Tuesday, May 31, 2011


2011 has been an unusual year for us, with far fewer miles under our wheels than usual, thanks to the renovation project and Odel’s knee replacement surgery.  Funny, we wanted to get that underway no later than early April, so we could roll on out of Sacramento before the arrival of hot weather.  After TEN weeks in the Sacramento area pre- and post-surgery, we were cleared to hit the road mid-May.

Outback 6While we had been planning to head north from Sacramento, up I-5 to Oregon, the weather has been uncooperative – cool, gray, and rainy on most of the days in the ten-day forecast.  We decided that Napa’s weather looked more appealing, so came here to await the arrival of sunshine up north.  And waited, and waited…  Eventually, we extended our stay in Napa to cover the Memorial Day holiday (two weeks, total) and continued to patrol www.weather.com regularly.

Well, rain on the rooftop awoke us last night, and it rained all morning today.  All thoughts of waiting another day or two left our heads; why outwait the drizzle in Oregon while sitting in drizzle in California?  So, we are heading north tomorrow, and the idea has energized both of us.  We’ve filled our rainy day (so far) with grocery shopping, a trip to Trader Joe’s (yes, technically, that is grocery shopping, but it is FUN grocery shopping), and a stop at Target.  As always, we will travel with enough food to feed an extended family for a week, our usual disaster-preparedness plan.  :)

Memorial Day dinnerYesterday, though cold and blustery, was dry.  We had plans for a Memorial Day cookout with Gisela and Bill, and ended up with a full buffet table to complement the fancy sausages we purchased at The Fatted Calf, a butcher shop in Napa.  Besides a brochette of pork, a spicy Fennel Italian sausage and a pork-and-braised-greens sausage, we had a Duck Crepinette, something new to us.  Here is their description from the website: 

Duck Crepinettes with Prunes and Almonds: savory duck sausage with star anise, prunes, almonds & caramelized onions, made from naturally raised Liberty Farm ducks from Sonoma County, pasture raised pork, organic herbs, prunes, Massa organic almonds, organic onions, sea salt and spices.

It was darn good!  Along with the sausages we each grilled, we had plenty of vino, broccoli salad, honeyed lentils and garbanzos, grilled apricots, and Thai pineapple relish, delicious on the grilled meats.  With our sweatshirts zipped up to our chins, constantly moving our chairs out of the lengthening shadows, we pretended it was summertime.

I received a warm and surprising email recently, commenting on our campsite reviews.  Although I link to the campground reviews from posts on this blog, I post them on a separate blog, We Called It Home.  Originally, the reviews I post on We Called It Home weren’t intended for anything but my own private use – a place to easily find the details of campgrounds we had visited in that past.  It is astounding to me how frequently we can’t remember whether we had 50 amps, whether our site had a sewer connection, whether our phones worked there! 

Since searching my written log is a tedious way to find those details, I prefer to keep the reviews on a blog, easily searched (without the need to remember when we visited).   After a few people asked me about a particular campground and I sent them a link to my online review, I decided to move the blog into the public realm.  Apparently other readers find it useful, too – we now have followers and the site gets a fair amount of use. 

The correspondent mentioned that I hadn’t posted any reviews since March, and he is correct.  As I explained to him, I usually don’t post a new campsite review when we revisit a campground already reviewed; I simply update the review with any minor changes (like price increases) and link to it again.  Occasionally I write a new review if there have been substantial changes (new sites opened, or major improvements), but that is rare.  This link to We Called It Home explains what is important to us about a campground and what you will find in our reviews.  Don’t look for phone numbers, addresses or directions – I rarely include that information.

Bathhouse 2 The Pool

The ancient bathhouse at Summer Lake Hot Springs

Inside the bathhouse, water enters at 105 degrees.

