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

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…………….

Using the RV bathroom and other traumatic stuff! — June 9, 2015

Using the RV bathroom and other traumatic stuff!

Remember me mentioning last night it was hailing? That was the precursor to eight straight hours of flash floods.  For those who haven’t hit their 50’s yet, I suspect you are not waking up every three hours to use “the facilities”.  Confession time again.  Up to now, both of us have made conscientious decisions to use any other bathroom other than the one on our RV.  It hasn’t been too hard.  On the first day, there were rest stops; the first night there was the RV prison; yesterday there were half way decent public restrooms, but last night the flash floods made us prisoners in our RV.  So I bit the bullet and gave it a try.  Just a bit of background.  I am 5’2″, Ilan says he is 5’7″ (not); the toilet on our RV is actually pretty high up, so instead of sort of squatting to sit ( I line all the toilets with paper first) , you have to to sort of jump up to sit.  Once you do, your feet dangle about two feet off the ground.  I don’t know about you, but I am not very comfortable doing my business, four feet off the ground, with my feet dangling: it is a very strange sensation and not very conducive if you know what I mean.  Additionally, the bathroom wall abuts the bed….you hear everything.  The icing on the cake—we both also had asparagus last night……..

Since I am focusing right now on the physical aspects of the inside of the RV, lets talk about the sleeping arrangements/bed.  Again, we are relatively short, but in the RV bed, even our feet hang off the end of the bed; but when your feet hang off the end of the bed in the RV, they are hanging into the kitchen sink–this is not a joke.  Moreover, although we are used to sleeping in a queen sized bed, this one is not even a double.  So imagine last night.  We finally figured out how to use the air conditioner, which is akin to having a generator next to your head; then there was the constant staccato of the rain–more like gunshots—all going on at the same time—not to be left out–Ilan’s snoring because he is sick and his throat is closed up.  Additionally, I was nervous about carbon monoxide poisoning as I wasn’t sure if the AC was running on electricity or propane (can you get carbon monoxide poisoning from propane?) So don’t ask me if I slept well.

RV parks—the perfect place for Hollywood A-listers to hide out and other suggestions…. —

RV parks—the perfect place for Hollywood A-listers to hide out and other suggestions….

I always wondered about those ads for Ford or GMC trucks bragging that their truck was the number one vehicle sold in America. How could it be true? I don’t know anyone that drives one; I have never seen one in the FIve Towns or in NYC, well, news flash everyone, it is true. Everyone south of Washington DC drives one or has one in the driveway or has a tattoo with the the front grill from a truck on their bicep.   The other place you will find them is in RV parks.  It is only day #2 and now I want one!!!!!! NOT!!!!!!!  By the way, on a somewhat related note, I have found the perfect solution for Hollywood A-listers who are tired of being mobbed in public or of the paparazzi following them—come stay in an RV park. Why? Because no one here would know who you were or would care.  They don’t have cable; they don’t get newspaper deliveries and they don’t have wi-fi. Just imagine a random area, off the main road, with a septic tank; a few sticks with an old fashioned electrical plug on the stick and bathrooms that date back to the Cold War and there you have the RV park we stayed in last night. No wonder there are so may unsolved crimes, that’s because all you have to do is commit a crime, then hide out in an RV park, no one will ever find you.  I also now understand those news reports of a decomposed body being discovered in a trailer and the body having been there for years!!!!!!!!!!!

We got a very late start this morning for a number of reasons; Ilan felt very crappy in the morning; we did not have time to organize our stuff the night before and the RV was a mess (don’t forget Ilan is a neat freak and I have become somewhat neater in my old age) and we were both very hesitant to go shower in the sheds (when you are parked in an RV park that has bathrooms and showers it is much preferable to use them instead of your own facilities for a whole host of valid reasons–not the least of which is simply having more space and unlimited hot water.

