vacation

I Got Better

This is the long awaited follow up to A Very Delayed Post. While not required reading for this post, it’s a much more upbeat article, so I suggest you read it.

As I mentioned in the Delayed Post, the health issues started early on the morning of Saturday, 28 January. I woke up about 0300 that day with fever and chills. Being 500 miles from home, and in the middle of the Campbell Christmas Vacation, I elected to self treat. I started the Tylenol and lots of water, which will usually get me through most minor colds and such. But I have never had a virus like this.

By the time we returned home on New Year’s Eve, I was down right miserable. I had next to no appetite, no energy (which was good as I had no desire to do anything other than crawl into bed), a racking cough, and was still plagued with fever and chills.

I sat in a tepid shower for almost 45 minutes in an attempt to break what ever bug that was beating me down so badly. Needless to say, it didn’t help. On New Year’s Day I told Wifey to take me to an Urgent Care. She (being the smart one in this relationship), ignored my request and took me straight to the ER. While skipping Urgent Care and going straight to the ER probably didn’t change the outcome any, it at least skipped a stop and got me the care I desperately needed just that much quicker. Plus one less co-pay!

The ER nurse was our friend. She took one look at me and my basic vital signs and skipped past the basic triage area and right into a treatment room. The only stop was to have an EKG done. Once again I was in A-Fib with RVR (Atrial Fibrillation with a Rapid Ventricular Response). This is not a new thing for me, but this time I had absolutely no symptoms! I could not tell that my heart rate was 188, and I had no chest pain. All I knew was that I couldn’t breathe.

The usual IVs were started, swabs taken to see if I had any of the flu strains, or other contagious processes going on. I do remember another nurse telling me I was positive for Influenza Virus, and she gave me Tamiflu. This was roughly 1630 (4:30 PM). I had already been in the ER for about 8 hours by this time. I remember friends and family coming into the ER room, in full gowns, masks, and gloves. All the time I was thinking this is just a bad cold folks. Admit me, give me antibiotics for a couple of days and everything will be alright. Wow was I wrong.

Sometime in the afternoon of the 1st, I suddenly could not breathe. I was in acute respiratory distress. My lungs felt as big as the room, yet I couldn’t get any air in. As a long time COPD/Chronic Asthma patient, I was trying every breathing technique I could think of. I’m sure I didn’t remember all those tips, I was going into full panic mode. But nothing was helping.

It was vitally clear to my amazing medical team that the A-Fib was a secondary issue now. If I couldn’t get air in, it didn’t matter if my heart was in a normal rhythm or not.

I guess it was around this same time that my test results starting coming in. Not only was that Flu virus attacking me, I also had a bacterial streptococcus infection. Both of these combined to not only basically take out my left lung with a pneumonia, I was going septic. My blood was so infected that my body was starting to shut down. The real last thing I remember the ER doctor telling me was “You’re a lot sicker than you think you are.” Needless to say that scared me.

I’m not sure who brought up that I should be intubated. But that person saved my life. I do remember giving my permission for the procedure. Whomever I was speaking to at this point in time asked if I understood what they were suggesting. Being a retired Army Medic (a paramedic in the civilian world), I understood exactly what the procedure entailed. I willingly let them sedate me, put the tube down my throat, and hook me to a ventilator. While I understood that having a machine breathe for me would neither speed up nor lengthen the healing process, I knew taking my now full panic mode brain out the equation would only be a good thing. When I mentioned that to whoever it was, they smiled and said, “OK! Let’s do this.”

As all the equipment was being brought into the room, two things went through my head, and this will tell you just how separated my brain was becoming from reality.

First, that my paternal grandfather, Herbert J. Campbell died of exactly what I was going through; Pneumonia, secondary to the flu. He passed away February 1919. Almost 100 years before me sitting in the ER with the same crap coursing through my body. Second, I was looking at all the cool tech they were bringing in, and was slightly upset that I wouldn’t get to see this cool tech in action. And as much of a history buff, and wanna-be genealogist as am I, following in my grandfather’s footsteps was, surprisingly, not real high on my bucket list.

