A Day for Catching UP

After a drive down to Hot Springs SD for some things I had to do at the VA. We decided to kick back and relax sorta the trailer had to get cleaned and so did I. I spent the remainder of the day visiting with 2 parrots and watching Roy help a complete newbie figure out what was wrong with their trailer. Sometimes the fix is the simplest thing, a blown circuit breaker. Once that was fixed her thing worked.

I’ve been to a few VA hospitals and clinics but nothing compares to the VA facility in Hot Springs SD. It was built in 1907 and most of those buildings are still in use. It is on a bluff overlooking Hot Springs. It was originally a Sanitarium and used the medicinal waters of the hot springs to treat anything from lung problems to skin issues. Battle Mountain Sanitarium as it was called only cost $150,000 for construction and another $20,000 for equipment. Pricey for that day and age. Today It serves Veterans with mental health, kidney dialysis, TBIs, and an urgent care. As for how I was treated everyone was attentive and very helpful, which was refreshing. I plan on going back down to this VA and will take pictures of the grounds to share. I did get one picture of the grounds. There was this lone white lily.

After getting one prescription and trying to figure out how to get another prescription filled, we decided to do lunch. I have not stopped at a DQ for lunch in a long time, today was the day.

just hanging out

On the ride home we stopped by a known hang out for prairie dogs and of course my camera was out and snapping photos. He was just sitting there like a potato. It summed up how I felt after a long day of waiting around. I did see some prairie dog porn but didn’t photograph it. I have to say they are interesting to watch but the holes are everywhere busy colony for sure. This colony is on the way to Wind Cave National Park. I can and probably will sit for hours watching these little ones play and run around this trip.

Just a few of them
from the side mirror

We try and drive wildlife loop at every opportunity this trip around seemed like it was going to be a bust. (plus I forgot the apples for the burros). We get to one of the visitor’s centers and haven’t seen ANY buffalo which is rare. So, after taking a short cut and still seeing no buffalo I almost give up hope. We turn a corner, and it seemed like the whole herd was there. Interesting that they were this far away from the usual stomping grounds. We stayed here moving a few feet every time, some because of my picture taking but mostly because the buffalo own the road. You don’t go until they say you go.

We also decided to take some interactive pictures of a few of the brave prairie dogs next to the buffalo.

It felt good to sit back and relax today. Next, we check out some water falls on our drive of Spearfish Canyon.

Fluffy white Cow?

If you are wondering they do not exist. That is, unless it is me seeing it from a golf cart at the PSA festival in Colorado Springs. More on that later. We decided the summer travel wasn’t enough and I enjoyed myself last year so come back this year. It has been fun connecting with old friends and meeting new ones.

We came in on Sunday which is always good, it gives us a day to recover and get used to the area. Monday was a lay low day but Monday night the cowboys were out to play. After getting a lift into the bus, (who knew that they had lifts), we were off to the Flying W Ranch. The ranch itself has been in operation for 70 years. They recently rebuilt due to the massive fire that swept through Colorado Springs a few years ago. The ranch featured the standard chuckwagon fair and food line. It also had some Native American dancers which was worth the price of admission. I have to say I was amazed at seeing my first ever hoop dance performed by a 70+ woman. (I will post a video when I am home.)

We were waiting for the dancers to start and you know me I have to be in the thick of things right. So, I invited myself to take a trip around the ranch on a golf cart. There was no way I would make it with the rental chair. (learned lesson from Alaska). Stephanie our driver said she would stop whenever we wanted so we could take pictures. First stop, donkeys almost as friendly as the ones in Custer. Second stop, big horn sheep on the hill feeding. I think I only got butt shots but that is ok.

Here is where I encountered the fluffy small white cow. In my defense I only did a quick look and the color was right. What makes this even more funny is the fact that after my mind said that is not a cow, my mouth kept insisting. I could hear what the others were thinking and not saying. (She needs a lesson in animal identification. She has been in the city way too long. What was she smoking can I have some.) I did get my mouth to catch up to my brain and now know that it was a sheep. At least I make things funny.

