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12%

That’s the score at the moment. From the point Sparky was plugged in and on duty, it’s been called into duty twelve percent of the time. Sparky’s presently set to kick on whenever my heart starts to idle too slow, and whenever the heart rate, whatever it might be, decides to drop the tempo faster than is good for my brain or body. I get the feeling no one expected it to fire up quite as much as it is – pre-implantation much of the talk was that it’d be a fail-safe for those pesky little heart pauses. It seems, according to Sparky’s interrogation (yes, that’s the technical term. The pacemaker gets interrogated. Vee have vays of making it talk,) yesterday, my little friend showed that my heart can be cruising along at a reasonable, normal clip on moment, and the next drop straight to a low idle. Kinda explains how I could sometimes be up and running, and abruptly it feels as though everything becomes exhausting and confused. Twelve percent of the time, my heart wasn’t pumping the blood my brain and body needed.

I’m still trying to decide which I feel more: relieved, concerned, or vindicated. I’m relieved for every time I feel Sparky kick on, and trust me, I do feel it. I’m still getting used to it, but I know that odd feeling of my heart beating so steady and strong would be something quite the opposite if not for this technology. I’m relieved that Sparky is doing what it’s supposed to do, more than I even expected.

Which brings me to the concern. Twelve percent? Without Sparky’s intervention to pick things back up, how long did my pulse linger in the zombie-zone? I knew things had been getting worse. Will that 12% grow, and if so, to what point? Why? The heart’s electrical systems can be damaged by viruses – and I’d always believed this all went from manageable to out of control after a severe summer cold back in 2014; things were already wearing at the edges, but that’s when my health really went down the toilet.

And vindicated. I have the most undeniable “I told you so” healing into the muscles of my chest, with a slight tell-tale bulge and scar as proof. I could post the time-lapse photos…the blossoming bruise patterns and colors showing the path of internal slicing and poking are fascinating, but a bit cringe-worthy. From childhood right up until last winter, I’ve lived with something invisible but more and more debilitating, under the exterior of a seemingly healthy female human. There’s a down-side to being too healthy, physically at least, especially when cardiologists spend most of their time trying to coax the majority of their patients into good exercise and diet. My ‘complaints’ were dismissed as everything from hypochondria to stress and anxiety. Far as I know, Sparky doesn’t alleviate any of those symptoms.

So, for the decades of professionals who dismissed what I knew in my heart (haha) was wrong, who told me it was only in my head or in one case, that I should see a psychiatrist and stop wasting his time, you’re damned right, I wear this scar proudly.  And for anyone experiencing what I’d lived through, the confusion and brain-fog, the dizziness, imbalance, fatigue, out and out blackouts, PLEASE don’t accept the kind (condescending) reassurances that it’s all in your head. Yes, I understand, anxiety can create symptoms quite similar to ones I’d experienced, and make it feel as though your heart is stopping. But the heart actually stopping, something I realize now I’d lived through more times than I want to imagine, is something entirely different. If you’re experiencing something you know isn’t right, don’t simply accept that it’s all in your head. I’m a generally positive person, and I tried to maintain an “I’m okay” attitude while I kept pressing on in the face of declining health, but if you read between the lines and watch as the frequency of posts dwindled, you’ll see a snapshot of things unravelling. I’ve been struggling for years, not that I wanted to accept it.

Anyhow, now that all that wonderful, oxygenated blood is getting pumped through my brain, voluntarily or otherwise, I can FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY finish, uhh, get back to, start all over, all of the preceding, with this little novel I’ve been futilely attempting to write. I’m telling you, the nicest computer with the neatest writing software and a head full of (too many) ideas – they’re all wonderful, but without a reasonably operative brain, turning all that into a novel isn’t exactly the easiest thing.  Truth be told, it was already becoming a struggle by the second book. I couldn’t understand how I’d been able to write till all hours of the night the first time around, and barely keep my eyes own or head focussed past ten by the second. Looking back I can actually pinpoint spots where my heart must’ve really begun going downhill, and that time stands out. Fortunately for me, I don’t quit. I refuse to give up, in fact, the hard something is, the more determined it makes me. But as my heart continued to slow, no amount of determination could overcome my fogged head.

