Saturday, June 18, 2011

18th June 2011
Officially done with Sierra Vista and my life in a trailer (at least until I come back next year). There is currently a large wildfire very near Sierra Vista with already loss of property and evacuation by many in the community. This picture was taken on the day that I left.
Best wishes to everyone there affected by the blaze. Hopefully it is brought under control soon. Caden went with me to work the last two days of my rotation here and had a great time “camping” in the trailer.

As we pulled out of my trailer spot I found to pull the trailer home we discovered a flat rear tire. It was good having Caden along to help with the changing.

As requested Adam here are some pictures of my rig.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Acting My Age

1 June 2011
Back in the Sierra Vista saddle again. I was home for almost a fortnight (not sure how long that is exactly but it feels right using it) so it makes it especially difficult coming back down here and leaving Jill to the mercies of end of year book reports (kids still in school until June 10th-nothing like watching kids flying kites in the park while you are on your way to class) and potty training (Zach has been our toughest since he apparently considers himself to be a bear in the woods- the world is his restroom).
Of all the things patients ask me I hear “How old are you?” by far the most often, (“how tall are you?” being a close second). Generally this isn’t a question that bothers me, especially now that I am officially older than mid 30’s (36), and as one of my brothers put it recently, “easily half way dead”. Of course with the marvels of modern medicine I’m hoping for a bit longer than 70 (will take me that long just to pay off my student loans). Years ago after I had completed my BA in education and was working on my medical school prerequisites I was substitute teaching in the Mesa school district. I found myself one day with a job at Carson Junior High, my old middle school. As I was walking to my truck to leave for lunch I was loudly hailed from behind to “get in the crosswalk!” I turned around and found Mr. Jurca, my 8th grade English teacher from 14 years prior, giving me the skunk eye. I told him I was heading to my car. Apparently, thinking I was a smart aleck teenager, (half right at least) I was told to use the crosswalk to get to the seminary building (located at the far end of the lot). Clearly being mistaken for a 9th grader (I was 26 at the time) I walked to the truck, waved, gave a little honk and headed for a monster burger at Pete’s, all under the baleful glare of that skunk eye.
I tell my patients the key to being young is doing what the kids these days are doing, which in my house includes lots of Phineas and Ferb, making paper Chinese throwing stars, and plenty of Justin Beiber (which I currently have blasting on my trailer speakers as I type……Ella keeps asking for her CD back…I’m man enough to admit it- though I don’t go as far as my bro-in- law Ryan who is a self proclaimed #1 fan…little too far there man).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Big Gulps Huh?

23 May 2011
I may or may not have recently stolen a Thirstbuster from Circle K. Let me explain. Last Thursday I was in a hurry to make it back to the Valley from Sierra Vista by nine for a Bingham Boys basketball game in Gilbert. There are only a couple of games on the city league schedule that start late enough for me to make in time. I made the critical mistake of not gassing up before the day ended. Unfortunately, I decided to stop at the commerce center of Huachuca City, the Circle K (sitting next door to the true economic juggernauts - the Family Dollar, directly across the street from the Dollar General). While the gas was pumping I ran in and grabbed a quick beverage. Sometime during the 60 seconds it took to fill up a 44 ouncer the line became 8 or 9 people deep. Being impatient to get on the road I approached a pleasant looking elderly Asian couple who were three or four customers back from the front with a dollar in my hand. I held it out, explained I was in a hurry, and asked if they could pay for my soda when they got to the counter. In what can only be described as some sort of Bizarro World reverse panhandling episode, they began to speak Chinese (most likely), waved their arms wildly and refused to accept the money. Cutting my losses quickly I handed it to the bemused gentleman behind them with a filled out Powerball ticket and scooted out the door. I half expected to be hailed from behind that I had just stolen a drink. My reply would have been to point at my scrubs and say, “hospital emergency” (though I worried they would have noticed “Dermatology” written and scoffed that there is no such a thing as a dermatology emergency (though in fact there is, albeit rare). I hope that the man I gave the dollar to paid for my drink but if he ended up buying a second Powerball ticket I hope he was a winner.
For the curious- Bingham Boys (Revcorp- need to put a plug in for Ryan and Larry who sponsored our team) won by 35 (despite my being there and playing).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Seniors and Seniority

18 May 2011
Last night I was finally able to move my trailer to the spot I have been waiting for since I got here (the pleasant alternative couple from California finally moved). There are some great shade trees and remarkably the WiFi works a little better (though it’s actually a little further from the clubhouse). The move comes none too soon as I recently returned home and the ants had nearly carried off my entire box of Golden Grahams. I took a little heat from Jill who didn’t appreciate me wasting her favorite cereal, but seriously blame the ants, not me. I’m hoping they don’t realize I’ve moved. Unfortunately the trailer is tilted quite a bit and the levelers underneath are missing. I may have to move or reposition (almost rolled off the bed last night). The constant flux of people doesn’t always work out in my favor though. The last week or so there has been a new senior couple tying up the clubhouse and its TV (pretty sure they’re not watching the NBA playoffs) and they apparently didn’t get the memo that the clubhouse has been my personal office. It has been a good spot to get a little studying in and keeps me from getting cabin fever. I would hate to pull rank on them (“you’re new around here Pops so I’m gonna cut you a little slack”) but I’m positive my 7 weeks here easily outranks them. Probably better off not starting a trailer park turf war though (plus I’m pretty sure they’re in bed by 7:30 anyway).

