Another fabulous story by one of my favorite SMK writers, Resourceful.
Already Gone; a wonderful new story by tjsmklvr, my beta and friend.
"Are you nuts?" a friend of mine asked when I told her we were driving to Colorado for Christmas. I shrugged. "Yeah, maybe, just a little." It was my parents 50th Anniversary and we were all gathering together at my sister's house in Grand Junction. Not like I don't see my parents all the time as they live in the house behind ours; however, I don't get to see my sisters very often, so off we headed toward Colorado in the middle of winter.
For several days we had been keeping a close eye on our weather apps. It appeared the weather was going to be decent for us until we reached Salt Lake City and then it would be dicey. We threw into the cargo area of my Mazda CX-5 an emergency kit, snow cables, gloves, a couple sleeping bags, a shovel, and kitty litter - just in case. The morning of Christmas Eve, we left our house and headed south and then turned east. I felt sorry for our three boys as they sat crammed together in our little Crossover SUV, but they had their electronic devices to entertain themselves and actually didn't squabble much. We took a couple strength breaks including a quick walk around the Stonehenge Memorial in Maryhill, Washington. That evening, we stopped at Ed's sister's house in Ontario, Oregon, right on the border between Oregon and Idaho. We had Christmas Eve dinner with his sister and brother-in-law. The following morning, we left early as we knew we had a very long drive ahead of us, so after breakfast and goodbyes, we were on the road again.
Drive, drive, drive was our mantra for the day as we crossed southern Idaho and dropped into Utah. Finally, we reached Salt Lake City, where we fueled up the car again and purchased snacks. It began to snow lightly, but was not sticking to the roadways. When we reached our turnoff just outside Spanish Fork, the snow was really beginning to fall. I was exceedingly happy Ed was driving. As we crested Solider Summit, the snow was sticking to the roadway and some cars pulled over to chain-up. Ed trudged ahead in our little all-wheel drive vehicle, which seemed to be handling the roads fine. Then almost as soon as the snowstorm started, it stopped, and we were meet with the sun breaking through the winter clouds. We continued our trek through Utah and into Colorado, arriving at my sister's house a little after 8:00 pm. They were saving Christmas dinner for us and soon we were enjoying each other's company and appreciating the fact we not stuck in a cramped car any longer.
On Saturday, we all went to the movie theater to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Some of us had seen the movie already, but that did not stop us from seeing it a second time and spending time with the family. In addition, I think I appreciated the movie more the second time around. That night, we drove around Grand Junction looking at the holiday light displays.
On Sunday, we all went to church in the morning. After church, our family drove up to the Colorado National Monument. Much of the park was closed because of the weather, but we were able to drive up to the top of the overlook and took some pictures.
The next day was filled with running errands. It had snowed in Grand Junction and the kids wanted to go sledding. However, we stuck out finding sleds. Everyone else had the same exact idea and all the stores were sold out. Nonetheless. Elizabeth was able to call in a few favors and found some sleds to borrow and the kids were able to go sledding. I was surprised we never saw a snow plow while we were there. My sister told us Grand Junction didn't have them, because they don't see snow very often in the high desert. Nonetheless, we had no difficulty getting around. The weather was pretty nice for us while we were there. We woke up to a light dusting of snow a couple times, and at night the temperatures got down to the single digits but during daylight hours, the sun was out, although cold. We did have to replace our windshield wipers by the time we got home due to the freezing and then thawing, then freezing again.
The following day was my parents wedding anniversary and my sisters and their spouses and Ed and I started the morning taking them out to breakfast at the Egg and I restaurant. We had a very pleasant experience and the food was good and hot. I wish we had one near us in Washington. My parents went to a private dinner by themselves later that evening. With 17 people around, we all chipped in with food preparation, cooking, doing dishes, taking out the garage, etc. The boys spent most of their time downstairs in the family room playing video games, while the adults usually either watched television or put together puzzles or played board games in the recreation room. Most of the family was there, except for two grand kids who were serving LDS missions and one who couldn't get away from work.
On Tuesday, Ed and I drove to Dead Horse State Park in Utah. The park provides a dramatic overlook of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. The views were just amazing, and I was sorry we didn't have another day to explore Canyonlands. Hoping for another trip to southern Utah soon. We then spent the rest of the day in Moab, before heading back to my sister's house. Yes, we do need to come back and explore this area more.
On Wednesday, all of us drove to Arches National Park. We spent the day driving through the park and taking little hikes here and there. It was cold, but the sun was out. Although, this was the first time I had ever visited Arches, I believe I probably would enjoy the park more in the winter than in the summer, because it was not miserably hot and the park was not very crowded. The snow on the ground and covering the sandstone arches, made the desert landscape more unique, in my opinion. I'm sorry we didn't have time to hike to Delicate Arch, but daytime hours limited what we could do. We did however take the back roads winding around the Colorado River on our way back to Grand Junction, the roads were a bit rough, but the scenery was amazingly beautiful.
