Sunday, November 30, 2008


I hope everyone reading this is having as perfect a day as we are!

As planned, we were up early on Friday morning for our road trip. After a long workout at the Drayson Center, we pulled out of Mission RV Park at 11:40 am. Two blocks to the 10 where we merged into the southern California traffic, west to the 215, south to the 15, and off the freeway at Temecula. East on Hwy 79, through the steep, arid hills.

An hour and a half after we left Loma Linda, we had arrived at Jojoba Hills RV Park (read our campground review and see photos here), an Escapee co-op park with huge spaces, great views, fabulous amenities and - best of all - many of our Boomer friends. The Wrights and the Rayners had reserved a site for us, and we were fully deployed by 2:30.

We've stayed a Jojoba Hills RV Park several times, so know our way around a tiny bit. Temecula, just under 20 miles west, is the nearest city, gobbling up the countryside as new subdivisions of huge homes are built. On this trip, we looked at the hillsides 'dozed and terraced for new houses and wondered how many years will pass before building on those sites will be profitable once again.

"Old Town" Temecula has a wonderful Certified Organic Farmers Market every Saturday - lots of growers' booths, along with a few jewelers, hats, clothing, bags, cheese, olive oil, organic margarita mix (!), a baker, a guy sharpening knives. By the time we arrived (10 am) on Saturday morning, the place was busy, with a little band playing and the venders in full swing.

For Odel, the high point of the market is the array of prepared food. We have sampled the fish and shrimp tacos available there before, and our mouths were watering before we even arrived. We went straight to the "restaurant" stands, tacos firmly in mind... Whomp! The incredible aroma of grilling beef - highly spiced grilling beef - assaulted our noses and we did a quick right turn.

In front of us, a vendor was piling a "to go" plate high with grilled vegetables, spicy grilled beef, and yogurt sauce - a completely delectable middle eastern meal of some sort. We watched enviously as the buyer strolled off with his meal. Odel and I looked at each other and nodded. Good-bye, tacos. Hello, beef "sandwich"!

Lettuce, pickled peppers, and seasoned beef patties were piled on to a fresh, soft, pita bread, smothered in yogurt sauce, rolled in foil and presented with two forks. Odel restrained himself long enough to "pose" the meal for its photo op, then... his phone rang! I had undisputed control of the sandwich for the next several minutes while Odel talked to Joe Calwell... I heard him begin to hurry the conversation to its conclusion as he saw the sandwich quickly shrinking. Joe, thanks for calling! (Oh, by the way - we got fish and shrimp tacos a bit later.)

Thanks to the organizing done by Fran Rayner and Mary Wright, we recharged our spirits at Boomer Happy Hour yesterday afternoon. While I have NO complaints about LLUMC and Odel's treatment there, staying for over a month in a tight, urban RV park where most of the residents are semi-permanent is not our typical lifestyle. I miss travel! I miss the changing scenery! And I miss the comraderie of other travelers, especially the active, fun-loving and fun-seeking Boomers. We laughed, danced, snacked, drank, caught up with friends and their travels. It was a welcome tonic.

This morning we awoke to a beautiful day with no time constraints at all. We let Luna wander and sniff as we had our morning tea, then caught up on some "administrative" work related to our volunteer Boomer membership coordinator job. Then we were off for our 10,000 steps - or at least half of them.

Verizon cell service is used by many fulltime RV'ers. Poor-to-terrible Verizon phone and aircard service used to be the drawback to this park, then someone had the great idea of leasing a high spot in the park to Verizon for a cell tower. It's been in the works for a couple of years and now - it's up. We walked to the top of the hill so Odel could take this photo of the huge Verizon cell "tree" (that's me providing scale by standing at the base - like my smile?). Don't you think the tree would look great decorated for Christmas?

Back at Scoopy, I wrote and posted my review of Jojoba Hills RV park while Odel did laundry and watched football. It's a sunny 75 degree day outside, with a hint of a breeze. We're both ready to head out for the other half of our steps - the day is too lovely to squander, even when golf is on TV!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Yesterday, browsing through my photos to find scenes of Thanksgivings past, I felt a little blue that we would be away from family on Thanksgiving. Well, not to worry! Even though we were on our own, we had a good holiday.

