First Time in the Path of Totality

I would love to say I was smart enough to have planned being in the path of totality for this eclipse, but to be honest it was just dumb luck.  We accepted our job in Oregon because I liked the area and the pay was generous, and I was only vaguely aware that an eclipse was happening in the area this year.  It wasn’t until a good friend of mine Jim (who was smart enough to find a great job right in the main path of totality) told me we were right on the edge, that it even registered for me.  Once we arrived though it was hard not to be aware of it.  Over one million tourists were coming to Oregon for this event and the radio stations and newspaper have been full of information about it for over a month.

Plus the various government agencies have been putting together plans.  Now I am a huge fan of plans, and risk management plans are some of my favorites, but even I thought it all might be overkill.  The agencies have been treating the eclipse the same as a natural disaster and their plans all reflect that.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the forethought and folks working so hard to get it right, but it started to feel a little like the Y2K craziness and folks started calling it the ApocEclipse or Y2E.  We even had an action plan for our jobs, and again I appreciated the forethought, but ultimately we are filling up toilet paper and cleaning restrooms, and that’s not really that complicated. (I know you’ll be completely shocked, but I totally disagree. When it comes to large scale live events, there’s no such thing as too much planning, and there are the bad results of countless man made and natural disasters to prove that. And who would ever want to be the person that anyone, or worse, everyone, looks at when it all goes wrong and hear “Why weren’t you ready for X?” I would think that for people in those positions, there’s nothing better in the world than having a large heavy binder that they never had to open. We all got the same 30 page emergency preparedness overview from the company, and I bet I’m the only one of us that read every word, and I slept peacefully last night. – Lee)

National guard troops were stationed right outside our campground for 2 full days. But only 9-5 because apparently emergencies don’t happen after 5pm. (I’d like to point out that those things are pretty much useless once you’ve taken the 50 caliber machine gun off them. – Lee) 

 

This sign was actually pretty cool, because after the fire last week we learned we are the first place people can call 9-1-1 on HWY 224. I was glad to see this and ultimately to have people stationed there, because if something did happen, we would not need to coordinate it.

 

Plus I was super annoyed by the raptures various radio personalities were having over the event.  I was in an eclipse in 1980, and yes it was cool, but not the “life altering event” folks claimed it to be.  The sky was dark, and back then we used pin hole viewers, and yes it was neat, but I don’t think my personality was fundamentally changed or anything.  The part that I remember the most was that all of the insects went quiet for a moment and that was pretty eerie.  I always thought that was a total eclipse, but Lee looked it up and turns out it was not.  This time we were going to be on the edge of “totality” and according to the experts that was something extra special.

Needless to say I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing and kind of bummed because Mondays are my campground day.  5 miles upriver at Moore Creek was in the path of totality but the campground itself was not.  I was trying to figure out whether I should take a break and go upriver, when one of my bosses stopped by and suggested I come upriver with them.  That was incredibly nice and allowed me to see the event guilt free, plus it was nice to have people to hang out with when it happened.  Lee came and picked me up and we found wonderful spots to watch the event from.

We had discussed taking pictures and I knew I couldn’t really get anything until totality but took my camera anyway.  Thankfully I did, because Lee had an idea to take the lenses from the glasses and tape them on the camera.  It was pretty low-tech but got the job done and he got some amazing pictures.  (I learned a long time ago that it doesn’t matter how you get the shot, it only matters if you get the shot. – Lee)  Plus the glasses themselves were very cool.  Our company supplied them and we had extras on hand to give to folks who were watching from Moore Creek, and I have to say that was a totally different experience than using a pinhole camera.  Being able to stare into the sun was pretty neat and we spent about an hour watching the moon cover the sun.

Lee’s improvised lens cover. The tape came from our truck’s first aid kit (Normally I carry a roll each of black and white gaff tape, but I was in the company truck, not my own. – Lee) 

 

 

Don’t worry he was being super careful with his vision.(I had the solar lens on while I was doing this. – Lee)

 

The glasses were so dark you couldn’t see anything but the sun. So you really had to stand still when you wore them.

After waiting quite some time it started to get dark and the air chilled considerably.  Birds started to make some evening noises and a twilight fell over out parking lot we were in.  Then we saw our first stars and finally the moon completely blocked the sun and we could take of our glasses.  We had a brief 20 seconds of totality and I have to admit it was pretty amazing.  No, it wasn’t life changing, but it was exciting, and we were especially transfixed by the corona around the sun, the aura around the moon and the rays of light that were on the ground.  That part was really neat and unexpected and the gravel parking lot was the perfect place to see the rays at our feet.  We took some pictures and video which tell the story much better than I can, but I will say it was a special moment and I am so glad I made the trip 5 miles to be in the totality.





The colored rays were caused by the lens but I liked the effect in the picture

 

It stayed in this phase for what seemed like a long time and then WHAM!… this is what we saw:

 

 

Very cool!

 


As the moon passed the sun started to peek out, and the colors were pinks and purples. This is as close as Lee could get to the “Diamond Ring” effect that people love so much about an eclipse. If you’ve never seen it, just do a Google image search for “eclipse diamond ring”. 

 

Brief video of the ripples of light waves on the ground.

 

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback.

First Time at the Clackamas County Fair

My birthday fell on one of our days off, but because I had scheduled a dentist appointment on Tuesday (I’ll talk about that in a separate post), we couldn’t make plans to go away for our “weekend”. So I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for the day.  Temperatures have been really hot, but thankfully it was going to be much cooler, so that opened the options up a little bit.  My first choice was  The Hike of 10 Waterfalls , but after doing some research determined that we really needed a couple of days to really see that State Park, so we will be doing that the weekend of the 27th and 28th.  My next choice was the Clackamas County Fair, and since the weather was almost perfect and it was on a Wednesday, we got up early and arrived right when the fair opened at 10am.


 

I love fairs, they remind me of my childhood, and since my birthday always fell on or near the Ohio State Fair, I have many memories of visiting it for my birthday.  The fair food is amazing of course, and when I was younger the rides were fun (I won’t go on them now), but my favorite part has always been the animals and exhibits.  I was never a member of FFA, but my cousin was, and I always admired the kids who raised animals.  Those feelings are even stronger as an adult and I was so pleased to see that the programs (and kids who participate in them) were the same.  We all hear the bad news about our youth on social media and the news, but if you ever feel the country is going to hell in a hand basket, go to the fair and watch the FFA kids.  It will make you feel better about the future of our country.  Let me just show you.

Most of the kids were in white and black outfits

 

The cows were beautiful…Lee’s response mmm steak ..not cool 🙂

 

The cow washing station

 

The llamas were a new category for me

 

Lots of them and really beautiful

 

The pigs always remind me of Charlotte’s Web

 

Showing the pigs was interesting they use switches and whack them pretty hard

 

The pultry barn was kind of interesting. Never really spent much time in one of these before


 

They had some beautiful doves

 

We spent the most time though watching the sheep showings

 

We watched three rounds and the kids really had to use some muscles to get the sheep to stay in position

 

This young lady was the ultimate winner and was beaming with pride. It was seriously pretty exciting to watch

 

And they even had a bunny agility course which was absolutely adorable

 

Some bunnies were into it

 

Others like this little guy just wanted to eat the grass

 


Never seen anything like it and really fun to watch.  You just had to smile. Lee and I had a serious conversation about getting a bunny in lieu of a dog or cat but he vetoed it! Meanie.

 

There were other things to do as well of course.  It was senior citizens day at the fair and the music and events were largely focused around an older crowd.  There were rides, booths, and of course food.  Lots and lots of food. The fairgrounds even has a full pioneer village which was staffed by people who were making products in the traditional ways.

A “newlywed game” with some of the senior citizens. The longest had been married for 61 years

 

Check out this spectator. I looked pretty close and she absolutely was a senior citizen. Good for her!!

 



 

Lee really wanted one of these top hats…but I vetoed that!

 



Food court

 

I had Gyros and Lee had a tri tip steak sandwich

 

Then he had apple fries

 

which he loved!

 

And I had an old-fashioned donut

 

Lee didn’t get pie, but we certainly agreed with the sentiment

And lastly we went in and looked at the exhibition halls.  I never seem to find time to do this when I go to the fair, but this one had a small enough footprint that we had lots of time.  I spent a lot of time looking at the fruits and vegetables and flowers and Lee loved the photography exhibits.  Plus the 4H group had a section where you could buy raffle tickets to win a chance at a basket as a fundraiser and I happily paid $10 for 15 tickets since you didn’t have to be there to win.

