If Medina Lake seems low again, it’s because a lot of it went up my nose

We are back at Home Base San Antonio for a few weeks, reconnecting with family and friends, and generally just gettin’ things done: medical appointments, vehicle inspections, registration renewals, returning our sophomore to UT-Austin. That kind of thing.

But today felt like vacation! Although Tim would disagree, I believe that better than having a boat is having friends who have boats, and we were treated to an afternoon on the lake by our friends Jay & Kris, who we met last year, thanks to this RV lifestyle.

Medina Lake today: it's 100% full. This is significant. Last time we were here, only 16 months ago? 3-5% full.

Medina Lake today: It’s 100% full.
This is significant. Last time we were here, only 16 months ago? 3-5% full.

See? This is a photo I took of the "lake" in April of 2015, when it was down to just a few puddles after 4 years of drought conditions. That "road" over there on the left is in fact someone's boat ramp.

See? Not kidding.
This is a photo I took of the “lake” in April of 2015, when it was down to just a few puddles after 4 years of drought conditions. That “road” over there on the left is in fact someone’s boat ramp.

Today's mission: water skiing! Jay & Kris are experts, with decades of experience to share. They've taught many, many people how to ski over the years, and today they taught Dane!

Today’s mission: water skiing!
Jay & Kris are experts, with decades of experience to share. They’ve taught many, many people how to ski over the years, and today they taught our kid!

Kris at the wheel

Kris at the wheel

Tim's up! It's been 3-4 years since last time, but before that it had been a decade or three...

Tim’s up!
It’s been 3-4 years since last time, but before that it had been a decade or three…

Jay showing Dane a few tips before his first time on the skis. Fun fact: Dane is 19. Last time I went water skiing was the summer I was 19.

Jay showing Dane a few tips before his first time on the skis.
Fun fact: Dane is 19. Last time I went water skiing was the summer I was 19. Please don’t do the math.

After showing Dane how to do it, Jay showed us how it's done.

After showing Dane how to do it, Jay showed us how it’s done.

And yes, after much waffling and psyching myself up and deciding that what I really needed on this day was for my child to see me get over myself, I took a deep breath, got in the water, and muscled on those skis.

After inhaling a fair amount of lake on my first try (see title above), I got up on the second attempt, after a 28-year hiatus, y’all.

Oops. Guess I did the math.

In my mind, I was the Go-Go's, and I. was. fabulous.

In my mind, I was the Go-Go’s, and I. was. fabulous.

We couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend this last day here with our Longhorn. Tomorrow we move him back into his school-year home!

1 job of our own creation + 1 from Mother Nature = 1 hot day on the roof

Job 1:

It all started when Tim said, “Honey, I’m ordering a new antenna, and it will be the solution to all our internet connectivity problems, and by golly, you will never suffer service interruptions again!”

OK, that’s not what he said. It’s just what I heard, because I didn’t understand a single word of all the techno-jargon he used after “antenna.” Also, he never uses the phrase “by golly.”

New antenna means wires. Wires need a place to go. And there's a void on top of this cabinet, which makes it a perfect place to drill through the roof. I can now say that Tim has drilled through walls in every home we've owned, for the sole purpose of boosting our connectivity.

New antenna means wires.
Wires need a place to go.
And there’s a void on top of this cabinet, which makes it a perfect place to drill through the roof.
I can now say that Tim has drilled through walls in every home we’ve owned, for the sole purpose of boosting our connectivity.

Taping the wires to the roof...

The new antenna is in the foreground. We used aluminum tape to affix the wires to the roof, and you can see the entry point behind him. It’s now all sealed up with two different kinds of caulky stuff to keep moisture out.

And now our router sits right there on the shelf above my cookbooks. Don't worry. He'll find a way to make those wires less obtrusive. Or else.

And now our router sits right there on the shelf above my cookbooks.
Don’t worry. He’ll find a way to make those wires less obtrusive.
Or else.

