Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Is it the people?


It's been a full and relaxing couple of days since I last wrote to you.

I was going to write to you yesterday morning, but the power was out.  Really, it was out for some tree-cutting work.  This is not one of those, "the dog ate my homework" excuses, really. 

The power folks told us the power was going to come back on at 10 a.m.  Of course it was at least an hour later, by then I was hungry for lunch.  Then it was time to explore and then it was time to visit with folks. 

So, let me fill you in on what I have been up to doing.

As you recall I spent the night at Evergreen Club hosts in Greenville, North Carolina.  They had a nice place and they were interesting.

Their profile said they were active in the church.  We talked about the devastation in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian.  They said they do mission work with their church going in after a disaster like this one, removing mud, removing wet dry-wall, helping with the clean-up.

I asked where they stay when they go.  They said they stay on the floors of churches.  I asked if they bring supplies because I remember talking with a survivor of Homestead, Florida when it was wiped out.  She said she had resented the rescue workers coming in and using up the scarce food and water supplies that they had.  I can imagine she was feeling pretty scared about not having enough.

My host said that they try to bring more than enough, but it is hard to bring enough to help plus enough for the army of workers.

He said that they will most likely help those affected on the coast of South and North Carolina this time instead of trying to get supplies and help to the islands.  That makes sense, help closer to home.

The organization I just joined, Sisters on the Fly, has a Sister Corp that does rescue/recovery work I think.  I want to check that out, but with my hip giving me trouble I wonder if the days of physical work are behind me. 

My friend Debra told me that our friends Jennifer and Dave that are biking friends that live 1/2 the year in Nova Scotia were preparing for Dorian to hit them.  It is hard to believe the storm would still be strong all the way up the coast.

In the morning I was up and traveling early.  My hosts were up getting ready to go to church.  I left by 7 a.m.  My host had told me a neat place to ride is the Greenville end of the Swamp Rabbit.  I drove down to the zoo and parked where he suggested I park.  I didn't ride, I walked.

I put my phone into the hole to take a picture to see if there was anything down there of interest.

The picture didn't turn out and it is probably because I was too scared to stick my hands in far enough to get a good picture.

I came to a Y in the trail.  Of course the branch I took ended at a dead end.  I retraced my steps and took the other branch.

It went by a memorial of a pilot that flew a lot of times during the Korean war and then was a casualty of the Bay of Pigs during the cold war.

Further down the trail it got really pretty with lovely water fall.  I wanted to walk further but my hip and leg started to hurt.

 I would rest, and stretch, go a quarter mile, and have to rest and stretch again.

I sat by this lovely sculpture and was calmed by the lovely face of the child.

I am fortunate that my hip doesn't hurt much when I am sitting.  So once I got to the car I was fine.

I was going today to go visit my good friends, Regis and Cindy.  We have been friends for 10 years.  They have been trying out work camping (volunteer work that includes a free camp site).  This year they are helping out at a historical site, the Cradle of Forestry near Asheville, North Carolina.

It was  a lovely winding ride up the mountain.  I slowed down behind a bicyclists until I could safely pass.  In the mean time several cars lined up behind me.  So later, when I saw a place I could pull out off the road, I did.  And it turned out to be a scenic overlook, a rock dome covered with graffiti.  

 Regis calls it modern day hieroglyphics.

There was also some places where fires had been lit and cans had been tossed.  Sigh.

 I got a text from Cindy asking me where I was.  I told her I had stopped in Brevard for lunch.  They were going for a hike.  I realized after I parked the car that I had forgotten to get ICE for the cooler!  I had better do that or my food would spoil.  But I had paid $9 for my parking spot.  So I walked about 7 blocks to get the ice and back.

I ended up at a mexican restaurant.  Just as I got a table I got a text from Cindy and Regis.  They would come join me for lunch!


It was great seeing them again.  They seem to like their volunteer gig, but miss bicycling.  They didn't bring their dirt bikes, and even so, the mountain biking here is real mountain biking.

After lunch I followed them to Osker Blues Brewery.  

There were a LOT of dirt bicyclists there with their bikes.  Some of them got up and danced with the band.  I wish I would have taken a picture of them with their muscular legs jumping up and down.

I followed Regis and Cindy again on our way to the Cradle of Forestry.  He has a few stickers on the back of his van.

Regis kindly pulled over at a water fall.

I could not resist getting closer.  Regis took my phone and took some pictures.  It was so invigorating, I didn't want to leave.  I wanted to walk up and stand under the cascade.   The cold water was not only blasting a mist, but a cool wind.  After 90 degree days, it was so wonderful.   My first exposure to the coolness that is to come on this trip.