It was late on the afternoon of the 4th that the decision to extubate me was made. I’m unsure who was consulted, if anyone other than the medical team. They have brought me just up enough to ask me questions (wifey said I was trying to talk to her in “morse code” at times) or not. In any case the tube was coming out.

As mentally frightening as everything up to now had been, this was physically frightening. The first real conscious thought I had was waking up and choking due to the tube still being down my throat.

They had to wait for all the meds to wear off and to make sure my lungs would start on their own before removing the tube. So I’m now fully awake trying to breathe on my own, with a tube in my windpipe. I had a suction tube in one hand while trying to pull gently on the tube to make room to suction my mouth and throat. I was gagging and didn’t want to aspirate anything and cause another pneumonia. Of course the med team was right there and took the tube out before anything bad happened.

I may not have been turned into a newt, but I did get better.

The next 6 days are very boring. I never left the ICU, not because I needed the extra care or attention, there were just no available beds. The only beds available in the entire hospital were in the ICU. I didn’t mind it at all. I had great care. Everyone from the housekeepers emptying the trash and mopping floor every day, to the patient care techs would took care of all my basic needs before I was even allowed out my bed, to the totally amazing respiratory techs, to the lab folks (but was it really necessary to do the blood draws at 0530??), to finally the nurses. The last few days of my stay, when I should have been on a regular medical floor, I would have Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapists come in to not only do their jobs, but sit and just talk, and some stayed a little longer to listen the music I had playing on my tablet every day.

Friends, I have never been so scared in my life.

My main concern now, other than just getting back to full strength, is learning to live as a Warfarin patient. I have to watch how much Vitamin K is in my diet. It’s not that I can’t have these foods, I just have to find a balance between meds and food. Nothing new for me.

I do hope this hasn’t bored you. It’s a bit therapeutic for me to put it all down. I’m sure my dates and times are off, days blend together in events like this.

Peace,
B

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A Very Delayed Post

I have to apologize to ya’ll. We took our Campbell Christmas Vacation as planned, leaving here on December 26th. While the vacation was a joy, I became very ill, and was hospitalized on our return. That will be the subject of my next post, as I am still sorting out details of the whole vacation/illness. So this will be a quick post with some pictures of the vacation aspect.

The plan was to leave here on the morning of the 26th, and we actually made it work. We piled Wifey, Son-The-Younger, both granddaughters and myself into the car and headed north. Our destination was Maggie Valley, NC. We rented a larger cabin than the one Wifey and I rented two years ago for a five night stay. The weather was good, and for once, traffic not an issue at all. We all got our suitcases unpacked and stuff put away in our rooms and away we went!

The cabin’s living room.

Friday was Son-The-Younger’s birthday and we promised him we would take him the Sierra Nevada Brewery just outside of Asheville, NC. Wifey and I visited the brewery and took the tour two years ago. Son-The-Younger was looking forward to this trip. We took the Blue Ridge Parkway over the mountains to Asheville. We stopped at many of the scenic overlooks and the girls took many pictures.

We arrived at the Brewery just in time for our scheduled tour (you have to make reservations), and Wifey and the girls went to “The Back Porch”, an open area that has food, a garden and even – get this – beer! Although there wasn’t any live music that day, they do have an outdoor stage, as well as an indoor area in case of bad weather. And is very dog friendly.

We drove home and had a great BBQ dinner, which was another “requirement” for this trip.

Saturday was a planned “quiet” day. In the morning we took the girls to do some “gem” mining. Then Son-The-Younger and I visited Elevated Mountain Distillery, while Wifey took the girls to a little store we enjoyed on our last visit.

It was a good thing that we didn’t have much planned for Saturday. I woke up about 3AM with fever and chills. So after the short morning excursions, I went back to bed for the afternoon. I think I sweated through my clothes twice that afternoon. The rest of the family went tubing (man made snow, sadly) while I basically sweated every ounce of liquid out of my body. Son-The-Younger tried to get a fire going in one of the outside fire pits, but it was rained out.

I awoke Sunday morning feeling better, but not great. I knew I was still fighting whatever bug I had picked up, I just didn’t realize how badly I was losing that fight.

But not giving up, we again went over the mountains, but this time from Cherokee, NC to Gatlinburg, TN. We went right through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and we hadn’t even gone half a mile into the park when we came across a herd of Elk. The girls were so happy.

