Friday, August 17, 2012

Time to Sit a Spell

The Beast had its repairs completed; some to our satisfaction, some not.  Lesson learned, we will no longer use our dealer's service department for service and repairs.  'Nuff said there.

It feels good to be back at our "home" campground in Ohio, knowing we don't have to pick up and move again for a few weeks.  The burden for all of that has been on Denny because so much of the packing and up getting the rig hitched up involves bending and kneeling which is something I am not capable of nor allowed to do at this point.  Thus to be able to stay in one place for a bit is nice.

This morning I've shooed Denny off to drive back to my hometown of Kettering to meet with what I call the Liar's Club--a group of our retired co-workers from the PD who meet every morning at a local big box store that has a small coffee shop.  The b-s flows so quick and deep when those guys get together that one needs hip waders to stick around.  That's a good change of pace for my guy, since he's been my rock for the last two weeks.  Both of us could use a tiny breather from each other after all we've been through together during that time.  I promised him faithfully I would behave myself and not try to do things I shouldn't be attempting.  So it's me, the computer, my Kindle and the cat until he returns.

Next Wednesday I'll see an orthopedic surgeon to find out where I stand with my spine (yeah, yeah, I know; upright) and when I can start physical therapy and begin a more normal routine of small chores and bending activities.  We're also going to our family physician to have Denny take a glucose tolerance test since his blood sugar continues to be high.  This visit to our home area is basically to allow us to heal and get ourselves back to "normal" although we may have to accept the fact that we'll both have a new "normal" from this point on.  So be it.

Basically I guess I'm saying things may be quiet on the blog unless I decide to pull out some photos from our travels pre-blog (which I started in May of 2005).  No promises, but we'll see.

Safe travels to our RVing friends and Happy Trails to all the rest of you.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ducks at the Dells

Denny had visited the Wisconsin Dells area years ago (many, many years ago) and had taken a ride on the Ducks and wanted to share that experience with me.  I chose the Original Wisconsin Ducks ride and the boat ride to the Upper Dells for our day tripping experience.

The "Ducks" are actually World War II vehicles that were code named "DUKWs";  the D stood for the year 1942, the U was for amphibious utility vehicle, the K for front wheel drive and the W for the twin rear-driving axles.  Naturally the servicemen quickly nicknamed the vehicles "Ducks".  The DUKWS were invented as landing craft for bringing troops to shore from ships and were first used to land troops in Sicily and continued to be used throughout the war both in Europe and in the Pacific.

After the war, area businessmen in the Dells purchased a "Duck" for use in hauling tourists around through local forests and the Wisconsin River as an innovative, fun way for people to see the area.  The idea caught on and the Original Wisconsin Ducks company has over 90 amphibious vehicles and there are several competitors in town who also provide the service.  I asked if there was a difference in the companies and our tour guide/driver informed me that the Original Wisconsin Ducks was the only company that owned woodland access in town; the other companies pretty much have to travel on local roadways.

The Duck ride consists of some travel through woods and canyon areas, some river travel and a fun splash down into Lake Delton.

 The Ducks ride lasts about an hour and after we were brought back to the downtown Wisconsin Dells area by Duck shuttle Denny and I walked down the two story flight of stairs to wait for our boat trip up the Wisconsin River.  Again narrated by a tour guide, this peaceful two hour trip up river is interrupted by two brief stops to walk around a bit and stretch your legs (and buy souvenirs and food).    
 Black Hawk Rock, named for its supposed resemblance to a Native American tribal member.  Can you see his profile below?

 Stand Rock, made famous by Henry Hamilton Bennett, a photographer credited with inventing the stop action photo.  His photo of his son Ashley leaping across the gap between the ledge and the rock column below is known world wide.  Today, for the entertainment of the tourists who are brought here by boat, a German Shepherd makes the jump.

 This is simply a shot of the Trojan Horse ride at a local amusement park that is near the entrance to the Original Wisconsin Ducks ride.
  While we were out grocery shopping I noticed movement in a nearby field and zooming in with the camera I realized I was seeing my first sandhill crane in summer plumage.  He really was well camouflaged in the dry grasses.
I'm glad we had this one great day in Wisconsin--the rest of the week, not so much.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Wishing We Had Skipped Wisconsin

If ever a nice campground/city had bad vibes/bad mojo, for us it's Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.  Starting with an emergency room visit for Denny immediately after we arrived in town and got set up at our campground things went downhill after that.  Kidney stones, refrigerator malfunctions, the coffee maker died, the stove attacked Denny and then it was my turn for the ER.  Not a good week.

After a week of suffering bouts of extreme pain off and on all week, Denny agreed to go to the casino but we only got as far as Walmart when he started feeling pain again. So we turned around and I told him I would drive back home. Denny pulled over part way into a driveway on the two lane roadway and I stepped down from the truck, only to slide on the newly laid loose gravel and land on my tail bone. I immediately knew something was badly wrong due to the pain and the weird feeling in my arms. Denny wanted to raise me up right away but I knew I'd have to figure out a way to position myself for causing the least amount of damage and pain and eventually pulled myself back up into the truck. We drove to St. Clare hospital in Baraboo where Xrays showed I had a compression fracture of the T12 and possibly also of the T7 vertebrae. After pain meds and laying there several hours the nurse tried to get me to stand up to walk to go home and boy, that just wasn't happening. So they admitted me to the hospital overnight for observation only, just to attempt to control the pain and make sure there wasn't any obvious spinal cord damage.  I was able to walk with assistance the next morning so I was so out of there.  Not that the hospital and staff of St. Clare's Hospital weren't terrific, because they were.  The two of us wanted no more of the hospital.  Did I mention that while I was upstairs trying to walk Denny was once again downstairs in extreme pain asking if he could be referred to a urologist in Madison so he could have his kidney stone lasered or broken up by ultra-sound?  Yep.  And naturally the staff down there did blood work and found his blood sugar was sky high and they freaked out about him getting follow up care.  

