Friday, December 30, 2016

back on the vac

I could live in a watch tower, a treehouse without the tree. The one I wrote about on the August 2013 page, up in Oregon would be a fine place. Quiet, solitude, and a room-with-a-view.

I came across one for sale on the web but it sure would not be compatible for full-time living. It looked like an 8’ box on top of a tall, spindly tower. Would not want to be up there in a windstorm. I’d be upchuckin’ over the side.

I wasn’t able to work on sudoku puzzles while in the hospitals and nursing facility. The mind just was not able to cope with puzzles and logic. Now with all the meds and whatnot out of my system, I’m enjoying the challenge again. I had to go back to much easier puzzles than I was doing before, but it’s slowly coming back. I also had to go back and relearn some techniques.

‘Sudoku’ is a registered Japanese trademark filed by the Nikoli company. Similar number puzzles have been around since the late 1800’s, but the rules were slightly different. In 1979, Dell magazine started publishing puzzles with the sudoku format and called them ‘number place.’

Nikoli (Nee-ko-lie) is a Japanese company that was established in 1980. Nikoli popularized sudoku into the most popular logic puzzles in Japan and then later, presented it to other countries. Old Dell magazine readers probably went, Wait, wait, I’ve seen this!
Nikoli’s president was into horse-racing and the company is named after the horse that won the 1980 Irish 2000 Guineas Race.

Many prefer Nikoli puzzles over those generated by computer programs and the company offers numerous books to keep one challenged, no matter what level one is at.
Newspapers can be another source for challenging sudoku puzzles.
Frank Longo offers a series of martial art (belts) sudoku books. Each book covers one level of difficulty.

Back on a negative pressure vacuum pump. The chest wound did no seem to be making any progress towards healing in the month I have been in Moab. I asked if I could get back on a wound vac and it was approved. The other wounds are healing so the pump is just for the chest wound. It can be an inconvenience wearing the satchel but I really don’t care so long as healing is enhanced and the wound protected from infection. This is my fourth wound vac and the loudest, by far. Good thing it does not overheat because I bury it under a pile of clothes at night so I can sleep.

I like simple humor.
“A book is something we used to have before the Internet. It’s sort of a blog for people with attention spans.” This might be from Stephen Colvert.

You have to create the quiet to be able to
listen to the very faint voice of your intuition.
Jon Favreau

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

back with Meadow & Mesa

I’ve been trying to come up with something to write for the November page but I’m having trouble focusing, let alone coming up with something interesting. So since I can’t, I’m going to take Rob K’s suggestion and just give a short update.

I got a ride with Lisa and Glen on Tuesday, Nov. 29 from SLC down to Moab. I left the Nash on July 31. So much for planning to be away for a few hours or a night at the most. It felt good to be back with Meadow and Mesa. They recognized me but seemed somewhat surprised that I was here. It didn’t take us long to get back to our old ways. Much easier for me to cope when my pets are around.

M&Ms last couple months of being cooped up in the Nash was apparently getting to them. One or the other would make a run to freedom when Glen opened the door to check on them. They can be so fast. He emailed this text to me while I was in the hospital.
“Normally I just pull open the door a crack and make sure no one is there but Mesa was right there and just bolted out the door. He ran away about 20 feet and turned around and came back and started rubbing against my leg. So I reached down and picked him up, opened the door so I could toss him in, and Meadow was on the counter and leapt out. It was obviously a tag team effort. So I said okay, okay have it your way and I just left the door open and let them both run off.“
They didn’t venture out of the yard and came back in after they did some running and climbing trees. Now I let them out when I get back from wound care.

I’m finally back out on my own, but I’m feeling kind of dazed. It’s as if I can’t get back to some sense of normalcy. Granted, I’m very weak but the gimpy arm is quite a hindrance. I knew it was going to be but the reality of it is really hitting home with so many everyday things. The first time I opened the driver’s door of the pickup I had to stop and think how I was going to get up. Another time I went to clothespin a shirt onto the short clothesline I have in the shower stall. It is not as easy when only one arm can reach up and do the work. I almost made quite a mess the first time I had to lift and pour from a box of litter into the litter box. The numerous, simple, frustrating tasks got to be a bit much a couple times.

I had to bring two tools from the truck into the Nash. I still cannot open most bottles and jars. I wonder if they still make strap wrenches.

It’s now the middle of December (I pre-dated the upload) and I’ve been working on building back some strength and extending range-of-motion in my right arm and shoulder. The therapist gave me seven exercises to do. Each round takes 15 minutes and I’m supposed to do three rounds a day. There has been progress. I also try to go for an hour walk most days.

This past summer, I left the White Mtns. because the road getting out would have been real bad once the monsoons hit. I would not want to attempt to pull a trailer along it. So I went to the Kaibab plateau, and came across a bacteria I could have done without. In hindsight, I would rather have gotten stuck in the mud.
The last time I was up on the Kaibab, I had that episode of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and passed out. I wonder if that was a sign to not come back to the Kaibab.

After weeks with just letting my four wounds heal naturally at the nursing facility, I was put back on a wound vac. If I had been on a wound vac all along, the wounds would have healed by now. I’m more than a little bummed by this but it was not my call.

I wanted to continue with the wound vac when I got down to Moab but wound care didn’t think it was necessary. Hmm. So I still have four wounds that need more care than I can take care of. The one in my chest still goes down to the bone. Not good.

The one on my elbow is also a problem. Then there are the two on the inside of my upper arm. This is really dragging. I had the skin graft on September 20 and these four places that didn’t take, are still a concern. I drive to Moab Regional three times a week, sit in a chair, and have a wound care nurse remove the dressings, clean out the slough, and apply new dressings. Takes about 40 minutes. The tissue is granulating, so maybe healing will pick up a bit.

I originally planned to head down to southern New Mexico shortly after I got to Moab. What a dumbass idea. First off, I was not physically capable of doing so. But it is the wounds that are keeping me here, especially the one in my chest. I don’t think I’ve ever had a wound so open to infection. It’s scary. I feel this is the safest place for me to be, and thank the gods, Glen and Lisa are letting me stay here longer than I had planned.

I’ve been dealing with medical problems since July 31. I so want to get past this phase of my life but I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize healing. I so miss being out off-grid. The lifestyle nurtures me. This present lifestyle—not so much.

Do just once what others say you can’t do,
and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.
Edmund Brown, Jr.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’

Monday, October 31, 2016

the graft

As I often do, I went back to last month’s page and added/tweaked some text and added a photo.
I think it was Lisa who reminded me that I did not have any medical insurance from 2002 until 2012. I sure lucked out with the timing.

Glen and Lisa headed east last month and rented this 42’ boat from Mid Lakes Navigation. The lady in the photo is Lisa. They spent five days cruising the Erie Canal. The boat had a 50 hp. diesel engine so top speed was 5.5 knots.
Glen sent me some text (I wish I could write as well):

Our boat was a steel hulled craft that was designed and built by Mid Lakes in their own shop. The design was modeled after English canal touring boats that are sometimes called long boats. It was pretty amazing to look around their boat building shop. It was quite an active operation. The company is in the process resorting 3 older boats that they have acquired. The latest one is the Harriet H. Wiles. Mid Lakes had actually built this boat back in the 80's and sold it to another tour company. Now they had reacquired it and had just finish a total rebuild. The craftsmanship on this vessel was amazing.

Before they handed us the keys to our boat a man from the shop took us on a shake down cruise down the canal to the first lock. Rather then just telling me what to do he was very good about just letting me get a "feel" for how the boat handled. Since we didn't crash through the lock gates or run aground our guide said we were good to go. As we took him back to the shop he told us how much he loved his job of building these boats. And it was obvious that there was a lot of pride as he showed us all the details on the boat.
The company we rented from offers 3, 5 and 7 day trips.

