Kathy & Dave consider the Adirondack Mountains of NY our home. We love to hike and travel, exploring the world around us. Dave retired from the National Park Service after 30 years and had the opportunity to live in National Parks like Redwood, Shendandoah,Death Valley, Biscayne, American Memorial Park (in Saipan/Guam), and others. His last park before retiring was the Blue Ridge Parkway where he was actively involved with establishing the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Kathy has extensive experience in the medical field, from pushing papers to working with patients. Currently both work for the same hospital: Dave as an Emergency Preparedness Coordinator and Kathy in the Revenue Cycle Division as the Director of PFS. (Kathy is now foot loose and fancy free, until she returns to the USA and has to get back into the grind, maybe!)
June 2, 2022
Midnight saw the warm glow that made us feel good turn to a red haze of frustration when our first flight was canceled. Dave happened to notice his phone blinking from the text from the airline – at midnight! Our first expected flight going from Portland to Newark was canceled. Due to this flight being canceled, they changed all of our flights. We were now expected to leave at the following midnight instead of at noon and we were not going to get home until June 3rd. Unfortunately, our rental car needed to be returned at 10 AM on the 2nd, our pet sitter was leaving on the 2nd, and our ride from the Buffalo airport was going to pick us up on the 2nd.
Dave spent the next 2.5 hours on the phone and soon (soon?) we had a new plan: Eugene to San Francisco, then SF to Newark, then Newark to Buffalo (on our original last flight). Heading off and getting to the airport early, we chilled at the airport while waiting for our first flight. Soon enough, the plane took off to San Francisco. Yay!! A disaster was averted……uh, oh, talk about speaking too soon. As we were landing in San Francisco we received notification that our last leg of the journey was canceled, which then meant all our flight arrangements were cancelled. Heading quickly to customer service we soon became resigned to the fact we would be flying overnight. They rebooked us going from San Francisco to Chicago and then Chicago to Buffalo, arriving the next day.
In order to avoid having to try and sleep on a plane during the red-eye flight, we asked if there was a way to get to Chicago earlier. The representative graciously gave us standby seats on an earlier flight going from SF to Chicago. This new flight, which was expected to leave at 1 pm, was delayed by three hours and the standby list had grown to 11 people. Fortunately, Dave’s status as a frequent flier and credit card holder with the airline placed us first on the list. We were told, though, that “only one seat” was available. The flight delay created another opening and we were able to get on board. The plane was filled with a group of medical professionals who were headed to Chicago for a medical conference.
Due to the delayed takeoff, the plane landed late into Chicago and many passengers had a lot of tight connections. The flight attendants began making announcements of gates for those passengers had tight connections. First on the list was a flight going from Chicago to Buffalo which was much earlier than our scheduled flight! Dave and Kathy both had the same idea and started texting each other. The passengers on the plane were gracious enough to wait until those who had tight connections got off first. We rushed to the gate for the flight leaving for Buffalo, but were told, “Sorry, only one seat left.” As we debated who would go, the guy fiddled with his computer, fiddled some more, and got bugged by the ramp agent who pressed him to get the plane moving. Finally a supervisor came by and asked what was going on. The representative explained the issue. The supervisor told us to get on the plane while he worked his magic. We ran – not walked – to get aboard where we found the “one seat available” was actually around 7 or 8 empty seats due to several people missing their connections. We were home only one hour after our originally scheduled arrival time.
So the frustrated 24 hours of red haze previously experienced gave way to the gnawing hunger in our stomachs as we realized we had not eaten for 12 hours. We were relieved that our biggest problem now was finding a place to grab some food as we headed home.
We want to give a big thank you to all of the staff at United Airlines who worked to help us get home. We muddled through multiple (six!) iterations of our flight plans, but in the end it all worked out. We got home to our kitties and our bed!!
May 27-29, 2022
You would think logically that the next thing would be all about happenings in a series of threes, but the title is just in reference to the third posting on our journey to three states: SLC>Idaho>Oregon but this is the extent of our threes. We continued our exploration of NPS sites by visiting Craters of the Moon National Monument Craters Of The Moon National Monument & Preserve (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov) and explored the miles of lava that provides a eerie moon-like quality to our earth bound hiking. We walked up a trail where we had a 365 view of the area and, except for some sporadic oases that were bright green spots of living plants, was just miles and miles of lava flow. Next, we headed to Hagerman Fossil Beds and, after a bit of back and forth, we finally found the recently moved visitor center. While it was interesting to go to the site, we were underwhelmed by some of the displays. Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov) It was still fun to visit and learn about some of the findings in the area, including fossils of ancient zebra-like horses that originated in North America.
