The CoolRVers are actually a couple of retirees, Judy and Luke Rinehimer and our 5 year old German Shepherd Dog, Miss Shady Lady. We are "extended-time" travelers with a home in Cool, California. Thanks for following along with us as we travel North America in our "rolling condo", enjoying the RV lifestyle. Your comments are always welcomed.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Cool Chores, Cool Toys and Not-so-Cool Dr. Appointments

Here is another lengthy blog that chronicles what has been keeping us busy while off the road at our home in Cool, California.  I promise shorter blogs when we start traveling again next week.
Doing chores anywhere is never fun, but whether you are in a recreational vehicle or in a stick house, there are just some things you can’t ignore.  While at our stick house since April, yard work has dominated Luke’s workload.  For me, the chores are not as physical (but maybe should be), but involve de-cluttering the “stuff” we collect while traveling and getting caught up on routine housecleaning, laundry, and computer work.  Luke has more to “show” for his efforts.
Yard Work Pays Off
Firewise artworkWith all the terrible forest fires in the news, we are well aware of how quickly wildland fires can spread.  We live in a designated fire zone and we are required to clear our lot within 100’ of structures.  I have been among the many  community volunteers (“Volunteers in Protection” – VIPs) who inspect every lot in our sprawling foothill community every June.  If you are not in compliance, you receive a warning and then your report is turned over to CalFire for further enforcement.  Our yard was looking good when the inspection occurred recently.

Luke has not only cleared our yard, but also used his weed-eater to clear the yard of the vacant house next to ours! This shot is when he was half-done next door.

Luke’s job has sometimes been a physical challenge. Most of you know about his fall back in February where he broke five ribs. He is doing much better, but is still re-building his strength and stamina.  Handling a weed-eater during our recent heat wave required lots of breaks, so he found a shady spot to also pull weeds.

Now to cross our fingers that we remain fire-free this summer.

Luke’s New Cool Toy
Last week, Luke’s trusty 1989 Honda lawn tractor broke down and it may not be repairable.  The part he needs is “obsolete” and no longer available from Honda or anywhere on the internet.  Since we are hitting the road next weekend, it was imperative that he replace the tractor so we spent the last few days researching and buying a new mower. (Our neighbor mows our lawns with our equipment while we travel.)

For the techies out there, he settled on a John Deere D-140, 22 HP, 48” cutting deck, with an electric power train (PTO) hydrostatic transmission.  JD sets the price for their equipment but we were able to get a “free” spreader 2012-06-30_12-03-10_521($199 value!!) by buying at Lowe’s.  We also remembered to use our American Express credit card which doubles the warranty!  The Lowe’s staff got the mower into our truck but it was our job to off-load it.  The only problem was a dead battery!

After a quick battery charge, Luke was last seen going round and round and round our yard!  Ron, our neighbor, will be happy, too. He’ll be over Monday night for his test ride.

Judy’s Chores
IMAG1585My contribution to getting our Cool house back to livability was to clean the 2000 feet of decking and the multiple sets of plastic tables and chairs.  The work got delayed a day when we discovered the wasps had firmly taken up roost inside and under everything we had on our decks.  An evening with wasp spray took care of most of the problems.  This is one of the inverted chairs where multiple nests had accumulated. Nests were also found under many of the deck railings.  Glad I looked before starting to clean them off.

We have a 360-degree view from our upper (main living area) deck and you will find me at one of these tables in the evening.  (This blog is being written under a full moon from the front table (left) and our Wi-Fi network conveniently makes web surfing into the night very possible.  The photo on right has a table that gets morning shade, but I’m not up early enough to want to work out there.  Coffee, yes.  Computer time waits for the air conditioned office later in the day.  (I read my morning emails on my phone.)

For the record, I only took care of the wasp nests on the lower deck and then just re-stacked the furniture.  We no longer have the big deck parties like we used to have. 