Monday, May 16, 2011

B- I- N-G-O and Bingo was his……..

16 May 2011
My trailer park is really starting to empty out and most of my RV buds have gone home for the summer. Last week (perhaps to fill the void) I stopped by the Lion’s Club in Huachuca City for bingo night. I have driven by the bright yellow building and its marquee daily since I moved down here and have contemplated playing for awhile now. Bingo is on Tuesdays with the early bird starting at 6:15 (little plug for anyone in the neighborhood). Work has been running later these days so I was a little tardy and they had already started. As I walked in the front door I had 40 pair of eyes (38 elderly women, 2 elderly men) closely scrutinizing me. “Are you here to play bingo?” one lady asked incredulously. In all honesty the way the action came to a standstill (including the bingo caller) I thought I had arrived at a member’s only affair. I was eventually steered to the proper table where I had to again reassure a second woman that yes I was indeed there to play bingo. I was invited to sit at a table with 5 bingo veterans and was graciously loaned one of their multiple (some people have 15 or 20 sitting in front of them) card daubers. Very good group of people that included one of the only guys in the place, Roger, who happened to be the president of the club and perhaps most importantly the snack bar attendant (serves a wicked chicken salad sandwich) at half time (you’ve got to stay hydrated- that bingo hand cramps up easily). I quickly became the table’s Special Olympian as they all took it upon themselves (rightly so) to make sure that I didn’t miss any numbers (which I did miss a fair number of…I started to space out a little towards the end). The gal to my left was not only playing her 18 game cards but my 9 as well and would shoot her dauber over to pick up my strays.
I felt bad for the caller who had angry, grumbling women when their numbers weren’t called for BINGO. Most entertaining was the occasional mistake, such as, “G-75”, which of course should be “O-75”, setting off a firestorm of epic proportions in the bingo hall. Tough crowd. I would love to report an actual bingo, but Roger bingoed (I think I’m creating a verb here) 3 times (very suspicious when you are the president by the way) and took all the table luck (at least that’s what the ladies were complaining) from the rest of us. There’s always next time. Shouting out BINGO remains high on my list of future accomplishments.

Friday, May 13, 2011


11 May 2011
Due to my Dermatology conference I only spent a couple of days in Sierra Vista last week. Ella, when she realized I was only going to be gone for a couple of days, tried hard convincing me it was “take your daughter to work week”. After careful consideration (and a lot of please please! from both Ella and I) Jill and I decided it would be a good experience for her to be Dad’s traveling companion for a few days. We left late Sunday from an Easter party at my folks and arrived at the trailer at about 12:30 am. The next morning as we were leaving I pulled through our space, doubled back and ended driving right by our trailer. Ella said, "Man look at that tiny trailer". We had driven by a lot of big RVs and large fifth wheels. For a second I thought she was teasing me (she is a lot like her daddy that way) but realized she didn’t get a good look at our trailer-which she was now describing as tiny. We had a good laugh.
It’s definitely a smaller but a good portable home for us.
Ella really received a warm welcome from everyone at Dr. P's office. She hung out with Wanda and the office dog Blaze, ran errands, and was even given a facial by Chesney.

I really appreciated everyone there making her feel at home- Sherry, Donna, Debbie, Dr. P, Andrea, Kat, Dave, KK, etc. We even had a nice send off as we were leaving. Good folks down here in Sierra Vista.
Monday after work we decided to go to Tombstone for dinner. We stopped by Target for a T-shirt (didn’t want to walk around with scrubs on) and then made the 25 minute drive. I made the mistake of telling Ella to avoid staring at anyone for too long since there was a lot of what I called "rough and tumbles here”. That really backfired as every other minute Ella was cautioning me that I was staring at people. She got pretty nervous walking down the boardwalk past a “motorcycle enthusiast club”. I showed her the infamous scene of my second scariest meal (see earlier post) and we had an enjoyable dinner at The Crystal Palace.
After Tombstone we hung out playing pool and watching basketball in the Quail Ridge clubhouse.

I loved having Ella with me for a couple of days. I wanted her here not only for the life experience but selfishly because dad wanted his little girl around. She really shines one on one and is a delight to have around. I love her great sense of humor and her beautiful smile. Love you Ell Bell. Thanks for spending a couple of days with me.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tall Guy on a Little Plane

