Sometimes we look at sights in nature but don't really see. While hiking in the woods the other day, it became a realization that we need to open our heart and eyes to see the beauty of the simple things in nature with each season. There is so much order and purpose in His creation. God has given us awesome beauty in this world to see and enjoy... if we would but stop to see and feel it. Join us as this blog is about stopping to see the real beauty around us...to touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

Our Friends

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

It's About the People



We are slowly moving back into our Oliver!!  Everything is still experimental as far as how long we will be able to do this but for now we are happy and content to be back in our sweet Oliver!!
Our Oliver nestled in the woods
 Mike's CPM chair ( continuous passive movement) was picked up yesterday.  That was a huge factor in our being able to return to the Oliver.  I know you find it hard to believe but there was no room for it in the Oliver.  That was the main reason for moving into an apartment so Mike could accomplish what he needed to do for this surgery.  He had to sleep in a recliner for no less than 3 weeks....this was mandatory by the surgeon and use the CPM chair 3x a day for 7 weeks which turned into 9. 
So glad to be able to get rid of this CPM Chair
He is now officially in phase II and the PT is picking up a bit.  Getting those muscles moving again slowly as to not re-injure that area.  There is light at the end of the tunnel!!!!! 

But that is not what this post is all about!!  It's about the people...all of you!!  Some of you have had the privilege of knowing, meeting and possibly even camping with George and Suzie Yates ( Our Awesome Travels).  Mike and I, unfortunately, did not actually ever meet them but we have blogged together for many years.   Through that blog we got to know George.  George passed away January 15, 2020 after a courageous battle with cancer.  But that is not what I am writing about...I'm writing about his life not his death.  George touched most everyone he met including us.  He was always smiling and happy wearing his iconic vest and hat.   He took everyday and found the joy in it.  I especially loved his "walkabouts" which he took almost every morning...early!!   He seemed to love sunrises and sunsets especially in the desert southwest!!  He and Suzie loved to travel but I do think it was about the people for George as well.
He loved his "social hour" and talking with fellow RVers, family and friends.  He and Suzie would sit outside and read in the "e-readers" or "page turners" as he referred to them and then there were the "doggie fixes" for Suzie.   I can't forget to mention the meals he created on his Weber Q....what a talent for cooking.  He even has his recipes on his blog....you should check them out. 
George will be missed!!!  There will be an empty spot in blogland with him gone but he left us with his zeal to live, smile and be happy.....George was  truly happy!!! 
This picture of George was copied from his blog Our AwesomeTravels

It's about the people....it's always been about the people!!  Oh, the places we go are incredible but the people we meet along the way stay with us for a lifetime!! 

Enjoy the journey and make those memories but always cherish the friendships!!  Mike and I cherish your friendships even though we might not have met all of you.  Hopefully, one day our paths will cross...somewhere down the road!!!






Thursday, January 2, 2020

What a Whirlwind !!!

Oh my gosh....it doesn't seem possible that its been since July that I wrote a blog!!  I think I got so down about the turn of events that I just couldn't write....nope not a word!!  Maybe I was speechless...yeah, speechless!!!!

Mike did so well with his spinal fusion!!  He healed and physical therapy went really well.  It went so well that the physical therapist noticed something not right with Mike's left shoulder.  She worked with this shoulder and finally told us she didn't think the pain was related with the surgery at all.   We had just thought it was painful from the cervical stenosis and the subsequent surgery and perhaps just slow in healing.   So we headed to the neurosurgeon for a follow up and to discuss this new information from the physical therapist.

The neurosurgeon confirmed what the physical therapist suspected and sent us to an orthopedic surgeon since this didn't fall under the area of a neurosurgeon.   The appointment with the orthopedic surgeon went very well.  He examined Mike's left shoulder, took an x-ray and told us what he suspected but wanted an MRI to confirm.  Fast forward...the MRI confirmed that Mike had a rotator cuff tear (completely pulled off the bone), torn labrum, arthritis, bicep tear and bone spurs.  He told us not to wait much longer than two months to have this surgery.  It was pretty bad.
       

Surgery was November 12th!!  This orthopedic surgeon, who we've been told is one of the best in the nation, requires a CPM chair ( continuous progressive movement) as well as a recliner to sleep in for six weeks.   As many of you already know, we travel in an Oliver Legacy Elite II which isn't going to quite have the space for a recliner and a CPM chair so we had no choice but to move out of the Oliver and into an apartment.   You just can't make this up!!!
         