After a hard rain last night, Luna, Odel and I were snuggled in the flannel sheets this morning, slowly awakening… when a phone rang. By the ring, I could tell it was Odel’s. Something to be thankful about!

Kim’s cheerful “happy thanksgiving” rang through the house, and soon we all were up: Luna meowing loudly and ceaselessly for food, petting, and free access to the outside; Odel and I getting the tea water started, cleaning the cat box, turning on NPR to listen to other families' Thanksgiving stories.

Energized by the thought of our road trip tomorrow, we soon were whizzing around the rig, inside and out, multitasking like crazy: cleaning, folding, packing, checking the tires and trying to remember our departure checklist. Piles of books and magazines had to be sorted and stashed, outdoor chairs and the grill were stowed for travel; kitchen cupboards were organized and padded against bumps. As we worked, the sky brightened, with blue skies and sunshine peeking through the clouds here and there.

Before we plunged into the traditional eating rituals of Thanksgiving, we decided to visit Yucaipa Regional Park, 20 minutes away, for some hiking - and to take a look at the RV sites in their campground (hey, you RV'ers - the sites were large, level, and beautiful). Our four mile hike to Zanja Peak took us high up above the green of the park (top photo).

We would have had a full 360 degree view, except that the peak was in a cloud - a very rainy cloud! We scrambled back down, warm but wet, and headed home, making a note to go back on a sunny day, maybe after the first cold winter storm when the surrounding mountains will be covered with fresh snow.

Once we got home, it was Odel's turn to lounge on the bed, remote in hand, football on the small screen. I got to work on Thanksgiving dinner.

Before too long, dinner was ready: Donna's Leftover Turkey Pot Pie (photo above) , roasted butternut squash glazed with a little bit of hot pepper jelly, and seared green beans. A yummy Zinfandel to wash it all down.

We had blues on the satellite radio (another thing to give thanks for) and sunshine pouring in the big front windows that Odel had cleaned just this morning. The only things missing were your smiles - oh, and dessert. :)

If you have 2 cups of leftover turkey and want to give the pot pie a try, click here for the recipe, which I also added to the recipe archive on the left side of the blog. You won't find it in the Weight Watcher section, though!

My Weight Watcher's project has come to a screeeeeeching halt, probably temporarily. It takes a substantial time commitment, which I don't mind when I am seeing results on the scale - but the time I am now spending at the gym seems to be time better spent. I'm seeing results from our workouts in the fit of my clothing and, even though retired, I don't have time to spend on a daily workout AND monitoring, measuring and recording everything that goes into my mouth! It had to be one or the other and, since I only have access to a gym until we leave Loma Linda in January, that's where I'm putting my time. Weight Watchers can wait.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Wow, Thanksgiving day is tomorow! For the first time since we began traveling in 2003 (and for many years before), we will not be gathering with my family for the big bird and meal.

Though Thanksgiving always has meant "family, friends, football and all the food you can eat PLUS some more", it also means a time to bathe in gratitude for the good things in life - which is what we will be doing this year. Plus, we get to take a trip!

Since we can't possibly eat a turkey between us (even with Luna helping), we're going to have a favorte meal of Odel's. The recipe was given to me without a name, so we just call it "that turkey casserole Auntie Carol made". It really is my cousin Donna's recipe, dated 1981, but we first had it at Paws and Hooves Ranch (Rosanna's place).

On that particular Thanksgiving, Donna and her husband Brian were visiting from Wisconsin. As we began passing around the platters, Brian wondered aloud about the scarcity of dark meat on the turkey platter... and Odel and I, dark meat lovers, started up about it, too. Finally, with a good-natured "oh, for heaven's sake!", Auntie Carol retrieved a saran wrapped package of dark meat from the refrigerator, where she had hidden it to provide leftovers to make the "that turkey casserole" the following day.

Even without much dark meat left for the "leftovers", the next day's casserole was absolutely delicious! Odel has never forgotten it, and we have cooked a turkey breast in the crockpot from time to time expressly to provide "leftovers" for it. It will be the star of our meal tomorrow, along with green beans, butternut squash, and Trader Joe's fresh cranberry sauce. Assuming it is as good as we remember, I'll post the recipe to the blog. (Snag 2 cups of leftover turkey if you want to try it.)

