Thursday, November 5, 2009


We arrived home Wednesday and what a homecoming it was. While we were gone Monique, with the help of Rossmon’s grunt labor and consultative services, had our bedroom refurbished. It is absolutely beautiful. A job we’ve wanted to do for some time. The room is relaxing and peaceful. They did leave us the job of clearing out some junk that we have needed to dump and we’re motivated to do that very soon to maintain the integrity of the peaceful retreat atmosphere. We are so grateful to our kids.

We also received the best hugs from the best huggers on the planet, our grandsons. What a way to come home!

"The Numbers"
*64 Days
*10,450 Miles
*145 Gallons of fuel
*24 Cities where we stopped to visit family and friends - Lancaster, CA; San Diego, CA; Lakeside, CA; Dallas, TX; Lake Charles, LA; Atlanta, GA; Savannah, GA; Oak Island, NC; Fayetteville, NC; Princeton, NC; Huntersville, NC; Norfolk, VA; Woodbridge, VA; Newport, RI; Fort Leonard Wood, MO; Omaha, NE; Kansas City, KS; Bonner Springs, KS; Lenexa, KS; Manhattan, KS; Junction City, KS; Wichita, KS; Liberal, KS; and Albuquerque, NM.
*15 Wal-Mart stores we visited either shopping or parking overnight
*1 almost-major mishap (We inadvertently filled our diesel engine truck with gasoline. Although we were fortunate enough to discover it before turning on the engine, we spent nearly $500 to have the tank emptied and refilled)
***1 of the best 2 months of our lives

"The Best of:"
*Texas has the best roads (hmmm, 2 presidents in 20 years)
*Pilot and Love truck stops are tied for cleanest restrooms.
*California, Texas, and Arizona are tied for the best roadside rest stops.
*Local public libraries provide great internet access – friendly, quiet, comfy, climate controlled, and easy to find.
*Wal-Mart has the best free overnight RV parking. They encourage RVers to park and they have all night security.
*MacDonald’s “senior coffee” is the best cup of coffee for the money and they have the best inexpensive, but unhealthy breakfast.
***We have the best friends and family on the planet.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Sunday Funnies

Do you run out on Sunday morning, grab the newspaper and a cup of coffee and jump back in bed to read the Sunday funnies? Alas, there is another version of the Sunday funnies. Look no further for here’s the Vonnie and Bob version a day late.

"Climbing Into Bed"
We’ve put a new twist on “climbing into bed.” Each night that we sleep in our camper we have to make a two step climb into the bed and I’m finding it more and more challenging to hoist my bones into that bed. As I said earlier, our rig has very limited space so there’s a place for everything and everything has its own bag. This ole bag is having trouble getting into her place.

"Something Shrunk or Someone Grew"
“The streets of my childhood have shrunk.” I said to Bob and my cousin Ralph. “When I was little growing up here these streets seemed long as I walked to school or went to the store for my mother. It was a long walk to the rec center to play.”
Bob said. “Well, maybe it’s because you’ve gotten bigger.”
Cousin Ralph thought Bob was funny and had a good laugh. I thought Bob was being as smart alec.

"From Raincoat to Snowcoat"
In Dallas we purchased raincoats in Walmart and put them on in the store foyer. After experiencing a frost-on-the-grass morning in Missouri and bone-chilling cold in Kansas, Bob went to the Goodwill looking for a winter coat. “Look at this.” He said excitedly. “It’s a down jacket.” He tried it on over his raincoat. “If it fits over my raincoat, it will work fine. How does it look? Check the back to see if there’s anything wrong with it.”
“It looks good to me.” I said.
“If the price is right, I’m buying this.”
The price was right and he bought it. He put it on in the store foyer and walked out warm and toasty.

"Riding and Rolling"
On a morning when Bob was up early and ready to roll and I was grousing about how early and cold it was we decided I should try riding in the camper while he drove. After all we may have to do it if one of us gets sick. As Bob went merrily off to get in the truck, he said, “Call me if you need to get out.” For the next hour and a half I bounced around on that bed like Flopsy the rag doll. The cold was bone-chilling. I decided I should just stay on my back with the down comforter pulled up around my neck. After an hour I gave up. I reached for my phone, but we’re in “roam.” I can’t call him. Thirty minutes later we had service just long enough for me to get a ring through. Bob pulled up on the side of the road. When he opened the door I laughed and hollered, “Get me out of here.” We were headed to Omaha but, to my shock and surprise, we were on a Missouri country road and there was frost on the grass.
“That was the worst road we’ve had since we left home.” Bob said.
“Yeah, I know.”