On the way out of the event I almost did trying to be funny run over a friend. Not to worry I have all week. This year it was no outings for me as it would be too much of a pain with the chair. However, I will be exploring macro photography and learning more about night photography. I might even get some cool photos out of this trip.

Things Not Covered

Well first off we are headed home it is official. The ferry left port last night. We had one more shot at the northern lights but, they did not cooperate. I did however see some stars. Today I slept because open seas do not agree with me. Tomorrow should be a little easier as we will start hugging the coast so there will be land on each side.

Now, I want to share some of the things I did not share from summer vacation. The first is I have lost my cribbage mojo. I taught Roy cribbage on our summer trip in 2017. I have to say he won a few every once in awhile. He just sometimes couldn’t beg borrow or steal any points. I am not sure when it happened but it did. Roy can now pull a double double run out of his bum and skunk me almost everytime . It’s funny that the shoe is on the other foot. We didn’t play alot this year but we did play on the nights we had no OTA (over the air) channels. I do enjoy the now rare occurance when I can beat him

Some of the nights were filled with trying to figure out what movie we want to play for the rally in October. The choices were Rocky Horror Picture Show, Blazing Saddles, and Little Shop of Horrors. All I can say is feed me. I had seen Blazing Saddles years ago Roy had never seen it. He loved the humor but we realized not quite right for our crowd. Rocky Horror requires a lot of crowd participation. We both came to the conclusion that Little Shop of Horrors fits the group better.

Food this trip has been a mix of cooking in the trailer and eating out. That old saying when in Rome. The first food we looked forward to having again was Copper River Red Salmon at Sheep Mountain Lodge. In my opinion, Red and King Salmon are awesome but Copper River Red Salmon are the bomb diggity. This restaurant always has it on the menu and we planned the trip so we had it twice.

This brings me to the food on the Kenai. They are known for seafood, crab, halibut, cod, clams, shalots, oysters and some salmon. All from Kajamack Bay or the Cook inlet. The spit offers these at small restaurants. Roy said he had the best clams ever from one of these places. It also was very easy to get the scooter and chair in. I had my first halibut of the trip in Homer. We had more halibut fresh off the boat given to us by one of our camping neighbors.

The best ice cream at least according to Milepost was right next door to one of the places we camped. Roy said his hard packed black cherry ice cream was the best he ever had. It even had a small ice cube in it. I had the soft serve twist cones which they had different twist flavors. I couldn’t bring myself to try pineapple and vanilla but did try raspberry and vanilla.

When we were in Nenana we found one of the best home cooking restaurants. Roughwoods Inn, Kari is the owner and chief cook and bottle washer. She is open til 6pm every night except for Tuesday, family emergencies, and roadkill. Let me explain the roadkill comment. In that part of Alaska if the troopers know of a recent fresh roadkill they donate it to local people. This is one thing you have to get when it is fresh. (No, she does not feed it to her customers.) We both loved the fresh halibutand chips, hand battered and fried from fish caught in Alaska. She had Roy at the fact that she grills her chicken fried steaks and I was won over by her Philly Cheese steak. Although the halibut was hard to get by.

The farmer’s market in Fairbanks helped keep my salad for lunch streak going. I also got my fill of fresh garlic (keeps mosquitos away). Roy was able to get fresh mushrooms for his own crack an egg. This market also kept us in good homemade bakegoods.

I was able after 30 years of being with this man of mine to find something that he can not do I do not know who else can do it either. It all started with a facebook post, that said if a cop stops me for a DUI and asks me to say the alphabet backwards I will get in the car. I asked you can’t do that. He said he never thought of it and no, he can’t. I proceeded to show him. I am not sure he was impressed.

I need to make one comment about people from Wisconsin; when you meet one you immediately become family. Roy and I hung with some on the ferry. He basically got a crash course on Wisconsin tradition, right down to quarters and bar dice.

There are other things that happened that I am sure I will remember once I sit down and look through the pictures. Speaking of pictures I am still putting together the baby bald eagle growth journey.

