Monthly Archives: October 2015

And Then This Happened (Grand Canyon, Part 2)


One of the things we wanted to do at the Grand Canyon was watch the changing colors at sunset. Because we were driving an RV we found an over-look that was fairly quiet.


We couldn’t resist dinner with a view, but after taking some pictures from inside the RV, we moved outside to just soak it all in.


Click on any of the photos to get a closer look.


We’d had a full day and it was so peaceful watching the rocks change from orange to purple as shadows crept across the canyon.


The next morning we were up early so we could drive back to the canyons South Rim to watch the sunrise.


The moon hadn’t set yet.







After breakfast in the RV, we drove to the Visitor’s Center, parked, and caught a shuttle to enjoy more beautiful canyon vistas.  On Tuesday we’d driven one direction to the Desert View Watchtower near the East Entrance to the park.  Now we went the other direction, riding the shuttle to the last stop, Hermit’s Rest.

We browsed the gift shop and made a few purchases, enjoyed the view then back on the shuttle to Pima Point.


And then this happened.

Rem had a seizure.

It’s important to know that he had a bicycle accident in 2002 and knocked his head badly, cracking his bike helmet. He suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as well as other injuries.  That is a whole long story, but since that accident he’s been on disability. He’s done a lot of rehabilitation and healing. Then about six years ago he had three seizures in one day. It’s possible that a bad reaction to an antibiotic he was taking, combined with the brain injury, were what triggered those seizures. Or it could have just been the TBI.

It is very distressing to see someone having a seizure, especially someone you love. Rem fell while he was seizing, cutting his lip, scraping and banging his arm and his hand. Almost as quickly as I got to him, and I was crouched over him, holding this head, two people were right there behind me, and the woman asked “how can we help?”

At the moment, of course, I was flustered and anxious, adrenaline pumping as I grabbed Rem’s dropped backpack to put under his head. But even under these extremely stressful conditions, I was amazed at her next words: “We’re both neurologists.


I could not have imagined having this happen while we were on vacation but if it was going to happen, especially at an out-of-the-way location, who better to have standing ready to help but two doctors who specialize in the brain and nervous system?

This couple, tourists vacationing from Germany (and I only caught his name, Tobias), kept me calm at a time I was afraid. They reassured me and one of them, when she couldn’t reach 911, spoke to a shuttle bus driver who radioed in the call. They asked questions about Rem and his condition and when they learned he had a TBI and had previously had seizures, they said it was quite normal to have another seizure.

Although it felt like like a very long wait for the ambulance with Rem unconscious on the sidewalk and me on the ground with him, leaning over his face so my sunhat provides him some shade, the two doctor continued to reassure me about the typical symptoms he was exhibiting.  They were standing to provide shade as well. We could hear the siren echoing on the canyon walls and it seemed to be close than would fade as the road turned.

Rem would stir and blink his eyes a bit than sink back down. When he more fully regained consciousness he was very disoriented, again, quite normal under the circumstances, and what I’d experienced when he’d had the other seizures. But it was so reassuring to have these two angels with us for the whole time letting me know it was to be expected.

The EMT’s are park employees and the two doctors helped answer questions about what happened.  I couldn’t even remember how old Rem was and finally said “I’m 55 and he’s 7 years younger!” One guy was asking Rem if he wanted to go the the clinic in the park and Rem was saying “no” but I was saying “yes!”  Of course part of the questioning was to help them ascertain Rem’s condition. When asked if he knew where we were he said “Yosemite.”  I thought that was actually pretty good – it’s a National Park that we’ve visited.  He knew the President but not the day of the week. We were on vacation after all, so I’m not sure if I even knew the day of the week.

Rem was completely confused to be lying on the sidewalk with people leaning over him asking him questions. I kept telling him “You had a seizure and fell.” He finally said indignantly, “Well why didn’t anyone tell ME?!”

