Drive-thru major surgery!

Portland, OR

Well, almost . . . .

I just had my second total knee replacement surgery.  Just 6 years after my first one, I was quite surprised at how many things have changed in my surgeon’s practice.  Most notably, an option (if one’s insurance would cover it) to have the surgery done outside the hospital at a ‘surgical center’ – basically, day surgery.  I jumped at the chance to avoid spending a couple of nights in the hospital.  Also, my surgeon said that it would be cheaper and he has been getting better post-operative results from his patients who pick the day surgery option.

I’m glad I had previous experience with this surgeon though – as we drove up to the facility on the day of the surgery, it was less than imposing – crammed between an IHOP and Buffalo Hot Wings Restaurants just a couple of blocks from an IKEA store.  Once inside though, everything was state-of-the-art.

Go to sleep now . . . .

After the usual paperwork and prep, a nurse put in an IV and administered some Versed – just something to relax me.  She asked whether I was feeling it yet and I replied, “Yes, its very nice.”
To which she replied, chuckling a bit, “Yes, that’s why we keep it locked up.”

The next thing I knew I was back in my room waking up.  After about a 1/2 hour, Ben, my physical therapist showed up.  We walked about the halls a bit with a walker and then practiced going up and down stairs (since I have stairs in my house).  Then, they were ready to release me!  I was waiting for a friend to drive me home and thought I’d just wait back in my room until she arrived – but the staff was already stripping the bed! 
So, I hung out in a big recliner for a few minutes and then was released to my friends care.  All told, about 6 hours!

Round the clock home care

Since I wasn’t supposed to be alone for a few days after the surgery, I had friends and family scheduled in shifts to watch me – make sure I didn’t fall or spend too much time on my feet.  They needn’t have worried – mostly I slept.  This surgery was so much easier than the last one – probably because I knew what to expect, and I think improved techniques and getting to come home right away made for less physical and mental trauma.

Another cool thing was having the physical therapist come to the house.  We set up a circuit of exercises to do around the house – made it a lot easier in the beginning than having to arrange rides twice a week to a clinic.  We set up my mountain bike on a stationery trainer so that I could use that to warm up and increase joint mobility.  Fay Wray, liked to supervise all exercise and helped out by laying on my knee whenever possible – I think she thought that her weight on my knee would help with the straightening exercises.

Altogether an interesting experience on how things change

6 weeks post-op and everything is healing as it should be.  I'm hitting all the physical therapy goals and I know that in a couple more months I'll be feeling great and ready to get hiking again.

I’m almost afraid to think of what the experience will be if I have another major surgery – “Some assembly required”  or perhaps “Would you like fries with that on your way out?”

Pip’s Original Donuts

Portland OR

Great donuts and coffee

This local donut shop has become a Portland favorite.  Hand-thrown mugs, free donuts on your birthday, innovative new flavors daily (blackberry lavender – yum!), freshly made when you order, tiny size so you can have a bunch without feeling too guilty – what’s not to love!  Frequented by celebs and mentioned in the New York Times – often crowded but always worth the wait!

 Check them out at Pips Original Donuts

And I love it for another reason as well

The design on the latte reminds me of the rocks in the Bisti Wildnerness.  Coincidence???  Or am I just missing being on the road.

See more about my trip at   Post: Bisti Wilderness

An eerie goodbye . . . .

Portland OR

My last visit to the Greyhound Rescue

Once a week, I spend the morning helping out at the Hounds Rest Greyhound Pet Adoption Kennel about an hour from my house.  This is the first stop for retired racing greyhounds as they leave their racing lives (usually from tracks in Arizona or breeding farms in Kansas).  While at the kennel, the dogs are neutered, get caught up on their shots, get dental work or other necessary medical treatment before moving on to foster homes in the community.  While in foster care, they begin the transition from ‘professional athlete’ to adored pet.  They need to learn many things – leash walking, how to handle steps, not to run into glass doors, that microwave beeps won’t actually kill them,  the proper way to sleep on a couch – all the important stuff.
But, with my second knee replacement surgery coming up, this was my last shift at the kennel for awhile.