The Erie Canal was originally made in 1817. The early canal used very small boats pulled by mules. Around the turn of the century people stopped using the canal. Trains and roads were faster. The state of NY embarked on a major rebuild of the canal so that large tugboats pulling barges could use it. The canal was greatly widened at this time around 1914.
By the 1950's commercial traffic was again down to almost nothing. The canal was almost abandoned but at this time recreational traffic greatly increased. Lots of boaters began travel between the Great Lakes and the east coast via the canal. Today the widened canal is over 100 years old and so it's very over grown. Large trees line the waterway and so it's more like traveling down a small river then a man made canal.
With all the recreational traffic on the canal now hundreds of nice restaurants have sprung up along the way. Once old industrial areas are now quite up scale.
Lisa wanted me to be sure and tell you that every town had excellent ice cream stores.
It's a good thing these boat are steel hulled. They are totally crash proof and that's a good thing because it was pretty amazing the stupid things I saw people doing like crashing into sea walls head on. I almost have to look the other way when I would see people coming into the dock driving these behemoths.

Another boat; it all sounds SO cool.

Remember this camping spot from the August page? This is where it all started. If you are driving down this spur up on the Kaibab, turn around and go to another area. Do not keep driving down the spur if you are pulling a trailer because you will probably get stuck as you approach the bottom.

My discharge diagnosis from Kane County Hospital read: “Cellulitis; Dehydration; Shingles; Strep throat (strep A [gargle with salt water!]). Associated symptoms: tingling and he has had a cold for several days (that’s not true). Patient’s pain was difficult to control but fell asleep around 4 am. Pt continued to have change and worsening clinical status with blood pressure beginning to drop and mental status decline.” Still no diagnosis of necrotizing fasciitis! They sure seem to be liable for all the muscle that had to be cut out due to their misdiagnosis. Guano

Discharge Diagnosis from first stay @ Promise: “Hypernatremia; Hypertension; Severe Malnutrition; Severe debility.” Definitely not in my best heath.

Theresa gave me another chuckle. She said I’m doing more moving than when in the Nash—six moves since July 31.
My limit for staying in one hospital, from Medicare, was up so they moved me up to a hospital in Bountiful for six days (where they wouldn’t let me out of my room!). Then back to IHC on Sept. 20 for my skin graft. Stayed there four days, then sent back to Promise. As Theresa said, it is a good thing I’m traveling light. After Promise, I was moved to a skilled nursing facility, which should be my last place of residence before getting back to Meadow and Mesa.

A therapist brought me a few pages he downloaded from WebMD; he wanted to learn a bit about the bacteria. Some of this was new to me:
“About 1 out of 4 people who get this infection die from it. Many people who get necrotizing fasciitis are in good health before they get the infection." I would imagine the 1 in 4 did not get to a hospital in time, were in poor health, or the doctors couldn’t make an accurate diagnosis. This is just my take on it; could be wrong.
“Necrotizing fasciitis is caused by several kinds of bacteria. Some of these bacteria also cause infections such as strep throat and impetigo. Usually the infections caused by these bacteria are mild. But in rare cases they can cause a more dangerous infection.
“How is it diagnosed? The doctor will diagnose your infection based on how suddenly your symptoms started and how quickly the infection is spreading. The infected tissue may be tested for bacteria. You also may need X-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI to look for injury to your organs or to find out how much the infection has spread.” Sure wish the doctors down in Kane County Hospital had know this.
“How is it treated? Early treatment of necrotizing fasciitis is critical. The sooner treatment begins, the more likely you will recover from the infections and avoid serious complications, such as limb amputation or death. You may be treated in the intensive care unit at the hospital.” Sure wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
“To help prevent any kind of infection, wash your hands often. And always keep cuts, scrapes, burns, sores, and bites clean.” Really, do this.
“You can also get it in a muscle strain or bruise, even if there is no break in the skin.” This, I do not understand.

A split-thickness skin graft is used to cover large, shallow wounds. Only the epidermis and a little of the underlying dermis is cut off with a dermatome. Check out the link below to a youtube.

Full-thickness skin grafts are used for more severe wounds. A patch of skin with underlying muscle and blood supply is transplanted to the area to be grafted. The graft is removed with a scalpel rather than a dermatome. After the surgeon has cut around the edges of the pattern used to determine the size of the graft, she lifts the skin with a special hook and trims off any fatty tissue. The graft is then placed on the wound and secured in place with absorbable sutures. Don’t think I want one of these.

The skin graft surgery took about 2 ½ hours. When I woke up in the recovery room, I felt fine and sat up in bed. I was immediately reprimanded. I kept sitting up from time to time and I guess the nurse just gave up. No pain from the skin graft, and, at that time, none from the harvest site. I wanted to get an idea of what I just went through so the next day I accessed youtube. I only looked at one video and thought they did a stellar job covering the process in a 4 ½ minute video.
It’s called, ‘Live Surgery Split Thickness Skin Graft.m4v’
definitely, check it out:

Live Surgery Split Thickness Skin Graft

What did you think of the electric cheese slicer—the dermatome? With me however, the surgeon spent more time using it. He took a 10” strip along my right thigh. As you saw, each strip of skin is then run through a hand crank meshing device, to enable the skin to expand. Once again, it gets worse, but of course. As the surgery went along, the doctor went back two more times to take parallel strips.

This photo was taken 6 days after the graft.

This is the last photo I have of the skin graft; 20 days after surgery

My harvest site ended up being 7” x 10”. I only have two photos of the harvest site. This was taken 36 days after the dermatome; almost healed.
The pain from that for the first week was intense. The week of the horrific nightmares was the worst week up to this point.

They cover the site with this thin mesh and staple it down. For the first 3 or 4 days, the wound seeps. And yes, my hospital gown and top bed sheet would get stuck to it and I had to pull it away. It’s truly hard to believe the amount of fun I am having. The first morning they had to change my bedding and gown due to all the blood. Come ON—enough already! As the wound heals, the mesh around the edge loosens and the staples are pulled out. Each day a nurse trims lose edges. Unfortunately, a free edge did catch on something from time to time. In the previous photo, you can see how the mesh got trimmed down to this last piece.

It was good to get back to Promise. I like this place; they take good care of me here. A number of nurses and CNAs have voiced how far I’ve come since August 9. They said I was so loopy from the meds, in a lot of pain, and could barely move. I remember all the times I messed the bed and the bed baths. Oh, for joy. It’s good to be making progress.

The skin graft is smeared with an antiseptic goop (maybe bacitracin), areas of concern are then covered with something like a thin plastic patch. It’s all then wrapped and held in place with netting. Notice the ladies of wound care tied it up in cute little yellow bows instead of tape. And of course they did not tell me this. I first noticed it when a nurse pointed this out. The wound care ladies were long gone.

This is 10 days after surgery. Even now, over a month later, one can still see the mesh pattern in the skin. The skin feels like leather. Notice all the staples? When I looked at the staples, I thought of future pain. I planned to ask for a pain med prior to their removal. Can you guess it did not go according to plan?
One morning, a few days later, wound care was changing the dressing and noted it had been 14 days since the surgery. Staples are supposed to be removed after 10 days. I’m thinkin’, uh oh. Yep, they decided to pull them all out then. What!? Wait, wait, pain meds, pain meds, I want pain meds! The response was, Oh, it won’t be too bad. Uh huh. On the whole it was not all that bad. Then they got to one in the middle of my chest that was pretty much buried in the new skin. The staple did not come out with the first yank; it took two. Ouch!