Soon enough he was on a gurney and I stood up and looked into the faces of Tobias and his wife/partner. I thanked them profusely and they explained that they see seizures and seizure patients every day in their work, and hadn’t expected to be involved with any on their vacation. As we walked out to the ambulance they explained that they’re not allowed to practice in the US. I assured them that making a 911 call and staying with Rem and I was not against those rules and that the care they had provided with their knowledge, calm presence, simple questions and explanations, and even standing close to provide shade had all been so helpful. I was so grateful and am still amazed that these would be the two people who were right there when it happened.

I was able to ride along to the clinic. Rem kept asking about “the car” and wondering how we would get back for it. I reminded him we had the RV and it was safely parked and we could get to it after he’d seen a doctor.

The doctor at the Grand Canyon clinic was wonderful.  She was calm, reassuring, and thorough. After an exam, lots of questions, tests and their results, she sent us on our way with a prescription for an emergency “break through” seizure medication.  She urged us to contact Rem’s GP and neurologist that day, which we did. The possibility that both the heat and the elevation (around 7,000 feet) could have been contributing factors was discussed.

Our day had changed course from our original plan, and it wasn’t exactly fun, but it could have been so much worse. I thought of a number of people I’d seen on the rocks at the edge of the canyon in the past few days.  They ignored signs and climbed over fences to pose for photos.  In many places alongside the canyon there are no fences.  That morning watching the sunrise, Rem and I had been sitting on rocks four or five feet from the edge. I’m so grateful that his seizure didn’t happen there.  Or he could have been driving our 25-foot rental RV when he had the seizure, another frightening thought.  In fact, he couldn’t drive for the remainder of the trip or for at least three months. I’m glad that I’d already been driving the RV.

We left the clinic and got a taxi-van to the market place to eat lunch. Then a shuttle ride to the visitor’s center where we watched a movie about the canyon, relaxing in the air-conditioned theater.  Even after this little rest we were both pretty worn out.  We took a short walk to the parking lot and our home-on-wheels. We climbed in, turned on the generator and the AC, closed the blinds and took a nap.

After the nap we caught a shuttle for one last trip to the rim at Yaki Point, and a final look at the canyon.


On the drive out of the park we stopped at the entrance to get one more picture.


Then back to the RV park in Tusayan for a good night’s rest.

Thanks for stopping by.



Filed under Life

Grand Canyon: It’s So BIG!


Our first view of the Grand Canyon, at least the first view in the last about 40 years, was breathtaking. We went to the South Rim and had planned to go to Desert View first then make our way back to the more central Visitor’s Center. But when we drove from Tusayan into the park itself, and started to get glimpses of the actual canyon, we couldn’t resist pulling over for a good, long look.

It’s really, really big.

I was moved seeing it spread out before us. Tears sprang to my eyes as we stood and looked out over this amazing, vibrant sight. The size of it is so impressive.


When we’d checked into our RV campsite the evening before, I was a little disheartened by the dreariness. We had road on three sides of us, the back of a strip mall in one direction and no picnic table. A path from the shops to the camp ground went right by our vehicle/home. The staff person in the office was grumpy and unwelcoming.

Rem wisely pointed out we would be spending our time at the Grand Canyon and only needed to be back at the RV campsite to sleep. So it was really wonderful to get our first view of the canyon.

We climbed back into the RV and continued on Desert View to the Desert View Watchtower.


Each overlook provided new views of this magnificent chasm.



Here you can see the Desert View Watchtower in the distance.



Signs provided information about the canyon.



We made sure all the critters had a chance to see from the window of the RV.



Throughout the day, the sunlight and shadows on the canyon walls and rock formations changed.




Looking over to people at another observation point gives some sense of the scale.


I asked Rem to stay where we were and I walked to this point so he could take my picture.


He also took these next two photos:


This is our shadow-selfie (we’re waving).


There’s just too much Grand Canyon to fit in one post.

Thanks for your visit – please stop by again when I have my next post with more Grand Canyon pictures.