On Thursday, we started our trek back home, but first we stopped in Salt Lake City. Michael wanted to visit his old LDS mission stomping grounds. (He served two years at the Utah-Salt Lake City Mission). We stopped at one of his favorite restaurants, where he often ate lunch. We ate lunch there and chatted with a couple of the ladies who worked there, that fondly remembered Michael. Then stopped to visit a few members of the church at Wards he had been assigned to. He was hoping to visit his Mission President, but the Mission office was closed for the holiday. That evening, we walked around Temple Square enjoying the Christmas lights and the Salt Lake City Temple. We also enjoyed hearing some performances at the tabernacle. We were disappointed we missed touring the conference center, as they closed tours early because of the holiday. We spent the night at a La Quinta Inns and Suites in Layton. La Quinta is usually our go-to hotel when traveling, but was not very impressed with this one. Service was good, but the inn seriously needs to be updated and the room and bathroom didn't feel very clean. But for one night stay, and being just off the freeway and next to a mall and several restaurants, it wasn't too bad.
Two other things disappointed me about this trip. The first was Kroger Company. We had made a quick snack stop at a grocery store in Grand Junction and when the checker rang us up, she asked if we had a City Market card. I shook my head. Then she rudely said to us, "Well, then I will just have to charge you full price." I was totally taken aback. This is why I hate those stupid shopper cards. First, I don't think it's anyone's business how we shop, what we buy, or where we buy it. Thank goodness Albertsons stopped this madness. The thing that really ticked me off was her attitude and if she had just followed up with one qualifying question; i.e. "Would you like a card?" I could have stated, "No, we live in Washington state." If she had told me City Market was a Kroger Company, the light bulb would have gone off inside my head. "Oh, okay, we have Fred Meyers and QFC's in Washington." As it is, I am not a fan of Kroger stores anyway. And encounters like this is what continues to keep me away from shopping there.
I was also very disappointed in the Golden Corral. I usually love Golden Corral. Unfortunately, there is only one in the whole state of Washington and its several hours away. Nonetheless, by the time we had checked into the motel for the evening, we were all very hungry. And one of these reasons we picked this particular place to stay was it location next to several restaurants. We were finding it impossible to locate a place that was open. Everyone closed early for the New Years Holiday. However, we did find Golden Corral open. We walked in and paid for our meal, only to discover we were the last customers to come in for the night. Therefore, the food was not fresh or warm and had been sitting under the heat lights all night. The slice of roast I had was as tough as a leather shoe and I can't even find the words to describe how gross the mashed potatoes were. The staff was polite, but we felt like they were staring at us, just waiting for us to leave. I will think twice before visiting another Golden Corral.
New Years Day we drove all day long. We had good weather all the way home, except it was cold. My normally blue SUV had turned white with brine and road grime. We told the boys we could stop in Broadman, Oregon for the night, but they all wanted to get back home, so we continued to drive the rest of the way, arriving close to midnight. Our dogs were happy to see us. I felt sorry for the lady who pet sat for us. The coldest week we had all winter (low 20's) and our furnace blew the circuit breaker. The house was freezing! Thank goodness Ed had a couple more days off from work as we searched for replacement circuit breakers for our Carrier furnace. He went back to work the day after he made the repairs.
Life is either a great adventure or nothing ~ Helen Keller
Be sure to check out a new Scarecrow and Mrs. King website by tjsmklvr. Actually, it's an updated version of her previous webpage Call Me A Cab. Lots of SMK interviews, fan fiction, music videos, memorabilia, and tons of photos and articles on both Kate Jackson and Bruce Boxleitner. Includes promo photos from The Rookies and Charlie's Angles, too. I know Taya spent many, many, many hours putting this site together. Drop her a line and let her what you think.
Lee: Do you think you can break into Zorbel's place?
Amanda: Call me a cab.
Lee: You're a cab.
I have seen many parts the eastern seaboard from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Stonington, Maine and the western seaboard from Long Beach, California to La Push, Washington and everything in between, but my favorite most definitely is the Oregon coast.
Growing up in California, I enjoyed our trips to the beach, but it wasn't until we moved to Oregon, that I really fell in love with the ocean. Unlike the waters off the California coastline, it's too cold to swim in, but that doesn't bother me as I am drawn in by the beauty that is Oregon. Lighthouses, the pounding surf, tide pools, magnificent sunsets, sandstone cliffs, and monolithic rocks. The most unique aspect of the Oregon coast is the Beach Bill, which grants public access to all the beaches.
Last October, we (Ed and I, my parents, and our oldest son, Michael) visited the North Coast of the Oregon coast for an extended weekend. Yes, I know, a little crazy to visit the coast in October and not summer, but in Oregon it doesn't really matter. It's beautiful year round. Plus, we had hoped for bad weather as we wanted to see a storm pounding the coast, whipping up waves and blowing sand streaming across the beach.
