"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Evelyn Ann Dean’s Arrival

Emily entering the clinic
Emily, isn't she beautiful!
Headed to Labor and Delivery
The whole purpose of coming back to Iowa so early in the spring was to be here for the birth of our granddaughter. She wasn’t due until May 12th but since I had one come 10 days early I wanted to make sure we were back by May 1st. I left plenty of time for error and if you read the last post you know we squeezed in between two spring storms and traveled more quickly than usual to avoid really bad weather. So we arrived in Cedar Rapids on April 19th in record time for us. We had a nice week spending time with my older son Gabe and wife Melissa and then with Mitch and Emily. 
At Emily’s appointment the week we came back they found her blood pressure high and there were a couple extra visits right before we arrived to evaluate that and they began treating her with bp meds. She
Ready for action
had a lot of swelling too and I knew they were concerned with the possibility of eclampsia and began to monitor her twice weekly. Now Mitch was trying to save all his days off for when the baby arrived so he wasn’t able to go to all her visits. So this week on Tuesday Mitch went because they were doing another ultrasound but he wasn’t going to be able to go to her visit on Thursday so I offered to go with her. I thought it would be a fun way to spend time with her and support her, little did I know that it was just was what was needed. They are doctoring and having the baby at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics which is about 20 miles south of CR. This is where I lived for 7 years, went to school 4 of those years and where I worked for the last 10 years of my career. I love going to Iowa City. Emily is taking a class in IC too so I was going to take her to lunch downtown and then wander around while she attended class. I had just bought a new camera dslr camera body and thought I’d take some photos to get used to the all the new features. That was the plan but as we know the best laid plans are sometimes thwarted.
Emily and Mitch
Emily had me go back with her to her appointment and when they took her bp it was up significantly in spite of the meds. They quizzed her about her other symptoms and I had a feeling that many things were becoming a concern and they were thinking she may be pre-eclampsic. This condition is more about the health of the mother than the health of the baby. This baby was doing well but unfortunately Emily was definitely exhibiting concerning symptoms. Like most of us women, Emily is a
Emily and her parents, Cindy and Jeff
trooper and didn’t feel there was anything really wrong but when all the tests were in, the doctor sat down with us and explained that for Emily’s well being they needed to induce labor and have this baby now, it was not safe for her to remain pregnant. She was now 37 weeks along which is considered full term. They explained that instead of going home they wanted to admit her and get things underway but that the process may take as much as 2 to 3 days. I am so glad I was there as that was a lot to take in. After
Janie, Mitch, Emily and John
some time of questions and answers Emily was headed to the Labor and Delivery unit. We called Mitch and John and had them coordinate coming down so we could minimize the number of vehicles we had here (parking is not cheap here). So Thursday afternoon everything began.
Right after delivery
There are a lot of steps in inducing labor and it definitely takes time. Thursday night we did come home to sleep but Friday night we stayed in a hotel in Iowa City. Mitch paid for it with points from all his work travel which was nice. I won’t go into the all the steps but lets say it was an exhausting experience for Emily and Mitch. Finally after 3 days on Saturday evening the decision was made to have a c-section. Emily’s platelet count was so low that that an epidural was out of the question which was hard for her to hear and why she tried so hard to keep going towards a natural birth but it was not to be. At 1:45 am on Sunday under general sedation Evelyn Ann Dean finally made her entry into this world. She needed a little help at the start but now is thriving and Emily is doing well and on her way to recovery. 
Evelyn Ann Dean
In all of this I was so proud of my son and how he took charge and was there for Emily. Today watching him care for his daughter made me so proud of the man he has become. You can see in his eyes how his little girl has already captured his heart. She certainly has captured the heart of her grandparents too. She is beautiful and I am so glad that we made it back in time to be here for them and really for us. What an amazing experience it is becoming a grandparent. So many of you had told me just that but I think, like many things in life, until you experience it first hand you don’t understand it completely. Its going to be a great summer and I am so thankful that Emily and Evelyn are healthy and we could be a part of this amazing journey. 

Me and Evelyn

John and Evelyn

Mitch, changing diaper!

Emily, Mitch and Evelyn

Isn't she beautiful!
Happy Trails..................

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Threading the weather needle - Spring???

Spring in Iowa!

