Welcome to our Adventure!

Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's a Go!

A quick update: we've been given the green light by Al's cardiologist, and we are set to head north, finally. Tomorrow morning will find us on the road headed to Indiana, where we'll pick up our trailer and get it repacked. Then we'll be crossing Ohio, NY, Massachusetts New Hampshire and finally arrive at our summer work destination, Bar Harbor Maine. See you on the road!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Holding Pattern

I'm so sorry about the lack of updates, but everything is well so far. We had a follow-up last Tuesday with our regular G.P., to keep her in the loop as to his condition and also the cardiologist wanted a follow-up on the suspected infection. During the course of blood testing in the hospital, they found his white blood cell count elevated and a slightly elevated temperature, so in addition to the meds for the a-fib he was put on the antibiotic Levaquin. They kept asking if he had been sick, but he hadn't. It's a mystery to us. Is the infection related to the onset of the a-fib? Also unknown, but is pondered. Tomorrow morning is a round of blood tests, CBC, BMP and bNP. Then an appointment with the cardiologist. That's the big determination whether we can leave or not. Fingers, toes, and any other appendage that can be crossed is currently crossed!

In the meantime, we are resting and re-planning. Al is feeling better every day. At first, it was like we were hesitant to let him do anything, for fear of his heart kicking back into the arrhythmia, but that's not really a sensible thing to do. The meds are doing their thing, and seem to be keeping his rhythm normal and heart rate down. The cardiologist knows our lifestyle, and seems to be agreeable to us leaving the area for the summer so long as we can work out where to get lab work done on a regular basis. We're even willing to send him back down here for a follow-up for a few days if necessary. So we are optimistic a treatment plan can be worked out. Of course, the best possible scenario will be that this is a fluke, and won't happen again!

I hope to post Tuesday night that we'll be on our way the next morning!

Fellow RV Dreamers Phil and Rudee are in our prayers.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Home!

Well, it was late, but Al was discharged around 10PM last night. Very happy to come home and sleep in his own bed...and a shower :-). There's new medications, and some rounds of appointments over the next week, but we're optimistic that we'll be on the road by the middle of next week...crossed fingers that we get the green light :-).

Thanks to all our family and friends for the love and support of the past week...we couldn't do it without you!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pumping Along

Al stayed in a normal sinus rhythm all day, and the pulse rate has dropped to a much more normal rate of 80/minute. They did maintain him on IV meds until about 7PM tonight, at which time they suspended the IV meds and started oral medication. So we are progressing.

He "almost" got to see a cardiologist tonight! He was on the floor. Al's nurse spotted him coming, and then he received a call to go to the ER for an emergency. Valiant Jeff (the nurse) chased him down to get the orders for the oral meds. So far, the nurses have been the best. His night nurse told him it's not uncommon for the cardiologist to come even as late as 11PM, but if he doesn't, she will be on the phone at 6AM pushing for some answers. We want to know the game plan for discharge and follow-up care, and definitely don't want to stay another night if its not necessary. Being a Monday should help matters, I think. Its time to start being a big mouth, I guess, although we both hate to be that way.

So, I sincerely hope that tomorrow night I'll be able to post that he's home! Won't Casey and Chelsea be happy about that...they're really wondering where their dad has been :-).

Thanks everyone for all the prayers, it really helps. Oh, and I also received a note from our manager at Bar Harbor saying they will definitely work with us on our start date and hope he is feeling better real  soon...good to know :-). I really need to get back to work now!

Conversion!!

Quick morning update: Al converted to normal sinus rhythm around 4AM this morning....big step forward! I plan to have the progress report later tonight when there should be a game plan for discharge!! Keep those fingers crossed a little longer please :-). Thanks to everyone.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Not Much

Not much has changed from last night. The new medication has lowered his heart rate to a more acceptable level, but his heart is still in atrial fibrillation. No visit from any doctor, but the nurse did call for orders once the 24 hour period on the new med finished. It's very frustrating to us both. We feel pretty helpless as we have no relationship with a cardiologist down here at this point. I'm sure there are folks out there who have dealt with being in a hospital out of town, how to handle getting the attention you need? Being the weekend can't help matters either.

He feels fine, which is also frustrating. We're the type of people who like a game plan and go with it, but we need one first!

Many many thanks to all the well wishers, your thoughts and prayers are so very much appreciated!

