Summer Travel Map

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 9-30: Getting Ready To Roll

April 30, 2013
Cederholm Compound, Peoria, AZ

Yes, the “Cederholm Compound” exists, if only on Foursquare so we can check in. And yes, we’re about to “blow this clambake”, as we used to say back in the day.

Our travel route for the next few weeks is set, the coach is loaded and fueled up, Geri has her dental work completed, and the house is about as stabilized as it’s going to get. We’ve put all the yard stuff away, the bikes are stored upside down (prevents damage to the tires over the summer), and everything’s locked up or down, depending. I’ve drained the hot water heater (we have hot water in the coach if needed) and applied sunscreens to key windows and plastic wrap to the loo bowls (amazingly, there is always still water in there when we get back in the fall).

We used to say “and not a moment too soon” in years past, but we have been here just long enough to feel a lick of the fire they call “summer” in these parts. It’s actually been a pretty temperate month, or at least it was up until last Friday.

Temperatures zoomed up into and through the 90s and the past three days have been at or over 100°F. Yep, just in time for our final loading and preparation. Fortunately, we were ready and did our outside activities early in the day or after dark.

I washed the Rover the other night around 8:30 PM, walking that fine line between having it cool off and starting complaints from the neighbors who retire at dusk.

In other news, we’re still worried about Maya Lynn, as her tumor hasn’t responded well to the oral chemotherapy. We visited the oncologist mid-month and they changed the medication, but we’re not sure what’s going on. We have an appointment with a clinic in Connecticut in mid-May, so we’ll be able to have her blood tested and see if there has been any “shrinkage”. Fortunately, she continues to tolerate the medication well with no discernable side effects.

And, spending extra time to get ready for travel hasn’t kept us from eating well and managing the wine box contents. Our neighbors, Robert and Christine, invited us over for a traditional “Family Style” meal, Boulli Québécois, which was awesome. We will definitely try our own take on this one when we’re visiting friends and family.

The next 9-10 travel days are the part of this whole year’s adventure that we’re approaching with a little trepidation. As we’ve gotten more comfortable with our travels, we’ve grown less interested in having to be somewhere at a specific time, especially if there’s some distance involved. This summer was shaping up to be a leisurely cross-country trip until our departure was delayed. But, we’ll persevere!

It looks like the best route for us to take is one we’ve used before: north out of Phoenix to Flagstaff, then east on I-40 all the way to Memphis. We’ll make a detour to visit friends and family in Alabama for a few days (we wanted to stay longer), so we’ll take US-78 (which could now be I-22 according to some maps) to Birmingham.

Departing Alabama, we’ll head northeast on I-59, take I-24 around Chattanooga, and pick up I-75 back to I-40, then I-81 all the way to the Northeast. We’ll shift to I-84 from Scranton to Hartford, then I-91 north. We should be in Alabama May 4-7 and get to Connecticut on May 9th.

After that? We’ll be back to “normal”, figuring it out as we go…

And finally, we’re remembering Mom, who would have been 87 this week…

Monday, April 8, 2013

Wrapping up another season in AZ

April 8, 2013
Cederholm Compound, Peoria, AZ

Well, we’re getting ready to wrap up another winter here in Arizona and hit the road for the “summer season”. It’s gotten hot already, although we haven’t hit the magical 100°F mark yet. Life has thrown some unexpected curves our way this spring, which will unfortunately impact both our travel schedule and budget. But, we’ve learned to roll with the punches and we’ll persevere as always. No whining!

The weather has turned warmer – much warmer! We’ve had several spells with temperatures well up into the 90s.  The highest I’ve seen so far on our little home weather station is 97°F.

We’ve continued to eat and drink well, using a combination of newly discovered recipes and old favorites. I won’t bore you with the food porn pictures; there are enough on our Facebook pages!

Our new neighbors, Robert and Christine, have returned from their home near Ottawa (brrrr…), and the pups have been having fun with their Bichon, Shakira.

On the medical front, Maya continues to tolerate the chemotherapy for her small tumor well, but the tumor itself may not be responding as initially expected. We’re scheduled for a return visit to the oncologist next week, and there may be a change of medications in the cards.

On the other hand, the dental community is definitely feeling our support this year. That’s driving much of the budgetary overage and keeping us here a little longer than originally contemplated. In prior posts, I’d mentioned that I had a 4-tooth bridge replaced early in the year and that Geri had survived “pocket reduction surgery” in February.

Unfortunately, her follow-up perio-cleaning identified a tooth with decay. As an “anchor tooth” for a 4-tooth bridge, this was not good. We asked for a miracle (“Sure, I can inject some medicated bonding in there and it’ll be as good as new”) or a reprieve (“OK, I can make it hold until you get back in the fall”) and got neither. Instead, it’s the “We can expedite a root canal and a new 5-tooth bridge and get it done by the end of the month” plan. We can’t complain too much since we both feel like we have top-notch dental professionals (prosthodontist and periodontist), but there went this year’s budget for diesel fuel and RV parks. Selling the old bridgework at the Cash-For-Gold place probably won’t help much. C’est la vie; that’s life on a retiree’s income. It’s amazing how your perspective on investments changes after retirement. Sure, we have a tidy nest egg and will never hurt for money, but knowing it has to last you the rest of your life makes things different…

Anyway, none of this compares to the real excitement on the medical front in mid-March. Fortunately (or unfortunately; you get to choose) for you, Dear Reader, I can’t/won’t go into a lot of detail because Geri would kill me and, frankly, it’s icky. Suffice it to say that she had complications after a routine screening procedure that everyone is supposed to have once they’re over 50 and ended up with a trip to the ER that turned into a 3-day hospital stay when a blood vessel burst. Scariest thing I’ve seen outside the movies. But, all’s well that ends well, and she’s almost back to normal. The funniest part was the look on Geri’s face when the gastroenterologist recommended a repeat in one year. “Yeah, right”!

So, now our attention turns to wrapping things up and getting ready to hit the road. The house is pretty well set, as we have the shutdown activities well cataloged at this point. I have a couple of things to do with the coach but they are either regular maintenance (like wash it inside and out and check all the fluids) or small projects (an improved locking mechanism to help the new freezer not open during a left turn, upgrading some of the storage spaces to fit more junk stuff).

The key things on the to-do list have been addressed. The batteries that feed all the inside functions were replaced back in January, and the isolator that keeps both banks of batteries charged has been replaced after it failed.  The small air leak in the leveling system has been fixed (knock on wood) and the bad brake caliper that has been bothering me for the past several years was replaced. Although I’m still a do-it-yourself kind of guy, it really helped to have a local shop with a lift for the air leak rather than having to try to find and fix it lying on the ground with the suspension sinking toward me.

Our travel plans are still pretty fluid at this point. We expect that Geri’s new choppers will be delivered on April 30th and that we’ll essentially be ready to go at that point, so an early start on May 1st looks likely. We’ll head east, doing a drive-by with friends and family in Alabama before turning north to Connecticut to watch Britt graduate from UCONN (“Go, Lady Huskies”) on Mother’s Day. After that, it’s all undefined other than “be back in Arizona in November”. We’ll connect with family and friends by Memorial Day and have a plan that gets us home!