Saturday, January 31, 2009


Once we left Loma Linda, our days at the gym came to an end - no more weight lifting! Odel particularly misses the gym, but even I had realized that our usual exercise routine (walking 10,000 steps each day) doesn't do diddly for my upper body strength. So... what could we add to our lives that would improve our upper body strength without the need for special equipment? PUSHUPS!

That is the obvious answer, but I haven't done a pushup for many, many years (like, maybe way back in grade school, during Kennedy's physical fitness crusade?). As I was thinking about all of this, a casual conversation with a Boomer pointed me to a website devoted to pushups - particularly, to training any body (even mine) to be able to do 100 consecutive pushups. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Are you kidding??

The website is onehundredpushups. I was hooked as soon as I read this, on the home page:

"If you're serious about increasing your strength, follow this six week training program and you'll soon be on your way to completing 100 consecutive push ups! Think there's no way you could do this? I think you can! All you need is a good plan, plenty of discipline and about 30 minutes a week to achive this goal!" Wow! Motivational, right? Or just crazy...

To kick off the program, you need to determine your starting point by doing as many pushups as you can. I got down on the rug in standard "mens' pushup position", prepared to do zero pushups. That is exactly the number I did. Started in UP position, lowered - collapsed? - to DOWN position, and stayed there, observing at close range the kitty litter on the the rug.

Okay, into "girls' pushup position". Once again, start UP, fall DOWN. Hmmmmm.... The next suggested position is with your hands on a low stool, then try a low table... I kept working my way up, ending with my hands on the comfortingly sturdy kitchen countertop, one step below the humbling "hands flat on the wall" position. Instead of the close-range study of floor level kitty litter, I examined countertop crumbs a nose-length away.

This oh-so-flattering photo shows my current level of upper body strength - I'm sure this barely fits into the category of "pushup". On the plus side, though, I was able to do 6 or 7 of these when I started - now, after two weeks, I am able to do 22 without stopping. Woo-hoo, you go, girl!

Odel, on the other hand, started with hands flat on the floor, able to do 21 "Mens" pushups without stopping (which meant he was able to bypass week one of the program and jump in at week two). After two weeks of effort, he has advanced to 40 pushups without stopping. He'll get to his 100 pushup goal in 6-8 weeks, while I will be able to make this program last a year, counter to bench to floor. :)

Walking, the old standby; hooping, the fun new cardio challenge, and the 100 Pushups program for upper body strength. It's the new, traveling gym.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


It seems that we forgot an important lesson while we were off the road in Loma Linda for three months: get to your campground early in the day to make sure you have a site! We were shut out of our usual stop in Gila Bend yesterday, and arrived at Catalina State Park (read our review and see photos here) today around 1 pm to find they had 6 vacant sites (out of around 100). Rigs that came in after 3 pm were out of luck.

We had planned to leave Quartzsite by 11 am on Wednesday, but were a bit delayed by our newest purchase - a Pressure Pro Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Pressure Pro TPMS is an "aftermarket" system to monitor the tire pressure on ALL of our tires: 6 RV tires and the 4 Jeep tires. Special valve stem caps relay tire pressures to a display on the dash in the motorhome, and an alarm sounds if the baseline pressure we have established for any tire falls by 12.5%.

Given that we carry everything we own, and that it is impossible when underway to tell by "feel" whether we have a low - or even blownout - tire, it is a great system to install and we have been thinking about this purchase half-heartedly for a couple of years. This year, the money faucet was still flowing from our earlier upgrades... what's another several hundred dollars??

Norma and Larry - friends we met in Mazatlan a few years ago - read our blog, saw that we were boondocking not far from them, and invited us to lunch. While we visited, I mentioned that we were about to order a Pressure Pro system. Well, guess what? They are vendors! After eating Norma's delicious hamburgers and strawberry shortcake, we drove off with our new Pressure Pro system and big smiles.

We decided to install and program the sensors before we left Quartzsite the next day and ran into a few problems - which Norma and Larry quickly solved for us by replacing two of the sensors. We headed out around 1:30 pm, so arrived in Gila Bend a bit after 4 pm. All the sites in our usual overnight stop were full! After filling our diesel tank and propane tank, we drove to the neighboring RV park, Augie's Quail Trail (read our review and see photos here), where we paid more than double the price of our usual stop. Sheesh. IT PAYS TO STOP EARLY!

