Friday, December 23, 2011

W-b-N Portsmouth, Ohio

Continued, 7/24/11
I’m now in Shawnee State Park, near Portsmouth, OH – another quiet, beautiful, state park.  Since John and family won’t be back until late this evening, I’ve decided to spend the night here and go into town tomorrow morning.  But I can’t get ahold of John by cell phone, because there’s no cell-phone (or internet service) at this spot.  But there is a pay phone, which I already tried once, to no avail.  I may call his son later this afternoon and have him try to get ahold of his father and tell him of my whereabouts.  This is a pleasant site, green trees in view outside every window, ideal for continuing to write up the last part of the trip, and for working on a couple of manuscripts.
An unpleasant experience last night: I had originally stopped at a shopping mall about thirty miles north of Portsmouth, intending to spend the night there.  But after talking with John by phone, it seemed that there would be almost nothing of cultural interest in Portsmouth, so I decided, about 8:00 PM to try to find Shawnee State Park before dark.  After driving nearly an hour, and with darkness descending, I happened to pass a commercial campground, and thought I might spend the night there.  Usually, in commercial campgrounds, there is a mechanism for registering and paying even if the office is closed.  I saw nothing of the sort at that office.  Another camper poked her head out of a nearby rig and said that the owner lived in the red brick house on a nearby rise, so I went to the house, but got no answer from either knock or door-bell. I pulled out of the driveway and tried to find a level spot near the office, then put up curtains, locked up, brushed my teeth, got into a nightgown and went to bed.  Half an hour later, there was a knock on the door and I got up.  A guy in a golf cart asked if I needed a spot, and I said that I didn’t want to try to park at a site in the dark.  I asked if it would be all right if I spent the night where I was, and would be happy to pay $10.00 for no services.  He went to find the owner, who, when she returned, proved to be a very unpleasant woman, who said that if I wouldn’t go down (a very steep hill) to a campsite, I had to leave. I left about 10:00 PM. 
I drove further along the highway (SR 125), without glasses, having forgotten to put them on.  I also forgot to raise the rear curtain, so my rear view was restricted to the side mirrors.  The road was winding, and I was sleepy, annoyed, and frightened of tipping off the steep edge of the narrow highway.  At one point, I pulled over into a wide driveway of a business establishment in order to let a line of cars pass that had queued up behind me, and I thought that perhaps I could spend the night there, since the next day was Sunday (not a business day).  I drove up a hill into a parking lot, not very level, turned around carefully so that I was heading out, in case some security person asked me to leave in the middle of the night, tried to maneuver the RV into a spot that was as level as possible, and then put down the curtains again.  I got into bed but lay there, still annoyed about the other campground and worrying that someone here would try to kick me out too.  I heard the crunch of gravel once, but no-one come up, and I eventually got to sleep – probably around midnight.  I woke up around 9:30 AM, so I must have relaxed finally, and certainly got enough sleep after my long day of driving and the grueling effort to find a place to spend the night. 
This campground in Shawnee State Park is a dream compared to that other campground.  I should either have come directly here or else stayed in the shopping mall parking lot.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

