Sunday, May 31, 2015

Day 51 - Time to Tour Death Valley!

Ken and I were up by 5:30 to make a cooked breakfast and get our packed lunch and snacks ready for a day in Death Valley.  It was already in the low 90's when we got up.  I talked to my mother and she said dad was really improving and she thinks he will be fine.  Cindy talked to the ICU nurse who said all his vitals and labs were improving and she thought he would probably be moved to a regular room later today.  Wow!  Cindy actually got to talk to dad and they had a nice conversation.  He had no pain and was feeling much more like himself.  Hallelujah!

By 7 the 4 of us were on our way in Gregory's CRV and knew we were in for a long day of driving.  Because of changing the location of our CG, we had a 2 1/4 hour drive to Death Valley, driving in the Park, and then the long drive back to the campground - a total of 320 miles.  It was exhausting.  By the time we arrived in Death Valley it was 112 degrees and even though people say it is dry heat, it is HOT!!!!!  We took a very short hike up to Zibriskie Point when we arrived that was beautiful, but we knew our hiking would be very limited today.

Another National Park we have been blessed to visit!
It is the hottest place in the World, the driest in the US with
only 1 to 2 inches of average rainfall per year (some years
none), and the lowest spot below sea level in North America.

Many different colors in the desert!

We are at Zibriskie Point!

We are so happy to be here!

How amazing!!!! 

,,,,,,and here it is!!!!!

Before going to the Visitor's Center, we stopped at the 20 Mule Team Museum where they had a great display of much of the equipment used when they mined for Borax.  Interesting! At the Furnace Creek Visitor's Center we got our souvenirs and watched another informative film.  We ate our lunch under a shade tree, but it was HOT! 

This is the 20 Mule Team Borax Museum.  It is one of the
original buildings and was moved to this spot to be the
center of the museum.

Actually there were 18 mules and 2 horses tat pulled the 2
wagons and the water wagon.  The drivers had to know what
they were doing to get all these animals to work together,
especially on the side of hills!

One of the original wagons.

When borax was no longer profitable to mine, this area became a
tourist type attraction.

The Happy Campers continue on their great adventure!

A golf course in the middle of the desert!!!!!  There is an
underground spring that provides 1 million gallons of water
per day to the Furnace Creek Inn and the Furnace Creek Ranch.
The pool water is changed 2x a day to keep it at 84 degrees
 the entire day.
 Then we decided to drive on the 17 mile off road to Bad Water Basin with a elevation of minus 282 feet below sea level, the lowest elevation in North America. There we could also view the salt flats.

What a drive out to the Bad Water Basin!

That is all the water to be seen at Badwater Basin

Ken is standing on the salt flats on the lowest point
in North America!

We are all on the lowest point!

On our way back to the main road, we took the 9 mile Artist's Loop Road to see the gorgeous vistas, especially the artists palette.  It really was an amazing drive.  We all agreed that Death Valley would be a wonderful place to visit and hike in Nov., Dec. and Jan, but not this time of year.  As I said before, it is too darn HOT!

Thank goodness it is a one way loop!

This is the artist's palette of color!  Amazing!

More color on the narrow, windy road!

This is the old Inn at Furnace Creek where you can stay
for $355.00 to $465.00 per night!  Wow!

On our way back to the CG we stopped at McDonald's to give the car a rest.  It had nothing to do with getting a cold, delicious ice cream cone!  We were back to the CG by 5 after driving 320 miles.  We were all tired and ready for a break, but it was time to think about dinner.  I made salads for tonight and tomorrow while Ken grilled salmon, steak, green beans, squash and zucchini!  It was delicious.

There it is - Las Vegas Strip!

Gregorys came over to play games in Waldo and we had another fun evening.  Dad did get moved to a regular room today and was getting feisty, so we know he is feeling better.  Thanks for all your kind words, prayers, and thoughts during this stressful time.  I really appreciate it!!!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Day 50 - A Change of Plans for the Next 3 Days

Ken and I woke to the 5:30 alarm and at the same time Cindy was leaving me a text message.  Dad's nurse in ICU said he was between Critical and Guarded Condition, very serious.  He had a blood infection that was throughout his body. He was on large doses of IV antibiotics and as much oxygen as they could give him through a mask.  But, the antibiotics seemed to be helping as his numbers were improving.  

