"if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room"

Friday, May 31, 2013

we made it!

Tuesday night we kept a close eye on the weather radar. The storms passed just south of us by just a few miles. We had quite the lightning show and the thunder rolled but we were living right and it passed us by. :-)

Wednesday morning we headed out for what we hoped would be a dry (and safe!) day. The skies were thick with clouds but the rain held off. Again we drove through areas where the road was just starting to dry after a stray shower but nothing fell on us. Our goal was to make it to Mitchell SD but I had scoped out several campgrounds along our route just in case we had to stop and hunker down.
Traffic was fairly light and we made good time and arrived in Mitchell shortly before 5pm. Our stop was at another Passport America park and we got our full hook up site for just over $18.00. We became life members of PA several years ago, figuring we could better afford the initial membership while we were still working. The lifetime membership cost us over $300 but we never have to pay dues again and we have already more than doubled our initial outlay in savings on camping fees so it is a win/win in my book.
Once we were parked for the night the storms caught up with us. :-o They were not severe storms but we had a large amount of rain in a very short time. I kept a keen eye out for any rising water (there was none) after our flooding episode last month. The rain let up right about bedtime so we were able to sleep without having to worry about inflating our kayak. :-)

Thursday the weather man was calling for more storms to develop for South Dakota in the early afternoon, so once again we were in "storm dodge" mode. We did run into a little rain but it didn't last too long. We stopped in Rapid City at the Flying J and topped off our on board LP tank. Since we will be parked until the first of October it is likely we will be needing to run the furnace occasionally between now and then.
We then had about 40 miles to travel to our temporary home at Crazy Horse. They are repaving part of SR 16 between Rapid City and Custer so we were having to climb some of those hills at a pretty slow pace. I kept an eye on the temp gauge as it started to climb, luckily it never got close to being "in the red". The wind started picking up shortly after we left the truck stop and it really whips through some of these narrow valleys. I was glad when we finally got to pull into the campground entrance. We checked in and got our site assignment (#6) at the Heritage Village Campground. True to form, as soon as I pulled into the site the rain started. I got all the utilities hooked up and came inside to warm up since the temperature dropped from upper 60's in Rapid City to the low 40's at Crazy Horse. BRRRRRR!
I checked our cell phones and we had one little bar of service. I decided to brave the weather and get our cell booster hooked up. While I was outside on the ladder securing the antenna the rain started to hurt. Holy Cow, it's sleeting! Then it changed quickly to snow! I finished up and headed back inside. Our phones now have 4 bars. Cool! Next was getting our Mifi fired up and see of we can get online. Our phones are AT&T while our Mifi is on Sprint through Virgin. I have never been a fan of Sprint. We had it at work and I could never get much of a signal unless I was near a fairly large city. I crossed my fingers and checked our signal. Nothing, Nada, Zip! We both knew we could not go very long with no internet and my i-phone showed I had a 3g signal so we decided to dump the Virgin unit and go with an AT&T unit as soon as we could find one.

Today was errand day. We drove to Rapid City and picked up our mail at our mail service. We are with America's Mailbox and they are super people to work with. We had already sent them all of our vehicle registrations and they had our license plates ready for us to pick up. They gave us all the information we needed to get our drivers licenses and even registered us to vote! Plus the owner of the company was there and gave us a big "Welcome Home" as we walked in the door of the office.
We had about a 20 minute wait while getting our drivers licenses but we were prepared with all the ID and paperwork we needed so it was an easy process.
Our next stop was Best Buy where we got our new AT&T mifi unit. Rudee has been due for an upgrade on her phone but has not found one she likes. Best Buy had one she wanted on display so we decided to go ahead and get her a new phone too. After a lot of waiting, the salesman came back and said they were all out of that model and could not get them anymore. They suggested that a nearby AT&T store might have one so that was our next stop.
Success! They didn't have the same model as Best Buy but Rudee found one she liked even better.
No trip to town would be complete without a trip to Wal Mart so that was our last stop. We picked up some groceries to get us through the next several days and made our way back to the motor home. Tomorrow I will get all of our new South Dakota license plates installed and our transformation from Hoosiers to whatever people from South Dakota are called will be complete. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

back on the road!

