Showing posts with label affordable travel club. Show all posts
Showing posts with label affordable travel club. Show all posts

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Corona Light - Going with the Flow in Arizona

Tuesday, March 10, 2019

Before I talk about my trip I want you to know Alzheimer's Trippin' with George e-book is on sale through April 1st at $2.99. 

It is Monday morning. I am pedaling the e-assist Scorpion recumbent tricycle that my friend Bob has loaned me.  I am riding toward my brother's home south of Phoenix.  Google bike map has directed me down a bike trail along one of the many canals in the area.

Every once in a while I am pushing the orange-painted plexiglass wind-shield away from me and studying how it is attached.  In time it creeps back toward me and my right foot starts going click click click as it hits the shield.  I know I could tighten it, do I remember where I put the tools?

I am wondering if I can remove the wind-shield along with the canvas sun canopy that protects the rider from the strong Arizona desert sun.   The canopy keeps bumping the back of my helmet and it takes extra energy to fight against the head-wind and to keep my zen-cool with the annoying scrape each time I turn my head.

I am glad to be on this bike path, though.   I am grateful for the loan of the great trike.  I am especially glad to not be driving in the traffic that I see on the streets that I cross.

I am pushing and panting even though the path is flat and smooth, the weather is just the right temperature, and I have an e-assist motor.

"Why is it so hard?" I wonder.  And I wonder if I just need an attitude adjustment or if the struggle is real.

I look at the e-assist monitor and discover that the power is already at 48.9.  I have only gone about six miles!  Later I realize that I must not have had it fully powered when I started the ride.

I stop and check the tires and realize the right front tire seems squishy.  Not bad enough that I need to change the tire, but it would be nice if I could pump more air into it.   Only, I realize after a call to Bob, that I don't have a pump for such tasks, all I have is a cartridge and a spare.  I don't want to use the cartridge to just add a little air to a low tire.   

While I am contemplating my options, a rider stops and asks if I need help.  Thank goodness for thoughtful bikers!  He pumps up the two front tires for me.  One of the tires is missing a stem cap.  When he finishes pumping, the stem starts leaking air and blowing bubbles.  I take the stem cap from the other tire and move it to the leaking stem.  Problems solved.

I get back on the bike and start to pedal.  The e-assist monitor still reads it is losing power.  I have only about 10 miles to go, but the weight of the trike is over 100 lbs with the battery, my 20 lbs of luggage, and all the extras on this sturdy trike.  I worry that I will have to really struggle to get the trike all the way to my brother's home.  I turn down the power to level one and I pedal hard.  At least I am getting some exercise.

When I get only two miles from my brother's I punch up the power and make it to his home with power still in the high 40's.

There is a prediction of rain in the forecast.  Yes, I have traveled to the desert where it rarely rains and the weatherman is predicting three days of rain this week.  The good news is that I have heard the desert is lovely after a rain.  Desert plants wait for the rain to bloom so the desert blossoms after a nice rain.  My brother makes room in his garage of the trike to protect it from the rain.  Thank you, Larry!

I plug it in and hope it powers up ok so I can make it to my lodging tonight.  I have arranged to stay at an Affordable Travel Club member's home.  The problem is it is 26 miles from Larry's home and I have booth the threat of rain and that hard ride I just experienced to worry me.  Bob had taken me for a drive the night before.  He took me over to the neighborhood where my host lives and I learned that the last few miles are all uphill.    I am worried about the ride later that day, if I buzz through the power I will be miserable and painfully slow climbing the last bit of the ride up a mountainside.   Two miles and hour takes an hour to go just 2 miles.

My brother's wife Peggy/Lenore is going to be celebrating her 80th birthday on Tuesday and has invited relatives to come for the party.  Their house will be full of blow-up mattresses and people on the couch. 

We are sitting out on the lovely back patio overlooking the golf course when I see very dark clouds approaching in the distance.

As we sit we sometimes check our phones and we learn that the NBA has canceled its games due to the COVID-19 virus.  This blows me away.  This must be serious for a big company to give up major money making opportunites.

Later, I express my concerns about riding in the rain with my friends battery and electronics exposed.  Larry offers for me to stay on the couch or on a cot  on the patio.  I like the idea of being outside on the patio.  But then it starts to sprinkle.   He has a tent-cot but it isn't like the one I have, it is hard to assemble.   So I move the cot into the garage.  Yes!  I have shelter, I am comfortable and protected, at least for one night!

