Monday, May 27, 2013



“I sat and thought, as I liked to do, about Susan and me and our time together.  It always seemed to me that being with her was enough, and that everything else, good or bad was just background noise” **

OK, so there has been a little bad patch, but Patty is just fine.  The details are less important than that.  Slightly concerned on the road, we wandered home for our little medical adventure; we weren’t given enough time to get worried before everything was fixed up, checked out and she was cleared to “get on with your life.”  We’ve had more anxiety about how to mesh future checkups and labs with our travel schedule. 

Nine years ago, when Breast Cancer intervened in our lives, we got a huge laugh from Erma Bombeck’s book title.  Breast Cancer?  Let Me Check My Schedule because that was the first reaction for both of us.  This time, after the few days of medical high anxiety, we were back to that. 

Fortunately, weather in Montgomery is pleasant, the nasty smelling hedge blossoms are fading and the French Open is on TV.  Patty is working on a sizable editing project in front of the TV with heart healthy snacks and meals on offer. 

The Cahaba Lilies are blooming in the creeks and there will be enough water to float by if we choose.  The trout in North Carolina are looking up at Little Yellow Sally Stoneflies and are being quite accommodating. There is rumor of a nice campground along the Chief Ladgia Bike trail and a few more of those Corps of Engineer sites that we need to explore… Yes, there are lots of places to entice and we will strike out soon enough, but being with her is enough. 

** The quote is from a Robert Parker novel in the Spenser series.  These are characterized by guttural six word dialog,  some fist fights,  and lots of twists and turns.  Patty reads a lot of these; I’m not sure why.  I read them just for the parts about Spenser and his psychologist girlfriend Susan. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Five Hundred Nights

After our little medical adventure, we busied ourselves with short walks in the neighborhood and a little desultory gardening.  The Airstream sat regally at curbside polished to a nearly bug proof sheen.  Neighbors wanted to know:
“When are you leaving again?”
“Where are you guys going next?”
When we sketched in the medical realities, they asked:
“When are you leaving again?”
“Where are you guys going next?”

Patty was “feeling fine”, never admitting to ever feeling poorly.  We were only waiting for doctor visits….
“Road trip???   …OK, a short one.”
This was to be a special celebration.  Yeah, you would think we would celebrate dodging “the BIG one, Elizabeth” but on this short trip we would spend our 500th night in the Airstream (in a little over three years). This might be EPIC… or not.

The Prairie Creek COE site is just outside Selma in the heart of the Black Belt less than an hour away.  It sits along the “Alabama Lakes”  -- navigation and power structures on the Alabama River.  Our space in the “Eagles Nest” was at water’s edge.  We situated our chairs to watch the passing fishing boats, a few friendly ‘gators and a sky full of Mississippi Kites swooping and darting around like swallows. 

We glassed the shores, read a great deal, took short walks, nibbled fruits and grains, loaded blood pressure readings into our new iPad app, watched a little Downton Abbey, chatted up some folks, and generally behaved as good little cardiac patients.  Went to bed early on our Five Hundredth Night and looked forward to many more –- together.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

“…a little tightness in my chest.”



It was a pretty steep little hill, but it promised to be the only hill on our planned ride near Carlyle Lake.  We were both winded (and OLD), but this was different.  Patty seldom quits on anything, but it didn’t take too much to convince her to park the bikes.  

There were no other symptoms, so we cooled it around the campsite and went on to spend a quiet couple days with cousins.  But, by unspoken agreement, we were heading home for some medical advice -- at a leisurely pace.

We stopped at beautiful Giant City State Park in Illinois and ate the famous (Heart-healthy, I’m sure) fried chicken in the lovely stone lodge that Al’s father built as a young engineer with the CCC.


We followed the back roads South through Mississippi Delta country skirting the big weather and trying to figure out the mechanics of catfish farming.


We’d heard of Pickensville COE but we were wowed by its natural beauty.  There were six campers in 176 spaces.  The still black waters of Clear Lake are beautiful in the sunset; Tug boats eased through the channel behind our campsite on the way to nearby locks .








We were close to home now, doctor appointment  booked, and we took a few minutes to drive through other Alabama COE sites we had never thought to include in our travels –-Too close.” Prairie Creek near Selma was equally lovely and Gunter Hill (nearly in our backyard) has opened a new loop which looks for all the world like an upscale suburban neighborhood with Motor homes instead of houses. The staff we talked with were friendly and welcoming (It is Alabama after all.)

So we were pleasantly distracted as we unloaded at home. No new symptoms, little anxiety, just some questions…

Then things started happening FAST

EKG…ECHOCARDIOGRAM …”Here is a prescription for Nitroglycerine.” … get a stress test in a few days…No, right now… we think a more sophisticated stress test would be best… See you a few days for the results…”No, could you come in tomorrow?”  … Really, the doctor has seen your results; come in NOW. We will wait for you…. You have had a HEART ATTACK …HOSPITAL…5AM TOMMOROW !!!


“With your family history, it was probably your active lifestyle that got you to 68.”

“No bike for a couple of weeks, then start slowly. You can start walking right now.” 

Patty, who remembers childbirth as a minor discomfort “like indigestion”, claims that she never really felt bad and feels “the same” after the little medical adventure.  She was on her feet all morning baking within a couple days…YOU tell her; she won’t listen to me.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Water, Water…

We are most appreciative of the Corps of Engineers (despite what Al’s sainted Dad might think.)  We have enjoyed lakeside elegance at Bay Springs Lake, idled beside the St Francois river in the Wappapello Lake district and now, at Carlyle Lake in Illinois, they have outdone themselves.   In our honor they have DOUBLED the size of the lake, sparing no effort to bring the water right up to edge of our campsite!  Mallards quacking gaily wake us as they paddle around the submerged fire rings in adjacent campsites. Pat has erected a sign: “Lake Carlyle -- largest lake in Illinois and getting larger every hour.”

She reminds me that we have become accustomed to old coots peddling around campgrounds, but here we have Coots PADDLING in the campsite.
The Kaskaskia River “knows no bounds” as it spreads across the tabletop flat countryside.  It is not a raging flood;  it is actually pretty here.  The fields are green and Dogwood and other flowering trees are in bloom.  Most hardwoods are leafing out;  The weather is warm and sunny, FOR NOW. 

From the Dam

We have enjoyed the network of bike paths and our ride around the pleasant town of Carlyle.  We did not enjoy our trip to the Centralia Cyclery for repairs.

Campsite/ boat launch/fishing hole


flood refugees

Pleasant weather comes to an end tomorrow as a big rain event arrives and further enlarges the lake. The lake feeds the Mississippi via the Kaskaskia river. The Mississippi is at flood stage and every prediction is for huge floods on the Missouri, the Illinois and the Midwest top to bottom.

"We proceeded on..."