We enjoy our travels most when we visit places both known and new to us, campgrounds we’ve enjoyed in the past and others that entice us to give them a try.  We’ve always wanted to return to Summer Lake Hot Springs (photos above, and top photo), a campground we visited in 2007, before I began the online reviews.  Maybe this will be the year?  Though the Pacific Northwest is an area we’ve traveled frequently, here’s hoping we’ll have a few new campgrounds to add to the mix – and some sunshine!

Safe travels, all.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Baby GrapesNine A.M. on Friday morning in Napa.  It’s cool and cloudy outside; inside, the aroma of breakfast is in the air, the little electric heater keeps us warm and cozy, and NPR is our entertainment.  Thus begins another laid-back day in Napa while we await a change in the weather in Oregon.

The Napa Elks Lodge (click here to read our review) has just twelve spaces, shoehorned onto a small plot behind the lodge.  With a central – but quiet - location, easy access to an adjacent paved trail next to the river, full-hookups, cable TV and WiFi ($10 for Napa Elks Lodge members, $20 for those of us from other Lodges) these are highly desirable spots.  Two sites are permanently occupied (one filled by the host), leaving 10 sites available for travelers.  Part of the entertainment for us is watching the turnover of sites. 

Most nights we have been here, all sites have been full, though we’ve seen up to three empty sites for a couple nights.  Yesterday, two sites next to us opened up around 9 am.  By 11 am, one was full – and around noon, we had new next-door neighbors, Gisela and Bill, Boomer friends!   Like us, they plan to wait out the Memorial Day campers here in Napa, and it is good to have them next door.

Red BottlebrushYesterday was Weight Watcher weigh-in day for me.  Since we’ve left Sacramento, I don’t plan on continuing to go to meetings.  Each time I attend a meeting, I pay $13 to get weighed, pick up a short brochure with a recipe and inspiration for the upcoming week, and listen to the leader and other group members discuss challenges and triumphs of the week past.  I liked the meetings when I was learning the new Points Plus system and going with Sydney, but it’s not so much fun when you have to find a meeting, pay $13, and “meet” with a group of people you don’t know and won’t be meeting again.

So, I just haul out my own scale and weigh myself on Thursday morning.  Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised (shocked, actually) to find I had lost .2 (note: that is zero point two, not two pounds) pounds since last week, which had also shown a small loss.  Considering the amount of socializing we have been doing in the past two weeks – and our current location in one of California’s well-known “foodie” destinations – I was thrilled. 

Then I sat myself down for a little motivational talk of my own, reminding myself that – especially in this lifestyle – there are ALWAYS “special” occasions to blow off the structure of Weight Watchers.  Friends park next door or, like Pat and Becky did on Wednesday, drive over to visit.  Or the weekly farmer’s market has great BBQ.  Or winetasting is everywhere your turn.  Or, or, or…  So, for at least a couple more months, I just have to remind myself that I really want to fit more comfortably into my clothes, and practice restraint!

Balloons over NapaThus motivated, I pulled out my WW cookbooks, planned meals for the next few days, and Odel and I headed to the nearby Nob Hill Market.  The new recipe I tried last night is a winner: Pork Chops with Asian Pineapple Salsa.  It was a delicious meal (I ate one WW-sized serving, Odel cleaned up the rest), but the Asian Pineapple Salsa was the star – incredibly simple to make, and it would be delicious on fish, chicken or tofu as well as pork (which could have been pork tenderloin as easily as chops).

I have three more new recipes to try this over this long holiday weekend.  We’ll hit the farmer’s market again tomorrow morning, and see what else his happening in Napa or Sonoma for the holiday.  Odel continues to work on his knee, which now includes two walks a day along the adjacent paved riverside trail.  My allergy has diminished significantly; the cause is still unknown, but we are beginning to believe it is NOT a result of the renovations.  Only time will tell, I guess –  I am simply happy that I no longer need steroid cream to feel human.  :) 

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Morning market in NapaWhen I mentioned a few days ago that Odel was going to get a home testing device to check his INR (aka PT, a measurement of the blood’s ability to clot), several readers expressed interest in more information.  Well, yesterday was the day of delivery, brought to our motorhome here in Napa by an RN.