Job 2:

Mother Nature slammed San Antonio with an intense hail storm late Tuesday night. We’re talking national news-worthy baseball-sized stones, and those babies were loud from inside this here tin can. More than 16,000 damage claims were filed with our insurance company alone.

By the light of Wednesday morning, Tim and I went outside to inspect the BFT & the Toad, and were relieved to find only a small cluster of dimples on the roof of the truck, and a couple of cracks in the skylight above our bathroom. Nothing had shattered in the night but our nerves!

Knowing it’s far better to prevent a leak than to wait for one to surprise us at a more inconvenient time, Tim ordered a new skylight, and we got to work today, since rain is predicted for tomorrow, and we’re hitting the road on Tuesday (more on that next week).

I don’t appear in any of these photos because I was taking them, but I assure you that in between all the clicks, I really was helping (and sweating, and swearing, and wishing one of our kids were here so that it could be Rohrer & Son RV Repair instead of Rohrer & Wife RV Repair).

It's kind of a skylight-within-skylight deal. The interior one just needed a quick cleaning and re-taping. The exterior one was pried off and flipped to the ground below.

It’s kind of a skylight-within-skylight deal. The interior one just needed a quick cleaning and re-taping. The exterior one was pried off, flipped to the ground below, and taken to the nearest dumpster.

Trying to scrape off all the old caulking was a chore. Hair dryer to the rescue again!

Trying to scrape off all the old caulking was a chore. Hair dryer to the rescue — again!

Dry placement to make sure the new skylight is gonna fit...

Dry placement to make sure the new skylight is gonna fit…

Fresh caulking going down...

Fresh caulk going down…

Affixing it with brand new screws...

Affixing it with brand new screws…

And finally, sealing the seams and screws with more caulk. Best part? It's on the roof, so neatness does not count. Which is good, because both of us are pretty lousy at this.

And finally, sealing the seams and screw heads with more caulk. Best part? It’s on the roof, so neatness does not count. Which is good, because neither one of us is all that competent with a caulking gun.

And guess who got to lie in the grass and “supervise” the whole operation. Yyyyup. Good-for-nothin’ fur ball.FullSizeRender 8

 

Exploring more of Fort Sam: Peacocks! And does this tank make my butt look big?

Not tank top (although I was in fact wearing one).

Army tank — one of the Patton series, to be more specific.

It's OK. I got this.

It’s OK. I got this.

We spent some time meandering about the Historic Quadrangle here at Fort Sam Houston today. I could fill this post with its history, but others have done that quite well already (try this article as a starting point), so I’ll just pass along the facts that the place dates back to 1876; Geronimo was once a prisoner here; and generations of tame wildlife have been walking the grounds since the 1880’s.

From the article linked above, “There is no good reason why the animals are in the Quadrangle,” says Fort Sam Museum Director Jackie Davis, “except that having peacocks and tame deer was a popular thing to do in the 1800s.” (Paula Allen, San Antonio Express-News, Nov. 20, 2015)

Also, I’m probably not the first person who’s tried to upstage a peacock.

I’m gonna go with the assumption that it can’t be done, and just let these photos do the rest of my talking today. Enjoy!

FullSizeRender 12

Go, Navy! (That's my retired naval officer there at the bottom of the tower). Meet Army!

Go, Navy! (That’s my retired naval officer there at the bottom of the tower). Meet Army!

FullSizeRender 10 FullSizeRender 2 FullSizeRender 9 FullSizeRender

And speaking of peacocks, my blogging compatriots, The Young Fulltimers, wrote recently about a new RV resort by that name, opening soon in east Texas. It's clothing optional. Bare if you dare!

And speaking of peacocks, my blogging compatriots, the Young Fulltimers, wrote recently about a new RV resort by that name, opening soon in east Texas. It’s clothing optional. Bare if you dare!

FullSizeRender 4 FullSizeRender 15 FullSizeRender 14

Trying to figure out how best to take on a peacock...