"Overnight in the Church Parking Lot"
When we arrived in Newport my cousin told us to park in the church parking lot for the night. Early Saturday morning church members began arriving at the church for Saturday church activities. I immediately detected much concern and consternation about strangers in a strange vehicle in the parking lot. I introduced myself and invoked my cousin’s name and my aunt’s name and folks calmed down. Sometimes it just helps to be connected.
“Oh my goodness.” said my cousin. “What if you were some folks just parked there waiting for the church to open so you could go in and pray.”

"We Got Our Flu Shot"
We procrastinated for a while about getting our annual flu shot and finally decided to get serious before it was too late. In Newport, RI the first two places we checked were out of the vaccine. The third would be giving the shots the next day between 10AM and 2PM. People with insurance and seniors with Medicare would be given the shot free. We got in line at 10:15 behind 27 people. Bob, the technician, used his cell phone to time the pace of the line and determined we would have to wait an hour and a half. OK, we’ll take turns standing. As we got closer to the head of the line we were given a form to complete. The person reviewing the form said we’d have to pay $30 each because we were not insured Rhode Island residents and we did not have our Medicare cards with us. No matter that we had our Kaiser cards showing we are insured and that we are Medicare recipients. We fussed and fumed with every person in charge who would listen, all to no avail. We got our shot, paid our $60 and walked away complaining. Again I say, “Yes, President Obama, the healthcare system does need fixing.”

"Steaks or Snakes?"
Bob pulled off the road and ran around to the camper for a potty break. I stayed in the truck. Soon I hear my phone ringing and I hear him say, “We’re parked in a bed of snakes.” I think, oh my goodness I’m going to have to crawl over the seat and drive us out of a snake pit.
“Are you OK?” I said.
“Yes, there are cattle as far as I can see, thousands of them. We’re parked in a bed of steaks.”
Snake meat is a delicacy and snakeskin shoes are a fashion statement, but I’ll take beef, if you please.

"Let’s Try Our Luck"
Halloween night we stopped in Albuquerque at the Route 66 Casino. We decided to take a shot at the tables. Agreeing to check in with each other at 9PM, we each went off to try our luck. After loosing $3, I quit and went to the camper. Bob showed up empty handed about a half hour later, having not played at all. The big players from California got gun shy. No tricks or treats for us.

Hope you’ve enjoyed our version of the Sunday Funnies. We’ve had some great laughs.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Not A Degree Too Soon

We’re slowly making our way home and not a degree too soon.

As we left Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri early in the morning we encountered frost. We moved on to Omaha, where it rained. In Kansas City it rained for 2 days and on the third day we awoke to frost and freezing temperatures. In Wichita it was cold and windy and it rained as we left. It rained all the way from Wichita to Liberal and at night there was frost again. Perhaps we’re the bad-weather folks from California. We’re now headed for Albuquerque where we’re hoping for a little friendlier weather.

Thanks to the hospitality of friends and family we’ve kept warm and well fed. Bob has bought two warm jackets and I’m pulling out my thermals. We’re moving on down the road headed for California weather.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hunt Soldiers

We left Newport Wednesday morning on a mission to reach Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri in time for our grandson Ramond’s graduation from the US Army Motor Transport Operator Course on Friday morning. A steady 1400 mile ride got us there Thursday night in time to hear 9PM taps.

Very early Friday morning we woke to the sound of soldiers marching and counting off the cadence loud and strong. Throughout the day we saw perhaps ten different units going through their drills. Some were in full combat gear.

As I sat at the graduation and watched the very organized ceremony I reflected on our young people in the armed services. All those fresh eager young men and women with so much ahead of them make you stop and think. Whether we lament their choice or agree with it, we have to acknowledge that the choice is theirs to make and they deserve our support and encouragement. They are serving our country. They have endured rigorous training and separation from home and family. They are facing their futures with hope and commitment, looking toward challenges and opportunities. Some will go to war and return shattered by their experience. Sadly, some will not return. Some will build long and rewarding careers in the military and some will use the experience as a stepping stone to other jobs and careers.