We made it to Gatlinburg with no issues. We even found a Mexican restaurant that Wifey and I had tried almost 20 years ago! And it was right next to the Ripley’s Aquarium which was our first scheduled stop (after tacos of course). Then the real fun began.

The plan all along was to get me a wheelchair while at the aquarium. My legs were still heavily impacted by the back injury, so I figured I would not be able to walk the entire distance required. Turns out I couldn’t even make it into the aquarium!

Going up the steps to get to the wheelchair I passed out. I was so lucky that there was a guy right behind me who saw it coming, probably before I realized what was happening. He was a strong enough guy that he grabbed me and set me down so I only ended up with was a scrape on one knee where it hit the pillar I has holding on to. Luckily it passed somewhat quickly and by the time the kids met us with the wheelchair I was coherent, and some of my strength returned. It was nice have everyone push my wheelchair so I could see the major parts of the aquarium, and there were plenty of places that I could be parked while everyone else went to see something that would have been a tight fit. We got in a few other attractions that afternoon, then head back to our cabin in Maggie Valley.

I will leave the health issues for the next post. I knew I was sick, but I really didn’t feel any worse or better for the rest of the trip.

Monday found us in Cherokee, NC. I really didn’t expect the girls to enjoy the museum as much as they did. They were asking questions about the displays and had good comments when their questions were answered. it’s really nice to see them getting inquisitive about things that aren’t covered very well in school. The Cherokee people have an absolutely beautiful creation story. Personally, I find it every bit as relevant as any other creation story. It is no more, nor any less credible the one most of us have been force feed all these years.

Outside of the museum in Cherokee.

Every time I visit a museum of this sort, I am saddened beyond words how native peoples have been treated by we white people. On every continent we have hurt if not straight out destroyed entire cultures. They had a veteran’s display in the museum. It told of a Cherokee medical doctor that was on a landing craft on D-Day. I didn’t know they had any doctors on the landing craft. But it makes me wonder were there any “white” doctors on any other landing craft? Then there was a display of Cherokee Medal of Honor Recipient. I’m sorry I don’t have names for these, and the other Cherokee’s enshrined in this part of the museum. I was so overcome, and still am, with emotion I had to leave the area and just sit down in the lobby. Knowing that chances are that these gentlemen had already been forcibly removed from their ancestral homes to the squalid desperation of a reservation, but still answered the call to serve this nation (not the Cherokee Nation, but the “white man nation”) amazes me. Sadly, most of the town of Cherokee was closed for the season, so shopping was limited.

However, Son-The-Younger conquered the elements and got the fire pit going. I am told the s’mores were wonderful!

The next morning we loaded everything back up in the car and headed home. We only stopped long enough to visit with Lil-Big-Sis at lunch. There are so many more stories to tell of this trip, but I just don’t have the energy to keep this going, nor a voice to dictate to Wifey, so dear reader this will have to suffice.

But I leave you with What’s Stuck In Wifey’s Head this morning. Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 31 May

While this song has been a favorite of mine since I first heard it many years ago, it only bubbles up to my conscience now and then. But we heard it several time during our visit to Scotland earlier this month. (We’re ready to go back too!)

It’s not surprising that the song was featured during our trip. The Proclaimers are a set of Scottish twins, they sing in a thick Scottish accent, and the song has been featured and covered by lots of folks, including a Comic Relief 2007: The Big One version for the BBC. It took it’s inclusion on the Johnny Depp movie Benny & June for the song to take off in America. It reached #3 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1993.

Not everybody on our tour knew all the words, in fact I don’t think any of us Americans knew them all, but everybody sang along on the chorus! Almost all of us could sing along when Puff The Magic Dragon came on. Out tour director claims that Puff is actually about Nessie. And while I never thought of that connection, it kinda makes sense!

So, here is I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles). Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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Scotland 2019 – Day 5

No long coach rides today! Yea!

Are you tired of the map yet?

My apologies for the tardiness of this post. We did quite a bit of walking yesterday and I ended up in the bar later than usual. No real surprise there. Also our braw tour director does Ancestry research and several of us met with him to pick up some research tips.

I have an hour before breakfast so I will hopefully get this posted right away.