9 May 2011
I’m back in my trailer in windy Sierra Vista after a short 10 hours at home. Home late last night from Tampa and then left this morning at 4:30 to make it here in time for work. Non- stop 4.5 hour flight from Florida that probably could have been a little more comfortable. I decided to try and book the early bird special that Southwest offers. For an extra 10 dollars they will automatically sign you in for your flight and let you board sooner than most of the people on the flight (commoners I call them). My master plan (as it always is) was to get one of 11 seats- any of the six front row or 5 emergency exit seats. Most of the time when people comment on my height I just explain, “it’s mostly neck and upper back, I have pretty stubby legs”. But even these stubby legs want as much leg room as possible. After I checked my luggage and received my boarding pass I was dismayed to see A-43 on my boarding pass. Gripes! I just paid $10 and there are at least 42 people boarding ahead of me including three people in wheelchairs (I’m not going to disparage those in a wheelchair but they are on to a pretty good thing…like going to the front of the line at Disneyland…quite the racket). After at least 40 people boarded in front of me I was pleasantly surprised to find the aisle seat in row #1wide open right next to a delightful senior couple (I didn’t ask but they could also be living in an RV park). Total score! Who walks past an open aisle seat at the front of the plane where most peoples’ legs can stretch all the way out? Answer: smart, intelligent people. Worst seat on the plane.
A couple of thoughts. The flight started out well enough. As we were taking off I put my head back and immediately dozed off (I usually have more staying power…those Sudokus don’t do themselves) but was startled awake with a jolt while we were still climbing much to the amusement of the flight attendants, who thought I had just suffered a mini seizure. Everything was great until the “permission to move about the cabin” was given. There was not a seat on that plane closer to the lavatory (rather pretentious name for an airplane bathroom) than mine was, a fact I should have realized from the start. If I had raging diarrhea or an enlarged prostate my seat would have been sweet, but since I had neither it was rather unpleasant. There was a constant and steady stream of people bumping me on their way to the port-o-potty in the sky (dang aisle seat). You would be shocked at the number of people who went into that restroom without shoes on. Yikes. As I kept tabs on the frequent flyers (yep I was keeping track of the multitude of tiny bladders out there) I wondered at the wisdom of passing out soda and water to people. I know staying hydrated is important but you are just making it uncomfortable for passenger #1 (that’s what I referred to myself as; hey I was in seat #1). Without getting into specifics I don’t even have to mention the time the flight attendants were forced to pull out the Lysol disinfectant as the loo was apparently assassinated by an inconsiderate passenger. I also unfortunately was front and center to hear the complaining from the flight attendants who really weren’t that excited dealing with such thirsty flyers (though admittedly some of them deserved the sniping……i.e . the bathroom ninja who ruined the water closet). Next time I’ll just be content with my knees up near my chin in the middle of the plane.
(I tried to squeeze as many names for bathroom as I could in this post… how many can you spot?)
(I’ll try to class up this blog with my next post and limit all of this potty talk).

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Outhouse to Penthouse

5 May 2011
I find myself now in Tampa, Florida for a dermatology review course. The time change is a killer…I didn’t make it to my hotel room until 12:45 AM and I don’t think I fell asleep until 3:00 (that would have been midnight AZ time). It made for a tough 6:30 AM wake up call. Unfortunately I felt compelled to eat breakfast (some sort of internal policy about not passing up on complimentary breakfast) though I don’t generally and my body thinks it’s 4 am- imagine getting up at 3:30 and eating bacon) and am feeling a little sick about now. I had a real scare at the Tampa airport last night. I was last man standing at the luggage carousel and the familiar “my luggage didn’t make the plane transfer” feeling was there. Several years ago Jill and I survived 4 days with just the clothes on our back on the Big Island in Hawaii when our luggage didn’t make it. Luckily for me my bag was here. I was scanning the belts looking for a black bag with a large yellow stripe. Somewhere along the way my bag was compressed by some luggage jockey and the outer zipper was closed hiding the indentifying yellow stripe (and smashing my Poor Brothers jalapeno chips in the process- yep I pack and expect my chips to arrive intact- see previous post about how being a doctor doesn’t mean you have any common sense). I’m betting my bag made 2 or 3 trips on the conveyor belt before I realized it was mine.
This hotel has one of the nicer rooms I’ve stayed at before. Likely that’s explained by the culture shock of going from trailer park to hotel room in a 12 hour span. On a down note the nights I’m here for the conference are costing me more than two months at Quail Ridge RV (living the high life has its price). I’ve heard they even have a “cement pond”. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Getting Older...I Guess.

28 April 2011
I’m sitting in my trailer at 9:00 pm on a Thursday night. Usually about now I am just rolling into the driveway and about to be showered with hugs from the kids (unless there is a new movie on the Disney channel…actually the hug showers happened the first couple of times I came home…now 50/50). I have work in Tucson in the morning so had to stick around a little longer. I worry being gone so much has become the new normal for the kids. While Jill bears the brunt of home life (t-ball, football, piano lessons, homework, school, discipline, dinner, baths etc. etc.) I have a quiet trailer to contemplate the mysteries of life. I’m sure given the choice she would love the occasional peaceful trailer vacation 20 miles from the nearest town. Maybe for her next birthday I can set her up at Quail Ridge RV.

I had a disturbing Teen Wolf/Marty McFly (yes I know that’s from Back to the Future) event yesterday morning. You know the scene where Michael J. Fox discovers a 4 or 5 inch long chest hair as he slowly pieces the puzzle together that he is actually a werewolf. Well it wasn’t chest hair (sorry Jill) but a 1 cm long hair on my right ear that caught the light just right as it filtered through the trailer blinds. “What the heck is that?” I thought as I wondered how long that must have been there to achieve that kind of prodigious length. I’m graying and thinning (signs of my own mortality…at 35 I guess I can expect and accept both of those) but I can’t tolerate hairy ears. It does make me wonder how many people must have noticed my ear but failed to mention anything. It has further strengthened my resolve to let others know when their fly is down or they have lunch in their teeth.

