Sunday, March 30, 2014

Currently: March

We've been on the road since Feb. 24, but we will be completing the final leg today to settle in Oregon for the next 7 months! 

Before we do, I figured I'd squeeze in a last-minute March edition of "Currently." I enjoyed sharing "Currently" last month and maybe I will make it a regular part of the blog!!

Current mood: a little anxious and overwhelmed … you know, the typical ingredients for a major life transition. Although, we should be used to this by now!

Currently thankful for: compression socks

Currently worried about: our kayaks ripping our entire roof rack off Big Bird when we drive through crazy winds
When we experienced 20 MPH sustained winds in Ohio, we thought, oh boy. Well, hopefully that's the worst of it. 
When we experienced 35 MPH sustained winds in Iowa, we thought, help us, Rhonda. Can't get much worse than this, right? 
When we experienced 45 MPH sustained winds in Wyoming … Well, we are still cleaning the stains from our seats. 
The question is, how much stuff can we fit in the Baja? Don't worry, that box on my lap was shipped!

Currently excited about: tenants signing another year lease at our rental house in Danville! 

Currently regretting: buying a house in Danville … okay, not really, but we are dropping a bit of money on repairs, which is never very fun. 

Currently not excited about: paying federal and state taxes we owe

Currently proud of: J finding a way to contribute to our income by eBaying. I don't mean this as a joke; he makes more money than I do with my freelance writing these days! For example, we bought some signed Grateful Dead record (minus Jerry's signature) at an estate auction years ago for $20 .. sold it $255 buckaroos!!! He did also try to win big in March Madness pools, but Louisville and Arizona messed it all up.  

Currently reading: NOTHING … life on the road does not allow for a reading routine. But, we are listening to an awesome audiobook: Stephen King's 11/22/63. So, so good, but it is 30 hours long! Not even sure we will finish it by the time we get to Oregon. 

Currently watching on Netflix: nothing because, once again, road life

Current music: Discovering some new bands thanks to mixed CDs made by J's sister Jamie/SILAdventure 

Current guilty pleasure: Milka bars that J's mom brought back from her trip to Europe. And In & Out Burger that we ate for dinner last night! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Midway Through America

We left Danville, VA, March 14 and are still in the Midwest. Those head winds, tail winds and side winds are really strong with the kayaks on top, forcing us to go slowly … and we are certainly not finding spring here. 

Okay, the truth is, we were purposely taking our time across the US. We figured this may be our last cross-country road trip for awhile (sniff, sniff), so we might as well and stop to smell the roses, or see the people, in our case. 

First we stopped in Columbus, OH. Last time we were in Columbus, I was hospitalized with my blood clot. So we had to replace that experience with a better one. Of course no visit to Cbus would be complete without a visit to Mr. Sushi with our friends.   

Next up was Cleveland, OH, where there were just as many kids to visit as adults. It was a quick overnighter, but that's what we do best. 

Whenever we drive across the country on 80, we always pass the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN, and say, "we should stop there someday." We never see any cars in the parking lot. "Someday" finally happened. What a great variety of RVs they had! Of course, it only strengthened our desire to buy one. "Someday."

Next stop was South Bend, IN with our favorite priest and some walking around Notre Dame, which does not look as pretty amidst dirty snow. 

We finally landed in Chicago, where we spent the last week. For me, I was happy to have a place to catch up on some work and do 4 loads of laundry. For J, it's was all about having cable television to watch March Madness. 

But mostly, J has been keeping busy changing some dirty diapers. Rest assured, not his own. Yet. But for this busy 16-month-old, who is either walking up and down the hallway with something in his hands, eating or pooping. Once again, J & I are walking away making the claim that being a parent is the most exhaustion job out there. 

And in other big news, J is parting with his phone and his Arizona number. Now some of you may not have even realized he had a phone since he has been using my iPhone and claiming he doesn't know how to use it for far too long. He has had 3 offers from museums for his phone and he is going with the National Museum of American History. 

And if you made it this far into the post, here is my plea to vote for us to win a trip to Montana as backpacker ambassadors!! I know many of you voted, but I know not all our readers did … our chances of winning increase with more votes (although it is not solely based on that). Voting is open through March 31 and you do have to "create an account," but that merely means give your e-mail, create a password you'll never have to remember, then log in with it immediately to vote (or follow the link they said to your e-mail - I promise you won't get other e-mails!!). Here is the link:

Sunday, March 23, 2014


March 25th marks the one-year anniversary for my sister and her gastric bypass surgery. 