Filed under Life

Rosy Red Sedona


The scenery on the drive into Sedona, AZ from Highway 40 on 89A is just stunning.  It is just under 30 miles from the turnoff to Sedona. We arrived in the late afternoon which meant the lighting really enhanced the landscape.  The road descends several thousand feet in elevation as it twists and turns into canyons with incredible views. It included some of the narrowest sections of road that we drove on this trip and branches thwacked the mirrors of the RV a few times, making us both jump.


When you reach Upper Sedona, nearly all the buildings are the same warm pinkish color as the surrounding rock formations. The impression is of the whole town formed of the same rocks.

Rem and I were both feeling some mild symptoms from the altitude and heat and were happy to get settled into Rancho Sedona RV Park.  At one point, I think I counted 6 other Cruise America RV’s in the park, including our neighbors one day, a couple from Holland who’d just been to the Grand Canyon, next on our itinerary.


Traveling in an RV is a good way to meet other travelers, at least more so than when we’ve stayed in motels in the past. Over the course of our trip we met folks from Canada, Ireland, England, Holland, Italy, France, Israel, China, Japan, and Australia. We also met plenty of American travelers, some from close by, like a couple from Phoenix that we chatted with in Sedona and others from Tennessee, New York, Iowa and Kentucky.

On an early morning walk I explored the beautiful grounds of the Sedona Creative Life Center. The glass spire is part of the chapel.


This local kitty was very vocal and greeted me with meows, reminding me of our neighbor’s cat at home.



I fantasized about spending a few hours in their garden crafting but our time was too short and we had other things to see and do.


We strolled around Upper Sedona on a very warm day, enjoying misters set up by outdoor seating of some restaurants. I also found a turquoise ring and bought it for myself. Many shops feature silver and turquoise jewelry, which made me think of my dad.


Outside a shop, we met a local critter.


After lunch, we took a trolley tour that included a stop at Chapel of the Holy Cross which is built right into the red rock buttes.






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Anywhere you go in Sedona, you need only look up to enjoy more fantastic red rock vistas.  We drove up to the airport to get a better look at some.  It is difficult to capture the scale of these rock formations in pictures.







The tour also went through Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. It is styled after a Mexican village with shops, galleries and restaurants. Cobblestone walkways, arched doorways, tiles, plants and splashing fountains were all inviting when we returned late the next afternoon.



The chapel was closed but pretty even on the outside.



I enjoyed browsing the beautiful and unique necklaces in one shop that were well out of my price range, but still a pleasure to look at.


Dinner at El Rincon was Arizona style Mexican food, a delicious green chile relleno for me, a Machaca (shredded beef) taco for Rem and we shared a blue corn beef taco with guacamole. We also shared an enormous sopapilla for dessert. In the past I’ve had them as a side with dinner: small squares of deep-fried dough, about 3 inches across, that puff into hollow pillows. You bite off a corner and drizzle in some honey.  This was a round about 10 inches across, sprinkled with powered sugar and cinnamon. We broke it apart and ate every bite, also drizzled with honey.


We strolled back to the RV park and waited near the entrance with other guests to see the moon rise during the lunar eclipse. It was the perfect event to top our visit to Sedona.

We said goodbye the next day and headed for the Grand Canyon!


At an overlook you can see the road to Sedona.


Thanks for coming along.




Filed under Life

Home (on Wheels) Sweet Home


Rem and I are on the road, vacationing in a rented Cruise America RV. We’ve talked about traveling in an RV and decided the time had come.


This is in front of our apartment complex, after loading up the “rig” with our clothing, bedding, cookware, and other essentials for the trip.  As this was home away from home, we tried to think of everything we might need, without bringing too much.

We did a fair amount of research online, watching orientation videos, reading blogs, etc. so we had an idea of what to expect.  I had some concerns, including driving what still feels huge to me but and now as we are on the way back home I am happy to report that it has been a delightful adventure. That doesn’t mean it has been all sunshine and rainbows, but we will probably do it again.

Here we are, on our way!


Rem didn’t mind driving through the busier city streets as we headed south. In fact, he also drove the RV from the rental place to our home so we could load up.

