Camping & COVID-19

Diane and I have weathering the current COVID-19 outbreak in space C51 at Cape Lookout State Park. We didn’t run here to flee civilization because of our concern about the virus, it just kind of worked out. Diane had this trip planned many weeks ago. We’re six days in on a planned ten day stay. So far we’ve had sun every day. At home it snowed last night. We’re in the right place.

We have been surviving without TV with no deleterious effects. Instead of TV we’ve been reading, mostly, and checking the internet once in a while. The park doesn’t have internet but our cell phones have a tiny little signal that allows us to use the “hot spot” feature, so Diane gets her daily fix of Trump snippets. Her day isn’t complete without at least a couple of those.

We have been watching one movie a day. Yes, that’s on our TV, but doesn’t count because there’s no news, or commercials.

Last night we watched two movies because the first one was so horrendously boring. It was almost 3 hours long and was about the beginning of the CIA. The name is “The Good Shepard”. We don’t recommend it for anyone who doesn’t need a nap.

Yesterday we mosied around the backroads of Pacific City and came upon an entire hill full of Holy Cow Houses. Those houses that, when you first see them, causes one to blurt out “Holy Cow, look at that house!”

Seriously major homes, the vast majority of which appeared vacant. We postulated about that and determined they were all owned by California lottery winners who have other homes all over the place and only use the ones in Pacific Beach when the sun shines and gets the temp above 70 degrees. Whatever the reason, they are quite magnificent. Considering that the development name is Nantucket Shores, it’s possible all those houses are owned by a Rhode Island lottery winner who wishes to spend time, with his enormous family, in another beautiful part of God’s world, while pretending he’s still on that little island in the Atlantic.

Lunch at The Schooner on Netarts Bay – best fish and chips ever. Really. I had a cup of some really good clam chowder and a piece of Diane’s fish.

After lunch we drove to Alderbrook Golf Course, north of Tillamook. It’s a beautiful course with awesome fairways. Diane was excited because there wasn’t anyone playing. But, the guy in the pro shop pointed out that the wind was blowing pretty hard, keeping players away. I told the guy in the pro shop that wind doesn’t bother people who can’t hit the ball straight. Also, if they’re concerned about wind they’d never be happy playing with me and the Peal Boy’s because wind just isn’t a factor for us. Neither is snow or rain.

All the restrictions for COVID-19 are concerning. I’m sure pretty much everyone is getting the message about how important it is to wash one’s hands. At least we hope they are. We’ve enforced that simple heigenic routine with the Littles, and each other, for years. Some of us still don’t get it but they aren’t the ones likely to contract the virus. We older folks are. So, we keep them honest by making them wash their hands pretty much every time they touch anything. We do our best to ensure they understand the possible consequences of not washing their hands before opening the refrigerator, any drawer or cupboard to get eating utensils, or when they cough. All the news about this virus gives us ample opportunities to get their attention and say, “See what happens when you don’t wash!?”

I have photos of houses and “stuff” that I’ll have to add later. The weak signal we have won’t allow me to upload them with this. So, I’ll just send it off without them and work on the A/V aspect later.

Hope everyone is getting through this scary time OK. We’re praying for everyone.

Now I must stop. Diane is prettying up to go shopping at Safeway in Tillamook. Alone. I’m staying home to work on the furnace. It won’t light and Diane doesn’t want to be here when it blows up while I’m working on it.

Wish me luck.

Another God Wink

Everyone knows what a “God Wink” is, right? Sure you do. I believe all of us experience God Winks but we either don’t have identifying names for such events, or we simply accept them as a matter of course as we cruise through our daily routines.

For me a God Wink is something that happens serendipitously. At this point I must admit that I had to look that word up – serendipitously – to see what it means. It just kind of dribble off my fingers and felt like a good choice. According to Webster, I got it right.

Diane and I experience serendipitous events on a regular basis. You know, like choosing a different route to a place visited frequently and finding a lost puppy along the way. Or, stopping at a fast food joint in an unfamiliar city, buying two breakfast sandwiches, then driving back to the freeway through an alley where we discover a person digging through a dumpster for food. Because of serendipity, he got a sandwich I really didn’t need that morning.