Then I got another chance. The Fludrocortisone seemed to be doing the trick, and I dove back into life with both feet. I collected up my writing – which turned out to be a jumble of chapters, brimming with energy and tension, but…let’s just say they were a bit disjointed at times. Sorting it out became a monumental task, along with suddenly becoming dockmaster at the biggest marina on the Hudson – a job I just couldn’t refuse, especially since I was doing so great…at first, at least. By mid-summer I’d attributed my lack of writing focus to the hundreds of boats and acres of docks now under my supervision. Once the season passed I’d have plenty of time for writing, I promised myself. Then I could focus.

Well…that didn’t work out like I planned, did it? So, here’s where things stand. Book three, Evacuation Route, IS mostly written. Mostly. Multiple times, in some parts, in fact. Funny things, those brains. It seems, on occasion, I completely forgot/mis-filed/??? entire chapters, and wrote more than one chapter on more than one occasion. For the most part they’re quite similar, with a few variations. Thanks to my outlines (more like life-lines, when you keep losing your mind. Seriously, don’t ever underestimate the value of oxygenated blood flowing to the brain,) all written during my more lucid days, the story stayed on course. And thank you Scrivener for a program that is allowing me to organize all this disorganization to a point where I’m distilling it down. Beyond that, my personal research into the affects of decreasing blood-flow to the brain have given me some incredible insight into life within an occasionally unreliable brain. But that’s a post for another day.  I have too much other writing to do today, and while this didn’t take long to tap off, (and won’t be picked over for typos and grammar, so there,) sitting up for moderate stretches of time is still a bit uncomfortable. Each day things hurt a bit less and my writing time lengthens, but as I recover I still have to give myself some breaks.  Like right now.

Battery powered!!!

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I got all wired up and electrified on the ninth, and thank you all for the helpful encouragement and reassurances. I’m feeling a bit sore and bruised up, with an energy level I don’t think I’ve ever had. I feel awake, alert, alive — it’s amazing the difference some nice oxygenated blood flowing through you can make! And it’s funny to feel ‘Sparky’ kick on, it’s an odd but not uncomfortable feeling of my heart beating strong and steady. It’s reassuring, firing up at those moments when things would normally go black. The syncope that was a fact of life is no more! The hardest part is keeping me still right now, which I’m doing, but I want to run outside and play, damnit! And apparently I don’t sound ‘loopy’ anymore, something I’ve been told by everyone who talks to me post-Sparky. I’ll tell you, it’s a hell of a lot sharper inside my head — it’s as though everything became focused, and I hadn’t realized just how foggy everything had truly become. The first organ to suffer from poor blood flow is the ol’ brain, and without that nifty bit of grey mush, trying to finish a novel, trying to even write, had become a constant struggle and losing battle. Happily, I don’t think that’ll be a problem anymore. Back is that person who used to write until all hours of the night. I’ve lost a lot of time, and I’ve got a whole lot of catching up to do. The only thing stopping me now is that sitting up for long stretches still hurts, a little less each day.

I’ll admit I’m amused that it looks as though I’d been stabbed in the chest/shoulder. I mean, technically it *is* a knife wound, which is what I casually told someone in the store the other day, as she stood staring. Her eyes widened in horror and she said “Really?” I smiled and replied, “Yeah. But you should see the other guy.”  Her face was priceless, and I reassured her it was nothing that violent, merely a pacemaker. But in it’s own way the pacemaker is an invasive procedure, and there’s a whole lot of fun healing going on inside my chest, and right now I can feel weird pressure from the leads, which I’m sure I’ll eventually stop noticing. A little discomfort is a small price for knowing my heart won’t do anything wonky at some inopportune moment.

So, one week in and so far, so good. I do feel a bit odd on occasion – almost light-headed, but in a warm, pleasant, sort of tingly way, not dizzy/cold sweat/going down sort of way. That’s normal, I’m told. Right now, I’m running on the ‘Factory Default’ settings. That’s how everyone starts out, then they tune the chip to adjust how things are running…sort of like VW with my TDI. Ah, technology.

I’m just wondering — does this affect my status in the Tin Foil Hat Club?

Not quite dead yet…

…depending on your definition, that is. I’m still here, above ground, and I still have a pulse…most times, at least.

So here’s a rundown of the last few months. The meds were working, and then not so much. I could feel it; the increasing fatigue and the slight but familiar fogginess in my head. I remembered this feeling, but I hoped it was just a busy haul-out season in the massive marina where I’m dock-master. Once things started to slow down I’d get more rest and feel better. At least that’s what I told myself.