I forgot to mention a few very important things earlier.  Ilan and I have adopted a healthier way of life and have radically altered our eating habits which as it turns out are almost impossible to adapt for an RV lifestyle.  We start off with hot water and lemon in the morning but I could not find the hot cups; nor the lemons;  then we use a magic bullet (which I shlepped) together with my Nespresso machine; protein and green powders; several supplements, almond milk and vitamins and an endless supply of fresh berries (I brought everything except the countless supply of berries because I thought for sure we would find countless organic farm stands along the way–lol on that one–so far we have not seen one.  Then I could not find the powders or the vitamins. Why? Because my very organized and neat husband had indeed managed to find a place for everything, but put everything in such random places, that we could not find anything we needed. So once again we were running late, and finally got out of the RV prison at around 12 after being up since 7.

Our first stop was the Front Royal Entrance to the Shenandoah National Park, which is also referred to as the Sky Line.  I read about it in my 1,000 Places book (now viewed by me as suspect) and it was about fifteen minutes away.  As we exited the RV park, I asked the guard for directions to the entrance and he said “its real simple, you go to the end of the road, then you make a left, then you go straight for aways, then you make a right but stay in the the left lane, then you go to the light and make a right, but stay in the right lane, then you go through the town and then and then and then…..I was finally able to stop him after the tenth “make a right” and said, “you have to be kidding, you said that it was easy”, and started to repeat himself—I stopped him and then asked him to repeat it and we recorded him. TG for smart phones!!!!!!!! Sidebar—as I write this it is hailing, no joke, on a metal roof.  Anyway, we figured things could only get better–right????

We stopped at the visitors center to pick up a map and ask some questions.  I just wanted to confirm that the route I had created with AAA was correct.  I had figured out that we would drive for about an hour and a half on the sky line and then take a detour to Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello; visit some plantations and then head to Colonial Williamsburg and arrive there in the early evening.  Without skipping a beat the woman behind the desk said, oh no, the route you mapped out would mean spending four hours on the skyline and then you needed to drive another hour and a half to Monticello, which would mean you would arrive there after closing time.  She also was surprised that we were not planning on going to the Luray Caverns, another “must see” in my book.  So we thought about readjusting our itinerary, but tabled it for later in the day.  We arrived at the entrance to the Shenandoah National Park and met our first park ranger—yes folks, they really wear that smokey the bear hat.  We whipped out our America the Beautiful passes and were so proud of ourselves for being so prepared –that is the “one pass” for all the national parks and handed them over to her.  She looked at us in a funny way and said, is there an another RV traveling with you, because you only need one pass per car–needless to say I missed that sentence on the website.

Anyway, we stopped at their visitors center and saw all these great pictures of bears, deer, eagles, etc. on the walls and could not wait to have our own sightings. So we quickly headed back to the RV armed with our brochures, maps and cameras.  We drive for ten minutes, then twenty minutes, then forty five minutes–not one glimpse of any wildlife; nothing, not even a pigeon or roadkill! Sure the scenery is beautiful, but it looked exactly like the Catskill Mountains–but not as nice.  We decided then and there that there was no need to stay on that road for four hours, that we should instead indeed detour to Luray Caverns, which we did.  Forty-five minutes later we arrived there and then had to wait another half an hour on line.  Confession time again. Since I turned 50 I have gotten very anxious about going into tunnels, and underground places–but I said to myself before this trip, that I was going to fight my fears and overcome them, so I didn’t mention my concerns to Ilan when I read about the caverns–which are underground limestone caves–and had not put it on our original itinerary deliberately.  We went through a doorway and started descending into the caves, I was doing ok by reminding myself that I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer and that three year olds were on this tour as well as octogenarians, so I needed to get over myself.  Then I said to myself that if nothing else, the cold felt really good—another age related thing.  About ten minutes into the tour, all the while talking myself into how beautiful everything was, telling myself to breathe deeply; think about other things other than the fact that we were three hundred feet underground when suddenly Ilan leaned over and said very weakly, “I have to get out of here right now; I am really sick, I have the chills, I’m cold, I need to leave, NOW!” We went over to the tour guide and asked which direction we should go to get out and she said, oh no, someone has to come and escort you out. Its too dark and dangerous for you to go alone. Needless to say the whole group had to wait for our guide to appear, which they were not happy about. A guide came, escorted us out and we emerged into the heat, except that the sun was no longer shining.