From the video you can get an idea of how that large negative pressure dressing over my open wound was done. Cutting the black vacuum sponge to size, covering it with draping (plastic sheet), leaving a hole for the vacuum tube, and attaching the vacuum tube. What did you think when they turned on the vacuum pump? Mine didn’t sink below the skin like the wound in the video, but one sure knows when the vacuum is turned on. On my wound dressing, a diluted bleach solution was dripped into one side of the dressing and through a perforated tube running along to the other side where the vacuum tube was attached. For skin grafts, there is no irrigation. The negative pressure of the vacuum keeps the skin graft tight down against the tissue, pretty much assuring a good bond. It was on for five days and then switched to a more conventional dressing.

My plastic surgeon talked with the surgeons who did the first three surgeries back in the first week of August. They were surprised I was still alive, let alone still had my right arm. Good grief.

A few days in the first week of October were tough. What I’ve been going through the last couple months all seemed to hit me hard. Luckily I was able to pull myself out of the dumps. I was coping well (relatively) up to that week. I so much want to get off all these meds, and hopefully, start thinking clearly again. Then there’s getting off the nightly feed bag and getting back to my kind of meals.

Then I had a week or so when things all seemed to blend together. I was confused and woozy, but thankfully it too passed. And there had been no change in my meds that might have set if off. Hmm.

I was really hoping to get accepted into HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital for acute in-patient rehab on my R shoulder and arm. But I could do stairs, squat, raise my left arm, do well on balance tests, and many other things. They would not accept me merely for my R shoulder and arm. Then my case manager told me about a skilled nursing facility that could provide more therapy on my arm and shoulder. Sounded good and that is where I was sent.
When I got there, the director of therapy tested me for balance. I tested okay, and he then informed me that they will not provide any physical therapy for me. WHAT!? What about my calves, ankles, quads, inner thigh, hams, and glutes? PT takes care of the body below the waist. This is SO wrong. I groused to the resident advocate and the overall director. Some changes were made and my OT here could not be better. Both my OTs (the best) are working on range of motion for my R arm and shoulder. When I told my weekend OT, my goals, she went out and purchased a 5-gallon bucket. How thoughtful is that? Both OTs are working towards me being able to lift the nine 5-gallon buckets of water (40 lbs.) up onto the Ram’s tailgate. We probably have 40% of the goal nailed. Not bad.

They both come up with ideas. The OT here, came to get me one morning and I was still brushing my teeth. He said, What are you doing? I knew not to respond. He said, right hand. I kept silent, thinking I can’t reach my teeth using my R hand. He continued to just stare at me. I’m learning. That was his signal to assist with my L hand.
My OT sessions have been going well but in the first two weeks, NO OT session was provided on TWO of the days. I’m here for therapy!

A few therapists showed me movements I can do on my own this winter. That should help quite a bit with my continued recovery.

Various strangeness;
The second time I went back to IHC, I wasn’t allowed to have thin beverages. Have you ever been served a glass of water with a spoon in it? I had to stir up the thickener. For water!
The medical flight from Kanab, UT to SLC had a base rate of $17,250 and a mileage charge of $63,210 for a total bill of $80,460! Whoa. As I understand it, Medicare covers transportation costs if there is no other way for the patient to move from place to place. So far Medicare has been covering all transportation charges. That’s impressive.
When I got to my present (and, hopefully, last) place, the speech therapist (4th so far) tested my swallowing, once again, and found my swallowing and speaking muscles, to be too weak. So I have 7 exercises to do each day. Prior to this, I never heard of doing exercises to strengthen one’s tongue. For two of the exercises, I close the door; the sounds get pretty loud. Good grief.
Now that I’m approved to drink thin beverages, I was handed a paper on allowable beverages, one was, ‘alcoholic beverages.’ I asked about this and it was confirmed. I remember the first beer that a friend brought. It tasted SO good. First one since July. One is more than enough for me; back in the Nash, a 12 oz. bottle lasts me 3 or 4 nights. If a friend left me with a second beer, I have to hand it in at the nurse’s station so it can be locked up in the refrigerator. When I want it, I have to go and ask a nurse for it, hoping the nurse is not off on a break or counting out meds. Understandable, but still strange.

Pinball sent me an ad she came across in the “un-classified” section of a local paper. “RV/Trailer Parking Space on 40 acres fenced with cattle guard. 45 foot shade canopy with side patio awnings. $350 per month, includes water, electricity & sewer.”

This might be something to keep my eyes out for. Or as Theresa and Lynn suggested, I could post my own note. Theresa sent me this note.
At this point I don’t have any idea what I will be doing. Hopefully, it will be back off-the-grid.

I don’t know what kind of mindset I’ll be developing. The necrotizing fasciitis bacteria is all around so it makes no sense to stop what I’ve been doing for the last ten years. I might try, however, to stay within an hour of a hospital. And if it happens again, I can help the doctors with the diagnosis.

I’ve not been the best person, or close to one, for a good deal of my life. After the bone marrow transplant, I felt I was developing into a better person. My chance of surviving the BMT was only 29%. If I started to regress, I had a friend who merely said, ‘That’s not why you are here’. It was exactly what I needed; worked every time. After I get past this little setback, I have a feeling I’ll work towards developing into an even better person. Granted, it will be nowhere near perfect, but I know some areas where I can improve.

I know I could go through this again, but I feel I have made enough atonement for past mistakes. If I have a third major medical problem, chances are good I’d throw in the towel. So maybe I should start checking out national forests in states I’m not all that familiar with. Or get serious about looking for some acreage either north or south to spend half the year, or something like Lynn’s idea. If I had a lady, I’d see if she would be up for traveling through the western Canadian provinces. As you can see, I have not a clue what to do. So I wonder what next summer will bring. I think having a home-base for a few months might feel good. I could focus on getting my strength back and practice being a better person. We’ll see.

This is an old one so you might of heard it before.
The Old Farmer: A Department of Highways employee stopped at a farm and talked with the old farmer. He told the farmer, 'I need to inspect your farm for a possible new road.' The old farmer said, 'OK, but don't go in that field.' The Highways employee said, 'I have the authority of the State of Minnesota to go where I want. See this card? I am allowed to go wherever I wish on farm land.' So the old farmer went about his chores. Later, he heard loud screams and saw the Department of Highways employee running for the fence and close behind was the farmer's prize bull. The bull was madder than a nest full of hornets and the bull was gaining on the employee at every step. The old farmer called out, 'Show him your card, smartass!!'

It’s never too late, in fiction or in life, to revise.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

here’s a little story

A camper was up on the Kaibab plateau in northern Arizona. The last day in July, a Sunday, he got up, feeling good, and started the day off with an early morning one-hour run along the AZ Trail. In the afternoon, he felt a pain across the top of his chest, moving towards his right shoulder. The camper didn’t want to, but thought it best to drive down to the emergency room in Kanab, UT; the pain was increasing. It took an hour and he barely made it. He must have looked pretty bad when he shuffled through the doors because two staff workers got up and met him half way. So far, really no big thing.

The camper’s upper right arm started turning red during the last 20 minutes or so of the drive. The doctor diagnosed shingles. The camper said the redness was NOT what brought him in here. Then the upper arm started discoloring as we sat there watching. The doctor admitted the camper overnight for strep throat (positive for strep A), shingles, and dehydration. The next morning, cellulitis was added to the diagnosis. Wrong again.

I must have passed out while sitting on the edge of the bed because I woke up in SLC the next afternoon at IHC's Shock and Trauma ICU. I spent the next two weeks there, having three surgeries. My right biceps, right pectoral muscles, and half of my right deltoid muscles were cut out. A plastic surgeon looked on to get an idea of what he will be working with down the line. They kept me under until Thursday. Are you guessing it was NOT shingles, let alone strep throat?

