Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Goodbye Rob, Rest Well in Heaven

I just wanted to take a minute to let everyone know that Rob went to heaven on Friday afternoon. It was the day before his 63rd birthday. I'm going to miss him terribly. 
At Christina's wedding

We were playing 60s and 70s music in his room shortly before he left us and they played "Life Goes On" which really struck me as poignant as it is so true for the rest of us. 
Meghan's Wedding

With Kelly
 Rest in peace my love and suffer no more.
Turning wood
He loved that trike.
Taking pictures in Montana
Mudding with the girls in his Jeep
Taking pictures in Michigan

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Lovin' on his boy just a couple of months ago.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Things are Changing and Time Marches on in the Little RV

As I write this post I am sitting across the room from Rob at my daughter's house in Portland, Oregon. Rob has chosen to discontinue dialysis. Without dialysis he cannot survive. 

We have placed him in Hospice care. They will make sure he is comfortable and help us through this transition. He's just across the room in the hospital bed they brought for him yesterday. He's sleeping and surrounded by people who love him very much.
Eating Chinese food!

I feel such a mix of emotions. I'm so grateful for the time we have had together. We were married in 1998 and within just a few months he was in the hospital having a triple bypass. There have been many, many episodes of serious illness since then. With each illness and new diagnosis he has become more and more disabled. 
In Key West last winter

Over the years we have often discussed his wishes for "when the time comes". I am confident I know what he wants and doesn't want. 

For now please keep us in your prayers. 
Thanks for everything blog family.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Rob Update, Winter Weather, Superheros and a Spaceship

The roller coaster ride continues. Rob is still in the hospital. It was three weeks as of yesterday. Things got pretty bad that first Thursday night and I heard the words "lets just get him through the night" once again. I made the decision to call his family to come out just in case. His mom, sister and two daughters arrived from the east coast the next day. 
From left to right, Lesa (sister), Kelly (youngest daughter), Meghan (oldest daughter) Sue (Mom)
The day after their arrival Rob rallied and was able to spend a little time with them in between much needed sleep. It seems he has used another of his nine lives. Danger passed, everyone headed home on Monday.

This is basically the same thing that happened in Tucson two and a half years ago but this time it started with low blood sugar, aspiration pneumonia and two calls to 911. 

We've been dealing with respiratory failure, kidney failure and heart failure, an awful combination. There isn't much they can do for him without making one of his conditions worse. They are managing him mostly with medications. By the middle of the second week it became clear he would need dialysis.

His pneumonia is resolved and they managed to get the fluid out of his lungs from his congestive heart failure so it appears he is over the hump for now. His heart is functioning at about 30% and his kidneys are functioning at about 10%. 

This is his second longest hospital stay ever. Ugh! But we have good news. He's doing so much better.
Over the last couple of weeks he's been moved to the 4th floor and taken off the heart monitor. He's also having routine dialysis three days a week. 

More recently he's been getting out of bed and into a chair for meals and just yesterday he left his room and walked to the nurses station with assistance. These are tremendous milestones. 

There are no openings for dialysis up and down the I-5 corridor in Washington so he's in the hospital until something opens up. He's not the first in line by any stretch so we have no way of knowing how long he'll be there. 

He's working with Physical Therapy to get strong enough to come home instead of a rehab center when a dialysis spot opens up. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, back on the homestead it got really cold here very suddenly. We had snow two days in a row and it became clear that something had to be done or we were in for a long and very miserable winter. 
That's snow on the hood!!

We have tile floors and with the cold air blowing under the RV those floors were cold as ice.  
My nephew Bob and my brother Bruce

Enter my own personal superheros. My brother Bruce and nephew Bob completely skirted the motorhome with foam insulation board. 

They also insulated and heat taped our fresh water hose to keep it from freezing and finally they set me up with a couple of jumbo propane tanks to keep the home fires burning. I added some area rugs inside and now we're toasty warm. 

Anyone need a ride to outer space? 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Update on Our Late Summer and Fall Happenings

It's been almost two months since I wrote a blog post. Those months have been absolutely filled with medical appointments of every specialty.  

We've spent a lot of time talking and thinking about reasonable travel plans for the winter. Given Rob's declining health situation, making a marathon trip around the country is completely out of the question. It's just too much for him these days.

We thought we might just head down to Arizona after Christmas for some sun and warm temperatures. However, as I write this, Rob is in the hospital with pneumonia. 

It's tricky to explain how and why pneumonia is so much worse for him than an average, generally healthy person. It exacerbates his other medical conditions. His CHF (congestive heart failure) has flared up now and he has fluid in his lungs along with phenomena. If the doctors don't get the CHF in check it will cause his kidney function to decline which may push him over the edge onto permanent dialysis. 

So, travel plans are on hold until we see what comes of this illness for Rob.  

We are realizing we need an exit strategy sooner rather than later. When we started this journey five and a half years ago we sold our house and pared down our possessions to what we could carry with us in our RV. We don't regret that decision but all good things must come to an end.