One thing about a diagnosis of cancer: if you find out you (or that special person close to you) aren't dying in the quickly foreseeable future, life feels pretty great. This Thanksgiving will be filled with gratitude for things large (Odel's cancer was in the early stages when detected, so likely to be "curable") and small (like the aroma emanating from the turkey breast in the crockpot as I write this).

We frequently receive email inquiring about Odel and his treatments. He is doing great! I took this picture at 7:30 this morning, just before he took off for the Wednesday Proton Patient golf game, organized by one of the doctors at LLUMC. He hasn't missed a Wednesday since we arrived (though you can see from the photo that the course will probably be wet today).

Today's treatment will be number ten out of 45. So far, no fatigue, no significant problems of any kind. Our day is not much different than yours (unless you are a working person) - chores, hobbies, cleaning, reading, computing, shopping, playing - except that Odel spends an hour or so being treated.

Usually, we visit the fitness center, then head to the hospital for a late afternoon/evening appointment. I work the jigsaw puzzle in the patient lounge while I wait, or read one of the magazines in their excellent selection, or chat with other patients and their spouses. Odel's treatment is painless for him, and soon he is back to the lounge and ready to go, with some little story of life in the pod.

Treatments are scheduled only on weekdays, and not on holidays. After today's treatment, no more until Monday afternoon, so we are taking off to head to the Escapee park south of here in Aguanga, Jojoba Hills. YAY, a ROAD TRIP!

This is a photo of the view from their "common area" (pool, hobby rooms, pool table room, library, fitness room, tennis courts, kitchen) looking out over the valley. That spa looks like a nice place to spend some time, huh?

We're driving down on Friday, staying until Monday morning, looking forward to happy hour on Saturday with Boomer friends. We can hike on BLM lands surrounding the park, visit wineries nearby, and play pickleball (a court game, less strenuous than tennis). Mostly, I am looking forward to a different view for a few days - we're not used to staying in one place so long!

Monday, November 24, 2008


A breath of fresh air blew into our lives on Friday: three of my girlfriends arrived from Sacramento. Lively, liberal and full of laughter and love... just what we needed. That's Jewel, Becky and me in front of the Mission Inn - Pat took this photo.

It's difficult to plan a long weekend of activities when you are in an area that you don't know well, but I had done a lot of internet research and had more than a few suggestions. Armed with a fistful of AAA maps, we expanded my range of travel both east and west.

After their arrival mid-morning on Friday, we had lunch, then headed to the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. It was GREAT, my favorite of the Bond movies. All the usual long, loud, explosive chase scenes were there, and eye-popping technology. Daniel Craig is an excellent Bond. Fun! Dinner was at the Thai Palace, a yummy, very moderately priced restaurant less than a mile from Mission RV Park. Odel had his treatment at 8:40 pm, so we called it a night around 9 pm, after a very busy day.

On Saturday, Odel and I picked up "the girls" at 8 am and took off for the Palm Springs area, 50 or 60 miles to our east. Note that I said "area". Palm Spring is but one city in a seamless string of desert cities nestled together on the desert floor against the arid San Jacinto mountains. The differences between Palm Springs, La Quinta, Palm Desert, and Indio seem to be age and degrees of wealth - and there is no doubt that the concentration of wealth in the "area" is unusually high.

We started at the huge weekend flea market at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, where we all found items we needed, wanted, or could not be without. We recovered with lunch at a favorite restaurant (discovered by Odel and I on earlier stays at the Elks Lodge in Indio), then headed to one of the premier shopping venues in Palm Desert, El Paseo, the "Rodeo Drive" of the desert.

The photos in the collage were taken on El Paseo - I loved the "his-n-hers" scooters parked side by side. Odel engaged in people-watching (and socializing) while he waited for us. Even here on El Paseo, as with every other retail venue, sales abounded and we all found something worth the substantially reduced price (shoes!).

On Sunday, Odel took the day off. I had reservations for us girls to tour the historic Mission Inn in Riverside, not far from here. Since I hadn't driven in that direction, I was well stocked with annotated maps, which I dumped on Pat as navigator. We were there before we knew it.