Most recently, Diane was having abdominal and back pain for an extended period of time. She finally went to the doctor after her self diagnosis and was diagnosed with UTI. As a precaution her doctor ordered an abdominal CT scan to check for kidney stones. Her Dad had them all the time so it’s possible she may have inherited his ability to produce them.

Diane went to Good Sam Hospital in Portland last Friday afternoon, had the scan, then headed back home.

It’s here that I must explain that we do not live in close proximity to medical facilities that have equipment to perform CT Scans. It’s an hour drive on a good day. During rush hour it just gets longer. Friday afternoon trips to Portland are typically avoided like the plague. But, this was necessary.

On the way home she stopped at Fred Meyer in Scappoose, about 30 miles from the hospital and 10 miles from home. While enjoying this part of her day, doing what he does well (shopping), she gets a phone call from the doctor who reported that the CT tech did a good scan but instead of focusing on the abdominal area, he focused instead on her chest. “How,” you may wonder, as did we, “can a mistake like that happen?” Well, it’s serendipity, pure and simple.

The doctor asked Diane to return to the hospital so they could perform a proper scan of the desired area. Since it was about 5 pm, deep into rush hour(s), she replied, “Well, that’s not going to happen.”

The doctor then asked if she would return Saturday morning. “What time?” Diane asked.

“We open at 7:45 am,” she said.

“Well, that’s not going to happen. Do you have anything later?”

The result of this negotiation was that Diane would return to the hospital at 10 am Saturday morning for the correct scan. The doctor assured Diane there wouldn’t be any charge for the incorrect scan but that she was going to read the results of both anyway. Just because.

Saturday morning Diane got up and made the trip to Portland by herself. That’s her favorite way to go to Portland because being alone allows her to stop wherever she wishes to do pretty much anything she wants. Normally that means a side trip to one of the Goodwill stores along the way. She knows where all of those are. If i had tagged along we would probably have gone to a Harbor Freight, or Home Depot instead.

I stayed home, in my jammies, doing very little, like a good retired person, as I waited for my bride to return safely to me. She always does, but I worry anyway. It’s my job.

Not long after returning home the doctor called to inform her of the results of both scans.

The scan of her abdominal cavity did not reveal anything unusual. She had no evidence of kidney stones which was a huge relief.

Then she revealed the serendipitous results of the first scan, of her chest.

The doctor told Diane she found two spots on her left lung – one 7mm, the other 12mm. We did some investigation and learned that 12mm is about 1/2 an inch. Not such good news, right? Well, without serendipity, those spots would have remained undetected, potentially forever, or until there was nothing that could be done about them. Since they were discovered, she has an appointment to return in 3 months for another CT scan to see if there is any change.

It’s not good news, yet, but it’s important news that might have never been shared without a little bit of serendipity.

With the knowledge that serendipity is on our side, we will continue our daily routine, enjoying each other, trips to the beach, Goodwill, and Scappoose Bagels until it’s time for the checkup scan.

Perhaps the reveal of the next scan will find the spots are gone.

It could happen.

Small World Stuff

Considering all the not so good things that have happened over the last couple of weeks, this last week has restored a semblance of normalcy and happiness to our lives.

The good stuff started on Thursday the 14th when brother Jack had his aortic valve replaced and he came through with flying colors. He’s been waiting for this since he was about 9 years old, I think. That’s a guess, of course. I really don’t know when it was determined to be necessary. The point is, at this time, he got it done, he’s home, and it’s all good. Wynette didn’t actually say it but I’m sure she’s convinced he’s good for another 20-30 years. Makes me happy.

Then, on the 19th, sister Ruth had back surgery, not her first rodeo, and it also went well. Last I heard she was still in a little pain but at a lower level of normal than she’s experienced over the past many years. We’re happy she got some relief.

On the 20th it just kept getting better when we loaded up the RV and headed south to Keizer, Oregon to visit with our old Winnebago friends Terry, Carolann, Susie, Cliff, Les, Sophie, Pete, and Jeannie. We were invited to spend our time in Keizer at their Elks club RV park. Getting in was no problem and we submitted the required funds and got set up.