Trying to figure out how best to take on a peacock…

... and opting for a "behind the scenes" pose.

… and opting for a “behind the scenes” pose.

Mmmmmmm-wah! Dahling.

Mmmmmmm-wah, dahlings!

 

Horses, heroes, headstones, hospitals, and history

We’ve been living here at the Fort Sam Houston RV Park for ten days. It’s not what I’d call a scenic location, but on my fitness walks and drive-abouts, I’ve seen some interesting things.

OK, some parts are scenic. It's Texas in the spring, so there are wildflowers lining the roads.

OK, some parts are scenic. It’s springtime in Texas, so there are wildflowers lining the roads.

I’m used to smiling and waving at heroes who drive by me while I’m walking. They often lift a camouflage-clad arm in greeting as they politely slow down and pull toward the center of the road to allow me plenty of safe space. Courtesy and respect as the norm: a military base bonus for sure!

But one day, I saw a different kind of hero coming toward me in the passenger seat of a sedan: dude wearing full-on Superman shirt. Not just a Superman t-shirt like you can pick up at Target. I’m talking costume. It was shiny. And he was muscle-y. I bet my ear buds he had on tights with that thing. Had I been in a car instead of on foot, I may have followed, just to see how that played out.

And right around the corner from the RV park lies the Fort Sam Equestrian Center. I’ve got friends who take their kids there for equine therapy and riding lessons, so one morning I walked over to check it out.FullSizeRender 2

This is Barry, the barn cat. Friendly chap. He trotted right up to greet me. Also, achoo!

This is Barry, the barn cat. Friendly chap. He trotted right up to greet me.
Achoo!

FullSizeRender 6 FullSizeRender 11 FullSizeRender 3

Today’s walk was sunny, but somber. I chose to head over to the cemetery, thinking it would be a nice, quiet place to think and reflect as I puffed along.

But as I drew close to the gate, I heard three volleys of rifle fire, and I knew.

One of our nation’s heroes was being laid to rest.

FullSizeRender 5 FullSizeRender

A hero was committed here today, with full military honors including funeral caisson.

The deceased was buried with full military honors, including a funeral caisson. Not all service members are eligible for those. If you’re into such things, and don’t mind deciphering a bit of Armyspeak, you can read about eligibility requirements here.

Things took a lighter turn on my way back home, as I passed by an old vet on the golf course. “Step it up, step it up!” he shouted with a grin. “Yes, sir,” I replied, switching from walking to marching in a hurry. He laughed. “Aww, I’m just kidding. You’re looking great!”

I heart those old guys.

And finally, here’s a story of mistaken identity, combined with history, and progress. Feels a little like a ghost story, really:

It starts when I lived in San Antonio the first time, as a college freshman in 1987. A friend had a bad asthma attack, and since he was the son of an active duty Army officer, he was taken to Brooke Army Medical Center for a few days of treatment and observation. My roommate and I took a taxi to go visit him, and I remember pulling up in front of this enormous, imposing, intimidating, straight-out-of-the-movies stone edifice — and feeling really rather afraid to go in.

We timidly asked someone in uniform how to find our friend. He’d been admitted to the pediatric ward, and if you can picture a hospital ward from a 1950’s movie, your mind’s in the right place: cavernous room with high ceilings, metal cots lining the walls, white privacy curtains, a central nurses’ desk, sepia-toned surroundings — all of it.

It was like stepping back in time, and we. were. petrified.

Flash forward nearly a quarter century, to my family’s arrival here on PCS orders in 2010, and making my first appointment for an annual exam. And finding out said exam would be performed at none other than Brooke Army Medical Center.

Gulp.

You mean… I’d have to go back to… back to that place? The haunted hospital?

I mapped it. I got in the car. And when I got there, I stared with my mouth open for who knows how long, at this:

(Photo borrowed from srmc.amedd.army.mil)

(Photo borrowed from srmc.amedd.army.mil)

OK, that was not the building I remembered. At all. And for a few years, I assumed the old hospital had been torn down, and this one built in its place.

