Escaping the Cold

Yes, it gets cold in Arizona, especially in Prescott.  We’ve fled just before the first cool spell of the season and we don’t plan to return until it’s warm again.  After being home for about six weeks, we’re back on the road and are heading south…eventually. 

You can do a lot in six weeks! The previous blog post highlights a few of our Arizona and Mexico adventures. I also mentioned that another foot surgery was in the works. As soon as we came off the road in September we paid another visit to Dr. McAlister at the Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute. I’ve been hobbling around ever since my lapiplasty surgery in May.  It became apparent that the pain in the ball of my foot was not going away and the surgery had not relieved the pain. 

Dr. McAlister confirmed what I already knew: another surgery was in my future. After an MRI, ultrasound, and several x-rays it still wasn’t clear what was causing the pain but I’m still blaming high-heeled shoes. After an in-and-out procedure, I had a torn ligament repaired, two neuromas removed, and two osteotomies (basically straightening of my toes with pins). I’ll be in a surgical shoe until Thanksgiving and hopefully back on the bike by Christmas. Fingers crossed!

Now back on the road, our first stop was McDowell Mountain Regional Park, north of Fountain Hills, AZ to escape a cold front. We were lucky to have Russ and Shelley visit and bring us dinner one evening.

Steve also got in some mountain bike riding with some buddies from Mesa Public Schools. Thanks to Steve Hogen and Shawn Lynch for coming out to see us!

Once the weather cleared a bit we headed towards the midwest to visit family in Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas. After a quick overnight stay in Albuquerque we spent the night with Sam in Denver and got in a good Mexican dinner with Sam’s brother and sister-in-law, Lorenzo and Janice. It was fun to catch up!

Across Nebraska we drove with the goal of making it to Elkhorn and Steve’s brother’s house by Halloween. We made it just in time and had a fun few days moochdocking in the Green’s driveway. We saw all five of the Green kids, saw Nathan play a few games, and enjoyed the time together. 

While in Elkhorn Bob started feeling super lethargic, threw up and then the next day had a seizure. We rushed him to the vet and after two days of tests he was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease. He’s doing great now with the help of a daily dose of prednisone. It was a little scary for a bit but thankfully the awesome Dr. Opdahl at The Pet Clinic in Omaha got Bobby all fixed up. We were all very relieved and he’s doing so much better.

We couldn’t come to the midwest and not make a visit to the see the family in Iowa. We spent one night parked outside Sandy and Jerry’s house in Corning, Iowa, and it was just enough time to have a party in the garage with all the cousins. We ate BBQ, made s’mores, and toasted to Grandma Green. Though it was a short visit it was wonderful to see everyone!

Heading south we next stopped for visit with the Kansas City Greens. Gary, Kristy, Hudson, and Brynn welcomed us with great food, a little Cornhusker football, some shopping, and lots of love to the puppies.  We’ve decided that Mia has lost her sight so she is getting extra attention these days too.

We’ve had great weather the entire time we’ve been in the midwest but it’s supposed to get cold this week. So, it’s time to head eastward and southward with planned stops in Branson, Memphis, Nashville, Montgomery, and the Gulf Coast. Eventually we’ll end up about 90 miles north of Cuba. Even with the COVID pandemic we are staying as safe as possible and feeling great. So stay tuned for more updates and highlights.

Final Thoughts on Cuba

As we return to the USA we are overwhelmed with memories that make us still wonder, “what the heck just happened?” Cuba is probably one of the most “foreign“ places we’ve ever visited. 7438B6ED-55C6-462B-806A-9A6A7755552DHere are a few observations from our time on the island.

  1. Cuban pesos (CUP) are only used by Cubans.  Tourists deal in the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), which is 20 times more valuable than the peso. Both currencies are impossible to trade outside of Cuba. When we returned to Miami we discovered 40 CUC in our pockets. 9EAB101E-A3FC-43A8-AEEA-1304AA11F511The US-based currency exchange would not take the money and after asking at least a dozen Cuban-Americans working in the airport if they would like the money  (free money!), no one wanted it! We thought someone might be able to use it, but no one wanted to take the money!  Sidenote: if you are going to Cuba soon, let us know. We can sell you some convertible Cuban pesos!
  1. We take so much for granted in the USA. One big example is the availability of clean drinking water. We were advised not to drink from the tap;  however, our search for bottled water often turned up nothing. In fact when we stopped at a rest stop on the highway and attempted to buy water, the only beverage available to purchase was rum!  14B91148-94DE-4A43-B37D-7B01DC37F8AD.jpegWe stood in line at a store called Agua y Jabon for awhile until we looked in the window and only saw soap (jabon) on the shelves. No agua to be found!
  1. Cubans are master mechanics. The old US-made cars are really everywhere, and they’re all still running. How can they do it and yet, in the US, if we drive a car over 10 years old we’re really in need?
  2. Cuba has no advertising. On the highway and in the cities the signs you see are all in support of the revolution and the government.

    Most display the faces of Fidel Castro and/or Che Guevara. I guess we’re all  subject to advertising in one way or another.4DB7EEE7-85CA-48DB-B581-58D094D69BD6

  3. Why question? When we asked our guides questions about Cuban life,  we were often met with unclear answers.  We asked, “can you move to another city to escape the crowds in Havana?”  The answer was yes, but it’s very difficult and no, there are some places you can’t go, and well, no. Huh?

    “Does the government provide your housing?” No, but housing is free and the people in Las Terrazas got their homes for free. Huh? There are no mortgages but you can own your home. Huh? 30427AA3-052C-489A-B770-FDFB81C4F0CE.jpegWe tried really hard to understand the systems but concluded some things are better left misunderstood.

  4. Some things are free and some are impossibly expensive. Healthcare, education and housing are provided by the government. Buying a car could cost as much as $85,000 for a used sedan or $250,000 for a Peugeot.8A1156B2-C230-40CD-A78E-34F869CC5F03
  5. People are essentially the same everywhere. We found the Cuban people to be warm, friendly, fun-loving.

    And, like in every other part of the world we’ve visited, they are searching for the same things we are. We all want to be recognized. We all want to be safe. We all want to be loved. It’s no different in Cuba.696D32A2-99D5-45CF-82E1-1DCC66C87E7B.jpeg

Cuba is an enigma. It’s vibrant, colorful, beautiful place with happy welcoming people. Because it’s  so different makes it that much more worth exploring.61204FF1-9AD1-4D56-B344-787DB4DBE233