Downtown Riverside was deserted at 10 am on Sunday morning. We took our enjoyable tour, had a delicious lunch at a Mexican restaurant recommended by one of the tour docents, and explored the pedestrian mall adjacent to the hotel (which covers an entire block). More shopping, more laughing, more catching up with each others' lives... it was a wonderful day of sightseeing and "retail therapy" for me.

I dropped them back at the Ontario airport at 4 pm, then headed home with a big smile on my face. Nothing beats a few days spent with the best of friends. Thanks, girls!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


No new photos today, no travel or sightseeing stories, no updates on Odel's treatment (except that today will be his 5th, and he is currently on the golf course) or my (lack of) progress on Weight Watchers. This post is all about slogging through computer and blog backups, so most of you can quit reading right here!

Semi-True Tales now includes 348 posts, covering almost 2 years of travel - plus links to our blog of campsite reviews, We Called It Home (currently 51 reviews), recipes and other blogs and websites. How would I feel if this was lost, hacked, hijacked or simply disappeared? Very distressed!

That happened recently to a blog I read from time to time, Millionaire Mommy Next Door. As the Millionaire Mommy said, “The unthinkable happened. My entire Google account was disabled. This means my blog, my email account, my calendar… the whole shebang… are gone. I have followed all of the available instructions, filled out all of the forms… and all I get back from Google is this automated message: “Thank you for your report. The account in question is disabled, and we can’t provide you with access to it.”

Unlike my hobby blog, Millionaire Mommy Next Door was a money-maker (some of which is used to fund microloans on Kiva) , and this was a huge blow to her. For me, it was a nudge to think about how to back up our blogs.

A few days later, my “low-priority” email account on Yahoo was hacked. The entire contact list was stolen, totally wiped clean, and the addresses were used to send what appeared to be a harmless but annoying spam message. This Yahoo account is the one I use for online ordering, newsletter descriptions, messages from online bulletin boards… the stuff I don’t worry much about if something goes awry. However, the fact that something DID go awry, along with the experience of the Millionaire Mommy, set me firmly on the path of improving computer security.

But how???

Next morning, I received the Geeks on Tour newsletter in my Yahoo mailbox. The Geeks are a couple of full-timing computer nerds who make their living teaching computer classes, creating and maintaining websites, and generally helping people like me improve our computer knowledge and skills. Naturally, much of their information requires a paid subscription, but each month, they feature a free video on a new topic. Their current free video is “Duplicating a Blogger Blog to WordPress” - EXACTLY what I needed.

So as not to invite disaster by ignoring all these “nudges”, I recently spent several hours making substantial changes to our computer security and backups, especially for our blogs. If you have been pondering any of these moves, you might be interested in what I did. Read on.


First, following Millionaire Mommy's advice, I learned to set up a new Google account, a backup to our existing account. I used this blog site for instruction on what to do.

I gave it “administrative rights” to Semi-True Tales and We Called It Home. If our primary Google account has any problems, I can use this new backup account to post to and edit both blogs.

A copy of every email sent to our primary Gmail (Google) account now goes automatically to the Gmail inbox of the new backup account (the setup for this was simple). If we lose access to our primary account, we can switch to the new backup account without losing our current email conversations.

I exported a copy of our Gmail Contacts, saving all the information in a file on our laptop, to be backed up to our external hard drive monthly - saved in the event that we need to reload these addresses in the future.

Then I went to work backing up the blogs. Interested? Keep reading...


Over many months of blogging, I have made many, many changes to our original “default” blog template - changing colors and fonts, adding “widgets” and short strings of computer-speak to tweak the templates to my taste. I don’t want to lose those customizations, so I saved my blog templates to a file on our laptop. Blogger makes this easy: on the Layout tab of a Blogger blog, pick Edit HTML and use Backup/Restore Template. This saved file will be backed up to our external hard drive monthly.

Next, I used the Geeks On Tour video instructions to set up a account (Wordpress is another online blogging site), to create “backup” blogs, and to copy all my blog posts to the new WordPress blogs. Here is what Semi-True Tales looks like on Wordpress, using one of their standard formats (called "themes"). Someday, when I have the time and interest, I'll poke around the Wordpress site and customize these blogs - but for now, backing up my Blogger posts is my only priority.

