Back in September, we had to deal with two life threatening conditions.

The first was a possible Category 4 hurricane (Florence) headed straight for us.

The second was JoAnne’s CA-125 numbers rising.  The CA-125 is a particular cancer antigen they use to determine if there are ovarian tumors growing in her body.  The previous June we noted the numbers had begun to increase.  I think it was late August or early September we had another test performed (it’s a blood test).  The numbers were trending upward.

When we start prepping for the hurricane I doubled-checked our insurance, then removed sails, stowed things, removed important-to-us items, stored things in a storage locker on shore, packed the car and prepared to run.  The night before or the morning of our departure JoAnne received a message from the doctors telling her she needed to come back to Colorado and begin chemo within a few weeks.  Sooner if possible.

We had a PET scan done here in the North Carolina area, and it was determined she indeed had two areas of concern.  One, the one that frightened us the most was a nodule on her left lung on the upper lobe.  The second was a small area that lit up the PET scan, between liver and kidneys.  The lump on her lung was about 1 cm in size.  Significant in that it seemed to be growing rapidly.

We departed on Wednesday morning, with no particular destination.  She called her brother, Paul, down in Tampa Bay area and asked if we could visit for a time during the hurricane and he was more than happy to see us.  So, we headed east and south along the pre-staged hurricane evacuation routes;  there was no turning back once we got out of town.  We had to leave.

We basically had said good bye to our home, Adventure, unsure if we would ever see her intact again.  We figured insurance would help us replace her, or something similar if it came down to that.  But, we have no allusions about such things.  Insurance companies are notorious for NOT paying out on such claim, even with full replacement insurance like we have.  (Note that after being hit in Cobbs Marina by a power boater, while we were docked, we no longer carry just liability insurance.)

The trip south was uneventful.  We arrived. visited with Paul and Cathy, and waited with bated breath as we watched the weather applications on our computers and tablets.  The forecast Cat 4 never happened.  Florence did, however hit at a category 1 and destroyed several marinas to the north of our marina.  We lost a few pieces of the marina (and there is still some damage to this day).  Our own boat suffered minor damage (I could not easily remove the bimini as it has solar panels over the top of it, and I didn’t have enough time.

I had double and triple lined the boat to the pilings and dock, extra fenders and strapped the dock box down to the dock.  It didn’t move and was fine.  Adventure exploded a fender or two, stretched some lines and we got a couple tears in the old bimini.  Minor damage considering some people lost their boats north of us.

We tried to come back… but, roads were out, blocked, bridges were washed out, floods were everywhere and getting back to the marina would have proved problematic with a lack of fuel in the area.

So, onward to Colorado it was.  We saw her doctors, and set up appointments and a chemo schedule.  Finally, we heard people were getting back to Southport, and we had a three week down time before chemo began.  We hightailed it back to Adventure to clean up, repair the damage we could and prep the boat for the long winter of being away from her.

We simply left the boat in “hurricane prep” mode, and I dumped water tanks, and ensure nothing would freeze inside (the weather here rarely gets to freezing and when it does, doesn’t stay low enough for long enough to freeze the water).  With the boat cleaned and ready for winter, we secured her once more and drove the 2000 miles back to Colorado for the fifth trip since June (For anyone keeping track, that’s 10,000 miles in three months, not counting the side trips, and the hop down to Florida, which was roughly another 1600 added in there.)

JoAnne began the chemo in November.  Her chemo would be different this time.  On “Day One” she’d have all the medicines to prevent nausea, plus two chemicals to fight cancer, one was carboplatium and the other gemzar (and I don’t know if I am spelling the two correctly, I’ll fix that later).  Then on “Day Eight”, a dose of gemzar only.

Unfortunately, things began to go wrong.  She had a tooth infection, and wound up having an extraction, and going on antibiotics, thus preventing the Day 8 chemo session.  Instead three weeks later, the session and count down began again.

Day one of the second chemo session went well.  Her blood counts however, did not do well.  Again the day eight session was cancelled.

Each “session” was three weeks apart.  By this time it had been several weeks.  Session three was supposed to go as a Day One chemo infusion, then Day eight would be gemzar followed by Neulasta.  (Neulasta is a chemical they give to kick your bone marrow into high gear to produce white blood cells, and because they were so low, she really needed to get that shot).