The table setting displays were really neat

 

Young artists

 

My favorite picture

 

Lee liked this one

 

But he LOVED this one

 

Lots of cool gift baskets

 

I put most of my tickets in this one

 

The best onions were beautiful

 

And the best tomatoes made me hungry 🙂

 

They had food art

 


And these great scarecrows

 



This was my favorite flower

 


And I loved this bonzai tree

 

Plus I found myself a little birhtday present.

 

I’ve seen these fidgets on TV and been wanting to have one. They really are fun

We ended up leaving around 2pm when things started to get crowded and hot, and stopped on the way home to see the Willamette Falls.  This was total birthday luck as we passed it on the way to the fair and we pulled over so I could take some pictures on the way back.  These falls have the 2nd highest volume of water coming through them in the United States and the entire area is in development to be turned into condos, shopping, and a river watch area.  What amazing potential this site has, and I can’t wait to come back and see it in a few years when they hopefully get it completed.



Look for the little bird in the picture so you can get a feel for the scope of it. Ultimately they are building a viewing area so people can get closer to the falls

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback.

First Time Working In A Utility Co. Park – Fire and Rain

Disclaimer: The company we are working for this summer has a very specific media policy. I will not be mentioning them by name, or mentioning the specific names of anyone I am working with, except for Lee.  Also, because it’s not really that difficult to figure out which company it is, I want to be clear: I in no way speak for the company or my co-workers, and am only recounting my personal experiences.  Also, any details I get wrong in this or any other post are due to a misunderstanding on my part.  

Thursday I was back to work and thankfully it was a slow day.  I didn’t feel any discomfort at all, but wanted to make sure I didn’t overdue it, so I focused on detailed litter pickup as my “extra task” for the day.  When we have slow days we try to fill in our time with extra tasks.  They include maintenance, hanging signs, watering trees, spraying our bathrooms, and putting water in the pit toilets.   Although we pick up big litter as part of our daily duties, on occasion a detailed walk through is called for.

It’s surprising how much litter can “hide” in the vegetation surrounding the parking lots, so walking slow and really looking hard at the details is called for.  I walked Moore Creek and Hole-In-The-Wall (our main river sites) and ended up with a bucket full of small trash.  Since the temperatures were much cooler, this wasn’t an unpleasant thing to do and it feels nice to look over an area after it is complete.  Lee worked in the campground on Thursday and he ended up having a very busy day.  One large group had rented the entire campground starting on Friday and there were numerous checkouts along with additional cleaning at the day use areas.

I was excited because Friday I was going to get to work in the office for the first time.  One of the office people flew up to Alaska for the weekend for a wedding (people do that here in Oregon, you can fly round trip to Anchorage from Portland for $250!) and I had volunteered to cover some of her hours.  I had spent a couple hours training the last two Mondays and felt pretty confident about my ability to handle what was thrown at me.  Plus, since only one large group was checking in, it was going to be an easier day, which turned out to to be a good thing because I was surprised by how busy the phones were. I opened the office at 10am and before I even had money in the drawer had my first walk up.  They were interested in extending (which unfortunately we could not accommodate due to the large group) and we were off tho the races from there.

For the next two hours the phone was ringing and folks were stopping by wanting to see the campground or see if we had any openings and things were in general pretty excited.  It did slow down after a couple of hour, but I spent the rest of my time making courtesy calls to upcoming reservations between answering incoming calls.  Not kidding, three times I picked up the phone to make a call and someone was already on the line.  Like I said it was fun though and as I told my supervisor when he called to check on me later in the day, “It beats cleaning toilets lol.”  Really it was nice to do something else and I very much appreciated how the other office person stayed available and was very helpful to me.

Lee and I also got some alone time, because I worked 10am -3pm and Lee worked 3pm – 9:30pm, with me joining him at 7:30pm to help close the gates.  I know I have mentioned it before, but we are spending a LOT of time together and having some time apart was really nice for both of us.  He had a very nice day working the river sites and was even able to help a couple with small kids who were biking in the area and looking for a place to camp.  Lee’s a big softie when it comes to little kids and thankfully he helped them find a place to stay.  I can’t imagine heading out from Portland on bikes with two kids in tow and no firm place to camp for the night, but obviously people do it, and although I appreciate their adventuresome spirit, the mom in me cringes at the thought.  Thankfully he was able to find them a place and made sure they both made it there.  What folks don’t really get about this area is that outside of Estacada there is zero cell service.  So if you are winging it, and your first choice doesn’t work out, you can’t just start calling other places.  We run into this all the time with folks who are looking for a last minute campsite or more commonly made arrangements to meet friends and then can’t find them.  Phones are such an omnipresent part of all of our lives now you don’t really think about not having them, and folks come out here and when they run into difficulty are a little lost.  We do what we can, when we can, but we don’t have cell coverage on the road either and usually there isn’t a lot that we can do.  Thankfully in this case, Lee was able to help.

Saturday we were a little worried about because there was a big event down at the main marina and some of the boat trailer spaces would be taken by the event.  On hot weekends both the main marina and ours have been maxxed out with boat trailers, and losing parking spaces was a serious concern. Luckily one of our fellow camphosts got involved in the marina event early on and he made sure the boat trailers who usually go there parked in the campground overflow parking lot.  This stopped many of them from going down river to our marina and definitely helped with traffic control for the event in general.  We also were super lucky because it was the first overcast day in weeks. So although we had many fisherman out on the reservoir the number of recreational boaters was lower than it has been in awhile.  I’m not sure what would have happened if we would have had our normal weekend traffic levels, but the combination of our camphost getting involved and the weather made the morning manageable.

The day wasn’t without incident though, as when we were leaving the campground for our evening run a young couple came into the campground and pulled up to us.  They told us a car had flipped into a ravine upriver near one of the Forest Service campgrounds and there was a fire.  They had been unable to call for help because they had no cell service and stopped at our campground because it was the first place they saw.  Lee immediately called 911 (who was already aware of the incident) and we finished grabbing our stuff and headed upriver.  Before we could leave the campground a second car pulled up and they said “15 trees were on fire.”  OK this was worse, because forest conditions have been very dry and the fire was only 10 miles upriver.  We assured them 911 had been called and then headed upriver to check out the scene.

For the record, dealing with fires is definitely out of our job description, but we are living less than 10 miles away and Hole-In-The-Wall was 2 miles downriver from where it occurred.  When we arrived, they had just closed the road and smoke was definitely billowing.  Lee and I got out of the car and walked up towards the Forest Service Law Enforcement truck where we were told, 2 people had been seriously injured and were being taken to the hospital, the fire was not under control and they would be “dealing with it for a while”.  The Ranger also asked us if we could help clear a “hole in the traffic because he was getting ready to evacuate the forest service campground this was next to.  We were happy to provide assistance and told the folks in waiting cars it was going to be a while.  Many couldn’t leave because there was no other good way to get to their destination and several of them were staying in the campground and had just come back from boating.

What we saw when we pulled up

 

One water truck on scene and lots of smoke.  What we didn’t realize at the time was the fire was on both sides.

I really felt bad for them because I knew there was nowhere else to stay close by because this time of year all the campgrounds are packed on the weekends.  After getting the cars to move, went on about our route and made sure Hole-In-The Wall and Moore Creek were fully stocked.  While we were doing that several cars who had turned around stopped and used them, so I was glad we were able to provide a place for people to wait it out at least. I was also glad that evening when it started raining.  We had gone 57 straight days without rain (second longest streak in Oregon history) and the fact that rain came on a day when we needed it for traffic control in the morning and to help with the fire in the evening felt like providence.  Plus I like the sun, but I was longing for a little bit of cooler temperatures and the rain means we wont have to water the trees this week.

The next morning Lee drove up and saw that the fire was still not completely out although it was well contained.  The road was open to one-way use and they had folks in place directing traffic. Thankfully they had it under control, although we did see that there were signs of fire on both side of the road.  We are not exactly sure how that happened, but one anecdotal report we heard said they hit an electric pole which is what actually started the fire.  It could have been so much worse, and everyone was really thankful it was responded to so quickly.  On Monday morning he was finally able to get some pictures when the fire was completely out and it was clear there was impact on both sides of the road.