Work continues to go well here. Dr. P and everyone that works in his office is fantastic and I appreciate the warm welcome I’ve received since I’ve been here. It really makes being away from the family easier to handle.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Last week my RV buddies invited me to Tombstone to hang out with them at the American Legion Post to play table shuffleboard. My friend Ikaika happened to be flying in a few clients to Sierra Vista so I invited him to Tombstone for dinner. After work I picked him up at the Texas Roadhouse (apparently he couldn’t pass up a free steak…dang Hawaiian with no self control) and we drove the 25 minutes to the one time home of Wyatt Earp. As we pulled into town there was a flock of buzzards circling overhead, which seemed especially appropriate for the “Old West”. After a quick stop at Toughnut Street we found the American legion (the buzzards were circling directly overhead- eerily ironic).
We had a great time playing shuffleboard. Once I’m done with all of this residency business and finally grow up I plan on having a shuffleboard table (right next to my shave ice machine) in a game room. Apparently Woodie’s dad was a national champion, and he is no slouch himself. Ikaika and I gave he and Glenn a real run for their money but lost a high stakes game of 2 dollars at the very end. I’m hoping for a rematch at some point. If you’ve never played it I highly recommend it, ton of fun.

After the shuffleboard we walked down the boardwalk to a place called Big Nose Kate’s . That name may be familiar to you as the one time paramour (first I use Victorian and now paramour?!, I promise I’m not a wuss reading romance novels in my trailer at night…see my post on my own manliness as evidence) of Doc Holiday. It was closed as well as every other reputable establishment in town. We ended up at the only place still serving food called Vogans. I have a hard time believing that they have an actual food license. People toss around the phrase “dive” a lot so it has lost a little of its value. This place was a total dive, complete with a very surly, nearly toothless lady who was not pleased that 6 people strolled in at 9:30 and she was going to have to fire up the grill. I’m not sure what time they close but when you are the only food in town at that time of night you can’t be so ticked when you get a few customers with “cash money”. Woodie’s wife Cleda Jane set up shop near the grill so that in her words, “I can make sure nothing happens to our food”. I told her to make sure and not tell me if something untoward occurred because I was starving. There were a few locals who I hoped weren’t going to be driving home later that night. One of them, Griz (no joke that’s what he told me-see picture…dude ‘s mother knew what she was doing-he’s on my left) decided I was a new bud and kept punching me on the arm and chest in a playful, intoxicated kinda way.

Curious about Vogan’s online reputation I found the following assessment from an online poster, “This might have been the scariest place I have ever eaten!” I won’t go that far (we ate once at a McDonalds in Blythe that should be bulldozed) but it was close. Good time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stolen Space

I woke up this morning to my Dad shaking the bunk bed to get me up for my paper route. That thought lasted about half a second (weird thought to have 23 years after I slung my last Mesa Tribune) before I realized I was in a rocking Travel Trailer in the middle of the desert. I went to bed last night with a high winds advisory in Cochise County. The warning did not disappoint. One of my RV buddies who just moved back home told me he would not be back next year because it was too dang windy (of course he said a little more than just “dang”). I have been enjoying the wind. Unless you are actively fly fishing or having a Victorian picnic I don’t see how you could complain. Of course we grew up in nearly weatherless Mesa (not counting hot) where even a light drizzle outside was cause for the Bingham kids to do donuts around the house in a rabid frenzy.

I was disappointed after work yesterday to find that my “should have been” new RV space was stolen. My pal Woodie recently moved leaving his RV space open and ready for me. It was a sweet spot with two really great shade trees on both sides. Many a night I have stared out my window longingly (RV commandment #3 “do not covet thy neighbor’s space”) waiting for my opportunity to move my home and assume command of the primo spot at Quail Ridge. I knew eventually it would open up since I’m here until June and everyone flies north for the summer. Sunday at about 1:00 AM I pulled in and was excited to see the spot available. Monday after work a fifth wheel (with California plates no less!) had taken it (I haven’t checked yet but they probably have an Obama 2012 bumper sticker on there). Hopefully I can pull it together and be neighborly.

I also found out that I have ants in the trailer (another good reason to move). Good news is they haven’t yet found my Golden Grahams or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It’s only a matter of time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