The CoaguChek meter Odel received is made by Roche, and is very similar to a glucose testing meter (insert a special test strip in the meter, apply a drop of blood, and read the result).  Since Odel is supposed to have his INR checked monthly, we’ve always carried a dozen or so lab slips from Odel’s primary care physician (PCP) – located in California - so that Odel could have the testing done wherever we happened to travel. 

The only state where we ran into a problem was Texas, where they required the requesting physician to be a Texan!  When we traveled in Mexico or Canada, Odel skipped the testing until we returned to the U.S.  Visits to Mexico usually resulted in numbers “out of range” (meaning blood too thin or too thick) because of the changes in our diet during those visits – warfarin usage is strongly affected by the food you eat and the drugs or supplements you take.

Inside the Oxbow MarketConsequently, a home testing meter seemed like a perfect solution for us, and Odel pursued getting one when he became eligible for Medicare a few years ago (I had read that the devices, fairly new then, were covered by Medicare - for someone looking forward to many more years of testing, it is no doubt cheaper for Medicare to provide the test unit and supplies than to pay for lab tests.)  Although our search didn’t pan out then, we found the right contact this time, thanks to a nurse who came to our motorhome to check Odel’s INR post-surgery using Roche’s CoaguChek XS. 

After Odel left a message with Roche, we got a return call 5 or 6 days later, and the process proceeded quickly from there on, with good communication between Roche and Odel.  Odel called his PCP and explained what he wanted, and his doctor agreed that Odel – who has been monitoring his INR for over a decade – was a good candidate for home testing.  Roche contacted Odel’s PCP for a prescription, and took care of the insurance billing.  Odel downloaded and printed a form that had to be completed, signed, and returned to Roche (or they can mail it to you, and you can return it via mail or fax).

CoaguChek INR testerOnce everything was approved, we simply had to decide where we would settle long enough for the RN to deliver the unit and train Odel on its use, a process that took about two hours.  Together, Nurse Liz and Odel tested his blood; on Monday, he will phone Roche with the results - which they pass along to Odel’s PCP – and set up an online account so he can report results via computer.  Testing strips can be ordered by phone or online.

If you are interested in a meter for yourself, here is the link to the Roche CoaguChek website and the number Odel called to get started: 1-800-779-7616.  I don’t know if private insurance covers the CoaguChek, but I’m sure Roche knows.

The other photos on today’s blog are scenes from our morning explorations of the Napa Farmer’s Market and the Oxbow Market yesterday morning.

Friday, May 20, 2011


On yesterday’s blog, I wondered what walkers do when they can’t walk much.  Well, it didn’t take long to find a few activities to get us going!

Rhythm CatsLast night was the kickoff of the summer season of the Napa Downtown Chefs’ Market, held Thursday evenings from 5 to 9 pm.  Concerned that the night might be cool, we arrived shortly after 5 pm to find the event in full swing: two blocks of food venders, a block of produce booths, a block of kid’s activities, another block or two of crafts, a block devoted to non-profits, and a stage for recipe demonstrations, enlivened by the music of four bands scattered about.

We browsed the length of the market, scouting for our dinner and determined not to fall for the first yummy aroma to waft our way.  Believe me, this is not your average festival fare!  The Napa Valley is a hotbed of good cooking, adventurous and inventive chefs taking advantage of the varied and quality ingredients available to them (not to mention the open-minded and free-spending diners). 

Our first course came from a food truck, Mark’s The Spot (their motto: Prepared Slow, Served Fast).  We ordered a trio of tasty sliders – this is their description:

Slider trioOooh Girl Chicken - Buttermilk fried organic chicken thigh with pepper aioli and slaw; Baby Bubba Burger - Niman Ranch beef patty with red onions 2 ways, spicy aioli and slaw; BBB Good - Bacon basil and brie with caramelized apple and red onion jam.

