Retirement

Mid-Week Run for Staples

When we have to travel down to the west valley for supplies, one of the perks is that we pass through a scenic section of the Arizona Desert. The (clickable) image (courtesy Damsel) shows the desert between US 60 near Morristown, AZ and a craggy peak up in the mountains to the northeast that I call “Castle Hot Springs Peak,” so named (by me) for the nearby historic resort. I have no idea what the actual name of the peak might be, but then my moniker is suitable enough for our purposes here.

We embarked on the shopping venture today to stock up on certain staples needed for our fall and winter seasons. Note that trips to the valley involve more and more traffic the closer we get to the holiday season due to the influx of part-year residents (a.k.a. Snowbirds). So, before the big rush, we wanted to get some things that we can’t usually get in our little town’s stores.

We had a list of items to procure which we were mostly able to obtain at the large warehouse chain store (starts with W and ends with T). We also scored some bonus items including Keto Culture Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns. Since Damsel and I started our diets in late 2018, we haven’t been able to have a decent hot dog or hamburger on a bun until today. I can honestly say that after eating a couple of those beef franks with mustard and relish that I was not able to tell the difference between the 1 net carb buns and the old 20 plus carb buns.

We also found a nice 5 pound boneless Prime Rib Roast (at $12/lb) which is now in our freezer with the intention of having it for Christmas Dinner. It has been a long time since we’ve had prime rib and we’re eagerly anticipating enjoying it when the time arrives.

Damsel also picked up a few sundries and other items that we don’t usually see in town. We can order some of the stuff on-line, but there is the factor of holding items and inspecting them before buying that is satisfying.

So, we’re done with trips down to the west valley until after the new year unless something really urgent comes up. Meanwhile, we’re cozy in our little abode with the provisions we need for the season.

Thirteenth Retirement Anniversary

Damn if these years don’t just keep speeding by! Thirteen years ago yesterday, I hung up my aerospace hat and jumped into the world of never-ending weekends. Today marks the thirteenth anniversary of my first full day of retirement.

The texture image in the numeral 13 above is from an old photo taken at the Grand Canyon National Park ten years ago.

Last year we posted about our twelfth anniversary and in that post we spoke of our intention to get in the big RV and go somewhere. Well, for various reasons, that trip has not yet happened. It has been over three years since we had the motorhome out and about, so this year we really intend to take a shakedown excursion to see how the RV does and how we do with it.

The most recent long trip was in 2019 when we went through Northern Arizona, Southern Utah, Western Colorado, Southern Wyoming, back into Colorado, down through New Mexico, back into Northern Arizona and then home again.

Our next excursion, as I mentioned, will be a shakedown cruise and as such, will be confined (mostly) to Arizona. We may cross over into Kalifornistan for a few miles, but it will be brief and (hopefully) won’t subject us to any of the insanity out there. Our proposed route will take us from home base up through very scenic US 93 to I-40 and east to Seligman, AZ. After that, we’re going to travel along Old Route 66 up through Peach Springs, AZ, Kingman, AZ and winding up at Bullhead City, AZ. Then we plan to head back home via Lake Havasu City, AZ, Parker, AZ, Salome, AZ and then on into Wickenburg.

Dermatology — An Ongoing Thing

Virtually, every year since I have turned 50 years of age, I have had to visit one dermatologist or another to deal with epidermis problems. Even prior to that, I had minor things like cysts and moles that the doctors dealt with back then.

Since coming to Arizona and even a couple of years before that, Dermatologists have treated me by removing skin lesions such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma. A lifetime of sun-exposure in the deserts of the west have come back to haunt me. Damsel says that skin remembers the UV exposure long after we forget about it.

Today, I had yet another appointment with the dermatologist who removed a lesion from my upper right chest a month ago. He had some interesting news for me; the dermopathology report indicated that the latest biopsy was, indeed, a keratoacanthoma which is a more aggressive form of skin cancer than those before this. The follow-up treatment in this case is like the other follow-ups in that the doctor freezes the tissue with liquid nitrogen directly on the lesion site and the area around it. This method, according to the treating physician, will usually prevent a recurrence 88 to 92 percent of the time.

I did some research on-line about keratoacanthoma which answered a couple of questions one might have:

Who Gets keratoacanthoma?

Keratoacanthoma is most common in fair-skinned older males with a history of chronic sun exposure. Most patients are over 60 years of age and it is twice as common in males than in females.

