With year’s end drawing to a close it’s looking like I will finish the year with only three surgeries!
Recovery from my last surgery a few weeks ago is still in process but is going pretty good and that is such a relief in many ways; a relief in the form of the good news the doctor had and also the physical part of the recovery being fairly quick as well. I will still need checkups every three months or so for the time being but she was pretty confident with the outcome of the surgery. I am really hoping that tomorrow’s PT appointment is my last one; I am not back to full range of motion yet, and it probably will not come back 100%, but what the Physical Therapist said at my last visit made it sound like I will probably be done very soon. The cataract surgery was successful and was the least problematic of them all.
Getting these things finally behind me has been huge. It’s been a tough summer – hell, a tough year – and I am glad I am finally able to move forward with my life. I haven’t been able to go anywhere or do very much until very recently and that has been difficult for me.
That is all about to change.
Lately I have been feeling pretty damn good and it’s been a long time. It’s exciting easing into retirement-travel mode, thinking about the road trips I can now take to visit with family and see places I want to see – all without any real timelines. The jobs I have worked the last seven years have involved working in the summers and being off in the winter some of that time. Travel in the summer when places are open will be a huge change along with better weather, and opportunities to do things with family will be one of the biggest and bestest things of all.
Yes, he said “bestest”.
But it will also mean drawbacks – being on the road with more people, all clamoring to see some of the same things. I am not real big on crowds but sometimes you just gotta do what you want to do despite being surrounded by giant masses of people; you cannot let things like that stop you or you will never go anywhere or do anything. Luckily we traveled quite a bit as a family when I was a youngster so I have already seen many of the big touristy things and many of those places I don’t need (or want) to see or go to again.
Granted, there will always be favorites (pretty much anywhere in Colorado for example) that I will visit again and again regardless, but I still have many places I haven’t been to that I still want to see and things I want to do and experience. A coast-to-coast drive on US2, a longer drive down the Pacific Coast, Route 66, eastern Canada…it’s a big list. And this list doesn’t even include Europe or Asia!
Being in the PNW (at least for now) I can easily start visiting many parts of northern and western Canada weather permitting. There are actually quite a few places I want to visit in Canada. In several of my earlier blog pages I had posts and pictures from Banff/Alberta/B.C. and it is a huge, beautiful country with a lot more to see. It would be fun to drive to AK and it’s something I have always wanted to do, but my truck has 190,000 miles on it and I don’t know if that would be a good idea to do that without a newer vehicle.
Again, it’s all very exciting to think about (and it’s even better to do) but sometimes life gets in the way. I know I have talked about doing these things before but with the way life (and death, for that matter) has been the last 3½ years things have gotten sidetracked and delayed but that doesn’t mean I am not going to be doing any of the things I talk about. This year has not been an exemplary one either as far as my personal health but I am feeling and doing pretty good now so it’s now time to do these things. Spending more time and having the ability to do things with family at any time will the the best part of all and what I am looking forward to the most. I already have one huge trip booked (so be sure to keep checking back for that) and with the other things I mentioned I think I can be busy traveling and relaxing (and blowing!) for quite a while.
Speaking of travel, I was supposed to go to CO for a wedding last week. Unfortunately the weather sucked and didn’t cooperate. I was on the fence about it anyway with my recovery but thought I could manage to get there okay and was cleared for travel. Perhaps it all worked for the best but I was really looking forward to seeing some friends I had not seen since I left CO in 2012.
The dog is doing good but we had a little scare a few nights ago. He was acting weirder than normal and was unable to stand without being wobbly. He jumped up onto my lap about 11:30 and laid down to sleep (sleep seems to be his favorite thing to do). He will do the typical “chasing a rabbit” thing in his sleep but this time it was different. He woke up a few times with his legs stiffened and kinda freaking out. He got down out of the recliner and was even more wobbly – like he was gonna fall over. I decided he might need to go to the vet and was planning on taking him in the next morning to get looked at. I was concerned he wouldn’t be okay overnight.
At 4:00 AM he woke me up and threw up on my bed. He had to go outside really bad but he then got progressively better all morning. I took him in (of course he was pretty much back to his normal goofy self by then). He apparently ate an apple or two off the ground and it affected him adversely. Needless to say I got the apples picked up (and dumped on the other side of the fence for the rabbits!) so hopefully he won’t be doing that again.