W-b-N Heading Home

On the first day of the drive back south, I’m at a rest-stop on US 23 just north of Ann Arbor, MI, where I plan to spend the night.  It’s quiet and clean, and my parking spot is quite level.  I spent last night at Onaway State Park, in the far northern part of Michigan’s southern peninsula. It was a lovely park, its campsites shaded by green, abundant trees, within view of a fairly large lake (Black Lake).  I was delighted by the peaceful surroundings, with few sounds except for the cheerful chorus of bird songs that greeted me as I left the RV to walk down to a pavilion near the water’s edge.  The sun hung low over the water and cast a sparkling runner of light across its surface, wavelets shimmering like silver sequins or brilliant diamonds.  I think the reason we like shiny things intuitively, is that in the wild, they signal water, a pleasant sight indeed (and biologically essential).  A couple of children were still playing in the small swimming area before the pavilion; they made little enough noise that the slosh and gurgle of waves lapping against the nearby rocks was clear and mesmerizing.  This is the sort of place that, if one came here every summer as a child, it would seem like the most beautiful place on earth, against which all other natural beauty might be compared.
I left Virg and Don’s yesterday, a little after noon, and originally intended just to dump and fill up with water at Onaway State Park, then head south that evening.  I intend to head straight down US 23, all the way south until it runs into I-26, and then take that into Charleston.  It looks like the shortest way, if not the quickest, since I won’t be stopping to see Lis and family in Nashville.  US 23 passes through Portsmouth, Ohio, where my cousin, John, and his family live; I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d visit them on this trip, but with Nashville off the itinerary, I decided to stop in Portsmouth instead.  However, when I called him on his cell phone, I found that he was in upstate New York, but intending to be back on Sunday.  So I decided to take an extra day or two on the trip south and visit with him and his family, since he is one of my favorite cousins and I haven’t seen him for several years.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kelsey Lake, Michigan backwoods


I am in the RV at Virg and Don’s.  It’s late afternoon and I've spent practically the entire day since breakfast typing, transcribing journal entries from a 1985 journal and from the 2010 journal of my trip to Europe and Russia.  It's amazing at how much time it takes to transcribe these journals, although I did get through quite a few entries from both notebooks.  One of my goals for this Kelsey interlude was to transcribe last summer’s trip journal so it would be available to post on the blog sometime in the fall.  Another goal was to revise and complete the Caring for Your Body manuscript, which I’ve also worked on, but not as much as I hoped I would. 
This wilderness retreat on Kelsey Lake is always a haven for my spirit and an inspiration to creativity.  The Korea book was pulled together and organized from journal and e-mail sources down at Dick’s cabin on the property.  The book The God That says I Am was really begun here, some of it was written, and a lot of it was revised, either in the RV or down at the cabin.  I’m not spending any time at the cabin this year – Dick isn’t here this summer – but the trees and sky, the lake, and the encompassing, living green, are all visible from the RV windows.  This place feels like my writing spot, the place where I can write unencumbered.  Virg and Don are quite accommodating; they don’t expect anything from me, and I try not to get in the way of their busy lives, although Virg and I normally chat for a while almost every day.  I’ve had dinner with them twice in the nearly two weeks I’ve been here.  I’ll probably stay another week, and then head back down south.
I’ve finally stopped coughing up blood.  I was beginning to worry, a week ago, when I had been coughing up blood and/or clots for two and a half weeks.  I talked with a nurse at NJH after a week of it, and she told me to wait for another four or five days. A week ago I called back.  The doctor told me I could cut down on the Advair dosage, and should cut out any fish oil supplements until the bleeding stopped, which I did and the bleeding stopped a couple of days later.  I went back on the higher Advair dose recently, and back on the fish oil today.  What the nurse also said, apropos the pathology report (on tissue samples taken during the bronchoscopy) was that I don’t have emphysema or interstitial fibrosis or lung cancer.  I also don’t have sarcoidosis or diffuse neuroendocrine tumors (which the radiologist thought I might have).  Also, no microorganisms have grown out from the pulmonary lavage done during the bronchoscopy.  All of that is encouraging. 
And my breathing is certainly better than it was before; some of that may be because I’m trying to exhale more deeply to eject the abnormal amount of residual air that I tend to retain.  The doctor says my thoracic cavity volume is 140% of normal (adjusted for age and size), whereas my lung function is about 33% of normal.  So I’m just not using what I’ve got.  It may be a habit I developed over the years of “breathing over” the asthma, not exhaling adequately, because that’s when the wheezing occurs.  Beuther (the doctor) would like to see me get back to something approaching normal lung function, and wants me to take additional steroids – a heavy, but decreasing dose of prednisone to get rid of the chronic inflammation in the terminal airways, and then an additional form of inhaled steroid, that he says will penetrate further into the airways to cut down on inflammation.  He also gave me a prescription for a nebulizer, at my request, because that was what seemed to open up my airways best when I was there at the clinic.