Necrotizing fasciitis (neck-ro-tie-zing fas-e-i-tis) is a nasty, nasty bacteria that spreads rapidly once it enters the body. It infects flat layers of a membrane known as the fascia, which are connective bands of tissue that surround muscles, nerves, fat, and blood vessels. The infection also damages the tissues next to the fascia.
The most common way of getting necrotizing fasciitis is when the bacteria enters the body through a break in the skin, like a cut, scrape, burn, insect bite, or puncture wound. I don’t remember or saw sign of any break in my skin.

The media refers to it as a flesh-eating bacteria, although it does not “eat” the tissue.
It comes from the Greek word ‘nekros,’ wait for it, ‘corpse.’ Hmm.

I SO wish they had made a proper diagnosis down in the Kanab Hospital. If I got flown up to SLC Sunday night, the surgeons would not have had to cut out nearly as much muscle. I wasn’t flown up until Monday afternoon. All that time the bacteria continued to poison my body. Guano! With necrotizing fasciitis, seconds is tissue.

The hospital needed a medical power of attorney. I don’t have family to call on and it is not something one can ask of a friend or acquaintance. Just think of how you would feel if you were asked to act as such. I mean, it can be a life or death decision. With all the mega meds I was on in ICU I don’t see how I managed to suggest a friend. The hospital called Lisa and she agreed to act as my medical power of attorney but she needed to talk with me first. So right there with that decision to help me, she saved my life. I certainly was in no condition to make decisions. The surgeons were concerned about the lose of my right arm, and possibly the left, so I said to Lisa, if they have to take an arm, keep me above ground; if it was going to be both arms, put me down.

I think it was a week or so later when I was talking to Lisa and told her I just can’t take any more of this. I want to be put down. A resident told Lisa and Theresa that I clearly did not do narcotics because the meds had me so out of it. I was having horrific nightmares; it was as if they were my life. One night I thought my nurse was trying to kill me and I was trying to do all I could to escape from the bed. I pulled the feeding tube out of my nose so the nurse had to strap my good arm to the bed rail. Anyway, it was like nothing I’ve ever imagined happening to me. Lisa talked me into hanging on a little longer but I truly could not imagine how I could. Over the next couple weeks it got better in many ways.

How many can say they saved a friend’s life? And not once, but twice.

So, the Nash, the Dodge, and M&M. Glen and David, two other friends from Moab, had to figure out where the Dodge was parked and how to find the Nash where it was set up out in the woods.

I think it was a PA at the Shock and Trauma ICU mentioned that I had been flight lifted from Kanab. Lisa called the Kanab hospital and when she identified herself as my medical POA, the receptionist felt free to talk about me and mentioned that there was a blue Dodge pickup in the lot. The keys, however, were in my pocket, at the trauma ICU up in Salt Lake. Lisa’s mum lives in SL and through Lisa’s POA, was able to acquire the keys and mail them down to Moab.
If you are not interested in this story, feel free to skip it. I might get back to some semblance of simple living and travel in four months or so.

It was Thursday before Glen and David had the keys and could start driving down to Kaibab (I had told them that M&M had enough food and water for a few days). One day, I was apparently coherent enough to give directions on how to find the Nash. Are you believing all this? Glen apparently got enough info from me and along with a national forest map, Glen and David found the Nash. M&M were out of water. I really did not expect to be away this long. They hooked up, spent the night in Bluff and made it back to Moab on Friday.
They just made it along a length highway after coming down off the Kaibab, just before it was closed off due to flooding:
washed out highway

Lisa saved my life, but Glen and David saved the lives of Meadow and Mesa. Ya done good, guys.

The Nash is setup on Glen and Lisa’s proporty. M&M stay inside and are not happy. But then, I’m not presently happy with my present living arrangement either.

Glen even set up a window A/C for them. How cool is that?

After two weeks in the shock and trauma ICU, I needed to be moved to a hospital that focused on wound care and physical therapy. Lisa chose Promise Hospital after researching their programs, here in Salt Lake. I have both a physical and occupational therapy session each weekday. My OT is particularly awesome and my physical therapists push me as much as they think I can take. What a fabulous team. I’ll miss them. All the sessions max me out but I always try to do the best I can and have been adding some additional work on my own back in my room. Remember Janet and her hip replacement? How hard she worked during her rehab and pretty much got back all her movement? Most don’t put in the effort and don’t get much back. Duh. Just listen to people talk about their rehab experiences to pick up on this. I had to work with a speech therapist the first week I was at Promise to strengthen my tongue and learn how to swallow again. It was a big day when he said I could have some crushed ice (still couldn’t have water).
The physical and occupational therapy team surprised me with a beautiful card and a pair of high-top Converse All Stars on my discharge date. I know, it’s not a guy thing, but I definitely choked up.

I lost nearly 20 pounds, down to 142. I was reading through my medical records and noticed on the admitted ones, I was marked down as having “severe malnutrition.“ It had only been 10 days!
When Theresa saw the wound dressing, she said it reminded her of the Jean-Luc Picard character after he go captured by the Borg. I got a good chuckle out of that.

Twice a week, wound care works on my wound for over an hour. After the dressing is taken off they work on cleaning, debridement of any remaining dead tissue and whatnot. A big issue is getting the tissue to granulate. It needs to do this before some of my skin can be grafted onto it.
This is a photo of the wound from August 11. It’s covered with integra, a silicon sheet, hence the shininess.

This is what an arm looks like when the biceps have been cut out. Unfortunately, the arm is mine.


A photo of the wound 30 days after the surgeries. Progress.

This is a photo from September 13. You can see how well the wound is healing.

Putting a new negative pressure dressing on takes around 30 minutes with a nurse working on each side of the bed. First a layer of thin white foam is placed on the wound where it has granulated. 3/8” black foam is placed over the areas that still need to granulate. The tissue grows up into the black foam, forming the granulation. All the foam is cut and fitted, like a puzzle. There is a channel left where a perforated irrigation tube is laid. It’s all covered over with draping (clear plastic sheets), again cut and fitted to the shape of the wound.
The first time I was aware of a dressing change they had to give me 300 micrograms of pain meds and it still hurt! Then it was 200, then 100, and lately only 50 mcg of pain meds and it hurts a lot less. I asked about it and was told, the first time there were exposed nerves. This is all SO much fun.
I have total confidence the highly-skilled wound care team at Promise Hospital. They take the time to explain anything I ask them about. And they are entertaining! I always get laughs while my wound is being worked on and I am glad say that I can make them laugh almost as much. It might seem strange, but after the first two dressing changes, I always looked forward to wound care.

One time, two hospital directors stopped in the see how the wound was progressing. I was thinking my wound must be different to warrant such visitors but hopefully not too complicated.
For that first dressing change there were five staff members clustered around my bed. Lately there are two. I asked about that and was told everyone wanted to see the wound. I got another good chuckle out of that. I’ve chuckled a lot since I’ve been here. A good deal of the staff have a sense of humor so I can joke around with them.

They were not used on my wound but maggots are used here and are pretty effective on some types of wounds. The wound team builds a coral around the patient’s wound, pour in a slew of tiny maggots, and cover them over with a breathable material. The maggots feed only on dead tissue for three or four days, growing the whole time, and then removed. I wonder if you feel them at night when you are sleeping.

Five times a week for 110 minutes, I go upstairs and slide into a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. Maybe, "Once more into the breech" has another meaning. I thought the chambers were just for scuba divers with the bends but they also promote healing. I get to watch a movie each day but have only managed to see the ending of one. Oh well.
The sessions generally go okay, but it can be warm and a tad stuffy. One day however, I was lying there on my back and upchucked. It was all out in half a minute and I asked them to keep me in the chamber but they would not hear of it. They started the decompression. It was nearly an hour into my time and the whole day was wasted. Guano.