Unfortunately, her numbers were so bad, her platelet count was extremely low, red and white cells very low, that it was dangerous for her to be out in public even.  So, they gave her the Neulasta shot, which is actually administered by a tiny robot module stuck to her arm.  It is loaded, armed and placed, then sticks a person with a small needle, to inject the drug 27 hours after the chemo is completed.  So, we have to monitor the device for beeps, lights and infusion.  When it is completed it was my job to remove the robot.

Her blood cell numbers began to look better, but her platelet count continued to spiral downward and would not recover.  We were very concerned.

Platelets, for those who are not well versed in medicine are required for clotting your blood.  So a small cut can bleed profusely, and a larger would could become fatal in moments.  You need to get the platelets back up to a normal number.

We watched the numbers, as she had tests weekly now, so another drive to the hospital, 45 miles round trip sometimes twice per week, we were at the hospital.

On Session Number Four, things start to appear normal.  We went in and her infusion went well.  She did not receive her Neulasta shot yet, as they wished to do the Day Eight Gemzar infusion.  She did get red blood cells.  We did that eight days later, on a Wednesday.  On Thursday we went in for blood work and she wound up receiving platelets as those numbers were still extremely low.  They gave her two units and then checked.  Then gave her two more.

Earlier that morning she had noticed a small blemish on her face.  It had gotten larger.  Then we noticed numerous small, red dots, resembling measles on her arms and legs.  We showed the nurses who then became very concerned.

At five PM, when we should have been out the door on the way home, her doctor ordered her admitted to the hospital.  She was “Neutropenic“.  This is a condition that results in low blood cell counts.  Her platelets were practically missing, and a hematologist was called in.

She was put on bed confinement because if she fell or was bruised in any way, should could hemorrhage.  The lack of white cells may have resulted in sepsis and could have killed her.  She was in danger.

Four days in the hospital later, they had given her some drug to prevent her body from killing off the blood cells they were giving her.  Apparently, her “Super Power” is killing foreign matter inside her own body.  Except cancer.  Her immune system was killing off the platelets they were giving her.  They had to give her red cells and platelets once they stopped the body from killing it off.

In a couple of days she was feeling better, color had returned, the spots were gone and she was ready to go home.

The Gemzar was the culprit.  They stopped giving that to her altogether, and stuck with the carboplatium.

Session Five and Session Six went without a hitch, other than lowered blood cell counts, and receiving the Neulasta shot on time 27 hours after each chemo session.

Three weeks to the day after the last chemo, like our regular clock-work schedule, we visited the hospital for a blood draw.  Fourty minutes later, we were in the PET scan area.  The numbers were back in 20 minutes.  All great.  Everything back to normal.  Except her red blood cells.  We think she is a bit anemic from all of the chemicals and she’s working to fix this with diet, supplements, and so on.  Tomorrow, on Friday, we’d get the PET scan results.

On Friday… we saw the doctor himself.  He was stern.  He didn’t smile.

Then he said, “Well, the PET scan results came back.  We see absolutely no sign of the cancer.  The nodule on your lung is just gone.  The other area isn’t light up.  We DID see some cells around your lung, but, they are not lighting up as if they are cancer.  It looks very good.”

JoAnne and I high-fived.

Wednesday the following week we were packed and were headed out.  First stop was going to be Omaha area, to visit our son Jeremy, who had moved up there and was working.  The car was completely packed and we sneaked out to avoid waking Nick, who had graciously allowed us to stay there for the whole medical adventure.

We left the key inside, went out the garage, secured the door with the electronic system and got in the car.

I put the key in and …. absolutely nothing happened. The car was dead.

We went ahead and got some assistance from the guys, and jumped the car.  Left jumpers on for 20 minutes, and the car started right up.

We drove to Nebraska without killing the car once.  That night we stayed with friends, and the car was fine.  Started up a couple of different times.  Next day we left for Missouri, pass through all the flooded areas, but no car problems.  Checking the car that night when we arrived in Richmond, MO, I found the battery voltages were not at a normal 13.8 after running all day.

I assumed the battery had a bad cell.  I went to Walmart because, as it turns out, some engineer is sitting there getting kickbacks on battery changes in the Dodge Journey.  The battery is NOT under the hood.  It’s not in the trunk.  It’s NOT in the back seat.  It’s under the left, front fender, kind of inside the engine compartment, but to get it, you must remove the wheel, the shroud covering the inside of the fender and then reach WAY up inside to unbolt the battery holder and cables!