We left the CG at 7 and were on our way to Pahrump, NV about 1 1/4 hours from Death Valley.  Saw lots of interesting things on the way.  We drove 376 miles today going up and down some rather long grades.  At one point the thermometer in Waldo read 106 degrees.  We did stop for gas and then another time just to let the engines have a break and to go through the gears in our CRV's.  At the last stop there happened to be a Dairy Queen, so we decided to take a break and have some ice cream.  We talked while there and decided to change our plans and the CG we would go to for the next 3 nights. 

Soon after leaving our CG.  So much
produce and vineyards in the area!

More produce!

Love those flowering bushes along the highways and the
bonus - palm trees!

Oil drilling equipment in the middle of the vineyards!

The famous Joshua trees!  Not too attractive!

This is a borax factory.

The road before this was 20 Mule Team Borax!
Are you old enough to remember those ads on TV!

Lots of onions!

Going through the Mojave Desert!

Instead of heading to Pahrump, we went southeast of Las Vegas and are staying in a Passport America CG.  It was 100 degrees when we arrived at 4 PM.   Death Valley, at 110 degrees today, is about 2 1/4 hours from here, so we will leave early tomorrow morning to "check it out".  Probably no long hikes will be involved!  This will make our drive to Zion on Tuesday shorter and if for some reason I would need to go home to be with my family, I could fly out of Las Vegas.

Amazing how the scene changes when you cross the line into
Nevada.  Instead of all desert, you now have lots of

We are now crossing the state line!

That is Las Vegas off in the distance!

Beautiful bridges and wall barriers along the highways!

Throughout the drive, Lanie, who had picked up my mother and took her to the hospital this morning, texted all of us (Cindy, Jamie and me) with updates on Dad.  Fortunately, when Lanie and Mom arrived at the hospital dad was looking great, for his color had returned, his blood pressure was good, and he was coherent and talkative.  Jamie would have come to the hospital too, but her family had gone to the Poconos last night for Dane's triathlon on Sunday and we encouraged her to stay there and we would keep her posted on his condition.  Long story short, they took him to the OR to do a procedure around 3 where they put a tube in his back to allow the urine to flow out directly from his kidney.  All of this problem started with a kidney infection.  He is doing well since the surgery needing less oxygen and his vitals and lab work are getting back to normal.  This guy really is a miracle man.  The nurse said if all continues he should be out of ICU tomorrow or Monday.  

So, I am feeling very thankful and after talking to my mother and my sister this evening, it appears that everything is on the right track for my dad.  After dinner, we relaxed watching some TV and doing computer things.  Chuck and Melissa went to Wal-Mart and we will probably not get together to play games this evening.  How sad!  It's a nightly ritual!

Day 49 - A Day to Relax:

Ken and I were awake at 7:15, but because we didn't have any schedule for today, we just laid in bed and watched the news.  We showered, had breakfast, and then I headed to the CG laundromat to do much needed laundry.  After putting it in the washer, I came back to Waldo and the 4 of us sat by the river enjoying our tea/coffee/chai.  Then I went back to the laundry and stayed until the clothes were day. 

 Ken, being the good guy, made salads for tonight and tomorrow night and packed sandwiches for lunch and when we travel tomorrow.  What a guy!  By noon the wash was finished, put away, and the bed remade.  Hallelujah!  Then it was time for lunch and Ken and I ate outside.  We did a little preparation for leaving tomorrow and by 3:30 the 4 of us met outside to sit at the picnic table under a shade tree and play 2 games of Pinochle and a game of Skip-Bo.  The women won all of them.  The men decided that is the last time they will play games outdoors with us.

We went inside to shower again (it was hot today), and get dinner ready.  But, I got a message from my sister (we do not have phone service) asking me to call her as soon as possible.  Also realized my Mother and Masonic Homes had tried to call, but could not get through.  So, Ken and I drove out of the CG till we could get cell phone reception.  I talked to both my sister and my mother. Masonic Homes sent him by ambulance (just a method of transport, not an emergency) to the hospital with a fever, shortness of breath, and a "rumple" in his chest.  They suspect he may have pneumonia. I will know more tomorrow morning.  It is unnerving when you are so far from home! 

Ken disconnected the sewer, water, and cable while I got our supper ready. (He had already made the salads).  Cleaned up and at 8 we went to Gregory's to play Skip-Bo, which the men won.  While there I got an e-mail from Cindy that Dad is intensive care because of his history and symptoms and on a pain reducer and IV antibiotics.  The Dr. told my mother that he should be okay in a few days when the medicine does its job.  Good news!  I will be in touch with them tomorrow.