Things did slow down, but so did I. I was still exhausted, far more than I wanted to admit. I was getting dizzy, not bad, but enough to give me the uneasy sense things weren’t quite right. I saw my cardiologist, we reviewed my meds and he ordered some tests. The following day I had an episode, the first since last winter and ranking right up there in the top ten worst ever.

What’s an episode? That’s what it’s called when I’m symptomatic, yet another fancy term for the debilitating waves of pain that radiate through my core (something to do with the whole vassal-vagal reflex,) while my blood pressure does a nosedive, depriving my brain of fresh oxygen, resulting in degrees of consciousness ranging from:

DEFCON 5: I feel like sh!t for a minute or five, but it gradually subsides, leaving behind a general uneasiness and a sense that I’d dodged a bullet. But my body was firing warning shots, and I’d be on alert for a while to follow. Or it continues, which brings us to:

DEFCON 4: It’s not passing. It’s getting worse, but still under control. I’m still able to stand and speak, but I feel it coming. It could still pass, or not. Now’s the time to start seeking a safe place to ride this out, and go into defense mode if at all possible. I’d tuck myself in a tight ball — ‘crash-position’, I called it, but it seemed to help in some weird way. Turns out it wasn’t just me curling into fetal position — it helped to compress everything and raise my blood pressure.

DEFCON 3, aka: Semi-Zombie Mode: Still walking and talking, but not so good. I’m feeling queasy, starting to sweat, sounds are amplified, my ears are starting to buzz, and gravity has abruptly doubled.  I must must must sit/lay down or I know I’ll fall. Observers tend to believe I’m drunk/stoned as I stagger to a gravity-neutral spot, preferably as far from moving traffic as I can get.

DEFCON 2, aka: Zombie Down: The dreaded, most dreadful phase. By this point I’m going down, voluntarily or not. I’m horribly nauseous, burning up, sweating, and shivering all at once. Brains…I need brains. Or at least my own brain, but that’s already starving for blood flow and the less critical functions are the first to go. Walking is no longer an option, even hold my head up seems impossible within the super-amplified gravity pulling me down. Speech is impossible; it’s too much effort to even mumble my slurred, barely audible words. My husband has learned to ask ‘yes/no’ questions that require no more than one knock or two as reply. Zombie Down is awful; the blurring/dizzy/slurring to ears-ringing/blackness-getting-darker/I-feel-like-I’m-dying-but-can’t-move-or-speak-oh-god-let-this-pass terror. My consciousness slipping away from me. It feels as though my heart’s stopped, and I’m dying, each and every time. It’s terrifying, not knowing if this is the time everything will go black and stay that way. You’d think after enough years I’d get used to it, but trust me, I haven’t.

And last, but certainly not least, there’s good ol’ DEFCON 1: Actually, DEFCON 1 ain’t so bad, at least for me. Once I’ve reached that point, I’m unconscious, down for the count, feeling no pain, or much of anything else for that matter. Coming around, on the other hand, sucks. Now I get to ride the same roller coaster, just in reverse. Back through DEFCON 2, then 3, and so on. I’m still dizzy and disoriented as blood flow and oxygen return to my brain, rebooting me into fresh confusion. I’ve woken alone, having only the wall and bathroom sink to break my fall; other times I’ve woken to frightened, worried faces, and I’ve woken to plenty of bumps and bruises. Zero memory of what happened, or how I wound up face down on the floor, or collapsed while I was crossing a road, or numerous other occasions. DEFCON 1 tends to upset onlookers the most. Well meaning bystanders prop me up, or quickly try to get me to my feet, which essentially pushes the ‘repeat’ button, and down I go again.

Before going on Fludrocortisone, those episodes in one degree or another had been a fact of life, and had been worsening for years. On Fludro, I’d gotten my life back. I could drive again, function like a normal human being, even find myself as dock-master at a large marina, which often had me walking  3-5 miles a day. I’d never felt better, and the episodes were nothing but a bad memory…until a few weeks ago. There I was, minding my own business, when I got hit by a full-on, high-speed DEFCON 2. No warning, nothing gradual. In seconds I’d gone from perfectly fine to May-Day-May-day-I’m-going-down-fast. That same sickening, heart-stopping, dying feeling I remembered only too well. I braced myself in a corner, slumping over the counter beside me for support, and it was over as fast as it hit, though it left me physically weak and mentally rattled. I really thought I’d put that b.s. behind me. Hours later, half-way into driving home, I pulled over and called for backup while I sat on the floor in the local Acme, wishing who-ever the hell was in the bathroom would get out so I could splash my face with cold water. That seems to help.