Odel picked up a Fat Tire beer, we found a convenient stand-up table (there were many counter-high PVC tables scattered around the dining area), and dug in.  YUMMY!

Thus refreshed, we wandered over to the chefs’ demonstration area and enjoyed the swing music and hilarious patter of the All American Hot Dogs (the band pictured above).  We had seats in actual chairs (with backs!), set up for the cooking demonstration that was scheduled to follow the band.  Great people-watching while we recovered our appetites.

My next stop was the BBQ oyster and shrimp booth; Odel patronized the taco stand next door.  His carnitas taco was inhaled in a couple bites, and my Cajun-spiced, grilled shrimp skewer disappeared in a heartbeat.  What a fun place to hunt our dinner!

As we headed back to the car, we walked along the sidewalk behind the food vendors (the main street of downtown Napa is shut down for this event, so the venders face into the street from both sides).  This guy had an amazing job making Kettle Corn. 

Kettle corn man 1 Kettle corn popping

When I first saw him, he was at rest, waiting for his kettle to heat up.  We chatted while he worked – heating the kettle to just this side of blazing, he added a pint of oil.  When it began to smoke, he tossed in a few kernels of popcorn. When they exploded, our conversation ended when he pulled on his OSHA approved face protection, and added about a quart of popcorn kernels – then started stirring quickly with his big paddle. 

Laurie and KathyHe paused to add a quart of sugar and the smoke really began to billow while he leaned in close and stirred like a madman.  The popcorn rose up the sides of the kettle (notice the difference in the photos?) – it smelled like heaven – then he grabbed the side of the kettle closest to us and flipped it up.  The other side was hinged, so the red hot kettle turned upside down onto the huge bowl on the other side – where the server scooped it up for the customers.

As soon as he had emptied the kettle, he got started on the next batch.  When I commented on the heat, he said it wasn’t bad this time of year, but that it is a really sweaty job in summer.  I can only imagine.

Today we awoke to “marine layer”, the damp gray overcast that often hides the sun around here in the morning.  No worries, it burned off by 11 am.  We headed north in lovely sunshine, windows down and sunroof open, to visit our friend Kathy (Don’t Fence Me In), another full-timer we originally met here in Napa.  She had an afternoon free in Calistoga, and we enjoyed what our friend Al would call a “good long chin-wag”. 

Perhaps it won’t be too difficult to figure out how to fill our time after all.  :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Odel and I just returned from a short walk along the riverside trail here in Napa – cut a bit shorter by pain in Odel’s knee.  When we saw the doctor on Tuesday morning, he cautioned Odel that it is better to continue to focus on flexion and extension exercises while his knee continues to heal, instead of walking – but the beautiful weather and the trail beckoned.  Before we reined in the impulse, we were back to our old habit of walking, our favorite means of relaxing and sightseeing.  The pain in his knee brought Odel back to the reality that the work of healing is not finished.  :(  Patience – not his strong suit!

So, what do walkers do when they can’t walk (much)?  Don’t ask me – it’s a puzzle!  Guess we’ll have to plan some driving trips with shorter walks upon arrival?  Pt. Reyes comes to mind, Petaluma, Sonoma.  Golfing and walking were Odel’s main activities pre-surgery, and both are out for another several weeks.  Though I can happily wander in and out of shops in any charming small town, that’s not Odel’s favorite pastime (or even in the top ten).  I suggested he take his cane and go sit at the bar in the Elks Lodge and drink with the guys… :)

IMG_1588When we left Sacramento yesterday morning (in rain), our fantasy was to land in one of the twelve sites behind the Napa Elks Lodge (click here to read our campground review from 8/2009) – better yet, one of the six sites that face south or, best of all, one of the even fewer that face south and have 50 amps.  Mission accomplished! 

We arrived around 11:30, under cloud cover but no rain, and were soon set up facing a bit of open space and the trail along the river.  I had to search around to find my camera, but snapped a shot of our site when the sun came out. 

