2-27-09 Friday

Blog entry by Jim:

So today's misery. As you may have read in the blog we lost half of one fender on our way from Spokane to Seattle. If not ask Garret to point you to it in the blog. I could not find it to tell you about it. So yesterday I go to this salvage place that says they have one I can get. A new one is nearly $500. We also needed a new converter/battery charger. This is a device that charges the "house" batteries that in turn run the lights, heater fans, and refrigerator brain, while not hooked up to shore power. This device is VERY important because even when hooked up to shore power, you need 12 volt/battery type power to run everything I just mentioned. I came home Tuesday eve to see, or not see because the lights did not work ours had died. This was only an immediate concern because the refrigerator brain needs 12 volt power to tell it to run on the shore power or gas for that matter. Without it the refrigerator does not run. Thankfully Scott from nearby (who I am taking to the airport at 5am) was walking Dasher for me when I came home to discover the problem. He helped me out by loaning me his battery charger to hook up to the house batteries. That did the trick. The only other solution would have been to run the engine, not even the generator, to charge the batteries. That would have been loud and expensive. Anyways, this salvage shop says they should have one of the converters I need, $75. So I drive an hour or two to get there and they have nothing. Not that I had big plans but what a waste of my day. So off I go to Camping World and spend over $300 on a new one. It installed VERY easy. So now we have a new one with a warranty that I can take back to Camping World if there are problems. But I still have no fender and I am probably going to have to put the broken one back on until I find a new one or at least a whole one. Well that typing kept me busy for a bit.

2-23-09 Monday

What a week. My mom had been released from the hospital last night. We don't understand why though. The doctor said she needed to test negative 3 times in a row. Another day he days 2 times in a row. She was released with no negatives at the time. Perhaps test results came in after we left but what about "the now"? Is she contagious? There's so much going on. I can't even make a blog entry make sense right now. My uncle is here from NY. My uncle is now in Hospice. My Grandmother's reactions and emotions make me cry... a lot.

In the evenings.... I escape into a different world. I go out. Out to the bar, out to friend's houses, just out.

Jim seems to be doing OK. He's not submitted a blog entry thus far.

2-19-09 Wednesday (Rudeness)

Thanks to everyone for the prayers and well wishes. My Mom is on the road to recovery. She's still in the hospital but getting better at a slow pace. She has Clostridium Difficile Colitis which in medical world is very common. Of course I wonder, if it's so common, why wasn't it correctly diagnosed for weeks? AND it got SO severe! Could you imagine dealing with those syptoms for 8 weeks?

Meanwhile, the doctor has a lack of bedside manor. Dr. Bhanuprasad Koneru appears to look down on women. My family had the same problem with him several years ago. Long story, but basically he told my uncle never to come back to the hospital, and I chased him out as he talked down to my aunt. I wished my Mom and I would have remembered all that before he came in. The clencher the other day was when my mom asked, "Will I see you again tomorrow" to which he answered "not if you keep asking questions" and walked out. I kid you not. I had to complain about the nurses too. There's so much more to the story but I don't have the time. I spend all day at the hospital and I go visit friends late in the evening. Actually I go to both hospitals to see my uncle and Mom. If I get the chance I'll put more of the stories in.

I think Mom will be in the hospital for at least 5 days more. Hey, whatever it takes.

2-17-09 Tuesday (Hospitalization X 2 )

2-16-09 My Mom's guest bed was so comfy. I crashed at 8pm last night; and slept until 9am this morning. If my Mom hadn't woken me up, who knows what time I would have slept until.

I took my Mom to her doctor's visit this morning. My Mom had been to the emergency room the other day and at today's doctor's visit, he was angry that they released her. He ordered my Mom back to the hospital. My mom has had abdominal pain/cramps for 8 weeks, a diarrhea for 4 weeks. Diarrhea has been so bad it's been every 1/2 hour and she's lost 12 pounds in 1 week!

My Mom is now in Gulf Coast Hospital. I have some bitches about the care but I can’t keep up with the blog right now. There’s too much goin’ on.

2-17-09 I never got this published from yesterday. Today I went to a different hospital to visit my Uncle Alan. (I spoke about him in a previous post) He’s not doing so well, so the family is organizing Hospice stuff. Meanwhile, the lies to my very elderly Grandmother deepen about what’s going on.

Last night I went to the local gay club, The Bottom Line for a “Healing of the Hearts” benefit with proceeds to go to AIDS/HIV organizations. I was able to spend some time with dear friends Mike and Dave, and of course I drank like a fish. 4 cocktails. I got to bed at 2AM.

2-14-09 Saturday (STD Day)

Well, if you hadn't noticed, I posted 2 entries from the last couple of days to catch up with the weeks events. You may have 3 entries to read.

