Monday, May 25, 2009

Catching Up (New Orleans)

Yee Hawww, my computer is back!! My buddy Ramil spent all day yesterday working on this mess and the thing actually works now, what a concept! He said he hasn't seen one is such rough of shape, ever... I have monthly maintenance steps saved on my desktop now and the latest anti-virus software so I shouldn't have any more problems.

Anyway, trying to catch up, I need to go back a week to New Orleans! It was fun but weird at the same time... There is an eery feeling/vibe there. Not to mention, I really couldn't hang on Bourbon Street/French Quarter at night due to the mass amounts of alcohol people consume there. Pre cancer days, I'm sure I would have fit right in! ;) With all that said, I did have some excellent food the short time I was there. The first night, I tried a shrimp po po dish and it was great. The following afternoon, I tried crawfish for the first time! I ordered Crawfish Tail Etoufee, amazing! I was on the phone with my buddy Mike and he said I had to try it and I'm glad he did :-D The little tails taste like miniature lobsters and the Etoufee sauce was delicious over rice, I was blowing my nose through the entire meal, ha!

I also had a chance to witness some of the destruction left over from Hurricane Katrina, what a shame. I didn't really go down the the worst area, The Lower Ninth Ward as I was doing some research and apparently it isn't very cool to go down there as a tourist to look at and photograph the damage where 1500+ people lost their lives. I did see enough though just driving around downtown and from the freeway. It's really sad... Kinda reminds me of my hometown in Detroit. I read that in the Lower Ninth Ward in N.O., you can drive for blocks and only see a couple of houses that are still standing, eery. The same can be said of large areas of Detroit where burned down and abandoned houses have been bulldozed and block after block is barren and overgrown with weeds in the summer. It's literally like both cities are starting over with empty lots and blocks ready to be transformed... I don't think the LNW in N.O. will ever come back due to how low the land lies and the potential for destruction again if another storm comes in. As for Detroit, who knows what's going to happen, especially with the auto companies in dire straits. I still love the D though and always rooting for it's comeback. It is a great city! Same thing with New Orleans, it's such a great old city with so much history... I know things will get better there eventually.

So, this is all I have time for now, looking forward to talking about Florida the next time I update. Been here for almost a week and having a great time!

As for the itching, it's still there... I've developed raised rashes (little white bumps that eventually turn red from scratching). Luckily it's not constant, mostly at night. I've been using some anti itch Eucerin lotion and some Sarna which seems to help for a while. Can't wait for this to go away (hopefully)!

Time to get ready for a fish feast! Went out fishing today and nailed some Mutton Snapper, Mahi Mahi, King Fish and the pesky Trigger Fish. Details of that to come later.

Pura Vida!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

All's Well...

Sorry for no updates lately, my computer is in the tank. Should have some stuff up in a few days... Still having a great time!

Made it through New Orleans and now in rainy Florida. Feeling pretty good except for this nagging itch. I have my next scan scheduled for June 8th in Seattle. I have to fly back once I get up to Michigan. Expecting the worst but hoping for the best ;)

Some pics and details of the last week to come hopefully soon!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Austin Rocks!

(East 6th St. Austin TX)

(Warehouse District, Austin TX)

Just a quick update... I'm just outside New Orleans at a gas station "borrowing" a wireless signal;) I feel like a wi-fi scavenger these days!!

Camped at a beautiful site in Lake Charles LA last night (Sam Houston State Park) which is right on a Bayou or whatever you call those swamp looking things with the trees growing out of them!

(Campsite at Sam Houston State Park, Lake Charles LA)

The previous 2-3 days I was in Austin TX and had a blast! What a great city... I went out both Friday and Saturday nights and saw some great live music. It was especially good Saturday as I bought tickets to these two reggae guys from Thievery Corporation (See-I) who played at the World Famous Antone's. Stayed for most of the show and walked down East 6th street after. It seemed like every other bar had a live band playing (and there are a ton of bars down there). My next stop was a treat with a Stevie Ray Vaughn protege rockin his Telecaster! He was playing behind his back/head, incredible! I ended the night seeing another reggae show at an open air place with the stage right in the middle of the patio. There was a great vibe there as everyone was dancing and having a great time. I have to say that I could definately live in Austin -- it's all there, good weather, nice people, plenty of things to do at night (music/restaurants) - during the day (parks, etc.) plus plenty of natural beauty.

(View from atop Mount Bonnell North Austin TX)

So, from here, I'm going to have dinner in New Orleans tonight, spend the night and probably check out the city tomorrow. I also want to explore around and see how the reconstruction is going and some of the destruction Katrina caused. I've already had a taste of it driving through Port Arthur.

Still feeling ok but have been increasingly itchy for some reason. It's not quite like the Hodge itch I once had on my shins which was maddening. It's on the outside of my knees and under my thighs and seems to shift around. I'm trying not to be concerned as it seems to go away for a bit when I put lotion on my skin. I'm trying to pay close attention to it though as it does seem to be getting a little more prominent. It's always something, mwah, mwah, mwahhh.... :-D

More highlights to come!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ah, The West is the Best!

I think I finally have my computer back functioning and thought I'd stop here in Lubbock TX to update... Not easy keeping a blog while traveling with a piece of shit computer!! Let's just say perserverance is the key ;)

I don't know where to begin I've seen so much over the last several days... I was thinking last night that I was in such a hurry to update I left out a bunch of stuff I should have documented last time. First, just wanted to say how great it was to see some old friends and meet some new ones in Long Beach. Thanks to my good buddy Mike for letting Chili and I crash at your pad! All his neighbors were really cool and enjoyed hanging in the courtyard. Also wanted to thank new buddy Rich for taking me out Kayaking, too bad the jellyfish weren't out! Had a great time too playing beach volleyball :) It was great to see my buddy Lee who's been travelling on this cancer journey for about the same time I've been. We both had good scans last time and looking forward to the the next good report.