We arrived at the condo in Seaside late Friday night. Thanks to friends who are members, we were able to stay at the Wyndham Resort. We have had the opportunity to stay at a handful of their resorts, and as much as I like how clean everything is from the grounds, to the units, to the lobbies, the units are large and airy and have full size kitchens, the convenience factor of how close they are in everything; however, we are just not interested in becoming owners. Maybe, if we had bought earlier, I would feel differently. But the kids are mostly grown and don't want to travel with us very often and we just don't have the money to buy a timeshare. Maybe someday, but not today. As much as I have enjoyed staying at the Wyndham Resorts, theirs salespeople are as slick as any used cars salesman you could ever meet, except they wear nicer suits. An hour-long presentation turns into almost three hours of hard pressure selling, with lots of freebies and plentiful promises. We barley got away with our pocketbook intact. Nonetheless, the condos are a lot nicer then most hotels we have ever stayed at, but if we're going to spend that kind of money, I rather buy an RV.
Saturday morning - we endured the never ending sales pitch. The weather was dark and gloomy, inside as well as outside. After we left the "owner's seminar", we decided to explore Seaside. We have stayed in Seaside several times and I love the quaint little "sea side" town, which many shops and restaurants, arcades, amusement rides, and more. Every Fourth of July the town puts on a fantastic parade and fireworks celebration show. We beach combed and window shopped. We ate bread bowls of clam chowder for lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Good chowder. Sorry, I don't remember the name of the place. We also swung on the swing set on the beach and took advantage of the hot tub at the condo in the evening. The hot tub would have been more enjoyable did we not have to listen to some jerk lecture those around him about the evils of the Mormon church. Five minutes longer and I think my dad would have socked him.
Sunday, we started the day eating a bunch buffet at the Twisted Fish Steakhouse. Most excellent. I especially liked the made-to order omelettes and plentiful breakfast choices. After brunch, we drove south stopping at the town of Cannon Beach and visited the beaches of Twin Rocks and Rockaway. We then continued to Tillamook, stopping at the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory, where we had ice cream for lunch (and I didn't care). Next, we stopped at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company and then visited the Cape Meares Lighthouse, where Ed and I got soaked on our hike. The sun then broke through the clouds, as we headed toward our final destination of the day, the beach at Oceanside.
Monday, we visited the town of Astoria, stopping at Fort Stevens (a state park located on the mouth of the Columbia River) and walked along the jetties and then explored the old Army gun batteries. Next, we drove to Fort Clatsop, a reclica of winter quarters for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. There is a family connection to Fort Clatsop, as my great-great-great-great grandfather, Alexander Hamilton Willard, was a member of the Corps of Discovery and traveled with Lewis and Clark on their trek to the Pacific Ocean. Finally, we stopped at the Astoria Column, which is a 125--foot high column and has 164 steps spiraling to an observation deck at the top. Yes, I did climb all the way to the top. That evening, we watched the sunset turned the skies an tangerine reddish-orange. Breathtaking! And this is exactly why I love the Oregon coast.
“The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.” ~ Marjorie Pay Hinckley
I really enjoy this quote from Marjorie Pay Hinckley and have to agree with her, I too, would much rather laugh than cry. However, today I am crying and it's all tears of frustration.
My youngest son, Joseph, has been seeing an orthodontist from the time he was six years old. (By the way, I am choosing to leave the names of the orthodontists and oral surgeons out of this post, as I am not sure if we are going to sue or not. Personally, I rather not. I just don't have the strength). However, Joseph, from the time he was a toddler, was a thumb sucker. Actually, he was more of a finger chewer, which at least two, if not three fingers in his mouth. His dentist was concerned if this continued, he would end up with a severe overbite and other problems. So he referred us to an orthodontist in Olympia. When we first met Dr. T., we thought he was charming and very personable. He fitted Joseph with a hay rake. What I thought looked like a medieval torture device. A hay rake is a mechanical device where wires attached to the rear molars then extend to the front of the mouth. The device has spikes just behind the front teeth and is intended to cause discomfort when the thumb or fingers are inserted. Basically, the sharp prongs hurt the thumb, and this stops the patient from thumb sucking. Joseph had permanently stopped sticking his fingers in his mouth a few months after Dr. T fitted him with the hay rake.
Not long after, Joseph started seeing Dr. T. annually to check the progress of his mouth, jaw, and teeth. Joseph was also a nighttime teeth grinder, so Dr. T. put these little glue dots on the back of his molars, in hopes Joseph would grind on the dots and not his molars. Over the years, we devolved a good rapport with Dr. T., as he became both Michael and Steffen's orthodontist, too. I really appreciated the patience he displayed with Michael, who is ADHD and suffers from severe anxiety. Not once did I ever feel uncomfortable coming to the office and he always took time to answer questions and give advice.