Back to Saturday. We hadn't really done much today. It was more about me packing and figuring out what last minute stuff I need. We hadn't eaten any lunch and it was already 3pm. Off to Olive Garden we went for a Valentine's Day meal. I couldn't believe the place was so busy for VD. We only had a half hour wait and it was worth it. After Olive Garden then off to Target for some flight snacks and a couple of other things.

We're in San Diego, the flight leaves from Los Angeles at 11:59pm. We leave San Diego at 8pm and arrive at LAX at about 10:30pm. There's nothing to do for non-ticketed passengers so Jim leaves and heads back to the RV.
The flight was uneventful which was fine by me. It's the first time I've flown overnight.

2-15-09 With the Pacific to Eastern time change, I arrive at 10:30am in Fort Myers. I'm pretty tired; it was difficult to sleep with screaming children. Thanks parents.

I went to the baggage claim as indicated. I waited and waited for my suitcase. The belt stopped, my suitcase wasn't there. Several other people moved on to a different belt and I followed suit. Apparently from the time I checked the info board to the time I got to belt #1, they changed it to belt #3. Bastards.

My Dad and I got to his house and my Mom was very surprised. She was crying, hugging me tightly and shaking. I was teary-eyed too. She's been real sick for a few weeks.... I didn't know it was this bad. A few hours later, she seemed to be better with me just being here. I have that affect; what can I say.

I'm exhausted at 7:30pm, I can barely keep my eyes open so it's time for bed. I skipped a few minor details from today and as I think of them, I'll mention them along the way. Saturday and Sunday run together. It's all weird.

Updates Coming Soon

Blog updates will come Sunday or Monday. Things have been a little hectic. It will all make sense shortly.

2-13-09 Friday (Rest Area Lasagna)

This morning my Aunt called; they took my Mom to the Emergency Room because of severe stomach pains. I booked a one-way ticket from LA to Fort Myers. One-way was easier. No pressure for departure, and not locked into a specific airport. I've booked for leaving Saturday at close to midnight, and arriving on Sunday morning. Now we just have to get from here to LA. It starts snowing. It's snowing HARD! We scramble to shower and pack up. The snow is sticking quickly. Jim walked the dog while I was showering. He found out the mountain pass we need to take is on a tire chain only restriction. They say once the snow stops, they'll plow and then the restriction will be over and we can pass. Now we need it to stop snowing.

It's now 1pm and it stopped snowing quite some time ago. The snow is very wet and melting fast. It's a slush-fest out there. Jim has been monitoring the California DOT website and currently it's closed for an accident. It's been closed a long time so we drove up toward the road and it was indeed closed. It turned out it was a truck that jackknifed and a 20 car pile up.

We got on the road for the 8 hour trip. I tried something new. I put a lasagna in the oven while we were driving. When it was done, we pulled over, had salads and fresh baked lasagna. How many people can say they had homemade lasagna at a rest stop?

We arrived at the campground in San Diego at about 10pm. It was a disaster trying to navigate these narrow streets and get into the spot. The employee helping us get into the spot was pissing me off by saying they don't get such big rigs here and that we might not be able to put the slide all the way out and that there's another park around but it's expensive. We made a reservation. We tell them it's a 37 foot, 1 slide. We got in just right and the slide goes all the way out. These spots are very tight, as Ken warned us in advance. Jim and I aren't sure what to make of this place.

We could barely open the compartments to make the connections. By the time we set up, it was 11:00 or later. We walked up to a Circle K next door and Jim enjoyed a beer. Well, he enjoyed it up until the point I became bitchy about some stuff and he dumped out the can. We won't go there.

I didn't publish this entry until I arrived in Florida so as not to spoil the surprise for my Mom. It was unlikely she'd read the blog because last I knew she was behind and had been sick lately.

2-12-09 Thursday (Define View)

We arrived in Oakhurst, CA today. It's about 20 miles away from Yosemite. The temperatures here were to be below freezing, and accompanied by snow. Due to some existing snow in some of the surrounding areas, local roads required tire chains. The RV park gave us some alternate directions. The trip here was fine; there were no signs of snow until the last couple of miles to the RV park. The old snow here and there was sparse at best. We knew the weather would call for snow today but only for a day. It was our only chance to see Yosemite.

The last 20 miles here were through farm lands. It was a desolate road and had us nervous that we were going the wrong way. At the end of this stretch, we turned onto a more commercial looking road and felt better about the next and last 7 miles through mountainous terrains. The sights were pretty. We turned into the RV park entrance which was thickly lined with trees. I thought how wonderful. A few more feet into the park and I could see a small river. I squealed with delight (which is different than squealing like a pig). Several more feet into the park and across the other side of the river was some sort of commercial store receiving area. Oh well, it's a little tainted but still nice. We turned at the next loop and of course with all the RV's the trees started to dwindle and the view wasn't as spectacular anymore. Oh well.

