“As I get older, I’ve learned to listen to people rather than accuse them of things.” – Po Bronson, quoted in Publishers Weekly

Friday, December 17, 2021

Not the short vacation we had hoped for

It has been a very long time since I did a blog post. We've sold the cabin, so our Off-The-Grid blog, while still online, is no longer active. This site used to be my (Rick's) personal blog site, but we may migrate it into a new site for capturing our adventures. But, I digress...

I am finally able to use my left wrist/hand well enough to type and the doctor says it is good therapy. For the full story, we must go back in time a bit.

After selling the cabin, we made the decision to trade in our travel trailer for a motorhome. In many ways the a motorhome is more convenient and comfortable (and, it has its drawbacks, too). We got a 37' Thor Miramar 35.2 model. It took forever, though. There were very few available due to the parts shortages plaguing the automotive (and other) industries. But, we found one locally and made a pretty good deal on it. Trouble was, the chassis was under a recall from Ford, so we could not even test drive it let alone take possession. After many months, we finally got it, brought it home and pretty much got it ready for a trip.

The exterior of the motorhome

A couple of photos of the interior

Since the weather was so warm, and predicted to stay so, we decided to do a "shake down" cruise to visit my mom in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Thus started the "trip from hell".

When we did our walkthrough upon delivery of the motorhome, the technician highly recommended windshield Insurance since a new windshield costs about $3500. We did not have a chance to do that yet, and sure enough, not 10 miles from home, a truck kicked up a rock and put a fairly large chip in the windshield. It might have been an omen. We probably should have turned around then. But, the chip was not in my view, so we kept going.

We did fine heading south, I was getting used to driving it and all was well. But, at Castle Rock, the dogs let us know they'd had enough and needed a break. There is a large outlet mall there, so we exited the Interstate and wound our way into the parking lot of the outlet mall where there were no cars parked and some grassy areas for the dogs. We walked them about and gave them a chance to pee.

We drove out of the mall onto a main street that led to the Interstate offramp. Unknown to us, as I made a sharp left turn onto the street, the motorhome door popped open. After a second or two, I noticed it and hollered to Lynne. She looked back just in time to see Destin step out of the motorhome onto the sidewalk. I stopped against the curb and hit the emergency flashers as she retrieved Destin. Then, she asked "where is Crusoe?" He was not in the motorhome. 

Turns out, he had exited about a block back. While I grabbed Destin from Lynne, she ran back down the block looking for Crusoe. And, there he was along the side of the road being rescued by a couple in a car that must have seen the whole thing! I didn't see any of this, so Lynne is better at telling the story, but apparently Crusoe was happy to just jump in these people's car! Lynne yelled "that's my dog" and retrieved Crusoe from them. 

Once back in the motorhome, we secured the door and had to sit for a few minutes to let our hearts settle down. The street was busy, so we were mucking up traffic, and soon managed to get going again, immediately merging with I25 and continuing our trek south. We should have turned around and come home.

We spent the night at Raton, NM. There is a pretty nice KOA there with a dog run and lots of empty room (at that time of year) for the dogs to run. We got hooked up to water and electricity, made dinner, figured out how to work the TV, etc. And, had a pretty good night.

I did figure out that the deadbolt on the door was not properly engaging. Actually the door is very frustrating because when we wanted to out, it seemed very stuck and would not open. But, at other times, it opened on it own, just coming loose and flying open.

The next day, shortly after leaving Raton while going about 55 mph down the Interstate, the door came open again. We were going fast enough that it was only open an inch or so, but still very scary. I saw it out of the corner of my eye and started to slow down. And, once safe on the shoulder, told Lynne why we had stopped. We got it closed and it stayed that way for the rest of the drive to Las Vegas (NM) where I purchased a bungee and found a way to secure the door so it could not open on its own.

We got into Albuquerque in the mid-afternoon and set about hooking up the coach to water, electricity and sewer. While I was doing that, Lynne took all three dogs to the enclosed dog run for some exercise--we were parked only about 50 feet away. She took them over on leashes, but knew they'd just run back to the motorhome once out of the dog run, so turned them loose and started walking back. Crusoe, the puppy came running up behind her, apparently looking back over his shoulder at Destin and Natalie, and ran smack into Lynne, knocking her down and twisting her ankle. 