During the ceremony the soldiers chanted a cadence led by an African-American female sergeant. I laughed because a “sista” will be a “sista” no matter what. With a touch of soul she led the cadence – “I used to date a beauty queen. Now I drive a 915.” (I later learned from my grandson that a 915 is a truck.)

Earlier on our trip we also visited another of our grandsons, James who is stationed in Washington, DC with the US Army and has already served a tour in Iraq.

No doubt James and Ramond were inspired by their father, Robert Hunt Jr., who retired from the US Army. They are clearly excited about their military careers and enjoying what they’re doing. They have also followed in the footsteps of their grandfather, Robert Hunt Sr., who served in the US Air Force and their cousins Andrew Hunt, who served in the US Army and Timothy Hunt, who is currently serving in the US Air Force.

As I write this I cannot leave out our granddaughter-in-law, Valencia Hunt, the wife of Robert Hunt III, who has also bravely chosen the army as a way to realize her dreams of furthering her education. She has recently been promoted and is currently serving a tour in Iraq, leaving behind her daughter and her husband.

We are proud of them and we thank them for serving their country.

In the words of the Army Song “Proud of all we have done. Fighting ‘till the Battle’s won. And the Army goes rolling along.”

And on another note: We enjoyed our time with both grandsons who I think enjoyed the opportunity to “eat.”

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jog

Home again, home again, jiggety jog. My mother used to say this when we happily returned home at the end of a day. I don’t know where she got it from or really what it means, but I thought of it while I was home in Newport, RI. We enjoyed four glorious days in the town where I was born and spent my early years.

It is because of my cousins that our stay was so enjoyable. Cousin Elaine and her family are beyond belief. They provided bed, breakfast and dinner. What a five-star treat. Cousin Ralph drove us to Providence for a tour of Elaine’s family business. Cousin Phyllis kept our family on the west coast informed of what we were doing.

On Saturday I joined Elaine in the kitchen of the family church and fed the homeless. It felt good to be doing something for someone who needed it. We served 70 people a meal of baked chicken, stir fried vegetables, baked potatoes, salad, bread, punch and desert. I peeked into the hall to see who I was feeding and it was heartwarming to see a diversity of people with challenges in a congregate family style setting enjoying a gourmet meal. Elaine is one of a group of dedicated volunteers who do this every Saturday.

To my delight Elaine organized a family gathering after church on Sunday in the church hall. What a way to see a number of family members in a short visit. I am honored that so many showed up – many of whom I’d never met. Good food too!

We took my elderly aunt to visit her oldest sister who is in a rest home suffering from dementia. It was heartbreaking that she didn’t remember me, but amusing to see how she responded to my husband so happily. My cousin and I laughed when I told her that our aunt was flirting with my husband. These two paternal aunts are my only surviving aunts and it was a joy to see them.

We toured my Cousin Elaine’s family business. What a legacy she and her late husband Robert Lewis created. The business includes a child care center, several group homes and several pieces of property. It employs over 100 employees, many of whom are family members. Yes, family members working side by side in harmony for a common goal. I hope to write a more extensive piece about what I saw there later. I believe this is a story for Black Enterprise magazine.

We had breakfast with one of my maternal cousins and her husband and regretted that we couldn’t spend more time with them. We shared stories and memories of our childhood.

I took a little time to go down memory lane visiting my kindergarten school, going to a beach where I played as a child, walking up the street I once lived on, stopping for a look at the former homes of my maternal and paternal grandparents, and riding streets I used to walk. An emotional time, but a fun time.

As Rossmon pointed when we called him to let him know we were in Newport, we’ve reached our most easterly and most northerly destination. Now we’re turning around and heading west. It’s getting way too cold out here and the rain just won’t leave us alone. Westward ho’.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oh, Do We Miss ...

6 weeks ...
Nearly 6000 miles ...

The time, the laughs and the memories of old times shared with family and friends are like a quilt with squares of fabric too numerous to count, but each so beautiful. However, there are certain things one cannot help but miss.

I miss my:
•Children and our fantastic conversations any day of the week
•Beautiful grandchildren
•Wednesday’s with my grandsons
•Weekly chiropractic visit to the best chiropractor on the planet
•Squishy old waterbed
•Afternoon naps in my comfy bedroom chair
•Monique insisting we eat our veggies
•Big comfy bathroom and the convenience of a shower on demand

Bob misses:
•Very little
•Afternoon and morning naps in his comfy bedroom chair
•Hitting the fridge at-will all day long

After a most memorable and glorious time in Newport, RI we’re turning around and heading west.