OK, back to the arrival story. We set up camp, ate dinner and surfed the net. I received an email from my Dad that my Mom hasn't been feeling well. Aside from Fibromyalgia, she has a bunch of other medical issues going on. She's been very stressed and lately has been forgetful about simple things. The family believes she's over-medicated. Meanwhile my Uncle is out of the hospital, at home, and friends and family are taking care of him. Hospice will be involved, he doesn't have much time left. I have to go and help out. I need to see what I can do about Mom's health.

After some tears, Jim and I discuss whether we should drive from California to Florida or if I should fly back. We decide I'll fly back for 3 weeks. I want him to stay in San Diego, see his brother (who will be visiting from Georgia) and hang out with some of the new friends we've made via blogging. It will be faster/easier for me to fly back.

I didn't publish this entry until I arrived in Florida so as not to spoil the surprise for my Mom. It was unlikely she'd read the blog because last I knew she was behind and had been sick lately.

2-10-09 Tuesday (Naked Tat Man)

We got a late start this morning. The internet connection was giving us a fit so all surfing took 2-3 times longer. I know, excuses, excuses.

A drive into San Francisco brought us to another walking tour. This tour was of the "Land's End" area. I am so impressed with the dense forest-like parks that San Francisco has throughout the city. Big city, no parking, sounds of traffic, and then wham! a park. Amazing.

The history for Land's End is rich. Do click on the cards above to read them. MOST of the views were spectacular. I say most and I'm going to explain. So my Dad calls me. We're chatting as Jim and I are walking up to the peak of this mountainous area within Sutro Heights park (Parapet). The only other person up at the top is a man who is in the middle of stripping down. He's covered head to toe in tattoos and is now naked. While I'm still talking to my Dad on the phone who is oblivious to this, I power on my camera and snap a few pictures of the naked man. The guy has his butt errrrrr back to me and doesn't know I'm there. I guess out of shame, Jim turns the other way as if to run from this strange scene. Naked tat guy quickly sets his camera up on the tripod, aims and runs into position for a few photos. My the time the guy notices me, I've stopped taking photos, naked tat guy is clothed, I'm still talking to my dad and Jim has decided to rejoin me. I guess naked tat guy will have some photos of himself with a nice background.

Above: What's left of Sutro Baths. You can see the outline of the pools. Below is a mini documentary about the Sutro baths. Amazing.

Above: How could I not snap a picture of this woman walking a huge and tiny dog.

Above: The Dutch Windmill. It's chained and won't spin anymore.

Above: Do I need to explain?

Above: The grounds around the Dutch Windmill.

Above: An all you can eat Sim Dum buffet in Chinatown. It was cheap and we found out why. It was gross and I don't want to talk about it anymore. On the bright side, we went to a Cold Stone to rid our taste buds of the terrible Chinese food.

Above: The Sutro Baths ruins.

Above: View from the Coastal Trail trailhead.

2-9-09 Monday (Got Milk?)

The weather forecast for today was to be lousy. With that in mind, we deemed today "laundry and errand day". We slept in awfully late. The only problem was that it was a gorgeous day all day. Not so much a problem I guess as much a surprise. We kind of wasted a day. Oh well. We did like 8 loads of laundry at the facilities here. We did more laundry than we probably needed to but decided to take advantage of the cheap price. .25 for 10 minutes dry time. $1.00 to wash. We washed the blanket, comforter, mattress pad, towels as well as clothes.

After such an exciting laundry day, we checked our mailbox and saw local coupons and ads. Jim sorted through these and spotted a Chevy's coupon. We used to have a Chevy's in Fort Myers. In this area, there are approximately 6 of them. The coupon was 1 entree at full price, 2nd entree at $3.99. That was a pretty good deal. Chevy's for dinner it is.

We ordered sampler type platters. We didn't care for 90% of it. What we really liked that they were skimpy on was the glob of cornmeal. We love that stuff. No cactus shaped chip jammed into the cornmeal like they did in Fort Myers. I realize this may not make sense to some of you. Clean your screen or something. Does anyone know the name of this stuff or a recipe for it? Anyway, we had an extra coupon and slipped it to a couple a table away on our way out. They were appreciative and I'm sure we get some sort of point for that in the cosmic point system. Probably not, but that's OK. It's nice to be nice.... or some crap like that.

