Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Turtle Travel Up I95

Today we traveled slower than turtles! Every time we turned around there was MORE construction! We, meaning Ed, drove 440 miles but it took 8 and a half hours, which averages to about 52 miles per hour. That's actually faster than it seemed at the time!

We did make it to Petersburg, which is just south of Richmond, Virginia and are staying in a Walmart parking lot. As is proper RV etiquette, we asked the manager permission to stay overnight. He, as most do, said it was fine.

Ed asked about a restaurant and he sent us to a brand new Mexican restaurant down the road. They have been open only 6 days and are having a soft opening - waiting for their liquor license to come through before their grand opening. We were almost the only ones there so got lots of attention from our waiter, the manager, the busboy, and the chef.

When I told the manager about it being Ed's birthday, she gave him a lucious dessert - tres leches (a moist cake).
The Birthday Boy got several birthday calls, which brightened his day, though he might not admit it!

He's just carrying on about the weather - it's down to about 62 degrees now and breezy. I've told him he's got one more day to moan about the weather and that's all he's allowed. As for me, it's nice not to be sweating and walking around with dampish clothes all day!

Ed's now trying to figure out why we're drawing 10 amps of power from the generator when only the lights are on. The fridge is on propane, so it's not that. Pepper will likely be coming into the bed with us, as her heating pad draws too much power to have on when we're not hooked up to electricity.

We hope to be home by early afternoon - and let's hope there's no more road construction!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In Savannah for the Night

We arrived here in Savannah about 5:00 p.m. Ed is a bit weary but did OK driving, although we didn't make good time. I've been going through Jacksonville for over 30 years and they've had road construction going on every single year - that slowed us down some!

We had supper at one of his favorite places - Krystal Burgers. Mmmm, mmm, good! Weight Watchers, look out, I'll be there very soon!

Tomorrow is his birthday and he wants to ignore it.
He says that getting the RV cabinet redone in the RV was the best present I could have given him. We'll celebrate by going to his favorite restaurant, Golden Corral, for some steak this weekend. That'll work because that's one of the best places to get Weight Watcher's food - IF I don't walk by the dessert bar!!

We're staying in the parking lot of a Camping World store (exit 102 off I95) in their parking lot - they let us hook up to their electric for free AND there's internet, although that might be from the Travelodge across the street. Our TV antenna is bringing in several channels BUT NOT AMERICAN IDOL!! Oh, dear, oh, dear!
:- (

Heading Home

Today's the day - THE day we're starting the journey towards the homestead in Virginia. We'll take several days, going only as far as Ed feels like driving. He hasn't let me drive because his nervousness at my driving would be more tiring than doing it himself......that's OK with me. He's been checking the weather predictions there and is already moaning that he thinks it's too early - it's going to be too cold! Such a wimp, huh?

We've had a wonderful time here near Ocala. Jan and David Clements spent a lot of time with us. They had us for dinner, we went to church with them, we went in their golf cart over into the Villages Main Street area for the music, dancing, and vendors, and just "hung out". Jan's doing well with her new career in real estate and it was interesting to hear about some of the details of her job. Dave is still with Scholastic Books and drives more miles but visits schools in more rural, friendly areas than in the Ft. Lauderdale area. It's such a joy to be with them!

Sunday they took us to
Micanopy where we browsed in most of the antique shops. As the oldest inland Florida settlement, the charming town of Micanopy has a well-established tradition of Southern hospitality. Pronounced (Mick-can-oh'-pee), Micanopy is often called "The little town that time forgot." However, Micanopy possesses warmth and charm as well as an eclectic array of antique shopping.

Then we ate at
The Yearling Restaurant - out in the middle of nowhere -
in Cross Creek, just 14 miles from Gainesville and 25 miles from Ocala. The ambiance was delightful and Willie singing the Blues really was enjoyable. My blackened catfish was delightful and David enjoyed his Gator.

Hope this makes sense.......I'm writing quickly. As soon as Ed returns from his shower, we're going to hit the road. I'm looking forward to getting home to my flowers - oh, and to our friends, too!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sleep Amid the Roaring Harleys

What a lovely, warm, breezy day.....except for the noise. An older couple came into the RV park last evening to escape the noise. They're from Leesburg, about 20 miles south of our present location in Summerfield, FL and there's a huge Bikefest going on there this weekend. Even here, we're been hearing cycles roaring by all day long so their escape plan didn't work. There are "Live on 8 Stages over 40 Free Concerts" and a ton of other events. They expect over 300,000 bikers!!