Ok… 4.5 hours later at Walmart, the next issue happened.  All of the mechanics except one young kid, had walked off the job leaving my car sitting on the lift, tire off, and battery not looked at.  I, needless to say, complained.

At the end of it all, I personally reinstalled the wheel, taught the kid how to drop his lift, and made sure to Quality Control check his battery installation (because, he didn’t tighten the cables, and didn’t install the bracket to hold the battery down… which might have turn the car into a dangerous missile…..)

I went in to pay for the battery, and the lady at the counter apologized and said “No charge today, Sir, have a good day”.  Just like that.  Free battery?

Cool.

Unfortunately, nothing in life is free.

On Wednesday two days ago, we left Asheville, NC en route for Southport North Carolina, about a six hour drive, give or take.

Everything went very well, except the construction, the crazy drivers and accidents scattered across the region.  JoAnne routed us down and off some of the freeways to avoid accidents.  Somewhere around 501 near Myrtle Beach and a couple of miles before the turn to highway 17, the car began making horrible noises.

Then a “battery light” came on.

Uh oh….

I pulled into a random parking lot.  I grabbed my multimeter which I am going to start carrying around on my belt like a TRUE Nerd from now on, and measured the out put of the alternator.

11.5 volts DC.  Hmm… that’s not normal.  Should be 14.6vdc or so.  Yeah, alternator is NOT charging.  Also some ‘grindy’ noise was coming from the engine.  I listened carefully, and decided it was either an idler wheel, or the tensioner, along with probably the alternator failing.

With the battery at under optium voltage, and after discovering that it would cost 200 bucks just to tow the car around the corner, and have it “diagnosed” (not fixed, just tested), I thanked the lady I’d spoken too and said, “We’re going to try to make it to the marina.  It’s only 52 miles….”

We killed all the power inside, anything charging inside was removed, radio killed, and I illegally ignored my turn signals and avoided stepping on the brakes.

This battery was brand new, and free.  I was going to drive it into the dirt.

And we did.

We arrived a few moments after 5 PM, an hour later than we thought.  At the corner of Fish Factory road and Long Beach Road, I again broke the law.  The light was red.  But, the car was freaking out.  Weird lights on the dash were coming on.  Beeps and buzzes from the dashboard I’d never heard before met our ears.  I made an illegal left turn against a red traffic light.  Of course, there were no cars, and no traffic as the bridge is still closed…. I then, for the third time that day, broke the law.

I went 10 miles an hour over the speed limit.

The car died as I backed into an open space in the lot.

The last bit of momentum took us to the curb.  The car died.  We were home.

That evening I came down, checked the boat, batteries and put the bed together.

Next morning I called the place that had worked on the car last June on the alternator (see, wasn’t the FIRST time we’d had issues). They have the car now, it was towed there yesterday afternoon at 2pm.

He called me three times this morning.

Diagnosis:

  1. Alternator shot, but under a lifetime warranty.
  2. Tensioner wheel is failing, bearings coming out

A new alternator is on order and will be installed Monday morning, along with a new tension wheel and mechanism (probably the spring).

Should have the car back by sometime Monday afternoon.  The cost will likely be 300 bucks, give or take a bit.

(That’s all labor, and perhaps a bit for the parts).

I will NOT be surprised if the brand new battery isn’t shot too.  We’ll find out soon enough.

 


Today is Friday, 5 April 2019.

Nothing in life is set in stone.  Not even those “Death and Taxes” people talk about.  You might avoid both if you’re smart, careful and even, at times, courageous.

One thing in life is certain though… if you don’t try, you can not do.  JoAnne is a tough chick.  She’s a lucky lady and she’s extremely courageous. She is my super hero.  Used to be my Dad was my “hero”.  But, after 40+ years with her, I’ve seen her face death with a smile and overcome it.  I’ve seen her pick up a margarita a few hours after chemo and say “Why not have a little fun? I deserve a margarita!”

I’ve watched her cry quietly over this awful disease. Not for herself but for, the perhaps “missed chances” at things.

I watched her face light up when she holds our newest grandchild, Lincoln, and hug the other grands, and the great-grand daughter.

I have spend sleepless nights myself worrying about her, caring for her, getting her things, bringing her coffee in bed in the mornings and just being there to hold her when she wants me to.

Life changes, but you can either accept things as they are, or you can make your own plans and make your wishes come true.