What causes Keratoacanthoma?

  • Exposure to ultraviolet light
  • Chemical carcinogens (e.g. cigarette smoking, industrial workers exposed to tar, pitch, and mineral oils)
  • Cutaneous trauma (e.g. surgery, radiation)
  • Human papillomavirus infection.

What is the outcome for keratoacanthoma?

Keratoacanthoma is regarded as benign and thus has an excellent prognosis following surgical excision.

I’m guessing UV caused my problem, although I was a smoker many years ago. I like the odds given for a full recovery.

Eclipse Excursion Planning

There will be an annular eclipse of the sun on October 14, 2023. We have begun the planning for a trip in order to be where we can see the ring of fire. The path forecast favors places like Monument Valley, UT and Albuquerque, NM, both of which are just a few hours from home. We will be taking the Class A Motorhome to see this eclipse, just as we did the last time on August 21, 2017.

Damsel and I are both familiar with camping in both Goulding’s RV Campground in Monument Valley and American RV Resort in Albuquerque, so we were quickly able to choose the latter, given it’s convenient location to I-40 and the amenities there with which we’re familiar. So American RV it is — on condition we can get reservations there on the dates of the event.

In the image above, we were getting set up in Casper, WY for the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Damsel is by the open side door with Tom and Amber (our friends) in the foreground. Cabela and Beethoven, our Min Pins look on as we go through our antics. Looking at these old pictures gives us the wanderlust to get this next event planned as well as getting our shakedown cruise going.

I refurbished the old countdown timer that we used to count the time left until the August 2017 eclipse to now count the time until the eclipse starts in Albuquerque in 2023. See the sidebar for Eclipse Countdown.

Five Years Ago – Total Solar Eclipse

The Great American Eclipse of 2017 took place on this date five years ago. Damsel and I (and some friends) watched the spectacle from Casper, Wyoming. We were in an RV park, along with several hundreds of other campers and spectators. Casper, a town of less than 60,000 people had grown to an estimated population of over a quarter million, not counting those outside of town limits watching the eclipse from campsites on the Platte River and elsewhere. Our campground definitely had a party atmosphere before, during and after totality.

Image above: Damsel’s capture of mid-totality – click to enlarge.

At our location, totality lasted about 2 minutes and 26 seconds. The crowd noise in the campground dropped to murmurs during totality with a collective “oooooh” sounding as the “diamond ring” appeared at the end of totality. The whole effect was phenomenal – a memory that should last until we’re gone.

There will be another total solar event during the Great American Eclipse of 2024. We sort of have a plan to be in Kerrville Texas vicinity at that time, The Good Lord willing. There will also be an annular eclipse in October next year; we have not made plans for that one yet, but we may do so after our “shakedown” cruise in the motorhome coming up soon. We’re thinking of going to the “Four Corners” area for that eclipse if we go. If we do go, maybe we’ll organize a meetup with family and friends for that event.

Clach Mhile

“Clach Mhile” is Scots Gaelic for “Milestone,” I think. At least it is what Google Translate thinks. I was trying to channel my Scottish/Irish/Celtic roots when titling this post to take notice of another lifetime event, i.e. an additional year old. It doesn’t seem like it’s been a year since the last one, but again, a lot of things have transpired since then, so I guess it does seem like it’s been quite a while. I don’t hit the Big O until next summer. After that, I still expect to feel “young” (as I do now) since most vital functions are still working as they should.

I have some routine health checkups scheduled soon – the Urologist next week and the Nephrologist shortly thereafter. I visit those two regularly because of previous bladder and kidney problems, now (mostly*) resolved. I should schedule a chest x-ray as well, since the Radiologist found some lung smudges described as “ground glass” in a previous exam.

The (clickable) image on the right is of a lemon chiffon birthday cake that the Damsel made for me before we went on the low-carb, low-sodium diet in late 2018. She still bakes confections like this, but uses more Keto-friendly ingredients for the dough and icing. I copied this image from our Food Blog.

So, as the next year unfolds, we hope to resume some of the travelling in the RV with a couple of planned destinations and others that will be more ad-lib as we go along. The RV is getting some updates and as soon as we do a couple of other items fixed, we’ll be ready to roll.

* I have an atrophied kidney causing stage two renal disease which is not that bad (stage five = dialysis).