Their is a small army of work-campers staying in the private campground at the Cradle of Forestry.  Regis and Cindy have full hookup sites.  They work 3 days a week, cleaning up the grounds, doing maintenance, working at the front gate or the gift shop or at the information desk.  The volunteers and small staff keep the place going. 

It is surprisingly busy with school groups and tourists.

They have a club house with kitchen and showers and laundry facility and internet.  It was a really nice place.  And when the leaves turn colors this fall it will turn into one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Years ago, when George and I visited the Pisgah forest and the Pisgah Lodge.  We learned that the reservations for the lodge were fully booked three years in advance for the fall when the leaves change colors.

Cindy made us a wonderful salad and pasta-dish for dinner.  Thank you Cindy!  And thanks to Regis for doing the after-dinner cleanup and the dishes.

As we sat around chatting in the evening, a fellow work-camper and new friend of Cindy and Regis came and sat and chatted with us. 

Her name is Connie and she lives in her 19 foot van full time.  I enjoyed meeting her and hearing the places she has been.  I had lots of questions about how she decided, what she did with her stuff from her house, where she has volunteered. 

She doesn't have a hip problem.  She easily walks 11 miles a day.   She loves hiking.

At one point I had to go get my jacket and put it on!  The temperature dropped.

I slept well in my tent-cot with a sleeping bag and a blanket to keep me warm.


The Book Blurb

I got an email from a reader of this blog.  Jan Smith provided me a revision to the blurb for the first book.  I made a few minor changes to her version. 

What do you think?  I have not uploaded it this change yet. 

I am happy to see I have started to get some sales on Amazon from my Amazon advertisements!

If you think life if over after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis...

then you should read this book. 

This story gives the reader a surprisingly uplifting experience.

Travel along with Susan and George as they go exploring in their van and riding their three-wheel recumbent trikes. You will be pulled into their story, as you go with them across the United State experiencing the joys of new discoveries and the day-by-day adjustments to George’s dementia symptoms.

Start the journey today!

You will learn along with Susan some ways of helping your loved one cope with this disease. This book provides the reader a guide to remain positive in spite of losses, to be respectful of a loved one as you experience this journey together.

The reader is given a front row seat on their remarkable journey.  The book comes packed with photos that takes the reader from diagnosis to discovery in the 10,000 miles.

Do you need some inspiration?

So many of us are, or know someone who is, a caregiver.  Caregivers are trying to cope with this illness, and they are looking for a ray of hope.  Give them a copy of Alzheimer’s Trippin’ With George today.

Susan and George’s story will bring out the smiles and make the burden a tiny bit lighter.


Monday, September 9, 2019

We knew they were going to turn the power off at 6 a.m.  So we set the alarm in time to make coffee before they shut the power off.   Regis and Cindy didn't have to work until the power came back on.  So we sat and chatted a while and Cindy took me on a walk on one of the Cradle of Forestry Trails. 

The trails were quite diverse.  I had expected to see all pine trees planted in a row.

Cindy and Regis had not brought their recumbent trikes with them, so they only rode these paved trails once on their two-wheel recumbents.  It was kind of precarious and they have not done it again.   I did not pull my trike out because I wanted to get some things done (like this blog updated) as soon as the power went back on.

So after our walk, I took laundry, my computer and a print book I am reading to the club house.  I read and waited for power.

Time for the power to go on came and went.  No power.  Regis and Cindy returned from work and said they were to return to work at 1:00.  The power should be on then. 

I had lunch and Cindy and I went on another walk, this time with the dogs.

Then the power was on.  I checked email, did laundry, and now it is 3:00 and I really need to see this Cradle of Forestry while I am here! 

So off I went to the visitor's center where Cindy greeted me, "Hello, Mam, welcome to the Cradle of Forestry.  The movie is about to begin, would you like to see it?"

The movie was interesting.  How Vanderbuilt bought up a lot of land around Ashville, North Carolina, and had a HUGE mansion build.  Then he hired some men to develop a way to profit from sustainable forestry.  Within a few years a school was built to teach forestry to young men.  This historical site is the site of that school and the support buildings.   I know I don't have the whole story, you have to see it for yourself, or read about it.

I loved walking around and seeing the old buildings on this last loop walk that I did at the Cradle of Foresty.

I am ashamed to say, I don't know how the thing above was used.  Something to do with laundry or making lye.

