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".

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Monday, May 6, 2019

The Journey Begins

Sunset at the pier Mobile bay
So the journey begins!!  For the past 2 1/2 years Mike has been actively avoiding surgery on his cervical stenosis. Who wants surgery anyway?   The neurosurgeon in Columbus, Georgia told him 2 1/2 years ago that it would only get worse....and he was spot on.                 

On the way to Jessie's in Magnolia Springs

About 4 months ago the pain decided to take on a new high!!  The pain increased and now both arms are involved.  He has lost strength in both arms and is unable to look up.  But most of all the pain is constant.  He saw a neurosurgeon in Mobile, Alabama who examined him and had an updated MRI done.  Sure enough....it's gotten worse.               

Fountain at the pier in Fairhope

So tomorrow morning we will be traveling to Auburn and our "home" base of Chewacla State Park where we will be hunkering down for the surgery and recuperation.   Mike sees his neurosurgeon in Columbus, Thursday May 9th and we should have a date for surgery soon after that.                    

Boardwalk at the pier Fairhope

The surgery itself sounds horrible but doesn't all surgery??  The doctor assured us he "does this all the time!"   They will make the incision in the front (kinda like slitting your throat) and move the muscles and structures aside so he can get to the spinal cord where he will remove the bone spurs, disc and replace with a cadaver and plate with screws to hold it in place.  Mike will wear a soft collar and possibly a hard collar for several weeks following surgery.  He will be unable to lift, drive or do much for several weeks.  It varies with different people and different situations.  Our job will be to take care of the incision and do all the things to heal....such as eating healthy and walking walking walking!!!!   We can handle that!!               



The good news....when this is complete and Mike has healed we will be able to do more, go further and Mike will not be in pain. 
Those of you that wish...we would love to have your prayers for a successful surgery and quick recovery!!  

Small marina at the pier

So Sunday morning we will say our "see ya laters" to the Gulf Shores area...specifically Escapees Rainbow Plantation!!  

Our cameras caught some sights on our last, for now, trip to the Fairhope Pier!  Hope you enjoy!!







Monday, April 8, 2019

Meeting Up with Good Friends

One thing that sets this lifestyle apart from all the others is the people you meet along the way!!  We have met some wonderful RVers that became lifelong friends!!

When we heard Mike and Peggy Evringham we’re heading to Rainbow Plantation (Escapees Park in Summerdale, Alabama) we knew we had to go there.  We found a site and got all set up to meet up with Mike and Peggy.
Our site at Rainbow Plantation
When Mike and Peggy arrived there were plenty of hugs all around!!  We started our week of feasting at the last supper at the clubhouse.  A buffet of all that was left over...you know, you can’t carry this food over the next 7 to 8 months!!  So everyone gathered at the clubhouse for food and fellowship!!             

Our friends at Rainbow Plantation
The eating continued through the week with Big Daddy’s Grill, Saracenos and Mellow Mushroom!!  We enjoyed time with Mike and Peggy, Don and Gloria Martin and Norm and Linda Payne.  All longtime  good friends!!!  It was a lot of fun catching up and sharing travel adventures which included Mike and Peggy’s recent trip to Israel.  They toured the Holy Lands with a group led by Mike Huckabee.  What a wonderful trip and awesome pictures and video!!!

The fun didn’t stop there.  We left on Wednesday to travel the very short distance to Meaher State Park in Spanish Fort, Alabama. 
Our site at Meaher

Our friend's site
 This state park is just outside Mobile right on Mobile Bay!!  This is  where  we connected with John and Ellie Souva!!   We last saw John and Ellie 4 years ago!!  Even though distance in miles separated us we continued to stay in touch and our friendship flourished!!  We had the pleasure of meeting John’s mom, Millie on this trip!!  She is just delightful and traveled and camped most of her life!!  Such interesting stories!!    

Sunset at Meaher State Park
The weather hasn’t been too cooperative though!  Wednesday was beautiful and we all managed to get some walking in around the campground.  This is a very nice state park with full hookups!!

Boardwalk to the Delta
We walked what the gate called “The Gateway to the Delta”.  This is a very nice path that leads to a boardwalk through a delta area.  On this walk we saw a ribbon snake, a Nutria, a Prothonotary Warbler (so pretty) some black birds and ducks.  A nice walk!!         

                



Prothonotary Warbler
See the Nutria in the middle

Ribbon Snake
On the other end of the campground there is a very nice pier to walk and on this day several fishermen and women were catching a few Crappie.

Meager State Park
After a rainy Thursday we ventured down to the pier where we were told there were a couple quite large gators.  Sure enough they were there just floating in the still water.  There were also four gators right out from the shore on our way back to the camper.  We were hoping for more movement from them since it’s mating season but this morning and afternoon they just wanted to float!!



Black-bellied Whistling Duck

A wonderful lunch was enjoyed by the five of us at Ed’s Seafood!!  Delicious!!  We sat on the covered patio overlooking the bay!!!  
Ed's Seafood Restaurant covered patio
Good friends, good food and blessed fellowship!!

