Amy and Ilan's RV Adventures

Coast to Coast, and Back Again

P.S. — July 23, 2015

P.S.

Hi. I am sure none of you ever thought there could possibly be a “P.S.” to the Mosery RV saga, but there is. Over the last few weeks I have occasionally thought about continuing the blog to give me a much needed distraction from real life for awhile; but then I thought that what I wanted to say now would be way too much for people to process, and frankly, not funny or entertaining. However, over the last few days all of our children and Ilan have independently suggested that in fact, it was a good idea for me to do it. Perhaps it will become a new treatment methodology to add to the psychology textbooks– “blog therapy”—just remember where you heard that phrase first everyone!!!

So just to recap and give you some context, you remember that horrible bout of food poisoning I suffered which resulted in Ilan and I aborting our trip on day 9? Well, it turns out that that horrific experience may be the poster child for the phrase “a blessing in disguise”. Here’s why. When we got back to New York on June 16, I still felt kind of crappy; weak, etc. By the second day, I was feeling like my old ulcer was back with a vengeance. No surprise on that one; you all know how aggravating and stressful the RV trip from hell was. I mentioned to my friend, who is also my doctor, that I was feeling really really crappy, and he suggested I go over to the ER at St Francis and let them check me out. I really did not want to go through yet another “urgent care” visit as you can well imagine, so I held out until the middle of the night Thursday, June 18. I was almost ready to drive there myself, but realized that Ilan would not be happy about that decision when he woke up in the morning, so I woke up grumpy, I mean Ilan. When he said “Amy, you have to be kidding me, you are just being a hypochondriac, go back to sleep, there is no way we are going back to any medical facility for a very very long time to come”, I was one open handed fist away from suffocating him with a pillow!!! Of course he got up and took me there, grumbling all the way—in truth I should have been more understanding, she writes with sarcasm dripping from her fingers, as he had clearly not gotten over his own trauma of not having played golf for almost two weeks and had a foursome waiting for him that very morning.

Generally, the ER at St Francis is relatively quiet but of course, it was incredibly busy that night—70 patients in very tight quarters. After a few hours, of dealing with Ilan’s scowls an ER physician came over to me; asked me a few questions, advised that he would be ordering an IV with fluids as well as a CT scan of my abdomen, and mentioned that he too had recently suffered a bout of food poisoning that had lasted three weeks. It was now crystal clear to me that the RV trip, despite my fervent wish to wipe it from my memory bank, would be the trip that would live on in infamy. I told him that I thought a scan was unnecessary, but he insisted, and I reluctantly acquiesced.

A few hours later, the same ER physician came back and said, “hey, what are you doing about that suspicious nodule in your left lung.” I looked around just to make sure he was talking to me. I said, “respectfully, doctor, I am crapping my brains out from whatever I had to drink for that fuchachta scan; I am feeling like crap and I have no idea what you are talking about, but whatever it is, it will have to wait as I need you to help me feel better.” He said, “no, you need to worry about this right away.” Frankly, I was not really paying too much attention in between the fifteen trips to the bathroom. In the early morning, a GI attending came over to speak with me. Finally I thought, I could talk about my gastro problems and get some help, instead, the first thing the GI said was, “so tell me about that suspicious nodule in your left lung?”. I asked why is everyone was so focused on a little old nodule; I am feeling like s__t, literally and figuratively. It was only later in the day that I learned that I was just beginning a medical odyssey unlike anything I had ever experienced.

Allow me to digress a bit. I am not sure everyone who is reading this, knows what I do for a living. I am an attorney with a type-A personality (read: control freak), whose modus operandi is to glean as many facts as I can get in a case; strategize; figure out what the goals are; dig in; plan plan plan; then attack attack attack with all my legal guns blasting—something I have been unable to do in my own situation. Also, to give you a little more background, after having applied to and gotten into the then six-year medical program that the city was offering back when I was in high school, I thankfully realized then and there that I was absolutely traumatized by the sight of blood and knew that any career in the medical field would be a short lived one. Thereafter I never took a science course in college and got all of my science education from Bill Nye the science guy on PBS. My aversion is so great, that I don’t even bake because baking is a science!!!!!! (I am a pretty good cook however). That said, I have almost no medical background, other than what Dr. Google has taught me over the years—bless his virtual soul—for he has kept me home and out of the ER on many a night!!!! Moreover, I have thankfully been a relatively healthy person; I am not on any medicines; I try to eat pretty healthfully; buy organic products and walk. I will however admit, (although don’t tell Ilan), that I am a bit of a hypochondriac. Now that that admission is out in the open, imagine the hysteria telling a hypochondriac that she has a suspicious nodule in her lung!!!!!!!!!! Let the mind games begin and they are have, in earnest.