Night nurses. When I was in a hospital bed up at the U for six weeks, I rarely was aware of the night nurse coming into my room, totally stealth mode. The patient rarely sees the good ones. They quietly come into the room and use light from the hall, machine faces or a penlight to see. They know that turning on a light will wake the patient, common sense. They don’t talk and if they need to, it’s with a very low voice. Coming into a room with a sleeping patient and using a daytime level voice is going to jar the sh*t out to the patient. Common sense. I might be using faulty logic with this one, but if a person hears speaking while sleeping or on the verge of sleep, it will be processed, setting off tiny electric charges in the brain, further waking up the patient. I have problems with sleeping at night (and no, I don’t take naps during the day). Two nights I had this woman who automatically turned on an overhead light as she came through the door, every time she came in, no matter what time of the night. That alone woke me up each time. She never stopped to access the available light to see if it was enough (it was). She talked every time, with nothing that needed to be said, and NOT in a quiet voice. The first morning, I finally got into a good deep sleep, lying on my back, and still out cold at 6:00 when this creature came in and turned on the bright light directly over the bed. I started grousing but she kept it on until she was finished with what she had to do. Not a thought, of the patient. There’s a word for that kind of woman, rhymes with witch. Sleep has strong healing qualities and for a trained medical professional to needlessly hinder a patient’s healing, is SO not right. And yes, I voiced my thoughts, (some of my friends probably just cringed) but to no effect.
There are many stellar nurses and CNAs here but then there are some I wonder how they got a job, let alone maintain it. I found out I was scheduled to have this woman a third night but the desk switched nurses for me. I knew there were gods.

I called my friend, Pinball (I first met Lynn when she moved to Bisbee from NY, then she moved to Tucson, then Ohio, and recently, back to Arizona). She gave me a laugh after I told her about my present situation. She responded with something like, you’ve been independent and off by yourself for the last ten years. You hike and run trails in areas where there are cougars and bears, camp and climb where there are rattlesnakes, hike in ravines, and take falls from time to time. Come on, you’ve been playing roulette all these years; something was bound to happen. True, and I took one particularly bad fall earlier this summer, after which it took me quite a while to make it back to camp. And the following week, all I could do was hobble. Might be time for a change. Then again, I might not have a choice.

Remember when I wrote about my bone marrow transplant back on the July 2011 page? What a cakewalk compared to this. All in all, it’s been a good experience at Promise. I memorized the names of all the staff who took care of me, always addressed them by name, and tried to pay them back with daily thanks and laughter.

That’s probably enough for this month’s page. Next month I’ll probably continue the story. There is still another hospital for the skin graft, the healing process, time in an acute therapy facility, and getting back in the Nash. I SO miss Meadow and Mesa. And Pinball emailed me with a suggestion for an alternative life when I get out. We’ll see.

The IRS returned a tax return to a man in New York City after he apparently answered one of the questions incorrectly.
In response to the question, "Do you have anyone dependent on you?" the man wrote:
"7.1 million illegal immigrants, 1.1 million crack-heads, 4.4 million unemployable scroungers, 80,000 criminals in more than 85 prisons, plus 450 idiots in Congress, and a group that calls themselves politicians."
The IRS stated that the response he gave was unacceptable.
The man's response back to the IRS was, "Who did I leave out?"

If you are on thin ice,
you might as well be dancing.
Lincoln Child

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’

Monday, August 8, 2016

this and that

Our last moving day was interesting. Neither Meadow, Mesa, or myself, enjoy moving days—Meadow least of all. I break camp the afternoon before, pack up, and back the Dodge to within a couple inches of the trailer’s A-frame and hook up the chains and break-away cable. Meadow knows what this means. In the morning, if she gets out, she’s gone. I might be able to keep walking after her and wear her down and snag her after half an hour or so. If she hides, however, she’ll hide and sleep for hours and I have to move the next day. Been there, done that. It rots. When I catch her, I have to grab her by the scruff of the neck or she will shred me. Yep, been there, gone through that, most assuredly, didn’t like it. Luckily in the morning, it wasn’t Meadow that got out. I had gone outside for a few minutes and when I came back in, there was a hummingbird flying back and forth across the back window; keeping real close to the glass, almost skimming across it, not repeatedly flying into the glass like insects do. The hummingbird had flown in through the cage window. Mesa was up on the back table watching her. I opened one of the back screens and went to shoo the bird out, but just before the bird flew out, Mesa flew out. Guano. He’s much easier to catch, however, 5-10 minutes generally does it. Caught him, hitched up, and headed out. It took 25 minutes to just drive the first 4 miles towards the asphalt. The road was more trashed from the rains last week and vehicular traffic driving through the mud. Then another 15 minutes to the asphalt.

I was going to stop part way overnight at a campground, but I have such an aversion to them in the summer, while driving through it, I decided to get back on the road and keep going. A long day and way too many miles. Then when I got 30-35 miles of the national forest I was shooting for, I noticed dense smoke from a wildfire on its southern end. Guano. The north end, where I was headed, was okay and had fire restrictions (no campfires or grills) in effect, I didn’t pass any RVs as I was driving along the forest roads. And rarely passed an RVer disperse RVing along any of the dirt roads I’ve biked in the last month. Not bad. But campfires and grills are a big part of RVing so they are probably at places where these are allowed. Hard-wall campers couldn’t care less about grills and building campfires during the dry summer months out in the woods.

For many RVers, their days driving along the asphalt with their rig, provides them with a sense of freedom and adventure; they travel to see what’s along the road. To me, this is the ball-and-chain aspect of my lifestyle. The highway is not where hard-wall campers do their traveling. After I set up camp, I can cut the chain and start my travels.

While on a hike at my last spot, I took a tangent to a campground and talked to the host for a while. No RV but quite a setup. I liked how he used his ladder.

My present spot has me thinking of the doldrums, but rather than lack of wind, here it’s lack of wildlife. I generally only see deer and turkeys while out on my early morning runs and mtn. biking a couple miles from the camping spot. Occasionally, I spot a young deer while out walking with M&M.

It’s quiet in the spot where I’m presently setup, not even many bird sounds, except for the hummingbirds, not even in the mornings as it is getting light. Strange. It is such a contrast from my spot in the White Mtns. The first month or so of my stay there, there were all kinds of wildlife sounds—turkeys when I first got there, elk cows & little ones, owls, ravens, hummingbirds & other birds, coyotes, cows & calves, two nights of frogs, squirrels & chipmunks, and moths that invariably got into the Nash and flew around as I was lying in bed after dark with the Kindle. Animal sounds continued through the nights. Cow elk calls back in late May and early June were a treat in the middle of the night.
On two early runs back in the White Mtns., I came across some pronghorn. One morning back in late May, I spotted three young elk that had started growing in their antlers. I love this aspect of the lifestyle. My friends and maybe some who spend time out in Nature might be the only ones who can relate to this, but I felt as if I was part of the local community. One would think I would feel this way while in the winter state parks, but more often than not, that’s not the case. I walk around in the parks, smiling and saying hello or something to people over the winter and a good number respond with just a look or a nod. What kind of lame response is that?

In a book I was reading, one character had never seen a treadmill. He friend demonstrated its use. She then grinned and said, “It lets you walk and go nowhere?” I generally get a chuckle when I hear someone voice a different take on something common. A sort of thinking outside the box.

With all the shade, and being up at 8535’, the rig stays cool but there is only a three-hour slot when the sun shines on the solar panels. It’s enough if there is no cloud cover during those hours. Most days, however, clouds start forming by that time of day.

I know, I know, probably my lamest entry, but I bet I make up for it next month.

Hakuna matata

Hakuna matata is a Swahili phrase for “no worry—there isn’t a problem/trouble.”
A much cooler way to say our, “no problem.”
and maybe, with a little stretch, “don’t worry, be happy.”