The day started off in a shambles. Our coach driver, Neil, was required by law to have the day off. Much like truckers in the USA can only drive for so many hours before they must stop, the same applies here.

The fill-in driver was over 30 minutes late. Poor Ian, our braw tour director, was beside himself. Ian called our two stops and got us rescheduled.

First stop for the day was Blair Castle. This castle was first built in the mid 13th century. And parts of that construction are still in use.

They a have a piper play every hour most afternoons on the grounds.

The castle has 30 rooms that you can visit on your self guided tour. As usual, there are muskets, bayonets and swords everywhere.

There are many red deer on the grounds as well. And it seems they like to mount them!

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The Duke of Atholl is the person in Europe that has a standing private army, the Atholl Highlanders.

But for wifey and I, the best part was walking the grounds. We went first to Diana’s Grove (this is the Greek Goddess, not the late Princess. And no, Princess Diana is not buried here. And yes, someone asked if she was buried in the Grove.)

The best sidetrip was a visit to the ruined St. Bride’s Kirk. St. Bride is better known as Brigid. The Kirk, or church, was built around 1275.

From the castle to the distillery. I was looking forward to this visit as I have never heard of this brand of whisky. And now I now why. The majority of the whisky distilled here is used in blended whiskies. They only bottle 0.03% of the product as single malt, and it’s not exported. Hence, I’ve never heard of Blair Atholl.

Our tour guide, Tom, was very good.

But I will admit that I didn’t care for the whisky.

Random shot to prove the sun does shine on Scotland!

We ended the afternoon with some free time in the little town of Pitlochry.

Wifey was happy she finally got to wear her sunglasses

And that’s a wrap. Up next is Glamis Castle and St. Andrew’s.

Peace,

B

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Scotland 2019 – Day 3

We had a long travel day today. Still stopped at some braw locations but we also spent long hours just riding through the Scottish countryside.

The reference map.

The day started as usual with a breakfast buffet. I now now that haggis is a wonderful dish! I do truly enjoy it. Wifey still hasn’t worked up the courage to try it.

Our hotel last night was on beautiful Loch Leven. Since I don’t sleep much anymore, I was up and took this shot of the Loch in the early morning mist.

Then it’s off to the races. Well, as much as a 48 passenger bus can race on narrow country roads. We passed through Fort William, but not slow enough for a picture. Actually, the only thing worth photographing was the ruins of the fort. But we went by it so fast I didn’t see anything to photograph!

An unexpected stop was at the Glenfinnian Viaduct. I’m sure most of you will recognize this from the Harry Potter movies. The train, The Jacobite Express, was not in the area when we stopped. But it didn’t matter to me as I’ve not seen any of the movies anyway.

Also in Glenfinnian is a monument to The Highlander. This monument is near the area where Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) is said to have landed in 1745 to rally the highlanders to his cause to remove George II from the throne. It ended badly for the Jacobite army. I’ll have more on that tomorrow when we visit the Culloden Battlefield.

Monument to the highlanders lost in battle.

Then it was north to Mallaig Harbour to board a ferry to the Isle of Skye.

In Memory Of Those Lost At Sea

Our Ferry, The Lord Of The Isles.

It was one of the smoothest boat rides I have been on. Sadly, our time on the Isle was too short. We had no stops at all. I was really hoping to be able to see The Old Man Of Stor, but we never got close.

As we left the Isle via the bridge, we came upon Eilean Donan Castle. I do believe that the castle was used in the Outlander series, but it may only been a reference not an actual location. I’m sure there’s someone who can set the record straight.

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We did however stop at Loch Ness which was also unexpected.

And yes, we saw Nessie! (Think I need a Scots language pack – autocorrect keeps trying to change all the Scots terms.)

Then we finally made to our hotel in Nairn.

That has some coos adjacent.

And that was the day that was. Tomorrow is Culloden, some sheepdog demonstrations and a two night stay at the Atholl Palace Hotel in Pitlochry.

Peace,

B

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Scotland 2019 -Day 2

Reference Map

Today we left Glasgow and headed north to Loch Lomond and Inverary. The weather exactly what we expected. Chilly (right around 52° F) and damp. We overheard someone that they needed an umbrella because it was “pouring”. It was barely drizzling. Guess this person has ever been out in a #Floriduh summer shower.