McDonalds and Manliness

I decided to head back to Sierra Vista early Monday morning instead of Sunday night like I have done previously. Big mistake and I’m pretty sure that will likely be the only time that I do that. Restless couple of hours sleep as I worried I would oversleep and end up being 4 hours late. I got up early (3:30 am- sure some of my siblings are not even in bed by that time) and left by 4 to make it into work on time at 7:30. I’m not usually a breakfast person but by the time I hit Tucson I was starving so I decided on a McDonalds and a Diet Dr. Pepper to get me the rest of the way to Sierra Vista. I ended up needing to use my GPS to find one (man they are everywhere when you don’t need one) and made a quick purchase through the drive thru. Only when I was back on the freeway did I discover that I had been given a Diet Coke instead of a DP. Ticked! I don’t intend to start up a cola war but of all the diet sodas Coke is dead last (way behind diet Big K and even Doctor Diablo-sorry Dad). Last week Ella had Aims testing and was trying to convince Jill to take her to McDonalds for a free breakfast. Apparently the local franchise was offering free mcmuffins to kids during testing week. I’m pretty sure this must have been sponsored by the Chinese government to sabotage our childrens’academic progress because five minutes after eating I was feeling pretty terrible (both physically and mentally) with my decision to go for the Breakfast of Champions that is the golden arches. Of course if Albert at the McDonalds on 6th avenue in Tucson wouldn’t have messed up my soda (I’m not holding a grudge….much) I probably would have felt a lot better.
A couple of nights ago after work I headed over to the Quail Ridge clubhouse to see if I could study (catch an NBA game on T.V). I wandered in and found about 25 people getting ready for an ice cream social. The room was filled with a large RV enthusiast group called The Campers. They meet monthly at different locations for 4 or 5 days doing various activities. As I visited with one of the head organizers (I assume that she was in charge by the way she was yelling at everyone to take a seat) I overheard a gentleman complaining that Dancing with the Stars was about to start and that they needed to get the activity over quickly. I was invited to sit down for some cake and to participate if I wanted to (I decided it would be a little unseemly to just grab some cake and ice cream and run) so I found a seat. They then passed out plastic Easter eggs to everyone that included a slip of paper inside with a specific question for you to answer for the group. When they got to me I was introduced as our “young visitor” (I could have been 60 and still described that way). My egg asked, “Have you ever lived outside the country?” I told them I lived for two years in Russia on a church mission and that I was living in a trailer for a couple of months here working. After I sat back down I told my table that I had come hoping to catch a basketball game. The gal organizing then came over and told the Clay (the very man who was anxious to get Dancing with the Stars started) that he now had the green light to turn on the T.V. With a mortified look on his face he very embarrassedly (is that a word?) turned it to DWTS and told me the women looked forward to this every Monday and that if it was up to him we would watch a game. For some reason Clay decided to hide his passion for a dancing program, as if it was unmanly to watch people dancing (it probably is but I myself have enjoyed So You Think You Can Dance in the past so who am I to judge). First Rick with his poodle and now Clay with his dancing show have felt the need to justify their sensitive side to me. The point, dear reader, is that I am now the gold standard in this community for manliness. I have finally arrived (I hope you are taking notes on all of this Jill…that’s right…MANLY!).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hazards of Heading Home

14 April 2011
Water heater is working! I enjoyed my first shower in the trailer. I will complain about the cramped quarters (measurements to follow) later but for now I will just bask in my ability to avoid the Quail Ridge shower stalls, 9 out of 10 rating notwithstanding (yep just used notwithstanding in a blog post, take that bucket list!),and the possible trench feet brewing below my ankles.

Skin screening at the Quail Ridge clubhouse was a success. I walked over at 6:30 to find a mostly full room of people ready to have their skin checked out by likely the only trailer livin’ dermatologist in the state (likely the country but I can’t allow myself to get too grandiose). After flipping a long table on its side on the kitchen counter to serve as a quasi privacy shield I spent the next two hours diagnosing seborrheic keratosis, cherry hemangiomas, and actinic keratosis.

Woodie brought along his guitar and provided the entertainment for the evening. Everyone there was grateful for the time I spent and I was happy to give a little community service. Afterwards I spent a little time chewing the fat and listening to Woodie tell in his words, “clean jokes I have to use in Mesa RV parks”.

The next morning early while I was filling my trailer’s water tank before work I was hailed from across the way by one of my poker buddies, Rick, who was out walking his dog. He thanked me again for taking the time to do a skin screening. I hollered back a “you’re welcome” and asked him what kind of dog he had. He replied that it was half Jack Russell and half poodle. Like a speedy auctioneer (and before I could give him a hard time about walking and owning a poodle) he followed with, “but he acts more like a Jack Russell, and he looks more like a Jack Russell ”. I don’t care what generation you’re from, most guys I know don’t admit to owning a poodle. I gave him a free pass (mostly because I still felt bad about beating his three 8s with my flush the last hand at cards) but I have been working on my poodle material to use the next time I see him walking his dog. There’s nothing wrong at all with a little good natured heckling to win friends and influence people.

The work week in Sierra Vista was a short one as I was scheduled to work in my office in Peoria Wed –Fri. Tuesday after work I stopped by the trailer to grab some gear and finally empty my black and gray tanks (did not want that percolating for a week in the southern Arizona heat). In my haste to leave I inadvertently left my cell phone on the kitchen table. Fortunately, I was only 5 or 6 miles away when I realized I had forgotten it. Unfortunately, the soonest I was able to flip a U-turn happened to be within sight of a border patrol station. In my hurry to be home I didn’t realize until after I had already turned around that I would have been better off going through the checkpoint and then turning around. Judging from my limited view through the rear view mirror it looked like an ant hill had just been destroyed. Finally Rosco P. Coltrane was going to get a little action. As the squad car and truck both with lights flashing pulled me over I prayed fervently that I didn’t have any Central American (hey I’m being politically correct here) stowaway in the bed or under the hood (tiny people on average).

Me- “What’s the problem officer?”
Rosco- “Don’t you think it’s a little odd that you turned around in front of a border checkpoint station?”
Me- “I forgot my phone in my trailer and this was the first opportunity I had to turn around to get it”.