Leaving was a little sad for me

I’d finished all the cleaning, feeding and turn-outs.  Checked the kennel latches and fed each dog their goodbye dog biscuit.  I was at my car changing my shoes, feeling a bit sad that I wouldn’t see the hounds for awhile and that I would probably never see these particular dogs again – they’ll all be out in foster or adopted and starting their new lives by the time I’ll be able to volunteer again.

An unexpected group serenade!

So, with these thoughts in my mind, I was surprised to hear one dog start a low, mournful howl.  Now, greyhounds are known for ‘Rooing’ or howling.  They don’t seem to bark as much as other dogs –but some of them like to howl.  And when a pack of hounds start to ‘Roo’, it’s an amazing experience.  I had never heard the kennel dogs howl – they often bark when we first drive up, anxious for their breakfast – but never howling.

As I listened, slowly the other dogs joined in until the whole kennel was in full voice.  The ululation continued for almost a minute before fading out. The sound was eerie, wild and (in my present mood) very emotional. Usually, I notice the dogs silliness, or their sweet personalities, or their sheer athleticism.  This was quite different and I felt a little blessed.

Even familiar places offer surprises

Portland, OR

A walk through my neighborhood

I’m trying to walk every day in preparation for my upcoming knee surgery and I’m surprised by all the things that I have never noticed just blocks away from my home.  I used to walk the neighborhood extensively while walking the dogs – but my attention was on other dogs, cats and traffic.  I noticed the big things like new businesses, and increasingly in Portland, houses being demolished and replaced by huge houses.

But, I was surprised recently by some little things.  I saw this memorial for a local weatherman, partially covered by fall leaves along a busy street.

This sidewalk garden was filled with tiny houses and bridges – making the rock garden look like a mountain side village.

My neighbors are certainly more creative gardeners than I am!

Feels like Autumn . . .

Portland, Or

A rainy day . . .

Much as I love weeks of sunny weather, I’d almost forgotten the appeal of a rainy day.  I love the sound of tires on wet pavement, the raindrops on foliage, the smell of rain and wet soil. I like driving into the mountains and seeing the fog roll into the canyons like cream out of a pitcher. I even like wearing sweaters.

Once again, raining as I gt ready for a BBQ

Followed by darker evenings . . .

I can’t deny that the sun is setting earlier and earlier these days – and I don’t like the dark evenings.  I go thru a LOT of candles in the dark months!

I can’t deny the wheel of the seasons is turning

It takes me awhile every year but eventually I stop grasping for every bit of summer that’s left and start to enjoy and look forward to autumn.  Still grabbing up the summer tomatoes – but starting to look forward to fall apples, cider and cooler weather.

Summer in Portland

Portland, OR

Camping at Waldo Lake, 2nd deepest, most clear lake in Oregon

Wish I had taken photos of the clear blue water - friends say it's like the water in Hawaii.  There were 7 of us paddling and hanging out at Waldo Lake - a very cool place to spend a few days.  This is our 3rd year in a row and every year we have more fun!

This year was very,very dry - so no open fires allowed.  The one exception was propane grills and fire pits (anything that could be turned off).  My 'Fire Dancer' propane fire pit provided some critical camping ambiance; although the 9 yr old in a neighboring campsite was disappointed that I wouldn't let her make sticky 'smores over my clean fire glass!

The sunsets were a bit more colorful than normal because of the wildfire smoke in the air.  Luckily, it wasn't thick enough to disrupt our enjoyment of the trip.  Sigh . . . . Summer in the PNW = wildfires

More about those wildfires . . . 

Over the weekend, the wind shifted bringing the smoke from the numerous large fires burning in Eastern Washington and Oregon into the Portland Metro area.  Our normally good air quality deteriorated rapidly and was rated 'Unhealthy' for most of the weekend.

Where is the sky????

Normally, one has a very clear view of the hills across the Columbia River from this spot on Broughton Beach.

