Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Essex Country Club in Vermont

Denny and I are getting ever closer to checking off the final few states in our quest to play golf in all 50 states of the U.S. This week we played at the Essex Country Club in Essex Junction, Vermont, about 20 minutes from Burlington, Vermont and about 45 minutes away from our campground in Shelburne, Vermont.The golf course is an interesting mix of what Denny and I call cow pasture golf (open, flat, very young trees, no interesting physical features to the layout) to hilly holes with narrower fairways and tall trees and deep woods to snatch your balls. There were several players walking the course, but slower players allowed others to play through. The rates on a Tuesday were reasonable for us as it was Senior Day so we paid $22 each for green fees and then $34 shared fee for the cart. There is also a Men's day and a Ladies' Day with similar special deals. The course itself from the blue tees is 6545 yards long, from the white tees it is 6045 yards long. The rating/slope is the same for both sets of tees; 70.4/121. For the red tees the yardage is 5350 with a rating/slope of 65.8/111.Despite obvious signs of recent prolonged and heavy rains the course was in fairly good shape. Members and players appear to repair their divots and ball marks on the greens and the maintenance crews were out working on the course as we played. There are a couple of creeks that criss-cross a few of the holes and a couple of ponds as well as scattered sand traps but somehow Denny and I managed to stay out of most of these (okay, okay, I did lose a ball to one of the ponds.) I was a bit put off by the fact that several of the red (women's) tees were simply tee box markers in the fairway instead of a dedicated tee box because you have no idea of the proper yardage from the temporary tee boxes.

We had rain threatening us the entire round which took away from the view of the distant Green Mountains but on a clear day I imagine the views of the mountains from the seventeenth and eighteenth holes are gorgeous.Huge granite boulders along the fairway reminded us of a golf course we played eleven years ago in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. All in all, playing golf here was an enjoyable experience and we would play this golf course again.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Ready for a New State

Our time in New York is done. While the eastern part of New York is scenic, this week it's done nothing but rain and the mosquitoes are positively evil here. Denny and I won't be going that far, just over the border to Vermont where we'll be checking another state off our list of the fifty to be seen. We're whittling it down.

It was a quiet week for us, thanks to the rain. I did get one thing accomplished however. I was reading the blog of a RVing couple who lost their fifth wheel to a fire recently. It seems they had a wheel bearing or brake lock up which caused their tire to explode and that somehow sparked a fire. One small fire extinguisher wasn't enough to stop the fire and although the fire department got there quickly, the damage was done. The couple is now blogging about their experience with RV dealers and insurance companies and their emotions at the loss of their home. This got me thinking since we had a tire blow out on the interstate last month and by the time we were finally able to pull off the road our wheel was smoking very badly which means we could have been in the same position. All these years I have been talking about doing an inventory of our possessions (which while not extensive are too many to think of when stressed out) so this week I took the easy way out. I opened all the drawers and cupboards and took pictures of the contents. Knowing that we might not have time to grab the computer in an emergency, I then posted the pictures to a Picasa web album online and made the status of the album private so it can only be seen by us. This way I can pull up the pictures from any computer by signing into my account and at least have a pretty good idea of everything I have stored inside.

Next up, buying a thumb drive and scanning receipts on some of the big ticket items we have along with a password list and copies of important documents. I think that will go in my purse. Another rainy day project.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dream House

This morning in my inbox I discovered a comment on my blog post from June of 2005 which was simply this picture of what I called "The Giraffe House". It seems the commenter purchased this house a year ago and was surprised to see its picture on my blog. Isn't it fun? Denny and I had been on our way to the post office or some such and were just cutting through side streets when we happened upon the house and I was so tickled by the imagination shown by the owners. Doesn't it just make you want to introduce yourself so you can find out what kind of folks live inside?

Another drive by house that intrigued us was Snow White's house in the suburbs of Vancouver that we saw from our bus window as we were being taken from our cruise ship to the Vancouver airport. Make a new roof line on an English Tudor and you live in a fairy tale. Do you suppose the back garden is filled with fairies and gnomes? Sometimes houses are just awesome. If I won the lottery my house would look like this: I know, it's way too much house, but this one is very Frank Lloyd Wright looking in its setting and overlooks the Superstition Mountains which would be my choice of a winter home (we're talking lottery dreams, remember? Summer home/winter home lottery dreams.)