At Augie's, we recovered from boondocking: dumped the tanks, did a load of laundry, eliminated a couple of pounds of dust and stored trash. This morning, we made ready to leave while we had the sheets in the wash. We were on the road at 10:30 am and arrived at Catalina State Park just in time to snag a site. We deployed the rig, tossed the wet sheets in the dryer, vacuumed, then headed out for 10,000 steps.

Catalina State Park has a great campground with spacious, level, paved sites, but the big draw for us is the hiking - many different trails, both long and short. We headed to the Canyon Loop trail, where the wash had a little water, but not so much that we couldn't manage the couple of crossings. The temperature was perfect - cool enough that it felt good to hike in the sunshine, but warm enough for short sleeves. No wind, no wind chill. What a treat!

We've paid for 5 nights, but probably will stay another couple after that. Weather like this is too good to leave.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Ah, boondocking in the desert... sunshine, wonderful temperatures, friends, plenty of leisure time, right? HA!

This photo shows but a fragment of the list of scheduled events in Boomerville (double-click the photo if you want to be able to read the activities). Some events start as early as 8:30 am, and they often go into the evening. And yes, that is a computer spreadsheet created to keep track of all of 'em!

During our first visit to "Boomerville at Q", we tried to do it all - meet everyone, go to most of the discussion groups and meetings. We wore ourselves out.

Last year, we relaxed, only attending the events/groups we were incredibly interested in... ahhhh, much better. This year, we are extremely picky about where we spend our time (like the Dopps earth-oven-pizza-party, second photo, or the "around the campfire" conga line, third photo), but as Membership Coordinators, we have business to conduct: applications to pass out and process, money to collect, Boomer decals to sell, emails to send... Odel practically fell onto the couch when we got home from happy hour this afternoon. But it is all good, and fun. We know so many of the Boomers now, and get to meet all the new ones.

One of the great things about boondocking (camping with no hookups) is the appreciation you gain for important things that we usually take completely for granted - particularly power and water. We generate our own power (we use a generator and 4 mightily powerful batteries, others use solar or even wind energy), so efficient management is a good thing... but we simply make more power when we need it.

Water is another story. We can carry 100 gallons of fresh water, and can store 100 gallons of "used" water. If we want to stay here a week, well, you do the math. It isn't very much water that we can use each day, is it? Over the years we have done this, we've learned lots of tricks for saving water - AND, equally important, our threshold of what we are willing to do to save water has lowered considerably.

This year, along with all the usual conservation measures - simple or pre-cooked meals, brush your teeth (we haven't given THAT up!) using water in a cup, wash the dishes just once a day, "navy" showers no more often than every other day (Odel and I can shower in a combined total of 5 gallons) - we have two new approaches to try.

I cut the tops off two one-gallon plastic water bottles. One is in the shower, and we used it to catch the 1/4 gallon of water that is otherwise wasted down the drain while we wait for the shower water to warm up. This perfectly clean, captured water can be used for cooking, tooth-brushing, or face-washing, so sits on the counter awaiting its fate.

The other container is in the kitchen sink. Whenever we rinse a cup or utensil, we capture the little bit of "dirty" water. Hand-washing water is captured in the same jug. This becomes toilet flushing water... after we use the toilet, we "flush" with water from the jug.

I found Odel's current limit on how far we can go with this when I poured the remains of my tea into the bathroom jug, turning the water a muddy brown. He couldn't take it - it looked too, too gross sitting in the toilet. What a lightweight. :)

The American Water Works Association estimates that American households use between 45 and 70 gallons of water PER PERSON PER DAY - 45 gallons being the number that can be reached with conservation measures. I'm here to tell ya' - those households haven't even begun to scratch the surface of true water conservation!

So boondocking makes me grateful... that I don't have to haul my water from a (possibly contaminated) well, pond or river, that I can heat my water with the flick of a switch or on a gas stove (rather than using fuel I carried from 3 miles away). I have light at night, again with the flick of a switch. These things would be magical to so many citizens of our world - boondocking reminds me of the magic.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


This may not be the most lovely scenery, but it's something DIFFERENT! We'll take it!

Almost all of Odel's prior 44 radiation treatments were in the late afternoon or evening but, at his request, treatment 45 - the LAST ONE - was scheduled for 7:00 this morning. We were both awake before 6 am, and he was out the door at 6:30, on his way to LLUMC for the last time.

All the pre-departure work was finished yesterday, both medical and otherwise. While Odel played a last round of golf with the Wednesday proton golfing group, I visited Costco, Trader Joe's, Clarke's Nutrition (where I got the multi-colored carrots), and Von's. After golf, we had the final visit with Dr. Grover (where Odel got his "graduation" certificate and gold pin), and Odel had taken cookies and muffins to his Wednesday afternoon treatment as a "thank you." for his tech group.