I call the Affordable Travel Club (ATC) hosts to let them know I am going to show up a day late.  The hosts tell me they were going to cancel the reservation anyway because they are both over 65 and I was from Florida and the Covid-19 virus was in the community in Florida.  They were too afraid.  

What?  Me?  A pariah?

The fear of the Covid-19 (Flu) has reached me too.  I didn't blame the hosts.  

I had even thought of using this trike to ride all the way home instead of getting on a plane again.  Man!  Arizona is a LOONNG way from my home in Florida.  It would take me two months to get there by trike!

I had thought of changing my flight and getting home before the fear spread even more and Southwest Airline started canceling flights.  I had packed disinfectant wipes and used them to wipe down my table and arms and seat buckle on the plane on the flight here.   

Fear is the enemy.  People are buying up all the toilet paper in some areas because they are afraid of being isolated or running out. 

Anyway, I was glad to be staying with people I knew.  The cot is comfortable, and we left the door of the garage up a few inches so I had nice fresh air.

I remember when I was hunting for a place to stay, there wasn't much around here close by.  I guess I am staying here three nights.  I worry that my added presence will be an added strain on my brother and sister-in-law.  I vow to myself to be as helpful and self-sufficient as possible during my stay with them.

Then I will move on to an Airbnb.  It is only five miles away so I will still be able to come back and visit.

The Party and the Ride

On Tuesday Lenore's family begins to arrive.  Then Larry's sons and their spouses.  It was fun to meet new people and re-connect with my nephews and their partners.

The party was in a room at the club house.  Several of us went over early to set up.  The thing is, we never thought about decorating until someone mentioned it at the party, sorry Peggy!  The picture below is Peggy not looking at all like 80 and her granddaughter, Tasha.

It was a full room and it was fun taking pictures with my nephews and their spouses.

 I ate too much at the party and then we went home and I ate some more.  Larry bought pizza and I ate a bunch of that.

Mary, Lenore's daughter, wanted to take a spin on Larry's golf cart.  It turned out my trike was fully re-charged so I took a spin around the neighborhood with her.  It was an easy ride.  I rode in front of the golf cart zig zagging around and waving at neighbor's.  It was fun.

The WIFI went out at Larry's.  Probably because there were so many of us accessing it.  So I am writing this on my iPad in Notes.  I will copy and paste it when I get a chance and the WIFI is back up.

While I was writing this in the kitchen, Mary came into the room and we chatted.  She had major surgery in 2019 and had most of her colon removed.  She now lives with an colostomy bag.  I asked her about infections, since I have a friend with an exterior bladder bag and he has had a couple hospital stays due to infection.

She said no infections but the tape on the skin is tough on her skin.  OUCH!  Can you imagine!  Taking layers off you skin each time you pull it off.   She is learning tricks that help.  She told me due to the medical issues and time off work, she lost everything.   

Mary is a sweet  and kind woman who has been through hell.  I am feeling grateful for my gut, my skin, and my good fortune.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we want to visit a museum.  It is supposed to rain all day.  But then I remembered that Larry and Lenore's bridge group wanted me to speak at 1:00 about the books

The Alzheimer's Presentation

Wednesday, 3/11/2020

What a hoot!

A couple players from my brother's Bridge Club had asked him to have me speak to them while I was visiting.  So they set up Wednesday at 1:00.  They never got in touch with me so I had no clue how many participants or how long they wanted me to speak or even the focus of the talk other than it was "about the books."  Which Larry had shared with them.

I walked to the clubhouse at 12:30 and entered the room that Larry had told me they had reserved for the talk.  There was a group in there just setting up to do something with essential oils.  They had the room, their leader said.  I checked the schedule on the door and my "Author Talk" was on there for 1:00. But the Essential Oil Leader wouldn't look at the schedule and insisted they had the room.  

There was a divider in the room and I said we could close the divider and they could have half and we have half.  

"No," Ms. Essential Oils said.

She told me the next room wasn't being used.  It was scheduled for crafts.  

"No one ever comes for crafts," says the Essential Oils Lady.  "You can use that room."  

So we go in that room.  About six of our clan that is visiting for my sister-in-law's birthday and three Bridge Club members show up.

We giggled over the change and our ability to go with the flow.  Someone suggested that Ms. Essential Oils needed to hear the talk.

At 1:00 I started talking about George's dementia story.  I emphasized finding the person that remains in spite of the disease.  There is still life that goes on after the diagnosis.  At 1:05 in walks a woman with a walker and three others.  They are crafters and need the room.