It’s spring, and we hadn’t seen any snow all winter so I guess we were overdue. When we left Bellingham, Washington, everything looked good through the first couple of passes on I90 east. Easy pulls, light traffic, and great scenery. We were off to a great start but we knew there was some challenging weather ahead of us and it soon became apparent there was weather coming in behind us. Still, it was nice where we were at; some snow on the ground but the road was clear and dry.

Our first stop was the Coeur d'Alene RV park in Post Falls, Idaho. The park had their water turned on, but temperatures were dropping so we took on water rather than stay connected. Not a big deal; it’s handy having a self contained fresh water tank. While we were out getting fuel for the next leg of the trip, we stopped to eat at Capone’s. Occasionally, we stumble across restaurants that have appeared on the Food Network’s Drive-ins, Diners and Dives. They’re always good, and this was no exception.

Pulled out in good order the next day headed for Missoula. We were essentially unwinding our trip out to the west coast, so we had some experience with the RV parks along this route. This time we were headed to Jim and Mary’s. The weather held, and Jim and Mary’s was as pleasant the second time as the first, just without all the flowers this early in the season.

From Missoula to Bozeman the next day. The weather reports ahead of us were getting worse, but we didn’t dare delay with another storm behind us. There was a gap between the two storms, and we were in it. We wanted to stay in it as long as we could. It was still cold, below freezing at night, and we could see it had rained recently, but it was still ahead of us.

Until the next day. We were headed to Sheridan, Wyoming, and our last pass, which turned out to be more of a hill. Now we were driving in some rain, and it was cold, but most of it was still ahead of us. Lots of snow on the ground, but the roads were clear. Lots of warning signs with flashers and gates in case I90 needed to be closed, but it was open where we were at. We had stayed at Perter D’s on the way out, and it was open, but all the water was turned off, except at the office where we took on enough water for the night. It was tempting to stay an extra night, but the storm behind us looked worse than what was ahead, so back on the road again the next morning.

By the time we got to Wall, South Dakota (it case you didn’t know it was the home of Wall Drug, you get lots of reminders as you get closer to Wall), we could see the affects of all the recent snow. The Sleepy Hollow RV park there was open, but they only had a few sites plowed out. We had our choice, but our first try didn’t work out too well. It was so wet, our leveling blocks just sunk in the mud and refused to stay under the wheels, so we pulled out and tried another site. It was level enough and I really needed fuel, so we called it good and went to town. Last time we were here it as full of bikers on their way to the Sturgis bike rally. Much quieter this time. Also discovered there was only one gas station with diesel, and they were 25 cents a gallon higher than what we were seeing on the interstate. Still cheaper than California.

Pulled out the next day without a full load of fuel on our way to Sioux Falls where we expected to see even more snow. We weren’t disappointed. The Tower Campground only had a few sites open due to storm damage and a renovation. We were able to get a site for two nights, but we needed to use the truck’s 4-wheel drive to get the 5th wheel into it. Found out you couldn’t use levelers on top of snow either; they just get pushed out like they did with the mud. I really need to get a snow shovel for this spring camping. The site was long enough that we just backed up to get the wheels on a better footing and were able to setup. We needed the extra day to visit our home town of Madison, a short drive to the north, to take care of some business and collect our mail.
Gabe and Melissa

Then off to Storm Lake Iowa where we planned on staying awhile to visit with our oldest son Gabe and his wife Melissa. Things were so bad in Sioux Falls, however, that we called ahead to see if the Storm Lake city park was still planning on being open. Yep, they were. We would be their first customer. Their only customer, it turned out. Nice enough when we got here, but now that storm that was following us caught up with us. We thought it would be mostly rain, but now it’s looking like mostly snow. Going to have to disconnect the water again. Doesn’t matter much, since Cedar Rapids, our destination for most of the summer, it getting socked also with lots of rain that’s turning to snow. At least this park is open, although our park host is probably wishing they weren’t. We’ll have to see what happens in Cedar Rapids before we volunteer to leave here. We don’t mind visiting longer with Gabe and Melissa, but the roads are so bad that we can’t even do that. Spring camping in Iowa.

Hope its better wherever you are. Happy Trails......................