I have been de-cluttering again so I have a huge box of stuff to donate with more yet to go through. I was able to trim down several more things in the trailer and a few things in the house but I think I still have a lot more I can get rid of. I was working on going through and organizing stuff earlier this year but had to take a break from it for a bit. Then the surgeries all happened. It felt good to go through and get rid of more stuff but things like going through and scanning pictures is exhausting emotionally and it’s one thing I really cannot dive back into fully yet.
My microwave blew up so I have been living in the 60s the last few weeks, heating everything up on the stovetop. I forgot what this was like, but it hasn’t been horrible and it sure keeps you from buying microwave convenience foods! It’s also one less thing to move in the future. I remembered I bought an extended warranty for it (which I usually do not do) so they will send me a check for reimbursement once I send it in. Besides, I have one in the trailer if I REALLY need to use one.
Otherwise I have been lying low, saving money and not doing much other than recuperating and planning some getaways.
That is all there is for now.
It’s been a busy few weeks. Fall is definitely here, and with it comes the usual PNW climate for this time of year – grey, clouds and rain, the days getting shorter, and the much cooler weather. Quite a change that happened rather abruptly. I’m glad I will be able to get away soon to see some different and better weather.
A few weeks ago my oldest daughter Angie flew into town with her mom and they picked up Alexis and came to my house for a visit. We went out to the coast to see the Hoh rainforest and get on the sand at Rialto Beach. It was a really nice day and perfect weather for going out that way. My trailer makes for a nice extra room for people that come to visit.
I got back from the hospital a couple of days ago after another surgery (unrelated to the shoulder). It was something I’ve been trying to get handled for a while now so it is a relief to have it taken care of finally. I actually spent the night in a hospital which I haven’t done in decades. Needless to say I am glad to have this finally done but I am really glad to be back home. Surgery went fine and the doctor felt pretty good about the outcome. Waiting on lab results, though, before getting too relieved!
While I was gone I had to board the dog at a kennel. It was strange to do that since I just got him home and he was looking at me like “WTF is going on here?” as he curiously went with the strange (to him) woman. I’m sure he did fine since he is pretty laid back and likes almost everyone he sees. I can’t wait to see him (and not smell him!).
I’ll find out in two weeks how much longer my physical therapy will continue. It sounded like I am close to being finished with it when I was at my last visit. I will still be doing exercises but will be on my own since I still do not have full range of motion. I don’t know if it will all come back or not but I will keep working toward that goal.
It will be very nice to not have to be somewhere weekly and I can start getting out and about on some long-awaited and much-needed adventures. I try to not get too excited yet since I am still recovering from this last surgery and I have to be mindful of that. It is hard to not get excited about going places, though – I was unable to do much of anything the last six months so yes…I am ready to go someplace. I do have some big plans coming up in the future!
Being retired is quickly becoming more real. All of my options are wide open now so I have a few things to ponder. I find the classic “Pro/Con” list is such an effective way to help you make some informed decisions of this type. I started doing this when I began thinking about no longer working so now I need to go to the next step and consider what the next chapter is. Of course, my main focus was looking at if I could even think about retiring financially.
The biggest difficulty is deciding where to call your “permanent home”. The US laws enacted after 9/11 say you must have a domicile; you cannot just wander about and be a “citizen of the world” (well, at least, not in the US). You also need a domicile address for things like getting mail (“General Delivery” at the post Office is only supposed to be allowed for 30 days), vehicle licensing and income taxes (And no, it is NOT legal to just go live in the National Forest despite what everyone thinks and does and posts on YouTube and other social media; in fact, there are limits on length of stay in the forests that vary in each National Forest so you need to check into that before you set up a camp in the forest – even if you are just on a vacation.).
That means you have to think about things like taxes on your retirement on top of statistics on crime, politics (I guess those two are the same), cost of living, climate…whatever things you consider when wanting to live someplace. Some states have no state income tax (like WA) while some tax retirement/Social Security over a certain amount (like CO), and some tax it all (like KS). This can be frustrating to try to figure out because you may live in a place you like with no taxes but the cost of living is high and want to escape to a cheaper place. Some places (like OR) have no sales tax but are not retirement-friendly financially otherwise. The combinations are infinite so you have to figure out what best suits you.
