Monday, August 22, 2016

The Last Propane Fill

The Summer of 16 experiment is winding to a close. It was real, it happened, we survived, it might not have been my best decision, it was cozy…

If you didn’t know we spent the summer in a 29 foot class C motor home.

Friday afternoon I filled the propane tank on the motor home for what should be the last time this summer. Saturday the 20th Beth, Gabriel, and I head for Stanford for Gabriel's final surgery and on our return we should be moving into our new house. My last blog post was two years ago so I might need to address a few details that have occurred in the interim.

 In January of 2016 we met with our realtor to discuss the possibility of selling our house and down sizing our monthly payment. I’m less than five years from retirement and our original plan of Beth returning to work has changed several times over the last decade. The latest version making the most sense to us is her staying home to support all three of our kids, so we needed a financial adjustment. We liked the house but it always lacked a little; a corner lot so more than twice the sidewalk shoveling, a side yard instead of a backyard, a smallish yard resulting in a compromise garden and kids play area, and a busier road than we preferred.

Prior to house considerations Gabriel was admitted to St. Luke's Hospital in Boise for cardiac catheterization to clearly determine his heart's condition. The procedure consists of inserting a catheter (long hollow tube) into the groin via the femoral artery and the femoral vein and into the neck via the jugular vein. The Cardiologist can then use the catheter to inject dye and assess circulation, measure pressures within different areas of the heart, and insert platinum coils into deviant colateral veins which the body apparently forms because of the previous surgeries. The body is trying to correct itself and send out veins to the lungs which the cardiologist must occlude with the coils so the body does not undermine the surgical procedure and harm itself as it attempts to fix itself. This is another one of those things that the cardiac surgeons and cardiologists have figured out during the history of this procedure- Norwood/Gelnn/Fontan.

Sleepy Cousin Amaya came by to see sleepy Gabriel off at 6am and take care of the other two kids for us.

At the bottom of the photo it is evident his diaper is not secured and a cotton ball is tape over the femoral artery catheter insertion site, the opposite leg is similar for the femoral vein insertion site as well as the jugular vein in his neck.

Band-aid over the jugalar site.
Apres-cath breakfast (the next day) hotcakes and bacon, maybe not the most Cardiologist approved breakfast but well deserved.

After the cath we got down to business regarding the house. We rented a storage unit and sold, donated, and stored a lot of our stuff. The house went on the market the first day of spring break and we headed for the Oregon Coast.

 Multnomah Falls enroute to the Oregon Coast.

Agate Beach

While at the Oregon coast the house was shown 19 times, we had an offer within two days of our  return but after the home inspection the buyer realized the house really had been built in 1941 (there were a few things that were old) and pulled their offer. Two days later we had another offer and sold the house just over a month later.

The motor home needed exhaust manifolds and ball joints and new tires which I had intended to address prior to the house sale but if I'm writing about it I didn't quite get there in time. The new owners also wanted the house prior to the end of school so everything converged in a most untimely mess.

We moved into the RV but only for the weekend. Monday the RV went to the tire shop and Beth moved into a hotel for 4 days and 3 nights in Boise so the kids could finish school without a daily Nampa commute(I joined them on the 3rd night as I was on duty the previous 2).  I  had hoped the mechanic could get the RV in while we hoteled but unfortunately it was after we checked out of the hotel so we moved into Mom and Dad’s fifth wheel trailer. The kids and Beth had slept in 5 beds in 11 days: our house, The motor home, the hotel, the fifth wheel trailer, back into the motor home…unsettling. 

So we took a day trip to Silver City the day after school got out while waiting on the motorhome to be finished. We needed a diversion and poking around a living ghost town with an active restaurant was a day well spent.

The Most Boldest Picture Title Ever Printed

 Of course I had to ogle the old fire hydrant. Gabriel liked hanging out on the porch of their general store/gift shop. The old hotel still serves lunch and rents out a few rooms but no ice is available as they only get 110v power so can't run an ice machine.

 I believe all of the homes and buildings are privately owned so you can walk the streets and view but stay off of the private property.

The town also has two cemeteries, the first, larger and fancier is for fraternal organizations: Masons, Odd Fellows, and the like, the other cemetery is for normal folk.

I returned to work and the rest of the fam went to the movies.

Beth and the kids watching Zootopia in 3D, you would think they were at a dairy with that much cheesiness!

Since Gabriel’s last surgery we have been surviving, Beth has kept everything together while the kids were in school, Gabriel was growing, (doing well but still a cardiac kid),  this third surgery ever presently loomed over us, and I was working on my MFA at BSU. I graduated last fall and much of it was an accomplishment in frustration but it is done! I haven’t blogged much due to the MFA program and the writing time I could find has gone towards my novel.

I had romantically envisioned a summer of travel and awesome vacations. Whenever naysayers would comment, “I couldn’t spend the summer in a motor home with my family.” I would reply, “You get to change your front yard whenever you feel like it and go find the coolest front yard imaginable.” I was ready for the adventure and looking forward to experiencing old favorite ‘front yards’ and discovering new ones.

