Sunday, February 26, 2017

TX - A Shock to the System...Surgery - NOW!


Best suggestion ever!!!

Every sunrise is a blessed event!







I had my first crawfish...I just don't get it?!

The afternoon of my surgery







An authentic Texas long horn

Wutchu looking at???

A gorgeous white moth













































Tres Rios RV Resort is a place I'll always hold dear to my heart!  It's a place where strangers became family in a 'split second'.   I went to the doctor for what I thought was basically some routine tests.  A phone call a few hours later proved me wrong.  The doctor said he was very worried about me and he needed to take care of the problem tomorrow at noon!  Alrighty, then!!!  It seemed that I had a kidney stone lodged against my kidney wall.  Also, portions of the wall was stretched thin and there was a blockage keeping a proper flow from moving into my bladder.  The fact that I had not experienced any pain astounded him.  He was thinking the situation had existed for nearly 2 years and I should have been in excruciating pain. Well, that was enough for me to say...OK, let's do it! He needed to unclog the blockage and bust up the stone so he could remove it completely.  Then insert a stent into my kidney to remain in place for 7 days!
     Suddenly there were a million emotions running rampant through my body, mind and spirit!  A woman, who, traditionally was quite brave and independent, found herself a little frightened and feeling alone.  That woman was me!  So many decisions to make in a very short period of time.  First, I posted a prayer request on Facebook...thinking that one can't have too many angels rooting for them.  I knew that I needed someone I cared about to be with me.  A small monkey wrench in that idea: everyone who really fit that bill was 2,000 miles away.  I decided to at least make an effort to do what I'm not fond of doing and that was to ask for an enormous over the top favor.  I called my son and asked if he could fly out for a couple of days.  He didn't even flinch and was able to book a flight that would get him to the hospital just after I went into surgery and allow him to be there as soon as I woke up. What an incredible blessing that was for me.  A gift I will cherish always.
     Then there was the hospital policy that someone had to be at the hospital with you during surgery.  That took a bit more contemplation.  I walked into Texas Hall where a fun group played Dominos most evenings.  I explained my dilemma and there were offers all around the table.  Tears of surprise and gratitude poured from my eyes.  Deanna ended up going with me that following morning.
     Then there was the fact that I was scheduled to leave the campground on Friday morning.  This news of emergency surgery came on Wednesday.  So, I went to the office and spoke to a gentleman who took care of everything.  I didn't realize I had a free week of lodging as part of my membership package.  So, Matthew and I were able to spend the 2 nights he was here in luxury!  I was also able to finish my recuperation period there.  Wow!  That was such a blessing...space, heat, hot water, a stove, a REAL bed, etc.  Matthew slept on the sofa!!!  What a trooper!
     The surgery went extremely well!  The best possible outcome had occurred.  Blockage cleared and stone blasted by laser and removed.  Deanna had stayed until I woke up.  Once the doctor released me to go home...Matthew and I went out to lunch!  Back at the park, we relaxed a bit and then to play Dominos with my other angels for an hour or so.  We kicked back and watched a movie and talked and talked!!!  I was so happy that he came to be with me for awhile!  Family...it's something difficult to explain the value of.  Friends, near and far, are right up there as well!
     Matthew returned to MD and i rested a lot for the next 4 days.  I got into my car to go to the doctors for my follow-up and release....and...it wouldn't start!  Thank goodness I left 3 hours early planning to run an errand or two!  I went and got Wayne, Deanna's husband, and he checked my battery and it was NOT happy!  It did take a charge though and he followed me to Walmart where I bought a new battery.  All the service bays were full, but when I explained that I needed to be at the doctors...they bumped me up and had me out of there in 20 minutes!  ANGELS everywhere!
     This story took place between Feb. 15th-Feb. 22nd.  It is now Feb. 26th.  I am at my friend, Bud's house in NC resting and doing some last minute packing!  Tomorrow is the big day...we are off to Ecuador for two weeks.  I plan to take gobs of pictures and keep very good notes because I will not be blogging during our adventure!  When I fly into MD, after we return from Ecuador, I will work on matching pics and notes to post about our trip!
BRIGHT SPOT - My first day in the Glen Rose area of Texas, I stopped for dinner at a cool place called Flames.  It is a seafood grill and every single thing about my experience was perfect!  The food, the service, the ambiance, etc.  My server, Fjolla, was wonderful.  As we talked, I discovered that she and her husband owned the restaurant.   She was born in eastern Europe, Kosovo.  She met her future husband who was there visiting his family.  They talked back and forth for about a year.  They decided to get married here in the states about 10 months ago.  Instead of a big wedding they opted for a few weeks of US travel!  Even though Fjolla was embarking on a new and exciting journey, it was difficult to leave her family.  She started working at the restaurant as a hostess, then a server.  She sent her tip money to her sister to pay for braces on her teeth.  Now, she is just loving her new life here and is feeling very grateful for this unexpected and delightful change in her life!
     