Friday, April 19, 2013

An Al Update

Another day with little to no progress. He had failed to convert to a normal sinus rhythm with medication, and the heart rate has come down, but not low enough. He was scheduled this afternoon for a medical procedure called a cardioversion, which is a "reboot" for the heart. Paddles are used to deliver a jolt of electricity to the heart, hoping to jolt it back into a normal rhythm. He has had this done before, and it has always been successful. But before they can do this, first a trans esophageal echocardiogram (TEE) must be done to make sure there are no clots formed in the heart that will be flushed out and possibly cause a stroke. It all sounds like fun, eh?

They finally came and got him just after 2PM, and let me tell you, he was just a tad hungry and getting crabby by then. And to make matters worse, the cardioversion did not work, he is still in atrial fibrillation. The cardiologist is putting him on a different medication tonight to try and lower the heart rate to an acceptable level, and is consulting with another cardiologist to give us options for further treatment.

As of 9PM when he called me, he has been transferred to the "step-down" ward; not quite ICU but a step above a regular ward with higher monitoring levels. Two different heart rate lowering meds have been ordered and he needs closer monitoring to make sure it doesn't drop out too fast. He sounds good on the phone, and actually feels more confident now that there seems to be a more concrete plan.

So that is it for today. Hopefully the next couple of days will brings things more in focus, and allow us to make some tentative plans going forward. I really dread having to call our employers in Bar Harbor and beg for a later start date; hopefully they will understand if that's what we need to do. We'll figure it out as we go!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shake That Jello!!

Just a quick note to let folks following us that we did not get to depart for Indiana this morning as planned. Instead, that shaky jello had other plans for us. Al is currently in the hospital being treated for a recurrence of his atrial fibrillation issue that he had years ago. We had really thought that was all behind us, but apparently the fates have other ideas.

Briefly, he had symptomatic a-fib starting many years ago, but it was always kept under control with medication. Until 2009, that is, when he started going into a-fib much more often. At that time he underwent a procedure called cardiac ablation, which solved the problem. Until now. We have all fingers and toes crossed that he will convert back to a normal heart rhythm quickly, and we can proceed on our way. Well wishes will be gratefully received! I hope to have a positive update tomorrow.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Last Fling at Disney...

for this year, that is!

Well, I hope everyone enjoyed Al's post about his fishing trip. There was just no way I could tell the story, having not been there. I think he did an admirable job :-).

We've been pretty busy finishing things up in preparation for our departure next Wednesday, but we did take time to spend a day at EPCOT's Flower and Garden Festival. What we didn't plan on, however, was the weather making the leap from late-in-the-year frost warnings to summertime high temperatures in the space of a few days! We had already selected the date of our day trip based on activities and appointments, so even though the weatherman was saying highs in the upper 80's to 90 degrees, we forged ahead with our plans. The dog sitter was coming in to take care of the pups, and two carloads of family members headed to Disney. Upon arriving at the parking lot, we unloaded the cars, got the wheelchairs set up for the older folks, made the obligatory pit stop at the restrooms, and proceeded to get in line, not for anything fun, but for the bag check :-(. Ever since 9/11, security has been beefed up here at Disney as well, and anyone who has a bag of any kind must have it searched by security before going into the parks. Sometimes this seems like the longest line of the day! Another line to get your ticket scanned, and then we arrived at our destination...

One of the things the festival is noted for is the beautiful topiaries of well-loved Disney characters. Here we have the Fab Four getting ready for a barbeque.

Daisy and Donald having a game of badminton

The Lion King characters

Behind Spaceship Earth flower trees decorate the square around the fountain.

Our first destination was Tinker Bell's Butterfly House

Tinker Bell herself was on hand to greet you.


 It was difficult to get pictures of the butterflys as they wouldn't sit still for very long, but I managed a few.

As we exited the exhibit, we saw the floral displays set up around the lake. The colors were brilliant this year.

The floating islands of flowers are always one of my favorites.

A close-up view of the flower beds.

As we headed down the walkway to the World Showcase, we passed these beautiful blown glass poppies that had been designed for this exhibit highlighting the new movie, "The Great and Powerful Oz".

This is Ginny, Patti and Aunt Doris "acting terrified" as their basket blows away from the hot-air balloon in a photo display set up.

A brand new topiary display this year highlights the characters Mike and Sully from the movie "Monsters, Inc."

More "monsters"; its so interesting to see how they shape the topiaries and make them look so much like characters.

