Musings and Info about life on the road

My Wife…the SMO

As of yesterday morning I am married to a Structurally Modified Organism, or SMO. Kay underwent surgery at Saint Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction, CO and received a badly needed knee replacement. Everything went smoothly and a few hours later she took her first tentative steps. Today she was out in the hallway with a walker and did the length of a football field. We are keeping our fingers crossed that she can come home  in a day or so. Kay will use a walker and a cane for a while, and doing physical therapy until she no longer needs those aides.

We are both quite relieved that everything went so smoothly. It turns out that St Mary’s has the third highest rated orthopedic department in the U.S., and the floor she is on is rated first in the U.S. The room she  occupies is on the 8th floor of the hospital and has quite a spectacular penthouse view of Grand Mesa, Grand Junction, and the Colorado National Monument.


It amazes me how quickly her doctor did the operation with all a joint like the knee entails in about an hour and a half. The knee replacement took less time than it took me to replace our kitchen faucet. The doc knew what he was doing and must have measured carefully as Kay’s legs are still the same length! How good is that.?

This afternoon I took the dogs to visit Kay. Yes, your dog can come and visit you in the hospital. It’s Colorado after all, and dogs can go almost anywhere. Well, maybe not a cathouse. But, who knows!




All is well here but there are still weeks of recuperation head. So far everything looks really promising.

On a final note I would like to thank Kay’s great doctors and nurses….and, Lyndon Baines Johnson who gave us all Medicare those many years ago. Without Medicare this happy day would not have happened for us.


Catching Up…….

We are now living in Fruita, CO  and it appears that we will be here until the end of September.

After we left Carl and Sandy’s about 2 weeks ago we moved to Monument RV Resort in Fruita CO. Kay is having knee replacement surgery done on May 19th in Grand Junction which is about six or so miles from here. She is now jumping through all of the preoperative hoops in preparation for the replacement. This is a nice r/v  park just a few miles from the entrance to the Colorado National Monument. It has water, electric, sewer, internet, and cable for our seldøm used electric TeeVee Machine. Kay will have to recuperate after the surgery, and undergo physical therapy. This area seems very convenient for that.

Next Friday I start a job at the nearby Fruita Coop which also happens to be an Ace Hardware. It is only for three days over the weekends but it will bring in some extra $$$$.

Our good friends, Bill and Pat, are here this weekend to hang out with us for a few days before they move on to work in Yellowstone N.P. again for the summer. We hadn’t seen them since we left Texas so it is fun catching up on things.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how things are progressing and what we are up to. Mike the Headless Chicken Festival is coming up in two weeks here in Fruita. YeeeeHaaa!

To close, here are some pics from Colorado National Monument:


The road into the Monument looking towards Fruita and the Colorado River



Looking east toward Grand Mesa


Bighorn ewes and lambs


In Grand Junction…Again

On Monday morning we left Organ Pipe N.M. for Grand Junction, CO. We left this behind:


For this today at Carl and Sandy’s house:



Why would we do that you ask? Well it so happens that Emily’s house is having a memorial service for her tomorrow, and Kay has a long awaited doctor’s appointment scheduled for next week. All in all it was a must do 700 mile trip.Right before we left Organ Pipe I got a picture of a bird we had been hearing and occasionally seeing in the early evening. It is a Common Nightjar. We knew what it was by its call, and it is sitting on top of the post below:


So, on the first day of out latest journey we traveled from Organ Pipe to Flagstaff, AZ via the western suburbs of Phoenix. The weather was quite warm until we got to Flagstaff as we went from 981 feet in elevation at Organ Pipe to 7,000 feet in Flagstaff. The air was very thin and quite cooler at that height. We had truck issues when we tried to head out on Tuesday morning which were resolved when I replaced the glow point relay on the old beast thanks to an excellent diagnosis from a young gentleman who worked at AutoZone. We headed out of Flagstaff early Wednesday; crossed the Navajo Rez from Tuba City to to Hwy 191 east of Kayenta, and then northeast to Moab, Ut and finally around six in the evening we arrived in Grand Junction. It was a long day and we all were pretty beat to say they least.

Our future plans are still up in the air but as soon as we have them figured out I’ll be sure to let you know!




The Birthday Girl in Mexico

Today we all went into Mexico for the fourth time to pick up Kay’s new eyeglasses in Puerto Peñasco on the Sea of Cortez, and today just so happened that it was Kay’s birthday. The big number 70! This week it happened to be Spring Break….for the natives. There were very few Gringos to be seen, but the town was busy.


We had a lovely shrimp filled lunch overlooking the waterfront accompanied by our two very well behaved dogs. Check out the new sunglasses on the B’day Girl!


We then roamed around town, and it turned out that Harry and Fiona were a big hit with the natives.



Lots of “stuff”for sale to say the least. Why Jim Morrison….don’t know. There were even living statues like this golden man:


Anyway, it was a fun day South of the Border. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Dear!