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day: An Obligation or A Celebration - A Point of View

     I had an unexpected experience yesterday in a pharmacy while waiting for a prescription to be filled.  There was a rather large section devoted to Valentine cards and gifts for purchase that was packed with people.  Some were quite focused and others scurrying like field mice.  As I stood back and observed for awhile, what I witnessed was very intriguing.  There was quite a range in age among the shoppers.  There were more men than women.  Some appeared to be shopping for themselves and others for small children's classmates (the boxed kid cards).  None of that seemed out of the ordinary to me.  Then I decided to act as if I were looking for a card/gift as well so I could get an "insider's" look at what felt like a bit of frenzy!
     There were facial expressions that could be described as the following: confused, desperate,  excited, irritated, starry-eyed, joyful, etc.  This I found to be unexpected.  Well, the 'less than loving' expressions, that is.
     Then I heard one man say to another, "If I don't find her just the right card that says what she wants to hear, I'm screwed."  OK, definitely not what I expected.
     So, I thought I'd do a little experiment.  I guess I'm lucky I didn't get asked to leave.  I walked around until I found a face that beckoned for verbal release.
     I approached a young woman looking, maybe irritated, and I asked, "Having trouble finding just the right card?"  Her response was, "Yeah, I guess.  It probably doesn't really matter what it says as long as I give him one.  He's into all this crap."  I just smiled.
     I moved on and spotted an elderly gentleman, hands slightly shaking, reading away.  I said, "It looks like you must have a sweetheart."  He said, "Yep, I do.  Same one for 50 Valentine's Days this year."  I replied, "Hey, that's wonderful.  I bet she really appreciates getting your card every year."
"Oh, she doesn't mind.  She puts up with me and my cards."  "What do you mean?" I asked.  "Well, she already knows I love her.  I fall in love with her again every single day.   I'm the one that likes to find her a card that says that a little different way every year.  It's getting more challenging these days."  I wanted to hug him, but...  I told him that I hope he finds what he is is looking for and that his wife is a very fortunate woman.  He smiled and said, "I'm the lucky one."
     My prescription was ready, so I left with mixed emotions regarding this big ticket 'holiday.'  I stopped at another store to pick up some groceries and once again the Valentine's Day isles were packed.  People were clamoring about like midnight Christmas Eve!  Arms wrapped around stuffed animals and baskets filled with mugs, flowers, candy...you name it!
     I approached a very young man, maybe early twenties, that was holding an enormous stuffed teddy bear and asked, "Wow, who's the lucky recipient of THAT?"  He said with a troubled voice, "My girlfriend.  Yeah, she pretty much told me that if I didn't get her something even better than last year, she'd be pi_ _ed."  I just said that I was sure she would love it.  I thought to myself, "How sad."
     I wasn't about to end my experiment with that interaction.  I finally saw an older lady in the next aisle of cards, smiling away with quite a few cards in her grip.  I asked her if she wanted me to get her a basket.  She said, "Thank you, but I'm almost done.  Of course, if I have any MORE grandchildren, I WILL start needing a basket!"  I smiled.  I got so tickled with her.  She was having a fabulous time picking out kiddy cards.
     There was one final woman that I spoke to, maybe in her 40's.  She must have read every single card displayed.  I was looking at cards too so I commented, "Sometimes it's hard to find one that is just right."  She replied quickly, "I know!  My husband and I got married on Valentine's Day and I never know whether to get him an Anniversary card or a Valentine's card.  I usually get him both, but this year it's different."  I asked why.  She explained that after 10 years of marriage, they split up for a few months in the summer.  Now they were back together and it means even more to her to tell him how much he really means to her.  I just stood there a few seconds then I suggested that maybe she could make a card herself so that she could say exactly what she felt.  She looked at me with kind of a blank stare and then said, "OMG, I never thought of doing that.  Thank you."  Before I could say anything, she turned and walked away.
     So why am I telling you all this?  A few reasons!
1- There are probably as many reasons why people 'do' Valentine's Day as there are people.
2- People are generally willing to tell you their story (that's why Bright Spots happen)
3- Valentine's Day is not just for romantic relationships
4- There may be a couple reasons that seem 'out of the spirit of it all' (just my opinion)
     -pure obligation
     -fear of reprisal if you opt out
5- Just wanted to share my personal experience like I always do.

