Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.


The Defiant, slightly the worse for wear.

The Defiant, slightly the worse for wear.

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 wasn't sure what to think of Das Boot, but it kept the beer cold. Made in Mexico.

I wasn’t sure what to think of Das Boot, but it kept the beer cold. Made in Mexico.

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!

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18 thoughts on “Home!

  1. Welcome back. Yes 87 is a wonderful drive. I drive up to Payson from Mesa most weeks to see Mom, and enjoy the drive each time so far. Not sure how winter will temper my enjoyment yet, and I may not see Mom for a few months if snow gets in the way.

    Glad you are feeling better.

    • Thanks, Shadowmoss. Payson doesn’t seem to be much better than Flagstaff for temps and snow. And those grades north of Payson were a bit disconcerting during the snowfall, if that’s any indicator of how it is from the south, so I think you’ll know when you’ve hit your limit!

  2. Chris lemcke on said:

    Thrilled you are home safe…however the ups and downs of this article had my emotions riding a crazy line…Finally I am pumped [heart pun] of the news that all that bad stuff is just part of you getting stronger!That is GOOD. and knowing that Ho Jo still lives on…

  3. John Worzalla on said:

    Doug, great news that you made it back home safely and without too much weather related drama as you have had more than your share of drama over the last few months. But the news from your cardiac surgeon is far better. I know you will be busy for a while getting the Defiant back in shape but take time to enjoy some boots full of beer. We look forward to keepimg up with your progress as well as your new adventures in Arizona. Lastly, some wags from the dogs. — Binx

    • Thanks, Binx! And it is good to have an indicator that all that rebuild work was not in vain. My cleanup efforts here kinda underscore the low efficiency rating and slow my preferred progress in making the trailer livable, but at least I’m finishing each day upright!

  4. Linda Sand on said:

    Getting better over time is great news! Glad to hear it.

  5. Doug,,,Just great news all around ….so very glad to hear…now just focus on getting all healed up.

  6. hurrah, you made it, and without much drama! It’s great to hear that you are on the mend, keep on improving.

    • Yes, considering that I’m not much into dealing with crises, it was a good trip. And as you’re already aware, improving also includes doing what I’m supposed to keep up with, and not doing whatever might screw things up. That often seems like a very fuzzy line to me, considering that the practical aspects of living require that certain things get done each day!

  7. So happy to hear you’re home again. Glad to hear your prognosis is actually good – if a bit slow in coming along.

  8. Sounds good Douglas…..happy you had a safe trip! Get settled and rest!!!

  9. I went that route for the first time ever a few weeks ago, enjoyed it immensely. Except for the part where, having parked in the dark at a dispersed site just off the road, I woke to find an entire deer carcass next to the rig, mostly skeleton, furry bits,6 and connective tissues…

    I find myself peeved by your doctor giving you such scary, not to mention inaccurate, info. Thank god the real news was much better, just sorry you had to wait for it.

    Glad you’re back at the park, toting modest bales and mooching tasty treats. See you later this season !

    • Ahh, the joys of boondocking! I had a less close but otherwise similar encounter at Mormon Lake, where elk go to die, it seemed.

      I’ve written it off as relative inexperience, as far as my cardiologist goes. The experienced pharmacist here handling my anti-clotting meds yesterday recommended the two add-on Rx’s as generally helpful for my situation, and encouraged me to try the low dosages and see how it goes. Can speed up recovery/healing. If I either have side effects or feel drained of energy, I can simply quit them and go on without.

      Enjoy your winter!

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