I heard the commotion and got the dogs inside. Lynne was clearly in a lot of pain, and later that evening her right foot swelled up with a golf ball sized bump. It was bruised and pretty ugly, so we wrapped it in an Ace bandage and kept ice on it. We didn't have any transport, but my Mom came over for dinner and volunteered to take her to urgent care. Lynne opted to wait it out and see how it went overnight.

The next day the swelling was a bit better, so we treated it as a bad sprain and Lynne stayed off her feet, taking it easy around the motorhome.

Other than her sore foot, we had a pretty good Saturday and Sunday. I did try to find someone to patch the windshield without success. Mom spent a lot of time with us and my sister came over for dinner on Saturday. I took on the chore of exercising the dogs by taking them all to the dog run every few hours.

On Sunday evening, around 8:00 I took them all three and they did their thing. Now, I know better than taking multiple dogs at the same time, especially on Flexi-leads, but we were very close to the dog run, they knew the routine, and we had successfully done this short walk many times over the weekend. This time (it was dark by then), when I went to get them out of the run and on our way back to the motorhome, they saw a lady coming toward us with a couple of pugs. And, they took off--with me flying horizontally behind them. I hit the ground hard, having released the Flexi-leads and landed on my two hands and a knee. As I recall, my heat hit the ground pretty hard, too. The lady kept asking if I was okay, and could she help. I got up slowly, wrapped the leads around my arm and drug the dogs to the motorhome saying something "damned dogs" the whole way. I was pretty sure I'd broken my left wrist. Two of the Flexis were destroyed.

We wrapped the wrist and after a while I went to bed. But, after 20 minutes or so I told Lynne that I needed to go to urgent care. I called my mom, remember we don't have a car, and she and my cousin drove her car to pick me up and take me to an urgent care facility near her. 

Upon arriving, I checked in and implored them to go home and rest--I'd call when I got out. But, they chose to stay and wait. My cousin had word puzzles and my mom brought a book. They sat in a sequestered lobby and waited. I got in to X-rays very quickly. Then waited in the waiting room.....for 6 hours before being seen. Appendix boy went ahead of me, crying baby was seen after an hour or so, cat-bite girl finally got in and broken rib guy (I felt really sorry for him), was also seen over that 6 hour wait.

Finally, I learned that I had indeed broken my wrist. Well, "fractured" was the term the doctor used and I later learned that it was in more than 7 pieces. They put my whole arm in a splint, gave me some pain meds, recommeded I see an orthopedic surgeon soon, and finally sent me home. I think it was 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. when I got back. 

Lynne and I then realized we had a problem. I could not drive the motorhome. Lynne could not (and would not) drive it. We were supposed to leave for home that morning, taking two days to get home beating some incoming inclement weather and getting home in time fo Thanksgiving. Crap. What were we going to do? Very stressful. Clearly, we had to extend our stay for at least a day.

I called a couple of large RV dealerships and left messages with their transport managers asking if they knew of someone who could drive the coach to Northern Colorado--they never called back. I called an RV transport company (Horizon, I think), whose job it is to transport RVs around the country, no response. My sister starting using her contacts and my cousin was helping us look for a driver. Meantime, we explored the idea of storing the RV somewhere and renting a car to get us home. But, we could not find a rental company willing to do a one-way rental, especially not over the Thanksgiving holiday. Crap.

My sister's contacts would do it, but not until after the holiday. Should we just stay in Albuquerque for a week? What about the need to see an orthopedic doctor? We did not want to do that away from home.

Finally, my cousing put us in touch with a guy from the Denver area that she knows well. He was willing to fly down to Albuquerque early on Tuesday morning and drive us back to Colorado over the next two days. I could drive an automatic car okay, so I could then take him home. With that as the current plan, I started looking at possible flights...on Tuesday a.m....between Denver an Albuquerque...one way...

While I was doing that, Lynne let our neighbors in Windsor know that we would not be home on schedule. They also have an RV and take frequent trips and we each look out for the other's property while traveling. And, the most amazing offer I've ever heard was made by Connie, our neighbor. 