A new feature this year at the festival is the introduction of "food booths" similar to what they have during the Food and Wine Festival in the fall (which I LOVE!!). Small booths are set up along the promenade around the World Showcase, and you can purchase "tasting size" portions of different regional foods. Sadly, because of how beastly hot it was by this time of the day, we were only able to sample a few items. I find I don't care to eat too much when it is so hot. These are a few things I remembered to take pictures of before they were consumed :-). Starting clockwise from the left upper corner, is a Dole Whip (pineapple and soft-serve ice cream blended together and swirled, yum!); Tacos de Carnitas (pork tacos topped with tamarindo salsa served on a flour tortilla with chicharron); Spring pancake with chicken and green apple ( from China); and finally a Pan-fried vegetable bun with a spicy sauce, also from China.

I also tried the German potato pancake with homemade apple sauce, and from England the Baked Goat's Brie with Kumquat Chutney. Both were delicious. There were so many other interesting looking tidbits to try,  but the heat just beat us. Next year :-)!!

We met an interesting troll in Norway....

saw some beautiful scenery in Italy...

along with some favorite characters, Lady and the Tramp.

Japan has beautiful displays of bonsai plants, brought in for the show by local bonsai enthusiasts.

This is a 65 year old bald cypress displayed in the center of the water garden. Even with multitudes of people around, the gardens of the Japanese pavilion always seem quiet and serene.

Quiet, that is, until the Matsuriza Taiko drummers started their show. One of the fun things about EPCOT is being able to take your time wandering the different countries, and stopping to see all the interesting cultural shows they have in each pavilion.

The American Pavilion featured, naturally, Woody from the movie "Toy Story". Their food booth was The Smokehouse, and had delicious tastings prepared in the giant smoker they had on display...

Princess topiaries rounded out our day, with Snow White....

and Cinderella dancing with her Prince.

A visit to the festival headquarters finished our day, and we said a fond farewell to Mickey and Minnie as we left the park. 

The next couple of days will be very busy as we make final preparations for departure. It wouldn't normally be as difficult as this year, but we have everything that we had in the trailer in the garage, which all has to packed into a u-haul trailer and taken to Indiana. I had kind of forgotten how much stuff it really is (selective memory??), and it's going to be quite the task getting the trailer put back into "home-living" shape. Sunday we are having a farewell luncheon for all the family here in Florida with us. Monday we'll be cleaning and packing the truck and trailblazer, and Tuesday we will be packing the u-haul. Wednesday we will be back on the road, driving at least as far as north of Chattanooga, TN, with arrival in Goshen IN Thursday night. Friday we'll pick up the trailer and do the walk-through, and then head to Shipshewana South Campground, where we'll spend the weekend re-organizing all our "stuff". Then we'll head to Bar Harbor, Maine, swinging through the Lancaster PA area for a brief stop to enjoy all the Amish goodies. From there, we'll head north through PA and NY, then west through MA on up to Maine. On to new adventures :-)!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Al goes Fishing April 2-4 2013

So the wife says there is nothing to post because we have not done much lately. So I said, "Well I went fishing!!" and she replies, "Then you write a post." So here I go.
Well if you know me at all you know I love to fish. Any type will do. Saltwater, freshwater, big or small as long as I can get out fishing all is good in the world. Now I tried some Fly Fishing in Colorado this past summer without much luck. I am still learning that one, so when I am near saltwater I need to go. Now Karen wrote about the half day trip that I, my sister Ginny and friend Patty went on but I need a bigger fix. So I found a trip that lasted 40 hours with the potential to catch some large fish. So I booked myself on the Florida Fisherman II out of Madeira Beach. Now before I could go I needed some fishing gear. The boat will provide the necessary equipment if you need it but there is nothing like having your own stuff. So a call to my brother in law, Bill, and a few days later all of the rods and reels, hooks, swivels and anything else I would need shows up at the house. Now this trip is almost 2 days long, so I need to bring clothes, sleeping bag, pillow, meds, and anything else you would need on a trip this long. What about food you say, well for $35.00 they will feed you the entire trip, not bad. So I think that I have everything ready, just need the day to arrive.
Tuesday April 2 has arrived, departure day. I need to be at the dock by 2:00 pm for a departure of 3:00 pm. I arrive a Hubbard's Marina at 1:30 pm and unload all my gear into the waiting area and park the car. I check in, pay my fare, and wait for the call to board. While I am waiting I go take a look at the boat that will be home for the next 2 days.
Florida Fisherman II

At 2:30 pm we are allowed to start boarding, but first, I need to get my live bait and put it in the provided live well on the boat. After loading my bait and gear I check out my spot along the rail, lucky number 13, and then find my bunk. 
My bunk area on the top deck

3:00 pm and we are on our way. First we pass through the John's Pass Draw Bridge. 

