Tuesday, December 06, 2016


This is a photo of me taken back in 2007 when I was close to my heaviest.  By 2008 I weighted a whopping 308 pounds, so I did something about it.  I went on a liquid diet, supervised by a team of specialists at my health care provider, Kaiser Permanente, called Positive Choice.  Five protein shakes a day for 5 months.  No food.  I lost 110 pounds in that five months and felt better for it.  Since then I have always been active, riding my bike, walking, and lifting free weights.  I ate a more healthy diet. But over time, with travel to foreign lands and about the U.S. I gained some of it back.

When I was home, I would maintain my weight with mostly good food choices and exercise, but when I traveled, it was a different story.  I exercised less and ate more and the food choices were not the best.  Since we traveled for 2 to 3 months at a time, it was easy to gain 10 pounds on a trip.  Upon return home, I would eat better, exercise more and maintain my weight, but rarely would I loose any.  After 8 years I had gained 60 pounds and needed to do something, so back to Positive Choice.  I made an appointment and scheduled my screening for the program.

A medical exam is required to enter the program and included in the exam was a EKG. So the nurse hooks me up, turns on the machine and runs the test.  She then looked at me and said, "You know you have A-Fib"  My response was, "I guess I know now".  A-fib or atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm characterized by rapid and irregular beating.  Up and until this point, I had no idea I had A-fib, but the strange thing was that right after she told me, I could actually feel it.

Having A-fib narrowed the possibilities of the diet program and I was told that I couldn't do a full fast but was eligible for a partial fast program, 4 shakes a day with limited food.  More about this program later, but now for the heart part.

First an appointment was made for a echo-cardiogram.  This was scheduled for 4 months out, which was unacceptable to me and I made my feelings known loud and clear. After voicing my displeasure at the delay (read lots of yelling) I was scheduled for an appointment 2 days away.  Basically a echo-cardiogram is a ultrasound of the heart.  To get the results, you go to a cardiologist, but no body had referred me to a cardiologist.  After more "voicing my displeasure", I got an appointment with Dr. Sharma.  He explained to me that the echo-cardiogram showed some minor buildup of calcium in one my arteries, but that first we must get the heart beating in a normal rhythm.  To do this, they shock your heart, but because the heart beating normally again just might send a clot to the brain, I had to go on a blood thinner for 1 month before I got the shock.

I must say that only after learning of the A-fib, did I experience any symptoms.  Now I was constantly out of breath and had little energy.  I could hardly wait the 30 days to get it corrected.  I thought by pissing off a policeman I could get tased.  That would work, wouldn't it?

Finally the day arrive, so off to the hospital for the shock treatment.  As I was waiting my turn, and it was taking longer than expected, the nurse told me that the guy scheduled ahead of me had a heart attack, so that was the reason for the delay.  Oh, great, that made me feel better.  So they put you to sleep, and I gave my approval after the anesthesiologist promised me that he wouldn't use the stuff that killed Michael Jackson.  Next I go to sleep for a few minutes while they use the paddles on me.  I awake and everyone is smiling, including me.  I can tell the difference right away.

Next, a sleep study was ordered.  Picked up a monitor to monitor my breathing while I slept.  Put it on and went to bed.  Couldn't go to sleep.  I tossed and turned, watched the clock and hoped for sleep.  It didn't happen, so I took the monitor off returning it the next day.  I told them that I never went to sleep.  A week or so later I get a call from the sleep clinic and was informed that I have moderate sleep apnea. Tried to explain to them that I never slept, but to no avail.  Now the diagnosis is in my medical record.  Still trying to get that corrected.

Dr Sharma suggested I have a stress test, you know the kind where they put you on the treadmill.  So this was scheduled and completed.  I passed without a problem. This also included taking some kind of atomic pill so they could take a look at my heart with some big scanning type machine.

So, everything is alright, clean bill of health and I'm off to the Sierras for some hiking. While strolling along at 10,000 feet, I started experiencing some chest pain.  Not too severe, but about a 5 on a scale of 10.  The pain lasted for a long time even after finishing the hike.  No other symptoms, and the pain eventually subsided.  A couple of days later, I experienced the pain again while on another hike and it went away when I stopped walking.  So when I got home, no I didn't call for an ambulance, I called Dr. Sharma and he scheduled me for a CAT scan.  This came back negative, but did show that calcium build up.  When meeting with the Doc, he suggested that just to be sure, perhaps I should have a angioplasty, where they put a catheter in your vein and go exploring around the heart.  I agreed.