Someone told me that the two links at the bottom of my pages no longer work. I emailed Koocanusa Publications and they had moved my pages to another spot on their server. These are the new links:

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’

Thursday, July 7, 2016

early morning wakeup call, frogs,
rattlesnakes and cowpies,
and in a barrel

A little after 5:00 one morning, an animal sound that I was not familiar with, just outside my window, woke me up. It was getting near time to get up anyway, so I did. After a couple minutes, I pulled up the back blinds, and there was the source of the sound, a little elk. I love these little unexpected treasures that Nature offers up.

Last month I wrote about local mega-fires. Remember I mentioned the lost hiker? A local told me that the hiker did everything right with her signal fire and kept it contained. The local said that the helicopter flew directly over her fire and the down draft spread it out of control. The people on the chopper denied it. I wonder what the true story is.

On my last town-run, I was in a laundromat that had a local radio station playing. At one point, the host started talking about the towns of Show Low, Lakeside, and Pinetop being on pre-evacuation notice. I was doing my laundry in Lakeside. I asked the lady working in the laundromat what the story was. I then learned about the Cedar Creek wildfire that started the day before. I had noticed smoke while driving into town. The people overseeing the containment had trigger points set up almost nine miles from the city. If the fire reached a trigger point, evacuation would commence. At one time later on, the fire got within a quarter mile of one of the trigger points.

The following morning, back at camp, the smoke was visible and the smell was pretty strong. I’m not off the grid here; I have one bar of signal strength on my tracfone and can receive some radio stations so I was keeping informed of the fire’s progress. Most days the smoke smell did not reach here. There were only two evenings when I had to come inside because of the smoke.

I decided to cut my time short here, and will hopefully, roll out in a few days. There’s still areas I wanted to explore on my mtn. bike and hiking boots but I wanted to get out of here before the monsoons start. There are a few places along the first 20 minutes of driving where I would probably get mired down with the Nash, judging by the deep dried ruts. And a couple of the sections are too long to just get up some speed to power through like I had to do a couple times with the Cherokee and Casita. Unfortunately, it rained quite a bit last week; I’m hoping the roads dry up enough by Monday. I was also hoping for dry weather so Mesa will spend more time outside. He gets way pissy, and vocal, when he has to spend too much time in the Nash.
I think this has been the longest period of time without sunshine for the solar panels. Had to run the Honda 1000 for an hour a day, and conserved power so that was enough.
I’m going to work my way up to Utah to check out an area that Glen and Lisa told me about last fall.

Part of simple living is simple entertainment. I was sitting outside reading early one evening when some cows came along, four pair, four cows with their little ones. There is one remaining deep puddle, from snowmelt and rain, about 80 yards from the Nash. It stays in the shade throughout the day but I’m surprised it had not dried up yet. After the cows were there a while, five elk came along. They moved in close but wouldn’t come up to the water. When one went to approach closer, a cow blocked the elk, which backed off a bit and laid down to wait with the other elk. After the cows left, the elk had their fill and a couple of the little ones started jumping and splashing around in the puddle. Cute. They all left and them maybe 15-20 minutes later, a larger group of elk came along to water. It does not take much to entertain me. M&M were sitting there watching all this too.

Most of the national forests I spend time in offer grazing rights to ranchers, so there are generally cows around. There has been two spots I set-up over the years, where I looked around for rattlesnakes before going down the steps. In free-range areas, I look around for fresh, wet, smelly cowpies. I don’t want to blindly step down and inadvertently find myself in an early morning game of real nasty hopscotch. But it’s no big thing, just part of the lifestyle.
Wouldn’t it be a hoot if cattle dug catholes? The waste would start to break down much quicker, putting nutrients into the soil for plants. I mean, they do sell it as fertilizer. There were/are even cultures where human waste is used as fertilizer.
One hears about waste treatment plants overflowing during storms, 80-90 year old sewage pipes breaking down, development outpacing the capacity to channel waste, leaking dump stations, septic tanks, and whatnot. I don’t see anything wrong with an isolated camper using catholes. It’s not as if they can be smelled or seen, and the poot quickly breaks down in the soil. It’s less than a drop in the bucket. It’s just something true campers, are quite familiar with. When one is backpacking, there are no campgrounds, outhouses, or holding tanks around. You’re out there in Nature—camping. And talk about a room with a view!
Gee, I wonder where this came from?

The hummingbird feeder generally gets used only in the early morning and the evenings. During the days of rain, it got a lot of use. I felt guilty when I had to take it down and boil new sugar water for it. One hummingbird or another sat on the hanger looking in the back window for much of the time, as if to hurry up the process.

Another evening I was inside sitting in my favorite spot, reading. Apparently I was quite engrossed in the story. Maybe some movement caught my eye. When I glanced up, there were 15-20 grazing elk in view. I don’t think I’ve had so much wildlife in view at one time, out the back window. The kindle was turned off, I poured a glass of wine, and I just sat there watching the elk. So peaceful, so comforting. As Scott and Helen Nearing would have said, living the good life.

One night while outside just before turning in, I heard another animal sound I was not familiar with. I looked around and noticed an owl in a nearby tree. The owl was making the sound but it was not anywhere near a ‘hoot.’ Another little, unexpected treat.

I could be wrong, but is seems that Dave’s Killer bread has reduced the size of their loaves. I wonder if they were losing sales to Eureka and had to cut costs. Think I’ll switch to Eureka.

Thrushes take hundreds of power naps a day, a few seconds at a time, in midflight.
I wonder how long they live.

I had thought frogs coming out after heavy rains was just a desert thing. I first experienced it a year ago last June while camping on Cedar Mesa in Utah. Last week, it happened here, in the woods, at 8100 feet. Wish I had more time for the web, to look into all the stuff that interests me during these months of only one or two town-runs a month. Anyway, after all the rain last week, a depression filled back up with water and one evening I heard quite a chorus of frogs letting it out. I walked over with a Maglite and was able to see a few. It took a while; they mostly ducked under the water. They were about 2” for nose to end of toes, with their legs stretched out. A very unexpected treat from Nature. The second evening there seemed to be not all that many frogs goin’ vocal. I’m not sure if I heard any on the third evening and on the fourth evening, none. Definitely want to look this up next winter. This photo is of the puddle on the third day; it had gone down quite a bit.

I’m on my second book of sudoku puzzles. I’m liking medium extreme puzzles, where the two diagonals also have to have 1-9 in the spaces. The puzzles are more interesting to me as I learn new strategies. I’m starting to use pattern solving techniques to fill in as many spaces as I can before resorting to 1-9. Working 1 through 9 can quickly get dull. More logic is called for with these other techniques, or at least at my present level. I have an awful lot yet to learn.

Last winter, I was at my weakest, physically, as I’ve been for quite some time. Recently, when I started to get back into something I’ve not been doing, it finally clicked as to what my problem was. As you can imagine, if you read these pages, I started doing something about it and have been making progress.
This spot has been good for me. If it wasn’t for the roads into here, I’d stick around.

In 1901, Annie Edson Taylor, a 63-year old school teacher from Michigan, was the first to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive, sustaining only a few cuts. I wonder if this photo was taken the day after; her eyes look hammered. 63 years old! And the surviving part—that’s always good.
Miss Taylor had a barrel custom made out of oak and iron and padded with a mattress. A couple days before she went over the falls, they sent a cat (one in photo?) over in her barrel. Reminds me of the chimp on the rocket from years back. The feline survived, the barrel held together, and it was all good-to-go. Miss Taylor was hoping this endeavor would earn her some money for retirement. Thankfully, for us, there is social security.