After being released from the hospital we drove to Madison so I could be fitted for a back brace until we can get to Dayton and see our own doctors for our individual problems.  Denny has passed one of the two kidney stones, we purchased a glucose monitor and Denny's blood sugar has come down quite a bit.  After we rest a couple of days we're taking the rig to Elkhart, Indiana for whatever repairs are needed to remove the gremlins and then we'll head for Ohio, cancelling several weeks worth of travel plans and visits with the kids.  We need to get ourselves patched up and back on an even keel before we hit the road again for a while.  We're kind of reeling here right now.

Posting may be even more sporadic at this point, but we'll be back.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

No Fun in the Dells

Years ago Denny vacationed in the Wisconsin Dells area with his first wife and he thought I'd enjoy taking a ride on "the Ducks" so I arranged a stay at one of our affiliate membership campgrounds a few miles south of town.  Of course they snagged me into signing up for a sales pitch with the offer of discounted golf here at the resort as well as a gift card before I had hardly finished registering for our campsite so we had a commitment for that before we'd be able to do our sightseeing.  But first we had to find our campsite and set up, which we did.  Too many trees for our DISH TV satellite, but the resort has decent cable so we were okay with that.  Cell phone reception is very spotty but the aircard works for Internet access with the use of the Wilson antenna and the amplifier so that was good.  What wasn't good was as soon as we had eaten Denny became nauseous and his back started hurting.  I gave him aspirin and he rested a while but when he said he was hurting worse I took him into town to the urgent care center which was getting ready to close up for the day.  The nurse practitioner said from Denny's symptoms and the location of the pain she thought he might be getting shingles rather than suffering from a kidney stone as he has in the past.  However, she didn't take a urine sample and told us simply to watch for a rash and to continue taking aspirin.  So I took Denny home.  Which only lasted a couple of hours before I had to drive him to the hospital ER in Baraboo, Wisconsin where it was discovered he had two 5 mm kidney stones.  After absorbing a full IV bag of medication for pain and nausea Denny was finally comfortable and after getting his prescriptions filled at an automated medication dispenser in the lobby of the hospital (because it was after midnight and there were no pharmacies open for 50 miles) we were able to leave, arriving back at the rig shortly before 1 AM.  That made for a pretty long travel day!

We were able to make the sales appointment on Monday but by Monday afternoon Denny was uncomfortable for the rest of the day.  Tuesday dawned pain free so we left early in the morning to ride the Ducks and take the boat tour of the upper Dells (another post) but by the time we were finished the pain was creeping back.  Yesterday was a very bad day with Denny staying in the recliner most of the day trying to find a comfortable position and having to make use of the pain meds.  Today so far there's no pain but he's still queasy/not hungry so I figure the stones are lurking around waiting to make their moves once again so we're just kind of hanging around waiting to see what will happen.  It's raining today so it's a good day to just hang around and the rest of the week may just be too hot and humid to play golf even if he felt good so we'll just play the wait-and-see game, hoping the kidney stones will pass soon.  I have to say, it certainly is hard to watch someone you love be in so much pain and not be able to do a thing about it.  Stupid stones.

The Wisconsin Dells area is really popular with families as there are water parks and miniature golf as well as an amusement park along with the various resorts and campgrounds, somewhat along the lines of a Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  Baraboo is a few miles down the road with its circus museum and show and there are shops and touristy things to do all around the general area.  Denny and I located a farm stand and were able to enjoy some real field grown tomatoes and corn on the cob before he lost his appetite.  I think I'd like to come back to the area again, perhaps later in the season and minus the hospital visit and the kidney stones, of course.

Laying Low Again

Well, there's certainly no escaping the heat, is there?  No matter where you travel (unless you're on the Pacific coastline) it's hot and humid.  Blah.  Last week we had one breezy, not-up-in-the-100-degree day, so Denny and I went out to play golf but for the most part we were closeted in the Beast's air conditioned interior.  We did have a good day of thunderstorms as evidenced by the photo above but it didn't cool things down a bit.  During a break we wandered down to Big Pine Lake since our campground had a little bit of lakefront but most of it was taken up by the marina and so it wasn't a really pretty view.  Nice if you had a boat, though, and great for the fishermen.
Our campground was about 30 miles south of Detroit Lakes, a popular tourist area but there wasn't a ton of things to do in our general area and it was just too danged hot anyway.  The good news is that I didn't pick up any poison ivy from Patches who I simply could not keep out of the beds of it that lined the woods since that's where all the mice and ground squirrels played.  The great (gray and) white hunter actually reduced the rodent population a bit while we were there--of course once Patches catches a critter she has no idea of what to do with it.  She just knows she has to hunt.  Or as much as I'll allow her on a leash which isn't much but sometimes she manages to find something despite me.  And that was our exciting week.  Which if we had known what was coming the next week we would have appreciated the relaxation a bit more.

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