That first night we all gathered for dinner at Les & Sophie’s house for the traditional pot luck. We could do that because Les & Sophie actually live in Keizer, unlike the rest of us. Pete & Jeannie live just a short drive south, on the other side of Salem. Pete and Les are brothers. The rest of us are from other various parts of the country and aren’t, to the best of my knowledge, related to each other in any way. But, you just never know.

The next day we all went shopping. Diane took the girls, and Les took the boys. I would have driven the boys but before leaving home Diane forgot to remind me to put my wallet in my pocket so I drove the RV hundreds of miles without a driver’s license on my body. Thankfully, it was an uneventful trip, and no one ratted me out, so the police weren’t involved.

When we returned to our respective RVs from shopping, we discovered that during our absence Diane, me, Cliff, and Susie had been evicted from the Elks property because of a new rule that prohibits members from inviting guests to stay there. We aren’t Elks members. It was a little later in the afternoon when this happened, but Diane was able to secure a couple of spots at a nearby Good Sam park for about twice the price. But, we had a new home for the next couple of days. And it was a really nice one at the Phoenix RV & Storage Park.

That second evening we returned to Les & Sophie’s home to celebrate “Friendsgiving”. We did that since we knew we would be apart for Thanksgiving. It was a very good substitute, and one we can celebrate whenever we get together. We did it with all the normal Thanksgiving trimmings and it was terrific. I had to sit at the kid’s table for this meal. I’m not sure why. Apparently I was a little unruly at the pot luck the previous day.

On the 22nd we guys visited Harbor Freight to pick up some necessary “stuff” then went back to the Elks RV Park where Terry & Les raced their electric scooters. There was a lot of posturing and chest pounding leading up to the race about how Terry’s new seat cost more than Les’s shooter (which doesn’t have a seat). When it was all said and done the rig with a seat was the clear winner.

Sadly, that didn’t stop the chest pounding and only primed the pump for cheaper and faster scooters. This could really get ugly. Since we’re all connected I might know what’s happening and can share results.

Now for the small world stuff … after the shopping was done we all descended on a Taco Del Mar for lunch and had a nice visit. Men in one booth, women in another. Kind of like a high school dance. While listening to Terry relate a story to Less he mentioned someone named Pinkston which caused my ears to perk up.

Diane should have been closer because she loves it when my ears perk up. She says it makes me look like a little chihuahua puppy. Makes your heart melt a little, doesn’t it?

I waited for a reasonable pause in Terry’s story to ask about the Pinkston reference and to discover if he knew Adam Pinkston. He said “sure, He’s married to Alicia and they have a bunch of daughters.” I responded, “Huh” because I also know Adam … Alicia is my cousin.

Small World.

Compounding this baffling revelation is that Daniel and our daughter Jennifer invited me and Diane to lunch with Adam and Alicia in Warren just a few days ago. You see, Adam has applied for a job at Daniel and Jennifer’s church in St. Helens and they didn’t remember the family connection until the a little memory from long ago caused Daniel to ask me if Adam was a cousin.

Very interesting.

I love this small world stuff. In this expanding world it’s getting us closer and closer together all the time.

How fun is that?

So, I ask that you pray for the leadership at Grace Baptist Church in St. Helens to make the right decision to hire Adam. He’s the right guy.

Now, about the lack of photos …

I really did try to add them but, sadly, I upgraded my MacBook to the new operating system and when I open my photos application it initiates a procedure to update my photo library. It’s a brutal process. I let it run for 3 days and it got all the way up to 75% complete before I lost patience and terminated Photos. I thought that maybe if I turned my computer all the way off and did a hard restart something different would happen. But it didn’t. It was still painfully slow. Now I’m convinced there’s a bug in the bush that I must discover before I can access my photos on this machine. Once I figure it out I’ll revisit this post and add some color.

I’m sure there are other alternatives but they will have to wait until we return home.

That’s it for now. Hope everyone has a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving celebration. Keep us in mind when you think about all those other people who choose to wander around on potentially icy freeways at this time of year.

The End

It’s been a few days since we returned from Myrtle Beach and I didn’t honor the last statement in my last post about “more tomorrow”, so this is to get you up to date and share with you the end of the trip.