Fast forward a few years later, and now it was time for Joseph to start orthodontia. We dragged our feet a little bit, as I really did not want to be paying for two kids in braces at the same time. When we only had a few payments left for Steffen's braces, we started Joseph. We believed things were progressing well, but then Dr. T. asked if he could schedule a consultation visit with us. At this meeting, he discussed with us that Joseph was going to need additional care and more than just braces. He would need a mandibular osteotomy. This did not come as a total surprise, as I had this same procedure done when I was his age. Basically, while a patient is under anesthesia, an oral surgeon breaks the lower jaw and it’s then positioned forward and fixed into place with plates and screws. When I had my surgery, the doctor broke the upper and lower jaw and my mouth was wired shut for six weeks.
He referred us to Dr. B.in Seattle. On his scheduled visit with the doctor, Dr. B. agreed with Dr. T. that Joseph needed this surgery. He then told us we needed to have Joseph’s wisdom teeth extracted at least six months before his jaw surgery. Then his office sent a pre-authorization letter to our insurance company, Group Health Cooperative. GHC denied the surgery, stating, basically it was cosmic surgery and not medically necessary. Unreal. A mandibular osteotomy is done to prevent later issues with TMJ and sleep apnea. And patients with malposition of the jaw have difficulty with eating and speech. And Joseph’s is serve, but it’s not medically necessary. We asked for an appeal, but didn’t get anywhere (No more Group Health Cooperative for us), so when open enrollment came around in November, we shopped insurance companies. We discovered only two companies, out of the several offered, covered mandibular osteotomy, and only if it was medically necessary. No, we just want to break our son’s jaw for giggles. I mean really. We choose Blue Cross/Blue Shield as our medical provider for the year and kept Government Employees Health Association (GEHA) as our dental insurer. After the new insurance took effect, we asked Dr. B.’s office to send a pre-authorization letter. A few months later, we received notification from Blue Cross/Blue Shield the surgery would be covered. About a month later, we received an estimate from the doctor and we were confused. The bill included other fees and then underneath it read, “There is no cover available under your medical or dental policy. This fee is considered patient responsibly.” Now, this is not deductibles, premiums, or co-pays, this is purely out of pocket, and was $3066. “What?” we asked. The billing office was incredibly rude and unprofessional when we asked for the billing code, so we could verify with our insurance company. And all she told us was no insurance companies cover the work-up. Anyway, got so frustrated with them, we decided to seek a second option and possibly a different doctor.
This is where the fun really began. We then tried to take care of Joseph’s wisdom teeth. We learned Joseph does not have four wisdom teeth, he has six. Yes, you read that right. . . six! We were quoted close to $3000, and even though our insurance covers 80% for extraction, that’s still a lot of dough. Therefore, we thought we would get a second estimate. Dr. T. referred us to an oral surgeon in Olympia. We were charged $85 for the office visit, even though I found out later from our insurance company we should have only had an $25 co-pay for the office visit. When I went to the office and complained, I was practically thrown out on my ear. And told I didn’t know what I was talking about. Therefore, I complained to our insurance company, warning them about the shady practices of this office. Moral of this story, don’t tell me I am wrong. Supposedly, I have been issued a refund. Waiting to see if it comes in the mail. Again, we were quoted something in the thousands for Joseph’s wisdom teeth extraction, including sedation (which we later learned even though we have high option dental insurance, sedation is only covered at 30%). We decided, Joseph would only have his bottom teeth extracted, as those were the ones that HAD to be extracted before surgery. The other four can be extracted during the mandibular osteotomy, where I am sure sedation would be covered at 100%.
With the extraction of Joseph’s wisdom teeth and Dr. T. insistence that Joseph needed the surgery sooner than later, we began to shop around for another oral surgeon. Because Joseph was a minor, no oral surgeon would talk to us without a referral. And Dr. T. wanted to know why we were not happy with Dr. B. Sorry, no one’s business. We first tried Seattle Children’s Hospital, but was told it would be several months out before he could even be seen for a consultation visit. Next, we tried University of Washington Oral and Maxillofacial Clinic. They agreed to review his case, but asked why we were not using Dr. B. Honestly, what business is it of theirs? So much from patient-doctor confidently. We sent up an appointment to see Dr. D. He seemed pleasant enough. He agreed Joseph needed the surgery, but wanted to wait until the summer, when he was not in school and would have the time off to recuperate. Patients need six weeks to heal, and four weeks of liquid and soft foods diet. Joseph is going to waste away to nothing! I remember eating nothing but milkshakes for about six weeks. My mom mixed some foods for me in the blender, but there is not much worse than eating macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes that has been pureed.
Dr. D. then told us he needed x-rays and models of Joseph’s mouth and then several weeks before the procedure, he meets with oral and maxillary consulates to discuss the case, and guess what; Dr. B was one of the consulates. Ugh, I feel we just can’t get away from him. In addition, we were informed, he would make a model now and another one right before his surgery just in case he had grown. Well, of course he will have grown, he only just turned 16 and has been growing like a weed. He’s now over 6’2”. He informed us each of these work-ups would be $875 (x2) and was not covered by insurance. If this is standard operating procedure, why is it not covered by insurance? Are you freaking kidding me? So when we talked with the billing office later that morning, again, I asked for a billing code. She said she would get back to us, three months later, she has not. And I have left two voice mail messages and an email. No reply.