I would have arrested myself on the spot with that kind of lame excuse. As I was directed to stand by the hood of the squad car as the border patrol German Shepherd inspected my truck I was reminded of the time I was pulled over while my brother Lance and I were heading to clean the Alta Vista building late one night. I had crossed the first several feet of the gore point while trying to get onto the 51 from the 202. Etched in my mind is Lance laughing at me as I (a fairly straight arrow) was given a field sobriety test for the world to see. When I return I’ll be waiting for one of my Sierra Vista patients to say, “hey aren’t you that goofy looking guy I saw get caught trying to smuggle Mexicans (one political correction per blog) into Phoenix?”

If my mishap at the border checkpoint had been my only (or worst) mistake heading home I would have considered myself fortunate. In my hurry to get home and trying to make up for lost time I decided to eat dinner on the road. Tragically, dinner consisted of me stopping at the Subway in Casa Grande, ordering a 12” meatball sub, and attempting to eat it as I drove…….disaster. Being a doctor doesn’t necessarily mean you are smart nor have any common sense, just that you are persistent.

This morning as I left for work our 2 year old Zachary, waving wildly goodbye, raced me down the circle wearing a camo shirt and diaper. Maybe there will come a time when Glenn, wearing a diaper and sucking on a pacifier, chases my truck out of the trailer parking lot as I leave for work. But until that happens, as Dorothy long ago observed, there continues to be no place like home (of course if that happens I will go RV to RV confiscating the alcohol and /or get Glenn checked into a dementia ward).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sierra Vista Poker night

Home sweet home. After just four short nights in the trailer my legs forgot what it was like to not hang 18 inches off the bed or be curled up into a ball. I made it home late Thursday night in just a little over three hours, record time (my first trip back so even if it took me 8 hours it would have still been a record).

My last night at Quail Ridge was spent hanging with the boys in the QR clubhouse at poker night. As previously mentioned I was hoping to bring something to share with the group to eat. I didn’t make it to the store so after an exhaustive search through my semi-stocked trailer cupboard I decided on a half eaten box of mini powdered donuts (the partial bag of chili cheese Ruffles seemed a little too WT). The poker boys consisted of Glenn, Woodie, Rick, and Dale, an affable group who all seemed genuinely happy to have me (and my quarters) playing with them.
As the evening wore on it was enjoyable to find out about each of them, their families, former occupations, and what had landed them in the Southern Arizona desert. I won’t bore the reader with a detailed account of how the actual poker went down. The game was Texas holdem with a cap on raising making bluffing nearly impossible. Generally the best hand won out. The beginning of the night found me quickly down $12.50 (and earned much consoling from my tablemates) before I rallied and ended the night on our predetermined last hand with a diamond nut flush (badly beating Rick’s 3 eights) and up $7.50. I had a great time and am already a little wistful as most of my new QR buds will be heading back to cooler climates shortly. This may be my first and last poker night here. If the troops are able to rally for one more night I plan on putting that $7.50 towards something better to bring (only three donuts were eaten that night….all by me).

The ring leader of the RV boys is none other than cowboy poet Woodie Cochran.

Woodie and his wife Cleda Jane tour the country performing their music and comedy.

I heard a steady barrage of doctor jokes at poker night, unfortunately there is not one that I can safely repeat on a family blog (where did all the clean doctor jokes go?). After the game he promised to get me a couple of CDs of his music to listen to during the drive back home to Phoenix. His first CD, titled Leather and Lace is an enjoyable blend of old school country with…….ok I’ll stop there…I have no idea what I’m doing giving a music review. Suffice it to say I quite enjoyed the music (Cleda Jane has a fantastic voice) and I have been humming Paper Thin Walls (the story of a man who catches his wife with his brother at the motel 8 and guns her down) and A Women Knows all day.

After work on Thursday I stopped by my trailer to gather a few things to bring back with me to Phoenix. Woodie stopped by to invite me over to give me his music and to say goodbye to my new buddy Dale, who with his wife was leaving the next day back to Washington State. After climbing aboard his palatial RV (it really did seem huge compared to my modest trailer) I was introduced to their wives. Dale’s wife, after shaking my hand, insisted that she had seen me somewhere before. Cleda Jane replied, “He’s tall and handsome and you wish you had met him before”. Dale’s wife readily agreed that this was true (I’m not sure if it was to the tall or the handsome part but I’ll say both). Ahh if only I was single and into septuagenarians….. I might never leave. The men folk didn’t seem to begrudge all the attention this young stud was getting at the hands of their women folk. Dale was concentrating on his tumbler full of adult beverage (he was consistently pulling on his flask at cards the night before) while Woodie was looking for his music. After a quick skin check of Dale’s back for a suspicious mole (I correctly surmised it was going to be a harmless seborrheic keratosis, oft referred to as a ‘barnacle of life’) I was off to Phoenix. I offered to perform a skin cancer screening for the general population this next Monday for anyone interested. Woodie enthusiastically volunteered to make some flyers and get the word out to our (emphasis on our) community.

Friday, April 8, 2011

RV Chronicles

6 April 2011

Jill’s 32nd birthday today. Pretty sure this is the first time since we have been married that I will have been gone. We have been pretty fortunate generally with work and other obligations that I haven’t often needed to be away from home. Thank goodness, I am a real homebody. I called and talked to Jill at noon and she was being taken out to lunch by Suzanne Davis. I am sure grateful for good friends and family who have taken an interest in Jill and I and our young family. Tristine even stopped by with some flowers. We are really surrounded by some great people. The good news about missing Jill’s birthday is that we have generally called a truce when it comes to things like birthdays and Valentine’s day. One day when we have more money that may change but for now the pressure is off (though I did get her a pretty sweet camera for her birthday last year, thank you moonlighting at the urgent care). More on Jill in a minute.

