Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A goodbye to an old friend

The December 2007 ice storm has taken another casualty. About 14 years ago my youngest son, Alan, and I planted a Bradford Pear Tree in our front yard, hoping that when it matured it would shade our front entryway from the harsh afternoon Oklahoma sun in the summers. I have always called this "Alan's Tree" since he helped dig the hole and worked hard helping plant the tree. This has been even more meaningful in the past couple of years since my relationship with Alan has become very strained. This picture was taken right after the ice storm and shows the remains of a Youpan Holly Tree that had been growing directly in our entryway.

Alan's Tree has done very well over the years and was one of the better looking Bradford Pears in the neighborhood. Up about four feet from the base it forked out into two major branch groups. This is where the storm caused the damage. With it completely covered in ice, especially with most of it's leaves still attached, the weight caused the branch groups to lean out, causing the tree to split right in the fork. After the ice melted the tree came back together and I thought I might be able to save it by putting a large bolt through it, pulling it snugly back together. After looking it over very closely it was determined the split went almost all the way the the base. With the wind we have experienced lately it is a small wonder that the tree has not already broken over. Anyway, I spent today cutting it down, piling the brush at the curb and cutting up the tree for firewood. (Now we have two piles of brush since the city still has not made it's way to this end of town picking up the storm debris.) The wood was added to the other we have been scavenging from the neighborhood over the last couple of weeks. So far we have been able to collect over three ricks of wood that we will be able to use next winter after it has had time to season.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A review of 2007

Well, 2007 has come to an end so it is time to look back on what has happened. This was our first full year of retirement and we were able to put a lot into it. We saw much of this great country and made a bunch of new friends.

After celebrating the holidays with family and welcoming in a new great nephew in December 2006, we made plans to travel. We left Oklahoma on January 10 and headed toward Florida. After stops at the Outlet Mall in Gainesville, TX, and an overnight stop in Alexandria, LA, we arrived in Duson, LA. There we met up with six other couples that had been trekking across country from way out west in their motor coaches. The leader of this group had laid out our route and based our stops around a list of restaurants he wanted to visit. After Duson we spent a couple of nights in Robertsdale, AL.

Our Florida trip lasted a little over two months and we were able to spend time in DeFuniak, Lake City, Titusville, Orlando, Jacksonville, Brooksville, Tampa, Key West and Pensacola. We traveled with our little group of seven coaches for most of the first month. We also attended three motor coach rallies during that first month. Also, we were able to meet up with my parents, who had traveled to Orlando for a convention, and with my cousins, who were wintering in the Pensacola area to get away from the Cleveland, OH, winter. We then spent a couple of days in Gulfport, MS, on the way home.

During our time in Florida our older, but smaller dog developed some health problems. The local vet in Tampa determined that she had a serious bladder infection. She had become incontinent and we had to nurse her along until we could return home for her to see her own doctor. After returning home in late March we had her seen by our regular Vet and he agreed that she probably had a bladder infection and treated her accordingly. It was not until May that it was finally determined that her bladder was almost fully eaten up with cancer. She was a real trouper and, although she had to wear diapers for incontinence, she kept her spirits up and it was otherwise hard to tell she was sick. Toward the end of October she suddenly became worse and passed away on October 26.

We spent the end of March and all of April at home taking care of routine doctor appointments and the things that go along with owning property. We also got to spend a weekend each of these two months with our local RV camping club at their monthly meets. May found us back in Louisiana for another motor coach rally. We spent about two and a half weeks in the city of Rayne at the Spring Monaco America rally. It was good to get back with our main RV club and see many of our old friends. From Rayne we returned home in time for Memorial Day. We spent our time doing maintenance around the house including opening the pool for the season.

July took us north across Kansas and Nebraska to South Dakota. We spent about a month in the Rapid City area. We visited with RV friends and did a lot of sightseeing. We even made a day trip over into Wyoming to visit Devil’s Tower. We returned to Oklahoma via Dodge City, KS, in early August. The rest of August and the first part of September was spent at home.

In early September we headed out on another adventure. After spending a weekend with the local RV club we headed east again. This time we were going to spend some time on the road before attending RV rallies in Virginia and North Carolina. We crossed Arkansas and Tennessee before spending two weeks in Georgia, spending time at Stone Mountain and Savannah. From there we went north to Charleston, SC. We also spent some time seeking out historic lighthouses. After a week in Charleston our plans were to take us north to Virginia but that did not work out. The day before we were to leave we received a call that Joanne’s mom had been diagnosed with cancer and needed surgery. We decided that we must head home and three days later were back in Oklahoma. By now we were into October.

After the surgery in late October, Joanne spent most of her time at her mom’s house. This took us well into November. During this time the coach was taken to Tulsa to a dealer for some maintenance and final warranty work before the one-year warranty ended. Also, it had to have a new windshield installed to replace the one that got broken on the trip home from the east coast. After the repairs the coach went into storage. Things then became pretty routine around the house until mid-December when a major ice storm hit us. Due to the ice on the trees bringing the limbs down most of the city lost electrical power, including us. We were without power for seven days. During that time we brought the coach home and lived in it in our driveway. With the generator we were able to have lights, TV, and heat that was not available in the house.

We ended the year with enjoyable times with family and friends over the holidays. We are very thankful for our families and glad that they are so understanding about our time we spend away from them traveling. With that, we want to wish everyone reading this a very happy and prosperous new year.Safe travels to all.