In fact, it was looking pretty ominous out there when Ilan told me that he could not possibly drive. It was now 3:00 and I knew that for sure we could not make it to Monticello before closing time, and so we decided to proceed to Colonial Williamsburg, some three hours away, hoping to get there before dark.  Ilan picked out an RV park from the directory, called for a reservation, took three advils, curled up into a ball in the front seat with his pillow and proceeded to nap.  Just then the skies opened up and I drove through one of the most torrential rainstorms I have every seen, on mountainous, curving roads, all the while literally clutching the steering wheel with white knuckles. Ilan woke up about two hours later, took over the driving and thankfully we arrived at a surprisingly nice RV park. I am having trouble figuring out how to upload photos from my phone to the laptop and then to the blog—but when I do I will upload some photos.

Day #1 — June 8, 2015

Day #1

Drive off time was scheduled for 9 am.  Ilan woke up with a very bad sore throat and a fever.  Should we go or should we hold off until he felt better? We decided that he would head over to the urgent care facility and we would wait to hear what the doctor had to say about his condition.  While he was there, I loaded up the RV with the refrigerated and frozen stuff; made up the bed in the RV and gathered up all of our vitamins, shake ingredients, the magic bullet and of course the Nespresso machine.  Then I got back on the internet and on the phone to again attempt to get driving directions to the New Jersey Turnpike for trucks or RV’s.  Then it hit me, why not call the DOT or the MTA?? Great idea, except that today is Sunday and their offices are closed.  I figured that there had to be some human at some office of the MTA Bridges and Tolls office and indeed after numerous prompts, a guy answered at the Verrazano Bridge office.  I explained my predicament and in a ‘fuggetaboutit” Brooklyn accent said: “hey lady, whad are you worried about, its an RV, its a mobile home, its not a truck, you can go on the Belt Parkway.  I was shocked, so I asked him again….”are you sure I can go on the Belt Parkway in an RV when the RV office specifically told us that we could not go on any parkways with the RV.”  He replied: “lady, ya gotta trust me here, I know whad I am saying (what a relief as it appeared that in order to get to the Verrazano Bridge with a commercial vehicle you had to go really way out of the way which would have added at least an hour and a half to two hours to the normal time of about an hour …..so when Ilan came home around 12 ish with a prescription for a z-pack and lidocaine to gargle with, he said lets go.  He made a few trips into the RV with the last of our stuff and headed into the RV at around 1:30pm.

It was my first time actually sitting in the RV as a passenger and within seconds of pulling out of the driveway, I said to Ilan that there must be something wrong with my seat (just an FYI, I have been having back problems for the last few years—some days are worse than others, today was not one of the good days).  I told him that I could not see over the dashboard; its just not comfortable—too soft, no support, no good!!!!!!!!!  I told him that he had to pull over immediately. I went to the back of the RV and took a few of the bed pillows and made a higher cushioned seat.  It wasn’t much better, but I knew there was no way we were turning back. What was I thinking? Six weeks of this? I’ll never make it, I can’t last an hour like this.  He gave me that look and pulled back onto the road.  We had to stop a few times to tie down a few things that were rattling around the back and we were again on our way.

We got to Rockaway Turnpike and were headed north to pick up the Belt Parkway.  Just as we got to the entrance to the Belt Parkway I looked at Ilan and asked him if he was sure we should try it and he said yes.  Wow, this was great; the traffic wasn’t bad and we could really make up the lost time. Within five minutes of being on the Parkway, we saw it in the distance.  The bane of every truckers existence.  AN OVERPASS!!!!!!!!!!!!  I heard Ilan utter something under his breath that sounded like “oh shit we are so screwed” and then he asked me if I remembered how high the guy at the RV place said the truck was—at this point I looked over at him and he was white as a sheet.  There were cars all around us and there was no exit off the parkway. The sign on the overpass said 10′ 6″ clearance—I remembered that the RV person told us that our RV was 12 feet high—you do the math!!!!!!!!! Ilan maneuvered over to the middle lane, slowed the RV to a crawl, cars started honking at us like crazy as he inched his was forward—as we sat there expecting to hear scraping or the sound of metal ripping.  Much to our surprise, we made it through with inches to spare—but we knew that we had to get off the parkway immediately, which we did.  Now what? We took North Conduit to Atlantic Avenue and we figured that we would eventually find someone to ask, and indeed we did.  We saw a cop who told us to keep going on Atlantic Avenue all the way and we would see a sign for I-278, the Brooklyn Queens Expressway which would take us to the Verrazano Bridge.  An hour and a half later we got to the Bridge.  What a relief!!!! It was then that Ilan revealed to me what had happened to him earlier while he was putting stuff on the RV that almost ended our trip before it began.