For lunch today I went to Chipotle (yep SV really does have it all) for a burrito bowl. For the curious the best burrito/bowl consists of rice, pinto beans, chicken, mild, medium, and hot salsa, sour cream, cheese, and lettuce. The place was packed with military personnel, not a chair to be had. I decided my only option was out on the patio. I lasted all of 30 seconds before all of my lettuce literally blew away and I retreated to the safety of my truck in the Lowes’ parking lot. You’d think this place was next to Lake Michigan for all the wind. I watched a couple of carts whizzing by me in the parking lot and just hoped I wasn’t going to get broadsided.

After work I nervously drove into Quail Ridge hoping my home wasn’t on its side from the nor’easter blowing through. Still standing but my now former BFF Allen did not pull through for me and I remain hot waterless. I tried calling him but didn’t get an answer (do they even have caller ID in SV?). I’ll be heading home tomorrow night so I’ll have to deal with it next week.

Jill and I have been married for 13 years this July. In that time she graduated from ASU with a degree in fine arts, had four children, and was our best janitor at Alacrity janitorial (sorry Vern). She has been in young womens, primary, and Sunday school. She finds the time to work on emergency preparedness and sew. She has been my biggest supporter and confidant. She is an amazing woman with many talents and a wonderful mother. I love her and consider myself to be blessed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy Birthday!

This has been such a fun birthday even though Jeremy is out of town, so many friends and family made sure I felt loved today.
My good friend Suzanne took me to lunch today with my two crazy littlest boys, along with her son Patrick and another friend Melissa. It was so fun and such a beautiful day.
I got all sorts of texts, calls, and singing messages, that I loved from all of my dear family and friends. I also got some pretty delicious brownies, that Zac nearly dumped and trampled on, thanks for saving them Taylor.
Topping it off my beautiful sister n'law Tristine brought me these fragrant roses and some yummy ice cream. Thank you so much to all of you.
So grateful to have so many who I love and who love me and our family as well.
The kids wanted to make my birthday special (especially Ella) with Daddy being out of town. Grandma/Mom , came over after school and took them to the dollar store so that they could each get something for me.
Ella and Caden decorated a little bit while I was at Tay's t-ball game with Zac. They put up streamers and E made a sign.

They each took turns taking pictures.

Here is all the sweet stuff they got for me, they sure know what their mama likes.
We had maple donuts for our birthday cake and a single serving of pie that Grandma and the kids got for me to put a candle on. Thank you guys for making my birthday so fun and special.
Ella's video doesn't' have sound it was on a different camera. I'll have to try uploading the other two videos again, they aren't working. didn't work, files must be too big.
This is a total side note on Zac. We all know he is one active, crazy fast runner, and climber monkey. This afternoon, before nap, I was on the phone while zac threw a couple of the dogs chew toys over the fence. Taylor comes in to tell me about it. I'm on the phone, we walk outside. T proceeds to climb on a chair to look at the items on the other side, telling me he can climb over and get it. He starts the ascent onto the wall looking to me as he straddles it, I nod and give the OK so he jumps down. Meanwhile I'm still on the phone and Taylor throws the items back over to our side of the fence and Zac has gotten himself almost completely over, at this point I am holding him up only under his arms and have been standing on a chair to watch T. Zac badly wants to get down on the street side of our wall. I put the phone down so I can lift him back up. We go inside to see if Taylor made it around the houses back to our circle. Because there was no chair on the other side of the wall to assist him back over to our side. After checking out the front window to see if Taylor is back, which he was, but Zac didn't stand there long enough to realize this, Zac runs back outside. I am still on the phone, i look through the kitchen window and see that zac is already nearly up and over the fence wall again. I finally make a hasty goodbye of my 5 min. conversation and run out there to keep him from climbing our six foot wall and falling to the other side. Nap time.
A few hours later after his nap I go outside with Zac and move the offending chairs that have so conveniently been sitting against the fence to help our 2 1/2 yr old climb the wall. After putting them against our house, Zac says to me, looking up to the top of our 2 story roof, "I can't climb up dere, its too tall." He is a serious nut that keeps me moving ALL day long. I just shake my head and laugh.