Cruising life isn’t always about pretty anchorages, great sailing days, and seeing dolphins.  Yes, those things happen.  But, so many other bloggers and video bloggers show you all the “good stuff”.  No one shows you, or tells you how much work it is to get ready for a hurricane, hoping it misses you by a long distance, and how much worry it causes you when you can’t be there to “protect your ship”.

We live our lives now around this boat and each other.  It’s not always positive.  Broken cars, engines, plumbing, leaks, hard rains, strong winds and sometimes broken facilities where you’re visiting, poor service at places (See Walmart above, there’s way more to that story than I actually told you) and even things like “uncontrolled dogs” that some cruisers bring ashore all work to dissuade a person from continuing.

We’ve been LUCKY on a lot of issues.  We’ve also probably paid out a LOT more money than we had to at times.

But, I don’t think either of us would trade this life for a sedate house on a hill in Colorado again.

The best thing?  Coming “Home” to “Welcome Home” messages from our dock friends.  Our extended family.

And to that end, this little thing goes out to Kevin, Debi, Jay, Tina, Pam and Charles – a few of that extended B Dock family.  Thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers, and looking after our boat, worry for us, staying in touch, checking my batteries in the boat (Jay), and watching over Adventure during the hurricane (Debi and Kevin).  We can’t thank you guys enough.  (By the way, I’m probably gonna need a ride to the place to pick up my car Monday… anyone? LOL)

This weekend and week coming up, I will be getting the boat ready for an extended trip.  At this point, we have Abacos and Marsh Harbor in our sights.  JoAnne, more than anyone in the world right now, deserves a break, an island, an island drink, a beach and a vacation.

I’m going to give it to her.

 

 

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September/October/November

I have already related to you the mess we had with insurance over medical problems.

We came back to Colorado, and then after getting that straightened out, we saw JoAnne’s oncologist, and dates were scheduled.

As luck, or perhaps fine tuning, would have it, we had a three week hiatus in which to make another trip across country.  We wound up traveling back from Colorado to Southport.  We stopped (as usual) to visit our friends, Mike and Cindy, as Cindy is preparing for her starring role in “A Bad Year for Tomatoes” in November.  (As of this writing, she did opening night and the second night’s play.  This Friday night and Saturday should be their final curtain.)

We stopped around Tennessee and we wound up at Southport late on the evening of our arrival.

The boat was pretty much a mess.  Books and other things not nailed down flew around during the hurricane.  A solar panel pulled loose from the top and fell to the deck, ripping wires from the connectors.  Fortunately, it wasn’t much of a mess, the books were cleaned up, the batteries checked, and we stayed with our friend at her apartment for a couple of night until I could clean the interior of the boat up.

We spend the next week doing minor repairs, and prepping the boat for the winter, dumping our water tanks and removing any remaining food stuffs to the car, to return that with us to Colorado.  Why not use it there?

I repaired and tested the solar charging system.  We had a major water gusher under the sink where our Seagull Water filter system resided, and had worked itself loose, releasing pressure when turning on the pressure water system.  We move a few things to storage, removed a few winter clothes and after about a week on the ground there, set out again for Colorado.

This time, we took a few extra days, as there was no rush.  We stopped again with Mike and Cindy and spent a full day assisting in the set build for the play at the local VFW Hall in Richmond, MO.  I helped Cindy with her lines and we had a good time hanging out with them.  The day we left, we both had colds, and were kind of miserable.

So, we stopped in Kansas for the night instead of making the long, eleven hour run from Richmond back to Colorado Springs.  We spent the night got up late, traveled and arrived back here.

Over the course of the last week, we’ve been to multiple doctor’s appointments, been in and out of two hospitals and visited most of our kids.

A couple of days ago, our fourteenth grand child was born.  His name is Lincoln Alan Dale Donaldson, and he was 5lbs & 15oz.  He’s have a few breathing issues apparently though, and is still in the hospital until they can get him breathing correctly, even perhaps giving him some  red blood cells to help as he seemed slightly anemic.  Otherwise, he seemed healthy.  His mom and dad (Lana and Patrick) are quite proud!

Baby Lincoln

 

Yesterday was the beginning of JoAnne’s chemo.  She has six sessions.  They are 21 days long (scheduling, not that many days in a row!.)

The first day is a lot of chemicals, drugs to prevent nausea. etc.  The second set in the first session, will be 7 days out from the first day, and will be a short session to give her another dose of one of the chemicals.  Then it starts over again on Day 21.  This will go on for six total sessions, or about 18 weeks, interspersed with doctor’s appointments, blood work and other tests as needed.

