October 26, 2018 Bend, Oregon

Mountain Above Bend
Mountain Above Bend

Medical Update

Sorry for the long delay in posting anything on this blog, but as some of you have probably guessed, I had a serious relapse of my Multiple Myeloma. As I have stated before, I did not want this travel/photography blog to become nothing more than a medical update blog, so since I am not traveling and have been confined to Bend for two months now, there has been nothing to blog about, other than health issues.

In late October, while I was staying at South Beach CG on the Olympic Peninsula, I began experiencing extreme fatigue and felt there was something seriously wrong. Since I figured I could make it the day’s long trip down to Bend and the oncologist that saved me a little more than a year prior, I packed up and headed south. I made it to Bend and drove up to a snow park near Mount Bachelor to camp. The following day I drove down to Bend and checked into the Emergency Room at St. Charles Hospital. I remained in the hospital for two weeks, including a three day stay in ICU where I since been told I came close to buying the farm, due to an infection that my nonexistent white blood cells could not fight off. My Multiple Myeloma had returned with a vengence.

My oncologist got me started on a new chemo regimen while I was hospitalized and that has now continued for the last six weeks on an outpatient basis. As was the case last year, I have been able to stay in the 11 space hospital camping area while I go through this recovery process again. This full hookup camping area on the hospital campus is once again, a true life saver.

Today my oncologist told me that I could probably resume traveling sometime around the end of November, and he could arrange for me to receive the last couple of months of chemo infusions at a hospital in a warmer climate. It does appear that I probably will get the cancer back into remission as the last few weeks’ blood numbers look very encouraging. So maybe this blog will resume in it’s former form by the end on November. Here’s hoping!

The Kindness of Strangers

As I mentioned above, when I arrived in Bend, I parked my motorhome in a Snow Park up near Mount Bachelor, about 17 miles outside of Bend. The next day when I drove down to the hospital, I locked Pearl in the bathroom with her bed, toys, water, and food, not knowing if I would have to be admitted to the hospital or not ( though I had a feeling I would be ).

My first concern, when the Emergency Room doctor quickly conveyed how perilous my condition was and checked me into the hospital, was how to get Pearl rescued. The solution turned out to be a Forest Ranger the hospital called who came to my bedside, took my info and motorhome keys, and drove up to the Snow Park and picked up Pearl and then delivered her to the Humane Society of Central Oregon in Bend where she could be cared for until/if  I was released from the hospital. On top of that, on his own, he went to the shelter to check on her two days later and relayed her status to me in the hospital, something he certainly did not have to do, but that was greatly appreciated.

Since the Myeloma had clogged my kidneys once again, I had to undergo treatments in the dialysis unit where they ran my blood through a centrifuge of some kind to filter out the Light Chains, though they did manage to keep me from requiring dialysis thankfully. This took several sessions over five or six days and lasted several hours each day. I can not say enough about how wonderful the staff of this department was at a very trying time for me.

The department head ( Mary) was very concerned about the welfare of Pearl ( maybe a little bit about me also ) and her confinement at the Humane Society, and insisted that she would go pick her up and keep her at her  home until I could take her back … and she did just that, with Pearl ending up staying with her for three weeks. And I might note that Pearl was reluctant to return to life in the motorhome after being spoiled with a fenced yard, being able to sleep in a real bed, new toys, and more pampering than she she ever gets from me. But she has readjusted now to her her prior dull life wth me, though she really looks forward to having Mary come take her for a walk every week.

The Dialysis Unit nurses and doctor were also concerned about my motorhome sitting unattended up in the Snow Park while I was confined to the hospital and asked if I needed someone to go up and get it and drive it down to the hospital and set it up in the hospital camping area. Talk about “above and beyond the call of duty”. Sure enough, two of the male nurses in the unit took my keys, drove to the Snow Park, prepped the motorhome to travel ( raise the jacks, stow the TV and lower the satellite dish, etc. ), and drove the motorhome back to the hospital, backed it into a space and hooked up the utilities for me so that I had a place to go when I got released from the hospital. I can not say enough about these kind folks!