So back to the facts. When I got home that Friday from the ER, my friend the doctor and his wife stopped over that night and he told me that he had gotten a copy of the CT scan and the report and advised me that after reviewing it he had scheduled a PET scan for me at St Francis the following Wednesday. Just as another aside, keep in mind that I had no idea then what a PET scan was, nor had I had time to consult with Dr. Google about my nodule yet. My friend advised that although he did not have any particular expertise in this arena, he was disturbed about the nodule and that no matter what it was, I needed to realize that it was a miracle with a capital M that I had gotten food poisoning that caused us to abort our trip; that I came back still not feeling 100% and that I had gone to the ER and that the ER doctor had ordered an abdominal CT scan and that the scan went high enough to luckily capture the nodule in my lower left lung. He said I would be fine, and I was, until I headed to the internet Saturday night.

I think it was only by the middle of the night Saturday night that I was actually starting to process what the impact of this little nodule (which is 1.2 cm, approximately a half-inch in size) would be on my life. I also did not then realize that I would be embarking on a medical roller coaster ride that has been running non-stop since June 19. I think that the only time it rests is when I sleep, and that is something I am not doing very much of lately.

Needless to say that it didn’t take long for the drama queen in me to materialize. By the early morning hours of Sunday, June 21, I was already starting to “get my affairs in order”. For those who really know me, this was a no brainer. I had to decide who would get my 80 pairs of boots; 100 pocketbooks (not including evening bags); 30 pairs of cowboy boots; my curated costume jewelry collection; my shawl collection; my fur coat collection; my Porsche convertible; my 60 calphalon pots; my 2000 cookbooks and last but not least, my bling. Wait, you all thought I meant preparing by writing lists with things like, the name and contact info for the accountant; the trusts and estates attorney; where the checks had to be sent for the life insurance trusts, etc. Oh no no no. I also created a special list for Ilan, for help in dealing with wife number #2. Here is what it had on it. There were two columns. The left column was entitled: What she could have: and underneath was one word….NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!! The other column was titled “What she can’t have” and underneath that was also one word: EVERYTHING!!!

Before I get into some of the specifics regarding my life over the last few weeks, which certainly aren’t funny, I would like to share with you some of the lighter, perhaps more humorous thoughts I have had during this time, so here goes:

I was recently reading an article about some unusual mosaics found on the floors of what appears to be a heretofore unknown synagogue in Israel, and that archaeologists using carbon dating, were able to very closely approximate when the temple was built, when I suddenly thought, hey, I have been through so many tests on this nodule, with little conclusions, did the doctors ever think of using carbon dating to help them??

I have also thought about sponsoring a name that nodule contest, cause frankly tumor just isn’t all that sexy; if anyone is watching Orphan Black, I am thinking maybe “sestra” said with a heavy Romanian accent.

I have also been giving a great deal of thought to the new wardrobe I am going to need for the “recovery portion of my post-hospital stay”.

I have come up with a few “top ten” lists, that start with the sentence, from 1 to tumor how do you……….;

I also decided that since no one can say with any degree of certainty what I have, I really don’t want them to name a whole new tumor category after me!

On the entrepreneurial front, for those of you who know that I am always coming up with new ideas, I think I am up to idea #899—I thought it a great idea to start a service for people who have been given diagnoses that require them to make some immediate changes in their life styles—for example in the kind of groceries they buy, the foods they eat, the way they cook etc. The client could hire someone to come in, clean out their cabinets; refrigerators, etc. and then restock the shelves with the new and healthier foods; or teach them to cook in a healthier manner; or even come in and cook for them; or perhaps start a service akin to a social worker, but someone with a more medical background, to accompany you on all of your consultations; to research the newest trials and medical breakthroughs; to interact with the doctors offices and hospital personnel, etc. Also, I am thinking of opening drop in “scan” shops (I really think this last one has a lot of merit–but remember you heard it here first).

I have also been thinking that someone should publish a short protocol for what you should and shouldn’t say to people who are going through this. For example, “now is the time for you to really do all the things you have been thinking about, but never have gotten around to” is NOT a good thing to tell someone; nor is telling them that someone they know died after having surgery with your surgeon, while neglecting to tell them that the person had a whole history of other medical issues as well; or someone saying repeatedly to you, “I know everything is going to be okay”, when there is absolutely no basis for that statement, other than because we all hope and pray that it is true; or “don’t worry, I have a really good wig maker” without even knowing what the person’s diagnosis is—no worries folks, I don’t need a wig maker—you hear that kids!!!. I know its all coming from a good place, but we all need to think before we speak, myself included.

While I won’t go into the actual details of the medical ups and downs I have lived through over the last few weeks, (if you really want to know the nitty-gritty details I have kept a straight, factual, medical log since day 1 of this medical odyssey so that my children will have complete and up to date information as they think I lie to them about everything—and because there is so much information to absorb and process, that you need to write it all down and re-read it, many times and maybe someone else on this journey may benefit from it—so just let me know and I will be happy to send it out). I would however like to share a few of the “highlights” and I use that word loosely—-speaking of which, are “edibles” legal in NY yet—if not you all know what you can get me as a ‘recovery from surgery” present—only kidding on that last one—.