I've been spending mornings and early afternoons at the hospital and coming home for the later afternoon and evening so Murphy and I can hang out and get some exercise. The weather has been great the last couple of days so we have been able to get outside.

Meanwhile, life continues on as we ponder our future.  

Friday, September 1, 2017

We Have a New Fan!

I can't believe it's September 1st already. The older I get the faster time goes. I suppose it's that way for all of us. We have been so busy with medical appointments is seems like nothing else has been happening. 
Still painting rocks!

It's looking like we'll be here in the Pacific Northwest through Christmas. We had planned to spend the winter in Texas along the Gulf Coast but that's clearly not going to happen this winter. The damage due to hurricane Harvey is so widespread and severe. So, we're looking Arizona instead. 

Last post I told you Rob got a new electric smoker. We have used that smoker many times over the summer and with great results. I love that it gets him outside and gives him something to do. It takes 6 hours just to smoke a rack of ribs. The yummy smoked ribs and other tasty treats are just an added bonus. I think he's going to smoke a pork shoulder for Labor Day this weekend. That's at least 12 hours of smoking time. I'm looking forward to that taste test. 

A few weeks ago the exhaust fan in our half bathroom died. That bathroom is where we keep Rob's oxygen machine. It's huge and puts out a ridiculous amount of heat when it's running so an exhaust fan is absolutely necessary. 
The Monster Oxygen Machine
I finally did some research and figured out how to remove the old one and what to replace it with. I wanted to do the work myself and keep the cost low but I do not go on the roof so it had to happen from the inside.
The old fan had one speed - turbo. I found a new one online with three speeds. It also will switch to pull air in or vent it out, all for the low, low price of $79.  I ordered the fan from Amazon, of course. 

Yesterday we installed it. It wasn't quite as easy as the videos made it look. We ran into a couple of problems along the way but it's in and works great. 

More exciting news. My daughter and her family are buying a new house in the Portland, Oregon area. They have outgrown their tiny, little house which is less than 900 square feet. The have three kids so it's just not working for them.  The exciting part for us is they bought with us in mind and there is room for us to park on the property. They are scheduled to close next week and then we'll have another awesome place to stay in the Portland area. I think we'll like the neighbors. 

Murphy says hello!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

It's Been a Busy Summer for the Little RV

Hi there! I know it's been a few weeks since I wrote a post but here we are. Since we arrived back in Washington on Father's Day we have been super busy with life. There have been lots of medical appointments, a little work on the motorhome here and there, some arts and crafts, lots of visits with family and even a few trips to Portland to visit my daughter and her family. 

We are really enjoying our outdoor living space. It's nice to be in a place where we can relax and actually have a couple of things that are too big to take along wherever we go, like big, cushy chairs and a picnic table. My brother and his family had this old picnic table they weren't using so I refinished it and it's getting lots of use. 

Rob also has a new smoker. We have been smoking some pretty tasty treats over the past few weeks. Just yesterday we have some seriously tasty ribs. He's enjoying it very much. 

I've been spending some time doing crafty things. First Suzanna, my sister-in-law and I used some of my shells to make wind chimes. 
Then I started painting rocks. I saw some fun rocks on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try.

The photo below shows just a few of them. I keep painting and giving them away.

The first rocks I painted were from Lake Michigan. They are amazingly smooth and flat and perfect for painting. When I ran out of those I went to the a landscape shop and literally stood in the large river rock bin to choose a milk crate full of river rocks. Unfortunately they are not very smooth so they have to be cleaned, spackled, sanded and painted with a base coat before I get to the fun part.
Murphy is happy as a clam here at Uncle Bruce's house. There are neighbors to visit, rabbits and birds to chase, berries to eat, acres of land to explore and always something fun for a boy to do.
We are told there are chipmunks living in this stump. Occasionally he has a good snoop around the stump in his quest for a playmate but he always come up empty. 
Sometimes he comes home smelling like the neighbor's horse barn. Ugh! 

Did I mention that our lovely, black tile back splash literally fell off the kitchen wall? 
After I took it outside I discovered the tile was installed on a backer board and the backer board was attached to the wall by two blobs of some sort of adhesive. 

I decided to replace the real tile with peel and stick tile squares. They look real and are very light weight. They are also much more colorful than the old black tile. 
During installation. I like it! 


Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Little RV Has a Cozy New Home

We arrived back home in Washington on Father's Day. We got to go and surprise my Dad. It's really good to see my family again.
Murphy is loving all this space to run.

Because of our travel style we had no idea when we would arrive back in Washington so we didn't have a site locked down for the summer. Unfortunately the place we normally stay is full this year and parks with 50 amp full hook-ups are pretty slim pickings around here. We ended up staying at one of the casino campgrounds for about a week but with no sewer connection we had to move the motorhome to dump the tanks. That's a pain.
Murphy is fascinated by the neighbor's horses.

My brother and sister-in-law have a house on acreage just outside Olympia. Over the years we have joked about putting in an RV site for the Little RV. It seems the joke is on them because as I write this we are sitting on their property with full hook-ups. Posh!
The back 40.