First up was a stop and boat ride on Loch Lomond. Loch Lomand is the largest fresh body of water in Britain. The water was very quiet today.

Our boat was the Lomond Queen.

Then just a short trip to the town of Inveraray, a quaint town on the shores of Loch Fyne. We spent about two hours in town shopping and having lunch.

Wifey standing on Main Street in Inveraray. Several shops and restaurants line both sides.

Our lunch source.

After lunch it was time for Inveraray Castle. As I’ve mentioned before, this is not actually a castle, it is a manor house. Why? Because the Duke of Argyll has this as his family home. We were hoping that His Grace would be home, but he wasn’t. He has a batten (Maybe a baton? Our tour guide has a very thick brogue) of office in his role of Master of the Royal Household in Scotland. And it was “missing”. Our guide in the castle ensured us it was not stolen, but His Grace will take it without notice if he needs it in the performance of his duties.

Then the absolute highlight of the day, maybe the year, maybe even of my life occurred. Our tour guide Ian had a bit of surprise in store. You see, the route from Inveraray to our nexr stop, Glen Coe, passes right by a very special place for me.

I’ve mentioned this castle before and I’ve posted some other folks pictures. But today I got see it with my own eyes. We didn’t get to go up to the castle, just see it from a wayside stop. But here is my picture (one of several) of Kilchurn, one of the ancestral homes of Clan Campbell. Oh, and it’s pronounced Kill-kern. Not like it looks, Kill-churn. I’ve been saying it wrong for years sadly. Now I know better. Thank you, Ian for teaching me this.

From there we continued north into the highlands and (drum roll please) Glen Coe. The Campbell’s have a history with this Glen. I won’t go through it here, as it’s very complicated. If you don’t know the story, here is a Wikipedia link.

On the way to our hotel we got to see the Three Sisters of Glen Coe. II took a panoramic shot to get all three of the sisters in the shot. I hope it works for this format.

Finally we made it our hotel. This little place is way much better than the Hilton we stayed in last night.

They even have a small circle of standing stones on the property.

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So that’s it for tonight. As long as the MacDonald ghosts don’t come after this lone Campbell, I will be back with more tomorrow. And when you add that they find Argyll’s batten missing today, AND I’m deep into Glen Coe, I can’t help thinking I’m being set up!

Our itinerary for tomorrow is the Isle of Skye.

Peace,

B

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Oh yeah, I had haggis at breakfast – and I liked it!

You Take The High Road..

I’m taking a airplane, and I’ll be in Scotland way afore ye!

We will soon be somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean flying to first London, and then on to Glasgow, Scotland. Yes that’s SCOTLAND folks! Home of my ancestors, Wifey’s ancestors. Can the island support yet another Campbell family (even if it’s just for a little while)? Well, we’re gonna find out.

On Saturday we will be visiting Inveraray Castle. Not only was this historic castle featured in the TV show Downton Abbey but it is home to Torquhil Ian Campbell, (born 29 May 1968) Chief of Clan Campbell, the 13th (S) and 6th (UK) Duke of Argyll. This makes him my clan chief. But I wonder, is it appropriate to ask him for a “wee dram” should we cross paths that day? Probably not.

The Duke is only one of five of British peers to hold more than one Dukedom. The Clan Campbell, N.A. web page has much more on His Grace.

Some other highlights we expect to see are Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield, St. Andrews, The Isle of Skye, and Castle Eilean Donan. I don’t think we stop at Loch Ness, so if we do get a glimpse of “Nessie”, it will be fleeting. If we do get to stop at the loch, I want to bring a whole salmon as bait! “Here Nessie, Nessie!” Eilean Donan is a location used in the filming of Outlander. I’ve not watched any of the show, but Wifey has.

We will be near, but I don’t think we’ll get to see Kilchurn Castle. Kilchurn is considered the ancestoral home of Clan Campbell. At least one branch of the clan. As I’ve posted before, my DNA does not seem to link to any of the distinct branches of Clan Campbell. But that doesn’t mean I don’t claim the name. I very much want to see this ruin, but it may have to wait until the next trip.