Early to bed, early to rise. Treatment at 7 am, then a final trip to the gym and one last-minute stop at the grocery store for Odel. I did a bit of last minute food prep (while I still had unlimited water), hooped, and did my pushups (I haven't told you about the 100 Pushup routine yet, have I?). Vacuum, pack everything up, corral Luna and - finally - we brought the slides in, started the engine, and headed out. Two short blocks to Interstate 10, turn east, and stay on the freeway for 200 miles.

A side effect of the proton beam therapy is that Odel now has to take a bathroom break almost as often as I do, so it was easy to talk him into a rest stop. Scoopy looked so shiny, so lovely, so ready to travel.

To me, it felt almost as exciting as our first day of travel, April 1, 2003 - but without the apprehension. Scoopy looks almost brand new, and we have nothing standing in the way of traveling. We know SO MUCH more than we did on that first day, and now have so many full-timing friends... and were on our way to see them.

We settled in our site in the desert - Boomerville - 10 minutes before happy hour began at 4 pm. We leveled, put out the slides, grabbed the fresh pineapple I had peeled and chunked yesterday, poured a couple glasses of vino and treked across the stony ground to the campfire/happy hour circle. If you double click this photo to enlage it, you will recognize Scoopy in the center of the picture, behind the relaxing Boomers.

We were greeted with shouted hellos and lots of hugs. It feels so good to be out in the open space again, with our tribe - and healthy. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I'm busily multi-taking today. As I write, we are watching the pre-inauguration pomp on TV. The cabinet nominees are making their way into the stands, freezing. I can't believe those folks aren't wearing hats...

Even retired people with a lifestyle that seems like a prolonged vacation want a vacation every so often. I had a great one, from beginning to end, in Sacramento. Even the air travel was fun, with planes only half full. Now, back home, I'm facing three "to-do" lists that I wrote prior to vacation so I'll be ready to leave here later this week.

...oh, man, here comes Joe Biden's mother, 92 years old! And the Carters... 45 minutes to go until the oath of office...

Odel continues to feel great in spite of (or because of?) his cancer treatments. Just 3 more to go!

He has asked for an early morning appointment on Thursday (the last treatment) so we can hit the road by noon, for Quartzsite, AZ, and the annual gathering of Boomers in the middle of the desert - along with around 100,000 other rigs. I took this photo of the campfire circle last year, and that is where we plan to be on Friday afternoon at 4 pm., there is the wide shot of the Mall, people as far as the eye can see...

Today will be spent catching up on chores around home. Tomorrow Odel plays golf while I do the grocery and Costco shopping, then we have a last appointment with Dr. Grover. Keeping our fingers crossed, Thursday will be the last treatment and we'll head out either Thursday afternoon or Friday. We are so excited!

... here comes Michelle in her glittery yellow dress. What a woman! And there is Malia, taking a photo with her little digital camera... hey, Bush Senior put on a hat. Smart man...

So, time to sign off and get ready for the main event. What an exciting day!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Yes, I have a long, long list of things to accomplish before I fly up to Sacramento tomorrow, but catching up on email is always a part of my morning routine - and recent email brought some great photos!

In my prior post, I mentioned that we had helped Richard Dopp build an earth oven at a boondocking site near Borrego Springs last winter. Last weekend, when we met JoAnn and Doug in Palm Desert, they were boondocking very near to the same spot, but had not found the oven.

Yesterday, JoAnn emailed these photos to me. Their friends, Al and Kelly, had been moving to a new boondocking site when they noticed this cozy camp - and thought they spotted an earth oven.

A closer look revealed that Richard's oven, almost a year old, is still in great shape. It looks like a thoughtful camper has added a bit on top, but Lynn Howe's graceful stone design is still noticeable on the sides of the oven.

Helping to build the oven was fun, and provided the inspiration for Odel, Rosanna and me to construct a larger one several weeks later. I am very happy to see that the oven has been enjoyed by other campers... it could just as easily have been vandalized or demolished by a passerby, or the firebrick floor taken.

Al and Kelly, if you read this, thanks for taking and forwarding the photos. If you lucky Canadian campers (that is a Maple Leaf on the front of your rig, right?) happen to read this, did you use the oven? Your camp looks so comfortable!

Odel has a busy day today. Wednesday is his golf day, and he left early this morning to join 3 other proton patients for a round of golf at Oak Quarry Golf Course, about 15 miles from here. I snagged this photo off of their website, along with their description: "...winds through the historic Jensen Quarry, which in its operating heyday supplied limestone, marble and 88 various minerals for the construction of roads, large buildings and private residences in the greater Los Angeles area."