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bellingham, family and the trip back to Iowa

Fields of tulips in Washington

The week we left Heceta was a busy one. We headed north to visit John’s brother and his family in Bellingham WA. The distance always made getting together difficult. We visited them in 1993 and then saw them along the way at weddings and funerals but not nearly enough. Mike and his wife Theresa have two daughters Mary Ann and Amy.  Amy , her husband Anthony and their son Lane live with Mike and Theresa. Lane was born with Down’s Syndrome; he is such a sweetie. He has been through a lot in his short lifetime, including open heart surgery at about 6 months of age. We enjoyed getting to know this special little boy.

Anthony,Lane, Amy, John (& Irma), Janie, and Mike

We only did a couple “touristy things” as most of the time was just being together with family. Mike did take us to the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention. John and Mike both being engineers were in nerd heaven. :) It goes through the discovery of electricity and the strides made in various areas, especially radios. It was fun to see all the old radios. They did have a few radios made by Art Collins which is the founder of the company that John worked for. They also have a couple hands on areas that would be great to take kids to. The nerds had a great time and I enjoyed it too.

John plays the Theramin

We also drove down to see the tulip and daffodils fields just south of Bellingham. Supposedly there is a tulip festival going on all month but Mike couldn’t figure out exactly where to go for that. We did find the fields and he pulled dover so I could take a couple photos. The fields are huge and beautiful.
MaryAnn, Janie, and John

The week went by too quickly and we are now on the long journey back to Iowa. The first day we drove about 7 hours to Post Falls ID. That is further than we like to go but I couldn’t fine a place to park before that that sounded good. In the fall we drove up to Deer Park but that is a ways off the interstate. We stayed at the Coeur d’Alene RV Park. It seemed pretty pricey to us but they do have an indoor pool if that appeals to you. Yesterday it was on to Missoula so a short 3+ hours and today about the same to Bozeman. We only have one more day with minimal mountain driving, just Bozeman pass or what the MDOT calls Bozeman Hill. The plan is to get to Sheridan WY tomorrow, Wall SD the next, then Madison SD for a couple days as we need to do some business in our “home” town. After that we will get to Storm Lake to visit our son Gabe and his wife Melissa. Finally it will be back to Cedar Rapids IA at the end of next week. All of the bad weather in South Dakota and Iowa has made us slow down and wait for them to clean up after the last storm. We have been blessed with great weather so far for driving and tomorrow is looking good too. We have managed to avoid snow all winter, the only snow we saw was next to the road in the mountains. The midwest may be the place that trips us up as I am not sure all their snow is done. We find it is interesting that this year we stayed further north and though we saw more rain than the previous 2 years it is the only year we haven’t experienced snow. I have my fingers crossed that we can keep that record in place.
Daffodil fields

Hope you are all keeping snow free, spring has to arrive sometime!!!!

Happy Trails

Monday, April 1, 2013

Good Bye Heceta Head

A perfect day to say good bye

This morning we left our beautiful spot at Washburn Park and headed north. Tonight we are at a no frills RV Park in Vancouver, WA. Its just an overnight on our way to Bellingham WA to visit family. 

Our last two days of volunteering at the lighthouse were near perfect days. In fact Sunday was sunshine and 60s. There were lots of whales on the horizons. One even entertained us with some sky-hopping, where they stick there heads out of the water. he also did a lot of waving his fin. It was fun to watch. They are far enough out you need binoculars but we had those and a spotting scope. What a treat.

We also said goodbye to a couple fellow volunteers this week. They are both local volunteers that were there on about half of our days. Harlan would show up on Sundays and Jean showed up on and off. They both were delightful and we learned so much from them as they shared their knowledge of the lighthouse. Jean is particularly passionate about the lighthouse and you could tell her enthusiasm was infectious to the people who visited.

I also thought I’d share just some random photos of things we have seen in our time here. Like the Banana Slug. John so wanted to see one of these when we were in the Redwoods but it took until one morning on our way up the trail for us to spot one. 
Banana Slug


tide pool

Dead crab

Kite flying on a great day at the beach

So its on to visit family for a week and then we will make our way to Iowa. It is nice to be back connected. I can check my cell phone, get online and watch tv all at the same time. Even John (my non tv guy) had to admit it was nice watching tv tonight. Hope everyone had a good Easter too. We actually had lost track and didn’t realize it was Easter weekend until Saturday. Now that’s out of touch. :)

Happy Trails..................