Having us over a barrel, we agreed to the first orthognathic work up, which was scheduled for early October. However, back in August, Joseph had a check-up appointment with his dentist, which requires a visit to the orthodontist to remove the wires, so his teeth can be cleaned, and then a trip back to the orthodontist to put the wires back on. We had no problem getting the wire off, but when I sent my parents with Joseph (because I had an appointment that day), they were told the office was closed and sent them to another orthodontist to put the wires back on. I thought it was strange, but rationalized everyone has off days, and maybe he had a family emergency. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I learned Dr. T. had been arrested for assault. I am not going to fuel speculation, because there is enough of that on Facebook; however, what I do know is he closed up his business and locked the gate to the entrance of his building. Literary, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Dr. T. was always polite, well-mannered, soft spoken (I don’t know how many times I had to ask him to repeat things to me, because I could not hear him). He showed patience with both Michael and Joseph and was very encouraging to Steffen and his accomplishments. Maybe, he had an off day. Again, I am not going to speculate as we did not witness that argument he had with his office manager. However, what we do know is he left us in a real pickle. Here Joseph was supposed to be starting pre-operative preparations (different brackets, rubber bands, etc.) before his surgery and the oral surgeon works in conjunction with the orthodontist in preparing for said surgery. In addition, for six months following the procedure the patient has regular orthodontist appointments for tightening orthodontia, and watching for movement. The most frustrating part is we paid $3080 to Dr. T. over the past 30-months and our dental insurance company paid him another $2500. We are now out everything we have paid him, and our insurance company was less then helpful, when they told us Joseph has reached his maximum lifetime benefit. However, we would be happy to know, they had paid Dr. T. in full. “Why would this make me happy?” I thought.
First, we cancelled the appointment with Dr. D. as I did not see any reason to go forward with Joseph’s surgery until all the players were in place. Second, I asked for recommendations for a good orthodontist. One name came up more than anyone else, Dr. L. I scheduled an appointment with Dr. L. to see Joseph. He didn’t charge us anything for the consolation, and after taking some x-rays and examining Joseph; he questioned why we were in a rush to do the surgery? He then suggested we wait until Joseph was done growing in two, maybe three years. Then go ahead with the surgery. I believe this is the only silver lining in this whole disastrous experience. I never understood the rush either, but also knew Joseph would be in braces until the surgery or he would be facing a phase two. Nonetheless, we paid Dr. L. $750 to remove Joseph’s braces and for the cost of his retainer. This we had already paid to Dr. T. In addition, down the road, Joseph will have to go back to wearing braces a few months before the surgery and at least six months following the procedure. Dr. L. only gave me a verbal estimate of around $4500. And of course, dental insurance will cover nothing. Super, super frustrating.
I filed a complaint with the Washington State Department of Health, but don’t expect anything to come of it. I also talked with an attorney, he of course said we had a case, but I don’t have any money to pay an attorney. We also talked about taking Dr. T. to small claims court, but he is moving out of the state later this week. I did see Dr. T. yesterday at his office. The office has been stripped of everything and he looked like hell. However, I was able to get a copy of Joseph’s medical records, but not Steffen’s. Now, I am not sure why he did not give me Steffen’s, maybe because Steffen is now an adult or he feels because Steffen is “done” he didn’t need to hand them over. Yes, Steffen is out of braces, but has been in a retainer for less than a year, and Dr. T. only has seen him twice for retainer checks. He missed Steffen’s last check. And the patient is supposed to have regular checks for the first two years. Thank goodness Dr. L. was willing to see Steffen last week and he tightened the retainer, and charged us nothing. Thanks, Dr. L.
Then over the summer while Steffen was working at the YMCA camp, he began to have extreme mouth pain. I scheduled an emergency dental appointment with his dentist. They determined it was his wisdom teeth erupting. They took a series of x-rays and wrote a referral to University of Washington School of Dentistry. They also forwarded the x-rays to the oral surgeon’s office. A few weeks later, Steffen visited the UW clinic, and even though the had his x-rays (they told him his x-rays were too old) they took another set. Unfreaking believable! So now we are on the hook for $368 just in x-rays between the two offices. I swear it’s a conspiracy. These dental offices are in cahoots with each other. We then received an estimate for his extractions. Again, it was over $2500, that works out to $612 a tooth. Highway robbery! With our insurance it would be $489.60 for our cost, which I thought was not so bad, but then added a $96 facility charge. Double ugh! I don’t have it. We just paid Joseph’s orthodontist $750. And of course, Steffen’s wisdom teeth must come out now. (They are coming in crooked). Sigh.
