Category: Travel

Should We be Worried???

I know people are anxiously awaiting some more train photos … but our head engineer is doing many different projects, and has not given me an appropriate set to photograph 😄

I did happen to see these on the counter today … whoa! A bit aggressive. Turns out, When Lou was in the Army, he went to Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range in the early 70’s. Lou supervised the training on these missiles … fortunately he never fired one in real life!!!

That is about it for us. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Karen & Tom tomorrow. They will be visiting from Arizona, and **fingers crossed** the weather here should be relatively mild during their stay.

Missing Alaska … Again

Saw this photo today … taken by a professional photographer at Lake Clark National Park. Our plan was to be there this month, but we cancelled due to uncertainties related to COVID. No regrets at all, as we believe it was the right thing to do. We still feel very fortunate to have visited the Silver Salmon Creek area and the Alaska Homestead Lodge twice – in 2015, and again in 2019.

We had planned the 2021 trip for July, earlier than our previous trips. We had hoped to see younger cubs, and more bears clamming. It was a sound planning decision, if this photo is representative of this summer at Lake Clark. And … we haven’t ruled out a return visit in the future.

Three Years ago Today …

We were setting off on our Galapagos Adventure, with Olivia, Catherine, Amy and Claudia…It was a wonderful trip.

Sadly, we received news earlier this month that Claudia’s husband, John Sacret Young, passed away. John was well regarded in the television and movie industries, and was the creator of the acclaimed China Beach TV series. We send our condolences to Claudia, and all of John’s family and friends.

Bears, Bears, Bears

Continuing housekeeping duties on our travel blogs. Had a lot of fun revisiting the bears of Silver Salmon Creek. Here is Crimp Ear, the most majestic sow and the very best fisher bear.

Be Safe!!!

Missing Alaska

Lou and I were scheduled to go back to Lake Clark National Park, and see the bears in Alaska. We decided we weren’t up to cross country flights yet, even though we are both vaccinated. I have been revisiting our previous Alaska adventures as I update the blog. Things seem to be working fine on the new blog hosting site. I have had to tweak a few things, but the look and functionality should be mostly like it was before I switched in early June. Let me know if you find any issues.

One thing that is noticeably different is how the blog reads on a mobile phone. It shouldn’t require magnifying glasses now. I write and design the blog for viewing on a tablet or laptop, but it is nice to have better functionality for phones.

Some of you may remember the rather detailed travelogue I did about our first UnCruise Adventure to Alaska in 2013, where we UnCruised for three weeks, then visited Denali and Redoubt Bay. I spent many hours writing up that trip, and preparing the photos to make them easy to share. It was even on its own separate blog, and not integrated into our family and friends blog. Over the years, the infrastructure for that blog kind of crumbled – through no fault of my own, some of the links and the photo galleries stopped working. I did learn a lesson – keep it simple and minimize the fancy stuff you add in.

UltraAlaska – Sawyer Glacier

I knew I would lose what was left of my UltraAlaska blog once I switched hosting companies. No worries – I was able to export all of the text and photos into the new site. (It is still a separate blog, but is closely related to this one – The bones of the UltraAlaska blog are the same, but I have had to go through each post and make sure the formatting is right. I have redone the photo galleries, using the built in functionality of wordpress, not requiring any fancy add ons. Here is a slideshow with a sampling of photos from the UltraAlaska trip:

Why would I go to all this trouble for a trip report that is now 8 years old? Because I have OCD, and can’t stand the thought of our photos floating in cyberspace, all jumbled up? Maybe, but mostly it is because I want to keep the UtraAlaska blog up to date and useful. We have shared with friends who are considering a trip to Alaska, and it has been helpful. Travel in Alaska has not changed much in the last 8 years, so the report is still relevant. The main reason, of course, is simply to preserve our memories. I am thoroughly enjoying the process of revisiting each day of that awesome trip.

You can click the link, UltraAlaska, to check out the latest version of that long ago trip. I still appreciate Lou researching and planning the trip as a celebration of my 60th birthday. It really did kickstart our love of Alaska, and now I have a few more travel stories to update! We haven’t given up hope of getting back to Alaska again.

Be Safe!

That Night the Bogeyman Came for a Visit …

I want to thank you all for your support and putting up with some of my silliness on the blog these past few weeks. Laurie figured out my goal was also to entertain myself. It worked – really helped to pass the time.

I have tried to give you a flavor of what it was like to be locked in the Spa for so long, to share how supportive Lou was, and to describe a little about the impact of Covid-19 on the staff. I kept an upbeat attitude, partly because that is my nature. But also because I wasn’t going to worry or panic until we knew what was going on.

I wasn’t always in a Zen state, and I would like to share a story that shows I was capable of freaking out, of letting anxiety get the upper hand. To set the stage for this tale, you need to understand my mindset during the first week of this adventure. . The doctors and nurses in our local ER made it clear my situation was serious – “this is the highest creatinine number I have ever seen,” “we need to transport you to a hospital with kidney specialists”.  OK, I  kind of had the big picture, but wasn’t too concerned. I mean, I didn’t  feel all that bad, just hadn’t been able to keep anything down for a week or so. 