It has been a grand week!!!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Life Gets Messy

It’s been awhile....I hope you all still remember who we are!!
The Bellingrath Home
I went back to take a look at where we left off and it appears Mike had just gotten a good heart health report.  It was a scary time and we are so thankful that God led us to a great cardiologist and he was able to stabilize Mike’s blood pressure that apparently was causing the issues with mitral valve prolapse.   We were all set to begin traveling and Mike had a physical therapy session....remember his ruptured disc?  During that visit the therapist must have done something and all of a sudden Mike’s cervical stenosis became horrible to bear!!  The pain is immense....no sleeping comfortably, strength in both arms has diminished and he can’t look up.  We saw a neurosurgeon in Mobile, Alabama at the Coastal Neurological Institute.  He evaluated, including a current MRI to compare to the one done two years ago and immediately said the cervical stenosis was worse and he would need surgery.  So, if it’s not one thing it’s twenty!!  But we are not discouraged because he can get better with surgery!!
There is an 85% recovery rate...not bad!!




I’m not going to say we haven’t thought long and hard about what we are doing!!  Do we get a bigger rig?  Do we get a condo/townhouse?   Do we just stop full-timing/RVing?  What to do??  The neurosurgeon was totally in favor of travel, RVing, walking, hiking anything to stay active!!!              



So we actually chose all but stopping full-timing/RVing.  We actually bought a fifth wheel....a very nice one!!  We were going to park it on a lot/site at Rainbow Plantation and keep the Oliver for travel.  Sounded like a good plan and then along came the dead heat of summer in the Deep South.  We couldn’t keep that rig cool for anything...we brought the Oliver around to the side of the fifth wheel and turned on it’s AC and we stayed inside of it to keep cool.  We have an older Shih Tzu that was really hot and having difficulty inside the fifth wheel..  Then a few other things happened structurally (it was a new rig) and when the slide came in and  ripped off half the slide trim inside, a drawer and the trim under the refrigerator we said...enough!!  Ollie may be small but we never had any of these issues.             


Then we decided to try leasing a townhouse until after Mike’s surgery!!  Once again, this sounded like a great idea!!  The townhouse is brand new and very nice!! Located in a gated area and I even have my own screen porch.  All that was great until they decided to build more townhouses behind us!!  We get our wake up call very early every week day morning with huge equipment doing whatever huge bulldozers do....dig, clear, smooth out and then dig again.  Our walls actually shook and pictures moved.  Needless to say there is no peace and quiet in the townhouse so forget the nice screen porch ambience....you can’t sit out there and enjoy!!      




We found ourselves missing the Ollie more and more!!  Each time we thought we might  sell the Oliver neither of us could do it!!  Do we have a weakness here??    It’s called loving the lifestyle along with its freedom to go whenever or wherever you want, the ability to meet amazing people and visit those we’ve already met.  The peace and quiet and the simplicity of it all.  The idea that life happens no matter where you are or what you’re living in.  It happens!!   And last but not least....we love the Oliver and we are just not ready to give her up yet!!  There seems to be some miles left to experience with us and Ollie so we are going to stay with it...at least for a while longer!!  Maybe another year, maybe two, maybe...never mind you get the point!!  Travel is good for the soul!!        



Since we have missed blogging for awhile I’ll leave you with one of our last outings in Mobile, Alabama.  Bellingrath Gardens!!  It is actually in a city called Theodore, Alabama which is just southwest of Mobile by about maybe 15 miles.  It is a beautiful place and we look forward to visiting in different seasons to see what is blooming!!  Hope you enjoy!!! 








Saturday, December 1, 2018

Crazy Summer and Frightening Fall

No, we haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth!!  But it has been a crazy summer with Mike’s ruptured
disc and all the treatments that went along with that!!   I will spare you the details but he has probably gotten as far as he can.  His back is good now but he did have nerve damage in his right leg and his right foot.  He continues to have something called “drop foot” that doesn’t bother him only sounds weird when walking!!

We haven’t been allowed to travel much so we’ve been pretty stationary at Escapees Park...Rainbow Plantation.  If you have to be stationary it’s a good place to be.

We watched many beautiful sunsets from the pier in Fairhope Alabama.  This pier overlooks Mobile Bay and is one of our favorite spots in the area.




We made a couple trips to Baton Rouge to visit our son.  Nothing blog worthy just a nice visit with family.  We stayed at the KOA which is not our favorite but happens to be the only decent park in the area.  A little pricey but convenient!!
   
This is the hallway into the banquet buffet we dined in for Thanksgiving          
The outside of the restaurant overlooking the Mississippi River




Just outside the restaurant

The frightening part of fall happened when Mike’s blood pressure became quite high and for six weeks remained that way while the doctor was trying different medications to bring it down.  Mike started to experience chest discomfort, heart palpitations and extreme fatigue.  We were alarmed and once again saw the doctor who had an Echocardiogram performed and we discovered Mike has mitral valve prolapse.  The doctor was concerned at how quickly this came about.  In August the doctor heard nothing when listening to his heart and now moderate regurgitation.  So another test was scheduled along with an EKG.  This showed no blockages...thank God!!  The final consensus was the prolonged high blood pressure had caused the mitral valve prolapse.  The stress from the pain and aggravation of the ruptured disc probably caused the high blood pressure.
     
The Good News—-the blood pressure is stable and the extreme symptoms are subsiding.  Mike still has heart palpitations but that can happen with mitral valve prolapse.   Yes, this was frightening!!  The heart is sorta vital for all of us!!!!

With that all said...we hope to be back in the saddle with our blogging!!  Hopefully we’ll be moving more now!!
                     
We hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving and are looking forward to a grand Christmas season!!!