Last week, Joseph had an appointment with his dentist to take care of a couple small cavities (between the teeth – so hard to brush and floss with braces on). I was chatting with the office personal and asked if there was someone more reasonable for wisdom teeth extraction. She asked, “Don’t you have Applecare?” Applecare is Washington state’s Medicaid. “No Daring, some of us work to pay for those who pay nothing for free dental care,” is what I was thinking. I shook my head. “We have private insurance and I think $612 dollars per tooth is outrageous. She then had the gall to tell me, “that’s not bad.” Not bad? What the heck? If we were on state aid, it would be free. This is why I continue to be upset. I honestly feel, as middle class tax payers, we are on the hook for not only paying for our children’s dental procedures, but believe we are also being charged twice as much so doctors and dentists can recoup what they have lost.
It’s a conspiracy!
Life has been very, very, very crazy lately, but I have been writing. Here are links to my most recent stories and a SMK Season Five Project screenplay. A huge shout-out to my fantastic beta readers. I couldn't do it without you. And before anyone asks; yes, I am writing episode 10. (I am a little more then half-way through).
Heart of Gold (Epsiode 9)
Smooth Sailing (Season 3: Lee and Amanda)
Ghosts from the Past (Season 3: Lee)
My good friend Annette (caperchick) and I collaborated together to made some SMK fan videos which can be found under the drop down menu "SMK Music Vids."
I also highly recommend following these super talented ladies. They make some fantastic and brilliantly done SMK fan videos. (In no particular order).
I was able to cross a couple hikes off my bucket list earlier this month. I wanted to go on one last camping trip for the season on my birthday weekend and although it didn't take much arm twisting, my husband agreed to go with me. However, the weather had other ideas, so we just decided to take a long car drive and an overnight stay in a motel would suffice.
I had an appointment with my cardiologist back in August, which included an EKG and an echo-cardiogram. Everything looked good and he is ecstatic about my heart health. However, when I bragged about climbing the long trail at Crater Lake from the water to the rim, he looked a little grim and warned my not to hike alone or be too far away from help. What is the fun in that? I reassured him, I only take shorter hikes, and usually not more then three miles in a stretch. Sometimes, I feel like I can't win. I love hiking, but also am well aware I have been gaining weight, so I walk more and walk, and now seem to be having some issues with my Achilles tendons. Oh, the joys of almost being 50!
Nonetheless, there were a couple hikes I wanted to tackle. The first one was along the Washington state side of the Columbia River; Beacon Rock. Beacon Rock is a core of an ancient volcano. The two-mile round trip trail with a gain of 600 feet from the parking lot to the summit is a series of switchback boardwalks drilled into the monolith and provides outstanding panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge along the trail and at the summit. A Discovery Pass is required for parking in the lot. We usually just buy the year round pass for $30 versus the daily pass of $10 and the pass is good for all Washington state parks.
Next, we drove for several hours to the small town of Primeville for the night. We stopped at a couple name brand motel chains, thinking because it was October and the middle of the week, we would not have a problem finding a room. Not exactly wrong, but not exactly right either. The first motel we stopped at was booked and the second only had "Smoking" rooms. Yep, we weren't in Washington anymore. I remember when restaurants and hotels became smoke-free in Washington state and I wasn't too sure how I felt about the law (civil liberties and all). Now when I visit other states, I can't believe they don't have "clean-air" act themselves. I just have gotten so used to not having to smell cigarette smoke everywhere. But don't ask me about the other smell from another substance that is lit and smoked. (Remember, we live in Washington state).
The next morning, we stopped at the Wildland Firefighters Monument. It's a memorial for fourteen wildland firefighters who lost their lives fighting the Storm King Mountain fire in Colorado back in 1994, nine of them were from Prineville. It's a very beautiful and moving memorial located in Ochoco Creek Park. Then we drove to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, stopping first at the Painted Hills Unit. For several years, since the first time a friend posted a picture of the Painted Hills, I have wanted to visit. And the imagery and vivid colors of the hills did not disappoint. There are many short hikes around the park that are very easily accessible for all ages. My two favorites were the Painted Hills Overlook and Red Hill (Red Scar Knoll) Trail. I also really liked the boardwalk walk around Painted Cove. The rain predicted for the day held off, but we were covered in heavy cloud cover throughout the day. The pictures we took do not do justice on how brilliant the colors of the hills really are. Nonetheless, so worth the trip to the middle of central Oregon.
Trust me when I say, the Painted Hills are in the middle of nowhere. (No disrespect to those living in the small communities in the area). However, after hiking around the hills, we then drove several miles to a gas station in the small town of Dayville and purchased some fuel and snacks and then went to the second unit of the John Day Fossil Beds; Sheep Rock. We didn't spend a lot of time in this area, but we did spend about an hour at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center. It was interesting seeing fossils up close. And there are lots of opportunities for hands-on experiences for the kids and kids at heart. We were afraid we were going to run out of daylight, so we only drove through the Sheep Rock area. I thought the blue-green colors were a sharp contrast of the reds, yellows, and greens we had seen in the Painted Hills. I also liked the rock formations of Sheep Rock and Cathedral Rock. Unfortunately, we did not have time to hike this area.