Anyway, just to give you a sense of the last few weeks. I have seen or spoken with scores of doctors and other medical professionals; had a biopsy under sedation; been to several hospitals to interview surgeons; done pre-op testing in two hospitals; have prepped for a test like I was going for a colonoscopy—don’t ask; I have been stopped by the police at the Triboro Bridge for registering “hot” on their gauges used to detect radiation (due to the injection of a certain isotope); suffice is to say there have been many ups and downs, and I have experienced virtual whiplash daily. The bottom line and the most important message I want to share is that I would not have survived this ordeal without the love and support of my incredible family and the constant outpouring of compassion, concern and support from what I know is the greatest group of friends anyone could ever ask for. I am blessed and I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. Please forgive me if I have not responded to all of your calls and emails, and/or if I have hurt, or alienated any of you over these last few weeks by my need to withdraw and reflect. While I still do not have medical clarity in my case, I do have absolute clarity in the knowledge that I am truly blessed and I have all of you to thank for that!!!!!!

In closing, I wanted to share with you that I am scheduled to have surgery on July 27, 2015 at Mt. Sinai Hospital to remove the nodule and hopefully nothing else!! My surgeon is Dr. Raja Flores, who is a world-renowned thoracic surgeon and the chief of the department—he is a lovely and caring person as well. I am admittedly a bit scared, but I know that is normal—!! Ilan’s phone number is 516-509-7776 and his email address is ilanmosery@gmail.com.

Love,

Amy

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Home Sweet Home — June 18, 2015

Home Sweet Home

Just to fill everybody in on the last few days…….Sunday morning after we checked out of the lovely B&B, we called a taxi to drive us to the visitors center where we had parked our RV; all the while hoping and praying that maybe we would get lucky and the RV would have been stolen; or sitting on four bricks, with doors swinging open and empty– but alas, that was not the case. So once again, we decided to try and make the best of it—and of course believed that things could not get worse—HA!!!!!

I was still feeling under the weather, and not able to walk very far, but I did not want to leave New Orleans without at least a glimpse of the city. So we thought that taking a sightseeing bus around the city for a few hours was a great idea, and then we would head to Houston, a five hour ride away.  Lucky for us there was such a bus right near the visitors center.  (Just keep in the back of your mind it was sunny and hot at that time).  With Ilan’s assistance, we slowly made our way to the upper deck of the bus and snagged two seats under the awning, excited to hear an in depth historical narrative about New Orleans.  That was where our luck ran out once again. This particular bus was guided by what can only be described as the worst tour guide in history, who refused to move his microphone away from his mouth which garbled his words. We knew we were in trouble when he opened with…”and to your right you will see a restaurant, and just next to it, the Marriott Hotel; and across the street, is a Starbucks”.  Compounding our mounting irritation with him, a group of people, who clearly had already had a few drinks, and it was only 11:00 am, sat close behind us and began shouting to each other across the bus. Luckily, a few minutes later we spotted the WWII museum and decided to get off and head to the museum. I knew I could find a place to sit there and read the paper while Ilan toured the museum.  Things were really looking up.  Ilan is a real WWII history buff—the sand he impermissibly removed from the beach at Normandy and keeps in a glass bowl is set up like shrine in our den. Into the museum we went.  The entrance hall had an actual landing vehicle from D-day; as well as a Spitfire, a B-52 and other WWII vehicles and planes. Each day, another WWII veteran sits at the front desk there and answers questions.  They were showing a movie, so we both decided to watch it as the theatre was close to where I was sitting.  It was a 4-D movie about the war narrated by Tom Hanks, (that was a bit disappointing–no where near the caliber of Saving Private Ryan).  Afterwards, Ilan spent about an hour and half exploring and when he returned, we headed towards the bus stop–hoping that the next hop-on hop-off bus would be guided by someone else.

Just as we headed to the bus stop, I said to Ilan, honey, look at the grey dark cloud over there, it looks very ominous.  He was suddenly very quiet.  The sun disappeared and it was growing darker by the minute.  Ilan suggested we move under an awning–and just in time–because–you guessed it, the heavens opened up.  We figured that it would stop shortly and waited for the bus.  A short while later it indeed stopped raining, and then the bus came.  We climbed back up and were once again excited to see New Orleans.  The bus pulled away from the curb, and as the tour guide opened her mouth, the skies opened up again, but this time with strong winds.  They passed us rain ponchos, but because of the high winds, and the limited visibility due to the rain swirling around and the air filing up the paper thin ponchos, we went right through the garden district and never saw a single thing.  The rain and high winds continued unabated. The bus turned into Mardi Gras World, which houses all of the floats used during Mardi Gras, and is located near the river. The tour guide warned us that it was going to get real windy—and she was not kidding–it was like a hurricane up there.  As the bus headed toward the French Quarter the wind abated a bit, but the rains continued, and once again we were unable to see anything.  Just as we were heading out of the French Quarter, the rains stopped. Drenched and dejected we headed back to the RV.  I need to digress a bit here, because I realize that I never did share with you the “routine” we needed to follow right before driving the RV.  Ilan had to go around and re-connect all the bungee chords—-because all the cabinetry (doors, drawers, refrigerator, freezer, etc) opens in the RV while you are driving (due to the turns, horrible road conditions etc.), so Ilan, aka McGyver, bought two dozen multi-sized bungee chords to address this issue. Because everything shifts around during the drive, he bungeed the tea kettle, to the electric fan, to the kitchen faucet.  He hung the dirty laundry bag from its own bungee chord as well as the garbage the sun tan lotion and bug spray bag and of course our knapsacks.  So in essence, he created something like a spider web of bungee chords going around the RV, I was constantly worried that we were going to seriously injured if one of them snapped–no joke–but the system worked like a charm.