After a restful night in Boise, Idaho, we headed to Nez Perce National Historic Site where we learned about the local indigenous tribes who brought so much history to the local area. The visit deepened our appreciation for the area and the local history. Learn About the Park – Nez Perce National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov) We then spent the night near Walla Walla, Washington, where we took time to go to church. The sermon was a little more energetic than we normally expect and the priest “yelled” a lot. Kathy was grateful that we happened upon a mass that was exclusively in Spanish, so she had not a clue about anything he said. The mass lasted a very long hour and 45 minutes and we felt at the end that we needed some peace and quiet, so after walking the mile back to our motel in the now darkness, off to bed we went. Morning saw us get up bright and early and head to Whitman Mission, which was about a couple of missionaries who came to the area to teach about Christianity and met an untimely end when the local tribes took issue with the mission. The relationship between the Whitmans and the two local tribes started out as an amicable relationship and at some point the relationship soured. An outbreak of malaria and ever increasing homesteaders certainly did not help relations. The relevance for this mission is how cultural perspective and the interactions can cause miscommunication and “bad blood.” The visit was an interesting viewpoint after visiting the Nez Perce Historical Site. Whitman Mission National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov) The last NPS site we visited was John Day Fossil Beds which was a treat to visit. The visitor center had so many displays and the science behind the evolution of the dinosaurs was fascinating. We spent quite a bit of time going through each room and learning about the fossils found in the area. Fossils of ancient rhino-like creatures, saber-toothed cats, and 3-toed horses were Dave’s favorites. John Day Fossil Beds is one of the largest areas where fossils can be found and it is reflected in the amount of displays. Well worth the visit. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
After a nice evening’s rest, we headed off to Eugene, Oregon, to visit our daughter Jill and her husband, Shea. We got into the area towards evening and checked into the hotel and immediately went over for a visit. We had a wonderful Thai dinner from a food truck that could compete with 5 star restaurants in how fresh and delicious the meal was. The next day, bright and early (after Kathy had finished working), we headed to Jill and Shea’s again where Kathy made some homemade food. We then took off to visit the Sea Lion Cave where we were able to get up close and personal viewing some Sea Lions. We didn’t get as close as we were in the Galapagos, but it was still pretty fun. The coastline of Oregon is amazing and we enjoyed the views. It is one of the most beautiful states we have ever visited. Soon we were back to Jill and Shea’s where Kathy resumed cooking some homemade meals. Kathy, ever the critic, found fault with everything except the Key Lime Pie. Soon we headed “home” to rest at the hotel. The next day saw us go over again where we chilled and cooked some more. Again Kathy was disappointed. We then headed to visit a national wildlife refuge. Along the drive we did see several bald eagles, but the preserve was missing birds and endothermic animals. We did get to see a good-sized snake hanging out in the middle of the trail. Back at Jill and Shea’s we changed things up. Dave made his famous mac and cheese which Kathy felt was perfect. Chilling and talking for a while was on the agenda. The time with them was fun, but seemed short and we look forward to going back and seeing all of our family. The visit ended on a warm glow basking in the love of our family.
From a bunch of firsts, we now head off to explore our seconds. Or in this case, two new parks: City of Rocks National Reserve and Minidoka National Historic Site, both in Idaho. City of Rocks (City Of Rocks National Reserve (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)) is a geologic wonder that was used by the early pioneers as a landmark along their journey along the California Trail. It is an area with huge spires of granite that reminded the emigrants of the ancient ruins of Athens or Rome. Minidoka (Minidoka National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)) was the site of a Japanese Internment Camp during WWII where thousands of American-born citizens of Japanese descent living on the west coast were held for months or years. They were given 2 weeks to get their affairs in order before being removed from their homes and/or businesses and placed here.
Then we had visits with two families we had not seen in years, our niece Kayla and our sister-in-law Misty, and their children. It includes two new family members, a grandniece and grandnephew that we have never met, and Misty’s second daughter which rounds out their family to an even two girls and two boys.