This is the right side of the road where the car flipped.

 

The left side saw much more fire damage though

 

A long swath was burned along the road

This is what it looks like when fire response is onsite in less than 20 minutes, I can’t imagine what could have happened with a longer delay. The fire crews also had lots of available water from the Clackamas River and all in all we felt pretty lucky how this all turned out.  Our campground is 1 mile from the edge of the Mount Hood national forest, which is over 1 million acres of largely undeveloped land.

Sunday continued to rain and was overcast and Monday was the coolest day we have had in a couple of months.  I enjoyed the change in temperature, but was surprised by how much colder I was without the sunshine.  Crowds were also low because it has been almost a month since they have stocked trout.  The water is warm this time of year and there is a big break between stocking, so although some fish are there even the most experienced fishermen are having some trouble catching their limit.  This should change next week though as we have three big stocks scheduled starting August 22nd and over 20,000 trout will be going in the reservoir in the next few weeks.  Fish = fishermen and warm temps = recreational boaters, so when we combine those two things crowd levels are high.  Plus of course we have the eclipse and since we are only 4 miles from totality the next couple of weeks should be a little crazy.

We all appreciated the little break from the crowds and heat this week although my recycling certainly was impacted.  I only got 4 bags of recyclables this week (less than $10 worth).  I’m fine with that, happy to have the break, and I even had time to take a few pics of the osprey babies.  Still haven’t caught them flying, but they are getting pretty big and hopefully I’ll get to see that soon.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback.

First Time Getting a Colonoscopy

If you’ve had a colonoscopy you can probably skip this one, unless you have some concerns about how this works in an RV, which I will be talking about.  Don’t worry, it won’t hurt my feelings. Also, I am NOT a medical professional, so this is simply a first hand account from a regular person.  When it’s your turn to get the procedure done, read the paperwork, talk to the doctor, and follow their advice.,  I simply offer this as a first-person account from a patient.

I decided to write about it for a couple of reasons.  I like writing about firsts.  There is a clarity of vision that happens when you do something for the first time and this to me is a pretty big first.  I knew when I turned 50 this procedure would need to take place and since I am an analyst by nature I started asking friends who had gone through it for information.  It’s a pretty personal subject,  and when almost everyone I talked too said something along the lines of “it’s not that bad…pause…the prep is the worst” I simultaneously felt better about it (after all, they had survived) and concerned about the dreaded prep. So when my time came I decided to go ahead and write about it.  Yes, there is poop involved, but I write about poop all the time, and more importantly the procedure seems to me to be a rite of passage, where we transition from “young people healthcare” to “older people healthcare.”  That’s just my take on it, but it seems like a dividing line milestone of sorts, and as such deserves attention.  Plus it turned out to be much more complicated than I originally envisioned and that is always worth a post.

I am going to start with how difficult it was to schedule this procedure.  If you have a “regular” job and live in a house, and have a doctor, scheduling one of these might be an inconvenience but isn’t that difficult.  For me, this was not the case and I started trying to schedule this last summer in Alaska, and almost 1 year later I finally am having the procedure.  In all fairness, Alaska was a difficult place to schedule something like this, and the closest hospital was a couple of hours away.  But after that we had the beet harvest (40 straight days of work with no scheduled days off), Christmas Trees (6 weeks of straight work with no scheduled days off), and then 2 months of gate guarding with no scheduled days off and a 24/7 schedule.  I thought about doing it while gate guarding since we were about an hour away from San Antonio, but I wasn’t sure how I could make the 24/7 schedule work with the prep.  Towards the end, when things slowed down, we probably could have made it work, but you can’t just schedule these appointments last-minute.

For example, here in Oregon I went to the doctor at the end of May, who referred me to the specialist, who contacted me 30 days later, and then scheduled the appointment for 6 weeks after that.  All in it took 3 months to get the appointment scheduled, so keep that in mind if you are a person who travels frequently.  One way around this of course is to have an established relationship with a doctor, who might be able to work with you to schedule the physicals and colonoscopies close to one another. Or, if you follow a route and know in advance when you will be in a place you might be able to hit the appointment on two different trips.  With our work schedule this was very difficult for us and ultimately I feel very lucky we were able to fit it all during the 4 months we are in Oregon this summer.  Being next to a major city absolutely helped.

After the specialist called to set the appointment, I had to do an initial screening.  Because I had no health issues, I was able to participate in an online screening which saved me an hour long drive into the city of a screening appointment. It took about 20 minutes (mainly answering health question) and then they sent a large packet of information.   Included were several forms that had to be filled out and 16 pages of instructions. Just to be clear, I am not a medical person and these instructions were specific to me.  Make sure you read yours thoroughly, because, in my case at least, it turned out the prep process started a week in advance.

Basically I had to stop taking herbal supplements (no problem as my multivitamin was fine), stop taking blood thinning medications (again no problem, I don’t take any), and finally stop eating visible nuts, seeds, and whole grains.  This one gave me pause.  As I read further that meant no popcorn (that’s a bummer), no jams or jellies (since Peanut butter and jelly is a go-to for me that wasn’t great), and finally no tomatoes.  What??!!  I love this time of year because there are only a couple of months where real vine tomatoes are available and my own plants are finally starting to pink up.  What a bummer.  And not surprisingly, as soon as someone tells you that you can’t eat something all you want is to have it.  Some fruit you can eat if you pick out the seeds, but I tried that with a tomato and was basically left with a shell because all the good flavor is in the middle where the seeds are.  Sigh..lesson learned.  Don’t schedule these tests in prime tomato season!

We also had to get a Suprep Kit which ended up costing a ridiculous $87. Basically it contained two bottles of liquid and a couple of plastic cups, I wonder how much extra they charged for those cups.  Our insurance unfortunately didn’t help at all with the cost of the kit and although the specialist office offered a free sample we would need to drive over an hour into town to go get it.  Ultimately we just bit the bullet and paid full price at the Walgreen’s 20 minutes away, and thankfully I had money in our HSA account to cover it.

Next I had to go to the store and get a list of items for the 36 hours I wouldn’t be able to eat.  Oh yes, I was surprised to read that starting at 7am the day before, clear liquids (and gummy bears) only and then no liquids at all 4 hours before the procedure.  I don’t think I have ever gone 36 hours without eating solid foods before and I was a little concerned because I am hypoglycemic.  I was diagnosed in college (took this test that almost made me pass out), but since then I recognize the symptoms and control through my diet.  Plus, the effects seem to have lessened as I have aged (and put on more weight) so really it isn’t that big of a deal.  Still, I have never gone that long without eating and wanted to make sure I had lots of options to choose from.  I also needed to get some tushy wipes, because well you know, there is lots of wiping and skin gets chafed.

This was another area where living in an RV had an impact.  Yes, they sell septic safe wipes, but Lee didn’t feel it was a good idea to put those in the tank in any event, so we came up with a workaround to use a trash can and a liner during this time period and keep the wipes out of our tank.  All in all I thought it might be pricey and I was right because by the time I was done I had spent $60. In all fairness, I went to the local market that is more expensive and I am sure I bought more than I needed, but I didn’t want to run out of the few items I could have.  The list of what I bought is below and the most disappointing part of the list was my need to stay away from anything cherry flavored because the dye might make the colon look inflamed.  Cherry stuff is my favorite and I am just not a huge fan of other flavors so my choices were somewhat limited.  Anyway here is the list

  • Two packs 7th generation wipes
  • Vasoline this didn’t help at all and later I sent Lee out to buy Desitin which worked MUCH better
  • Two 2-liters 7up
  • Two Powerade white cherry not a fan and two Powerade lemonade not great but ok
  • A six-pack of Propel berry flavored  which I liked much more but these power drinks are not cheap
  • Halls Mentho Lyptus recommended to help numb the taste buds before drinking the Suprep.
  • Crystle Light to mix with the Suprep seriously how bad does this stuff taste
  • Minions Popcicles.  Since cherry and grape flavored were not allowed I was lucky to find some Minions popscicles which only have yellow and blue Popsicle.  Not a huge fan of those flavors, but since it is on of the few “solid” foods I can eat I bought them. The lemon ones were really good and made me feel “full” at least for a little while. The blue ones were totally yuck!!
  • Two cans of chicken broth and two cans of beef bouillon.  These are important for protein and thankfully I had a Clear Japanese Soup recipe I have been wanting to try anyway.  Basically it is a can of chicken broth 1 tsp soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of sherry.  It was really yummy, but I wish I could have added some scallions and thinly sliced mushrooms. I checked on-line and soy sauce is allowed and it turns out white wine and beer are also allowed and I decided to roll the dice on the little bit of cooking sherry and by the way with alcohol allowed I understand how people get through this!
  • And finally four bags of gummy bears!.  The only thing you can eat that is solid is gummy bears and thankfully I am a big fan.  