This morning we gave hugs and kisses to the kids and grand kids before they all left for work and school. The goodbyes are the worst, lots of crying and sad faces even though we all know we will be back soon it's still hard to leave.
When they had all left we finished our packing up and I buttoned up the motor home for travel. I think I must have walked around it eight or ten times making sure I had everything picked up.
We pulled out at 9am and drove to Crawfordsville where we topped off the fuel and met our son, Matthew, at the Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Oh no, more goodbyes. :-(

We had a nice visit with Matthew and then pointed the rig west. We made several stops at some of the rest parks. I wanted to make sure Rudee was not getting tired. Well that and also because I had drank about 16 cups of coffee this morning! :-)
We skirted storms most of the day but only had about 2 miles of light rain to drive through. Several times the pavement was soaked but we were living right and the rain itself had moved on. We ended up stopping at Amana Colonies RV Park in Amana, Iowa. This is a huge rally park with over 400 sites. Tonight there are about 30 rigs here. We decided on a full hook up site because Rudee wanted to do a couple of loads of laundry, even so the rate was only $18 with our Passport America membership.

They are calling for more storms for this area and we are under a tornado watch. Hopefully our luck will hold out and they will miss us. The skies sure look dark at times though.

Tomorrow we will continue our trek west. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Friday was a big day for us. We finished up Rudee's radiation treatments and are cleared to travel. They wanted to do follow up appointments in three months but we explained we are going out of state and not due to return until after October 1st. All the doctors said that would be fine and we have appointments set up with her Oncologist, Surgeon and Radiologist all on the same day.
We can finally start to "get back to normal".

The weather has not been the greatest the last several days, very grey and gloomy. The holiday week end forecast is for more of the same. They are saying the rain should hold off long enough to get the race in Sunday. We ventured out enough on Saturday to buy Rudee a new motorcycle helmet. I bought me one last week end when I rode to Illinois. We both needed new helmets but each one is a little different and you really need to try them on before buying. Riding buddy, Rob Runion, told me about a local Yamaha dealer that had some really nice flip style helmets on close out so we drove over and checked them out. Rudee likes the modular (flip up) helmet which is a combination open face with a drop down "chin bar" that converts the helmet to a full face style. Our old helmets were like this but were both at least 6 years old and pretty worn out. My new one is a 3/4 open face with a drop down shield to use when raining, I rarely rode with the old one in "full face" mode and didn't see the point investing in another one. I do like to have the face shield when we get caught in the rain or when it is cold. Rudee, on the other hand, keeps her chin bar dropped in place most of the time but likes to be able to raise it occasionally when she gets too hot.
We checked out the helmets and Rudee tried several on. We ended up buying her one that had been over $300 and was marked down to $99. They only had 5 of the modular ones left and we lucked out that one was the same color as my new one and was also Rudee's size. :-)

Sunday morning our son in law Ryan and I fired up his grille. We put a pork roast and a large slab of ribs on and slow roasted them for several hours. The girls fixed up some side dishes and I taught our grand daughter Avalynn where good ice cream comes from. :-)

In the Indianapolis area the race is blacked out on TV so it has been a tradition to gather around the radio and listen to the broadcast. Later tonight the local ABC station airs the taped telecast and we usually watch it then, of course we already know who won but it is still fun.
We gathered under our awning to listen, eat and just be together. I had a ball! :-)

Tomorrow we will start our preparations to leave. We have a lot of packing up to do since it has been almost two months since we have done any traveling. We are more then ready but it will be sad to say goodbye to the kids and grand kids. I'll keep you posted.,

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

beginning to make plans

Rudee has started her radiation and we are spending our days on the far east side of Indianapolis. She has her first treatment shortly after 8am. She is done by 9 and then we find a place for breakfast and start killing time. We have ran some errands and went to a shopping mall and spent some time window shopping. The time goes by pretty quickly and at 2pm we are back at the hospital for her second treatment that lasts until around 3pm when we get to head back to the motor home. Only 3 more days of this and we'll be done! :-)

Yesterday we had a phone interview for another work camping job. The interview went really well and we were expecting a call back today with a possible offer. That call came in at 11:30 this morning and we accepted the positions! We are going to be working in Custer, South Dakota at the Crazy Horse Memorial! We are both excited to once again be headed to the Black Hills. We start on June 5th but can arrive as early as June 1st at the employee campground which is just up the road from our jobs. We are starting to get excited again and it feels great to actually start making travel plans! We are heading back on the road!! :-)