Getting out of Myrtle Beach was a breeze. It’s nice there, but we were ready to be home. There’s stuff we need to do there.

The trip to Seattle was just fine and we didn’t have any problem getting to our connection to Portland in plenty of time. As a matter of fact, we could have been an hour late and still made that flight.

That’s true.

Remember on our trip where Alaska wouldn’t hold our connecting flight for 10 minutes so we could make that flight, because our uflight was kept on the tarmac for 30 minutes after landing? Well, after missing it we discovered that they didn’t have any problem delaying every flight we were on thereafter. After landing in Seattle coming home, the Captain told everyone that we’d be at gate D-5 as he pulled the plane between terminals D and N.

Then he stopped. And we waited about 5 minutes.

The terminal we wanted was on the left of the plane and I told Diane I bet he turns right into N. That’s exactly what he did.

Doing this, of course meant we’d have to catch the underground train to D terminal and walk lots further than we wanted to. As we debarked, the Captain was waiting the door to the flight deck greeting to people and I said, “D-5, huh?” to which he replied, “it looks a lot like D-5. I was lucky to get what we got.” That pretty much sums up the mass confusion that seems to affect Seattle’s ability to keep track of how many gates they have and how many are open to receive planes. It’s pathetic, in my opinion.

Oddly enough, our connecting flight to Portland was leaving from, gee, D-5. It was empty when we got there. We chose to just park ourselves in the area and wait the hour required for it to show up.

About the time we were scheduled to board the plane the pilot, copilot and all the flight attendants showed up but the plane still wasn’t there. We waited for an entire hour more before they changed the time to delayed, then it was most of an hour more before it actually showed up. No reason was provided for our delay so I suppose it was just something we were expected to endure. We were, after all, at SeaTac International. That seems to be the way it is.

We eventually made it back to Portland and vowed to never, ever again make a connecting flight through Seattle. I don’t think I’d fly into Seattle even it that was our destination. The train would be faster, and more reliable.

Now, having shared all of the foregoing, I will add that I don’t think Alaska Airlines was the only one at fault for our delays. Not having a berth at a terminal for incoming flights seems to be a theme at SeaTac which I think is due to mismanagement some where up the chain. I don’t think traffic controllers are the ones calling the shots for where planes park, they just relay the information. Maybe.

Now I’ll share a photo form Joint Base Charleston where we found a Navy Uniform Shop. We wanted a new hat.

What caught my eye, and the reason I took the photo, is the “68” in the bottom right. It’s the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), the oldest nuclear super carrier in the fleet. It’s stationed in Bremerton, Washington and our grandson, Cedric, is currently serving aboard her. Looking closely you can see a sailor shoveling snow off the flight deck of this carrier. I’m pretty sure it’s not Cedric. It’s just struck me as very interesting that the Nimitz was part of this east coast collage.

Here are a couple more photos I took when we finally got home.

Our dogwood tree was shedding
Diane, Jennifer, and Lydia at paint night.
This is the first time Diane ever went with us and she loved it.
A Mt. Hood sunrise with a partial moon.
The same sunrise that I blew up a little. Lower, and to the right of the moon is a tiny little white dot. It’s the International Space Station and we just happened to be looking when it made it’s pass. It really moves along quickly.

That’s it.

On The Move, Again

We left Myrtle Beach this morning around 10 am, headed for Charleston where our assigned airplane will be flying from Monday evening. Before leaving town, however, Diane was curious to see a house she had spied for sale that’s only about 4 blocks from our hotel. We found it, and I took a photo which I will add later. The home is brick but one end is missing because a tree obviously fell on it. The tree is still there, but a little bit of the house isn’t. I think she said it’s been on the market for a year and can be had for only $78,000 even though they say it’s worth $140K. After seeing it from the street, we figure that doing a $100K renovation would probably make it worth $140K. Possibly.

We decided not to buy it.

Most of the way out of the beach area it rained on us. Not really hard, just steady. So, tropical storm Nestor is still exerting its influence in areas we had to cross. Diane had weather alerts on her phone the reports tornados in Georgia that were spawned by the storm, but nothing in our path. Then, once we made it to Joint Base Charleston she got one that said Myrtle Beach is currently under a tornado watch so we bailed out of there in the nick of time.