Gummy bears and popsicles are the only thing you can eat that you can bite into and I wanted to make sure I had plenty of each.  I should stop and talk here about how weird it is not being able to eat something when there is food nearby.  This requires willpower and some mental concentration, especially because the RV is a small space and Lee was of course eating.  He did offer to leave at lunch and dinner and eat out if I needed him to (which was very sweet), but I felt like if I needed to I could just walk outside. He was nice enough to eat Hamburger Helper, which is not something I will eat, but I have to say on this particular day it smelled pretty good.

It did occur to me at this point though that I was very lucky to not have an eating disorder.  Food is a basic human need and as such for many people is tied up in their emotional state as well. During one of my pregnancies I gained 50 pounds and it wasn’t until then that I realized how much food and my weight impacted how much I felt in control. I was lucky that was a temporary situation, but I learned enough to know how serious eating disorders can be for people.  Which led me to think how difficult this must be for people in that situation and wonder why there isn’t an easier way to do this.  I understand the mechanics.  Things need to be cleaned out in order for them to take a look, but the process of cleaning you out seems pretty extreme and somewhat archaic.  I wonder how many people avoid the test because of what they have to go through in prep.

Thankfully for me my two big addictions, cigarettes and coffee (black which is how I drink it) were allowed, along with soft drinks.  It didn’t say anything about them needing to be clear soft drinks, by the way, and even said Coke was OK.  I am guessing that is because lots of people have soda addictions and getting them to give them up for 36 hours would be tough.  My paperwork didn’t say anything about alcohol one way or another.  I found the bit about beer and white wine being OK online, but since the last thing I want to do is add alcohol to this process it wasn’t a big deal for me.  I’m guessing they didn’t want to print that alcohol was OK in the paperwork, but since it is OK they left it out all together.   Definitely ask your own doctor about this if it is important to you and  if you decide to drink make sure you have lots of other fluids as well to stay hydrated.

I had scheduled the procedure on Wednesday at 1am which meant that starting at 7am on Tuesday clear diet.  So I thought about what I wanted my meal to be on Monday night and decided on Pzza Hut thin and crispy pizza.  What goes in must come out, so I wanted to make sure I stayed away from anything spicy!  It’s kind of a bummer that this is taking both of our days off, but Lee was pretty understanding about it and we settled in for some household stuff that didn’t require much physical activity.  I did do the recycling first thing in the morning, but by choice decided not to do anything else strenuous for the next two days.

While I was waiting until 6pm for the first Suprep dose, I read through all of my paperwork.  Everyone says they don’t remember the procedure, but it wasn’t clear to me if they didn’t remember it because they were knocked out or if it was because the anesthesia makes you forget.  Turns out that if you read between the lines of the release forms, you are awake during the procedure.  I had to sign a form stating they may not be able to finish the procedure if the patient was too “uncomfortable.”  So obviously you can feel something when it is happening and I wasn’t too crazy about experiencing something and then forgetting about it.  I am young enough though to have talked to people who had the colonoscopy before the “forgetting” drug was used and what they remembered didn’t sound that pleasant so maybe it’s for the best.  In my opinion these tests are incredibly important and if that’s what it takes for people to go back for a second test, so be it.

I also ate my gummy bears, tried some soup, and tried the different drinks I had.  Sugar was a bit of an issue.  I wanted things that were sweet, but if I overdid it I didn’t feel that great. When  you are hypoglycemic the body creates too much insulin if you overdo it on sugar and the body “crashes.”  I usually combat this with avoiding sugary things in the morning and only eating deserts when I have proteins and carbs already in my system.  That way the effect is minimized.  I obviously couldn’t do that this time around, so I tried to intersperse no sugar options with the more sugary alternatives.  In retrospect I really should have bought sugar free gummy bears, because I went through a bag of those in the morning and then had to stop eating them for a while.  The soup helped some, but not enough.  I could have bought a clear protein shake of some sort which would have given me the protein I needed, but the local grocery store didn’t have any of the clear versions and  since they are so expensive and I wasn’t sure I could handle the taste I decided to try broth instead.

Finally 6pm came around and with hesitation I opened the mixture I had to drink.  I mixed it with a bunch of water, per the instructions, and then drank the 16 oz down.  First of all it tasted of medicinal berries and although it wasn’t super pleasant it certainly wasn’t undrinkable or anything. I got it down in about 10 minutes and then sat to wait for the result.  The instructions said the effects would start in anytime between a few minutes and a few hours, so I put on a loose pair of sweatpants and stayed close to the bathroom.

About 20 minutes later I started to feel pretty nauseous and then the beginnings of a headache started.  I was focusing on keeping the drink down mainly and then my stomach started to feel a little upset.  It started with some cramping in the stomach area and I had some gas.  At this point I should mention we only have one bathroom, but thankfully we have access to another work bathroom if Lee needed it.  I’m pretty sure I will be in and out of ours for the next few hours so Lee needed some place to go if nature called.  I also started to feel a little light-headed, and it could be a complete coincidence, but my nose got stuffed up and I had to blow it several times.

41 minutes later I had my first bowel movement.  It was watery, stung a little, and took several minutes to finish.  Hey this post is about a colonoscopy, you should have expected I would talk at least a little about the bowel movements!  I continued to feel nauseous and a few times had to fight the feeling that I was going to throw up. Pretty soon though things settled down and honestly it wasn’t that bad.  It was almost liquid and although I had to go every 10-15 minutes the first couple of hours it settled down after that.  I did start to get a little sore though and I really wished I had gotten the Desitin instead of the Vaseline which I found largely unhelpful.  I also wish I would have sprung for some medicated wipes although I found some hemorrhoid pads in our closet which helped quite a bit. And on the plus side I wasn’t really very hungry, all that pooping was a decent distraction.

Even though things slowed down I didn’t quite trust it enough to fall asleep, so stayed up until about 11pm.  I was pretty tired and fell asleep right away, but then woke up at midnight and went to the bathroom one more time.  This time it really burned, and although I took a shower and tried to spray the area with warm water the burning sensation did not stop.  Essentially, I had a pretty bad case of “diaper rash” and my cheeks were seriously inflamed.  This time it hurt pretty bad and it took me over an hour to finally fall back asleep, because I couldn’t find a comfortable sleeping position.

The next morning I woke up at 6:40am and prepared myself to drink another batch.  I wasn’t sure why I needed to, since I was pretty sure nothing was left in there, but my mom (who is a nurse) has specifically mentioned not skipping the second dose, because people do it all the time and it’s not good.  This early in the morning the taste was much worse, so I added a little crystal light lemonade to the mix (which didn’t help the flavor much) and struggled to get it down.

I also sent Lee to the grocery store to pick up some Desitin. I am not sure why this wasn’t recommended in my prep package but I would have killed for some last night.  While he was gone I drank the drink in as large of chunks as I could, rinsing my mouth out with water between sections.  I also stood up while I was drinking it (think chugging a beer) which helped me get more down in each section.  And I popped one of the mentholyptus cough drops in my mouth which did help numb my taste buds a bit which was helpful towards the end.  My nose was also immediately stuffed up, which helped with the smell if nothing else and I guess that wasn’t a coincidence from the time before .

I felt incredibly relieved when I got it down and was on the toilet almost immediately. I  fought the nausea, sipping on the followup 32 oz of water I drank, and tried to get through the morning.  It didn’t help that despite everything I was hungry this morning but the last thing I wanted to do was eat anything.  What goes in must come out.  Plus I only had until 9am until I had to stop drinking liquids of any kind, so I focused on getting hydrated.

No liquids is way worse for me than no food, because I drink water almost constantly.   I also remembered to take my jewelry off and like I said just tried to get through it. On the positive side the Desitin provided some instant relief and Lee even made me laugh when he handed it to me. He’s been a real trooper through all of this. Finally we left to go to The Oregon Clinic and since it was a long drive I was nervous and took a towel to put down in the car and extra pants and underwear.  Thankfully I was fine on the drive although I did have to use the restroom a couple of times before the procedure.