We are hoping this particular chemotherapy doesn’t make her lose her hair like the first one did, but we’re prepared that it will, just in case.  She has some hats and scarves, like last time.  The chemicals are somewhat different this time as well, and her doctor said that people do not lose their hair “as much” with this type.

JoAnne is a tough cookie.  She fought this last time and managed to beat it back for four full years, she never really even got ill as some do, through chemo, and she worked the whole time last time.  This time, we’re completely retired and have nothing to keep us from fighting this all the way through.  She’s going to get plenty of rest in spite of herself! ha!

JoAnne, the First Mate of the Sailing Ketch, Adventure!

 

We both want to tell you folks, those who are already out there and follow us, and those thinking about it, as well as our friends who are comfortable in their homes, snuggled up by the fireplaces, drinking their hot chocolates, or martinis by the fire:

Stop living life the easy way.  Don’t pass the opportunities that come your way.  Don’t live day-to-day and Check-to-Check.

Do NOT let life pass you by while you’re “waiting for retirement”.  Don’t sit on your butts, thinking about all the things you’re going to do “When I don’t have to work again”.  Do NOT wait for “enough money” (because you will NEVER HAVE ENOUGH MONEY!) to do the “RV Thing”, “buy a boat”, “go horse back riding”, “Mountain Climbing”, “Paragliding or skydiving”.

Just don’t wait.  Do it.  Sit down and make that list of things you want to do, and then check them off, one at a time.  Save some money, go do one, pick a date, do another.

Life isn’t lived while you’re “waiting on it to catch you”.  Life is lived when you grab that bull by the horns and wrestle his big ass down into the mud and hog tie him, then jump up and win that trophy.

The day JoAnne gets her walking papers from chemo, we’re headed back to Southport without meager belongings, and we’re going to empty out the Vee Berth, put everything we don’t need in storage (winter clothing, parts, junk pieces, extra crap that we “might need one day” and all the stuff that weigh us down, collect a couple of friends as crew and we’re setting sail for the Bahamas.  Yes, it will be near the beginning of Hurricane Season.  Yes, it might be the BEST sailing time.  Yes, it will be relatively spur of the moment, pretty much “unplanned” and absolutely not the “right season”, but you know what?  It’s well past time to do it.

We made a decision awhile back that we were going to live our lives, and do the “medical stuff” around life, not live our lives around the “medical stuff”.  I’ll keep JoAnne safe, and healthy, and make sure she sees the doctors when it’t time, but we’re not sitting on our asses waiting for a “day, date, season or proper time” any longer.

To our friends Kevin and Debi – skippers of their own ships, be prepared, we’re coming for you, we need a crew! (Don’t be surprised if you get shanghaied!!!!!!!!!

 

 

The Dance

limbo

noun (1)

lim·bo | \ ˈlim-(ˌ)bō  \
plural limbos

1: often capitalized an abode of souls that are according to Roman Catholic theology barred from heaven because of not having received Christian baptism

2aa place or state of restraint or confinement trapping travelers in an airless limbo—Sam Boal

ba place or state of neglect or oblivion proposals kept in limbo

can intermediate or transitional place or state the adolescent occupies a special human limboNew Republic

da state of uncertainty The graduate was in limbo for a while, trying to decide what to do next.

e: a dance or contest that involves bending over backwards and passing under a horizontal pole lowered slightly for each successive pass

Last month I spoke about our lives in the last few years, the boat, JoAnne’s cancer and right after that we were put on alert watching Hurricane Florence form off the coast of Africa and make the long trek across the sea, to finally visit the USA.

In the few weeks after publishing that entry in August, I spent a lot of time cleaning up the boat, getting her ready for the fall trip to the Bahamas.  Then Florence formed, and it appeared to be heading right for Southport, NC.  The news was all over the place on possible hit locations, the NHC was all over the place, the Spaghetti models were everywhere.  The only thing that was accurate was my own predictions that it would hit somewhere between Myrtle Beach and Beaufort, NC.  And I was accurate about that part.

JoAnne and I started preparing the boat for a hurricane, and finally on Tuesday just before it hit, we also received a call from her oncologist’s office back in Colorado.  We had four weeks to return to begin a treatment plan.  A PET scan had been ordered and taken care of the Friday before.  The doctors read the scans and decided she had some “area of concern” which the oncologist believed to be a recurrence.