Before checking in to our quarters on the base, we stopped at the Long Point Grill for lunch. You may remember that place from the first entry on this trip because we stopped there on our way out of town before heading for Myrtle Beach. Good food and good service.

Because of the stop we arrived at the Inns of Charleston, on the base, a little later than planned so our room was ready and we were able to move right in. The desk clerk was very helpful and was only momentarily confused when I asked where the spa was. I can do stuff like that with a straight face, but I always come clean in the end. Still, she looked relieved when I told her I was kidding.

It’s still early here (1451 hours) but we had a rough time last night due to eating so late at the Pirate thing, so I was given the option of staying in or going out to investigate Charleston. I chose to stay in and Diane was totally OK with that. She only got 4 hours of sleep last night so needs to power down early.

That’s about it for today, unless something interesting happens. The main thing we need to do is repack all our stuff so we can get under the 50 # weight limit without having to send stuff home in a box. That’s the other alternative. I still think that’s a good idea, as does Diane, so we’ll probably do that just to make our bags as light as possible.

On the trip we talked about the things we learned while here in South Carolina. Here’s the list, as best as I can recall:

  1. Apparently a rule that every third building you encounter is a church.
  2. All bank buildings must look like either a church or a mansion.
  3. Even the bad roads in South Carolina (at least the ones we drove on) are pretty darn good. Most are great.
  4. The Nissan Rogue we rented is a good little SUV. Very comfortable, and a spectacular metallic green. (see below)
  5. There are Waffle Houses everywhere.
  6. The are Dollar General stores everywhere.
  7. In general, anywhere there are 4-5 homes within a 1/2 mile of each other, there are shopping malls to accommodate them.
  8. Most businesses along Highway 17 are shielded from view by 3 rows of pine trees. If you don’t know where they are, you’re going to miss the turn.

I’m sure there are more, but I think my brain is empty.

It’s dry and warm here in Charleston and we’re safely tucked into a large brick building.

More tomorrow.

Yesterday at MB

We walked again, very slowly because our little legs were sore, and there is a lot to see and do here in Myrtle Beach.

Instead of trudging our way up the beach (north), as we did the day before, we stuck to N. Ocean Blvd, walking south. I think we walked a couple of miles (one going and one coming) and the handy dandy app on my iPhone incorrectly reported that I took 6400+ steps doing it. I know that’s wrong because Diane’s fitbit told her she walked over 9300 steps and covered over 4 miles with the effort. I’ve brought this discrepancy to her attention many times and she always says, “you set it up.” What she means, of course, is that I entered the information about how long her steps are.

Considering that she gets credit for twice as many steps as me I can only presume that she either changed the settings or I made a mistake setting it up.

The other possibility is that the app I’m watching is the generic one provided by the infallible Apple people that keeps track of “stuff” only when it’s on your body. My phone isn’t always on my body. Ergo, I’m going to use Diane’s numbers instead of mine from now on. Looks better. Also, the length of her step isn’t much different than mine any more because I’m in the shuffling stage of life and, due to my excessive military career, tend to walk in step with her as we mosey along. So, I walked over 9,000 steps yesterday, too.

So, on this trip south, which fronts pretty much all of the big resorts along the beach, for 50 miles we had an opportunity to see some pretty snazzy places. Lots of them have tricky names like RipTydz, or Sea Dip Motel & Condominium Family Resort. Tricky stuff like that. There were many more, of course, but I can’t remember all of them.

I don’t know what this place is. Maybe Diane knows.

We stopped in a few shops and determined that shopping on the ‘strip’ wasn’t financially feasible and decided to drive inland for a while to see if things got better.

We’re thinking we’ll go to Conway today. Diane read something about it in the tour guide book and thought it would be fun. On a map it looks like a long ways from the beach, but it’s only about 30 minutes away. More on that later. Maybe.

We found this boardwalk not far from our hotel. As you can see, like most other vacation destinations Myrtle Beach has it’s very own giant ferris wheel. We will not be going on this one, called Sky-Something, even thought it actually stops to let people on and off unlike the really BIG ones.