***With that said, my wish is that all who choose to partake in Valentine's Day do so from a place of love as an extra added acknowledgement that celebrates the feelings and behaviors that have been expressed throughout the year to those you truly care about and appreciate being in your life!!!  Any day, any time, anywhere is available to express genuine love and gratitude to important people in your life....perhaps even a stranger or two.  Give kudos to that mail carrier, that person selling newspapers along the side of the road, that bus driver, that restaurant server, the window washer and the list goes on!!!

HAPPY VALENTINE'S to all and to all a love-filled day!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

TX - McKinney Falls State Park

   Once you get to the parking lot where the McKinney Falls trail head is and walk along a short woodsy path of bald cypress, sycamores and pecan trees you are faced with a huge expanse of rock!






The Moon???
The surface is similar to what I imagine that the moon would be like...flat-ish with little craters all over the place! Some were shallow and others deep enough to seriously catch you up if you were not paying attention.  Looking out across this space to the left, there are a great many limestone slabs resting on each other, some flatter than others and with varying degrees of space between them.
     As you walk forward a little way, you begin to see the pool of crystal clear water far beneath the cliffs. When you walk to the right a few hundred feet, you begin to hear the falls at the merging of Onion and Williamson Creeks
     For much of the walking trail along the creek, the falls is still visible.  You can also walk 'around' the top of the falls' if you have a steady gait and are a good jumper!  There is a gravel peninsula that juts out into the pool that is easily accessible.  It is a great way to get a little closer to the cascade and its glorious song.



Great roots

Looks like a bow on it









   
















     











     Due to the time of year, the visitor count was minimal; less than a dozen during the hour I was there.  I love those times.   It is exciting for me to see people enjoying the beauty of nature on a warm clear day, but it is equally as delightful to be alone with my thoughts.  It was quiet enough for me to be inspired to write a little poem describing what I was witnessing.
                                 Banging and bumping without any bruises
                                 Riding for miles along the rocky floor
                                 Faster and faster the liquid glass cruises
                                 Over the cliff as it found an open door

Free fallin'
A kind of cave

From the top of the falls

Awesome limestone formations



Down the hiking trail beyond the waterfall

Saturday, February 11, 2017

TX - Rockport, Corpus Christi and San Padro Island Fun

   Rockport is where I met my personal tour guide, Ed!  Of course, I didn't know he was going to be my personal tour guide at first.  He and I were registering at the campground next to each other and had basically the same camper information response...no pets, no slides and no other people!  It was pretty funny and we both chuckled.
    After I got to my site and set up for the week, I went to the clubhouse where the Internet was available and got on my computer.  A little while later Ed showed up and came over to my table. We talked a while, then he said he had an idea!  He offered to take me around the area and show me what there was to see.  He knew the place well.  OK, so what does a girl say at this type of juncture???  Well, I decided to ask him if he was someone I could trust?!  So, would he tell me if he WASN'T?!!!  LOL  He said that he thought so and laughed and offered to give me his son's number if I wanted further assurance.  OMG...we both laughed.  What a riot!  I figured I have been safe for almost three years on the road in many interesting situations, so....Why would I expect that to change now? Besides, I think I'm a pretty good judge of character.   Soooo, I said yes and 9:00 the following morning he picked me up and off we went exploring Rockport!
The winded trees!!!