Hot Water Heater

5 April 2011

This morning right when I got to work I called a mobile RV repair service that advertises in my RV park to see if they could come and take a look at my water heater. Allen was very accommodating and told me they could come out today and that they would give me a call when they figured out what was wrong. I was thrilled with the quick service and told Allen I needed a Sierra Vista BFF and this kind of service made him a leading candidate (and also that he is the only person I know here). No call all day so I figured that they weren’t able to make it. I was pleasantly surprised to find a bill for $87.50 on my kitchen table (I had previously hidden the keys on the propane tank). Now $87.50 seems like a completely random number for a service charge with no parts involved but if it meant that was going to have a hot shower I was at peace with the cost. I immediately tried to get hot water at the kitchen sink….nothing. Went to the back of the trailer at the hot water heater and the pilot was out. I again tried to light it but no dice. At this point a bedraggled looking gentleman named Ron with a pink heart pillow clutched to his chest (apparently recently had a bypass) with Paris Hilton’s dog Tinkerbell in tow (I should be embarrassed that I know that…..I am ….a little) wandered over. He kindly asked me what was wrong and after a quick explanation he told me he was good with RVs and would take a look. After gamely applying my lighter to the pilot light for 30 seconds and unsuccessfully lighting it he informed me I was in trouble and that I should use the clubhouse showers if I wanted a warm one. Not helpful. At all. I foolishly was taken in by his official looking slippers and allowed my hop to rise. My general rule of thumb is to underplay my hand, than people will be pleasantly surprised at my amazing performance. Don’t advertise yourself as a concert pianist only to underwhelm your audience with “here we go, in a row, to a birthday party” (you all know the tune). The appropriate tact should be, “yeah I play a little” only to blow them away with Chariots of Fire. I digress. As soon as Captain Ron left I called Allen who informed me his guy Sonny had the heater working and he wasn’t sure why it wasn’t currently heating my water. He promised to stop by in the morning which made me feel a lot better about my earlier BFF proposal to the man.

I just got back from using the clubhouse shower. A couple of thoughts. I brought my tape measure with me and the shower measures exactly 3.5 x 3.5 feet. Who in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to recreate the size of an RV bathroom in an actual bathroom. I’m pretty sure they are there so people can escape the narrow, claustrophobic confines of their rig, not make them nostalgic for them. Thankfully no sign of foot fungus ……yet.

On the positive side my social standing in the community is on a decided up swing. I was invited to the weekly card game held every Wednesday night. I told them I wasn’t any good (a lie) and that I didn’t have any money (true). I’ll need to figure out what I can bring to share, I’m leading towards something with plenty of fiber (enter the conquering hero).

Sierra Vista RV Adventure

4 April 2011

Well after months of fretting over where I would live for a 3 month rotation in Sierra Vista I have finally arrived and am safely here. I am now working for the next 11 weeks or so in Sierra Vista with Dr. -------/ Dermatology as part of my ongoing dermatology residency training. When I first heard 6 months or so ago that I would need to live in SV my initial thought was that I would not want to stay in a place that had roommates (ie. Hospital housing) so I found and purchased a lightweight travel trailer. After having second thoughts about the sanity of living in a trailer (and realizing I was probably too young and possessing too many teeth) I attempted to find alternate housing. I left messages with every Bishop (5) in the area to see if any elderly widower would want to rent out a room….. and heard back from exactly zero. Apparently I need to work on making my voice sound a little less creepy. Next I called a Robbie on Craigslist with a room thinking maybe it was a young military guy (SV sits next to Fort Huachuca) looking for a short term roommate. Turns out it was a single lady (really Robbie?) with a 9 year old daughter. Strike two! Not going to risk 15 years of school and training by putting myself in that kind of situation. Strike three was a big whiff on a sloooooow curveball after multiple attempts to obtain a room with the hospital housing for medical students. Pros: it would be close to work and I would be able to eat all of the bad chicken fried steak and potato flakes I could stomach for free. Cons: sleeping on the bottom bunk while med student Mortimer McGoo tosses and turns passing flatulence all night (see above reference to hospital food). Alas, not to be. I was assured medical students only.

I arrived with rig in tow late last night (Sunday) after an uneventful 160 mile drive from Mesa where I had picked up the trailer from Ryan’s house. After the initial white knuckles of pulling so large a trailer for the first time I settled in at 60 mph with the F150. The V6 did an admirable job and the sway bars Dad and I had installed did a great job. I ended up getting a total of 240 mile for my 23 gallons of gas. Not great. I don’t have a calculator handy but rest assured that is a pretty crappy miles/gallon ratio. After arriving at about ten PM I high beamed the entire neighborhood multiple times looking for my pre- determined lot #--- at Quail Ridge RV, a nondescript 20 x 80 foot pad of gravel. After unloading the truck and getting more or less situated I settled down at around midnight.

I made it to work at 7:30 this morning, after fighting through heavy military traffic heading to the base. Seems like a good crew to be working with at the derm office. At lunch I headed back to Quail Ridge to pay by bill and get my propane tank filled. I met my nearest neighbor Ray, who filled my tank for me. Unfortunately I have been unable to get my hot water heater working. Luckily for me I am able to use the RV park clubhouse facilities. Their bathrooms were rated 9/10 by some online poll (yes I researched the bathrooms prior to committing to this place) and they are extremely adequate. I just got back from taking a shower. I am hoping that this does not turn out to be junior high revisited where I come down with a case of athlete’s (old guy’s) foot . I neglected to bring any flip flops. On the positive side at least now, unlike in 8th grade, I am a dermatologist and can prescribe all the fungal medicine my size thirteens might require. I plan on calling a mobile RV repair if I prove unable to fix the water heater. I don’t want to spend the rest of my time here heating water in the microwave to wash my hair and shave in the morning. Last night was freezing so I have now tested the furnace and will be firing that up tonight. I just got off the phone with Jill. They sound like they are doing well, hopefully E and C can pitch in and be helpers for mom.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fall ward campout

I really just wanted to post some new pictures and these were on the computer. Our ward camp out was last September. We had a good time. There was an abundance of marshmallows, so the kids started catapulting them off a long board so that it could rain marshmallows. Pretty fun,