We drove into San Francisco and met up with Andy Connors. Andy is a good friend of Sandra, who is an ex-coworker of Jim's. Got it? Anyway, Andy showed us where Harvey Milk lived and worked (photos below) and then we bar hopped to a few places in the Castro. It was very interesting to talk to Andy about life here. He's lived here 10 years and still loves it. At roughly a $1,000 a square foot, it would definitely be an adjustment for most. Andy described it all as his "bubble". People are free to be who they are.

Above: A mural inside the store.

Above: A mural on the upper floor, exterior.

2-8-09 Sunday (Beaver Crossing)

We got a late start but we certainly did a lot of walking. Our legs were almost recovered from yesterday's adventures. Some of the walking is difficult because of the hills. It's a terrible strain on the legs but I know they hurt because they got a good exercise.

Today we drove into San Francisco. Jim had the walking tours already planned out for today.  Our first stop was Union Square.

Above: Inside the Palace Hotel dining room.  Beautiful.  A buffet lunch per person is $68.00.  As I walked out of this exclusive hotel, I couldn't help but to look angrily at Jim and state in a loud voice, "I can't believe our room wasn't ready yet!" 

Above: Crocker Galleria.... O-la-la elite shopping.  It was closed today.  I was so bummed because I wanted to buy something.  OK, not really. 

 Above: Just humorous.  The pocket was wrinkly.  Looks like it could use an iron despite the sign.

 Above: A grand entrance to Chinatown.

Above: The streets were full with people and vendor booths as part of the Chinese New Year. 

Above: A little snack for Jim and I.  They were pretty good. 

Above: Excuse the glare.  There are so many Chinese shop windows with fowl hanging in them.  I wanted a closer look and am sad that I did.  You'll be sad too.  If you look closely, these birds have been cooked with head and all.  It's sick.  Yeah, I wished someone would have warned me too.  Again, the scary thing is these are all over the place.

 Above: Ewwwwwwwww.

 Above: On the side of a building overlooking Duboce Park.  "The American Dream starts with the neighborhood" by Harvey Milk.
Above:  I'm not going to explain this.  This is a very gay neighborhood and these cross streets are NOE- BEAVER.

2-7-09 Saturday (Street Walkers)

Today we went into San Francisco. My feet hurt so much. My left leg has a Charlie Horse in it and has for the last 2 hours. Now I'll tell you what we did to get those! We used the City Walks walking tour cards we purchased the last time. On 1 side of the card is the description and the other side is a map of the walk. I scanned the description side. Sorry if they aren't very readable. If it bothers you so much, buy a set.

The Farmer's Market area was very cool. We both liked it a lot. We bought some junkfood here. Of course. It was peanut butter filled, chocolate covered pretzels dipped in toffee crumbles. It was locally made and delightful. It encompassed all of the things we like in one yummy package.

Above/Below: Inside the market.

Above: Yes, the Farmer's Market even had a caviar cafe.

Above: Take notice of the sign that reads "Cosmetically Challenged..."

Above: Outdoor booths are all over the place.

Above: Us on BART headed to our next walking tour.

Above: City Hall

Above: We ate here at "It's Tops" based on someone's recommendation. Greasy, icky, burgers and onion rings.

Above: The Painted Ladies. 7 colorful victorian homes.

Above: Corona Park, not much landscaping but a hell of a view.

Above/Below: Buena Vista park is amazingly beautiful. Not just the views but the dense landscaping make it feel like a rain forest. Amazing.

The whole area is so cool. A 60's area? Yep. It's amazing San Francisco has all of these districts/areas within.

Above: Jerry Garcia's house.

It has been a long day. I heated up the first tray of low fat lasagna. It came out damn good and tasty!

Here's some fun photos from today.

Above: At a gas station. "new fridge mate EZ pack". What's so new about this? It's been around for like 15 years or so.

Above: At a Walgreens. The containers blocked the restroom door. We had to turn sideways to get in. These weren't public restrooms, they were in the backroom, but still. I snapped a photo and an employee got mad. I told her I wasn't from around here and that it was a tight squeeze and funny. She wasn't amused so I told her I took the picture to report a violation. Still not amused.

Restrooms were difficult to come by on our walking tours. Jim would go into a store, get ready to buy a soda and if they didn't have a restroom to use, he'd walk out. We did that at Subway. We even had cookies picked out. I guess the homeless is a big issue.

Above: I couldn't remember if Jim and I had done the hang-off-the-cable-car thingy so here it is.

Above: A radio faceplate laying on a tree trunk. I could get an music to come out. I even changed the station. Jim stood aside in case it was a GIANT dancing tree or something. It wasn't.

Above: Aardvark's store front on Haight street. Yes, Mr. Magoo is in a dress.