I had put a bunch of kitchen knives (my “meat” knives”)–which included a bunch of very sharp, long bladed knives—on the counter in the RV.  To make sure that they didn’t get mixed up with my pareve knives, Ilan decided to put the meat knives into a shopping bag.  I guess ’cause he doesn’t cook at all, he did not realize that the knives were very sharp.  He lifted up the bag and one of the knives cut right through the bottom of the bag and dropped blade down right through his sneaker, nicking his toe and embedding itself in the floor of the RV. He knew that it could not have actually gone through his foot because he wasn’t in a lot of pain. Luckily for him there wasn’t a lot of bleeding, so no second visit to urgent care was required.

The rest of the trip to the NJ Turnpike was pretty normal.  We started listening to “Don’t Know Much About the Civil War”, in preparation for the next two days of our trip.  At the first rest stop on the turnpike, I took over the driving and drove for the next few hours. It was my first time driving an RV and it is a very different experience than driving a car. For one thing, you need to hold the wheel very tightly with two hands as the winds really pushes you around and you have so many blind spots, despite the oversize mirrors. How was I supposed to talk on the phone, snack, drink my tea and drive all at the same time???

Following Waze, it took us about 7 hours from when we got on the turnpike to get to our first RV park: The North Fork Resort in Front Royal, Virginia. Ilan found the RV park in a directory of RV parks that we picked up at Barnes & Nobles.  It was rated AAA.  We got to the RV park at around 9pm, so it was very dark and we couldn’t really see much.  The woman in the “security” booth registered us; gave us a map of the RV park, assigned us space #32 and told us that it was $36 for the night. I started to tel her that we were totally new to this, that we really didn’t listen to the lecture at the RV place about all the hook-ups (in fairness, we were traumatized at the time about the no parkways issue) and that we needed some help and she said, sorry, I can’t help you with all that, but there is a bathroom near your spot and sent us on our way.  We got a bit lost in the park looking for our “spot”, but finally found it.  We pulled up next to another motor home and a pick-up truck. We got out of the car and within second were attacked by bugs.  We got back into the truck immediately and all I kept thinking was……and I have to pay for this????????????????  I had to go to the bathroom very badly and frankly did not want to go in the RV—so Ilan said he would walk me to the bathroom.  For those of you who went to sleep away camp BEFORE they put air conditioning and refrigerators in the bunks, you have just gotten the picture of the AAA rated North Fork Resort—I can only imagine what kind of place we would encounter at an “A” rated RV park!! Lets just say that I was so grateful Ilan insisted that I take my own toilet paper with me!!!  Walking back to the RV was traumatic as we were attacked by a swarm of moths that were attracted to our flashlights which we needed because we couldn’t see a foot in front of ourselves without them.  Did I mention that I LOVE nature??????  Needless to say the minute we opened up the door to the RV the moths came in for an extended visit as well.  Ilan then sprayed himself with a half a can of insect repellant so he could go outside and look for the hook up for the electricity and water.  I searched around for the Benadryl to treat all of the mosquito bites I got in the time it took to walk back to the RV from the outhouse.

Just then a huge motor home pulled up next to us.  They were a traveling country music band and they were kind enough to help “Ian” out. That was the name Ilan decided to use thinking it was easier to pronounce.  Eventually “Ian” got the hang of it  with a little help from his new friends and the electricity went on in the RV.  We spent the next half an hour swatting the moths (thank you Suzanne for the fly swatter) until we just gave up and “Ian” and I sat down at the table and just looked at each other.  Keeping in mind we still had not used the on board toilet yet nor the shower, we both wondered aloud how were we going to survive in 65 square feet for six weeks? “Ian” promptly announced he was going to sleep, apologized in advance for the snoring he knew he was going to do due to his sore throat and using my Iphone as a mobile hotspot, I opened up the laptop to write this latest blog entry. Indeed as promised, he is snoring heavily.  Heading to sleep myself.  Dear readers, if you don’t hear from me or Ilan for about two days, contact the authorities, we have either been killed or have killed each other! To be continued………………….