Hazmat, Bridges and Turnpikes

Eleven years ago we made this trip and mistakenly tried to cross the lower deck of the George Washington Bridge with hazardous materials. Upon arriving at the toll gate the toll taker asked if we knew we weren’t supposed to be on the lower deck with our RV propane bottles. We’d noticed the Hazmat signs, but had no idea they pertained to us. Eight lanes of the bridge were shut down as we were escorted across the lanes, through the bridge corp yard and onto the upper deck. I kept my eyes averted from the glares of New York rush hour commuters and tried to ignore the cacophony of blaring car horns as Bob negotiated his way to the upper deck.

Experience is the best teacher so of course we would not make the same mistake this time. We left Woodbridge, VA at 9:30 in the morning with hopes of making the 400 mile drive to Newport, RI before nightfall. Suddenly I see the hazmat sign for a bridge ahead. We get off at the last exit before the bridge, pull into a service area and spend an hour – Vonnie on the phone with AAA and Bob roaming the parking lot asking truckers, delivery men and police officers for advice. We put all this info together and managed to negotiate our way across an alternate bridge. We are also reminded to stay in the lanes that direct us across the top of the George Washington Bridge when we get to NY. We know that!!!

The AAA lady also gave some info on a route that would avoid the NY traffic and take us across the Tappan Bridge rather than the George Washington Bridge. We later spent another hour researching this option with our GPS, truckers and local delivery men. We opted not to take it. With all these hours of research and the traffic, we finally gave up at about 8:30PM and stopped for the night in Connecticut. Both of us were suffering from the stress of it all. Newport, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Now, about the turnpikes - I know turnpikes are supposed to move the traffic along, but I’m not sure why the taxpaying drivers are required to ante up at the toll booth. We paid nearly $40.00 in tolls from DC to Newport. If the tolls are for maintenance, someone needed to get busy a while ago. There is a significant amount of road work going on now, probably as a result of the Stimulus Package, but boy does it slow the traffic down. Can we get a smile from those toll takers as they take our money, please?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

On Safari

The thesaurus says synonyms for safari are expedition or trip. Wikipedia says the term is used today to describe a trip taken for the purpose of observing and photographing big game and other wildlife. It goes on to say that khaki clothing, bush jackets and slouch hats are the style and theme associated with the word.

Shortly after we arrived at the home of our “framily” in Huntersville, North Carolina, Gerri and Ted informed us that they would be taking us on a safari. I thought they were kidding and decided to play along. Could they be taking us with them on their next trip to Africa? I even donned my safari hat as we prepared to leave. After a scenic ride through the countryside we turned into a driveway with a sign, “Enter at your own risk.” We went through the gate and were immediately met by a herd of various animals. As we rode through the Lazy 5 Ranch, we were able to get up close and personal with 750 animals from six different continents - everything from pot-bellied pigs to Texas longhorns, giraffes, a rhino and zebras. Bob and Gerri stuck their hands out of the windows and fed the animals. I couldn’t stop laughing. Yes, we went on a real live safari on the Lazy 5 Ranch. It is a privately owned exotic animal drive-thru park that offers a 3.5 mile safari through the gently sloping pasturelands of Piedmont, North Carolina. This was a drive-thru experience unique to North Carolina that we’ll never forget.

Ted and Gerri have made our entire time in Huntersville a sightseeing safari. They’ve driven us around to see the sights and we took the nighttime trolley tour of Charlotte. Bob and Ted have followed each other around the house talking non-stop and fooling around with their computers. Gerri and I have spent our time "catching up." We’ve had soooo much fun and enjoyed our visit soooo much. It will be very difficult to move on tomorrow.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Why Do You Live Here?

My sister Claudia has often said that she is intrigued by the reasons people live where they do. I thought about that too, while spending a glorious weekend in North Carolina with her daughter, Teri. Teri was raised in California, went off to attend Clark Atlanta University, and after graduating has chosen to stay in the south. She merrily chauffeured me around miles of country roads during my visit. I wondered at her ability to negotiate all those beautiful quiet country roads and not get lost. They began to look all the same to me. She told me she loves the pace of life in North Carolina.