On the appointed day, we get up at zero dark thirty and drive to the hospital.  They told me to arrive early, but it turns out I was a day early.  Opps!  The next, correct day, we did it again.  Check into the hospital, wait a couple of hours, go to the procedure room, get sedated but stay awake, stick the catheter in the vein in my arm, do a tour of the heart and 30 minutes later, I'm done.  The doctor who did the looking around told me, no blockages, no plaque, only the previously known calcium, which according to him is very minor and no a cause for concern.

So what caused the chest pain you ask?  Don't know.  I go for another consult with Dr. Sharma in a week or so, we shall see.

While all this is going on, I am on my diet of 4 shakes a day and a small amount of healthy food, about 1000 calories total.  Have to go to fat people class once a week to learn stuff about food.  To date I have lost 40 pounds, with 20 more to go, so something is working.

Actually, even with the hiccups at Kaiser, I am very satisfied with my treatment so far.  I must say that after all these years at Kaiser, I am finally getting my money's worth.  As for Dr. Sharma, I am very pleased with him.  If I send him an e-mail with a question, he almost always calls me the same day and is very responsive to my questions.  When I go for an office visit, I have never waited longer then 15 minutes.  He takes the time to explain to me in detail my treatment and answers all my stupid questions.

Friday, September 30, 2016


We keep going back because we like it there, but this time we were also meeting up with our friends, Hansjorg and Silke from Germany.  They had shipped their motor home to the states and were seeing the country, finishing up in San Diego, where they will store the motor home for a return trip next spring.  Also joining us, Gary and Diane, who met up with Hansjorg and Silke further north and were traveling south with them.

Hansjorg and Silke

When we go to the Sierras, we tend to stay in one of two places we like because they are close to hiking.  This time we opted for Robinson Creek a forest service campground outside of Bridgeport.  Both Cathie and I have been coming to this campground since we were children.  It is the place I learned to fish when I was about 10 years old.  Since then, our children learned to fish there, and some of our grandchildren too.

Cathie and I managed to get in a couple of hikes before the rest of the crew arrived.  We headed up to Saddlebag lake, just outside of the east entrance to Yosemite.  At 10,000 we figured it would be a great hike to find out what kind of shape we are in.

I took this photo of Saddlebag Lake this past spring.  The photo below was taken on this last trip.

We took a couple of hikes with the rest of the crew after they arrived.  We headed up into Yosemite and took a 9 mile jaunt from Tuolumne Meadows to American Falls.  Every time we have visited Hansjorg and Silke at their home in the Black Forest, Hansjorg has taken us on extended hikes over hill and dale, so I wanted to repay them with a hike or two in our neck of the woods.  A big difference in hiking in Germany is that every so often you will come upon a cafe where one can obtain refreshments, something not available on most hikes in the States.

Not much water in the Toulumne River

We ran into Ranger Steve on our hike.  He was putting up some new trail signs.  He has been riding his trusty steed in the back country of Yosemite for the past 51 years.  Now that's a long time on horseback.

The following morning, while everyone else slept in, Hansjorg and I took a short hike up to Horsetail Falls.  Up hill to the turnaround point, so we got our workout in for the day. Here's the photos.

We had a little rain

The upper meadow.  There's beaver out there

Next we took a jaunt out to Bodie Ghost Town, a well preserved example of a gold mining town.  In 1859, a small group of prospectors camped there, scratching out a living of sorts on their mining claim.  In 1876, the Standard Company discovered a profitable deposit of gold-bearing ore, which transformed Bodie from an isolated mining camp comprising a few prospectors and company employees to a wild west boomtown. Rich discoveries in the adjacent Bodie Mine during 1878 attracted even more hopeful people. By 1879, Bodie had a population of approximately 5,000–7,000 people and around 2,000 buildings. Over the years, Bodie's mines produced gold valued at nearly US$34 million.
Bodie boomed from late 1877 through mid– to late 1880. The first newspaper, The Standard Pioneer Journal of Mono County, published its first edition on October 10, 1877. It started out as a weekly, but soon became a thrice-weekly paper. It was also during this time that a telegraph line was built which connected Bodie with Bridgeport and Genoa, Nevada. California and Nevada newspapers predicted Bodie would become the next Comstock Lode. Men from both states were lured to Bodie by the prospect of another bonanza.

Hansjorg takes a "break"

Silke thought the picture was of Beethoven
We will forgive her being German



Many of you know I've been messing with a GoPro Camera and I continue to do so.  It's a big learning curve for me, but I think I'm slowly improving.  Here's my latest attempt.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016


I keep working at it, trying to figure out how to make a decent video.  A summary of our last trip is the latest attempt.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Our choice of Lake of the Woods, just east of Medford for our next stop was a good one.  We arrived on Memorial Day just as everyone was heading home.  With just a few other campers, we pretty much had the place to ourselves.  Close enough to the lake that I could carry my new kayak down to the water.  We had intended on camping at Crater Lake, but the campground had yet to open for the season.  We did manage to take a drive there for a look, but not much else.  All the hiking trails were still under several feet of snow.


