Home for the month: not lake side, nor even lake view, but kind of lake near

After ten days of “leave at 8:00, commute 45 minutes to Norfolk, work on house all day, drive 45 minutes back home, shove something edible in our faces, get clean, go to bed, and repeat,” we took today off to explore our home at Davis Lakes Campground.

Here we are. Our spot's off to the right, near the recreation area. And the dumpsters. The spots around the lake are all parallel parking for better views, although "parking" seems like too temporary a term for some of the set-ups we saw.

Here we are.
Our spot’s off to the right, near the recreation area. And the dumpsters.
The spots around the lake are all parallel parking for better views, although “parking” seems like too temporary a term for some of the set-ups we saw.

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Many lakeside encampments blur the line between temporary and permanent, with patios and other covered structures built on.

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The Plunging Swirling Hole of Transport to the Middle of the Earth! OK, so it’s probably just a drainage thing, but there’s no fence around it, which is astounding, because if I were 8 years old? First place I’d go.

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Best part of camping here: daily bunny outside our doorIMG_5869

Funniest part: signs

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True story: the odometer in the BFT hit 99,999 as we rolled by this sign a few days ago.

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Every RV’er needs to review the departure checklist. No spouse left behind! Well, not by accident anyway.

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Um… this is a section of our lease. It very clearly and consistently follows the “If you’re not sure when to use an apostrophe s, just use it everywhere” rule.

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No fish were using the sinks today.

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… of gravity?

Worst part: lack of time and/or warm enough weather to enjoy the lakes

Don't let the sunshine fool you. It's 67 degrees today. So not beach weather. Talk to me when it's 20 degrees warmer.

Don’t let the sunshine fool you.
It’s 67 degrees today — not beach weather. Talk to me when it’s 20 degrees warmer.

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But hey, I’ve got a sassy new shirt to wear when we do get a chance to spend a day on the lake. Thanks, B!

When home changes, but it’s always the same, and will never be the same

A few days ago, I added an event to our calendar because “Oh. We’re in town! We could go to that!” 
 
Didn’t hit me until yesterday that San Antonio is not the town we’re in anymore.
 
It’s due to a combination of having so many places we think of as home, thanks to Tim’s military career, and the fact that the interior of our home no longer changes along with our location, so I sometimes forget where we are.
 
Also, I’ve been inhaling a lot of paint fumes, as we work on our S&B house (in Norfolk — I know we’re in Norfolk now), so that may be part of it too. But look at how much progress we’ve made!
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Those are cedar shake shingles. After priming and replacing them for nearly two weeks now? Only a mad man…

Just don’t remind me that this is Project 1 out of 5. Five big ones, most of which we are doing ourselves, before listing this house for sale with an agent. If you or someone you know wants to get in at a pre-listing price, please see this ad (link removed 6/11/16), and give us a holler! Our neighbors are so good, they are actually helping us get this done. Who wouldn’t want to live in a ‘hood like this one?
And speaking of homes, we’ll be leaving this one tomorrow, the Sea Mist RV Park at Dam Neck Annex, because our reservation expires. Wish we could have enjoyed more of the beach out our back door, but neither the weather nor our work schedule supported it. But we knew we were on a military base (again), when we were greeted by this sign:
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and noted the following verbiage in our page of rules and regs:
“Surfing, fishing and sunbathing are allowed on the beach any time it is not secured for drone launching.”
Right, then.
~ ~ ~
A final heartbreaking note: if you’ve been following us on social media (all the links are over there on the left side), you already know that our home will never be the same. Due to advanced kidney disease, we had to say goodbye to our faithful RV dog, Lola, earlier this week. It was a comfort that we were here in Norfolk, where we adopted her nearly ten years ago, and could take her to her old veterinarian to ease her way out of this life. She came home to go home, and we will miss her terribly.
Lola. Oil on canvas by my sister-in-law, Whitney, who gifted us with this art for Christmas, before knowing of Lola's illness. It's even more of a treasure now, and displayed prominently here in this home.

Lola.
Oil on canvas by my sister-in-law, Whitney, who gifted us with this artwork for Christmas, before knowing of Lola’s illness. It’s even more of a treasure now, and displayed prominently, here in this home.