Historically, black people migrated north to find work and better opportunities. Many years ago my ancestors left Virginia and went to Rhode Island to find work. They bravely left all that was familiar to seek a better life. While doing our family history research my sister and I discovered that many of their Virginia family members and friends did the same. They found work and made new futures in a new place.

Three sets of friends we’ve visited while on this trip are what I lovingly call “California escapees” and they all say they’re happy with their decision to leave California. Cynthia and Jimmy are not sorry they left California for Dallas. Nate has just bought a home and he’s reestablishing his roots in Dallas. Gerri and Ted are delighted with their new home and new life in North Carolina.

Why do you live here? Althought the answer will be different every time the question is posed, I think the reasons will still basically be the same. We all seek to make our best life. The opportunity to choose where you live is a precious gift.

FOOTNOTE: No, we’re not planning to become “California escapees.” Our visit with our “framily” (my word for good friends who are as close as blood relatives), Gerri and Ted, in Huntersville, North Carolina has been a time to savor. The area is charming and we’ve made many happy memories with them while here. We visited a friend in Oak Island, North Carolina earlier this week and I thoroughly enjoyed the island atmosphere. Oak Island would be my choice if, and only if, I were to consider “escaping.” Bob, on the other hand, would be happy to live just about anywhere in the south. We're going back to Cali.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Food, foodstuff, fare, provisions, groceries, chow, victuals, rations, cuisine, fodder - whatever name you give it, you still have to figure out how to use it wisely.

We left home with some food essentials - bread, butter, eggs, bacon, two steaks, frozen vegetables, canned fruit, and healthy snacks. I had every intention of eating healthy on the road. I envisioned stopping at roadside stands for fresh local fare.

We’ve shared and fully enjoyed gourmet meals with family and friends, but we have resorted to some bad-for-us behaviors as well. We seldom fix breakfast because we’ve discovered we can be satisfied gastronomically and financially with the McDonald’s dollar breakfast menu and their senior coffee. We’ve gone to great lengths to search out local soul food restaurants for bar-b-que and “chittlins.” We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner in the campground clubhouse in Dallas. We’ve had to refill our healthy snack stash more than once because we lunch and munch on it as we ride. We've not found one roadside fruit stand on the interstate highways we travel.

McDonalds is salty and processed. Soul food too is salty and the “vegetable” sides include candied yams, rice and gravy, and macaroni and cheese. In addition, a sweet delight to-go is a must. Eating almonds, bananas and grapes all day defeats the purpose of healthy snacks. This is not wholesome behavior!!!

When we get home we’ll have to go to a detox spa, a weight loss program and the gym seven days a week.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Keep On Truckin'

What impact has technology had on the trucking industry? Judging by the number of 18 wheelers on the road it appears that America is very dependant upon the trucking industry to meet its need for goods and food. Trucks have not been replaced by computers and robots are not driving the trucks. Day and night truckers are crisscrossing America moving everything from mail to moo cows.

Truckers are accommodated with truck lanes, truck parking, and truck stops equipped with lounges and showers. There are trucker welcome centers and guidebooks for truckers. Roadside rest stops are filled with trucks soon after nightfall and South Carolina has roadside rest stops for truckers only.

I’ve been told that the independent trucker who owns his own rig and contracts to transport goods has been severely impacted by the significant increase in the cost of fuel because the large trucking companies are able to buy fuel in bulk at a lower cost.

Interestingly, we see Walmart trucks more often than any other. Walmart is moving a large amount of stuff and obviously selling a large amount of stuff. We’ve contributed to Walmart sales by purchasing a good part of a truckload since we left home - everything from a fire extinguisher to raincoats to snacks.

Some of the trucks are actually quite pretty. One day I hope to be able to climb up into one and look inside the cab. I hear they have many of the comforts of home – bed, microwave, and refrigerator. I suppose I could just walk up to one of the drivers and ask if I could look inside, but that would be way out of my comfort zone.

Although at times on the road they can make you apply the brakes or grip the armrest, truckers are usually willing to help when asked for information. You can also follow the lights of a truck ahead if the weather is bad and visibility is poor. Kudos to truckers, they’re coping with inclement weather, rough roads, errant drivers, and long hours. They’re going to every part of the country hauling what we need.