Somehow, Ed's able to sleep through all this racket. This morning he woke up briefly about 7:30 and I let him sleep while reading quietly in bed for an hour. I got up, dressed, brushed my teeth, etc. and he didn't hear a thing. I hated to open the RV door but by 9:00 I was ready for my walk. It's now about 1:30 and he's sleeping soundly on the sofa........not even a snore to compete with the bike noise! Seriously, I am sure this rest is what his body needs as it rebuilds his blood counts following his last chemo, which was April 3.

We're going to Jan and David's this afternoon for a cook-out. Ed's hankering a hamburger on the grill so we're taking the food and he's going to cook it. Hopefully, I can help Jan with some computer questions while the guys check out the eagles (Jan and David are avid birdwatchers) or whatever guy things they choose to do. Then we'll go to church with them this evening.

We're going out for the day tomorrow but I think it might be in a different direction from Leesburg - unless we're looking for noise and traffic jams!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bye-bye, Tampa....Hello, Jan and David

We left our mini-vacation site at Lazy Days RV Center and came north to Summerfield, which is near The Villages. (It's about 20 miles south of Ocala). We're staying at Southern Oaks, the same place we stayed last summer, and we're visiting our dear friends, Jan and David Clements.

Within 2 hours we were invited over for a shrimp stir-fry dinner. The talk fest got off to a rip roaring start - four extroverts have a lot to say! It's good we'll be here a week or more so we can catch up! Jan's sister, Anita, and her new husband, Ron stopped by. It was nice to see them again, too.

David and I are totally hooked on American Idol so he watched the clock carefully to be sure we didn't miss a minute.......we weren't disappointed. It's down to the final seven now and there are several who are so excellent, we have no clue who will win. We all like Adam and Allison. David likes Danny and I still like Anoop but don't think they'll win because they're not quite as unique. The judges used their "Save" power last week so there will be two contestants going home tonight.

Jan stopped by to visit this morning and to share all sorts of brainstorms she had during the night regarding her computer skills for her Real Estate business and offering to show me a few villas as a possibility for future years.

For whatever reason, I'm just exhausted and had to take Tylenol because I ached last night. Maybe all the morning walks built up and wore me down?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fun with Friends

On Sunday, we went to visit Anita Orlando and her boyfriend, Danny. They live in Auburndale, which is about 30 miles from Tampa. (This is the art teacher I was fixing Ed up with back in 1997 but "stole" him before she met him! If you missed that story, click here: The Art Teacher.) She retired from teaching last year and bought a NICE house, which is filled with exquisite art. After a lovely lunch on her back screened porch, we went down the street to her twin sister's house for root beer floats for dessert. It was a good visit and I'm glad to know she now has a loving, easy-going boyfriend who adores her.

Soon after we returned to Lazy Days, the friend we house-sat for near Cape Canaveral last winter, Barbara Elliot, arrived. She stayed over and we visited and bummed around - looking at all sorts of RVs on the sales lot. After the free breakfast and lunch, which were very meager portions, Ed decided we needed to go out for dessert. We ended up at Parksdale Fruit Market and had THE best strawberry shortcake I've ever tasted. Barb and I enjoyed every bite. Ed refused to get the shortcake because they didn't use real whipped cream - he had a strawberry milkshake instead. Barbara and I agreed, "Oh, well, it was his loss!"

Monday, April 20, 2009

Still in Tampa

We're STILL at Lazy Days RV Center in Tampa - this is our 10th night here. The RV repairs are finished - however, our back AC unit quit working last we might be here another day. The technician will get us an estimate tomorrow morning.

On the bright side, it's been a mini-vacation - we stay in our RV in the work bay at night for free and get free breakfast and lunch. They will also give us a courtesy wash before we leave! I say, it's worth buying from a big dealer when the perks are so good!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Touring in Tampa and Sunshine Skyway

Yesterday we decided to do some touring around Tampa. We went to the St. Petersburg Pier on the Tampa Bay and "dined" on top of the pier building (4th floor). Somehow a jerked chicken sandwich and a mahi mahi sandwich taste better when you eat outside. We browsed the shops and saw numerous people fishing, but were surprised there were so few boats out on such a lovely day.