She would drive her car down to Albuquerque and stay overnight Monday with her brother who has a home there. Then, she'd drive the motorhome back over the next two days while Lynne drove her car back. Given that it was already about 2:00 p.m. this was an amazing offer. And, we took her up on it.

She got to her brother's place around midnight, and met up with us at the RV park around 8:00 the next morning. After some briefing on driving a motorhome, and a bit of practice in the park, we took off. Connie has lots of experience pulling a large travel trailer and driving large trucks, so she took to it quickly and we were soon on our way home.

We made it to Raton that day, and got home mid-afternoon on Wednesday (before Thanksgiving). Since this is getting kind of long, I won't detail that whole trip, but suffice it to say the motorhome handles pretty well in high winds and did great in the snow. It is impossible to state how grateful we are to Connie. We have wonderful neighbors!

The dogs riding in the motorhome while Connie is driving

On the way, I got an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon for the following Tuesday, seven days after the injury.

Once the motorhome was parked at home (we'd winterize it on Thursday or Friday then put it in storage), I suggested we take Lynne to urgent care. Her foot was not feeling any better and she had just driven well over 500 miles using that foot. She agreed. 

A couple of hours later, after X-rays, etc. we learned she had broken her foot in her fall nearly a week earlier. She was given a boot, and told to stay off her foot--it would heal on its own. We wanted a second opinion, so we made an appointment with a podiatric surgeon for the next Thursday, thirteen days after the initial injury.

On Thanksgiving, despite our handicaps, we made a great dinner with roasted turkey, Lynne's phenomenal stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas and pearl onions. Pumpkin pie for dessert. Yum.

Everywhere we went over the next few day, we were quite a site. I had my left arm in a massive splint and sling, and Lynne was clomping around in an orthopedic boot. Nurses offered to wrap us up in bubble wrap.

I saw an orthopedic doctor on Tuesday and learned the true severity of my injury. Surgery with another, more experienced doctor, was scheduled for Friday. On Thursday, we learned that Lynne had what's called Jones Fracture. Not good news as that, while common, is one of the worst foot injuries one can have. And, there is no agreed-upon best treatment. Some say, leave it alone and let it heal, others suggest that surgery is the best solution. When the doctor learned that the injury was two weeks old, and given the bone separation that had occured in that time, he leaned toward just keeping it in a boot and giving it a month to heal, then reassess the situation. Lynne agreed. So, we left there with a new, more comfortable boot and a set of crutches for Lynne.

The next day, I had surgery. It took about 2-1/2 hours, I guess. I now have a plate and some screws in my wrist as well as some donated bone (I thank the donor's family!) I left with a smaller, lighter splint, and some awesome pain meds. By Saturday night, I was feeling pretty good. 

After two weeks I had the stitches removed and am now in an even lighter brace and an able to wiggle fingers and squeeze my hand. At my next follow up, a month after surgery, I hope to get clearance to start some exercises to gain my mobility back. I sure miss my weaving hobby. Clearly, I can wiggle fingers well enough to type this.

Stitches are about to be removed

We'll keep you informed.

Tags:  dogstravel
Posted under: Stuff You Gotta Know!Travel • by Rick on 12/17/2021 at 10:12 AM
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Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Dog Show

We recently took the RV, three dogs, one cat, and ourselves to a dog show in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The good news is that Destin won major points on the first two days of the three day show and finished his championship. The bad news is that it was not the easiest dog show we’ve attended.

It all started the day before we were to leave. We’d pulled the trailer to the house and parked it in front while we cleaned and provisioned it. A quick run to Walmart was necessary, and on our way home the truck sort of died with a “Powertrain Fault” warning. “Call your dealership”, it said on the dashboard control panel.

The truck was running, but very rough. And, I had no control over the truck’s speed. All I could do was pull off the road and call the dealership. 

Upon explaining the error on the dashboard display, I learned that the problem could be any one of a myriad of things including some kind of spurious error. I am under the powertrain warranty, so had the option of calling Ford Roadside Assistance for a tow to the dealer. But, they could not look into the problem for several days, and we had all three dogs with us making the logistics challenging. I hoped that some combination of a tow truck, Uber, and the Suburban parked at home would get us all where we needed to be. But, what about the dog show?