No night would be complete without two desserts for Dave, a cookie from Perkins and ice cream from Wendy’s. (Kathy is too shy to mention the chocolate licorice that she got for herself in addition to the Wendy’s ice cream…)
A flurry of firsts: Our trip to Salt Lake City was our first trip since we came back from Ecuador. Our first trip in a while that we did not have the initial flight cancelled. Our first granddaughters, Karli and Asia, graduated from high school. And the first time we came to Salt Lake City and were not able to see Mom, Frieda, or Doc and Rebecca. So while some of our firsts made us jubilant and proud, others made us feel a void. All in all, though, it was a great visit to SLC. We spent time visiting family and friends and did a great hike up American Fork Canyon to Pine Hollow.
We now head off to drive to Eugene, Oregon, to visit Jill and Shea. Along the way, we plan on stopping at multiple national park sites that we have never been to before. It will be fun to add some more firsts to add to our growing list of firsts.
January 20, 2022 through January January 27, 2022
Days 2 – 10 in isolation. Dave survives!
So many song lyrics went through Dave’s brain during these days:
- “I gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing I EVER do.” – The Animals
- “Stuck inside these four walls. Sent inside forever. Never seeing no one.” – Paul McCartney and Wings
- “Give me a ticket for an aeroplane. Ain’t got time to take a fast train. Lonely days are gone, I’m a’going home. My doctor, she wrote me a letter!” – The Boxtops
- “Start speading the news. I’m leaving today! I want to be a part of it: New York, New York.” – Frank Sinatra
The 10 days were not easy. Dave tried to get something besides room service for his meals, but could not get Uber Eats to accept his credit card. The hotel agreed to go to a nearby grocery store to get some supplies for him, but after a couple of days, Dave found out they thought he had cancelled his request. When his request for bread, peanut butter, and jelly was filled by the kindly staff, his “bread” was packaged melba toast and the peanut butter was about ¼ cup full. Dave was grateful for the effort. The hotel staff was very accommodating and extra nice during the entire ordeal.
The good parts of being in isolation? He caught up on his email. He finished the interesting book that Kathy had given him. Plus, he didn’t wear pants for days on end!
After 5 days, the doctor arrived and examined Dave. She pronounced him well and recovered from COVID. That means he could fly home. Unfortunately, she also took another swab and that still showed him as positive, so no traveling for another 5 days. “Then, depression set in.” (Cue the music from the movies “Stripes.”)
January 28, 2022 – Fingers crossed!
On day 10, the letter from the doctor authorizing him to travel arrived! But, would the airport and airline accept it without a negative test? Dave grew frustrated combing through the various rules that varied between the US authorities, the Ecuador authorities, the airport security, and the airlines. Each had a different policy and often that policy depended on who you were speaking with. Dave figured he would cross that bridge when he arrived at it. In the meantime, Dave went outside and breathed fresh air for the first time in 10 days. He enjoyed the sunshine on his face (until an hour later when it started raining!)
He took a taxi to the airport at 10 PM, was allowed to enter and spoke with an airline rep who would accept the doctor’s letter. When he finally got to the counter to get his boarding pass, though, the ticket agent looked concerned. He took the letter and showed it to his coworkers. Finally, he showed it to the airline rep who he had spoken with earlier and was satisfied that he could let Dave board. Hooray! He made it back to the US and was welcomed into Kathy’s arms about 4 PM.
Dave woke up to hear that Kathy had made it to Fort Lauderdale, FL and was safely back in the US. Hooray!! She later made her flight to JFK. Then she has the short hop to Buffalo. Dave is still asymptomatic. He has TV (with all but CNN and Fox News in Spanish!), a laptop where he can surf the internet, watch Netflix, catch up on his email, and watch highlights of Sabres games. He also has a book which Kathy gave him for Christmas, a book of crossword puzzles, and a Sudoku book. He can also brush up on his Spanish with Rosetta Stone. He will try to get some exercise done in his room. He and Kathy can still keep in touch with texts, Wi-Fi calls (we hope at no charge!) and video calls on WhatsApp. Our new friends in Britain, Chris and Elena have said they will keep Dave from being bored as well.