We consulted the map, and saw that our next destination was Houston, which was nine hours.  We headed east on 10-E, a real engineering feat.  It is a two line highway in each direction, which is on cement stilts, over water, which continued for miles.  We knew we didn’t want to drive too many hours, so we looked for an RV park that was about four hours east of New Orleans.  We found one in Lake Charles, LA and headed towards it.  We arrived at around 10:30 pm and sure enough, it started to really pour (what a surprise)….  At that time we checked our emails and then wrote the blog post sharing with all of you our decision to abort the mission.

As we knew we were heading back, we awoke to several texts and emails warning us about a tropical storm bearing down on the Houston area and its environs, and urging us to “get out of dodge”.  We checked the weather forecast and were advised that there was a tornado watch in effect with high winds and 12″ inches of rain expected.  We couldn’t shower and pack up fast enough.  We drove out of there and out of Louisiana as if we had just robbed the RV laundry!!  Soon Ilan was doing 80 mph on two lane tractor-trailer filled highways, and for once, I did not comment on his driving—for that Ilan was grateful to Tropical Storm Bill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We were so eager to get home, that we drove ten hours that day, stopping only for gas.  We were somewhere near the border of Georgia and Tennessee and wanted to go to an RV camp close to the highway.  We found one, or we thought we found one.  We were following Waze which led us up one of the Great Smokey Mountains, almost to the top.  It was pitch black and quiet—eerily so—without a light in the horizon.  It was like a scene out of Deliverance.  The problem was that we could not even stop to turn around, the road was too narrow.  Even cool, relaxed and calm Ilan looked nervous.–Did I mention that it was me driving??? Ilan had been too exhausted to continue the last hour, so I had taken over the driving.  Then all of a sudden a man with a banjo hopped out into the middle of the road………………………………??????????  Actually, what we saw then, was like an oasis, it was a large yellow KOA (Kampgrounds of America logo) sign.  We had found the RV camp.  Ironically, this was probably the loveliest, quietest of all the campgrounds we stayed in.  However, it was a bit spooky and I needed Ilan to walk me to the bathrooms.  Keep in mind that it was now close to midnight.  As we walked closer to the bathroom/shower, we heard the unique twang of a country music song emanating from inside the bathroom. Deliverance in mind I was very hesitant to enter, but sometimes, ‘ya gotta go, so in I went.  Someone was in the shower, and had taken a radio with her.  I hurried in and out and we went to sleep.  We were on the road by eight in the morning and again, decided to drive for as long as we could.  It was very bittersweet seeing the names of the cities we had been to on the exit signs, as well as the cities we had planned on seeing but never got to—.  I think that we were both very reflective during this journey home.  We were both silently wondering if we would every see any of these places again.

Once again Ilan did most of the driving—–A few words here about the actual driving itself.  Just to let you know, driving an RV is like driving a truck.  It is a truck, a light truck, so when a tractor trailer going 90 miles an hour, passes you buy, you feel like a burst of wind has hit you and you get really knocked around—and this happens every couple of minutes–the whole time you are driving.  Once you are hit with this force, you need to overcorrect, grabbing the steering wheel very tightly, all the while, trying to stay in your lane.  On the trip to La, I drove alot, and it was very challenging.  I gripped the steering wheel so tightly, that my fingers were numb for hours afterwards.  Because I was not feeling very well, on the way back, I could only take over the driving occasionally, but Ilan needed a break and a chance to rest his arms a bit, but I did not have the strength or stamina to contend with the tractor trailers for very long—so he wound up in the driver’s seat for most of the day.  By hour number eight, I suggested we call it a night, but Ilan insisted on continuing through to NY and so we did, arriving at home at about 1:45 am.  We took out some basics from the RV; plugged in the RV to the electric in our house, and fell into bed close to 3 am.