The recipe for lye soap is below... I don't know why the blog wants to turn this picture sideways.  Good luck reading it.  I think they rinse ash from the fire place and the stuff without the chunks is the lye?

I love this moss growing on a tree trunk.

I had met Bart and Glenda earlier as Cindy's camp neighbor.  Now I got to see them in costume and in action.  They did a great job explaining the folks that did the cooking for the Forestry students and operated the General Store for the area.

But my hip started hurting.  REAL bad.  Stretch, sit, walk to the next bench, sit, stretch... it took a long time to get back to the visitors center. 

I don't like this one bit!  Feeling a bit sorry for myself.

Fortunately I was able to make it back to camp and cook supper for Regis and Cindy and I.

In the evening Connie came by again and I got to see her rig.

When we got back, Regis surprised me by bringing out his guitar and singing a couple of fun songs.

Thank you Regis and Cindy for a great time!

Again I slept well in my tent-cot.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Is it the surprises? Or is it the learning?

Saturday, September 7, 2019


What do you like about travel? 

I have always loved coming across the unexpected.  Arriving by bicycle into a neighborhood that is having a funky festival with music and fun.  The joy I feel after a bear crosses the road in front of us, or we see a unique piece of folk-art.

But I also like the little tidbits of learning.  That's also why I love podcasts.  I love learning a part of history I didn't know before, being blown away by the feat of a person or towns people. 

I got a little bit of that today, I hope it is just a peek at the fun moments to come on this trip.

I turned off the route to find a place to get coffee.  I haven't been making my coffee in the morning yet.  Just getting up and packing and heading out.  So I turned off the route and headed into Abbeville.

I was first delighted to find a lovely town square surrounded by well-kept colorful old buildings.

 The Courthouse is on the square and it attached to the Opera House.

 A placque explained that this was the 6th courthouse, built in 1908.  They had a lot of bad luck with their court houses.

Thanks to the Equal Justice Initiative for commemorating the story of Anthony Crawford and other victims for the hate and descrimination during the Jim Crow years and after.

In 1916 Anthony Crawford had built up his life and owned 427 acres of land and had 13 children.  Too much prosperity for the Jim Crow South.  He was dragged through town, beaten, stabbed, hung, and shot many times.  His family was not allowed to take his body down.



So I was delighted by something and I learned something.  Good time.

I got a call from my friend Dianne who is also a recent widow.  I joked that maybe I should get a little something that could represent George and I could talk to it and share this trip with my George. 

She said it would need an orange shirt.  We both laughed.  Later, she texted me a picture of a teddy bear she found at the thrift store with an orange T-shirt.   She bought it!  I was hoping for something small enough I could stick it in my pocket.  What do you think?  Should I put an Teddy Bear with an orange shirt in the passenger seat?

I had Google take me to a parking area on the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville. 

 I felt sluggish and tired on the trail.

I turned onto a trail around Furman College.

 There were several black swans (and white ones) in the lake.

I saw a sign for the dining hall.  I passed it up, but then I changed my mind.  Boy am I glad I did!  What a treat!

Salad bar, fruit bar, potato bar, pizza and pasta bar, deserts (but not too many).  So much to chose from.  I could have stayed all afternoon.

I rode as far as Travelers Rest which is a cute area with pubs, and bike shops and all kinds of businesses that look like they support the trail and the trail supports them.

The trail is busy, but everyone lets you know they are passing.  There are many parts of the trail where the pavement edge drops off 10 inches or has a sharp hill going down.  You don't want to be startled and swerve off the pavement.

Two other things about the trail I want to mention.

They had "Birma Shave" style signs down the trail in spots.  Reminding bikers to not swerve, where your helmet, announce you are passing, etc.

They were cute sayings that rhymed.

There was also a grocery store on the trail with a huge playground for kids.

My night tonight was planned ahead.  I am staying with fellow travelers of the Evergreenclub.net

It's good.  Tomorrow I visit with friends in the Blue Ridge Mountains area.

Do you prefer knowing where you are going?

Friday and Saturday, September 6th and 7th, 2019


Friday night I had no reservations and didn’t know where I would land.

Some people love that.

Me, I was worried.  It was a Friday night,  a time of festivals, concerts,  fairs and sold out camping areas.

I drove the back roads heading toward Greenville.

I had stopped at a McDonalds to get access to Wifi and blog.  After that, I didn't get very far and I saw an Anytime Fitness and stopped in to work out.

I was aiming for a state park just north of Greenville, South Carolina.  It was 5 hours away at least, according to Googlemaps.com

When I stopped for lunch I gave the campground a call to see if there were any sites. 