After some shuffling, we used the room divider and moved into the smaller section.  Our small audience gathered around those felt card-game tables with pockets in them.  We got another laugh out of our ability to adapt.   Some had been paying attention enough and were able to remind me where I had stopped in my presentation.  Thank you!

No one in the audience was currently a caregiver, but they all were attentive and I hope they learned something - like don't force your person to do anything they refuse to do.

I told them that the short-term memory is gone.  So just say, "Ok, of course you don't have to."   A while later, try again.   Let them win, be respectful and empathetic.  Let them be comfortable.  It is scary for someone with dementia to not recognize things and people.   So much to tell, but I cut it short and answered questions.

Thank you, Bridge Club for the warm welcome and to Peggy's family for being supportive.

We didn't make it to the museum.  Instead we met my nephews at a restaurant.  There were 12 of us there... this is before the COVID-19 warnings were sinking in and being accepted.  The restaurant was packed.

Monday, October 21, 2019

I Did It! It Was Wonderful.

Hello Friends and Folks Trippin' with me!

It is Monday, October 21, 2019.  I am writing this from the relatively cool patio of my home in Inverness.  The windows are open, the fan is going, I am in my space in my place.  Tired and happy to be here.

There are no ants crawling up my leg, no fellow campers playing country music.

Last I wrote to you I was at the McDonald's in the early morning on Friday.  I was tired of being hot and disappointed with my beach snorkel experience at John Pennekamp State Park.  The park is known for it's reef and snorkel experience. I found the water murky and once the water got deep I could see nothing but the murk in front of me.  I got scared.

I would swim back to where I could see the bottom, and then try again.  Maybe it was the slant of the sun, I thought.   But each time I saw nothing and the fear that something big might appear, was too scary.  I gave up.

I was tired of waking up in the night with no breeze and feeling over-heated.  I was debating going home.

After I left McDonald's I went back to camp and I took my shelter down.  I had enough shade and the shelter doesn't provide much protection from rain.  I was simplifying.

It seemed too hot to kayak.  I had said I would kayak with Mary.  Mary is the only other Sister on the Fly at this event that was not diving but was going to snorkel.   She is real nice and I enjoy chatting with her and her mother Jean.  Jean was diagnosed with Alzheimer's several years ago.  She is in a research project and the disease seems to be moving so much slower, if at all, in her than it did with George.  Everyone is different.

This is Jean and I.

There are many kayak paths among the mangroves in John Pennekamp.  Last night one of the Sisters told me to be sure to use bug spray.  The idea of kayaking in thick mangroves with bugs didn't appeal to me on this hot day.

Mary stopped at my camp and said she was heading out to kayak.  She said the weather report for tomorrow, the day we had paid ahead of time to go by boat to a reef to snorkel, was predicting rain and winds. 

I said I was tired of waiting in anticipation.  I came here to snorkel and then it might get canceled.  I just wanted to go.  She felt the same way.  She said she would see if we could book a snorkel trip this very afternoon. 

And she did it!  Thank you, Mary!

In the picture below, Mary is the tall one in the middle.  Gail, on the left, organized the Sister event.  Debbie, on the right, agreed to let me share her campsite because my site was only available for two nights.  I will be moving to her site later this weekend.

Thanks to Mary, my day was looking brighter.  We were scheduled to get on the boat at 3:00 this afternoon.  I had time to go for a ride!  Mary was fine going by herself in the Kayak. 

I felt so much better once I started riding.  The whine of the morning lifted.  The breeze that I created by riding felt great, and there was plenty of shade on the trail that goes along Highway 1. 

I don't know how far I rode.  I don't have a speedometer on my trike anymore. 

I stopped at a grocery store and bought a bag of salad to take back to camp for lunch.

I had enough time before the boat trip to work a bit on incorporating the edits to my second book: The Journey Continues

Just as I had myself set up to work, Debbie came over.  She had been on a dive this morning and she just got back and said I could move into her campsite now.

OH!  It was after 2:00 and I had forgotten this was the day I was moving from my own camp site to her site.

For those of you who have not camped in Florida you may not know how booked the best campgrounds can get.  Some campgrounds, especially in winter, have to be booked way in advance.  In fact some fill up with reservations within hours or even minutes of opening up for reservations eleven months in advance. 

I rushed to put my computer back in the car and drive my van over to her site which was only down a few sites. 

I rolled my trike over to her site. 

I tried carrying my tent cot by myself over to her site, but I ended up dragging it.  Making a loud scraping noise until Debbie came to help me carry it.