Several of you have emailed or called us with job leads and we just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you. We have not actually met a lot of you face to face but feel like we know you by reading your blogs and communicating over the internet. Your messages of healing, hope, faith and love have seen us through this turbulent time in our lives and I don't know how I can ever thank you all enough. One thing is for sure, you all have a chair and a shady spot to sit under our awning anytime you need it! I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

still looking

We have been busy the last few days looking to replace our Mt. Rushmore summer gig. We thought we had a strong possibility working at Custer State Park for the concessionaire there.  We were starting to get excited about living and working there and were just about ready to commit when, after getting a little more specific about the contract, we found out they take $240 out of your check for "housing and meals". Since we would be staying in the employee RV park we assumed the housing fee would only be taken out of one of our checks. Not so says the nice HR guy, the fee is taken out of both of our checks for a total of $960 per month taken from our wages. We both felt like this was an excessive amount and have decided to look elsewhere.
We would eventually like to do some volunteering for a free site sometime in the future. I know several of you do this and it is a great way to visit an area and get a free site in exchange for a little labor. Not a bad deal in our eyes. Right now though we are feeling like we need to make some $$'s. Our insurance (thank goodness we bought that policy last fall!) is a high deductible 80/20 plan and our savings account is going to take a big hit. We are not destitute (close, but still treading water! LOL) but we do want to replace that small cushion in case we have another big bill pop up on us.
We do have some other options and one that looks very promising right now. We will hopefully know a little more tomorrow afternoon.

Speaking of tomorrow, Rudee has her first two (of ten) radiation treatments. Last Friday we were at her surgeons office to have a catheter device inserted for the radiation, is is called Mammosite Treatment. The procedure was a tough one on Rudee but she was a trooper and we hope the worst is behind her. We will be spending our days at or near the hospital for the next week since they do one treatment first thing in the morning and then have to wait six hours to do the second one. The hospital is about 50 miles one way to the east side of Indy so we are going to take a picnic lunch and find things to do to occupy days between treatments. Friday will be liberation day and they will remove the catheter after her afternoon treatment and we will be done! You all have heard of VE day, well this is our VC day, Victory over Cancer! She, of course, will have follow up appointments and tests to make sure there is no return of the cancer but we should be ready to travel after the Memorial Day week end. Hopefully I can start writing about interesting things we are seeing and doing rather then all this boring medical stuff. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

one step forward, two steps back

We just learned late yesterday via an email from Laura at the Mt. Rushmore Historical Society that she has hired replacements for us. We were so hoping they would be able to hold our positions until we could arrive but this was not the case. She had indicated early on she would do her best to accommodate us but I understand they have a business to run and need the help. We are disappointed that we are within 10 days of leaving here and now have no where to go. :-(
I searched through the "hot line" listings through Work Camper News and came across a couple of possibilities so I sent them a resume'. One of them actually called us late last evening and offered us a job as camp hosts for a National Forest Campground inside Custer State Park in SD. Does anyone have any experience (or know of someone) working for Forest Recreation Management? The pay is lower then we would have made at Mt. Rushmore and the camp host hours can be a bit "odd" since you live on site but the work seems interesting and the location is where we would like to be.

I also applied for positions with the Grand Teton Association. This job looks to be similar to the Mt Rushmore job but is farther West meaning a longer trip out there and more fuel $$. I would love to explore that area though.

If anyone knows of a paying gig out there for a couple of beat up work campers please let me know! We don't have to make a ton of money but minimum wage would be nice. :-) I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

the calm before the storm?

Last Wednesday we unhooked all the hoses and cords from the motor home, hooked up the cargo trailer and loaded the bike inside. We were headed "down the road". No, we are not leaving central Indiana just yet, we still have some more treatments to do. Instead of skedaddling up the highway (like we both really wanted to do!) we made the short trip to the fairgrounds in Lebanon. That is where the state rally for the Gold Wing Road Riders Assoc. was holding their rally. We have belonged to this organization for over 20 years and enjoy attending the functions even if we don't ride a Goldwing anymore.
Our riding buddies had an area saved for us and several others. We got ourselves situated pretty quickly and settled in to enjoy the fun. The weather didn't want to cooperate much though and it was rainy and cold everyday. We did manage to take a couple of rides between the showers and even had a campfire one night.
Sunday came pretty quickly and we all packed up and went our separate ways. We are back at our daughters house being squatters in her drive way. :-)

Monday we mostly stayed inside and gathered the necessary paperwork to get our vehicles registered in South Dakota. We had decided to change our residency several months ago and our plan was to take care of all the paperwork in the days prior to starting work at Mt. Rushmore. That little plan was changed with Rudee's diagnoses so we are doing as much as we can by email, fax and snail mail.