June sixty minutes sixty years— 1825 minutes
June Triple 18—pecs/delts: 2340; core: 2835; legs: 2885

You create your life with each choice you make.
from ‘Illuminations’

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’

Thursday, June 16, 2016

meadow’s recovery, eighth goat,
mega-fires and idiots, fireplace, and
it was a dark and stormy night

I was out on a hike one morning and came across an older couple on the trail. We stopped and talked about a number of things. I love when this happens. They’re from British Columbia so I asked if they lived near Hope (where Jim and Barb live). They live a bit north of Hope in Lytton, BC. The town was named after Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the man who wrote, “It was a dark and stormy night.” That got a smile from me.

Meadow was injured more than I originally thought by that feral cat. After 3 or 4 weeks, she did not seem to be getting any better, still hobbling around on three legs. I took her to another vet in the town we were then near and she said there might have been nerve damage from the bite. It might heal in time and it might not. I asked if it would help if I worked on moving the leg from time to time. So there I was, doing physical therapy on a cat. One day I asked Meadow if she wanted to go for a walk and she perked right up; it had been a month since our last walk. She went along, slowly, hobbling on three legs. After 5 minutes, she was wiped, laid down in the shade and rested. She was up for a walk again the next day and every day since. After a few days, she started to put the fourth leg down for a step or two. Three months later, she’s almost up to snuff, but still occasionally favors the injured leg.

Just because I get out of the mummy bag in the morning, doesn’t mean M&M are going to leave it. Last month they waited until I lit the Wave 6 and it had a chance to warm things up.

Here’s the artesian well water outlet I was told about. One gets somewhat spattered and muddy while filling the containers but the water sure tastes good.

Bryan Garner, a grammarian, points out that a common idiom is wrong. It’s not,
‘If you think X, you’ve got another thing coming.’
It should be, ‘If you think X, you’ve got another think coming.’
As he explains it, “X is wrong, so eventually you’re going to think Y.”
Oh, okay.

For the summer solstice I purchased another goat. My Heifer International total is now eight goats, two flocks of chicks, one flock of geese, two flock of ducks, and a ‘Gift of a Healthy Home.’ Next donation will be on the fall equinox.

I came across this lizard while out on a run. Blends in well. Sure glad these animals are not 8’ long.

There has been a couple of mega-fires in this area, both started by people. Back in 2002, an Apache set a fire northeast of Cibecue, west of here, on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. The following morning the wind picked up. Not good. One day later, not all that far away, another fire was started. A lost hiker was wandering for three days, dehydrated and panicked. She heard a helicopter and started a signal fire, which quickly grew out of control. The two fires merged; there was no way firefighters were going to be inserted between them to try to keep the fires apart. Firefighter safety is most important.

Humidity, fuel, wind, terrain, and oxygen are factors that contribute to a wildfire’s spread. Sometimes they are all just right (or all just wrong), and you can end up with a mega-fire. For this wildfire, all factors were at a maximum. The mega-fire scorched 468,000 acres. After a couple weeks, the fire dropped over the rim. The density of the forest changed, the land sloped down and the geography of the fire shifted enough to bring it to an end. 1,900 firefighters, helicopters, air tankers, fire engines, dozers, water trucks, and four incident-management teams were involved in the containment and the fire had an estimated cost of $308 million.

In 2011, two campers were in the Bear Wallow Wilderness, south of Alpine, southeast of here. One morning, after thinking their campfire was out, they went off on a hike. For some reason they left their two blue heelers tied up at their campsite, which led to the burning to death of their pets. When the cousins returned, smoke and flames made it impossible to reach their site.

This fire burned 538,000 acres and required more than 4,000 firefighters to contain it, along with helicopters, bulldozers, fire engines and water tenders. It cost an estimated $109 million to contain.

Forests need fires to keep them healthy and fires have been part of the system for eons. Trees, flowers, and grasses revive. A few months after these fires grasses and ferns and the shoots of young aspens emerged from the soot. New wildflowers bloomed in meadows that have been touched by the fire. But also, there is the flooding and erosion.

At this point there is no consensus on how to manage forests to reduce the likelihood for these mega-fires. Some factions believe that thinning the forests is the answer. It seems to make sense, and I like the feel of camping out in forests that have been thinned. However, in the past, in many areas, such as this area, when they went in to harvest timber, they focused on the logging of large trees. Not the best option for the forest. Studies have shown that it’s not the big, old-growth trees that burn most during a fire; it’s the small trees, under 16” or so in diameter, in additio to grasses and low shrubs. And often, areas that have been logged, leaving the little stuff to burn and taking the big, fire-resistant trees, are the areas with the most fire damage.
So many say thinning does not work. But I think now, smaller trees are being harvested rather than the big old-growth trees. This should help.

Then there is the issue of prescribed-burns, part and parcel of forest-health policies. The purpose of which is to maintain low levels of needles, dead leaves and other ground debris that provides fuel for a wildfire. Again, to me, this sounds good, but there is controversy. Prescribed-burns are not intended to prevent fire; rather, their purpose is to reduce intensity to the point that structures are at greatly reduced risk and firefighters can safely work in close proximity to the fire when conducting suppression activities.

Whatever has been done over the decades with forest management has not been working in many areas. Thankfully, there is quite a bit of focus on the problem, with ongoing research and studies. The bigger issue, however, is probably climate change. Moderate drought, drier winters and warmer springs mean less moisture on the land and more in the air, turning brush and grass into kindling. Power to the people who have to juggle all these factors to come up with a plan that will work. Unfortunately, as long as there is lightning and idiots, there will be wildfires, but hopefully, as some point, fewer mega-fires.

Okay, that’ll do it.

How much thought went into naming the place in one’s house, where one can have a fire?
I had a vision of a Neanderthal pointing down, and grunting.

May sixty minutes sixty years—1880 minutes
May Triple 18—pecs/delts: 2130; core: 2160; legs: 2100

We don't stop playing because we grow old;
we grow old because we stop playing.
George Bernard Shaw

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’

Thursday, May 26, 2016

leak fix leak, 2-week limit, and horses

Yep, once again, I was late for another month’s page. I had to pre-date the last entry so it showed up in April. I’m back to my 3-week stints out in the woods, with web access only when I go into town for supplies once or twice a month. And the one day I was in a town back in April, I didn’t have enough stuff to write about.

I’ve been having to use my Slime compressor to keep air in one of the Ram tires so when passing through Silver, I stopped at Big O Tire to have the leak fixed (it had a nail). The Nash brakes have not been working properly (seemed to be veering) for quite some time so I called a shop in Silver to see if they had time to fix them. As luck would have it, they did. I had the hubs greased back in Moab, and apparently, when the mechanic put the wheels back on the street-side, he sheared the wires to the two brake magnets. Hence, no brakes on one side. Guano.
But as to the leaking tire, it still leaked. I stopped at a tire shop in Pinetop/Lakeside and they found a screw in the tire. Where the heck have I been driving?

I stopped for a few days in the national forest outside Luna, NM. Then I continued on to the Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. I had planned to spend a good deal of time in this area but now I’m thinking my time here might be limited. There are some good mtn. bike trails in the White Mtns. and I was hoping they might give me enough incentive to get back into running. We’ll see.

I’ve noticed new 15-day limit signs in two national forests so far this year. There has always been notices posted on kiosks out there but now it seems the forest service is going to be more vigilant about length of stay. Guano. The fine is $275 dollars and no warning is given (under federal law one is not entitled to a warning). Guano. In fact, violating camping restrictions is a class B misdemeanor, with penalties up to $5,000, six months in prison, or both. Not good. The forest service sees violators as no longer camping, but residing/living on federal property.