Nope.

Turns out it’s a got too much history.

The old BAMC is still here, repurposed to serve as headquarters for US Army South (which, coincidentally, was located in Puerto Rico when we lived there, from 1999-2002).

Two days ago, I finally set out to find it.

Now that's what I remember! There's a great timeline and slide show of the hospital's history at this link.

Now that’s the building I remember!
The “old BAMC” opened in 1938. There’s a great description and slide show of the hospital’s history at this link. It’s got lots of old-timey photos, which I like.

It’s not on a part of the base one would normally just drive by, which explains why I’ve managed not to stumble upon it after nearly 6 years of schlepping over here for medical appointments and commissary shopping.

Found it! But I’m still afraid to go in.

We are literally in the hospital’s shadow, but can’t get there from here

See this map?

IMG_5266

This map is why we chose to stay at the Fort Sam Houston RV Park for Tim’s surgery (detailed here, if you missed it).  Brooke Army Medical Center, BAMC, is circled in purple. The RV park is circled in red. See how close they are? Doesn’t it look convenient?

And here’s the view of the hospital from our site.

I am standing at the end of our parking spot. No zoom.

I am standing at the end of our parking spot. No zoom.

Looks like we could walk there — easily. But no. Thanks to fences, train tracks, and barbed wire, it ain’t happening. And because of random road blocks, base security, construction, and mystifying Army logic, we can’t even drive there the quick way.

Instead, the trip takes 9 different turns; exiting one gate and entering another (with the customary armed sentries, ID card check, and slalom course of barriers); and a total drive time of anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on whether or not we have to wait for troop formations to cross the street.

By comparison? When we lived in our house, I could get to BAMC in 30 minutes, from 22 miles away.

Strike 1: shitty commute

Strike 1: shitty commute

But let’s get back to those train tracks. They are active. Very active. Perhaps the most active train tracks on the planet, with locomotives passing by at least once every hour, day and night. And at night, they’re a bazillion times louder, and the sadistic engineers seem to enjoy pulling on the horn for nice, long, ear-shattering blasts. Every hour. All night. It’s really not conducive to sleep at all, much less a peaceful recovery from major surgery, even with regular doses of narcotic pain relievers.

Strike 2: loud fucking trains

Strike 2: loud fucking trains

And to top it all off, no wifi or cable. None.

Strike 3: electronic dark ages

Strike 3: electronic dark ages

Yyyyep. Three strikes and we’re out. We’d originally planned to stay for the 30-day maximum, but that has really become an unattractive — and probably unhealthy — option. If Tim gets the all-clear from the surgeon at his follow-up appointment on Monday, we’re moving out on Tuesday. Hell, I’ll take 0630 reveille at the Air Force base over this business any day. And every day, as it were.

On the positive side of this coin, Tim’s adrenalectomy was a success, and although he had a rough ride coming out of anesthesia, he was able to eat normally and walk around the next day, and had to spend only one overnight in the hospital.

Yes, they called him "Sir," even when he was puking into an emesis basin. Care was top notch, with only one issue. "Just once, I'd like a tech who is over 12."

Yes, they called him “Sir,” even when he was puking into an emesis basin.
Care was top notch, with only one issue.
“Just once, could I get a corpsman who looks older than 12?”

And here at home in the Toad, Nurse Lola is on duty. And by “on duty,” I mean trying to beat me to Tim’s side every damn time, and sneaking into the bedroom when he’s supposed to be resting.

"See? You turned your back for that one second, and I walked in here to stand guard. I win."

“See? You turned your back for that one second, and I walked in here to serve as guard dog and charge nurse. I win.”

But this human nurse has purple streaks in her hair, not to mention opposable thumbs. Pretty sure I win.

But this here human nurse now has sassy purple streaks in her hair, not to mention opposable thumbs.
Pretty sure that means I win.