On Wednesday morning, of “official, mandatory evacuation” and in light of a probably Category Four hurricane hitting full on in North Carolina, near to us, we packed the last of our belongings we’d not place in storage and I started the car, looked to JoAnne and said, “Where too?”

We had no idea where to go, which way to run or who would take us in for a few days.  With the car running, we called her Brother down in Florida and told him the situation, and he had us come to stay with he and his wife for a few days.  We knew we wanted to return to the boat before heading back to Colorado, and probably hit our storage locker once more for cold weather clothing, usually kept in storage in the summer.

We spent a week in Florida visiting with friends and her brother.  When we attempted to return to North Carolina, the rivers were just cresting, roads were out, flooded and bridges damaged, roads closed, and basically those who got home to Brunswick county were already close in, and had an idea of which roads to take avoiding the dangerous conditions (and road blocks).

Many made it home, but we could not. Our time was running out.

We made for Colorado.  Friends are caring for our boat, which suffered only minor, external damage.  Lost a solar panel, the bimini and it was damp below.  I have plans to head back there once we get JoAnne settled into a routine.

This past week was a mess with the doctors and insurance.  We argued with both for hours, until finally, the insurance company told the doctor’s office what we’d been saying all along; we do NOT need a referral to her oncologist (since she has been seeing him for four years) and we’re on Tricare standard which does NOT require ANY referrals for ANY outpatient care.

The doctors also told us, that there were two areas of concern, not one.  One area on her lung, and another somewhere between kidney and liver, very non specific.  We will find out how specific that is on this coming Tuesday.

Another CT scan was performed a few days ago, after the battles with Insurance and the Dr. office, and we now have more information.

Friday she was called and told that she will be commencing chemotherapy soon, after a port is installed and we see the doctor once more so we can work out a schedule and plan to fight this.  He told the caller to tell JoAnne that the lung issue is a “recurrence” rather than a new form of cancer (lung cancer perhaps).  He was unsure prior to the CT scan, but is more confident of his diagnosis now I suppose.

(Personally, I am NOT more confident yet, and have questions.)

At the beginning I put up a definition. The definition was for the word Limbo, a word I used in the previous blog entry from August.

Limbo, from the definition is a place… without a destiny or destination.

It’s also a dance…

Kind of like life.  Life is a dance or journey.  You never know when you’re young how the moves go.  You have to be taught.  Some of us, like me, never learned how to dance, I just listen to the music.  But, there are times when bending over backward to accomplish something important is how you get it done.  Going in the wrong direction to reach your destination can get frustrating.

Our destination is, and always will be, to sail the islands, from the Bahamas on to the rest of the Caribbean.  We have found that life isn’t really a “dance”, but a journey without a true “destination”.  The “Dance” part comes in at successive times in life, when you’re worried, when you’re up against some seemingly insurmountable task and just about ready to give up and quit, you Dance.

It can be a jig, a limbo, a foxtrot, or the twist.  Whatever it is, at the end, you will come out stronger, better, and more in tune with life.

JoAnne and I had a dance the last few days with Life.  It wasn’t a journey, it didn’t turn out to be a destination, merely a diversion.  We talked and discussed this dance, and found that we have decided that we will no longer live our lives around medical issues, we will deal with them around our lives.

After we get the plan in place, we’ll have about three weeks before the next chemo session.  This will give us time to travel back across country, see our boat, repair the damage, prepare her for winter (by dumping water, checking engine etc) and collect the Colorado Clothing we’ll need, and then return to our family and support system here.

Adventure has proven she can and will survive whatever Nature throws at her for now.  It’s not her time, and it’s certainly not OUR time.

So to our friends in Southport, Kevin and Debi, we thank you for looking after our home, Adventure, and WE WILL BE BACK SOON!   To our family, Especially Nick and Levi, thank you for your support.  To those we left behind in the disaster, you will rise up stronger.

And for us…. We’re going sailing again, very, very soon.

 

Medical Check Up time

A few days ago JoAnne and I left behind our boat, and headed for Colorado, on our way for blood work and Oncology checkups.

Across the country, we stopped in Kentucky to visit some of my relatives on my Mom’s side of the Family.  The Martins.  We ran into a lot of cousin, uncles and aunts, saw my Granny’s old house, which is still standing in the midst of chaos in the countryside.  I don’t expect the house to be there much longer as there’s a big fight over it between the family and some local doctor buying up all the land to develop it.