So off our Ollie goes to storage and off we go to live in an apartment....for recovery.

We weren't sure how long we'd be in an apartment or if we'd ever move back into the Oliver.  The apartment is nice and comfortable...chairs, sofa, tables, king size lift bed and a huge TV with cable BUT it's not the Oliver!!  We know we have to be here for rehab but we really miss the Ollie!!
Post-op week 1

Post-op week 6

We've visited a local preserve, Kreher Preserve, and enjoyed walking in nature.  We've visited Chewacla State Park and enjoyed walking a few of their trails and it felt so good to be among the trees and hear the leaves crunch under our feet and the smell....oh the smell that only the woods can give.
                 
Kreher Preserve

Trail at Chewacla State Park

Trails at Chewacla State Park
So a few Sundays ago we drove to where the Oliver was in storage and set him free!!!  Mike can't drive so I had to hook up the Oliver with Mike coaching me on what and when to do different things.  
           

I managed to line up the hitch and ball (yay me) and pulled him out of his storage spot and headed to a wonderful woodsy site at Chewacla State Park, about a 45 minute drive!!  A site that we have camped on many times and love....nestled back in the woods!!   
Our site at Chewacla State Park

I am so proud that I managed to hook up the Oliver, tow him 45 miles and arrive safely at our site.....however, I am not good at backing up. This is where Mike took over, shhhhhhhhh don't tell anyone, he used his good arm and backed the Ollie right into that site with no problem.  Wow!!  I am jealous!!!   Now we can enjoy the Oliver and one day soon sleep there again.
                     
Lake at Chewacla
So we are still in the apartment doing rehab.  The CPM chair is part of physical therapy and Mike does this three times per day plus other exercises.  The CPM part of PT will be over Jan 10th.  We see the doctor Jan. 10th and phase II begins.  This phase takes Mike out of passive movement and into strength training which will begin using his muscle for movement.  The rehab for shoulder surgery is quite long but as he is getting better we can begin to return to our RV life albeit slowly!   The physical therapist told us we could travel some in February for a couple weeks!!!!!   We both about cried when she said that!!!  Yippee!!!!!!!!!!!
   
So that's where we are at this point.  It's been a long journey but there is light at the end of the tunnel and we are very grateful that the shoulder is healing and Mike will be good again very soon.

Thanks for stopping by and catching up with us!!  We will be doing the same with you all as well.  It's just been so time consuming but it's now getting better!!

Wishing all our RV friends a very Happy healthy New Year!!!  Safe travels!!!!




Tuesday, July 30, 2019

We Have Lift Off

Yesterday we journeyed to Columbus, Georgia to see Mike’s neurosurgeon and get his 6 week review!!   Several days before this appointment he went for x-rays to see what progress had been made in fusing the bone the surgeon chipped off Mike’s old disc to create the new and improved disc!!  So on Tuesday we went to Ridgeway Diagnostics in Auburn and had those done!!

So with disc in hand we set out for Columbus a tad early so we could eat and shop a little.  We ate a good lunch at Cheddars.  
Cheddars, but not our car...
The food was good but the noise level reminded me of a school cafeteria...not good!!  When we eat out we enjoy a nice dining experience and this didn’t happen there yesterday!!  Oh well...the food was good!!

We left there and enjoyed browsing among the many books at Barnes and Nobles!!  We found a very nice book on sale showing all our National Parks published by National Geographic.  Beautiful pictures and very informative!  We couldn’t pass this up for $9.98!!  We know we can find all this information on line but every now and then it’s nice to hold the book and flip the pages!
Barnes & Nobles special sale
We made our way over to the office complex where Southeastern Brain and Spine Surgery is located.  Our 4 o’clock appointment proved to be a winner...nobody was in the waiting room!!  That was a first!!

The doctor examined Mike’s neck and took a look at the x-rays.  He even showed them to us and we could distinctly see the titanium plate (cage) surrounding the two disc he created and the 6 screws holding everything in place!  We could see the new disc and he pointed out the area in the middle where the bone had been placed and fused!!  According to the doctor it looked exactly as it should!!  Everything was fine for taking that neck brace off!!  Yay...we have lift off!!  Mike was told he could do most everything he wants except no more contact sports....oh darn!!!  There goes his football and wrestling careers!!  So after 6 long weeks the brace is off!!
     