Judy’s Cool New Toy – Razr Maxx
My birthday was back in May and I had planned golf lessons as my present.  Instead, Verizon announced changes to their “unlimited” data plans and, if I acted before the change took effect, I could roll-over my current data plan and upgrade an eligible phone to 4G service. (Yes, Cool actually has a 4G camouflaged tree cell tower “downtown” near our one flashing red light.)  I have motorola-droid-razr-maxxa niece that works in Customer Service for Verizon and she recommended the new Motorola Droid Razr Maxx for its new long-life battery.  After a quick search on the internet I discovered that Amazon.com had the new phones in stock and they were $100 cheaper than anywhere else! (The other companies, including Verizon stores, lowered their prices within a couple of weeks, too.)
After the initial battery charge, I ran the phone until I had reached the “20 %” remaining time.  Would you believe 20 hours, and 20 minutes while using it heavily doing downloads and re-installation of my apps.  I am impressed! I keep learning new features and, like all things technology-based, I doubt I will ever learn it all.  But I will have fun trying.

We have been using a Verizon 720 3G aircard  for internet access for many years.  If not directly plugged into my laptop, it is plugged into our Cradlepoint MBR1200 Router so Luke and I can share wireless connections on two laptops while traveling. (Doesn’t that sound romantic?)  At home, his older, non-Wi-Fi capable desktop computer uses an Ethernet connection directly into the router.

The aircard was also eligible for the 4G upgrade, BUT, Verizon would not “grandfather” the unlimited data plan. I did an analysis of our last 6 months of data usage and opted to enroll in the 10GB plan.  I thought that was plenty of access, but during the first month we were in for a surprise.  I learned quickly that our visiting grandson viewing streaming videos can quickly add up the gigabytes.  I had set “warning” alerts to start when I reached 50 percent of our usage limit and nine days into our month we were already there! 

After whining a lot on Facebook, my more-techie-than-me friends like Barbara PdaNet logoWesterfield and Chris Guld from Geeks on Tour reminded me that I could “tetfoxFi logoher” my cell phone to my laptop and also create a “hotspot” (without paying Verizon an extra fee) by using PdaNet and FoxFi software.  Duh… why didn’t I remember?  We made it through the first month without exceeding our metered data usage on the new 4G aircard.  We’ll see how it works when we hit the road again next week. (Our grandson is traveling with us so I will be sure to clue him in on using the RV park Wi-Fi opportunities.)

Not-So-Cool Doctor Appointments
As I like to say, “You know you are getting old when someone asks how you are and you stop and tell them”!!!  Thanks for asking.

vfs09webLogoFollowers of this blog know I was diagnosed last October with Valley Fever (VF), a fungus spore that settles in the lungs and can do serious damage if not caught and treated promptly.  We are on top of it but it requires repeated blood testing, bronchoscopies, chest x-rays, and CT scans.  I was on a 3-month watch so when we came home in April I re-did my battery of tests. My pulmonary doctor was pleased that the spots in my right lung were lessening, but new spots were found in my left lung. 

Before waiting for the results of my latest confirming VF “cocci” blood test, he and the infection disease doctor decided I should begin the anti-fungal medication, Fluconazole, we had been avoiding earlier. (The treatment can be worse that the disease in the early stages.)  Thankfully, since starting the medication three weeks ago, I still have my hair and my only side-effects have been “brain fog” and insomnia.  I take the pills in the morning to ward off the “wired” feeling, but I am still not sleeping well at night.  The medication, however, can cause serious liver problems so now, instead of 3-month testing, I need to do my blood tests every month.  He wants me to do them locally so the results are comparable, so our summer travels will involve bouncing back to the Sacramento area. 

The GOOD NEWS was my VF blood test actually came back showing an improvement in the ratio numbers.  Originally, my first two VF confirming tests were 8:1 on a special “titer” scale where <2:1 is the goal.  The new tests came back at 4:1 ratio so it is going in the right direction.  The doctor will see me again in August after I re-do all the tests and scans again.  He said I will likely stay on the medication for at least six months.  Some folks are on it for life.

The Medical Checklists Continue
RVers usually establish a home base for their annual medical needs and coming home to Cool means visiting the dentist, optometry, mammogram, colonoscopy, etc. which have all been completed with good results.  Luke finally got a cap on the tooth he broke in Lake Havasu back in February and he got an outstanding report on his cataract follow-up this past week. He also got new glasses (finally) at Costco.

Family, Food and Fun
IMG_8447It hasn’t been all work and doctor appointments.  We have made multiple trips to Pleasanton to see our daughter and her family.  It is Little League season and Tanner, 9, and Troy, his dad and coach, won their league and are now involved in All-Star tournament play through July.

