Updated on May 18, 1999.
Thursday morning I watched the weather channel and decided that even though it was April Fool's Day, we should travel immediately to Hanford from the Soledad Canyon TTN where we had stayed a couple of nights rather than wait another day. It was a fortuitous decision.
We packed up and rigged for traveling fairly quickly, and then headed back up to the I-14 freeway. I purchased fuel at the 76 station in Acton. The price was up to $1.499 for diesel, but the poor gasoline trucks were paying $1.699. The price had risen 10 cents in four days.
We drove down I-14 to I-5 and we headed up towards Gorman. The weather was cloudy and somewhat cold, but at least it was not snowing. However, there was quite a bit of snow on the mountains above the Grapevine. Since it was mid-day, the traffic was not too bad.
We stopped for lunch when we hit the San Juaquin Valley floor at a nice new Denny's right at the base of the mountains. Then we headed on up US-99 through Bakersfield and on to the CA198 turnoff to Hanford.
We had met a couple in Palm Springs who had stayed at the Hanford Fair Grounds, and they recommended it, so we searched it out and registered for four nights. It was only $12 per night with full hookups. There are supposedly 250 sites at the fairgrounds, but there were only five or so rigs scattered around the area. It was grassy, though they were doing some repair work on some of the sites. Apart from the lack of night lights, it was quite nice. Just don't plan on staying there while the fair is going on.
My sister and brother-in-law live in Hanford. We thought they were still away skiing, so we didn't check in with them. Instead, we went to one of the local restaurants, and I had a nice juicy steak with baked potatoes and sour cream. When we got home I decided to play around with our dog Misty and got down on the floor to wrestle with her.
As I rolled around on the floor, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my chest and arm. At first I thought it was a muscle cramp, but it would not go away. It took about three minutes for me to realize I was having a heart attack. It felt harder than the one I had had 20 months earlier.
Luckily, we were in the town where my folks had lived for forty years, so Alice and I knew something about where to find things. We jumped into the truck and she drove to Medical Emergency at the local hospital, about two miles away.
When I told them I was having chest pains, they hustled me in and immediately hooked me up to monitors and started giving me medication. Later that night, they checked me into ICU where I stayed for another three days. The blood tests had confirmed that I had had a heart attack.
So there I lay over the weekend, actually feeling pretty good. The pains had stopped, though they kept pumping heperin and nitroglycerine into me while I waited for an angiogram on Monday. The hell of it was Alice and I celebrated our first anniversary of being full-time on the road that weekend in my hospital room. Bummer!!
The heart attack had been moderate in which one of the four grafts from my bypass surgery of eleven years ago had finally closed down completely. Dr. Gavini, the cardiologist, did an angiogram Monday morning and we reviewed the films Monday afternoon. The other three grafts looked pretty good, but it was obvious I need to start exercising more and losing weight.
By Monday evening the effects of the angiogram had worn off, and they were happy to release me. We finally had a chance to visit with our relatives in Hanford. The next day we went out for lunch; I had a low-fat salad.
On Thursday Alice and I met with Dr. Gavini. I liked his style and willingness to talk about my situation. I had decided I wanted him to be my consulting cardiologist, and we explained how we were on the road all the time and while we might not be in Hanford the next time something happened, we would be calling on him if there was a problem. He understood and agreed to work with me. He is easy to talk with, and I feel much better with him on my team.
Friday morning Alice was not happy, but I said I was driving. So we rigged for travel and left Hanford. We headed west on CA198 then north on I-5 on our way to the Lake Minden TTN Park north of Sacramento. The 235 mile trip was easy and uneventful, just as one expects from I-5, and we stopped for lunch at the rest stop near Westley. I admit at the end of it I was pretty tired.
When we reached the guard shack at Lake Minden, Ranger Linette was on duty. We remembered her from when the fire had destroyed our rigs at Lake of the Springs TTN in September of 97. She had lived in that area and had also lost some things, but not her home. She remembered us and checked us in. We parked on the east side of the lake in D section. The place was crawling with rigs with Texas license plates -- all SKPs waiting to go to the Escapade.
We met a nice couple of SKPs who write magazine articles on the road, Lynn and Linda. We talked about the ins and outs of computers. I was surprised they were still using Windows 3.1 and had no CD drives. I naturally expressed my opinions about the matter. Later I learned they had gone to Sacto and purchased a new laptop.