“The best laid plans of mice and men go awry”….from To a Mouse, by Robert Burns, 1786 — June 7, 2015

“The best laid plans of mice and men go awry”….from To a Mouse, by Robert Burns, 1786

Ilan spoke to the RV place Thursday and they said we could pick up the RV at 10:30 the following morning.  So Friday, June 5, 2015 we left the house early, did a few errands and headed to the North Shore. When we arrived the place was hopping—we didn’t know that the drop off/return time was 11am, so the parking lot was packed with returning RV’ers.  We went into the office, and our new best friend there, told us that he had gotten us a 2014 RV and that it was at the station having the propane tank filled; that we should take care of the paperwork and we would be out in 15 minutes.  Wow, things were really turning out great and then the other shoe dropped……..but here is some background first.

On our first visit to the RV place, Ilan asked if we could take the RV on all roads, and he said they told him yes.  When I went to AAA to work on the itinerary, I of course explained that we were taking an RV trip cross-country and we NEVER specifically discussed whether or not RV’s were allowed on the roads she had mapped out for us….I think you all know where this is heading…….. so back to Friday.  Ilan, curiously, asked the woman behind the counter, or more accurately said:  we can take the RV on any roads, right? She calmly responded: no.  You can’t take the RV on any parkways.  I really thought I was going to be sick right there and then.  I guess it was all too good to be true up until that point.  First snafu has to be a biggie of course!!  Our entire itinerary was worked out and based on using parkways.  Moreover, we had opted not buy any maps because we were going to use WAZE to guide us the entire trip.  Here is the second snafu, WAZE does not have a setting for RV’ers or truckers. Who knew.  We clearly should have!  What the hell were we supposed to do now?  I certainly was not going to print out Map Quest routes for our entire itinerary—that is so 2008—moreover I did not have time.  It would take hours and hours of work.  I called AAA, they suggested I go over to their office and re-do the whole route, that wasn’t happening. The woman behind the counter, recognizing a meltdown in the works and clearly wanting us out of that office before all the other RV’ers realized what a nightmare this was for them too; handed us a print out from Mapquest which had the driving directions from the RV place back to our house, avoiding the parkways and told us that our RV was outside.  We left the office, and got a lesson in how to use the RV.  I am sure you can imagine how much attention we paid to that lesson and how much we absorbed from that lesson—NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We left the place; Ilan drove the RV home and I led the way in our car, looking at the map quest directions instead of watching the road.  What should have been a twenty minute trip took an hour plus since we got lost a few times.  Why? Because in order to read the mapquest directions I had to put my reading glasses on, but I can’t drive with them nor can I read street signs with them, so I got lost a few times. In the interim, I could tell that Ilan was trying to call me, but the his attempts to call were actually coming through on my car, as he still had his bluetooth on, so it was like he was calling himself, twenty times.  I kept looking at his face in the rear view mirror and it was not a happy one!!!!!  As I was driving, I was thinking how used to the WAZE robot’s voice we have become and how reliant on the service we are—or at least Ilan and I are—our motto is “Trust the WAZE”, that is, until it sends you to Neiman Marcus; that is, the person, Neiman Marcus, not the store.  Yes that has happened to me, but that is another story for another day.

We arrived home at around 12:30.  We forged ahead as we were on a very tight schedule.  Ilan started loading the heavier stuff into the storage area underneath the RV, and I, with help from Amelia, our wonderful housekeeper (by the way, she is available two days a week if anyone needs a fantastic, reliable, hard working housekeeper on the south shore of Long Island–contact me privately at amymosery@gmail.com and I will give you her information) began to clean the RV.  Armed with my bucket and brushes, I climbed into the RV and was immediately hit with a wave of vertigo.  Oh my God I thought, this can’t be happening; ok Amy, take deep breaths, fight it, its going to be okay, you can’t be dizzy, its only the first minute of being in the RV!!!.  I did not panic; I figured I should go outside, get some fresh air, which I did.  I waited a minute or two, then went back into the RV and proceeded to get dizzy again.  Now I knew I had to tell Ilan.  I told him that something just wasn’t right, that the RV seemed to be on tilt and it was making me sick.  He said I was just imaging things and told me to stop being a drama queen.  Despite how awful I felt, and how dizzy I was, I did my best to carry my weight which was pretty hard to do while crawling around the floor of the RV, because I couldn’t stand up due to the vertigo. Two hours later a very green Amy emerged from a very clean RV.