(Little BBQ action in the courtyard in LB)

(Getting ready for "Plan B" at La Cave, Mike far right, Lee middle black cap)

Also wanted to thank Brian for letting me crash at his phat pad in Vegas! Good to see Brennan too. See you in Green Bay man! I was hoping to look up fellow Hodge friends Alison and Adrienne but unfortunately Adrienne is dealing with Pneumonia right now and I ran out of time. Always rooting for you guys!

(Brian saving Brennan from falling to his death ;)

(Heavy on the cheese please, ha!)

The next part of my journey I'll let the pic's (and the captions) speak for themselves!

(Meteor Crater - Flagstaff AZ)

(Petrified National Forest, AZ)

(Santa Fe, NM Outside Lorretta Chapel and the "Mysterious Staircase")

(Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters' prayers.

The stairway's carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today.

The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails—only wooden pegs. Questions also surround the number of stair risers relative to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairway's construction.)

(Took a drive up to Chimayo NM just outside Santa Fe and got lost in the hills! Found an entrance to Santa Cruz Lake State Park lake view and did the one mile hike back to the lake, stunning!! Chili was extra excited doing circles around the picnic table where I had my camera sitting :-D )

All in all, this has been an awesome trip so far, so glad I'm doing this! It was a little hairy last night driving out of Santa Fe on my way to Texas. The winds were unbelievable, I was pretty much white knuckled most of the time. It was the first time the drive actually felt like "work". Really going to miss the scenery out West...

So, I'm off to Austin to indulge in some good BBQ and live music, can't wait! What an adventure!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Alive in Death Valley!

Hey Everyone, sorry for not updating sooner... I've been having computer problems. A lot has happened since I left L.A.! I drove to the Mojave Desert National Preserve and found an old deserted ranch to camp out. It was pretty spooky as I heard noises all night and had a tough time sleeping. Talk about being isolated! I think Chili was a little freaked too ;)

From there, I decided to check out Death Valley and I'm really glad I did! What a beautiful, desolate, incredibly hot place. I wasn't aware that Death Valley has the lowest point in the world (below sea level) at 282 feet below. It was so hot I couldn't even let Chili out of the car when I did little hikes etc. as she would take a couple of steps and would start crying and limping. Luckily, there were some small grassy areas where I could let her out to do her business... I actually got a little spooked thinking my car was going to overheat and I'd get stuck out there! I couldn't think of a better name for this place.

As I was getting ready to drive out of the park, I found an old ghost town! Can't believe people used to live around there and not surprised that this place became deserted. It was kinda neat as artists came in and placed some ghost sculptures made of plastic or fiberglass for added effect.

So I've been in Vegas now for a couple of days and getting ready to leave. It's fun here but a little too over the top for a recovering stem cell transplant patient ;) I just can't keep up with the pace not to mention it's so expensive to go out. I went to a couple of Casinos (but didn't gamble), Red Rock in the suburbs on Friday and the Club XS at the new Wynn Casino called Encore. It's been nice hanging out at my buddies place with a nice pool, big screen tv's and a little French Bulldog for Chili to hang out with!!

From here, I'm off to Santa Fe NM. Looking forward to going as I've never been there.

I've been feeling pretty good overall. Hope to keep it going...!

All the best,

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Road Trip Day 5

So I'm back in civilization here in Long Beach CA! My buddy Mike has a great place right across the street from the beach. It was great being on the road for 3+ days but I was ready to get out of the car especially with my back acting up. I was trying to get here Thursday night but decided against it after driving the winding switchback roads of the NorCal coast. I did the 17 mile drive at Pebble Beach and it was awesome! I then stumbled into this great campground on a cliff in Los Padres National Forest and couldn't pass it up! Chili and I built a fire :D and had a chance to relax for the night. I'm reading this great book called "Letters of the Scattered Brotherhood" (kinda refreshing being away from the TV). It's funny because the book was a gift from my Godmother (Aunt Shell) and I had forgotten about it... When I was packing for my trip, it happened to be right in the closet underneath my pile of medical bills! I left the bills and grabbed the book ;) So far, it's been sort of a life changer for me as it's comprised of letters written by anonymous authors who are seeking serenity and strength through spiritual enlightenment. All of the letters so far have hit home with me as I struggle to overcome the fear of my cancer relapsing. The book was actually first published in 1948 but is a timeless classic... Thanks again Aunt Shell!

Anyway, back to my trip... So I'll probably be staying in L.A. for a few days to catch up with Mike and also my Buddy Lee and his wife Dana. We were thinking of hitting this bar in Hollywood called the Baked Potato which is this little dive where all kinds of famous musicians show up to jam. In fact, Monday night is open jam night and you never know who might show up... Hopefully we'll get lucky and see something memorable. I think today I'm gonna take Chili down to an offleash area of Long Beach and do some shopping as all of my clothes are too big on me! My jeans are falling off of me... Also forgot to mention that I lost half of my summer clothes due to having my plastic bin (on a cargo carrier behind my car) too close to my exhaust pipe! The plastic ended up melting all over my clothes/hats, bummer! Not that big of a deal as most of my shorts are way too big on me now too... Hopefully Target has some cool stuff for cheap.

That's pretty much it for now. Just wanted to send sympathies to Jessica Wentz's family as she passed away. Prayers for her surviving husband and two beautiful children.

I'll try and update in a few days...