If it weren’t for the freezing temperatures and snow, I would elect to stay here in Bend to complete my treatment, but living in the RV, I do need to get to a warmer climate before the snow does start to fall. I’ll resume some blog posts when I hit the road!

July 27, 2018 South Beach Campground, Washington

Maltese
Pearl at 7 Months

Fogged in at South Beach

Pearl has made it to 7 months as of today so I thought I might include a new photo of her as she has changed quite a bit from the last time I took any shots of her. Still very independent, but is gradually coming around to realize that it is in her best interests to listen to me more than just occasionally. House breaking has finally been successfully completed and she has become agreeable to have her harness and leash put on when the situation warrants.

South Beach Campground
South Beach Campground

Haven’t been posting anything lately as I seem to find myself unmotivated to get out and do much. We have been socked in with heavy coastal fog for a week or more now, although as soon as you get just a half mile inland, there are bright blue skies and very warm temperatures, in the high 80’s and 90’s. But here in the campground the fog keeps temps in the 60’s.

South Beach Campground
South Beach Campground
Coastal Fog
Coastal Fog

I have driven up to Forks and then back down to the coast to LaPush and Mora in the bright, hot, sunny weather, but as soon as you get back near the beach you run into the coastal fog bank again, so nothing to photograph lately.

Gulls on the Beach at LaPush
Gulls on the Beach at LaPush
LaPush Harbor
LaPush Harbor

I did drive about 30 miles south one day and then did the loop road around Lake Quinault hoping to get some shots of the many small waterfalls along that road. However all the small streams were bone dry and thus obviously no waterfalls.

Roosevelt Elk
Roosevelt Elk

I did however stumble across these Roosevelt Elk. First time I have ever encountered a mixed sex herd of elk, bulls, cows, and calves, all feeding or resting along the riverbank.

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July 12, 2018 South Beach Campground, Washington

South Beach View Through the Windshield
South Beach View Through the Windshield

Return to South Beach

In 2014 I discovered this little jewel of a campground as I made my first trip around the Olympic Peninsula. At that time, when I pulled into the campground, I was a little underwhelmed to say the least. What lay in front of me was a very crowded narrow gravel strip with RV’s and tents packed in as tight as sardines, lots of dust, smoky fires, and people wandering through the tightly spaced campsites. I grabbed the only available spot right at the entrance, as far from the beach as was possible, and figured I would only be able to tolerate staying in this hectic, congested spot for a night or two.

Fifty-one days later, when they closed the campground for the season just after Labor Day, I left with a whole different attitude about this very unique camping spot. As with real estate, location means everything here. After a couple nights camped at the entrance I was fortunate enough to see a unit leaving a beachside campsite and moved myself over to the vacated site. Still packed in tight with little space between the front and rear of my motorhome and my neighbors, at least now I could draw the blinds on the driver’s side of my rig and thus sort of close out the congestion on one side of the campsite. And the view out the other side was of the beach. I was serenaded to sleep nightly by the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, drowning out  ( most of ) the noise of the other campers. Days were spent reading and walking on the beach with Jenny and Sam. While the west roasted under 90 plus degree temps that summer, here at the beach it was a pleasant 70 – 80 degrees every day and nights were just right for sleeping with temps in the 50’s.

So for quite some time I have been wanting to return here and get a respite from the summer heat.

South Beach Campsite
South Beach Campsite

After a couple nights in a campsite across the road from the beachfront sites, I was able to move into this wonderful campsite, probably the best site of the 60+ sites in the campground.

South Beach Campsite
South Beach Campsite

Nobody in front of me, nobody to the left, and only the beach to the right.