After getting off the phone, I turned off the truck. Then restarted it. And, it ran fine. Great. We drove home and convinced ourselves it was one of those spurious error things and we’d be okay to tow the trailer 250 miles to Nebraska (and back).

The next day, we hooked up to the trailer and took off for a garage in Greeley where we can get nitrogen for the trailer tires. Yeah, they have nitrogen instead of regular air in them. That is supposed to give us a smoother, safer ride with less variation in pressure due to temperature and a bunch of other advantages. Anyway, about 3 miles up the road the truck threw another powertrain fault. This time on a narrow road with no shoulder. I turned on the emergency flashers, coasted to a stop, turned the truck off and then restarted it. All was fine again. With very shaky confidence we continued on our trip.

The service tech who added nitrogen to the tires said pretty much the same thing as the dealership. Could be any of a large number of things. Could be a spurious error. Probably not catastrophic since we can recover by restarting the truck. 

What the heck. We drove to Scottsbluff.

The trip was not fun. The wind was really blowing hard. Every time we had a truck pass us in the opposite direction my side-view mirror got pushed back and I’d roll down the window to push it back into position. It was cold. We has some show flurries off and on. But, we made it to the Gearing, NE city RV park (which is actually very, very nice). We dropped the trailer and hooked up utilities then drove to the show site 12 miles away in Mitchell to set up for the dog show.

As we prepared a meal that evening, we discovered that despite parking on a concrete slab that I had assumed was level, the trailer actually tilted to the starboard side very significantly. I almost fell down a couple of times just walking through the trailer. Cooking oil pooled in the back of the pan. Doors would not stay open. But, it was too much trouble to try to hook up and level the RV now, so we lived with it.

It was cold overnight. The heater in the RV just can’t keep up with below freezing temperatures. The RV leaks a lot, it was not built for winter camping, and the heater runs continuously trying to keep up. And, the next morning we went to take showers and water hookups were frozen. No showers. But, we did have some coffee and then took off for the dog show.

Destin won Best of Winners adding 4 points and another major to his wins. 

After we got back to the trailer, I went to Home Depot and got some heat tape and duct tape to wrap around the water faucet. I also got a small electric room heater at Walmart to supplement the RV heater. And, before going to bed I disconnected the water hose and drained it.

We had a nice dinner at a steak house with dog show colleagues, and then went to bed.

Sometime overnight we ran out of propane and heater stopped working. It was chilly the next morning, but we were able to hook up the water and take a shower. (I had the hot water heater working off electricity). The small electric room heater had helped a lot overnight, but gave up and stopped working that morning. We have two propane tanks, so I switched over to a full one.

We went the show, frustrated at all the problems but still somewhat refreshed. Destin won Best of Winners adding 3 points and another major to his wins. Enough to earn him his Championship!

On the way home we returned the electric room heater and got another just like it. 

Dinner was again with our dog show colleagues at a somewhat gourmet restaurant where we drank expensive wine, ate great food, and laughed until it hurt.

Then, it started snowing.

Again, I disconnected the water hose. And with both heaters running overnight we stayed pretty comfortable. 

We were due at the show site early, so we took off after exercising the dogs. Bella just stayed in the trailer since she does not enjoy dog shows. But, we took Natalie all days in order to get her acquainted with the process.

We showed Destin as a new champion in the breed competition, but he was not on his best show behavior (after all, Dad was showing his brother right behind him in line and that was very confusing to him), and he did not do anything.

When we got back to the trailer we had to disconnect and pack up everything as well as scrape snow off the trailer. But, the sun was peaking through the clouds and temperature was slowly climbing. The roads were in good shape and at noon we took off for home. 

The trip back was mostly uneventful. No wind, no rain, no snow. And the mirror only got displaced once. But, as we approached the location where the truck had died with the powertrain fault three days earlier, it happened again! Very weird. Restarting the truck worked and we got home okay.

So, while there were many problems, including dog throw up and diarrhea, I’ve chosen not to go into in detail, we had a productive trip that was worth all the hassle since Destin came away as a Champion.

Tags:  dogstraveldestin
Posted under: Dog StuffTravel • by Rick on 04/04/2018 at 03:36 PM
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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fishing the Beaverkill

Among the top 10 fly fishing sites in the US, a few are in the Northeast and the rest are in Montana. Some will argue there are some in Wyoming (West Yellowstone, for example), but the western sites are all pretty much located "up there". Of those in the Northeast, one of the most famous is the Beaverkill River in the Catskills. And, I've had fishing the Beaverkill on my secondary bucket list.