Long ago, that was a few acres of land that belonged to my Granny and Grandpa but it’s almost all gone now, as is the “quaintness” of the Appalachian upbringing I experienced as a child for a few years.  I used to wander in the woods down there, and cross the “New Road” (which is an OLD road now) to get the creek to fish or swim, and regularly get my butt whipped for going there. (We weren’t supposed to, but it never stopped us from going.)

Today, a Walmart stands near by, schools are bigger (and no longer a two-story brick building that I went to in 2nd and 3rd grade), town is a bit bigger, and there are housing developments around.  A lot of the old houses that were there when I was a child are gone.  The “woods” is much smaller than it used to be now, and of course, the hills are mountains to me any more after living for 25 years in Colorado – where mountains are massive, but still not as large as the Himalayas are (where I’ve visited and climbed).

In fact, the whole world has become smaller, more compact and familiar whereas Kentucky has become a less-than-familiar place for me.  But it was wonderful seeing relatives I’ve not seen in years.  I even managed to see my Uncle Rudy and Aunt Jenny (Rudy is my father’s older brother, and is at least 83 years old now).  He reminds me of my Dad in many ways.  Dad is gone now, for a few years, as is mom, so it was nice to reconnect to the rest of the family.

After the Reunion, we made our way to Colorado, stopping one night in Missouri at a dumpy hotel off the beaten path.  Then, next day into Fountain, Colorado and my son’s place.  We’ve managed to see all our children but one who is in Denver, most of the grandkids and visit with old neighbors.  The day after we arrived we went in for JoAnne’s blood work to be accomplished, and of course had issues with the doctor’s office.

They (CSHP) have decided that if you don’t see a doctor there in one year, you’re no longer a patient.  I guess that poses a problem for everyone who is healthy and sees a physician once a year for a checkup and physical.  After a bit of argument, and a request to talk to our regular doctor, they conceded the issue was theirs and wrote the paperwork out for the blood work (which had already, previously been arranged, but they didn’t appear to want to do it).  Dr. R. did the orders, and blood was drawn.  Then we had to wait a week for the oncologist to get it.

Yesterday the week was up, we appeared at the appointed time to see her Oncologist.  We saw the PA, and not the surgeon, but that was fine.

JoAnne’s numbers for her blood work were fine.  Maybe 2 points higher than last time.  Nothing significant.  No physical issues.  JoAnne got a clean bill of health from the doctor’s office, and we set up an appointment for next year.  Another milestone is past us!!

We head back shortly for our ship, after laundry, some more visiting and some celebration.

October-November time frame is our planned Bahamas departure time.  We hope to go there for 4-6 months, and then back to our slip in Cape Fear.  Lots of planning and lots of work to do before then!

Adventure awaits!

Two weeks ago my brother, Steve, who happens to be my baby brother and is significantly younger than me, went into the hospital.  He is suffering from kidney failure and congestive heart failure.  I won’t detail any thing else here due to his privacy.  But he has been on a ventilator for most of that two weeks.

I just got word that Steve will be taken off the ventilator today, which is a VERY good sign.  He’s awake, aware, and has even stood up and taken a few steps.  We can only hope he gets better in the next few days and can get his medical issues corrected.

We left last Tuesday morning by rental car to collect our own car sitting at Kurt’s place in the Northern Neck of Virginia.  The car issue was in and of itself an “adventure”.

Enterprise Car Rental loaned us a car for a one way trip.  I’d had the vehicle over the weekend and we did the required “walkaround” and there was some damage to the left front fender where it appeared something had gone up inside the wheel well, bounced around and then probably went out.  I pointed it out, and the guy there (Ben) said they had it on the paperwork and were aware.  There was also a window ding, where a rock had hit the window.  That too, was known.

When I tried to turn the car in on Tuesday, they told me to “keep it for my trip” and they would adjust the paperwork and not charge me the extra few hours.  All good so far.  We departed more or less on time and headed for Tappahannock, VA where we would eventually try to turn in the car.

It was a five hour trip.  Now, mind you, we are very careful with our cars (whether ours, or someone else’s cars) and there were no accidents, no bumps, no crashes, no demolition derbies or anything in our trip.  The trip was completely without incident except stopping to put gas in the tank.