We continued on our drive stopping at the Clarno Unit. This was the second must do hike on my list, as I really wanted to see the Palisades. The Palisades were formed by a series of volcanic mudflows. There are three very short hikes that start at the trailhead at the parking lot and then connect with each other. Geologic Time Trail (.50 round trip), Clarno Arch Trail (.25 round trip), and Trail of Fossils (.25 loop). I found the trails very informative as there was plenty of information signage along the trail, as well as fossils in the rocks and petrified logs. Then it was time for the long drive home, because the following day we had to attend a high school marching band competition.
Nevertheless, the John Day Fossil Beds are worth the drive.
The month of October is Cardiac Arrest Awareness month and I thought I would share information the American Heart Association posted regarding the differences between cardiac arrest and a heart attack.
For many, summers mean picnics, fireworks, fishing, lazy days lounging in the sun by the water. All well and good, but to me, summer means camping trips. It's ironic, when I was younger and my parents, loaded us up in a older Ford Crew Cab truck, this ugly, beat up yellow pickup truck, which my dad had bought from the railroad company. Gawd, was that thing a beast and only got 9 miles to the gallon whether we had the camper on it or not. Then there was the time we went tent camping right outside Disneyland and the time we drove all the way to Mt. Rushmore in an Oldsmobile sedan pulling a one-wheeled trailer down the interstate, with our Samoyed dog, Czar, riding in the back window. I don't remember where my parents found this oddball trailer, I just remember the thing was super heavy and required both my parents, my two sisters, and I to lift the thing, so my dad could hitch it to these two hooks on the bumper, like a pioneer handcart being pulled by a car on our own trek. My dad had built a box on the trailer frame and filled it with all sorts of sundry camping equipment. These are my most vivid memories of growing up and even though I was often the first to complain about driving across the country (and yes, we did drive all the way across the country, as we drove to Maine one summer), my husband and I always make sure we took at least one trek with the boys every summer when they were growing up. We have taken them to Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Olympic National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, the Canadian Rockies, and numerous state parks around Oregon and Washington. My sincere hope is that we forged forever memories in their young minds of doing things together as a family.
Now, the boys are all grown, and none of them what to go on trips with boring Mom and Dad. However, this summer, Ed and I went on some camping trips together. It started in June, with a quick weekend trip to Olympic National Park. Still one of my favorite parks as it consists of four separate ecosystems, something for everyone, and affords us the chance to do what we want on any given visit. This time, we camped at Lake Crescent. Love this campground. We had hoped because it was a weekday, we could arrive early enough to get a site closest to the water, but was not the case. However, we did have a nice view of the lake. Fairholme Campground, is still in my top ten favorite campgrounds in Washington state; however, bring lots and lots of mosquito repellent. They were relentless all night long.
It was our anniversary weekend, so we spurged and had dinner at the Lake Crescent Lodge Restaurant. The lavender lemonade was amazing, but dinner itself was unmemorable.and really on the pricey-side. But the views from the dining room were spectacular as we watched evening turn to twilight. The following morning, we rented a two-person kayak to explore the lake from the water for a couple of hours. Even though, we spent the first hour just going around in circles as we did not seem to find our rhythm until the second hour, we had fun laughing and basking in the warm sunshine. Boats and paddleboards are available for rental just outside the Fairholme campground and at the Lake Crescent Lodge. We also spent two days hiking; we hiked a small portion of the Spruce Railroad trail and then hiked to Marymere Falls (1.8 roundtrip). Later on, we took a couple of short hikes around Hurricane Ridge. I don't care what season it is; Hurricane Ridge is worth visiting in the fall, winter, spring, and summer.
In July, we camped just for the evening in another part of the Olympic National Forest; Staircase. We live only an hour from the Staircase entrance, but this was only the second time we had seen this less popular part of the park; however, it was busy the Saturday we visited. Staircase campground is small with only 49 sites and is first come-first serve; however, outside the park is a second campground, Big Creek Campground, operated by the U.S. Forest Service. We hiked the Staircase Rapids Loop hike, a 2.5-mile round trip along the North Fork of the Skokomish River. My favorite parts about this easy hike was crossing the cable suspension bridge and being dwarfed by towering cedar trees. Maybe, I can convince Ed to bring me back in the fall when we would see fall foliage and the river flowing much faster and fuller.