The website displays a long list of awards from various golf magazines, newspapers, etc. With nothing but sunshine today, Odel is in for a great time. After golf, he meets his doctor at LLUMC for his second-to-last weekly meeting, and has treatment number 39 at 4:20 pm. After that, just half a dozen treatments to go. YAY!

I'm off to Sacramento tomorrow, visiting with my friends Becky and Jewel on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday morning, after Becky heads to work (yes, on Saturday) and before Nancy arrives to pick me up, I scheduled a private hooping lesson with Allison, a 20-year old hooping teacher (and college student). I was encouraged to contact her when I saw a photo on Allison's website (BloomHoops) of her MOM hooping. Maybe Allison will have special insights into the hooping challenges facing us older hoopers. :)

Nancy and I will head up to Shingle Springs for an overnight with our Mom and Dad, including a visit to the new Red Hawk Casino a couple miles from their home. Four fun days coming up and by the time I come home, we're only 4 treatments away from heading out. Later!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Our RV'ing friends are streaming into the southwest from all directions, and yesterday we enjoyed visits with some of them.

Except for very strong winds through the mountain passes and canyons, it was a great day for a road trip. We took off from home at 9:30 am to meet JoAnn and Doug at a favorite restaurant in La Quinta at 11 am. At 11:15, they still had not arrived - or called. That didn't seem like them, so I finally gave 'em a call.

After an extremely confused conversation - where I expected JoAnn to tell me they were almost to the restaurant, and she expected me to say the same - we determined that we both were in the parking lot of a Fisherman's Market, next door to Trader Joes... but they were in Palm Desert and we were in Indio, 10 miles east!

Shortly after 11:30, we had that problem solved - Odel and I went tearing over to Palm Desert - and enjoyed a delicious lunch of fried fish and fried shrimp, with french fires and cole slaw. We all cleaned every last scrap off our plates.

JoAnn and Doug are currently boondocking in Anza Borrego, near where Odel and I stayed for a few days last winter with Richard and Marlene Dopp - where Richard got us hooked on building an earth oven. Coincidentally, Richard and Marlene were camped for an overnight at Lake Cahuilla County Park, not far from our lunch spot.

After lunch, when JoAnn and Doug took off to run errands, we headed over to visit the Dopps. As we arrived, they were strolling around the campground with another Boomer friend, Chris Christiansen. We spent the rest of a very fine afternoon catching up with each other's news and making plans to meet at Q when Odel's treatments end and we head out.

Odel has just 9 treatments left. Number 9 will be tomorrow, and we are counting down! Nine, eight, seven... by a week from Monday, he will be on treatment 4, and we hope to leave here on 1/23. Meanwhile, I have a trip to Sacramento planned. You might notice a lag in the blog - but soon the REAL fun will begin again. :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Settled... back in Scoopy, clothes, kitchenware, books, food and kitty box, condo and toys all stashed back in their usual places. We turned in the keys to the mobile home yesterday.

Settled... back into the rhythm of life and treatment in Loma Linda. Odel plays golf on Wednesday, we join the other proton beam patients on Thursday nights for the "restaurant tour", which resumes tonight at Clara's Restaurant in Redlands.

Every weekday, Odel gets his treatment (34 down, only 11 more to go). We exercise, admire Scoopy's new skin, run errands, do the laundry, read, watch TV, play on the computer, pet Luna... it is a predictable routine, not unpleasant but getting old! More and more frequently, we get out the atlas, check the calendar to see if we are still on schedule to make it to the big Boomerang of the year in Quartzsite. If all continues as planned, we will leave here on 1/23. YAY! Urban living isn't for us.

While we ARE in the urban environment, we have a few entertainment options that we don't find out in the boondocks. Redlands has a wonderful, luxurious movie theater complex, and we have seen four movies while we have been here: Quantum of Solace (loud, fast, fun, and Daniel Craig is a worthy new James Bond); Milk (don't miss it, Sean Penn is amazing); Seven Pounds (morbid and depressing); and Frost/Nixon (great acting and amazingly suspenseful even though you know the outcome).

Loma Linda and adjacent Redlands must have the best grocery shopping in the country (though people coming here from other states think the prices are outrageous). Look at these ORGANIC carrots - light orange, yellow, dark orange and purple with a yellow center - that I got at Clarke's Nutrition, the best organic grocery store I've ever seen - conveniently located between here and LLUMC.