The Geeks video was very clear, and I was able to set up the account, create the two new blogs, and copy all the blog posts safely to these new backup blogs in one evening (you need to have reliable, high-speed internet access to do this without frustration). I’ll copy new posts to the backup blogs monthly, or weekly when we are on the road and posting frequently. If I ever lose access to our Blogger blogs, I’ll be able to switch easily to the Wordpress blogs.

I would not have known how to do this if not for the Geeks. If you want to learn how to do this, do it SOON. The video is currently available for free viewing on the Geeks website, but the free video changes regularly.

I had only one task remaining (next post)...


Finally, I did something else that should be done regularly - but I rarely do it. I changed passwords on my most important online accounts: Google, Yahoo, and our three bank accounts. Roboform, which I have raved about before, made this easy by generating and saving new, hard-to-hack, passwords.

I know there are free software packages to help manage logins/passwords, but I have never investigated them nor regretted the money we spent on Roboform. It saves, for one click retrieval (eliminating the possibility of keystroke logging by spyware), all of our logins/passwords, the secret security questions/answers I would never remember otherwise… even our address and credit card information for automatic, password protected, one-click completion of billing and shipping information when ordering online. How did we ever live without it?? I backup our Roboform files weekly, too.

It would be a huge hassle if we lost our laptop, or an online account was hacked, but I feel like I've done everything I can to lessen the likelihood and the impact. If this can give any of you a nudge in the same direction, go for it!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


We've received a slew of emails and phone calls asking whether we have been impacted by the massive fires around Los Angeles. The answer is NO, for which we are extremely grateful.

I didn't take this photo, but found it by searching the web. It was taken by Chris Mesaros, identified as an amateur photographer, who put several photos on Flickr. Since I couldn't find a prohibition against sharing this with you all, I snagged it (thanks, Chris!).

This looks much like the pictures we have seen on TV for the past 24 hours - roaring flames, lots of smoke, homes consumed. As I write this, a firefighting plane is flying over our heads, one of several I have seen this morning.

We are completely safe, about 40 miles east of the "Triangle Complex" fire (Corona, Yorba Linda and Brea), which is the most destructive at the moment. Because we are east of the fires, we don't see or smell smoke, as the winds are blowing east to west. From Scoopy, we have no clue that a major disaster is underway, but to the west of the fires it is a different story. The Pasadena marathon was cancelled due to the terrible air quality, freeways are shut down, residents are being told to stay inside, out of the smoke.

About the time the fire was getting started yesterday, Odel and I decided to do our part to support the pathetic economy: we went shopping. November is our usual shopping month - we hit the familiar stores while we are in Sacramento for our usual month-long visit, replacing our faded, year-old wardrobe with clothing we aren't embarassed to wear in an urban environment.

This year, here in Loma Linda, we don't know where to shop, so took the advice of another PBT patient and visited the Desert Hills Premium Outlet Mall, 30 minutes east of here. WOW - that's what we have to say!

We split up, and I started in one of the least "high-end" of the stores, Eddie Bauer, where I tried on two items: a shirt and JEANS. I HATE shopping for jeans. Guess what? They were a perfect fit! I still can't believe it. I bought both pieces, and went on to other successes (a jacket and a wallet). Meanwhile, Odel bought 3 pair of pants, 4 new (golf) shirts, a golf sweater and a wallet; this on top of new gym gear he bought on Thursday. If you see an improvement in the economy this month, we're doing our part.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


The cancer cells got a big surprise today: a shot of radiation right into their midst. It's all downhill for them from here.

Yes, the Proton Beam Therapy has finally started. Today was Day 1 of 45 treatments, each one a shot of proton beam radiation through the hip and into the prostate.

Do you think Odel was happy to get started? He is wearing his new name badge (entitles you to valet parking at the hospital), with a green sticker to indicate he has had fewer than 12 treatments.

The cup holds the last eight ounces of water he needs to consume before the radiation tech comes to get him; thirty-two ounces (or more) is the prescribed dosage to fill the bladder to help move it out of range of the radiation. Seems like all the guys in the lounge area are either drinking water (pre-treatment) or moving quickly to the bathroom (post-treatment).