When they purchased this property there was an older modular home here. Several years ago they built a home and had the old one removed. The old house was near the front of the property but their new house is much further back. Our site is where the old house was. It's fairly flat, open, has water and sewer in place but there was no electric for us to tap into.  That problem was solved by running a a power from the garage to a post at the back of the new site.

We also installed landscape fabric and had a full dump truck load of crushed rock delivered for a clean, fairly level surface.

Murphy loves it here. It seems there are always plenty of people including kids to visit with and there is a ton of room to run off leash. They even have a couple of dogs. Murphy really likes to play with Sadie.
We have been given free reign to landscape as much or as little as we like. We're going to need more rock and we are thinking about a cement patio and a couple of really comfortable outdoor chairs.
Full hook-ups,gravel base down, and rug out. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Montana is The Little RV's Happy Place

             Our first view of the Rocky Mountains
Yesterday we left South Dakota behind, drove through parts of Wyoming and into Montana. I love Montana and consider it my home state. My family moved to a little town called Bonner when I was ten years old. We were just a few miles from Missoula where my brother and I attended high school. My family left Montana in the early 80's but in my heart it is my home. 
Big Sky Country

Rob has grown to love Montana as well. We visit whenever we are able. Sadly the altitude here makes it very difficult for Rob to breathe without the constant use of oxygen so living here in out of the question. 
7th Ranch Campground

We did a long 300+ mile day again but pulled out of the South Dakota campground at about 7:15 AM so we arrived at the Montana campground and were set up by 1:30 PM.  

This campground is our kind of place. It's in the middle of nowhere, has amazing views and really friendly staff. There are no fancy amenities here. Just a beautifully maintained campground in a truly awe inspiring setting. 
After we got set up Murphy and I hiked up to the flag at the top of the hill behind the campground.  There were lots of pretty things to photograph along the way.

Murphy enjoyed his romp around the hills. 
We had a great night's sleep and this morning we were once again greeted by the beauty of this amazing place.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Slide Goes In, The Slide Goes Out, Until it Won't

We left Indiana last Friday. Our day included a drive through Chicago so we tried to arrive during lighter traffic. It wasn't awful but it could have been.

It was a 300 + mile day ending in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. We found a park on the shore of the Mississippi River. Unfortunately it had just begun to dry out from some very recent flooding and the mosquitoes were thick and vicious!  When we arrived we had to unhook the our car and leave it in the main parking lot because of the damp ground.  Once we backed into our site I went out to hook up the electric and water. After getting set up Rob yelled out the door there was no electricity so I had to call the office and have them come down to determine the problem. They had simply forgotten to turn the power on at our site. The site had a really beautiful view.

After several run-ins with blood thirsty mosquitoes while taking Murphy out we decided to get out of Dodge first thing in the morning. We left early and had another 300+ mile day stopping in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

We pulled in to a campground right off I-90 and paid for two nights. I was outside setting up and Rob was inside. I stuck my head in and Rob told me the bedroom slide would not go out. It was 92 degrees outside and had already been a very long day. 

We discovered the slide would go out if we manually pushed it but it would come in using the button. We just pushed it out so we could function until morning.
Poor Murphy has been so cooped up for two days and was just itching to go out and run off some energy so I took him out to a big field and turned him loose. 

The next morning we started working on the slide problem. We had done some research online to see what the problem might be. We took the stairs apart and checked the breakers and fuses, the hydraulic fluid and looked for anything out of place. 

Next I called Lippert, the manufacturer of our slide and leveling equipment. They felt there may be air in the system and if we cycled it a few more times it may fix itself. It got worse, there was a very loud thump and eventually it got stuck half way open.  

About that time a neighbor, Steve walked by and asked what was happening and if he could help. I told him what was happening and we brainstormed a bit. Steve offered to help if needed and continued on his way. 

Rob and I drove to the RV Sales and Service next door to see if they could fit us in only to be told they work on towables but not motorhomes. The closest place to have someone take a look was about 6 miles away. There was no way I was driving 6 miles with the slide part way out.  

When we got back Steve came back over and we decided to tear the bed apart and see if we could figure out what the problem was. The slide mechanism is under the bed. There is also a very large storage space under the bed. Steve went home to get a couple of things and I started moving all of the things stored under the bed, the bedding and the mattress.
Steve and I disassembled the bed frame to expose the slide mechanism. When the plywood base was lifted away the problem was painfully obvious.  
The long threaded shaft should have been extended through the steel frame and the nyloc nut should have been snugly threaded on to the end of the shaft so when the mechanism runs it will pull or push the slide. Somehow the nut came off causing the shaft to pull out, get hung up on the frame and bend it badly. 
You can see how badly the frame is bent in the photo above. The red line is where the frame should be and the blue line is where the frame was after the damage. 

It took some muscle, time and ingenuity but Steve was able to bend the frame back enough to get the shaft through and reattach the nut. I would never have had the physical strength to bend that frame back.

Steve, if you're reading this I can't thank you enough for helping us out with this situation. You're a good person! People like you make the RV community something special. Our slide is functioning and Forest River has agreed to repair it properly when we can get it to a dealer so all is well again.