As well as The Kelpies. Wifey and I both are eager to see The Kelpie statues. We *may* have a chance to find way to see them on our last night in Scotland.

Any trip to Scotland, or Ireland for that matter, isn’t complete without visiting at least one distillery. Our official stop will be the Blair Atholl distillery in Pitlochry, Perthshire. This is a new distillery for me, and I look forward to tasting a dram or three (wifey doesn’t like whisky, so I get hers too!). Along with all the other brands of scotch (and beer too), we can find along the way. The closest we get to Islay is our stop in Inveraray. So I’m not sure if we will have many chances to sample that style of whisky. Nor will we be near the Speyside area, so we may miss that style as well. I’m sure I will be able to find all the styles at the duty free shop at the airport. I just may need a second mortgage just to pay the taxes!

There will be very little chance to do any genealogy on this trip. Although during our visit to Perthshire we will be in basic area that I can trace my Campbell line to in the mid 1740’s. One day, I will come back to do some research. Or maybe we’ll just move here. That is an option!

I will do my best to post while we are in country. We have a portable Wi-Fi hotspot we’re taking with us. Our tour bus is supposed to Wi-Fi enabled, but I’m not sure how fast that connection will be. Likewise, hotel Wi-Fi can be spotty, and anything but secure.

The biggest problem as far as posting will be that I will only have my Android tablet. It will take some practice using the WordPress app for posting! So I ask forgiveness in adavanced for all the typos.

Here’s to sleepless nights and many “wee drams”! Slàinte!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 25 April

A.K.A. The History Edition

Let me set the scene;

  • Date: Summer of 1979
  • Location: Somewhere in Georgia, maybe Duluth.

First a little back story. I was in the Air Force, stationed at Homestead AFB, just south of Miami. My family home was also just south of Miami, just not as far south. My parents had a 32′ motorhome that was used to travel around the eastern seaboard for vacations.

This particular summer, my brother and his wife were going to join mom and dad on vacation.  Their plan was to go to New Orleans, then up into the mountains of North Carolina, then to the Atlanta area, finally ending in Disney World where my brother was to play in a company golf tournament.  My plan was to take some leave and stay at the house and basically party the entire time.

Of course, I didn’t tell them that. As far as they knew my leave was not approved, which was a big fat lie. I can say this now since both mom and dad have passed. 

During this trip, they would call back to the house on a semi-regular basis. Obviously checking up on me. I’m guessing my brother knew what was up.

Everything was fine until the one evening they called, and I was, shall we say, just a bit drunk.  While talking to my brother I let it slip that my leave had been approved.  Plans were immediately set for me to fly up to Greensboro, NC to meet them and spend the rest of the trip with them. I was not too happy about this plan. The motorhome didn’t have that many sleeping places. Dad was an emphysema patient and had a nebulizer in the back of the RV where his and mom’s beds were. Having spent several other vacations in that RV, I knew how loud that nebulizer was at 2 AM.  I wasn’t looking forward to cramped sleeping quarters and being woken up at any hour of the morning.

In the end, it was a good thing I joined them.  The new plan was for me to fly into Greensboro and rent a car, then drive to meet them at the campground, just across the state line in Greensboro, SC.  Big problem.  I was only 20 at the time.  The minimum age to rent a car was 26. Even with a military ID, they legally could not rent me any vehicle.  So, the family unhooked the motorhome and drove up to the airport to rent a car and pick me up.

I’m not sure who exactly rented the car, but I was listed as the primary driver. Following them back to the campground I noticed something very bad.  None of the lights on the back of the RV were working. No tail lights, no turn signals, no brake lights, nothing!  When we made it back to the campground and got everything hooked back up we started looking at what was wrong.

If I remember correctly (always a challenge), we found a bundle of wires that had been burned out. But that wasn’t the worst of it.  Every single wire in the RV was brown.  Not brown as in burned or singed, but molded in brown plastic. None of the usual red, black, and green wires.  Everything was the same dull brown, from the front to the rear.  It would appear that the previous owner rewired the RV with only one color of wire. We had no idea which wire was hot, neutral, or ground!  That meant one thing. I was to follow, as closely as possible, the RV to Atlanta where we would park it in a friend’s driveway and rewire the entire motorhome. An entire weekend of vacation would be lost. But it was something very critical.