In August, we make the trek to Crater Lake. I'm a little disappointed in myself for never taking the boys here. Well, actually, Michael we took camping to Crater Lake when he was three, but the other boys have never been. The lake itself was amazing beautiful. Pictures never do it justice on how truly blue the lake is. We took some amazing hikes and drove all the way around the rim. My biggest frustration was I had checked the National Park website before we had left, mostly to keep an eye on a forest fire that was burning in the area, because I wanted to see if smoke was hampering the views of the lake. The website stated that Mazama Campground was 75% reservable with 25% being first come-first serve. We left the day before and "camped" in a rest stop a few miles from the turn-off of the road leading to the park entrance. And the following morning, after breakfast, we left early for the park. After we paid the park entrance fee, we drove to Mazama Campground. One the brochure at the entrance regarding campsites, it too, stated 25% of the campsites were first come-first serve. However, when we arrived at the campground kiosk, we were told that was not the case, and after the first of July all campsites were 100% reservable. One of the pitfalls about camping, I totally dislike making reservations four or six months in advance. I'm more of a whim kind of person, the weather is beautiful, Ed has the weekend off. . . let's go. Luckily, after driving through the campground, we found a site, not marked reserved, and the attendant, let us have the site for the evening. We were hoping to stay two nights, but we decided to stay outside the park the second evening as we were not guaranteed another night, and road construction was awful, especially when we had to wait 30-45 minutes for a pilot car. Nonetheless, we had a fantastic time visiting Crater Lake and took advantage of a couple of short hikes the first day, including a ranger-lead twilight hike up to the Watchman Forest Fire Lookout. A 1.8 in and back hike with a climb of 400 feet. Totally worth the hike, and the views of the lake and the sunset were amazing. Of course, we love forest fire lookouts. The following day, we drove to Cleetwood Cove and took the hike down to the water for a two-hour boat guided tour on the lake. The tour is totally worth the money and the long strenuous and steep hike back up the 1.1 mile (700 feet climb), starting at an elevation of 6850. Took me about two hours to hike back up the trail, took my time and was in no rush, but I did it! Now, I'm really wanting to climb Mt. Elinor (Olympic National Park), although I know it will take months before I am physically fit to hike the 3-mile round trip, 1300 elevation trail, but it's most definitely on my bucket list.
One of my favorite movies to watch when I was a little girl was Dr. Dolittle (1967). No, not the Eddie Murphy one, I mean the original with Rex Harrison.
"If we conferred with our furry friends,
Man to animal
Think of all the things we could discuss."
And then for those of us dog owners who have looked at our dog staring at us and ever wondered what our dog was thinking, the book Kibble Talk by Cynthia Port is for perfect you. Spirited 9-year-old Tawny suddenly realizes she has the ability to talk to dogs after eating doggie kibble following a dare from her best friend. She soon learns her own dog, a lovable, but demanding Great Dane named Dinky (what a great name for a Great Dane) has a secret desire to become a lap dog. Tawny helps him fulfill his wish by entering him in a local dog show. And what category does he enter? Well, of course, "Best Small Breed", which leads to hilarious results with plenty of laugh out loud moments. Perfect pacing for middle grade readers, good clean humor, and fun characters, especially the dogs. Did you know Saint Bernards tell the worst jokes? Suitable for dog lovers and non-dog lovers of all ages.
Motivational Speaker: Because what's out motto?
My oil experience happened a few years ago, when a friend asked me if I wanted to go attend her oil class. And I was thinking, "Oil? Like cooking oil? I don't even like to cook."
I was very hesitant about joining because, first, I had serious doubts regarding the product. "Snake oil," I honestly thought. And two, there was no way I would be able to approach random people, ever, and ask them if they wanted to learn more about essential oils. Don't these people realize how shy I am? And how far out of my comfort zone I am going? In addition, I have try the salesperson route, selling everything from kitchen knives to real estate. And trust me when I say, I am far from Connie Beth girl or a Lovely Lady
lady. . .
". . . Here's to a beautiful world. Everyone can be lovely. You can ask any Connie Beth girl. Show me the way to others learning to polish the pearl. Life can become your oyster. Just ask any Connie Beth girl."
The more I have learned over the years, the more impressed I have become. My boys now reach for oils when fighting colds or they have a headache or stomachache. Even my middle son, Steffen, who was also a nonbeliever at first, took half my oil collection with him when he left for college. Now I need to replenish my stock.
I still think I'm going to fall on my face, but at least I am going to give it a try. Therefore, if interested in learning more about essential oils and discovering they are not "icky", I would be happy to teach a class. Just contact me or visit this link.
A huge shout-out to the multi-talented Sarah Spencer, also known as Whisper Romance and lovesmk (YouTube) for making my new wallpapers for my SMK fan fiction pages. Please take the opportunity to pursue the pages to look at her designs. You can also visit the SMK Avatars and Wallpaper pages (sorry Sarah, I haven't updated this page in a while) for more examples of her amazing work under the drop-down window "Scarecrow and Mrs King."
"Hey. . . it's me."
I live in the shadows of the Olympic Mountains, in the State of Washington and I love camping, boating, hiking, and hanging out with my husband, our three boys, and two Bernese Mountain dogs.