Our first trip was Alturus Lake in the SNRA of the Sawtooth Mountains, a most favorite family destination. We’ve camped numerous times throughout the area at Fourth of July Creek, Redfish Lake, and Stanley Lake but Alturus is our favorite. We packed a raft, a couple of old windsurfing boards for the kids to use as stand up paddle boards (they won’t support an adult unless under sail), and headed for the picturesque mountains when I got off duty on a Sunday. As a firefighter I work 48 hours on and then have 96 hours off.
 Arriving in late afternoon the day was cool but pleasant, the kids played on the beach and we planned for a fun filled four days of aqueous recreating and relaxing. It started to drizzle and built into a rain, so we moved inside for the evening and woke to more rain.

It rained- it rained for almost four days straight, or maybe better said, it rained for 3 ½ days and then it snowed, it precipitated almost constantly for four straight days.

The third day we took advantage of a break in the rain and got a hike in, played some games.

Of course in the Idaho mountains we found arborglyphs and we were happy to meet the artwork of Mr Gabriel Perez.

The next four day, we wanted hot temperatures and cool water. We opted  for closer proximity and drove 30 miles out of Boise to Arrowrock Reservoir. We blew up the raft, played in the water, had fun, and could somewhat tolerate a group of foul mouthed waiters camped beside us, but we had to leave when a foursome of whiskey tango skin heads arrived.

Driveway living is an experience; dumping the holding tank once a week, doing dishes and taking showers, and going potty in the house to conserve the holding tank and extend trips to the dump station, thanks Mom and Dad for giving us a place to stay and graciously tolerating us. Space is a limiting factor.

the lone single cup coffee maker that does it all (and was a nice Christmas gift from my compadre, Rich Brown.

So my coffee repertoire moved from a french press, coffee grinder, teapot, carafe, and mini espresso maker, to...

In early July we headed for Atlanta (Idaho) the road beat up the motorhome but the kids had fun catching garter snakes, playing on a rope swing, chatting with the Fire Chief, and checking out the school.

 The kids had blast playing in the old Atlanta school house.

Gabriel loves firetrucks.

 Pretty cool view looking at the south side of the Sawtooth Mountains, a month prior we were camping at Alturus Lake just on the other side.

A week or so later and the view desert-ed us at CJ Strike Reservoir. Bella contemplated or... 

 The boys inflated the raft, we have realized that whatever your boy is-- he is  a little boy. Beth and I noted this with Bella, we gave her trucks and dolls and dinosaurs and every masculine/feminine representative toy imaginable because we KNEW it was nurture not nature! And she loved fairytopia and barbie and pink and she did like the dinosaurs, and the most elegant church/formal/princess dresses imaginable... and we knew it was just an anomaly, a coincidence, we were better people and better parents than to raise a gender specific personage. And we had Powell and he loved noise and farts and loud and trucks and climbing everything and motorcycles and dismantling all things and smashing anything and these were all evidently DNA components and we thought- parents and nurture be damned- these critters are hard wired the way they are. Hopefully we can assist with minor adjustments, cause we've got no control over the big ones.
So the boys inflated while Bella read on the shore of CJ Strike reservoir. The camping trip was fun, the water was great and we observed F-15's fly over head on their way to a range. Watching and hearing the jets cascade above us made me think of a bumper sticker I had seen,

and I thought what a stupid comment as it depends completely on perspective as an equally relevant bumper sticker could state, “jet noise- the sound of oppression” or another could read, “jet noise- the sound of dependence on foreign fuel to support the world's most massive war machine and therefore the necessitation of foreign policy compromises resulting in the undermining of freedom for the majority of all of the citizens of those affected countries” but that is some real fine print to fit on a bumper sticker and thus negates the point of a super simplified declarative opinionated statement which is a bumper sticker or as we say in America, a political platform. Boil it down to it’s simplest most basic ingredients and feed it to the people, distillation is something America is awesome at.

In July we started looking at houses, we had planned to wait until the market potentially dipped this winter but with Brexit and the dropping interest rates and motorhome life we thought we could change our plan. The more we looked the greater our anxiety grew and with Gabriel's surgery looming we knew we would make a poor decision so put house hunting on hold.

In late July we headed to the Seattle area for our best trip of the summer. Bella played in a High School Lacrosse Tournament in Snohomish (one of only two middle schoolers on the team!)  but first we visited our friends Jill and Nathan and their three kids in Olympia.

Bella farthest from camera    

I bested their neighbor, the female arm wrestling champion of Olympia (officially- she does hold the title)!

We celebrated Powell's 9th birthday having lunch in the rotating restaurant in the Space Needle!

On returning home we took another look at houses and the one we had liked earlier was down 20k so I offered another 10k less and they said yes!!!

So the offer is in, accepted, and going to VA funding. This is my first use of a VA loan and I thought back to what guys used to say about military service, "A DD214 and 50 cents would get you a cup of coffee" (Although I think it is currently a DD214 and 2.41 at Starbucks). Military service has worked out for me though- 5 civil service points accelerated my fire department hire date by one year and now I'm using my VA loan, nothing down and a better interest rate than average. Still doesn't mean I won't criticize America's foreign policy though.

Beth had a dream of G with his chest open on the operating table, she cries every day thinking about what is about to occur. I think of it every day and think of all the potential consequences and pray the right one may occur and as I watch the Olympics and see that Stanford has more athletes than any other school in the country and not only are they present but they medal, Stanford Olympians and if it were a country it would be the 10th most winning country and I think we are taking Gabriel to the best place in the world, to the most talented, smartest, most capable, most excellent place that exists… Stanford has given our boy life and we believe they will continue to do so. Go USA! Go Cardinal!

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