LLUMC has four areas for the treatments: three "gantries" and one Horizontal Beam Line (HBL). One of the gantries is being rebuilt, so that eliminates 25% of their treatment capacity. The HBL and 2 operating gantries are in service from 5 am until 11 pm on weekdays, meaning Odel could have an appointment during a time he normally would be asleep. Fortunately, today's appointment was at 1 pm.

Odel is assigned to the HBL, which is the oldest of the 3 in-service machines. In this photo, Odel is in his "pod" in its low position, which allows him to get in and out without a ladder. :) The somewhat bright square in front of the radiation tech's head is where the protons shoot through - Odel's hip needs to be up there.

In this picture, the pod (and Odel) has been raised to the level of the beam and the techs (they work in teams of three and four) were making final adjustments. I left the room after this photo... Odel said they "called for the beam" (all three machines share the same proton beam, which I picture as whirring around a concrete room in the basement), left the room, and Odel got zapped. That part takes no time at all.

I get the biggest kick out of the pod, which you can see pretty well in this picture. All of this machinery is so high-tech, as is the idea of precisely zapping cancer cells with proton radiation... but the pod looks like something a not-very-handy "do it yourself-er" would dream up (as a single-use canoe, for instance).

It is a piece of wide-diameter PVC pipe, cut in half lengthwise. The pod fitting (filling the PVC pipe with a fast-setting foam around the body of the patient) takes place well in advance of treatment. Odel's pod is marked with his name (King Odel - I'm sure he loves that), and imobilizes him "just so", assuring that the protons are shot into his prostate rather than some other delicate anatomical area. Hanging out in the lounge awaiting treatment, you see pods being wheeled to and fro in pairs on dollies.

Now that treatments are underway, Odel will have one every weekday. As a new guy, he doesn't get to pick his time (luckily, his appointment tomorrow is also at 1 pm), but the techs told him to starting thinking about a 2-hour block that would suit him best for a permanent appointment. On we go!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Jeez, I have NEVER had so much trouble losing weight!

Though I hadn't mentioned it on the blog until a couple weeks ago, I actually started Weight Watchers on October 1, which is six weeks ago. I started off with a bang, which has since slowed to a trickle: in 6 weeks, I have lost just 4.6 pounds. The pathetic 0.2 pounds I lost this week isn't doing much to move me to my goal of 12 pounds in 12 weeks!

The good news is that I am slowly shrinking; the bad news is that the slow loss on the scale makes me want to quit working out - on the theory that I am losing bulky fat, but adding heavier, trimmer muscle. I know, I know - I should be looking at "size loss" rather than "weight loss", but I am so completely programmed to look for results on the scale that I get discouraged when I don't see 'em.

So I am venting, which always helps me to refocus and stick with it... but today it seems like an awful lot of work for a very small result (so far).

Better health news: For several years, our primary care physician has urged Odel and me to get colonoscopies. My response is always a shudder, an UGH, and another shudder. However, once Odel has Proton Beam Therapy (which begins tomorrow, 11/13, by the way), it would be a good idea NOT to have a colonoscopy for at least two years, and future colonoscopies could show abnormalities that are caused by the radiation treatment rather than colon cancer. It would be a good idea to know, pre-PBT, that his colon was cancer free. Consequently, he decided to make the commitment and have the procedure.

Yesterday was the day. I will spare you the photo (yes, you get two pictures to take home!) of his lovely, smooth, cancer-free colon, but we both were happy to learn than there were no further, unpleasant cancer surprises hidden away there. He set a good example - maybe I will follow it when we are back in Sacramento next spring. Shudder, UGH, shudder!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I got an email from Sydney today commenting on my lapse in blogging. I know we've been busy... but, doing what??

Last Monday morning, reading email delivered to one of our online email addresses from several of the Yahoo groups we belong to, I realized I was reading spam messages from Laurie Brown! It took quite awhile for me to figure out what had happened, but I found that the online address book of our Yahoo email address had been hacked and stolen - it was completely gone, not an address left.