Next activity on the schedule; setting up for a pre-shabbos kiddush next to the RV.  A word of advice, plating herring, salami and fried chicken livers is not a good activity nor remedy for someone with nausea!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Unbeknownst to me at that time, a very odd pattern seemed to emerge amongst the women at the kiddush.  Several women, upon entering the RV immediately experienced a wave of vertigo and nausea, and shared that with Ilan, who was giving them a tour of the RV—however, Ilan, ‘coincidentally’, neglected to mention these similar episodes to me. As it turned out, someone discovered that the culprit was a rather large dip in our driveway.  When Ilan parked the RV, one of the wheels was in the dip, causing the RV to be on a slant, it was like being on the tilt-a-whirl ride at the amusement park. What a relief to know that it was that and not me—and by the way, I don’t do rides!!!!!!!!!!  Everyone wished us well, but my favorite send-off was “go in peace and don’t come back in pieces”!!IMG_1739IMG_1734IMG_1729IMG_1709IMG_1728IMG_1732IMG_1731IMG_1725IMG_1721IMG_1716IMG_1719 (1) IMG_1711

Back in the house, I did a really dumb thing.  I did a deep knee bend to get something from a bottom drawer in the kitchen and then did a weird twist getting up and felt something funky happen in my knee.  Almost immediately I had one of those, how could I be so stupid moments. I started the advil, ice/prop up my leg throughout the evening thing, but the pain persisted throughout the night, together with a bit of swelling.  Visions of crutches, needles draining fluid from my knee, seeing Yellowstone from the seat of a wheelchair were now playing over and over in my head.  Not to be outdone, or was it simple jealousy, Ilan woke up with a fever and a bad sore throat….all this a mere 24 hours from drive-off. Despite feeling really crappy, Ilan has spent the last two hours trying to figure out how we get from our home in Long Island to the New Jersey Turnpike without going on any parkways—something we still have not figured out—but hopefully AAA will be able to help us in the morning.  Our goal for day one is to arrive at our first RV park near the Front Royal entrance to the Shenandoah National Park outside of Washington, DC in daylight.  Will keep you posted……

Amy’s Initial Packing Effort — June 4, 2015

Amy’s Initial Packing Effort

IMG_1697 (1)IMG_1696

Did some very preliminary research into the weather in the various regions we will be heading to.  High 70’s/low 80’s in Virginia, hotter as we head to Charleston and Savannah; very hot and humid in New Orleans (high 80’s/low 90’s); high 80’s/low 90’s in Texas, hotter as we head to New Mexico and Arizona and Nevada.  Milder in LA, cooler as we head north, a bit chilly in the mornings in the national parks up north; 60’s-70’s during the day and chillier in the evenings (and in the caves and caverns).  That said, I packed light weight “trekking’ type clothing from LuluLemon; Athleta and Ex-Officio (Skorts and pants) including t-shirts, skirts and pants; one dress; two light weight fleece tops and a hooded Marmot rain jacket/windbreaker; two straw type hats; one fleece hat and scarf (‘just in case’); light weight gloves and walking sticks; pajamas (light weight stuff and some sweatpants and sweatshirts); Smartwool socks; a pair of Merrill hiking shoes; a pair of keene light hiking/walking shoes; Keene water shoes; Teva flip-flops; Adidas Sneakers; Nike sneakers and a pair of Sam Edelman “Birkenstock” type sandals; a knapsack; fanny pack; a fanny pack with a water bottle holder; Small cross body cell phone holder and wallet (two color patterns); my manicure set from H20 nails in Cedarhurst .

Everything old is new again……………………… — June 3, 2015
Hi, Ilan here………. — June 2, 2015

Hi, Ilan here……….