My sister is 6 years my senior and even though we have our personality differences (her idea of camping is staying at a 3-star hotel), the biggest difference is in our looks. Most people can't believe we are sisters. She has curly hair. I have straight hair. Brunette vs. blonde. Tallish vs. shortish. But, the thing that has always irked my sister the most is our weight difference. I was blessed with my father's height and my mother's awesome metabolism (she weighs 100 lbs soaking wet). My sister, on the other hand, was blessed with my mother's height and my father's big bones. 

Weight was always a struggle for my sister. Growing up, she was always on a diet, all while I happily ate my Fruity Pebbles for breakfast, PBJ sandwich and twinkles for lunch and hot dog for dinner. We were both in sports, but it didn't matter what she did. She would look at food and gain weight. 

 I always loved my sweets!!

She tried every diet out there when she was a teenager and into her 20s. I can remember one time, she was on this 3-day protein diet, which included a beet portion everyday. She hated beets. I would "help" her out by eating one or two portions. It was the least I could do. 

Her struggles with weight continued into her adulthood. Especially after 2 kids. This is not uncommon. Unfortunately, 35% of Americans are obese. Being physically active takes a back seat to everything else in life. Until New Year's Day when it becomes everyone's resolution. We make excuses. "It's cold outside." "I have to work late." "It's National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day." (That's a real holiday in April)

While I am blessed with a great metabolism, I do have cankles and some junk in the trunk that I try to keep under control. Anyone who knows me knows I don't do so well on the eating side, but I love to exercise. And, even without kids, a full-time job, and a home to clean, I still find a way to make excuses. My exercise regimen is so schizophrenic, it's amazing I can stay in good enough shape. 

Over the years, my sister came to terms with her weight. She tried not to let it wage battle against her esteem. But, as the pounds added up the bigger problem became the comorbidities. She developed diabetes. She had sleep apnea. She had high blood pressure. She was morbidly obese. She knew she had to look into other options. 

On March 25, 2013, she got the gastric bypass surgery and has had great success. I thought I would conduct a little Q & A with her to commemorate her one-year anniversary and to tell her publicly how proud I am of her. Feel free to give her a virtual high five yourself. 

How much weight have you lost? 
75 lbs and counting
                                  Before and after losing 75 lbs

What's the update on the other medical conditions? 
I no longer have sleep apnea and don't have to use a CPAP machine to help me breathe at night (we used to call her Dark Vader). No more blood pressure meds, fewer diabetes drugs. My A1C dropped from 10 to 7.2 in 9 months. I am hoping to get rid of the diabetes next and my endocrinologist thinks my A1C will hit the target in another 3 months! 

Why did you have the surgery?
To get a second chance at life.

What was the most surprising thing about the surgery?
They say you will feel fuller after such a smaller amount of food and I couldn't imagine it. Well, it is true. I am really not that hungry and I do listen to my body when it tells me that I have had too much to eat. Prior to surgery, my body could hold up to 4 cups of chewed food. Now it can only hold up to 1 cup.  

What foods can you no longer eat that use to be your favorites? 
I used to love burgers, pizza and pasta. I have yet to eat pizza, have only had small amounts of pasta and can only eat a slider. 

How do you feel physically?
I started working out again after the surgery--riding a bike, using a treadmill, playing tennis, swimming, trying out some aerobics classes. I hadn't done these activities in over 12 years (except the swimming). I have more energy and endurance. 

How about mentally? 
I have zero regret about getting the surgery. Not having any complications helped. But, this was definitely the option that worked for me to get on top of my weight! So happy to be healthier! 

What's your goal for the future (in terms of health)? 

I would like to get into a more consistent exercise regimen. I ordered T-25 (a modified version of Insanity) and want to commit to the 10 weeks to tone up. Now that it is on the Internet, you better do it!! I also want to get rid of the diabetes! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

In Search of Some Spring

Voting is still open through the end of March for the Montana contest … come on people, don't you want to see us get to Montana??? We are nowhere close to winning and need your votes!! 

Well, we have finished our East Coast stint. 