As I remember (again – we’re talking shaky ground here), we fixed all the wiring and all the lights worked, and we took off for Disney for that golf outing. That’s when the next issue showed up.  And now, we’re up to date, and where are somewhere around Duluth, GA.

As I mentioned dad has emphysema. While we were working on the motorhome, we could all see he was sinking into a major breathing issue.  That’s when we made the stop at a local hospital to see if we could get dad breathing better, hoping a more powerful breathing treatment would allow him to continue with us.  It didn’t work.  He spent a night or two in that hospital (my brother thinks it was “Joan Clancy Hospital”). Then he and mom flew back to Miami, while my brother, his wife and I went to Disney.

But, that’s not what I cam here to talk about.  While dad was in that hospital, my brother pointed out someone to me.  Down the hospital hall was a young guy with a big beard and longer than usual hair. His room was the only one that didn’t have a name outside the door. We would see this gentleman walk up and down the hall, stop and chat with the nurses, and really look like he didn’t need to be there. Plus, he looked very familiar to us.  It took me a little bit, but then I saw it. If it wasn’t Kenny Loggins, then it was a doppelganger! It looked just like him.  But why was he in the hospital? To complete the conspiracy theory, once he realized we noticed him he didn’t come back out of the room while we were there.

Was it Kenny?  Doubtful. But it’s fun to look back and wonder. 

All this finally leads to today’s video.  The song was originally released on the 1976 album The Best Of Friends.  The video isn’t the best, but I used this version for two reasons. The live version, while musically beautiful, is very boring.  They just stand there nothing exciting.  Second, the image of Kenny Loggins (the guy on the left) is who we saw in the hospital!

Enjoy!

That’s him! There on the left!

Peace,
B

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How We Spent Our Thanksgiving Week – The End!

This is the last of the Thanksgiving week series. Links to the rest of the series;
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5

So our trip to Maggie Valley has come to an end, and it’s time to head home to Daytona Beach. We will miss our time in the mountains and the amazing sights we saw.

Here are a few of the pictures I didn’t post on the other days in no particular order.

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Just to prove that I’m not the only terrible photographer in the family, Wifey managed to get this shot of me on Chimney Rock with my face in the shadow of a tree.

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Some random waterfall we passed on the road. We just stopped, rolled down the window took a picture and drove off. Because that’s what tourists do!

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The tasting menu at Sierra Nevada Brewery. 

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I’ll bet Louis XVI wished he had a chandelier of Sierra Nevada bottles like this one. 

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See? I told you Wifey kept taking pictures of my butt.

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Wifey waited for over 15 minutes for this guy to get off of Pulpit Rock. She finally gave up and just took the picture anyway.  Thanks, random guy!

We, or at least I was, somewhat spoiled by the light traffic we experienced during this vacation.  Even on our trips over to Asheville traffic was not bad at all. Of course, it is the off-season for Maggie Valley, but Asheville is a large enough city to have traffic year round.  Such was not the case on the trip home. Our basic route was I26 east to I95 south. Sounds simple enough.

In my Army years, we did two tours at Fort Bragg just outside of Fayetteville, NC, for a total of 6 years or so. During this time we made many trips up and down I95, to Miami and back, at all times of the year and over just about every holiday you can think of. We have never had the traffic problems we had on this trip.  From the I26/I95 interchange to the Georgia line (about 86 miles) took us over three hours.  I have never been so frustrated in traffic in my life. Regular readers of this blog know how much I hate traffic (you can catch my thoughts on the “Elon Musk Are You Listening?” post).  The only thing that kept me sane was Wifey® finding the RV Trader website and reading me the various RVs she found.  We want to find us an RV in the next two years so we can travel more.

I’d like to give some love to a couple of places we stopped at while were in Maggie Valley and Waynesville.

First, The Buttered Biscuit.  We ate breakfast there three times. Nothing spectacular, just good food, served with a smile from very friendly folks.  Ask for Oliva if you happen to stop in. Not sure if they’re in Maggie Valley or Waynesville, as they’re at the intersection of US19 and US276. Basically on the border of each town.  (And like most restaurants in the valley, they’re closed on Tuesday. The oddest thing to me.)