     First, we drove along Copano Bay which is the ideal place to catch a gorgeous sunrise...except at this time of year...LOL  It is so incredibly foggy in the mornings here during the winter months.
Foggy mornings on Copano Bay

Headlights in the fog

 However, we did get to see an amazing sight!  In the front yards of the huge and somewhat gaudy beach homes were trees that leaned as much as nearly 180 degrees from their base!!!  It was craziest thing I had ever seen.  Ed explained that over the years the winds from the bay have been so strong that they literally pushed the trees away from the water and they bent at various degrees!  Then we just drove around the town and had Chinese for lunch!
     Corpus Christi and North Padre Island, about 35 miles south of the campground, was our next big adventure a couple days later.  A sad yet touching site in Corpus was the memorial, named "Mirador de la Flor" (viewpoint of the flower) in tribute to Selena, the famous Latina singer who was shot at age 23.  Ed and I spoke to a gentleman there who told us how thousands of fans surround the site each year on the anniversary of her passing.  The Hispanic community still grieves the unfortunate and senseless death of this rising young talent.
The Selena Memorial in Corpus Christi



5' 8" bronze replica

Every tile was hand painted by children
This wall is beneath the memorial facing
the Gulf

Ed and me

Ocean Treasures Souvenir Shop Facade


   
There were so many personalized
 bricks surrounding the memorial.  This
darker one is from her parents.


       A fabulously fun sight was the facade of Ocean Treasures Souvenir Shop, the largest place of its kind I have ever seen.  The giant castle has a mermaid on a clam shell and dolphins and sand dollars, etc.  Very cool!!!  Right next door to the mega shop was a miniature golf place with an awesome waterfall display!
     Then we were off to Padre Island.  This island is very long and narrow with the Gulf of Mexico on the east and Laguna Madre on the west.  It's about 113 miles long and not quite 2 miles wide...second only to Long Island in New York.  It has white sandy beaches which we walked several miles along to get to the pier where a restaurant was located.  We made a long overdue pit stop...LOL...and had a light snack.


Ed walking across the sand castle
bridge...too funny!

Rainbow foam

Bet they are waiting for a little snack

Loved these benches...you can
people watch or Gulf watch

I have no idea what this sculpture
is, but it was calling me to climb
up the back and say Peek-a-boo!!!

These concrete and marble gazebos were
situated all along the water with about 6
of those two-sided benches between them








      It was such a beautiful day.  The sun was shining on the water, seagulls and pelicans were everywhere.  For me, one of the neatest things about the beaches there is that you can drive your car right on the beach and park!!!  Love it!  We really had fun on our adventure touring days!!!
Cars on the beach AND a string of
covered picnic tables
   








     The day before we both left in our different directions, we tried one more time to catch a sunrise...no luck!  We put it about 8-10 miles that morning!  The sun made a cameo appearance every now and again through the thick cloud cover.
     We did however catch a bunch of pelicans at the marina and saw a pod of dolphins playing 'tag' in a circle!  They were headed in the same direction we were going back to the campground so we biked and stopped and watched...over and over again all along the bay!  What a blast!
Copano Bay

About forty minutes after 'sunrise',
she made a cameo appearance

Dolphins playing

 




















 In between tour days, I spent a lot of time playing pool with myself...trying to hone my skills for when I play my kids next time!!!  I went to a craft show, too.  Also, Ed did help me plan an entirely new route from ABQ to Baltimore for after I return from Ecuador.  It was looking like my original route was far too close for comfort to Tornado Alley!  I'll be taking the southern coast route and spending as much time at the Mississippi beaches as I can!
These amazing trinket boxes were
hand made, no electric tools, by a
disabled Veteran

Unfortunately, he was unable to be at
the craft show

I would have enjoyed speaking with him
and hearing his story

OMG...we stopped at a Whataburger
in Corpus to use the restroom.  When
I came out Ed was sitting with the
owner like they were old friends...
that man will talk to anybody!!!  LOL