Our main destination was the Sunshine Skyway Bridge that crosses Tampa Bay. I didn't realize that I'd find a bridge to be interesting but when we came back and I started researching, my curiosity was piqued. It is 5.5 miles long and carries four lanes of traffic - 20,000 cars a day.

Construction of the current bridge began in 1982, and was finished in 1987 at a cost of $244 million. It is the world's longest cable-stayed concrete bridge and has a main span of 1200 ft. with a vertical clearance of 193 ft. That might not sound like much, but HUGE ships pass under it!

The tall structures that come up through the center of the bridge are extensions from the pilings in the water underneath. The RV (that little rectangle) way out in front of us gives you an idea of how tall these pillars are.

People remember it, partly due to its bright yellow cables and they illuminate it at night.

The bridge also boasts an interesting history. The old steel cantilever bridge that used to be where the Sunshine Skyway now stands, was plowed into by a freighter in 1980. More than 1,000 feet of the bridge fell into the bay, killing 35 motorists and bus passengers instantly.

We drove about 90 miles round trip and were ready for a good night's sleep!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In a Vacuum at Lazy Days

Here we are in Tampa, FL at Lazy Days RV Center. We're getting the front end body work done on the RV following Mary's wreck in December. The insurance adjuster came and all is set. It also helps that we bought our rig here last year. They have over 150 bays and with the economy problems, many of them are idle, so they're glad for our business.

The place is VERY "user-friendly" for RVers. We can sleep in our coach so there's no need to find a motel and worry about taking the kitty with us. They provide free breakfast and lunch, then we go out for supper and don't have to worry about cooking and washing dishes. They have a clubhouse with nice showers that we can use if we like and a big, attractive lounge with free Starbuck's coffee and large TVs.
The park itself is very nicely done - full of huge old live oak trees that are filled with gracefully hanging Spanish moss. I've been taking my morning walk in the sales section with new motorhomes, fifth wheels, and a few trailers.

We are also having another project done while we're here. Our TV is a big old thing in a cabinet built across the front and Ed keeps bumping his poor bald head on it. They've taken out the cabinet and the old TV and will be hanging the new flat-screen TV that we've just had sitting on the dash since he got it in January. They moved us over to the woodworking area for that, while they continue with the door off the front end back in the body shop.

This part blows my mind. The coach stays inside the bay at night AND we have electrical, water, and sewer hook-ups!! I'm washing a load of clothes, even as I type!!

Our days run something like this:
We have to be up by 8 a.m. so they can start working, which is OK because the free breakfast is 8-9 a.m. in the main office building. We try to sit with people and have met some nice folks. Then I take my walk and we drive over to the clubhouse to shower. If I don't wash my hair, I can shower here.

By that time, the free lunch is ready!! Today they had chef's salad. Ed was still hungry so they let each of us have a 2nd salad. In the afternoon, we "compute", nap, read, go to the store (we can walk to Camping World store right here on the premises), and go out for supper. It's a tough life but somebody's gotta do it, right?

Here's the view out the left of our rig.

This is looking to the right.
It's like a mad beehive around here with people, golf carts, cars, trucks and RVs. There are about 540 employees now, after laying off over a 100 people. Every one is super friendly and if you're out walking, they'll give you a lift in their golf cart to wherever you wish to go.

We're not really in a vacuum but it's like a twilight zone away from the real world. Looks like we'll be here till next Tuesday or so. This is an opportune for Ed to catch up on some rest and I can see he feels better than he did on Saturday.

p.s. Pepper is on her normal schedule - sleeping here, there, and yonder!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Brunch with the Barketts

We met Ed's sister, Lorraine Barkett and her family, for Easter brunch. It was in a restaurant called Circles, which is in an old converted house in the downtown area of Tampa. What a neat atmosphere and the food was quite good. I loved my seafood omelet! The Easter bunny brought everyone a bag of "good chocolate" candy, which Ed and I have been savoring.