With plenty of room, we couldn’t resist bringing all our critters


This is the bedroom aka as one of the back corners. Storage bins are overhead. The mattress is comfortable though covered in plastic so it is warm. Rem agreed to sleep in the corner because I get up more frequently in the night.  It means he’s more under the cupboards (more bumped heads) and must climb over me to get out.  It is also means making the bed is more of a challenge.

We originally wanted the compact size vehicle (19 feet long), which would have meant sleeping on a bunk over the cab. I’m so grateful that only the standard was available, which is 25 feet. For the two of us, it has been perfect.


The bathroom facilities are adequate: this small sink and medicine cabinet plus a small space under the sink and through the door a toilet and small shower stall. We’ve stayed in campgrounds with restrooms and showers that are roomier and more comfortable to use.  Which means the shower stall is another space for storing things like my canvas toiletries bag, extra toilet paper, etc.

Here is the kitchen.


A microwave, three-burner propane cook-top and a nice deep sink.  The morning I made pancakes I set off the smoke alarm, (no, not from burning breakfast), but most of the time I’ve cooked without too much hassle. A medium-sized refrigerator and freezer are behind you if you stand at the stove. We are not supposed to use the water for cooking or drinking, since you can’t control the quality, so we have been buying water in large jugs with spigots.

Counter space is quite limited as is storage space.  However, it is ok and I’ve been cooking most of our dinners. I miss an oven but the weather for much of our trip has been quite warm, so I probably wouldn’t have baked anything anyway. I don’t have a picture but there is a huge storage space under the vehicle that comes with a (not very good folding table), where we’ve put some folding camp chairs, firewood, extra water and a box of miscellaneous camping supplies. It would easily hold a large cooler and more.


Rem is at the table which can convert to a bed, though I don’t think the seat cushions, which are thinner than the mattress on the bed, would be as comfy to sleep on.  The large window over the table is wonderful and our view for meals changes as often as we move to a new campsite. With picnic tables at most of the sites, we’ve often eaten outside.

All together, here’s the whole space.  Everything fits together like pieces of a puzzle. This size RV is listed as being able to sleep 5, but I think that would get pretty crowded and crazy.


You can see the fridge behind Rem and beyond the fridge is a small closet and a few drawers.  We have actually kept most of our clothing on the bunk above the cabin the backpack and duffle bag in which we packed them.

Although it feels big to drive…


you can see here it is not the largest vehicle on the road. (That’s a picture, by the way, not a real doggie in the window.)


This is at a rest stop with some of the many, many semis we’ve seen in our travels.


After a fairly easy drive to Fresno for our maiden tour, our first night out was at the curb in front of the home of friends, and we didn’t do the full hook-up. We saved that for our second night, at the KOA in Kingman, AZ, when we actually did it by flashlight. It went much more smoothly than I hoped and (lucky me) Rem is totally ok with doing the sewer hookup.

The landscape changed as we drove along and as we got closer to Arizona, it became decidedly more dry and sparse, with hills and formations out of a Western.



We headed for our first destination: a section of U.S. Route 66. We started in Kingman at the Route 66 Museum. The location and characteristics of Radiator Springs from the Pixar movie Cars are a composite of many different small towns along Route 66.  We learned it is also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road,  and was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System.


In the parking lot of Hackberry General Store we met several members of a group of 40 tourists from Germany traveling by motorcycle. They were en route to Las Vegas where one couple was planning to renew their wedding vows before an Elvis impersonator.


Burma Shave signs liven up stretches of the route, including this group in Hackberry. You can find more here.




Old cars dot the landscape and I imagined my dad would have found this amusing.  A few were beautiful, vintage autos but many were just old junkers but they added character to the various shops and businesses along the way.


Behind Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive In, the garden is full of old signs, a collection of outhouses and other kitsch.


After I enjoyed a snow cone and Rem had a chocolate milkshake, we got back on the road to continue our trip.


Next stop: Sedona, Arizona.

Thanks for coming along.


Filed under Life