I was certain things were getting worse, and a worried call from my cardiologist soon confirmed my concerns. The implanted loop recorder, aka: my ‘Booby Black Box,’ which until this point had done nothing more than chafe inside my bra, recorded my heart ‘pausing’ for four seconds at the very time I’d had my episode. Not beating, not in any way that kept any blood pressure.

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Imagine a Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man, flapping merrily away until someone shuts the fan. No air/blood pressure = no wacky waving, or much else for that matter.

Looking at the printout of my pretty damned flatlined pulse (Yeah, I know technically those feeble blips mean some part of it was trying to keep the beat) all I could think was, “I told you so!” I’d been insisting something was wrong for too many years. I’ll never forget standing in a cardiologist’s office 27 years ago with my then infant daughter in my arms, telling the doctor I was weak, dizzy, prone to fainting, and certain my heart was stopping at times. I was assured it was nothing of the sort, I was a perfectly fit and healthy young woman. I was suffering from anxiety, he diagnosed, something easily remedied with the right mental therapy and medications. I had anxiety alright…anxiety that I’d pass out with my baby in my arms and hurt one or both of us. But I digress, which I’m prone to doing these days. It’s hard to stay focused when your brain isn’t getting enough fresh blood. I’m cutting my neurons some slack; after all, they need oxygen to keep those trains of though on track.

Annnnyhoo…back under observation I went, waiting (hoping) to see if it was just a single, isolated event, or something more. It wasn’t a long wait, and the next episode was bad, though certainly not my worst, a classic Defcon 2, the blackness washing over me, almost, but not entirely taking me down. The Black Box recorded 7 seconds of ‘pause.’ No heartbeat. No pulse. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Only seven seconds of I’d term as a pretty damned flat looking line. Those episodes I’d been having for years, that dreadful dying feeling, THIS was what it looked like.  That sensation of my heart ceasing to beat, my blood pressure plummeting and my whole body shutting down — was exactly what I’d always believed — and exactly what had been dismissed for decades.This wasn’t mental, this wasn’t emotional. And just how many times has my heart stopped over the years? According to the Black Box, it’s paused nine times in the last few weeks. If 7 seconds translates into DEFCON 2, just how long do I go without a heartbeat to reach DEFCON 1? Did I really want to find out?

Image #2: I call this one ‘Vindication.’ My daughter’s BF declared it proof that I can’t be killed — my heart just restarts. I’m going with that. Just so long as it keeps restarting, I mean.

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But there it was. Undeniable proof I’ve what I’d said for years. My slow-idling heart WAS stopping. I’d often joked were the zombie apocalypse to hit, while I’d be hard pressed to outrun even the slowest of the staggering, incoherent, dull-witted corpses, I’d be safe —with my sluggish pulse and absurdly low blood pressure, they’d just think I was one of them. My doctors, however, were taking this matter a bit more seriously. (Trust me, so am I. Sick jokes are simply my preferred way of dealing with reality.) And so, in honor of my new high score, I was informed I’m getting awarded a PRIZE!

Yes, friends, it’s… a NEW PACEMAKER!

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(Technically that’s an OLD Pacemaker, but a fine one indeed. Unfortunately, I suspect that’s not covered by Blue Cross.) No, the Pacemaker I speak of looks a bit more like this:

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(Individual models may vary. I want one I can download music onto, if that’s an option.)

So there you have it. In eight days I’m going in for my new high tech electronic distributor (I’m gonna call it ‘Sparky’) to keep my heart (aka ‘Skippy’) company and keep up the beat. I’ll be getting one bitchin’ cool scar, I’ll be able to set off store security alarms, and according to the warnings I should keep power tools such as circular saws at least six inches from my implant/heart region. Implant or not, I’d say that’s just common sense, but warnings exist because someone out there had to be told. And with my new high-tech cyber/bio heart, I’ll be downright unstoppable – or at least that’s what I’m hoping. Either way, I’m practicing my diabolical laugh, and putting every moment of down-time into this novel I was desperately trying to finish up.