They had 7 tent sites available but they would not save let me reserve one.

When I told them I would probably be there after 5, they said the sites would not still be available, there was music in the park this weekend, it was filling up.

I looked for motels in the Greenville area.  Pretty pricey and I really brought all this camping stuff for a reason, so save money on lodging and get me outside more.  The comfort of a motel room with air conditioning was enticing.  It was 95 degrees again.

When I crossed the South Carolina border I passed a state park.  But then just a few miles down the road was another one.  It was about 4:00 p.m.  I called and they had spots so I drove in... a few miles to  Baker State Park.  I got another lake side spot with a view and a breeze.  

Only $17 for the night!

I set up camp.

Then I walked a mile to the dumpster and a mile back.  My hip began to ache.  I have been having an issue with my hip.  The pain comes and goes, mostly comes when I walk around cleaning house... or working in the kitchen or going for long walks. 

I felt myself close to tears.  I am missing George. 

I imagined what this trip would be like with him and his dementia.  Cleaning him up, walking very slow and holding him up.  Yet still I felt it would be company, it would give this trip a "WE" instead of just "me". 

Feeling old I sat and read for a while.  I texted friends and called my sister.   It was good to chat and I felt a little better.

I sat until the light got dim.  Then crawled inside my tent.  I thought I would read, but I couldn't keep my eyes open.  Only 8:30!  What's with that!


Friday, September 6, 2019

Do you like to travel?

Good morning!  

A few friends have posted some unbelievable photos of sunsets after the hurricane past.  Bright red, and they assure me the pictures are NOT enhanced.

This is my sunrise this morning.

I have met a few people who say they don't like to travel.

They don't like the mess of getting there, the air flight, the packing, the checking in.

And some don't like it because when they are gone they worry about their stuff or their people back home.

So why go?

This is my exploratory trip to see if I like travel.  I am doing three different kind of trips this fall.

On this trip I will be traveling for a full month in my Chrysler Town and Country mini van.  Trying out camping, staying with family and friends, tasting how far I like driving in a day, eat out vs picnic.

Day one I only went 200 miles.  But it took all day long!

I left after 9:00 a.m.   I would have left earlier, but I had to wash the sheets. 

I had warm showers guests last night and though I had told them they would need to use their bed rolls in because I had a house sitter coming, they didn't remember and I didn't want to enforce it.

They were on day 19 of their journey from Montreal.  Just let that sink in a bit.  Averaging 80 miles a day.  No site seeing, just riding and taking care of business.  The guy on the left lives in both Montreal and a town in Columbia.

 I was showing him Sylvia Halpern's blog of her trip in Columbia this past winter.  She had spent two weeks in his home town!  He was thrilled to see her pictures.

Thank you to my neighbors who have offered up their dryer if I should need it.  I needed it.

I ate my salad in Brooker, Florida.

I went for a bike ride in the Okefenokee Wild Life Refuge.

I am glad I packed so I can remove the trike easily without unpacking anything.



And I camped at Laura S. Walker State Park.  What a lovely park with large camp sites, a lovely view off my site.  I got to watch the sun set, see the stars, and watch the sun rise.

I am taking back my commitment to post every day. 

I want to be able to get away from Facebook and wifi if I want to.  So addicted to reaching out and getting the affirmation that I exist and matter to some.  I have crazy Facebook thinking. 

Time to disconnect a while.

I check email and the Sisters on the Fly event hostess for the October event, Dive with the Fishes is having trouble with the reservations.  I reserved my dive, my camping spot, and the event.  Now I learn my dive isn't reserved... the whole reason I am going.  So when I get to secure wifi I will need to take care of that somehow.

Well, time to get back on the road.  I have had my coffee and am ready for more exploration.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Does the sky look different?


That's what I want to know, does the sky look different when a hurricane is just a few hundred miles away?

Earlier this week it seemed strange, a fog, it was above us... maybe you would call that low-hanging clouds.

And now the glows seem to move fast and there is a wind, but that could be normal.

We are the fortunate ones.  Just out of the danger range.  One county over, the schools are closed so they can remain open as storm shelters for those escaping Hurricane Dorian.

Hurricanes are relatively new to me.  Born and raised in the Midwest, the tornadoes would come and go in a matter of minutes.  Here, we start watching the storms form over by Africa and talking about the chances of it coming our way. 

And then Hurricane Dorian lost the push of high-pressure behind it so we were expecting it to hit on Sunday, then Monday, then Tuesday.  In the meantime I have hauled plants into the house outdoor furniture to keep if from flying around and damaging someone's property. 