It was time!  It was time to get ready to go snorkel.  I planned to ride my trike over.  The dive shop was right across Highway 1 from our campground.  Mary was driving her truck over.

I used a bungee cord to attach the flippers to my bike rack. 

When I was pulling into the lot of the Sundiver shop, I heard a ping.  I wondered if I had run over something.  But it wasn't that, what had happened is somehow the bungee came loose and wrapped around my back wheel hub.  It took me a while to get it untangled.

I was surprised to learn that we don't launch from this location.  Fortunately Mary was there with her truck and I was able to ride with her several miles up the road to the boat launch site.

I bought a pair of sunglasses at Sundiver.  They fit over my prescription glasses just fine.

I was hoping the water would be clear so I could see and not be terrified.  When the captain slowed the boat to park I looked down and the water was aquarium clear.  I could see the bottom easily from in the boat.  I was thrilled!

I followed the other snorkelers and slid off the boat.  Just as Gail taught me, I relaxed face-down and began the breath and stroke my way in the direction the captain had told us to go.  I was floating and bobbing in the gentle waves high over the sandy bottom.  It was lovely!  I floated over some purple and green fern-like things waving up at me from the bottom. 

I peeked up and looked for Mary.  I spotted her.  She asked if I saw anything. 

"Just a purple thing," I said.

"I saw a purple thing and a green thing," she said. 

I went back to floating and replayed that conversation in my head and started laughing.  Can't do that, water will get into your snorkel.  You have too keep you lips sealed over the tube.  I tried not to smile, but I was soaring.

Then I heard Mary shout at me, "Sue!  Over here!  It's amazing!" 

I moved toward her and the other snorkelers.  There is was, the reef.  It was like floating in an aquarium watching the fish from above...  four-eyed butterfly fish, angel fish, and parrot fish.

Here is a website with some pictures of the fish I saw.

I was afraid to take my camera/phone into the water, so I don't have any pictures to show you.

I wouldn't have been able to name any of them, except that Gail had us watch a video and then quizzed us.  I could hear the parrot fish as they take their beaks and chomp off bits of corral.  I saw them poop out sand just like in the movie.

We had a whole hour of floating and watching the fish.  I was starting to get cold and my throat (with all the mindful breathing) was getting dry.  I was just ready to get back on the boat when the hour was over and I saw I was one of the last to return to the boat.


I was elated!  YAY!  I did it!  I DID IT! 

And guess what... no jellyfish, no stingrays, no sharks.  I did it!  And it was the best!  I probably won't ever do it again, but that is OK.  I am so glad we had arranged to do it a day early.

I told Mary, "I am going to shower, make a chili dip and bring it and chips and my beer over to your campsite tonight and hang out with you." 

As I said it, I thought I should have phrased that as a question.  But hey, we are Sisters and we are here not just to snorkel but to socialize.

I had a lovely evening hanging out with Mary and Jean.  I sprayed myself with 40% Deet.  I still got bit, but not more than six times.

We checked the weather again.  Rain and wind predicted.  I have done what I came for.  Though I paid for Saturday's Dive and Dinner, I just am ready to return home.  I am tired of trying to sleep in the heat. 

I saw on the South Florida Recumbent Riders Facebook page that Will Byers is going to be biking with trike riders in Davie, Florida on Saturday.  I look on the map.  It is right on my way home.  If I get going first thing in the morning I can get there in time to ride with them at 8:30 a.m.

In the dark in my tent-cot I text Gail, the event leader and let her know I am heading out first thing in the morning. 

She is gracious.  I feel bad about bowing out.  She worked so hard on getting everything organized and so many Sisters canceled before the event.  Some just not showing up.   Then I get here and leave early.  She was so pleased to learn that I had gotten out to snorkel and that I had a great time. 


Biking in Davie, FL

I couldn't sleep.  Again is was very hot and there was the prediction of storms in the night.  I put on the rain fly, which cut the breeze.  I got up and took it off, but still it was hot.   I finally got up at 3:30, showered, and packed up and left by 4:30.

It rained on and off all the way to Davie.

I arrived early at the Burger King in Davie where the South Florida Recumbent Riders were supposed to meet for the ride.  I took a short nap in the drivers seat, with the windows up.  With the rain and cloud-cover the car stayed comfortably cool.  I wonder if I could sleep in the car on hot nights... run the air a while and then sleep in the driver's seat.

The first one to arrive was Jane Weber!  I had hoped she would be joining the ride.  She had told me on the ride in the Everglades that she is work-camping at the KOA near Davie. 