But truly, given my druthers, I'd like to have a big old Victorian painted lady with a wrap around porch for my porch swing, situated on a quiet street in a small town where the trees are tall and the people are friendly. Denny would never go for that because all he'd see is antiquated wiring and maintenance issues of an old house, but I love the character of the architecture both inside and out of older homes. And I'd have roses on bowers and hollyhocks and lilacs and all those wonderful heritage plantings that go with a one hundred year old home.

What does your dream house look like?
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Change in Plans

I would love to send some of this rain to our friends and neighbors out west. My reasons are not entirely altruistic; we had a tee time to play golf today and had to cancel because of the rain and threat of severe thunderstorms. Which is not a good time to be waving a three foot long metal club around above your head. It has been years since Denny and I were in this general area and we were looking forward to playing golf here for the first time and also doing a little more sightseeing. We don't try to play golf on the weekends since that's the only time worker bees get to play so the two of us are hoping for some sunny skies so we can wander over to the Lake George area for some lunch and photo taking opportunities.

So instead of enjoying a nice day on the links I'm tentatively mapping out a route for us for when we leave Myrtle Beach this fall. I am not making reservations, I am not carving this in stone, because I know all too well what happens now when I make plans several months in advance; some sort of bad stuff happens and I'm am heartily tired of the bad stuff in my life. I haven't even really planned our route for exploring the seaboard states this summer, choosing to make my reservations less far in advance. Denny is worried that we won't find campgrounds if I don't make all my reservations and have all my ducks in a row, but recently my poor ducks have been shot down so I'm going to wing it a little more this camping season. I am booked up into July, but hey, it's late June already so that's okay. Normally I would have our reservations made until we are due to arrive in Myrtle Beach in October but not this time. Nope. No more tempting the fates. I'm done with that.

A side effect of all this rain has been the over abundance of mosquitoes. Even Patches has been taking short little walks because of the pesky things flying in her face and trying to bite her nose. Everyone here walks their pet carrying mosquito repellent and when folks do stop to chat their conversations are punctuated with flailing arms while swatting away hordes of mosquitoes from their faces and ears. That probably sounds like a petty annoyance to the people out west who are evacuating their homes due to the wildfires occurring everywhere. Hasn't it been a crazy year so far, weather-wise? Enough, Mother Nature!!!!

In the meantime, back to my maps....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Down Time

It's been a period of down time for us in more ways than one. Denny has been dealing with his kidney stone and the multiple treatments the urologist ordered to demolish his king-sized stone and that has been time consuming. We've spent much more time than we'd like in the hospital, both as in patient and out patient and I have to admit, I've not been patient. Spending hours upon hours in the waiting rooms brought back memories of the weeks I spent sitting at my mother's side during her six week hospital stay and that was a time I had not been anxious to revisit.

But the good news is that the treatment worked, the stone fragments are working their way out and somehow it has been a pain free experience for Denny. Which is wonderful, of course, but curious. Our extra time here has allowed us to see more of our oldest son and his family and get some things done around the rig since we didn't wander too far away not knowing how the stone passage was going to work for Denny. Being backed up to the fishing pond has been fun as the kids here in the campground have been pulling out catfish and small bass left and right, plus we have been watching all the different Canada geese families swimming, feeding and walking their young. Each family of geese apparently had their goslings in a different week because there are all different age ranges of babies and Patches has been a rapt audience when they all meander to the rear of our rig to pluck at the grass.

Another part of our "down" time has been the amount of time we have been offline due to the very spotty free wi-fi provided by the campground. Their router is in the clubhouse, which is about 100 yards from us, which is just far enough to be weakened by the many people trying to use the system. Normally we put up our satellite dish, but we are parked right beside a set of huge cottonwood trees and we can't move our dish out away from the rig because the volleyball court is right behind us. That would be an accident waiting to happen. The lack of Internet access has been aggravating because I've wanted to research the things the doctor told us he was going try for Denny and the connection has been dropping literally every ten seconds. I now have a renewed appreciation for our satellite service and am looking forward to the next campground and being able to set it up once again (that is, if the campground is not heavily wooded as is usually the case in the eastern states.)But for today, we'll once again be with Steve, Angela and the kids. The girls and I will be baking an angel food cake as a delayed birthday cake for Steve and the men will grill out ribs and drink beer and celebrate the maleness of Father's Day together. Soon it will be time for Denny and I to point the nose of Black Beauty to the east, trying out our new Tri-glide jaw on our king pin hitch and easing through toll booths with our new EZ pass which will work in several of the seaboard states we'll be traveling through this summer. I have to admit, I'm ready to see what's around that next bend.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Seeing The Inside of Hospitals

Reenactors dressed in British 1812 uniforms at...Image via WikipediaThat's what we've been seeing lately, thanks to Denny's oversized kidney stone. Today we have a final trip to Buffalo to have the fragments created by yesterday's laser treatment pulverized by an ultra-sound. It seems one marginally too large fragment was blasted back into the kidney so the urologist wants Denny to have an ultrasound to prevent any more problems as we move eastward this summer. Good thinking.