We (my friends and neighbors and Floridian's in the possible path) wait and we check in a couple times a day at least to see what the meteorologists are saying now.  Where is it going now?   Even if you aren't in the path, the cone of the Hurricane is hundreds of miles.  So even the outer edges can get sustained 40-50 mph winds.

The path is never sure, hurricanes can wobble and their projected path change entirely.  So many of us prepare and wait and worry.

September is the peak month for tropical storms and hurricanes.

If you have been elsewhere you might not even know that the Bahama's was devastated by Dorian.  Living on an island isn't so attractive anymore.  Puerto Rico hit twice and now the Bahama's flooded and flattened in parts.  They estimate 13,000 home were completely destroyed. 

People amaze me.  The Church without Walls in Citrus County is collecting supplies and will be personally delivering them.  Driving down to Miami later this week.  Better people than I am for sure.

Me, I am just wondering if the hurricane is going to make me change my plans for leaving on Thursday and camping along the way.  "Good thing I have a reservation," I think to myself.  Because the campgrounds will be full of evacuees. 

I look out the window and the clouds are racing, the next time I look they don't seem to be moving.  Is it my imagination?  Or does the sky look different?

Fear and Packing

As I reminder, I am leaving on a road trip to Wisconsin.  Heading there in a zig-zag way, visiting places and people along the way.  

I should be gone a whole month.   

I was chatting with Debra yesterday and I told her I wasn't excited about this trip yet.  

Maybe when the trip gets started the feelings will change, we say. 

I think this is my first big road trip since George passed.  And even though he wasn't fully with it or much help the last few times we went, he was comfort and companionship.  I was part of a couple.  

Now I am just a single person.  My new status in society is still so strange to me.  Forty years is a long time to think of yourself as part of a pair.  

I fear the trip will make me miss him.  And I fear the newness of camping on my own.

I went to visit a friend who was reading, The Journey Continues.  She said, "Don't you ever feel afraid?"

I said, "Sure I do.  But I try to feel the fear and do it anyway." 

This trip and the October trips are outside my comfort zone just a tiny amount.  Just enough to stretch myself, but not too much.  

The snorkel in the ocean?  That will stretch it even more.  I just had a friend step on the tail of a stingray and end up in the hospital!  Scared?  You bet cha!

Packing for this trip first.  I piled stuff into my living room but didn't want to start putting things in the van until I was sure the Hurricane was not going to harm this area. 

I was going to take along a folding mattress to sleep in the van, but the other night I tested out the tent-cot by Kamprite and I slept OK.  So I am going to use that.

The first day the high temperature is going to be 92 degrees.  Oh my!

Yesterday and today I am working to pack the van so that I can get my trike out without removing all the camping equipment.

The item on the left that is wrapped in a tan blanket is a large picture in a frame.  George loved that picture.  It was given to him by his employees when the company was growing and they moved into an office suite where George would have his own room.  George loved cats and it is a picture of a big panther walking toward the viewer. 

After George passed I called the employee that was with us the longest and offered the picture to him.  He stuck with us and contributed greatly through many years working in our basement and through several different locations.  He managed Rentapen the year we decided to semi retire.  He said he was honored to take the picture.  I will be delivering the it to him near Milwaukee.

I still have more stuff to pack into the van.   My computer and folders and clothes and cosmetics and food.  OH MY!  I hope I find a place for everything.

Warm Showers

I have gone a LONG time without a www.Warmshowers.org request.   Wouldn't you know I get a request to stay Wednesday night.  Two guys biking down from Montreal, Canada.   It took them only 23 days!   

But I have to have clean sheets and a clean shower for the house sitter!  

I can't say no.  Why say no.  I just tell them my dilemma and I ask them to wipe down the shower when they are done and we will hang their towels in the garage.   They are going to sleep on their bed rolls so I don't have dirty sheets to deal with.  

They will be glad to have air-conditioning and wifi.

Audio Books

As Robin Siegerman records Alzheimer's Trippin' with George, I keep thinking about the launch of The Journey Continues on December 4th.  Wouldn't it be great to have that book in audio form too?

Robin says she is buzy until January.  So I shopped for a different artist.  I found one who has a pleasant voice and I think will do a great job on the book.   Soon I will have a sample to share with you. 

For now, just know that soon both books will be available in Audio form.  Just in time for that road-trip or for Christmas!

Topping It Off In Wisconsin

 Hello, A special shout out to the three guys that advised me through the purchase of my Ford Truck in May, Jim, Bill and Regis. On July 26t...