Bye-Bye Hunkamunka


Life on the road, as life is anywhere, is not always without its surprises and sorrows. This past Friday as the Saguaro began to bloom here in Southern Arizona we learned of the death of our daughter, Emily, in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Emily was 31 years old. Shortly after she was born in October of 1983 she was diagnosed with a genetic disease called Tuberous Sclerosis which involved a severe seizure disorder and led to severe mental retardation. Emily lived with us at home continually for 22 years. For most of the time during those long, and at times extremely difficult years, either Kay or I stayed home with her as our home moved from Pennsylvania to Colorado, and then on to New Mexico and back again to Colorado. Ten years ago Emily went to a group home in Grand Junction and there she lived until this past Friday.

Very soon after she went to the group home she was found to have a benign, inoperable tumor growing in the left ventricle of her brain. We were told that the tumor would eventually prove to be fatal. It would seem that it was. On Friday she had seizure in the morning and went to lay down. When she was checked by the staff awhile later she was no longer breathing.

She had quick and painless death in her sleep. For that we are thankful. And, we are grateful to all of the doctors, psychologists (for us), special needs professionals, teachers, and the staff at her group home whom we have been fortunate to have on our side. Thanks to you all.

We have donated Emily’s body to the University of Colorado Medical School for further study.

Adiós Hijita, and bye-bye Hunkamunka


It’s Too Darn Hot!…..

Last Wednesday we said goodbye to Huachuca City, and moved the caravan to Organ Pipe National Monument along the U.S. – Mexico Border south of Ajo, AZ. It was a drive of a little under 200 miles west of Huachuca City. We spent some more time while we were in the Huachuca area day tripping and sight seeing. One of our trips was to Coronado National Monument south of Huacucha City, along the border with Mexico. There is not a great deal to see there but scenery. Especially if you drive to the top of Montezuma Pass:



On the picture directly above you will notice the diagonal black line from the center bottom going to the left. The line is the Great Wall of Paranoia protecting us from the brown hordes to our south. But the Wall aside, the actual highlight of the day was adding a Bridled Titmouse to our life list of birdies!

Our last trip in that area was to the San Pedro House along the San Pedro River, and it is another primo birding area. The house itself has on its grounds the second largest cottonwood tree in Arizona. It is indeed gigantic, and as proof, Kay is standing along side of it wearing a red blouse:


The San Pedro is a lovely little river:


Some local non-avian denizens:


And another Life Bird – the Inca Dove:


Okay. Enough about Huachuca. We are staying in the campground in Organ Pipe just as we did last year. It has been HOT. Yesterday the high was 93 degrees. In the period of time since we left Lazy Pigg Farm in Virginia where we were subjected to -7 degrees,  we have experienced a temperature spread of 100 degrees. Amazing! In this heat we do any kind of activities that require exertion in the morning, and siesta in the afternoon until late afternoon when things begin to cool down. But….it’s a dry heat…. 13 percent to be exact.

Here is the view from our window:


Kay’s,  traveling garden. New this year, and the tomatoes are blossoming!


One of the most common birds in the campground is the Curved-bill thrasher:


Along with theBlack-tailed Gnatcatcher:


Other very common birds about us are the Gila Woodpecker, the Phainopepla, and Gambel’s Quail. At the Visitor’s Center here there is a pretty little pool in their garden that is home to some amazing red dragonflies.


Last, but certainly not least, there are the cacti. Many of which are starting to bloom. Barrels:




The Organ Pipe (r.) :



The Saguaro:


And again the views:


We are going to be here for at least two weeks while the dogs wait patiently for lizards:


And there are also Rattlesnakes and Gila Monsters (I want to see one badly) about. More…later.


Ramsey Canyon…..

Early yesterday morning Kay and I, leaving the dogs at home, went birding in Ramsey Canyon which is birding hotspot south of Fort Huachuca up in a mountain canyon. The Nature Conservancy has a preserve there and offers birding hikes on Saturdays. It was about 45 degrees there when we got there. Oooo burrr! :)  Here is what the canyon looks like:


A small seasonal stream flows through the canyon and its banks are lined with sycamores, oak, ash and pine. There used to be a mine, now abandoned, located near the head of the canyon and the trail you walk is the old road to the mine. Along the way you pass a couple of old homesteads that once belonged to the original settlers in the canyon. This one is a cabin that belonged to a husband and wife


who out grew their original homestead and had to build a larger place because the older one was too small..


Fruit orchards planted by the early inhabitants of the canyon used to be scattered about the preserve, but the Conservancy removed most of the old trees as the fruit was attracting too many black bears. The canyon is also home to mountain lions, bobcats, and the occasional very rare ocelot.

The birding was a bit sparse as it is still early in the year. We saw Yellow-rumped Warblers, Mexican Jays, Juncos, Robins and heard, but didn’t see a Hutton’s Vireo. However we saw, a first for us, an Arizona Woodpecker. It is only brown woodpecker in the U.S., and  they range into Mexico:


And the last spotting of the morning was a Snowy Arizona-blimpy courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security / Border Patrol.


It was a lovely morning. As I write this post it is before noon today it is 74 degrees and sunny. Yeee Haaaaa!