Then out into the Gulf of Mexico. On the way out I check out some of the many activities happening around the beaches here. I think we will have to come back here and check out the area on land.
John's Pass Boardwalk

Madeira Beach 
Para-Sailing

We have a long ride ahead of us. We are traveling to an area known as the Middle Grounds which is approximately 100 miles northwest of our starting point. The trip will take about 9-10 hours, so first I get my gear ready then prepare some bait then kick back and enjoy the ride. I could not have hoped for a better afternoon.
 This is Bob Harbison preparing Sardines for bait. Bob also provided me with many of the pictures. 



The ride out. 

On the way out  we had some Dolphins do a little bow riding. Here's a video.


It was now time for dinner. The food was pretty good and there was plenty of it. 

Sausage, peppers and onions hero. 

After dinner it was time to get some sleep. We will be arriving at the grounds around midnight and then we will fish until 8:00 pm with a few breaks for food and to move to other spots. 
The captain comes on the loud speakers, we have arrived at our first spot, it is 11:45 pm, we made pretty good time. Our first quarry will be Mangrove Snapper and possibly some grouper. On this trip we can keep up to 20 "Mango's", 8 Red Grouper, 2 Amber jack and others. Now this is my first time fishing for these fish and they are proving a challenge. The Mangrove Snapper are great bait stealer's and I am having a difficult time but I do manage a few. 
This is Mieko and one of the mates with some Mangrove Snapper. Sorry I never got any pictures with me in them. To busy fishing. 

We fished until dawn and then it was time to move to another spot to try for Amber jack. It was going to be an hour move so it was time to get some breakfast.
The "Slam"

We arrive and it was time to fish again. This time it is for Amber jack. Time to bring out the big guns. Amber jack average 25-30 lbs but can get as high as 100 lbs. They also fight very hard. I break out the rod with 60 lbs test line. It is also time for the live bait. You drop down to the bottom, reel up about 20 turns and hold on. I wait about 3 minutes when what feels like I hooked into a freight train takes off. It takes about 20 minutes but I get the fish. Amber jack about 25 lbs. I send down another bait, and wait. 3 minutes later we are off again. 20 minutes later anther Amber jack hits the deck. I have filled my limit. With that my new buddy Bob Harbison asks if I wouldn't mind catching one for him as he is to busy taking pictures. No problem Bob, I will have one for you in a few minutes. Wow, talk about cocky, and I paid for it. Don't you know I couldn't get another bite the rest of our time there. As a matter of fact, I was only one of the few that caught our limit. They just stopped biting for some reason. That's why it's called fishing, not catching.

Some of the Amber jack caught. 

After a while it was time to move to another spot. The ride would be about 1 1/2 hours, so a good time to catch a nap. We arrive and it is time for more fishing. Here we would catch Grouper, Mangrove snapper, Porgies, and others. I fished for an hour or so and then my stomach was telling me it was time for lunch. The crew did some fishing also and they turned some of the snappers they caught into beer battered fish sandwiches. the best ever. I asked about the beer batter and the cook told me she used McCormick's Beer batter and adds lots of pepper and some salt. I did try it when I got home and is was really good. After lunch, back to the rail. I managed more snapper, some Red Groupers that were not of legal size, a Scamp Grouper and a bunch of porgies. The were many American Red Snapper caught but all had to be released as the season was closed. Also, a Goliath Grouper about 200 lbs was caught but also released. 


Gag Grouper



American Red Snapper

Goliath Grouper

Around 5:00 pm a thunder storm with some heavy rain came through so it was a good time to get dinner. On the menu, chicken fajitas and rice.  Another excellent meal. By 6:30 the lightening had stopped but the rain continued. I went back to the rail and caught a few more fish before it was time to head home. We started back around 8:30 pm and had about a 9 hour ride home. After sitting with my fellow fisherman and talking about the day, it was time to hit the bunk. I believe I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. Before I knew it, the captain was announcing that we were almost back to the dock, so it was time to get up, get dressed, and get ready to collect our fish and head home. I got my fish and waited around for the mates to fillet my catch. 

Some of the catches

\All I have to say is that I had a great time. Caught plenty of fish and made a few new friends. I will be going again next year. Hopefully my brother in law Bill will be able to make it. Maybe I will try the 4 day trip? 




Here is a video that was taken on the trip. You get to see me in action. 
Well that's it for my post. Hope you liked it. 
Al