All posts by Paul Goldberg

Back on the Road

March and April have been rough. Carol has mostly recovered from her fall and subsequent medical problems. Her doctors gave her the go ahead to get back on the road, so we did. 

I wanted to get going as soon as practical, Carol said she had a package arriving on the 16th so I figured we could roll out early afternoon on the 16th – Wednesday in my head. On Sunday, as we were discussing departure timing Carol reminded me that the 16th was Tuesday not Wednesday. Then her package arrived on Monday. She was still convinced we couldn’t be ready to leave on Tuesday. Somehow by mid afternoon on Monday it became clear we were ready to leave Tuesday morning.

Tuesday afternoon after about 5 hours of driving we pulled into Hi Jolly Short Term Visitor Area in Quartzite. A stop in town filled our fuel tank (mini mortgage – it was ONLY $3.26/gal ) and our propane tank was also full.  I set up the grill for a steak I had and while it warmed it started to rain and hail. It stopped in time for me to grill and I no sooner had the grill shut down , cooled and stored than the rain, wind and hail resumed for about 30 minutes. We eased out of there mid morning and spent 6 hours on I 10 through Phoenix and Tucson, no significant traffic! to Wilcox AZ. This is a reasonably large middle of no place. Our reason for stopping here is it was 6 hours from Quartzite and 4 hours from Las Cruces NM where we have plans for Seder Friday night. Since we had driven for two days to get here, we stopped for two nights. Today we explored Chiricahua National Monument.

I just can’t resist these birds that were posing for us, well actually they were cadging meals from some picnickers

Spotted Towhee

Mexican Jay – Illegal Alien! Jumped the border.

The drive is wonderful. We did this many years ago actually March 2004 when there was snow on the rocks.

We returned to the RV Park and Saloon and joined in the line dancing program – every Thursday night year round. Her Physical Therapist would be proud of her.  

The campground is small, 14 sites, but the saloon is a blast. they have a very long shuffle board and Wednesday night is shuffle board tournament  which we watched for while. the people are friendly and come from all around the area. As we got to talk to several both Wednesday and Thursday night we found that they are from all over the country, several from as far away as Maine. We will stop there again as we pass by on our cross country jaunts.

 

 

The Last Two Weeks

It took some time, it took some doing, but after less than 2 weeks that seemed at times like months, Carol is back on the coach with me. She is not fully recovered but she is well on the road. 

While Carol worked to heal and to get the best care she could from Murrietta Health and Rehab I was deeply  involved in my committee work here at Jojoba Hills. We encourage members to volunteer in areas  that are of interest to them. For some this means working in landscaping and for others it may mean rehanging shed doors that have warped and sagged (Shed Angels). The opportunities are as varied as any jobs you could imagine to be needed to keep a small city operating. I have never been a gardener nor does cooking for groups of 150 appeal to me. I serve on committees, Finance, Marketing, Infrastructure (don’t ask how a retired Financial Planner gets to chair a committee that oversees water, electric, sewer etc). I always enjoyed working on committees so this is my contribution to the welfare of the locals community. 

The “Committee Season” starts right after the Annual Meeting” in early February and extends until the masses depart for cooler parts. Finance picks up in early September to get the budget ready and the others resume as chair people and other key players return to wrap up their work by the end of December.

The big excitement in SoCal has been the “Super Bloom” Every flower in the desert has had enough water and cool to burst into flower. Some stretches of freeway have become impassable on weekends as the banks flame in yellow, orange and purple. Borrego Springs is swarmed by locals and people who have flown in from everyplace to see the fields in bloom. With Carol tied down in recovery and the traffic impossible I have stayed closer to home.  Here is a link to some pictures taken within a 5 minute walk of the coach: https://photos.app.goo.gl/QEiVn45GgreT2hXN8 

Back Home

We have been busy getting things in order and I have not been awake enough to even write about our activities and my thoughts until now.

The trip home was a bit of a trial. With great help from airport personnel and airline personnel we were able to get Carol situated  in seat 1 B, as close to the door as possible. In the process I learned some things about air crews, if you give them a chance they are helpful, friendly and will go to the limit of there protocol and maybe a bit beyond to make travel under difficult conditions better then just possible,  this is a shout out to the crew of the Copa flight from Panama City to LAX  on the 8th of March. 