Other posts on this topic:

  1. How it all started
  2. Getting things started
  3. Coping Inappropriately
  4. Before & Afters

You know you’re lazy when you explore only half a small town

Yeah, so we waited until noon to head out today, by which time it was 90+ degrees, which is way too hot for a walking tour of historic homes, so we drove by them in the BFT with the AC blasting, tried not to think about our carbon footprint, and then went to a bakery.

Castroville, known as the Little Alsace of Texas, is neatly bisected by Highway 90. We checked out the south side today.

Castroville, known as the Little Alsace of Texas, is neatly bisected by US Highway 90. We checked out the south side today.

First stop, Castroville Regional Park, for a hike up Cross Hill, so named for, well, you'll see.

First stop, Castroville Regional Park, for a hike up Cross Hill, so named for, well, you’ll see.

Something took a hell of a bite out of this cross.

Something took a hell of a bite out of that cross.

The view from Cross Hill (Per castroville.com: It is an old European custom for a village to proclaim its faith by erecting a cross in a prominent place, and the Alsatians brought the tradition with them when they came to the Medina Valley. Since then it has been called Cross Hill and was used by the Catholics in earlier times for pilgrimages and prayer petitions, such as Rogation Days. Today you can walk a path up to Cross Hill to enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of Castroville.)

The view from Cross Hill
(Per castroville.com: It is an old European custom for a village to proclaim its faith by erecting a cross in a prominent place, and the Alsatians brought the tradition with them when they came to the Medina Valley. Since then it has been called Cross Hill and was used by the Catholics in earlier times for pilgrimages and prayer petitions, such as Rogation Days. Today you can walk a path up to Cross Hill to enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of Castroville.)

I don't know who else would be up here, other than perhaps a grammar nazi who really wished she had some white paint in her pocket.

I don’t know who else would be up here, other than perhaps a grammar queen who really wished she’d had some white paint stashed in her pocket.

I do believe we are here at the peak of poppy season!

I do believe we are here at the peak of poppy season!

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Look. I tried three times for a poppy selfie. First shot: frowning Second shot: crooked Third shot: cleavage overload You're welcome.

Look. I tried three times for a poppy selfie.
First shot: frowning
Second shot: crooked
Third shot: cleavage overload
You’re welcome.

We stopped by the famous Steinbach Haus, built in France in the 17th century, shipped to Castroville and rebuilt in the early part of this century. It now serves as the town's welcome center.

We stopped by the famous Steinbach Haus, built in France in the 17th century, shipped to Castroville and rebuilt in the early part of this century. It now serves as the town’s welcome center.

Final stop of the day: Haby's Alsatian Bakery. It's kind of a big deal in these parts. That brown sphere on the right is a chocolate filled chocolate cupcake dipped in chocolate. The clerk made us buy it. I love how people in small towns look out for each other, don't you?

Final stop of the day: Haby’s Alsatian Bakery. It’s kind of a big deal in these parts. That brown sphere on the right is a chocolate filled chocolate cupcake dipped in chocolate. The clerk made us buy it. I love how people in small towns look out for each other, don’t you?

Tomorrow we’ll make up for both the auto emissions and the calorie count by starting earlier and biking the 4 miles into town to investigate the north side.

I’m no princess, but there’s a good joke here about kissing frogs

I've never kissed a frog. I have, however, kissed a fish. (Mayport, FL, 1993)

I’ve never kissed a frog.
I have, however, kissed a fish.
(Mayport, FL, 1993)

People ask from time to time if our RV has a name.

It’s been 18 months since we bought the thing. Shouldn’t it have a name by now?

We already know, or know of, vehicles with adorable names like Kermie, Betsy, Goldie, and BART (Big Ass Red Truck). We ourselves once owned a GPS we called Dolores, pretty much from Day 1, because she sounded so much like a Dolores.

But it took until today for RV inspiration to strike. Or maybe it was my head’s unfortunate encounter with the screen door on Monday?

Anyway. Ladies? Gentlemen? Allow me to introduce you to our freshly christened home on wheels …

The Toad

The Toad

Because as a fifth wheel, it goes where it’s towed.

And as an 8-year-old unit that has required numerous, frequent, and expensive repairs in its year and a half with us (this week: shorn off front shocks, probably as a result of the Tire Incident), I think it’s fair to say the beast’s got warts.

Thank you, Google. I'm not sure which definition I find more pleasing. Or accurate.

Thank you, Google. I’m not sure which definition I find more pleasing. Or accurate.

Our next move is Saturday, so if you’re driving between San Antonio and Castroville, be on the lookout for The BFT & The Toad!