The procedure itself went great.  They took me right in and prepped me for the procedure.  The nurse, Hope, was really nice and they verified my health history, took my vitals, and put in an IV.  They verified who I was and what procedure I was having done several times and it was obviously a well run organization. Turns out they do 60 colonoscopies a day in this facility and after two new rooms are built will increase that to 90.  Some people might not like that, but it actually made me feel better.  I figured with that much volume they knew what they were doing.  Plus the nursing staff made it feel personal and despite the efficiency in the process I didn’t feel like I was being rushed through.

I had time to ask questions and I did clarify whether or not I would be completely knocked out.  Turns out they do NOT use the “Twilight anesthesia” and Vercet to make you forget but instead completely knock you out.  That was actually my preference and I was super relieved.  When I asked about the language that stated they would stop the procedure if the patient was in extreme “discomfort” and she explained that was for respiratory distress I felt better about the whole thing.

Eventually they wheeled me down to the procedure room and I answered some more questions for that nurse and the anesthesiologist.  Right before the doctor came in the song “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” came on, which made me laugh, and I explained to the doctor how appropriate that tune was for my first time colonoscopy. Dr. Lumm smiled and then was all business as he explained what they were going to do.  He also told me if I got a clean bill of health I wouldn’t have to come back for 10 years.  Nice!!

They had me roll on my side, put the medicine in and I was out in less than 5 minutes.  When I came to I asked to be taken to the restroom and was able to go with little difficulty.  I wasn’t in any pain thankfully although gas is a pretty common side effect and I did pass some of that.  Hope passed me along to Ben to finish off and he took some vitals and then got me a drink of water.  Not long afterwards the Doctor came in and told me I won the “colonoscopy jackpot.”  No cancer, no polyps, and I didn’t need to come back for 10 years.  Awesome!!  He went over some things to watch out for and then was on to his next patient.  Ben finished telling me about the side effects I should be concerned about and then told me how to get dressed.  The funniest part of the paperwork was don’t drink alcohol, don’t drive, and don’t make any major life decisions. The last part totally made me laugh and in less than 20 minutes or so I was out in the waiting room with Lee.

I did feel a teeny bit rushed at the end to be honest, but I was also starving and wanted to get something to eat.  We stopped and got a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich and hashbrowns (my choice because I thought it would be easy on my stomach) and then drove home.  I am sitting here finishing this post and it is less than 1-1/2 hours from the procedure.  I feel really good and am glad that it is all past me.

I know what I wrote above sounds unpleasant, so why get these tests done?  According to the American Cancer Institute, “Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of non-skin cancer in both men (after prostate cancer and lung cancer) and women (after breast cancer and lung cancer). It is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States after lung cancer. In 2016, an estimated 134,490 people in the United States will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 49,190 people will die from it…Studies suggest that colonoscopy reduces deaths from colorectal cancer by about 60 to 70%”   I’ll take those odds, and 36 hours of discomfort once every few years seems a fair price to pay for me. Yes, I hope they come up with an easier way, but in the meantime this is what we have.

So,  I hope what I wrote does not dissuade anyone from getting the procedure.  I hope knowing the details will actually encourage people to go through with it.  I think fear of the unknown is often worse than the thing itself and wanted to provide as much information as I could. My advice is to plan the two days out in advance, buy everything you need to be as comfortable as possible, and don’t forget the Desitin!  Seriously, the diaper rash symptoms were the worst part, and that stuff worked great.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback.

 

First Time Working In A Utility Co. Park – Record Temperatures

Disclaimer: The company we are working for this summer has a very specific media policy. I will not be mentioning them by name, or mentioning the specific names of anyone I am working with, except for Lee.  Also, because it’s not really that difficult to figure out which company it is, I want to be clear: I in no way speak for the company or my co-workers, and am only recounting my personal experiences.  Also, any details I get wrong in this or any other post are due to a misunderstanding on my part.  

The Weather Channel was predicting a high of 108 on Wednesday and needless to say we were concerned about working in that level of heat.  It is highly unusual for this part of the country and Extreme Heat warnings were all over the news.  Thankfully we had Tuesday and Wednesday off so were able to mostly stay in the air conditioned rig on Wednesday but we did have several errands that needed to be done.

We love having guests and going to beautiful places on our days off, but real life continues and by Wednesday at 11am when Jim and Diana left I had a major list.  In the past I would obsess about the list and let it tie me into knots, but instead I talked it through with Lee first thing in the morning and he said he would help me with as much as he could.  So over the next two days I fixed my job searches, called the auto insurance company about our rates rising yet again.

Long story short I was given a $30 a month credit for signing up on auto bill pay but that was only good for the first year and they had raised every rate for everyone in Florida the next two years.  At this point I am paying almost double what I started at, and although I like this company very much and appreciate how they handled the incident where we put regular gas in our diesel engine and killed it, in February I am going to have to shop around. The only price break they were willing to discuss with me was if I put a GPS device on our truck that “graded ” our driving and although I know we are excellent drivers I am absolutely not going to do that unless forced to it.  A little too Big Brother for me.

I also called the dentist and worked with them to get our new insurance information from our current employer (appointment is on August 15th) and fielded a call from the colonoscopy center about my upcoming procedure.  Speaking of that, I needed a prescription for that and my Blue Cross ACA plan did absolutely nothing for me in negotiating a lower rate.  Our out of pocket costs were $87 for that which is ridiculously high for basically prescription Ex-lax.  Our other alternative was to drive an hour to Portland and try to get a free sample, but ultimately we just used our HSA card and paid Walgreen prices.  Lee went and picked it up for me.

Lee also went and got our mail, fan our budget reports, made a grocery store run to get a few items we needed for the weekend, flushed the tanks, and did the mounds of laundry that had been piling up. I went through all the pictures, wrote three blog posts (to get caught up), got my eyebrows waxed, read the instructions again for the colonoscopy as some things (like not eating any food with seeds start a week in advance) and made a large pot roast so we would have leftovers for the weekend.

Yes that is a lot, but that’s what happens when your work schedule is as heavy as ours is for 4 days out of the week.  Thursday actually wasn’t that bad though, because we both started early in order to beat the worst of the heat. My Thursdays are so much better because the guys at Timber are covering for us on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I am not sure why this wasn’t happening before, but they started last week and what a difference.  One guy filled the truck with trash on Tuesday and the other pulled 4 bags out of trash in the Culvert on Wednesday (which was packed according to him because of the high temperatures.  Normally I would have had to deal with all of that on Thursday and since I pulled an additional 7 bags of trash and cleaned one pretty messy bathroom, which would have been a long day for me.  But since I had the help I was done by noon, and thank heavens for that because it was 103 by the time I was done.

The temperatures were actually lower than expected because of smoke in the area.  The river was full of haze (which we later learned was smoke) but because there was no smell we weren’t sure what it was.  Turns out the smoke had traveled down from British Columbia and the Mount Jefferson area and actually worked to our benefit.  The haze cut some of the worst of the suns UV and instead of 108 degrees we only got 103 which was a blessing. I felt bad though for some fellow dreamers Steve and Diane who have been working in BC all summer and I know from Facebook they have been dealing with the smoke for a couple of months now.  We were happy to have it though because by the time Lee finished his shift at 1:30pm he was drenched with sweat.  It’s pretty shaded in the campground, and he tried to take it easy, but it gets hot in some of the cabins and yomes and they needed to be cleaned for the next round of guests.  Finally after eating lunch and finishing off a couple more errands we were ready to relax and watch some TV.

My mom recommended this show called Bloodline and it is really fantastic.  It’s about a family who lives in the Florida Keys and if you haven’t seen it, it’s absolutely gripping.  The acting is amazing and the plot is original so I never know what is going to happen next, I love that in TV Shows and it is pretty rare as so many shows are formulaic.  IT’s intense though and after a few episodes, I needed a break.  I am not sure if they can keep this quality up for future seasons but so far Season 1 is fantastic.