2012-06-16_19-47-22_271We also attended the 70th  birthday party for Troy’s mother, Barbara Treto,  in Robin and Troy’s backyard.  It was an elegant setting and the food was catered by “Blessings”, a long-time family Chinese favorite.  2012-06-16_17-53-07_392

Unique cupcakes were a hit dessert!2012-06-16_17-54-52_8

Quillinan-side of the Family
As I mentioned in a recent Facebook posting, My late brother Frank and sister Pat were my legal guardians after my folks died.  My sister-in-law Shirley became my surrogate mother through my high school days until I moved out on my own.  Since we aren't home much, our visits with Shirley and her two daughters, Reggie and Corie, and Reggie's daughter Randi are generally limited to Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This year we were home for a Mother's Day dinner at Cattleman's Restaurant in May and Shirley's 81st birthday dinner in Nevada City this past weekend.  Here is the Quillinan gang (plus Corie's friend Christine Davidson).

Shirley does not look 81 years old!!!
From Left:  Reggie and Randi Hunt, Corie Quillinan, Christine Davidson, Me, and Shirley Quillinan. (Luke was the photographer.)

Family Visit to Cool
Our daughter Robin and oldest Grandson Taylor, 12,  made a quick trip up to Cool so Robin could attend a celebration for her friend Andrea who just graduated from Nursing School.  They arrived while we were shuffling through “stuff” in the garage and Luke had just found my old IBM Selectric typewriter.  Taylor is fascinated with how things works so I also dug out my old Smith Corona manual typewriter.  The ribbons were mostly dried out, but he did have fun watching the mechanisms that moved the keys.  He even had it upside down, something I don’t ever remember doing.  His mom told him how much “fun”  it was to TYPE term papers with footnotes before there were computers and word processing software. Can you relate?

Elks Lodge Dinners
2012-06-08_17-40-33_934This past year Luke moved his Elks Lodge membership to nearby Auburn, CA, so we have made it to a few Lodge dinners while home.  Besides “Taco Tuesdays” with RVing friend Dick Reed and others, we attended the “Burn (oops, Cook) Your Own Steak Night”.  Huge rib eye steaks were cooked perfectly, if I may say so myself, and were accompanied by a baked potato bar and salad bar.

That was just one dinner serving.  Yummy!!!

Auburn Cruise Night
Following the Elks dinner, we walked through the Downtown Auburn Cruise Night.  More than 300 classic cars (and people) filled the entire length of Lincoln Way.  In addition to a few live bands and community non-profit food booths, they even had a DJ spinning vinyl records. (He was probably born after the heyday of the cars on display.)


Luke found a 1958 Chevy similar to one of his first cars, although his was a convertible.  There were also T-birds (he had two 1961-‘62s as restoration project cars), and a Volvo 544 like he had when we first started dating.  There were a few “unusual” cars that also drew a lot of attention. I liked the decorated golf cart called “Tee-Bird”.  Check out the photo album below.

Golf, Golf, and More Golf
While home I have been getting my golf fix.  Our Auburn Lake Trails golf course was having a sprinkler system make-over for eight weeks so our ladies golf group found lots of tournaments for us to participate in.  My best finish was a second-place team event at Cold Springs CC in Placerville where I won a pro shop gift certificate for $52 dollars.  Went nicely towards a pair of new golf shoes.  I also got to play Cold Springs with former teaching colleagues, Karen Beckman, who taught me to play golf, and Carol Neal, now an RVer, too.  It was fun getting caught up.

Hitch Itch -- Hitting the Road Again
After one more round of blood tests for me on Thursday or Friday this week, we plan to pull the RV out of our community storage lot, check it all out, and hit the road on Saturday. We expect the 4th of July week campers will be heading home that weekend so we don’t expect trouble getting hook-ups as we travel North through the Upper Sacramento Valley to Oregon and Washington.

We are taking Taylor (the techie grandson) on our first adventure with only one grandson and no parents. Our destination is Seattle, with stops along the Rogue River for a jet boat ride, a visit to a glass blowing factory and museum in Tacoma, and then four days at a KOA in Kent, WA. We plan to visit Microsoft’s Visitor Center (no tours, just a small complex), Boeing Aircraft manufacturing plant, the Experience Music Project, Pike’s Market, take ferry boat harbor tour, and much more. (Our daughter says I have him over-booked.)  We’ll see.


1 comment:

zongwei lv said...

thanks for sharing.