 
 

After a night on the coach it was clear Carol needed more care then I could provide and there were plenty of medical questions that would not wait until Monday. Saturday morning, with some help from neighbors, I transferred Carol to the Jeep and headed in to Temecula Valley Hospital. They took over when we got there. In summary, Carol was xrayed and CT scanned until she glowed. We waited for everything to settle out and then transferred her to Murietta Health and Rehab where she is getting excellent care and therapy and mediocre food. It is too early say how long her stay will be, but when she can climb 5 steps into the motorhome she will be coming back to complete her recovery in the comfort of home surrounded by the most marvelous RV community in the country.

I am not detailing her injuries here, there is no need, they will all heal and she will be good to go for Jazz Fest in Rochester come June!

I am practicing living alone, sort of. I spend several hours a day with Carol – probably less now during the week as she will be busy with OT and PT. Today as I settled in for some work time I had friends see my open door and drop in, occupying me from 4 until 6. This ended with a phone call from friends from Rochester on vacation in Hawaii.

We are blessed.

Carnivale

The best of times, the worst of times. And then a full stop.

We arrived in Panama City to find that Carnival was about to start  the country as it is throughout Latin America and Louisiana. The Panamanians take ti seriously and most abandon Panama City for the outlying countryside they come from or areas that are reputed to have “better” festivals. This results in massive traffic jams on the highways all over the country on the day preceding and the day after, we presume as that is tomorrow  as I am writing. 

The festivities are wondrous with two Queens for every festival, the “up street” queen and the “down street” Queen. Their regalia costs  into the tens of thousands of dollars, the currency is US Dollars. We saw one queen wearing strands of US gold coins from the mid 1800’s. and a visit to a maker of the dresses priced them from a low of $8,000 to over $40,000 for the finest handmade dresses. They ride on elaborate floats through the parade route accompanied by dancing crowds and music. 

Another feature of Carnival is “throwing water” it seems everyone has a squirt gun or more elaborate means of wetting down everyone in sight. Just in case this isn’t enough there is a line up of water tankers with low pressure water cannons manned by people to wet down all who dare pass. They also soak each other. We were prepared with minimal quick drying clothes and nothing that could be damaged that wasn’t in a zip-lock bag. The ambient temperature was in the mid 90’s so getting soaked actually felt good. We also attended a parade of beautifully dressed women – ages about 4 to 70 – who danced around a square repeatedly. We left after two circles. During our departure Carol tripped on a very uneven road edge and banged her head and cracked a bone in her right wrist so we are now in a hospital waiting to get permission to board a plane for home in California. 

The biggest downside on Carnival is that the normal slow service has deteriorated. Restaurants where OAT had contracts for our meals closed  without any notice. Even half the hospitals are closed. Everyone wants to be at Carnival. I’ll write about hospitals another time. 

I will post many pictures when I am not on a stringent data diet. 

Birds

I am the first to admit it isn’t easy getting a camera lens on a bird under most circumstances unless, like the owl they stay still in one place. Walking through the woods presents another challenge altogether. We left the hotel at 6:30 AM again as planned for a birding walk n the woods into a national park. As we set out it was cool and the birds were not yet very active since the sun had not reached the area and it was cool and dewy. We saw many smaller birds and Raul, our wonderful guide, called out the identifications. I  chose not to carry a pad and write down every bird spotted. The new birding routine involves the use of a laser pointer spotted near but not on the bird. This makes it really easy to find the identified bird. 

Our goal was to see a Resplendent Quetzal. This is a gorgeous bird which we last saw in Costa Rica more than a dozen years ago. It is found at higher altitudes where a particular small avocado grows. We hiked into the area and Raul pointed out a nest

This was very nice, but no bird. Further up the trail, about another kilometer, we came to a place where he found a male near another nest. As we moved into position to spot the bird it flew overhead and lit right over head. This view is not ideal, but it is also fairly rare:

After we scrambled back some to get a better view it moved again and I got this back lit  shot of it

We were able to glimpse he female in the nest hole, no photo and later watch the male work at enlarging the nest site, again no photo. We used Raul’s scope on a tripod to see this activity. We were delighted to begin our return trek to the van to get back to the hotel to get on our flight back to Panama City.

A word about Air Panama, DON’T. The plane, a twin engine turboprop, was a flying sauna. There was no cool air coming from the vents for the duration of the. flight, about 45 minutes. When they opened the door in Panama City we were refreshed by the cool 95 degree air blowing through. This was the 2nd flight in 3 days that was almost intolerable. The plane should not be allowed to be in  service. The Captain was wringing wet when he exited the flight deck.  On the other hand we did arrive safely with our luggage.

