Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hart Ranch, Sewer Hose and a New Kindle

We were so happy to put Minot, ND in our rear view mirror on Wednesday. The previous evening, Don took me to the nicest restaurant in town, 10 North Main. With a decor and atmosphere that reminded me of Berkeley, CA, and a menu to match, it’s a rare find in North Dakota. The restaurant is in a restored building downtown and is partially owned by Minot native and actor Josh Duhamel, who played Danny McCoy in the TV show “Las Vegas.” We really enjoyed our meal (salmon for me, lamb chops for him) and the service was great, too.

Earlier in the day, as a thank-you for my doing all the hookups, dumping, flushing, etc. during his hospitalization and rehab, Don bought me a new RhinoFlex sewer hose with swivel fittings. Good-bye awkward clamps and twisted hoses!

Rhino Flex

I think my posting about this gift on Facebook drew more comments than anything else I’ve ever posted. What a guy; he’s a keeper, for sure!

Early Wednesday morning, we took the motorhome to the Minot Cummins shop for routine maintenance. They finished in time for us to make it to Don’s PT appointment at 10:00 a.m. However, just before buttoning everything up, the tech noticed a slight oil leak. We left him to investigate further while we went to the PT session. Upon returning, we learned that the tech couldn’t figure out how to get the engine cover off in the motorhome bedroom floor. Don showed him how, then we went to Kroll's Diner for lunch. (Click the link and view some of the outtakes for some laughs, North Dakota style.) Upon returning, the tech still hadn’t fully diagnosed the leak but said it didn’t need urgent attention. We decided to take the coach to the shop in Rapid City the following week.

Departing by 1:00 pm and planning to stay overnight in an earlier time zone in Dickinson, ND, we had plenty of time to drive about 180 miles. I drove the first 100, and Don took over and drove the rest of the way. He had no problems driving, and was happy to be behind the wheel again. North Park Campground has changed a lot since 2005 when I stayed there in my 5th wheel. It’s grown to include mobile homes and park models in addition to RVs, and is home to a lot of area workers. There’s still a lot of dusty roads and sites, but they’re in the process of adding gravel. That made it hard for Don to walk around, but it does help control the dust. A cold front blew in and kept us sitting there another night. It’s not fun, and frequently unsafe, to drive a high-profile vehicle in winds of 35-45 mph, with gusts even higher. The direction of the wind would have been a direct crosswise hit on us, and we just didn’t want to fight it.

The only problem with staying another night in Dickinson is that we missed seeing some of our good RV buddies, Chuck and Jan Moore. They had already delayed their departure from the Black Hills area by a day in order to catch up with us. They have a new granddaughter in Seattle, so they were eager to be on their way toward the west coast. Too bad, but we’ll manage to see them somewhere else in the next few months.

When we did finally leave Dickinson on Friday, there was no wind. Not even a whisper. After a day of heavy winds, this was amazing. We had a great travel day, and again shared the driving, with me taking the wheel first for about 120 miles, and Don finishing the drive of about 130 more miles with a brief stop for lunch.

Arriving at Hart Ranch always feels like coming home. In fact, the lodge displays a “Welcome Home” banner over the entrance. It’s a beautiful park with over 450 full hook-up sites and 47 partial sites in The Meadowlands. It was hard to get a reservation at the last minute for Labor Day weekend, but reservation agent Margaret worked her magic on the system and got us in. We would have to move from site to site a couple of times, but at least we’d get in. When we arrived a day late, I asked if we could stay the first two nights in the same site. Margaret had just come on duty for the day, so she knew our situation and was able to give us two nights in The Meadowlands in the same site. This was fortuitous, because we immediately spotted our friends Betty Anderson and Duane Peyton nearby, and got together with them for happy hour later. And while walking Shadow around the loop I encountered Steve and Lynette, friends of Bill and Helen Moll who had asked us to look for them. A few more sites down I ran into Mick and Dorothy, who spend their summers here and winters in Benson, AZ where we last saw them shopping at Safeway. I guess we were meant to be here!


We’ll move to a FHU site on Sunday, then on Tuesday we have a motorhome service appointment (a.m.) and Don’s doctor appointment (p.m.). In the meantime, maybe we’ll find a spot among the holiday weekend crowds in the hot tub and dust off the bicycles for a gentle pedal around the park. At any rate, it’s nice to be back ‘home’ and we’ll enjoy our brief visit to Hart Ranch.