Over the weekend we spent time with our daughter Deb in Sacramento and did some shopping. On Sunday Deb took us to a computer show at Cal Expo and I purchased a replacement for the AT&T desktop we had been carrying around for the past year. The new machine is a 400MHz K6-2 with 64MB of RAM, 4.3GB hard drive, floppy, CD drive, and some other things. It cost under $500. Times sure change fast when you are retired.
The middle of the week Alice and I drove down to San Ramon and had lunch with old friends from work. I finally processed out of my old company, complete with a termination interview. It seems strange to finally cut the umbilical. Of course, I will still be dealing with them for medical insurance using a Super COBRA plan until I turn 65, but things are still a little different. What is interesting is that I finally feel retired, and I don't have any interest in going back to work.
We stopped by for supper with son Michael and family. The grandkids have grown major inches since we saw them last. Jeremiah is taller than his mother, and almost taller than I am.
Back at Lake Minden, we went to several SKP social hours. It seemed like we were having one each day. SKPs sure like to get together and talk.
Saturday morning we headed over to Orland to meet with our friends from the Diablo Caravaners who were also going to the Escapade. It was good seeing them again, and the bantering started almost as soon as we arrived. Ed gave me some grief about how dirty our rig was, so I cleaned my truck. Then his rig looked dirty.
The next morning we all started preparing to head to the Escapade at Chico. Alice and I were staying in the No Generator section; everyone else was staying in the Limited Generator section. Since we would be separated anyway, Alice and I waited until later in the morning to leave. We were still parked within 30 minutes after arriving, right in the middle of the racetrack on the grass. It was a good spot.
An Escapade is a special kind of time. Many of the SKPs give and receive hugs all around, and you meet so many new people you cannot remember all their names.
Highlights of the Escapade included: listening to Joe Peterson's jokes at the opening ceremonies; becoming Life Members of Escapees; attending several more useful seminars we missed last year; visiting the Jojoba Hills Coop Park representatives and finding out we had moved up to number 7 on the hot list for a site; attending the raucous meeting where Cathie Carr explained how and why the US Post Office is requiring us to change our address -- again; touring the merchant's row and buying more stuff than I planned; Alice giving yet another pint of blood in the biggest blood drive Chico has had; attending the Boomers and Jojoba Hills socials; meeting old friends and trying to remember/read their names (thank goodness for name tags); watching the Ham-o-rama and waiting for our SKP number to be called in the drawings; calling Bingo and getting a volunteer's badge; and just being around a marvelous bunch of people who were interested in everything we are interested in. I should have taken pictures, and I should write up my experiences in detail, but I was just having too much fun.
And during the entire week the weather was great.
Friday morning everyone prepared to leave the Escapade. The attendees all had to leave before noon. We went over for the hookup get-together and had coffee and a donut. Those we knew, we wished farewell, and then went back to the rig to get ready. We said goodbye to our neighbors Edmund and Margie as they left on their way to Canada. We will see them somewhere down the road, but at least we will stay in touch by email.
We finally pulled out mid-morning and headed back the 26 miles to Orland. This time we stayed at the Old Orchard RV Park. It was a nice place and had good access to the Internet but no sewer hookups.
The rest of the Diablo Caravaners arrived at the campground a couple of hours after we did. They had been helping with amateur radio tests at the Escapade Friday morning.
We went to a Mexican restaurant in Orland with our friends Gene and Carol for supper. Gene is really getting antsy about getting out on the road. Alice and I were unkind because we kept telling them how great it was.
After two days with our friends from Diablo Caravaners, we all headed out. Since the weather was still looking unsettled to the north, Alice and I headed back to the Lake Minden TTN Park. The road between Orland and Nicolaus was beginning to become familiar.
The weather turned blustery and cold for the week we stayed at Lake Minden. We took the opportunity to just rest for the most part and to catch up on some sleep. We worked on our wills and went to visit our daughter and our old friends Doug and Lynn. Misty was beginning to become more and more frail and having a hard time standing. I was feeling better and better after my heart attack.
By the end of the week it looked like we could head north and maybe get over the pass on I-5.