Hello faithful followers of the ForeverWherever adventures. We hope you are both doing well tonight!
We normally wouldn’t be so happy to be home. Not that we don’t love home, we do, and we’re usually glad to be back, but we’ve never wanted to get home as much as we did this time. We’ve had a few challenging days, which is why we haven’t posted. Sorry for the suspense.
Be warned: Whereas most of our travel stories would make many want to run out and get a motorhome and hit the road, this one will not. This is the story to back-up all those decisions to stay close to home.
New Years Day, we ended up here:
The day started off with “mild” travel related difficulties. We had some cold related problems with the motorhome. The most immediate concern when it was time to hit the dusty trail was that the slide-out room (makes the inside of the motorhome twice as spacious…way cool) wouldn’t slide-IN! Well, one side would, but the other side wouldn’t budge and it ain’t s’posed to work like that.
A short period of minor panic ensued followed by the ever present words of my Uncle Rick in my head “did you look at the book?” Right, the book…sure enough the owners manual had directions for cranking the thing in by hand, so we were off and running.
We left Moab about noon and headed toward the south, back on the road we had come in on a couple days before. We were headed for Sedona, Arizona and maybe a quick stop off at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.
Heading South out of Moab brings you through some mountains. The scenery is nice and there was a ton of snow on the ground. Since we really hadn’t been able to play in the snow in our other stops, I started looking for a place to pull over so we could have some snowball fights.
We found a National Forest campground a few miles past the town of Monticello, UT. The road was paved and clean, not too sloped, and I figured (hoped) there would be a place to turn around. We decided to have a look. It was perfect. There was a place to turn around with only a 3-point turn! We pulled over and struggled into our snow clothes.
We looked around a little and prepared for battle. AJ was the first out and he had picked his spot and quickly dug a bunker and began making snowballs to stockpile for the carnage about to ensue. He intended to come out on top!
This is where it gets dicey. As the battle was about to start, AJ, waist high in snow, says “I’m not feeling so good.”
AJ has been dealing with something we haven’t quite figured out yet. Probably more than we want to get into right now on the blog, but it hasn’t been anything major. The doctors had suggested further testing, but nobody thought it was urgent or life threatening.
I was about fifty feet away as he climbed out of his snow bunker saying he needed to find a restroom (aka, tree). I could tell immediately that he wasn’t right and worse than anything I’d seen before. I began to run toward him as he rounded the back of the camper headed away from us. The sight I found when I came around the camper will be burned into my memory forever.
My heart sank as I found him face down in the snow, laid out prone, arms by his side, face straight down in the snow! Give me chills just to write it. By this time, Kim and Jacob had both arrived.
AJ is no small fella. He’s over 6′ tall and about 175 lbs. Kim and I had to struggle just to get him flipped over in that mess of three foot deep snow. When we did, it was even worse than when he was face down. His face was turning blue and he was clearly not conscious. Jacob was crying, Kim and I were in shock. I got under him and sat him up, cradling my baby boy in my arms, and thank the Lord, his eyes opened almost immediately. He began to try to talk a little as i just said, “it’s okay, it’s okay, just sit a minute”.
As he came to, he asked if he fell asleep or something. He doesn’t remember falling down. As he came back to reality he said “can we still have the snowball fight?”. Uh…no.
Needless to say we loaded the camper and hauled it out of there quick. The sign we passed on the way out of the campground read “Devil’s Canyon”.
We had to make a choice between stopping at a doctor or small hospital in Blanding, UT which is a pretty small place of only a few thousand, or heading for the nearest big city. Flagstaff, Arizona, which was more than 200 miles away. Knowing he really should have testing only a big hopspital could provide and thinking maybe he needed to see some specialists immediately, we opted for Flagstaff. What a horrific drive that was.
I gripped the steering wheel for four hours as we headed south, cursing our path every time it took us back into high elevations. We thought elevation might have played a role in his problem, the campground was at 7500 feet and we’re from about 1 foot, if that. It was a very tense ride as Kim and I kept AJ talking and wouldn’t let him take a nap.
As I drove back through Navajo territory, I reflected on the lack of wisdom I had shown in my earlier post about the Four Corners Monument. I regretted saying anything even slightly derogatory about the Navajo Nation charging admission to the four corners monument. I’ve since thought about that even further and considered that to the Navajo it must be especially ironic to build a monument to the imaginary lines that divide up the land that was their own for so many generations. Maybe I should edit the post to delete that part. In any case, my apologies to the Navajo.
When we finally arrived in Flagstaff we realized that it was just as high, just as cold, and just as snowy as where we had been. Flagstaff sits at about 7000 feet! A look at the Atlas showed that two hours south, Pheonix was at a 1000 feet. Sure to be warmer, sure to have plenty of hospitals, and sure to have more oxygen. We headed two hours further south.
Once we arrived at the hopsital, the staff at the ER was so helpful. Fast too! We were there for a few hours, they did a brain scan to make sure he no immenent danger, but really couldn’t offer a “solution” to our concerns. Our question was “what if it happens again? What do we do?” Call 911 was the only answer they could offer. They suggested more testing when we got home, but said he “should” be safe to travel and sent us on our way. All I could think about was the vast expanses of nothing we would encounter as we crossed the great state of Texas.
So, we booked it home as fast as we could. Stopping pretty much just to sleep and fuel up. The drive home was pretty miserable. All of the enjoyment of “the ride” was gone. We hated the ride. We just wanted to get home. I-10 through Texas has exit numbers as high as 890…that means it’s almost 900 miles from one side of the state to the other on I-10. That is a long way when all you want to do is get to the next state so you know you’re that much closer to home.
But we made it. No passing out, no turning blue. I may have thrown my neck out from whipping my head around every time I heard an odd sound from the back though. And Kim may have wanted to fire me once or twice for looking in the back instead of at the road! Oh, and the generator quit working. But we arrived, finally, in sunny Punta Gorda. Thank you Lord for a safe return!
Right now, I gotta say, this could have some impact on our future material! I’m not looking to hop behind the wheel again anytime soon. Not just the problems in the wilderness, which could have been much worse and are really not fun. (just ask my Dad about when I broke my neck at age 13) But it’s also the fact that we live in such an amazing place already. Plenty to do right here! Ten hospitals per square mile too!
The stay home feelings always wear off though, eventually, wheras the desire to GO, GO, GO…never really does. Until then, we hope you like reading about homey stuff and local Florida day trips like fossil hunting, deserted islands, huge gators in the glades, lobster in the keys…that sort of stuff.
Now, after a day home, we’re calming down and feeling better. AJ is doing fine and we have a couple of doctors appointments scheduled for him to get some more tests done. While as a parent it is SOOO hard, if at all possible, to be free from worry we know that AJ, Jacob, and indeed all of us, belong to God and He loves us more than we can even imagine. We trust Him. Happy New Year!!!