dinner over at Storytellers, a suberb little restaurant across the interstate at Cliff Castle Casino. Now casinos are notoriously noisy places and walking through the slot machine area to get to the restaurant I certainly would not disagree. But, immediately on entering Storytellers which is tucked into one side of the huge casino room, the noise vanishes! The internal setting is like a grotto, quiet little nooks where conversation is truly possible and many many restaurants have forgotten that people like to talk and visit over a meal.

We had a great visit ... my sisters (I have two) and I keep up with each other by phone and email although we are separated by enough distance we don't often see each other in person. I avoid as much as possible saying much about any of my living family online so not going to go into any details about the conversation or how her family is doing. I have no such hesitation about the long gone, after all I am a genealogist but I do draw the line at saying much about the living relatives.

We returned to Timmber Wolf after a very good meal only to find that her tire was going flat. To our very good fortune, our neighbors at the RV park were a very nice family from California, looking to resettle in nearby Prescott and they had the youth and enthusiasm needed to get her tire changed. I m truly glad we discovered this and had the help or she might have been stranded on he side of the road on the way home! Thank you to all the nice helpful people in this world who go out of their way to help others.

The next day we headed first to Flagstaff for a stop at a WalMart to pick up a few things. Known as the RV'ers friend by some, most WalMarts have parking lots us big rigs can get in and out of reasonably!

Then we headed north into the desert but that's another story.

Medical Digression

As briefly referred to in my last post, I began having problems back in Ohio with a swollen left foot and lower leg. The right was also swollen but no where near as much. I've had problems with the left leg for a while now primarily due to significant arthritis in the left hip joint. At first I just figured it was the lack of exercise and too much sitting so focused on trying to move around more often and get my foot up as much as I could.

It doesn't look too bad in this photo but the toes weren't at the little sausages point when it was taken. The skin would be all tight and stretched feeling and the ankle was too stuffed to move reasonably.

But all across Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado and into New Mexico and Arizona it persisted, as stubborn as can be. Not being near any of my own doctors we procrastinated going to an emergency center but by the time we reached Camp Verde, Arizona, we were both getting concerned about it.

My sister lives near there and so I called asking her about the quality of local possibilities and she was most encouraging about the Verde Valley Medical Center in Cottonwood. I have been in and out of that area much of my life so felt more comfortable there than some where totally strange so Sunday morning we showed up at the center.

The personnel were very nice and spent most of the morning running various tests. The x-ray went smoothly, making sure there was no hidden underlying injury to the foot or ankle.

The blood tests that followed were a bit more of a problem as my veins decided to go into hiding or something like that and refused to part with any amount of blood. Finally the lab worker used a pediatric needle and a syringe to scoop up my recalcitrant blood for three or four tests.

Not sure what all they were looking for but infection was one of them and as it turned out, they found nothing.

From there it was off to get an ultrasound of the veins to look for the other likely problem, a clot in one of the veins. My leg did not like some of the positions this required but good news, no clots.

What did it all come down to? None of the dangerous problems existed, no infection, no clots, no internal issues ... diagnosis? Probably mostly heat related and the best thing to do was try to exercise it some, keep it elevated as much as possible, stay hydrated, and take it easy.

So now I try to minimize how much I get in and out of the coach as that seems to aggravate the whole leg, spend time several times a day laying down to get the foot elevated enough and drink plenty of fluids. It also seems to help to simply sit and exercise the ankle and foot by moving them like one would rocking a chair or working a pump.

Final opinion of both the medical people and myself is that the hip replacement scheduled for August 23rd should help a lot both in clearing up issues but also in allowing exercise and such that are currently difficult.

A few more days in this hot area and then we move northwards hopefully into cooler weather!

PS, a note from some days later up in the northwest: the foot and ankle are a lot better, not all gone but much improved and seem to be slowly continuing to improve.