Panama City to Bouquete

We landed in Panama and got to our hotel at 8:30 pm to find the plans for the first day had changed. Our flight to David (to get to Bouquete) had been delayed four hours. We agreed with our Tour Leader Alejandra to meet the others at 9 to go to the Biomuseum, a new Frank Geary building:

If you visit Panama City do not miss this museum. It is a wonderful story about the biological development of the isthmus. The building is worth the trip too.

We returned to the hotel to pick up our luggage and fly to David where we began our delayed drive to Boquete

Along the way we made a stop for coffee – the must do in Panama – and we were greeted by these Coatimundi in the parking lot 

During the drive to the hotel we all agreed that we were far more interested in birds than the planned visit to a farm that raises race horses. So we opted to rise to be on the van at 6:30 to see the birds at Birding Paradise run by Mishael Rivera (if that reads like a plug it is. I have contact information).

We were at the birding venue by 8. I have fine binoculars but I did not bring the appropriate lens and the birds were back lit to boot.   

This MotMot chose to hold a pose for me. Most of the birds were not as cooperative, but we did see many and I extended my personal life list a bit with scaly belly humming bird and a few others. 

We visited a farm where learned about the added difficulties of making a living as a farmer in Panama where the biggest competition is fresh goods coming off the many ships passing through the Canal. 

Following a wonderful lunch we slept through the ride back to the hotel. We have agreed to extend our birding to another 6:30 departure in the morning before flying back to Panama City to join the base trip.

Starter Post for Panama and Colombia

We are off in a bit for a Panama land trip with OAT which includes a trip through the Canal both ways. Before that we will see much more of Panama than the Canal Zone. I will detail our travels as we go. 

We travel though the Canal on a 24 passenger catamaran taking almost three days including an overnight in lake Gatun before passing through the Gatun Locks into the Caribbean end of the Canal. Then we travel overnight back through to the Pacific end to end that part of the trip. We will fly on to Bogota, fortunately our VP will have left long before we arrive . 

Since our flight tomorrow is at 10:20 AM, we are taking a shuttle to a hotel near LAX today. We will have dinner with Miriam, Yechiel and family.

Watch for more from the trip as internet permits.

Life at Jojoba Hills

There is so much to do that sometimes I forget to keep everyone current, even myself since this whole blogging thing started in 2002 with my notes to myself with lessons learned, campgrounds to return to and those to avoid, which I eventually published in an email to a few friends (I am also practicing run on sentences) . 

I have been playing Bridge any time I can get to the card room at 1 PM. We play duplicate on Fridays and the last two weeks my partner, Dave, and I have come in first. Last week we were sure we would be down in the pack, but we managed to do well with lousy cards – at least a bit better than the other teams. 

Today I finally got to go on another hike, between doctoring and lousy weather cancelling hikes, I haven’t made a hike in 4 weeks. 

From the top of the ridge above Lake Hodge in the Elfin Forest Reserve (no we are not in Ireland).

Bill and Andy guarding my backpack during the lunch break

CJ lying down and Jean in the foreground, Art walking away and John going off to take a picture.

John practicing with his new camera. The  view ain’t so bad either. Our cumulative gain was about 1,500 feet in 6 miles, a bit strenuous. Since we had Bill in our car we stopped at Rite Aid for Thrifty Ice Cream at their ice cream counter on the way home.

We had a pair of visitors on our site, well above our site:

If you look closely to the right of the obvious owl, you will see the back of a second one. I kept grabbing cameras to take this picture and each one had a discharged battery in place. Finally found a good battery for Carol’s Leica. She still can’t hold it properly with cast on her left wrist, next week. 

In the mean time we have been improving our site with fine art. 

A view of our site with Carol’s prints on metal on the shed and on the fence in the background.

Here are the four pictures we put up on the fence just this past week. More to come she tells me. Clearly we need to print a bit bigger for appropriate impact. We will take down the images on the fence when we depart for the summer.

Today was beautiful, cloudless, temps in the low 60’s to low 70’s. Tomorrow not so much, rain and chilly both here and in San Diego where we will be for dinner tomorrow with Jing and Ron, Jing who cared for my other for over 5 years and her husband. Then a sales pitch breakfast by OAT in La Jolla. We like them so much after 10 trips we even are looking forward to the presentation.