Fortunately, we've been coming to this area for years, since our oldest son and our grandkids live up here. There are several wineries, an apple orchard or two, state parks and of course the biggest draw, Niagara Falls. In the same area you can wander the grounds of Old Fort Niagara, watching reenactors play the part of British soldiers and possibly even having the chance to set off a cannon.

Several miles east of our campground you have the Erie Canal and the town of Lockport, where you can take a tour of the Lockport Locks. Another way to spend a couple of hours is at the Lockport Caves (apparently for some reason I didn't blog about our tour). There are also several golf courses within a few miles and the city of Buffalo is down the road a ways.

Certainly there are many ways to entertain yourself here. All of which are much better than staring at the inside of a hospital room. *sigh*
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Morning at the Niagara County Golf Course

Think cow pasture. A very, very overgrown, covered with piles of dead, recently cut six inch long grass cow pasture.

To be fair, northwestern New York has received as much rain as the rest of the Midwest recently and due to the flat topography of the golf course it's obvious the rain had no where to run off. Thus the grass couldn't be mowed and when it finally was, it left huge piles of grass covering the fairways and rough. When Denny and I played this course on Friday, the maintenance staff was riding around with big leaf blowers blowing the piles of dead grass off the fairways. The fairways, however were still in need of another cutting as the grass on the fairways ranged in length from an inch to three inches. We would lose our balls in the fairway! And heaven forbid you were in the first cut of rough because we spent as much time there looking for our balls as we did playing.

The Niagara County Golf Course in Lockport, New York is maintained by Niagara County and thus has the reasonable rates of $24 to play eighteen holes with a riding cart for a senior golfer. I believe the regular rate is $28. From the blue tees the yardage is 6483 yards with a rating/slope of 69.9/112. From the white tees the yardage is 6195 yards with a rating/slope of 68.6/109 and from the women's red tees the yardage is 5081 yards with a rating/slope of 67.3/106. There is a tiny creek that runs across the course on several of the holes which for most golfers shouldn't be a problem. The fairways are wide, many of the trees along the fairways are young and well spaced so there are not many places to get in trouble here if the fairways have been cut properly. The course gets a good amount of local play but the golfers seem to fix their ball marks on the greens and the tee boxes weren't torn up. Walking is a reasonable option since the course is so flat and the staff provided water coolers at regular intervals. This would be a great golf course for the beginner and the senior player.
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Do What You Have To Do

Often people's first question to us when they find we are full time RVers is: "how do you get your mail?" Perhaps a more important question should be, "what do you do when you have a medical emergency?" Because for Denny and I, our health concerns are a lot more important than getting a packet of mail.

We are fortunate to have good (albeit very expensive) health care coverage with a PPO network. This means our insurer understands that we don't have a home area, but that we will seek doctors and caregivers that are within their network wherever we happen to be. We are also covered out of network but we would pay a much greater percentage of the cost of our care should we be placed in that position. However, so far we have always located an in-network care provider or have traveled to a location where there is a covered service. It's not that Denny and I get sick or are sickly, but*t happens, right?

Saturday night Denny had pain in his lower back, but since he had been pulling parts off our king pin box, we thought it might be a muscle pull. But when he was up at 4AM, in pain and not able to lay comfortably in bed, we pretty much knew he was suffering from a kidney stone for the second time in his life (the first incident is a whole story in itself.) I grabbed a travel mug, filled it with coffee and fired up the computer to locate the closest hospital (we're several miles from a town in any direction) and off we went. I had to make one stop because the smell of my coffee nauseated Denny (he was in that much pain by now) but we made it to the hospital and they got Denny into an examination room and off for a CAT scan quickly. Status confirmed; a kidney stone lodged between his kidney and his bladder, too big to move on its own. A procedure to install a stent to slightly open the walls of the ureter was deemed necessary by the urologist but not until the following day. Needless to say, Denny wasn't happy to have to stay overnight in the hospital but the doctor wouldn't release him so he was stuck.