A final note: the Kindle e-book that Don bought for my birthday almost 2 years ago died. I went through several troubleshooting routines with Amazon’s excellent customer service on the phone, and they determined that it needed to be replaced. They could send me one just like what I have for free, or offer $75 off on a new 3rd generation Kindle, now priced at $139. Don paid over $300 for each of our Kindles, and that included a $50 discount through Oprah in 2008. My new one will cost $64 with free shipping, and is now on backorder due to the popularity of the device. I can still use my current one; it just has to have the Reset button pressed every time I turn it on, or it doesn’t show any content. I’m a happy camper and hope to have the new Kindle in a couple of weeks.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Removal of the Leg Cast

Finally, our prayers were answered. First, the good news: Don’s leg cast was removed today! He’s almost ready to go dancing.


The appointment was at 3:00 pm. At 3:20 we were still waiting, if somewhat impatiently. Or maybe I was the only one who was impatient, after reading all the magazines in the waiting room. I think Don was hiding his impatience by reading a book on his Kindle.


When I checked with the desk staff, they said “Haven’t they taken him for X-rays yet?” Well, no, they haven’t. They finally called for him and the ball got rolling about 3:30. They decided to remove the cast before taking X-rays, so Carol, RN, started to work with a noisy, but effective, rotary saw.

Note: Isn’t it interesting how the RNs (and most other women in the medical profession except for doctors) have nametags with their first names only, and doctors (of both sexes) have nametags with their last names only?


Carol’s the one who put the blue layer on the cast after the off-white one started to fall apart a couple of weeks ago. She gave him a hard time then, accusing him of abusing the equipment. She’s only a year younger than Don, so she’s had some experience doing her job (and the middle child of 12 in her family, born during a 20-yr span!) so she’s a tough cookie, and she loves trading barbs with him. I told him he was in trouble when she started at him with an electric saw in her hand.


Carol was very careful in making a cut, first down the left side, then down the right side of the cast.


She used a seriously strong tool to separate the pieces.


Finally, the cast was removed.


I’ll spare you the photos of the dirty leg and foot. We cleaned it up, and the X-rays were finally taken. Dr. Ravindra Joshi, surgeon, came in to review them with Don, and they ‘negotiated’ his release.

DSCN3659 DSCN3660 DSCN3661 DSCN3662

The end result: he’s released! Records and X-rays will be compiled and prepared for us to pick up on Wednesday. We will take them to our family doc in Rapid City, SD for follow-up therapy and any future treatment.

Afterward, we returned to our motorhome, where Don took his first steps on his left foot in 5 weeks, getting from the car to the motorhome. It was raining, as it had been for almost 24 hours, so there were puddles, mud and slick surfaces to navigate. I was nervous and felt helpless to prevent any catastrophe, but he made it inside unscathed. Later, our Escapees Boomers friends joined us to celebrate.


Don’s guzzling a fruit punch, while the rest of us enjoyed a little fruit of the vine. On the left is Laurie Brown, to Don’s left is Odel King (Laurie’s husband). On the couch are Becky Hazen and Lonnie Hodge. It was a coincidence that Laurie and Odel, heading west, were coming through Minot at the same time that Becky and Lonnie were coming through heading east.

The 6 of us met for a late breakfast earlier in the day. How does a Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast or a create-your-own-omelet sound?


Actually, both couples made a slight detour to get here. Becky and Lonnie are picking up the Escapees Boomers banner, which we had planned to take to Goshen, and are taking it to the Escapade, where it will be carried in a parade during the 50th Escapade celebration and used to let people know of Boomers gatherings. Laurie and Odel, Boomers Membership Chairs, are headed for the west coast, and they just came to give us a few hugs and support. Don’t we have a wonderful RV family? Thanks for helping us celebrate this milestone, friends!

We’re still hoping to make it to Indiana, if not for the Escapade, at least to see friends there and collect more hugs. But our first priority is to get the medical/health stuff set. We’re getting the Phaeton serviced at the local Minot Cummins dealer on Wed. morning and doing a final PT session for Don’s wrist afterward. Then we plan to hit the road.

That Willie Nelson tune will be sweet music to our ears! On The Road Again…Soon!



Sunday, August 29, 2010

Physical Therapy

Don’s been going to the Physical Therapy center of Trinity Hospital in Minot, ND for two weeks, three days per week. Friday was his therapist Annie’s last day, as she’s finishing up a 3-month internship, as part of her educational program. Annie has been working with Don on improving his strength and flexibility after wrist surgery on August 7. His improvement has been impressive!


Here’s Annie with Don and therapists Danielle (left) and Chelsea (right), showing a few of the tools of their profession.


Monday August 30 will be a landmark event, when Don has an appointment with his surgeon, Dr. Joshi, to remove the cast from his leg. If his heel is healed enough to go into a walking/removable boot, we may be free to start traveling again! Stay tuned for more news.