Forty boats…

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Silver dock looking north

I’ve been walking a lot lately. One day I’ll set my phone with a tracking app before I start out, and see just much distance I cover in a single continuous walk of the south docks.

In the vastness of all these docks, each region has its own unique atmosphere. Grey docks, closest to shore, is populated by the twenty and under crowd – daysailers, skiffs, and open runabouts.

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Red dock has a lively crowd of cuddy-cabins and center consoles off the south end of the main dock; to the north, an eclectic collection of 30′ and under sailboats of every age and style, from a 1916 gaff rigged sloop to colorful Cape Dories and a little black Flicka.  Green dock is the domain of the thirty foot crowd, both power and sail.

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By Blue dock the boats have reached the forty foot range and up, and the same goes for Silver, the furthest of the group. And within each dock, especially where the boats are docked stern in, cockpits serve like stoops on a city street and neighborhoods of a sort have evolved, each with their own residents and unique character.

Last weekend a few transients decided to visit – and by a few I mean forty, No, that isn’t a typo. FORTY boats…thirty-seven of them arriving within hours of each other. You see, every year a group from Staten Island comes up for the weekend, usually a handful of boats. But then another club decided it might be fun, and yet another sizable group had chosen the same weekend for their annual cruise. And each group wanted to be grouped close together (bonus points when the boats range in size.) Forty boats that all had to go into the correct assigned slips, because once one boat goes in the wrong place, the ‘someone was in my slip so I went into another’ dominoes start to fall. All it takes is one dinghy. But I verified each slip was clear long before the naval invasion began, rounding up and relocating errant dinghies, which have a habit of nesting in the vacant (transient) slips beside their mother-ships, rather than at the dinghy dock. It’s permitted, but when we need the slip they have to move. And Friday afternoon they began arriving, sometimes in clusters of three and four at a time as they were directed to their docks. The dockhands hustled, and like clockwork every single boat was tied up in the correct slip as they moved to the next. On a normal weekend the marina sees roughly a dozen visiting boats. This was not a normal weekend. The yard crew joked that it was my trial by fire, But it was also a great weekend. Everyone had a good time, and all our guests left today, tired and happy. The ‘Silver Bullet’ crowd are a fun bunch, and I look forward to seeing them all again next year. And I’ve suggested we get a group together to visit Staten Island – they certainly know how to have a good time!

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the boat…

Lots of boats, lots of docks.

Lots of boats, lots of docks.

Sometimes life can take some surprising turns, presenting the strangest opportunities and most unexpected challenges at just the right time. Sometimes it takes years for those moments to arrive, and sometimes they can completely blindside you — but I’ve had lots a practice being blindsided over the last few years, and I’ve gotten pretty good at handling just about anything you can throw at me.

I’ve always believed everything happens for a reason, even if that reason may not be apparent at the time. And while I was driving down to the boat with my canine crew for a day of writing/boat work, contently enjoying my lack of employment, I was completely unaware that major changes were happening at the marina around the corner, where I’d worked a few years back. Unknown to me, my name was the one that kept coming up for the Dock Master position. People who’d worked with me said I was the right person for the job, and anyone who knows me knows this job is perfect for me. So, when I found myself meeting with the owner and the manager of Haverstraw Marina to discuss my becoming Dock Master of the thousand slip marina complex — well, let’s just say I had a lot to consider.

Ultimately, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, and the last two weeks have been a blur. Last week it became official, and I’m only starting to catch my breath now.  The timing couldn’t be more ideal; a few months ago a job like that (any job, for that matter,) wouldn’t have been an option. But I feel fantastic, I’m healthier than I’ve been in years. And what a job! I’m working among many long-time friends, seeing boaters I hadn’t seen in years, and making new friends by the day. The picture at the start of the post was taken just outside the marina office — that’s the view from my desk, though much I’m spending much of my time on the docks and throughout the yard. Haverstraw is a convenient stop for Great Loopers, and we have a steady flow of visiting boats coming and going, so you never know what the next day will bring. And with roughly seven hundred customer boats spread over four dock complexes, it’s rarely dull.

There is one down side to this that I had to accept. It’s a simple equation of time. I only have so much. There’s no way be finishing up Evacuation Route as soon as I’d hoped, yet again. But finish I will, and I’ll move forward with future books knowing my best material  always came from working jobs like this — though not quite on THIS scale. 

