Monthly Archives: November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving – 2012

I wish to send out a giant size THANK YOU to all of the fantastic people that are making this Thanksgiving feast  possible.

To those who “belly up” to the mixing bowls as they prepare each dish that will be served today.

Bellying up to the mixing bowl

Thank you to those of you doing all the cooking and preparing which entails getting your hands right in the stuff.

Joe mixing up his stuffing

Thank you to all of you that will be peeling potatoes, checking the pots on the stove and keeping them from boiling over.  Those of you that will have five or more spoons on the stove as you check on the contents.  Those of you that will be sticking your arms and hands into a hot oven to bake up your sumptuous delights.

I am very thankful for each of you that have taken on the challenge of cooking this massive feast.  Timing it all right so everything is presented on the table together at one time.  All of your days of preparing, wading through the teeming mass of people at the grocery stores, fixing your delights a day ahead of time to make the turkey cooking easier.

I am so very thankful to all of you that spend the many hours involved in making Thanksgiving memorable each year.  Thank you from this one that only is on the sidelines and is a helper.  One of the many that enjoy the fruits of all of your labor after it is placed and ready to dig in.

Thank you cooks of all ages, men and women, that make this delightful day happen.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Leslie


Veterans Day 2012

Thank you men and women veterans of the United States Military – Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force, and all of the Reserve branches!

Your sacrifice has kept this country free and this household appreciates each and every one of you.

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First snow storm of the season in Arizona and New Mexico

Joe was discharged from the hospital in Chandler, Arizona last night around 7 pm. We found a Comfort Inn just 4 miles from the hospital to hole up for the night.

Joe slept fairly well without the nurses pestering him for blood pressure and temperature checks every two to four hours. His bladder, however, was relentless. Every two hours he was up stumbling his way to the bathroom.

He awoke to no pain and ready to head for home. First, a stop by Jaime’s work to get our trailer before we left town. The temperature was just a little on the chilly side. Not cold enough for long pants and coats or light jackets.

When we were about 10 miles from Flagstaff, Arizona on I-17 the air was pretty nippy and there was snow on the ground off the highway.

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Arriving in Flagstaff I saw the mountain that looks down on the city was covered in a blanket of snow.

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The roads were clear all of our trip until we were east of Winslow, Arizona. Snow began falling in pellets. The road in front of us began to look like a bean bag chair was emptying its styrofoam beads everywhere.

Gallup, New Mexico was where the snow began sticking to the roadway. From mile post 30 to 75 the road surface was black ice. Big trucks were creeping along at 15 miles an hour. Brave, or lunatic, car drivers were speeding past in the left lane leaving all of us in their rear view mirror. That is until the roadway was blocked by an accident. There were 10 accidents with cars, pickups, and tractor trailers overturned in the shoulder ditches or the center medians. Crazy, insane.

Joe drove from Gallup to Grants, New Mexico. A distance of 65 miles on the ice and snow covered road. Snow plows were out scraping and sanding the roads. The last eight miles into Grants the road cleared and we arrived safely to our hotel. Me half terrified and stiff muscled from the tight hold I had on the grab bar of the door. Joe was a bit tired from the drive and the little bit of stress he felt. I was way passed stressed. Probably in the climbing the walls range.

The first snow of the season. It is beautiful and covers everything it touches.

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Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Leslie


Appendix surgery far from home.

Yesterday morning, Thursday, in the wee hours Joe was having some discomfort in his right lower abdomen which radiated from his belly button to near his hip. He thought it was gas or an odd indicator he had to go to the bathroom. We were staying at the Comfort Inn at Casa Grande, Arizona.

From 2 am onward the discomfort worsened until he felt bad enough, by 7 am, for me to ask the hotel desk clerk to extend our stay another day. The woman at the desk spent about 45 minutes juggling reservations in an attempt to allow us to remain another night. The hotel was fully booked for Thursday night.

In the meantime I was looking online for any information I could find to give us a clue what may be wrong with him. First I thought it might be Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) until I looked up the symptoms of Appendicitis.