Just south of the Oregon/California State line is the small town of Tulelake, home to the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and The Tule Lake Unit, WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, the latter contains both the Tule Lake Segregation Center and Camp Tulelake.  The segregation center was the largest camp were Japanese citizens were incarcerated during WW II and Camp Tulelake was a Civilian Conservation Camp.  Although we didn't go to the actual site, there is a great little museum in town about the area's history and both camps.  The town's Web Site has a wealth of information.

Just south of Tulelake is Lava Beds National Monument, where of course there is lots of lava.  There are numerous (22) caves or lava tubes one can explore on their own without the assistance of guides or rangers.  The caves range from short, less than 200 feet to the Catacombs Cave at just under 7,000 feet.  Here is the description of the Catacombs Cave in the parks brochure.

"This very long cave is easily entered, but gradually increases in difficulty.  It is possible to walk upright for approximately 800 feet to the stairway, after which the ceiling rarely exceeds 3 feet.  A few places exist where the ceiling height is less that 12 inches."

Yeah, let's go do that one.  Actually we were not prepared to explore caves, but I did manage to take a peek in the Hercules Leg Cave, one where I could remain upright.

While in the area, we attempted to go to Stukel Mountain, but we took the wrong road.

As we continue south our next stop was Eagle Lake, just north of Susanville.  Another place we had never been to, so it was time to check it out.  I did manage to get in a bike ride as the forest service has built a nice trail along the lake shore.  Also I got the kayak wet one morning and did a little exploring and watching the birds.


We took a drive to the top of Antelope Mountain to pay a visit to the fire lookout.  Upon our arrival we were met by swarms of bumble bees, which had taken over the outhouse. No one was on duty, but we were able to take a look inside.


After a brief stop in Reno, we continue our journey to our last camp at Robinson Creek, just outside of Bridgeport.  This being one of our favorite camping spots, it was a good place to finish up this trip. We managed to snag a prime spot right on the creek, which due to the heavy winter snowfall, was roaring.  Both Cathie and I have been coming to this spot since we were children and now our children are following our lead.  Son, Eric called and said he was heading our way and since we had the best spot in the campground, he replaced our rig with his when we pulled out to head home.








Well, that about does it for this adventure, but stay tuned as there are many more to come.

Monday, May 30, 2016



We spent 6 wonderful days in Brookings at Harris Beach State Park.  We managed to get a couple of hikes in along with walks on various beaches.  After laundry and a resupply, we headed inland toward Grants Pass.  We settled in at a Indian Mary County Park which is right on the Rogue River.  We are very familiar with this campground having stayed there many times going back over 30 years.  It was the Memorial Day weekend, so it was best to stay in one place.  We have two sets of friends in the area and we had great visits with both of them.  We only managed to get in one hike while there, along the cliffs above the river to Rainie Falls.  These falls have three routes one in a kayak or raft can take.  A class 3 a 4 and a 5.  We watched as rafters and kayakers took the class 3 and 4 rapids.  No one opted for the class 5 rapid.



Speaking of Kayaks, we have an inflatable two person kayak of sorts that is very stable.  We had in some class 2 Rapids and it performs well.  The issue I have with it is that due to it's design you are constantly sitting in the water. It's doesn't get used much.  I wanted a hard shell stable Kayak that would keep me dry, unless of course I turned it over.  Cathie didn't.  So by saving my allowance I managed to buy my own kayak.  Turns out REI (outdoor store) was having a sale so I checked their kayaks out.  I settled on a Elie 10 footer that was advertised as stable.  I figured that if I couldn't mount it on the RV"s ladder to the roof, it would fit inside.  There was the added bonus of buying it in Oregon as there is no sales tax.  I liked the idea of cheating the State of California out of the sales tax.  Lo and behold, it mounts on the RV ladder for easy transport.


For my first tryout in it, I opted to avoid the rapids of the Rogue River and waited till we arrived at our next stop with calmer waters, Lake of the Woods. So for my maiden voyage I took a slow paddle around one end of the lake and everything we just fine until coming back to the boat launch.  As I came ashore, the local sheriff was docking his boat at the ramp.  I mentioned to him that it must be fun to have such a great assignment.  This of course drew his attention to me and my kayak.  Turns out I needed an "Invasive Species Permit" to operate my "boat" in Oregon waters.  I was also lacking the required whistle.  So, being a nice guy, and I wasn't about to be an ass, he inspected my "boat", gave me a nice red inspection sticker to paste on it and the required whistle.  Then suggested that within the next 15 minutes I run over to the marina a purchase the Invasive Species Permit for $7 and he would let me off with a warning.  Not being stupid, I did just that.