Volunteering for Greyhound Adoption NorthWest

Even though it's a 45 minute drive and shifts start at 7:30 am, I do love spending time with the hounds.  Mostly, I wash down kennels and feed dogs. They are so fun and enjoy their turnout time - the kennel muzzles are to protect their tissue-thin skin from inadvertent nips (we call the muzzles "their party hats").  They are almost all young, strong dogs recently retired from racing careers - so they are sometimes scared, sometimes rambunctious, and always so sweet I have trouble not stuffing a couple into the back of my car when I leave for the morning. 

Finished running around - now we want breakfast please

Even with thick rubber mats, these bony, thin-skinned critters need a lot of soft, cuddly bedding to snuggle in.  And sometimes, there are as many as 20 dogs in the kennel!    Depending on the number of dogs and how clean they keep their 'blankies', this translates to anywhere from 1 large garbage bag to 4 bags of laundry every day!!

I took one big bag home this weekend - it took almost 3 full loads to wash.

Clean, folded and ready for big dogs to mess up again!

Red Cross #CampPrepare!

Aug1; Portland OR

Red Cross's "Test Your 72 hr Emergency Kit" campout weekend

I had been wanting to test out my 'Go Bag' for awhile, so this was the perfect opportunity!  Many people joined the Red Cross at a local State Park for a day of camping.  I elected to camp on my back deck because Fay Wray is increasingly frail and I didn't want to leave her.  

To keep myself honest, I taped all the faucets and the fridge door closed.  That way I wouldn't be tempted by the Salted Butterscotch ice cream.  It was the hottest weekend this summer (of course, just to make it extra hard!!) and I admit that I retreated inside to the air conditioning for awhile in the late afternoon.  Also, at about 2 am, the hard deck was a bit much for my hips - so I spent the rest of the night on my comfy bed inside.

Regardless - the event was a success.  My kit worked really well and I had everything I needed.  Because of the hot weather, I have added some gatorade mix to my emergency food.

Fay Wray did not participate!

Well, she's old.  And she had her first Grand Mal seizure a few days ago and I didn't want to put her under any unnecessary stress. But, I realized that her harness and leash were at the bottom of my Go Bag - not handy if it had really been an emergency.  I also relocated her crate to the same closet as the GoBag.  In a real emergency, I'd probably feel better if she was in a sturdy crate.

The local media really got excited about this event!

While we've known for years that the PNW is due for a major, major earthquake, but a recent article in the New Yorker has had everyone in a tizzy.  So, the Red Cross asked if I would be willing to be interviewed by the press as part of the coverage of Camp Prepare.  Of course, I said yes (before realizing that THREE different stations would be out to talk to me!).

Overall, it was fun - even Fay Wray was photographed and appeared on TV.

Here are some links to the coverage if you're interested.


What to do while waiting for my new Trailer . . .

Fixing up my camping gear!

While setting up for the garage sale a couple of weeks ago, I sheared off a peg on one of the legs for my Paha Que sun shade tent - - bummer!  The 4 pegs are what hold the tent covering on.  But, I did think I could cobble together a solution.  So, off I went to my local hardware store to scrounge some parts.  I came up with a PVC pipe end cap, a metal washer and a small, fat bolt.  The cap was a tiny bit big for the tent pole but with some strategically placed tape and some super glue, I think it will hold.

The next project was to protect the wiring on my AGM battery (in the cloudy, very shady PNW, I like to store as much 12v power as possible!).  I keep the AGM battery in the back of the car and power it up with my 85w solar panel that rides on top of the car on a Yakima rack. Since I also store a lot of stuff in the back of the car on long trips, I wasn’t really liking all the exposed wiring for the battery.  So, I bought a battery box and cleaned up the wiring a bit.  I think it looks better and will be safer.  I may even think of a way to strap/bolt the box down – last year, my strapping solution was a little iffy.

Lots more volunteering!

I’ve been getting involved with my local Red Cross Chapter.  It’s fire season in the PNW – not only the year-round house and apartment fires, but we’re heading into wildfire season.  So, I’m working with others to create and update our Sheltering Supply kits and update our Sheltering Locations database.

Last week, I participated in a smoke alarm installation event in a neighborhood that had experienced a tragic home fire.  It was fun and I met some neat folks.