Joe and I discussed the ramifications of ignoring his pain, which by 9 am had eased to no pain, and leaving the hotel for our destination of McAllen, Texas.

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Knowing the route we would travel and the likelihood of his ailment becoming worse the prospect of being out in the middle of nowhere with no cell service sometimes would be a foolish thing to do.

Turning back 30 miles to Chandler, Arizona where we have family and a safe place to leave our trailer seemed the more prudent option. It was decided we would go to the emergency room at Chandler Regional Medical Center to have Joe seen and diagnosed.

By the time we dropped the trailer at Jaime’s business Joe was beginning to have doubts about the whole thing. He was no longer in pain and he felt pretty good. Able to continue on to McAllen, Texas anyway. “Let’s get you checked out” was my waffling contribution to our quasi dilemma.

Once the decision was made to go to the hospital I sent out a flurry of text messages to all of our kids. Not meant to worry them but to let them know that Joe would be under medical care for an unknown ailment.

I have an irrational fear. If I don’t tell the kids when their Dad is in distress and in need of medical assistance they would come for me with fired torches, pitchforks, and baseball bat like clubs as the villagers did for Frankenstein.

While Joe endured the blood draws, a trip down hallways and corridors to the Ultrasound lab, back to the cubicle to await the next trip to be hustled out for a CT Scan and back, I texted the kids at each interval.

Our “Dr.” Loreli peppered me with queries of the medical findings and what to ask the doctors and, more importantly, telling the doctors of Joe’s recent medical issues with Pulmonary Embolism and his Warfarin dosage.

Heidi Jo was the first to arrive at the ER to be with us.

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The three of us chatted together between Joe’s treatments and tests. Later in the early evening, after 5 pm, Carissa and Jaime arrived to keep us company.

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At 7:30 pm, yesterday, Joe had a diagnosis of Acute Appendicitis that would require surgery. Around 9:00 pm he was taken to the Pre-Op area then later whisked off to the operating room.

Less than 45 minutes later the doctor came out to the waiting room to give us the news that all was well with Joe. An Umbilical Hernia was repaired and the appendix removed. Joe would be in recovery for about an hour before going to his hospital room.

Heidi Jo used the house phone to the surgery center just before the hour passed. She was given the room number where we would find Joe being set up.

Upon arrival to Joe’s room I saw a sight that truly heartened me and plastered a goofy grin on my face.

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Seeing Joe be Joe after a surgery was the best thing! No complications leading to care in the ICU hooked up to a breathing machine keeping him alive as had happened after his last surgery. Awesome!

For the next two weeks Joe has restrictions. No lifting or putting any strain on his abdominal muscles. No vacuuming or shoveling 🙂 either. We have to keep watch for infection at the incision sights.

What this means for our work I’m not sure. Personally I think we could be borrowing trouble being out in the wilds, unfamiliar desolate territory, with little towns along the interstate highways that don’t make me confident of any necessary medical treatment should the need arise.

Of course, another fear pops up. Septicemia, or a severe infection brought on by dust, dirt, sweat, and any grubby stuff left by the previous truck driver that could find its way into one of Joe’s wounds.

I lobby for caution. If that means spending two weeks here with Carissa and Jaime or driving 1,000 miles to recuperate at home would be the wise choice. After all, Joe isn’t getting any younger. He’ll be 73 in a few days.

Before the surgery Joe was given two units of FFP (fresh frozen plasma) to dilute the Warfarin levels in his blood. Didn’t need him to spring an unstoppable leak during surgery. Now we have to get instructions and treatment to get his INR level back up into the 2.0 to 3.0 range.

Probably the best thing for Joe is we get home to schedule appointments with his team of doctors during the two week recuperating period to ensure he is in good health to return to work.

If you have wondered what Appendicitis is I can say that it is cramping pain that begins around the belly button area and moves down to your right hip, near your groin. Pressing on your abdomen in the lower right area will be tender and painful. Disregarding the pain after it lessens could be folly. If, or when, the Appendix bursts you could end up losing several feet of your colon due to the infection that sets in. Prolonged neglect of the symptoms can be fatal.