I called the rental place in Tappahannock to tell them we’d be arriving around 4pm and would require a ride to our car along with all our stuff. They told me they couldn’t give me a ride after 4:15 PM.  So, I said I’d call if we couldn’t make it until after 4pm.  Henry said he would have someone take us around 4 anyway.  Cool

In fact, we made it at 3PM.  When we arrived, I explained that JoAnne couldn’t drive the car all the way back, so we wanted to drop off then and get a ride to the house where our car was located, and we didn’t know if it had enough gas, would start or we could get the keys.  There was some issues with calling the drivers and they pretty much refused to get back before 5pm and told him they weren’t staying to do the drive.

Of course, Henry didn’t know I could hear these people giving him crap on the phone.  A good manager doesn’t let on there are issues, and Henry was polite and told us we could simply call tomorrow and leave the keys with the car and they’d pick it up.  I told him I would TRY to return it myself that evening, but would call at 0800 if we could not.

Next morning I left the keys in the car under a floor mat and tried calling.  They didn’t open until 0800, and no voice mail.  So, JoAnne and I got on the road and were two hours away when we finally reached Henry.

I gave him the address, told him where the keys were located and that the car was in the drive way at the house and should not be an issue for him.  My car sat there for three months with no problems.  Henry assured me he would call when they recovered the vehicle.  Still, no problems.

At 1830 on Wednesday evening, in the middle of rush hour traffic in downtown Detroit, he calls me to tell me they recovered the car and “there’s a problem”.  Starts telling me about a “rocker panel”.  I wasn’t even sure what a rocker panel was.  Said there was “damage”.  After an explanation of what it was I said there was indeed damage to the car on that side (driver’s side) under the wheel well and on the fender from something that had happened and it was clear that any damage on that side likely had to do with that previous accident – and Enterprise WAS aware of the damage.

He insisted that it “must have happened while you had the car”.  Ummm… no.  I contacted the other office and had them talk.  Next day (Thursday) I get a  call from the manager in Southport asking questions.

After I explained it all to her, she said she would take care of the issue.  Today I plan to drive up to the office and see them face-to-face and see whether this has been resolved or not.  They promised me pictures, which I haven’t see yet.

So, here we are in Southport with a ship and a car.  I need to figure out what to do with the car, and plan our escape from here.

JoAnne and I discussed making Southport our “home port” though, last night.  Not necessarily this particular marina, but this area to be able to sail in and out of Cape Fear and down the ICW.  Why would we do that?

When we arrived last night no one was around. The place was quiet, and we unloaded our car and moved our stuff aboard.  Then we decided to head over to Check Six (a local brewery) that we’ve been visiting.

When we walked in…. wow.  The people here are wonderful.  They all knew about my brother, and they asked about Steve.  There were hugs all around, the owners came over to hug us, patrons and people we barely knew treated us like family.

Southport has been wonderful.  All of the people are nice, helpful and it’s not very stressful here.  It “feels” like home.  Though, for us, Home is where ever we drop anchor or can stay a few days normally.

No matter what we decided to do, we have to decide by 6 Feb 2017 as that’s when our paid time on the docks is up and we either need to move on or pay (and it’s not cheap here in this marina either).

Now we’re faced with finding a place to store the car (or sell it, which we’re both opposed to doing at this point) and move down the road to Florida, or we have to go south to Florida and find a place to get a mooring ball or slip (and pay for that) and leave our car THERE.

No matter WHAT we decide though, we will be coming back to Southport to visit.

Today I check on prices for marinas here, Florida and have a chat with Enterprise.  I’ve rented from them almost exclusively for years and if they attempt to charge me for damages to a car that I didn’t do and were already on the vehicle, I will never rent from them again and I’ll be spreading the story far and wide. (There’s more to this story than I’ve told, about how they give out damaged cars, and what they do if one comes in damaged… more on that later IF necessary).

On a boat note here, batteries seemed ok with sitting here running only the bilge pump and charging on solar.  Then again, we don’t have any leaks that could cause the bilge pump to go come on often (if ever).  So, she sat here at the dock a full eight days without any maintenance, checking or supervision. 🙂

Thanks to the Dockmaster at South Harbour Village Marina, Bill and crew for looking out for us, and a special thanks to Jay Beard, another full time cruiser friend for “keeping an eye on her” for us.  I appreciate all of you.

Finally, IF you’re ever passing through Southport and you happen to like craft beer, I strongly suggest you do NOT miss the Check Six Brewing Company over on Southport Supply Road  (http://www.checksixbeer.com/).  Good friends, good beer, good company!!!!  (And to be sure, I RARELY give such endorsements!)

rick_joanne_adventure

s/v Adventure and Crew at South Harbour Village Marina, Southport, NC