Rick fishing the Beaverkill

Lynne bought me a wonderful birthday gift this year! She got me a 1/2-day guided wading tour on the Beaverkill. She purchased it through the Beaverkill Angler Catskill Fly Fishing Shop in Roscoe, NY -- the heart of fishing in the Catskills. They put me with a great guide, Oleh Czmola and we spent Saturday late afternoon fishing. I caught a very nice 10" brown trout (returned to the river) and had a few other strikes. Enough to make it a successful trip and make me a happy camper! Thanks to Oleh for his guidance and patience. (I've developed some bad habits with my casting.)

Speaking of a "happy camper", we turned the trip into a wonderful camping weekend by pulling the T@B up on Friday. It was raining a little, but we got a fantastic camping site along Russell Brook and got set up before it rained hard. Saturday and Sunday were beautiful fall days and we enjoyed the weather and the fall colors immensely.

Our camp setup. We parked in one of the tent sites, and it worked fine for our tiny trailer.

We have a new tent that connects to the side of the trailer. We got it up before the rain hit, and so we were able to sit in the tent and watch and listen to the rain while sipping on a glass of wine. The silver storage box on the trailer tongue is also new and provided us some much needed additional storage. Note that we put up a ring of exercise pens for the dogs.

We had campfires on Saturday and Sunday -- even s'mores for dessert!

That is an old water wheel in the background of the above photo. It was used to run a DC generator many, many years ago. 

I'm sure Lynne will post more on her site or on the T@B site.

Tags:  photosnaturetravelactivitiesfishing
Posted under: New JerseyTravel • by Rick on 10/15/2015 at 08:59 AM
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Monday, December 01, 2014

Desert Forest

When visiting Las Cruces, New Mexico recently to celebrate my Dad's 89th birthday, Lynne and I were given a tour of a nearby park which features the natural fauna of the surrounding desert. Las Cruces, is at an altitude of 3900 feet and sits at the base of the Organ Mountains and is considered "high desert" country.

Photo of the park with the Organ Mountains in the background.

Perhaps the most common type of cactus in the area is the Prickly Pear cactus, which comes in many varieties:

One variety is the Mule's Ear cactus:

Here is a dead Cholla cactus:

I think this is a live one:

Of course, there is the Barrel Cactus, also with many varieties:

Plenty of Creosote Bushes and Mesquite, too!


And Century Plant:

The most interesting part of our tour, hosted by a good friend of my parents' -- Delton Estes -- was finding some Chochilla (Cochineal, in English) bugs on some cacti. These bugs live in a cacoon-like web and feed off the moisture and nutrients in the cactus. The Spanish began the practice of farming these bugs and harvesting them for the deep red dye they can produce -- a color that later became popular in the Roman Catholic Church. A Wikipedia reference is found here.

Note the white on the cactus below? Pull it off and squeeze it to get the dye.

Many thanks to Delton for the informative tour!

Tags:  naturetravelphotos
Posted under: Travel • by Rick on 12/01/2014 at 08:59 AM
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cabin Trip 2014—2nd Day On The Road

We are in Grand Island, Nebraska. Our standby motel is the Rodeway Inn (pet friendly!) which has always had excellent, clean rooms. We have a nice view of a small lake behind the motel. 

The truck is gassed up, dogs and cat are fed, dogs are walked and now we are settled down with a cup of wine about to order a pizza. Tonight it will be Domino's Hawaiian Pizza.

We always get here at a good time, around 5:00 local time (we are on Central Time now). This gives us a chance to relax and wind down some. We'll get a good night of sleep, up early tomorrow and then be in Laramie at or before noon. There, we will do 2-3 days of shopping and head on in to the cabin arriving around 3:00 or so. I'm telling you this in advance because we won't bother to try to get the Internet working (which is always a multi-hour phone call) because a new system is (supposed) to be installed on Tuesday. 

Tags:  cabintravel
Posted under: Cabin NewsTravel • by Rick on 09/14/2014 at 04:37 PM
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