Red Cross offers a lot of training on-line (as well as classroom training).  So, I’ve been spending some time completing online classes.  The more training I have, the more volunteer opportunities I will have!  Right now, about the only thing I'm certified to do is set up a cot!

My First Garage Sale!

Portland, Or: June 26-27, 2015

I’m on a roll!

Before selling the Greyt Escape, I had to empty it completely.  That’s a little bit like moving a another whole household into my already not very big home.  So, things are a bit cluttered.  Time to get rid of the excess.  I’ve never done a garage sale, but I jumped at the chance to participate in a neighborhood sale (for $7, the association provides signs, publicity, and put my house on the garage sale map).  There were about 50 sales going on in my neighborhood, over 135 (!) in a nearby neighborhood.

Luckily, I enlisted an experienced garage sale friend to help me out.  She had lots of tips on set up, tagging and strategies.  It would have been very chaotic (and lonely) without her help!

Of course, it HAD to be the hottest weekend of the year (expected to break records)

The first day was very, very hot.  We started setting up at 5:30 am to beat the heat.  Buyers started showing up exactly at 7am (when we had advertised our start).  The day was very busy but mostly a lot of fun.  Some good natured haggling, none of the nightmare stories I’ve heard about aggressive professionals looking for bargains that they plan to resell.  It was pretty easy to tell the pro’s but they were all very polite.

A ton of stuff sold - so I figured it was worth the sunburn and exhaustion!

A friend's easy-up was a godsend in providing some shade!

Partway through the second day, we were getting goofy.

The second day was a lot slower - but thankfully, not quite as hot.  But between the heat and not selling as much, we decided to cancel the 3rd day.

Crazed bunny killer wielding a super-sharp cleaver (all 3 items fortunately sold separately shortly afterwards)

First Portland Paddle of the year

18 June 2015, Portland OR

Washougal Recreation Area

A short 20 minute drive from my house is the Washougal Recreation Area and Wildlife Refuge.  There is a several mile quiet, protected channel on the North side of the Columbia river – no wind and not much current.  A little breeze, lots of sun and lots of birds!  So, it was a very enjoyable paddle. 

My friend Kip – all along the dike above her, there are purple martin nesting sites (they look like bleach bottles hung on a TV antenna).

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So hot I had to undo my life jacket!!

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Portaging the boats up/down from the parking area was not easy!

Off the car (a short car, but still over our heads), up and over the dike, across a big picnic area field and then down to the beach – even with the set of wheels that I have for the kayak, it was a workout.  After our paddle, we were just beginning the struggle to get the boats back on Kip’s car when a young (tall and strong) man offered to help.  Kip started to say no, but I broke in with a resounding “Yes!!  thank you so much”.  He picked up the boats and pressed them up over his shoulder onto the racks without any strain AT ALL – easy peasy.  It was very welcome help – if a bit humiliating.  It’s a drag getting older!

My driveway seems very empty

June 17, 2015; Portland OR

Completed the sale of the Greyt Escape

After many inquiries and a few trailer tours, the right people appeared.  Bill and Ellie have been looking for awhile and after a long visit, a tour around the neighborhood to see how it towed with their truck – they decided it was ‘the one’.  I was delighted for them (and me) and hope that they have as much fun with the Greyt Escape as I have had.

I've never seen the trailer from this perspective - trundling away!!

Wow, it's really gone!

A few minutes ago, I went out into the driveway to get something I thought was in the trailer - oh, wait - the trailer is gone!

I’m sad but also getting excited about the new trailer – only EIGHT more months to wait!!  Hopefully, my friends won’t mind me mooching space in their rigs for summer camping.

The Party’s Over–Escape Owner’s Rally, 27-30 May 2015, Osoyoos BC

Nk’Mip Resort, Campground and Winery – great place on the lake for a gathering!

The resort has grown every year I’ve been here.  In addition to the resort, winery, restaurants and really, really good cultural/visitor center and trails, there is a massive, very well appointed campground. 

The older section has large trees which offer shade, and one loop backs onto the lake. 

The newer section is adjacent to the vineyards with new trees but not much shade yet.

I get to see cactus blooming twice this year!