Surf Fishermen
Surf Fishermen

This is my morning view out the passenger side window, not bad for a campsite that costs me all of $7.50 a night. There are no hookups of any kind here, no water available and no dump station, but those are available about 5 miles north of here at the Klalaloch Campground. Being out in the open as this site is, satellite reception is fine and there is a very strong Verizon signal here.

A Most Unusual Day in the Campground

South Beach Early Morning
South Beach Early Morning

The early morning shot above shows me in the campsite I had when I first arrived here on Monday.  The site I coveted was directly across the road from where I was and the woman tenting there told me she was leaving on Wednesday, so on Wednesday morning I signed myself up for four nights in that spot and sat back waiting for her to vacate the site so I could move over and set up there. But there turned out to be a little fly in the ointment in the person of a production company that moved in early that morning to shoot commercials for an RV manufacturer … and they had chosen the perfect site to use for that shoot, the site I was intending to move to as soon as the woman vacated that site.

I was a little dumbfounded to learn of this from a casual conversation with a fellow camper who happened to be part of the production crew. I told her I  was a little bewildered that there were no postings of any kind that an event like this was happening and when I checked with the campground host to find out if this was for real, they had no knowledge of this either .. kind of strange, but then again, this is a campground run by the federal government, the National Park Service.

So there I was, ready to move to my ideal campsite, and I was told that it was to be used by the production company, not me, even though I had paid for the site and there was no indication anywhere that someone else had reserved that site for the day. As a younger man, I would probably have fought to move onto my paid for site regardless, but at this stage of my life, I decided to just roll with the punches and see what transpires.

In the Middle of the Action
In the Middle of the Action

So I remained on my original campsite as the production crew set up all around me as you can see in the image above.

Caterer
Caterer

Behind me a caterer had his trailer and set out a spread for breakfast and coffee breaks.

Wardrobe Motorhome
Wardrobe Motorhome

In front of the caterer was the wardrobe bus for the models, occupying the rear of this motorhome while the front of the trig was an onsite production room for the photographers.

Wardrobe Motorhome
Wardrobe Motorhome
Prop Trucks
Prop Trucks

Three rental trucks house all the various props and equipment the photographers would need for the shoot.

Unloading Props
Unloading Props
Setting Up for the Shoot
Setting Up for the Shoot

Around noon, a fifth wheel was moved onto the ( my ) site and set up for the first shoot.

Models for the Shoot
Models for the Shoot

The models moved in and the staff set out props for the shoot. Looks like a pretty nice site, wouldn’t you say?

The Shoot
The Shoot

Photographers, there were four of them involved, started doing external shots after an hour or so of interior shots.

Shooting Platform
Shooting Platform

I set up my ladder behind my motorhome and allowed the photographers to use my roof as a shooting platform.

Getting a Better Angle
Getting a Better Angle

Probably should have gotten a liability waiver from them, but fortunately, no one got hurt climbing up and down from the RV.

Lunch Break
Lunch Break

As I mentioned before, I was in the center of all the action, and that was no different as the caterer set up tables to serve lunch to the crew. Although I didn’t partake, I might note that I was invited to join them for lunch by the production managers.

Lunch Break
Lunch Break
Lunch Break
Lunch Break
Lunchtime
Lunchtime

This young woman typified the attitude all of these folks, pleasant, hard working people that genuinely appeared to enjoy what they were doing. I spent a long day , from 8 AM until 10 PM with these people, the drivers, the photographers, the caterer, the ” worker bees “, and the managers and they were all genuinely nice people. I would have to say that I have never encountered such a mixed bunch that appeared to work so well together.

Motorhomes Move In
Motorhomes Move In

After lunch they moved the fifth wheel out and moved in two motorhomes that they spent the rest of the afternoon and evening shooting.

Motorhome Reflection
Motorhome Reflection

I got a kick out of the reflection of my dowdy rig in the highly polished exterior of the $578,000 45 foot motorhome.

Motorhome Reflection
Motorhome Reflection

You certainly would not see any reflections when looking at the side of my motorhome.