When we return it will be time to get the luggage out to prepare for the trip to Panama and Columbia in 2 weeks.

For those who wonder where we are, Panama until March 18, Jojoba Hills from then until mid April. On the road toward Rochester until we arrive. May 23 to 28 in Providence RI for my 55th Brown Reunion. Back to Rochester, Carol’s gathering with Visual Studies Workshop, 29 years since she got her MFA then through the summer with trips here and there I’m sure once Jazz Festival is over. September off to Egypt and October begin the return to Jojoba hills with a stop at Malena and Dan’s place in Virginia. 

How did we manage to plan so many activities?

 

 

Perils of . . .

I know I have used this title before, many times. Usually I have some entertaining story about a breakdown, failure happenstance regarding the motorhome. The house on wheels is a bit more prone to failures great and small as we trundle down the road subjecting it to the vagaries of road  maintenance in the US. We have been sitting still since December’s trip to Redlands for service so there is little cause for problem – other than a fan in one of the heat pumps which are getting a workout this year. 

No, this is about the perils experienced by the body as the years advance almost unnoticed. As a fellow hiker noted today we would not expect a car or motorhome to perform well if it were over 70 years old and had been on the road continuously. We do expect our bodies to do just that.  We are noticing that this is a fallacy. Stuff does not work as well as it did years ago. I finally got the pain in my right wrist treated with an injection of a magic potion which has reduced the pain significantly. Carol’s  broken wrist is healing slowly and she is slowly recovering her spunk and energy as she eats and drinks more. 

Today I went on a hike with the hiking gang and we went 7 miles, out and back with a 1,000 foot elevation gain. Upon return to the car I felt fine, a bit tired, and my legs are tightening up a bit. This was a fine day.

 

It wasn’t hot, but I must have worked up a bit of a sweat. This is at the summit of Bernardo  Mountain

Here is the whole gang that made the climb. I am not the eldest of the group. But we are all staying active by being active.

This is a view down towards I 15 which is where we started the climb. The Pacific is just the other side of those mountains. Come climb with us.

Too Much Excitement

Just a few days after my previous post Carol slumped down in the shower as I was helping her dry with her left arm in that wrist to elbow cast. I helped her to the bed, a distance of less than 5 feet, where she clearly was not responding well. Against her objections I used the service she has worked so hard to implement, I dialed 4911 on our landline and was reassured when Nancy, her co-chair, and Sharon both responded while I spoke with the 911 responder. Almost immediately Nancy and Sharon, both former nurses, were with us. Making sure Carol had clothes and comfort while we waited for the paramedics. First to arrive was CalFire Rescue and one of them occupied me with getting together all of her meds and medical history. Sharon drove down to the gate to admit the ambulance and guide them to our site. As I was getting ready to follow the ambulance to Temecula Valley Hospital, Sharon started putting things in my hands and in a bag so i would have what I needed when I got there. The last thing she handed me was the car keys which I had put down in my distraction. Thank you to Nancy and Sharon and to the whole 4911 team. You are such an important support arm in time of need.

The rest of the story is shorter. Between meds and a determination to keep her sodium levels down, Carol had succeeded to a magnificent extent resulting in low sodium and dehydration which lead to the faint (syncope). 18 hours on IV drip with saline resolved that and she was able to go home the next day. In two days she will see her Primary Care Physician and the Orthopedic Doctor to put a smaller cast on her. 

 That is I am sure TMI!

We had delightful visit with Miriam, Yechiel and family. They came to Temecula and stayed in an Air BnB in town. This put then 20 minutes from us as opposed to over 2 hours. We mostly hung out while the boys road their bikes on the Vail dirt bike trails or met with friends from Astro Camp who live nearby. We took a lovely ride on January 1, headed for Julian, but we met a major traffic obstruction. Apparently we were not the only people with that idea. So we went the other way through Roma and Escondido and north on the 15 to take a brief drive through Old Town Temecula which was also crawling with traffic. We were glad to settle back into the house on De Portola for the evening.

I am writing this on my new laptop. It is has a lot of storage packed into a very slim case. I think this is my third Lenovo ThinkPad . I will miss the numeric keypad, but I really don’t do a lot with numbers any more. 

In parting here is a picture of our West Coast family: Azriel, Miriam, Yechiel and Avi.