This morning we unloaded the RV—it was literally like unpacking a full studio apartment’s worth of stuff.  It was physically exhausting and emotionally difficult.  By 11:30 we were done and ready to drive the RV back to Roslyn. Having learned from our mistakes, we knew we could not take any parkways back to Roslyn, so on a tip, we did a map quest (if you click the options button, it allows you to “uncheck” highways) and printed out the route.  We started out, me in front in Ilan’s car and Ilan following me.  I personally could not not wait to get there and give back “hell on wheels”.  We were about ten minutes from “hand off” and then it happened.  Here is the scenario.  There was a car in front of me and a cement mixer in front of that car and we had all come to a stop.  Why, because thirty feet in front of us was an OVERPASS and the cement mixer was trying to make his was under it.  He inched his way forward.  Our eyes were riveted on his progress.  And then it happened.  He hit the overpass, softly.  Clearly realizing that he could not make, he inched his way back and drove away.  What were we going to do? The end of this journey was so close, we could taste it.  I looked in my rear view mirror.  Ilan had a strange look on his face.  I looked back at the overpass.  There was a sign on the overpass that said,  Clearance 11’.  Just then, my phone rang.  It was Ilan.  He said with a fierceness I have rarely heard in him, “Amy, we are going for it, we are not stopping here, we can make it” and we did.

While we were waiting for our papers to be processed, I observed a family of seven come out of a SUV Taxi with many suitcases and head to the RV office.  There were 2 adults, 5 children.  I overheard them saying that they were from Norway and were heading towards an RV just like ours, for a cross country trip.  I was really torn.  I wanted to go over and tell them they were making a huge mistake, but I knew it was not my place to say anything.  As I got into the car, the employee that I met the very first time we came to see the RV came over to me and said, “too much driving for you, I guess….feel better.”  We pulled out of the driveway and went down the road to Whole Foods, did some shopping and then headed towards Target to return almost everything I had bought for the trip as the stuff had not been used—-including, you guessed it, the BBQ grill that Ilan never assembled.  It was still in the sealed box.

After Target, we came home, I threw in some laundry and we proceeded to put away everything we had taken out of the RV earlier in the morning.  It was back breaking work, but in a few hours, the house was neat, and it looked as if we had never left. To all of our blog followers, thank you for being with us every step of the way.

By the way, we are thinking about renting a motorcycle with a side car for next year’s road trip, stay tuned.

Love,

Amy and Ilan

“UNCLE”/”FINITO”/”BASTA”……….. — June 15, 2015

“UNCLE”/”FINITO”/”BASTA”………..

Hi.  It is with heavy hearts (and a great deal of heartburn–apparently a common side effect of food poisoning) that we announce that we are indeed aborting our disastrous trip and are going to head back home tomorrow.

When our kids were little, we used to read to them Berenstain Bear books, and one particularly resonates with me now–I think it was called Too Much Vacation.  I believe the premise was that they were all so excited about going on their family vacation; only to arrive to find that the “beautiful”cabin they rented was in reality a run down shack, etc. etc.—but at the end of the day they made the best of it.  Friends, family, we have really tried to make the best of it, you don’t even know the half of it. We tried hard to make jokes on the blog about what was happening to us, because if we didn’t, we would have cried instead. Everyday, after what was yet another crappy day, we woke up saying to each other, it will get better–it has to.  Here’s the thing, it hasn’t and in fact, it’s just getting worse.

We had such hopes and aspirations for this trip.  We were so excited to see this beautiful country while visiting places we had never been to before, and perhaps revisit places from our childhoods.  We knew from the beginning that it was going to be a challenge, a big one, but we did not imagine for one second that it would be as unbearable as it has been.  Tonight, we received a lovely and supportive email with inspirational words from the 20 year old daughter of an acquaintance of Ilan’s who simply said, please tell them to come home, rest, recover and then fly out to visit their grandchildren.  Her father added a wonderful old adage in the email–“it is better to have tried, than to never have tried at all.” We whole heartedly agree!! We are so grateful for your kind and caring words. Thank you.

The real takeaway from this for us–at least one of them—is the admiration we now have for all of those who have permanently left comfortable lives—-whether it was the early Americans who rode out into the frontier; or immigrants to our country; or refugees and displaced persons–every one of them had so much less than us, and they all had to start over, with nothing, and did so—they are our true heroes. Good night for now.

Mosery’s Believe it or Not: Second Visit to Urgent Care in less than a week… — June 13, 2015

Mosery’s Believe it or Not: Second Visit to Urgent Care in less than a week…

Before I share with you the details regarding our second visit to Urgent Care in seven days, I wanted to say a few things about blogging. This is my first experience blogging and I had no idea how hard it was going to be; that it was going to require so much time and effort and how easily it takes over your life—but also how rewarding it has been.  I am so appreciative that all of you are following it, just be prepared for blog postings that may sound like kvetching or may be disappointing, or even boring. That all said, here goes with tonight’s……

Our daughter Chelsea sent me an email the other day suggesting that we share with you a few words about the cities we have visited thus far, since, presumably that was the point of this trip in the first place.  However, before I do that, a few words about the differences between a vacation and a mission. A vacation is what you are lucky enough to go on to escape the everyday stress we all have.

To have ever thought, that taking a road trip in what is really a glorified U-haul truck, was a vacation, was undoubtedly our first big mistake.  Not testing out the RV was probably our second mistake—although Ilan says that RV’ing is like a marriage, you have to be in it to really get a feel for it.