Now that all other parts of the country are deeply into winter, RV'ers are moving south. We had several visits with friends passing through the area - which stoke our desire to get moving again, of course. Fortunately, it won't be long now.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


It has been a long weekend, back and forth, back and forth... but we are back home. YAY!

When was the last time you moved? I don't mean turned the key and moved to your next campsite - I mean moved your posessions and yourselves from one household to the next?

When was the last time you emptied your refrigerator until all that was left were the onion skins and a withered lemon in the produce bin, a mis-shapen blob of melted and rehardened butter in the bin on the door, and circular "footprints" of every oily or sticky condiment jar you have stored over the past few years?

When did you last remove all the items from the cupboard under your kitchen sink, including the damp sponge you use to soak up that maddening slow leak you haven't fixed, and the bazillion twist ties that mysteriously multiply in the corner? Taken all the clothes AND shoes AND miscellanous assorted items out of your closet, all the way to the very back of the very top shelf?

If you have done it recently, you probably haven't forgotten how even your house, your house that looks reasonably clean to the casual eye, is incredibly, mind-bogglingly filthy! Or, is that just US??

We got Scoopy back on Friday afternoon. On Saturday morning, I had four areas I planned to clean thoroughly before we began moving back in:

Our full-sized closet in the bedroom, home to hanging clothing, shoes, two file boxes, remnants of gift wrapping paper, a portable propane heater, a portable 12 v. fan, our full-sized vacuum cleaner, our carpet cleaner, and a shelf-load of miscellanous "stuff": hats, gloves, packs, bags and boxes. Also home to much accumulated DUST. Cleaning/dusting/vacuuming the rest of the bedroom was going to be the icing on the cake.

The "kitty-litter" cabinet, the space under the bathroom that is Luna's private domain - basically, 5 years of accumlated dust in the corners, thankfully contained in a small space.

The refrigerator and freezer. Gag me. It looks so appealing filled with food, yet distinctly unhygenic when emptied.

The area under the kitchen sink. Unlike those of you in houses, we actually make good use of this area, keeping it quite packed with bulk and canned food items, even some books and files, always maintaining a 2 inch margin of error around a plastic bowl holding a sponge designed to catch the intermittent, but regular, under-sink drip that we had repaired along with the other improvements to Scoopy.

We started first thing on Saturday and worked all day. My four jobs morphed into 40, or was it 400? We started vacuuming the insides of drawers! We were scrubbing countertops with baking soda, and bleaching the sinks! Around 4 pm, we both collapsed and I felt like I had been hit by a truck - but wow, was Scoopy clean inside! We had moved about half of our stuff back in.

After one more night in the mobile home, we started in again this morning and had everything back home in a couple of hours. At my request - but without much arm-twisting - Odel went off to the gym while I put everything back in its proper place. I let Luna out, and crossed the street to bring her home when I saw her meowing at the door of the mobile home.

We had a break in the work this afternoon when we drove about 45 miles south to meet in person a couple we have previously met only online, Bill Joyce and Diane Melde. It was a beautiful day for a drive, and we were happy to take a break. We had a nice visit with them and their gorgeous cat Evita. Bill took this photo of us before we headed back home, unusual in that we both like it. :) Thanks, Bill.

Now, at 9 pm, after shoveling out dirt all weekend, our earthly possessions have been squeezed back into their appointed spots. Scoopy is clean, inside and out. Luna in asleep on her chair, contented. It feels good!

Oh, that top photo? I took that on 1/2/2007, almost exactly 2 years ago, in the desert near Yuma where we were boondocking over New Years. I had left a window cracked open during the night, and a duststorm blew in. Judging from what I found when we moved, 1/2/2007 was the last time we really, really, really cleaned!

Friday, January 2, 2009


We got an exciting call on Wednesday: Scoopy would be finished and ready to pick up on Friday. We didn't quite believe it (we thought we'd get her back next Tuesday or Wednesday), but today was indeed the day. Here she is back in her site, with the new electric awning extended. I've put it in and out about a dozen times so far. :)

This shows the faded, pre-treatment stripes (top) and the shiny new post-treatment stripes. It is hard to see the difference here on the blog, but it is sure noticeable to us!

Here Odel is admiring the great job they did on the script Travel Supreme logo on the side, and feeling up the smooth, shiny exterior skin. What looks like variation in the color on each stripe is actually a reflection in the shine.

Tomorrow we will clean the inside and begin moving back in, a job that should be complete by the end of the weekend. What a worthwhile project!