This site is not quite as level as the one we had last time we visited, and our living room slide isn’t happy about that – the top back corner extended farther than it should.  We’re ignoring it for now since it didn’t fall out or knock the wall down, just made a slight crunching noise as the trim was redistributed.  After reading about Judy’s tribulations yesterday, I felt we were lucky.

Back in October of 2009, while we were staying at Skyline Wilderness Park in Napa (read our 2009 review here), we spent a wonderful day with new friends, Ellen and Alex.  They were on the cusp of fulltiming, and now are owners of a beautiful Monaco Dynasty.  We saw them in Phoenix last winter, and again at Catalina State Park near Tucson.  By lucky coincidence, they are here at the Elks Lodge and hosted us for dinner last night – delicious chili with homemade cornbread, strawberry margaritas, and fresh strawberries with Greek yogurt for dessert.  They are coming up on their 1 year anniversary of fulltiming this summer, and it was fun and relaxing to catch up with them again. 

If we were still in Sacramento, I would have gone to my Weight Watchers meeting this morning.  Since the last meeting, I ate dinner out more than in, with an abundance of good wine on hand.  I’ll admit – I’m glad I’m not going to a WW meeting today!  After all the socializing, I want to start watching those numbers decline again, so it’s back to WW recipes and portions for me.

One last comment, and a question:

Our good friend “Cool Judy”, an active Boomer well-known in the RV’ing community, has started a blog.  You can see it here.  She, her husband Luke, and a group of RV’ing friends will be leaving for Alaska shortly; I’m so glad she has given us a way to travel along with them.

And the question:  who in the blogging community uses that adorable photo of their dachshunds, staring soulfully at the camera, as their blog header?  I’ve lost the link to that blog so, if anyone can help me out, leave a comment, will you?  Thanks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


It was all good news at the knee surgeon’s office.  Odel needs to tweak his recuperation a bit – less walking, more targeted exercising of the knee, more icing – but they signed off with “call us for an appointment when you get back in fall”.  To those of you anticipating something similar in you future, be aware that you can be walking (Odel was cautioned to continue taking his cane along, since falling would be the WORST thing for his knee), but you will not be healed at six weeks.  The focus remains on healing for several more weeks; once you regain full extension and flexion, you can focus on strength (walking longer distances).

Of course, Odel asked about golfing.  Brian (the surgeon’s assistant) okayed putting and chipping, but said that driving should be put off for several more weeks, until the three month mark… and then Odel should start on the range to determine whether his knee was ready for that twisting, torqueing motion yet (with pain and swelling as the clue that he isn’t).  Six weeks or so of chipping and putting practice would help anyone’s game, so I don’t think Odel found the prospect too dismal.

The only problem?  The weather!  It is another rainy day here in Sacramento.  When we got home, I checked the weather for all of the areas of Oregon we have discussed as targets, and found that the ten-day forecasts don’t anticipate a lot of balmy golfing weather.  Napa, California, on the other hand, has many days of dry weather – and even sunshine – with showers forecast for just one day and temperatures mostly in the upper 60’s or lower 70’s.  So, Napa – here we come. 

One more health issue of possible interest to some readers:  Odel is a “lifetime” warfarin (Coumadin) user.  As we travel, he has blood drawn and tested (PT or INR) monthly.  Well, that is about to change.  On Saturday, he will receive a home diagnostic PT/INR meter that works like a blood glucose meter – stab your finger, draw the blood onto a strip which is then read by a metering device.  Simple – or so they say.  :)  A nurse used the same device when she came to test Odel’s PT post-surgery, and it was she who put us on the track of getting our own.  With a prescription from his primary care physician, Odel was approved for home testing.  The device is covered by Medicare; apparently it is less expensive than the lifetime of monthly lab tests Medicare currently covers.  Seems like a very good solution for us.