Third mistake, AAA did not point out the actual distances between each place we planned on visiting while planning the itinerary so that what has happened is that this trip has turned into an almost purely driving trip, rather than a leisurely sightseeing trip.

Fourth mistake, not taking prepared meals with us as it is way too hot to cook in the RV and, as you know, Ilan has not assembled the grill yet.  Moreover, because we did not take into adequate consideration the amount of driving time we needed to get from city to city, we find ourselves on the road in the evenings; driving right through dinnertime; arriving in the RV parks very late at night—starving and wind up eating cucumbers and almond butter for dinner almost every night.

Fifth mistake, not realizing that it was not ok to use sink water to wash vegetables.  This last mistake would prove very dangerous—but I will get to that later.

That all said, it’s time to reclassify our trip; it will henceforth not be called a vacation–but then what should we call it?  That answer is that we are now joining the ranks of those who follow extreme weather!!!  If you have been following the weather news, which unfortunately we never took into consideration when planning this trip (make that mistake number six) you will see that severe and extreme weather have accompanied us on every leg of this trip, so far. No joke.

As you know, we started our real journey outside of DC.  From the first stop at the Front Royal entrance to the Shenandoah National Park, we were swept up in a severe thunderstorm punctuated with hail and dangerous winds.  After we were “medically” evacuated from the Luray Caverns, which was our next stop, we hit yet another major storm.  Because we were disappointed in what we saw that first day, and frankly exhausted by the end of Day 1, we revised our itinerary, cutting out the things we really wanted to see, like a visit to Thomas Jefferson’s ancestral home Monticello, and also cutting out the trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville, North Carolina which would have added 500 miles to the trip and decided just to make our way over to Colonial Williamsburg (which besides the colonial village is also well known for its golf, which is somethings I wanted Ilan to be able to do during this trip–but as you know Ilan was so weak and sick for the first few days of the trip, he did not have the strength to lift up his head, let alone a golf club).

After that, we headed to Charleston, South Carolina.  There we had an unexpected detour to the Apple Store, where we wound spending all morning trying to fix my computer–long story and not worth retelling it. Bottom line, after spending a few hours there, it was already 2pm and we subsequently found out at the visitors center that we could only see either the architectural homes or Ft. Sumter, but not both that day which were the highlights of Charleston and the main reason for our visit there. Since we had made the effort to listen to the civil war tapes, we chose Ft Sumter—actually Ilan chose Ft. Sumter. In retrospect, I think he picked the fort because you needed to take a ferry there, and I think he was contemplating throwing me overboard by this point in our trip. After the fort, which was interesting, we did our own tour of the architecturally interesting homes, but were disappointed as we could not go inside any of them. Thus, it was evening when we found ourselves on the road again, but thankfully it was only a three hour trip.  Unfortunately, we drove right into, you guessed it, a severe thunderstorm, which accompanied us for the whole three hours.

The next morning, after the laundry experience we drove the RV into downtown Savannah, and went to the visitors center.  There they advised us to take the 90 minutes trolley ride through the historic district, which would allow us to decide during the trolley ride what places we wanted to go back to and explore more thoroughly–and there were many!!. Just as the trolley ride was ending, the skies opened up and it poured non-stop for three hours; we kept thinking, hey, it has to stop soon, but ultimately it did not, so we wound up not getting to see the places of interest to us. Are you sensing a pattern here???? We got back in the RV, and once again decided to make some changes to our itinerary. We were a bit down and disappointed from the journey thus far and threw all of our guidebooks in the bowels of the RV.  I think by this point the only thing that was keeping us going was the repeated question from our granddaughter Aliza Joy—”when are you coming Gama??”.  I probably wanted to say to Ilan I was ready to go home, but I desperately missed her and forged ahead.

So we decided to nix Atlanta, and Mobile, Alabama and head directly to New Orleans; spend shabbat there–which would give us two whole days of walking around–something we had not allowed ourselves to do previously.  What we didn’t know was that New Orleans would itself be experiencing severe storms and flooding.  Moreover, it was a nine hour drive, so we decided to split the trip and find an RV park in Tallahassee, which was about half way there.

That night, Tallahassee experienced severe rains—what a surprise. The next morning, I woke up feeling a bit unwell; but it was a general “shvachy” feeling.  We needed to clean the RV floor and throw everything out of the cooler and the fridge that was now spoiled–and that was alot.  As we drove towards New Orleans, I began to feel weaker and weaker, and clammier and clammier.  Ilan suggested that maybe what we both needed was a real bed and a bathtub—I hastily agreed.  He found a lovely B&B outside the French Quarter. He also found a place to park the RV (which by the way is not an easy thing—perhaps another mistake, not checking where we could park an RV in the cities)  By this time, I was experiencing chills and feeling very weak.  It was an hour or so before shabbat and we threw a few things into our knapsacks and grabbed a cab to the B&B.  In the cab, I started feeling nauseous as well.  The B&B was lovely as are the innkeepers, but I didn’t have the strength nor the inclination to chat. We got to the room, I lit candles and got into bed. And then my nightmare began.

Urgent Care visit #2…….

In the middle of the night I started vomiting and other things– while I won’t go into all the gory details, it wasn’t pretty.  I remembered that around thirty years ago Ilan had had food poisoning and had the same symptoms, so I figured that I too had it. By 5 in the morning I knew I was in very bad shape.  I waited until about 8 am and woke up Ilan, who also got very little sleep as he was trying to comfort me during the night. It turns out that the innkeeper was a nurse and suggested to Ilan that we head to the nearest ER—he asked if there was an urgent care facility close by and off we went. I was green. What are the odds of finding a female Jewish doctor in the middle of New Orleans? Probably slim to none—but we did. More on this lovely woman later.

She said that she was pretty sure I had a severe case of food poisoning; that I was dehydrated and that I needed a couple of IV bags of fluids. She also gave me an anti-nausea med and a med to take away the severe stomach cramps.  She also told me that it was possible that I could have gotten sick from the water I was using to wash the vegetables. Needless to say, I was really suffering and frankly, ready to give up on this fakokta vacation, no I mean mission, no I mean severe weather tracking trip, no I mean freakin’ torture.

After a few hours there, during which time we found out that the doctor had emigrated to New Orleans from Argentina; that her parents had arrived in Argentina from Lithuania in the 1920’s as part of a land grant from a Jewish count; that she had trained at Lenox Hill Hospital in surgery; that she had recently decided to give up surgery (she was doing laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery) and had switched to urgent care to improve her quality of life; that she had doctor cousins living in Tel Aviv; that she was divorced and living with her mom.  When the second IV bag ran out she gave me some prescriptions and told me to rest for a few days and we said goodbye.  Just as we got back to the B&B, you guessed it, the heavens opened up.  The weather report is calling for severe thunderstorms and possible flash flooding here and all the way to Houston—our next stop.

On a very personal note, I am extremely saddened that I probably won’t get to see New Orleans after all.  Most of you don’t know that as a child I actually lived in New Orleans.  My dad was a fundraiser for Israel Bonds here—keep in mind that the Jewish community in the early 60’s was very very small and my dad, according to my mom, was the mayor of the community.  Some of you may know Penny Rabinowitz from Englewood, NJ. Her husband (I can’t remember his name right now) grew up in New Orleans and is in many of our family photos. Rabbi Stolper, of the OU, also lived here for a while and was my dad’s best friend while we lived in New Orleans. My sister was born here and my mom loved living here. To this day she bemoans the day we moved to dark, dirty and cold Brooklyn in the late 60’s.  I can’t decide if my memories of New Orleans are derived from photos or from real experiences, but nevertheless, I wanted to see New Orleans–but I also had another reason.  When my dad died ten years ago, I had spent six very difficult and emotional weeks going through his things.  In one of his drawers I came across a bunch of membership cards to all the happening and famous restaurants in New Orleans at that time (Commanders Palace; Antoine’s; Galatoire’s and Brennans) and I kept them. I can’t tell you why, but I did. Clearly they were very important to my dad and they held great memories for him. I wanted to see these places, as I had been thinking about him a lot recently as it was his yahrzeit about a month ago.

On a different note, Ilan and I talked about aborting the trip and going home, but have decided to continue……..will keep you “posted”.

Musings on RV Domesticity — June 12, 2015

Musings on RV Domesticity

Yesterday dawned as did the “L” day—I know some of you are thinking “Leaving” Day; others, more pious, are thinking “Learning” Day, but the cognoscenti amongst you knew I was talking about “Laundry” Day.  It’s confession time again.  Of course I know how to do laundry, and I have even done it a few times, but I have never done laundry in a coin operated laundry before.  I have seen cute movie scenes that had taken place in laundromats; I have a friend that manages laundromats, but that has been the extent of my experience with laundromats.  If Ilan can proudly state that he cleans septic tanks, I can do the same with the laundry.  Not to be put off, I decided to plunge ahead and give it my best shot.  Armed with my travel packets of detergent, my two LuLuLemon shopping bags of dirty clothes and my favorite Pratesi sheets (before you even think to label me a spoiled brat, I bought them in Marshall’s), I set out with confidence but immediately got bogged down in the mud outside our mobile home (lately I have been thinking that maybe I would feel better about living in a trailer if I called it a mobile home rather than an RV) because, as you have correctly guessed, it had poured all night long.  We are so used to it by now, that it doesn’t bother us anymore.  It was 8:05 am.

I opened the door to the laundry room and was relieved to see someone who clearly had done this before putting a load in.  She was well equipped.  She had two large laundry baskets; a costco sized box of Bounce and a huge bottle of laundry detergent.  I was immediately envious.  I pretended to be getting my things ready while all the while surreptitiously watching her every step.  Feeling oh so confident I walked in to the shop and asked for $5 in quarters and proceeded to approach one of the washers.  As my hand approached the cover, I heard, “don’t you touch those machines, Yankee”. Can’t you see they are all being used…..by me.”  I knew then and there that the war between the States had never really ended for some people, and it was being played out in the RV laundry room.

How did she know? I had shed my Yankee armor back in NY.  My jewelry was in the safe deposit box; my gel manicure was gone; my Prada flip flops were back home……what gave me away? I realized what it was.  It was my favorite pair of Judith Lieber cats eye reading glasses with the teal and blue wave like swirls, accented with Swarovski crystals accents on the left eye piece. What would Abraham Lincoln have done there and then? I recalled that Ilan and I spent 11 hours listening to a “brief” history of the Civil War in anticipation of our trip to various Civil War era places of interest, but as you know, due to changing our itinerary, we bypassed all the Civil War sites.  Here was my opportunity to perhaps change the course of history.  Thinking quickly, I realized that the only weapon I had with me was my cell phone.  I quickly went on I-tunes, downloaded Dixie, and hit play.  The effect was immediate.  Suddenly, all the washing machines stopped at once, my nemesis unloaded her wash, loaded everything into the dryers, and turned to me, smiled and wished me a lovely day. Steve Jobs, if you are reading this, from your ICloud in the sly, bless you!!

He’s back ……(in black)….. — June 11, 2015

He’s back ……(in black)…..

Hi y’all, it’s Ilan and I want to thank all of you for your kind words and wishes, I am feeling much better, not 100% but much better. Here are my thoughts, so far. To say that we came into this adventure with our ‘eyes wide open’ may have been true at the time, but you can never get the full flavor of an RV expedition until you get you elbows deep down in the shit. That’s when you realize how foolish you were for thinking that a nice Jewish couple from the Five Towns of Long Island can actually survive in a 25’x6’ moving toilet. On or about the 2nd or maybe the 3rd day I was very seriously contemplating the following: Jam the fire extinguisher, create some sort of an electrical ‘mis-hap’ and call it a day!!! But, I quickly remembered that my golf clubs were deep down in the bowels of this moving toilet tank that I quickly came to my senses. To be totally fair to the people who make this their life’s dream, it does get easier. You get into some sort of routine. You both can’t speak at the same time, because between the noise of the engine and the noise from the fan you can’t hear each other. You can’t be near each other for very long and most importantly if you want to be by yourself, go clean the sewer tank, which I’ve gotten really good at. Amy is a real trooper. I never would have thought she would thrive in a situation like this but she has. Right before she leaves for the showers she gives me homework to do. “When I’m gone I want you to organize the pantry, throw all the bad food from the fridge away and when you’re done doing that update my computer”. I’d rather clean the shit tank! I’m even thinking of getting a septic tank for our home. My morning trips to the showers are my favorite time of day. With my plastic shopping bag with shampoo, soap and tooth brush in one hand and my towel around my neck, I walk with my head held high as if I own that drop dead gorgeous 75’ RV bus parked next to us. Just this morning when I was waiting for the dryer to finish I started looking at the bulletin board where people are trying to sell their RV’s and for just a split second I said to myself ‘ this one is really nice’!! I turned around quickly to make sure no one heard me, especially Amy. On my way back to our 25’ rented RV I found Amy talking to our next door RVers and as I got closer I heard her giving them divorce advice. Things are looking up, this could be very lucrative!!!

Thanksgiving….. — June 10, 2015

Thanksgiving…..

Our daughter Chelsea suggested that we needed to add some words of optimism to the blog, so here goes:

I am grateful that it only took us three hours to get out of the RV park this morning and not the more typical five;

I am grateful that we are finally using the incredibly overpriced bathrobes from the Four Seasons that Ilan insisted we buy a few years ago when we were in Vegas;

I am grateful that I only spent $89 plus tax on a skort from Athleta designed to prevent chafing, that instead of starting a forest fire (ladies you know what I mean), it has only given me a rash;

I am grateful that we had torrential rainstorms and severe storm warnings coupled with winds in excess of 50 miles an hour for only three hours of our seven hour drive from Colonial Williamsburg to Charleston, South Carolina;

I am grateful that we listened to the entire audio book on the Civil War (unbelievably boring} only to change our itinerary and not go to any of the Civil War sites;

I am grateful that I don’t work in Colonial Williamsburg, having to wear incredibly heavy costumes, while cooking over a hearth; weaving baskets or making fences out of thorny tree branches with bare hands, for eight hours a day in stifling heat answering the same questions day in and day out;

Ilan is grateful for the excellent back seat driving that I provided today. He said it truly enhanced his overall driving experience and he can’t wait for me to help him tomorrow, which I will be sure to do, as soon as I can get all the duct tape off of my mouth;

Ilan is grateful that we have yet to arrive at an RV park in daylight, so that he doesn’t have to put together the grill that I asked him to assemble (several times) when we were back in NY.

We are grateful that we have not yet killed each other, but hey, its only the end of day 3…………….