And I bet you thought the title "Keep On Truckin' was something about us.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Rain and fellowship with family seem to be constants as we travel. After a rainy weekend in Atlanta, we headed to Savannah. The national news reports of flooding in the southeast made our family back in California wonder about our safety. At times we wondered ourselves. Just outside of Birmingham we gassed up, got on the freeway, traveled eleven miles, and pulled into a rest stop to wait it out. The rain came down in sheets for nearly an hour.

Our stay in Atlanta was enhanced by the joy of seeing great grandson Raymond Michael for the first time. He is quite the little guy - constantly moving and trying new things. It is always amazing to watch children testing to see what works and what doesn’t – from figuring out how to get attention to unloading a drawer full of pots and pans. You can almost see their brains working as they try new things. What an experience to watch your adult children grandparent. We have to smile as they coo over their grandchildren just like we do.

Oh Savannah, what a city. Our nephew and niece, Cedric and Yelina, and their family made it magical. The entire family was enthusiasticly involved in seeing that we got a taste of Savannah. He’s a history buff and she’s a dedicated teacher, thus their guided tours were filled with interesting information about the city and its history. We spent an evening on the riverfront listening to and watching local artisans as a ship navigated the harbor. They showed us the coffles once used to restrain slaves as they waited to be sold. We took pictures of the first African American church. They even made sure we got a taste of the local epicurean delights by feeding us a dish called Low Country Boil. Loaded with seafood, it was delicious – so much so that I bought a postcard with the recipe for Monique so she can cook it when we get home.

In Savannah too was a fine new little Hunt, their grandson Cameron, testing and trying. Cooing going on here too.

We’re in Fayetteville, NC now. We’ll explore and visit family and friends in North Carolina for the next few days. What do you know, there’s rain in the forecast for the next few days.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Is Cheap Coming Back?

Thrift and frugality were the American way in the early years of our history. Ben Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” My slave ancestors learned to make something out of nothing – chitterlings, hog maws and fried anything.

As the country grew and progressed Americans were encouraged to start spending to boost the economy. Spending became an act of patriotism. Charge accounts, charge plates and credit cards became the rage. Consumption became the American way.

Today’s economy has made many of us return to more simple living. We’re cancelling cable, giving our kids home haircuts, buying only what we need and using coupons at the grocery store. The internet has scores of Web sites with cost cutting ideas.

It seems though that the almighty dollar is still strong. I am struck by the overabundance of dollar stores we’ve seen as we ride. The Dollar General, the Dollar Store, the 99 cents Only Store, the Family Dollar Store, the Dollar Depot, the 99 cents Connection and the Dollar Bee all seem to be thriving. Roam around in one of these stores and you can find a little bit of everything – from auto care goods to zucchini. Throw too many items in that cart and you’ve spent a 20 dollar bill in no time. Can everything we really need be found in a dollar store? Are we cheap, thrifty or frugal? Is this the new rage?

We're In Atlanta

The scenery is beautiful. The freedom to move around the country at our own speed is a gift. But, nothing beats the time we spend with family and friends.

While in Dallas we visited with our four California-escapee friends. As they have before, Cynthia and Jim opened their home to us and treated us like royalty. Their hospitality is superb. Cynthia’s cooking is wonderful. Linda still has her sense of humor and made us laugh. Nate drove us around Dallas in his pick-up truck with me squeezed in the middle feeling a bit like a teenager. We went from thrift store to thrift store looking for, of all things, a computer mouse. Some things never change.

We traveled on to Lake Charles, LA where we spent a wonderful time with our niece and nephew, Alice and Larvell. Larvell gave us a guided tour of the area’s interesting sights. Later we had dinner at one of the riverboat casinos and talked the evening away.

We just arrived in Atlanta for a visit with Bob’s son and to see a great grandson for the first time.

We’ve already driven over 3000 miles and I believe over half of them have been rainy. It has rained everywhere we’ve stopped. There were six and a half inches of rain in 35 hours while we were at the campground outside of Dallas. We were forced to purchase real rain jackets after getting drenched going from the truck to the camper. We made our selection, went through the check stand, put the jackets on and wore them out of the store. Reminiscent of kids with new shoes. It appears the rain isn’t over as rain is in the Atlanta forecast for tomorrow. In addition, the muggy heat is intense.