Fortunately, we use that address for low-priority stuff, so most of the contacts in the address book were businesses or old email addresses - but it still was an inconvenience to recipients and a hassle to me to figure out what happened (the account hacked) and how (never DID figure that out!) and what to do about it (change the password, send an apology to those who received the spam, and hope it doesn't happen again). So far, so good.

We go to the Drayson center, the great gym at LLUMC, 5 days a week. It is closed on Saturday, so we have been using that day to explore. Last Saturday we went to Big Bear and Arrowhead; yesterday we went back up to the higher elevations -this time, in the other direction.

Idyllwild, a little town in the mountains west of Palm Springs, has a reputation as a mellow, art-y place. I have been curious to visit there when we have stayed in Indio (to the east) and Aguanga (to the west) - but we've never made it until yesterday. Our day started with a visit to the newly opened Banning branch of a favorite restaurant, the Fisherman's Market and Grill (that's Odel's catfish-n-chips plate you see above). From there, we drove a designated "Scenic Loop" up from the valley floor, stopped in Idyllwild for an easy hike, then continued the loop, ending up back at home around 5 pm, just as the sun set. You can see from the collage above that "Scenic" was an accurate description, and we had a perfect day for it.

When we got home from our sightseeing yesterday, we joined another proton patient here at Mission RV Park, Joe, and his sister (Ruth) and brother in law (Frank) for dinner at a nearby (and good) Thai restaurant. That's Joe, Odel and Frank in the photo to the left.

One of the reasons Frank and Ruth were visiting now is that today was a big day for PBT patients. A very well-known early advocate and PBT patient, Bob Marckini, was the main speaker at a special brunch meeting on the LLUMC campus. Attendees were current and past proton patients and their caregivers, many of whom had first heard of PBT through Bob Marckini's book about his experience and treatment here at LLUMC (hardly anyone, including us, learns about PBT from their doctor).

Also on hand was the first man to undergo proton beam therapy for prostate cancer (in 1955, I think), who was a physicist who worked on the proton treatment center. Several men in the audience had amazing stories of treatment and cure - one man with a PSA of 436 (with normal being around 2), another with a PSA in the 60's and a "Gleason score" of 10 (the highest and worst possible). At the end of the brunch, Bob Marckini pointed out that the 5 proton treatment centers in the U.S. are able to treat only 1/10th of 1% of men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, so the men in the room were part of a very small group. I know Odel feels lucky.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


These beautiful flowers were a present to me, on my 58th birthday, from Odel's daughter Kim (thanks, Kim!). They are sitting on our table, looking beautiful and cheerful - which is exactly how the world looks to me today. I know cynicism will set in again, probably even soon, but right now I am basking in the glow of yesterday's election results.

Yes, it was history, and it puts a smile on my face to know that the majority of Americans (at least, voting Americans), can accept - and maybe even embrace -racial diversity. But I am happiest about the election results because they repudiated trends that have truly scared me.

It is wrong that a candidate's religous beliefs or religious affiliation can be used against them in a campaign. Hearing Obama smeared for being a Muslim - well, he isn't, but so what if he was? Since when does a candidate have to profess a belief in a Christian God - or any God - to be a good leader or representative? How did religious fanaticism become so prevalent in our public discourse? I am thrilled that Elizabeth Dole, who should be ashamed of her political ad calling her opponent "godless", was defeated.

Sarah Palin's McCain-approved comments about Obama "palling around with terrorists", her labeling of those who think like she does as the "real Americans" (so what does that make me??), her sneering at the "elitist media" and her embrace of "Joe Sixpack" - it all horrified me. Watching the bigots at her rallies respond by yelling threats at Obama scared me. I was appalled that McCain did not put a stop to it; he completely lost my respect over that.

I agree with people who feel Obama lacks experience, but there is no denying his oratorical skills. With such significant problems to be faced and solved, the ability to connect with, to inspire and to motivate Americans to constructive action (other than "go shopping") might be one of the more important attributes for a president taking office today. Last night, when I listened to Obama, I put my cynicism aside. I was moved. I am inspired, and hopeful, and excited. I turned 58 yesterday, and I am feeling younger than I have in the past 8 years. :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008


After many, many hot afternoons here in Loma Linda, we decided this weekend to seek out cooler weather 7,000+ feet up in the nearby mountains at Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead. If you have spent time in Southern California, you probably have heard of both of these lakes and their namesake towns, but did you know how Arrowhead got its name?