Now, let’s hope travel adventures (and photos!) squeeze health news off our front page!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


The weather has been CRAZY lately!   Ten days ago, we were sweltering at 90 in Sacramento for two days.  Then the temperatures mellowed, and we moved up into the foothills outside of Sacramento where mornings were nicely cool and afternoons balmy for a couple of days.  We had our windows wide open and a fan running, airing out the motorhome in case something inside is the cause of my allergy problem.  Yesterday the temperature dropped as clouds thickened and now, as I write this at 12:30 pm, hail and heavy rain is pelting us, at a temperature of 40 degrees!  Sheesh! 

On the health front:

Many of you suggested that my allergy might be caused be the new carpet or something else that changed when we did the renovation, and we reluctantly entertained that scary thought.  A big thank you to the Anonymous Commenter who suggested cleaning the carpet!  We carry a carpet cleaner and Odel immediately washed the carpet with plain water.  I think it really helped, as my allergic reaction is much improved; then again, maybe it was simply because we were able to keep the windows open most of the time for three days.  We plan to clean it regularly (every couple weeks) for awhile, and to air out the rig every chance we get… plus, spend more of our time outdoors, as we have in the past. 

Odel’s knee continues to improve and the swelling is gradually diminishing.  He is walking a mile or two each day, and working consistently to improve the extension (he is still 2 or 3 degrees off of straight, but has great flexion).   The pain continues to lessen, and we are both looking forward to hearing his surgeon’s comments at the 6 week follow-up on Tuesday, after which…

… we will be taking off on Wednesday morning!  Those of you who know us will be surprised to read that we don’t know where we are going; no plan except to go where the weather looks good.  After our big swing to the east coast last year, the stress of the renovations, the knee replacement and my unexpected allergic reaction, we decided to take it one day at a time this summer, planning a couple days or a week in advance at the most (yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts!). 

The only item on the wish list for summer: a visit to Fins in Port Townsend, Washington, so Odel can have his very favorite clam chowder.  We expect to spend quite a bit of time this summer in Oregon and Washington but, since the weather up there is still “iffy”, we might start our summer travels with a visit to the Napa/Petaluma area in California’s wine country, where the weather next week looks mighty fine. 

Other big news:  though I haven’t yet graduated to a smart phone, I DID break down and buy a Kindle.  My sister Sydney loaned me hers when I was feeling so miserable with my allergy, and I really enjoyed it.  Since we don’t have any trust issues - she shared her Amazon.com password with me! – we are able to share books, a big help to the book budget. 

I spent several hours yesterday learning how to set it up and connect to our MiFi hotspot (saving $50 over the cost of the 3G-enabled version), downloaded some samples, and made my first purchase: Lost in Shangri-La, a book I had planned to purchase in paperback.  Fun!  As soon as I finish reading my bound books and pass them on, my library will weigh the same as a thin paperback book, and take up about the same space (not including my extensive cookbook library, of course).  What a boon to a full-timer who likes to read!  I can see myself now in my mind’s eye, relaxing in my lounger under the awning (I still consider the electric awning one of our best expenditures!) on a sunny day, maybe in the tall pines, maybe by the ocean, my Kindle library in hand, wondering what to read next…

So, we are all set to head out (somewhere) on Wednesday morning.  I feel the energy rising around here.  :)

Monday, May 9, 2011


Odel’s last physical therapy session was this morning.  We had lots of questions for the therapist, and I made a short video of a technique I can use on Odel’s knee to help him reach that holy grail: zero degrees of extension (he is around 3 degrees shy of full extension now).  I know he will be able to get there as long as we keep working and stretching his leg.

The flexion, on the other hand, is great – 117 degrees when last measured.  We have been walking a couple miles for the last several days (Odel using a cane, mostly for balance), with no additional swelling of the knee.  Everything seems right on track.