The first days at Maine Medical in Portland – aka the Spa – are a bit of a blur.  We weren’t getting much communication, and the doctors seemed not to know what was going on. I was prepped for dialysis by getting a catheter installed in my chest.  I immediately felt better after the first dialysis session. I made a conscious decision not to google kidney failure, high creatinine values, can dialysis be temporary?,  can kidney function recover?, or anything else related to my situation.

We – meaning Lou and I – were pretty frustrated by the end of Week One. Is there going to be a kidney biopsy or not?  If so, why are we waiting – is it a scheduling issue, or is it something to do with me?  We were told they couldn’t do the biopsy because my platelets were low, and that increases the risk of bleeding. Low platelets happened sometimes after dialysis, and not something to be overly concerned about. It could take four or five days for the platelets to return. In the meantime, I had more dialysis treatments and felt better every day.  The doctors said my lab results, the ones  indicative of kidney function, were improving, and … the most scientific measure of all – I was starting to pee more – confirming these lazy ass kidneys might be waking up.

On August 28, eleven days after arrival, we finally got some more specific information; fortunately Lou was visiting when we got the update.  A specialized lab test result came back and showed I had H.I.T. – Heparin Induced Thrombocytopenia. WTF is H.I.T.?  Apologies for the cursing slang, but this is indicative of the mood at the time. H.I.T. is an allergic reaction between antibodies in my blood and the heparin used to reduce clotting risk during dialysis. It apparently occurs in less than one percent of patients treated with heparin.  Then comes the kicker – treatment involves a continuous IV of an anticoagulant for five – yes five days. (There was another f-word in there when I heard this news.)  Even I understood this meant five more days in lockdown. 

We were assured this was treatable and would have no long lasting effects.  Dr. M also explained they would be transitioning me to an oral anticoagulant – warfarin, also known as coumadin. The risk was developing a DVT – deep vein thrombosis – in the extremities, a blood clot in the lungs, and so on.  I don’t claim to have perfect recall of this conversation.

The stage is set.  My kidneys might be recovering, but they still don’t know what caused the initial failure.  They are wishy washy about doing the kidney biopsy.  We are just going to trudge along in the Spa for at least 5 f’ing days more and see what happens.

Friday,  August 28, Day 11 –  a fun visit with Lou, the consult with Dr. M, and a relaxing afternoon.  Turkey Tips for dinner. I had calmed down about the five more day announcement.  About 9pm, I get an email from my MaineHealth App. Clicking shows I have been scheduled for some type of Vascular appointment at 9:00pm.  My thought- oh boy, these people really don’t know what is going on. A procedure at 9 pm?  Nah, just another scheduling mishap. 

My nurse comes in … “your chariot is here …”  

Me – “Huh? Where am I going? Why am I going?”

Nurse: “Not sure.”

Me:  Imaginary Brain begins to take over Logical Brain.  WTF is going on?  Is something wrong?  Did a lab test show something wrong?  Do I have a blood clot?  Why hasn’t Lou sent his usual good night text message? Did they call him, and is he on his way? WTF is going on?


I was overreacting, but the feelings were real at the time.  I proceeded to get on the stretcher and get wheeled down 5 floors and through the deep dark  halls of the basement. All the time, vacillating between anxious and being pissed off.  We enter the radiology/imaging department and they park me next to a room with a Cat Scan machine.  Imaginary Brain .. “cat scan – is that how you check for blood clots, aneurysms, WTF …”

A tech comes out from a different room … wheels me in and I ask what is happening.  He says he would be doing an ultrasound check for clots in my lower extremities.

Me: “is this a routine check or are you looking for something specific?  No one told me I was having this procedure.”

Tech: “same thing happened to another patient earlier this week.  Don’t worry, we will be done in less than half an hour.”

The tech proceeded to do ultrasound on both feet and legs.  I asked if I was going to live, and received a non-commital positive response. They finished up, and a transporter came to wheel me back to my room.  We go up 5 floors in the elevator, and as we circle around to my room, my vision goes blurry – I start seeing pink spots … yes, pink.  Am I bleeding out? WTF is going on? The nurses check my blood pressure – 195 over something – too high.  Was it from the ride in the elevator, or from me just being anxious and upset?  I get back in my bed and they watch me – I calm down and vision comes back to normal.

My night nurse, Devon, lets me rant and talks me down.  I am still stewing, but calming down.  I am still worried about Lou.  So finally, at midnite I call him … I didn’t go through the whole saga, just said I was worried because he didn’t say goodnight as usual, and I thought he might have fallen asleep downstairs.  Nope, he had just fallen asleep early, snug in the bed with the pups, getting a really good sleep ‘til the phone rang.  Oops, maybe this is when he started wondering about the Return Policy … In his morning text, he said just the the right thing …

When the medical doctor came in the next morning, I did lay out a few comments about their lack of communication and scaring an old lady. Apologies were made, and they explained the ultrasound was a routine procedure 
to determine how long I would be on warfarin when I left the hospital.

If you have read this far, you are probably thinking, “Dang, this woman can go on, making a mountain of a molehill.”  True.  I overreacted.  In my defense, it is just possible this Anxiety Attack had been building over the past weeks. I could have saved myself a lot of aggravation by doing one simple thing.  I should have just sat on my bed and refused to go anywhere until I knew where and why.  A doctor had entered the order shortly before, 9pm, so someone had to be around who could have answered.  That is my story and I am sticking to it!