Today we had plans to go to the Indy 500 track and watch practice for the big race. Shortly after our daughter dropped the grand kids off at school she received a call that our grand son was not feeling well and needed to be picked up. We made the short trip to the school and he was really disappointed because today was a "field trip" day and he didn't feel well enough to go. Rudee agreed to stay home with him and I hopped on the bike and went to the track solo.
There were quite a few cars on the track today and I stayed until shortly after 2pm watching the drivers trying to "get up to speed". While I was sitting in the bleachers an elderly couple (I'm guessing late 70's) climbed up the steep steps to the very top and sat down next to me. I listened in as they talked about their favorite drivers and who they each were routing for. They were both almost giddy with excitement. I finally asked them if this was their first race because they both looked like wide eyed little kids. The lady said "no, this is my 57th Indy 500 and my friends 61st". Wow! Can you imagine all the changes they have seen at this historic track? Their first races were in the early to mid 50's when front engine cars were all the rage. They saw Roger Ward, Parnelli Jones and a rookie named AJ Foyt qualify and then run (and win!) the big race. They witnessed the start of the Andretti and Unser dynasties as well as watching Rick Mears dominate in his Roger Penske owned car. They saw the cars go from large front engine models with skinny tires to winged, rear engine, rocket ships. They saw Tom Sneva be the first to break the 200 MPH barrier as well as Janet Guthrie be the first woman to qualify and race there. All of that and yet here they were just as excited as they must have been the very first time they climbed the bleachers to watch the cars. Talking to her (he was busy watching the track!) she told me she was from here but had moved to Tennessee several years ago and he was from Saint Louis. They had been friends for years, both had lost their spouses and they enjoyed getting together once a year, here in Indy, to share their love for racing. I couldn't help but smile, they were inspiring and a joy to meet and talk to. :-)

We have two more days to "recuperate" before Rudee's appointment Friday. They have already told us it will be a long day at the doctors office. Once we are done there she will be ready for her radiation treatments to start. She will have two treatments per day starting Monday and ending on Friday. I'll keeep you posted.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Oh Happy Day!

Just a short note to let you all know we got a call from Rudee's surgeon today and the surrounding tissue removed during her lumpectomy tested negative! That was the best possible news! She will still have to undergo radiation but looks like the area of cancer is gone! Time to celebrate!

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. They, without a doubt, made a difference in her recovery. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Indy 500

This post is not about race cars or the famous oval, instead it is about being in Indiana (when we were supposed to be in South Dakota!) and our 500th post. Wow, 500 posts, that's a ton of talking on my part. :-) I started the blog shortly before we moved into our 5th wheel while selling the house. Well the house sold, then we sold the 5th wheel and are now "motor homers". We have made some changes along the way but the dream is still the same. We hope you continue to follow along with us because, as most of you already know, things are rarely boring around here. :-)

Today was surgery day and we were up and on our way to the hospital bright and early. We were the first people to check into the surgery center but there was not too much down time. The nurse checked Rudee's vital signs and had her change into one of those sexy hospital gowns. :-)
She had to have one last procedure before her surgery where they placed a "guide wire" in order to "guide" the surgeon to the cancer. They no more finished that and brought her back to her room when they came and got her for the surgery. I was ushered to the waiting room where friends Jim & Becky Owens along with our daughter Amanda and husband Ryan sat with me. They called me to the desk in about 30 minutes. I was a little nervous since they said it would take at least an hour. The surgeon came out and everything went well, Rudee was fine and they felt like they removed all the cancer. They will test the tissues to make sure but he was very confident he got it all!
We spent the next few hours in the recovery room until she felt well enough to go home. She has been resting and our next appointment is on the 17th and then she will start radiation on the 20th. Looks like we may be able to head out sometime around the first part of June ..... back on the road, yee haw! :-)

A friend of mine sent me some photos (thanks, Dan Meno) of the flooded campground. They are still shots from a video taken by the news helicopter while we were being rescued. That's us down there being led to our rescue tractor by a fireman!

Lots and lots of water!

Rudee will be taking it easy for a few days but we are thankful that we are on the road of healing! I'll keep you posted.

Monday, May 6, 2013

let the healing begin!

