Wellton, Arizona! The drive from Payson along 87 was fascinating, with the separated four-lane winding up, down and around in the Tonto National forest. What a stunning ride. What magnificent vistas! I highly recommend it, as long as your vehicle’s powertrain and brakes are healthy and reasonably robust. I noticed a converted vintage VW van on an uphill grade yesterday, flashers on and falling behind the pace of the slow semi in front of it. Not your first choice for this kind of task. The 4% and 6% downhills go for miles too, so you’ll want to downshift manually unless your drive system is bright enough to downshift when it senses you’re exceeding the speed control you set. Yeah, like everyone is now going to rush to Route 87…
I got to Wellton at 3PM to survey the wreckage, and apparently the summer monsoon season has been interesting. Both the 20-foot flexible sewer hose and the cable TV and Internet hookup wires had blown around, and a long strip of Gorilla tape I’d added to the rolled awning to help protect it from the sun had stripped clean off. It wasn’t loose before. One of the two owners was in the office when I went in to ante up, and she mentioned that the dust storms had been mighty. A look inside the trailer confirmed this. Looks like project day tomorrow! Drag bedding and stray clothing to the on-site laundomat, and break out the mini-shopvac! No way I could sleep there until that’s done, so after an hour-long RV park meeting where I scored some exceptional cake, I returned to the trailer to finish up. Either I’m in comparatively great shape, or things aren’t as heavy as I remembered them. Paranoiacally mindful of my mending sternum, the bins clogging the trailer’s aisles seemed light, as did the weight-distributing trailer hitch. Even the Evelo e-bike came off the front carrier easily, one end at a time. I’m now past the weight restriction timeline, but they didn’t say I should then begin weightlifting competitions. The very best news is that so far there are no signs of vermin inside. Whew!
Once done, I headed into town and booked a room at the non-franchised motel. Then on to catch dinner at Chuck’s Stage Stop Restaurant. That was notable for a beer and some fried clams, the latter of which is a cherished childhood memory. You know, Route 66 and Howard Johnson’s, where they served a clam basket. Turns out the cook at Chuck’s used to work at HoJo’s, so it was deja vu all over again.
I keep thinking I’ve made the final entry on the health thing, but it’s been a continuing saga. The day before I left Illinois, my local cardiologist did some definitive tests that indicated that my heart efficiency is a measly 35%, when normal is 50-75%. Get much below 30-35%, and you face some markedly unhappy prospects. She felt that it indicated that I had apparently waited too long to get the valve repair done, meaning that the heart damage caused by it had already taken place prior to surgery. That in turn means that the original unhappy scenario plays out unaltered by the now-corrected valve. Bummer. She gave me two prescriptions to lower blood pressure and let the heart try to strengthen itself, but they have a host of serious potential side effects that could easily derail the driving trip, so I’m waiting until my next blood test here to begin taking them, if at all.
Meantime, I messaged my surgeon in Indy the next day to ask about whether the low efficiency indicated a sad fact, or was simply the temporary part and parcel of the surgery and recovery process. After all, there isn’t much else that this surgical procedure hasn’t screwed up for at least a while along the way, and with the valve now working fine, what is it that actually keeps me from doing jumping jacks and jogging a mile? My understanding was that what I’m recovering from is not a newly-repaired valve, but from the wonky aftermath this type of surgery has on the body. Dealing with collateral damage. Is efficiency worsened? Perhaps you have to make things worse in order to make them better, or in Vietnam war parlance, “sometimes you have to burn the village to save it”.
It would be an understatement to say that my surgeon and his staff have been around the track a few laps. I got the answer back today: it’s temporary, and will get better over time. This is exceedingly good news, obviously. I have other electrical issues with my pumper that need riding herd on, but they paled in comparison to this one. I would claim that it’s been a rough six days waiting for the answer, except that I can’t multitask worth spit, so the demands of the travel itself have nicely distracted me. Being an innately forgetful dullard helps too, but at least I can now dedicate myself to cleaning up enough to bunk in, go buy some groceries, and resume the recovery process I need to pursue. This is good!