Despite what you might think, most people I know watch quite a bit of TV.  There are rainy days, hot days, and days where you are just too tired to do anything.  Yes we are in a beautiful place and in theory would like to spend our free time out in nature, but the reality for us (and many of our friends) is sometimes you just want to chill. When we first started on the road I used to feel vaguely guilty about that, but now I am glad we are able to relax in a comfortable environment and veg out on occasion.  After all in the grand scheme of things we are way more active than we used to be in New England or Ohio.

Friday I spent more time in job searching, finishing up a blog post and starting a new one, and setting up the new Fitbit Lee had bought me while at Walgreen’s. I have been talking about wanting a step counter for quite some time, but wanted something small with minimal bells and whistles.  The price of the basic Fitbit Zip was only $60 though and he went ahead and bought it.  I was hoping setup was included in the present, but alas that was on me, so I sat down to see how difficult it would be to set it up.

First I had to download the program on my computer, Iphone, and Ipad, which all took a while because it was 59 MB per device. Next I had to “Join Fitbit” which was essentially setting up an account. I put in my age (50), sex (F), height (5’4″), and weight (132.5).  Then my name, email, and password.  At this point it occurred to me they would be collecting quite a bit of information about me, but then I shrugged and continued.  Yes, I try to be cautious about the data I have online, but I am not super diligent about it.  Plus what was the alternative. I did take a moment and read their privacy policy where they say they will never sell your data, but I largely take those promises with a grain of salt.  But then again other than 100% keeping your info offline, it’s part of the world we live in.

Next I had to put the battery into the Fitbit and although I am sure I could have figured it out I carried it over to Lee and had him do it.  He needed to get involved somehow 🙂 I inserted the “Dongle” into my computer and then did an update.  Apparently this was necessary for the first sync so keep that in mind if you don’t have a laptop or computer handy.  The update was quick and then I had to enter the numbers on the screen.  Unfortunately I had it upside down and entered the wrong numbers, but then tried it again and it worked.

There was a dashboard and badges and all sorts of interesting things, but since I didn’t have any steps yet I decided to wait until the next day to check all that out with real data.  I also had to setup the apps on the devices.  I turn Bluetooth off (to save battery power) but since that is the way the device syncs needed to go back and turn it on.  I also had to go into my email and verify my account so I could use the pre-existing account to sign in. Got all that setup up and then took another look at the dashboard.  The food tracker seems kind of interesting, but then again let’s wait and see how well it works. Update: Turns out on average work days I am walking about 5100 steps or 2.1 miles with a 1500 a day calorie burn.  That’s not bad, but since I did a quick calorie count and am eating more calories than I am walking off (I’m hungry while working), I need to either walk more or more likely be a little more careful about what I am eating on these long work days.

Friday we start at 3pm and unfortunately weren’t really able to change our schedule to avoid the worst of the heat.  I have never worked outside in temperatures like this and it gave me new respect for people that do it all the time.  We have great AC in the truck, but when we left it to empty trash or check a restroom we were slammed with a wall of heat.  Both of us were sweating in no time and the heat made us feel a little nauseous.  Because of the temperatures the lower launch and culvert areas were very busy with locals and consequently many of the trashcans were overflowing.  So not only were we standing in full sun pulling trash, but in some cases we had to manually transfer the overflow into a second bag so we could lift them.  Not fun.

It wasn’t all bad though.  Our water tank came in and Lee was very happy getting it setup with a hose and spigot.  This is going to make our lives so much easier and we were both thrilled it finally came in. It does move around a bit though (even filled with water) and Lee is trying to figure out how to strap it down.  The only downside is less room in the truck bed for trash, but we will be changing our route to make more frequent trips to the dumpster to accommodate.  Since most of what we do requires water, it is well worth the inconvenience.

 

We also came upon the coolest thing up at the “kid hangout” place in lower launch.  A clean cut young man was there with his group of friends and they had a device that was on wheels.  I walked up to ask what it was and immediately he looked worried.  Turns out he built a motor that pulls a line across the water.  It was his invention and totally amazing. Why he invented it was of interest to me as well.  He doesn’t have a boat but wanted to water ski, so built a motor that allowed his friends to do that. Gotta love American ingenuity and I told him he should definitely go to engineering school.  Lee talked to him about how it worked for some time and then they showed us with one of his friends skiing.  Really, really cool.  And I should say as much as we hear about kids in trouble and drug use in this country, there are also kids like this one who are out there inventing things.  Fantastic!

The wipeouts are the same lol

 

And finally we got to see the baby ospreys out of the nest.  They have been getting bolder and bigger and two of them were standing on the nest when we went by in the evening so I got some pictures.  Not sure if the third one made it or not, but I was thrilled to see these little guys out and about.  Can’t wait to see them start to learn how to fly.

They were definitely the babies because we have seen the parents and they are much larger than this

Plus the babies were screeching at the mama

Who was flying over by the dam ostensibly looking for fish for them

So so cool, but unfortunately no third baby

 

Saturday was MUCH better from a heat perspective.  Yes the temps were in the 90’s and it was still hot in full sun, but it was manageable, especially when we managed to stay in the shade.  We were using our new water tank quite a bit, which helps cut down on the need to run back and get water and the extra time made the evening shift much easier.  In the morning, while it was still cool, I spent some time in the men’s restroom at Faraday covering some obscene comments someone carved into the wall with the putty I bought a couple of weeks ago.  That was actually less unpleasant than it sounds, as I propped open the door and we have managed to get the smell largely under control in those bathrooms.  I’ve seen graffiti in bathrooms my entire life, some amusing some not, and this definitely fell in the uninspired category.  Plus one poem took up a largish section of wall and it took quite a bit of putty to cover it.  For the record I have seen very little of this during the summer and like everything else hopefully removing it quickly will stop others from adding their words of wisdom.  The job didn’t really bother me and since I found a relatively easy fix I was happy to take care of it.

Oh and one really cool thing happened on Saturday.  There was a man in the morning at the lower launch with an absolutely beautiful wooden canoe and I stopped to talk to him.  He said he had built it himself and it was the first time he had put it in the water.  He invited me to take a closer look and the inside was absolutely stunning.  The detail work was amazing and the wood was so beautiful.  Looked like a work of art.  When I asked how long it had taken him, he shied away from the question and said he intentionally did not keep track of the hours.  He had made a commitment to himself that he would work on it until it was “done” with no outside enforced time frames.    There is a lesson in that and I stood and watched him as he put the boat in the water for the first time.  It floated and good for him, I hope he enjoys it.  It really was a beautiful job and I wish I had my camera with me so I could share a picture, but I don’t usually take it unless there is something specific I want to take a picture of.

Sunday was hot again, manageable but the humidity was a bit of a challenge.  Plus the smoke was back and air quality wasn’t that great.  On the plus side, folks have been leaving me little bags of recycled cans all week along our route and I set a new recycling record with over $39.60 in cans.  Not all the trash can users are so nice of course (see picture below from one trash can this weekend, but I have definitely seen an improvement overall and I do like getting those “presents” if recyclables.

Seriously?? Could have been animals I guess since the bag is ripped up so bad but we haven’t had much of that.  This looks human made.

And lastly  we had a beautiful sunset on Sunday evening.  For some reason the lyrics, “smoke on the water…fire in the sky” came into my mind as we closed the lower launch and I sang them to Lee softly.  It was a beautiful sunset and just one more day and then it’s time for the weekend.  Most of that will be taken up by my colonoscopy and the prep for it, but at least we can stay in the AC.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback.

 

First Time Looking for a Consulting Job – The Search Continues

After spending a few days trying to keep up with all of the potential jobs out there, it soon became clear that I needed to narrow down the search criteria a bit.  Between working and just living my life, it’s hard to find time to look through 30+ potential jobs a day and I was concerned that I might actually be missing a really good opportunity.  So on Wednesday I spent a couple hours reviewing my various searches and tweaking them a bit. No single job search seems to have the perfect combination of factors, so I am relying on numerous searches from various sources and hoping I don’t miss anything.  A person really could spend countless hours doing this, and I am trying to strike a balance between effort and payoff.

The main problem I am having is the lack of a concrete job title.  Having a varied skill set is great, but that also means the job titles are varied as well.  Yes, you can search for parts of a title, but that also brings back jobs that aren’t what you are looking for.  My two major keywords are “analyst” and “project”, but using project manager for example (depending on the particular search engine) also brings back anything with manager in the title and that list is obviously very long.  Once the lists come back, I then need to scroll through and look at the locations eliminating any place that will be too cold this winter.  I haven’t found a good way to eliminate the northern climate in my searches, so I’m manually removing them.