One last thing…I want to post a link for Scott’s Cheap Flights (NOTE: Clicking on the colored link and joining the website gives me future discounts on my membership and may help me win a vacation!) . This website is one I pay to be a member of and it has saved me money on many flights (but you can just join for free). My first flight to Europe a few years ago was found through this website and I ended up paying only $373 for RT tickets on Icelandair to Amsterdam.
They do show you how they search for stuff on your own, but I still pay to be a member because they will find and send you cheap flights you may not think of. For example, they sent me an email a couple of months ago with a mistake fare for Bangkok, Thailand with stopovers in Viet Nam, Singapore, or other cities in Thailand. This ticket was on the top couple of airlines that fly to the Far East and Asia. Price? It was less than $300…for a $2000+ fare! And it is really cheap enough for the savings you get.
To make it even easier they give you all the steps to get the flights, what cities, airlines, and the normal prices and there is even a search link at the bottom of the emails that already has the info filled in – click the link and it takes you to the search!
That’s today’s update.
I met Jake in Montana when he came over a year or two ago to help move the kids. I only met him twice but he was a really nice guy and very friendly.
Jake, a sheriff in Montana, was killed in a tragic accident while on duty a couple of weeks ago. A GoFundMe account has been set up for his family – he leaves behind a wife and three young kids. Normally I would not pass along these types of things but it is for someone I knew and was good friends with Meghan and Loran.
If you can help it is greatly appreciated.
Today we lost a long-time family pet.
Kona had a great 16 or so years. Or, I should say, WE had a great 16 or so years being lucky enough to have her in our lives. She was always there and with her unconditional love she helped us get through some tough times in our lives. She loved hiking and road trips and she went off-roading with us every time we went – she just enjoyed being with her humans no matter what we were doing or where we were doing it.
And we really loved being with her as much as she loved being with us.
When we went to look at her as a fuzzy little puppy we got there early to be first in line. Some other people tried to do an end run and get her first. There was literally almost a fight over her but Meghan and I prevailed and took her home. She was part of our family and along with Lakota we were her pack.
When Meghan went off to college I kept Kona at my house since she couldn’t live with her in the dorm. That dog followed me everywhere and always kept me within eyesight (much like Rider does). She would even circle wide and herd the cat out of the kitchen. So many stories and fond memories of her.
I may have written about this before (I’m not really in the mood to go back and look…) but want to say it again if I did. I thought about how, and how much, pets are entwined in our lives when Lakota died the day I lost my job nearly eight years ago. They are always there, quietly supporting and living us through life’s highest of highs and the lowest of lows; from the moment we bring them home until the very end they transcend all of the events in our lives for the short time they are with us whether events are happy or sad – the relationships beginning and ending, the new jobs and new places to live several states away, loss of family and friends. And, much like the loss of family and friends, the loss of a pet is also a loss of a loved one as well as another link to our past.
I will miss seeing her when I visit but she will always be there. We were so lucky to have you, Kona. You were a great companion.
Thanks for having us in your pack.
I’m sitting here typing this while drinking a cup of organic Sumatra coffee. It is nice to be able to enjoy a delicious cup in the later part of the day as well as in the morning. Ahhh…the simple pleasures. I’ve been having only one cup in the morning the last few years, but I have enjoyed an afternoon cup several times the last couple of weeks. I want to get back to one cup though. I think limiting is not only healthier (as in blood pressure), but you appreciate the flavor of a cup of good, high-quality coffee even more when you limit it.
It’s definitely different now that I have a dog! It’s been a long time since I have had a pet around full-time – about 70 dog years. He seems to be adjusting pretty well and he follows me absolutely everywhere – within a foot of my physical being. He’s not a problem, though. He’s definitely smart but in a puppy way. I took him on a ride to get a Chuckit and a chewy snack today. He will lay down, then all of a sudden get up to look, then just suddenly collapse, fall over and sleep – it’s like he is narcoleptic.
Friday was PT and a surgery post-op follow-up. It was like Groundhog Day – he saw his shadow…so it’s 12 more weeks of PT. Post-op appointment went good – no more post-ops but I probably won’t get full use of my arm back. Poop I say. I will still continue to work hard and keep my exercises going to get as much back as I can though. Still not enough range of motion and we are not really doing much for strengthening other than using it as I can.