The forest service has stated concern over the rising numbers of homeless people living in the national forests and the possible increased wildfire danger. Homeless people living in the forest—hmm. I don’t associate homeless people with having cars and the money for gas and upkeep. I guess a homeless person could use a .22 on squirrels and gather local edible plants. But he would still have to make regular runs into town for gallons of water and other supplies. I guess there are some ‘homeless’ people out there who live in vans, homemade campers, cars and tents, and the back of pickups. I mostly see such people, however, in NM state parks when I’m there in the winter. But to talk about the rising numbers of homeless people living in the national forests seems a bit much. The months I spend in national forests, I do extensive traveling on my mtn. bike and hiking boots. I explore every spur road and trail I come across. I’m not coming across the homeless.
There were some tenters that I kept coming across last summer but I think they were seasonal workers, possibly for the forest service, since the guys drove off each morning. The ladies and children stayed in camp and moved their site five times during the summer. It seemed they had an arrangement with the rangers since their sites were generally along primary forest roads, no trying to keep a low profile.

When the forest service talks about the homeless, are they talking about full-timers? I do come across full-timers when I’m out and about but not any noticeable increase in numbers. But then again, I don’t go to areas of national forests where they would tend to be.
Full-timers have homes, and they are right there to see. Most of the rigs cost tens of thousands, not the kind of money that homeless people generally have. The issue is residency. We are residing out on federal property for a short period of time. Unfortunately, it’s longer than the service wants us here.

There might be an increase in disperse RVers (they’re not camping) out in the national forests, but like I said, I have not seen this. Many get into full-timing thinking it will be an inexpensive way to live. This is not necessarily true, so they might want to spend weeks or months setting up in free spots, like national forests, BLM and state lands (maybe with an occasional Walmart parking lot).

Some full-timers are having problems with the enforced stay limit. I read about one RVer who got a knock on his door shortly after midnight by a law enforcement ranger (the only ones cruising during the night) and given the $275 ticket.

When I pulled the Nash into the Sitgreaves National Forest, I planned to first setup along a spur I came across when I was here back in 2012. The spur is now closed off to motorized vehicles, with multiple piles of dirt. Bummer. I kept going to another spur I knew about (the one where I took photos of the bobcat); it is now also closed off. Guano. A little ways up the FR is a large open glade area with trees and grass, going in over a quarter mile and 200 yards or so wide. Not my kind of place, but plenty of room for RVs to spread out and set up. Too close to a primary forest road for me and I also don’t setup where there is room for another RV to setup close by. What really surprised me, was that even this area was closed off to vehicles. As you know, I still mtn. bike these spurs, but that’s not the point here—I was looking for a secluded spot to set up camp. I’ve written about the National Forest Service Travel Management Program, but this is a bit much. I can see the Service being concerned about campfires and irresponsible ATVers trashing areas, but what about responsible retired users of the forests?

I continued going up the road and it started to climb. There were a number of new diagonal drainage berms across the road that were almost too high for pulling a trailer over. The terrain left no option to stop and turn around. You waitin’ for another ‘guano’ here? I came up on fourth spur, the first not closed to vehicles, pulled over, parked, and jogged down for about ten minutes looking for a place to camp. Found one and that’s where I’m camping, up at 8100’ and 8 miles in from the asphalt. It’s not what I look for when off-the-grid, however. The spot’s off on a spur road but it’s not a rough, rocky, eroded, narrow one, which tends to keep people from exploring, nor is it a dead end, which I prefer. It was a bit too early to arrive here at this altitude. The roads in were slick in spots with standing puddles from snowmelt. If I had gotten here a week or so earlier, chances are good I would have gotten stuck. Inside the Nash, morning temps were in the low to mid 40s for the first two weeks. Now they are up into the upper 40s. Summer’s coming.

On the September 2015 page I wrote about the older spurs being taken back by the forest. That issue along with the Travel Management Program is vastly restricting RVer and camper use of national forests. In some areas, the forest service is even restricting where an RV could pull off from a primary forest road a bit and setup. Spots that have been used for years are now blocked off with rocks and logs. Not my kind of camping spot, but jeez. Maybe I should have retired earlier.

In addition, many forests roads in the mountains are not maintained and are too rough and steep for travel trailers. It’s as if forest users are being herded into the few primitive campgrounds and to pullout spots along primary forest roads. This is fine for many. But a good deal of the older campgrounds were designed for car campers and small trailers, and are too small for today’s larger RVs.

I realize what I do for most of the year is illegal. Rangers have come across some of my camping spots over the years and I’ve enjoyed talking with them. The 2-week limit only came up once but I had planned to stay in that spot for only two days so it was not an issue. Officers have a great deal of discretion when issuing penalties and I guess I’ve always come across favorably.

Maybe a ranger’s first impression is important. A ranger might cut a camper some slack if the campsite is clean and quiet. There’s no ring-of-rocks or other sign of campfires. A mountain bike or daypack and hiking staff are present so it appears as if the camper is actually using the forest for recreation. The camper appears active and cleanly dressed and shaven. It would also be in one’s favor if it came up in the conversation that you are not doing any shooting out there.

I don’t know, but if a ranger came across a slovenly fat slug with a messy campsite with a big fire pit and stack of wood out there, he might make a point of getting the guy out after his two weeks were up. If a guy is not even concerned enough to take care of himself, who’s going to think he will take care of his immediate environment.

This would SO screw up my lifestyle, I wouldn’t be able to recharge. You’ve read about my repeat 3-week stints off-the-grid for most of each year. I don’t feel as if I’m out in nature unless I can stay out there for that long. That’s when I feel most alive. Being out in nature for only a week or two at a time, or in a campground, does not enable one to truly feel what it means. If one tries these repeat stints and doesn’t feel anything, isn’t open to what’s out there, they are not hard-wall campers and won’t get anything out of being out in Nature. Most have no urge for this lifestyle; they don’t have the attitude. Different strokes. Stick to campgrounds and disperse RVing along primary forest roads for a week or two at a time. That’s what most do and are quite content.

I manage to stay in state parks for four months each winter, but then I need solitude, for months. In the winters, people tend to be in their rigs. It’s generally too cold to sit outside so there’s not much campfire smoke, cigarette stench, barbecue smells, barking dogs, and obnoxious noises long into the night. Campgrounds year round, for me, would be hell on earth. Maybe I’ll hear about national forests where the 2-week limit is not enforced for responsible users of the forest. The forests are where I do my kind of traveling; I need them.

Makes one think of those old European gypsies who pull their homes along with them, set up in various places, and from time to time, are told to pack up and move on.

As I travel in the various national forests each year, there are many areas where seedlings are way too tightly packed. None of the trees will be healthy as they grow. I have an idea if I get told to leave a forest because my two weeks are up. I’m going to point out to the ranger a few such spots and ask if I can stay and work on thinning the trees. It makes good sense to me; they get free labor for a job that needs to be done to maintain a healthy forest. Again, it will be up to the discretion of the ranger.

Okay, that’ll do it.

It’s been over two years since I’ve had a haircut, other than my occasional hacking in the back. On my last town-run I was cutting through a parking lot and noticed a haircutting salon with no cars out front. I got a haircut. Since it has been a while, I left a 100% tip. But what was cool, the lady told me where I could fill up my water jugs with free artesian well water. I knew there were gods.
I noticed it took me over 30 minutes to drive the 8 miles out to the asphalt. Definitely slow speed roads.

Being out in the woods, wildlife gets use to my campsite. Moose, black bears, a bobcat, elk, turkeys, coyotes, and deer have all come close over the years. Many more, I’m sure, have come into view either during the day or night and I’ve just missed them. This is the first for horses, however. There are six that come by from time to time, including two little ones. I’ve been seeing elk most days and occasionally hear turkeys. It’s part of what makes this lifestyle special.

April sixty minutes sixty years—2025 minutes
April Triple 18—pecs/delts: 1825; core: 1865; legs: 8080

A kindness done is never lost. It may take a while,
but like a suitcase on a luggage carousel, it will return again.
another one I forgot where I came across it

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’