One of our favorite little shops is Seven Silver Seas. Located right on US19 in Maggie Valley.  They have lots of handmade, free trade gift items from around the world at very fair prices. But be warned, it is a very “fragrant” shop. I don’t know if they have incense burning or just a heavy-duty perfume spray, but it gave Wifey® a migraine the first day we stopped in.  The second stop was a quick in and out to avoid the fragrance problem.

I have posted reviews on almost every place we stopped, ate or otherwise visited on Trip Advisor, look for “BeachDaze58” for my reviews.

And since this is the end of this series, and I haven’t played a single video yet, I thought this one would be fitting.

Enjoy! And please leave me a comment. Maybe a suggestion of another place to visit.

Peace,
B

How We Spent Our Thanksgiving Week – Day 5

This is day 5 of our Thanksgiving week series. Links to the previous days;
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

Once again, the reference map. Are you getting tired of this map yet?

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Day 5, the last day of being a tourist. Today we’re headed to Chimney Rock. You can see it on the map just south-east of Asheville. We decided to take the interstate this time, just to make it an easier drive, I was getting a bit tired of the winding, steep mountain roads.

Chimney Rock is a state park. It’s open all year and there is a fee. They do offer a military discount (I didn’t ask for any other discounts since I’m retired military and didn’t need to).

If you get there early enough, you can drive to the upper parking area, but it’s not very big, so you usually get directed to a lower area and they have old school buses to shuttle you up and down.

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Chimney Rock from the upper parking area.

The climb up to the top is actually 499 stairs. There is an elevator but has been a state of “renovation” for almost two years.  So the stairs are the only option. They did a good design in building the stairs. About every 12 feet or so there is a wide landing where you can step the side, enjoy the view and catch your breath. You can end up playing “leapfrog” with folks, as you pass them on one landing, only to have them pass you on the next landing while you’re stopped.  The elevation change from the upper parking area to the top of the monolith is about 315 feet.

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Looking down on the staircase and two of the wide resting areas.

There are two paths to the top. One is the stairs, the other takes you through the “Crevice path” (just a wide path in a gap), and two features they call the “Subway” and the “Grotto”.  Both paths meet up just a little way up, so you’re still climbing stairs most of the way. We chose the stairs going up and the other route on the way down.

Up the path a bit is “Pulpit Rock”;

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Wifey on Pulpit Rock

There are great views of the surrounding area from here, including Lake Lure.

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Lake Lure to the south-east.

They claim it takes an average of 25 minutes to climb the stairs to the top. I know we were nowhere near that time. But we made it, and we didn’t die!

There are more steps that continue going up the mountain that connects to another trail that will eventually lead to the top of the mountain and Hickory Nut Falls.  We had no intention of going up that far.  We headed back down the stairs this time taking the path we didn’t take going up.

The Subway is just a low area that you, well at least I did, have to duck to get through.

 

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I had to duck to get through, Wifey could stand up inside.

We stopped about halfway down to have lunch.  One of the nice things about this park is that they let you bring in food.  And they’re also pet-friendly which is cool.  We enjoyed our light lunch (and the forgotten leftover desserts from Thanksgiving) and headed the rest of the way down to the upper parking area.

From there we took the Hickory Nut Falls Trail, which takes you to the bottom of the waterfall. The trail is only about three-quarters of mile long, but it’s not paved in any way. Since we were there in late fall the path was covered with many leaves. This made it quite easy to stumble over hidden rocks and tree roots. And with an already gimpy ankle, I found the going tough.

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At the end of the trail is the falls;

This area of the park was used to film scenes in the movie “The Last Of The Mohicans”. At 404 feet, this is the second highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

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Aint we just the cutest thing???

That was pretty much the extent of our touring on day 5, so we headed back to the cabin. We had dinner at Legends Sports Bar in Maggie Valley.  Some awesome burgers and more local craft beer were had.

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A parting view of Chimney Rock.

Tomorrow I’ll wrap everything up and some odds & ends, and of course a traffic rant.

Hope you enjoyed. Please leave a comment or two!

Peace,
B