Yesterday I went out and organized the trailer a little, cleaning out and removing anything not really needed, putting things in their place and drained the water lines and tank. I found some storage containers on clearance (75% off!) that ended up being perfect for separating and storing my kitchen stuff securely in place under the bench. Another one was perfect for storing my cordless drill, bits and charger, a screw assortment pack, an electrical toolkit, and other miscellaneous things for electricity.
Back earlier in the year (before I got hurt) I had added closed-cell foam in the seat cushions since the old ones were breaking down a bit and not very cushy (I guess it can happen since the trailer is 11 years old now). The addition of the extra foam has them overstuffed now but they will flatten after sleeping on them a few weeks. I did not have enough foam to just replace what was in there, plus I have sat on cushions like that while camping and they only mash flat and have no padding. I figured mixing the two might solve the problem.
The trailer was pretty damp inside even though I had some absorbent packs in there. That’s not really a good thing and it’s a good thing I went in to work on things. I was really surprised how damp it was since I put those packs in there to help control the moisture inside. I have bedding and such in there so that had me more than a little concerned. I ran the furnace while working in there but it made the walls sweat even with the windows cracked open a little (propane heat has moisture in it so you have to vent the inside when using the furnace). The packs weren’t even clumping – obviously not doing their intended task – so I ordered a small electric dehumidifier to put in there and that should fix the problem. It might even come in handy on trips instead of the constant running of the noisy A/C.
I’ll probably be getting out for some dry-camping trailer trips close by in the next few weeks to get back into traveling. Last year’s Crater Lake trip was my last road adventure. The drive to MT was a big jump back into driving for me and it’s been a while since I towed a trailer. With the additional PT I have to go to, it is going to affect going on any long trips (more than 5-6 days) for a while…possibly into January next year (it’s only if we are still making progress). I don’t see it as the end of the world; it’s just a little delay in things. I am going to go see things when I get the opportunity but my arm is a little more important to get back.
I have been bingeing on Hulu again, all in preparation for today’s premiere of the newest season of “Letterkenny”. I was hoping to see a few more seasons and a friend said a few weeks ago that the new season is on it’s way. My rockin’ Black Friday Hulu deal expires at the end of the month so I’m glad I can watch the new ones before then. Pitter-patter, let’s get at ‘er.
I just got back from my first trip after retiring. I drove to Montana to visit Meghan and get my new dog, who I have named Rider. It is getting to be that time of year where the weather can be a problem driving that far. Being retired it normally wouldn’t be a problem. However it IS for the time being since I still have physical therapy and orthopedic appointments that I cannot miss.
The drive was a good opportunity to think about some things (as it always is). With the changes in my life the last few months it has given me a lot of time to think about finally deciding to retire. More time to spend with family was my main reason to finally go for it. I will have more opportunities for travel as well.
There are, however, a few details I need to figure out. The biggest of those is considering where to live. I like Washington but I do miss things about Colorado. I have really good friends in both places. Along with that are, of course, the financial aspects; WA has no state income tax and does not tax Social Security or retirement. That is pretty huge when you no longer work and want to stretch your dollars. On the other hand, though, one big thing is the cost of living in WA. Gas is currently a little over $3.00 a gallon and is even higher in the summer. Rent is ridiculous, and that is only WHEN you can find a place to rent in an area you want to live and can find a job you want. With my medical stuff happening I really cannot make any major changes at the moment so I have time to figure things out.
Speaking of driving, I forgot just how tiring driving that far can be, especially after not driving at all for three months. I left mid-afternoon last Wednesday, drove halfway and stayed the night in a hotel. I had to plan around some appointments but wanted to get a jump on it, knowing that breaking it into two days was going to be easier. Plus I wanted to take advantage of the weather being decent for driving.
I believe I have mentioned before how I just don’t like to do the marathon driving like I used to when I was younger. I have gotten away from that more in the last few years and it does make a trip more relaxing and enjoyable. Used to be when I had taken time off of work the goal was to maximize that time off and get someplace fast to spend more time there. Time will no longer be an issue (it really hasn’t the last few years anyhoo). Animals on the highways are always an issue after dark.