Well, check this out (you might need to double-click on the photo to enlarge it). Just north of San Bernardino, very noticeable in the foothills, is THE ARROWHEAD. We stopped at the viewing turnout and read the historical marker:

"Located in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains directly above the City of San Bernardino, the arrowhead landmark can be seen for miles around. This important landmark has for centuries been a symbol of the San Bernardino Valley to the Native Indians and then to the pioneers and settlers that followed.

It is believed to be a natural landmark. The face of the arrowhead consists of light quartz, supporting a growth of short white sage. This lighter vegetation shows in sharp contrast to the surrounding chaparral and greasewood. Indians who inhabited the San Bernardino Valley believed that the arrowhead pointed the way to the hot mineral springs below, with healing qualities, and thus considered it holy ground. Through the years, numerous forest fires have caused some erosion. But the arrowhead landmark continues to preserve its uniqueness and remains a symbol of the 'pioneer spirit' of the San Bernardino Valley."

Cool, huh? And cool it was in the mountains, too - a pleasant day of sightseeing, walking, and enjoying the arrival of a welcome cold front. We even had a little rain last night!

This morning, after resetting our watches, microwave clock, clock radio, wall clock, and TV satellite time zone, we took off for the Sunday morning farmer's market in Loma Linda. It's small, but has a great selection, and we came home with jalapeno cornbread, carrots, tomatoes, a cucumber, a loaf of bread, two kinds of hummus and a pint of tabouli.

After dropping off the goodies at home and popping a Weight Watchers beef stew into the crockpot, we took off for the gym and our usual workouts. Now, after dinner, I still have a couple good sections of the L.A. Times Sunday paper to read... nice weekend!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Besides the new stripes and detailing that Odel is planning for Scoopy, he had another project in mind: replacing the brittle, hail-damaged, vinyl slide topper awnings that are seven years old. Yesterday was the day.

Slide topper awnings extend over the top of each slide as the slide goes out, and roll back up again as the slide comes in. They aren't a requirement, but do a good job of keeping dirt, ice, pine needles, leaves, water and other kinds of gunk off the top of the slides (and our ceiling). They are totally exposed to the elements: hot sun, freezing rain, wind and, worst of all, HAIL.

This photo shows the sad, sad condition of our slide topper awnings, beaten to a pulp by a couple of awe-inspiring hail storms in Westcliffe, Colorado, during the summer.

When we arrived at Mission RV Park last week, we scooped up all the business cards from RV repair businesses that were available in the park's office. Odel got busy on the phone. On Tuesday, a repairman came out to measure the awnings and yesterday he was back with the made-to-order replacements.

Odel did an excellent job of supervising, as you can see. Soon the old awnings were off, the new awnings on, and we had been relieved of $450.50 - and are set for another 7 years, we hope. (Note to selves: bring in the slides BEFORE the hail becomes deafening!)

My post on Thursday about spiffing up Scoopy prompted several friends to ask about the cost of that job. The estimate we have in hand lists $300 for the removal of the old stripes and preparation of the exterior surface, $2100 to create and apply the new stripes and the three Travel Supreme logos (separate script letters, a logo for each side and the back), and $400 for a complete detailing (which we saw being done, and Scoopy definitely NEEDS it). Total = $2800, and I am sure tax will be added to that. Considerably cheaper than painting, I think.

RV Stripes and Graphics recommends a wash/wax/detailing every year, and we hope to incorporate it into our annual north/south or south/north migration. We often travel Interstate 215 through the Cajon Pass, and the job could be done with one on-site overnight on our way to and fro.

We expect to get 6 good years out of the new stripes (based on the life of our original stripes and the warranty period for the new stripes), so it breaks out to $800 per year ($2,400/6 years = $400 annually for the stripes, plus $400 annually for maintenance of the exterior) to look sharp - a price acceptable to us.

This last photo shows a motorhome in for it's annual maintenance, one year after the rig was restriped. Not as beautiful as Scoopy, of course, but this is the color scheme we have chosen. Kit, Gary - please "ooohhhh" and "aaaahhhhh" over Scoopy when we see you next year!