Brace off after six weeks, got it in my left hand
We are now heading for more healing with physical therapy!!  That starts on Tuesday and should help Mike tone up muscles he hasn’t been able to use for nearly 2 years!!  They will also work with range of motion in turning his head.  The tingling in the arm and fingers is gone.  There is a little soreness on the shoulders from time to time but no pain as he had before.  He’s able to look up and that range should increase with PT.  He can raise both arms and they are nearly the same height.  So things are looking good.
I handed Mike the keys to the truck...after 6 weeks of him not driving
We have another appointment with the neurosurgeon in 6 weeks and once again we will have x-rays a few days before.  So we have 6 more weeks being stationery and then our wheels can roll again!!
I hope they haven’t forgotten how!!!!
I don't think he forgot how to drive
Auburn football starts the beginning of September along with the increase in prices so we are hoping to be out of here!!  Gotta work hard in PT!!!
I also gave him to leash to walking Asher
As you can imagine we haven’t done much that warrants a blog post with Mike not able to do much!  I’ve been carrying most of the daily duties which included walking Asher, our 85 pound English Cream Golden.  He’s a puppy so his leash etiquette wasn’t established and he loves people...all kinds, big ones, little ones it doesn’t matter.  He thinks they all need a hug from him.  So for 6 weeks I’ve worked hard on getting him to walk (without pulling) and the goal is a loose leash!  We also worked on sitting every time we see someone.  I’m proud to say when I turned the leash over to Mike yesterday he was much better than before!!!  Hey, you gotta learn!!!
Now Mike can walk Asher, while I will walk Nick
So life around here is slowly returning to normal!!  We have a little longer to go and all Mike has been through should be worth it and give him back his life...pain free and able to lift, look up and reach up with both arms!!   God is good!!!’
This guy landed just below our patio for almost 10 minutes

Notice the talons on this hawk
Thanks for stopping by!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Kreher Preserve & Nature Center

I'm a little late with my blogging!!  Life has been a whirlwind for me lately!!  I never appreciated all Mike did around the Ollie until he wasn't able to do hardly anything!!  Thank you, Mike....you're truly appreciated!!

I spent Sunday week ago washing the patio side of the Oliver!!  I might have mentioned this before but we have a gutter guard right behind the awning to stop any water from dripping on the patio during a rain.  This gutter guard gets all kinds of debris such as pine needles, leaves, acorns and such in it and then the water, whether its rain water or the run off from the AC gets trapped in this area, gets very dirty and drips down the sides of the Oliver making a stain on each end.  It takes quite a bit of elbow grease to get it cleaned out and white again.  Couple that with being short I have a hard time reaching behind the awning and cleaning this area out.  I think I was up and down the ladder at least 9 times going across the awning/gutter chasing this debris and dirt.  It was hot and I was wringing wet.  When I finished it looked good!!
Gerri just after she finished washing the Oliver
I was resting and cooling off when our son called and said he wanted to show us something pretty cool.  He knows how much we love birding and nature and he had been told about Kreher Preserve and Nature Center located right in the middle of Auburn...very near the campus because Auburn University maintains and runs this preserve.  To put it in their words, "to promote a sense of stewardship towards nature through quality environmental education, recreation, and outreach programs with Auburn University and its community partners." 
        
This is at the center of the parking lot


Main entrance into the walking trails
We discovered this area provides over six miles of trails winding through 120 acres where you can encounter area wildlife and seven different regional ecotypes.  The preserve provides nature based education to area schools through awesome field trips.  


There are events scheduled throughout the year including "Bird Walks" led by birding specialist.  
We were standing behind a bird blind

Workshops, programs and camps.  There is even a nature preschool which is the only Nature Preschool in East Alabama.  Last but certainly not least is the research that is conducted here on environmental engineering, wildlife sciences, forestry, biology and landscaping.        
Entrance into the fairy houses




Kids made the fairy houses



We spent about 3 hours here Sunday afternoon exploring one of the many trails.  We walked approximately two miles just enjoying the beauty and peacefulness the forest brings to your soul.  
Stephen at the herb garden
One of the walking trails

The fire pit near the amphitheater

The amphitheater
Kreher Preserve is definitely a place we will return to many many times when in this area!!  We didn't have our cameras with us so the pictures are the ones we captured on my IPhone.  
A pond along the trail, we saw a snake swim into this right in front of us
Our Guide...Stephen
Today marks 5 weeks for Mike since surgery!!!!  That means one more week and he's made it to his six weeks.  He has his x-rays on Tuesday that will show the progress he's made in fusing and growing bone.  He sees the neurosurgeon on Thursday and we sure hope that brace comes off and all those many restrictions with it.
We are getting a really bad case of HITCH ITCH!!!!!!!
Small waterfall along the trail
Thanks for stopping by and hopefully we'll see "down the road" very soon!!