I decided that my first choice of location would be in the Carolina’s, and I was able to set up a couple of searches specifically for that area, but if I did something similar for the entire south I would have way too many searches.  For those of you who have never done this, it’s really not that different than making travel plans when you have a destination in mind but only a vague idea of how you want to get there.  In order to start looking for campgrounds, you really need to have some idea of your route planned, but sometimes you plan your route based on campgrounds you want to stay at.  I guess what I am trying to say here is that that much choice can lead to difficulty making any choices at all in the beginning, but the more you narrow things down the clearer the route eventually becomes.  This job search has been very similar to that.  But, just like when you are crossing the country and you think about all the places you might be missing, I feel the same way about the great jobs I might be missing that are just outside of my searches.

Which led me to thinking about letting people find me.  I am lucky enough to work in a field that has some professional recruiters and their full time job is matching people with employment.  In order to get on their radar though, I needed to post my resume out on a few of their websites.  One good way to do that is to apply for jobs that they are “holding.”  Many companies don’t hire directly anymore, but work through staffing agencies, and applying for any of those jobs generally gets you into the staffing companies database. Sometimes these applications can be extremely time consuming as you need to retype you resume into their online forms, but in general technology is much better in this area.  Most have the ability to upload the information directly from your resume or from your Linked In account.  I liked the second option the best, because I am confident in my profile and the formatting, and it was during one of these uploads that I discovered something interesting about my security settings.

At some point I changed Linked In so that my profile would not be available to recruiters.  I was very surprised by this and honestly cannot remember exactly when I did it.  I believe it may have been towards the end of my tenure at my previous company and I think I just forgot to set it back once I left. Or maybe it happened in one of the many software updates and I just didn’t see it, but essentially I was set up so that only friends of friends could see my profile.  Very similar to Facebook, and what that meant was anyone who was looking for someone with my skill set wouldn’t find me.  Over the years I have had recruiters reach out regularly, but it has been a while since that has happened, and since we have been focusing on other types of employment I honestly didn’t think much of it.  Now that I have changed the setting back (and set up some new job searching profile settings) I will be be curious to see what comes of it. One of the best things about the Linked In setting is you can put places you would be interested in working and it allows you to pick numerous cities, or in my case, numerous states.  I’m just glad I stumbled across it, because I have to believe it was limiting my exposure, and like I said, I will be interested in seeing how many of those “I saw your resume on Linked In” emails I will be getting.

And while I am doing all of this work, it is not lost on me that anecdotally at least, most people find a new job through their personal network.  This has always been a bit of a struggle for me because I worked for the same company for such a long time.  A few years before I left I started really paying attention to my network and as people left the company and moved onto other opportunities, I tried to maintain those contacts, at least casually.  I’ll be the first to admit I am pretty lousy at this.  I envy people who have strong networks of people they stay in contact with, and although I love seeing where people end up and like keep track of their various successes I was never very good at reaching out.  That’s one thing that has changed for me with being part of this mobile lifestyle, and I have learned how to maintain friendships, at least,  across long distances. Thankfully some people I used to work with seemed genuinely glad to hear from me and those people I am also Facebook friends with shared how much they have enjoyed reading about our “adventures”.  Plus we have met a couple people on the road who are also working and Kat in particular (who is work based out of the Raleigh area) said she would check around for me and see what’s out there.  From this perspective at least, it’s a shame that most of the people we have met while on the road don’t work, and even those we who do are primarily working in the Work Kamper arena, but that’s the path we have been going down. I know there are lots of mobile workers out there, I just haven’t spent the time getting engaged in those Facebook/RVer groups.

Ultimately that is what this whole job search comes down to…time .  I turned a blind eye to this side of my professional life over the last 15 months and now I am playing catch up.  It’s not the end of the world of course, people re-enter the job force all the time, but if you have ever done it you know it can all be a little daunting. I just keep focusing on doing a little bit every day and being patient with the process.  I also have to keep reminding myself this is not an emergency.  In my past job searches were mainly triggered by an immediate need and consequently had a sense of urgency attached to them.  If anything I probably started this process a little too soon, as most of the jobs seem to have near-term start dates, and I have plenty of time to find something.  Even if I don’t, I have a perfectly good job lined up and we heard back from the Gate Guarding recruiter just yesterday about our upcoming availability.  I don’t need to find a consulting job, I just want to find one, and it’s important that I don’t lose site of that and jump at any opportunity that fits my basic criteria.  Again, not that different from choosing campgrounds on a cross-country trip 🙂

Update: Not too long after I wrote this post one of our long-time readers, Greg,  who is a mobile worker reached out and connected with me on Linked In.  Hopefully over time I can build up my network with RV enthusiasts who are also mobile workers, and with Kat, Greg, and Casey as a starting point I am pretty hopeful about that. So, if you are a fan of the blog and work in an industry that uses project managers or analysts  please feel free to check out my Linked In profile and send me a connection.  I’ll be honest, it’s a little uncomfortable for me to even say that.   By nature, I really am lousy at networking, but if there is one thing I have learned over the last 4 years is how important having a community can be.  I’ve tried in my own small way to provide support to others and asking for help in return is not a bad thing.  Plus you never know.  The perfect gig is probably out there somewhere and I just don’t know about it.  Having extra people keep an eye out simply increases my chances.  We actually got our current job in Oregon because a reader sent me the job description and overall this has been a nice experience for us.  In the meantime I will keep plugging away and as always will keep you updated. 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback.

First Time at Mount St. Helens

The week started out really great with my discovery on Monday of this little fairy village one of the girl campers made.  The intricacy was amazing and it was really large, so we all left it as is and just admired how pretty it was.  A future camper may tear it down, but we all were impressed enough that no one wanted to touch it.  Thought I would share a few pictures here since it was so cute.

The whole village which was done in a large square bordered by a rock “wall”.

 

Loved the detail

 

And she even made a tiny swing!

Tuesday we went and saw Dunkirk for Lee’s birthday and on Wednesday Lee’s friend from high school, Kate, came to visit.  Lee and Kate were really close, but she moved to Portland shortly after our first daughter was born and he hadn’t seen her in 27 years.  He was really excited about spending time with her again and finally our schedules matched so she and her husband Harth (yes that’s spelled correctly) came out to visit.

Kate and Harth

Normally I like to cook for guests, but Kate and Harth are both on special diets so it seemed safest to just let them bring their own food.  Kate had salmon, Lee and I had whitefish, and Harth had some vegetarian tacos.  Really cool couple and hearing about the Portland area from folks who have lived here so long was very interesting. The conversation just flowed and Lee and Kate “rediscovered” each other and I really enjoyed getting to know her better as well. Finally it was time for them to leave, because she had to work in the morning and hopefully we can come see them at their house soon.  They are in the middle of a bathroom renovation which has dragged on a little longer than expected, but we hope we can see their place in September.

I always loved Kate’s smile…that’s one thing about people that rarely changes.

 

After the visit we started our long weekend and it was one of the best best we have had since being here.  No major bathroom incidences (hooray!!!) and we actually closed the gate a few minutes early Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Unprecedented!  We don’t know if it was because sunset is coming sooner, the sheriff’s boat that was patrolling the reservoir (not a common occurrence), Lee’s birthday karma, or sheer dumb luck, but we were happy to enjoy it. Oh and I made a record $29.10 recycling.  Score!  It seems unfair to not go into more detail when things are going well, but there isn’t a lot to say and I want to move on to Jim and Diana’s visit.

Jim and Diana are volunteer interpretative hosting near Bend, Oregon and they brought their rig to the campground to see us.  They arrived around 3pm on Monday and were settled in and down at our campsite by around 4:30pm.  Jim has a pretty serious gluten allergy, so we had spent some time discussing menu options and finally settled on shish-ke-bob marinated in Wishbone Salad Dressing.  As I was going through my recipe book trying to figure out what to make them, I was shocked by how many basic seasonings have gluten in them.  Lipton’s onion soup, gravy mix, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, some tomato pastes and tomato sauces, and even Good Season’s Dry Italian seasoning mix are not gluten free.  And as I learned later, some items that don’t have gluten in them themselves can’t be trusted because other items that do have gluten are manufactured on the same line.  Take ice cream for example.  Unless the label specifically says gluten-free it can’t be trusted because ice creams like cookies and cream do have gluten, and they are all manufactured on the same lines.  Really surprising how tough it was and gave me a new appreciation for people who struggle with this. Thankfully they really liked the shish-ke-bob and since Diana brought brownies and apple crisp for Lee’s birthday I didn’t have to worry about a gluten free dessert!