Around noon the next day the stent was implanted and Denny was finally released. Since then, with the help of our oldest son he finished installing a 135 pound adapter on the king pin box and lowered the king pin hitch in the bed of Black Beauty. On his own he changed out the spare tire that was on the trailer for the new tire I picked up (and these are big heavy trailer tires) and winched the spare tire back up under the trailer. I guess he's feeling better, huh? Men. Maybe he figures all that activity will make the kidney stone move. He had an X-ray this morning to see if the stone has moved further down where the urologist would be able to break it up with a laser but so far we haven't heard the results from the hospital. Chances are, we'll be heading out of the area before the entire issue is resolved because Denny is determined to move on.

The two of us are fortunate not to have specific health issues that have to be dealt with on a regular basis. We just have random stuff happen--a cracked tooth, shingles, skin cancer that needs a Moh's procedure, a UTI. Things that can be handled within a few days without need for a lot of follow up for the most part, although we did have to do a little sweet talking to get a local clinic to remove the stitches from Denny's Moh's procedure after we left Cody, Wyoming before he was due to get the stitches removed. Certainly our lifestyle wouldn't be as free and easy if we need cancer treatments or dialysis or some regularly scheduled treatment but I have a feeling we'd figure it out and keep on keepin' on. We have been lucky for the most part that health care professionals have been willing to work with us on scheduling and follow up treatments once we explain our lifestyle, trusting us to follow directions and maintain our own care per their instructions. And so far, it's worked.

So, the mail question? Yeah, not much of an issue for us.

Friday, June 03, 2011

A Little Work, A Little Play

Tuesday we arrived at our campground and we were given a full hook up site for the first time in our many stays at this campground. However, a couple of very sweaty hours later (it was 91 degrees with a LOT of humidity) we gave up trying to get our Internet satellite dish up because of the trees that sat to the rear of our site. Yes, we have full hook ups and yes, we have a nice view of the "swimming hole" but we are relying on the campground's wi-fi which apparently doesn't have a booster antenna so our signal drops every few minutes to every few seconds. Gah! We'll put up with that nonsense for a week while we visit our oldest son, his wife and our grandkids. But the next time, we'll take one of the larger, less heavily treed water and electric only sites.Wednesday first thing we had to locate a new tire for the one that blew out as we crossed the Pennsylvania border from Ohio. The good news is, our tire pressure monitors work great! We heard a big bang as we were driving but it just so happened that we were driving in a construction zone amid a great number of heavy duty trucks and diggers and we thought the bang was a bucket dropping on one of the front end loaders. But then the alarm went off on the pressure monitor and we knew it was a tire. Naturally, being in a construction zone meant there were no shoulders wide enough to pull off onto since we were on the interstate, so we had to limp two miles down the road to the rest area. Our flat tire was smoking by the time we finally we able to pull off out of the way (because of course it was not only a rest stop, it was a truck weigh station also.) An hour and a half later we were on our way thanks to the assistance provided by our road service but we had to find a new spare tire as quickly as possible. Our tires are heavy duty due to the weight of the trailer, so the local Goodyear store had to order a tire for us and since we're only here a week, they are having it shipped overnight. That's still cheaper than buying one outright from the local wholesaler who had one in stock because the wholesalers don't deal with making adjustments on the bad tire through Goodyear. They just stock and sell tires flat out. So getting the adjustment saves us $200 even though we're paying for the special shipping. Once the tire arrives, Denny will put it on the trailer and we'll have our spare back.

Since we got that out of the way, we treated ourselves to a trip to the casino in Niagara Falls. We don't have the luck of friends Don and Vicki, but we did have an enjoyable few hours at the penny slots before we headed back home to soak up a little sunshine. Denny does have one more project while we're; we are going to install an adapter on our air bag king pin hitch which is supposed to eliminate some of the chucking movement we get while pulling The Beast. He will have the help of our son Steve in installing the part because just the new piece alone weighs 135 pounds. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to get rid of to allow for that much new weight on the trailer! I guess I'd better start my diet sooner rather than later!

Thus, a little work and a little play for us this week, along with a few good visits with family. Coupled with the cool front that arrived to cool the temperatures down, it will be a good stay. Notice how optimistic I'm being that the king pin job will go smoothly and well. ;-)
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