For the past 2 months my life was as perfect as could be…………..my wife was too busy preparing for this trip so she was out of my hair, the real question is: “where can I hide in a 25′ RV?”

Everyday when I come home from work (golf) I find a mountain of things I need to buy for this trip that I never knew existed: special RV toilet paper at $2.50 a roll; an RV tooth brush holder; special rubber gloves to wear while cleaning the ‘sewer tank’–oh shit, I sure hope Amy knows how to do that!!!!!!!!!!!

All kidding aside, I was a bit nervous when we (ha ha) decided to take this trip, especially after our first visit to the RV place in Roslyn, NY.  The place looked a bit shady, so much so that I kept looking at my car to make sure it was still there….

After a few weeks we decided that a second trip to look at the RV a bit more closely was in order.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much storage space there was for my golf clubs and the rest of my tools (Amy’s one pair of shoes and on pair of sneakers would fit perfectly under the bed). The ‘truck’ was clean and in great shape –from the outside—under the hood….we will find out soon!!

I just hope Amy likes to drive!!!!!!

More later……….

someone please help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Visit to AAA —

Visit to AAA

IMG_1695 (2)We renewed our memberships in AAA as we remembered that one of the services they offer is “Trip Tiks” which in the days before Google Maps and Waze were maps that AAA customized for you based on your starting point and ending point.  However, when I called them to do it for this trip, they advised that they could not do it for this trip.  That said, I was in the Garden City area and thought I would just stop in to pick up some maps.  By this time I had been more than halfway through 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, so I had some sense of what we wanted to see on this trip.  I signed in and shortly thereafter was introduced to Betty, a lovely woman in her late 50’s.  I explained to her that we wanted to start outside of Washington, DC at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s ancestral home; that we thought it better to do the south and and southwest portions of the country in the beginning of the trip as it would hopefully be early enough in June to not be so hot. Then we would make out way west to LA, stop for a visit our son and daughter-in–law and grandchildren for a day or two then head north all the way up to Seattle, Washington and then turn east and head back along the northern part of the country.  So, instead of Betty simply giving me a few tour books and maps, she offered to actually work on an itinerary for me on a map and I took her up on it. For the next two hours, we put our heads together and came up with a pretty good itinerary, which you can read on the website.  That night I met Ilan at REI, which is a outdoor store in Carle Place to pick up some things we needed for the trip including a great pair of Salomon hiking shoes for Ilan and two great light weight items from Lucy (check out this great clothing line for women on the internet), that were on the sale rack, for me.  We then headed to EMS, another outdoor store in Carle Place, and I got two light weight Ex-Officio skirts that were also on sale.  Next, we headed over to Barnes and Nobles and spent a lot of time in the audio book section.  We were hoping to get some great thematic titles to listen to during our travels, not just from an entertainment perspective, but from an educational one. Just as an aside, my recollections of substantive American history are almost non-existent and Ilan came to the US from Israel at the age of 11; he was too busy learning english to spend much time delving into US history, so we really needed a major refresher course, which we hoped to get from the audio books. Since we were starting our trip in an area which saw terrible fighting during the Civil War, we bought “Don’t Know Much About the Civil War” written and narrated by Kenneth C. Davis.  For the next leg of the journey, we bought Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, or so I thought until I just picked it up, only to discover that instead of the audio book, Ilan ordered the sound track from the movie.  ROTFL from that one! Then I thought it a good idea to listen to To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I actually re-read just last year, but Ilan never has, so what better book to listen to while driving through the deep south? On our way to Texas, the salesperson at Barnes & Nobles (a retired teacher) suggested “Texas Rising by Stephen Moore, which she advises has been made into a TV series.  Then we bought “The Men who United the States” as a filler.  I am going to sign on to Amazon now and try to get some audio books relating to the national parks.

Before I head to Amazon, I wanted to mention that armed with the map from Betty at AAA, Ilan used Google Maps to give us the mileage and time between each of our stops on the itinerary.  After looking at it, noting that there are 32 parts to it and keeping in mind that there will be 5 Saturdays when we will not be traveling, I am not sure that we will indeed get to actually stop and visit everyone of the stops on the itinerary.