Now that I have made your hair stand on end I’ll wish you a good day. Time to go tend to my husband.

Leslie


Real life on the road.

Driving on US-95 between Needles, California and Parker, Arizona on a two lane road we were stopped by a highway worker acting as a flagger for the eastbound traffic. Further up the road there was a highway worker acting as a flagger for the westbound traffic.

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Joe and I had been listening to an audiobook since leaving Las Vegas when we came upon the road block. Pausing the book we each questioned the reason for stopping.

Ahead there were no signs of road machinery tearing up asphalt nor laying down new. The roadway was clear except for a couple of pickups with ranch style livestock trailers off the road.

We wondered if one of the pickups had blundered and found themselves “off roading” in the desert instead of being on the pavement.

No. Both of the pickups with livestock trailers were soon back on the road heading toward us, then passing by.

The highway worker turned his stop sign around letting us know we were to proceed slowly. Soon, it became very clear why the road was blocked and the pickups with ranch trailers were out in the desert.

A cattle truck had wrecked, ejecting its cargo.

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This type of an accident has a long reaching impact on many people, not just the truck driver.

Starting right at this point, the truck driver is stranded. His truck is wrecked and not driveable. How far from home he is we will never know. Maybe close enough for family to come get him, maybe hundreds of miles away. Either way he, or she, will not be making any money on this day nor tomorrow. This truck driver has possibly lost an income of $2,000 depending on how far the cattle have to be driven to the feed yard or sale barn.

The owner of the cattle has had his, or her, day ruined as well. These cattle were, more than likely, on their way to a sale barn where they would be sold “on the hoof”. That would be a set price per pound of live cattle. Easily selling at $300 each. There were possibly 20 head out there scattered around. Loss to the rancher. About $60,000.

If the truck driver owned the truck and trailer his loss could be up to $150,000. If he, or she, were a company driver then the business owner would be absorbing the loss.

One moment of not paying attention to the road will have a cost of $150,000 or more. Wrecker fees to right the tractor and trailer then tow them off the road. The highway workers won’t be working free out there. The state of either California or Arizona, whichever the wreck was in, will be charging for the disposal of the dead cattle and any other clean up fees.

Then there are the fees that will be charged by the drivers of the two pickups with ranch trailers. How much time did they spend out in the desert rounding up the frightened stray cattle that lived through the ordeal?

The realities of truck driving can be sobering at times. As you, my friends, drive your cars and pickups to work or shuttle your children around to their various activities I beg you to remain vigilant. You are all precious cargo to me and I only wish the best for you.

Leslie


Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada

About 40 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada on I-15 and approximately 13 miles east off Exit 75 you will find the entrance to the Valley of Fire. This is a protected area and is a Nevada State Park. An entrance fee of $10 per vehicle is charged to enter this amazing place.

The park is only open from sunrise to sunset. There are campground areas nestled amongst the massive rock formations for those that wish to stay. I don’t know what the charge is for overnight.

Make sure to bring your camera. This is an awesome place for photo ops. You might even find someone like me who will ask “Would you like me to take a picture of all of you (or both of you)?”

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I accosted several couples yesterday. The men were taking pictures of their female companions standing in the grotto like hole blasted from winds, rains, and wear. The cameras were willingly handed to me and the posing commenced 😀

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The above rock formation is named a “Beehive”. There are several of them. Each started life as a sand dune. Over the thousands of years of wind, rain, intense heat, and cold the sand has cemented itself into these stunning rocks.

This Valley of Fire encompasses about 50 miles of paved road winding around and near the features of this park. We got a late start only spending about three hours and didn’t even get to the Visitors Center four miles from the park entrance.

I had my phone and small digital camera to document my journey through this amazing place. Unfortunately, a good share of the great shots are in my digital camera and I left my laptop at home 😦

I did get Joe to scamper over some of the rocks to view the beauty I saw.