In the middle of all the busyness there was a plaque that totally defines Diane’s Credo.

I’m not sure which one of these I like best – I Love Sugar, or the Gay Dolphin.

On the way back I was intrigued by this facility. Considering it’s diminutive size I thought it was improperly named. But, since it’s right across the street from a very large, tall, resort, and it appears to be pretty old, I suspect that it’s been here a while, no doubt before the big boys moved in.

After the walking tour we went to the movie to see Downton Abbey. Diane’s been wanting to see it since it was released and, I admit, so did I. Yes, I’m a fan.

The last two photos are just looking ahead to future movie possibilities.

Then we went “home” and watched the sunset from our porch.

This morning Diane noticed that the water was making scallops on the beach as it came it, unlike it’s been doing previously. Although the waves were still pretty straight, the way they finished coming in was very interesting.

Now we’re going to Conway to visit a museum which you will learn all about when we make it back.

Ciao.

PS – The movie Downton Abbey was absolutely wonderful. Highly recommended for those who were addicted to the TV series.

Walking on Myrtle Beach

Over the years Diane and I have walked a little on our trips and vow to continue doing so when we return home. For many reasons that never seems to have happened. Mainly, I think, it’s because it’s easier to sit in our comfy recliners instead of walking. It could be, also, that it was raining a lot. Yeah, that could be it. We don’t walk in the rain.

Today, however, we walked almost 4 miles on Myrtle Beach this afternoon and didn’t cramp up even one time. Although we didn’t discuss continuing our walks at home, I think it’s understood that we really should. If it’s not raining when we get home, we will walk for sure.

The thing about walking on Myrtle Beach is that the beach slopes pretty sharply toward the water and the flat part is all soft sand which is very difficult to walk in. Plus, Diane’s fitbit doesn’t give her any credit for the extra effort involved with walking in soft sand. It doesn’t give extra credit for the wear and tear on knees and hips due to the slope one must traverse on the north and south trek.

One thing Diane learned, because of that slope, is that her right leg is shorter than her left. That revelation is based on the fact that walking north (left leg on the up slope) hurt more than walking south (short leg on the up slope).

I may have a similar affliction because walking north I was always wandering off to my right, toward the water. Now, in addition to the possibility that I have a short right leg, it could have been caused by my distraction with the water as it recedes away to my right. It’s very disorienting and causes me to lose my balance. On the trip south, however, my tendency was still to wander off to my right as I walked. I guess I’m just totally out of whack. I was happy that Diane found the trip back less stressful on her joints. So, all of our walks from now on, while we’re here, will be south bound only while on the beach. On the way back we can take one of many surface streets. Although they’re level, Diane thinks if she walked with her right foot on the sidewalk and her left on the street it might even things out for her. We’re going to give that a shot tomorrow. Don’t know why we didn’t think of the a lot sooner. I’ll let you know how that goes. If I remember.

After returning from our walk Diane warmed up some soup for a simple lunch, then we took another walk to our rental car, which is parked in a facility about 1 block away. There is no parking at the hotel for anyone. They do have a valet service but all vehicles are parked in the same building. The difference is valet is $10 a day and self parking is free. For me it’s a no-brainer to opt for free.

Anyway, we got the car and drove approximately 1 more block where Diane parked equidistant between a barber shop and a Dollar General store. The barber shop was for me because I agreed with Diane that I needed a haircut. She wanted me to get it cut before our trip but I refused. Today was the time, so I agreed. The Dollar General store was for Diane for two reasons; 1) she loves cheap stores and 2) we needed more bottled water. We apparently needed another bottle of wine, some chips, fruit, place mats, a cheese grater, and some spices, too.

Diane got all the stuff she wanted and I got a pretty stellar haircut from a guy named Enoch. Best haircut I’ve had in years.

Now, here are some photos that commemorate the day …

We moved up to the soft sand on the way north to sit a bit and drink water.
This is us resting.
Heading back south to one of those buildings. Diane went on ahead to blaze a trail
Back on our 17th floor balcony

After a bit of resting we went to the activity center to paint a picture. This was Diane’s first try at painting with acrylics and she did awesome. Now she wants to do it some more.

Diane’s
Mine