We were back to Waldo by 9:10 and decided to go to bed.  Tomorrow will be a long day of driving doing about 320 miles to Death Valley, where it is 100 degrees!  We plan to get an early start to get some of the "elevation" driving done before it gets extremely hot.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Day 48 - Checked out Kings Canyon National Park

Well, this was a very long driving day on very, very curvy and windy roads.  We seemed to be able to find those roads everywhere we go.  

Ken and I were up at 6:15, made breakfast, packed our lunches and the 4 of us were on our way to Kings Canyon in our CRV by 8:45.  We took the "shortcut" to the National Park, but that proved to be less miles but regarding a lot more time.  Again, we had a scenic ride, but let's get there for heaven's sake!!!!!  We arrived at the Visitors Center around 10:00 give or take, after swaying back and forth constantly on the crazy road.  
The grasses look dead and dry.

But then there are also many healthy looking trees!

Isn't this a nice looking entrance to Kings Canyon National Park??

At the Visitors Center we purchased the sticker for our Passport Book, a pin for the wall in Waldo, and watched the movie about the park.  It was a well done "flick".  

Back in the car to start our journey through the park, stopping 1st to hike the 1/2 mile paved trail to see more of those magnificent sequoia trees, including the General Grant Tree.  This tree is the widest tree in the world and the 3rd largest.  President Calvin Coolidge designated it as the Nation's Christmas Tree and President Eisenhower made it a National Shrine to honor those servicemen and women who died serving our country.  It is an enormous tree, but so beautiful.  Again, the color of these trees it was really strikes me whenever I see one.   Also, how they continue to thrive and reproduce after being damaged by fire. 

The 1st sequoia tree we saw when we got
out of our car!  It was massive!

When you see this RV next to it you can get
a perspective of just how big it really is!

This sequoia fell before 1900 and these folks used
it as a home/shelter.  It looks almost the same as
over a century ago when it fell.  Sequoia do not
deteriorate very quickly!!!!!

It was amazing inside and not rotted at all!

The size of it is beyond comprehension!

Even the roots are hard, with no rotting! 

This stump is from the cutting of a Sequoia in 1875 for the
1876 Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia.  Most people
felt it was hoax, as trees couldn't possibly be this big!  The
stump looks the same today as in 1875.

This cabin is made out of sequoia wood, even the roof shingles!
Hard to imagine it was built in 1872.

Interesting how it was built using the Sequoia tree and it's next
2 uses were by people working to preserve these beautiful trees!

This is the General Grant Tree, the widest
tree on earth and 3rd largest in volume!
Note the fire destruction, but it keeps growing!

You can't even see most of the top of the tree!

The base is immense.  It would take 20 people with their arms
stretched around the tree to "hug" it!

Some fun facts about the General Grant Tree!

That's the size of the tree compared to the human on the\
bottom right!

The second from the left is the pinecone that comes from a
Sequoia tree.  Hard to believe it is that small!!!

From there we continued on the windy road through the park to stop at several vista points. Ken realized we were a little low on gas and felt he had to find a place to fill up.  So, we took a little side detour in the park down to Huma Lake where they had a gas station ($4.09 per gallon) and a beautiful Christian Camp.  Then it was back up the hill to have lunch at a picnic table in Convict Flat.  (We did't see any prisoners, but the mesquitoes that time of day were very pesty!  We decided to drive a bit farther to go into the canyon and see Grizzly Falls.  I am so glad we did.  The view of the river and the falls were incredible.

The view at Huma Lake!
Looks like a postcard.  Yes, that is snow on the

We are driving on this road, but
higher up the mountain.  We drove
on that part eventually!  Crazy!!!

Looking into the canyon!

Now we have driven into the canyon!

This is Grizzly Falls!

Leaving the park and a final photo
looking into the canyon!

Then it was time to wind back up the mountain.  It seems we do so much of that on this trip, but you must go up to go down and vice versa!  We are learning that concept very well!    When we got to the highest point on our drive we were at 7,200 feet and our ears were popping.  We left the National Park and took a different road back to the CG  - quicker, but more miles, but we wanted to stop at Costco.  Needless to say, we only got back to the CG around 5:45 after driving about 220 miles.  Ken did a great job of driving on those narrow and steep roads.

We sat outside at the CG in the shade by the stream enjoying margaritas and the sound of the small rapids.  We had planned to go back into Sequoia NP tomorrow, but all of us felt we had done enough driving and needed a day of just rest and relaxation at the CG.  So, since we didn't have to get up early and be on a schedule, we played games from 8:45 to 10:30 each of us winning a game.

This was another great day, but a day of rest is needed by all!