The Barketts are a nice bunch and I enjoy them more each time I see them.
Lorraine's husband has three brothers (in no particular order): 1.Tom, 2. Ron, 3. Rick and Kristine's family - Katy and Dana (He's now 6'5" tall!) 4. Ray and Lorraine's family - Rene, (daughter) Cameron, Taylor, & Keaton Petrie and Nicole (daughter), David, & Olivia Hasselbach. Including Ed and me, there were 17 of us.

I'm looking forward to some photos of the brunch to share with you, whenever Nicole has a moment to send me some. She's got quite an eye for taking pictures! For example, here's Nichole and some of her photos of her photogenic daughter and hubby:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter in Tampa

Wishing you a joyous Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jubulation Over Shells and Fish

I almost bought some shells across the street at The Shell Factory this week, but decided for that $10, we could pay the gas and $6.00 bridge toll to go shelling at Sanibel again AND get 100 times as many shells. Since we were already at the doctor's office, we were more than halfway there. So, off we went.

We looked around a shell store on Sanibel. Ed intimated that I could just buy the shells I wanted - but I want my projects to be made with shells that I found myself!
The cook at the deli where we ate confirmed that Bowman's Beach (the place we went before) was the best for shelling but warned that it was high tide so there might not be as many shells as other times of the day.

Without further delay, we hit "our" beach. At first, it appeared that the cook was right and there weren't many shells. We did find a place with some and I started collecting. Ed went further down the beach and was quite jubilant because he found the Mother lode! They were exactly the tiny shells I wanted and they were several layers deep. I worked for a couple of hours gathering baby shells.

When Ed had had enough sun, I filled my bucket - I'll sort them later. I wished I had had another bucket, but that would have been too much weight to make it back to the parking lot, which is a pretty long walk. Now I'm the jubilant one with a bucket of treasures!

We stopped at Bonefish Restaurant across the street from our RV park and I had the All-You-Can-Eat fish and chips, like we had when
George and Kay visited in February. It was every bit as good as the last time and I enjoyed every succulent morsel of the dinner and the 2 extra pieces that I requested.

Friday, April 10, 2009

April Scan Results

We met with Dr. Harwin's PA, Diane, today about the CAT scan results. You may recall that the January scan compared to the October scan showed marked shrinkage of the tumors in his lungs. This April scan showed basically no change from the scan in January.

His blood counts were better but he is still anemic, so got another Procrit shot. Ed was disappointed that the blood wasn't better, considering all the shots he's had. The nurse said that with Procrit, it often takes 4-6 weeks to see results. Also, not invading his system with chemo "poisons" should give his body time to get its blood back on an even keel.

The plan is that Ed will take a break from chemo. (He had 7 cycles.) He should get another scan in 2 or 3 months to see what is needed, if anything.

Trotting Up to Tampa Tomorrow

We're moving about 120 miles north to Tampa tomorrow morning. We'll be staying at Lazy Days, the largest RV dealer in the world where we bought our RV last February. There, we will get the body work done to the front end (a result of Mary's Wreck on December 14, 2008). One great advantage is they have an RV park where you can stay while there. That'll save us trying to take Pepper to a motel.

Today we're off to the doctor and whatever other adventures present themselves.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I Hate Shopping For.....

I hate shopping for a bra almost as much as I hate wearing one! I never seem to find the right size or anything comfortable. Beall's advertised that they were having a "bra fitter" today so I made an appointment. I had done this years ago in Virginia and it took quite a while. Not with this gal....she knew her stock and exactly what she was doing. She measured me, brought in 3 bras and all fit but one was more comfortable than the others.

When I went to pay, I discovered that it was half price! I looked for a black one like it, but there were none. I've decided to wear it a few times and get another one later. It's made by Playtex, which would hopefully mean that I'll be able to find them in the future.
The whole process took only about 15 minutes and hopefully, will save me hours of discomfort.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Winter's Last Gasp?

Yesterday was quite hot - up to 86 degrees. When we woke up this morning at 8:30 a.m., it was 58 degrees! The weatherman says this is winter's last gasp. It would be a pleasant 67 now, except that the wind just won't stop blowing! I thought it was March that was supposed to be the windy month, not April!