At 9:30 PM, the photographers got their final sunset shots of the motorhomes and the day’s shooting was completed and the boss called it a wrap to the cheers of the hard working staff. The motorhomes were moved out and I was able to finally move onto my cherished spot. By 10:30, about an hour after my normal bedtime, I was finally set up and ready to enjoy the rest of my stay at South Beach.

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June 4, 2018 Grand Teton National Park

Reflections on Jackson Lake
Reflections on Jackson Lake

Scenics From Grand Teton National Park

Spending two weeks here in the spring, one has the opportunity to fully appreciate just how beautiful this region is. Though half my days were gloomy, overcast, and rainy, the other half were, at times, just incredibly, drop dead gorgeous.

Jackson Lake Reflection
Jackson Lake Reflection

Fog lifting from the valley reflected in the calm waters of beautiful Jackson Lake.

Teton View From Campground Exit Road
Teton View From Campground Exit Road

The scene as I exited Gros Ventre Campground in the morning revealed the promise of another great day.

Teton View From Campground Exit Road
Teton View From Campground Exit Road

 

Teton Pronghorns
Teton Pronghorns

In the evening, returning to the Gros Ventre Campground along Kelly Road, I was sometimes accompanied by small groups of Pronghorns and always by wonderful views of Grand Teton.

Lupines and Grand Teton
Lupines and Grand Teton

Lupines were starting to bloom in numbers in select areas of the park this last week.

Grand Teton
Grand Teton

The arrow leaf balsam root were approaching peak bloom.

Grand Teton
Grand Teton
Paddleboarding on Jenny Lake
Paddleboarding on Jenny Lake

Sure wouldn’t want to take a spill from the paddle board since the lake water temps are only in the low 40’s.

Fog Rising Grand Teton
Fog Rising Grand Teton

Springtime snow melt produces a wonderful waterfall, not to be seen during fall visits.

Spring Runoff Grand Teton
Spring Runoff Grand Teton
Spring Runoff Grand Teton
Spring Runoff Grand Teton
Morman Farm
Morman Farm

Mormon Row landscapes taken at 6 AM or before in order to avoid the crowds of photographers that would otherwise be included in any of these panoramic shots.

Morman Farm
Morman Farm
Morman Farm
Morman Farm

There were promising mornings when I arrived too late, as in 6:30 AM or so, and already there would be a couple of vans or buses unloading folks here.

Morman Farm
Morman Farm
Red Hills
Red Hills

Painted red hills east of the town of Kelly, just a few miles from Gros Ventre Campground. There is a National Forest campground up there but the road to access it is in just horrible shape, one I would not want to subject my motorhome to.

Beaver Pond Reflections
Beaver Pond Reflections

Reflections from Schwabacher Landing

Grand Teton Reflection
Grand Teton Reflection

Of course, any scenics from Grand Teton National Park would have to include shots taken from Schwabacher Landing and the reflections of Grand Teton in the beaver ponds along the backwaters of the Snake River.

Grand Teton Reflection
Grand Teton Reflection
Grand Teton Reflection
Grand Teton Reflection
Trail Ride
Trail Ride

What a great way to spend a day here in Grand Teton National Park, a trail ride out along the Snake River.

After these folks crossed the road I proceeded south down the highway and came across a young woman trotting her horse north towards this group. She was riding just twenty feet or so from the highway. After slowly passing her, in my rearview mirror  I saw her flying through the air and landing in the grass off the side of the road and I could see her horse bucking like a rodeo bronco out in the center of the highway. Fortunately there were no cars coming when the horse was bucking, riderless, out in the road. I was moving very slowly when I passed her and she seemed like a very confident rider and was a fair distance off the shoulder of the highway as we passed, but I worry that perhaps I somehow spooked her horse and was the cause of this mishap. As they disappeared from view in my mirror, I did see her rise up from the grass and walk out into the road towards her bucking horse, so at least I know she survived the mishap.

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