Another Episode of …..

People you meet. I have been craving WISCONSIN cheese curds for a few months who would have thunk I would have to come to Alaska to get some. You know with me there is always a back story to how I get the things I get. Here it is.

they do exist

Having the chair, I was able to run rampant, at the air show. (I see new wheels in my future.) I’m headed down the flight line and I see a booth selling real Wisconsin Cheese curds. (You can find them on Facebook.) I’m from there so I had to investigate. Danielle was cute and very helpful. I asked were they for real and why here in Alaska. She explained that her SO had moved up to Sterling Alaska and she followed with cheese curds in tow. I guess there was no good cheese in Alaska. That is how it started and now they do local events and serve deep fried cheese curds. I put on my sad face because deep fried cheese curds are not the same. Danielle said that they only bring frozen cheese curds to big events for sale purposes, they do have fresh curds at the Soldotna Wednesday markets. So, I get all sad and say that’s ok. After some more banter about cheese curds. I was able to get a little more than a pound of frozen cheese curds. They have thawed and I am now squeaking to my heart’s content


Today started with Roy and I meeting one of the campers in the park we are staying at (Three Bears, Trapper Creek AK). Roy had helped them when they had checked in with some questions about the area. We got to talking and gave them some ideas on what to do in Fairbanks because that is the next place they will be. The woman kept calling us her ‘Angels of Life’.

Being a chair user and having MS you just know things. That is what happened today. We stopped at Alaska Birch Syrup and Wild Harvest Products on are way to Talkeetna. The shop is cute with lots of free samples. I’m in the store and I look over and see a woman with a walker, (she has that MS stance). I didn’t want to go up to her and ask how long she has had MS because that is strange. Long story short. We did start talking and I said something like I’m not drunk it’s MS. She goes I have MS very small world. We traded the dates of our diagnosis and how we were getting along. It was something I think I needed today to help me realize I’m not the only one. They leave and I make my purchases and leave. So off to Talkeetna we head. The town has a cat for the mayor, so it has to be cool.

We find a parking spot (which was hard to find), I see that there are ramps into some of the stores. I have been so good this trip about shopping. I fell off the wagon I had to go shopping. So back in the chair, paved bike/people lane and I was good to go. Driving up and down the street who do I see, but my MS buddy. So, we chatted some more and enjoyed each other company. She also has just started using a chair and agrees with me it is bittersweet. You get a little more freedom to go more places, but it is with the need of some motorized device. You lose some freedom to do it yourself.

Today was also a day of just talking to people. (I knew I should have written his name down) At the end of the street there are tents set up flea market style, I see a photography tent. I make an effort to talk to photographers who sell their work, either to get some pointers or let them know I enjoy their work. We sat and talked about why photos sell, what photo sells. Inspiration. I was able to share one of my baby birds phots from Ninilchik. That is when he brought up getting a little burned out because he seems to sell the same photos over and over. So, he had been itching for photo field trip. Although, he said he doesn’t like to shoot in the summer. He just does not like the colors plus he sells his works to tourists. He did say he might have to go down and see for himself. He thanked me for stopping in and talking to him, this made part of my day.

Just on a side note those ramps that looked handicap accessible were not all that accessible. I will give them an E for effort. I do have to say the one store I stopped at that had a ramp but had a lip my chair would not get over to get in the store the owner was very helpful in bringing the things to me.

Every once in a while, you have to take the day and just meet people. Slow down and reflect. See how they touch you and how you touch them.

You can do it … FAMOUS last words

I was told when I got my chair DO NOT take it on gravel. OK I understand. Did you know there are different types of gravel? I did not. To me gravel is anything that had some sort of small rock. In my mind I was rolling over a bunch of gravel (actually I now know that was stone). So now you know what I was told, I now know why.