As for me, the steroid ointment I got last week did wonders for my allergy.  I continue to apply a prescription Hydrocortisone cream twice a day, and I suspect my itchy, red, swollen condition would return if I stopped.  We have not been successful in finding a cause, but we have a plan!

I have a follow-up appointment with the dermatologist tomorrow morning.  Odel has his six-week post-surgery appointment a week from tomorrow.  Between the two, we’re moving 40 miles east into the foothills (to the Placerville Elks Lodge).  It probably is not far enough to escape the copious and varied pollens on the loose around here, but even a change of scenery will do us good, I suspect – we’ve been here at Cal Expo for TWO WHOLE MONTHS!

When we come back a week from today, we’ll stay just long enough for Odel’s appointment – then we’re outta here, heading north to wherever the weather is appealing.  If my allergy problem hasn’t cleared up after a couple of weeks out of the Sacramento Valley, we’ll have to face the fact that it may be something IN Scoopy, something related to the renovations – but we’re keeping an optimistic attitude (now possible, thanks to the miraculous recovery wrought by the steroids). 

I can hear the highway calling our names…

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Today Odel and I did something he probably wasn’t supposed to do: we went for a two mile walk!

During the past week, Odel has used the car to make a few quick trips around town, and has resumed responsibility for most of the many tasks he handles around the motorhome.  He works hard on his knee exercises and rehabilitation each day, but hadn’t taken a walk of any duration yet. 

The past few nights, he has had a very difficult time sleeping, and it is the opinion of his PT that he doesn’t sleep much at night simply because he is “at rest” most of the day.  Remember, this is a guy who walked 4-5 miles each day before his surgery; now that he is overcoming the effects of surgery so well, it seems that maybe his body is ready for more exercise.

So, today he decided he was going for a walk.  And I decided to go, too.  We walked (slowly) along the Sacramento River levee, behind Cal Expo, talking about his knee, my allergy, and where we want to go when we leave here in two weeks.  It was almost like old times.  :)

Although Odel’s knee is not pain free, he has less pain now than he did prior to surgery.  It is easy for us to imagine long walks and hikes in our future – maybe on the beach in Oregon, in Olympic National Park in Washington, in Glacier National Park, all places we plan to visit later this year.

As for my problem, it is still a mystery.  I went to stay with Sydney and Frank for 2 nights, leaving the Sacramento Valley with all its wind and pollen, and leaving anything in the motorhome that could be causing my problem.  Absolutely NO improvement; if there was any change at all, it was for the worse.  Benadryl (taken at maximum dosage and maximum strength) did nothing but turn me into a depressed zombie.  Neither Allegra nor Zyrtec has had any effect.

Finally, I made an appointment with my dermatologist, who I saw yesterday morning.  She was shocked by the look of my eyelids, swollen, red, and raw.  I think her exact words were “oh, you poor thing!”.  That was the perfect description!  She said it is not a food allergy, but is caused by contact with an allergen.  We went through everything again… any new shampoo, makeup, nail polish, bedding, detergent, soap, fragrance, drugs, nutritional supplements, on and on and on.  Drew a blank.

She sent me off with a tiny sample tube of Halog (a steroid ointment) to apply sparingly twice a day, and a prescription for hydrocortisone cream to use when the Halog is gone.  I filled the prescription, then went off to the health food store for organic vegies and fruit, having decided to embrace a diet of organic fruit, vegetables and grain (along with copious amounts of vitamin C) until whatever this is is under control.  (At least none of that is fattening – I have lost 7.6 pounds on Weight Watchers since we have been here.)

Last night, for the first time in many days, I slept through the night.  When I awoke this morning, I could see an actual improvement since yesterday – slight, but real.  I feel about 1% better – not much, but a welcome move in the right direction. 

The steroid ointment is helping the symptoms – but I still have no idea what is causing my problem.  As we walked along the levee this morning, we both looked forward to moving out of the Sacramento Valley in a few weeks, hoping will we will my allergen behind.  Until then, a little more improvement every day would be most welcome!