J & I had decided before heading to these parts that we were done with the epic winter we had in Colorado and ready to move on to spring, hence the perfectly timed trip to the Southeastern states of Virginia & Georgia to visit family and friends. 

Except that old man winter was puzzled and followed us. We lived in Danville from 2004 to 2007 and saw it snow once. This would be our second time. And of course the storm fell on the day we were driving. It took us 2.5 hours to go 60 miles. Thankfully, once again, AWD Big Bird prevailed through crazy ice & snow storms in Virginia and North Carolina.  

Finally, FINALLY, we found some spring in Savannah and VA Beach. Have hope, everyone. Spring exists. 

In any case, our mini finding spring road trip has allowed us to see most of J's family!! 

J got to play 2 rounds of golf with his dad and I decided that is one hobby J & I will never share. I'll stick to watching from the passenger seat of the golf cart.

We also went to an ODU vs. VMI baseball game in VA Beach. J's cousin coaches baseball at ODU and they won! 

I have one beef with spring. Allergies. Nope, not my allergies (I have none), but J's. His allergies cause him to have the most insane face explosions that reach 90+ decibels. He inherited this trait from his entire family. In my opinion, sneezes should come in between 30 and 50 decibels, especially when in the confines of a small car. 

We have been running ragged these past few weeks going from place to place getting things accomplished and squeezing in as many visits as humanly possible--a vast difference from our free time-filled 2 months in CO. It's a blessing in disguise when I don't have time to check Facebook or read my lost list of blogs. 

So we are finishing up our time in the Southeast and have packed up our belongings (gear mostly) that will get us through the next year (again). We have SO much gear. This is not really a complaint, just more of a scratch-my-head out-loud rhetorical question asking how did we accumulate so much gear??? But no time to really ponder it because besides trying to decide what we can cram into Big Bird, we were in Danville finalizing home improvement projects (again) at our money pit, in between visitations with our awesome Danville friends who always make us feel like we've come home. 

Now we will be westbound, hopefully in the continued spring weather. Our friends and family gasp at how many times we drive across the country (especially in recent years) and honestly, driving from VA to Denver is no different to us than you driving from your house to the closest Starbucks.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Vote for us!

Well, this shouldn't surprise you, but J & I are entering a contest. And we need your help to win!!

This one is through Backpacker Magazine for us to win a week-long adventure trip to Montana as Step Out of Bounds Ambassadors. We would graciously let others live vicariously through us using the written word, photos and videos we capture. Here's the thing, while we have explored most of the US, we have not explored Montana. We will get there someday, but this would help it happen sooner than later. Plus, we would once again be in the role of ambassadors for backpacking, just about our favorite thing to do.

Winners are determined partially by the number of votes, which is where y'all come in. I'm not going to lie, it takes a little effort to vote. You need to register your e-mail address (as far as I can tell, this does not subscribe you for anything at all), then click on a confirmation link. Use this link to get to the registration and to find our exact profile.

I know how busy everyone is, so if we win, we'll owe you one! Thanks in advance!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Funerals=Unexpected Family Reunions

What's that they say about certainty in life? There are two things you can count on: death and taxes. 

The days surrounding J's grandma's funeral were a whirlwind of chaos. It was especially hard for J & I to have so much stuff packed into a 3-day period after having so little going on for the last 2 months in CO. In any case, all of the services were beautiful. And the consensus was Grandma lived a long, full life and did every single thing she wanted to do. We should all be so lucky. 

This is only my 2nd funeral that I can remember attending. I am realizing how lucky I am for that. But, I know there is a lot of death ahead of me and I am scared (to death) of that. No pun intended. 

I like to find the silver lining in all things, so the funny thing about funerals is how it brings family together. 

The time in NJ kicked off our month of couch-surfing—or more politely known as visiting—friends and family before we head up to Oregon. Thank you in advance for answering your doorbell. And as the Catholic season of Lent begins this week, let it be known I am giving up having a closet for the next 40 days and 40 nights. Come to think of it, I haven't had a closet--with the exception of a temporary one in NJ and CO--since April 15, 2013. 

We are spending a bit of time in VA and GA, then crossing the country for the 8th time this year, finally landing in OR by April 1 or so. Because road trips in the middle of winter always seems like a smart idea.