My pile of shish-ke-bob. I learned a new technique by the way. Let the mushrooms sit in water that is boiling hot for 1 minute before putting on the grill. They stay deliciously moist that way!

 

Diana bringing Lee apple crisp

 

Look whose happy!

 

Well Lee is

 

We even broke out these special little ceramic plates Lee’s parents sent to us. The ant on the plate is actually painted on which cracks Lee up.

Lee had also bought Jim Blue Latitudes, which is a book about Captain Cook’s adventures for his birthday that we just missed and I gave Diana a package that Rick had left for her.  I haven’t mentioned it until this point because it was a surprise but Rick beaded a friendship bracelet for both Diana and I when he was here in Oregon.  Fantastic job and they are his first ever bracelets, so Rick now the cat is out of the bag and you are going to have to do them for all of your RVer friends 🙂

My bracelet

 

Diana’s bracelet

 

The next morning we knew it was going to be hot so we tried to get an early start.  Jim and Diana had been to Mount St. Helen’s in the 90’s but a whole new section has opened up since then so it was a new experience for them as well.  One of the best parts of the park is it is absolutely free until you get to the very end and then it costs $8 to get in, or is free with the American the Beautiful Pass.  At first I’ll admit I wasn’t that impressed.  Initial views are of half a mountain that’s not very pretty and it wasn’t really awe inspiring.  But we stopped at the Forest Learning Center (which is free and I highly recommend) which had a 5 minute video that included actual footage from the event in 1980 and I realized we were facing the non-explosion side.  I left with a whole  different perspective and when we finally got to the side where the mountain had exploded it was genuinely amazing.  Let me just show you.

Initial views from the Learning Center

 

One thing that was unsettling was even from that distance we could clearly see steam coming from the mountain and Lee captured some shots with the long lens

 

Free visitors center which had a better gift shop than the monument itself.  We actually came back so Lee could get a T-Shirt there.

 

This is a popular place for elk viewing but we didn’t see any except for this guy

 

One thing I didn’t understand was much of the damage was done by the boiling mudslide. 57 people died in the aftermath, mainly because the scientists didn’t expect the eruption to take out the entire side and the landslide, winds, and steam took out 157,000 acres of land.

 

My absolute favorite part is they decide to handle what was left in two ways. The larger portion they replanted and closer to the mountain they left to naturally recover and they are studying the effects.

 

The planted forests in the area had this weird blurry look. That’s not an out of focus picture but rather the way it looked to the naked eye. We weren’t sure if that effect was because it was planted or some other factor but all of us noticed it.

 

I found this breakdown interesting because we are surrounded by forests up here and it shows what percentage is owned (and consequently managed) by which agency. We run into this up where we are working as different agencies cover the many areas close to us.

 

After checking out the learning center, Diana found us a shaded place to have lunch which was great because it was starting to get VERY hot.

We drove a little farther in and there was a beautiful turnout where we could see the hole in the mountain and take pictures.  This stop had places large enough for RV’s to park and was totally free.  Since it was a popular spot I asked a family from Portland to take a group picture for us and Diana asked about what they remembered from the day.  Their daughter was our age and in high school when it happened and the father talked about sitting on his porch and being able to see the 15 mile high plume of steam and ash.  They also talked about how unsettling followup eruptions were and how they remembered 4 major ones that occurred after the initial blast.  It was very interesting hearing their perspective and I was so glad Diana asked them about it.

Me and Lee

 

Jim and Diana

 

Lee, me, Diana, and Jim

The views were good from here but still not as close as we would like, so we drove all the way down to a new visitors center that is positioned dead center to the crater.  This is the only part that requires payment and it is $8 as I mentioned, but worth it, and of course free if you have an America the Beautiful pass, which we both did. I recommend walking up to the viewpoint first and taking some pictures and then going into the visitors center and seeing the movie.

Lee, Diana, and Jim on the huge viewing balcony.  This area is full sun though so definitely bring a hat. They also have numerous ranger talks out on the balcony.

 

My favorite part was the crater itself and you can see the glaciers that have formed. We saw numerous craters and glaciers like this in Alaska and it never occurred to me each one had erupted at some point which resulted in the bowls up there.

 

This was my favorite picture, because I can “see” the moving lava that formed this  dome.  It continued to change in size after the eruption.  Absolutely fascinating and I couldn’t take my eyes away from it.

 

This is the before and after picture which shows the day before and the day after the eruption. That really brought it home.  And although no video exists of the events a series of still photographs were taken by an amateur photographer which later were turned into a video morph by geologists.

 

 

 

This shows an overview of the areas that were planted (to the far right) and the ones that were left alone to recover naturally. Nature has done a nice job of bringing portion of it back.

 

This picture shows a lake which was created by the blast blocking the river.

 

And Spirit Lake which was a popular resort area and was changed from the blast as well.

 

This shot shows a pretty good view of where the lava flowed.

 

And the close up which doesn’t really show how deep this trench was.

 

The visitors center was built into the hillside and the roof was natural terrain which was pretty neat.

 

The movie was excellent and at 16 minutes one of the best of these types I have ever seen.

 

At the end the curtains raised.

 

And we got a view of the mountain which would have been more dramatic if we hadn’t seen it when we were walking up, but still pretty cool idea.

 

The lava flow.

 

And this tree showed how the wind blast tore the bark from one side, but the lee side still had bark.

My favorite part of the movie was when it showed how nature reclaimed the land.  The first mammal to return were the gophers who had survived the blasts under the soil and by coming to the surface brought much needed soil to mix with the ash.  Many plants can’t grow in the ash but lupine’s love the nitrates in ash and they were the first plant to return covering the floor in a vibrant sea of purple.  They then died providing areas that other plants could grow and the ground looks something like this.

Trees that were knocked over and left in place covered some areas of the hillside.

 

Many were twisted from the winds.

 

Early adaptors.

 

Stumps that remained became tiny havens for plant growth.

 

And eventually the animals returned like this curious rock squirrel.

After watching the movie it was really hot, but we walked up a paved path to get a 360 degree view.  Although we were at 6000 feet, it was still in the 90’s and because of the clear sky the sun was really beating down. The path goes farther along for about a mile, but I wasn’t up for that so we saw the compass at the top and then headed back down the hill to visit Coldwater lake.  The water wasn’t that cold, but there were lots of people there, trying to beat the record breaking temps.

 

Jim was telling us he wanted to have a compass on the ceiling of the RV so he always knew which direction they were facing and I was saying they must have something like that.  I went out and did a quick search and although people mention they have seen them I couldn’t find one. You’ll have to let me know if you track one down.

 

Very cool compass.

 

The lake was beautiful and Jim and Diana were tempted to grab their kayaks (which they carry with them) but since it was getting late we all decided to head back to Estacada and try to find a place to eat along the way.

Because of Jim’s gluten allergy he needs to be careful about local restaurants and usually makes his determination on whether it’s safe by looking at a menu and talking to the staff.  If they don’t get a good feel they just leave, but like us they love local restaurants so they always try. The Fire Mountain Grill caught our eye on the way in and so we decided to stop and give it a try, with the understanding that if Jim felt uncomfortable we would move on to the next place.  Luckily they had gluten-free buns on the menu and it was clear that they understood gluten allergies and could accommodate them.

The restaurant had no air conditioning, so we decided to eat on the porch.

 

Which had a nice view of the river.

 

Me, Diana, Jim, and Lee

 

Jim loved his Bison burger on a gluten free bun and they even had a gluten free lava cake which they both enjoyed. Lee and I split this 5 mountain berry cobbler which had fresh berries in it and was fantastic!

After an early dinner we all headed back and ended up at the campsite around 7:30pm.  It was a long day and a hot one, but really interesting, and the company of course was fantastic.  Jim and Diana headed off the next morning and we spent the day running errands, cleaning house, job searches, and some relaxing to get ready for this week of work.  Temperatures in Estacada have been in triple digits and come close to hit record highs of 105.  Thankfully, unlike many people who live here, we do have air conditioning, and it’s going to see some use as we try to beat the heat.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback.