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”.