Ed has his CAT scan yesterday and he took some strawberries to one of the best nurses he's had, Shawna. I told her she should give a workshop to fellow cancer nurses. All of them are pleasant but what the patient and caregiver want most to know about is details about the particular cancer the person has. Shawna explained test results and what they meant, as well as giving Ed some tips - such as the importance of keeping hydrated. (Typical man - he'll listen when someone else besides his wife tells him something.)

While in the waiting room, he saw an ad in the paper for an Italian market. So, we went about 5 miles further south in Cape Coral and had lunch at Paesano's - La Trattoria Al Fresco outdoor cafe. I had a huge Cobb salad and Ed had the special - a sampler of Italian foods. We both had enough left for supper.

So far today, Ed's been having a "Pepper Day" - he napped on the couch, went to the pool to lay out (but it got too windy), napped on the "patio" by the RV, and now he's napping here on the sofa again. That's just what Pepper
does - sleeps here, there, and yonder throughout the day.

Instead of around the RV park, I did my walk across the street to the Shell Factory to mail Easter cards to Mother. While there, I looked around the huge store again. Oh, how fascinating shells are!!!....expensive, too! The big Tritan's trumpet shell I got while scuba diving is worth at least $50!

Our big date today is to take advantage of the special deal at Applebee's - 40% off your food bill on Monday - Thursday between 2 & 4 p.m. Then, we're going to see Julia Roberts' movie, "Duplicity."

Happy Wind Day....oh, it's Tuesday!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Celebrating Better Blood Count

Ed's blood work was a bit better today and the platelets, though still low, have doubled since last week. He did get his Procrit shot to help rebuild the red blood cells.

Monday is his CAT scan so we dropped off the disks from his scans in Virginia last fall and Ft. Lauderdale in January to be ready for comparison.

We celebrated by trying a place recommended for good hamburgers -
Foster's Grille. It's in Cape Coral and is 11 miles away from Tamiami RV Park here in North Ft. Myers, but it's a route with light traffic so guess we'll be back over there one of these days. Foster's is a franchise that appears to have started in Virginia; too bad there are only two here in Florida.

FINALLY, we've found a place that Ed actually likes their burgers AND their French fries!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

An Outing a Day

There's not a lot going on here these days, which is pleasant, because we can just make up each day as we go. We try to get out to do something each day. I'm hoping all the naps and resting are helping Ed's blood to get in better shape.

Today it was 89 degrees so going to Edison Mall was perfect for keeping cool. We ate at the food court and I browsed through Macy's and Dillard's......didn't buy a thing. We came home (Home Sweet RV) and about 7 o'clock Ed decided he didn't want to cook. He started craving one of the patty melts at Steak and Shake and since we had a good coupon, we just got up and went! I had chili, which I hope was less calories than a burger.

Tuesday we saw the movie, "I Love You, Man". It was so-so....would have made a good one hour movie. The previews don't look encouraging either......everything is totally violent, about dragons and ghosts, or about supernatural things. We like to take advantage of the $5 movie price for Seniors on Tuesday but it's not a deal if there's nothing to see. We tried the Arizona Pizza restaurant and really enjoyed their pizza.

Wednesday, we went to American HomePatient, the company that handles my CPAP sleeping machine. It's been bothersome and a friend told me there's a different style mask that's much more comfortable. After meeting with the technician, it was determined that I'll have to go to our branch in Virginia so they can work through insurance. I had received my 6 month supplies so will keep them unopened until May so I can exchange them if needed. The new mask, hose, and nose piece that I received cost $492!! With that amount of money involved, I think it's worthwhile to try to find the most comfortable thing available. This is a long term commitment.

At least I have accomplished one thing - I've walked 4 mornings in a row! I have my course all mapped out and just go "get it overwith." My hip had been hurting, which was probably from too much sitting, and the walking has helped. Every morning we watch the RV's heading out of here and as I walk I see more preparing to leave. It's nice to have more space around us but we also get more noise from US41.

Another accomplishment is I finally got my shells from Sanibel cleaned and organized by size. I bought the "fixins' for the two craft projects I plan to make. See, even though we have this time of freedom, I still have that work ethnic - thinking I must accomplish something for my day to be successful.