Important update on things that aren’t working right, one of which involves surgery

Katy Perry had Left Shark.

Tim has Left Adrenal Gland.

It produces too much aldosterone, which is why it’s being ejected from the game next month. Ready for a little medical education in an RV lifestyle blog?

I’ll try to make this very long story (6 months worth of doctor’s appointments, imaging, testing, and waiting, to which I obliquely referred in this post) a little bit shorter:

Although Tim had no obvious lifestyle or dietary risk factors (genetic factors are an unknown because he was adopted), he was diagnosed with high blood pressure a little over ten years ago, in his late 30’s, and has been on medication ever since.

Within the last 3-5 years, he’s also had very low potassium levels, as in, “Sir? Are you sure you’re feeling OK? Because your readings are barely above the mandatory hospitalization mark.” Hello, gigantic horse pill potassium supplements.

Then last summer, right about the time we moved into the RV, Tim internet-stumbled upon a rare condition called Primary Aldosteronism, and asked his doctors to start the testing process.

“In primary aldosteronism, your adrenal glands produce too much aldosterone, causing you to lose potassium and retain sodium. The excess sodium in turn holds onto water, increasing your blood volume and blood pressure”

High blood pressure. Low potassium. Ah haaaaaa.

“Diagnosis and treatment of primary aldosteronism are important because people with this form of high blood pressure have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Also, the high blood pressure associated with primary aldosteronism may be curable.”

Ohhhhhhh. So… curing it means no more meds?

“Options for people with primary aldosteronism include medications, lifestyle modifications and surgery.”

Turns out that surgery is indeed an option for Tim, as the left adrenal gland was determined quite clearly to be the culprit. Had both glands been overproducing aldosterone, then the only recourse would have been daily, lifelong medication in the form of a hormone blocker — because like kidneys, you can live with one adrenal gland, but not with none.

Anyway, once the pesky left one’s out, Tim will be able to discontinue his potassium supplement for sure, and his BP meds can either be significantly reduced or eliminated entirely. So it’s a good thing, and we’re thankful we’ve got the military healthcare benefits to make it happen.

What it means though, is that we’ll be putting off our rolling adventures for another few months. Surgery is scheduled for 3/23, and it’s followed by 4-6 weeks of recovery and follow-up appointments to make sure the remaining adrenal gland picks up the slack, so San Antonio is home through at least the end of April.

Two really cool things

  1. We’re talking laparoscopic, robot-assisted surgery. Robot, y’all. Oh, how I wish I could watch!
  2. Tim’s surgeon is the same doc who saw me for follow-ups after my breast cancer surgery two years ago, and he remembered me when we showed up for Tim’s consult on Thursday. I greeted him with a cheerful, “Hi, Dr. N. You’ve seen me before. Quite a lot of me, actually!” He looked at me for a second and then said, “Oh I remember you. You’re the funny one.”

And then he drew a diagram for us, right there on the examining table paper:

The four dashes on the right side of the drawing, at the lower end of the kidney, represent 8-12mm incisions where the laparoscopic stuff goes in. If for some reason things go sideways, the doc will make a traditional incision instead, and take care of things "the old way." This will mean more pain and a longer recovery for Tim, so we're hoping all goes well with Dr. N and the Robot.

The four dashes on the right side of the drawing, at the lower end of the kidney, represent 8-12 mm incisions where the laparoscopic instruments go in.
If for some reason things go sideways during the operation, the doc will make a traditional abdominal incision instead, and take care of things “the old way.” This will mean more pain and a longer recovery for Tim, so we’re hoping all goes according to plan with Dr. N & the Robot.

And what other things aren’t working? As if a human gland weren’t enough?

Lola. She has retired as our hiking dog, and she still willfully ignores her bed in the most in-your-face way possible.

Lola.
Due to her age and kidney deterioration, we opted against surgery for her torn ACL. Thus, she has officially retired as our hiking dog. Also, she still willfully ignores her bed in the most in-your-face way possible.

The RV clock/thermometer. It was in here when we bought the thing, and has since decided to ignore new batteries, and submit us to 105 degrees all the time. "Honey, the thermometer's broken. We need a new RV!"

The RV clock/thermometer.
It was in here when we bought the thing, and has since decided to ignore new batteries, and make us think it’s 105 degrees all the time.
“Honey, the thermometer’s broken. We need a new RV!”