Having your lodging on your vehicle has its advantages, but having a house requires work. We’ve dealt with a temperamental refrigerator and discovered a leak in our bedroom area. A leak in all this rain made for a wet mattress. Thank goodness Bob is a good maintenance man. I’m good at standing around acting like an apprentice and fetching tools and supplies. Through it all we’re laughing and having fun.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Let Me Put A Bug In Your Ear

Run, and I do mean “run” the other way the next time someone whispers conspiratorially, “Let me put a bug in your ear.”

As I enjoyed the morning quiet of the St. David, Arizona campground a bug flew into my ear. My natural reaction was to swat at it. Not a smart reaction. I wiggled my ear and shook my head. We went on with our departure preparations, but my ear was feeling very irritated. I went to Wal-Mart, bought and used a kit for getting ear wax out and we moved on down the road. Throughout the day and night the ear continued to bother me. By morning of the next day I knew I should see a doctor. We used the GPS (yes, it is often useful) and located a hospital emergency room at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque just 17 miles away. We roamed around the area for half an hour looking for a parking lot to accommodate our rig and finally managed to find our way to a desk with a person ready to help. I dug my Kaiser travel kit out, confident I was armed with what I needed and proud of myself for being prepared.

On the day when President Obama was scheduled to deliver a much anticipated health care reform address to the US congress and the nation I experienced the best and the worst of our health care system. We arrived at the hospital at 10:30AM and I was immediately checked in by a clerk who, when I asked about the wait time, smilingly assured us this check-in part would be the shortest. How right he was. Two hours later I was called to be “triaged.” I had my vitals taken, was given a bracelet, saw a nurse who looked in my ear, and was told to return to the waiting room. I’ve now told my story to three people. We sat there for another hour and finally I’m called to see the doctor and tell my story to yet another person. Now I’m asked if I have insurance. I get the feeling I’m expected to say no, but “Yes, I have Kaiser and here’s my card and my emergency claim form.”

“Great, let me see the card and you can go into the examining room.”

I tell my story to a nurse who takes my vitals, again.

I wait another 45 minutes, sitting on the end of a gurney, feet dangling. The doctor comes in, hears my story, pokes around in my ear and takes my blood pressure. “Mrs. Hunt your blood pressure is high. Are you being treated for high blood pressure?” I say yes as I think to myself, “Well yes it’s high I’ve just been waiting for more than three hours in the most crowded and crazy waiting room I’ve ever seen and I have a bug in my ear.

“It looks like you got the bug out because I don’t see it, but your ear is irritated. I’m going to have another doctor look at it to be sure.” says the doctor.

Oh yes, I forgot this is a university medical center and doctors are in training. Fifteen minutes later the diagnosis is confirmed and I’m told the nurse will come and give me my discharge care instructions. Discharge, I didn’t know I had been admitted. After five hours, I’m discharged with instructions to take Tylenol, apply a warm compress and come back if it isn’t better in 48 hours.

During my time in the waiting room I see one person collapse and fall from her chair to the floor. She’s lifted by staff members and taken somewhere in the back. I later see her waiting in one of the examining rooms. Another woman tells me she has no insurance because she lost her job and her husband can’t get her on his insurance until open enrollment. I know better than that. It’s pathetic that people don’t know their rights. Yet another woman tells me she has no insurance because her employer doesn’t pay for any of it and she can’t afford the plan. A man a few seats away is on his cell phone telling someone his father’s being admitted and he has no health insurance, but he’s a veteran so they’ll hopefully be able to use that. A friendly woman tells me this hospital is known for having a long wait period because they see the uninsured and since I have insurance maybe I should go over to the Presbyterian hospital. After waiting all this time I’m not going anywhere. While we sat there I also called three private ENT specialists Bob found in the phone book and they were either closed, didn’t take walk-ins or didn’t take insurance.

The best and the worst of our health care system - the care was superb and the staff was very competent, but the wait was insufferable. Having to wait hours in a hospital emergency room to see a doctor is inhumane, whether one is insured or not. Private specialists can be selective about who they see. Yes, Mr. President we need our healthcare system overhauled so that everyone has access to health care.

Now, let me put a bug in your ear. Our health care system needs immediate attention. I’m thankful I have health insurance. A bug in your ear hurts. I can de-bug my own system.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We're In Dallas

After languishing in the San Diego area for a few days we turned east about 4PM Sunday afternoon. The beauty of this adventure is that we have no time schedule and no predetermined destination. Our flexibility allowed us to spend a great day with my sister Garnet on Saturday. She happily chauffeured us around to all the thrift stores in her neck of the woods. We all had something we were looking for. Garnet found hers, Bob found his and I came up empty-handed. We all had fun browsing through the junk and trying to convince each other that the item you just looked at is a “must have.”

The down side of this “no time schedule, no predetermined destination” approach is that we don’t know where we’ll be when we get tired and ready to stop. Sunday night we spent the hottest night of our lives in Blythe CA. It was at least 90 degrees at midnight. So hot we threw caution to the wind, or rather to the heat, and slept with the camper windows all open. Risky behavior.

Our rather circuitous route has finally gotten us to Dallas where we’ll spend a few days visiting friends and relaxing at the Bay Landing campground.

Things That Have Made Us Go “WOW!”

• The increased presence of the US Border patrol throughout CA, AZ and NM. At one checkpoint we were questioned about our citizenship status and our rig was sniffed by dogs. We were intimidated and stumbled through the answers to the questions. It’s a wonder we weren’t held for further investigation. Border Patrol agents are in cars up and down the freeway. They’re at service stations and freeway rest stops.

• As we drove through New Mexico yesterday bolts of lightening lit up the sky. Flashes of red and orange lit up a sky decorated with bright white, gray and slate blue clouds. Pyrotechnics just don’t measure up to nature’s own light show.

• Our GPS system sometimes just doesn’t do the job. I’ve even told her to “shut up!” And why does she chatter when we go off the freeway? Doesn’t she understand that we have to get gas and go potty? Thank goodness for a good old atlas – and we have two.

Friday, September 4, 2009

We've Only Headed South

We haven't started east yet.

After taking forever to pull out, we hit the road Tuesday afternoon.

Our first planned stop was in Lancaster, CA to get some work done on the camper at the Lance Camper dealer and to visit with daughter Karless and her children and grandchildren. The visit with family was great. We got to see grandson Tony in his own barbershop and the great grandchildren growing like weeds.

As for the visit to the Lance dealer, what can I say? We went to the "dealer." Labor is $110./hr. A one day job became two. The air conditioned waiting room was equipped with comfortable chairs and cable TV.

Then we discovered the truck air conditioner was not working properly. We were not about to head into Arizona with an improperly operating air conditioner. We had that fixed too, but we did not go to the Ford dealer.

Yesterday we stopped in Los Angeles to get an addition to our music and GPS system. What an experience. There is a whole cottage industry selling and installing electronics located in warehouse fronts on 11th Street. You can bargain for the best price and get what you buy installed immediately. I sat in a folding chair under a pop up awning in the LA heat while the installation was done. No air conditioned waiting room here. Trying not to look like the FBI or the INS, I took a picture. I'll ask Bob to post it later.

We are now in San Diego visiting family. I love visiting with my sisters! Our plan is to head east either tomorrow or Sunday.

Eastward ho. We're on our way "folks back east."

Our Rig

The first time we did the cross country road trip in 1998 we did it with Monique's beautiful new fifth wheel trailer and our truck. The truck broke down in Laramie Wyoming, we bought a new one on the spot and continued our trip. In 2001 we did it again with our own little old fifth wheel that had literally fallen apart by the time we got home. In 2006 we made the trip in Bob's little sports car with a suitcase each. This time we're using the truck we bought in Laramie and a camper.

The camper supplies basic needs. It has approximately 150 square feet of living space - bed; full kitchen, including microwave; and toilet with sink. There's a place for everything (just barely) and everything has to be in its place or one could break one's neck falling over stuff. Something is assigned to every available space. To pass one another we have to suck our tummies in. (Good breathing exercise.) All of our clothes wouldn't fit into the one small closet so we have a couple of suitcases beside the bed. The back of the truck is loaded with the camping gear for stops at campgrounds along the way. We have about a three day supply of food and water, a few snacks and a few cans of "emergency food."

What a way to learn how to live with less.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hitting the Road in a Few

In a few hours we'll be on the road again. Heading south then on to points east. We'll be blogging our journey along the way. We have no specific agenda. We'll make our plans as we go.

If we're in your neck of the woods, we might just give you a holler.