Saturday, October 10, 2015


One of the reasons that we travel and volunteer like we do is that it permits us availability to help out family when needed. 


Back in late July, we were living at 9000’ and halfway through our volunteer assignment in the beautiful mountains of Southern WY. 


We had just attended a volunteer appreciation luncheon when we received word that Nicole’s father was scheduled for spinal surgery.


The next day, we turned in our truck and our keys, bid wonderful Wyoming farewell and began the 2100 mile journey to Florida so that we could be there to help out.

2015-07-29 Wyoming, Foxpark - Ruby Crowned Kinglet Bird (1)

For the most part, the journey was nothing if not very fast.  We did see a few ‘firsts’ though.

                    Our first 13 lined ground squirrel - at a rest area.

          Our first Monarch (of the season) on Milkweed - at a rest area.

Our first Red-Headed Woodpecker (immature so no red yet) - at another rest spot.

Did you notice that we rested a lot? 

Well, although the trip was quick by our standards we had more rest stops than usual (and we usually make a lot of rest stops).  The reason for this is that something was going on with the cooling system on the van and the temp gauge kept heading up to the big ‘H’. 


We like to think that we know our girl pretty well and we were pretty sure it was just the gauge acting wonky.  It was most likely the sender but the last time the sender went bad it went bad in the ‘C’ range so we weren’t totally convinced.


As we descended from our higher elevations and headed east the temps were hovering above mid 90’s.  Since the heat did nothing to aide our cooling system, we decided to give the van frequent rests and cool down periods to ensure a ‘mechanically’ safe journey. 


We opted to change out the thermostat upon arrival at Darlene’s folks in GA.  It was time for a new one anyway.  As we continued our trip it became obvious the new thermostat did not resolve our problem.  But through all of our diagnostics the van still wasn’t convincing us that she was actually running HOT.

So, since we were due for another rest stop we headed into Summit Racing. 

Nicole attained instant perma-grin, her eyes glazed over and she deemed this ‘the best rest-stop ever!’  Eventually, Darlene convinced the motorhead that we had come to buy a gauge not to dream and drool.  So, we grabbed one that provided true temp numbers (not just high and low) and we ‘creatively’ installed it in the parking lot before cruising on down the highway.

Not exactly permanent but we were at least able to monitor actual temperatures for the rest of the trip and happily report that our girl was and is running completely normal.

So, it was the sender after all but we’ve been meaning to get an actual temperature gauge and this was the push we needed.

UPDATE (two months later):  The gauge is now temporarily permanently installed. 

Since we don’t listen to our radio, Nicole removed it and utilized whatever she could scrounge up to give the gauge a more stable mount. 

Although this isn’t the final design she has in mind (hence, temporary) it is solidly locked into place and the wires are all run appropriately (permanent). 

   And, we’ve even got room to put in the oil pressure gauge when we get it.

               But we digress.  This post, after all, is about Family.


We arrived in FL on Aug 7th.  Nicole’s Father went into the hospital for spinal fusion on Aug 11 at the wee-wee-weeeeee hours. 


The goal was to relieve the horrible pain he had been in for so long.  Some time later he awoke pain free.


Let me tell you, it is very difficult to convince nurses and doctors that you have no pain when you have a six plus inch scar on your spine hosting 32 staples.


                             But he didn’t and we were all thrilled. 


While in the hospital, Nicole’s Dad celebrated the big 8-2.  We sprung him from rehab for the day and took him to the patio to celebrate.

Dad B Day 3

At home, Nicole, Darlene and Mom spent their time adapting the condo for someone who is not allowed to Bend, Lift or Twist for a good long while.

Gotta be careful with the screws and such until the bone graft takes.

Seventeen days after his surgery Nicole’s father ended his in-patient rehab and we brought him home during a proper FLA summer-storm. 


We stayed with them for another good bit to help out with outpatient therapy, doctors appointments and home related stuffs and to enjoy some relaxed visit time.


Lots of walks and bird watching ensued.


Two months later, all was going well and it was time for us to move on and leave Nicole’s parents to start enjoying the new home they had moved into only a month prior to the surgery. 


We were happy that our lifestyle affords us the opportunity to help out the way that we did.  It was also great to have a nice long visit. 


Although we are always excited to get back on the road, leaving can be a sad event.

                                     Good thing they made a point to smile!