Being a desert micro-climate, Osoyoos is one of the warmest spots in Canada and comes complete with cactus and rattlesnakes.  End of May and the cactus is just now blooming here.

All good things come to an end.

5 days of fun re-connecting with old friends and making some new ones at the rally.  I’m sure that I’ll connect with some of them during the year on my travels.
The end of this rally also marks another ending – this will probably be my last trip in the “Greyt Escape”.  After 8.5 years and over 30,000 trailer miles, it’s time to upgrade to a trailer that more closely matches my needs for the way I’m camping these days.  Sad and exciting all at the same time.

If it’s not one thing; it’s another–Osoyoos, BC; May 28

Fix a problem; find a problem!

In keeping with the theme for 2015, just as I find help in fixing my awning issue, the gravity chair breaks!  Luckily, I was in the best possible place with friends who have extra chairs.

Coldspring Provincial Park, Manning Park, BC  - a lovely campground with some site backing onto the river.

A trip to the fabulous hardware store in Osoyoos and I found some replacement hardware for the chair.  Also, a couple of 6-packs of Growers Hard cider (Peach and Cherry) – requisite drink for repair work – refreshing, but not so much alcohol that I worry about messing up the project!

Escape Owners Rally is a slippery slope!

Over 120 trailers and very creative owners!  I’m getting so many ideas and the build sheet for my next trailer is growing.  Not even 24 hours yet and I’ve already been convinced to swap the bed to the opposite end of the trailer!!  And even though I’ve ruled out the 5th-wheel, I keep seeing some exceedingly tempting layouts.  That’s the problem with these custom builds – so many really good ideas!!
I saw some DIY awnings that someone made to shade their windows that would be perfect for shading the fridge on those really hot days!!


Definitely getting air-conditioning in the new trailer!!

Even though its Canada in May, it’s over 80F today – it’s 90 inside my trailer!!  Glad I left Fay Wray at home.

A perfectly Northwest day – May 25th, Birch Bay SP, Washington

Camping in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) is so different than the Southwest where I was wintering.

A peaceful day of driving through grey drizzle, listening to the squeak of the windshield wipers, and watching the fog-enshrouded mountains roll by.  Arriving at my campsite at Birch Bay State Park, I see a pileated woodpecker gliding through the deep shade and big trees.  Big trees and little trailer!

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Later, I walk along the beach.  I see a couple of crows harassing a bald eagle sitting atop a tall tree.  I listen to the ‘skree’ of the seagulls as they float over the bay and then whirl back to the beach.  I watch Great Blue Herons stalking in the low tide, silhouetted by the setting sun.

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Trailer is still shiny enough to reflect the sunset!

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Simple pleasures!

Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Wasco, OR

Oregon’s newest State Park, Cottonwood Canyon was donated by the Murtha’s – a big cattle ranch.

Cottonwood Canyon drains into the John Day River, one of the longest undammed rivers in the Northwest.  The Murtha’s had a cattle ranch in the canyon and a Cow Barn still lies along an interpretive walkway behind the Visitor’s Center. 

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The 25 year plan is to return this working ranch to a more natural state.  Much of the flat area of the park between the river and the surrounding hills is being replanted with native grass.  Along the hikes, there are still remnants of ranch gates and fences; the Pinnacle’s Trail is actually an old 2-track ranch road.

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The campground lies in a meadow alongside the river, accessible for great fishing.

There are about 20 individual primitive sites, a group area and a tent camping area.  Vault toilets and dumpsters round out the amenities.  As I pulled into my campsite (sites are first-come;first-serve), I passed a fisherman carrying an impressively large salmon!  The park is popular with fisherman; there is a boat launch just outside the park at JS Burres Park, and there are lots of access points from the campground for fishing off the banks.

Several short hikes surround the campground and the Pinnacles Trail follows the river for about 4 miles crossing varied terrain through riparian meadows, basalt rock cliffs, and scrubby grazing land.

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I didn’t see a lot of wildlife – some cliff swallows and an osprey.  For awhile, I was keeping pace with a group of fishermen.

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The river and the spring flowers were the highlight of my stay


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