5001: An End to the Odyssey…..

IMG_6162After leaving the ol’ Lazy Pigg Farm in another attempt to avoid another snow storm heading for Virginia, and  encountering rain and freezing rain on the last half of our epic 5001 mile journey to the east and back; we are now ensconced in Huachuca City, Arizona under clear blue skies. We had to go a long way to find them. We could have driven to the Arctic …but no, wait, we did! It was called the East Coast.

From the Lazy Pigg we drove to Chattanooga and stayed overnight there. The next day we fled from Tennessee as another storm was headed our way, and beat it to Vicksburg, Mississippi. You know,.. the warm sunny South where the trees are covered in ice. We stayed in Vicksburg for two nights so we could visit the battlefield and see the town. Here are a few shots from the area:IMG_6178

The Ironclad U.S.S. Cairo that was raised  from the depths of the Yazoo River:




Vicksburg seems to be a very interesting kind of town, unfortunately the weather and the fact that we were there out of season made the place seem very quiet.

The four of us then drove down the Natchez Trace Parkway to, where else, Natchez. It too is a river town with some very impressive Antebellum  digs:IMG_6202

Here’s another little place south of Natchez.


Exiting Mississippi into Louisiana we crossed that state and passed back into Texas calling it a night in Bridge City southeast of Houston. Much to our delight the motel where we stayed had a good sized body of water behind it, and as you may have seen on Kay’s Facebook page, that was an evening roosting place for Great Egrets, Cormorants, and even an Osprey:


The following day we visited the Anahuac NWR on our way to Galveston and we got to see a large flock of Roseate Spoonbills. Unfortunately they were too far off to get a decent photo, but here are some shots taken at the refuge:



From the direction we were coming from the only way to get to Galveston and continue on to San Antonio was by ferryboat across Galveston Bay. Didn’t see Glenn Campbell though:


It was another day of lovely traveling weather along the Gulf of Mexico:


Even the gulls were tired of the weather conditions:


We overnighted that evening between Houston (horrible traffic) and San Antonio. The next day we went and picked up our trailer with its brand new awning and stopped in Boerne, TX outside of San Antionio and hung out there for a few days. News arrived that another Polar Vortex was on the way and the NWS was predicting snow for Boerne. That was one Vortex to many. We fled for Arizona and sunshine, finally finding clearing weather outside of El Paso. It was clear blue skies from Las Cruces, NM to Huachuca City.


Back to the Polar Region That Is Western Virginia…..

Here’s Andy…


We are back at Dana and Sean’s Lazy Pigg Farm in Virginia after driving back from Kay’s brother Dave’s on Thursday directly into the maw of the latest Vortex crashing in from the west. That night the temperature dropped down to 3 degrees, and as a special bonus it had also snowed. When we heard what the conditions were going to be when we got back to the farm we stopped and got Fiona and Harry winter outfits:



On Friday it was actually sunny in the afternoon so I went looking for a Confederate Memorial. I figured that there had to be one nearby this being Rebel territory and all, and indeed there was one at the local County Courthouse.


It just so happens that Gen. Jubal Early was a lawyer in this county before the War.

I will conclude this post with some more photos of farm life here at Lazy Pigg. Here are (r. to l.) Buster, Fiona, and Piper


Then there is the Llama – Whitney:


Next we have some candid cattle photos of the Dexter breed:




Here is Dana trying to thaw a frozen water line in order to get water for the cattle:


And Kay admiring Dana’s success:


And finally speaking of Kay, she has always had this primordial bovinophobia syndrome about being chased by cows. Dana and I decided to use some “tough love” and badgered poor Kay into feeding the vicious beasts.


Our therapy worked. Now she is out running wild with them!

Come Monday, we will be heading back to Texas.


Off to Penn’s Woods….

Last Monday with a new winter storm heading for Western Virginia we took off for Whitehall, Pa and Kay’s brother Dave’s house. We beat the storm’s arrival and 405 miles later, after traveling through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, into Pennsylvania, we arrived safe and sound but a wee bit tired. We had out run our first Polar Vortex. It caught up with us the following day in Whitehall when it got butt freezing cold………


When we arrived at Dave and his wife Mary Anne’s house (pictured above) not only were Dave and Mary Anne there but Kay’s niece Steph was there too. It was the first time Kay had seen her relatives in 15 years.

Needless to say the time there was spent in reminiscing and catching up on news and traveler’s tales. Later on in the week Kay’s other niece Val, and her husband Len stopped by to see us. It was really nice to see them also, and we went out for Chinese food that evening. Here are Dave and Kay:


Mary Anne, Kay, and Dave:


Dave and Mary Anne’s dog Judah:


Len vs. Harry


On Thursday we left Whitehall to return to Virginia as another Vortex was on the way. After the cold weather in Pennsylvania we hoped to find warmer weather south of the Mason- Dixon Line. Fat chance! More on that later.

Many thanks to Dave and Mary Anne for their hospitality, and Val and Len for being Val and Len!


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