The first part of my drive through the Seattle metro area is a lot of traffic to deal with until you get to Snoqualmie Pass and I-90, but at least it goes through the National Forest and there are mountains. The drive from Ellensburg, WA to Spokane is very underwhelming. Miles and miles of miles and miles. There are few towns along the way so you have to plan a little for things like food, bathroom and fuel stops. The drive the rest of the way is better as you start to get back into the mountains and forests.
Speaking of forests, the difference between the forests of Washington and the Rockies is fairly big. Different flora and fauna due to the different climate is quite obvious, with coastal forests being more humid. This humidity makes the forest extremely dense with understory so thick you cannot walk under the trees (except on a trail) as opposed to forests in the Rockies where you see trees with grass under them.
It was good to not only get back on the road but see those forests of the Rockies again. I do miss seeing the forests where you do not feel so confined by the understory. It was also good to be back in a drier climate. I find hiking in the Rockies is more enjoyable since you aren’t limited by a trail through the brush. I have hiked trails in WA where you cannot see ANY views at all. For me it takes away a little from the enjoyment of being outdoors – it’s just not the forests and mountains I grew to fall in love with in Colorado. Different strokes.
On a twelve hour drive there will usually be something of interest worth stopping to see – museums, historical markers, even quirky restaurants and things like the world’s biggest electric electric shovel (seen it). If I see something even remotely interesting I stop and look.
Along with the usual rest stops I made a few other stops to see some interesting things along the way there and back. One place, which I have stopped at several times before, was a rest area on the west end of Wallace, ID.
The town of Wallace has extensive mining history and is worth stopping in. At this particular rest area (right off if I-90) they have put together an exhibit about it with a lot of mining equipment. I took some extra time to check out the exhibit. It is very well done and is worth your time. Stop and read the interpretive signs; you just might learn something interesting and fascinating. Be sure to make a donation to help the cause!
I got to their house in the afternoon and we had a good time but it was busy! We went out one day to see their new house and drop off a load of hay. It is a really nice place they had built on a nice lot they picked out. Gorgeous views really don’t suck! the weather was very nice most of the time, but I had to get out of there early due to a big storm moving in. It was a good thing I did as it got pretty nasty.
I left Tuesday mid-morning and it was very windy until I stopped in Ellensburg at a hotel. It was odd going to a hotel with a dog. He did great during the 8-hour drive we made – slept the entire way, but was prancing around like he was Fabio on a romance novel cover.
Looking west at Snoqualmie Pass from a rest area was a big “uh-oh”. It looked nasty on the Pass so I looked it up and it was rain/snow mix and slushy with 32 degrees. I have been stopped in that Pass before when the weather was bad and it WAS bad. I didn’t want too take a chance.
I got onto Expedia (which I am getting away from using) and checked into the Red Lion Hotel. It was decent but undergoing renovations. Friendly staff, decent rooms at reasonable prices, decent breakfast buffet, and some restaurant choices nearby. I decided to go to Taco del Mar next door and ordered a taco salad. She asked me what I wanted on it and I said “surprise me”. She looked and me and was a little surprised and smiled when IU told her to go for it and do whatever. I ended up with a 10-layer taco salad.
It was delicious and I ate the whole thing. Walking out I told her how good it was and she should name it.
I have actually done that before at a different Taco del Mar near me and it is really fun to see the reaction of the employees when you tell them they can create something, anything they want, for you. I said to her “make it like you would at home” and it was really good too. Try that out for yourself sometime!
After finishing off dinner I got the dog out of the truck and went to the room. After sleeping all day I guess the excitement was just too much for Rider.
We got back in the truck this morning and finished driving home. Driving over Snoqualmie Pass just west of Ellensburg I saw snow, wet roads, and about 33 degrees. Not too bad and I am glad I decided to call it a day yesterday where we did. It was pretty relaxing to take another night – we just needed to avoid the weather.
I stopped and got a few pictures along the way:
It was fantastic to get away and I needed it badly. It is always good to see and hang out with family. It’s good to travel. And I finally got my dog.
It’s been a really good week.
It was a big day today. I decided that it is time to retire.
I plan on spending more time with my family and doing some traveling when I finally can get away from the doctor and physical therapy appointments.