Monday, July 8, 2019

A Hike A Cookout and Happy Independence Day and Canada Day

We are now officially halfway through our 6 weeks!!  Mike has 3 more weeks in which to wear the neck brace!  As with most things like this you get tired of the confinement both with neck movement and overall confinement in activities.   After 3 weeks of holding your head in one position your neck muscles just want to go in a different direction.  When we saw the doctor last week he was pleased with Mike's progress and said all things looked good.  So 3 more weeks!!
We took an easy walk/hike this week on one of the trails in Chewacla State Park. 
Trail in Chewacla
Interesting mushrooms on this tree

More of the trail in Chewacla
 It was an easy trail...don't need to maneuver around roots, slopes and rocks on harder trails.  We enjoyed just being in nature and the trees that surrounded us.  We did meet a family along the way that were also out for a morning stroll.  I'm hoping we were a little better looking than they were.  Ugly aren't they?
Bless their hearts, they just look so ugly...
Our son has been coming by to visit and lend a hand as needed!!  So glad he's nearby and such a good help.  He's helped us a few times with Oliver maintenance such as cleaning out the gutter by the awning that gets lots of tree "stuff" in it and then when the air conditioner is on the water rolls down the sides bringing with it that lovely stain.  He also has to clean the roof...I'm too short even on the ladder!!

We had a cookout on July 3rd anticipating a rainy 4th!!!  I had bought some shrimp from  Gulf Shores when we were there this past winter and I wanted to cook them before freezer burn might get them. 
Some of the Gulf Coast shrimp for the kabobs
 Also, it clears up some  space in an already small freezer.  So Mike deveined them and made up a marinade for them and Stephen brought broccoli and rice.  I had some yellow and red pepper and white and purple onion so we made a nice skewer with the vegetables and shrimp 
Let the preparations begin

Lightly grilled peppers and onions for the kabobs

Stephen is putting the kabobs together
and steamed the broccoli and he had already cooked the rice at his house.   I also got two bags of fresh blueberries from a friend so I made some fresh blueberry cobbler.  We had a really nice dinner and Stephen cooked it all on our Blackstone Grill!!!  YUM!!      

Tasty Shrimp Kabobs
Today is July 4th and as expected we have had a rainy day.  That is good and bad!!  We needed the rain but it kinda puts a damper on all the cookouts people might have planned.  The campground is not full which is pretty surprising but I'm not complaining!!  I guess I'm getting older and sometimes the weekend or holiday crowds kinda grind on my nerves.  Plus I'm the one walking Asher, the 85 pound English Cream Golden puppy that wants to meet and greet every person he sees.  He's still learning how to walk correctly, which means not pulling me over on the leash or running up to hug every person he sees.  We have done pretty good but have a long way to go.  I've learned to put him in a sit whenever we see someone and I'm using treats when he listens.  He's getting better!!        
Asher waiting for a reward treat
Asher is leashed in two separate places
Asher is a happy camper
I bought him a new harness that is suppose to help with the pulling when walking.  I was skeptical when I first heard about it from my blog friend, Micky Werk but he has been wearing it now for about 4 days and I see a world of difference in his walking.  This harness clips underneath and it also has a clip on top of his neck.  I bought a leash that has two leads and I clip him underneath and on top.  The leash is called a "training leash" and it is rather short.  Our goal is to get him to walk on a loose leash!!  I think we'll make it but it will take some time and training.  Growing out of the puppy stage will also help.  Thanks, Micky for the recommendation!!  

We could not leave our little Nick out of the pics
So we are taking things one day at a time!!  Not as many left and we'll be able to see what physical therapy has in store in 3 weeks.  The doctor talked like most of the PT will be teaching Mike what exercises he needs to do and then doing those at home.  If that is the case, we might be able to get the wheels rolling!!  Hitch itch is a serious ailment!!
A nice sunset at Chewacla State Park
I hope all of our American readers had a Happy Independence Day!!  I hope you enjoyed it doing whatever makes you happy as we celebrate our freedoms.  To our Canadian readers I hope you had a wonderful Canada Day!!  
Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!!