I saw a tiara in her car and asked about it.  She had decorated a bike helmet with gems and a tiara.

 Jane is one of the younger ones biking with us.  She is part of Strokes on Spokes or something like that.  She had a stroke at a young age.  She is weak on one side, but is thrilled to have found recumbent tricycling so she can exercise and socialize.

Then Jim Mcrea arrived!  I had ridden with him in the Everglades too.  Then Will Byers and Marie arrived.  Hale hale the gangs all here!

I met Laura who was leading the ride and Steve (below) who took our group pictures and was the sweep.  That means he rode behind us all so we wouldn't get left behind if we needed to stop.  Thank you Laura and Steve!

 The route was on paths, roads, and sidewalks.  The scenery was always changing, we went through parks, along canals lined with large homes, and across a few bridges.


We did about 20 miles.  Then off we went our separate ways. 

Will's group will be visiting my neck of the woods in early November.  I promised to come visit them at their camp at Rainbow Springs and to join them for a ride on the Withlacoochee.

Driving Home

It was over four hours to get home.  I could easily drive all the way, but I had not gotten good sleep in a few nights and didn't want to push it.

As I drove I kept waffling back and forth.   
Yes, I am going all the way home.  
No, I am going to stop a treat myself to a nice night in a motel and take my time getting back on the road tomorrow.

I was wondering if I should stop and search for Bok Tower on the map.   I had never been and so many that have gone there tell me I should go.  The gardens are lovely, they say.

I remembered it being somewhere just north of Lake Okeechobee and I had just passed the lake with it's high levee.

I think I did stop, but then got distracted by a call or looking for a motel.  I pulled into a couple of motels, but they were either over $100 for the night or too grungy to be a treat to stay there.

Then I saw a sign for Bok Tower!

There was a Root Festival going on (whatever that is).  There were lots of plants for sale.

I bought a navel orange tree for my back yard.

I love this wall of air plants.  They are tied up with fishing wire and the spinners used on trike flags.

I send a message to Joyce who is staying at my house and watching over things for me. 

"I am coming home today."


"I have decided to get a motel.  I am tired."

And then...

I have changed my mind, I am pushing through.  I am one and a half hours way.

It is dark when I arrive in Inverness.  My phone beeps at me.  I glance over when I am at a stop sign.  It is from Joyce.  The combination lock on the house isn't working.  Joyce and Gail are locked out.

I didn't bring the key with me.  I didn't need it.  I am home and I am not able to enter.

I find Joyce and Gail slapping at bugs waiting for me.  The sun has gone down, the mosquitoes are biting and we can't get the door open.

"What about the back door," Joyce asks.

It is keyed to match the front door, and I don't have the key on me.  The key is in the house...   I look for my hidden key.  I did not change it after the new lock was installed.  The key doesn't work.

I use my iphone to google for a locksmith.  He said it is $75 for their services.  He said give him 45 minutes to arrive.

Gail, Joyce and I hide in the garage away from the bugs and we wait.  He works and works on the lock.  He tries the back door locks.  

"They usually just pop," he says.  Finally his boss checks on him and comes to help out.

It turns out these locks are very secure - pick-less.  He is going to have to drill through the lock.

Finally the door is open.  I am able to unload the essentials into the house.  A reasonable $122 included replacing the lock and selling me a combination box where I can keep a key just in case.

He said, "You need to change the batteries twice a year, do it around daylight savings time just like your smoke detectors."

I marked my calendar before I went to bed.

Though we got to bed past our bedtime, I slept well.  I was not able to sleep late.  My inner clock woke me up at 6 a.m.

Thank you ATC House Sitters!

I had posted on the Affordable Travel Club that I needed a house sitter for September and October.  Joyce stepped in a brought her friend Gail.  They have been clean, quiet, pleasant, and positive.  They even scrubbed my grungy coffee pot!

Joyce and Gail took me to dinner at Stumpknockers on Sunday night.  Thank you!

It was great to have a day at home to catch up on some stuff. 

I find out from my brother that his wife is in the hospital.  It would be best if I postponed my plan to fly to Arizona in November.  I am tired of traveling, though her pain is not good news, being home right now feels so right.

I canceled my flight.  I have a credit now that expires in July.  We will see what comes up.

I planted the orange tree, visited Anytime Fitness and chatted with my sister on the phone.  A great first day back.

Life is good.

Cold Camping In Florida

 It is Christmas morning and I am camping on St. George Island off the coast of the panhandle of Florida. I am snuggled under a folded over ...