I haven't been posting a lot the last week simply because I have been in a blue kind of mood. We have had a lot on our plates the last month and are sorting through it all trying to get our lives back to normal. We did get a settlement check on our motorcycle but even that didn't lift my spirits a lot because it was about $1000.00 less then what I thought the lowest figure would be. No arguing on my part would change their mind even when I presented them with hard evidence of the bikes value. The adjuster even lied to me about the options he supposedly included in the value calculations. Turns out he didn't include any of the options even after assuring me several times that he did so he could "get you the highest value possible".  Geico's attitude was we're a big company and you are a little nobody so "tough luck"! I filed a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance who governs how the companies do business in Indiana. Geico will have 10 days to answer to the state why they think the value of a motorcycle sold in January in far Northern Illinois is a reflection of the value of my motorcycle here in Central Indiana in May. It will be interesting to see how they address the lies and misrepresentations they did when handling my claim. In Indiana cashing their check does not mean the claim is closed and we can still fight for additional $'s so in the meantime we have busied ourselves motorcycle shopping and found this:

It is a 2011 Harley Ultra Limited and we got a great deal on it. We bought it off a co-worker of my brother who purchased it new and then regretted it. The bike was too big for him so he hardly ever rode it and the odometer proves it with less than 2400 miles on the clock. He came way down on his asking price and threw in a brand new Harley leather jacket ($400 in the catalog), a cover for the bike and a hydraulic bike lift. We were very happy with the deal and are looking forward to "breaking it in".

We got a call late on Friday and they found "something" on Rudee's chest ex-ray ("what now??!!"). They say it looks like scar tissue from an old infection but want to have a Cat scan to be sure. Today we did the Cat scan and are waiting on the results.  Hopefully this will not have any effect on her surgery tomorrow. We are both so ready to start her recovery and get our lives back on track again.
The bright side to all of this is we have been getting to spend a lot of time visiting with our kids and grand kids. :-)

In our spare time between doctor visits and rain showers, We have kept busy getting the trailer ready to haul the new bike. The wheel chock, shelves, diamond plate, and e-track have all been installed.

I also mounted this on the rear door.

Maybe our luck will change. :-)

Tomorrow we will be up really early to make the drive to the hospital. We have to be there at 6:45 and it is about an hour away. We are planning on Rudee being released sometime in the early afternoon and will then rest up back at the motor home  We are attending a Goldwing rally in Lebanon later in the week and will move the motor home to the fairgrounds on Wednesday. This is all dependent on how Rudee is feeling but we have our fingers (and toes!) crossed. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

busy day

Yesterday we had an appointment for a consultation with a different surgeon for Rudee. Her original surgeon set up the appointment in order to explore our options of a different type of radiation therapy that is only available (in the Indy area anyway) at this surgeons hospital. We showed up at noon and met with the "team" and learned the radiation is a one time treatment done during the operation. The procedure is not new but the equipment needed is not available at all hospitals. The surgeon thought we would be a good fit for it and after our consultation with him we met with an oncologist for final approval. The oncologist did not feel that it would be best for us however. He went into a lot more detail of the procedures available and the fact no hard research had been done on the "one and done" radiation for Rudee's particular type of cancer cells. We decided not to be the test case. :-)
We did however make great strides in getting her surgery on the schedule. We decided to change to this hospital and surgeon for a number of reasons. The first is he is widely regarded as one of the best cancer surgeons in the area. The hospital is associated with the MD Anderson Cancer Network and they are, in my opinion, the very best in the USA for cancer treatment. Last and probably the least important is the fact they can treat us fairly quickly. Once our consultations were over we asked them to move us onto the surgery schedule and we were able to get all the pre-op tests done. Surgery day will be next Tuesday followed by a 1 week recovery and follow up appointment. At her f/u appointment the oncologist will insert a fairly large catheter that is used for the radiation and this will be left in for 7-10 days. She will then have radiation treatments two times per day for five days (6 hours apart), the catheter is removed and then she will be done.
We finally left the hospital around 6pm. Wow that was a long day but now we can relax for a few days instead of having appointments everyday. :-)

Leaving the hospital we decided to check out a trailer place nearby and ended up making a purchase. :-)

We decided to get a white one this time. No real reason for that except that the trailers they had on hand were discounted because they had some hail damage on them and the hail dents were less noticeable on the white versus the black. This trailer is a little better built then our old one and has some nicer features so we decided we could live with a few dents to get a better trailer, plus it was a few hundred $'s less than replacing our flooded one. :-)

We made a stop for something to eat on the way home since we were both starving and finally made it home shortly before 9pm. We will be keeping busy getting our new trailer ready to haul a motorcycle that we will hopefully be shopping for soon. I'll keep you posted.