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As for Annabel Lee, she’s on the fast track to launch, if only for a very short cruise to her new home and deep-water slip waiting at Haverstraw. And my car?Last I heard, it’s somewhere out west, having a whole lot of fun with the kids.

Doing just fine, actually

“How are you?”

A dear friend asked me just that the other day. And the answer, quite simply, is fantastic. Over the last two years, as my inexplicable occasional loss of consciousness, along with general decline of brain function and all the fun stuff that goes with it, went from bad to worse, people who were used to seeing me in person noticed I’d all but vanished. I wasn’t around the boat anymore, which began to look less like a restoration and more like a forgotten dream. I wasn’t working in the yard. I didn’t bump into old friends at my usual diners. No, I was locked up at home, my car indefinitely parked while I remained parked at my keyboard, doggedly trying to get from A to B with an mental engine that kept derailing and losing cars. And yes, that’s just me making light of something that was far worse than these few sentences can sum up. Every day became a battle, one it seemed I was losing. Not fun.

Happily, those days are past. Once the medical community had finally narrowed my plummeting blood pressure and all the other fun symptoms to a lack of sodium — and not for a lack of salt in my diet but the inability to absorb it — everything changed. In the first days taking Fludrocortisone it seemed a miracle; the dizziness was gone, completely, and my head had gone from foggy to sharp and clear. My head was functioning properly, and I was afraid it was too good to last. I was certain my body would eventually adjust to the medications and I’d be back where I started, or worse. But three months in, and things have only gotten better. I’m back to hiking, house maintenance, the boat’s coming together by the day, (okay, the week, but day sounds better,) and beta copies of Evacuation Route should be in a few unsuspecting hands real soon.

But back to the original question. How am I doing? As in, should I really be driving around, or climbing ladders and working on the boat? Is that safe?

Yes. Driving. Climbing on ladders. Walking on docks. Hiking with the dogs. Yes, yes, and yes. Thanks to one tiny little pill, I now absorb sodium normally. My blood pressure is not to high, not too low, but just right, and everything functions perfectly, just the way it should. No restrictions on diet, activity, or anything else. In fact, I’m pretty damned healthy, aside from that one little imbalance that’s in balance now. Of course, I gave my car permission to go cross country with the kids back when I wasn’t driving at all. And now that I’m back on the road in my daughter’s much newer (smaller, clutchless) Focus wagon, my car is currently headed somewhere towards Nebraska or thereabouts, and having much fun along the way. 

WHERE is my car?

Ohio, at last sighting, and likely back on the move.

What’s it doing in Ohio? Just passing through. Not me, though. I’m still right here in good old NJ. As of yesterday, I wrapped up another round of edits on Evacuation Route, which brings me that much closer to done, and the momentum has become non-stop. And while I’m sitting at my keyboard, my car, along with my daughter and her boyfriend, are all off on a cross-country road trip.

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They’d been planning a far shorter trip, a week or so, out to a music festival in Michigan, with a stop to visit friends along the way. But then there were a few more friends and a national park they’d been wanting to camp in, and then another festival days later and hours from there.  The trip grew, limited by how far their budget for fuel would take them in his Mazda sedan. Meanwhile, my Jetta TDI wagon, which has more space and double the MPG, wasn’t traveling much beyond the home/boat/Shoprite loop. When I offered that they instead take my car, that opened up miles of options to them, and the Great Road Trip began to take shape. You know that trip, the one everyone talks about doing at least once in their lifetime. Backpacking Europe. A grand road trip.  You get the idea. The kind of trip anyone caught on the treadmill of life warns you to take while you’re still young…like those two in the above photo. Do it while you can, and as word spread, donated camping gear, backpack frames and other items they’d been needing began to fill the car. For the most part they’ll be traveling from national park to national park, hiking and camping, and sending me back lots of pictures. So here’s what we’re looking at, approximately.

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That’s what a shoe-string budget, a whole lot of second-hand gear, and six hundred plus miles a tankful gets you. I have, however, given them one request regarding my car. I expect it returned covered in bumper stickers proudly proclaiming all the fun places it’s visited.

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The kids did give me a present before they left, though.

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That’s the bottom of the boat.  The WHOLE bottom, and they sanded it completely before they left. More pics to follow.

And now, back to work for me. I’ve got a book to wrap up.