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He wasn’t affected by this place as I was. He enjoyed seeing the rocks and did his best to humor me.

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There are ancient petroglyphs carved in the stone near the top of “Atlatal Rock”. Climb the steps to see these carvings.

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I didn’t think I would make it to the top of the stairs before dark and there was more yet to see.

In another rock formation there stands a natural arch that has been carved by the winds of time.

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The last item to see before we had to leave was the petrified logs. That entailed a drive down an unpaved road and a foot trek downhill.

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For myself, this was a spiritual journey into my soul. Starting my life unformed. The vagaries of my life experiences have made me the person I am today. The abrasive and hard people that were once a part of my life had hardened me into a stone cold heart.

As I grew older my children and Joe have been like the winds, rain, heat, and cold to reshape my heart and my soul into the person I have become. My friends from far flung places have also worked at shaping me into a better person.

The Valley of Fire was, for me, walking with God and listening to his voice. For others it was probably nothing like that. Just the simple enjoyment of a cool afternoon hiking the rocks and desert in this beautiful land.

I highly recommend a visit to this Nevada State Park if you will be near Las Vegas. After you get your fill of the crowds, dinging slot machines, and bright lights at night you might be in need of some peace and quiet.

Leslie


New experiences for these two old truck drivers.

We are moving trucks out of Phoenix, Arizona and taking them to Las Vegas, Nevada. This is the route we have always taken before.

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This, often traveled route has several steep inclines and equally steep declines. Some trucks we pick up are reluctant to do the steep inclines and they overheat.

The other problem is a traffic light at the bottom of one of the really steep declines. That light is always red as we are hurtling down and mashing on the brakes.

Joe found a different route to travel between Phoenix and Las Vegas so we have to give it a try.

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I have dubbed this road the “Hippy Dippy” road. It is a mild roller coaster ride 😀

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This new road has its ups and downs but on a smaller scale. Much less wear and tear on the cooling system and the brakes.

The landscape is quite barren. There are road signs posted before each dip in the road that declare “Do not drive while flooded”.

Because the earth is hard packed from the baking sun, rain doesn’t have a chance to soak into the rock hard ground. The rain waters find the low spots and “wash out” to flood the road.

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Scrub growth is abundant in this lonesome stretch of road.

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The landscape changes over the course of this route. Saguaro cactus reach for the sky.

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Joshua Trees show off their odd gnarled arms.

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A misplaced grouping of palm trees stand in their scruffy majesty.

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Six hours of this hippy dippy road and alien landscape does have a bit of interest. Solid rock has forced its way up to form startling ranges of deep brown granite like spires and interesting shapes against the sky.

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Friday night, after delivering our first set of trucks, we stayed at the Railroad Pass Casino and Hotel in Henderson, Nevada. We found ourselves suddenly in the dark Saturday morning when the power went off in the hotel, followed by doors being knocked on down the hallway with calls of “Housekeeping” ringing out. When our door was knocked on I was informed by the housekeeper the hotel was being evacuated.

Joe and I scrambled around in our room throwing clothes on and cramming our belongings in bags and the suitcase in a hurry to get out.

Taking the fire escape, as directed we were met by a long line of firemen ascending the stairs. My hands were full so I missed a golden photo op 😦

Once outside, and hands free, I got busy. Fire trucks parked in the driveway.

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Evacuees standing and milling around far from the hotel.

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Restaurant chefs even further away from the milling crowds.

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Several minutes later the firemen returned to their trucks and people were let back in to continue whatever they had been doing.

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Joe and I left heading back to Phoenix on the Hippy Dippy road. We will be hooking up more trucks today going to Las Vegas. A visit with our daughters will be made this afternoon then leaving tomorrow to deliver.

If you head west and want to take an alternate route to Las Vegas I recommend the Hippy Dippy road.

Enjoy your Sunday. I continue to pray for those hit badly by Sandy. As if the storm wasn’t bad enough they will be facing drastically low temperatures in the coming days without electricity to keep warm. Poor souls, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Leslie