We decided to do the farmer’s market in Homer on Wednesday because it was in the afternoon and shorter then Saturday’s market. The parking lot is full of gravel the sinky kind. You know the stuff that is thick and heavy. We thought what a great way to get around the market use the scooter and chair. The thing is you have to get to the market first. We unload and put together both the scooter and my chair. We start out. I immediately get stuck. Not a problem I get up and try and move it after I put it in neutral. I got it free, sit down try again go a few feet, stuck again. Well now we have a crowd. So the next time I get stuck it isn’t freeing up. So we came up with a solution have the crowd of men carry it back to the car.

We did not get to the market because Roy also got bogged down. So I guess our fresh produce will have to come from SafeWay now.

So I learned a few things here.

  • Listen when the people who know say something.
  • When your gut says this is a bad idea.
  • People still are helpful.
  • If you do something embrassing do it where people will never see you again.
  • Make sure there are no photos (THERE ARE NONE)

Tis the Season!

No silly not that season, Milky Way season. Although that season is fast approaching, it is already April.  Ok I’m a month late it started last month.  I am heading out to  Anza Borrego State Park this week to photograph the milky way and if it is not too hot maybe some daylight photos. (I don’t know 97 on Saturday).  It is way too early for it to be this hot.  Sorry, I had to whine a little; I’m just glad we planned ahead and have reservations for this summer.  More blogs and photos coming your way.

We did go out on a scouting mission to check out the campground and the area. I will write more about the sculptures and post pictures if the weather is doable. (I’ve packed my ice vest). Check just a few of the sculptures in Galleta Meadows I borrow this from California Through My Lens website. He has some great travel escapes.

I have also been photographing the full moon as promised, just have not gotten my butt in gear to post the pictures.  See some of them below.  It is sometimes worth the effort to photograph the moon the day before when there is still light for the foreground, I did that in my February’s picture  I actually shot the moon the 2 nights before so you can see the difference.  Slam Dunk I am imagining that it will make a basket.  The other photo from February I used part of a tree for a moon holder.  We were at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Arizona for those moon shots.  I am starting to think outside of the box when it comes to taking photographs.  March found me at home so I tried my first blend as I could not get the day before the full moon shot to work.  The Coachella Valley has welcomed back Desert X which is an outdoor art exhibit placed throughout the valley.  (one is right near where I shoot the moon. )  So for March I did a creep over the mountain shot and a blend shot.

This summer I am planning on getting back on the horse so to speak. I plan on more posts and more pictures of Roy and mine crazy adventures. I might even throw in some thoughtful posts in the future.

Able Annie to Zany Zelda

I think anyone who lives with a chronic disease tries on a few of these masks. I think in the last eleven and a half years at one point and time I’ve worn all of them at least once. I think most people would call me Suzie Sunshine or Positive Paula. Most of the time this is true. Although there are times when I become Doubtful Donna or even Unsupportive Ula, these are the times I need some space. DO NOT take it personally, there will be times when I won’t want the space.

Prime example is when you or anyone for that matter asks how am I doing and you are greeted with Frustrated Fran because this or that symptom is rearing it’s ugly head or the side effects are horrible don’t loose interest. I will add a side note here if I’ve been Frustrated Fran for a couple of months every time you see me say something. There are also times when I need you to be Listening Laura I will try to be her for you when needed it. Please don’t pull away when I become Venting Valerie there are times things just need to get off my chest. You will find after sharing what I needed to share I will become Thankful Tammy.

One of the masks I try not to wear is Blaming Bobbie. Let’s face it I think even healthy people use that mask sometimes. It does happen and I can blame everyone and everything for anything. This is when I have to realize that this disease sucks and it’s not the floor’s fault I can’t stand up. That comes out when Exhausted Emily is on her last bit of energy. Sometimes I will quickly turn from Blaming Bobbie to Hilarious Hannah because let’s face it I’m not drunk I have MS. I want to be honest there are times when being drunk and bumping in to things was more fun. On the flip side I can bump in to things and fall down with no hangover in the morning.

Able Annie is different everytime because Changeable Carrie gets involved. There are times Wishful Wanda comes out and wants everything to be normal. I could go on and on but remeber whatever name you put on your attitude / mask make it your own. For the moment, I do have to say that having MS has made me realize that you make your own Normal Nancy.